This is a live-blog report on events in Iran, and about Iran. The majority of the information is sourced via social media channels. The videos or links to other sites posted are not produced by Iran News Now, and their posting here does not equate to an endorsement of their content or message. Every update has a timestamp associated with it that reflects the time of the update, not necessarily the time of the occurrence of the news within the update itself.
This is another large update as we were unable to break free for more granular updates throughout the day.
Another video from 25 Bahman
This video shows regime police shooting at the camera man with paint gun bullets. This is a tactic they have employed in the past to mark and later identify protesters for arrest. You can hear someone shouting “Bastard!”:
Persian Banoo reports that killed protester Saneh Jaleh was laid to rest in his home town of Paveh,
A person claiming to be Basiji calls expat TV Channel on 25 Bahman, Channel 1 TV, talks to host, Shahram Homayoun, threatens to kill every single protester, however many million there are. The caller expresses loyalty to “Imam” Khamenei. He has a lengthy discussion with the host, alluding to the fact that the his orders come from the top of the regime.
Political Prisoner Watch
Reports from Persian Banoo:
Abolfazl Tabarzadi has been released on bail from Ahvaz Kazeron prison.
Former reformist member of parliament, Ahmad Hakimipour, has been arrested.
Sayed Morteza Mousavi-lari has been arrested. His father was Interior Minister during Khatami’s presidency.
Mashhad University student, Farzaneh Najar, has been arrested–her computer and other items confiscated.
A court of appeals has upheld the death sentence of Kurdish political prisoner Zaniyar Moradi.
Kurdish student activists Sarveh Vaisi, Amanj Rahimi and Ahmad Esmaili have been sentenced to two years of prison each.
The wife of imprisoned reformist, Mostafa Tajzadeh, has been threatened with arrest by interrogators.
RHANA reports that seven protesters that had been shot are missing after having been removed from the hospital by security forces and taken to an unknown location.
The Telegraph (UK) has published story about a purported letter sent by “senior commanders” of the Revolutionary Guards to Major Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Guards’ commanding officer in which they have asked for assurances that they will not be asked to fire upon protesters in further demonstrations:
If this story is true it is a major development, and indicates that the regime may have trouble in keeping their forces loyal, should demonstrations escalate. From the article:
Following the recent violence that occurred during anti-government protests in Egypt, the officers argue that it is against the principles of Shi’ite Islamic law to use violence against their own people.
In a suggestion of a major split within the Islamic Republic’s ruling hierarchy over its handling of anti-government protests, the letter has been circulated widely throughout the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards, the body responsible for defending religious system.
The letter, a copy of which has been seen by the Daily Telegraph, is addressed to Major Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Guards’ commanding officer. It calls on Major Gen Jafari to issue guidance to both the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij paramilitary militia to use restraint when handling anti-government protests.
But in the letter, which is signed by senior officers commanding Guards units in Tehran, Qom, Isfahan and Tabriz, they urge Major Gen Jafari to “use your authority over the Basij to order them to leave their truncheons at home next time.”
It goes on to state unequivocally, “We promise our people that we will not shoot nor beat our brothers who are seeking to express legitimate protest against the policies and conduct of their leader.”
We are seeking confirmation of the existence of this letter, and we also want to know how the Telegraph knows that it has been widely distributed within the ranks of the guards.
Several times since the 2009 uprisings we have seen instances in which purportedly, elements of the regime have said that they would stand with the people, but to date the veracity of those claims have not been confirmed, and if anything we have seen no restraint from the regime when cracking down on protesters. However, we have independent confirmation that there are members within the guards who are against the regime. If the Telegraph’s story is true, then it certainly spells trouble for the regime moving forward.
Is the regime beginning to cannibalize one of their own? Former President of Iran, and power broker, Hashemi Rafsanjani, is now on the receiving end of regime angst. Chants of “Marg bar Hashemi,” purportedly in front of his home (not independently verified) in Qom:
So what’s going on here? Yesterday we saw some reports indicating that Rafsanjani had denounced the protests as US/Israel-backed.
A statement was posted on Rafsanjani’s official website on 25 Bahman (February 14), the day that
anti-government protests re-emerged in Iran following a year’s lull, in which he basically castigates the current administration of Ahmadinejad for not respecting the vote of the people. The statement
also makes reference to the constitution of the Islamic Republic, stating that it is possible
to change the constitution via a referendum.
This is quite likely a point of contention for the frazzled and reactionary regime.
It is interesting to note that the chanting in the video above also attacks the grandsons
of regime founder, Ayatollah Khomeini.
This, along with of course the ousting of the current vocal opposition (Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami) from the regime “insider” club, is an indication of the ever shrinking inner circle.
The Khamenei cabal, (I like to refer to them as KhamCo) has managed to convince themselves that former regime stalwarts are “vattan fooroosh” — basically, traitors of the regime.
There are reports of families of political prisoners gathered outside Evin prison in protest to the
illegal detention of their loved ones being attacked by plain-clothed regime goons and Basij. Apparently some are vowing to remain there until all the political prisoners are freed. Thousands have been rounded up by the regime since the 2009 protests and there are reports of over 1500 being held by the regime since the 25 Bahman protests alone.
Banooye Sabz provides an English translation of breaking news from Deutche Well — a statement from besieged opposition figure, Mehdi Karroubi:
BREAKING NEWS – New Message From Mehdi Karroubi – “Have the Courage to Put Us On Trial!”
Thursday February 17th, 2010 – In a message sent to Deutsche Welle via his adviser Mojtaba Vahedi, Mehdi Karroubi referred to the recent declarations by the ruling government in the aftermath of the February 14th, 2011 [25 Bahman 1389] demonstrations as “bogus” and demanded that he be put on trial “in a court similar to the infamous trials in which Khosro Golesorkhi and Mahmoud Taleghani were put on trial during the reign of the Shah of Iran.”
Mojtaba Vahedi told Deutsche Welle: “As an adviser of Mehdi Karroubi, I wish to read a direct message to your audience from Mr. Karroubi that I received minutes ago under very difficult conditions.” Mr. Vahedi added: “Mr. Karroubi emphasized that although his message is addressed to the public at large, first and foremost he would like to extend a deep and heartfelt apology to his neighbors whose peace and comfort was once again disturbed last night Wednesday February 16th, 2011 until 3:00am by government thugs. These individuals proceeded to use extremely vulgar words in their slogans, words that are not even worthy of families associated with this regime. Mr. Karroubi and his family would like to extend their deepest apologies to all those who were forced to listen to the vulgarities expressed by official government agents.”
While reading Mehdi Karroubi’s message his adviser continued: “The events that occurred yesterday clearly demonstrate that a direct order was given by high ranking individuals from within the government and in accordance to this directive, individuals were required to demand the the trial of Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Mousavi. It is very clear that after 22 months, individuals such as Rohani, Nategh Nouri, Ghalibaf and other friends such as Abtahi have been pressured into giving interviews.”
According to Karroubi’s adviser Mojtaba Vahedi, Karroubi’s message to these individuals was as follows: “Now that you have executed the mission given to you by the government, I suggest you do something humanitarian. Ask the government to put us on a public trial. At minimum have the courage to hold a trial similar to those during the Shah’s reign, trials like those held for the late Golesorkhi, Taleghani and Bokharai in which media outlets were at least allowed to report on the trials and even publish some of the details of the defense.”
Karroubi’s adviser continued:”Mr. Karroubi said if this regime has the courage to hold a public trial, we will prove whether it is we who seek to overthrow the government or individuals from within the regime itself who have such intentions. It goes without saying however that the intention to overthrow [the government] has already begun, as this government is no longer a republic nor is it Islamic. These gentlemen overthrew the Islamic Republic long ago. The tactics by the IRIB (Iran’s International Broadcasting) demonstrated how corrupt they are and in the event that there is a trial, Mr. Karroubi does not expect for his trial to be broadcast on the national television, but hopes at minimum that newspapers and other media outlets would be allowed to cover it.”
Mehdi Karroubi’s adviser concluded: “Mr. Karroubi emphasized that a government that puts so much pressure [on its citizens], if it was courageous, if it was willing to stand by its own words and was willing to tell the truth, would hold a public trial. In the event that such trial takes place, Mr. Karroubi will prove that this government was overthrown by its own leaders and is no longer a republic, nor is it Islamic.”
Nobel Laureate, Shirin Ebadi believes the execution of Zahra Bahrami, arrested during a protest in 2009, is a warning: “if you take to the streets, this could also happen to you.”
The New York Times reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi has been incommunicado since the 25 Bahman protests (as reported by his daughters to an opposition website). This is consistent with reports of Both Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi being held under virtual house arrest, with the communications completely cut (no mobile or land based phone communications).
A Facebook page for the “Green Path of Hope” is being circulated on the social media channels:
Apparently information is being dissemminated about the upcoming 1 Esfand protests (Sunday, February 20 protests) there. The following poster was posted to that Facebook page:
A new poster for the 1 Esfand nationwide protest call has started to circulate on the social media channels. It features the slain protesters from the 25 Bahman protest, Mohammad Mokhtari (left) and Saneh Jaleh (right):
During the height of the post-election protests in Iran in 2009, when millions poured into the streets, one account on Twitter was very active in disseminating information about what was happening on the ground in Iran. That account, @PersianKiwi posted some riveting, hair-raising tweets about what was happening in street protests. On June 24, 2009, the account went silent after this following
ominious tweet, after the the PersianKiwi expressed that they felt that they were in danger:
Much speculation has taken place since then. It was not clear whether one person, or many were reporting thru the account. Many thought that whomever was behind the account was either arrested or killed during the protests.
From time to time, we have visited the account to see if any activity was taken place, and for 20 months, not a single tweet was made. However, we first noticed that someone was active behind the account still when just before the Ashura protests of 2009, the account background changed. And since then, this has occurred several times, but with no new tweets.
Well, it has just come to our attention that the account is active again, with the first new tweet arriving on February 14, the day that the biggest challenge to the regime since the Ashura protests. The first tweet from the account since June 24, 2009:
We should note that we have no idea if the current person/people behind the account is/are the same as in 2009, so we urge some caution, but it will be interesting to see what comes from the account moving forward.
Iranian government and state media sites have been under a reportedly unprecedented barrage of cyber attacks today. Fars News (fars.ir and fars.com) were reported as being down for a while today, likely another casualty of the war being waged in cyberspace, between the regime hackers and a worldwide army of hackers currently working to bring down regime sites. As we have mentioned in previous days’ live-blogs the group Anonymous declared that they would be on the scene for 25 Bahman and beyond.
A new hashtag is being used by activists on Twitter for the nationwide protests that are planned for Sunday, February 20, 1 Esfand in Iran. The hashtag is #1Esfand. Not familiar with hashtags or Twitter? Now is as good a time as any to learn so you can stay informed. A hashtag is a word preceded with the # character, used on Twitter to associate a tweet (a post to Twitter) with a particular topic. For instance, when the uprising in 2009 broke out following the disputed presidential election, the hashtag #IranElection was used by people to tweet about what was going on in Iran. It quickly became the defacto hashtag for all discussions Iran-related, and remains so to this day. You can click on a hashtag and get all the latest tweets that people have made with that hashtag. Pretty simple. You should try it.
A song dedicated to murdered 25 Bahman protester Saneh Jaleh, by Shahin Najafi, featuring Bavid Zardi:
On the International front, CNN reports Iranian warships sailing through Suez poses prickly decision for Egypt.
Blog and Media Watch
Tehran Bureau’s Dan Geist has written a piece: ‘God, Let me Die Standing’: Remembering Mohammad Mokhtari.
Our updates today will be somewhat sporadic as we juggle a number of priorities.
We start today with the significant news of another call to protests on Sunday, February 20, or 1 Esfand in Iran, on the website associated with opposition figure, Mir Hossein Mousavi, to commemorate the deaths of two slain protesters from the protesters of 25 Bahman, February 14, and to express solidarity with the leadership of the green movement.
A advisor of Mir Hossein Mousavi has confirmed the call to protest in a BBC interview.
The last day of protest in Iran was considered a resounding success for the protesters as it showed that the movement in Iran is far from over. Conservative reports say at least tens of thousands showed up, but several eye-witness reports say the number was in the hundreds of thousands.
More videos from 25 Bahman surface
This video shows how as small groups of people began to try to coalesce, police in riot gear were attempting to keep them separated, and were herding them apart. The video shows police beating people. Also, gunshots are heard:
The following video shows clashes between protesters, some throwing rocks, and police. A sound of something being fired (plastic bullets maybe?) can be heard: