Iran Election – Futher Developments, Confirmations of Deaths
A new day in Iran brings new developments in this rapidly unfolding debacle that has spiralled far beyond the wildest imaginations of anyone.
Firstly, there have been several confirmations that imported Lebanese forces (supplied by Hizbullah obviously) have been sent into Iran to join the basij in fighting protesters. Several tweeters have reported first-hand accounts of being yelled at in Arabic and broken Farsi.
There have been varying reports of deaths in the university attacks of previous nights. TehranBureau reports five dead at Tehran University the night before yesterday’s mass rally in Azaadi Square:
Students who witnessed the previous night’s attack had described “pressure groups” — a euphemism for Iran’s unofficial paramilitary police, the Basij — entering both the male and female dormitories of the university in full force, with tear gas canisters, batons and motorcycles.
Abbas Djavadi reported, on his blog, the following first-hand accounts of the horrific attacks on universities of Sunday night:
They confirmed that the attack on their dormitory was brutal, destructive, and the authorities may have taken as many as 100 students with them. In Tehran, one faculty told me, the security forces had thrown some student off a building. There was an attack on a University dormitory in Isfahan as well. A similar episode happened in Shiraz a few nights ago. In last night’s attack, according to an ‘Amir Kabir Newsletter’ (I can send it to any journalist who can read Persian), security forces and others in civilian clothes were brutal: 5 students are reported in critical condition, and three were killed (including a female student).
Confirmations of deaths at universities also come from the Guardian:
A Farsi website, Balatarin, carried an unconfirmed report that seven people had been killed in the southern city of Shiraz following confrontations with riot police at the local university. Five busloads of plainclothes officers had been sent to confront the demonstrators during Sunday’s protests, but were said to have been unable to prevent them from being joined by members of the public and marching to one of the city’s main squares. It is unclear whether all those said to have died were students.
The Guardian also lists several other universities that participated in protest action of some sort. Including Esfahan University, where 60 students were taken into custody following clashes, and facilities badly damaged; Hamedan University & Babol University in Mazandaran province on the Caspian Sea; Tabriz University, Amir Kabir University and Sharif University also.
TehranBureau also reports that yesterday’s march, hundreds of thousands of people strong, was conducted peacefully and, most shockingly, in silence, as marchers made a point, holding placards demanding justice and waving their fingers in Vs for victory. The protest remained peaceful until nightfall, at which point shots were heard, fires were lit and molotov cocktails flew through the air. It seems the cover of darkness was the perfect cover for the regime’s anonymous, faceless thugs to impose their brand of politics on the people by taking their blood. According to BBC, hospitals reported that 8 people died after that protest.
And Mr. Ahmadinejad, where is he to be found in all this? He is in Russia, among friends, attending a summit in Yekaterinburg, on his first official trip abroad since the disputed election. Reportedly he looks like he hasn’t slept in days (I wouldn’t be surprised) but trying to put on a happy face… hey I’d be happy and relieved too if I could avoid the shitstorm back home like he is currently doing. Though one also wonders what he thinks he’s going to come back to, as one tweeter put it:
Today’s news comes with a massive clampdown on foreign media in Iran, many have been told to leave Iran altogether, the rest are barred from reporting or documenting the protests, effectively confining them to their offices. Further clampdowns and increased violence also seems imminent on the streets. As night falls on Tehran tonight, there are rumours already flying about further raids on universities. Mousavi has asked his supporters to back down on street protesting and pursue civil disobedience because the Government troops have been given permission to use live ammunition and fire at will, a carte blanche basically.
Another important item of news today is the newfound support of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, in a letter written in Farsi (no translation available yet that I’m aware of) he claims that “no sane mind can accept these election results”. While Montazeri is, again, famous for being reformist and progressive in his stance (campaigning for women’s rights and against government policy that infringed on people’s freedom) he is also a bigshot in the clerical establishment (to say the least). Also a key player in the revolution of 1979, Montazeri was at one point the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini (oh how different things could’ve been) before the pair had a falling out ultimately propelling Ayatollah Khamenei to the throne.
This is all staged against the background of a heavy turnaround from the Guardian council, who have agreed to stage a partial recount of the votes. Whether this will be accepted by Mousavi and the protesters is another matter, however, as they seem to want a full re-run. This would make sense, what would a recount achieve? The government is seeking to appease the demonstrators but practically speaking, a recount would achieve nothing. It would say nothing for the irregularities such as various polling booths running out of votes, and the bizarre numbers voting system which gave the regime easy access to forgery. Basically, a recount could easily be re-fudged, just perhaps, more carefully and giving Mousavi more votes, however just as artificial.
Updating the status of communication networks, reports are that the SMS network is still down, as are Facebook and Friendfeed. Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger have joined the ranks of the blocked, as has possibly Twitter (conflicting reports on this one). However, I would suggest that some enterprising Iranians have found ways to bypass the government restrictions by some form of hacking wizardry which I’m unfortunately not savvy to (no one’s perfect) as we have still seen a good flow of tweets from Iran. Regardless, everyone is reporting that internet speeds are down to somewhere in the vicinity of 1kb/s and many packets are being lost (this is bad).
As Iran descends into nightfall once more, who knows what horrors the darkness will bring, we can only wait and see. Please continue to follow this blog for further updates as I am following developments quite closely and will be updating daily with a summary of both confirmed and unconfirmed news.