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In Iran, Political Protests Move Online

June 17, 2009 at 6:25 PM EST
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TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: Now the Iran story increasingly being told and seen through new media. We start with a report from Tehran. The correspondent is Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: These are the pictures we’re not allowed to film. Tens of thousands of protestors in Tehran today, recorded on someone’s mobile phone. The people came out in the late afternoon, undeterred, it seems, by warnings that such marches are illegal. They were largely silent, trying not to provoke a reaction from the Basij militia.

State television also showed pictures of the march. On his Web site, the opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, called for peaceful protests and for people to go to mosques tomorrow to mourn those who’ve been killed by the police and Basij.

There was sporadic violence overnight. A police post was set on fire. Government militia attacked the university again, and we know of at least one person who was shot dead by the Basij. State TV is blaming the protestors for disturbing the peace.

Yesterday, opposition supporters were addressed by a leading feminist and daughter of the powerful Mullah Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani’s backing of Mr. Mousavi has caused a crisis amongst Iran’s clerics, as well as on the streets. It seems that the supreme leader’s attempts to mollify the losing candidates yesterday has failed.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Iran supreme leader (through translator): Everybody should confront these acts of sabotage. This violence had nothing to do with candidates. These are the acts of insurgents and mutineers.

Public figures arrested

LINDSEY HILSUM: Today, more public figures were arrested, including the well-known commentator Saeed Leylaz, who frequently appears on Western television.

Internet speeds in Tehran have slowed to a crawl, and many Web sites are blocked. The Revolutionary Guard has warned that those who post content which could cause tension will face legal action, but that hasn't stopped young Iranians from getting information and pictures out on Twitter and Facebook.

In Seoul, there are no reporting restrictions.

PROTESTOR: The people were quiet for 30 years. They were shot down, and their voice would not be heard in anywhere else, but now is the time that their voice is being heard in all of the world.

LINDSEY HILSUM: So people in Tehran watching today's World Cup qualifier on TV could see some members of the Iranian team wearing the green wristbands of the opposition. Iranians in the crowd chanted slogans and held placards condemning the election result.

So far, the government's attempts to quell this anger have failed. The danger is that more will lose their lives in the coming days.