This is a live-blog report of events in Iran on February 21, 2011. The majority of the reports in this blog are sourced via social media. With regards to the videos and images in this live-blog, we are not affiliated with the people or groups that produced them and the posting of the content by us is not necessarily an endorsement of the content or views expressed within it. The timestamps associated with the updates are when we posted the updates and not necessarily correlated in time with when the events occurred. In order to follow this report in chronological order, it must be read from the bottom up. The newest entries will be at the top.
Regime Atrocity Watch
More protesters were killed by the regime during the 1 Esfand protest. One was apparently thrown off a bridge by regime thugs. His name is Hamed Nour-Mohammadi. The students of Shiraz University have announced a week of mourning for him.
The other was apparently shot in Haft-Tir Square. We do not have their name yet.
Homy Lafayette writes about Nour-Mohammadi:
Hamed Nour-Mohammadi, a fourth-year biology student at Shiraz University, was thrown off Namazi Bridge in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, eyewitnesses said.
Apparently the regime news site, Fars News has tried to spin a story that Nour-Mohamaddi was killed in an accident. Homy Lafayette writes:
The semi-official Fars News, close to the IRGC, reported that Nour-Mohammadi was not a protester and that he had died as a result of being run over by a car in a banal road accident.
I came across the following comment on Radio Farda’s web site (I’ve translated it from the original Farsi):
I am a friend of Hamed and come from the same town
Hamed is from Alashtar (NB also in Lorestan province), not Khorramabad
As I’m writing this, I can’t even see the computer screen through my tears
My hand is trembling
You mean Hamed?
They killed our Hamed
Hamed I salute you
I salute your sense of honor
Hamed was a true Green
a true patriot
he loved the sunset over Persepolis
That’s why he chose Shiraz University (NB Shiraz is close to the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis)
My Hamed, your friends and I will continue on your path
I can’t believe it
Just a week ago you said, I’m off to Shiraz, let me take a photo of you.
International News and Foreign Relations Watch
CNN reports that Iranian warships are expected to pass through the Suez Canal on Tuesday, the first time since the 1979 revolution.
Opposition Watch / Arrests and Political Prisoner Watch
There are reports that Ali Karroubi, the son of opposition figure, Mehdi Karroubi has been arrested. Persian Banoo reports that state media has reported on the arrest whereas opposition media had not (at least at the time she made that report).
A note has been posted to the Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi describing the barbaric attack on Karroubi’s residence:
Close to thirty “state thugs” have attacked the residence of Mahdi Karroubi in complete coordination with Intelligence Ministry agents responsible for keeping the opposition leader under house arrest.
According to Sahamn News, the official website of Karroubi’s National Trust Party, on Monday between 1-2am local time, state-sponsored hooligans gathered outside the home of the former parliament speaker and chanted “Seyed Ali mirazmad, Karroubi milarzad” (“Seyed Ali [Khamenei] fights, Karroubi shivers”). Khamenei’s goons also smashed the windows of Karroubi’s home and threw sound grenades into the complex.
Saham News also reports that police forces were not present at the scene and Intelligence Ministry’s agents charged with maintaining Karroubi under house arrest had temporarily left the scene for the state-thugs to cause maximum terror and havoc in the neighbourhood, causing Mr Karroubi’s shocked neighbours to came out onto the street to witness what had happened. Khamenei’s supporters then started threatening and insulting the neighbours.
An eyewitness told Saham News that when one of the women at the scene attempted to take pictures of the assailants, she was beaten up and the pro-government forces tried to take her away but were unable to do so after the intervention of locals.
In the end, the thugs stated very clearly that they were carrying out the orders of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and were awaiting his orders to decapitate and hang the Green Movement leader and his wife Fatemeh Karroubi.
For thirteen days now, Mahdi Karroubi and his wife have been under full house arrest and there is currently no news about the couple’s well-being following last night’s attacks.
English translation by GVF
Here is a BBC Persian report virtual house arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi:
Iranian Born Grand Ayatollah Sistani, living in Iraq, has Grand declared that the people have a right to demonstrate. Lissnup tweets Sistani’s statement:
Demonstrations are guaranteed right for all citizens, but there must be no bloodshed, or attack on properties, public or private.
It is not clear if his statement meant all people, including Iranians.
Another Grand Ayatollah, Vahid Khorasani, has criticized the regime’s excessive use of imprisonment.
Singer and composer, Afshin Tahery has been arrested by the regime.
Rahesabz reports that, apparently some of the Basij are frustrated that they can not easily discern green protesters from passersby.
Peyke Iran reports on a theatening letter from Sharif University Basijis to students and lecturers.
Our colleague from Dissected News, has written a quick note about yesterdays protests:
For over a year, the media, the Iranian regime, and their supporters abroad, have said that the opposition movement in Iran was dead. On Monday, February 14th (25 Bahman), Tehran saw its biggest protests since the summer of 2009, with many cities across the nation reporting protests as well. On Sunday, February 20th (1 Esfand), the opposition in Tehran rallied their second largest crowd since 2009, and protests in other cities were larger and more widespread than we’ve seen in well over a year. For a year, those who follow the news in Iran every day have been saying that under the surface dissent was still simmering, just waiting for an opportunity to show its face.
We were right, they were wrong. The opposition movement in Iran is not going anywhere.
Iranian blogger, Persian Umpire, has written a must read account of his experience during the 25 Bahman (February 14) protests: My Funny Valentine.
RFE/RL has under their Persian Letters section: ‘They’ve Put Batons Instead Of Books In The Hands Of People’s Children’. An excerpt:
Around 3 p.m., two friends and I started walking from Haft-e Tiro Square toward Vali Asr square. Basij forces and [riot police] were everywhere. Their number was increasing as we got closer to Enghelab square. Around Enghelab Square, Basij forces had occupied all the sidewalks; they were looking at us with hatred and mocking us. Some of them were filming the crowd with their video cameras. One of them said to the others, “Look at them, they think we’re stupid and we don’t know they came here for the demonstration. All of them should get killed.” I looked at him. Another one said, “Move! What are you looking at?” I saw on the other side a special forces van where 13- or 14-year-old kids were picking up their batons or cables. One of them said something and the other laughed. My friend said, “They’re training killers.”
Joanne Michelle has posted the following great cartoon, capturing the hypocrisy of Khamenei:
Peyke Iran reports that VOA was attacked by the Iranian Cyber Army. VOA is Voice of America, a U.S. government-funded media organization with a popular Farsi language unit. The Iranian Cyber Army is a group linked to the Iranian government that was responsible for “hacking” Twitter and several opposition websites, as well as a popular Chinese search engine. Joanne Michele has posted a of the attack:
A couple more videos from the 1 Esfand (February 21) street protests and clashes in Iran:
Brave girl saves male friend from arrest in Shiraz:
Bonfire in street from burning trash – people honking in support
Yesterday, the head of the Iranian consolate in Milan, Italy, Ahmad Malaki, resigned, expressing solidarity with the Green Movement. He has spoken to RFE/RL:
He told RFE/RL there are “many others in the [Iranian Foreign Ministry] who are unhappy with the government.”
Maleki said he was initially upset by the conduct of the 2009 presidential election — which the opposition says was rigged — and by the regime’s actions against the protesters afterward, but he said that recent harsh measures against the Green Movement finally persuaded him to “join hands with the nation.”
Maleki said his resignation and that of the other Iranian diplomats has “a positive effect as the first step against suppression.” He expressed optimism for the opposition, saying: “following recent incidents in Iran and people [leaving the Foreign Ministry], the upcoming events will take us toward victory.”
On February 20 (1 Esfand in Iran), the same day that Iranians turned out in the tens of thousands to protest against his Islamic dictatorship, Khamenei told a gathering of Shi’ite and Sunni scholars at an international conference on Islam that “The enemies try to say that the popular movements in Egypt, Tunisia, and other nations are un-Islamic, but certainly these popular movements are Islamic and must be consolidated.”
The picture of Khamenei with a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (in the RFE/RL piece) should give everyone–and I mean everyone–pause:
The statement he made, and the fact that he was addressing both Shi’ite and Sunni “scholars” is drenched in irony and hyprocrisy, on a number of levels.
The notion that the uprisings are Islamic in nature should be taken with a mountain of salt. Before Mubarak had fallen in Egypt, Khamenei attempted to make this connection, only to be rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood
While there are similarities between the 1979 revolution in Iran and the 2011 revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia (and now possibly Libya) the similarity ends only at the point where the dictatorship was toppled by popular uprisings. In Iran, this popular uprising was hijacked by the most virulent, hostile, backwards, reactionary and ruthless force to remain after the Shah left–terrorists who turned a movement seeking freedom, human rights and civil liberties into a modern day Shi’ite Inquisition.
The regime murdered its opponents with ruthless abandon, and has relied on fear and mayhem to keep itself in power for 32 years.
The people of Iran rose up once more after the 2009 presidential election. The regime went out of its way to try to suppress the uprising — and it probably would have gotten away with it had it not been completely surprised by a combination of the will-power of the people, their resourcefulness and the combination of technologies that allowed them to blow a huge hole in the iron wall that the regime has managed to put between the people and the rest of the world in the spheres of media and communications. In other words, the regime was no longer able to monopolize the story of Iran, and the portrayal of the will of the Iranian people to the world.
Everyone knows the story now. Everyone knows that the people of Iran want to be rid of this regime.
But the regime partook in, and sabotaged a revolution. It was born through the use of force, through lies, and through subterfuge. That is all it knows.
This means it knows what the missteps are with respect to the actions of the party in power when an uprising is underway. Hence, the media blackouts, the wholesale arrests of protesters, civil rights and human rights activists and attorneys, the rapes, beatings, killings, hostage-takings, propaganda and unadeltered tyranny.
The regime has mastered the art of using a combination of lethal brutality and terror, without having to gun down hundreds or thousands of people at at time.
It’s fine balancing act in todays times however–as the news of what they do gets out now, no matter how hard they try to stop it.
So long as the story makes it into the media and into the global consciousness, the regime is in trouble.
The similarities between the 1979 revolution in Iran, and the 2011 revolutions in the Arab world stop at the point of departure of the dictatorships.
The 2011 revolutions in the Arab world got their inspiration not from the 1979 revolution, but from the 2009 uprising in Iran. The people used the same techniques, and the same technologies as the people in Iran to organize their protests. But where the Egyptians and Tunisians were successful, the Iranians have not yet been, because in Iran, the power structures are diffuse, the organs of violence are ideologically linked to the morally bankrupt regime, and the people face a far more cunning, calculating menace–one that understands that any concession will lead to demands for further concessions.
While we believe Iran is on a trajectory towards ridding itself its current government, both in terms of composition and form, we have to acknowledge that the task at hand is much more difficult.
Khamenei sees himself as the representative of God on earth and the leader of all Muslims (read a report we wrote on Khamenei in our series, Iran’s Power Brokers, for an idea of the level of megalomania that he suffers from). His comment about consolidating the movements in the region is completely for selfish reasons. He is the penultimate hypocrite, especially when he sits with Sunni Muslims and talks about doing anything in unison with them at all.
The people of the region, their leaders, and indeed the world should be extremely vigilant about his and the regime’s aims. They will not sit idly by and let the middle east turn into an oasis of democracy and freedoms.
Their recent attempts to send warships thru the Suez should be interpreted as their upping of the ante in the region. It is both a distraction from their own crisis at home, and an attempt to turn the narrative in their own favor.
This regime will not bat an eye if a war gets started in the middle east that leads to the death of millions. They kept the Iran-Iraq war going for years, with the cost in deaths alone being in the hundreds of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis.
Their survival resides in perpetual crisis. They sabotaged the Iranian revolution in 1979. They will attempt to sabotage the movements for freedom and democracy in 2011.
Due to a shortage of resources today, we will be playing catch-up with updates. Expect a large update in a few hours.
For now, here is a poignant analysis of the significance of the 1 Esfand (February 20th) protests, by Setareh Sabety in Huffington Post. Here is an excerpt:
According to opposition websites and eye witness accounts,on Sunday morning there was a massive deployment of security forces and Bassij militia throughout Tehran. But despite the intimidations of the past days and the tense security atmosphere in Tehran, large number of protesters showed up in the streets of Tehran and some other cities like, Shiraz (where one person was allegedly killed and fifty were arrested according to human rights groups), Isfahan, and Rasht.
The numbers are difficult to ascertain in Iran where all but state-approved reporters are banned, but most agree that in Tehran the protesters were in the thousands spread out in different spots of the city. The clamp down was brutal, with the use of motorcycle forces with clubs, security forces shooting tear gas canisters and vans ready to take away the many arrested. There was one reported death at 7th Tir Sq. and many injured and arrested in Tehran. The arrest, for a brief period, of Faezeh Hashemi, the former president Rafsanjani’s daughter, according to state run media for leading crowds with ‘provocative’ chants, gave the day an added stature showing that the protest may be as broad in scope as it had been in 2009 when Faezeh Hashemi was first harassed for her vocal criticism of ‘vote rigging’ by the government. On days when going out on the street bear terrible risk anyone who joins the protest aquires revolutionary stature. If Mousavi and Karoubi were loyal reformist opposition before 25th Bahman, there is no doubt that their call for protest and subsquent house arrest has turned them into revolutionaries.
We expect news coming from Iran to be slow today as it is a public holiday in Iran.
Our updates will be somewhat sparse as we juggle several obligations, so let’s not waste any time and get right into it.
After show of opposition with people in the streets to commemorate the killings of Saneh Jaleh and Mohammad Mokhti, and of course to protest against the regime responsibile for them — with estimates ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of protesters, and confirmation of protests in Esfahan, Shiraz, Mashad, Tabriz, Tehran and several other big Iranian cities — with people chanting “death to Khamenei” and “Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic!” — the regime is trying to claim that nothing happened on 1 Esfand, and now is trying to present a unified front to the world.
Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, managed to muster the clan of henchman, the Larijani duo of Sadegh and Ali (head of the Judiciary and head of Parliament, respectively), former President Rafansani, and current President Ahmadinejad, together for a photo op and a speech, in which he continued to spin the uprisings in the Arab world as “Islamic”, and as an indication of the waning of U.S. influence in the region.
This is all while the various factions that these men represent jockey for position amidst the turmoil and chaos within Iran’s political system at the moment. Here is a picture of the gang together from Mehr News: