Thursday, July 9, 2009

Today In Tehran (Updated)

One 26 year old engineering student said: “tell the world what is happening here. This is our revolution. We will not give up.” Asked what he wanted he said “We want democracy.”

Report from Tehran, The NYT Lede, July 7, 2009

Today is the tenth anniversary of the student riots that took place after basij raided the dormitories of Tehran University. Mousavi had called for protests today, and they are happening - with chants of "Death to the Dictator" and "Death to Khameini's Son." The son of Iran mid-level cleric cum Supreme Guide, Ali Khamini, is now leading the Basij, Iran's brutal version of the Nazi Brownshirts. Meanwhile, our own feckless President and his party are turning their backs on Iran. NIAC is reporting that, "last night, the U.S. Congress shelved a controversial motion to restore $75 million in funding for regime change in Iran." Moreover, Obama, who had taken the wrong-headed stance against imposing any further international sanctions on the theocracy over their fradulent election and brutal repression of their citizens, succeeded - the G-8 went so far as to express their concern. Leadership, eh?

Meanwhile . . .

This from two messages sent to the NYT Lede by an individual who has provided reliable information in the past:

The phones are completely out. I’m hiding in an international hotel…. riot police wanted to break in but the managers convinced them. The crowd is running in the thousands, starting in Enqelab where riot police and basij started beating people. Saw one middle-age woman with blood stains. Then they pushed up kargar st to laleh park, squads of 25 police would run up the streets with batons beating people. I hid in a clock shop, like many other people who would hide in street shops and come out once these attack squads went up the streets.

Fires of trash are burning in main streets. Everyone honking, women and men of all ages out, even kids in cars (most families have driven their cars and blocked the streets). No phone so hoping there will be internet later. One 55-year-old housewife said to me proudly “This is Iran. We are all together,” in front of Fatemi street where the crowd stretches as far as the eye can see, but again crowd is moving because riot police is moving as well as the basij on motorcycles. Lots of people chanting “Down with Dictator!” and “Moussavi! Moussavi!” and “God is Almighty.”

. . . The crowds are too huge to contain. Riot police running up and down Fatemi Street beating people, barely got out of the way. The crowds just get out of their way and come back. Saw two undercover Basij, one was actually a late 40s businessman in a suit, whipped out a collapsible metal baton and started beating someone with a camera. He was beaten until the baton broke, another Basij came on motorcycle to help but crowds started surging and booed them away. Someone threw a water bottle but otherwise crowd is peaceful — keep chanting “Please Stop!” and chased the two Basij away.

Then riot police came back up. More fires in the street as trash and various containers are burned. Tear gas everywhere, no gunshots yet I think but again undercover Basij everywhere. Again I stress crowds in thousands and this is just one street. One 27-year guy in black shirt said “We don’t want war. We just want freedoms. Here, [he signals getting shot] no matter. Down with the dictator,” and people joining in the chant. Also [chanting] “God is Great!”

The main theme is that people are surprisingly non-violent. They seem very hopeful and energetic. People from all levels of society are out. No one is throwing rocks but people have been setting fires in the street.

And this from Michael Ledeen, giving his final update of the day:

4:30 PM (last reliable information I’m going to have today, I think). Khamenei was told the following:

* massive demonstrations
* 3 killed
* 78 known as seriously wounded, many broken bones and ruptured internal organs, several may not make it; other wounded may have disappeared
* 600 arrests

SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM OPPOSITION: “please tell the world about these atrocities; people did nothing, silence, no provocations, no violence but fierce attacks by the government forces.”