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June 12 videos/dispatches

12 Jun 2010 16:246 Comments

Reporting from the frontline

Tehran Bureau | June 12, 2010

By HAMID FAROKHNIA of Iran Labor Report/Tehran Bureau:

After months of deafening silence, especially following disappointments for the Green Movement associated with the February 11 (22 Bahman) events, many thousands of Iranians defied the ban on public demonstrations and marched peacefully through the streets today.

Clashes and marches were reported in Shahrara, Vanak, Sadeghieh, Abasabad, Shahrak Gharb and both Sharif and Tehran universities.

"Without any question, even if one Green failed to show up today, the fact that so many forces have been mobilized against us is a huge triumph for our movement," said a middle-aged street warrior at the intersection of Valiasr and Engelab, where some clashes had occurred earlier. "Bear in mind that the movement's leaders have called off protests today."

He continued: "They have been trumpeting for months that the Fetna (sedition) has been crushed and is long over with. Why mobilize this many people against something that is pronounced dead?"

A few meters away, several hundred uniformed personnel had lined the streets in menacing formations. By all accounts, this was one of the largest armed force mobilizations anybody had ever seen--including from all the protest rallies of the last 12 months. Estimates vary, but the number cited by several Greens this author talked to today give figures were in the 40,000-60,000 range (the actual number may be larger since it doesn't account for the forces confined in their barracks and at the ready). The numbers cited above involves regular uniformed personnel from Naja (the law Enforcement Agency), Sepah (Revolutionary Guards), special anti-riot units of Naja (called Special Units) and Basij regulars, plus legions of plainclothesmen from various branches--not to mention the ubiquitous freelancing vigilantes of various shades--all armed to the teeth and all filled with irrational fear and hatred toward the peaceful protesters.

Unfortunately, according to a new regulation set in force two years ago, even the regular Naja personnel are now recruited from the fanatical Basij ranks. As for the Special Units (those with the familiar anti-riot gear and uniforms people refer to as "the space suits"), the majority were brought to town from the provinces where they have been told that the rich Tehranis were out to abolish all religious traditions and impose corrupt practices on the country folk. One unit I talked with at the close of the events said they were from the province of Mazandaran in the north of Iran. Some of them seemed dazed by the bustle and excitement of city life.

Aside from the stupendous show of force, the sheer bravery of the protesters was telling. Everyone had heard of the horrors befalling those that have gotten detained. There had been countless warnings against demonstrating by the authorities. Many people had in fact received text messages from the Ministry of Intelligence with the following words: "Dear citizen: you are a victim of deception by foreign networks. Should you continue repeating this action, you will face Islamic justice." On top of these, both Karoubi and Mousavi asked that planned protests be canceled out of fear for the safety of the peaceful demonstrators. Still tens of thousands did show up.

There were some early encouraging signs. After several months, on the evening of June 11, the shouts of Allah o Akbar were heard throughout Tehran. Also, graffiti started appearing in the streets again. June 12 was exceptionally hot. By 2 p.m. there was very little clue as to what might happen. Slowly, by 4 p.m., people started coming from many directions. By 4:30, the first clashes occurred. These were mostly in the length of Enghelab Avenue between Vesal and Kargar. All the shops, perhaps a thousand, were ordered shut in the area. By 5:30, the side streets on both sides of Enghelab were filled with peaceful marches many of whom got whipped by the regime forces. Some were specially targeted by the plainclothes Basijs and beaten severely before being led away. There were no chants from the by-now seasoned protesters. Even the slightest gesture indicating opposition--a derogatory comment, a contemptuous look, even a loud exchange of words between two marchers--resulted in detention. While the marchers were generally super-careful with their behavior, the commuters on the buses felt secure enough to show their true feelings--specially when someone got beaten--by booing in unison or shouting at the goons on the street.

There were many side dramas, as is the norm in situations like this. At one point, a clash occurred between some Naja personnel and the Basijis who were dragging a protester away. This was at the intersection of Vesal and Enghelab around 6 p.m. The Naja officer in charge actually asked that the man be released. Some scuffling ensued before a burly man in civilian clothes (probably one of those former Sepah commanders) intervened and separated the two sides. The man was let go. It wasn't clear why they wanted the man freed or why they thought it was important enough to start a fight with the rival Basij, but it seems to show that there are real divisions in fudamentalist's camp.

My Day in Tehran on the Anniversary of the Election

Tehran Bureau | June 12, 2010


Note: The following is based on an eyewitness account of what went on Saturday in part of Tehran on the first anniversary of the June 12, 2009, rigged presidential election. I had asked a friend, who had told me that she would try to travel between Emam Hossein Square in eastern Tehran and Azadi Square in the west, to send me her observations. This was the route that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi had designated for silent demonstrations, which they were forced to cancel after it became clear that they would be confronted violently by the security forces. I have translated the report that my friend sent me and added explanations of certain points to it. She is a professor at a university in Tehran.

Today is a warm day. I had an appointment with my doctor in the morning. By the time I visited him and had a small lunch, it was early afternoon. I live in the Gholhak area in northern Tehran, behind the British Embassy compound. When I go out to participate in any demonstration, I wear the traditional chador, underneath which I also cover my hair with a colorful scarf. Though there are many colors in the scarf, the green color in it can be unmistakeably spotted. Thus, I put on the chador in such a way that a small part of the scarf and its green color could be seen. I took the subway and departed for Emam Hossein Square, the initial point of the planned silent demonstrations that had been canceled.

When I arrived at Emam Hossein Station, I saw the security forces right there. As I walked to the Square and then around it, I realized that the area was full of police, special forces of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, and plainclothes agents. There were also strange-looking cars that belonged to the Special Forces who were wearing strange outfits with long boots and were armed. There were also agents with their motorcycles. Some seemed exhausted in the heat and had sat on the sidewalk, with their motorcycle beside them. They were monitoring everyone. There were many people as well, who were just walking around the Square and around the agents. It was as if both sides were keeping an eye on each other.

Since I thought I had arrived there late, I decided to move toward Enghelab Square near the campus of the University of Tehran. I got into a cab. I think the driver let me in, because my appearance indicated to him that I might be a protestor. I asked the driver, "Have all these plainclothes agents and those with the motorcycles been here all day long?" The driver responded, "No, they began arriving close to noon time." He began driving toward Enghelab Square. The [Enghelab] Street [that connects the two Squares] was full of police and security forces. As we passed under the Pol-e Choubi [the famous bridge near Emam Hossein Square], I saw the many vehicles belonging to the special forces were parked under the bridge.

[Just to see what he would say] I asked the driver, "Who are they going to fight with?" He responded, "They are here to prevent people from gathering. Look at them. They are constantly talking on their cell phones. They are being told where to rush to and break up a gathering." We finally arrived at Ferdowsi Square [in between Emam Hossein and Enghelab Squares]. The security forces had blocked Enghelab Street and the cab could not continue going toward Enghelab Square. [This was presumably due to the fact that Amir Kabir University of Technology, a hotbed of anti-government activities, is a short distance from Ferdowsi Square.] The whole area was saturated with security forces, police, and plainclothes agents. I decided to walk the rest of the way toward the campus of the University of Tehran along Enghelab Street.

As I was getting closer to the campus, the number of people walking toward there was rapidly increasing. All kinds of people were there, young and old, men and women. The number of women was very large, and I could see them of all ages. Then, I had to stop at a traffic light at the intersection of Felestine [Palestine] Avenue and Enghelab Street [a few blocks from the campus]. The red light was long and, thus, after several seconds there were a lot of people there waiting for the light to turn green. The security forces got worried, rushed toward us, and ordered us not to wait for the green traffic light and continue walking. There were also a lot of people who were walking in the opposite direction.

From there on, the number of people was very large. It reminded me of the Ashura day of last year [when large demonstrations took place, and the security forces used violence to disperse the people]. On that day, I had traveled along exactly the same route, and now I was seeing just as many people. The security forces were pushing the people and trying the whole time to disperse them. There was a very large number of motorcycles with armed plainclothes agents. They were huge. The younger and skinnier ones were walking with people, keeping on eye on them.

Very close to the campus of the University of Tehran the number of people was very large. The security forces prevented us from passing by the campus, and redirected people to the streets south and north of Enghelab Street. But, somehow, I managed to break away and continued walking toward the campus. From behind the fences I could see the security forces on campus. There was a large number of the strange-looking cars of the Special Forces parked across Enghelab Street from the campus, full of the forces, ready to attack. As soon as we would stop for a moment, the forces would rush and order us to move. So, I kept walking, but at a slow pace [so that I could see everything]. Inside the campus, the students were shouting slogans against the government. [Reports indicate that they were shouting "Death to the dictator.] But the people outside the campus were completely silent and kept walking, with bottles of water in their hand.

The number of women was very large. None was wearing any obvious green symbol, in order to prevent the security forces from picking on them or mistreating them. But, many had worn dark green clothes or, like me, had a scarf with green color among other colors. Thus, the security forces had no reason to attack and beat up on people. But, as soon as they would feel that too many people had gathered somewhere, they would rush there, and beat them with batons to disperse them. When they began beating up on a woman with a baton, she began screaming at them, "Why are you beating me? I am walking, am I not?" The security forces were also beating up on two young men. There were clashes in front of the university campus. There was a man on a motorcycle that was filming everything. [Some reports indicate that dozens of people were arrested in the streets around the campus.]

To keep watching what was happening, people began going inside bookstores across the street from the campus. [Note: practically all the stores across the street from the campus of the University of Tehran are bookstores.] But, after a few minutes, the security forces began raiding the bookstores. So, I had to leave the bookstore where I was watching everything.

I finally arrived at Enghelab Square [two blocks west of the campus], and wanted to continue on Azadi Street toward Azadi Square. But, the security forces prevented people from entering the street and redirected us to a street parallel to Azadi Street, south of it. A woman pleaded with the security forces to allow her to continue on Azadi Street, saying that any other route would be too long for her, and would tire her. A relatively mild-mannered security agent told her, "They have used a lot of tear gas [in Azadi Street], which would bother and hurt you." [Reports indicate that there were clashes between the people and the security forces at the intersection of Azadi Street and Behboodi Avenue.]

We took Jayhoon Avenue and went back to Azadi Street. The security forces were everywhere, but so also were the people. Even many parking lots were full of the security forces, hiding and waiting. I really wanted to take some photos to send you [the author] to show you how many of them were everywhere, but could not. The same thing was true everywhere along my route from Emam Hossein Square. Even narrow allies were full of these animals [the plainclothes agents], who were just waiting for an opportunity to beat up on us.

The security forces were in much larger numbers around special buildings [like governmental buildings and banks]. To scare people, they were wielding the batons. Some of them would try to ride their motorcycles in the sidewalks just to scare people. Some would get off the motorcycles and threaten people.

Finally, I arrived at the campus of Sharif University of Technology [a short distance from Azadi Square]. The gate was closed, and the security forces and plainclothes agents had covered every inch of that area. Some of the agents were really huge. A lot of them had sat on the ground right at the gate [to prevent people from going in]. It was impossible to even take a glance inside the campus. But, because I was covering myself with the chador, they did not bother me. [Reports indicate that the students inside the campus demonstrated, shouting, "Liar, where is your 63 percent of the vote?" "You, man of the coup, tell me where my vote is," and "Oh Hossein (the 3rd Shiite Imam), Mir Hossein (Mousavi)." A large number of people were arrested.]

Near Azadi Square I saw a young man being treated in an ambulance by doctors. His pants were torn, and he had many wounds on his hands. I wanted to stop to ask what had happened, but I was terrified. So, I continued walking toward Azadi Square. I thought that there would be no security forces or agents in the Square. But, when I arrived there, there were a large number of them there too. I was afraid that they might have followed me [to see what I do]. So, I decided to take a cab for Tajrish [in northern Tehran, near where I live]. I got off the cab at Qods Square, and took another cab to Shariati Street [to go home]. The cab driver was worried about her daughter and wife. Apparently, both had gone to participate in any sort of demonstration that they could find. He called his daughter and told her that, "Vali-Asr Street is extremely crowded; do not go there." [Note: Shariati and Vali-Asr are two long and essentially parallel streets that connect central and southern parts of Tehran to the affluent northern part. Reports indicate that there were large numbers of people in Vali-Asr Street.] The driver's wife had also gone to Vali-Asr Street!

I got home at 8:15 p.m. I am very happy that I went out and traveled along the route where we were supposed to silently demonstrate. My estimate is that, the number of people who were out on streets was around the same as that of the Ashura Day last year. The number of security forces was about the same. But, there were a very large number of plainclothes agents, as well as the Special Forces [that were not there on Ashura Day].

I believe that, had they allowed us, the silent demonstrations would have been as great as last year's on 25 Khordad [June 15]. But, even after a year of violent crackdown, jailing of thousands, threats against many, and even executions of several people, they [the ruling establishment] know that the Movement is alive and well, which is why they are terrified, and do not allow any gatherings of the people.

June 12 anniversary in New York

Tehran Bureau | June 12, 2010


Today in New York City, two very different events took place to commemorate the year anniversary of Iran's contested presidential elections on June 12th, 2009.

At 12:30, a group of around 200 rally-goers, many dressed in green and nearly all Iranian or Iranian-American, gathered at 41st Street and 3rd Avenue, in front of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations. To a reporter attending these sorts of rallies for the past year, the turnout seemed small and the faces familiar.

Organizers with megaphones led chants in both Farsi and English:

"Esteghlal, azadi -- political prisoners must be freed!" and "Stop the killings, stop the torture, no more sanctions, no more pro-war!"

Flanking the police barriers to enter the blocked off rally area were a pair of symbolic ballot boxes where volunteers for the New York Chapter of the advocacy group Where is My Vote? asked participants to cast a vote for "Iranian freedom."

"A year ago, Iranians took to the streets demanding their civil rights and faced tear gas, batons and prison cells. So we need to raise our voices where theirs have been suppressed. And we have to remain steadfast. The protest may have faded from the headlines but a movement for human rights in Iran is still very much alive. Sadly so is the repression. The Iranian government must release all prisoners of conscience and respect the human rights of its citizens and the international community should advocate for policies that do not further exacerbate the human rights condition in Iran," said Bita Mostofi, a spokeswoman for the group in a statement issued by the group.

At around 2:30 p.m. the group marched to a meeting point across the street from UN headquarters for a series of speeches, a musical performance and readings from letters and poems of political prisoners in Iran.

Uptown in a large room connected to Riverside Church, once a favorite pulpit of civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a far less overtly political event took place. Organizers of the "Iranian Cultural Festival" billed the event on Facebook as "a non-political community festival to celebrate the arts and culture of Iran."

A mixed crowd of mainly families milled about. Folding tables lined the large room bearing educational displays: a Persian "haft seen" or New Year's shrine, a similar display of a shrine prepared for a Persian wedding; vendors of books related to Iran, handcrafted jewelry, paintings, calligraphy and traditional Iranian clothing including bright colored vests and old fashioned pouched pants. A TV set up in one corner played a DVD of images from Persepolis. Nearby a middle-aged vendor taught a little boy to play backgammon on a handcrafted set on display for sale.

The smells of Iranian food--rice with lima beans and dill or sour cherries, chicken and lamb kabobs, warm eggplant dip--filled the room as the owners of a New Jersey restaurant dished out heaping portions for those intimately familiar with the dishes and some trying them for the first time. True to the description, the most political thing about the event was the day on which it was held.

June 12 anniversary in San Francisco

Tehran Bureau | June 12, 2010


Chants of "Democracy for Iran, Freedom for Iran" filled San Francisco's Union Square Saturday evening as a group of approximately 300 Iranians and non-Iranians gathered to commemorate the first anniversary of the 2009 Iranian election. The event, which lasted officially until 9 p.m., included speeches from former Tehran University student leader Reza Mohajerinejad and San Francisco District 5 Supervisor and Iranian-American, Ross Mirkarimi. Behind the speakers was a backdrop of 18 activists holding 18 separate pictures of Iranians executed by the Islamic Republic following the 2009 election.

Organized by International Alliance of Iranian Students and NorCal4Iran, Saturday evening's protest of last year's election was one of 85 to 90 events across the globe sponsored by United4Iran, a non-partisan network of Iranian and non-Iranian activists.

Despite the lack of mass protests in Iran today, crowd members were, in general, expressed confidence in the future of the Green Movement.

Homayoon, a 45-year-old Iranian-American engineer, said the movement was in its early stages. "It takes time, but definitely it will win because there exists a generational gap in Iran right now -- so it is just a matter of time," he said.

Fellow attendee, Mohamed, a 25-year-old Iranian-American student, concurred. "I'm hopeful. I don't expect people to be out on the streets all the time. There is still hope," he said.

Firuzeh Mahmoudi, international coordinator of United4Iran, didn't expect many protests from Iran today but the mere mention of some, made her optimistic. "There were helicopters circling around the city, police across the city and there were still people coming out to protest? It shows the movement is vibrant."

June 12 anniversary in Los Angeles

Tehran Bureau | June 12, 2010


Ezatollah Zarghami, chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, was quoted as saying that the release of opposition filmmaker Jafar Panahi should have been either "ten days earlier or ten days later" so that there would be no impression that the public calls for his release at the Cannes film festival had any effect on the decision to release him.

Some would argue that this statement is an unknowingly tacit admission that Iran is actually quite sensitive, and responsive, to well advertised campaigns in support of political prisoners.

Activists and journalists from Maziar Bahari to Shirin Ebadi have written and spoken about the positive effects of reaching out to the media in alleviating the conditions of political prisoners inside Iran. And the head of the National Iranian American Council, Trita Parsi, has written in various forums the need for the Obama Administration to stress the human rights issue in conjunction with the nuclear issue when dealing with Iran, and not forgoing the former in favor of the latter.

Perhaps these aforementioned reasons is why "June 12: A Global Day of Action," an event sponsored by the LA Organizing Committee and dozens of international human rights organizations and run by local coordinators, chose the anniversary of Iran's contentious election to highlight the conditions of approximately 40 political prisoners in Iran.

According to their website, 12june.org, 87 cities across the world (most of them in North America and Western Europe) were slated to "adopt and advocate for one prisoner of conscience."

I attended the Los Angeles event in which Hengameh Shahidi and Ahmad Zeidabadi were the sponsored political prisoners.

Shahidi served as an advisor on woman's issues to presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi. She has been sentenced to six years in prison for gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security and propaganda against the system. On June 2, 2010, she was reported to have been severely injured after being attacked by another inmate in Evin prison. She is also believed to be ill from a heart condition which requires her to take medication regularly.

Zeidabadi is a well known political activist and an award-winning journalist who has been arrested several times, most notably in 2007 for writing an open letter in which he questioned some of the decisions of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He was arrested again after the June 2009 election and sentenced to six years in prison for sedition and propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran; five years exile in Gonabad in Eastern Iran; and a lifetime ban on political activities.

I spoke with Elahe Amani, one of the coordinators of the Los Angeles event, several days before June 12. She stressed that in addition to highlighting the conditions of Shahidi and Zeidabadi, the Los Angeles coordinators had three basic demands:

1. Free all prisoners of conscience;
2. End all political executions; and
3. Respect the human and civil rights of all Iranian citizens.

The event at the Los Angeles Federal building officially started at 4:00 p.m. and precisely ten minutes later the first scuffle broke out between supporters of the Green Movement and monarchists. Frankly, I was quite impressed that they had shown such restraint to wait quite so long before they were at each other's throats.

Apparently the coordinators of the event had anticipated such an incident and had decided there would be no flags at the event, on the grass, or near the podium. Protestors who wanted to wave the flags of their choosing were welcomed to do so on the sidewalk in front of the Federal building. This being an Iranian event, the unofficial barrier between the sidewalk and the large grass area was frequently breached.

The event had what one would expect: poems, speeches, and music, most frequently Shajarian's "Lay Down Your Gun."

However, there was as much action on the stage as there was in the audience.

A street theatre troupe decked out in white CSI fatigues with CSI Tehran emblazoned on their backs searched about the crowd for a quarter of an hour. They then passed out bottles of juice to the crowd, bottles that required a bottle opener to open, a tool most in the audience didn't have. I assume there was an ironic intention but the reader's guess is as good as mine.

There was also the obligatory pockets of groups of young, well dressed Iranians with large sunglasses and faces covered by green bandannas who for the entire three hours of the event neither joined the crowd, talked to others, or even one another. They seemed content standing around nonchalantly, perhaps inwardly not sure why they were there but certainly knew they looked cool doing it.

A Korean couple happened along at one point as well. They came to the event because, as the woman told me, they had "heard about the piracy on the Turkish ships" and also because that they had "Palestinians friends." She then asked me where I received my green wristband.

I pointed to a desk near the podium where a man was selling T-shirts of the political prisoners for $5 (proceeds went to the event). I told her they were free but somehow knew that this couple who had gathered the courage to attend this event would most likely not really join it. So I gave her my own wristband. A few minutes later, I saw them crossing the street away from the protests and felt guilty about not spending more time with them and explaining to them the differences between Turkey, Palestine, and Iran.

Perhaps no one garnered more attention than a young woman who came to the event wearing the flag of the Islamic Republic as a very formfitting dress -- though the flag was upside down. Her tight flag outfit included red stockings, red high heel shoes, large sunglasses and a keffiyeh covering her face. The bottom half of her dress had the face of Ahmadinejad on her right leg and Khameini on her left leg, sitting on top of candles with flames coming out of their heads.

The sheer sight of the "Allah o Akbar" of the IRI on her dress sent various people in the crowd into hysterics, so much so that they hadn't realized that it was upside down.

Women, more so than men, berated her and yelled at her for bringing that "despicable sight" to the event. Others pleaded on her behalf, arguing that she was being ironic. Another person yelled at her for wearing a "Palestinian" keffiyeh to an Iranian event, another defended her by saying that she was wearing a green wristband.

After the crowd had died down, and requests to take pictures of her, and more frequently with her, had diminished, I decided to talk to her. After she explained to me that each individual should decide for themselves what the dress meant and it was meant as a challenge for people to think for themselves, I then did what all asinine writers do, I asked her what her dress meant.

She obliged. "This logo, Allah-o Akbar, is the symbol of the Iranian flag. And it's upside down. These candles, with flames coming out of Ahmadinejad's and Khameini's heads, is to symbolize that what is coming out of their heads is actually burning God, and turning God upside down...essentially, they are making everything in my country upside down."

There was also the mix of young photography students with their professional style cameras, bored teenagers next to their parents who spent most of their time texting, a large sign with the images of four nondescript people with nooses around their necks with the words "Our Silence Is Their Death," and a billboard on a moving truck with the face of Shahidi on one side and Zeidabadi on the other that crossed the intersection at the Federal building for several hours.

With the event winding down, and with the substance and spectacle of the day still not fully grasped, I was approached by a young lady taking quality control surveys in regards to what I liked and disliked about the event, what I wanted more of and what I wanted less of. After she interviewed me, I asked her what she expected to gain from the surveys.

She said that she was in Iran last year and had participated in the protests and that there was a sense of excitement with going out in the streets. They wanted to replicate that somehow here.

"I heard gun shots on four separate occasions," she said. "My ears rang for days. Then I came here [America] and I couldn't believe people at the protest were laughing, they were having a good time."

"How do you expect to create such conditions here?" I asked.

"I don't know. I don't think we can."

That was probably part of a larger question I had been asking myself the entire day. What good is anyone of this? Sure, advocating for political prisoners can ensure the release of some, but with reportedly thousands of such prisoners, it it conceivable that they will all be released?

And, after all, Jafar Panahi had Juliette Binoche crying for him on live television when it was announced that he had gone on hunger strike at one of the worlds' most famous film festivals, the video of which soon went viral. Those famous tears resulted in the mother of Majid Tavakoli, one of the most prominent student activists in Iran to be imprisoned, in saying "My son is neither a politician nor an artist. The world knows nothing of him and no one weeps for his hunger strike."

Indeed the odds seemed insurmountable and I had wondered why anyone had shown up at all. Most of the people I interviewed said that they all wanted to support a free Iran. But the crowd of less than 1,000 seemed unconvincing, especially since the July 25, 2009, protests at UCLA managed to gather nearly 7,000 demonstrators.

It wasn't until I spoke with Omid Koohi, one of the speakers of the event, that I understood why, at least subconsciously, some still chose to attend.

"The cost of protesting in Iran is becoming too high. You encounter bullets, long prison sentences and executions," he said. "And not everyone is willing to pay this price. ...If we don't do anything, nothing will happen. This we know for certain. ...If we do...we can't say 100 percent anything will happen, but we have to go forward and see what results come of it."

Listening to his speech before I spoke with him, which he delivered from the raised platform, there was some quality about Koohi's raspy voice, earnestness, and perhaps even the inflections in his speech that eerily reminded me of the two-minute video of Majid Tavakoli speaking to a crowd of students at Tehran University just after the election and before his arrest.

I still haven't been able to shake the comparison and there is something unsettling about the resemblance that continues to haunt me. Perhaps it's somewhat fitting that the main reason he gave me for putting on such an event was that, "We've been given the torch to speak for them ...until the conditions are right when they can speak for themselves."

* * *

Sharif University: "Liar, Liar. Where is your 63 percent?"

Sharif University video: "Martyred brother, I will get your vote back."

Tehran Bureau correspondent: There were between 25,000 to 40,000 police and plainclothes officers out. It was mind boggling. This in itself is a victory for the opposition. They have been saying the 'sedition' is dead. Why did they mobilize 40,000 people then? [Report will be filed later tonight.]

Tonight in Terhan: Allah o Akbar video.

This video appears to show skirmishes between police and Basij, while bus passengers shout "Death to the Dictator."

Tehran University

Click here for protests at Sharif University.

New, even more graphic video of Neda Agha Soltan's death.

Updates from Enduring American here.

Clashes erupt in Iran as night falls on election anniversary

CNN | June 12, 2010

Saturday began with calm on the streets of Tehran but clashes erupted later in the day between Iran's security forces and crowds of people gathering at the key sites to mark the first anniversary of a contested presidential election.

The first clashes Saturday were reported at about 6 p.m. as uniformed riot police and plain-clothes security forces chased away growing crowds along the sidewalks of Tehran's Vali Asr Square, witnesses said.

Witnesses told CNN they saw several people struck by batons as they were running away. They said that at least three men were arrested, blindfolded, handcuffed and swept away by security officers on motorcycles.

Videos show tight security

LAT (blog) | June 12, 2010

No protests or major scuffles have been reported out of Iran as the Islamic Republic marks the one-year anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election.

But the streets of Tehran are tense with a heavy security presence, according to witnesses and video footage.

June 11: Mousavi/Karroubi Virtual Press Conference

Homepage photo: Sign of opposition activist in Tokyo, Japan.

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Pull the Trigger I

you stand up there
condemning the free speech
with God in your back

Pull the Trigger II

The man on the roof
aimes at the people. One shot
and Neda falls

Pull the Trigger III

Friday's speech
about Mohareb
kills people

Pull the Trigger IV

liars tongue
stone after stone throwing
against the condemned

Pull the Trigger V

weapon in your hand
Persians firing at Persians
tears on your cheek

Bjarne Kim Pedersen / June 12, 2010 11:26 PM

The students are indomitable.Bodes well for Irans future.

pirooz / June 13, 2010 7:38 AM

Very encouraging. I am so proud of them.
No doubt millions would have participated if they were allowed.

the fact that the regime has practically banned the color green speaks volumes!!! How can one outlaw a color? What a strange country where one fears for their life for wearing a certain color! What a strange creature this government is!

Damn this regime that uses such military might and precision against its own unarmed citizens.
Now way they can last. Not like this.

Ahvaz / June 14, 2010 8:04 AM

I wonder how long they (the regime) can keep this up? What about Neds's anniversary, Qods Day, Student day, Ashura, Montazeri's 1 year, Charshanbeh suri,...?

what about next "election" in 3 years if people hijack another insider candidate? Organising 40-50, 60 thousand troops is not easy. How long can the regime keep putting the same resources and energy into such a war? How long before its troops are devided, tired and bankrupt?

I loved how people peformed today. They showed up (despite Moussavi and karubi's cancellation), but did not give the thugs an excuse to beat, arrest or kill them. They knew that to win this battle all they had to do was just show up. They did and so they won the day.

The rest of us out here in comfy rooms in front of our computers, getting impatient with the pace of things or writting them off because "the regime did not fall yet after 1 year" need to chill out, and start seeing the big picture.

We are living Iranian history here.

Ahvaz / June 14, 2010 8:59 AM

Why is anyone taking Mousavi/Karroubi serious anymore? Isn't clear that they are agents of the Islamic regime?

All mullahs and their proxies are the same.

Azadi / June 14, 2010 10:42 PM

In 1978, during the two million person march, I was on the street and witnessed part of it, The demonstrators were organized and did not shriek. They walked in blocks of maybe 500 people. I talked to Ayatollah Esfahani, who was very relaxed and gentle in his approach.

Your demonstrators and students could learn from this. They should not keep running away and shrieking - This only causes mayhem. If you want to strike real fear into the government forces, you should create a march, march silently, with a broad front of people dressed in black or green, with arms linked - tomake it more difficult for th government to intrude - with as many cameras as you can. And when the Mojaheddin attack, they should be photographed as much as possible - and the pics or videos publicized around the world. And last, inevitably there will be many people hurt and worse, raped or tortured. But like Mahatma Ghandi and his protests, you need to be non-violent. It's hard, but there it is.

Neill Edwards / June 15, 2010 2:58 AM