On the ground in Iran: reports from election protests
As the unrest in Iran has continued, I have been in regular communication with friends and acquaintances there about the election’s outcome and the ensuing protests. I have asked them if I could post some of their first-person accounts here to share an on-the-ground perspective on the situation with you. I will continue to add reports as they come in. I am posting them anonymously to protect the writers.
This report came to me yesterday from a young man in Tehran:
It was around 10:00pm when I heard the people shouting Allah-o Akbar (on their roofs) – (like they have done last night) The people here have agreed with each other to do that every night. It seems that this is the new way to show their protest. The shouts was much intenser and louder than yesterday. Around 10:45pm I heard shots so I decided to go out with my car to see if there are any protests tonight. In Tehran-pars which is the east side of Tehran there was a huge crowd of people – protesting and began setting fire to garbages (in the middle of the streets) and damaging street signs.
At the moment that I was watching all the happenings, there was no police, but suddenly within a half hour there came maybe over 200 para-miitary forces known as Basiji and police on their motorcycles . They started to beat the youths – even the women and those who was just walking or going over the streets. The only people who was safe was the people who was driving in their cars. Luckily I was with my car . The people in the cars protesting with their car horn.
As you know and I mentioned in my last mail there was a huge rally from Enghelab street to Azadi today in which as I heard more than 1million Mussavi supporter and Regime opponents participated. I was not there but I talked with some friend who was there today. Everyone was impressed about the huge and unbelievable crowd of people. Unfortunately there was one incident : One news agency’s photographer (Vahid Salemi) from associated press (saw one person shot and killed by the police) here is the link where you can see the picture taken by him: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arasmus/3629097035/ [warning: this photo is graphic]
He followed up with this news this morning:
The Government that is closing everything here in Iran like SMS -Internet connection etc. have forgotten that 30 years ago the people went for a revolution without the technology that is available today!! And the Revolution was unfortunately successful.
I want to correct my news of yesterday I told you we had only one person killed after the rally. But the government in Tehran have confirmed today that we had 7 people killed yesterday and because of that we had a protest of hospital workers today in front of the hospital where the people was brought yesterday with their injuries.
At all levels of the society peoples are standing up and starting with their protests now – all the frustration of 4 years Ahmadinejad and 30 years of Islamic Republic of Iran shows itself with the anger of the people that we are seeing now. If the protest follow in the coming days I am optimistic of a change in future. I am just worried about how the change will look like and I am deeply concerned that maybe it could be more worst than the Islamic Regime.
I am really speechless now and I don’t know what the future will bring – I hope really for a better future and democratic future for Iran. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We don’t want this mullahs anymore. Everywhere in the world they call us terrorists and fundamentalists but we aren’t. I know they mean the government but that doesn’t change the opinion and view of the people all over the world. I hope the people in America and all over the world have seen the pictures of our youths protesting and they have understand that the people and government are not the same.
This update came to me from a contact in Esfahan, in central Iran:
At 4pm I was at Enghelab (revolution) square. Met Foroogh at 6 somewhere else. The plan was to rally from Enghelab (revolution) square to Azadi (freedom) square. You know every city in the country has one square named Enghelab and one named Azadi. As metaphoric/symbolic as it is Moosavi had asked us to do it from Enghelab to Azadi. And as sad as it gets, they didn’t let us do it. There were tear gas, plastic bullets, batons, there were riot police beating everybody.
At 4pm sharp everybody was there. so were the [police]. It didnt look good from the get-go. Half a dozen tear gases and we were all crossing the dried river to the other side. Running. They chased us to the other side.
See, one of the most famous slogans of the 79 revolution was this: Independence, freedom, Islamic republic. Now, we argue that we dont have independence, we dont have freedom, and we dont have a real Islamic republic cuz this aint the true spirit of Islam apparently.
So, we (mostly the boys and gals not me necessarily) defeated the police force waiting for us at the other side and happily demolished their place there and burnt their motorcycles. Busted couple of them and happily let them go. We were to do a peacefull rally after all.
Then we walked towards the Azadi square chanting old patriotic songs and slogans. Clapping. Sitting in the street for quite some time. I met Foroogh at 6 and we continued the rally.
The police force and the riot police attacked. got defeated. couple times. we hid in the allies cuz they beat mercilessly. I even stopped a car and hopped in it with Foroogh and her friend to get away from the [police]. They’d outrun us.
What’d be the point of a peacefull rally when they run you over if you stay.
So we (the boys and gals) had a little fun with the bank windows and traffic lites and stuff at Nazar square. We had the place for like 2 hours when things got nasty. The ‘baseej’ (hardline vigilantes) showed up with baton-like wooden sticks and dispersed us in a sec. We took refuge in a building along with like 50 other ‘comrades’ if you will.
There were now a [lot] of teargas one right in fron of the building we were in. i managed to grab it and throw it away towards the [police]
They emptied the streets and started invading the buildings and houses were we’d taken refuge in. So we fleed.
They besieged us and bottomed us especially the boys. bad. they were saying very offensive things to us and to moosavi. Just like hooligans.
It’s a perfect coup.We took refuge in some other house and called mom from there cuz the mobile phones they’d shut off. They invaded the ally and ‘took care of’ the remaining guys in the ally.
I have also been in touch with a contact I met in Iran who is now in Dubai, where they are protesting regularly outside the Iranian embassy. He asked me share the below photos with you and to pass on this simple message:
Just want to say that this huge wave of people will never stop till things change. and it will happen, nothing is impossible.
I have left out the photos that depict graphic violence, though many are readily available on the internet.
The best way Americans can help is to pressure Congress to stop aggressive approaches toward Iran. Sanctions, threats and isolation will only hurt reform movements in Iran. Click here to write to your representative and senators and urge them to support President Obama’s commitment to diplomacy with Iran.