Iran Uprising Live-Blogging (Tuesday June 30)
I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me with any news or thoughts, or follow me on Twitter. Send me instant messages at email@example.com or njpitney on AIM. Scroll down for news related to the front-page headlines. Local Iran time is 8 1/2 hours ahead of Eastern time. You can support this post on Digg here.
Wednesday's updates are here.
6:09 PM ET -- Israel's grand Twitter conspiracy. Via NIAC, a major hard-right newspaper in Iran, Kayhan, "reports" that Israel posted 18,000 Twitter messages urging people to complain about voter fraud two days before Iran's presidential election.
Also today, from Iran's state-backed PressTV:
A senior advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says US President Barack Obama's recent remarks about Iran's election show that he is under pressure from the Zionists.
In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Tuesday night, Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi said that Obama originally took a soft stance on the results of Iran's presidential election but then was forced by the Zionists and the US neoconservatives to make tough comments about Iran.
Hashemi, who ran Ahmadinejad's most recent presidential election campaign, stated that a president should be strong enough to follow his own principles.
5:34 PM ET -- New photos. SocialDocumentary.net publishes new photos taken in Iran in recent days.
5:16 PM ET -- Host quits Iran's Press TV over 'bias' after election. "It is called Press TV, is funded by the Iranian regime, and opponents say that from its nondescript offices off Hanger Lane in northwest London the 24-hour news station is beaming pro-Tehran propaganda into homes across Britain. Nick Ferrari, a leading British radio presenter, quit his show on the station yesterday in protest at the regime crushing dissent after the Iranian elections, but Press TV continues to employ plenty of other Britons -- including MPs and Cherie Blair's sister."
5:06 PM ET -- "Silicon Valley should step up, help Iranians." An op-ed today in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Silicon Valley minds and money should pool resources as a way to help Iranians get around this information blockade by providing easier-to-use proxies, anonymizers and maybe even unfiltered Internet access through hardware.
Long-range Wi-Fi, 3G, satellite or other wireless communications devices from Iran's neighboring countries or even the Persian Gulf could be used to get faster and better information in and out of Iran. One Arizona company, Space Data, even advertises the capability to use helium-filled balloons to provide Internet and mobile phone access. Much of Iran could theoretically be covered with one or two such balloons.
All of that may sound crazy, but not helping Iranian reformers at their darkest hour would be even crazier.
4:59 PM ET -- Sweden: No decision on EU action yet. "The European Union is taking a wait-and-see attitude to the post-election violence in Iran. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt says the EU 'will have to assess (a reaction) in close consultation with the Americans.' He says it's 'too early' for the EU to impose retaliatory measures. Sweden takes over the EU presidency on Wednesday. Bildt said Tuesday that 'repression is the order of the day in Iran.' But he announced no specific steps in the wake of Iran's crackdown on protesters and its detention of nine local British Embassy employees."
4:55 PM ET -- After the crackdown. Time magazine: "Iran's Opposition Down But Hardly Out."
3:55 PM ET -- EU states set to recall Iran ambassadors.
Most of the European Union's 27 member states will recall their ambassadors from Tehran as early as this weekend if the Iranian authorities refuse to free four local employees of the British embassy who were arrested last Saturday.
Amid continuing anger across Europe over the arrests of the employees - linked by Tehran to the opposition protests over the disputed outcome of the June 12 presidential election - senior EU diplomats said a co-ordinated diplomatic protest would take place "within days".
"Member states are now very focused on the idea of conducting a co-ordinated withdrawal of ambassadors this weekend if there has been no movement on the side of the Iranians," said one EU diplomat. "We need to see these [four] set free by Friday at the latest."
Also, via the NIAC, here's a list of countries that Ahmadinejad's website claims have recognized his re-election:
-India -Tunisia -Malaysia -Lebanon -North Korea -Kuwait -Nicaragua -Comoros -Cambodia -Senegal -Cuba -Belarus -Sudan -Syria -Libya -Algeria -Turkmenistan -Iraq -Kazakhstan -Indonesia -Bahrain -Yemen -Sri Lanka -Ecuador -Russia -Azerbaijan -Qatar -Tajikistan -Armenia -Oman -Turkey -Afghanistan -Pakistan -China -Venezuela
3:49 PM ET -- Iran state media cover Khatami's call for impartial election probe. PressTV's Englsh write-up is here.
3:39 PM ET -- Digg. You can support this post on Digg here.
3:37 PM ET -- Suspicious ballot photos posted by Iran state media? A reader writes, "I believe this is well worth reporting: many interesting photos are being put on the web as I write, a good number of them published by IRNA itself (see here). These are images from the recent Guardians Council TV broadcast session where they 'recounted' some ballot boxes and found out that indeed Ahmadinejad's votes were higher than previously counted. These pictures show two things very clearly: 1) that a whole lot of the ballots that are being recounted are fresh, crisp, unfolded sheets - which makes no sense, given that people typically had to fold these sheets before they can slip them into the ballot boxes, and 2) that the handwriting on so many of the sheets which are votes for 'Ahmadinejad' are the same handwriting (and very clearly so)."
3:31 PM ET -- "Allah-o Akbar!" It's 11PM in Iran right now. An Iranian-American friend writes, "I'm on the skype with Iran and could hear the Alah-o akbar in the background about 20 min ago."
Here's new video from last night's chants, via reader Jenny:
3:21 PM ET -- Ahmadinejad's post-"victory" remarks. "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed on Tuesday his re-election as a victory for the Iranian people and a defeat for the Islamic Republic's enemies. 'This election was actually a referendum. The Iranian nation were the victors and the enemies, despite their ... plots of a soft toppling of the system, failed and couldn't reach their aims,' the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying."
Scott Lucas observes:
The significance is not in Ahmadinejad's words, but in their low-key presentation. Both in a national broadcast the night after the election and in a press conference the day after that, the President was loudly celebrating his win, even taunting the opposition as "dust". Now, the day after the Guardian Council has re-affirmed his victory, his public appearance is limited to a brief statement repeating the "foreign threat" theme.
Interpretation? After his over-enthusiasm in the first 48 hours beyond the vote, Ahmadinejad has been reined in by other leaders. The President's "victory" is looking decidedly Pyrrhic in the wider context of the Iranian system.
Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad today dropped in unexpectedly at a summit of African leaders, the invited guest of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. "Diplomats expressed surprise at Ahmadinejad's visit, indicating Kadhafi had extended the invitation without consulting the bloc's 53 members," AFP reported. "'It's a little strange to invite him, unless you consider who made the invitation,' one west African diplomat said. 'We will do what we can to calm things down.'"
3:05 PM ET -- 'Obama urged to punish US firms for aiding internet censorship.'
Internet activists are urging Barack Obama to pass legislation that would make it illegal for technology companies to collaborate with authoritarian countries that censor the internet.
Leading companies earn hundreds of millions of pounds every year through their relationship with governments in repressive countries. Campaigners are agitating for the US president to put his weight behind the Global Online Freedom Act (Gofa), a law that would see US companies fined if they profit from involvement in online censorship.
The issue has taken on added resonance after recent events in Iran, where questions about western complicity have been raised after a post-election crackdown by the government that has included throttling internet access and blocking websites to prevent information from spreading.
For a few days I have been looking for images of Tehran that showed it in a more ordinary light, images that could behave as a control group against the ones we have been seeing. I have compiled them in two parts comprising about 60 total images. Some are of places where we have seen demonstrations, but many are just slices of life or images I somehow reacted to. Iran seems like a very modern place with a fascinating culture that somehow straddles two worlds - I have tried to capture that essence with these selections. BTW 12 million people live in Tehran, which is the combined population of New York and Los Angeles.
It's a great collection of photos -- you can start here.
1:27 PM ET -- Mousavi's political future. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a conservative cleric and member of Iran's Guardian Council, claims that the Council will not approve Mousavi as a candidate for any future presidential race.
1:15 PM ET -- German companies 'fleeing Iran.'
The recent unrest in Iran following the disputed presidential election results have shaken German companies' confidence as to continuing their activity in the Iranian market, says Felix Neugart, a German expert in the business field, who is responsible for the Middle East region in the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce.
Neugart told a Kuwaiti news agency that "the riots have caused confusion among German companies as to the future of the Iranian market."
Neugart noted that according to information he had, a significant number of German companies operating in the Iranian market have decided at this stage to freeze all their plans in the Islamic republic until the picture became clear.
1:11 PM ET -- Solidarity. CalTech student Evans Boney writes, "I wanted to mention our solidarity e-vigils, recently covered here by the American Islamic Congress. We're trying to get the word out to as many as students as possible to continue to recognize the plight of students (and professors) in Iran, who are being condemned as terrorists working for foreign countries just for expressing their opinions peaceably. Our student group for Friends of Iranian Culture inspired our vigils as a way to hearten students abroad who may have had their spirits broken from days in jail or too many missing friends. Our Facebook group is here, and we'd really appreciate your help spreading the word."
1:06 PM ET -- Rezai's spokesman claims ballots had similar handwriting. Mohsen Rezai, the most conservative of the three 'defeated' presidential candidates in Iran's election, agreed to drop his official election complaints several days ago. But Rezai's unofficial spokesman Omidvar Rasai charges in an interview here that "between 70 to 80 percent of the votes in some constituencies was written with the same pen and with the handwriting of a single individual."
12:43 PM ET -- Beating up motorcycles. More video emerges of the brave government security officials who roam around attacking inanimate objects:
12:40 PM ET -- Revolutionary Guard "to counter organized web crimes." "Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had set up a new unit to counter organized crimes on websites, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. The new IRGC unit which has been named 'anti-cyber system' would engaged in campaigns against organized crimes, espionage, economic and social corruption, money laundering and cultural inroad through the internet, IRNA cited an announcement the source of which was not specified."
12:18 PM ET -- Senior cleric releases statement defending Mousavi. Sara at the 'Where Is My Vote?' blog reports:
Tehran Iranian Labor News Agency in Persian on June 30, 2009 carried a report quoting a statement issued the same day by Esfahan's former Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Jalaleddin Taheri-Esfahani, in support of the defeated presidential candidate, Mirhoseyn Mousavi.
The agency said the senior cleric had condemned "making instrumental use" of the Islamic founder's remarks. In his statement, he asks: "Is it a case of justice to see that an honorable and modest Seyyed [one who is a descendant of the household of the prophet, Muhammad] who until the last moments of Khomeini's life, had been a dear and close companion of that grand leader, is now considered to be a rioter and an agent of arrogance who must be punished?"
11:39 AM ET -- Newsweek journalist reportedly "confesses" to aiding protests. A reader sends along this report in the state-backed outlet Fars stating that imprisoned Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari has "confessed" to "lying" and helping the demonstrations.
Update: A reader sends along a rough translation of the first few paragraphs:
Recent events are a classic and defeated example of a color revolution, the colleague/cooperator of the American and the British Media said.
The movement believing in a color revolution always announces itself a winner in every election and emphasizes that whatever happens except for the victory of this movement is a sign of fraud, and the Western media supporting the movement try to induce this idea as reality to the people.
According to Fars news political reporter, Maziyar Bahari, the 42 year old Britain's Channel 4 correspondent who also works with BBC and is currently the official representative of the American weekly magazine, Newsweek, in Iran, has sent out one-sided and untrue reports to his respective media during the recent election developments. As he admits, because of neglecting the components of true and fast reportage, he was effected by the atmosphere and avarice.
11:30 AM ET -- 'American people smarter than the neocons.' Adam Blickstein from the National Security Network highlights a new poll by CNN:
A new national poll suggests that that nearly three out of four Americans don't want the U.S. directly intervene in the election crisis in Iran even though most Americans are upset by how the Iranian government has dealt with protests over controversial election results.
Most Americans approve of how President Obama's handled the situation. And 74 percent think the U.S. government should not directly intervene in the post-election crisis, with one out of four feeling that Washington should openly support the demonstrators who are protesting the election results.
10:41 AM ET -- Amnesty Int'l warns of torture-induced confessions.
Amnesty International is gravely concerned that several opposition leaders detained in the wake of the 12 June elections may be facing torture, possibly to force them to make televised "confessions" as a prelude to unfair trials in which they could face the death penalty. [...]
According to the Iranian authorities, eight members of the Basij militia, a volunteer paramilitary force under the control of the Revolutionary Guards which has been used to crack down on protesters, have died in the demonstrations. While the authorities have not revealed any information about these deaths or named any suspect, Amnesty International is worried that if these deaths are ultimately attributed to detained opposition leaders, it would pave the way to them being sentenced to death and would make more likely their eventual execution".
Televised "confessions" have repeatedly been used by the authorities to incriminate political activists in their custody. Many have later retracted these "confessions", stating that they were coerced to make them, sometimes after torture or other ill-treatment.
10:09 AM ET -- Khatami urges impartial panel to address election problems. Reformist former president Mohammad Khatami has laid out his proposals to address Iran's post-election unrest. The article, in Persian, is here.
Khatami said that the election complaints must be investigated by an impartial group of experts to restore the nation's trust. Also, he said that Iranians needed to be able to express themselves freely, requiring a change in the atmosphere created by the military and security forces.
Update: A reader sends along a transcript of the article:
Sayyid Mohammad Khatami in a meeting with the Parliamentary Commission of National Security and Foreign Affairs expressed his concern about the damage to public trust among a noticeable portion of the population, demanded the formation of a neutral committee to resolve the problems that have arisen, and emphasized [the need for] a change in the current security and military situation.
According to "The Third Wave", quoting the public relations office of Sayyid Mohammad Khatami, he said to the elected board of the Parliamentary Commission of National Security and Foreign Affairs, which has been meeting with officials and political and religious notables of the country in recent days for the problems that have arisen, "I am certain that all of you will work hard and with sympathy for the system of government, Islam, and the revolution."
He added, "Let me express a few points. My opinions are very clear and transparent. I consider myself a child and devotee of he revolution. I have always loved the Imam (Khomeini) and have worked hard to the best of my ability. After the revolution, I took action any time I felt I had to be involved. It's the same thing now." The reformist president continued, "For me, the system of government is a holy thing that was the fruit of the pure religious and popular revolution for which we have paid a cost...the reform movement has been present in our society for over a hundred years and which culminated in our revolution. The fruit of the Islamic Republic is the same thing." He continued, "what distinguished our Imam [Khomeini] and our revolution from other movements is that the Islamic Revolution brought forth the Islamic Republic. I believe that one thing that will weaken our system of government is deviation from the principles of the Islamic Republic within the country. Naturally foreign countries too intend to damage this very achievement." [...]
Our former president reminded us that, "The excitement that existed in this election had never existed in a previous election. I too played a role in creating this excitement. When I stepped off the political stage, many friends complained but in this fourth decade of the of the revolution, a great atmosphere has been created, and we either did not hear the call for electoral boycott or noticed that it was quite lifeless."
Khatami considered one of reason for the present unrest is the damage to public trust among a noticeable portion of the society and said, "We have to prevent harming the public's trust so that the system of government is not damaged. The real loss in this situation is much greater than the person of the president. The answer to the logical protest and civil action of the society and large portions who criticize this election is not to create a security atmosphere, enact force, make arrests, and make inappropriate charges against people and respectable personalities in order to derail the problem. The solution to returning public trust has been expressed already. You should struggle to make that solution a reality."
He continued, "In any event, an incident has occurred. Many people are protesting it. The problems must be cured and the people must be convinced that the solution to this problem can be obtained through the formation of an unbiased committee." The former president emphasized, "The present military and security atmosphere must be changed in order to move society towards calm. I believe that not all the roads are blocked yet." Khatami also stated, "we love the Supreme leader and have affection toward him. I wish I could express what took place in the meeting between me and him in the days before my decision to become a candidate."
He also said, "for us the essence of our governmental system and the revolution is what matters most. There should exist an atmosphere in which every person can express their opinion freely. The atmosphere should be one in which the people would come forward more." The reformist president emphasized, "We must redefine principle-ism and reformist. Our [intellectuals] can certainly reach common consensus." Mr. Khatami reminded us, "We can make preparations [?] and provide new definitions of our situation in the world. We can create balance among the forces that exist in society. We can reach more logical solutions and thus take steps towards serving the revolution, Islam, and our system of government."
10:00 AM ET -- Emotions in Tehran. One conversation relayed by the Washington Post's reporters in Iran:
At a small gathering in the house of an Iranian writer, people appeared resigned about the news.
"What difference was the council going to make?" one young woman asked a group of depressed-looking friends. No one offered an answer. Instead, people listed colleagues who have been arrested since the election.
"Why would they bring him in?" one man said of a journalist who was picked up in recent days. "I don't care if I am next," another man said defiantly. "What will they do to me?"
The uncertainty of the future dominated the conversation in the smoke-filled room. Some talked about spending time in the countryside. Others were thinking of leaving Iran altogether.
"There is no future here for independent-thinking, cultured people," the writer said. "Things are going to change very rapidly from now on, for the worse."
9:43 AM ET -- Debating the election on state TV. Will Ward at Iran in the Gulf writes, "Here is an interesting debate show in three parts on the election results from Iran's English-language Press TV featuring Ali Ansari, Kaveh Afrasiabi, and Seyed Mohammad Marandi. Angered by Afrasiabi's insinuations that he is a British agent, Ansari walks off the set in segment 2." Here's that video -- more here.
9:30 AM ET -- How Iraq is reacting to Iran. Newsweek examines:
It's been hard not to laugh at some Iraqi officials' poses of complete indifference to the upheaval in Tehran. They're trying their best to pretend they don't know or care what's happening there, unwilling to commit themselves until they know which side will prevail--but the act isn't very convincing. "Nothing is going on in Iran," says Sheik Jalal al-Deen al-Sagheer, a senior parliamentarian from Iraq's ruling Shiite coalition, the Unified Iraqi Alliance. And he says it with almost perfect seriousness. [...]
No matter what Iraq's leaders may think of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they don't want to antagonize Iran's Supreme Leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the man who makes the big decisions, and after six years of war and insurgency, Iraq is in no condition to challenge him and his armed forces. "The government has no interest in rocking the boat by supporting one side or the other in Iran," says Joost R. Hiltermann of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. "They still have to live with whatever emerges there." For now, senior Iraqi officials are just waiting quietly to see how things shake out in Tehran. Still, says a Western adviser to the Baghdad government, who declines to be identified commenting on sensitive issues, the Iraqis aren't all that sorry for Ahmadinejad and Khamenei: "Some are secretly gloating because they don't like the way the Iranian regime has behaved in the region."
Full story is here.