Alerts from Tehran
13 Jun 2009 13:57
*Hour/time given U.S. Eastern (unless otherwise noted)
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from Iran sent 10:15 PM sunday june 3 Tehran-time
Telephone report from my wife - They are open firing on the crowd. The police are refusing entry into the hospitals unless it is the basij. refusing wounded protesters saying; "You Deserve To Die"
There are rumors of a protest at Vali-Asr today at 12:30pm.
This is a trap. please pass this on to everyone you know. The official word from Mousavi HQ is hold back and wait for word.
DO NOT ATTEND THE VALI-ASR PROTEST.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD
from Iran sent 10:15 AM sunday june 3 Tehran-time
I was just on the phone with my dad... he's in the persian rug business in Tehran (Bazaar)... he said everything's really come down there and on his way to Bazaar, but places like Khiyaban Vali Asr and Vanak are pretty chaotic...my cousin there was beaten pretty bad with a baton... seems like it's getting very violent...
from Iran sent 9:23 AM sunday June 3 Tehran-time
The banks are all closed. most with windows smashed up. its morning now and it seems to be business as usual for people going to work, but everyone is very angry and bitter. its a very strange unsettling feeling. you can feel things are going to explode at some point.
saadat abad riots - the people have severely beaten the police forces. burned every single one of there motorbikes. following which the police retaliated by by smashing all the cars and home windows in the residence neighborhood of saadat abad.
Iranian TV has been showing movies all day! NOT ONE WORD OF THE UNREST.
Updates from Tehran, via friends source spoken to on Skype:
"I was at Vezarate Keshvar [Interior Ministry]... they never even opened the ballot box.
It took hours to get home today. I had to hide in people's houses and in car parks and wherever I could find just to avoid getting beaten by the guys on motorbikes with batons. They were hitting everyone they passed. I saw them pulling women out of cars and beating them. Oddly places you thought would be busy are not. Tajrish is empty. Elsewhere people driving around honking horns and showing peace signs. All seems completely futile. And odd day at work, all very angry and upset and cynical, no one could actually do any work. Btu I was saddened by the fact everyone seemed resigned to it already."
"Two of my friends are also missing, one I know was arrested but no news since. No idea about the other."
from Iran sent 2:43 AM Tehran-time (6:13 EST)
[Translated] "Here the internet is horrible. After much trouble, I was able t log on through a proxy. I'll try my best to get the news to you. I have news right now that in Shahrake Gharb [neighborhood in northeast Tehran] is absolute chaos. People are in the streets, they're chanting. No sign of police. Their protest continues at this hour. I also hear that Niavaran [north Tehran] is a big chaotic too -- at least until an hour ago. I'm sorry my information is fragmented. I'm afraid I'll get disconnected. In Niavaran people are shouting from their homes. That way when police comes they quickly retreat; so they haven't been able to arrest anyone. I've also heard that people captured a few of the Basij guys and gave him a beating. It feels like Martial Law here. Cell phones are down, internet lines are horrible, Facebook is filtered, and ... I also have news from Ahvaz. They have also announced there that if someone comes out of their house they will be arrested. So keep your fingers crossed and pray for us. Tomorrow is a great day. I gave you the news. Please try to publish it. Thx."
Hamid Dabashi, New York
"Having just participated in a historic election, millions of Iranians in Iran and around the world are baffled, angry, and heartbroken with the official results of the presidential campaign of 22 Khordad 1388 (12 June 2009). There are perfectly legitimate reasons to question the validity of the official results that have declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the clear winner of this election. The campaign headquarters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karrubi have openly and emphatically questioned the validity of this result and pointed to myriads of irregularities. The office of Mohsen Reza'i, the other candidate, has equally challenged the result but reserved specific comments until later. Video clips coming out of Iran show that thousands of Iranian voters have poured into streets of their capital questioning the validity of this result, facing brutal suppression of their legitimate and legal protests. The only thing of which Iranians can be sure and proud is the extraordinary manifestation of their collective will to participate in a massive democratic process. This unprecedented participation neither lends legitimacy to the illegitimate apparatus of the Islamic Republic and its manifestly undemocratic organs nor should it be abused by bankrupt oppositional forces outside Iran to denounce and denigrate a glorious page in modern Iranian history. Iranians were right to participate in a monumental manifestation of their collective democratic will, which lends legitimacy to nothing other than their political participation, as it is the indication of nothing other than their democratic maturity. Whoever the legitimate winner of this election might be, and we may never get to know that fact, the real winners are Iranian people--and no future president of Iran, legitimate or illegitimate in occupying that office, can ever forget or disregard this collective democratic will. This is a cathartic moment in modern Iranian history, which requires collective intelligence, political vigilance, and steadfast diligence as to how to interpret it and move forward. The beleaguered custodians of the Islamic Republic want to abuse this massive participation as a vindication of their rule. It is not. Bankrupt oppositional forces outside Iran, entirely alien to the democratic aspirations of Iranian people, wish to abuse it to legitimize their retarded positions. They are equally wrong. We need to keep our eyes on the precious ball of a democratic process that has been achieved and handed to us at great cost by generations of sacrifices. Take a picture of that inky finger with which you voted on 12th June 2009 and keep it for the posterity. You did the right thing at the right moment, and your children will frame that picture for generation to come."
From Juan Cole: Stealing the Iranian Election
Top Pieces of Evidence that the Iranian Presidential Election Was Stolen
1. It is claimed that Ahmadinejad won the city of Tabriz with 57%. His main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is an Azeri from Azerbaijan province, of which Tabriz is the capital. Mousavi, according to such polls as exist in Iran and widespread anecdotal evidence, did better in cities and is popular in Azerbaijan. Certainly, his rallies there were very well attended. So for an Azeri urban center to go so heavily for Ahmadinejad just makes no sense. In past elections, Azeris voted disproportionately for even minor presidential candidates who hailed from that province.
2. Ahmadinejad is claimed to have taken Tehran by over 50%. Again, he is not popular in the cities, even, as he claims, in the poor neighborhoods, in part because his policies have produced high inflation and high unemployment. That he should have won Tehran is so unlikely as to raise real questions about these numbers. [Ahmadinejad is widely thought only to have won Tehran in 2005 because the pro-reform groups were discouraged and stayed home rather than voting.)
3. It is claimed that cleric Mehdi Karoubi, the other reformist candidate, received 320,000 votes, and that he did poorly in Iran's western provinces, even losing in Luristan. He is a Lur and is popular in the west, including in Kurdistan. Karoubi received 17 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections in 2005. While it is possible that his support has substantially declined since then, it is hard to believe that he would get less than one percent of the vote. Moreover, he should have at least done well in the west, which he did not.
4. Mohsen Rezaie, who polled very badly and seems not to have been at all popular, is alleged to have received 670,000 votes, twice as much as Karoubi.
5. Ahmadinejad's numbers were fairly standard across Iran's provinces. In past elections there have been substantial ethnic and provincial variations.
6. The Electoral Commission is supposed to wait three days before certifying the results of the election, at which point they are to inform Khamenei of the results, and he signs off on the process. The three-day delay is intended to allow charges of irregularities to be adjudicated. In this case, Khamenei immediately approved the alleged results.
I am aware of the difficulties of catching history on the run. Some explanation may emerge for Ahmadinejad's upset that does not involve fraud. For instance, it is possible that he has gotten the credit for spreading around a lot of oil money in the form of favors to his constituencies, but somehow managed to escape the blame for the resultant high inflation.
But just as a first reaction, this post-election situation looks to me like a crime scene. And here is how I would reconstruct the crime.
As the real numbers started coming into the Interior Ministry late on Friday, it became clear that Mousavi was winning. Mousavi's spokesman abroad, filmmaker Mohsen Makhbalbaf, alleges that the ministry even contacted Mousavi's camp and said it would begin preparing the population for this victory.
The ministry must have informed Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has had a feud with Mousavi for over 30 years, who found this outcome unsupportable. And, apparently, he and other top leaders had been so confident of an Ahmadinejad win that they had made no contingency plans for what to do if he looked as though he would lose.
They therefore sent blanket instructions to the Electoral Commission to falsify the vote counts.
This clumsy cover-up then produced the incredible result of an Ahmadinejad landlside in Tabriz and Isfahan and Tehran.
The reason for which Rezaie and Karoubi had to be assigned such implausibly low totals was to make sure Ahmadinejad got over 51% of the vote and thus avoid a run-off between him and Mousavi next Friday, which would have given the Mousavi camp a chance to attempt to rally the public and forestall further tampering with the election.
This scenario accounts for all known anomalies and is consistent with what we know of the major players.
More in my column, just out, in Salon.com: "Ahmadinejad reelected under cloud of fraud," where I argue that the outcome of the presidential elections does not and should not affect Obama's policies toward that country-- they are the right policies and should be followed through on regardless.
The public demonstrations against the result don't appear to be that big. In the past decade, reformers have always backed down in Iran when challenged by hardliners, in part because no one wants to relive the horrible Great Terror of the 1980s after the revolution, when faction-fighting produced blood in the streets. Mousavi is still from that generation.
My own guess is that you have to get a leadership born after the revolution, who does not remember it and its sanguinary aftermath, before you get people willing to push back hard against the rightwingers.
So, there are protests against an allegedly stolen election. The Basij paramilitary thugs and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards will break some heads. Unless there has been a sea change in Iran, the theocrats may well get away with this soft coup for the moment. But the regime's legitimacy will take a critical hit, and its ultimate demise may have been hastened, over the next decade or two.
What I've said is full of speculation and informed guesses. I'd be glad to be proved wrong on several of these points. Maybe I will be.
PS: Here's the data:
"Of 39,165,191 votes counted (85 percent), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election with 24,527,516 (62.63 percent)."
He announced that Mir-Hossein Mousavi came in second with 13,216,411 votes (33.75 percent).
Mohsen Rezaei got 678,240 votes (1.73 percent)
Mehdi Karroubi with 333,635 votes (0.85 percent).
He put the void ballots at 409,389 (1.04 percent).
End/ (Not Continued)
Hadi Ghaemi: In a sign of further escalation of the crisis in Iran, in the last few hours most reformist politicians from Mosharekat [Islamic Participation], and Mojahedin Enqelab, including Khatami's brother have been detained. Ahmad Zaidabadi, secretary of Advar Org has also been detained. It looks like an all out purge of reformers is underway. There is no doubt a systematic coup is underway. Unconfirmed reports also indicate both Karrubi and Moussavi may be under house arrest.
One wonders what vision of state Khamanei and Ahmadinejad are pursuing. Do they really think their version of absolute rule of the Leader which seems to be implemented now can last in today's Iran? I think most of international community including many experts are missing the depth of titanic shifts taking place in Iran.
From Iranian Twitter: http://twitter.com/iranbaan Martial Law in Tabriz, Iran; many arrested.
From Gary Sick: Iran's political coup
If the reports coming out of Tehran about an electoral coup are sustained, then Iran has entered an entirely new phase of its post-revolution history. One characteristic that has always distinguished Iran from the crude dictators in much of the rest of the Middle East was its respect for the voice of the people, even when that voice was saying things that much of the leadership did not want to hear.
In 1997, Iran's hard line leadership was stunned by the landslide election of Mohammed Khatami, a reformer who promised to bring rule of law and a more human face to the harsh visage of the Iranian revolution. It took the authorities almost a year to recover their composure and to reassert their control through naked force and cynical manipulation of the constitution and legal system. The authorities did not, however, falsify the election results and even permitted a resounding reelection four years later. Instead, they preferred to prevent the president from implementing his reform program.
In 2005, when it appeared that no hard line conservative might survive the first round of the presidential election, there were credible reports of ballot manipulation to insure that Mr Ahmadinejad could run (and win) against former president Rafsanjani in the second round. The lesson seemed to be that the authorities might shift the results in a close election but they would not reverse a landslide vote.
The current election appears to repudiate both of those rules. The authorities were faced with a credible challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who had the potential to challenge the existing power structure on certain key issues. He ran a surprisingly effective campaign, and his "green wave" began to be seen as more than a wave. In fact, many began calling it a Green Revolution. For a regime that has been terrified about the possibility of a "velvet revolution," this may have been too much.
On the basis of what we know so far, here is the sequence of events starting on the afternoon of election day, Friday, June 12.
* Near closing time of the polls, mobile text messaging was turned off nationwide
* Security forces poured out into the streets in large numbers
* The Ministry of Interior (election headquarters) was surrounded by concrete barriers and armed men
* National television began broadcasting pre-recorded messages calling for everyone to unite behind the winner
* The Mousavi campaign was informed officially that they had won the election, which perhaps served to temporarily lull them into complacency
* But then the Ministry of Interior announced a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad
* Unlike previous elections, there was no breakdown of the vote by province, which would have provided a way of judging its credibility
* The voting patterns announced by the government were identical in all parts of the country, an impossibility (also see the comments of Juan Cole at the title link)
* Less than 24 hours later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene`i publicly announced his congratulations to the winner, apparently confirming that the process was complete and irrevocable, contrary to constitutional requirements
* Shortly thereafter, all mobile phones, Facebook, and other social networks were blocked, as well as major foreign news sources.
All of this had the appearance of a well orchestrated strike intended to take its opponents by surprise - the classic definition of a coup. Curiously, this was not a coup of an outside group against the ruling elite; it was a coup of the ruling elite against its own people.
It is still too early for anything like a comprehensive analysis of implications, but here are some initial thoughts:
1. The willingness of the regime simply to ignore reality and fabricate election results without the slightest effort to conceal the fraud represents a historic shift in Iran's Islamic revolution. All previous leaders at least paid lip service to the voice of the Iranian people. This suggests that Iran's leaders are aware of the fact that they have lost credibility in the eyes of many (most?) of their countrymen, so they are dispensing with even the pretense of popular legitimacy in favor of raw power.
2. The Iranian opposition, which includes some very powerful individuals and institutions, has an agonizing decision to make. If they are intimidated and silenced by the show of force (as they have been in the past), they will lose all credibility in the future with even their most devoted followers. But if they choose to confront their ruthless colleagues forcefully, not only is it likely to be messy but it could risk running out of control and potentially bring down the entire existing power structure, of which they are participants and beneficiaries.
3. With regard to the United States and the West, nothing would prevent them in principle from dealing with an illegitimate authoritarian government. We do it every day, and have done so for years (the Soviet Union comes to mind). But this election is an extraordinary gift to those who have been most skeptical about President Obama's plan to conduct negotiations with Iran. Former Bush official Elliott Abrams was quick off the mark, commenting that it is "likely that the engagement strategy has been dealt a very heavy blow." Two senior Israeli officials quickly urged the world not to engage in negotiations with Iran. Neoconservatives who had already expressed their support for an Ahmadinejad victory now have every reason to be satisfied. Opposition forces, previously on the defensive, now have a perfect opportunity to mount a political attack that will make it even more difficult for President Obama to proceed with his plan.
In their own paranoia and hunger for power, the leaders of Iran have insulted their own fellow revolutionaries who have come to have second thoughts about absolute rule and the costs of repression, and they may have alienated an entire generation of future Iranian leaders. At the same time, they have provided an invaluable gift to their worst enemies abroad.
However this turns out, it is a historic turning point in the 30-year history of Iran's Islamic revolution. Iranians have never forgotten the external political intervention that thwarted their democratic aspirations in 1953. How will they remember this day?
Emerging reports that the following individuals from Jebhe Mosharekat are among the people who have been rounded up and taken to undisclosed locations: Mohsen Mirdamadi, Zahra Mojaradi, Saeed Shariati, Zahra Aghajari, Abdolah Ramezanzadeh.
Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of former president, is said to be among those arrested, although this could not be verified.
Mostafa Tajzadeh and Behzad Nabavi are among those arrested from Sazeman Mojahedin Enghelabi.
Says one Iran watcher: "If the integrity of the election process were defensible, there would be no reason to go berserk like this."
From an Iranian observer:
The crisis in Iran is totally different from what happened four years ago when the incumbent President was fraudulently elected. In that period, people did not mostly take part in the elections because the opposing candidate was Rafsanjani and he was rejected by most of the people. This time, the situation is totally different and the rigging of the votes by the Islamic regime shows its inability, at the highest level, to understand the mood of the people. The regime thought it could re-enact the same scenario as four years ago, without any damage to its internal credibility. Here it was totally wrong. The last month was an affective show of the people (particularly the youth) in the streets for a candidate that had three major characteristics:
- for 17 years he had not taken part in politics and therefore, to the young people, he was "pure" almost in the same sense as Obama was compared to Clinton and McCain (the "dynasties").Therefore he had an advantage against Karrubi who, as a matter of fact, had been much more active for the decade but was perceived as part of the political elite
- he had a reputation of honesty and sincerity that was revealed in the televised discussions with the other candidates. He was clumsier than Ahmadinejad but against all the odds, he became by far more sympathetic to the spectators for his straightforwardness. The incumbent president acted in an "arrogant" manner, denouncing the others in a shameless way (this tactic worked four years ago but now, after four years of presidency, it was seen as a mere stratagem)
- He was good at displaying the "falsehood" of the President by showing the statistical manipulations of the latter who depicted the Iranian society as without inflation (contrary to the daily experience of many housewives), prosperous (the rate of unemployment is one of the highest) and in the best possible economic shape (most of the factories are either closing down or half-open).
The fact that Ahmadinejad is more successful in rural areas and small towns is at best a half-truth: there is a deep crisis in rural areas (partially due to the draft) and at best only part of the peasants have been subsidised by the regime, the other part being in a very bad shape. In the same fashion, in many small towns, the local clergy has turned more and more against the incumbent President for his divisive attitude towards even the conservative clergy (the Rowhaniyat Mobarez did not support him during the elections).
Those who have been living in Iran during the last month understand the depth of the frustration of the people, particularly the youth: they feel manipulated, treated as if they were at best clowns by the regime, whereas they are, in the Middle East at least, the most educated (around 2,6 millions are students in the universities). The aspiration to a more democratic society is their real dream and under the influence of intellectuals (religious or not) they have renounced the Islamist ideology and espoused the most open one in this region, probably with the exception of Turkey.
The last few weeks have been that of re-socialization and re-discovery of the self and the others. Social scientists whom I met here are almost unanimous to recognize that Moussavi was by far the most significant candidate and during the last weeks, the incumbent President became more and more "non-existent". After all, large and middle range cities in Iran make up for something like half of the population of the country and the fortune of the populist candidate was becoming everyday less and less enviable in them.
The fact that the reaction of the people against their being "cheated" is in conformity to the statistics is revealed in the results of the vote: even in Azerbaijan (Moussavi's region) he did not get more than Ahmadinejad according to the official vote counts, which is totally unrealistic. In Tehran as well where whole districts voted massively for him, the same holds true. People are not stupid and their reaction is based on a "real" experience of their daily life and they fully well know that the result is totally fake, that is more than 64% for the populist President. The anthropological dimension of their feeling is of the utmost importance: the movement during the last month eroded the incumbent President's influence and this was perceptible on a daily basis. Of course, one might argue that this is not a "mathematical" proof. But to the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the citizens and particularly the youth, it is unquestionable, based on their feelings and reasoning.This is one of the most democratic youth in the region and they try to avoid violence, contrary to the Islamist youth in Pakistan or in some other parts of the Muslim world.
The regime will not overcome the resistance without deep scars in its legitimacy.The internal feud between the top members of the political elite (mainly Rafsanjani versus Ahmadinejad) will envenom the entire issue once again. The attitude of Moussavi and Karrubi will be of paramount significance: if they do not give up, the issue will not find an immediate solution, even through a more ferocious repression.
From Iran expert Farideh Farhi in Hawaii
What happened in Iran was not only a stolen election (which is different from a selection), it was a brazenly stolen election against a people who in unprecedented numbers had chosen to acknowledge the legitimacy of Iran's electoral process.
The lovely folks at the Interior Ministry did not even try to make it look like it was not stolen. Aside from the clear irregularities in comparison to Iran's own past elections in the way the results were reported (e.g., lump sum reporting instead of district reporting as mentioned by Ibrahim Yazdi, not announcing the number of voided ballots and so on), there is absolutely no way the numbers add up.
Ahmadinejad is reported to have received 24 million (even more than Khatami they keep repeating) out of total voter turnout of 39 million voter. This presumes an increase of about 8 million votes for him from the second round of the last election and the unbelievable implication that the majority of the additional 11 million voters that usually do not vote and voted in this election cast their ballot for Ahmadinejad! The argument is simply not credible to anyone who knows Iran.
Why did they do it so brazenly? Why not try to fiddle with the results in ways they have done with the past , by voiding ballots, stuffing them here and there and so on and lo and behold draw Ahmadinejad's name with let us say 52 percent of the vote. Because they couldn't. The incredible turnout made it impossible for such subtle manipulation of results. This brazenness was deemed necessary as a show of force; to make sure that the chunk of the electorate that is usually silent in Iran but was turned vocal/political in this election again becomes silent, apolitical, and cynical.
I must however say that as an Iranian there was one result that would have been even more devastating for me than what just happened and that would have been the possibility of the majority of Iranians voting for a man whose mendacity and wrong-headed policies were clearly exposed during the campaign.
Not only Mr. Ahmadinejad will head an illegitimate government but, by accepting the contested results even before the Guardian Council had certified them, the office of Iran's leader has further delegitimized itself in front of a large chunk of the Iranian political and economic elite and the majority of the Iranian people. It is a shameful day for them and a very sad day for Iran merely because it didn't have to be.
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From James Spencer, a political and security analyst specialising in the Middle East, relays the following:
Hadi Ghaemi reported concrete barriers installed around the Interior Ministry:
Concrete Texas Barriers / Hard Stop are not small. They aren't the sort of thing one has lying about in a city police station on the off chance they might be needed. Similarly, due to its weight, one normally needs Mechanical Handling Equipment to move it. Such tractors, and their drivers, are again hardly the sort of thing one has in a city police station on a regular basis. This was a pre-planned operation.
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Re Mousavi arrest: have not been able to confirm Mousavi arrest today. had a conflicting report today. tb
Journo: Panic on the streets of Tehran. Outside mass protests. Between 50-100 dead. Police on motorcycles beating people as drive by; attacking women.
For the moment, facebook is just blocked right now. I am in Elahieh neighbourhood. I hear shooting right now I am writing. the shootings were far away. 12:51 noon Eastern US.
Dispatch: Chaos in the streets of Tehran. Stuck for an hour in a riot near the Ministry of the Interior. Police & Basij beating protesters.
WE ARE LAUNCHING OUR THIRD GLOBAL PHOTO SHOOT: GATHER OUTSIDE YOUR EMBASSY, UNIVERSITY, MAIN SQUARE,ETC. AND TAKE PHOTOS WITH THE SUBJECT: WHERE ARE OUR VOTES?
Iran expert: Coup in Iran? Two interesting points on Iranian election:
1. After election results were announced, the election committee must wait for three days to accept any grievances for any irregularity before certify the results.
2. The results of election needs to be certified by the Council of Experts before it goes to the Leader for final approval
Today neither of these two rules were followed and the Leader in his speech approved the results of the election and asked all parties involved to work with Ahmadinejad.
BTW, according to the news only 173000 Iranians voted outside of Iran and Mousavi got most of the votes (around 83000 votes).
go out peacefully and beep your horn or hold up our posters.....just be out there tonight.
all sms and txt messaging is still down in tehran
Tehran resident: Friends abroad if your media is telling you we voted for Ahmadinejad, it's a big lie. There are riots on the streets of Tehran. people are out on the streets again just beeping their horns and giving the victory sign. The kids are chanting ahmadi pinochet Irean won't be chile! Everyone in iRan come out even in your cars and show your green ribbons and beep your horn.
French TV pulls out of Iran, scared, terrified, after being roughed up.
fire in vali asr at taht-e tavous and fighting between police and demonstrators.9:49 am
17.30 LT 20+ vehicles full of head to toes armoured riot policemen are moving up Vali -e Asr north and south. Looks like they very well knew what is going to happen after anouncement of "results". Its not going to look nice after dusk.
Tehran resident: I Drove Africa blvd. today morning and it looked like "bussines as usual" no green anywhere visible and few 4-5 ppl groups of police. Friend told me that Vali-e-Asr is blocked by cars (16.00 Local Time) cause people are gathering in Vanak with intention to move south. Otherwise no reaction for this mockery that regime did with results.