Demonstrations resume in Iran

The crowds are forming again.

More protests erupt today in Iran

Protests erupted again today in Iran.

Violent clashes erupted today in downtown Tehran between more than a thousand determined young men and women chanting, “Death to the dictator” and “God is great” and security forces wielding truncheons.

The screams of a woman being beaten could be heard from nearby buildings, a witness said. Business owners could be seen hustling protesters into their buildings to shield them from plainclothes officers and anti-riot police who fired tear gas canisters.

Passing drivers and motorcyclists honked their horns and flashed the “V” sign in support of the clumps of demonstrators. At least one trash bin was set afire, a witness said, sending a plume of black smoke rising as dusk approached.

Many of the demonstrators wore surgical masks to protect their identities from cameras stationed at adjacent buildings. They could be seen escaping into side streets and regrouping as shops quickly were shuttered.

Some witnesses said pro-government Basiji militiamen also could be seen wearing masks to hide their faces from digital cameras.

Protesters chanted in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was defeated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in disputed elections last month, and urged the security forces to join them.

It’s not over.

Clerics push open more cracks

The news from Iran has been depressing since the thugs who run the government cracked down on the Iranian protesters, but more and more evidence surfaces that the Iranian government has lost legitimacy with much pf the public.

The most important group of religious leaders in Iran has called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.

The statement by the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult — if not impossible.

“This crack in the clerical establishment and the fact they are siding with the people and Moussavi in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic,” said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. “Remember they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei.”

Reformers will not give up in Iran

Despite the brutal crackdown by Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and their fascist thugs, the reform movement is united in opposition to the Iranian government.

Iran’s reformist opposition on Wednesday delivered a co-­ordinated message to Iranians, declaring the government of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad illegitimate and encouraging supporters to challenge it.

A statement by Mir­ Hossein Moussavi, the opposition leader who says the June 12 election was rigged in favour of the hardline Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, followed similarly defiant calls by Mosharekat, Iran’s largest reformist party, and Mehdi Karroubi, the second reformist candidate.

Mohammad Khatami, the former reformist president and a strong supporter of Mr Moussavi, also joined the chorus warning that the regime, with its “poisonous propaganda” against protesters and its security crackdown, was waging a “velvet revolution” against the “people and the system’s republicanism”.

The concerted effort came two days after the Guardian Council, the constitutional watchdog dominated by hardliners, confirmed the election result. It underlines the determination of the opposition to undermine Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s presidency.

A huge security crackdown has restricted the opposition’s ability to organise protests, but the refusal of reformist leaders to accept the election result could discourage western governments from dealing with Mr Ahmadi-Nejad.

“From now on we have a government which will be in the worst conditions in terms of its relations with people because the majority of society – and I am one of them – will not accept its political legitimacy,” Mr Moussavi said.

Hopefully their courage and determination will be rewarded.

“Join us!”

Roger Cohen has a stunning piece about the fighting in Iran, and the bravery or ordinary Iranians fighting their brutal regime.

The Iranian police commander, in green uniform, walked up Komak Hospital Alley with arms raised and his small unit at his side. “I swear to God,” he shouted at the protesters facing him, “I have children, I have a wife, I don’t want to beat people. Please go home.”

A man at my side threw a rock at him. The commander, unflinching, continued to plead. There were chants of “Join us! Join us!” The unit retreated toward Revolution Street, where vast crowds eddied back and forth confronted by baton-wielding Basij militia and black-clad riot police officers on motorbikes.

Dark smoke billowed over this vast city in the late afternoon. Motorbikes were set on fire, sending bursts of bright flame skyward. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, had used his Friday sermon to declare high noon in Tehran, warning of “bloodshed and chaos” if protests over a disputed election persisted.

He got both on Saturday — and saw the hitherto sacrosanct authority of his office challenged as never before since the 1979 revolution birthed the Islamic Republic and conceived for it a leadership post standing at the very flank of the Prophet. A multitude of Iranians took their fight through a holy breach on Saturday from which there appears to be scant turning back.

Cohen believes that the momentum is with the protesters.

Death to the Dictator!

The war for the future of Iran has begun, and the Iranian dictatorship and the Basiji thugs have tried to stop the protesters. The Iranian people are fighting back, and many are chanting, “Death to the Dictator!”

If you want to follow the minute-by-minute updates, the best sources are Andrew Sullivan at his blog and Nico Pitney at The Huffington Post. Both have been live-blogging updates, and both have been passing along Twitter messages as well.

Here’s Barack Obama’s statement about today’s violent attacks on the Iranian people:

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

Awesome photos from Iran

Click here for more.

Basiji hunting

The thought of this brings a smile to my face. The Basiji are the thugs who have been attacking defenseless protesters, including women and children. Their actions have help to rally even conservative Iranians to the cause of the protesters.

Here’s some background from Wikipedia:

The Basij (literally “Mobilization”) — also Bassij or Baseej, or Persian: بسيج; also Baseej-e Mostaz’afin, (literally “Mobilization of the Oppressed);” and officially Nirouye Moqavemate Basij (“Basij Resistance Force”)[1] Persian: نیروی مقاومت بسیج — is a volunteer-based Iranian paramilitary force founded by the order of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on November 1979. The Basij are subordinate to, and receive their orders from, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Originally consisting of those males “either too young or old for regular military service,” the Basij are perhaps most famous for providing the volunteers that made up the human wave attacks against the Iraqis during the Iran–Iraq War, particularly around Basra. Currently Basij serve as an auxiliary force engaged in activities such as law enforcement, emergency management, the providing of social service, organizing of public religious ceremonies, and more controversially morals policing and the suppression of dissident gatherings. They have a local organization in almost every city in Iran.

I commend the protesters and the opposition leaders for stressing nonviolence in the demonstrations. That strategy is critical. But, at some point, fire must be met with fire, and many young Iranians are now going after the Basij thugs, in what is now being referred to as Basiji hunting.

By the way, two nights ago I went out to see a few things … as the general crowds spread into their homes militia style Mousavi supporters were out on the streets ‘Basiji hunting’.

Their resolve is no less than these thugs — they after hunting them down. They use their phones, their childhood friends, their intimate knowledge of their districts and neighbours to plan their attacks — they’re organised and they’re supported by their community so they have little fear. They create the havoc they’re after, ambush the thugs, use their Cocktail Molotovs, disperse and re-assemble elsewhere and then start again – and the door of every house is open to them as safe harbour — they’re community-connected.

The Basiji’s are not.

These are not the students in the dorms, they’re the street young — they know the ways better than most thugs – and these young, a surprising number of them girls, are becoming more agile in their ways as each night passes on.

Also, with $10K every local police station lock can be broken and guns taken out…the police too are crowd friendly…for sure put a gun in their hands and these young become a serious counter-balance to the Basij…call them 10% of 18-22 year olds – that makes circa 10 million around the country versus max 4 million Basijis.

I think Khamenei has miscalculated, and that any attempt to end this through the use of force may very well topple this despicable regime.

Moment of truth in Iran

Tomorrow, Saturday, is the pivotal day. The Iranian people will march in huge numbers, and Khamenei has threatened them with violence.

Barack Obama made it clear today that “the world is watching.” Hopefully we’ll be watching the end of a tyrannical dictatorship.

Khamenei threatens his own people

Khamenei will not back down, and he basically told the protesters in Iran that they will be dealt with harshly if they do not put a stop to the movement.

This is the moment of truth for the opposition, and I suspect that they will not back down. There will be bloodshed, unfortunately, but tyrants like Khamenei will not go without a fight.

Hopefully, many in the army and in the leadership will break from Khamenei and Ahmadinejad if they try to crush the rebellion with violence.

Related Posts