Monday, February 14, 2011

25 Bahman scrapbook

The opposition has announced its intention to demonstrate on 14 February 2011 (25 Bahman in the Iranian calendar). I'll be regularly updating this scrapbook to provide an overview of events and to give an idea of the mood in the country today. Please be advised that the times quoted reflect the moment that I became aware of an event or wrote it down, not necessarily the hour at which it occurred. I have tried to only post information and video clips which are credible. Although there is now a great volume of footage and photos showing extensive protests around Tehran (and other cities and towns in Iran), I have only posted those that appeared to be from today with a very high degree of certainty. One of the slogans of the day was 'Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyed Ali' (...Seyed Ali's turn) referring to the former presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, and Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

Other outlets such as Enduring America and Tehran Bureau will post what I expect to be more detailed live blogs in English.

For more videos, here are a few very interesting YouTube channels:  Unity4Iran, Freedom Messenger, Only Mehdi, Iran Students Committee...You can also check out more videos that I selected through my Twitter feed.

Purported sites of protests

View Alleged sites of protests - 25 Bahman in a larger map

3:20 AM Tehran time - 11:50 PM GMT
I cannot remember demonstrators continuing their street protest into the late hours during previous rallies (perhaps an astute reader will correct me on this), but for whatever reason (calls to learn from the Egyptians and not relinquish the streets to security forces?), Iranians continued their protests as night fell. Here are a few videos purportedly from this evening.

Demonstrators chant 'Independence, freedom, an Iranian Republic' -- a deliberate twist on the revolutionary slogan which ended with 'Islamic Republic' -- as a bonfire burns under a pedestrian bridge.

Cars honk in support as protesters chant around a trash can that has been set on fire:

Traffic at a standstill, while demonstrators shout 'Death to Khamenei' and 'I will kill the one who killed my brother.'

3:15 AM Tehran time - 11:45 PM GMT
Protesters shout 'Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyed Ali!' on Azerbaijan Street, south of Azadi Street:

3:00 AM Tehran time - 11:30 PM GMT
Seyed Mohamad Marandi, professor at Tehran's University's Institute for North American and European Studies, was at it again. Famously referred to by Fareed Zakaria as a 'mouthpiece for a dying, repressive regime' during a tense interview on CNN's GPS and grilled on Al Jazeera for callously supporting the execution of Arash Rahmanipour, 19, and Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani, 38 (the two men were tried for waging war against God during the regime's infamous show trials), Marandi was in the warmer embrace of Russia Today tv channel this evening. He told the station's journalist that 'the Islamic Republic of Iran is highly popular' and that the protesters today were 'no more than a few hundred':

11:10 PM Tehran time - 7:40 PM GMT
Compelling evidence that the protests continued into the night (and may still be going on, according to some reports). One of the ways to confirm the date of a video is to listen to the slogans being chanted. This clip features today's favorite phrase: 'Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyed Ali!' (...Seyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn). One protester screams out, 'This is the rage of the people!' This looks like it was filmed in one of the city's main thoroughfares, Azadi Street:

11:00 PM Tehran time - 7:30 PM GMT
Video shows a regime supporter in unfamiliar territory as he tries to boss protesters around and gets a beating for his efforts. This clip is the prelude to another one below (where the poster bearing photos of Khomeini and Khamenei is burned):

10:45 PM Tehran time - 7:15 PM GMT
'Seyed Ali's turn,' mutters the cameraman, referring to Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. It seemed this was the theme for much of the day. 'It looks like a war zone,' the cameraman says as he looks upon streets strewn with burning debris:

9:10 PM Tehran time - 5:40 PM GMT
It is quite likely that this video was shot today as the protesters reject the Islamic Republic's allies in the region and underline their kinship with the people of Tunisia and Egypt: 'Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon! Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran!'

9:00 PM Tehran time - 5:30 PM GMT
Another video, purportedly from today, showing protesters tearing down a poster of Khamenei. The 'Mubarak, Ben Ali, Seyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn' chant can be heard in the background:

8:30 PM Tehran time - 5:00 PM GMT
Video showing protesters burning Khamenei's picture in the middle of the street. It is highly likely that this clip was filmed today as the poster is promoting 'Neshasteh Basirat,' loosely translated as 'enlightenment gathering.' A series of these types of ideological/propaganda conferences are organized during the ten days of official celebrations which lead up to the anniversary of the 1979 revolution on February 11. We can also hear the crowd chanting 'Mobarak, Ben Ali, Seyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn.' As explained below, the chants may have been added to an old video, but this does not appear to be the case:

8:10 PM Tehran time - 4:40 PM GMT
Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's web site has issued a photo showing a police van blocking his alley to prevent him from leaving. The site reports that Mousavi's bodyguards were told he could not leave. Mousavi then tried to obtain his car keys in order to drive to the protests, but was rebuffed. He and his wife, Zahra rahnavard, then decided to leave on foot, at which point the police van was driven into the alley to seal off the exit:

7:30 PM Tehran time - 4:00 PM GMT
I can conclusively identify where this next video, showing protesters chanting and burning garbage cans, was filmed. Towards the end we get a glimpse of Shahriar Hospital's sign.

This clinic is situated at the corner of Karun and Azarbaijan streets, about 2 kilometers northwest of Khamenei's offices, and about 2 kilometers east of Azadi Square:

View Untitled in a larger map

Here's the video:

7:15 PM Tehran time - 3:45 PM GMT
Video purportedly showing protesters chanting 'Political prisoners must be freed' near Enghelab today. They are dispersed with tear gas:

6:25 PM Tehran time - 2:55 PM GMT
Another video, purportedly from Enghelab Street today ('Death to the dictator!'):

6:20 PM Tehran time - 2:50 PM GMT
Photos of the heavy security presence in Tehran today:

5:55 PM Tehran time - 2:25 PM GMT
An amazing video. If authentic, it shows the first massive protest in Tehran in over a year. The only thing that makes me consider that it is possibly credible is the chant that can be heard: 'Mobarak, Ben Ali, nobateh Seyed Ali!' ([Hosni] Mobarak, [Zeinolabeddine] Ben Ali, Seyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn!) But was the chant added to an old video? I'm afraid I can't say. Update: This clip does not feature today's protests and was deliberately doctored with the sounds of today's chants. I'm keeping it as a reminder that rumor and falsehood can be the by-products of a closed society like the Islamic Republic:

5:50 PM Tehran time - 2:20 PM GMT
Video purportedly of Sharif University protest today:

5:35 PM Tehran time - 2:05 PM GMT
Cries of 'death to the dictator!' can be heard over the mobile phone of an eyewitness in a Tehran street. Another slogan I personally heard: 'Mobarak, Ben Ali. Nobateh Seyed Ali' (Mobarak, Ben Ali, now Seyed Ali [Khamenei's] turn.) I also heard: 'Nezami joda sho, ba mellat hamseda sho.' (Military separate [from the regime], join the people's voice).

Another opposition news outlet hacked? Daneshjoo News appears to be down.

5:30 PM Tehran time - 2:00 PM GMT
Portions of the police radio recording discussed previously have been posted on the Net:

5:20 PM Tehran time - 1:50 PM GMT
Reports of large numbers of people coming out into the streets, but scattered for now. More reports of burning garbage cans from the Ferdowsi square area. Many Basijis around Enghelab Square. Roads have been closed off by security forces, but passengers are getting out of their cars and walking towards squares and roads around the Imam Hossein-Azadi axis.

5:05 PM Tehran time - 1:35 PM GMT
More reports of protests and clashes in Shiraz.

Reports of demonstration in Enghelab Square.

Mobile telephone service has been cut in parts of Tehran, according to sources in the city. There are increasing reports of clashes and protests around the city, though no convincing videos have been posted yet. ePersian radio broadcast what was purported to be Tehran police radio dispatcher: '5,000 to 6,000 protesters going from Vali Asr towards Enghelab... They're chanting pretty sharp slogans.'

5:00 PM Tehran time - 1:30 PM GMT
Video purportedly showing large number of Basij security forces on motorcycles driving towards sensitive spots in Tehran:

4:15 PM Tehran time - 12:45 PM GMT
ePersian radio's reporter on the ground reports: Tear gas fired, protesters have lit garbage cans on fire, motorcycle-riding security forces, protesters beaten between Enghelab and Azadi squares.

Protesters near Mollah Sadra and in Shiraz University.

3:55 PM Tehran time - 12:25 PM GMT
Hacker vs. Hacker
The opposition Saham News web site (Karroubi's outlet) was hacked, but is back online (see screen capture of Saham News homepage minutes before coming back online). The new cyber-police force in action?
Update: I'm told the site is offline again.

3:30 PM Tehran time - 12:00 PM GMT
Video, purportedly from today, showing a group of motorcycle-riding security forces, possibly Basij:

3:15 PM Tehran time - 11:45 AM GMT
Some sources claim a sit-in is being organized in Imam Hossein square.

3:00 PM Tehran time - 11:30 AM GMT
Contradictory reports about the Interior Ministry having issued a permit for today's protest. Some serious outlets like BBC Persian have reported that the Interior Ministry has finally issued such a permit (some sources say this was done after the intercession of Turkey's President Gul who is visiting Iran today). The news is serious enough for IRNA to have reacted immediately with a denial from Deputy Interior Minister Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, who accused the BBC of making trouble.
Update: Foreign Ministry source claims permit was issued to appease Turkish President Gul, but some security outlets are denying this in order to dissuade people from demonstrating, a caller tells ePersian radio.

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

ePersian radio: The usual coterie of regime supporters are phoning the call-in program to insult host Saeed Ghaem Maghami. Ghaem Maghami responds by saying to one of them, 'You may hate me, but I love you, sister, and I'll definitely see you in Tehran.' Callers report disturbances in Naziabad district, Azadi Square, and Sadeghiyeh.

Radio Farda: Caller says he is a veteran and brother of a martyr of the Iran-Iraq War. Says he will be present on Azadi Street today. Mir Hossein Mousavi senior adviser Ardeshir Amir Arjmand: 'Today's peaceful protest will be a test for Iran's armed and security forces.'

2:30 PM Tehran time - 11:00 AM GMT
Initial videos appearing on the Internet and purporting to be from today do not appear authentic. Weather in Tehran is brisk today, but protesters in this clip are not dressed warmly:

2:15 PM Tehran time - 10:45 AM GMT
I tweeted these updates earlier:

- Etemad Melli Party spokesman (Mehdi Karroubi's party) Esmail Gerami Moghaddam declared, 'According to the constitution, the February 14 demonstration does not require a permit from the Interior Ministry.'

- The state TV web site is still down, apparently the victim of a denial of service attack. The hacker group Anonymous had announced it would wage such attacks in a video released late last week. 

- In an attempt to keep people from demonstrating, the government has told civil servants that they can benefit from overtime by staying at their desks until 6PM today.

2:00 PM Tehran time - 10:30 AM GMT
Reports of people massing in Tehran's Sadeghiyeh district, north of Azadi Square.

View Sadeghiyeh, Tehran - 14 February 2011 in a larger map

Earlier today (8:30AM Tehran time), a protester climbed a crane near Chahar Raheh Ghasr, hoisted flags, and held up photos of 'martyrs.' He/she threatened to jump off if security forces attempted to apprehend him/her.