Iran Uprising Blogging: Week Of July 13
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Updates for the week of July 20 are here.
4:43 PM ET -- Tear gas disrupts large group of people praying. Just awful.
4:29 PM ET -- Reza Aslan: Rafsanjani did not disappoint.
In the end, Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani did not disappoint. For a man who has made a career out of mediating from the middle and playing both sides, Rafsanjani delivered an unusually pointed criticism of the Iranian regime's handling of the election crisis. He explicitly condemned the Guardian Council's haphazard investigation into claims of election fraud and demanded the immediate release of all the protesters who had been arrested and detained by the Revolutionary Guard. "We do not need people in prison for [demonstrating]," Rafsanjani said. "Let's allow them to return to their families."
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the sermon came when Rafsanjani hinted that progress has been made in his attempts to come up with some kind of compromise with the regime over the election crisis, though he remained elusive about what that could possibly entail. "I have some suggestions," he said, in an oblique reference to his work behind the scenes with Iran's powerbrokers. "I have spoken to some members of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts about them too."
2:40 PM ET -- Defending Karroubi. A reader sends along two interesting videos. In the first watch it here:
Speakers announce Rafsanjani is going to speak, to which people respond: "Hashemi, if you remain silent you are a traitor!" Then at 0:40 -- Karroubi amongst people who greet him: "dorud bar Karroubi" (Hello) then praise him "Karroubi bagheyrat, beres be dade mellat" (Honorable/Brave Karroubi, come to the help of the people!"Then:
The forces attack, people shout "don't shoot." Then they tell Karroubi who is in the front line: "Karroubi remain behind us!" Then they yell "death to the dictator!"
2:33 PM ET -- Video, complete transcript of Rafsanjani's speech. Video (in 10 minute chunks) is on this person's YouTube account. Transcript here.
Via a reader, some notable attendees: Karroubi, Ansari and Yaser Khomeini (Khomeini's grandson)... Nategh Noori, Hassan Rouhani... Mohesen Rezai (another presidential candidate)... Mortazavi... Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Photos of all here.
2:25 PM ET -- An injured female demonstrator. Video reportedly from today here.
2:14 PM ET -- Flash mobs. A new twist on solidarity with Iran.
2:12 PM ET -- Guardian Council releases Iran election report. From state media: "Iran's Guardian Council has published a 'detailed report' on the country's latest presidential election, which shows how complaints about the results were dealt with."
Via reader David, here's the full report -- if an English version pops up, let me know.
1:59 PM ET -- "Death to Russia!" A fascinating video. From reader Sadeq Rahimi:
Here's a clip from today's prayers in Tehran that I think is a MUST for your weblog! There's not much by the way of image, it's taken by people who couldn't make it inside, but it's the recorded audio that is fascinating. Traditionally, there's this guy at the Friday prayers whom people mockingly call 'vazireh shoaar', or the minister of slogans. His job is to shout slogans through loudspeakers and lead the crowd to chant death to America or Israel or whoever after him. In this clip you hear the crowd going flatly against him as he desperately cycles through the usual slogans (death to America, death to Israel, death to England and so on), and regardless of what he shouts, the crowd keeps repeating one chant: 'marg bar roosiyeh' (Death to Russia) !!
The chants against Russia and China -- whose governments have both recognized Ahmadinejad's election victory -- were widely used today. As noted below by a reader, the strategic benefit here seems to be associating the Iran's government with a foreign power, just as the government is trying to do to tar the reformists.
Update: A regular reader, after watching this video, writes:
I get goose bumps each time I listen to this.
Hats off to all of our people. I am amazed and in awe by their bravery. I feel like I am not big and free enough a person to be called Iranian now....
Thank you, people, Thank you. You fill my eyes with tears...and fill my heart with such a huge sense of pride and gratitude to have known you and lived among you...
1:43 PM ET -- Siemens risks losses due to Iran work. "One of the world's largest engineering firms, Siemens, could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in sales to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) because it sold Iran equipment used to spy on dissidents."
1:38 PM ET -- Demonstrators meet a group of Ahmadinejad supporters. Near the end of the clip... it all stays peaceful. Via a reader:
1:33 PM ET -- Karroubi reportedly attacked. "Mehdi Karrubi, a former Parliamentary Speaker and a defeated candidate in the June 12 ballot, was attacked by plain- clothed forces on his way to Friday prayers, his party said on its Web site. Karrubi didn't require hospital treatment after the incident and later returned home."
Here's an account, in Farsi, from his son.
1:27 PM ET -- Ahmadinejad picks VP who praised Israel.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has appointed Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as Iran's new first vice president, the official IRNA news agency reported on Friday.
Ahmadinejad announced late Thursday in Iran's northeastern city of Mashhad that Mashaie will serve as the new first vice president in the 10th government, replacing incumbent First Vice President Parviz Davoudi, who was appointed adviser to the president, IRNA said.
Why this pick is particularly interesting:
Mashaie a year ago was severely criticised by the country's hardliners and even rapped by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for saying Iran was a "friend of the Israeli people."
He returned to the theme again in August, saying he had "no hostility against the Israeli people."
1:23 PM ET -- Great new photos of the Tehran University protests from a photojournalist with Demotix. An important detail from Andy at Demotix: "He's one of our most established reporters in Tehran, but is going via a new username because eight of his friends (6 photographers and 2 cameramen) have been arrested. He himself was detained by the Sepah 7 days ago." True bravery -- and because of them, the world is still watching.
Some pictures apparently from today of Zahra Rahnavard, wife of Mousavi, here.
Many more photos posted on Flickr here.
1:15 PM PM ET -- New calls for Mousavi's arrest.
Mousavi should be put on trial as the driving force behind the post-election unrest, according to an Iranian lawmaker cited by the state-run Fars news agency.
"Mousavi has been the main factor behind the unrest," said Esmail Kosari, a member of the parliamentary committee for national security and foreign policy. "People have been harmed and he must be accountable."
11:31 AM ET -- A video archive for Iranians. There are two big problems for people in Iran trying to see some of the amazing footage coming out of their country. 1) Since Internet speed is low, it's much better to download a video rather than watching a streaming version; and 2) Many more would be able to watch if you could access the videos via mobile phone.
This site, developed by some smart and committed activists, is trying to help. All the videos archived there are already downloadable, and soon they'll be available for cell phones. If you know people in Iran, spread the word.
11:10 AM ET -- Brave Iranians gather in front of Interior Ministry.
11:00 AM ET -- How geeks (and non-geeks) can help Iranians.
10:32 AM ET -- Anti-Rafsanjani chants. (Update: Or maybe not.) Thoughts from reformists on Rafsanjani's speech today are very, very diverse. Some are extremely happy with his comments. Some are pleasantly surprised by the speech (given his history of cautiousness) but wish he had gone much further. Others are disappointed, and still others believe he "sold out the people."
In a video posted below, a reader notes, people are chanting "base dige dorooghgoo, Akbar Hashemi (literally: we've had enough you liar, Akbar Hashemi [Rafsanjani])." The reader notes, "It is crucial not to mistakenly identify the unusually high number of people who attended today's prayer as backers or even fond of Rafsanjani. His sermon merely presented people with an opportunity to once more voice their dissatisfaction."
UPDATE: Another reader challenges this translation:
Hi, you've mentioned the chant: "base dige dorooghgoo, Akbar Hashemi (literally: we've had enough you liar, Akbar Hashemi [Rafsanjani])."
But in face they were saying, base dige dorooghgoo, Akbare Hashemi KU? which means, enough of you liar (addressed to the guys who was talking for a very long time before Hashemi), where is Akbar Hashemi.
Taghavi the guy who spoke for a long time before Hashemi was bascially saying things in support of the leader, and people chanted enough, let Hashemi speak!
Yet another reader offers:
I know his speech may have disappointed some people. It was soft, and full of double speak. But we have to remember that this speech is coming from a man who has always moved behind the scenes. The fact that he is even so closely connected to the Green Wave is a pretty big deal. For him to give such a speech that even hints at anything is huge.
The real question is what does all this mean? Perhaps he was trying to comfort the people. Maybe he was hoping to influence some of the hard liners who are now questioning things. What I'm worried bout is that maybe this means his behind the scenes influence has lost its clout and he is forced to come out of the shadows a bit more.
10:29 AM ET -- Several new photos apparently from today are here, via reader Tim.
9:32 AM ET -- Rafsanjani's most important line? Via email, Portland State University professor R. Kevin Hill writes:
There was subtext and not-so-sub-subtext in several of Rafsanjani's remarks, based on the transcript of a live-blogger (caveats about accuracy, accuracy of translation, etc.) excerpt of which follows. If this is accurate, and I'm reading the oblique sermon style correctly, he's articulating a principle of popular sovereignty and calling on the government to resign. I've highlighted the crucial remark:
"The Imam [Khomeini] would always quote the Prophet [Muhammad] who would say to Ali [Muhammad's successor]: leave the people if they do not want you.
9:25 AM ET -- "Something profound has changed." "Iranians are losing their fear and mock the official line."
9:16 AM ET -- Photo of Mousavi at prayers. Allegedly from today:
9:01 AM ET -- Demonstrators reportedly swarming state media HQ. Iranians calling into EPersianRadio.com say that large crowds have gathered outside the headquarters of the state media outlet IRIB. One caller said the building was surrounded by thousands of people, and that demonstrators were trying to break in.
Here's a series of new videos from today:
8:38 AM ET -- Today in Tehran. A great compilation of video from today by Chas Danner:
And one new high-quality clip, again showing very large crowds:
A caller to EPersianRadio.com says he is a former Revolutionary Guard member. Via a reader, "He said that mentally it's so hard, that the basiji forces may not be able to hold up. He said he served 10 years ago and he knows what goes in their mind and how much effect it has on them. Otherwise, why are they asking for volunteers now? He said when they were on alert he couldn't get any sleep and he knows how scared the forces are themselves."
8:19 AM ET -- Mousavi among the people? A caller from Tehran to EPersianRadio.com claims that Mousavi is taking part in the street demonstrations.
Another caller says "so much tear gas... old men laying on the ground. The air was thick with tear gas, so much that you couldn't open your eyes."
And here's video of another reformist presidential candidate, Karoubi, apparently demonstrating today:
8:03 AM ET -- Reports of violence. An account relayed from an Iranian:
"Plastic bullets being used. Getting lots of reports of people hurt. He says every minute its getting bigger and bigger. He says its the biggest protest in weeks. People are starting to come from all the streets, lots of tear gas. He says batons and tear gas, yet lots of people. Fatami seems to be the big street that is happening. He says 1 hour ago, people were headed towards the state-run tv station, but he doesn't know what happened."
Here's a new Reuters report:
Iranian police detained at least 15 people and used tear gas and batons to disperse supporters of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi outside Tehran University on Friday, a witness said.
The incident took place as former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani led Friday prayers inside the university grounds.
Mousavi supporters outside chanted slogans calling for the release of people detained since last month's disputed presidential election and for the resignation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when police moved to disperse them, the witness said.
7:52 AM ET -- A note from a reader: "great videos you posted. if you have any sources in iran, please tell them a 22 year old diaspora that has never been to iran was crying tonight in LA watching that. never been more proud."
7:50 AM ET -- Tear gas fired on demonstrators outside Tehran University.
7:25 AM ET -- Mousavi did attend the prayers, his first official public appearance since the vote, Reuters reports.
Here's more video:
7:14 AM ET -- A caller from Tehran to EPersianRadio.com says that several women were stabbed by plainclothes paramilitaries outside Tehran University. "Blood everywhere," she says. "Please tell everyone to get away from the university."
A reader's contact in Iran says something very similar: "The basijis had knives with them. That's why everyone around the university has knives. He says its really bad."
7:09 AM ET -- Women's rights activist reported arrested on way to prayers. Associated Press: "Two pro-reform Web sites reported that a prominent women's rights activist, Shadi Sadr, was beaten by plainclothes militiamen and taken away as she headed toward Tehran University. Sadr was forcible pushed into a car and taken to an unknown location, Mousavi's Web site http://www.mowjcamp.com and a women's activists site http://www.meydaan.com said."
7:02 AM ET -- Massive crowds. Via reader Chas:
7:00 AM ET -- Down with Russia. Here, the crowd chants, "Russia, do us a favor and let go of our country!" A smart reader offers, "The anti-Russia chants are great. It's like the '79 version of death to America. They are associating the regime with a foreign power."