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13 Aban (updates)

04 Nov 2009 00:507 Comments

Photo (right): Regime supporters apparently accidentally set ablaze a flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the semi-official Mehr News Agency posted it on its site.

From Tehran Bureau correspondent in Tehran (translated):

Metro stops for Taleghani and Ferdowsi were closed this morning, so I had to go all the way to Enghelab. But that way I did walk past the University of Tehran's gates, which were highly policed. Riot police were lined up every 20 meters or so all the way to Ferdowsi. I made it to Vali Asr and then walked North to Taleghani St. to make my way towards the old Embassy.

It was 10:30 am at this time. Hundreds of buses (that had brought in pro-regime supporters) lined Taleghani street, and I started to see some pro-regime marchers coming my way. Lots of groups of kids, separated into boys and girls, marched rather insipidly and sometimes shouted "Marg bar America" -- for them this is an annual political ritual with little meaning. I made it to the West end of the pro-regime protests; there were lots of people there and guards were no longer letting anyone in. I headed North to see if I could catch a glimpse of the opposition protests coming out of Haft-e Tir square. By this time (11 am) cellphones were not sending calls or texts at all.

I got to Karim Khan bridge (after almost being searched by the police, luckily a higher up pushed me along just as a young scruffy guy was opening my bag), and saw a large group of police amassed in riot gear. Many green-clad people were moving West, away from Haft-e Tir, but they were not amassed like the demonstrations in June. Instead, they moved along the sidewalks. I joined them. I passed a man who had fainted, from what no one knew. He was picked up by onlookers and put into a taxi. Farther along I saw the riot police heading off the marchers, and I crossed the street and went up a hill in a park. From there I saw a few back and forth attacks by the police to disband the crowd. Mostly this was shield banging and purposefully inaccurate swinging, just to get the crowds to run. Yet minutes later they were allowing people to walk by them, so I continued West.

Eventually it looked like things were thinning out, so I decided to track back to see if the demonstrations were going on elsewhere. I went Northeast to Vali Asr st, since this was where many of the dispersed protesters had gone during earlier demonstrations to continue marching. Sure enough, I ended up alongside a crowd of about 250 marching northwards, chanting the usual slogans. I stayed on the other side of the street, where thousands were watching and occasionally chanting, all of us wondering when the hammer would come down. I got ahead of the northwards moving group, and saw 50 or so riot police waiting for them. There was a standoff. Then I saw from the other side of the street the police shoot 3 canisters of tear gas upwards and arcing into the crowd. I was upwind so I stayed put. I started to see people coming my way due to the gas; it was a very effective way of breaking up the marchers. Chanting and yelling continued. I then headed south via a side road to see if the University of Tehran was quiet or not. On the way there I saw at least 4-5 people who had been badly gassed, with friends blowing cigarette smoke in their eyes.

Back on Enghelab nothing was happening, and no one spoke of student protests at or near the University of Tehran. The metro stops started to work in the afternoon, as well as cellphones. Obviously this was a well planned effort by the government to handle the protests. I saw less violence than before, and though I did see the usual old basiijis acting as self-appointed police wherever they were, most of them were just pissed off and yelled back at the protesters. I did not ever get to Haft-e Tir, so I cannot testify to the size of the amassed crowd (if it ever amassed or not) nor to the presence of any opposition leaders such as Karroubi.

Based on eyewitness accounts, Saya Ovaisy reports the following summary:

Heavy security presence, including armored Special Guard, Basij, and plainclothes forces on motorbikes.

Harsher violence than expected, weapons used on protesters included tasors, paintguns, batons, and teargas

Opposition crowds were spread in pockets of hundreds and sometimes one or two thousand across large area of downtown to north-central Tehran including:
Haft-e-Tir, Fatemi Sq, Valiasr, Abbas Abad, Argentine Sq (reported so far); estimate of total turnout hard to gague

Modaress freeway in central Tehran blocked with cars honking and flashing Vs; police motorbikes could not get down there due to gridlock. Clashes started at about 10:00 am lasted until about 4:30 pm

Violent clashes on Talaghani St by US embassy compound all day

Opposition crowds repeatedly dispersed but regrouped. Groups of protesters running from security forces took shelter in homes opened for sanctuary, but returned to street to continue protests and anti-government chants. Protestors reported as "standing their ground" against police more persistently than before.

Slogans included:

"Obama, Obama, either with them or with us"

"Khamenei is a murderer; his rule is null and void"

"The Russian embassy is the nest of spies"

Eyewitness 1: In Haft-e-Tir (time not specified), I saw police hit a girl with a baton; her arm broke. I was filming, but police moved toward me so I ran. I tripped up a Basiji chasing a boy and ran from him too.

Dr. Habibollah [pro-Bazargan group] and his wife were severely beaten by plainclothes thugs during the protest. [no location/ time specified]

University of Tehran was scene of protests, chants of "Death to Dictatorship,"
Three buses blockaded the university entrance gate to block the view of university campus.

More soon...

Where was Mir Hossein Mousavi?

Mousavi was reportedly in his office in Farhangestan. When he tried to join demonstrations, security agents confronted him and did not allow him to go out, according to an Iranian journalist.

Tavakoli cursed at during Nov. 4 rally

Khabar Online | Nov. 4, 2009

Though a staunch critic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Principlist lawmaker Ahmad Tavakoli was verbally insulted during the Nov. 4 rallies.

Tavakoli was approaching the former US Embassy when approached by a middle-aged man shouting insults. After his bodyguards distanced the man from Tavakoli, a small group began following him chanting, "Death to hypocrites, Ahmadi Ahamdi we support you."

Nov. 3

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's statement for 13 Aban

The occupation of the U.S. Embassy after the victory of the revolution was supported by most of the revolutionary groups and the late Imam Khomeini, but with the sensitivity and negative reaction shown by the American people, which still remains to this day, it has become clear that this was not the right thing to do.

The embassy of a country is regarded as part of that country and [since] that country was not at war with us, the occupation of the embassy was a declaration of war, and this is not right. Some of the committed young people who carried out this act now also believe that it was wrong.

Since the United States was the cause of the 1953 coup d'etat against Dr. Mossadeq and the return of the Shah and that it took over almost all the country's political and economic positions and gave support and defended the previous regime and also, after the revolution, blocked Iran's assets, and in general interacted with the revolution very inappropriately, in the beginning of Revolution, the people were angry with the Americans and as a result the students occupied the U.S. embassy in Iran and America cut off its relations with Iran. But it is clear that this was temporary and subject to changes in politics and economics.

If national interests require that relations with the United States be [re-]established, one must not create tension and distrust with meaningless slogans to aggravate [the situation]. It is clear that the Israel Lobby in the U.S. is strongly opposed to Iran-U.S. relations and their interests are served by the continuation of the crisis between Iran and the U.S., but unfortunately the leaders of the country do not realize this.

If the political and economic sovereignty of Iran remains dependent on the East and instead of working towards our national interests we work to win their approval, this is a mistake and goes against the slogan "neither East nor West" which our people stressed during the revolution. What is the difference between Russia and America, whom to one we must show so much trust and give so generously from public funds, and with regards to the other, not even be ready to hold talks even when we feel that these talks could be to the benefit of the nation?

It is clear that the establishment, with the crisis that they brought on after the glorious elections, cannot have a strong position in relations with powerful states. Every day to take up a position opposite to that of the day before is to the detriment of the people and the nation. Military power, repression and the enforced silence of the people will not bring results because it is only the real and true and free support of the people which gives the regime strength.

In my opinion the regime can, with a brave and prudent decision, immediately release political prisoners and allow the publication of banned newspapers, remove selection controls from offices and universities in general dissolve all organs of scrutiny of opinion and in their place establish a meritocracy and with this revolutionary and divinely-sanctioned decision, bring back the strength of the nation. With this, the regime will be able enter talks with strength and glory.

Fighting arrogance does not mean war with nations, showing sensitivity towards them, creating enemies and isolating the country. Rather it is the defense of the rights of the nation against the covetousness and greed of the oppressors. In this way there is no difference between the West and East and even totalitarian oppressors and the power hungry.

The rule which the people are not satisfied with and which subjects their rights to violence and oppression and which has accused and imprisoned members of the elite, political activists and freedom seekers cannot claim to be fighting, nor can it fight, oppression.

Fighting oppression is not possible without learning to support the people and to grant them their rights, grant them freedom of expression. With such national support the regime can face foreign sanctions, stand firm and respond appropriately.

Karroubi will go to Haft-e Tir Sq. on Nov. 4

Tagheer | Nov. 2, 2009

Sources close to the opposition cleric rejected rumors that Mehdi Karroubi was going to appear at Tehran's Amir Kabir University on Nov. 4.

A source close to Karroubi said that he had no plans to appear at the university and had no suggestions about the type of gatherings and slogans to be chanted on Nov. 4.

According to the Tagheer report, Karroubi will arrive at Haft-e Tir Square like every year at 10:30 am.

Tehran prosecutor's statement about Nov. 4

Norooz | Nov. 3

The Public and Revolution prosecutor's office issued a statement on Monday urging Tehran citizens to beware of deviating slogans when taking part in Nov. 4 rallies.

The communiqué stated, "Police officers have received the order to identify and bring in individuals who attempt to disrupt public order on this day."

More photos here.

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Opposition crowds repeatedly dispersed but regrouped. Groups of protesters running from security forces took shelter in homes opened for sanctuary, but returned to street to continue protests and anti-government chants. Protestors reported as "standing their ground" against police more persistently than before.

mansor parhizgar (pooyan) / November 4, 2009 7:05 PM

I have some problems with the Israel lobby in this country. I doubt there is a group more disruptive to the free movement of ideas than AIPAC.

Andrew Baum / November 6, 2009 3:45 AM

We are resilient & proud people who fights for our freedom and a democratic society, no dictator, religious or military could stop us to achieve that goal. We prouved that through our long civilisation, one of the oldest in the world.

Hibou / November 7, 2009 6:41 AM

just sey thanks

hamidi / November 7, 2009 7:32 PM

The people are becoming angry; and the government is divided and frightened. Security forces were out in massive numbers; and were kept constantly on the move. Protestors are beginning to fight back and use smarter tactics. The prisons are filling up; and the regime cannot arrest everybody; so the government was working hard to disperse & scare the protestors. Sadly, it seems the only “leader” of the green movement who was able to join the protest was mehdi karoubi.

The most important accomplishment on November 4 was that the protestors were able to effectively communicate their message to the outside media and to the regime. In addition, Ayatollah Montazeri also issued a sort of apology about the hostage crisis in Iran in 1979.

Although individual protests were smaller than before, it would be safe to say that there were thousands of people at many different locations all over Iran. It is hard to judge real numbers because of the media blackout. My feeling is they were larger than it appears on the surface. In addition, we also observed many citizens standing around watching and providing passive support.
Please read our analysis and commentary about 13 aban protests in farsi and english.

Jamshid / November 7, 2009 8:45 PM

go away abama with ahmedi nejad

Anonymous / November 9, 2009 3:14 AM

What a freaken mess.

Anonymous / November 9, 2009 7:11 PM