Live Blog: Iran – Ashura – (5 Dey) December 27th, 2009

7:39 PM EST (00:39 GMT) 4:09 AM Tehran –

Please read Enduring America’s 5-minute 5-point overview of the significance of the days events. I’ll be writing my own analysis later tonight, but let’s just say that nobody expected what happened to happen.

First of all, 10 people have been confirmed as killed in today’s violence, making it the bloodiest day by far since June. One of them was a relative of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the prime opposition leader who ran against Ahmadinejad in the June election.

Secondly, Ashura is a religious celebration where violence is strictly forbidden. The pro-government forces, police, and Iranian Republic Guard went against the traditions of Islam in order to strike out against the protesters, using live ammunition, battons, and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Opposition cleric Mehdi Karroubi released a statement, saying, “The sins that you have committed today cannot be forgiven by God. If you don’t have a belief in God, at least be a human.”

However, I think the most surprising part of today’s protests is that the PROTESTERS WON THE FIGHT! The police and Basiji were retreating throughout the city of Iran. At least one police station was destroyed, and in the video below a Basiji militia building was burned. The government no longer knows whether it is wiser to tighten its grip and risk further escalation, or relax it and risk further protests.

This is my last post from the December 27th live blog – to read more click below:

1:32 PM EST (18:32 GMT) 10:02 PM Tehran –

Breathtaking pictures of today’s protests in Iran: Click link to see moreWar In Tehran Streets on Ashura

1War In Tehran Streets on Ashura2:33 PM EST (17:33 GMT) 9:03 PM Tehran –

NY Time’s Lede blog is now posting lots of videos and attempting to confirm reports from all over Iran. Tehran Bureau has posted a series of videos:

These latest videos allegedly show protesters capturing a police station and lighting a police car on fire.

12:23 PM EST (17:23 GMT) 8:53 PM Tehran –

New video: teargas and fire in Tehran:

Also, the Iranian website RaheSabz.net is displaying this message: “RaheSabz.net is currently under attack,” and it is not operating. Honestly, this could be the result of too many hits.

12:11 PM EST (17:11 GMT) 8:41 PM Tehran –

URGENT: Persian2English, a reliable source and translator has posted the following update: “The Green path network (Jaras): According to eye witnesses, a navy-blue peugeot 405, plate# 846H69 kidnapped three protesters this afternoon. The car was escorted by several motorcyclists.”

Widespread reports of protests in Ferdowsi Square, and unconfirmed reports of protests in Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz.Those last cities have been hard to get SMS, phone calls, or any reliable reports from. Green Way Movement (Jaras)is reporting a growing protest in Mashad.

Please let me know if you have information that could confirm the protests outside Tehran.

10:19 AM EST (15:19 GMT) 6:49 PM Tehran –

Two amazing videos from Iran: The first shows a Basij motorcycle on fire (which was reported last night, confirmed) and someone lying on the ground, while people chant, “I will kill, I will kill, those who kill my brother!”

In the second, the same chant can be heard from Baharestan Square over gunfire in the background.

10:04 AM EST (15:04 GMT) 6:34 PM Tehran –

Pictures and video are now flowing from Iran as protesters are able to get near computers and upload. The picture is not pretty at all. Opposition websites are saying that Iranian police fired live ammunition and teargas into the crowd, killing at least one man. man-killed-during-ashura

Video has surfaced that allegedly shows the body of a child, clearly dead, bleeding from the head (very graphic).

Also,

a reliable opposition website says that Parleman News reports “that Seyed Ali Mousavi, 35, the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi (one of the opposition leaders who lost the election to President Ahmadinejad in June), was shot in the heart at Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Square at noon.”

The report also says that the Mousavi family is at the hospotal.

I will be updating when I can. I regret going to bed, but I have religious obligations this morning and I’ll do what I can. I’ll be adding pictures, videos, and fact checking this report and last night’s live blog as I get information.

3:42 AM EST (8:42 GMT) 12:12 AM Tehran –

Reporters are coming at a slower pace from Iran than previously this morning. Obviously, things are very chaotic there at the moment. Josh Shahryar’s twitter account is reporting that people are now lighting trash on fire in the streets, and this has just been confirmed from a source in Tehran. Al Jazeera is also confirming the shooting of tear gas.

3:25 AM EST (8:25 GMT) 11:55 AM Tehran –

Interesting developments: in previous protests, northern and central Tehran were epicenters of potests. Today, protests seem to be erupting from South Tehran and Azarbayjan. It is yet another sign that the protests may be spreading.In fact, there are now reports that on Satarkhan st, Kharak avenue, and elsewhere, the protests are growing…not shrinking.

3:05 AM EST (8:05 GMT) 11:35 AM Tehran –

Rah-e-Sabz, a key site for getting information out of Iran and into the west, has just gone down. So far it has been impossible to confirm reports of fighting, tear gas, and other stories. There won’t be video until much later.

Unconfirmed reports have said that tear gas was used in Enghelab Square and the closing off of Vali-e Asr crossing. These are major intersections in Iran, and there have been consistent reports of massive amount of people in those areas.

Also, now there are reports of police backing off and retreating in some areas, while there are unconfirmed reports of increased fighting near Amirkabir University.

So far, it appears that the protests are both larger in scale and more widespread than yesterdays, but that remains to be seen.

2:35 AM EST (7:35 GMT) 11:05 AM Tehran –

Still awaiting confirmation of the true scope of the clashes in Iran, but at least one source is reporting that frequent gunshots can be heard in the city of Tehran. Also, it seems that the unified chanting of “Allah o Akbar (God is Great)” and “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein,” which is a coopting of a traditional chant for revolutionary reasons, can be heard around Imam Hussein Square and elsewhere.

It is around 11 AM, the set time to start the formal marches.

2:11 AM EST (7:11 GMT) 10:41 AM Tehran –

As protesters slammed into crowds of government forces, it seems that violence has erupted in Iran. There are reports of clashes at the crossing of Mazandaran Street and Imam Hossein Square. Also, it seems that security forces are attacking people at 17 Shahrivar st.

2:05 AM EST (7:05 GMT) 10:35 AM Tehran –

Unconfirmed report: “A report has come in that plain-clothes and militia are “scattered around Imam Hossein and Enghelab (Revolutionary) Squares in minivans”

Also, it appears that Enghelab square, Imam Hussein Square, Azarbayejan street, Valiasr intersection, and Ferdosi Square, all in Tehran, are currently sights of major clashes between protesters and government supporters, potentially including Republican Guard special forces, though confirmation is hard to find.

1:56 AM EST (6:56 GMT) 10:26 AM Tehran –

In recent weeks, there have been fissures inside of Iran’s opposition, even as it strengthens. It is becoming clear to some that the major opponents to Ahmadinejad in June’s disputed election, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are not interested in remaining the leaders of the Green Revolution, as they seem content to stay on the sidelines during recent events.

These criticisms of the Green Movement have often counted it as among the dead, as it has always been assumed that without leadership the revolution would fizzle, however this has not been the case. Arguably, momentum is on the side of the protesters, as the government has proven increasingly unable to contain the revolution. If anything, recent protests have been more widespread than even the initial post-election protests in June and early July.

The future of Iran is certainly up in the air, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I suspect that we haven’t seen the last of the Sea of Green, but rather just the beginning.

1:33 AM EST (6:33 GMT) 10:03 AM Tehran –

There are unconfirmed reports that there are Iranian special forces deployed to Central Tehran. Also, some Twitterers, including EPERSIAN Radio are reporting that there are many more protesters today than this time yesterday, but we won’t know for certain until the day goes on.

1:22 AM EST (6:22 GMT) 9:52 AM Tehran –

Josh Shahryar, a well known journalist, and many others are reporting SERIOUS security forces in and around major population areas in various cities, mostly in Tehran. Basij, police, and Iranian Republican Guard are expected to be out in force, and all emergency workers in Iran have been called into service.

1:14 AM EST (6:14 GMT) 9:44 AM Tehran –

The New York Times is reporting that Iranian police have shot two people, relatives of convicts, at an execution in southern Iran as protests erupted. Up to 27 others were injured in the chaos that followed.

Also, new pictures of protests yesterday show 2000 Basiji and security forces surrounding protesters at the Dar al-Zahra memorial.

12:56 AM EST (5:56 GMT) 9:26 AM Tehran –

CNN’s video of the Basij breaking up former President Mohammad Khatami:

12:45 AM EST (5:45 GMT) 9:15 AM Tehran –

Unconfirmed report via Twitter: Despite the government decree that has officially cancelled memorial services for the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, a vocal critic of the government who died last week, there will be a 7th day of memorial services today, at 3 PM (tehran) in Najaf-Abad, Isfahan, the birthplace of Montazeri.

RT @media4iran: UNCONF:Despite gov warning Aya #Montazeri 7th day memorial services will B held@ 3pm in Najaf-Abad. #iranElection (@Atlsafa)”

12:35 AM EST (5:35 GMT) 9:05 AM Tehran –

The protests have been growing in Iran for weeks, and all of this is happening in front of a backdrop of multinational concern over Iran’s nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad has spent years solidifying control and surrounding himself with thugs, but he has also attempted to influence Iraq, even going as far as to invade and capture an Iraqi oil field last week, just the latest episode of such violations.

11:53 PM EST (4:53 GMT) 8:23 AM Tehran –

A Green Movement website has posted an explanation of the holy month of Moharram and the holy day of Ashura (today, 5 Dey, 27 December).

Also, new video has been posted on youtube of protesters honking horns on Azadi Avenue today, before they are attacked by Basiji.

11:42 PM EST (4:42 GMT) 8:14 AM Tehran –

There are unconfirmed reports that there have already been clashes at a Tehran University dorm. Also, a reliable source says that there is heavy security near the home of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in Central Tehran. The regime is scaled up for full force confrontations with anyone who tries to protest the government or resist the police.

11:18 PM EST (4:18 GMT) 7:48 AM Tehran –

Al Jazeera is now reporting that there were over 3,000 people present in Northern Tehran yesterday for a speech by Mohammad Khatami, the former president, until the event was broken up by teargas and protesters were beat with batons.

11:09 PM EST (4:09 GMT) 7:39 AM Tehran –

The Guardian (UK) has released an interactive website dedicated to those who have been martyred, arrested, or missing since the elections in June.

10:51 PM EST (3:51 GMT) 7:21 AM Tehran –

Report from Iranian Blog: Al Arabieh, a news network often critical of the government and sympathetic to the reformist movement, reported that”Security forces attack news building of ISNA,” a student press network.

10:35 PM EST (3:35 GMT) 7:05 AM Tehran –

Yesterday, Iranian police fired teargas into crowds of protesters who had gathered to remember one of Shia Islam’s holiest figures, Imam Ali. Former president Khotami had his speech interrupted by Basiji and pro-government protesters in Jamaran Mosque.

Ahmadinejad has cancelled all leave of police, military, and emergency responders in anticipation to a second, much larger day of protest. “‘Cancelling leave means we are in for a very violent time,’ a paramedic said. ‘The authorities are very scared. They are prepared for everything and anything.'”

10:02 PM EST (3:02 GMT) 6:32 Tehran –

The very reason for Student’s Day (December 7th, 16 Azar) is that students, since the 1930’s, have been resisting the government and striving towards a free Iran. Today, many Iranian protesters have died in the last 6 months. Thanks to one blogger, we can remember them:

List of 55 Iranians Murdered by The Iranian Government Forces
or tortutred to death in Prison
.”


9:54 PM EST (2:54 GMT) 6:24 Tehran –
A brief history of American-Iranian relations:

Before the revolution in 1979, Iran was ruled by a monarchy, the Shah. The Shah was largely seen as pro-American because the aristocracy was getting rich off of oil revenue while the US benefitted from cheap oil and the Iranian people starved.

In the process of the revolutuon, the American embassy was seiged and the staff there taken as hostages. The Iranian Hostage Crisis ensued, where Americans were held for 444 days.

In the mid-80’s, America backed Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, supplying the Saddam Hussein Regime with mountains of arms and money. The result was that both sides lost over 500,000 men, women, and children. Less than a decade later, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the United States had to destroy the very same weapons it gave to Iraq. Also, as a result of the war, the average age of Iranians today is around 28 because so much of its population was wiped out.

The revolutiuon in 1979 was supposed to simultaneously bring democracy and a renewed Islamic identity to Iran, however it hasn’t exactly panned out that way. Since 1989 there has been a fairly constant, and growing, undercurrent of discontent with the government. Today, most Iranians (reportedly 90%) hate their own government, and most approach relations with Israel and America pragmatically, as opposed to radically. In fact, many educated Iranians have fled to the US to escape economic hardship and religious totalitarianism in their own state.

There are several reasons why Americans should be concerned about the success of the Green Movement. The first is that there is a humanitarian crisis in Iran, and this current regime is as ruthless as any. The second, however, is that the youth in Iran is exactly what the world needs in the Middle East. In my own experience, most Iranians simply want peace and freedom. They aren’t interested in intolerance, ignorance, or hate. All they want is democracy, opportunity, and I, for one, would like to work very hard to make democracy in Iran a reality.

Still waiting for dawn in Iran. I can barely wait.

9:35 PM EST (2:35 GMT) 6:05 Tehran –

The New map of today’s protests:

#Tehran Routes for #Tasoa #IranElection

Tehran: Route 1 (Main): from to Imam Hossein Square > Azadi Square
If 1st Tehran Route closed 2nd route is to move from Asr Avenue > Tajrish
Tehran Route 3 (2nd alternative): Shariati Qods to Shemiran

9:28 PM EST (2:28 GMT) 5:58 Tehran –

According to the blog, Persian2English, an organization called Political Prisoner Families, associated with the Green Way Movement (Jaras), has issued the following statement: “Ashoora noon is a rendezvous for all the relatives of freedom-loving people in jail. Wherever an event for Hossein is going on, we will demand the release of our dear ones who are in jail and suffering for more than six months. We will shout ‘Allah is Great’ and ‘O, Hossein and O, Zeinab'”

9:06 PM EST (2:06 GMT) 5:36 Tehran –

Waiting for dawn in Iran, where the people there will begin their second day of protests and prayers to mark the holiest day of the year for Shiites, “Ashura.” Events in Iran have been escalating in recent weeks, The opposition movement (Green Movement) saw a massive gain in momentum in during the celebration of Student’s Day on December 7 (16 Azar), which sparked several days of protest. That momentum picked up further following the death of Ayatollah Montazeri, a long time oppenant of the Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime.

Today, the entire world watches as Iran braces for what could be a perfect storm as the growing resistence to the government slams into a national holiday and memorial services for Montazeri. I’ll be live blogging the event (my first time, so be patient) so stay tuned.

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