Iran LiveBlog – February 14 (25 Bahman)

James Miller will be liveblogging events as they unfold in Iran starting at 05:00 GMT.

James Miller will be covering events in Iran as they unfold. He will be working very closely with Iran News Now, as well as Enduring America and the Tehran Bureau. For an overview of todays events, see our article: Will #25Bahman be Iran’s #Jan25?. New to following Iran? See this helpful guide: Iran 101 – Post #Iranelection.

James Miller is Signing off, and this liveblog is now closed. Enduring America has just started their next liveblog, so please get all of your breaking coverage there. Good night/Morning.

04:08 GMT – 7:38 Tehran Time –

This report from Radio Zamaneh:

Videos from Tehran reveal that protesters have remained in the streets past nightfall, gathering around garbage bins set on fire and chanting anti-government slogans, Zamaneh reports.

The website of Green Voice of Freedom, which has posted videos of today’s gatherings, has become increasingly difficult to access, and MirHosein Mousavi’s Kaleme website also reports heavy interference with its internet service.

An eyewitness has told Zamaneh that around 5:30 local time, two young men were shot by anti-riot police and taken to hospital. Official sources have not yet confirmed this report.

03:33 GMT – 7:23 AM Tehran Time

I’ve just finished compiling pictures and videos, with analysis, for the day. There are unconfirmed reports that cell phone service and internet service have been disrupted in Tehran, and there is very little fresh information from the streets right now.

For us, the day is over. We’re running on fumes here, but we’re trying to sort through all the videos and pictures to separate fact from fiction. We know there are still protesters in the streets, and we believe that the internet and cell phone network are down, so we’ll do our best to update you when we know more.

We’ve started a new page dedicated to pictures and videos from 25 Bahman. The first video is a music video inspired by the Iranian people. We think it is the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen, but I promise you, we are very very biased.

21:57 GMT – 1:23 AM Tehran Time (Tuesday) –

Grand Ayatollah Sane’i met with families of political prisoners today and said that the government’s actions were unprecedented, and unacceptable tyranny. He also met with Grand Ayatollahs Vahid Khorasani and Mousavi Ardebili, which suggests that he is not the only religious leader in Iran to think this way.

Besides many reports from people on the ground, we now have the first night video showing that protests may still be going on as we speak. Protesters can be heard saying a new chant: ‘Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyed Ali!’ Which translates: “Mubarak (Egypt’s ousted President), Ben Ali (Tunisia’s ousted President), it’s Seyed Ali’s (Khamenei, the Supreme Leader) turn.”

Below is a transcript from an eyewitness reporting for Tehran Bureau.

I called my family to tell them where I was but the phones went dead around 3:45 and this was when the bikes rolled into the sidewalks and started beating people. I was separated from my friends in Enghelab Square but kept on going. The energy of the people and especially of the women and the elderly was like an electrical charge. I could not feel the beatings anymore and the clubs kept on coming on our heads, shoulders, legs and knees.

Right at Jamalzadeh crossing, I heard a cheering crowd and realized that a large group of screaming demonstrators pouring south into Azadi Avenue (the continuation of Enghelab Avenue after Enghelab Square towards Azadi Square is called Azadi Avenue). The guards stopped all of the buses in the middle of the boulevard and forced us into the middle of the street. It was déjà vu as we reached Dampezeshki (Animal Husbandry Hospital). This was the same spot I was badly beaten in a June 2009 post election demonstration. So I kept myself on the extreme right side of the sidewalk. It seems that the Revolutionary Guards were repeating the same tactics again because they rounded up the people in the middle of the street and attacked them the same way they did in 2009. I slipped through the angry-looking guards and plainclothes militia and came across another scene.

When I reached Eskandari Street it looked like a war zone: smoke, dust, teargas, screaming people, flying stones and regular attacks by the well equipped motorcycle riding guards. A petite young girl with a green wristband and a small backpack was walking to my left. Just before we reached Navab Avenue the guards charged from behind, one of their clubs hit my left leg but three of them attacked the girl relentlessly. She screamed and fell to the ground, but the guards kept hitting her. I ran towards them, grabbed the girl’s right hand and released her from the grip of the guards. She was in a daze and crying unstoppably. I pushed her north into Navab Avenue towards Tohid Square away from Azadi Avenue when the guards charged towards us. This time the crowd fought back and stones of all sizes were directed back at them. This gave me a bit of time to ask one of the restaurants to open their doors and let us in. The girl was in shock and pain. I got her some water and asked how she was. Her clothes were dusty, her backpack was torn and her hands were shaking. “Why?” she kept asking.

The battle in front of the restaurant raged on. The crowd had only their fists and stones gathered from the sides of the street, but the guards were shooting people in the head with paint guns, and spraying pepper gas and shooting teargas canisters. Then in a moment that I thought I would never see, two guards ran up, sat on one foot and randomly fired plastic bullets into the crowd. We waited until the demonstrators pushed the guards back before leaving the restaurant.

19:21 GMT – 10:51 Tehran Time –

Protesters are still gathered at the entrance to Azadi Square, the symbolic center of Tehran, where some of them are passing out blankets, food, and water. Many of the leaders on the ground have made it perfectly clear that after 20 months of protesting they are not leaving until they get their freedom.

Security forces are also flocking to the area in an attempt to stop the protesters from entering the square. There are also reports that the streets leading to the protesters are being cut off as well. We will try to get more specific and reliable reports as they pour in.

18:40 GMT – 10:10 PM Tehran Time –

What we know right now: Protests are still raging in Tehran, and several other cities as I am writing this. There have been “tens” of protesters arrested in Isfahan. There are many reports of large protests and clashes at Sharif University, where there are reports of arrests and some students being taken to the hospital. In Tehran, witnesses are describing people flocking towards Azadi Square (Freedom Square) where a new chant is rising up from the crowd, “Our date is in Azadi. Will you keep us out?” The earlier BBC report is looking prophetic: total chaos.

The Associated Press is reporting that paint ball guns, tear gas, batons and motorcycles were all turned on protests today.

According to a trusted source on Twitter, today’s protesters now have a name for their first martyr:

RT @lissnup: #Feb14 #Bahrain, already one martyr, Ali Mushaima, 27, due to straight shot by police during peaceful protest. (via @SanaKassem @AmoonaE)

17:51 GMT – 9:21 PM Tehran Time

Dissected News has just received an exclusive audio message from a source in Iran that has been reliable in the past. We have no way of verifying the following eyewitness account, reportedly recorded today. (English transcript of audio provided):

While breathless: I was in the street I went into an alley find an open door and jumped in.They shot a lot in the air and shot tear gas canisters but they also shot some by live ammunition I saw that myself.

All of sudden about 40 suppressive forces beat one person. An old man, 80 years old was badly beaten. I received about 10 to 12 baton strokes in my leg too so I could not run any more.

Many of our sisters and brothers were arrested. My eyes are still burning.

These next 3 quick updates come from Enduring America:

1719 GMT: Kurdish, civil rights activist Susan Mohammadkhani Ghiasvand has been arrested.

1715 GMT: Kalemeh reports that the residences of former President Mohammad Khatami and former Vice President Abdollah Nouri are “under siege”.

1705 GMT: BBC Persian is reporting clashes in Vanak Square in north Tehran.

16:54 GMT – 8:24 PM Tehran

Our servers have been up and down since this morning. This is highly unusual, as they are professionally hosted. First of all, we apologize for the inconvenience. Secondly, our hosting company is launching an investigation – stay tuned.

CNN’s Reza Sayah is reporting that tens of thousands of peaceful protesters are marching towards Azadi Square. All reports indicate that these are the biggest protests in over a year, and the situation is very chaotic and dangerous on the ground in Tehran.

This video was taken today near Enghelab Square, the site of the previous video:

Tehran Bureau (Josh Shahryar) has this report:

7:55 p.m. Imam Hossein Square in Tehran is currently the scene of clashes between protesters and security forces. And we can confirm that a protest took place today in the city of Rasht, on the Caspian Sea coast. To this point, that makes five cities where we can confirm protests have happened: Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kermanshah, and Rasht.

IGV is reporting that security forces have attacked crowds near Enghelab Square.

Kaleme is carrying a picture of Mousavi’s house, with a police van blocking off the street.

Enduring America is also reporting confirmation of clashes in Shiraz.

15:28 GMT: 7:32 PM Tehran

Most of the last hour has been spent pouring through misinformation. A video reportedly showing a massive protest today was circulated. Protesters could be heard mentioning Ben Ali. The video, however, was taken on June 15, 2009. It is difficult to sort through all the noise to get a good read on the size and scope of the protests. Information is pouring in fast, but we’re doing our best to filter it for accuracy.

Luckily, we have our first confirmed video of the day. Mehdi Saharkhiz has uploaded this video showing protesters march towards Enghelab Square. At the end of the video, they turn and run as tear gas is fired into the crowd.

HRANA is reporting that 1 person was killed, 2 injured, and at least 250 were detained in today’s protests so far. This has yet to be confirmed.

The BBC, who has a reporter on the ground, is reporting that tear gas has been fired as protesters attempted to rally. They also stated that Mousavi is still under house arrest. The situation on the ground was described as “total chaos.”

1416 GMT:

According to Mardomak (trusted in the past) security forces are using tear gas to disperse crowds in Enghelab Square Enghelab Avenue. Rahana is also reporting that security has blocked Taleqani Ave and other cross sections and people in cars are honking in protest.

Also, reports are coming in from other cities, including a report from Radio Farda that thousands have gathered to protest in Isfahan and Kermanshah.

There are many reports of clashes and protests. All over Tehran, but we will wait to report them until we have confirmation of details.

1343 GMT:

According to Reza Sayah, there have been violent clashes in fron of Tehran University, where some protesters have been taken away on motorcycle. There are also many protesters clashing with security forces at Iman Hossein Square, where people are chanting “Death to the Dictator, Death to Khamenei.”

From all accounts, the protesters have been peacefully marching, but security forces are trying to disperse them.

The opposition website Iran Green Voice is reporting that Mousavi has broken out of his house arrest and is attemtping to join the protesters. This is still unconfirmed, however Al Arabiya is now reporting that Mousavi and Rahnavard have joined the protests. They have also published this picture which they say was taken from protests today.

1318 GMT:

According to Bardia, e-Persian radio’s correspondent, between Azadi and Enghelab Squares there are trash fires, tear gas is in the air, and Basij have attacked protesters from motorcycles.

There are multiple reports of clashes between security forces and protesters on Somayeh Street. There is a reliable report that cell phone service is down in parts of Tehran, and there is tear gas being fired in Enghelab Street. I appears that these clashes are occuring outside the square itself, suggesting that there protesters are not being allowed in.

Another very reliable source, has posted this on Twitter:

“On Rasht st., Valiasr st. and valiasr intersection, many got severly  beaten by security bikers 

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari has reports a “heavy police presence, including paramilitary forces, the Basij forces, as well as undercover officers in the crowds. See the video of her interview here:

Saham News, the official website of Mehdi Karroubi’s National Trust Party, is now under attack.

After a brief server crash (not sure if it was regular maintenance or a DDoS, but I will find out.

I am not reporting for Enduring America. All updates for a while will be copies of their updates:

1247 GMT:
According to Saham, sources close to Mousavi claim that he is attempting to leave his house but he is being blocked.
According to a trusted source, Mehdi Saharkhiz, there have been clashes on the ground at Valiasr Intersection.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul, at a news conference with President Ahmadinejad, commented on the social uprisings in the Middle East in what could be considered a critique of the Iranian government:
“We see that sometimes when the leaders and heads of countries do not pay attention to the nations’ demands, the people themselves take action to achieve their demands.”
“My view is that what is happening should in no way be regarded as a surprise. In this age of communication, in an age where everybody is aware of each other, the demands and desires of the people are very realistic,” Gul said, in response to a question about the state of Middle East affairs.

3:19 PM – Tehran Time:

The start time of the rally is upon us, and there are reports that people are, slowly but surely, taking to the streets. A reliable source on is reporting that Enghelab Square is closed, and many of the side streets are as well. It appears that the security forces may specifically be trying to block off access routes between major universities and the major squares. Several reports suggest a heavy police presence near the Tehran University of Medical Science. Also, many reports are flooding the airwaves that some, or all, subway stations have been closed.

3:03 PM – Tehran Time:

Reports from sources that live near Azadi (freedom) Square in Tehran say that there are very few people inside the square but large amounts of security outside the square. This might confirm earlier reports that the square has been successfully sealed off by security forces.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul is visiting Iran, the first time any Turkish President has done so in 9 years. This story has attracted a lot of attention because of the timing. It would certainly be harder for the Iranian government could crack down of protesters  while he was present. However, now there are rumors flying that the Turkish President is on the ground with protesters. This is highly unlikely, but it would be a significant development. We will follow this very closely.

2:50 PM – Tehran Time:

According to Enduring America: “Securing the Roads. Mardomak reports that all routes to Azadi Square are now blocked by security forces.”  According to CNN’s Reza Sayah, there are thousands of police at the gathering various intersections and major squares. It seems that the plan is to stop protesters from reaching the major rallying points.

2:37 PM – Tehran Time:

Reliable reports say that protesters are just beginning to assemble. We’re trying to make sense of all of the various reports that are flooding social media sites, as some of them appear inaccurate. The rally was only expected to take place within the next half hour. So far, it is hard to get a reading on how large the crowds are. Another update will be coming as soon as we know more.

The reports below are from Iran News Now:

2:10PM Tehran Time

Reuters reports:

“There are dozens of police and security forces in the Vali-ye Asr Avenue … they have blocked entrances of metro stations in the area,” a witness told Reuters by telephone, referring to a large thoroughfare that cuts through Tehran.

Another witness said police cars with windows covered by black curtains were parked near Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Mousavi’s website Kaleme said security forces had set up a road block, refusing access to the opposition leader’s residence in southern Tehran. It said both mobile and landline telephone communications with Mousavi’s house were also cut.

“It seems these newly-set restrictions are aimed at preventing Mousavi and his wife (Zahra Rahnavard) from attending the rally,” Kaleme said. Plain-clothes police stopped Rahnavard leaving the house, another opposition website reported.

1:47PM Tehran Time

Chants of “Marg bar dictator” (Down with dictator) in Sadeghieh Square. Police still doing nothing to confront.

One source reports seeing plainclothed agents carrying electric batons (treating this one with caution).

1:43PM Tehran Time

More reports gathering of small crowds of people, 50 to 200 or so at a time, moving together towards various squares. Also reports of riot police in their riot gear mobilizing but not yet taking any action against the crowds.

1:37PM Tehran Time

One source reports crowds growing at Sadeghieh Square, police are on the scene but only observing for now.

Josh Shahryar reports that another source is claiming that security forces plan to come out in force at 2:00pm, an hour before planned protests.

1:25PM Tehran Time

As the 3:00pm stated rally time approaches, reports coming in of police presence throughout different areas of the city.

One trusted source reporting from the ground in Tehran says people starting to gather in the streets and in various squares, meeting no response from the police.

Security vans moving towards Eghelab (Revolution) Square, and some 100 unarmed bikers moving towards Ferdowsi Square. About 50 riot police in Azadi (Freedom) Square.

People are beginning to gather in Sadeghiyeh Square.

A group of Tehran University students are gathered in front the university.

1:10PM Tehran Time

Kalame reports that Mousavi’s residence is blocked off by police, leaving him effectively under house arrest.

This meshes with earlier reports, and puts into question a later claim by a close advisor of Mousavi’s that he and Karroubi would both be attending the rallies today.

For all intents, and purposes, they both appear to be under house arrest at this time.

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