(Fresh News from Iran)
I’m NiteOwl AKA Josh Shahryar – twitter.com/iran_translator on twitter – and I’ve been immersed in tweets from Iran for the past several hours. I have tried to be extremely careful in choosing my tweet sources. What I have compiled below is what I can confirm through my reliable twitter sources. Remember, this is all from tweets. No news media outlets have been used.
These are the important happenings that I can positively confirm from Friday, June 26 in Iran.
1. No large rallies or protests were held today. There were unconfirmed reports of small gatherings in isolated areas of the city, but for the most part, Tehran didn’t seem to witness the same as it has been for the past two weeks. Sources indicated that it was in no way a sign of giving up, but rather a brief interval in more protests that are to come. They added that currently, the Sea of Green is organizing and regrouping as well as coming up with new ways to defy the authorities and also know of the fate of their leaders in order to progress.
2. At 1 PM, however, a large number of people in Tehran took to roofs and released green balloons to show solidarity with the Sea of Green and to commemorate protesters who’ve died so far. (Link showing the balloons: YouTube – IRAN RIGGED ELECTIONS: Green balloons were used as a form of protest all over Iran 6/26/2009 ) At night, the people again took to the roofs and chanted “Allah o Akbar” and “Death to the Dictator”. They also burned candles and held vigils. There was confirmation of the death of one protester who was fired upon by security forces as he chanted from his rooftop. Reports of vigils also came from Mashhad.
3. Khamenei was supposed to lead Friday prayers in Tehran and give a speech; however, he was a no show. Ayatollah Sayyid Ahmad Khatami a hard-line cleric and a member of the Assembly of Experts who has strong ties with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad lead the prayers in his stead. He claimed that the protesters were acting against Allah, branded them ‘rioters’ and called for their suppression through any means possible. He also added that the government will not bend against pressure and that Neda was killed by protesters. This is backtrack from the government’s earlier statements that Neda had been ordered to be killed by a BBC correspondent.
4. Reports indicate that the reason why Khamenei did not attend the prayers was Ayatollah Montazeri’s statements yesterday that denounced the government’s suppression of the protesters’ ‘legitimate demands’. This, according to sources, creates a divide between the powerful clergy which has pressured Khamenei just enough to stop him from giving out another speech of the caliber he gave last week. Whether Montazeri’s current stance will develop into something of a bigger boost to protesters remains to be seen.
5. (For those who don’t know, Montazeri was Khomeini’s designated successor until just a few months before Khomeini’s death; he openly criticized the Islamic regime and was sidelined in favor of Khamenei. He still wields enough considerable support among the more moderate clergy and is popular among liberal Muslims in Iran.)
6. Meanwhile, on the government’s official English News channel, Press TV, George Galloway, a British MP representing the constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow, spent several hours denouncing the protests, Israel and Zionism. He called upon the world to accept Ahmadinejad’s re-election and called on the protesters to go home and accept the will of the people. He did not indicate which people he meant when he made that statement.
7. A reliable source indicated that Khomeini’s family has thrown its lot behind the protesters. Although they denied calling out for a protest tomorrow, they indicated that they were with the protesters and claimed to be supporting the protesters lawful demands and don’t consider Ahmadinejad’s government legitimate anymore. This, coupled with Montazeri’s statements and Larijani’s lethargy, is a strong indication that the clergy are divided in what to do with the protesters and that there is a considerable level of public support now for the protesters among the religious elite.
8. The spokesperson of the Guardian Council announced today that a commission had been formed to recount 10% of the ballots cast with representatives of the candidates present. The commission includes Ali Akbar Velayati, Hadad Adel, Eftekhar Jahromi, Aboutorabi Fard, Dari Najafabadi and Hossein Rahimian. He also gave candidates 24 hours to appoint representatives that would join the commission in the recount.
9. As reported before, the government is heavily charging people for the return of their dead family members’ bodies who were killed during the protests. Families are being charged thousands of dollars and are also required to sign a waiver that states they won’t sue the police and that Mousavi is the reason behind the death of their loved ones. More people were arrested today including Mohammad Mostafaie, who is a prominent lawyer and important reformist.
10. . The Iranian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden was attacked today by angry Swedish-Iranians after a peaceful protest. It has been reported that as the protesters neared the gate, one of the guards tried to force the protesters away which enraged them and they tried to take over the Embassy. The police were forced to call for back up to control the protesters. There was also a report of a molotov bomb thrown by pro-Sea of Green protesters at the Iranian Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. It caused little damage to one of the walls.
11. The government is continuously attacking and arresting Iranians who are using twitter to get the message out to the world. Several of our sources have so far been arrested or have stopped using twitter altogether, yet the remainder have pledged to continue until the last minute. Amidst the somber mood, some emotional moments can also be seen. One Iranian tweeted: “I would rather our Iranian youth were tweeting about Michael Jackson than having 2 face this death & horror. Lets set them free to do so.”
(There is simply too much on the tweets about where Mousavi is at this point. According to last reports, he was being sternly watched by the government and his movement is restricted, but it’s an ever evolving situation.)
This article was originally posted on Iran.WhyWeProtest.net. We have re-published it here with permission from the author, NiteOwl, a.k.a. Josh Shahryar.