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On the Frontlines in Iran

June 17, 2009


A friend of mine is currently in Iran, watching and participating in the struggle as it unfolds. Here’s one of their reports:

Tehran – June 14, midnight.
The streets of Tehran are under siege. After this coup d’etat, people are remaining in the streets, although today there was severe repression and riot police everywhere. The word revolution is in everyone’s mouths, and people are refusing to stay indoors, as the regime and police are asking them to. The fascist apparatus is coming on full force. Riot police are accompanied by Bassiji militants, huge men with beards, dressed in emblematic khaki pants and white button up shirts, with one-meter long wooden batons in hand, and colt pistols. These men, usually hidden on a ‘normal’ day in the streets to monitor behavior and the dress code, are now working at full force with the police, especially at night.
Today we mostly stayed indoors, although there were some gatherings further into the city. Because Ahmadinejad was holding an official victory rally, where thousands had gathered (although as usual, many were probably brought in by bus from the outskirts of the city), people in opposition were encouraged to stay away. This is mostly because meeting face to face with these people would lead to violent clashes, and more deaths. Although there are no official figures, there have been some deaths. We have heard that 11 were killed yesterday, but there is no way to know.

[photo taken from]

This is not an explosion or a spontaneous riot. This is not a show of anger or rage. Something bigger is happening, and we can feel that people are preparing for it. Although there is severe repression and fear, people are maintaining their presence in the streets. This is not just an angry reaction to election fraud, but a real movement that is bubbling. The slogans on the street now are mainly ‘Death to Dictatorship’, and
people are not afraid to cry this out.
Again, through some accessible weblogs (or others we get through to with filters), and phone calls to others around the city, we gather information. Internet has been virtually cut, although a slow dialup service allows us to send a few emails or read feeds every few hours.
A short list of today’s news: Moussavi is still under house arrest; his wife gave a talk today at Tehran University announcing that tomorrow there will be a massive demonstration (for which they will have asked for a permit, which is not sure to be granted); a large number of reformist leaders were arrested, threatened not to make any radical moves or declarations, and then released; SMS services are still deactivated, as are any wave using internet services; Ayatollah Sanei (a reformist,
elderly cleric) took to the streets of Qom in protest, wearing a shroud that Muslims are wrapped in when they die; weblogs called for people to stay in the streets and to walk calmly; Tehran and Isfahan Universities were attacked by Bassij militia who severely beat students.
As night fell on Tehran, we went up on the rooftop and along with hundreds of other people began yelling “Death to Dictatorship”. You could hear the voices in the dark across the city. Friends who live in other parts of the city reported that in their parts the same was happening. People were also yelling, “Allah Akbar”, (which I personally have an extremely hard time saying, but it is a tactical move for people: they need to keep the support of figures like Moussavi, Rafsanjani, Ayatollah Sanei, and others important within the political sphere if their movement is to build and go forward with force). During the 1979 revolution, the movements were leftist, but what is happening today is first and foremost a fight for social and political freedom.
Officially it is illegal to gather, meaning that groups of 3 or 4 people standing together in the street are threatened and hit with batons if they don’t move. So the quiet walking continues tonight.
In our street, Bassiji militants have attacked people and beaten their wooden batons onto our doors, insulting us and telling us to get back in the house. They are trying to create fear and hysteria, but people continue to go outside, to walk in the streets, to drive their cars and honk. This will only grow.
But the situation is severe, and the police have been given orders to kill. That said, we are all seeing a clip today of a number of protesters protecting a policeman after he was beaten by a group of protesters, pleading with each other that we are all the same people, that we are all in this country together. Today, I witnessed a few occasions where people were discussing with young policemen in riot gear. At one point a few friends and I conversed with a policeman in his twenties. He was ashamed, and told us that they have been told to shoot to kill, but that they are ‘trying hard to keep the situation calm’. He said that he considers us like his brothers and sisters; we told him to drop his weapons and join our ranks. This is hopefully happen soon.
The main problem for us is the plainclothes police, Bassijis, and secret service that are stationed all over the place; on each street corner, as well as around the major squares of the city.
Something is happening, slowly but surely, and the force of the people will only grow each day. Tehran, Isfahan, Mashad, Ahvaz, Shiraz, Zahedan are, and probably more cities in the coming days and weeks.
What we want may take a long time, but it is happening. The walls are covered with “Death to Dictatorship”, and it will come to an end.
Latest news:
– Helicopter police have opened fire on a crowd in Haft Tir Square (in central Tehran). We heard that this was with plastic coated bullets, but this is to be confirmed.
– Tehran University is under severe attack; this is the first time that the army has actually entered the university grounds in 44 years.
– The above mentioned, Ayatollah Sanei has come to Tehran from Qom and is maintaining a sit in in Khomeini’s home, asking others of the Ulema to join him. This is extremely important; a remnant action from the Constitutional Revolution of 1906.


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