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Iran Uprising Blogging (Thursday July 9)

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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 nico.pitney@gmail.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. Support this post on Digg here.

Friday's updates are here.

10:55 PM ET -- The dangers for citizen journalists in Iran. For another reminder of why we're so lucky to get as much citizen-produced video from Iran as we do, watch the end of this clip. Via reader Marc:


8:46 PM ET -- U2 does it again. The band again plays "Sunday Bloody Sunday" with the stage covered in green light and Farsi lyrics streaming on the screen above them, during a concert in Milan.


8:36 PM ET -- Journalist explains time in Iranian prison. From Al Jazeera:

At least 35 Iranian journalists have been arrested since protests against the result of recent elections began.

Some foreign journalists were also detained. Iason Athanasiadis, a Greek-British reporter, was held for three weeks in Tehran's Evin prison.

He's now back home in Athens, where Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips asked him to describe what happened after his arrest.


8:11 PM ET -- No propaganda too ironic. State-run media: Iran "voices concern" over China's crackdown on protesters.

8:04 PM ET -- Good news. On June 17, the site TehranLive.org -- which had been posting incredible photos of Iran's huge demonstrations -- suddenly stopped updating. Family members of its publisher, Amir, said he had gone out one night and hadn't returned.

Tonight, via reader Wilcoy, a new post.

7:30 PM ET -- "Russia, Iran will never forgive you." From a reader, "Just wanted to say that one of the photos you linked to says 'Russia, Iran will never forgive you'.
Iranians care a lot about how other countries respond to this crisis."

Russia, as readers know, has celebrated Ahmadinejad's election "victory" and said little about the subsequent violence.


7:27 PM ET -- Allah-o Akbar! Earlier today, the NYT reported:

An Iranian blogger wrote on Twitter about one hour ago that in the Amirabad district of Tehran, "people are all on the roofs" to resume the nightly ritual of shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is Great!") -- a form of protest turned against the Shah in the 1970s.

Video from tonight...


7:12 PM ET -- "We are in this together." New York Times:

A young woman, her clothing covered in blood, ran up Kagar Street, paused for a minute and said, "I am not scared because we are in this together." [...]

A man in a business suit pulled out a collapsible baton and beat a person with a camera until the baton broke. A middle-aged woman ran through the crowd, her coat covered with blood stains. Protesters hurled rocks at security officers. Two men held a huge floral arrangement of yellow and purple flowers on green leaves in commemoration of those killed last month and in 1999, a witness said.

But still, no matter who stopped to talk, witnesses said, there was a sense of mission and unity that seemed almost validated by the brutal government response. A 55-year-old woman on the streets in support of the marchers said: "This is Iran. We are all together."


6:17 PM ET -- Professor estimates 25,000 demonstrated in Tehran. Prof. Scott Lucas, who's been blogging Iran here, is interviewed by Fintan Dunne.

5:44 PM ET -- "It was nothing less than war. Please pray for us." ABC's Lara Setrakian posts a dispatch she received from Tehran.

5:22 PM ET -- Jubilation. It's striking, after the last few weeks of fear and anger and frustration we've heard from people in Tehran, just how joyful people seem to be in returning to the streets and being together again.

Many, many more videos here.


4:43 PM ET -- Photos from today here.

4:30 PM ET -- What is going on with BBC Persia? I've received multiple reports that BBC Persia has had practically zero coverage of the demonstrations today. What is going on over there?

4:09 PM ET -- Inspiring. More videos showing very large crowds out in Tehran. This one comes from the friend of a reader -- here is the friend's note:

This video shows the time when protesters arrived at the intersection of Taleghani and Valiasr ave, heading toward Valiasr Square.

The duration of this rally was about 25 minutes and before arriving at Taleghani intersection, riot forces were not interfering but closed behind the crowd to block the accumulation of people. After arriving at the intersection of Taleghani and Valiasr ave, people continued toward Valiasr Square, as shown in this video. At this time, the anti riot forces shot teargas and followed people on motorcycles forcing the crowd to Taleghani ave.

I continued toward Chahar-rah Valiasr where people were blocked from going to Enghelab Square. The revolutionary guards on motorbikes hit pedestrians with batons. On my way to the subway station I saw a lot of military cars full of anti riot guard heading west, apparently to help their forces stationed at Enghelab square.


3:28 PM ET -- Teargas. Via reader Chas, an apparent victim of the teargas used in Tehran today. The person next to her smoking a cigarette is trying to use the smoke to alleviate some of the burning (we've seen this several times in videos from Iran).


3:19 PM ET -- "Today they sounded very different..." Via reader Allie, Tehran Bureau has accounts from all over the city. Here's one: "All the friends I spoke to today have been relatively depressed for the past few days. But today they sounded very different. They said while the security forces were trying their best to separate the demonstrators, the city overall was alive and filled with peaceful protests. Their voice sounded excited, and much more confident and determined than in recent days."

3:13 PM ET -- From a friendly reader: "They are chanting: political prisons must be freed. You can also see a women is helping to set fire to the trash dumpster."


3:08 PM ET -- Major AP dispatch. Worth reading all of it:

Thousands of protesters streamed down avenues of the capital Thursday, chanting "death to the dictator" and defying security forces who fired tear gas and charged with batons, witnesses said. The first opposition foray into the streets in 11 days aimed to revive mass demonstrations that were crushed in Iran's postelection turmoil.

Iranian authorities had promised tough action to prevent the marches, which supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have been planning for days in Internet messages. Heavy police forces deployed at key points in the city ahead of the marches, and Tehran's governor vowed to "smash" anyone who heeded the demonstration calls.

In some places, police struck hard. Security forces chased after protesters, beating them with clubs on Valiasr Street, Tehran's biggest north-south avenue, witnesses said.

Women in headscarves and young men dashed away, rubbing their eyes as police fired tear gas, in footage aired on state-run Press TV. In a photo from Thursday's events in Tehran obtained by The Associated Press outside Iran, a woman with her black headscarf looped over her face raised a fist in front of a garbage bin that had been set on fire.

But the clampdown was not total. At Tehran University, a line of police blocked a crowd from reaching the gates of the campus, but then did not move to disperse them as the protesters chanted "Mir Hossein" and "death to the dictator" and waved their hands in the air, witnesses said. The crowd grew to nearly 1,000 people, the witnesses said.

"Police, protect us," some of the demonstrators chanted, asking the forces not to move against them.

The protesters appeared to reach several thousand, but their full numbers were difficult to determine, since marches took place in several parts of the city at once and mingled with passers-by. There was no immediate word on arrests or injuries.

It did not compare to the hundreds of thousands who joined the marches that erupted after the June 12 presidential election, protesting what the opposition said were fraudulent results. But it was a show of determination despite a crackdown that has cowed protesters for nearly two weeks.

Onlookers and pedestrians often gave their support. In side streets near the university, police were chasing young activists, and when they caught one, passers-by chanted "let him go, let him go," until the policemen released him. Elsewhere, residents let fleeing demonstrators slip into their homes to elude police, witnesses said.

All witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. Iranian authorities have imposed restrictions that ban reporters from leaving their offices to cover demonstrations.

Many of the marchers were young men and women, some wearing green surgical masks, the color of Mousavi's movement, but older people joined them in some places. Vehicles caught in traffic honked their horns in support of the marchers, witnesses said. Police were seen with a pile of license plates, apparently pried off honking cars in order to investigate the drivers later, the witnesses said.

3:05 PM ET -- Hats off to CNN. Its coverage of Iran today is blowing every other media outlet out of the water, including Al Jazeera and BBC Persia.

Rick Sanchez just said, "It's our responsibility, here at CNN, to share these peoples' stories with the rest of the world."


2:15 PM ET -- Scenes from today. The NYT's Lede blog has returned to Iran coverage for the demonstrations today -- check it out here. Robert Mackey just published this note from today:

Just off the phone with Teheran with several people who were out on the streets. One of them is an Iran/Iraq war veteran from the volunteer forces. People are out all over the city, there is not a single march, but protesters gather in groups of 200-300, and do not move when attacked. The basijis are trying to prevent large groups to form, but people are not forming such large groups, however there is so much protest that it cannot be contained.

Until my contacts had returned home there was no shooting, but lots of tear gas. They marched in Karegar, Vali Asr, and tried to get to Teheran University. People of all ages are out, but the young are more present. All the garbage cans in major streets are on fire. People are honking their horns. The sense is that this is the beginning of the end.

The regime assumed that with Khameni's speech last week forgiving the protesters, and arresting all the reporters and heads of reformist movement, the issue of unrest was resolved. Today's marches and protests are not supported by Mousavi, Khatami, and Karoubi. It is a grassroot uprising meant to let the Islamic regime know the people will not be silenced.

1:37 PM ET -- Really large crowds. Wow.


1:31 PM ET -- Scenes from today. From a reliable Iranian on Twitter: "One guard was running after us holding his hand up with a baton but he kept saying don't be afraid i wont hit u!"

This post in Farsi claims tear gas was thrown into a bus with passengers inside of it.

Here's a better view of the Basij out in force today:


1:17 PM ET -- The world is watching. Footage from a rooftop, reportedly from today, in which clashes are seen. Riot police seem to beat two girls and then hit a passing car.

A friend writes, "The phrase you hear -- 'begeer...begeer' means capture it, as in capture the scene."


12:51 PM ET -- The Basij lined up. More video from today (this one's a bit choppy)...


12:37 PM ET -- Changes. This blog is now paginated -- at the bottom of the screen you'll see the text "« First Prev 1 2 Next Last »" -- you can use that to click to early entries from today. It's an effort to keep the page loading faster.

If you'd like to support this post on Digg, click here.

12:28 PM ET -- Scenes from today. Via reader Leyla, from the Guardian:

According to one witness, police fired shots in the air above the crowd and swooped to arrest at least 10 protesters at one location in Tehran. One elderly man was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and put in a police bus after he shouted: "Death to the dictator." Another witness reported clashes in another part of the city.

The police stopped the cars of those supporting the protest and confiscated driver licences, a second witness said.

Click on the page numbers below to read earlier updates from today.

12:21 PM ET -- More video reportedly from today.


In this video, via reader Chas, demonstrators are chanting, "Mojtabah, die, so we will not see you become the leader," referencing Khamenei's son (who reportedly is now leading the Basij).


12:01 PM ET -- "The screams of women being beaten..." Los Angeles Times:

Violent clashes erupted today in downtown Tehran between more than a thousand determined young men and women chanting, "Death to the dictator" and "God is great" and security forces wielding truncheons.

The screams of a woman being beaten could be heard from nearby buildings, a witness said. Business owners could be seen hustling protesters into their buildings to shield them from plainclothes officers and anti-riot police who fired tear gas canisters.

Passing drivers and motorcyclists honked their horns and flashed the "V" sign in support of the clumps of demonstrators. At least one trash bin was set afire, a witness said, sending a plume of black smoke rising as dusk approached.


11:55 AM ET -- MSNBC fail. Almost noon ET and still zero mention of the demonstrations today, as far as I can tell via transcript searches and my own viewing.

The MSNBCFail tag is taking off on Twitter.

11:52 AM ET -- Also live-blogging today. The National Iranian American Council and journalist Fintan Dunne.

11:50 AM ET -- More videos reportedly from today. From readers RB and Chas:



11:48 AM ET -- Reuters reports on one of the gatherings. Via reader Chas:

Iranian police fired in the air to disperse pro-reform demonstrators in central Tehran on Thursday, nearly four weeks after a disputed election triggered mass protests in the capital, a witness said.

The witness also said he saw police detaining several people among about 250 protesters who had gathered near Tehran University in defiance of a ban on gatherings for the anniversary of violent student demonstrations in 1999.

It appeared to be the worst outbreak of unrest in Tehran since security forces last month quelled days of opposition protests over the June 12 election, which moderate opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say was rigged in his favor.

"Police are shooting in the air and they have arrested several people," the witness said.

Another witness at the scene in downtown Tehran said: "Police used tear gas twice to disperse the crowd. There were also many Basij militia on motorbikes patrolling the area."
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Police urged passers-by through loudspeakers to leave the area, the witnesses said.

11:38 AM ET -- Some images from today. A description from a friendly reader: "Enghelab circle or square, 26 sec in you can see the police force they have. You can also here a phone conversation in background, the person saying to the caller he is talking to: 'there is a big police force and they are not letting people loiter.'"

Another new video posted on Facebook here.


Here's a picture reportedly from today near Tehran University:


11:10 AM ET -- Shootings reported. "Tweets passing around that there are heavy clashes near Azadi Square.. Word is out that 3 people have been shot by security forces."

10:47 AM ET -- MSNBC fail. As far as I can tell, there has been zero mention of the events in Iran thus far on MSNBC. CNN has been doing updates roughly every 30 minutes.

10:45 AM ET -- Another Ayatollah turns? Has anyone seen news reports on this?

Ayatollah Mousavi Tabrizi, an Attorney General in the Khomeini era, declares :

- Janati's remarks at Friday sermon are against religious and Iranian law
- announcing that "confessions" are being "taken" is a serious breach of law
- not allowing peaceful protests is unconstitutional
- keeping prisoners without warrants after 24 hours is illegal

He warns all judges that any such warrants would be criminal, baseless, and directly conflict "Leader's Differentiation of Friends & Foes" declarations. He also announces that "Confrontation" or "dispersement" of peaceful gatherings and demonstrations is a direct violation of constitutional rights, "No matter who orders it."

10:43 AM ET -- More unconfirmed accounts from Iran: "Hundreds of Protesters chanting against the regime infron of Ploytechnic University, Near Azadi Sq. . . . Police used Teargas against people trying to push them back at Vanak Sq . . . Police arresting seemingly at random, throwing tear gas into buses . . . people are joining the demonstration from Imam Hossein Sq. towards Enghelab Sq . . . Clashes infront of Tehran Universi and VankSq . . ."

10:35 AM ET -- BBC Persia reports accounts of tear gas being fired on demonstrations.

10:12 AM ET -- Tweets from Iran. Some unconfirmed reports from reliable Iranians on Twitter...

People are being arrested brutally in Enghelab, and tear gass is used in Vanak // Enghelab square being packed with people coming from side streets // Clashes infront of Tehran Universi and VankSq. unconf. // very heavy Basiji presence. Almost all have handguns.

One girl harshly arrested as she was dragged on the ground and thrown into a van... many others arrested

Apparently HUGE turnout, Basij desperately trying to block enghelab

6:29pm in Tehran right now, Reports of Moussavi showing might pop up as he had stated he would attend earlier

10:00 AM ET -- Context for today's rallies. TheRealNews.com features an interview with Babak Yektafar, Editor-in-Chief of Washington Prism.


9:56 AM ET -- CNN reports thousands in the streets, armed clashes. The transcript of a report on CNN from about 20 minutes ago:

Heidi, things are really heating up in the streets of Tehran. The crowds were in the hundreds according to our observers about a couple of hours ago. Now they say between 2,000 or 3,000 people, and we can confirm at least five clashes between security forces and protesters.

This is happening in revolution square...very close to Tehran University. This is a protest to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of another protest ten years ago, a crack down that killed several students... The government had said don't come out or there will be a crackdown and that's exactly what's happening. Of course, we don't have the ability to show you pictures from there because the international media is banned, but a lot of the things that we're confirming from observers on the ground coincide with what we're seeing on Twitter. Here you see a bunch of activity on Twitter, here's one person saying helicopters and armored persons are making things worse. Here's another thing, people moving towards or Revolution Square.

So we hadn't seen these types of clashes about a week and a half right now because of the government crackdown, there was a lot of Internet chatter that because of this ten-year anniversary, people would use this opportunity to come out and protest the elections. It looks like it's happening again, at least five clashes we can confirm between security forces and protesters, Heidi.

I've expanded the Twitter module at the bottom of this page to include 15 entries, so you can follow along more easily.

9:40 AM ET -- If you're interested... here's my interview yesterday with Juan Cole put together by Brave New Studio. Sincerely appreciate all the questions you sent in.


9:27 AM ET -- Demonstrations today in Iran. Getting information out of Iran is tougher than ever, so If you see or receive any news, let me know.

Update: Saeed Valadbaygi is blogging fron Iran with updates -- lots of gatherings reported. Here's a photo apparently from today:


8:44 AM ET -- U.S. releases Iran detainees to Iraq.

Five Iranian diplomats held by the US military in Iraq since January 2007 were freed on Thursday, the official IRNA news agency said, quoting Tehran's ambassador to Baghdad.

"The five Iranian diplomats abducted in Iraq were handed over by the occupying US forces to the Iraqi prime minister (Nuri al-Maliki)," the ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi said.

He said the five men would be handed over to the Iranian embassy in Baghdad after meeting Maliki.

Their detention has long been a source of additional friction in the hostile relations between Iran and its archfoe the United States.

The New York Times notes, "The reasoning behind the timing of the release was unclear. American military officials have been gradually releasing thousands of Iraqis from detention camps under the terms of the security agreement between the United States and Iraq, but thousands of prisoners for now remain in American custody."

8:20 AM ET -- Mousavi external spokesman addresses EU. The video of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, speaking in Persian, is below. A reader offers an overview:

He starts with making a parody: if there is a flight with hostages, are you going to say this issue is internal between hostages and passengers? The people are Iran are like passengers hostage to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. He ends with two requests: 1) Not endorsing the election results, that's his main request; 2) try to prevent the regime from squashing the protesters.


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Useful Resources

News: NIAC Insight | Kodoom
Translations: Google Translate | TehranBroadcast.com | Translate4Iran
Helping Iranians use the web: Haystack | Tor Project (English & Farsi) | IranHelp.org (Farsi)
Demonstrations: Facebook | Sharearchy | WhyWeProtest
Activism: Avaaz.org | National Iranian American Council