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