Friday, November 27, 2009

New video shows censored portions of Abtahi's confession

A new video of a jailed opposition figure's confessions was released by a group close to the Islamic regime in mid-November, but the footage went unnoticed until it was posted by a former reformist legislator on Wednesday. (video and translation at the end of this report)

Akbar Alami, representative from Tabriz in the past two legislatures, posted the footage of Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a former vice president in the government of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, on his personal web site. The new video, initially released by the hardliner group Bachehayeh Ghalam, appears to show segments of Abtahi's court confession which were censored from the state radio-television's extensive coverage.

Abtahi, a senior aide to opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi and a member of the reformist Association of Combatant Clerics, was arrested shortly after the disputed election of June 12. He was among the dozens of personalities who were brought before a show trial at the beginning of August.

Abtahi made what was widely believed to be a coerced confession in court. On August 2, he and Mohammad Atrianfar, a senior member of the Executives of Construction party close to Assembly of Experts head Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, appeared in a televised 'news conference' and again admitted to their supposed transgressions and denied that they had been tortured or fed psychotropic drugs in prison. (A translation of the transcript of an Iranian state radio program on the August 2 'news conference' can be read on Juan Cole's blog.)

Abtahi was sentenced to six years in prison and released on bail of 700 million toumans (about $700,000) on Sunday, November 22.

The reasons for the circulation of the new footage at this particular moment are uncertain, but former Tabriz representative Akbar Alami's critical tone on his blog towards Abtahi and the enormous number of comments it has provoked indicates that at least one consequence has been a rift among some reformists.

'During the time Mr. Abtahi spent in prison, he accused a number of individuals and groups of deviation and committing distasteful and illegal activities,' says Alami on his blog. 'Now that he is outside prison and has access to the media and his own web site, public opinion expects him to clearly express his official and honest position on the comments he made while incarcerated.'

Many users criticized Alami for his unflinching stand and said that some individuals, like Abtahi, had succumbed to pressure in prison. Alami responded, 'Dear friend, in politics they don't only hand out sweets. A person who seeks to become a fighter must also accept threats and pressure, as Khosro Golesorkhi did.' (NB Golesorkhi was a Communist activist who was executed by the Shah's government in 1974. He refused to repent during his trial, an act which would have saved his life. When the judge told him to present his final defense, he said, 'I have nothing to say in my defense. I can only speak in defense of my people.' the following is a video of that trial, which was televised:)

Alami continued, 'They've set up five serious court cases against me for insulting sanctities, the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij... Should I, because of these threats, stop writing and speaking about justice and start flattering the authorities and justify their actions and deny my own beliefs and insult other people? I just want to know what happened in prison and whether the confessions of Abtahi and Shariati and Hajjarian and Atrianfar were voiced out of conviction.'

In another response to a comment, Alami points out that some jailed figures such as Behzad Nabavi and Mostafa Tajzadeh, senior members of the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, have not implicated anyone in the show trials.

Alami was disqualified by the Guardian Council from running in the 2008 legislative elections. According to Rooz online, one of Alami's serious transgressions was a speech he made in Zanjan in 2007. In that address, Alami had said, 'Imam Hussein can form a cabinet too, but because I have taken an oath to ‎defend the rights of the people and the nation’s interests, if I determine that the Imam’s ‎cabinet has undermined the Constitution, I will impeach that Imam’s cabinet.'

Some of the information from the new footage, particularly Abtahi's account of an alleged meeting between opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, Khatami, and Rafsanjani on June 13, had already been revealed by dailies and news services close to the regime at the time of the show trials.

'Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Mr. Khatami held a joint meeting on the Saturday right after the election,' says Abtahi in the video. 'That day, the group established a very strong support front for Mr. Mousavi.'

However, it is primarily the new information in the videotaped confession that may provide the most concrete clues as to the source of the footage and the motives for its release.

Abtahi clearly states that Mousavi began opposing the regime out of ignorance. 'Mr. Mousavi really had no idea about what was going on in the country,' says Abtahi. This places Mousavi in a much more lenient light than Khatami and Rafsanjani who are accused respectively of being treacherous and vengeful.

A number of senior conservative figures within in the regime, including former Majlis Speaker and Khamenei confidant Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, have been working on a plan to re-establish 'national unity' between conservatives and reformists in order to resolve the post-election crisis. They have strived to isolate and neutralize 'extreme elements' on both sides of the equation -- people like former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi on the right and Ayatollah Youssef Saanei among the reformists -- as they try to provide Mousavi with a face-saving way to come in from the cold. Branding Mousavi as a sheep who has strayed from the flock may be their misguided attempt to achieve this. These efforts have failed miserably thus far.

Ayatollah Saanei, an extremely vocal critic of the regime, is incidentally mentioned in Abtahi's truncated confessions which implicate not only reformist clerics in the Ghom seminaries, but also the Association of Combatant Clerics which is close to Khatami and Etemad Melli party chief Mehdi Karroubi.

But the veiled warnings do not stop there. Rafsanjani is roundly accused by Abtahi of being one of the masterminds behind the plot for the 'soft overthrow' of the regime. As the head of the Assembly of Experts, he is one of the few men in Iran who has the nominal power to replace Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Rafsanjani is widely believed to have met with other members of the Assembly of Experts after the post-election unrest to at least discuss the possible dismissal of Khamenei.

It is interesting to note that the only other person to be accused in the new footage is Majid Ansari, a member of the Assembly of Experts.


Video and translation:

The following is a translation of Mohammad Ali Abtahi's statements on the new footage(To download the video from Akbar Alami's web site, click here.):

Mohammad Ali Abtahi:
He (NB opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi) also made the false assumption that he was a part of the regime, the revolution, and the line of the Imam (NB Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini), and because he thought he was a part of the regime, the revolution, and the line of the Imam, he had no hesitation to say among some friends that he was closer to the Imam than even the Supreme Leader (NB Ayatollah Ali Khamenei). Whereas we often joked in our meetings that if it weren't for the Imam's daily intercessions while he was Prime Minister (NB Mousavi was prime minister from 1981 to 1989), he would not have been able to run the country's everyday affairs and that it was the Imam's daily support that allowed him to carry out everyday tasks. He thought that the line of the Imam was his own personal property and that, under this banner, he could garner the votes of the people who felt close to the Imam.
[Tape is cut] of them was a a joint meeting held by Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani (NB head of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council), and Mr. Khatami (NB former reformist President Mohammad Khatami) on the Saturday right after the election (NB June 13). That day, the group established a very strong support front for Mr. Mousavi. Then, from that same place, a message was dispatched to the [holy city of] Ghom seminaries, saying, If you also support us, it will be very significant in the current circumstances. Some marajeh (NB sources of emulation or very senior clerics) from the Ghom seminaries... Ayatollah Saanei... declared, If you ask us, we will extend our support. They sent a letter to Ayatollah Saanei and other marajeh in order to get the support of the Ghom seminaries. The Association of Combatant Clerics held a meeting that afternoon and called for the annulment of the election... an election in which 40 million ballots had been cast... they called for the annulment of the election. That was another serious false assumption by Mr. Mousavi, who thought that these groups supported him because of Mr. Mousavi himself, his views, or his statements, whereas they did not abandon Mr. Mousavi because of their own interests. I believe... and I apologize to the two or three people that I'm about to name. I do not intend to insult them. I'm just saying this because I believe it... Mr. Mousavi got into this situation out of ignorance. Mr. Khatami got into it because of betrayal. Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani got into it out of revenge. Mr. Mousavi really had no idea about what was going on in the country, that's why I say out of ignorance. Mr. Khatami, on the contrary, knew full well about the authority of the government, the regime, the authority of the security forces, the judiciary... the spiritual authority of the Imam in the country... He knew about all of this, and yet because he wanted to take revenge for his own defeat in that situation where he had given his support to Mr. Mousavi, he induced Mr. Mousavi to beat that drum. And I believe that Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani wanted to take revenge on Mr. Ahmadinejad because of the clashes he had with him over the past few years and, also in a way, to take revenge on the Supreme Leader... revenge indirectly on the Supreme Leader and directly on Mr. Ahmadinejad. These were the reasons for those developments. Their support was not, as Mr. Mousavi thought, really the kind of support--
[Tape is cut] the elections, I really underline the strength, determination, and the actions of Mr. Rafsanjani and the Executives of Construction party (NB close to Rafsanjani). The Executives and Mr. Rafsanjani had broad political and financial means. For Mr. Rafsanjani, rivalry with Mr. Ahmadinejad and getting rid of him were... principles that if he could get to this principle in any way possible, he worked towards that end. I... ummm... see the movements of the Executives and Mr. Rafsanjani as significant movements.
[Tape is cut]
I was at that the meeting of the Association of Combatant Clerics which is affiliated with the Imam and whose members are all clerics. Mr. Majid Ansari was there.. I don't know if they'll broadcast this or not, but it's an interesting point... Mr. Majid Ansari was there and he's a member of the Expediency Council (NB and the Assembly of Experts) and a member of the Imam's office. He sought to quickly release a statement in support of Mr. Mousavi that very Saturday. He said, We'll put this on the Association's web site right away, then two minutes later it will be on Ghalam News, which was a site that belonged to Mr. Mousavi and was run by one of his supporters. We asked, What happens next? He said, From Ghalam News it will go on the BBC's ticker tape three minutes later. Meaning that it would take that path with that speed...

'Who's on first?': Ahmadinejad-Chavez press conference turns into farce

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, self-professed religious millenarian, and Hugo Chavez, Socialist atheist, share a few moments of confusion as they try to sort out the difference between Imam Mahdi, the 12th Imam and Messiah of Shiites, and Imam Reza, the 8th Imam who is buried in the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, Iran. Ahmadinejad invited Chavez to come on a pilgrimage to Mashhad.

The rest, as they say, is comedic history...

(For those unfamiliar with the 'Who's on first?' reference, click here)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dead protester's mother wants answers: Sohrab Aarabi's mother Parvin Fahimi says she cannot remain silent

A dead protester's mother says in a videotaped statement that she is still haunted by key questions more than four months after her son was killed. (video and translation at the end of this report)

Sohrab Aarabi disappeared on June 15, 2009, a particularly deadly day for protesters in the streets of Tehran. He was 19. His mother Parvin Fahimi sought him for 26 agonizing days, before the authorities told her to retrieve his body at the morgue on July 11.

(The following video provides a summary of Sohrab Aarabi's story)

Fahimi has called for the killer of her son to be identified and brought to justice, but her latest statement shows that the authorities have denied her even the most elementary information.

'I want to know where he died. No one has answered this question yet,' Fahimi says in the new video. 'Was he killed in prison? Was he killed on the streets?'

The exact circumstances and time of Sohrab's death have never been revealed by the Islamic regime, although tantalizing clues and facts have emerged. One crucial document is the coroner's report which indicates that Sohrab's body was delivered to the morgue on June 19. The identity or function of the individuals who brought the body to the morgue were not given.

'If he was killed on June 15, where was he during those four days?' Fahimi asks.

In the months following Sohrab's death, the 53-year-old mother's determination to obtain the truth and her refusal to be cowed into silence have turned her into an iconic figure of the opposition. She has participated in mass rallies and given numerous interviews, particularly to the foreign Farsi-language outlets which are anathema to the regime.

The following footage shows her during the Ghods Day protests on September 18. The crowd around her takes up the chant, 'Sohrab has not died. It is the government that is dead.'

In early October, she told the Voice of America that Sohrab had been shot from a distance of 'three to 15 meters by a Kalashnikov,' according to information garnered by her lawyer.

'His arms were lowered. They shot him in such a way that the bullet broke his left arm, passed under his heart, and punctured his lung. But it is unclear whether they took him to a hospital or not,' she told Radio Farda around the same time.

Asked whether she now thought that her son had died in vain, she responded, 'No. He went out for his beliefs and these children will always live on.' (For videos and report on those interviews, go here)


Fahimi's latest statement:

Parvin Fahimi:
A key question for me is, Where was Sohrab killed? And no one has responded to this question yet. I want to know where Sohrab was killed. Was he killed in prison? Was he killed in the street? And where was he during those few days? Especially those four days. In the coroner's letter, they wrote that he was delivered on June 19. Where was he during those four days? If he was killed on June 15, where was my child during those four days? Did they take care of him or did they not? What did my child ask for, what did he say? They haven't given back his personal belongings. None of his personal belongings have been returned. One of our friends dreamt that Sohrab was looking for his shoes. These things hurt me, pain me. I can't remain silent.

Friday, November 20, 2009

News briefs - Friday 20 November 2009

  • The Islamic regime has vowed that 7 million Basijis will rally on Friday, November 27, 2009, on the occasion of Basij Week. No official routes have been announced for the day's marches. This follows reports that over 30,000 Basij militiamen were bused into Tehran and paid 400,000 toumans each to counter anti-regime protesters on November 4. This plan was allegedly hatched by the new commander of the Basij, IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, and cost $14 million.

  • Some mobile telephone owners have been randomly receiving SMS messages warning them to stay away from political demonstrations, according to Tabnak news site, close to former Revolutionary Guards commander and presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaee. Such messages were also dispatched prior to the November 4 protest rallies across the country. The regime appears concerned by opposition plans to organize mass rallies on December 7. The text of the latest message: 'You have been identified as a participant in post-election gatherings and must refrain from such participation from now on.' One such message landed on the mobile telephone of a bakery worker in Khuzestan province. The man told Tabnak's reporter, 'I haven't been to Tehran in years.'

  • And if you missed the SMS message, Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei voiced his own warning about December 7 at a press conference yesterday. 'The judiciary is determined to firmly deal with any new unrest on the part of those protesting the results of the presidential election,' Mohseni Ejei said. 'Any action that disturbs the regime will be confronted without any restraint and no excuse will be acceptable.'

  • Rooz news site has obtained email correspondence between deceased Kahrizak witness Ramin Pourandarjani and two of his friends days before his suspicious death. Pourandarjani reportedly told one of his friends that he had met with two intelligence agents from Leader Ali Khamenei's office. The men had asked the young doctor to reveal everything he knew about the Kahrizak atrocities for a report that they were preparing for Khamenei. A day later, Pourandarjani had started receiving telephone threats. Several days later, he was summoned by the judiciary once again.

  • Amir Ali Soltan, a member of Mir Hossein Mousavi's presidential campaign staff, was arrested yesterday.

  • Two Shiraz University students were arrested on Tuesday with the complicity of university officials. Neda Eskandari and Khadijeh Ghahremani had been summoned before the university's disciplinary committee for having participated in the November 4 protest rallies. They were arrested by intelligence agents when they arrived for the committee hearing.

  • The Supreme Audit Court reported to the energy committee of the Majlis that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government had failed to transfer $1 billion in revenue from gas and oil sales to the country's treasury. The sum was to have been transferred by the Oil Ministry. Instead of demanding answers from the government, 65 legislators have responded with a bill limiting the Audit Court's powers and its ability to communicate information.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Iran Problem: Hoover Institution discussion with Robert Baer and Victor Hanson

On October 20, 2009, former CIA case officer Robert Baer and war historian Victor Hanson sat down with the Hoover Institution's Peter Robinson for an episode of Uncommon Knowledge starkly titled 'The Iran Problem.' The program revolved around recent events in Iran, the country's nuclear program, and possible outcomes of the nuclear crisis.

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, one of the preeminent think tanks in the United States, is based at Stanford University.

The program's inclusion in this bog should in no way be interpreted as an endorsement. I find some assertions by the participants to be questionable.

Baer's latest book, 'The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower,' was published in 2008.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'Eternal is the one whose heart has awakened to love...': Dead Kahrizak witness's speech at graduation ceremony

Ramin Pourandarjani, a medical doctor who worked at the notorious Kahrizak detention center died under suspicious circumstances at the age of 26 on Tuesday, November 10, according to Iranian media reports. He had been called as a witness before the special committee investigating the abuse and deaths of post-election protesters and had refused to validate the regime's attempts to whitewash the atrocities. (For a report on Pourandarjani's death, updated at 12:00 PM GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009, go here)

A new video posted on the Internet shows Pourandarjani giving a speech at his medical school's graduation ceremony last year. His youthful idealism and words of farewell take on a new poignant meaning, given his untimely death. A translation of his speech follows the video.

Rest in peace.

Ramin Pourandarjani:

In the name of God. Greetings.

I'm speaking on behalf of all the friends (NB Pourandarjani uses the word bacheha, literally 'kids,' which is a term of endearment referring to friends and peers.) who are present here today to celebrate their graduation in the company of their families, friends, and professors.

I must start by welcoming our dear guests. I begin with our inestimable professors who have gone to the trouble of coming to this celebration where, as a result of their hard work, we will spread our wings and take flight for the first time. Their presence strengthens our hearts. We kiss your hands and will forever cherish your efforts.

Next, I would like to welcome our honorable mothers and fathers who have gone to the trouble of coming here from Tabriz and other parts of Iran. (NB Pourandarjani was buried in Tabriz on Thursday, November 12) We cannot repay you for your efforts. We only hope that we will bring you pride and not shame.

My next remarks are directed at the kids. Kids, seven years have gone by, more or less. We have shared many, many memories over the course of these seven years, some bitter, some sweet. Memories that are perhaps difficult to understand for someone who has not been a medical student. From running in the hallways to delay a biochemistry exam, to the exhausting shifts in the emergency rooms. We've had so many memories.

And now the day of farewell has arrived. Farewell is a bitter word, but we've come together to bid each other a sweet goodbye.

Kids, the emergency room shifts were tough, the shifts as interns were tough. We were sometimes so exhausted. We used to chat with each other. One of the kids said, What did we get ourselves into? And then a long debate would be launched, at the end of which we would reach the conclusion that if we turned back the clocks a thousand times, we would still make the same choice that we made seven years ago.

Kids, we are the heirs of great individuals. Men such as Rhazes, Hippocrates, Avicenna, and Hakim Jorjani. From the start of human history, a great and sacred spirit has been passed down through these celebrated figures to us, in the form of our white coats. Our professors, who are present here, awakened this spirit in our hearts.

And kids, we are here today to say that we will continue on our path, with love.

O wine-bearer brighten my cup with the wine,
O minstrel say good fortune is now mine.
The face of my Beloved is reflected in my cup,
Little you know why with wine, I always myself align.
Eternal is the one whose heart has awakened to Love,
This is how Eternal Records my life define.

(NB The start of ghazal number 11, by the beloved Hafez, 1315-1390. Translation courtesy of Shahriar Shahriari.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Suicide, heart attack or something more sinister: Young doctor at Kahrizak detention center dies at 26

(updated 12:00 PM GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009)

A medical doctor who worked at the notorious Kahrizak detention center died in his sleep at the age of 26 on Tuesday, November 10, according to Iranian media reports.

Ramin Pourandarjani was fulfilling his military service obligations by serving as a physician for Greater Tehran's police force at the Kahrizak detention center prior to his death. Peyke Iran published what it claimed was Pourandarjani's Facebook photo.

Pourandarjani had been called as a witness before the special committee investigating the abuse and deaths of post-election protesters.   

The exact cause of his death is in dispute. Norooz initially reported that Pourandarjani had taken his own life, but on Sunday Roshangari news site published a story at odds with the suicide scenario.

According to Roshangari, Dr. Pourandarjani passed away in the early hours of Tuesday at the dormitory of the police health services building in Tehran. His family was informed that the cause of death was a heart attack.

The atrocities committed against jailed protesters at Kahrizak detention center were so egregious that Leader Ali Khamenei had to order its closure in late July. It is unclear whether the makeshift prison has been shut down or not.

Pourandarjani had examined several abuse victims at Kahrizak, including Mohsen Rouholamini, 25, whom he had seen two days before his death. Rouholamini's murder by torture, which took place sometime around July 10, provoked an outcry even among conservatives because he is the son of a senior aide to former IRGC head and presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaee.

Pourandarjani allegedly refused to attribute Rouholamini's death to meningitis, as the regime and Health Minister Kamran Lankarani had insisted, and was arrested for a week in late July. He was released on bail after the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was repeated blows to Rouholamini's head.

Pourandarjani had been questioned since his release by the internal investigations unit of NAJA (nirouyeh entezamiyeh jomhourieh eslami or the Security/Police Forces of the Islamic Republic), the military authorities, and the disciplinary council of the medical examiner's office. But the doctor, who had intimate knowledge of the atrocities and perpatrators at Kahrizak, was also put under pressure and threatened by plainclothes forces, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi news site.

His body was washed and placed in a shroud without the presence of his family. His remains were transferred to Tabriz, where he was buried on Thursday.

The special committee's investigation into the abuses at Kahrizak has been dogged by delays and hurdles. (For a report on this, click here)

While none of the actual perpetrators of the torture, rape, and murder that took place at Kahrizak have been formally identified, Pourandarjani was charged with medical malpractice and risked being sent to prison for five years and having his license revoked.

There is a history of inconvenient witnesses passing away in the Islamic Republic. After a string of murders of intellectuals and dissidents in the 1990s and early 2000s, referred to as the chain murders, Saeed Emami, the only senior regime official who was arrested in the case, committed suicide in prison under suspicious circumstances.


(For video and english translation of Pourandarjani's graduation speech, go here)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Brainwashing children: Basij militia to be established in 6,000 elementary schools

A senior Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) official has announced that the Basij militia will soon be established in Iranian elementary schools for the first time since the Islamic revolution.

The extensive plan calls for the introduction of the Basij into 6,000 elementary schools across the country, according to IRGC General Mohammad Saleh Jokar, head of the Schoolchildren and Teachers' Basij Organization. 'We want to expand the Basij's activities at the primary-school level because students are more influenceable at a young age than at other times in their lives,' Jokar told Mehr News in an interview published on Monday. 'We intend to promote and instill a revolutionary and Basiji thought process among elementary school students.'

The militia has been present in middle schools and high schools since its inception 30 years ago, but the founding law of the schoolchildren's Basij, passed by the Majlis on April 29, 1996, mandated its presence in elementary schools too. 'We had not formed Basij units in elementary schools until now because of budget restrictions, but more funds were allocated this year,' Jokar explained to Mehr news.

It appears that the indoctrination of children, despite falling state revenues, has become a priority of the regime as the protest movement seeps into schools. The following footage shows students at a girls' school singing a university protest anthem on November 4:

Another video shows students chanting 'We don't want a potato government,' alluding to rumors that the Ahmadinejad campaign had bribed voters with bags of potatoes prior to the June 12 election:

On the occasion of Schoolchildren's Basij Week which culminated in the November 4 ceremonies, Jokar proudly told Fars news in late October that 36,000 schoolchildren had been 'martyred' during the Iran-Iraq War. The organization cultivates a culture of martyrdom in its literature and posters. Mohammad Hossein Fahmideh was honored during this year's Schoolchildren's Basij Week and held up as a model for youngsters. According to the official story, Fahmideh volunteered to become a soldier in 1980, at the age of 13. In the battle for Khorramshahr, he pulled out a grenade's pin, before crawling under an advancing Iraqi tank. He died in the suicide blast which also stopped the Iraqi column in a narrow canal.

The schoolchildren's Basij organization claims on its site that it has 4.6 million student members. However Jokar's contention to Fars news that three million schoolchildren would participate in the November 4 ceremony makes any figures emanating from this source somewhat suspect. '60% of middle school and high school children are Basijis,' he told Fars news in the same interview.

Jokar asked all interested elementary students to fill out special forms available at the Basij units in their schools. 'Basij identity cards will be issued to them,' Jokar assured Mehr news.

Comedian Stephen Colbert takes a look at Iran

Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, took a look at the crumbling 'sacred taboos' of the Islamic regime with journalist and researcher Karim Sadjadpour on the November 10 episode of his show.

Colbert discussed November 4, the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the American embassy, and Mahmoud Vahidnia, a star math student whose lone stand against Leader Ali Khamenei at a public gathering has made him a hero. (For a report on Vahidnia, click here. For a live blog of November 4, click here)

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Iraniversary - Karim Sadjadpour
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Delusions of candor: IRGC political bureau chief sees Satanists among the Greens

'Delusions of candor' is an ongoing series on the regime's efforts to spin the news, create disinformation, and spread propaganda.

A publication of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) contended in its latest edition that the Green movement is being controlled by foreign powers and that its supporters are not only rabble-rousing anti-revolutionaries, but also worshipers of Satan. Literally.

Brigadier General Yadollah Javani made the outlandish claim in a front-page editorial in Sobheh Sadegh (True Morning), a weekly news publication of the political bureau of the IRGC. Javani heads the political bureau, a subdivision of Leader Ali Khamenei's representative staff within the Revolutionary Guards.

Though not in the first tier of the Islamic regime's power structure, Javani is considered close to the inner circle of IRGC officers and clerics around Khamenei and the views he expresses give an indication of the predominant ideology and tactics within that circle.

He has been a strong proponent of efforts to paint the opposition as an instrument of foreign powers seeking the 'soft overthrow' of the regime.

On August 16, he spoke to the Islamic Republic News Agency about Hedayat Aghaie, a jailed senior member of the Executives of Construction Party (Kargozaraneh Sazandegi) which is close to Expediency Council chief and Ahmadinejad rival Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. 'In his confessions, Hedayat Aghaie [...] said that they had conducted polls in the subway, but that when they had submitted the reports to Mir Hossein Mousavi, they had said that the figures reflected the whole country,' Javani told IRNA. '[Aghaie] also confessed that their strategy was to gain power at any cost.' Javani apparently did not consider it unusual that the IRGC political bureau boss had access to the interrogation reports emanating from the regime's jails. Aghaie was sentenced to five years in prison in late October, according to his lawyer Alireza Jafarian.

Also in August, a busy month for the indefatigable Javani, he called for the prosecution of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, the head of the Etemad Melli Party, and former President Mohammad Khatami.

The following is a translation of Javani's editorial in the Monday, November 9, 2009 issue of Sobheh Sadegh:

Who is pulling the Greens' strings? 

In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful.

The Greens, whatever term is used to describe them, are a part of the reality of Iran's political landscape. This group, with green as its symbol, found its identity in the campaign rallies of Mir Hossein Mousavi. They showed their support for Mousavi by using in different ways the green color of the scarf he wore over his shoulder because his mother was a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad. Today some people insist on employing this color. Now the question is, Who is pulling these Greens' strings? (NB The regime has become extremely sensitive about the opposition's use of the color green, which is associated with Islam. Steps are being taken to create a counter-group, favorable to the regime, called the Sabzhayeh Alavi or greens who support Imam Ali, one of the most beloved figures in Shiism.)

Who is truly guiding the green movement now? Which person or individuals are leading this movement? Is the leadership of this movement in the hands of Mir Hossein Mousavi and is he managing the Greens? Are Seyed Mohammad Khatami or Mehdi Karroubi playing a role in the leadership of this group? Instead of individuals, are parties and groups such as the Mojahedin Organization (NB Javani uses a shortened version of the reformist Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, making the name resemble that of the Mojahedin Khalgh Organization, a broadly despised armed group which collaborated with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War.), the [Islamic Iran] Participation Front or other 2nd of Khordad groups leading the Greens? (NB The 2nd of Khordad is the date of the election of reformist President Khatami.)

...the group appeared under the color green in just a few streets on days such as Ghods Day and November 4...

This writer believes that the group which appeared under the color green in just a few streets on days such as Ghods Day and November 4, and acted in a different way from the masses of millions of people, is not controlled by Mousavi or like-minded individuals, but rather by foreign enemies. (NB The regime was particularly shaken by the opposition's exploitation of official events, such as Ghods Day -- in support of Palestinians and against Israel -- and November 4 -- the anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy -- which embody the ideological pillars of the Islamic Republic, to launch counter-demonstrations with counter-slogans. For more on Ghods Day, go here; November 4, go here; regime sensitivity to counter-slogans, go here)

There is no doubt that this movement was created by Mir Hossein Mousavi and his campaign staffs and his supporters. Mousavi appeared among the crowds of his supporters again and again and spoke of the green wave, and after the election called the Greens to the streets, thus paved the way for pockets of rebellion and unrest and public insecurity. It was Mir Hossein Mousavi who, by issuing a statement, founded the Green Path of Hope. On the surface, it looks like Mir Hossein Mousavi is leading this group, but the truth is that not only does Mir Hossein [sic. Javani forgets his manners from this point on.] not control this group, but that he and this movement are being controlled by foreigners.

The truth is that not only does Mir Hossein not lead this group, but that he and this movement are being controlled by foreigners.

It is not difficult to prove this point. Mir Hossein claims that he is faithful to the constitution, the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Republic, and the goals of Imam Khomeini. Does the behavior of this small and seditious green-clad group in the events after the tenth presidential election, particularly on Ghods Day and November 4, correspond to Mir Hossein Mousavi's claims? If it does not correspond to them, why does Mir Hossein Mousavi not repudiate these actions and chide his supporters? Let us look at examples of such behavior.

1. One of the slogans of the green-clad groupuscule on Ghods Day was 'Neither eastern, nor western, an Iranian Republic' instead of 'Neither eastern, nor western, an Islamic Republic.' If Mir Hossein claims that he is advancing the ideas of the Imam, why is he silent in the face of this deviation of his supporters? Why does he not issue a statement warning his supporters against this deviation? Did the late Imam, after reflecting on the term to be used to describe the political system of Iran, not say, 'An Islamic Republic, not one word less, not one word more?' Does an Iranian Republic represent anything less than the elimination of Islam from the political scene?

'Neither eastern, nor western, an Iranian Republic'... Does an Iranian Republic represent anything less than the elimination of Islam from the political scene?

2. 'Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life only for Iran' was the Greens' famous slogan on Ghods Day. What is the position of Mousavi, who claims to follow the Imam's Line, on this slogan? The Imam declared Ghods Day (NB Jerusalem Day) to be the day of Islam and by setting the strategy for the elimination of Israel from the pages of time, he defined Jerusalem and the Palestinian problem to be the most important issues for Muslims. If Mir Hossein is true to the goals of the Imam and he leads the Greens, why did he not condemn this deviant slogan on Ghods Day?

3. Consuming during the Ramadan fast, disregarding Islamic propriety, mixing boys and girls in the worst possible manner, and attacking Friday worshipers with stones were among the actions taken by the Greens on Ghods Day. (NB State media published photos of Ghods Day protesters smoking, which is banned during fasting hours in Ramadan. The news reports failed to mention that the protesters were blowing cigarette smoke into each other's eyes to counter the effects of tear gas.) Does Mir Hossein condone such behavior? If not, why doesn't Mir Hossein chide his supporters and condemn such actions?

The Greens chanted 'Death to Russia.' In which backroom was this slogan devised?

4. On the national day of struggle against world arrogance (NB World Arrogance generally refers to the United States.) and the day of 'Death to America', meaning November 4, the Greens chanted 'Death to Russia.' What is Mir Hossein's position on this slogan of his supporters? In which backroom was this slogan devised? Has Mir Hossein forgotten these words of the Imam: 'Some chant death to Russia to make us forget America.' If Mir Hossein does not agree with such slogans and considers them to be a deviation from the path of struggle against world arrogance, why doesn't he admonish his supporters?

5. From the first days after the election, Mir Hossein's green supporters were rioting, attacking banks, burning buses, attacking Basij bases, burning Lolagar Mosque, and damaging people's property.

(NB Many videos show it was actually Basijis and security forces who damaged property. Just one example follows.)

They continued their ugly acts on Ghods Day and November 4, by burning garbage cans in the streets. Does Mir Hossein, who claims to be working within a legal framework, agree with such acts? If he doesn't agree, does he strongly condemn them?

6. On November 4, some of Mousavi's supporters, sporting green signs and chanting 'Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein,' attacked Majlis representative Marandi's car with knives and machetes and damaged the automobile. What is Mir Hossein's position on these actions of his supporters? Why doesn't he call on his supporters to put aside such actions? (NB Javani would have us believe that on a day with a record number of security forces on the streets cracking down on protesters with such violence that even conservative web sites have voiced complaints, bands of machete-armed protesters with green wristbands were at large.)

Does Mir Hossein know that some green-clad young women and men who attended campaign rallies and ceremonies on Ghods day and November 4, wore symbols of deviant groups, including Satan worshipers?

7. Mir Hossein Mousavi considers the color green the symbol of the people and their ideals. Does Mir Hossein know that some green-clad young women and men who attended campaign rallies and ceremonies on Ghods day and November 4, wore symbols of deviant groups, including Satan worshipers? If he does know, how does he justify the combination of green and Satanist symbols? If this cannot be justified, why doesn't he warn his supporters against it? Aren't these Greens supporters of Mir Hossein?

There are many examples like these. And if Mir Hossein or others like Khatami, Karroubi, or parties such as the Participation Front and the Mojahedin do not react to such actions and do not warn the Greens against such actions and slogans, it is because they know that these Greens are being controlled by others. They know that slogans like 'Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein' and 'Karroubi, Karroubi, we will defend you!' are only tools which exploit their names to oppose the religious regime.

Mir Hossein knows that the Greens will disregard any admonishment or warning he issues and then it will be even clearer that the Greens and Mir Hossein are both playing in a field designed by foreigners. Mir Hossein spoke of green wisdom and founded the Green Path of Hope, but now this green movement is going in a direction which is warming the hearts of all anti-revolutionary groups.

An example of the hope that the Greens have instilled among exiled anti-revolutionaries can be heard in the words of Reza Pahlavi, the dead Shah's son. In an article he wrote in an American newspaper, Reza Pahlavi wrote about his meeting with 40 members of Congress and said, 'I told the members of Congress that if America wants to engage Iran, it must choose the best interlocutor in Iran, and in my opinion the best option is the green movement.' From America, Reza Pahlavi wants to garner support for the green movement. Does Mir Hossein accept that in Reza Pahlavi's opinion, he is the best option for advancing the goals and interests of America in Iran. If he doesn't accept this, he should know and accept that the strings of the green movement that he set in motion are being pulled by others now. This is the very point that the wise Leader of the Revolution [Ali Khamenei] raised: 'On the day after the election, I sent a message to the gentlemen, that you might start a movement, but others will continue it.'

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend roundup - Monday 9 November 2009

  • Former Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi was once again heckled at a university event, this time in Gilan University, northern Iran, on Sunday. Saffar Harandi's speech was interrupted loudly with chants of 'Death to the Leader's dictatorship' and 'Our shame, our shame, our Culture Minister.'

  • Makarem Shirazi (left), Gorgani (center)
  • Conservative Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, one of the most senior clerics in the country, urged the judiciary to put those responsible for some of the regime's post-election abuses on trial as soon as possible. He made the comments at a meeting with the president of the High Court, Ayatollah Ahmad Mohseni Gorgani, aka Mohseni Araki, on Sunday. According to a report on Makarem Shirazi's personal web site, 'At the conclusion of the meeting, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi told the honorable High Court president, "Convey my greetings to Ayatollah Larijani (NB judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani) and tell him that the people await the trials of those responsible for University Street, Kahrizak prison, and the Sobhan complex. (NB Referring respectively to the attack by Basijis and plainclothesmen on a Tehran University dormitory on June 15, 2009, which allegedly left at least 5 students dead; Kahrizak detention center where prisoners were killed, tortured, and raped; and the attack on the Sobhan residential complex by Basijis and plainclothesmen on June 16, 2009). It is necessary to take action as soon as possible to prevent a weakening of the people's trust in the judicial system. Such trials undoubtedly require courage, which I know that you and he possess."'

    Aftermath of the Tehran University dormitory attack

    Attack on Sobhan residential complex

  • Saeed Mortazavi, former Revolutionary Prosecutor for Greater Tehran, may be moving to greener pastures once again. As a loyal soldier of Leader Ali Khamenei, Mortzavi was not only instrumental in jailing and harassing dissidents, journalists, and opposition newspapers, but was actively involved in the torture and abuse of prisoners during interrogations. He is one of the officials held responsible for the death in custody of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi in 2003 and the atrocities which took place at Kahrizak detention center. He was recently rewarded for his services by being 'kicked upstairs' to the post of Deputy Prosecutor General under former Intelligence Minister Mohseni Ejei. There is now talk of another 'promotion' to get him out of the limelight even more as the new head of the economic crimes division of the Justice Ministry.

  • Jailed dissident Behzad Nabavi, a senior member of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution (not to be mistaken for the MKO), rejected all charges against him during a trial which was held behind closed doors on Sunday, according to his lawyer Mohammad Saleh Nikbakht. Nabavi famously refused to make any derogatory comments against opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi during the first sessions of the Revolutionary kangaroo court, saying that he 'could not betray Mousavi.' Nabavi read from 12 pages of notes he had prepared while in the hospital as he defended himself against a series of accusations which include 'disrupting traffic on June 13 and 15.' Massive protests against the results of the presidential election (June 12) took place on those days.

  • Queens College, Oxford University, has established a scholarship in memory of Neda Agha Soltan for students working towards a graduate degree in philosophy. Neda Agha Soltan, who obtained a degree in philosophy from Azad University, was killed by the regime's security forces on the streets of Tehran on June 20, 2009. Queens College announced on its web site that the Neda Agha Soltan scholarship was made possible by 'two generous gifts' and that although it was open to all graduate students in the field of philosophy, students of Iranian descent or nationality would have preference. The first student to benefit from this scholarship is Arianne Shahvisi who is studying for a masters degree in the philosophy of physics. Shahvisi said on the Oxford University web site, 'It is a great honor to be the first student to receive the scholarship in the memory of Neda Agha Soltan, which is particularly meaningful to me, being a young woman of Iranian descent, also studying philosophy. In accepting the scholarship, I extend my sincere condolences to the Agha Soltan family, and hope that in succeeding in my studies at Oxford, I can do justice to the name of their brave and gifted daughter.'

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In their own words: November 4 recounted by Iranian witnesses

The following is a compilation of accounts of November 4 protests in the words of eyewitnesses. For a live blog of November 4 events, including videos, photos, and news, please go here.

  • (The following is particularly significant because it comes from a pro-regime blog with a photo of Leader Ali Khamenei on its home page.)
    Oh God, It is only because of my holy mission that I write these few lines
    Perhaps those who read these few lines will not believe that I, the editor of the Beheshteh Khouban (Paradise of the Good) blog, am saying these things. But this piece has not been written out of anger at the security forces. I'm upset at myself. The manner with which the security forces confronted people who had nothing to do with this situation, people for whom neither this side was important, nor the other side bad... I don't want to have anything to do with the supporters of the opposing camp. I believe that what they're doing is one hundred percent wrong. But the security forces did not act in a measured way. And if I could have taken photos of some of the scenes that I saw, the reputation of the security forces would undoubtedly go under question. I had the pleasure of receiving over 50 baton blows from the security forces and police! From Vali Asr Junction to Mottahari Street, I saw things with my eyes that are not easy to digest. I don't agree with rioting and today I saw people on Mottaheri Street who were just passing through and not creating any problems get beaten up by our brothers in the security forces. Actually I should say, how I wish that what I had seen could be called beating up!!! It has been recorded forever in my mind.
    (The following comments followed the blog post)
    From Behzad:
    I'm glad that you were 'touched' by some of the truth. Now you know a thousandth of the reason why we are crying out.
    From Dadashi:
    I am truly sorry.
    How long will this adverse behavior continue.
    Why must the reputation of the revolution be destroyed so easily?
    From Bandeh Khoda:
    I feel that the security forces want to give a bad image of the regime to the people. I was there today. They left the rioters alone, but as soon as they came across passersby, especially women, they would beat them wherever they could. Is this the manly thing to do? I will not forget a mother who was struck in front of her eight-year-old in that way and whose face was injured. I was there and saw things that are hard for me to believe.
    Is the role of the security forces to preserve security or to kill people????
    Beheshteh Khouban blog responds:
    Dear friend, I completely agree with you. I was there when that mother was thrown to the ground in that manner. I wish all the worst for that agent who raised his stick against Iranian honor.
    I saw the child who was trembling with fear.
    God willing, the security authorities will think of a plan to not bring just any peasant to Tehran to preserve peace and order.
    We are against such confrontations and I swear to stand against individuals who treat people like animals.
    I had several clashes with security forces today.
    In the name of God, this is not the way to treat people.
    I wish you success.
    - Post and comments from Beheshteh Khouban blog

  • I got off at Mofatteh subway station. From there, all the way to Enghelab Square, the security forces wouldn't allow more than a dozen people to assemble. On a street leading to Karim Khan, I saw a painful spectacle. Motorcycle riders attacked about a hundred protesters and one young man was bludgeoned so brutally that he lost consciousness. The Basijis were so young. Some wielded electric batons. The police was brutal enough, but the Basijis knew no boundaries. I saw one Basiji lurch into a crowd with his motorcycle.
    - Mohammad in Tehran, BBC Persian, Nobateh Shoma (Yout Turn) call-in show

  • We were walking from Vali Asr Junction to Taleghani Street. When we got close to the Academy of Arts, we heard loud chants. I thought I could hear 'Death to the dictator!' I quickened my steps. I remembered the Friday prayers led by Rafsanjani and the loud chants we could hear from the distance and how we quickened our steps to reach the green people. We hastened towards the main building of the Acedemy of Arts. The same place that Mr. Engineer Mousavi inaugurated several months ago. The sound of chants echoed under the roof of the main building and I couldn't understand what they were saying. My heart was warmed by the thought that we would be getting away from all those baton-wielding agents and joining like-minded and unarmed people. I rushed into the Academy grounds and suddenly a tremor went through my body. Close to a hundred agents holding batons were standing there and chanting against Mousavi. They were surrounded by other baton-wielding agents, maybe for protection. I felt like a lamb that's caught among a pack of wolves. I looked around. They had surrounded the Academy of Arts building and their voices were echoing under the outdoor roof. I quickly distanced myself. I distanced myself and thought, What fear do they have of us to come to the streets like that and, probably to scare us, use the cloister's architecture to echo their voices under its roof in the hopes of striking terror in us, I suppose? A bit farther away, in Taleghani Street, groups of school children were walking under the supervision of their teachers or someone. They were walking and shouting slogans. They were caught up in the excitement of a certain movement, rather than aware of what they were saying or doing. I was walking past them and thinking, If I were their age now, would I be chanting 'Death to the hypocrites' and marching like that? These thoughts were going through my mind when one of them passed by, looked me in the face and said, 'You're so lucky.' These two images of November 4, 2009, will stay with me forever. With bitterness.
    - Maryam Mohtadi, writer and journalist, account published on her personal blog Safheyeh Sizdah (Page Thirteen)
    (NB I am identifying the writer because she posted this piece on her personal blog. Vali Asr Junction is the crossroads formed by Vali Asr and Enghelab streets. It is south of Taleghani. The Academy of Arts -- Farhangestaneh Honar -- has been run by opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi since 1999. Mousavi inaugurated the main building, which houses a cloister mentioned by this eyewitness, on May 3, 2009. According to some reports yesterday, Mousavi was prevented from leaving his office at the Academy and participating in the rally by security forces which surrounded the building.)

  • I was in the demonstrations this morning. You can't imagine the number of security troops that had been deployed. It looked like there was one regime agent for every protester. And all this to confront people with nothing to defend themselves with. I finally understood today how scared they are. This regime is over.
    - Elderly woman, Radio Farda

  • (The following items were placed on a Google reader shared items page)
    Pain is when you don't feel your hand, your leg, nothing. Nothing at all. One of us didn't come back.
    - Mandana, young woman
    We laughed so much. I laughed so much to forget I was as afraid as a donkey. It was right at the start, the guy sprayed pepper gas into Rabi's eyes. He just said, I'm burning. My throat dried up with fear. Then we started to go to the top of the square and we got caught against the closed shutters of a store. They were beating people, I was just saying, Don't hit, don't hit him, he was sprayed with pepper. And they just continued striking. Women and girls and the elderly and the young... How afraid was I? A lot. Then the batons got to me. One on my right arm. One on my waist. One on my leg. Even my back... It didn't hurt so much right then. We turned into an alley, a guy kicked me in the back... Just before, I noticed one of them land a kick on Rabi's back... Afterwards we laughed a lot. All the time we were going from one alley to the next, from one street to the next, I'd just say all sorts of nonsense so we would laugh and I'd forget how afraid I was and how full of hatred I am...
    - Roxana, young woman
    In all that chaos and havoc, they caught a guy... We went forward and booed them... One of those plainclothesmen started beating him... The guy wanted to escape... The people were booing... He threw him into the gutter next to us... One of the girls ran over and held him. He wasn't moving... The voice of the people had risen... He wasn't moving at all.... I was screaming with all my force... I was screaming... I looked at the guy who had hurled him... It was a great moment! The guy was moving back, the people's voices as loud as ever, and as I screamed and shook, I saw... I saw how every feature of the [plainclothesman's] face showed fear and he was looking for a safe place and couldn't find one... He couldn't fine one... I wish it could have gone on for eternity... But one of those batons hit the back of my leg... My knee buckled and my leg felt weak... The boy got up and ran away... We all thought he was dead or at least unconscious. They became savage... They started hitting us, but something inside me was filled with glee... Even when we reached Eftekhari covered market street where I ususally go for a stroll and their motorcyclists arrived and fell on us like they did with that young man, I didn't lose my composure. Even when the motorcyclists were revving up behind us, I was straightening my headscarf with one hand. When we pushed a store owner into his shop and I fell onto his knickknacks, I laughed. Seeing that guy's scared face has turned me into a believer: We are victorious. So they didn't let us chant our slogans, they filmed us, beat us, arrested a few people, shouted at us, showed their brutality... We still won.
    Thanks for the blessings of this 13 Aban and the Islamic Republic! Today as I was escaping, someone grabbed my headscarf and my hair was blowing in the wind and one of my wishes came true. I ran with my hair free.
    - Marjan

  • I'm a 60-year-old woman, almost 60. I joined the demonstration early today and moved towards 7th Tir Square. There were so many protesters. They must have bought security forces from around Iran and they were merciless. I've gone to all the demonstrations and I've never seen such violence. We started chanting and they chased us down a dead end. We were all crushed together and the anti-riot forces shot something like 5 tear gas canisters into the alley. I thought my time was over and I would suffocate. Then the anti-riot forces came into the alley started beating us with their batons. I was hit on the waist and the mouth. Protesters were all over the city today. They would get beaten in one place, then they'd go to another crossroads and start chanting again. This regime must go! It pained me to see the young people struck like that. I'm going to rest, then I'll go out again, because the protests are going to pick up again at 4 PM.
    - Caller to ePersian radio

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Live blog - Anniversary of seizure of US embassy - November 4

9:15 PM Tehran time - 5:45 PM GMT

Footage of protest earlier today at Tabriz University. 'The true Basijis were Hemmat and Bakeri' referring to two famous martyrs. Bakeri is a son of Tabriz. 'Liar, liar, where's your 63%?'

9:00 PM Tehran time - 5:30 PM GMT

Caller to BBC Persian: I noticed great solidarity among the people. As soon as someone was struck by the security forces, people would rush over to help, give some sweets or comfort. I did not see any fatigue among the protesters. I was in Karim Khan Zand from 10 AM. They would beat us, then we'd go to the next street. They'd beat us again and we'd go elsewhere again.

Mohammad in Tehran to BBC Persian: I got off at Mofatteh subway station. From there, all the way to Enghelab Square, the security forces wouldn't allow more than a dozen people to assemble. On a street leading to Karim Khan, I saw a painful spectacle. Motorcycle riders attacked about a hundred protesters and one young man was bludgeoned so brutally that he lost consciousness. The Basijis were so young. Some wielded electric batons. The police was brutal enough, but the Basijis knew no boundaries. I saw one Basiji lurch into a crowd with his motorcycle.

Footage of protest at Ferdowsi University, Mashhad, earlier today. 'The 63% are here' referring to Ahmadinejad's supposed vote count. 'As long as Ahmadinejad is around, every day will be like this.'

8:30 PM Tehran time - 5:00 PM GMT

Footage of protesters arriving for counter-rally earlier today. The subway stations near the protest meeting points -- Taleghani, Ferdowsi, and Hafteh Tir -- were closed and demonstrators were confronted with heavy security measures as they left stations near major squares.

8:15 PM Tehran time - 4:45 PM GMT

Footage of a massive number of protesters at what appears to be Tehran's Enghelab Square, chanting one of the special slogans prepared for November 4: 'Neither eastern, nor western, a green national government.' This slogan raises the hackles of regime supporters because it is a direct challenge to the old revolutionary phrase 'Neither eastern, nor western, an Islamic Republic.'

8:00 PM Tehran time - 4:30 PM GMT

The New York Times published an article on today's clashes in Iran. 'Iran's beleaguered opposition movement struggled to reassert itself on Wednesday as tens of thousands of protesters skirmished with the riot police amid clouds of tear gas on the sidelines of a major government-sponsored anti-American rally,' the paper reported.

BBC Persian reports that protests took place today across the country, including the following major squares in Tehran: Azadi, Enghelab, Hafteh Tir, Ferdowsi, and Vanak. Security forces exhibited much greater violence than on previous occasions. People tearing down Khamenei's picture and trampling it is a symbol of the Leader's lost position as an unbiased authority.

7:45 PM Tehran time - 4:15 PM GMT

President Barack Obama's statement on Iran, released earlier today, clearly differentiated between the Islamic regime and the people of Iran, and concluded with the following allusion to the Iranian nation's struggle for its rights:
Iran must choose. We have heard for thirty years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for. The American people have great respect for the people of Iran and their rich history. The world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice, and their courageous pursuit of universal rights.  It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people.

7:30 PM Tehran time - 4:00 PM GMT

'Brave Karroubi' painted on the side of a truck going down what appears to be Keshavarz Boulevard.

Footage from earlier in the day, as Karroubi briefly gets out of his car and waves to the people... 'Honorable Karroubi, come to the nation's aid!'

The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that '200 people' protested in front of its building today.

7:15 PM Tehran time - 3:45 PM GMT

Footage purportedly from earlier today. The brave warriors of the Islamic regime doing what they know best...

And again... This time filmed by intelligence suit for future viewing...

7:00 PM Tehran time - 3:30 PM GMT

More new footage coming in. Protesters help the wounded in what can only be described as a makeshift field hospital.

Footage purportedly from Ferdowsi University, Mashhad. 'Death to the dictator!' 'As long as Ahmadinejad is around, every day will be like this!''Hemmat and Bakeri were true Basijis!' referring to two famous martyrs.

6:50 PM Tehran time - 3:20 PM GMT

A dozen plainclothesmen mingling among protesters suddenly rush two youngsters and arrest them in what appears to be Hafteh Tir Square.

6:40 PM Tehran time - 3:10 PM GMT

Protesters tear down a banner with Khamenei's picture... before trampling it in the next video:

Footage of the exalted Leader's picture getting trampled.

6:10 PM Tehran time - 2:40 PM GMT

As night falls on the city, pockets of protest persist around Tehran: Enghelab Square, Tehran University, Vali Asr Street, 7th Tir Square, and Laleh Park.

Radio caller: I'm 21. I just got back 30 minutes ago. I've been protesting all day long. Four of us caught a Basiji who was beating a girl in some alley, we pummeled him so hard, he was close to tears and couldn't get up.

Preparing for a pitched battle in front of the Petroleum Industry health services.

5:30 PM Tehran time - 2:00 PM GMT

Caller to Radio Farda (elderly woman): I was in the demonstrations this morning. You can't imagine the number of security troops that had been deployed. It looked like there was one regime agent for every protester. And all this to confront people with nothing to defend themselves with. I finally understood today how scared they are. This regime is over.

Riot police hunt for protesters.

The semi-official Fars news agency, close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported on today's events: 'While an unprecedented number of Tehran residents were present in today's November 4 rally, a number of rioters gathered in various parts of the capital and, while chanting slogans in favor of the policies of America and the Zionist regime (NB Israel), attacked the people, public property, and the police.'

5:00 PM Tehran time - 1:30 PM GMT

Radio Farda reports that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is in state of house arrest. Mousavi had planned to attend today's rally in Tehran, but his house was surrounded by motorcycle-riding security forces this morning and he was prevented from leaving the premises.

Police brutality in a video that was purportedly filmed today in Tehran.

4:45 PM Tehran time - 1:15 PM GMT

'The Russian embassy is the real den of spies' shout the protesters, using a phrase that the regime employs to describe the American embassy. 'We are Neda, we are Neda, we are all one voice!' Neda, the name of the famous protester killed in the regime's post-election crackdown, also means voice in Farsi. 

Video allegedly from today: Protesters stand off against Basijis and shout, 'A green and flourishing Iran does not want the atom bomb!'

4:30 PM Tehran time - 1:00 PM GMT

Video allegedly from earlier today, Azad University, Mashhad.

'Khamenei is a murderer, his leadership is canceled.' 'Cursed Jannati (Guardian Council chief), you're the enemy of the people.' 'Cannons, tanks, Kahrizak (detention center), no longer have any effect.'

4:15 PM Tehran time - 12:45 PM GMT

Footage purportedly from today in Mullah Sadra Street, Shiraz.

Caller to ePersian radio turns out to be a regime goon. He says, 'The few thousand who came to the streets deserve respect, but what about the millions who didn't protest. They support the Islamic Republic regime. This is a democracy and the majority of millions who support this regime deserve respect.' The host of the program loudly berates him and says, 'If some people stay at home it's because you and your kind killed and raped their children. You come on this program and talk about democracy!? You don't know what democracy is. If you really mean what you say, let people come freely into the streets, without fear of a crackdown, and we'll see how many millions show up. You hide behind your telephone and give us lessons?'

'We don't want an atom bomb!'

4:00 PM Tehran time - 12:30 PM GMT

France has condemned the violence against protesters and the arbitrary arrests today, according to Le Figaro. Bernard Valero, spokesman of the French Foreign Ministry, made the declaration early in the afternoon. 'We condemn this new wave of violence and repression. We salute the courage of all those in Iran who fight peacefully for their fundamental rights,' said Valero.

3:40 PM Tehran time - 12:10 PM GMT

Purportedly from earlier today, Karroubi arrives in one of the side streets leading to 7th Tir Square.

Protesters rushing towards Karroubi who can be seen at the start of the video.

Radio caller says that many friends have told him they will join protests once they leave their offices at the end of the work day.

3:30 PM Tehran time - 12:00 PM GMT

News channel France 24 is broadly reporting on the protests in Tehran today.

Caller on ePersian radio: I'm a 60-year-old woman, almost 60. I joined the demonstration early today and moved towards 7th Tir Square. There were so many protesters. They must have bought security forces from around Iran and they were merciless. I've gone to all the demonstrations and I've never seen such violence. We started chanting and they chased us down a dead end. We were all crushed together and the anti-riot forces shot something like 5 tear gas canisters into the alley. I thought my time was over and I would suffocate. Then the anti-riot forces came into the alley started beating us with their batons. I was hit on the waist and the mouth. Protesters were all over the city today. They would get beaten in one place, then they'd go to another crossroads and start chanting again. This regime must go! It pained me to see the young people struck like that. I'm going to rest, then I'll go out again, because the protests are going to pick up again at 4 PM.

3:15 PM Tehran time - 11:45 AM GMT

Purportedly earlier today, Keshavarz Boulevard, north of Tehran University. 'Khamenei is a murderer, his leadership has been canceled!'

3:00 PM Tehran time - 11:30 AM GMT

Roads leading to Isfahan University are blocked by the police in an attempt to stop several groups of protesters from joining each other. Chants of 'Death to dictator' can be heard.

Several thousand green supporters gathered in Azadi Square. Several thousand students are also protesting in Sistan University.

Clashes are reported on Ghaem Magham Farahani Street, where large numbers of protesters are responding to attacks of the security forces with rocks.

Street battles are also taking place on Vozara and Takhteh Tavous streets, according to several radio callers.

Protesters taunt riot police farther up Ghaem Magham Farahani Street. 'For Mousavi, raise your hands!'

Revolutionary Guards special forces on motorcycles prepare to charge down an avenue.

2:50 PM Tehran time - 11:20 AM GMT

One of Mehdi Karroubi's bodyguards has been taken to the hospital, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi.

Caller to ePersian radio: I'm on Azadi. This is hand-to-hand combat. We're at war with a filthy regime. Why don't our clerics say anything? The kids have decided to stay on the streets all day and tonight. Please tell people to bring water and food to the protesters.

2:40 PM Tehran time - 11:10 AM GMT

'Obama, Obama, you're either with them or with us!'

2:30 PM Tehran time - 11:00 AM GMT

Various sources claim that security forces are resorting to even greater savagery than in the most violent days of the post-election crackdown.

Habibollah Peyman, founder of the Combatant Muslims Movement and a leader of the Council of Nationalist Religious Forces, and his wife were so badly beaten by security forces that his head was broken during demonstrations today, per Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi.

Al Arabiya reports that Basij forces have surrounded the home of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

2:20 PM Tehran time - 10:50 AM GMT

Protesters build fire against the effects of pepper gas.

Protesters are engaged in a violent game of cat and mouse with security forces in the streets of Shiraz, according to a caller to ePersian radio. 'The police don't know which neighborhood to run to and how to control the city.'

2:00 PM Tehran time - 10:30 AM GMT

Translation of an article in Tagheer, the news site of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad Melli Party:
Thousands of Iranians who had convened in Hafteh Tir Square and intended to march to the former American embassy were savagely attacked by plainclothesmen and the special forces of the Revolutionary Guards.
Plainclothesmen and the special forces of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) assaulted the defenseless people of Iran with batons, tear gas, pepper gas, and shots fired into the air. 
According to witnesses, IRGC forces on foot and on motorcycles targeted the heads and faces of people who had only gathered to denounce domestic and foreign tyranny. 
In other parts of the city, including Motahari Street, Shahid Beheshti Street, Karim Khan Zand Street, Mofatteh Street, Azadi Square, the corner of Taleghani and Palestine streets, Nejat Elahi Street, and GHaem Magham Farahani Street, the people of Iran are currently chanting against tyranny and dictatorship. 
Although the state media have employed all their efforts to belittle the grandeur of the green nation of Iran, eyewitnesses understood the massive presence of green supporters of democracy against the club-wielding forces of dictatorship.

2:00 PM Tehran time - 10:30 AM GMT

'Neither eastern, nor western, a green national government!' Purportedly earlier today, near Hafteh Tir Square.

1:45 PM Tehran time - 10:15 AM GMT

Footage purportedly of earlier today, next to Hafteh Tir Square. Demonstrators are charged by riot police.

1:40 PM Tehran time - 10:10 AM GMT

More footage purportedly from today. 'The Russian embassy is the real den of spies' in reference to the Islamic regime's habit of calling the US embassy a den of spies.

'The Russian embassy is the real den of spies' followed by the student protest anthem 'Yareh Dabestaniyeh Man' (My old schoolfriend)

1:30 PM Tehran time - 10:00 AM GMT

Caller on ePersian radio: I'm on Vali Asr Street. The security forces are beating people like animals, but the protesters are not backing down, especially the women. You should see how the women are raising a riot. 

Female caller on ePersian radio: I was injured in demonstrations this morning, but I'm going out again in a few minutes.

Photo purportedly of today's protests in Tehran.

1:20 PM Tehran time - 9:50 AM GMT

News outlets in Sweden and France are allegedly only showing footage of the official ceremonies today with regime supporters chanting 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel.'

Caller to ePersian radio: Clashes are extremely violent on Vali Asr Street. Security forces and plainclothesmen are pitted against protesters who are defending themselves. Protesters are not afraid anymore.

1:15 PM Tehran time - 9:45 AM GMT

Over two dozen arrests so far. Protests are dispersed between two squares in the city, Alam and Pardis. Security forces and plainclothesmen savagely attacked protesters.

Caller to ePersian radio: My sister was assaulted by plainclothesmen in Hafteh Tir Square. She came back home and rested, but now she's gone out again to protest.

1:00 PM Tehran time - 9:30 AM GMT

Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi's son, spoke to Radio Farda: Mehdi Karroubi was present in Hafteh Tir Square. Police forces directly shot tear gas at him and his supporters. One of his bodyguards was injured on the head. Two other bodyguards were also wounded. Karroubi's face was slightly burned by the gas. He was not arrested. Karroubi and his family do not fear any outcome and are ready for the worst. The regime warned us that a suicide attack might take place against Karroubi and that he should not attend the rally. We declare that the regime will be held responsible for any assassination attempt against Karroubi.

12:45 PM Tehran time - 9:15 AM GMT

Mehdi Karroubi was beaten by regime goons, but he was rescued by his bodyguards and taken away in his personal car, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi.

Caller on ePersian radio: (In tears) Please help the people of Iran. My sister was in Hafteh Tir Square and was beaten by the security forces. She's at home now and not well. My sister is pious and wears a chador. She saw plainclothesmen throw youngsters to the ground and jump on their legs to break them.

12:30 PM Tehran time - 9:00 AM GMT

People take shelter in a private home near Roosevelt Street.

12:30 PM Tehran time - 9:00 AM GMT


The number of protesters is growing at the entrance of Tehran University. Large crowds building at Enghelab (Revolution) Square and Amirabad (Kargar Shomali) Street, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi.

12:20 PM Tehran time - 8:50 AM GMT

Security forces launch mass attack on protesters. Footage taken from pedestrian bridge in Karim Khan Zand Street, near 7th Tir Square.

12:12 AM Tehran time - 8:42 AM GMT


First footage arriving from Hafteh Tir Square. Protesters chant 'Death to the dictator!' as they are harassed by security forces. 'Don't go into the side streets,' shouts one man.

12:10 PM Tehran time - 8:40 AM GMT

The crowd of protesters is growing by the minute in Daneshjou Square, per Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi's reporter on the ground.

12:05 PM Tehran time - 8:35 AM GMT

Caller on ePersian Radio: Paint is being sprayed on protesters. Hafteh Tir Square and all incoming streets are teeming with people. It's beautiful to see this. Karroubi was beaten and perhaps arrested.

Caller says he personally saw Karroubi beaten on Modarres and that he was perhaps arrested.

11:55 AM Tehran time - 8:25 AM GMT

Protesters have been arrested in Ferdowsi Square, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi's reporter on the ground.

11:45 AM Tehran time - 8:15 AM GMT

Caller on ePersian radio: I've taken shelter in someone's home near 25 Shahrivar Square. Security forces savagely assaulted protesters. Massive crowds on Vali Asr Square. Karroubi had to be taken away in his car by his bodyguards after attack by plainclothesmen. The official regime ceremonies have ended. Despite use of tear gas and disproportionate violence by security forces, protesters managed to defend themselves against security forces and also beat up Basijis.

Security forces are using parking lots of private buildings as holding areas.

11:40 AM Tehran time - 8:10 AM GMT

New protest front is building up on Vali Asr Street. Takhteh Tavous Street has been completely closed off, according to caller on ePersian Radio.

Protest at Isfahan University, according to Al Arabiya.

11:30 AM Tehran time - 8:00 AM GMT

Caller on ePersian radio: Crowd being dispersed on Taleghani Street.

Security forces opened fire on protesters on Hafteh Tir Square, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi's reporter on the ground. People are taking shelter in homes near 7th Tir Square and Karim Khan Zand Street.

11:20 AM Tehran time - 7:50 AM GMT

Mehdi Karroubi has arrived at 7th Tir Square, according to Iran Press News.

11:15 AM Tehran time - 7:45 AM GMT

Side streets near 7th Tir are being used as temporary holding areas. Protesters are arrested, blindfolded, and taken off on motorcycles, one plainclothesman driving, one behind the detainee. They are taken to the side streets near 7th Tir Square. Al-Javad mosque is being used as an HQ and holding area by security forces.

Shots fired into the air in Iranshahr Street, per caller on ePersian Radio. Large green banner held by protesters at the end of Karim Khan Zand Street. They are faced with a line of security forces.

Large crowds on Zand Street. Security forces are showing restraint.

11:05 AM Tehran time - 7:35 AM GMT

Caller on ePersian Radio: Karroubi is moving down Ghoddousi, I think, towards Hafteh Tir Square with a very large number of supporters. Security forces are very savagely beating people in Hafteh Tir.

11:00 AM Tehran time - 7:30 AM GMT

Caller on Radio Farda: Subway trains were not stopping at Hafteh Tir subway station. Passengers got off at Mofatteh St station, to go south from there. Passengers loudly chanted as they climbed the stairs to leave the station, but once outside they were confronted with very heavy security. However, crowd grew consistently and began moving south towards Hafteh Tir Sq. (In the background: Sounds of security officer shouting at protesters to leave.)

10:50 AM Tehran time - 7:20 AM GMT

Karim Khan Zand Street, close to Hafteh Tir Square: Tear gas shot at people. Protesters attacked a group of a dozen Basijis, according to caller on ePersian Radio.

Security forces are beating protesters moving from Tehran University towards 7th Tir Square, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi.

10:40 AM Tehran time - 7:10 AM GMT

South of Hafteh Tir Square: Ten to 15 individuals arrested, according to a caller on ePersian Radio. She said that a woman was being beaten and security forces took away the mobile phone of an individual filming the incident.
But another caller on ePersian said that the police was not exercising any violence towards the opposition protesters.
Security forces initially surrounded Tehran University to block students inside, but the students broke through the cordon about an hour ago.

10:30 AM Tehran time - 7:00 AM GMT

Tear gas fired in Hafteh Tir Square.
Students amassed at the entrance of Tehran University chanted 'Death to the dictator' and have started making their way towards official cortege moving from Tehran University Mosque along Taleghani Street, according to Mowjeh Sabzeh Azadi.
On ePersian Radio: Official chant-master shouts 'Death to America' through his loudspeaker, but crowd responds 'Death to Russia!'