Iran Liveblog – Ashura 2010

Live coverage of Ashura celebrations and potential protests in Iran starting at 05:00 GMT, 8:30 AM Tehran time.

Ashura is a Shia Islamic holiday, celebrated on the 10th day of 10 Muharram, to commemorate the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Husayn ibn Ali.((Last year’s religious holiday was marked by wide-scale, bloody protests in Iran, as students and others poured into the street to voice their discontent with their own government.  At least 10 people were killed, including the nephew of the opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi.))

Recent news is at the top.  All news is timestamped with its time of arrival, not its occurrence.

13:09 GMT, 04:39 PM Tehran – This is the last update of the liveblog.  My summary of the day is below.

After a break, it seems there has been little action today. A video has surfaced of a thin procession of religious mourners in Tehran.  According to sources in Iran there were few people on the streets, much fewer than pre-election Ashura celebrations.  There are many reports of small protests, and maybe five to ten arrests throughout the entire city of Tehran.  The level of activity is nowhere near what we’ve seen in some of the more organized protests in recent history.

It seems that security forces lined the streets with men and vehicles in order to limit the size of processions.  Judging from the video, most Iranians took one look at the police presence on the street and decided to stay home.

The biggest, and saddest news of the day comes from several sources, but is nicely summed up by Enduring America:

The website supporting detained journalist/filmmaker Mohammad Reza Nourizad says that the family of Nourizad, including his wife and children, and Fakhrosaadat Mohtashamipour, the wife of detained politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, have been arrested in front of Evin Prison.

On the whole, none of us are terribly surprised at the lack of protest activity today.  It was a possibility that there would be large scale protests, mainly because of the success of last weeks Students’ Day rallies.  At the end of the day, however, this was a religious holiday, not a political one, with a huge police presence and plenty of disincentive to fight against it.  Before 2009, it would have been unheard of for a religious holiday to erupt in protests.  Many Iranians remember the bloody chaos of last Ashura, and in a way many will be grateful that no significant protests erupted.

Today’s arrests, however, are still significant.  It says a lot about a regime when it has to arrest and harass grieving families and line the streets with soldiers for a national day of mourning.  One has to wonder how expensive and demoralizing such a sight must be for the entire country. I guess time will tell.

A big thank you to all of those who helped out, especially Josh Shahryar and Dave Siavashi, Scott Lucas at Enduring America, and the army of folk on Twitter who oil this machine.

I’ll post more updates soon.

10:33 GMT, 02:03 PM Tehran –

This new video claims to show Hafiz bridge.  There is strong reason to believe it was taken today because it matches our reports: huge security presence, almost no civilians on the street.

The video below claims to show Enghelab Street.  Once again, heavy security on deserted streets.  Many in Iran are remarking that there are very few mourners on the streets at all, a marked difference from previous years.

It seems that not only are there no protesters marking Ashura, but there are few Muslims marking it either.  What’s the take away message from this?  Perhaps people are scared to walk their own streets on their own religious holidays.
10:18 GMT, 01:48 PM Tehran – This is the first clearly legitimate video of the day.  It shows high security presence on the street, and one of the people in the car reference that the video was taken on Ashura 2010.

We’re taking a look at more now.

09:25 GMT, 12:55 PM Tehran – Dave Siavashi (Iran News Now) has a great snap analysis of Iran’s persecution or the families of Green Movement martyrs.  He argues that it is a sure sign of weakness that Iran regards these mourners as a threat.

Perhaps the most succinct summary of the day so far goes to @sara055 (on Twitter)

How scared do you have to be, being an Islamic regime, when you prevent ppl from islamic ceremonies? Quite scared I guess#IranElection


09:17 GMT, 12:47 PM Tehran – According to a fairly reliable source in the Students Committee, a crowd of 150 mourners clashed with protesters on Janat Abad street in Tehran.  Also, three people were arrested in Imam Hossein Square for honking their horns in protest.  Though unconfirmed, this source has passed information on earlier that has since been verified.

08:53 GMT, 12:23 PM Tehran – Multiple sources are reporting that there are helicopters circling the streets of Tehran.  In the past, helicopters have been used to coordinate efforts of security forces and to hunt down protesters.  According to one source, riot vehicles have been dispatched to Imam Hussein Square, where security is very tight, though security at all major squares and avenues is greatly increased.  Multiple sources have described the scene as “martial law,” so I guess it is of little surprise that opposition activity seems very limited.  Also, according to Jaras, the families of murdered protesters have been threatened and harassed by Iranian security forces while they were visiting the graves of their loved ones.

07:24 GMT, 10:54 AM Tehran – Some news is coming in fast and furious, all unconfirmed.  There are reports of sporadic clashes in Tehran, especially near fire trucks that have been stationed to control crowds.  We’ll wait and see on these.  Josh Shahryar is also receiving reports of protests.

Josh Shahryar had received reports of clashes at various locations yesterday.  A different source has given me some new details.  There are reports that there were massive clashes between basiji and protesters in Isfahan last night at around 9 PM, near the home of dissident cleric Ayatollah Tahiri.  According to the report, at least 10 were arrested and a young girl was hospitalized after being beaten. There were also clashes in Shahre Kord, in the Western part of Iran, south of Tehran.

According to my source, there was also activity in one of Iran’s prisons last night,

Gohardasht Prisoners in Gohardasht Prison (Rajayi Shahr Prison) in Cellblock 1 prevented security
forces from entering their cells to conduct a search.
According to reports, the prison guards were met with resistance from prisoners when they tried to raid cellblock 1 to conduct their periodic search. Prisoners closed the entrances of cellblock and prevented the gaurds from entering. This measure by prisoners which is unprecedented went on until 8 pm on December 15.

07:06 GMT, 10:36 AM Tehran – There are reports that security presence is very high in the cities.  I have received an unconfirmed report that the head of the Security Forces, Ahmadi Moqadam, has cancelled all leaves of soldiers and police in order to control crowds.  There are, as of yet, not reliable reports of clashes or protests in Iran.

06:57 GMT, 10:27 AM Tehran – Behold, a classic case of reporting the news in Iran.  Apparently, yesterday Radio Zamaanah announced that according to Nourizad’s personal website, he was bleeding from the stomach.  However, several sources have said that when his wife was interviewed on VoA Persian, she said she could not confirm this and had not spoken to him that day.  It’s unclear which came first, or last.

My head is going to explode.

06:24 GMT, 9:54 AM Tehran – Clarification – Apparently, there is some debate as to whether Mohammad Nourizad has a bleeding ulcer or not.  According to sources, his wife spoke on Voice of America Persian and said that she has not spoken to her husband and did not know of any bleeding ulcer.  I’ll keep you posted if I learn more.

06:14 GMT, 9:44 AM Tehran – A Facebook page closely linked to Mir-Hossein Mousavi has released a graphic video along with a statement.

You remember what they did to the protesting mourners during last year’s Aashura: They (the government’s thugs and police forces) threw the protestors off the bridges, run over their defenseless bodies by cars, and shot at their love-filled hearts. And then shamelessly called the reaction of angry people by showing incomplete and selective footage in their media as the riot of foreign-supported goons and cried Islam is in danger!

It goes on to warn that their voices have been suppressed which has made them more dangerous.

06:09 GMT, 9:39 AM Tehran – News on the hunger-strike front.  This week, many prominent political prisoners went on hunger strike in an attempt to raise awareness of their situation.  Today, news has emerged that Jamal Rashoulpour has ended his hunger strike after 10 days.  He was detained on September 19th in Sardasht and has been held in Mahabad Central prison since.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is regarding Mohammad Nourizad, journalist and filmmaker who was arrested almost one year ago.  He and Issa Saharkhiz joined Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer, in a hunger strike more than a week ago.  Apparently, Nourizad is suffering from a bleeding ulcer as a result from his hunger strike. (not confirmed, see update at 6:24 GMT)

05:00 GMT, 8:30 AM Tehran –

As promised, the liveblog of Ashura begins.  First of all, Iran is still reeling from this morning’s suicide bombing in southeastern Iran.  Dozens were killed and many more wounded in a coordinated terrorist attack on religious services in Chabahar.

In other news, the cyber war between dissidents and the establishment in Iran heated up dramatically.  Two websites linked closely with Mehdi Karroubi, Tagheer and Saham News, were both hacked temporarily, official websites linked to Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani were reportedly attacked, and there were also reports that stories unfavorable to the Islamic Republic were down-voted on Reddit.

First, we start with a retrospective on last year’s Ashura protest:

Retrospective: 2009′s Ashura Protest in Iran

It’s been a bloody year and a half in Iran.  I will never stop being inspired and deeply saddened by the events that have transpired there.  But recent events have shown, once again, that there are many in Iran who desire change, freedom, and a true democracy in Iran.  There are many who still fight, who are willing to be beaten, or arrested, or who are willing to starve themselves, just to achieve a free Iran.

And as long as the Green Movement fights, I’ll keep writing about it.

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