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.
Today was supposed to be a show of force by the regime–a counter-protest to the protest of the “seditionists” (the term the regime uses for people demanding basic freedoms). The regime has used this tactic in the past, to present an image that it is strong, and that it has supporters.
Typically, they will bus in their loyalists–people that either receive some form of welfare from the regime, government employees and their families. They provide them with cheap juice and food to entice them, and they allow some foreign media to report on the events so they can frame their propaganda for what they are counting on will be a generally distracted and inattentive world to see.
It ain’t really working anymore.
The regime held a propaganda-filled and hate filled Friday Prayer sermon, with the regime buffoon Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati leading the prayers and confirming the house arrest of and silencing of communications with opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
But other than the venue for the Friday Prayer itself, the streets were not filled with energized regime supporters.
Our colleague, James Miller, of Dissected News, has written a sharp analysis on the venerable EA Worldview.
In yesterday’s live-blog, we posted a Telegraph article by written by Con Laughlin, purporting that commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had written a letter to Major Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, indicating that they did not wish to fire upon protesters. A website, Uskowi on Iran, reports that it is likely a forgery:
lot of folks are under the mistaken impression the Revolutionary Guards are the force involved in crowd control operations following the post-2009 election unrest in Iran. They’re not.
NAJA, Iran’s national law enforcement and its branches, is the primary agency involved in these efforts, and not the IRGC. The IRGC has not been engaged in such operations. Furthermore, NAJA is currently under orders to employ less lethal force in its antiriot operations.
So obviously the letter is a not-so-clever forgery.
(Anyone in possession of a copy of this letter is encouraged to send it to Uskowi on Iran. We could use a laugh)
A new poster for the call by the opposition in Iran for nationwide protests on 25 Bahman, 1 Esfand in Iran:
Rahesabz reports, that a group of students from the Green Universities of Iran have founded the Green Students’ Union, and that they will be present during the called-for nation-wide protests to commemorate the deaths of the martyrs of 25 Bahman (Monday, February 14, 2011).
In a report by RFE/RL, ‘They Kill People’s Children, Then They Pray’, a very riveting first hand account from a protester on the ground. It is a must read. Here is an excerpt:
Within a few minutes, the fires were lit. I saw myself on the cars that were parked near the trees and with all my force I was ripping the branches from the trees. Bahman was using the branches to make a fire. The guards were standing on the other side; they didn’t dare come close. They were firing tear gas at us. People were lighting cigarettes and blowing the smoke in each other’s face. People were watching us from their houses. We shouted and asked for newspapers, which they dropped, and we made more fires. We were running and shouting: “I will kill those who killed my brother.”
We would throw stones and rocks at the [security guards]. The sky was raining stones and smoke; the smoke was from the fire of our rage. … I saw one of my friends who had been released from prison in the crowd. I kissed him and told him, “You see the Green Movement is still alive. Bravo to you for coming.”
We didn’t have any more cigarettes [to fight off the tear gas]. We found a shop. We bought more cigarettes and vinegar. Every time they used tear gas, we would pour the vinegar on people’s clothes. A woman in a chador was quickly gathering stones. Bahman thanked her. She said: “Let’s hope for freedom. We are standing until freedom.” We went in the middle of the street, and I was shouting, “Death to Khamenei!” People were watching us from their cars and they would honk to encourage us.
A motorbike with two people came. Someone said they’re Basijis. We stopped them. People started beating them. It wasn’t like last year’s Ashura demonstration when everyone was saying no to violence. Everyone was beating them and shouting to kill them. I was myself shouting, “Kill the dirt!”
Kill the dirt. The regime better watch out. They are not leaving room for peaceful change and it looks like Iranians are starting to respond to force with force.
Radio Zamaneh reports that all contact with Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been cut, and their bodyguards forcefully dismissed by regime security forces:
Iranian opposition leader MirHosein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard lost their last link to the outside world today when their personal guards were dismissed by the Islamic Republic security forces.
Kaleme website reports that the house arrest of these two opposition leaders has become complete, with no direct news of the couple in the past three days.
They have been confined to their home since February 14, when hundreds of thousands of Iranians responded to a rally call from Mousavi and fellow opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi to march in support of popular uprisings in the Arab world. The march turned into an anti-government rally after government forces tried to violently quash the protests. Two people were killed, dozens were injured and thousands were arrested.
According to Kaleme, the guard kiosk at the entrance to Mousavi’s street is empty, and the spot where Mousavi’s personal guards used to stand next to his home is now occupied by security forces from an unidentified government institution.
A security van has blocked the entrance to the street, and all traffic is closely monitored. Eyewitnesses report that the passengers in the security van are masked.
Kalame notes that Mousavi and Rahnavard are left to eat food that’s being supplied by the security forces, which is cause for further concern.
Opposition websites report there has been no contact with Mousavi since February 15, and the security personnel now stationed within his home are preventing any unauthorized contact.
Yesterday Mousavi and Rahnavard’s daughters expressed concern for their parents’ well being, saying it is no longer possible to say with certainly if the two opposition leaders are in fact still in their home.
The head of Iran’s judiciary announced yesterday that the authorities will ensure that the opposition leaders will no longer be allowed to issue statements.
Today the head of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, echoed that announcement, telling worshippers at the Friday Mass prayers in Tehran that the opposition leaders must be cut off from all forms of communication.
Banooye Sabz translates from Kaleme, the website close to Mousavi, Calling by Green Media Outlets to Attend February 20th Nationwide Protests in Support of Martrys & Leaders of Green Movement:
February 18th, 2011 – Following the bloody crackdown and the killing of Green supporters by government agents during the demonstrations of February 14th, 2011 [held in support of the people of Egypt and Tunisia] and the calling by Green activists to commemorate the memory of the Green Martyrs killed on this day, the Green media outlets are also adding their voice to this calling, requesting the presence of the Green in the main squares and streets in cities across Iran.
The following Green websites have added their support to the calling to attend nationwide demonstrations: Avdar News, Emrooz, Tahavole Sabz, Taghir, Jaras, Daneshjoo News, Rasa (Green T.V. Station), Saham News, Mizaneh Khabar, Iran Green Voice and Norooz stating: “This Sunday February 20th, 2011, on the 7th day since the passing of our Green companions and in support of the two steadfast supporters of the Green movement we will gather in the main squares and streets across cities in Iran to once again roar our overwhelming presence in front of the blind eyes of the oppressors.”
The full content of this calling provided to Kalame is as follows:
The news of the overwhelming presence of the Green people of Iran during the demonstrations of February 14th, 2011 turned the cold winter days into spring, bringing tremors to the hands of those imposing a religious tyranny. People attended knowing very well that they would face the bullets and heavy hand of a ruling government that continues to ignore the cries of its oppressed citizens.
While honoring the widespread and passionate presence of the people of Iran in response to the calling by the Green leaders, with utmost respect for the courage and persistence of our fellow Green in their struggle for freedom and democracy, the Council of Green Websites hereby condemns the repression of the supporters of the Green movement that occurred at the hands of government agents on February 14th, 2011 [25 Bahman 1389].
The presence of millions of citizens in the February 14th demonstrations led to the fear and apprehension of the soulless authoritarians who once again opened fire on the youth of our Green land.
The martyrdom of Saneh Jaleh and Mohammad Mokhtari has been etched in the burning hearts of mothers and fathers who had pinned their hopes on the ideals of the Islamic revolution. Saneh Jaleh and Mohammad Mokhatari’s blood once again demonstrated the oppression and deception endured by the brave nation of Iran who continue to persevere in their effort to achieve freedom and democracy.
Those who unsuccessfully sought to rob the Green spirit of hope from the nation of Iran, etched the pure souls of our martyrs in history, for God always has the upper hand and is fully aware of their treachery. In these dark winter nights, many still desperately holding on to power took the people’s parliament hostage, boasting and scheming in their absence.
The Green spring of hope is near. On February 20th [1st of Esfand] we vow to stand firm once again with our martyrs and the leaders of the Green movement who have been forced into house arrest by the government, a government that remains dumbfounded by the perseverance and dignity of our movement despite their nightly attacks and daily hollers [against the leaders of the Green movement].
This Sunday February 20th, on the 7th day since the passing of our Green companions and in support of the two steadfast supporters of the Green movement we will again gather in the main squares and streets of cities across Iran, to once again roar our overwhelming presence in front of the blind eyes of the oppressors.
Signed by the following news and online media outlets: Advar News, Emrooz, Tahavole Sabz, Taghir, Jaras, Daneshjoo News, Rasa (Green T.V. Station), Saham News, Mizaneh Khabar, Iran Green Voice and Norooz
Iranian director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, talking to Shahram Homayoun of the Persian-language Channel 1 in L.A., expresses strong words against the Islamic Republic, says that just because we are having peaceful protests doesn’t mean we don’t have to try to take the guns and batons of the regime thugs away from them — people should defend themselves. He expresses that the regime is making bloody-revolution inevitable:
Video of a large crowd of people marching in the city of Ardakan in support of the former President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami. Ardakan is Khatami’s home city:
Hero of 25 Bahman identified: As we were live-blogging on 25 Bahman (February 14) in anticipation of the planned protests that day, one of the first reports we received of a protester in action was about someone on top of a crane, waving a green flag and carrying pictures of martyred green protesters.
The person has been identified as Akbar Amini, <“http://www.onlydemocracy4iran.com/2011/02/18/hero-of-bahman-25-identified-akbar-amini-at-risk-of-execution/”>has been arrested, and is at risk of being sentenced to execution for “warring against God”.
A newly released cable from Wikileaks, from 2007, reveals that Ahmadinejad is not welcome in Saudi Arabia:
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMK #1012 3111215
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 071215Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7385
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T MANAMA 001012
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/07/2017
TAGS: PREL IR BA
SUBJECT: AHMEDINEJAD TO VISIT BAHRAIN IN LATE NOVEMBER
Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(U) The Iranian Ambassador in Manama told local media that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad will pay an official visit to Bahrain later this month, after he attends the OPEC Summit in Riyadh on November 17 and 18.
2.(S) The press reports track with what Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa told us during the Gulf Security Dialogue (GSD) discussions on November 1, to the effect that Ahmedinejad was making plans to visit Saudi Arabia and Bahrain soon. The Crown Prince said he would prefer that the visit not take place, but that saying no was difficult. In the event the visit were to go forward, the Crown Prince said that the GOB control it tightly in order to deny Ahmedinejad any public relations benefit. He stated that the GOB would ensure that Ahmedinejad’s plane would land at an isolated military facility on the southern end of the island and that his meetings would take place outside of Manama.
3.(C) We expect to get a readout of the visit and will report then. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama’s Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** ERELI
Political Prisoner Watch
RAHANA reports on at least 13 people were arrested in Babol during the 25 Bahman protests (Monday, February 14), with some transferred to the Mati Kala Prison and the Quarantine Ward.
The wife of Canadian Iranian, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, held in Evin prison on death row for espionage charges is appealing to the Canadian government for help
“I’m out of my mind with worry,” said Antonella Mega, wife of Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, who is awaiting death in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison on spying charges.
It is thought that Ghassemi-Shall was arrested because of his brothers sympathy for the opposition movement in Iran. With Iran executing, on average, one person every eight hours, Ghassemi-Shall is at serious risk of execution.
Arshama3 posted the following must see video of the Mehrvarzan women’s quartet performing classical Iranian music:
Persian Banoo reports that Azad university students from various cities have issued a statement in support of the protest call for 1 Esfand, (February 20).
EA WorldView provides an analysis on the opposition’s response to the regimes hatred.
The New Yorker has published a must-read piece, Marching In Tehran, written by a Tehrani that wishes to remain anonymous. The writer talks about how some thought the turnout for the 25 Bahman protest (on Valentine’s day in Iran) would be poor, they were shocked at the actual turnout:
Reza, a fellow marcher, a man in his forties, told me that until recently he had thought the Supreme Leader would be politically astute, and call for a new election so as to get rid of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “But now I think we have crossed the red line; the whole regime should go,” he said. “The Supreme Leader committed a historic blunder by putting all his weight behind Ahmadinejad. Seyyed Ali Khamenei must go after Ben Ali and Mubarak.” Reza added that the night before, people in the apartment buildings around his, in an affluent part of north Tehran, had begun shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) at 10 P.M. The chants had gone on for twenty minutes. They had done it as a prologue to the demonstration and to show their support for the Tunisians and Egyptians. “This shows that the Green Movement is still viable and that the claims of its death by the hardliners are wrong,” Reza said.
Another 25 Bahman Video
MUST SEE EXTENDED VIDEO: Clashes in Iran on 25 Bahman (Monday, Feb 14.)