The Iranian demonstrators of 1979, whose children are demonstrating today, would not have dreamt that the turban was simply going replace the crown and that Iran would go from one repression to another. However, it is not the labelling of a state as "Islamic" that makes it just or unjust, but its structures: does it have sufficient checks and balances between the branches of government, is the leader accountable and replaceable by the people freely; are the people sovereign or the clerics?
Asim Siddiqui, From Imam To Dictator, The Guardian, 24 June 2009
From today's protests in Iran. "Death to the dictator."
This from a CNN Interview with an unnamed woman in Tehran discussing what she saw happening in Iran today:
I was going towards Baharestan with my friend. This was everyone, not just supporters of one candidate or another. All of my friends, they were going to Baharestan to express our opposition to these killings and demanding freedom. The black-clad police stopped everyone. They emptied the buses that were taking people there and let the private cars go on. We went on until Ferdowsi then all of a sudden some 500 people with clubs came out of [undecipherable] mosque and they started beating everyone.
They tried to beat everyone on Saadi bridge and throwing them off of the bridge…. And everyone also on the sidewalks. They beat a woman so savagely that she was drenched in blood and her husband, who was watching the scene, he just fainted. I also saw people shooting, I mean the security forces shooting on people, on Lalezar. Of course were afraid….
They were beating people like hell. It was a massacre. They were trying to beat people so they would die. They were cursing — saying very bad words to everyone. They were beating old men. And this was exactly a massacre. You should stop this. You should stop this. You should help the people of Iran who demand freedom. You should help us.
And this from a medical student working in an Iranian hospital translated from farsi and posted at The Guardian.
only want to speak about what I have witnessed. I am a medical student. There was chaos at the trauma section in one of our main hospitals. Although by decree, all riot-related injuries were supposed to be sent to military hospitals, all other hospitals were filled to the rim. Last night, nine people died at our hospital and another 28 had gunshot wounds. All hospital employees were crying till dawn. They (government) removed the dead bodies on back of trucks, before we were even able to get their names or other information. What can you even say to the people who don't even respect the dead. No one was allowed to speak to the wounded or get any information from them. This morning the faculty and the students protested by gathering at the lobby of the hospital where they were confronted by plain cloths anti-riot militia, who in turn closed off the hospital and imprisoned the staff.
The extent of injuries are so grave, that despite being one of the most staffed emergency rooms, they've asked everyone to stay and help--I'm sure it will even be worst tonight. What can anyone say in face of all these atrocities? What can you say to the family of the 13 year-old boy who died from gunshots and whose dead body then disappeared?
This issue is not about cheating (election) anymore. This is not about stealing votes anymore. The issue is about a vast injustice inflected on the people. They've put a baton in the hand of every 13-14 year old to smash the faces of "the bunches who are less than dirt" (government is calling the people who are uprising dried-up torn and weeds). This is what sickens me from dealing with these issues. And from those who shut their eyes and close their ears and claim the riots are in opposition of the government and presidency!! No! The people's complaint is against the egregious injustices committed against the people.
As this woman indicates, part of the modus operandi of the government is to try to prevent the people whom they have slaughtered from becoming martyrs, with people coallescing around their graves. The dead are carted off and buried, the bodies not returned to their families, and memorials are outlawed. In the case of Neda Agha-Soltan, murdered while standing in the street at a protest on Saturday, it has gone even beyond that, with her family forcibly removed and no longer contactable:
Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.
It appears Iran's regime continues its brutal crackdown making large scale use of hired thugs. This from the Guardian:
Newspaper Roozonline has an interview (in Persian) with one of the young plainclothes militiamen who have been beating protesters.
UPDATE: Robert says the man is paid 2m rial per day, which would be about £1220 for ten days of work. A hefty fee, even by UK standards. A reader writes: "You can imagine what that kind of money means to a villager from Khorasan".
The Guardian's Robert Tait sends this synopsis:
The man, who has come from a small town in the eastern province of Khorasan and has never been in Tehran before, says he is being paid 2m rial (£122) to assault protestors with a heavy wooden stave. He says the money is the main incentive as it will enable him to get married and may even enable him to afford more than one wife. Leadership of the volunteers has been provided by a man known only as "Hajji", who has instructed his men to "beat the counter-revolutionaries so hard that they won't be able to stand up". The volunteers, most of them from far-flung provinces such as Khuzestan, Arak and Mazandaran, are being kept in hostel accommodation, reportedly in east Tehran. Other volunteers, he says, have been brought from Lebanon, where the Iranian regime has strong allies in the Hezbollah movement. They are said to be more highly-paid than their Iranian counterparts and are put up in hotels. The last piece of information seems to confirm the suspicion of many Iranians that foreign security personnel are being used to suppress the demonstrators. For all his talk of the legal process, this interview provides a key insight into where Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, believes the true source of his legitimacy rests.
Clashes occurred throughout Iran, with possibly the largest being in front of Iran's Parliament building. Hundreds of basij, the theocracy's nazi style "brown-shirt" army of thugs, attacked protestors throughout the day and sped into action whenever groups of ten or more people were seen.
It is now night in Iran and, in what must be the most ironic twist to this revolt, people are acting in the same fashion that Ayatollah Khomeini, father of this theocracy, told Iranians to do three decades ago as a sign of their desire to overthrow the regime. Cries of “Allahu Akbar!” are being shouted throughout Tehran “with deafening intensity.”
A final look at today, with police clubbing men and women on the streets, though no protest is apparent: