Iran Live Blog: 25 Bahman / 14 February
by JOSH SHAHRYAR, DAN GEIST, TEHRAN BUREAU STAFF, and CORRESPONDENTS
14 Feb 2011 23:59
Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30
7:30 a.m., 26 Bahman/Feb 15 The regime's security forces tried, with some success, to choke off access by protesters to the primary march route and gathering sites in the capital. Here's what the experience of 25 Bahman was like for one Tehrani who couldn't make it to the main event:
They were too many! With batons and knives. There were maybe a thousand of us [in my crowd]. I'm really not sure. Maybe more. They never let us join. I had a close call today! I could have ended up in their custody. I was chased down by a group of anti-riot police and violent Basijis. We ran and hid in a small restaurant. The owner was trying to force us out but we begged and begged and he finally agreed to let us stay for a few minutes. They fired teargas and we used that to escape.
At least we showed them that it is not over yet, although I'm very disappointed. I am very happy for the Egyptian people.
They have slowed down the Internet speed in Tehran (maybe in other cities too) for today and maybe tomorrow so that no one can send out any videos or photos. Luckily enough I can access my Gmail. No access to Facebook and Twitter. Mobile phones were down but are back up now.
6:20 a.m., 26 Bahman/Feb 15 Arash Aramesh of InsideIRAN.org has an interview with a student activist at Tehran's Amir Kabir University. Here's an excerpt (it's not clear at what time Monday the interview was conducted):
Please describe what is happening right now in Tehran?
Lots of people were on the streets; maybe a few hundred thousand. We started at Amir Kabir University, but security forces shut all the gates at the university. My friends and I wanted to march together so we would be in a group to reduce the risk of getting caught. Around campus, security forces split us up in two groups. There was a pro-government professor yelling and chanting against us. Some people were arrested on campus. We moved near Vali Asr Square, but police locked down the entire area. We tried to walk to Azadi Square. You could not see a single open store. It is a good hour or so walk from Vali Asr to Azadi but you did not see a single open business.
Were there a lot of arrests?
They filled vans with people. They rushed us and took people away. There is a language school near Danshjoo Park. Police occupied that building and the one next to it and turned it into a temporary detention facility. Four or five officers would attack students and kidnap them and then keep them in the building.
At noon, we told everyone that we had a permit to reduce the fear and anxiety of people. Phones did not work in that area, but we still managed to get many people out. This was a very successful event. Many people showed up and not many got hurt.
How did the police treat the demonstrators?
Some police forces were surprisingly nice, especially around Azadi Square. But other forces in other areas used brute force. I saw a man whose face was struck with something. I couldn't tell what it was, but there was blood all over him and he fell down. The government is really worried about people with cameras and this man had a camera. He was taking pictures. The government doesn't want any media coverage.
There was such little information about what to do and where to go. We got all our information from the internet. And there is no information about what to do next. But I am very happy about today's turnout.
Here's a video, soundless, with a credible -- though unconfirmed -- claim to having been taken on Monday:
4:20 a.m., 26 Bahman/Feb 15 Dispatch from a university student correspondent in Tehran:
Regarding demonstration news that I have seen or my friend witnessed:
Yesterday, 24 Bahman, I heard some people said "Allah-o akbar" in the sector near Azadi Square at 10 p.m. The volume was not as strong as in past demonstrations.
The security guards filled the main squares of the city before the 24th.
The 25th started with the story of a man who climbed a [crane] with a picture of MHM [Mir Hossein Mousavi] on his hand. Persian media reported that the man used a huge amount of drugs.
Thousands of security guards appeared in the streets and main squares.
I know that people could not go to the university without having student cards. We had to show our cards in order to enter the university. Some of my friends couldn't go to classes because they didn't carry their cards with them. I saw some of them outside the doors.
Between noon and about 2 o'clock, some people and students related to Basij militia started some ordered demonstrations in the streets and universities. They used some slogans to support Khamenei and to condemn Greens. The Basijis called Greens "Monafeghin" [literally, "hypocrites"; commonly used to refer to members of the Mojahedin Khalgh Organization (MKO)].
The numbers of Basij members were more than Greens in some parts of the city. There were some conflicts between the two groups.
I saw people that were not students, but had the authority to enter Sharif University.
Basijis carried the flags of Iran, Egypt, and Hezbollah and pictures of Khamenei.
After 3 o'clock, the main demonstrations by Greens started. We left the universities and entered the nearby streets, but the guards were everywhere with motorcycles. [It remains uncertain if and to what extent forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were actually used for crowd dispersal. It is not uncommon for Iranians to refer to security forces generically as "guards." --Ed.] Guards attacked peoples and did not allow them to gather. The voices of the Greens were dispersed. Their slogans were:
"Na Ghaza, na Lobnan; Tunis o Misr o Iran" [Not Gaza, not Lebanon; Tunisia and Egypt and Iran]
"Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyyed Ali" [Mubarak, Ben Ali, now Seyyed Ali (Khamenei)'s turn]
The guards were everywhere, even in the small streets. A group of them attacked us in a small street about 1,000 meters from Azadi Square. They arrested a guy and forced others to leave.
People turned off their cars and made heavy traffic [jams] in some parts of the city.
The main demonstrations were at Enghelab Square, Imam Hossein Square, Tohid Square, Vanak, Sadeghieh, Azadi Street, Vali Asr, Habbibolahi Street, near Sharif U.
2:45 a.m., 26 Bahman/Feb 15 One of our interns watching Iran state media filed this earlier in the evening:
It seems Iranian state TV is making a concerted effort to show clips from last Friday's pro-government gathering on many of its channels. One repeated clip on IRIB [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] showed clips of the former Shah's son Reza Pahlavi supporting the protests today; also in the clip, a mash-up of VOA and BBC Farsi analysts advocating for protests, Secretary of State Gibbs criticizing the Iranian government, and interestingly, a clip announcing the U.S. State Department had set up a Farsi twitter feed. In between the clips, pictures of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi [with] a backdrop of a Star of David and U.S. flag. IRIB also featured interviews with pro-government gatherers criticizing 25 Bahman protesters.
Radio Zamaneh website reports:
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.
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.
Security forces reportedly attacked Sharif University, where students were chanting anti-government slogans.
While state media have largely ignored the protests, Fars new agency, which has links to Iran's notorious Revolutionary Guards, ridiculed the protesters, calling them "hypocrites, monarchists, ruffians and seditionists" who did not even chant any slogans in support of the Arab uprisings, the stated purpose for today's rally.
The website of Press TV, IRIB's English-language subsidiary, provides this look at the day's events:
Small groups of anti-government protesters have disrupted order in the Iranian capital Tehran, prompting citizens to hold counter-demonstrations.
The protesters, mostly supporters of defeated presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, set fire to trashcans and chanted slogans against the government.
This is while the opposition had asked for permission to hold a public [sic] "in support of the people in Tunisia and Egypt." The Iranian government, however, refused to give permission and declared all such rallies illegal.
Meanwhile, counter-demonstrations were held to denounce the move by the opposition to disrupt public order, and condemn the riots by the supporters of Mousavi and Karroubi.
Iran says American NGOs and organizations have provided financial support for post-election unrest in order to topple the Islamic establishment.
Tehran Bureau has yet to receive any independent reports of the sort of "counter-demonstrations" described by Press TV.
11:45 p.m. A Tehran Bureau special correspondent reports:
We walked down Gharani Avenue from Karim Khan Avenue to reach Ferdowsi Square around 3 p.m. There were only three of us and we made a promise that if others did not show up we would abandon the march altogether. But were we in for a nice surprise. Even before we got to Ferdowsi Square we saw silent groups of people marching randomly with a determination in their eyes.
3:10 pm the guards were everywhere but not like they were in the Ashura demonstrations last year. We reached College Crossway (where Hafez Avenue crosses Enghelab Avenue) and the sidewalks were already filling up with quiet demonstrators without any signs or slogans. By the time we reached Vali Asr Avenue we realized that the tactic of the guards and the militia was to let groups of people go through and then separate them at each crossroad, so we tried to keep together and stay cool.
3:30 pm marked a painful visual landscape for me that I will never forget: the Basijis and the Revolutionary Guards had brought children in the street. They gave them clubs and were directing them for the attack, which happened right at that crossroad. The kids were probably 15 or 16 years old but their eyes were filled with hate. "Good Islamic teaching, right?" I heard an elderly man say in an angry but muffled voice.
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 toward 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.
10:30 p.m. From a Tehran Bureau correspondent:
It was amazing today. About 350,000 people showed up. The crowds came from the sidewalks. There was no chanting on the main avenue. The security forces would try to disperse the crowd once in a while by firing tear gas. People would move to the side streets and start bonfires.
It was beyond anything we had expected. They didn't shut off the mobile phones so word spread quickly [that they were not cracking down hard] before they shut them off around 4 p.m.
It seemed like the Basij were ordered not to act until ordered. They just stood around looking bewildered. When the riot police would drive by on their bikes, they just put the fires out.
Rarely did they arrest. I saw ten people arrested; this means probably up to 1,000 were arrested.
I was all over on foot and on the rapid transit buses. The crowds were EVERYWHERE. They were remarkable for their peacefulness. They filled a radius of about half a kilometer to 400 meters on both sides of Enghelab Avenue. It looks like for the first time people from working class areas were involved too.
I left two hours ago but the crowds were still out there. The security presence was large, perhaps 13,000.
There may have been some killings. We saw two people beaten to a pulp. The first [beating was administered] by intel ministry officers, the second by Sepah [the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps]. Overall people worked hard to stop the beatings of the regime forces.
About 200 special forces on bikes drove down on Javan Mard Ghasab, but perhaps they were going back to base [and not necessarily responding to protests there]. Several thousand walked from Imam Hossein Square towards Enghelb Square. This is the first time ever. Imam Hossein Square is working class.
Also at Jayhoon, one kilometer south of Enghelab, there were bonfires burning until 8 p.m. The police had blocked entry of cars westwards at Imam Hossein from 3 to 4 p.m., but people walked on the sidewalks.
I saw some 19 personnel carriers at Vanak Square around 9 p.m, plus 20 special motorbikes. An hour ago, 200 people were standing around Mohseni Square, known as Mother Square, in northern Tehran.
Overall, the security forces were restrained.
From homylafayette: "Compelling evidence that the protests continued into the night (and may still be going on, according to some reports). One of the ways to confirm the date of a video is to listen to the slogans being chanted. This clip features today's favorite phrase: 'Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyyed Ali!' (Seyyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn). One protester screams out, 'This is the rage of the people!' This looks like it was filmed on one of the city's main thoroughfares, Azadi Street."
"Below: 'Seyed Ali's turn,' mutters the cameraman, referring to Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. It seemed this was the theme for much of the day. 'It looks like a war zone,' the cameraman says as he looks upon streets strewn with burning debris."
9:55 p.m. The sun set over four hours ago in Tehran. We have reports that some people are getting blankets and food and trying to enter Azadi Square area to spend the night there. Elsewhere, the stream of new information has slowed down, so the live blog will be taking this opportunity for a bit of a rest itself. Thank you for following us during a long and interesting day. The full details of what unfolded today in Tehran and across the rest of the Iranian nation will take some time to emerge and we at Tehran Bureau look forward to bringing you those stories.
9:25 p.m. In addition to the various reports we have featured of tear gas being used against the protesters, AFP now reports that paintbull guns were used as well. More details:
Witnesses and websites said the opposition supporters had walked in scattered crowds silently to Azadi Square from several parts of the capital as policemen kept a sharp watch and tried dispersing them.
Riot police on motorbikes armed with shotguns, tear gas, batons, paintball guns and fire extinguishers were deployed in key squares in the capital to prevent the gatherings.
One witness said some demonstrators were chanting "Allahu Akbar!" (God is greatest) as they gathered around alleys near Azadi Square.
Another witness described how one group of demonstrators had walked silently from Imam Hussein Square to Enghelab Square. "They are being silent and trying to keep a low profile," the witness said.
9:15 p.m. According to the BBC, witnesses report streetlights being cut off and security forces beating people under cover of the dark.
9:00 p.m. More on Mousavi's thwarted attempt to join the protests from Kaleme website via homylafayette: "Mousavi's bodyguards were told he could not leave [his house]. Mousavi then tried to obtain his car keys in order to drive to the protests, but was rebuffed. He and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, then decided to leave on foot, at which point the police van was driven into the alley to seal off the exit."
Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian government's efforts to forestall and break up the protests:
"Iranians have a right to gather to peacefully express their support for the people of Egypt and Tunisia. While the authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order, this should be no excuse to ban and disperse protests by those who choose to exercise that right," said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"This crackdown is the latest in a series of moves by the authorities aimed at blocking the work of activists and stifling dissent."
8:35 p.m. It appears that a large number of protesters were arrested in Tehran today, but we don't yet have reliable numbers to report.
Two videos from the same Tehran intersection, almost certainly shot today. A large poster described as bearing images of ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei is at the center of the action. In the first video, a man dressed in a sweater identified as a member of the Basij militia attempts to gather up the poster off the street as the crowd of protesters in the vicinity chants, "Na Ghaza! Na Lobnan! Tunis o Misr o Iran!" (Not Gaza! Not Lebanon! Tunisia and Egypt and Iran!). Suddenly, a fight breaks out and the purported Basij member is swarmed. We cannot confirm the man's membership in the militia, but this description of the event has been independently supported by @madyar via Twitter. In the second video, protesters attempt, without much success, to set fire to the poster:
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.
7:25 p.m. CNN's Reza Sayah tweets, "7p Tehran witness - crowds swell to 10s of thousands - walk quietly towards Azadi sq."
Another video, very short, purportedly taken near Tehran's Enghelab Square today. We have not had many reports of the sort of burning garbage bins seen here, but we have had a couple. Although we cannot confirm when it was shot, homylafayette has pinpointed the location: "Towards the end we get a glimpse of Shahriar Hospital's sign. This clinic is situated at the corner of Karun and Azarbaijan streets, about 2 kilometers northwest of Khamenei's offices, and about 2 kilometers east of Azadi Square."
A well-sourced image of the street by Mousavi's house, closed off by a police van:
7:20 p.m. The gates of Amir Kabir University of Technology (Tehran's Polytechnic) were shut down in the afternoon. It seems the authorities wanted to prevent students and faculty from joining the crowd gathering in Enghelab Avenue. An eyewitness told our correspondent that he saw a few individuals being arrested. There were dozens of plainclothes agents among the demonstrators, most with their faces covered. The crowd was large, but there was not much shouting of slogans. According to the source, there is talk that some isolated demonstrators were physically attacked.
A short video claimed to have been shot today, unconfirmed:
Setareh Sabety, an Iranian writer based in France, writes,
my source in tehran young relative at azad u. told me there were many ppl on streets but also supporters of regime holding khamenei pics. tear gas. smell of burning. she was scared to death and back home! chants of marg bar diktator. tear gas sprayed at people saying it.
7:00 p.m. Another tweet from @sayahcnn: "Tehran witness 630p - 1000s walking quietly on Enghelab Ave to Azadi Sq. security forces allowing them to walk."
6:55 p.m. Multiple sources tell us that the gates of Sharif University, within walking distance of Azadi Square, have been locked since 4 p.m. No students allowed in.
@sayahcnn tweets, "Tehran witness: protesters detained in front of Tehran U - taken away on motorcycles."
6:45 p.m. We've been able to look over some videos of the 2009 protests. Though we have not found an exact match, we can say that the preceding video was almost certainly shot in June 2009, and that the new chants calling for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to meet the same fate as the recently unseated Tunisian and Egyptian dictators were added to it.
With fortuitous timing, Mousavi's Facebook page has just posted an advisory warning people to be cautious about news today and not to spread misinformation.
And an indication of why authentic videos (aside from the ones we presented earlier, shot out of moving vehicles) are proving hard to come by: Human Rights House of Iran reports that a protester was arrested in Azadi Square when he tried to capture a video of the demonstration.
Two confirmed still images from Tehran today, via BBC Persian:
6:05 p.m. From homylafeyette: "An amazing video. If authentic, it shows the first massive protest in Tehran in over a year. The only thing that makes me consider that it is possibly credible is the chant that can be heard: 'Mubarak, Ben Ali! Nobateh Seyyed Ali!' (Mubarak, Ben Ali! Now Seyyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn!) But was the chant added to an old video? I'm afraid I can't say."
[Apparently DOCTORED. Please see next post above.]
More certain sounds of 25 Bahman: A police radio recording, describing "5,000 to 6,000 going from Vali Asr to Enghelab...":
Reports of many military helicopters flying over Tehran now. According to our sources, protesters are chanting very loudly around Enghelab Square. Sounds of "Allah-o akbar!" and "Ya Hossein! Mir Hossein!" are deafening. A lot of tear gas has been fired on protesters, but they still persevere and chant.
5:55 p.m. A popular chant spins out new variations already. Now on the streets of Tehran, we're hearing, "Khamenei haya kon! Mubarak ro negah kon!" (Khamenei, have some shame! Look at Mubarak!)
@SheydaJahanbin tweets, "Heavy clashes between security and protesters in Jamalzadeh. Tear gas is fired."
5:45 p.m. Rahe Sabz reports that protesters in Kermanshah have gathered on Mosaddegh Avenue and are also on the boulevard leading to Pasaj Citadel. Security forces are stationed on Nowbahar and Mosaddegh Avenues.
Reports of a popular new chant in Tehran today: "Dictator farar kon! Mubarak ro negah kon!" (Dictator, run! Look at Mubarak!)
From homylafayette: "I personally heard this over the radio as a person on a Tehran street was being interviewed: 'Mubarak, Ben Ali! Nobateh Seyyed Ali!' (Mubarak, Ben Ali! Now Seyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn!). I also heard: 'Nezami joda sho! Ba mellat hamseda sho!' (Military, separate [from them]! Join your voice with the nation's!). Also, the sounds of cheers. Eyewitness: 'Motorcyclists attacking, but people defending themselves. Tear gas.'"
Security forces have reportedly sealed off all roads leading into central Shiraz. Only way to go is out.
5:25 p.m. Iranian journalist and blogger Reza Valizadeh, now based in Paris, reports, "Gatherings of protesters in Revolution Sq; 7th Tir Sq; Ferdousi Sq; Sadeghieh Sq. and Vali Asr crosspoint and attack by special forces has been confirmed." There are also reports of clashes at Sharif Industrial University and of the arrest of several students there.
Kaleme and Saham News -- the websites, respectively, of Mousavi and Karroubi's National Trust Party -- are both down.
Rahe Sabz is reporting that riot police are mostly being used to control the protests. Not equipped with firearms, they are using their batons and shields to corner and disperse demonstrators.
The largest gatherings of protesters are near College Square, Valiasr Square, and around Azadi and Enghelab Squares. There are also reports of more protesters moving from College Bridge toward Enghelab Square. Security forces are present in most other parts of central Tehran and are trying to stop protesters from gathering there. Though Azadi Square, the intended endpoint of the march, is filled with security forces, many protesters have made it there and are waiting for others who are still on Enghelab Avenue and trying to reach the square.
5:15 p.m. A series of tweets from CNN's Reza Sayah:
Tehran witness - pockets of crowds along Enghelab Ave. chant "death to the dictator"
Tehran witness: Clashes at Imam Hossein Square - protesters chant "Death to dictator"
Tehran witness: Clashes in front of Tehran U - sec forces fire tear gas and paint balls
5:05 p.m. More reports coming in of Isfahan protests, and now confirmation of protests in Kermanshah, as well. Estimates in those two cities and Shiraz are of thousands of participants.
And we've confirmed from multiple sources that tear gas was indeed used in Tehran's Valiasr Square to disperse protesters. Additional clashes are being reported there.
Hafte Tir Square has also been taken over by security forces like Azadi Square and protesters are finding it difficult to navigate through.
Thousands are silently marching on Enghelab Avenue toward Azadi Square. Clashes are breaking out along the route, with protesters being beaten by security forces, but the silent march continues.
4:40 p.m. Al Arabiya is also reporting that Mousavi and Rahnavard have joined the protesters. Here's an image they've published, purportedly from the streets of Tehran today:
People are now chanting, "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein" in Enghelab Square in Tehran, where we have a report that ten people have been arrested. Rahe Sabz reports that some protesters have also gathered in Imam Hossein Square. @Persianbanoo tweets that a large crowd has also gathered in front of Amir Kabir University. Clashes are reported from Jamalzadeh, 16 Azar and Rudaki Avenues.
Al Jazeera English is reporting that protesters are marching quietly and calmly toward Azadi Square, but that the "entire square is filled with police" and it is unclear what will happen when the protesters arrive. Here's an (effectively) audio-only version of the report:
We have confirmed reports of protests in Shiraz. According to one source, "Thousands of protesters have filled Mullah Sadra Avenue and there is not an inch to spare. People are simply standing. No chants, not a lot of activity. Just thousands of protesters standing in silence. Security forces are standing close to the people, but there are no clashes." And immediately another source reports that there are clashes now. Protesters are being beaten and security is trying to disperse them.
There are also unconfirmed reports of protests in Tabriz.
4:30 p.m. @madyar tweets, "A small gathering of people in Somayeh Ave, Tehran was attacked minutes ago by security forces."
Reports that Mousavi and Rahnavard may have been able to leave their house and are on their way to join protesters in Tehran. Not yet possible to confirm.
According to "Bardia," ePersian radio's reporter on the ground, tear gas has been fired, garbage cans lit on fire, and motorcyclists beating people between Enghelab and Azadi squares. Sounds of protesters can be heard in the background. A caller into ePersian reports that in Shiraz, protesters are near Mollah Sadra and at Shiraz University.
4:20 p.m. More reported attacks by security forces: Claims that protesters have been badly beaten in Valiasr Square and along Valiasr Avenue and Rasht Avenue.
On Twitter, @madyar is reporting that 200-300 security forces have gathered in Laleh Park to stop any protesters from gathering there.
4:15 p.m. First reports of violence in Tehran: We're hearing that clashes have occurred between protesters and security forces near 16 Azar Ave and under College Bridge. Protesters have been beaten.
Cell phone service in Enghelab Square and adjacent streets in Tehran has been blocked.
Saham News, the official website of Mehdi Karroubi's National Trust Party, is being hacked, but is putting up a good fight. It's online and off, back and forth. Here's a screen capture from one of the periods when it's been down:
So much for minimalism. Here's another video, apparently of Basij duos on their motorbikes heading toward west Tehran and Azadi Square:
3:55 p.m. Rahe Sabz website reports that protests have begun in Isfahan, as well. Protesters from smaller cities like Najafabad and Khomeini Shahr are also making their way into Isfahan and are trying to gather in Enghelab Square in that city and roads around the square. Security forces are present, but people continue to gather.
A brief video, purporting to be from today, showing a crowd of security forces standing by their motorbikes on a Tehran street (Tehran Bureau's film critic suggests: Tilt your head to the left):
Turkish President Abdullah Gul used a news conference with his Iranian counterpart on Monday to call on Middle Eastern governments to listen to the demands of their people. No mention of protesters in Iran...
Unconfirmed reports that tear gas has been used on protesters in Valiasr Square, Tehran.
3:50 p.m. Details from a Wall Street Journal report filed within the past hour:
Thousands of Iranians had gathered in several squares in Tehran by midday Monday, heeding calls in recent days by opposition leaders to demonstrate in solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian protesters, who have recently toppled their regimes.
About 4,000 people had gathered in Azadi Square, in central Tehran, and more were streaming in, with dozens of police on motorbikes circling the square, according to eyewitnesses, opposition websites and Internet posts. Witnesses said a few thousand protesters had also gathered in Imam Hussein square, sitting on the ground and breaking out in chants when police tried to disperse them.
Kaleme, Mousavi's website, reports that he and his wife, Dr. Rahnavard, are still trying to leave their residence to join the protesters, but security forces won't allow them to leave.
3:35 p.m. More people are joining the march from Ferdowsi toward Enghelab Square.
With confirmation that Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, have been confined to their residence by security forces, there are now reports that Mohammad Khatami has been placed under house arrest, as well.
3:15 p.m. It's now 15 minutes after the scheduled start of the Tehran march. @madyar tweets, "Large group of people moving from Ferdowsi Square toward Enghelab Square. Security forces are also in control of the University and many of them are stationed outside its entrances."
Several sources are reporting that many metro stations in central Tehran are being closed off so protesters cannot make it into the area.
Human Rights House of Iran reports that Ali Bagheri, a member of the Central Council of the Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization, has been arrested.
One of the first videos claimed to have been shot today in Tehran to reach the web:
3:05 p.m. Deputy Interior Minister Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini issued the denial that a last-minute march permit had been issued.
Security forces dispersed a small crowd that was trying to gather in the Arya Shahr area of Tehran.
Enghelab Square is fully under the control of security forces. They're also stationed at all the entraces to the square. People are trying to gather, but are losing the numbers game. However, around the city, people are continuing to come out to the streets.
2:50 p.m. And the government is now publicly declaring no permit has been issued, contrary to the report from the central state news unit. That report and related ones are now disappearing.
Confirmed: The Interior Ministry has issued a permit for the Tehran march.
Unconfirmed: Reports that Turkish President Abdullah Gul will join the protesters in Tehran. Unconfirmed: Reports that Gul asked the government of Iran to give the protesters the permit to demonstrate and the government succumbed to his demands.
2:40 p.m. We're receiving reports that the number of people in Sadeghya Square is increasing by the minute. No clashes yet with the riot police who are all around. So far, just peaceful chants of "Marg bar dictator" (Down with the dictator) can be heard.
Mardomak website reports that, according to eyewitnesses, all routes to Enghelab Avenue and Azadi Square have been blocked. Police, plainclothesmen, and special security forces are not letting anyone through.
2:25 p.m. Rahe Sabz website claims activists in Isfahan and Najafabad have said that they're preparing to go out and protest today.
Per CNN's Reza Sayah: "Tehran witnesses - 1000s of security forces patrolling neighborhoods, major squares & intersections."
2:15 p.m. Details from a Reuters report filed 15 minutes ago:
"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.
"They are incapable of doing a damn thing," the hardline Kayhan newspaper quoted Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi as saying [of opposition leaders], echoing words used by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to refer to the United States.
The opposition is "guided by Iran's enemies abroad," Moslehi said.
On Twitter, @madyar confirms, "Special security forces in green uniforms stationed in Valiasr intersection. 20 vans are present."
2:05 p.m. Less than an hour to go before the planned start of the Tehran march. Here's a photo claimed to have been taken in Sadeghya Square not long ago:
And here's a (loud) message of support for the protesters from a Tunisian activist:
@madyar tweets, "Riot police are gathering at Kargare Shomali Avenue too. The area is very busy with people."
1:55 p.m. So far, only riot police have shown up to counter the demonstrators that have gathered in Sadeghya and the impeding protests. No sign of Basij militia or Revolutionary Guard forces as yet.
Rahe Sabz reports that riot police are starting to move towards Imam Hossein Square, Darvazaye Shamran Square, Ferdowsi Square, Valiasr Square and other areas where protesters might gather. They add that riot police have already gathered in Enghelab Square and that the Tehran University administration has stopped students from entering the school today.
More reports of people -- in some cases entire families -- moving toward the planned protest route in Tehran.
1:45 p.m. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of protesters are now assembling in Sadeghya Square. Security forces are also beginning to arrive in the area. No clashes so far. The security forces are reportedly just staring at the protesters.
@madyar tweets, "Security forces now present in Mohseni, Mirdamad and Vanak Squares as well as Sa'adat Abad. Down with dictator chants are being heard from Sadeghya Square."
1:20 p.m. Rahe Sabz is reporting that few riot police or other security forces are visible on Tehran's streets. People are slowly coming out of their houses and moving toward protest sites.
Saham News is claiming that state employees have been offered overtime pay if they stay at their desks until 6 p.m.
1:10 p.m. A Tehran blogger reports:
According to one police commander, around 2:00 p.m., officers from different precincts will be stationed along the demonstration route. They are particularly to be stationed in front of banks and gas stations as well public buildings. These forces are ordered TO AVOID any clash with the demonstrators and only interfere to PREVENT VIOLENCE. Anti-riot forces and Basij units are on alert and will be stationed in alleys and parking areas. The traffic police force will be focused on the major intersection of Roudaki St. and Azadi Blvd. It should be kept in mind that there is a strong possibility that the demonstrators will be attacked and shot at after the demonstration ends. It is absolutely necessary to disperse when the demonstration is done. All the bookstores and other stores in the University of Tehran district (Enghelab Square) are ordered to shut down at 2:00 p.m.
On Twitter, @SheydaJahanbin reports that many people have gathered in Tehran's Sadegheya Square.
Reza Sayah of CNN tweets: "100 riot police at Ferdowsi square - 50 riot police on motorbikes headed towards Azadi sq."
1:00 p.m. From Mousavi's Facebook page:
On the day of proposed demonstrations by Mousavi and Karroubi in support for the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia against dictatorship, cell phones of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard -- Mousavi's wife -- as well as land lines of their residence all have been disconnected by government. All communication channels including internet networks of their residence have also been disconnected. Additionally since this morning security forces have blocked the alley where Mousavi's residence is located at with their cars and prevent anyone from entering or exiting.
Saham News reports that Karroubi's wife, Fatemeh Karroubi, was not allowed to leave their house today. One of the two security cameras on his house's walls was destroyed last night and the other was stolen by unknown assailants. Security forces are near the house and won't allow anyone to replace the cameras.
On Twitter, @madyar says there have been reports that Dr. Rahnavard was similarly barred from leaving the Mousavis' house by security forces.
12:50 p.m. Tehran Bureau contributor homylafayette reports that the web is buzzing with stories of a protester who climbed a crane near Chahar Raheh Ghasr and hoisted a flag at around 8:30 a.m. The protester held up pictures of "martyrs" and warned authorities that they would jump if approached. Here's a photo:
And a brief video:
Mitra Mubasherat of CNN tweets: "About 100 riot police are stationed around Ferdowsi Square in central #Tehran today. No sign of protesters on the streets yet."
12:30 p.m. Sources inside online hacktivist organization Anonymous confirm that they are using Distributed Denial of Services attacks to take down Iranian government websites -- Operation Iran Fax is the name they've given the endeavor. Here's the video "press release" issued a few days ago by Anonymous:
Police are reportedly still absent from major streets in Tehran.
12:25 p.m. Here's the lead headline on the website of Press TV, the English-language subsidiary of the state broadcasting network: "Egypt Army rejects protesters' demands". The article notes that some Egyptians are "disturbed by the army's failure...to release political prisoners." Press TV does not appear to be offering any coverage of today's planned marches and the developments surrounding them, nor of the hundreds of political prisoners in the jails of the Islamic Republic -- here's the stories of a few of them, from Tehran Bureau's Muhammad Sahimi: Young Lions of the Green Movement.
The headline of the third story on the regime-aligned Mehr News Agency's English-language website reads, "Iranian MPs rally in support of Egyptians". The story describes how "parliamentarians shouted slogans like 'God is Greatest,' 'Muslims Be United,' 'Down with the U.S.,' and 'Down with Israel.' Majlis speaker [Ali Larijani] in his speech said the United States should know that the regional nations want real democracy and not dependent governments which are democratic in name only." Mehr also does not appear to be offering any coverage of developments leading up to today's planned marches.
On Twitter, @madyar reports that shopkeepers on Tehran's Enghelab Square have been told by security forces to close down at 3 p.m., the scheduled start time of today's march.
12:05 p.m. We reported earlier that Mousavi's mobile phone had been disconnected. Apparently the landlines to his and wife Zahra Rahnavard's house have been cut as well. A police vehicle and several other cars have blocked the entrance to the street their house is on.
11:45 a.m. The live blog is back. The Mourning Mothers group has released a statement in support of the protests. They have three demands: unconditional release of all political prisoners, abolition of the death penalty, and the public prosecution of those responsible for the brutal killings in the past 32 years. They have announced that they will join today's protests.
The website of the state television and radio network, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, has been rendered inaccessible by cyber attacks.
Political prisoners in Rejaee Shahr Prison in Karaj have begun a hunger strike today in support of the protesters.
We noted in our previous post the Tehran Bureau article The Iran 34: Journalists in Jail, based on the annual global report from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Blogger Arshama3 has provided a much more extensive list of journalists imprisoned in Iran or out on bail, awaiting sentencing.
6:45 a.m. It's about ten minutes before sunrise over Tehran and a little over eight hours before the scheduled start of the march to Azadi Square. Things have been quiet for a while now and may be so for another couple hours, so the live blog will be resting its bleary fingers and callused eyes for a bit.
Some possibly apposite reading before our break. Those who have been following along may have noted that our Tehran-based correspondents tend to be filing anonymously. For some of the reasons why, The Iran 34: Journalists in Jail provides a brief survey of the current situation, and The Plight of Iranian Journalists delivers a more detailed look at what happened to the Iranian press during the protests of 2009. And, as we consider what happens (or may happen, or may not happen) in Iran in light of events in Egypt, here is a recent look at the ways the two nations have mirrored each other -- Iran and Egypt, Twin Outsiders of the Muslim World -- and here is an essay from last April that suggests how the wheels of destiny can turn...and turn again: Let Democracy Resound.
5:15 a.m. "For now, the only certain thing is that we will show up on time on Monday, February 14th, at 3 p.m. and will start walking toward Azadi Square. But we have to define what we want to do. I am not very comfortable with demonstrating just for demonstrating. They have the money, the guns, the religion -- the opium -- and what do we do if they start shooting at us? Do we turn the other cheek again?" A Tehran Bureau special correspondent sets the scene in the capital, as he and his two best friends sit over coffee and plan for the unknowable. For the full story, see 'Stay Together and Together Stay Strong': 3 Friends Prepare for 25 Bahman.
4:30 a.m. A correspondent in Tehran writes:
What will happen Monday, history will record in less than 24 hours. The atmosphere is filled by suspense over the call for demonstration. Certainly the city is not calm. There were chants of "Allah-o akbar" across Tehran. People expect something to happen. Publicly, Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Mousavi have called for a demonstration in solidarity with the people of Egypt. Nobody thinks or believes this is about Egypt or will remain focused on Egypt. No wonder that their request has been rejected as illegal. Their advisers have announced that according to Article 27 of Iran's Constitution there is no need for a permit. It must be noted that both leaders are under house arrest now. Most likely they will be prevented from attending the demonstration. [While Karroubi has been under house arrest for four days, there is no independent confirmation that Mousavi has been similarly confined. As we noted two-and-a-half hours ago, a senior adviser to the former presidential candidate says that his mobile phone has been disconnected and it has not been possible to reach him. --Ed.]
It is interesting to note that beyond the publicly announced goal of solidarity with the Egyptian people, there is no other specific demand. There are a number of slogans for on the web, but beyond that there is no goal, at least no publicly stated goal. Right now it seems the question is not what the strategy is, it is if the crowds will gather in the streets of Tehran on Monday.
In the events that followed the 2009 presidential election, the government showed that it is a fast learner indeed. New tactics were designed and more security units than ever utilized. By the time the Green Movement called for a mass demonstration on the anniversary of the Revolution last year, government forces were well prepared to prevent crowds from assembling. In many cases, people were dispersed as they exited metro stations. Any small gathering was attacked and the mass demonstration did not take place.
Now many in the Green Movement hope that the recent events in the Middle East have shifted the paradigm in Tehran. They have no doubt that the government will use force. However, they are hoping that the suppression will not be as brutal as before. This hope is based on the fact that although the Iranian government does not care about global opinion, it cares a great deal about its image on the streets of the Middle East. And the eyes of region are on Tehran. The belief is that as the dictators of Egypt and Tunisia have departed and there is a chance for friendly governments in these countries, Iran's political establishment will not risk losing its stature and prestige among the region's Muslim population. The Green Movement leaders hope that this perspective will soften the government reaction to Monday's demonstration.
In other words, the Green Movement is probing for an opportunity. The fact that Turkish President Abdullah Gul is in Tehran on an official visit has boosted their morale. The word is that the Iranian government will not risk violence in front of so many dignitaries and reporters. President Gul's presence in Tehran also serves as a reminder to the Iranian leadership that Turkey will gladly fill in any void created by a decline in Iran's influence in the region.
If the Green Movement is right in its assessment, then it might be able to take the initiative back from the government on Monday. However, there is little doubt that Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Mousavi have gambled on an assumption that might well prove wrong.
4:05 a.m. While the official request made by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to the Interior Ministry for a parade permit was rebuffed -- and no such permit requests were made for the many other cities where demonstrations are planned -- there have been arguments about whether any marches that do take place will be legal under Iranian law. Pro-reform figures have turned to Article 27 of the Iranian Constitution to support their contention that the peaceful demonstrations they plan are, indeed, completely legal whether or not permits are issued. Here is the text of Article 27, in translation:
Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.
3:35 a.m. U.S. State Department initiates Persian-language Twitter acount, @USAdarFarsi, aimed at Iranians. First tweet announces launch. Second blasts IRI regime for hypocrisy: criminalizing dissent while celebrating Egyptian citizens' resistance to dictatorship there. Third calls on Tehran government "to allow people to enjoy same universal rights to peacefully assemble, demonstrate as in Cairo."
3:20 a.m. We began the live blog with a list, unconfirmed, of demonstration sites and times in 24 cities. Here is an updated list, similarly unverifiable, now comprising 41 cities. Times are not provided for most of the new additions, but in every case where they are given, they are in the range of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.:
* Tehran: 3 PM (From Imam Hossein to Azadi Square)
* Babol: 5 PM (Dr. Shariati Avenue, Amir Kabir Square, adjacent to Shadi Park)
* Shiraz: 3 PM (Final Destination is Engineering Building #2. Path 1: From Namazi Square to the University. Path 2: Namazi Square to Setad University toward Namazi to Engineering University. Path 3: Eram Square toward Namazi Square to Engineering University and other roads and streets leading that end in Mullah Sadraa toward the Engineering University)
* Isfahan: 3 PM (Enghelab Avenue and Chahrbaghe Abbasi)
* Ahvaz: 6 PM (Saa'at Traffic Circle to Abadan Fourway)
* Mashhad: 5 PM (From Rahnomayee Threeway toward Shariati Square)
* Rasht: 3 PM (Motahhari Avenue)
* Ardabil: 4 PM (From From Imam Square to Sahriati Square)
* Bushahr: 5 PM (From Shuhada Avenue)
* Kerman 3 PM (Main Square, Azadi Square)
* Orumieh: 4 PM (From Shahrjaee to Enghelab Square)
* Tabriz: 5 PM (Abrasan Traffic Circle [University], Valiasr Square, and Baghmesheh Avenue)
* Hamedan: 4 PM (Bo-Ali's Tomb, Daneshgah Square)
* Tonekabon: 5 PM (From Karimabad Square to Imam Square)
* Kermanshah: 3 PM (Ferdowsi Square)
* Sanandaj: 5 PM (Pasdaran Avenue)
* Semnan: 5 PM (From Sa'adi Square to Kowsar Square)
* Khurramabad: 5 PM (Shuhadaye Sharqi Avenue)
* Shahre Kord: 5 PM (The area between Dampezishky Square to Enghelab Square)
* Kashan: 5 PM (15th of Khordad Square)
* Ghazvin: 5 PM (Khayyam Avenue / Adl Square)
* Sari: 5 PM (Gharen Avenue, Enghelab Avenue)
* Gorgan: 5 PM (Valiasr Square to Zartusht)
* Arak: 5 PM (Abbasabad Avenue, Malik Avenue, Imam Khomeini Avenue)
* Elam: 3 PM (24-Meter Avenue, 4-Meter Avenue, and Ashrafi Isfahani Avenue)
* Varamin: (Rahe-Aahan Square to Main Square in Varamin)
* Pishva: (Shariati Avenue)
* Gharchak: (Mohammadabad Avenue)
* Islamshahr: (Baghe Faiz Avenue and Imam Hossein Boulevard, from the beginning of Saveh Avenue to the Main Square in Baghe Faiz)
* Karaj: (Shah Abbasi Square to Hisarak Square)
* Birjand: (Muddarris Square)
* Bojnord: (17th of Shahrivar Square)
* Zanjan: (Sa'adi Avenue, Imam Avenue)
* Garmsaar: (Shuhada Avenue to Imam Square)
* Shahrud: (12th of Bahman Avenue)
* Yasouj: (Saheli Park on Provincial Square)
* Gilan: (Imam Khomeini Avenue -- Muttahhari Avenue -- Gulsar Avenue)
* Boroujard: (Shuhada Avenue)
* Amol: (Imam Reza Avenue)
* Bandare Abbas: (From Resalat Fourway to Nakhle Nakhuda)
* Yazd: (10th of Farwardin Square, Ayatollah Kashani Square,and from Mujahideen Square to Abuzar Square)
3:05 a.m. A female faculty member in the science department at a university in Tehran emails, "Many of my students are going to celebrate tomorrow night, because it will be a day of victory for the movement. It will be a glorious day."
2:40 a.m. Shouts of "Allah-o akbar" and "Marg bar dictator" (Death to the dictator) from the towers of Ekbatan, in west Tehran.
2:30 a.m. Female political prisoners in Evin Prison and Rejaee Shahr Prison released a statement in support of the planned protests. The statement reiterates their commitment to the Green Movement's pursuit of political reform. It adds, "The Green Movement that has continued to persevere in the past 20 months in the face of brutal suppression by the regime will continue to demand the people's rightful goals."
2:20 a.m. A resident of north Tehran writes:
Tonight, for about 15 minutes, I could hear the cries of "Allah-o akbar" from the rooftops around my home. As I listened, I wondered how many people would show up tomorrow afternoon in the proposed 25th of Bahman March. I can not predict and do not know if in fact there is any life left in the so-called Greens to come out again en masse and suffer the way they did and have been suffering for the past year. The regime certainly is fearful enough not to give them an official permit and proclaims their leaders and the movement "same as dead." The media is clearly not able to provide any coverage, since these days they don't just shut down the media outlet -- be it daily newspaper, weekly, or Internet site -- they also jail, torture, and if threatened enough, kill the journalists who would dare to report such an event.
I see the frustration over higher prices for fuel and basic food stuff and the jadedness of people toward the laws and regulations attacking their very foundation, and I see the strength of the moneyed -- the privileged importers (ghachaghchis), the big developers, the quasi-government businesses -- keeping their grip on the economy by enriching the ruthless to rule the innocent. The tragedy is beyond description. What to do? Not knowing, I sit here and think through the whole mess and try to figure out at least what the ending will look like. Figuring out is not predicting, mind you, it's just seeing a path and extending it forward -- not necessarily minding the bumps!
Egypt and the rise of its people, and capitulation of a dictator in less than three weeks is clearly a danger signal and alarming to the regime here in Tehran. Funnily enough, it is the same to the West. The regime here clearly wanted Mubarak to go, but had hoped that he would kill a lot more and ignite the radicalization (Islamization!) of Egypt, which would thus find a real friend in the Islamic Republic! But he quit and with him went the hopes of the regime here. [Majles Speaker Ali] Larijani saw that and has been taking the public mantle away from Mr. Ahmadinejad by marching the parliament around and doing shokr prayers [prayers of thanks]!
Our values are being given to us on a platter with a "don't ask" tag that is getting to look pretty disgusting. The regime here has the advantage of knowing how the religious dictators in the dark ages of Europe did it. They used caste systems (we call them Hezbollahi), they used torture chambers (we call them Evin, Kahrizak, and many other names of places with similar functions), they used economic deprivation (we call it "goal orientation of subsidies"), they used the fear of hell and reward of heaven (we do the same, while describing the range of heaven's benefits in a bit more detail for the edification of the masses), and most importantly they made sure the Pope was accepted as the ultimate vicar of Christ on earth to complete the dictatorship (we similarly call our chief vicar the Vali-ye Faghih, the Supreme Leader, and hail him as the ultimate voice and leader of Muslims around the world). So it is easy to see where the value systems of the Islamic Republic come from.
In the West, it seems more and more the values are being established by the media, mostly via television. They are the ones who tell us what the Pentagon and the State Department, No. 10 Downing Street or the White House tell them -- they tell us what they are told to tell us. They are the ones who accept being "embedded" with the U.S. military on the battlefronts. They are the ones who bring politicians to roundtable sessions and then ask them preagreed-upon questions. They are the ones who don't show the real death numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are also the ones who bombard us with the news of markets and oil prices moving up or down. They are the ones who lead us to believe that our interest lies in the rise of Wall Street as though we are all stockbrokers and major shareholders, and that higher oil prices cause massive problems for the economy as though we are all industrialists.
The question of norms and values is not answered in my mind. So long as they do not clearly address the needs of humanity as enlightened human beings like Nelson Mandela or Dalai Lama have taught, we will be waving the flag of those who not only do not have our interests in mind but are set on getting their way at our cost. The cost that the youth in Iran, the bright in Iran, and the compassionate in Iran have paid is so very high that to wish them to continue paying is out of the question for me.
I know this will not sit well with many, but the hope is that everyone will stop the rage-based activism long enough to figure out what needs to be done. Then and only then will the power of passive resistance cause the foundation of dictatorships to crack. Green sprouts will find those cracks sooner or later and dictators don't have enough legs to crush them in time. I wish them light!
I pray for no blood and no death tomorrow.
1:45 a.m. Kaleme, Mousavi's website, is reporting that nighttime chants of "Allah-o Akbar" were heard not only in Tehran, but also in Tabriz, Shiraz, Rasht, and Isfahan.
1:40 a.m. Ardeshir Amirarjmand, a senior adviser to Mir Hossein Mousavi, just told BBC Persian that any kind of communication with the Green Movement leader had become impossible and that Mousavi's phone line has been cut off, as Mehdi Karroubi's was a few days ago.
1:20 a.m. According to a Tehran correspondent:
As night falls over Tehran, many speculate about the events of tomorrow. There are inspection posts all around the city. The inspection posts on Seyyed Khandad and Haft Tir are manned by police officers and not by Basiji militia, according to eyewitness accounts. One source told this correspondent that he personally does not expect a huge turnout tomorrow. Many others are also doubtful if anyone will come to the streets. Some believe the event has a louder buzz in the online world than in the streets of Tehran. There are reports, published by the Green Movement websites, that the IRGC has requested the High Council of National Security to use only the police force tomorrow and not Revolutionary Guard members to control the streets. However, no independent source has confirmed this report. Despite the speculations, there are those who say that they will be attending. They believe tomorrow we will witness a silent demonstration.
1:05 a.m. A source in Tehran tells us:
The likelihood of violence in tomorrow's marches should be low, because Turkey's President Abdullah Gul will be visiting. It is predicted that the number of people taking part will be larger than that of 22 Bahman of last year [the celebration of the 31st anniversary of the Revolution on February 11, 2010]. Since two days ago, 16,000 policemen have gone on high alert, and tomorrow the entire police force will be on alert. The police as well as the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] forces have also been using their cars that have private license numbers [in order to conceal their purpose], and will do so tomorrow as well. All the local Basij bases in different neighborhoods are on high alert tonight [Sunday night] and have begun creating barricades at different places for inspection of cars and other things. [Groups of] about 20 young people under [age] 25, together with one or two older supervisors, have created artificial ramps to lower cars' speed in order to search them. One can see the Kalashnikov rifles that they carry. Their equipment indicates that new clothes, batons, and other equipment for crowd control have been obtained. I have also been informed that an order has been placed to Imam Hossein University for 5,000 separ [riot shields] that were designed there and have now reached mass production.
12:55 a.m. Television viewers around the world following events in Cairo over the past few weeks have become familiar with the layout of Tahrir Square, epicenter of the Egyptian uprising. Here's a bird's-eye comparison with Azadi Square, the intended destination of the Monday march planned for Tehran.
12:30 a.m. Demonstration in the dark. Shouts of "Allah-o akbar" (God is great) ring out through the Tehran night in support of the call to rally.
12:00 a.m. We begin our 25 Bahman live blog with an unconfirmed list of demonstration sites and times in 24 cities. Given the nature of the demonstrations and their planning, it is impossible to verify much of this information in advance of actual events:
* Tehran: 3 PM (From Imam Hossein to Azadi Square)
* Babol: 4 PM (In front of Babol Technical University; Near Amir Kabir Square)
* Shiraz: 3 PM (From Namazi Square to the Engineering Building #2; Mullah Sadra Avenue)
* Isfahan: 3 PM (Enghelab Avenue)
* Ahvaz: 6 PM (Naderi Avenue)
* Mashhad: 5 PM (Rahnomayee Threeway)
* Rasht: 3 PM (Motahhari Avenue)
* Ardabil: 4 PM (From Sahriati Square to the Bazaar)
* Bushahr: 5 PM (From Layan Avenue to 6th of Bahman Square)
* Kerman 3 PM (Around Taryafard)
* Orumieh: 4 PM (Atayee Avenue)
* Tabriz: 5 PM (Saa'at Square)
* Hamedan: 4 PM (Bo-Ali's Tomb)
* Tonekabon: 5 PM (From Karimabad Square to Imam Square)
* Kermanshah: 3 PM (From 22nd of Bahman Threeway / Nowbahar Avenue to Azadi Square)
* Sanandaj: 5 PM (6th of Bahman Avenue)
* Semnan: 5 PM (From Sa'adi Square to Kowsar Square)
* Khurramabad: 5 PM (Khurramrud Avenue)
* Shahre Kord: 5 PM (Enghelab Square)
* Kashan: 5 PM (15 of Khordad Square)
* Ghazvin: 5 PM (Khayyam Avenue / Adl Square)
* Sari: 5 PM (Enghelab Avenue)
* Gorgan: 5 PM (Palace Traffic Circle)
* Arak: 5 PM (Valiasr Square)
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