This is the archive of my Iran election live-blogging from Sunday, June 14. For the latest updates, click here.
11:05 PM ET -- Solidarity. Via reader Toni, hundreds turned out in New York City tonight for an Iran rally. And John Legend tweets: "Sending love to the Iranian people and to all those who seek freedom around the world."
10:45 PM ET-- The revolution will be faxed. A valuable service being organized by Eric Purdy and his crew at the University of Chicago:
We have set up a website to receive faxes from Iran, which we will post online. Hopefully this will be another way for information about what's going on in Iran to make its way out of the country.
Please disseminate this fax number as widely as possible: 001 773 321 0202. We will post any faxes we receive at iranfax.org.
10:06 PM ET -- "Why would our kids break our cars?" Just after finishing the note directly below, I received this email from reader Keivan -- one sign, at least, of people seeing through the "rioter" PR strategy:
this is a video that show the aftermath of security forces breaking into a residential parking. the camera man keeps asking the women who did this, and she explains that it was the special security forces. he asks "so it wasn't the protesters?" she explains why would our kids break our cars? she says at least 3 or 4 times that it was the security force that broke in and smashed all the windows.
this happened in saadat abad, which is north east of tehran, I grow up in that neighberhood!
9:37 PM ET -- Connecting the dots: the government's "rioter" PR strategy. Khamenei's government is fighting a multi-pronged war: it is trying to restrict communication among its restless citizens, trying to suppress media coverage of its crackdowns, trying to fight off challenges to its power from dissident clerics -- and, very importantly, it is trying to persuade other Iranians to turn against the group of activist reformists who have been showing up in the streets the last several days.
So what's the government's strategy to achieve that last goal? As an Iranian-American friend pointed out, It's becoming more clear. We see state-run TV repeatedly interviewing shopkeepers whose stores have been damaged. We see the plainclothes Basijis and even riot police committing indiscriminate acts of vandalism -- on houses, cars, and businesses (which of course the media never shows). We see top government officials refer to the demonstrators as "rioters."
The PR campaign, in other words, is to convince the broad swath of the public -- the people who may sympathize with the Green Uprising but aren't yet motivated enough to join it -- that the Green movement isn't political at all. It's merely a group of hooligans who are causing chaos and committing petty crimes for the thrill of it.
Whether the broader Iranian population ends up believing this line may determine whether Ahmadinejad and Khamenei maintain their grip on power.
9:25 PM ET -- Why the arrests may be futile. Robert Mackey makes a crucial observation:
As we look ahead to what is likely to be another dramatic day of protest in Iran, it is worth noting what The Guardian's Ian Black said in an audio interview this morning, after he returned from Tehran. Asked "who's leading the protesters," Mr. Black said that "it is in effect rather amorphous and leaderless." He said that many of the rallies seemed to be "pretty much happening spontaneously without anyone organizing them." As the Iranian government continues to try to stop the protests by arresting reformist political leaders and intellectuals, the opposition's ability to keep mobilizing seemingly spontaneous rallies could be crucial to its success.
8:40 PM ET -- Cell phones were shut down today. It sometimes gets confusing figuring out which technologies and websites are being censored or blocked at any given time in Iran. On Wednesday, though, we saw something unique -- a widespread termination of cell phone service.
Despite all the buzz around Twitter, that service is only used by a small minority of Iranians. Cell phones, on the other hand, are ubiquitous. The fact that Iran's government waited this long before wiping out the cells indicates how seriously they considered it. And, one imagines, even if you're an Iranian not actively taking part in the demonstrations, it's got to feel very frustrating -- very repressive -- to have such a basic convenience stripped away by the government. It will be interesting to see whether this particular technology crackdown ends up mobilizing a broader swath of Iranians against the state.
8:38 PM ET -- One of the day's most important developments -- that Iran's most senior cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri had denounced the election results -- wasn't given nearly enough attention. Here's some more coverage from McClatchy Newspapers: McClatchy Newspapers:
"No one in their right mind can believe" the official results from Friday's contest, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said of the landslide victory claimed by Ahmadinejad. Montazeri accused the regime of handling Mousavi's charges of fraud and the massive protests of his backers "in the worst way possible."
"A government not respecting people's vote has no religious or political legitimacy," he declared in comments on his official Web site. "I ask the police and army personals (personnel) not to 'sell their religion,' and beware that receiving orders will not excuse them before God."
6:05 PM ET -- A break. For much of the last three days, I've been glued to my computer with all of you, trying to wrap my head around what's happening in Iran. I'm going to take a brief break tonight to catch up on sleep (I'll try to update a bit, and I'll also be spending a few minutes on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow if you're interested). But in the meantime, please keep sending emails and letting me know what you're seeing.
6:03 PM ET -- "What I have witnessed." A powerful note from a female medical student in Iran, translated from Farsi by a trusty reader.
It's painful to watch what's happening.
I don't want anything to do with what has been said this far, as I neither have the strength nor the resilience to face all these unfathomable events.
I only want to speak about what I have witnessed. I am a medical student. There was chaos last night at the trauma section in one of our main hospitals. Although by decree, all riot-related injuries were supposed to be sent to military hospitals, all other hospitals were filled to the rim. Last night, nine people died at our hospital and another 28 had gunshot wounds. All hospital employees were crying till dawn. They (government) removed the dead bodies on back of trucks, before we were even able to get their names or other information. What can you even say to the people who don't even respect the dead. No one was allowed to speak to the wounded or get any information from them. This morning the faculty and the students protested by gathering at the lobby of the hospital where they were confronted by plain cloths anti-riot militia, who in turn closed off the hospital and imprisoned the staff. The extent of injuries are so grave, that despite being one of the most staffed emergency rooms, they've asked everyone to stay and help--I'm sure it will even be worst tonight.
What can anyone say in face of all these atrocities? What can you say to the family of the 13 year old boy who died from gunshots and whose dead body then disappeared?
This issue is not about cheating(election) anymore. This is not about stealing votes anymore. The issue is about a vast injustice inflected on the people. They've put a baton in the hand of every 13-14 year old to smash the faces of "the bunches who are less than dirt" (government is calling the people who are uprising dried-up torn and weeds) .
This is what sickens me from dealing with these issues. And from those who shut their eyes and close their ears and claim the riots are in opposition of the government and presidency!! No! The people's complaint is against the egregious injustices committed against the people.
6:00 PM ET -- AP's revenge. They just put this out on their photo wire:
In this Feb. 8, 1979 file photo, an Iranian soldier is carried by supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini at a massive demonstration for the religious leader. In the foreground are demonstrators attempting to prevent an AP photographer from showing the soldier. In background is the Freedom Tower. Iran's Islamic regime has survived a devastating war with Iraq, strong American sanctions and blanket international isolation in its 30 years of power. Iran's system does not appear in any immediate danger from the presidential election results unrest. But the clerics are clearly paying close attention to the street anger - the same street anger that they themselves used three decades ago in their revolution to bring down Iran's ruling Shah.
5:47 PM ET -- New Obama remarks. From an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, some new lines on Iran from Obama, including a comparison of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi on policy grounds.
Well, I think first of all, it's important to understand that although there is amazing ferment taking place in Iran, that the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as has been advertised. Either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons. And so we've got long-term interests in having them not weaponize nuclear power and stop funding organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. And that would be true whoever came out on top in this election.
The second thing that I think's important to recognize is that the easiest way for reactionary forces inside Iran to crush reformers is to say it's the US that is encouraging those reformers. So what I've said is, `Look, it's up to the Iranian people to make a decision. We are not meddling.' And, you know, ultimately the question that the leadership in Iran has to answer is their own credibility in the eyes of the Iranian people. And when you've got 100,000 people who are out on the streets peacefully protesting, and they're having to be scattered through violence and gunshots, what that tells me is the Iranian people are not convinced of the legitimacy of the election. And my hope is that the regime responds not with violence, but with a recognition that the universal principles of peaceful expression and democracy are ones that should be affirmed. Am I optimistic that that will happen? You know, I take a wait-and-see approach. Either way, it's important for the United States to engage in the tough diplomacy around those permanent security concerns that we have--nuclear weapons, funding of terrorism. That's not going to go away, and I think it's important for us to make sure that we've reached out.
5:41 PM ET -- What was Erin Burnett thinking? Excuse my disgust -- given the other events in the world, this is very minor. But when a news anchor makes such a galactically stupid and offensive comment, it really pisses me off. SEIU has a way to contact Burnett here.
5:38 PM ET -- You can't keep a good message down. Daniel Blackman, CEO of Howcast Media, explains how Iranians can get around Internet censorship.
5:30 PM ET -- Photos. Happily, AP and Getty have been able to publish several excellent photos of today's events despite the foreign media ban. We've placed some in the front page slideshow already, and are adding more now. Also, UPI -- a U.S. news service that has faced rough cutbacks in recent years, and doesn't have nearly the same distribution as AP or Reuters -- has some wonderful hi-res photos (some very bloody, fyi) that deserve a look.
5:24 PM ET -- 'Iran supreme leader under pressure.' Al Jazeera English covers the cracks in the regime. (Via reader David.)
5:12 PM ET -- Twitter goes dark. Lots of you are emailing, but I don't think it's anything sinister. Twitter said today they were going to begin their maintenance beginning at 5PM ET -- part of their agreement from yesterday was to time their work for late at night (in Iran) when many people there would be asleep. It's almost 1am in Iran now.
4:56 PM ET -- The big unanswered question -- a solicitation to readers. I have seen countless reports from people in Iran who believe that the plain clothes paramilitaries committing so much of the violence right now are Lebanese Arabs, possibly Hezbollah members, brought in by the Iranian government. The reasoning is that the country's police and military would not be so willing commit violence on their fellow Iranians.
Many readers have sent this story that ran in Der Spiegel claiming that Iran had brought in 5,000 people from Lebanon. But the sourcing on that piece is light, and I have not seen good evidence anywhere else that firmly shows this to be the case.
That said, as I've written earlier, Iran has brought in Lebanese fighters to suppress student revolts in the past (notably in 2004). And it seems very likely to me that they are doing it again now.
So, readers: have any of you seen any additional information indicating that the paramilitaries are Lebanese? Have you seen video of them speaking Arabic? Or seen any international reporting that would back up Der Spiegel's account? If so, let me know.
4:36 PM ET -- Then they came for the human rights lawyers. Via reader Colin.
Security officials posing as clients entered the Tehran offices of one of Iran's leading human rights lawyers today and arrested him, Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi just told NPR's Davar Iran Ardalan.
That lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani, spoke with Davar just yesterday -- telling her that the Iranian government should recount all the votes in last Friday's disputed presidential election, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by a 2-1 margin.
"Once they were inside they immediately confiscated his computer and other documents and they arrested Mr. Soltani," Ebadi said in today's interview. "As far as we know, they did not have an arrest warrant."
Ebadi later called to tell NPR that several other human rights activists had been rounded up as well.
Update: Via reader Golnaz, Ebadi also called for a new election in an interview with Radio Free Europe:
I believe that a recount of the votes under the current conditions won't solve anything. A new election must be held and this time it should be under the monitoring of International organizations so that all participants would be contented that the votes that come out of the ballot boxes are the real votes of the people.
4:26 PM ET -- "Khaste Nabahsheen (Don't Be Tired)" Writing for HuffPost, filmmakers Davyde Wachell and Sara Zandieh, who just returned from working in Iran, send a message to the friends they made there. The piece begins beautifully:
We are screaming down Islamic Republic Boulevard at three in the morning in Ismael's car. We have just come from Shabdul Azim Mosque and he is happy to be showing North Americans his beloved Tehran. His sullen friend Reza tells me how difficult the government is in Iran, but Ismael wants to give a different perspective.
He asks if we like Persian music. "Hatman," we say, "of course." He cranks up the radio as we zip past towering murals of mullahs and martyrs. Suddenly, he stops the car at the intersection of Valiasr and Jomhuri. He gets out, and begins to dance around. Two weeks later Tehran's youth would jubilantly parade through the same interscection in support of the "Green Wave."
Read the whole thing.
4:13 PM ET -- What a peaceful protest looks like. From reader Chas.
4:06 PM ET -- Spreading fear. The website of Akbar Aalami, a reformist member of Iran's parliament, says his house was attacked by paramilitaries last night. More images are posted there. According to a reader, Aalami writes that he lives in a condo with other tenants, and some of the others also work for government. He says all of the attackers were in plain clothes, but four of them were armed.
4:00 PM ET -- GOP Congressman Pence wants a congressional resolution on Iran. Adam Blickstein of the National Security Network calls it the resolution "Ahmadinejad has been waiting for."
3:53 PM ET -- "Allah O Akbar!" Video from today's events starts to trickle out, this one sent by reader Toni. The description: "People gathering in front of IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) to protest against its biased broadcast."
Unfortunately, it wasn't so peaceful for everyone:
3:43 PM ET -- Stepping back. Some superb macro-analysis to help us better understand the moment we're in. First, by Abbas Amanat, professor of history at Yale:
This election and the post-election protests is by far the greatest challenge the Islamic Republic of Iran has faced since its inception in 1979. Neither the downfall of President Banisadr in June 1981 nor the election of Mohammad Khatami to presidency in June 1997 matches in size and intensity the events of the past few weeks.
Even though the outcome is uncertain, the ongoing protests reflect a remarkable phenomenon: the rise of a new middle class whose demands stand in contrast to the radicalism of the incumbent President Ahmadinejad and the core conservative values of the clerical elite, which no doubt has the backing of a religiously conservative sector of the population.
Nevertheless, this new middle class, a product of the Islamic Revolution that supports Mir Hussein Moussavi and the reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi, the two moderate opponents of Mr. Ahmadinejad, is a force to be reckoned with. This middle class has a different vision for the Iranian society and state. It is much larger in size and younger in age, politically more engaged and less timid.
Second, by the New Yorker's Laura Secor, a renowned Iran expert:
Who knows what sort of president Mousavi would have been, or could yet be? He is an entirely different kind of animal from reformist politicians of the past; he is identified not with students and intellectuals but with the hardscrabble war years and the defense of the poor. But as one analyst explained to me, the problem he faces is that he is perhaps the only person on the Iranian political scene whose public stature is equal to Khamenei's. He was a favorite son of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the nineteen-eighties. Many Khomeinists in the power structure respect and support him; within the Revolutionary Guards, as well as within the upper clergy, he has a constituency. Traditional, religious people are among his supporters, too. On the morning of June 12th, he may have been the uncharismatic compromise candidate for the anyone-but-Ahmadinejad crowd. But to other voters he was then, and he has increasingly become, something else: the vehicle both for the memory of the utopia that never came, and for the hopes of a younger generation that imagines he shares its vision of the future.
3:37 PM ET -- Photos. The AP notes that Iran's new rules "prevent media outlets, including The Associated Press, from sending independent photos or video of street protests or rallies." It's a major problem -- but not insurmountable. Reader Babak emailed over photos from today's rally in Tehran, and we've posted some of them in the slideshow on our homepage. Keep sending them, we'll keep posting them.
3:27 PM ET -- More from Khamenei. Via Twitter, he says those protesting in the streets are mere "tension seekers."
3:15 PM ET -- "The Iranians watch us closely." Greg Mitchell gets an eerie note from NYT executive editor Bill Keller:
i'm writing, and it's getting late. my visa's up tomorrow and i have to go.
the iranians watch us closely, seem to know where we are much of the time. yesterday i took a five-hour drive to isfahan, in western iran (details TK in the nyt) and on the way we stopped to take a peek at the holy city of qom. as we were making a loop through that city, my translator got a call on his cell phone from the ministry that oversees the press: "please tell me, what is your program in qom.
some reporters have contemplated overstaying their visas, trying to work under the radar. even if you manage to elude the authorities, though, you create real dangers for all the iranians you would need to hide you, translate for you, get you around and help you get the story out.
3:07 PM ET -- Khamenei calls for "unity." From the AP:
State television says Iran's supreme leader has called for national unity during a meeting with representatives of the four candidates in disputed presidential elections.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for Iranians to unite behind the cleric-led ruling system despite rival demonstrations and street clashes between supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his reformist opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi, who says Ahmadinejad stole re-election.
Khamenei was quoted as saying that: "In the elections, voters had different tendencies, but they equally believe in the ruling system and support the Islamic Republic."
Khamenei, Iran's ultimate authority, says that representatives of all four candidates should be present for any limited recount of disputed ballots, which the country's cleric-led Guardian Council said Tuesday that it would be willing to conduct.
2:40 PM ET -- Security services move into newspaper offices. From the New York Times' latest:
Tens of thousands of Iranians gathered in the streets here on Tuesday for a second day of mass demonstrations protesting the official results of Friday's presidential election, unsatisfied by a top government panel's agreement to conduct a partial recount.
As the political tumult grew, the Iranian government instituted tough restrictions on foreign journalists, formally shutting down their ability to report on the unrest on the streets. Press credentials of journalists temporarily in the country to cover the election were revoked; journalists stationed in Iran were required to get explicit permission to report beyond the confines of their offices.
Reporters Without Borders said that security services had moved into some newspaper offices to censor content and that four pro-reform newspapers have been closed or prevented from criticizing the official election results.
The result was a dearth of initial photographs and video of Tuesday's enormous opposition protest, which began on Valiasr Street, a major thoroughfare, and headed north. The tens of thousands of marchers -- perhaps more -- gathered without the help of text messaging or cell phone service, relying on word of mouth and internet social media platforms such as Twitter.
2:28 PM ET -- "Why I got into this business." NY Times executive editor Bill Keller explains why he headed to Iran.
2:21 PM ET -- "Something positive and constructive." Reader Anif emails in again with the latest from his family members in Iran. Some great perspective:
Phones are horrible; it took me over 10 tries to get it ringing. He's attended a lot of the protests, including the big one for Mousavi earlier this afternoon...I asked him how social life in Iran is right now, ie if people are going to work, etc. He said that probably half the stores are closed, but that unemployment is 40% anyway, so its not like protestors have anything better to do. These people are mostly young, unemployed, have poor access to higher education, and no foreseeable future prospects. All they had was their perceived voice in government, and since that has been so blatantly taken away, the situation is ready to explode. He's also heard that in smaller cities around the country, the protests have become much more violent with a lot of skirmishes between the Basij and protestors. [...]
The focus right now seems to be in trying to channel all this frustration and anger into something positive and constructive. Iranians have experience letting these kinds of movements get out of control (the 1979 Revolution), so I think people in general are being cautious. No one, aside from the Basij, really wants any kind of violence. All the protestors want is democratic reform and to at least have their votes counted in an honest manner. In my cousin's own words: "We must think of constructive and positive outlets for the pressure and momentum the people of Iran have found. We must put Iran on a path towards a first-world nation with national cohesion among minorities and equal rights for all." The facts on the ground, though, indicate that the government may not give the people constructive and positive outlets, and we might descend into violence.
2:05 PM ET -- Two more Republicans back Obama's Iran moves. Spencer Ackerman highlights the comments of former Bush diplomat Nicholas Burns as well as Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), who told CBS News:
I think for the moment our position is to allow the Iranians to work out their situation. When popular revolutions occur, they come really from the people. They're generated by people power within the country. For us to become heavily involved in the election at this point is to give the clergy an opportunity to have an enemy...and to use us, really, to retain their power.
1:52 PM ET -- Solidarity. BBC goes green.
Update: Not so fast? Reader Hamed writes: "While it looks like the BBC is showing some solidarity with the opposition in Iran, it's not actually accurate. The BBC's front page continuously changes colour. Blue, red, green, yellow, purple etc.... I live in London and the BBC website is my homepage so I know!!"
1:46 PM ET -- State Department working with Twitter. CNN: "Senior officials say the State Department is working with Twitter and other social networking sites to ensure Iranians are able to continue to communicate to each other and the outside world."
Also, Voice of America Iran today launched a Twitter account.
And Wired.com has an follow-up: "Web Attacks Expand in Iran's Cyber Battle (Updated)."
1:32 PM ET -- Killers. This is very graphic video so please be cautioned. A desperate group of people try to save a demonstrator who's been stabbed, to no avail.
I don't enjoy posting this kind of content. But it helps those of us living in relative comfort understand the gravity of the situation, and supplants the dearth of coverage we are getting now that the foreign media has been clamped down.
1:29 PM ET -- Good news. "Mousavi's Facebook page says that today's rally was non-violent and there were no reports of aggression on the part of the armed forces."
1:24 PM ET -- Shock troops. Is there any better term? From reader Nima:
1:18 PM ET -- A Grand Ayatollah questions the election, supports peaceful protests. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, one of the leaders of the 1979 Islamic Revolution who fell out of favor with Khamenei over disagreements on civil and women's rights, has "issued a statement supporting peaceful protests to 'claim rights,' condemned the violence, and called the Iranian presidential election results into question." Translated version here.
1:10 PM ET -- Another log on the fire? An Iranian-American friend writes, "Wednesday is the last qualifying game for the Iranian national soccer team for the World Cup. If they lose they don't qualify. This revolt is different from '99 and '04 in that it's not primarily student based. It's worth noting that if Iran loses to the good South Korea team, there is a whole another spark of frustration."
1:06 PM ET -- More end-runs around the media ban. TehranBureau.com posts audio (with English subtitles) of a very interesting interview with a woman at the scene of yesterday's post-rally shooting.
12:55 PM ET -- Translated. Several very generous readers spent time translating this site, which looked like it had some interesting insights on the photos from yesterday's events. As it turns out, the text is pretty basic, not a lot of news.
12:43 PM ET -- Spreading fear. NIAL: "We have an unconfirmed report about police intimidation. The source tells us that although he did not take part in the protests yesterday, an individual contacted his residence and left him a chilling message. The person on the phone told him that "we know that you took part in the rallies and as a result of your participation, you will be dealt with." The source says that many people are getting this message."
An Iranian posting on Twitter had a similar report earlier: "NEWS: Ppl randomly receiving calls w/ automated msg "you've participated in protest" 2 scare ppl"
12:40 PM ET -- Obama: "Something has happened in Iran."
Mr. Obama added: "When I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, wherever that takes place, it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should interact with their people."
Mr. Obama also said that "something has happened in Iran," leading to "a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures towards the international community that have taken place in the past. That there are people who want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy. How that plays out over the next several days and several weeks is something for the Iranian people to decide."
12:30 PM ET -- Order issued to ambulances? From a good source: "I'm getting a message that the Ministry of Health has issued an order that all ambulances must transport the injureds to the Hospital managed by the Guardian Force." We're looking for more confirmation now.
12:20 PM ET -- The moment. A fantastic compilation sent over by reader Nancy.
12:19 PM ET -- Requests for Diggs. Because of the nature of this live-blog (it's all on one web page), it's hard to get it promoted on Digg more than once. But that doesn't mean it can't happen! It's been reposted again here if you'd like to show your support.
12:06 PM ET -- Obama speaking now on Iran. Brief comments -- my colleague Lila sends over a few quick quotes: "Not productive to be seen as meddling... Something ultimately for the Iranian people to decide...but I stand strongly with the universal principle that people's voices should be heard and not supressed."
11:59 AM ET -- "Unity rally." "Iran's state-run Press TV is calling the earlier gathering in support of Mr. Ahmadinejad a 'unity rally.'"
11:55 AM ET -- More on today's major opposition rally. From the NYT's excellent blog The Lede:
The Guardian reports that opposition supporters are on the streets of Tehran. According to a phone call to London from Saeed Kamali Dehghan, who is at the rally in Vali e Asr Square: "Tens of thousands of people have now gathered outside the IRIB, the headquarters of the state broadcasters." The Guardian's Matt Weaver says that Mr. Dehghan also attended the earlier rally in the same location:
"He contrasts the police's handling of the opposition protest with the pro-government march on nearby North Valiasr Streets. Ahmadinejad's supporters have been ushered along peacefully, whereas Mousavi's supporters have faced hostility from the police and assertions that the protest is illegal."
11:43 AM ET -- Massive opposition rally reported. A BBC News breaking alert, via reader David:
Iranian opposition supporters are staging a mass rally in northern Tehran, witnesses have told the BBC.
It comes despite presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi urging supporters not to risk clashes with demonstrators backing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Hundreds of thousands turned up on Monday alleging fraud in the poll which returned Mr Ahmadinejad to office.
Tough new restrictions on the foreign media mean the BBC is unable to confirm reports of Tuesday's opposition rally.
The new restrictions have been imposed amid apparent surprise and concern among authorities at the scale of popular defiance over Friday's official election results.
Correspondents say crowds the size of those at Monday's opposition rally have not been seen in Tehran since the 1979 revolution.
An eyewitness told the BBC Tuesday's rally was even bigger than Monday's - though this cannot be independently confirmed.
11:37 AM ET -- Sabotaging Twitter. If you've been watching the Iran unrest unfold on Twitter, I think you'll agree that there's been an increase in messages, allegedly from Iranians, that seem phony or meant to cause confusion. Surely, some of this is due to pranksters, in the U.S. and elsewhere, who simply enjoy disrupting social networking technology.
In addition, legitimate Iranian tweeters are getting concerned about something more sinister.
# DO NOT RT anything U read from "NEW" tweeters, gvmt spreading misinfo #gr88 #iranelection
# RT @RobertHooman: RT @stopAhmadi Security forces opening twitter accounts 2 pose as protestors n spread disinformation
11:32 AM ET -- New Karroubi letter? One of the other minor reformist presidential candidates, Mehdi Karroubi, appeared yesterday with Mousavi at the mass opposition rally in Tehran. Apparently he has a new letter out. Reader Artur writes: "Perhaps you already noticed what some Twitter sources say about Karroubi's letter to the Council of Guardians in which he names Ahmadinejad a liar. Here's the link - could someone speaking Farsi translate it to english?"
11:31 AM ET -- What the nurses and doctors were saying. A reader of Andrew's helps translate some of the video I posted earlier (9:35):
One woman (maybe a nurse) shows a sign which says 8 people were martyred here last night. Toward the end of the clip the young man (whose voice breaks down many times) is saying that he witnessed the brutal beating of women and children and wonders who these brutish forces are. He speculates that they are not Iranians, but Lebanese Hezbollah.
11:28 AM ET -- The scene in Shiraz. Lots of accounts on Twitter about attacks in the city of Shiraz last night. Reader Mona sends over an email from her cousin there:
I don't have access to fb and other sites.
I can only check my emails.
All communication tools are limited here. They are making people silent.
Last night they attacked Shiraz University and hit students at school which is illegal.
Masters of uni protested the police to enter the school and dormitory but they hit them too.
Many teachers resigned and all final exams are canceled.
Last night many girls were standing outside of the dormitory because the police didn't allow them to go back to their rooms, so they called us and we invited them to our houses.
You don't know how rude they are.
They are like wild animals.
People here attacked public places like banks to show their anger.
I am so angry because there is no way to communicate with other people!!!!!!!!!!
Our voice should be heard please tell the world what's going on here.
11:05 AM ET -- Mousavi ready to make his case. "Mousavi announced [Farsi] that he is prepared to participate in live TV programs to talk about his position on the elections."
Also from the National Iranian American Council: "Twitter feeds from Tehran are reporting that today's worker strike went according to plan, with most offices in Tehran deserted."
10:58 AM ET -- Rallying for a crackdown. "Thousands of pro-government demonstrators have gathered in Tehran in a show of support for the authorities' crackdown on independent media and opposition protesters."
Sadegh Zibakalam, an Iranian political analyst, said that the government had arranged Tuesday's protest in response to the anti-government movement.
"The government doesn't want to appear as being too soft - that's why they called this rally today and asked its supporters to come to the square where Mousavi's supporters had decided to gather," he told Al Jazeera.
"By arranging these crowds the government is making two points. It wants to demonstrate that it is firm in dealing with this crisis, [and] on the other hand they have been called [on] by the pro-government crowd to crack down.
"In a sense it is a justification for the seven people who were killed last night."
10:44 AM ET -- Abtahi arrested. Reuters has a piece out now on reports we got late last night about former Iranian Vice President Abtahi being arrested.
Reader Eugene sent over the last post from Abtahi's English-language blog, published three days ago (the site has apparently been up and down all day, here is a cached version).
The title of the post: "It was a huge swindling."
There was a lot of difference between yesterday and last night. Yesterday Iran was joyful because of changing the fate. Every body participated in. But last night was a shocking and bitter night. Like 4 years ago, Fars news agency and Keyhan announced news. It was unbelievable. Little by little news became as heavy as a mountain in front of every body that had seen it was not real. [...]
It is expected that candidates especially Mr. Mosavi who has announced himself as winner of election, can get result of their efforts. It seems they would like to request another election. I don't know if it is possible or not. How ever society is full of amazement and shocking. Young generation, who wanted to define him/her in this system, now is bitterly despairing. Again youngsters will think about immigration and thousands other things... how ever world won't be finished by such events... we should try not to fall.
10:38 AM ET -- Another request for Farsi readers. Reader Ian writes:
"Any chance someone could get this translated? It's a really nice example of HUMINT. It's extremely detailed and even uses patches on officers clothing to id their unit, and ids the plains clothed units too."
10:31 AM ET -- Jon Stewart's take. The Daily Show on Iran's election.
10:19 AM ET -- Cyberwar guide for Iran election. "The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through twitter." Update: Readers say that link is down. Here's a copy of the post.
10:12 AM ET -- BBC reporter: the recount is a ruse. Jon Leyne from Tehran:
The more I see this announcement about being willing to recount ballots, the more I think it is just a political ruse to try and wrong-foot the opposition. They have offered a recount, but they have not said who is going to carry it out. Maybe the same people who did the election count to start with.
In any case, the opposition says there were so many other irregularities, that a recount alone would not satisfy them. For example, many more ballot papers were issued than counted, they say. Some people did not get enough ballot papers so they could not vote in areas loyal to the opposition. Polling stations were closed early, and so on and so forth.
9:43 AM ET -- The cover up continues. From reader Simon: "An Australian journalist in Tehran interviewed on Australian ABC TV about half an hour ago said that his Press Pass has been cancelled, even though it was meant to expire in 12 days."
9:35 AM ET -- When's the last time you've seen this? Still in their lab coats and scrubs, doctors and nurses rally in Tehran on Tuesday morning.
9:31 AM ET -- Rallying for punishment: "In downtown Tehran, thousands of people gathered Tuesday in a state-organized rally that Iran's state media said was designed to demand punishment for the rioters from Monday's clashes. While there had been reports earlier of another rally Tuesday of supporters of reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi, possibly setting the stage for violent clashes, Moussavi, in a message posted on his Web site, said he would not be attending any rally and asked his supporters to 'not fall in the trap of street riots' and 'exercise self-restraint.'"
9:15 AM ET -- The foreign press ban. Worse than first reported. They basically can't report on anything, at all. From the AP:
Authorities restricted journalists, including Iranians working for foreign media from reporting on the streets, and said they could only work from their offices, conducting telephone interviews and monitoring official sources such as state television.
The rules prevent media outlets, including The Associated Press, from sending independent photos or video of street protests or rallies.
Also Tuesday, foreign reporters in Iran to cover last week's elections began leaving the country. Iranian officials said they will not extend their visas.
More from CBS: "Iran's hard-line regime, starting to show stress under the mounting pressure of massive opposition rallies, has told foreign media that if they're seen on the streets of Tehran today with a camera, they will be arrested."
9:13 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad in Russia.
Iran's under-fire President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday sat side-by-side with world leaders at a summit in Russia, defiantly proclaiming the age of empires had ended and attacking the United States.
In a show of confidence after the worst riots in his country in a decade, Ahmadinejad made no mention of the violence or his hotly disputed reelection victory in his address to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
"The international capitalist order is retreating," the controversial president told world leaders, including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and China's Hu Jintao, in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.
"It is absolutely obvious that the age of empires has ended and its revival will not take place."
9:05 AM ET -- What if the police decide they want to be part of this moment? The latest from Roger Cohen of the New York Times, who has been in Iran since before the election.
For the first time, I saw traffic police smiling at the crowd. Even the black-clad elite riot police were impassive. "Raise your arms, raise your arms," one man murmured to them.
If the regime had hoped to quell Iran's powerful democratic stirring with a massive show of force since last Friday's vote, it failed to do so.
For the first time, in that crowd, it seemed to me that the forces of change, the deeper Iran of civility and courage that I first encountered several months ago, might prevail. Seldom has silence been more eloquent or potent. [...]
Many women are trying quietly to bridge the chasm and avoid the worst. I've heard them whispering to the Basij and the police that "We are all Iranians," urging them to hold back.
8:55 AM ET -- Foreign media crackdown intensifies. CNN reporting that all foreign media have now been banned from covering any of the protests or other unrest. Tracking down more information on this.
8:40 AM ET -- McCain keeps hitting Obama on Iran. From this morning's Today show:
DAVID GREGORY: Let's get right to it on Iran. How does the U.S. deal with an emboldened Iranian President Ahmadinejad?
SENATOR JOHN McCAIN: Well, we lead; we condemn the sham, corrupt election. We do what we have done throughout the Cold War and afterwards, we speak up for the people of Tehran and Iran and all the cities all over that country who have been deprived of one of their fundamental rights. We speak out forcefully, and we make sure that the world knows that America leads - and including increased funding for part of the Farda, Iranian free radio.
Ah, yes, because U.S.-Iran relations "throughout the Cold War and afterwards" are such a model of success.
4:18 AM ET -- BBC: Guardian Council agrees to recount. Potentially huge news:
Iran's powerful Guardian Council says it is ready to hold a recount of disputed votes in Friday's presidential election.
Opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has contested President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, alleging widespread fraud.
Does this mean Iranians will get a legitimate, accurate count of their votes? It's unclear, and many, initially, are pessimistic. But it is to be sure another major blow to the credibility of Khamenei and his government.
4:11 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad's big victory celebration on Sunday. Via a Farsi-speaking reader: in this video from BBC Persia, at 20:30, a women caller who says she works for the Communications Department says the government brought in 15-20 buses of people to attend the pro-Ahmadinejad "victory rally" on Sunday. She also said that Tehran's typical traffic ordinance, allowing either even or odd number license plates to enter the city on a given day, was not being enforced to encourage more attendance.
3:31 AM ET -- Dueling rallies tomorrow. Via reader Colin, Le Monde is reporting that Ahmadinejad supporters are planning a demonstration two hours prior to the planned reformist rally, at the same location.
3:17 AM ET -- The propaganda machine. Last night, I asked for Farsi-speaking readers to help give us a sense of how Iran's government-backed newspapers were addressing the rallies. Mehrun sent us a great overview earlier (12:55 AM). Reader Arvin helped translate more major headlines in the top state newspaper Kayhan News.
I try to stay as literal and true to the original piece as possible:
Main headline: "An important recommendation by the leader of the revolution [i.e the
supreme leader]: Mr. Moussavi, separate your path from that of the anarchists."
-Mir-Hossein is just an excuse. We were after fundamental changes, which didn't happen:
An anti-revolutionary element said: "U.S. and Israel were after changing the president in Iran but now they have to make do with the current situation."
-The vote of the Iranian people made U.S. and Israel's work much harder.
-The guardian council will publish the results of the investigation
into complaints by the candidates.
-A Moussavi supporter: the elections were run completely healthy.
The rest are about agriculture, Iraq, and general news.
3:09 AM ET -- Iran state TV using Fox News footage. Earlier this evening, emailer Valentina sent along this Farsi-language video of a June 15 news report by Iranian national TV. She described it as such:
This video is about yesterday events when people gathered in front of one of candidates' (Mousavi but no name was mentioned in the report) HQ. In brief: The narrator says that a group of opportunistic people supporting a candidate (without bringing the name) are responsible for breaking and destroying the public/ private property. They are blaming the foreign media for supporting the riots and covering the story. They cited Fox News who has predicted the violence and wants to divide Iranian people. They are interviewing a group of people who are mad because their property has got destroyed.
In search of more detail of how the government is spinning Monday's events, I asked another reader (who has graciously been helping me translate Farsi) to give a more detailed description. He obliged:
What a propaganda masterpiece. So the gist of it is that there were some minor rallies that started peacefully but some people took advantage of the situation and began vandalizing. Meanwhile, the foreign press tried to make it sound worst and create disunity among the population. It cuts to a Fox News interview that US should take advantage of this situation and make contact with the people in the street. They then interview shop owners -- "victims" -- saying the government should stop such act of vandalism. 'It's unfair to us (shop owners) to come to work and see our properties and business is damaged.'
A fascinating look inside the state's message machine, and as he noted, "you see how well they monitor all news sources to put together that video montage."
3:05 AM ET -- 14 on 1. From reader Maryam.
3:01 AM ET -- The man who climbed Freedom Tower. From reader Allie.
1:58 AM ET -- A violent turn. News reports coming in tonight include a great deal of new evidence of violence and repression in Iran from the last 24 hours or so. It's quite alarming -- and a grim sign of what's to come.
-- The website of Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Iran's former vice president under Khatami and an adviser to one of this year's reformist candidates Karoubi, says he has been arrested for "seditious acts."
-- Iran's official media building "Seda va Seema" (radio and television) building in north western city of Tabriz was reported to be on fire.
-- The UK Times reported eyewitness accounts of paramilitaries on motorcycles opening fire on youths after a rally.
-- Iranians on Twitter reported a "BIG explosion @ Nooshiravani Babol U (North Iran)" early on Tuesday. "police doesn't lets people go there & see what had happened."
-- The Wall Street Journal: "a student-run news service reported that five students -- two women and three men -- were killed Sunday night in dormitory raids by Basij forces at Tehran University. That report couldn't be independently verified."
-- The UK Guardian: "A Farsi website, Balatarin, carried an unconfirmed report that seven people had been killed in the southern city of Shiraz following confrontations with riot police at the local university. Five busloads of plainclothes officers had been sent to confront the demonstrators during Sunday's protests, but were said to have been unable to prevent them from being joined by members of the public and marching to one of the city's main squares. It is unclear whether all those said to have died were students."
-- The UK Independent's Robert Fisk: "A student began shouting at me in English through those grim black gates. 'There was a massacre,' he bellowed. 'The Basiji and the police came into our student dorms. It all started after the violence last Saturday. The people in the street had been throwing stones, so many of us fled from the campus to our homes. We came back yesterday and it seemed quiet. Then all these armed men burst into the dorms, shooting.'
1:39 AM ET -- Going green. From a reader: "On Facebook, Iranians are asking the South Koreans to wear green for the Iran Korea World cup qualifying game on June 17th in Korea, as a show of support for Iranian people."
1:35 AM ET -- Iran's state media: seven people killed on Monday. More on this coming soon but wanted to get this up, sent in by more people than I can name:
Seven people were killed when a military post was attacked near a rally held a day ago in Tehran to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, radio Payam announced.
"Several thugs wanted to attack a military post and vandalise public property in the vicinity of Azadi Square," the radio said referring to the site of the rally held on Monday.
"Unfortunately seven people were killed and several others wounded in the incident."
However, a source told AFP that the emergency services department had information that eight people were killed and several wounded in the incident.
1:08 AM ET -- Some good news. Readers Jens, Eva and Chris report that the German camera technician for the ARD news network who went missing in Iran over the weekend has turned up safe. Eva pointed to this article in German, Chris sent in this account from Die Welt, and Jens wrote, "German evening news reported that he has been released."
What happened to him in the first place? This article, sent by Chris, "says that a team of 6 'bouncers' came to the ARD office, ready to beat things and people up and that they took one of the crew. I assume he was a local guy, otherwise it would have been stated in the article."
1:04 AM ET -- Is Ahmadinejad's exit an alarming sign? There are a slew of reports coming in about new violence in Iran. I've been trying to sift through and find as much evidence as possible. In the meantime, however, reader Salim makes a critical point about the apparent newly-aggressive crackdown: "not surprised...they will want to crush this now, before it gets out of hand... and Ahmadinejad is out of country so it would not reflect on him...this is probably well orchestrated." Not clear if this is the case, of course, but well worth considering.