First of all, let me give a few updates on what we know and what we suspect about what's happening in Iran right now. I'm compiling this information at about midnight Eastern time, which would be about 8:30am Tehran time. We should be getting a wave of morning news starting fairly soon.
What we know about planned protests:
* Mousavi or Mousavi's agents (specifically Zahra Rhanavard, Mousavi wife) have called for a mass protest in 20 Iranian cities. This is planned for 4:00pm Tehran time, which will be 7:30am Eastern time, if my math is right. (I had originally heard 5:00pm, but Andrew Sullivan's account of Zahra's speech says 4:00pm - if someone can confirm the time, it would be appreciated) The call is still out for these protests, as far as I know, but the escalating violence may be changing the situation.
* Mousavi has also called for a mass strike to take place on Tuesday. Iranian citizens who want to protest the election are asked to keep their businesses closed, not to go to work, etc. (Of course, with the rate at which people are being arrested and beaten, it's possible that the strike will happen by default - an imprisoned business owner is no more able to open his business than a striking business owner)
* Internationally, Green supporters and Iranian expatriates are planning to protest in front of Iranian embassies, information centers, etc. This is scheduled for TUESDAY. I don't have much information on this at the moment, but I hope that it takes off (and that it doesn't come too late). My suspicion is that Tuesday may be the best time for such protests. I don't think the street protests in Iran's cities can last more than a couple more days, not without major changes or major international acknowledgement of what's happening. Like one wave striking the back of another and repowering it, it's my hope that Tuesday international protests will help keep the fire alive for the Green movement.
Major Figures and Institutions in Iran:
* The latest on Mousavi, via Andrew Sullivan, via the BBC. What follows is apparently a message direct from Mousavi:
"I AM UNDER EXTREME PRESSURE TO ACCEPT THE RESULTS OF THE SHAM ELECTION. THEY HAVE CUT ME OFF FROM ANY COMMUNICATION WITH PEOPLE AND AM UNDER SURVEILLANCE. I ASK THE PEOPLE TO STAY IN THE STREETS BUT AVOID VIOLENCE"
* Early reports indicated that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had resigned in protest over the elections. Clarification says that Rafsanjani has resigned only a position he held within the civilian government (slow internet means I can't find out WHAT position ATM). He has NOT resigned his position as leader of the Assembly of Experts. The Assembly of Experts, a council of Iranian clerics, is the only body with the authority to remove Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from power. Reports indicate that Rafsanjani is currently in Qom, a major center of clerical power. It is speculated that he may be trying to gague whether the Assembly of Experts is willing to oust Khameni. (Rafsanjani is certainly more than willing to do so himself)
Clarification on this via Scipio in comments:
"While the rumor haven't been confirmed anywhere, the complete Rafsanjani one is that he's resigned from his position as Chairman of the Expediency Council, and that he's currently in Qom getting a nose count of how a vote to remove Khamenei from the position of Supreme Leader - which he can do as Chairman of the Assembly of Experts - would do.
STRATFOR has been publishing this info with the explicit disclaimer that it's a rumor, meaning that they're hearing it from enough interesting people that they can verify that people are saying this, but that they can't vouch for it actually happening."
* There is, to my knowledge, still no word from Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri. Montazeri is the most senior cleric in Iran, and was the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini before Khamenei took power.
* Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, the reformist cleric who garnered attention for issuing a fatwa against suicide bombing, tried to issue a fatwa earlier today that prohibited his followers from working in an Ahmedinejad government. I heard somewhere along the line that this fatwa was blocked. (I don't know how fatwa work very well, so I'm really not aware of what the deal is here. Anyone who can give more info, it would be appreciated)
* As I mentioned in comments earlier today, there are twitter reports that the main Iranian army told the Revolutionary Guard that it would not fire on Iranian citizens. This would square with the widespread reports indicating that the dissent-quellers involve many Arabic speakers. It's hypothesized that the regime is using Ansar-e Hezbollah forces to quell the protests.
* Early reports of mass resignations from Sharif Polytechnic University seem to be true. The summary I'm seeing on facebook reads as follows:
"Students from the Sharif Polytechnic University have organized a large protest on the university campus. As they tried to move the protest into the street, in order to march down the streets of Tehran, their exits and gates were blocked by the regime’s security guards and they were blocked from leaving the university grounds; at this juncture the students began to chant loudly and when the sound of their chanting was heard by passersby on the street, they began to gather by the thousands at the other side of the university gates. As reported by the human rights and democracy activists in Iran, the entire area was surrounded by the regime’s guards, who have begun to attack and beat the students and supporting demonstrators. Javan’eh Farda (Tomorrow’s Youth) website reported that, in a statement, 125 members of the Sharif Polytechnic University faculty have condemned the attacks on the students and have jointly announced their resignations, stating that until the time the people’s rights are given, they will neither appear in classes nor for any exams."
On current violence and protests, I don't want to give a blow-by-blow. There's just too much information. Suffice it to say that violence has broken out at a number of universities (Tehran University, in particular, is being reported as the scene of widespread violence with as many as 100 students critically injured). Protests appear to be spreading to almost all large Iranian cities, but violence is spreading as well. Protesters are frequently being engaged by motorcycle police riding double - one person driving as the other uses a baton to club the protesters.
There are also reports of mass arrests. The rally circulated for 12:30pm Sunday afternoon appears to have been a trap set by the police, as was widely speculated - it isn't clear how many people actually went there, though. I'll try to put together a list of what we know about who has been arrested a little later.
On a more positive note, there are also widespread reports of Iranians leaving the gates and doors to their homes ajar overnight, to provide refuge for protesters fleeing the police.
Finally, I want to leave you with one message that showed up on Andrew Sullivan's page earlier tonight and some reaction. The following comes from the liveblogging on niacINsight:
8:56 update: More from relatives in Tehran:
WE NEED HELP. WE NEED SUPPORT. Time is not on our side , waiting and making sure means more casualties, more disappointment, more brutality.
In response to a question of what the Iranian people want the U.S. and American people to do, his response was as follows:
The most essential need of young Iranians is to be recognized by US government. They need them not to accept the results and do not talk to A.N government as an official, approved one. They need help by sending true information. All the medias are under arrest or close control. Help them have the information.
They only try to show the fraud to the world. Help them please. You can not imagine the level of brutality we saw these two awful days.
Myself, I've been with those who say the US government shouldn't get involved. Our history in the region, and our reputation, is far from stellar. But the Iranian-Americans I know have talked about Iranian people, especially youth, being more open to America than we think here in the US.
The protesters need help. They need their voices to be heard. Twitter, YouTube, bloggers, and the netroots have been helping, but they need all the assistance they can find right now. I don't really know what Obama can say in support of Iranian democracy, but I hope he can find the words to provide new strength to the Green movement. The last two or three days has shown us an amazing amount about both the power of new technologies and the entrenchment of existing powers in this world.
I hope Obama can find words to help the situation, but for the moment I'd just like to put out a plea to SPREAD THE WORD. Make sure all your friends and family know what's happening in Iran. That's almost all I've been doing the last two days. The Green movement in Iran is a movement of the people. What they need is the strength of the people of the WORLD behind them. Even if governments are acknowledging Ahmedinejad, international public outcry can provide an antidote. It may actually be inappropriate for governments to weigh in and interfere, but public outcry can create a new narrative. When no one else can speak, that is when it's most important for those of us who CAN to employ our voices to the greatest effect.
Good luck to all the Iranian people, to the spirit of Iranian democracy, and to the revolutionary spirit they cherish.
* Some hospitals were/are being surrounded by troops thereby preventing the injured from being taken care of.
* Some are asking everyone to show their support for the Green Movement by wearing green on Tuesday.
I didn't mention what we know about the media situation.
* Most or all Iranian news agencies appear to have been taken over by government forces.
* Iranian TV carried no reports on the protests Saturday. Instead, it showed movies all day.
* ABC and NBC affiliates have had their film and cameras confiscated.
* BBC has been ordered out of the country.
* BBC Farsi has apparently been under electronic attack from the government, seeking to cut it off (confirmation?)
* TehranBureau website has been gone for about half a day.
I'm really wondering what the Daily Show's Jason Jones is doing right now... Also, thank God for YouTube and cell phones.
* Mousavi and all other presidential challengers are apparently under house arrest.
* Ayatollah Khomeini's granddaughter has reportedly been placed under arrest.
* Ben Knight reports that the brother of former president Khatami has been arrested.
* From YNetNews, I hear that "between 10 and 30 journalists of the Etemad-e melli newspaper are being held by the security forces."
* Reformist groups are reporting as many as 100 members arrested. Early information suggested that most of these arrests were made early, just after the election to try to decapitate potential protests. (This seems in line with SMS messaging being cut off before the elections and cell phone service going down more recently)
This is actually about three hours old, but I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere (have been somewhat busy typing, though). Apparently Mousavi, Khatami, and Rafsanjani have been trying to meet with Ayatollah Khamenei since noon of the day after the election (or possibly the day of the election). IranRiggedElect on Twitter says:
Tabnak, Mr.Rezaie's website, one of the candidates, just announced that Mousavi had a brief meeting with the supreme leader last night.
Also, apparently I'm on the rec list. So I guess I'm going to have to do a bit more work taking care of this thing and keeping you all up to date. (^_^)
Photos from the Tehran University dorms, Sunday night:
While I was gone, pattisigh turned up the story on CNN and Twitter that Mousavi has been denied his permit to protest for tomorrow. He had previously said that if he was denied this permit, he would take assylum in the Khomeini shrine. We can probably expect more news stories following this throughout the night/morning.
Also, kanuk provides a very good link to the story of George McLeod, a Canadian reporter for the Globe and Mail who was mistaken for a protester, detained, and beaten. It's definitely worth a read.
If you want up-to-the-minute Twitter coverage, voroki also provides a link to a list of Iranian Twitterers. I ran into a list like this earlier on Sunday, but this looks more complete.
Among the Twitter cloud, I'd like to mention in particular StopAhmadi, who has also been mentioned by the Huffington Post and perhaps others. He's asleep at the moment, I think, but he was doing a fantastic job getting the word around with only about 5hrs sleep over the course of two or three days, providing near-constant Twitter information. He's also responsible for organizing the old-school Denial of Service attacks on Ahmedinejad's and Khamenei's websites yesterday. But all of these men and women on Twitter have been doing a tremendous amount to let the world know what's happening in Iran right now. They all deserve our appreciation, our best wishes, and (for those of us who are religiously minded) our prayers.
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