Iran Election Live-Blogging (Sunday June 21)
This is an archive of my Iran election live-blogging. For the latest updates, click here.
11:58 PM ET -- The Chatham House study on Iran's election. I was traveling today and only briefly mentioned the major Chatham House study examining the results of Iran's election. Here is the full study (pdf), and the New York Times highlights some key points:
[S]erious new questions about the vote's integrity were raised outside of Iran. Chatham House, a London-based research organization, released a study done with the University of St. Andrews challenging the Iranian government's results, based on a comparison with the 2005 elections as well as Iran's own census data.
The study showed, for example, that in two provinces where Mr. Ahmadinejad won a week ago, a turnout of more than 100 percent was recorded.
The study also showed that in a third of all provinces, the official results, if true, would have required that Mr. Ahmadinejad win not only all conservative voters and all former centrist voters and all new voters, but up to 44 percent of formerly reformist voters.
11:15 PM ET -- CNN: "Her name was Neda." I'm late getting to this but CNN really should be commended for producing the report below. Even tonight, as we near midnight on a Sunday, CNN's Don Lemon is still anchoring live news and commentary on Iran. Very impressive.
11:04 PM ET -- Siemens, Nokia helped provide Iran's censoring technology. The Wall Street Journal has a very important report:
The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world's most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale. [...]
[I]n confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep-packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.
The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.
The "monitoring center," installed within the government's telecom monopoly, was part of a larger contract with Iran that included mobile-phone networking technology, Mr. Roome said. "If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them," said Mr. Roome.
A reader notes, "Here is some software that was used in China as an effective tool for circumvention of the censorship controls. The software is Tor it is used by Human Rights Watch and others, including bloggers who don't want to get caught in a place where they can be killed for speaking out. It's open source for Windows, Linux and Mac. Here is the link."
10:49 PM ET -- Mousavi's words on tape. This video, uploaded on YouTube today, purports to be of Mousavi's appearance at Saturday's rally. It seems more likely to be from an event earlier in the week, but either way, it is among the first post-election videos I've spotted where his words can be heard.
A Farsi-speaking reader tried to help translate but it was tough: "The crowd's chanting makes it so hard to pick out what he is saying. I can pick up a few word here and there, but not his full sentences. The gist is that he is among the martyrs... -- then the crowd chants. The crowd chanting is clear, but not Mousavi's speech." Let me know if you're able to pick up more.
Update: Readers write in with additional quotes: "For this 'sacred path' we are ready to sacrifice ourselves," he says at one point, and then later, "We came here to defend the right of our own nation [inaudible]..."
Another reader, Ollie, offers this description: "'In our sacred path we have to give sacrifice," he says, and 'We have to defend our rights.' The first phrase sounds to be not 'to make' sacrifices" but to 'give them' ('ghorbani bedahim' as opposed to 'Ghorbani beshavim'). I don't wanna make too much of it, but it sounds like a call to confront violence and be prepared to face the consequences."
10:09 PM ET -- Keeping an eye out for for a strike. NBC's Ann Curry writes, "Word spreading that protesters r trying to organize a general strike. People told to stock up on supplies, medicines."
A knowledgeable reader writes, "Keep watch for any info on strikes, especially if bazari (major importers) and in particular if the oil workers will join. I am reading/hearing rumors about this. If/when oil workers join - I would say end of the regime. That is what happend '79: Oil-workers went on strike, the U.S. gov't had to give the shah oil at very high costs, until they gave up and the shah fell. This time no one will give them oil and if oil-workers go on strike, that is the most potent weapon against the regime. They will not have any money to finance (pay basij etc) for this."
9:45 PM ET -- "Stop or I'll tweet!" An editorial cartoon. Here's another, via reader Alex. Yes, there are those who overstate the role of new technology in Iran's unrest right now. But there's a reason that government forces are targeting demonstrators carrying cell phones and cameras.
9:40 PM ET -- Rafsanjani's daughter released. Iran's state media confirms the reports we posted earlier.
The New York Times adds that four of Faezeh's other relatives, also arrested, "were released after several hours."
8:43 PM ET -- Imprisoned Iranian politicians and journalists. An updated list. And below, a photo of Maziar Bahari, a Canadian reporter for Newsweek who has been arrested without charges in Iran. Bahari's colleague Fareed Zakaria has posted a statement over at PostGlobal.
8:36 PM ET -- Where should people send donations? I've received several emails asking for suggestions for groups that Americans and others can donate to. It's not appropriate for me to be making donation recommendations in this capacity, but I'm happy to pass on thoughts from readers. If you have a group/outlet/etc. you'd like to recommend, email me 1) their website and and 2) a short description of why you think they're great. I'll reprint them here later.
8:09 PM ET -- Demonstrators arrested. This video captures the tense scene as two individuals are arrested in a small alley. At one point, the police seem to place a shoe in one of men's faces. Later, they have him pick up the shoes with his teeth and carry them with him when they move him. The caption posted on YouTube says the man filming is quietly cursing the officers.
8:02 PM ET -- Rafsanjani ally calls for "political bloc." "A political party affiliated with Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the former president and key member of the Iranian regime, on Sunday called on Mir-Hossein Moussavi, the opposition leader, to form a 'political bloc' that would pursue a long-term campaign to undermine the 'illegitimate' government."
7:31 PM ET -- Building the case for arresting Mousavi. Washington Post: "Mousavi made no public appearances Sunday and some analysts in Tehran were concerned that the [state's] media campaign, which featured at least one militia leader and a law professor questioning the legality of his actions, was preparing the ground for his arrest. ... Authorities appeared to be seeking to blame the violence on radicals. State television charged that 'the presence of terrorists . . . was tangible' in Saturday's events. It asked viewers to send video of protesters in order to help authorities to arrest them."
7:19 PM ET -- The stand-off. Finally, after a couple hours of searching (and a trip to Penn Station, I'm finally heading back home to DC), I've found an embeddable version of this BBC Persia video, via reader Chas. As Andrew writes of the video, "Yes, you can hear the shouts 'Hurrah!" and I confess I found myself yelling it at my lap-top as well." Watch till the end.
6:55 PM ET -- A bit more on Neda. A blogger apparently in touch with Neda's family members offers some new details (translated by reader Nima): she was born in 1982, apparently her full name was Neda Agha-Soltan, and she was at the protest with one her professors and several other students. She was, they said, shot by a basiji riding by on a motorcycle. Also, she was apparently buried today at a large cemetery in the south of Tehran. ABC News' Lara Setrakian writes, "Hearing reports Neda was buried in Behesht Zahra cemetery earlier today, memorial service cancelled on orders from authorities."
6:28 PM ET -- Daylight vandalism. An Iranian passed this video on through a friend in the United States. About 3/4 of the way through, the big crowd of people walks off the right side of the screen and you see a smaller group of uniformed police walking in from the left. After a few seconds, they walk up to some cars parked in front of a building and start smashing their windows with batons. Totally senseless, they're like villains out of a comic book.
6:09 PM ET -- Guardian Council admits: more votes than voters. Another fairly shocking report given that it comes from Iran's state-funded PressTV:
Iran's Guardian Council has admitted that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of those eligible to cast ballot in those areas.
The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.
"Statistics provided by Mohsen Rezaei in which he claims more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.
The spokesman, however, said that although the vote tally affected by such an irregularity is over 3 million, "it has yet to be determined whether the amount is decisive in the election results," reported Khabaronline.
5:39 PM ET -- Vote-rigging claims were backed by an analysis of the results done by British academics from the University of St Andrews and Chatham House - especially their finding that the number of votes exceeded the number of eligible voters in the conservative provinces of Mazandaran and Yazd, reports the Times of London's Martin Fletcher:
"The analysis shows that the scale of the swing to Ahmadinejad would have had to have been extraordinary to achieve the stated result," said Ali Ansari, Professor of Iranian Studies at St Andrews.
4:27PM ET -- A young woman marching to Freedom Square on Saturday shared her amazing story with CNN: She was beaten by paramilitary forces with clubs, escaped with her camera and shared her photos with the network after tricking a member of the Basij by giving him an empty memory card, keeping the one that held her photos.
She told CNN about the intensity of the protests and the strong female presence:
There were many women among the crowd of demonstrators trying to get to Freedom Square, she said. "We gave the boys the stones because we can't throw them so far. We gave them the stones, and we said the slogans."
Here is one of her photos:
3:39 PM ET -- Another photojournalist missing. Via reader Teni, Life magazine posts this message about the photojournalist who runs TehranLive.org: "A NOTE TO OUR READERS: We are saddened to report that the Iranian photojournalist, whose pictures appear in this gallery, is missing. He has not been in contact with us; this morning we received the following email from one of his relatives. We will update this space when we have more details. THE EMAIL: Hi im [photographer's relative], when he go out side yester day for he never came back home and also his friend and a lot of our young brave people, government arrested them [. . .] don't let them suffer in those bloody hands. With thanks."
The photo below, taken earlier this week by the same photographer, accompanies this post. More of his work is here.
3:10 PM ET -- More on the Newsweek reporter arrested without charges.
A Canadian journalist working in Iran for Newsweek magazine was detained without charge by Iranian authorities Sunday, the magazine said, adding that Maziar Bahari had not been heard from since.
"Newsweek strongly condemns this unwarranted detention, and calls upon the Iranian government to release him immediately," the New York-based weekly news magazine said in a statement.
It said Bahari, who has been living and covering Iran for the past decade, was "detained without charge by Iranian authorities and has not been heard from since."
"Mr Bahari's coverage of Iran, for Newsweek and other outlets, has always been fair and nuanced, and has given full weight to all sides of the issues. He has worked well with different administrations in Tehran, including the current one," it said.
3:07 PM ET -- Are European embassies in Tehran helping the injured? It's still unclear. It may be that activists outside Iran are relying too heavily on unconfirmed reports, or it may be that the embassies are simply not admitting it publicly for fear of 'foreign involvement' tainting the demonstrators. AFP has some reporting:
European embassies in Tehran addressed Sunday what officials said were concerted email calls for them to offer refuge to Iranian democracy protesters, diplomats said.
Talks amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Western nations over post-election violence followed a string of messages sent to embassies and an Internet circular listing overseas missions willing to accept "wounded refugees."
No request for asylum at a European embassy has yet been confirmed, the diplomats added.
UPDATE: A major Italian paper Repubblica reports that Italy's Foreign Minister has instructed its Iran embassy to "'accommodate and assist the injured demonstrators' where there is demand."
2:44 PM ET -- Reports: Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh released. A reader says that's what Al Arabiya is reporting. Looking for more confirmation. Update: BBC Persia is also reporting this.
2:37 PM ET -- Mousavi's latest message. A short post to Facebook here. No major news: he expresses condolences for yesterday's dead, and again urges his followers "to not to give in to violence and continue non-violence resistance." He points out that Iran's constitution allows for peaceful demonstrations. Via reader Abdollah.
2:23 PM ET -- Neda before she was shot. A reader forwards this video showing Neda (in the black shirt and blue jeans) and a companion (blue striped shirt) during the rally. Another reader sends an unconfirmed report of a memorial service for Neda planned for tomorrow at 5PM at Niloufar mosque at Abas Abad, Tehran.
By comparison, here is the image from after she was shot:
2:19 PM ET -- "Sounds of gunfire reported in tehran's northern districts," NBC's Ann Curry tweets.
2:16 PM ET -- Netanyahu remarks on Iran demonstrations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday hailed the "incredible acts of courage" by Iranian demonstrators as they flooded into city streets and "unmasked" the true nature of the regime.
"Obviously you see a regime that represses its own people and spreads terror far and wide," Netanyahu told NBC's Meet the Press in an interview from his Jerusalem office, repeating Israel's longstanding position towards an Iranian leadership which has vowed the destruction of the Jewish state.
He then took the rare move of praising Iranians whose boisterous defiance on the streets of Tehran and elsewhere have pushed the regime to the brink.
"It is a regime whose real nature has been unmasked, and it's been unmasked by incredible acts of courage by Iran's citizens," Netanyahu said.
2:12 PM ET -- Newsweek reporter arrested without charges. The New York Times reports:
The number of reporters arrested since the June 12 election has risen to at least 24. The Lede has learned that Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari was arrested without charge on Sunday morning in Tehran, and has not been heard from since. Mr. Bahari, a Canadian citizen, has been living in and covering Iran for the past decade. His most recent article for Newsweek examined opposition supporters' concerns that pro-Ahmadinejad groups were staging violent incidents at their rallies to undermine support for their movement.
12:57 PM ET -- Understanding Ayatollah Montazeri's statement. A reader who has been very helpful over the last week sends in this note about today's statement (highlighted below at 12:28 PM) by dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Montazeri (slightly edited for clarity):
Just had call with Iranians who read the whole Montazzeri statement (I have not myself - note - my farsi is not good enough to get all the nuances of the thing). But the main point I think you should be aware of is that he's asking people this coming Wed-Fri to mourn the people who have died. The people I talk to suggest it's his covert way of asking people to strike.
As point of reference - in the '79 Revolution, it was the strikes that did it. This is super important - because roughly right now you have some of the population that are hitting the streets, while others are Ahmadinejad people -- and it's the silent 30-40% they are after. Each day this silent majority is slowly stepping towards the reformists.
One important point with strikes -- they cannot shoot people who are striking. That will leave them in a bind -- and more people dare to strike than hit the streets. Again, this is in reference with what happened in '79 - strikes are the most potent weapon.
Also - what is happening now with regards to spreading information to the people. They are going back to 79 strategies. basically they are printing papers having people distribute them all over the country. twitter/net etc is not effective right now - they are going back to old-fashioned style.
12:51 PM ET -- Where are the guns? Some readers have been surprised not to see more guns in the hands of the Iranian demonstrators (they're not urging them to carry guns, by the way, just surprised not to see them in light of the violent crackdowns). Regarding this, NBC's Richard Engel reported this morning:
The information war is one war. But [the regime] is much more concerned about a real war. And the only people who are armed in this country, in Iran, are most of the ethnic minorities -- the Baluchis, the Kurds, the Arab populations. So if this protest movement spreads deeply into those areas, then you have a real significant threat against the regime. That is why you are seeing the regime try and say don't participate, this is a foreign-inspired coup, these people in the streets are rioters and terrorists who will be dealt with accordingly.
12:38 PM ET -- An alternative leadership structure. According to Al Arabiya (via reader Pasha), an outline of what Rafsanjani is pushing for among the clerical leadership:
Religious leaders are considering an alternative to the supreme leader structure after at least 13 people were killed in the latest unrest to shake Tehran and family members of Ayatollah Rafsanjani were arrested amid calls by former President Mohammad Khatami for the release of all protesters.
Iran's religious clerks in Qom and members of the Assembly of Experts...are mulling the formation of an alternative collective leadership to replace that of the supreme leader, sources in Qom told Al Arabiya on condition of anonymity.
The influential Rafsanjani, 75, heads two very powerful groups. The most important one is the Assembly of Experts, made up of senior clerics who can elect and dismiss the supreme leader. The second is the Expediency Council, a body that arbitrates disputes between parliament and the unelected Guardian Council, which can block legislation.
Members of the assembly are reportedly considering forming a collective ruling body and scrapping the model of Ayatollah Khomeini as a way out of the civil crisis that has engulfed Tehran in a series of protests,
The discussions have taken place in a series of secret meetings convened in the holy city of Qom and included Jawad al-Shahristani, the supreme representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the foremost Shiite leader in Iraq.
Also, via Andrew, a report on this topic from Al Jazeera:
12:34 PM ET -- An historical analogy. Offered by Fareed Zakaria:
CNN: But shouldn't the U.S. be more vocal in support for the Iranian protesters?
Zakaria: I think a good historic analogy is President George H.W. Bush's cautious response to the cracks in the Soviet empire in 1989. Then, many neo-conservatives were livid with Bush for not loudly supporting those trying to topple the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. But Bush's concern was that the situation was fragile. Those regimes could easily crack down on the protestors and the Soviet Union could send in tanks. Handing the communists reasons to react forcefully would help no one, least of all the protesters. Bush's basic approach was correct and has been vindicated by history.
12:28 PM ET -- Khatami, Montazeri step up criticism. From Reuters:
Pro-reform clerics in Iran stepped up criticism of the authorities on Sunday after more than a week of unprecedented popular defiance against the leadership of the Islamic Republic. [...]
As authorities fulminated against protesters backing defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, moderate former president Mohammad Khatami signaled increased opposition among pro-reform clerics to Iran's conservative leadership.
"Preventing people from expressing their demands through civil ways will have dangerous consequences," Khatami, a Mousavi ally, said in a statement, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
His comment, implying criticism of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has backed a ban on protests and defended the outcome of the election, found an echo with Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most senior dissident cleric.
"Resisting people's demand is religiously prohibited," said Montazeri, an architect of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution who fell out with the present leadership and has been under house arrest for some years.
In a statement on his website, Montazeri called for three days of national mourning for those killed.
12:09 AM ET -- Solidarity. Facebook continues to be, I'm told, the best place to get information about rallies outside Iran to show support for Iran's reformists. Here's a list of events today, but it's worth searching around if you don't see one in your city listed on that page. There is also a large list here, though not as user friendly.
11:55 AM ET -- At least 23 bloggers and reporters arrested. Via my colleague Nick, the Associated Press reports:
Iranian authorities have arrested 23 journalists and bloggers since post-election protests began a week ago, according to a media watchdog that says reporters are a "priority target" for Iran's leadership.
Among those arrested was the head of the Association of Iranian Journalists, Reporters Without Borders said Sunday. [...]
The group released a list of 23 Iranian journalists, editors and bloggers arrested since June 14, and says it has lost contact with several others believed detained or in hiding. Hervieu said RSF verified each arrest via its network of reporters and activists in Iran. No foreign journalists were on the list.
11:50 AM ET -- Peaceful demonstrations on Sunday. Here's alleged video from a blogger in Iran. CNN reported on Twitter: "Eyewitnesses: Thousands of riot police lining Tehran streets Sunday; marches taking place, but no violence reported."
11:22 AM ET -- Fake Iranian Twitter accounts. The site TwitSpam has listed several, via reader Larry.
11:20 AM ET -- "El pueblo uNEDA jamás será vencido." Reader Marco:
Your liveblog has opened my eyes and awakened my slumbering sense of injustice.
As the life went out of Neda's eyes, I looked over at my daughter --21 months old-- and felt my eyes welling with tears. [...]
We must all do our part to end the world's tyrannies or be complicit in our silence.
11:15 AM ET -- Lead BBC reporter ordered to leave Iran.
The BBC reports that Iranian authorities have asked its Tehran correspondent, Jon Leyne, to leave the country within 24 hours.
The BBC said its Tehran office would remain open despite the departure of Mr. Leyne, the broadcaster's permanent correspondent there.
The BBC adds: "Iran has singled out Britain and the BBC in its widespread condemnation of what it calls meddling by foreign powers in its affairs. In the days following the 12 June election, BBC Persian TV was disrupted by "deliberate interference" from inside Iran, the corporation said. In response, the BBC increased the number of satellites that carry its BBC Persian television service for Farsi-speakers in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan."
10:54 AM ET -- Rage against the machine. An Iranian-American writes: "In my spare time, I make short documentaries and music videos, and my 22 year old cousin in Iran asked that I make a video for him with his favorite song. I just spoke with him and he told me that his friends and him are watching it before they go out to protest. He was stepping out the door to protest when I spoke with him just a few minutes ago. A lot of Iranians from Iran rely on huffingtonpost.com for their information. If you could somehow post this on your website and get this out to the youth in Iran, it would mean a lot."
10:50 AM ET -- Video from Saturday's events. So much is pouring in now. I can't post it all but will try to feature the best few in this entry and at least link here to others that turn up.
10:45 AM ET -- Mousavi's web site hacked. Readers note that the Mousavi news site Ghalam News is now calling "for those injured in recent violence to leave their names and contact number.
10:34 AM ET -- Another shift in state TV: calling protesters terrorists. From a great contact in Iran:
State TV just claimed 10 dead 100 injured. They also called the people in the streets terrorists and repeatedly show a mosque that was set on fire...we're watching it now my cousin says that they turn all the word's of obama around and lie about everything to witch my grandfather replies in that in Islam it is permissible to lie in a state of war. They are now show footage of the riots and people that are saying rioters destroyed their livings...I want to reiterate that for 3 or 4 hours I walked through street fighting, I didn't see one broken store window or one car damaged. However I have a feeling the followers of Ahmadinejad will believe the lies said by Seda va Sima. I don't know what to think anymore and I wish I had never watched the video of Neda.
10:27 AM ET -- What Neda's companion said. The image of Neda, a young Iranian woman, being shot and killed in the streets yesterday has become a rallying cry for Iranian reformists and their allies internationally. If you haven't seen the video, I'm reposting it below, but please be warned, it is very very graphic.
A reader who couldn't quite make out what her companion was saying in the video understood after learning that her name is Neda. He sent in the transcript: "Neda, don't be afraid. Neda, don't be afraid. (There is yelling and screaming.) Neda, stay with me. Neda stay with me!"
10:22 AM ET -- PressTV using new term to describe Khamenei? I received an email this morning reader who is a reporter in Washington DC but "lived in Tehran from 2002 to 2008, worked extensively with Basij youth and also at Iran state TV for 2 years." The person writes, "PressTV is calling him the 'Father' of the revolution in its only recent video report from inside Iran." More below -- let me know if you've noticed the same pattern.
mabe you can check to see if all state media in iran are now calling the Supreme Leader the "Father" of the revolution. [...]
I used to work at PressTV and previously we were only allowed to name him as the Supreme Leader, or the Leader of the Islamic Revolution,
i realize it sounds like a minor point but these nuances carry lots of quiet meaning in iran and "Father" was the name reserved solely for the original imam khomeini.
Could be a propoganda tool to make iranians think attacks against the Leader now are akin to attacks on the Imam, who even today holds a 'special place' in the hearts of iranians, even those who don't fully agree the regime.
8:50 AM ET -- More protests today CNN is showing new video from today of what looks to be a very large protest, with the crowd chanting and marching through the streets.
June 21, 8:40 AM ET -- State media report at least 10 deaths. The AP reports on more deaths and the arrests of Rafsanjani's daughter:
State media reported Sunday at least 10 more deaths in post-election unrest and said authorities have arrested the daughter and four other relatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of Iran's most powerful men.
The reports brought the official death toll for a week of unrest to at least 19. State television inside Iran said 10 were killed and 100 injured in clashes Saturday between demonstrators contesting the result of the June 12 election and black-clad police wielding truncheons, tear gas and water cannons.
However English-language Press TV, which is broadcast only outside the country, put the toll at 13 and labeled those who died "terrorists." There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
Amnesty International cautioned that it was "perilously hard" to verify the casualty tolls.
"The climate of fear has cast a shadow over the whole situation," Amnesty's chief Iran researcher, Drewery Dyke, told The Associated Press. "In the 10 years I've been following this country, I've never felt more at sea than I do now. It's just cut off."
On Sunday, the streets of Tehran were eerily quiet.