Saturday, June 20, 2009
Eyewitness Report from Iran- June 16
An eyewitness account. Spread it.
From a friend in Iran: Name deleted to protect the author.
From: Sent: June 16, 2009 4:40 PM
Subject: FW: June 16th Update in Iran
The internet connection is extremely slow these days. People say the government has decreased the bandwidth to limit communications. Yahoo messenger, MSN, text messaging, facebook, twitter, youtube and all reformist and netoworking websites are filtered. (I just got to briefly log in to facebook last night with a "filtershekan"). Even mobile phone networks (cellphones) are turned off at nights. So, all my apologies if you didn't get a reply from me.
A lot is happening right now. We are pushing back and some people hear us around the world. Those sitting outside and supporting Hamas and Hesbollah, Ahmadynejad's close friends rather than supporting their own people who suffer should be ashamed. Those who do nothing for Iran but wait for us to give our blood so that they can go back should be ashamed. We need support.
There are rallies every day. Since there is no communication system available, rallies are organized by word of mouth from one event to the other, and then by phone calls, and strangers just telling you to show up as they pass you by or as you are waiting behind red lights. Yesterday, it was supposed to be from Enghelab to Azadi, but it literally started at Emam Hossein sq (Fooziyeh) and spread all the way to Ekabatan. The number of protesters should be estimated in the millions. They were from every layer of society. Southern Tehranis, Northern rich kids, Chaadoris, Ghertis, Hezbollahi, young, old, kids. etc. A huge sample of the Iranian nation, with all its diversity, was there determined to make a change. They are feel betrayed and insulted. Helicopters were flying over our heads to assess the crows. People would wave at them and whistle and making sure they were seen so that they report their presence to the authorities (or authority).
The radio and TV warned people all day long not to attend, as the rally didn't have the "permission from the Ministry of Interior" and warned of serious consequences if it took place, but no one cared.. Everybody went. The "Yegaan vijeh" (anti-riot police) first tried to intimidate people as they were gathering, but the immensity of the crowd then made them back up and hide in a nearby police station. Today, the rally is supposed to be at Meydoon Vali Asr. There are words that the next one will be in front of Sedaa o Sima (National TV station).
Yesterday the rally was calm and peaceful until the=2 0crowd started to disperse at the end. Then the "Lebaas shakhsi" (armed thugs without uniform) and some anti-riot units showed up with more confidence. They started a fire in one corner of Azadi to attract and entrap the most enthusiastic of protesters, then started firing tear gas and shooting. I didn't see it myself, but I heard that a man was shot in the eye. The shooters disappeared..
Chants were all either conducted against Ahmadinejad or in support of Moussavi. Nothing more "sensitive" than that. It's what I call "smart protest". People are extremely vigilant about what to say: Khas o khaashaak toyi, doshman-e in khaak toyi (referring to Ahmadinejad calling protesters khas o khashaak), Dorooghgoo, shast o seh darsadet koo? Ey Mahmoud-e bichaareh, baaz ham begoo FOOTBALLEH (referring to Ahmadinejad assimilating protests to high emotions after a football match), Gofteh boodim agar taghalob besheh, Iran ghiyaamat misheh (people chanted agar taghabol besheh Iran ghiyaamat misheh during the campaign. Yesterday, they had just added "gofteh boodim" to it). Moussavi Raees jomhoureh Iran. Estafaa Estafaa. Marg bar dictator, cheh shaah baasheh cheh Doctor. Rayeh maaro dozdideh, baa rayeh maa poz mideh. Haaleyeh nooro dideh, raayeh maaro nadideh. Some chants were a little more "personal" and a bit more offensive to Ahmadinejad.
Moussavi, Khatami, Mohamad Reza Khatami, Karbaschi, Masjed Jamei, Abtahi, Karoubi all showed up. I missed Moussavi's speech but Abtahi was just a few meter away from where we were. People cheered them a lot.
Apart from rallies, people cry "Allah o Akbar" every night around 9pm from rooftops and cars (Well, it is supposed to be 9pm, but Iranians are always late. So they really start around 9:30). There are also sporadic riots and tire burning in town. Night riots are much more violent. Sa'adat abaad, Shahran, Yousef abad are some of the hottest corners. Universities are really tense too. Police and thugs have already stormed dorms a couple of times and seriously wounded students. As for casualties, all we hear is rumors. I can't confirm any. But it seems that about 7 to 8 people have already been killed in Tehran. I don't know about other cities. One thing that I can tell with certainty, is that people are really determined. They all say there is no stop to this until they get results: Taa Ahmadinejaadeh, har rooz hamin basaateh! (They chant, and they mean it). People have started to wear green again.
Girls are extremely active in all these rallies (A little less in night riots where patches of young men are more visible). They courageously charge anti-riot police, chant slogans in front of t hem, lead the crowd etc. but they are equally beaten too. The police seems to have no limit in the use of force. They are disproportionately violent. They don't use fire weapons but they don't go easy on you with their clubs. They literally beat up protesters to death if they don't get rescued by fellow protesters or somehow break away and run. The level of brutality is exceptional but it is amazing to see how people stand up to them. I heard from many witnesses that thugs were brought by bus from smaller cities to assist police in the crackdown. Someone told me he saw them at the East Terminal around Azadi. He said they are the kinds of people who even beat each other on their spare time.
I don't know how today's rally will go, but I estimate a huge number to show up, which will neutralize police presence and their violence. I estimate that more people will show up today compared to yesterday. The word is that everyone should wear black with green bracelets or scarfs. The good thing about Vali Asr square is that it is right in "downtown" Tehran. It would be such a show of force by people. The national TV can't just keep ignoring it. (Not one single word of yesterday's rally was reported last night, except a really short footage showing Mir Hossein standing on his car to talk to his "supporters" that "contest" the results. The camera didn't zoom out one bit to show the immensity of the crowd that were there for much more than than).
Pray for protesters and for the country. Your support means a lot, as people happily tell each other how Iranians abroad are gathering around embassies to support them. Internet sites are filtered here, so please inform people inside of events and rallies by email if you hear of any. I testify with confidence that this is the most authentic, grassroots and beautiful movement from the people, by the people and for the people. No outside force, no money, no conspiracy is involved. It's all about people telling each other were to gather next time, pledge to show up and keep their promise. There is a spirit of fraternity, determination, resistance, courage, solidarity and generosity that no word can describe. I thank God to have seen this in my lifetime and I wouldn't trade it for the world.