Iran Election Live-Blogging (Saturday June 20 Part II)
This is part II of the archive of my Iran election live-blogging from Saturday, June 20 14. For the latest updates, click here.
11:49 PM ET -- Parliament Speaker: Majority of Iranians think election was fraudulent. And printed in state-run media no less!
Iran's Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani suggests that some of the members in the Guardian Council have sided with a certain candidate in the June 12 presidential election.
Speaking live on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Saturday, the speaker said that "a majority of people are of the opinion that the actual election results are different than what was officially announced."
"The opinion of this majority should be respected and a line should be drawn between them and rioters and miscreants," he was quoted as saying by Khabaronline -- a website affiliated with him.
He was referring to rallies that have been held on a daily basis in Iran, since the announcement of the presidential election results last Friday, in which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with almost two thirds of the vote.
Via reader Oliver.
11:10 PM ET -- Terrifying home invasion video. CNN just aired this amateur video of a basiji raid tonight on what looks to be an apartment complex. Just listen to the audio -- pure terror.
A reader helps transcribe: "'They are vandalizing all the cars,' the voice says, with all the car alarms going off. I think the banging sound is from the baton on the windshield and on banging the cars. The last loud female scream is, 'Go GET LOST!'"
10:05 PM ET -- More on the Assembly of Experts statement. Earlier today, the Tehran Times posted an article claiming that the powerful clerical group, the Assembly of Experts, had on Saturday "expressed its 'strong support' for the Supreme Leader's statements on the presidential elections on Friday." It would have been a major blow to reformists' efforts to win the support of many senior clerics.
But as it turns out, it's not true. Reader Ali writes in:
I just wanted to point out that the letter of support written by assembly of experts in support of Khamenei's sermon is only signed by the deputy leader of the assembly, who is a former head of the judiciary and a staunch supporter of ahmadinejad, as well as a rival of Rafsanjani for the assembly's leadership election. He is the only one signing the letter and the government sponsored news media are reporting it as a letter from the full assembly.
And reader Majid provides more details:
Once again thanks for the great job in reporting the events. Just a comment about your 7:33pm item about the Assembly of Experts. The statement is not by the Assembly of Experts, but by Mohammad Yazdi, the head of the "Dabirkhane" of the Assembly of Experts. His statement doesn't carry much weight and definitely not a blow to the freedom movement. After all, there are certainly many Khamene'i loyalists in the Assembly of Experts and such comments could be expected from these cowards.
9:48 PM ET -- Bill Clinton on Iran.
"What's going on in Iran, really?" Clinton asked. "They have some ethnic differences there and some religious differences, but basically, this is about a government trying to deny the modern world.
"And the idea is they just don't think they can keep control, if everybody gets to say what they really believe, and go where they really want, and be who they want to be," Clinton said, adding with a chuckle: "And they're right, right there."
9:30 PM ET -- "Secret meeting of Ahmadinejad in Qom." This grainy video was posted on YouTube today. It shows Ahmadinejad in a small room with several other men talking about current events. An Iranian-American friend who watched it commented: "It's very interesting...not in itself, but it has to have a second part since it's not a full length. It's almost like he is taking credit for all the youth that is outside. Either he is trying to convince them he is the reason they are out, or that he is the right person to fully utilize their 'energy.'"
If you have any other thoughts, or know where the second half of the video is, let me know.
Update: A Voice of America reporter writes in to say that, despite being uploaded today, this video is not new.
9:19 PM ET -- Solidarity. A big crowd turns out tonight, despite some rain, in Washington D.C. Photo via reader Artin.
8:53 PM ET -- "Sister, have a short sleep, your last dream be sweet." Yesterday we printed a touching letter from an Iranian woman that began with these ominous lines: "I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed..."
Tonight, she posted a second letter, passed along and translated by two readers. She writes about her "sister" in this cause who was killed today, referring to Neda.
Yesterday I wrote a note, with the subject line "tomorrow is a great day perhaps tomorrow I'll be killed." I'm here to let you know I'm alive but my sister was killed...
I'm here to tell you my sister died while in her father's hands
I'm here to tell you my sister had big dreams...
I'm here to tell you my sister who died was a decent person... and like me yearned for a day when her hair would be swept by the wind... and like me read "Forough" [Forough Farrokhzad]... and longed to live free and equal... and she longed to hold her head up and announce, "I'm Iranian"... and she longed to one day fall in love to a man with a shaggy hair... and she longed for a daughter to braid her hair and sing lullaby by her crib...
my sister died from not having life... my sister died as injustice has no end... my sister died since she loved life too much... and my sister died since she lovingly cared for people...
my loving sister, I wish you had closed your eyes when your time had come... the very end of your last glance burns my soul....
sister have a short sleep. your last dream be sweet.
7:57 PM ET -- Neda. That appears to be the name of the woman whose death in the streets today was captured on film, and has been broadcast around the world. I posted it earlier at 2:57 PM.
From Twitter, via Chas: "Her name was ندا (#Neda), which means voice or call in Farsi. She is the voice of the people, a call to freedom - RIP, Neda"
7:42 PM ET -- Rights group: Injured demonstrators arrested at hospitals. "Numerous Iranians beaten and injured by security forces as they tried to stage peaceful demonstrations have been arrested and detained when they sought medical treatment in hospitals," the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today.
"The arrest of citizens seeking care for wounds suffered at the hands of security forces when they attempted to exercise rights guaranteed under their own constitution and international law is deplorable," said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign. "It can only be taken as a sign of profound disrespect by the state for the well-being of its own people."
Additionally, the Campaign said it had "learned that communications out of Tehran's Evin prison have been cut off. Evin prison is where many of Iran's long-term political prisoners and a number of intellectuals, opposition politicians, human rights activists and journalists detained over the past several days are incarcerated."
7:33 PM ET -- Top clerical group Assembly of Experts supports Khamenei. (Update see Saturday 10:05 PM entry.) If accurate, this statement reported by the Tehran Times -- by the one council with the authority to unseat the Supreme Leader -- appears to deal a significant blow to the idea that the clerical establishment would help bring down Khamenei.
In a statement issued on Saturday the Assembly of Experts expressed its "strong support" for the Supreme Leader's statements on the presidential elections on Friday.
The 86-member assembly stated in the statement that it is hoped that the nation would realize the current condition and by sticking to the Leader's guidelines preserve their patience and manifest their unity.
The Qom Seminary Teachers Society also issued a statement on Saturday declaring strong support for the guidelines of the Supreme Leader.
6:55 PM ET -- Another Iranian apparently shot dead today. It's important to remember, in the midst of all this violence, that for several days this week, the reformist demonstrators marched peacefully -- sometimes silently. The scenes today look chaotic, and some might mistakenly think that police forces in Iran felt it necessary (however unfortunately) to use force because the protests were getting out of control. This is the opposite of the truth. The violence that apparently killed the man in this video was completely indiscriminate, competely unjustifiable.
6:44 PM ET -- "I was beaten for taking photographs." That's Hanif, a contributor to the citizen photojournalism site Demotix, which has captured dozens of great images over the past week. (Check out Hanif's full gallery from today here.)
Hanif is the third person today who says they were targeted for carrying a camera or cell phone. The paramilitaries have found a new target now that the foreign media are off the streets.
6:30 PM ET -- "Top cleric may be playing role in Iran unrest." The AP digs into the role that Rafsanjani may be playing in working to undermine Supreme Leader Khamenei.
One of Iran's most powerful men may be playing a key role behind closed doors in the country's escalating postelection crisis.
Former president and influential cleric Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has made no public comment since Iran erupted into confrontation between backers of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformists who claim he stole re-election through fraud.
But Iranian TV has shown pictures of Rafsanjani's daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, speaking to hundreds of opposition supporters. And Rafsanjani, who has made no secret of his distaste for Ahmadinejad, was conspicuously absent from an address by the country's supreme leader calling for national unity and siding with the president.
6:22 PM ET -- Crowds. The U.S. cable news networks, particularly this morning, were reporting that the crowds out today were not as big as in past rallies. At this point, no one has any idea how many people were in the streets. And given the high expectation of violence -- and then the violence itself -- one would expect them to be smaller. But watch this video -- that is a lot of people:
6:00 PM ET -- Where is Rafsanjani? "According to an online reformist news source Rooyeh, Rafsanjani has been in Qom meeting some members of Council of Experts and a representative of Ayatollah Sistani.
According to the source that asked to remain anonymous, during this meeting they recounted memories of the days of the Revolution.
A reasonable purpose of these meetings, according to the source, is that Rafsanjani is looking for a majority to possibly call for Ahmadinejad's resignation.
As one reader points out, Sistani is "one of the most respected Grand Ayatollahs within Shia Islam in the world. He's Iranian (from Mashhad, same city as Khamenei), but spends most time in Najaf/Karbala in Iraq."
5:55 PM ET -- Photos. Just updated the front page slideshow with several new wire photos.
4:28 PM ET -- Roger Cohen's latest. Via reader Maher, it begins with an amazing moment:
The Iranian police commander, in green uniform, walked up Komak Hospital Alley with arms raised and his small unit at his side. "I swear to God," he shouted at the protesters facing him, "I have children, I have a wife, I don't want to beat people. Please go home."
A man at my side threw a rock at him. The commander, unflinching, continued to plead. There were chants of "Join us! Join us!" The unit retreated toward Revolution Street, where vast crowds eddied back and forth confronted by baton-wielding Basij militia and black-clad riot police officers on motorbikes.
Full piece is here.
4:16 PM ET -- If you'd like to support this post on Digg... click here.
4:04 PM ET -- Freeway overtaken by battle with the basij. Reported to be from today, near Azadi Square. It's a bit difficult to tell what's happening here but it seems that the basij are the smaller crowd on the right hand side, being confronted by the much larger crowd of demonstrators.
Here is another longer video with some graphic content near the end. Reader Chas sums it up: "Its a roaming shot of protesters walking toward a street corner where people are already clashing with the militia, Women hand them rocks on the way, and when they get there shots are fired and the crowd carries back a man who has been hit, and then the crowd retreats away from the scene, showing the blood of the man who has apparently been killed."
3:31 PM ET -- "I was in the middle of a war." Another email from a contact in Iran:
You couldn't imagin what I saw tonight, I walked down many streets(Vali asr, keshavars, amir abad, Fatemi, Shademan, Satarkhan, Khosro), and I was injured by tears gas, but the main thing : The big killer group, called "Basij", weared our special military service group -"Sepah"- dresses and they were all armed , I saw by myself one of them had only around 15 years old!!!! and he had the shot order! I saw a girl injured by gon shot (in Amir abad St.)! and there weren't enough ambulances . I walked through Shademan St. they start shooting , a young boy in front of my eyes murdered , and 3 other people were injured , there were also a big fight between people and Basij at Tohid Sq. 7 people was murdered there, I walked from my company to my home , It was taken 4 hours and I couldn't be able to make a video , cause I was in the middle of war!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
3:25 PM ET -- Riot police target people with cell phone. A brave Iranian photographer has been sending us photos (through an amazing Iranian-American reader who has been helping us cover the situation since we started). The photos are in the slideshow currently on the homepage.
The photographer also included this note:
I could not get through. the guards were hitting people really hard to block their way. I got hit a few times, fortunately a few bruises but nothing major. they were hitting the women as hard if it didn't seem harder. they smashed all mobiles and then smack the mobile owners with batons. they also blocked all above ground routes out. the only way out was via the metro
This isn't the first we've heard of the riot police and basiji targeting people with cell phones and mobile devices. A contact from the National Iranian American Council wrote this today:
Security and police have been confiscating cameras and arresting those who are taking footage. I saw this young guy taking a video and 5 people attacked him and throughout it all he help his hand up with a peace sign.- then they arrested him. They have also handcuffed students to the Tehran University fence.
We talk to some normal police and patrolling cops- they are nice and are trying to help people. But it is the Basij and anti-riot that are ruthless.
3:20 PM ET -- Accounts from the ground. From a reader in Iran who I've been corresponding with for the last several days:
Just got home...haven't read you're blog yet but if there's a lot of stories about violence I'm sure they're all true. I don't know where to start, I'd taken my camera but had the sence to take out the memory card this came in hany as I was serched twice (by Basij) before getting stuck in the middle of hell. If I'd been caught with pictures it would mean jail time and a possible a charge of spying (as I'm a Canadian citizen). Eventually I dropped of the camera at the house of a friend without being able to take any pictures as it would make me a definate target...The chants of death to Khamenei are true...I witnessed peoples fear of the Basij dissapear, an 80 year old chadori woman with rocks in her hands calling for the exacution of khamenei and all Basij...A group of Basij were surrounded and forced in to a building, the front was blocked with garbage and set on fire, They (basij) opened fire on the crowd with what I assume were blanks, the crowed disspersed for a moment the came back with a fury...thats when the molotov cocktails came out. When I moved on the building was on fire...an hour later when I passed by again there wasn't much of a building left. There was full blown war...there was a young man who had taken all of a basij's things including their teargas rifle. We were finnaly able to get out on the back of motorcycle...the ride home took 25 minutes,for 15 minutes of it we were passing intermitently though Basij and protesters fires placed to displace the teargas... might I add the 3 hours that we walked through fire we didn't see one shop or car that had been damaged by protesters...however I just recieved word for the one who was kind enough to keep my camera and other belongings that the Basij had gone into her street and destoryed cars...thats all I can get out for now hope some of it may be useful...I'm pissed I was unable to get pictures.
In a follow-up email, he adds, "oh and one last thing the water canons didn't seem to do anything but cool people down. the one that I saw was chased off my a mass of people not seconds after it opened fire (or is it water)."
3:03 PM ET -- Hospital numbers. TehranBureau, which has been a useful source of reliable information, posts these unverified numbers: "Fatemiyeh Hospital Tehran: 30-40 dead as of 11pm; 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured."
3:00 PM ET -- "Biden-Obama Axis Shifts Biden's Way on Iran." The latest from Steve Clemons.
2:47 PM ET -- Obama: "The world is watching." Just out from the White House:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.
As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples' belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.
Also, the White House press pool just received a notice to gather at 3:10 PM ET. He may be making an on-camera statement.
2:40 PM ET -- Out in full force. The latest dispatch from a BBC correspondent:
Security forces were everywhere in central Tehran in the late afternoon and early evening.
As I spent a couple of hours driving around in heavy traffic I could see thousands of men, some uniformed members of the military riot squads, some units of revolutionary guard, and everywhere basijis - militiamen who look like street toughs.
The security men were deployed on every street corner, in long lines down the sides of the roads, and in all the main squares.
The basijis wore riot helmets and carried big clubs. It was designed to intimidate, and while I was there, it was working.
2:37 PM ET -- Graphic video of a woman shot. In the past hour, I've received this video via email and IM dozens and dozens of times. I had various YouTube versions linked below but they kept being removed, so I've uploaded the videos to our own servers. Warning: they are intensely graphic scenes depicting a woman who has just been shot and dies on camera. They are extremely difficult to watch (though, rather stunningly, they were aired on CNN earlier today).
Still images are here if they would be easier to see for you.
Again, reader beware.
Here is the statement posted along with the original video:
Basij shots to death a young woman in Tehran's Saturday June 20th protests At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim's chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know.
As the New York Times notes, "Again, we have no way of knowing when or where the video was shot, or if this reader's account is accurate, due to the intense restrictions on first-hand reporting imposed on the press inside Iran."
2:20 PM ET -- Robert Worth in Iran. The excellent New York Times reporter just published a fantastic week in review piece.
1:26 PM ET -- Attacking the defenseless. What is so shocking about many of these videos is that the armed police are willing to attack completely defenseless bystanders. This video, apparently from the university in Shiraz, shows police not in any immediate danger walking up to veiled women who are leaning against a fence and raising their batons above their heads, threatening them, and then occassionally striking them. It is pure brutality.
A few readers -- Poria and Ramin -- provide the rough translation:
"prepare, get ready... pedar sag (your dad is a dog) farsi equivalent of SOB... he says Haroomzadeha a lot. which is a typical farsi insult meaning Bastards (plural)... He shouts at them: Dont hit them! Dont hit them combined with above insults... Dont hit an old woman several times... go away... bastards(really pissed), why are you hitting peoples daughters... Izrail (in Islam the angel of death, in this case it's likely used as slang for 'devil' or 'person from hell')... honorless ones... they are hitting people daughters and sisters... then you hear the girl shouting bastards after which the guy says: i shit on the souls of your father and mother... go away filths, bastards, fatherless ones
1:19 PM ET -- State TV reportedly shows shrine damage. From a reader: "I'm watching state TV here in Dubai and they just did a report on the bombing at the mausoleum. There was NO DAMAGE. All they showed was a broken window saying the "terrorists" luckily blew themselves up outside the building before doing any damage inside. The "bombing" was clearly a fraud as there was NO DAMAGE done to the mausoleum other than a broken window they showed at the entrance of the building. It clearly looked like there was NO BOMBING, no explosion fragments or blood shown just one shattered window. Also a correction to my previous e-mail. The program said the youths had been talking to "friends" in the U.K. and the U.S. on the phone about causing destruction in Iran rather than actually going to the U.S. and being trained. Important difference but the subtext is the same. They're clearly building a case for foreign interference i.e. the U.K and U.S."
1:05 PM ET -- Photos. Getty is pushing out the first professional wire photos of the scenes today. More here.
12:42 PM ET -- The world is watching. The people fight back against the Basiji.