12:23 am: A NIAC member points to propaganda like this video playing up fears of foreign conspiracies against Iran as indicative of why Obama’s approach has been the right one thus far. He notes Iran has stepped up airing videos similar to this.
11:39 pm: With many concerned a major crackdown against the demonstrators may be about to happen, the Obama administration is signaling they will toughen their stance toward Iran if a crackdown occurs.
Where is this place that no one can help us?
where is this place that we are only shouting out our words with silence?
Where is this place that the youth are killed and people stand in the street and pray?
They stand in the blood and pray.
Where is this place that people are called [vagrants] trouble makers?
Where is this place?
Do you want me to tell you?
It is Iran.
It is my home land and your home land.
It is Iran.
9:46 pm: “The man Iranians want as their leader has been silenced. This is what he wants you to know” – Mohsen Makhmalbaf, The Guardian:
I have been given the responsibility of telling the world what is happening in Iran. The office of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who the Iranian people truly want as their leader, has asked me to do so. They have asked me to tell how Mousavi’s headquarters was wrecked by plainclothes police officers. To tell how the commanders of the revolutionary guard ordered him to stay silent. To urge people to take to the streets because Mousavi could not do so directly.
The people in the streets don’t want a recount of last week’s vote. They want it annulled. This is a crucial moment in our history. Since the 1979 revolution Iran has had 80% dictatorship and 20% democracy. We have dictatorship because one person is in charge, the supreme leader – first Khomeini, now Khamenei. He controls the army and the clergy, the justice system and the media, as well as our oil money.
So why do the Iranian people not want Ahmadinejad as their leader? Because he is nothing but a loudspeaker for Khamenei. … When Khatami was president of Iran, Bush was president of the US. Now the Americans have Obama and we have our version of Bush. We need an Obama who can find solutions for Iran’s problems. Although power would remain in the hands of Khamenei, a president like Mousavi could weaken the supreme leader.
Some suggest the protests will fade because nobody is leading them. All those close to Mousavi have been arrested, and his contact with the outside world has been restricted. People rely on word of mouth, because their mobile phones and the internet have been closed down. That they continue to gather shows they want something more than an election. They want freedom, and if they are not granted it we will be faced with another revolution.
Previously, he [Mousavi] was revolutionary, because everyone inside the system was a revolutionary. But now he’s a reformer. Now he knows Gandhi – before he knew only Che Guevara. If we gain power through aggression we would have to keep it through aggression. That is why we’re having a green revolution, defined by peace and democracy
These words carry tremendous significance.
8:39 pm: Reuters: Key decision yet to be made
Backers of beaten presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi will decide on Saturday whether to defy a stern warning by Iran’s top authority and stage mass protests over a disputed election.
Iran’s top legislative body holds an extraordinary session on Saturday morning to which it has invited Mousavi and the two other candidates who lost against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election, which Mousavi wants annulled.
6:27 pm: We posted part one of Mousavi’s campaign video yesterday, which was translated by NIAC member Arvin. After we posted it, Arvin’s excellent work even got picked up by the NY Times! Here are parts two and three. Part two focuses on Zahra Rahnavard and encouraging everyone to vote, while part three includes some fiery highlights from the debates.
6:22 pm: From a reader, Shabnam:
If anyone is on Twitter, set your location to Tehran and your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut Iranians’ access to the internet down! We must help them! Cut & paste & pass it on! Go Humans!!!
5:09 pm: Apologies for the confusion, but tomorrow’s 3pm demonstration in DC that we’ve been mentioning has been cancelled. There will be another rally outside the Iranian interests section at 11am, but it is not being organized by the “Where is my vote” campaign. Check facebook for more information.
4:23 pm: More translated news from: http://twitter.com/iranbaan
- “Evin prison’s phones have been disconnected for more than 72 hours.”
- “Tonight, the sound of bullets being shot in the air was heard in Tehran, Karaj, Tabriz and some other cities to scare people. But the people responded more firmly than ever by chanting “God is Great.”
4:10 pm: Ghalam News: Mousavi’s supporters continued chanting “God is Great” for the seventh night:
Ghalm News reported that the sound of Mousavi supporters chanting “God is Great” echoed throughout “all districts and towns in Iran” for the seventh consecutive night. According to Ghalam news, supporters of Mousavi also chanted “Ya [Hail] Hossein, Mir Hossein” to make sure their participation is not attributed to Ahmadinejad supporters. “During reporting this news, the voices of Mousavi’s friends could still be heard in different locations in Tehran,” the report said.
The chant “ya Hossein” is said in respect to the third Shia Imam, Imam Hossein, who is the iconic tragic figure of the Shia religion. “Ya Hossein” is chanted in order to bring attention to injustice by Shias.
I’m very concerned based on some of the tenor — and tone of the statements that have been made — that the government of Iran recognize that the world is watching. And how they approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is and — and is not.
3:52 pm:From the blogger Golrokh:
“God is great.”
“Lies are evil. Guns are evil. Bullets are evil.”
3:46 pm: Another message from a friend of NIAC in Tehran:
According to him, tomorrow’s rally is scheduled for 4-6pm from Engelab Sq (Revolution Sq) to Azadi Sq (Freedom Sq). He believes that there will be casualties tomorrow on the count that people are angry with Khamenei’s sermon today and will voice their outrage tomorrow at the demonstration. He believes that “Khamenei has put the gun to his own mouth.”
3:09 pm: One of our readers requested that we translate the following blog post: “Tomorrow is a big day, maybe I’ll get killed tomorrow!” (http://balatarin.com/permlink/2009/6/19/1625688)
“I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…”
2:27 pm: Jami: “Khamenei will be remembered as a leader who split the people, ended his own leadership and became a tribal chief”
Mehdi Jami, a well-known Iranian journalist, photographer, filmmaker and writer said on his blog that Khamenei has effectively removed himself from the guardianship of the people by what he said in his speech today. (Our translation):
“This is the end of Khamenei and the beginning of a new era. He doesn’t hear our voice and doesn’t speak our language…today, Khamenei showed the people that he is not their leader…He sees us as enemies. Elections are not important for him. He only represents a small group of people. The problem is that he wants to suppress other groups so they cannot participate in decision-making. People feel this. They see that power is in the hands of a few. Khamenei even dislikes the old leaders of the revolution. In this regime, there’s no place for anyone with a different opinion.
Khamenei resigned from real leadership and was demoted to the leadership of a certain group of his supporters. He easily ignored and threatened this great opposition, which according to his own formal statistics, is composed of 13 million people. His problem is that he wants to ignore the population. His biggest mistake was to say that he is closer to the current president than to the people. According to our constitution, our leader cannot belong to one political party or another. He will be remembered as a leader who split the people, ended his own leadership and became a tribal chief. He created divisions in the society.
Khamenei says there are legal ways to protest. But in such a system, which laws are legitimate? A law on paper is not a law. A law together with its administrators is a law. When the administrators are corrupt, create roadblocks to the implementation of the law and interpret it any way they want, how can one have any hope in the role of law? Based on which law has he arrested hundreds of people? Based on which law has he ignored the complaints of millions of people?
I am certain that opposition by the great people of Iran will continue against this kind of politics and leadership until they find a new leader who is able to think of the people and does not dominate a small group over the larger population.
Mousavi and Karroubi are leaders of an opposition that did not vote for Ahmadinejadism. This is a result of Khamenei’s mistake who has tied his future with Ahmadinejad. This is a great movement by millions. Either Mousavi or Karroubi realize this and take the responsibility to lead it or they will retreat because of threats. But it is clear that this great power [opposition] will not remain without a leader and will not die down. Khamenei’s era is over and new leaders are compelled to emerge.
1:48 pm: Time Magazine’s cover photo:
This image also appears on Mousavi’s facebook page, with the caption:
We are standing against radicalism. We, the Green Movement … its time for the people of the World to see what we are standing against…and join”
1:30 pm: Correction–time change
In our post “DC Iranian Americans Expand Frustration to Russians…then Chinese” we reported the demonstration on Saturday will take place at 11am. The correct time is 3pm.
1:24 pm: Moussavi calls for world-wide demonstrations
Mir Houssein Moussavi invited world-wide demonstrations on his facebook page for this coming weekend. He urged supporters to join the Iranian people in solidarity for free and fair elections.
Where is my vote? on facebook also created an event for a global demonstration for Saturday June 20, 2009. Here is the statement on the event’s webpage:
“We (Iranians and Non-Iranians around the world) are gathering on Saturday around the world in solidarity with millions of Iranian protesters who are silently protesting the fraudulent election of June 12 and to condemn the violence.”
Global rallies will be held in London, Liverpool, Italy, Copenhagen/Denmark, Melbourne, Bulgaria, Spain, and Brussels. For a list of all rallies check out Moussavi’s event page on facebook, which you can find here.
1:13 pm: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tx), the lone “no” vote on the Berman/Pence resolution this morning, issued a statement explaining his reasoning:
I have admired President Obama’s cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions.
12:41 pm: The Times of London reports that Khamenei has told Mousavi to get in line…or be “cast out.”
The moderate Iranian leader who says that he was robbed of victory in last week’s presidential election faces a fateful choice today: support the regime or be cast out.
The demand was made at a meeting this week with representatives of all three candidates who claim that the poll was rigged, and it puts Mr Mousavi on the spot. He has become the figurehead of a popular movement that is mounting huge demonstrations daily against the “theft” of last Friday’s election by President Ahmadinejad, the ayatollah’s protégé.
This represents a serious escalation in tensions between Mousavi and Khamenei. Mousavi had urged his supporters not to attend Friday prayer events to avoid confrontation with pro-Ahmadinejad and Khamenei forces. Events within Iran’s elite appear to be headed toward a tipping point where neither Khamenei nor Mousavi will be easily able to step back.
12:38 pm: A petition to the UN asking that they pressure Iran to hold a new election.
12:22 pm: Politico is reporting that the White House had to get involved to tone down Pence’s original resolution.
“We made it clear that we didn’t want to make the U.S. a foil in a debate that has nothing to do with us,” a senior administration told me this morning. “This is a debate among Iranians.”
The National Iranian American Council has strongly condemned the government of Iran’s use of violence and human rights abuses. Large groups of Iranian Americans have demonstrated in protest. But the majority of the Iranian Americans sending messages to their Representatives have said clearly that while human rights abuses should be condemned, the U.S. government shouldn’t get more involved than that in Iran’s internal politics.The polls we have taken here have shown most of our readers believe any U.S. government involvement would only likely prove counterproductive. There is too much historical baggage.
12:04 pm: Congress Gets Involved
The House of Representatives just passed (450-1, Ron Paul dissenting) a resolution expressing its support for all Iranians who embrace the values of freedom and human rights, while condemning the government of Iran’s use of violence.
Meanwhile, the Ted Kaufmann (D-DE) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) have introduced a better resolution in the Senate saying much the same thing, while adding an important point missing from the Berman/Pence resolution in the House:
“The Senate respects the sovereignty, proud history, and rich culture of the Iranian people”
This is extremely important. Khamenei kept referring to external enemies in his sermon today. The last thing the United States wants to do is play into his hands, making it easier for him to point to external threats to justify a massive crackdown. This is why the President’s approach has been so prudent.
It appears there will be dueling resolutions in the Senate, though. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) just introduced an exact copy of the Berman resolution.
The House Republicans used Berman’s resolution as an excuse to attack President Obama. With it being copied by McCain and Lieberman — no friends of Obama on Iran — it makes one wonder why Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is giving Republicans so much room to attack the President.
11:00 am: More translated news from http://twitter.com/iranbaan
- “Karbaschi [Karroubi’s campaign manager] said in a response to Supreme Leader’s position: We don’t say the regime has cheated. A particular group has done this.”
- “Karbaschi told BBC: Interior Ministry has not given a written response to our request for a permit to demonstrate.”
- “Karbaschi: we rely on the law and there are enough laws to influence the elections.”
10:32 am: Iran’s Seda o Sima (State TV) internet site was hacked today. The title was changed to state: “When will killing brothers end?” Below is states: “Mr. Ahmadinejad, how long do we have to stand these images? The kids of the people are getting killed day by day. How long do you plan on carrying out this carnage? For the sake of power, you have stepped on the dignity of the nation. What will be next after you have killed and scarred the kids of this land?”
The website is currently down.
10:29 am: How the Basij operate:
Iranians shudder at the violence unleashed in their cities at night, with the shadowy vigilantes known as Basijis beating, looting and sometimes gunning down protesters they tracked during the day.
The vigilantes plan to take their fight into the daylight on Friday, with the public relations department of Ansar Hezbollah, the most public face of the Basij, announcing that they planned a public demonstration to expose the “seditious conspiracy” being carried out by “agitating hooligans.”
The huge numbers of people who have turned out to protest the election results in recent days have presented somewhat of a problem for the Basij: there are too many demonstrators to enable the vigilantes to intimidate people in their customary way. At times when the Basijis have tried to attack demonstrators, the crowd has turned on them, beating the vigilantes and setting their motorcycles on fire.
Our own Trita Parsi spoke about this on CNN yesterday, saying
[The demonstrations are] not slowing down at all. On the contrary, it seems to be getting new life and a lot of the protesters seem to be sensing that they may actually be closer to some sort of a breakthrough, some sort of at least tactical victory. So, their morale seems to be rather high. From what I have been hearing from people inside, very, very peaceful. It’s usually after the protest as they’re going back home that they are then attacked by Basij and other plain-clothed vigilantes, who are not attacking them when they’re protesting because there are so many of them, but as they’re dispersing and going back home. That’s when they’re being attacked.
9:56 am: More translated news from http://twitter.com/iranbaan
- “It is said that Tajzadeh, Aminzadeh, Ramezanzadeh, Abtahi and other arrested individuals are under great pressure to give fake confessions on TV.”
- “The soccer players who were wearing green wristbands in the Iran-South Korea game have been suspended.”
- “Maryam Ameri, a member of Karroubi’s organization, has been arrested.”
9:51 am: Google will translate websites from Persian into English now. It’s an early version of the software, but this is still very cool.
9:48 am: Facebook now comes in Persian/Farsi. People can change theirlanguage preferences here.
9:41 am: New York Times reports on Khamenei’s Friday sermon:
In his first public response to days of mass protests, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sternly warned opposition supporters on Friday to stay off the streets and raised the prospect of violence if the defiant, vast demonstrations continued.
Opposition leaders, he said, will be “responsible for bloodshed and chaos” if they do not call stop further rallies.
He said he would never give in to “illegal pressures” and denied their accusations that last week’s presidential election was rigged, praising the officially declared landslide for the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as an “epic moment that became a historic moment.” He spoke somberly for more than an hour and a half at Friday prayers to tens of thousands of people at Tehran University, with Mr. Ahmadinejad in attendance. His sermon was broadcast over loudspeakers to throngs in the adjoining streets, and the crowds erupted repeatedly in roars of support. Opposition supporters had spread the word among themselves not to attend.
9:25 am: Clear video of demonstrators being shot.
This video carries a disclaimer by the poster that they aren’t sure exactly when after the election this video was taken, but it shows a number of demonstrators being shot by Basijis at Defense Base 117 on Safa Alley in Tehran’s District II. It appears to be the same shooting as captured in this video, which the BBC says occurred on Monday. It’s unclear if anyone was killed. [Warning: The videos show disturbing images.]