Iran Election Live-Blogging (Saturday June 20)

June 20, 2009 by
Filed under: Sarahpalin 

This is the archive of my Iran election live-blogging from Saturday, June 20. For the latest updates, click here.

12:02 PM ET — More video reported from today.

12:00 PM ET — Mousavi issues letter. Guardian: “Mousavi has sent a letter to the guardian council alleging that there were plans to rig the election months in advance, according to his website. Here’s the Farsi version, and there is a very rough Google translation here.”

11:53 AM ET — “Death to Khamenei!” The NIAC translates the video posted at 10:34AM, and notes: “If this is true, and it corresponds to other things we have heard since Khamenei’s sermon, we are entering a very different phase.”

11:47 AM ET – More from Twitter: “Crowd rushing to Jihoun St, where people are saying Mousavi is there and talking with protesters”

Protesters in Revolution sq r chanting: Goftim agar taghalob besheh basatetoon jam misheh!! “We told u if u cheat it’ll be the end of u”

11:43 AM ET – An Iranian-American talks to Iran contacts: “worth noting
people in iran are hearing that others are coming out to join. people are leaving work now and going to join.”

11:37 AM ET — Report: Police taking injured, dead. This story in Persian says that its reporters are trying to confirm deaths but the dead and injured are being grabbed by security forces and taken away.

11:30 AM ET — More Mousavi reporting.

@LilyMazahery: “Mousavi is at head of Jayhoon ave. giving a speech.”

Reliable Iranian on Twitter: “mousavi among people: I am ready for death”

Another: “Mousavi – Confirmed – I have prepared for martyrdom”

11:20 AM ET — More reports of killings. Via Voice of American Iran:

– “Mahsa from Tehran:I was in the rally today and police forces in Azadi square cruelly killed people and all my body is wounded”

— “From Iran: I am home since 10 minute and Basij forces and police were killing young people like animals”

11:18 AM ET — Report: Mousavi giving speech. “Mousavi is giving a speech to the protesters,” reports Lily Mazahery, a DC based Iranian-American lawyer.

11:03 AM ET — More photos. From here.

11:00 AM ET — “Please pray for us.” From the editor of’s Twitter feed:

i’m dying with worry. please pray for us. 13 minutes ago from web

i’m worried 14 minutes ago from web

she hasn’t returned 14 minutes ago from web

my young sister has taken to the streets as well 14 minutes ago from web

things are horrible, please pray for us 14 minutes ago from web

10:50 AM ET – Tweets from the last 20 minutes from Voice of American Iran.

From Tehran: I was in Eskandari square and police was fighting with people and they shoot a guy and people were trying to help the victim

Caller from Tehran near Jamhouri square: police forces beat a few young people and drag them in a track [sic] to send them to prison

I saw an old man and woman who was beaten by the police in the square who were not protesters either

10:40 AM ET — Ahmadinejad building set on fire. Reuters, via reader Larry: “Supporters of Iran’s defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi on Saturday set on fire a building in southern Tehran used by backers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a witness said. The witness also said police shot into the air to disperse rival supporters in Tehran’s south Karegar street.”

10:36 AM ET — Alleged shrine bombing. “BBC’s Jon Leyne notes from Tehran that there is no evidence yet to support the reports from Iranian government-controlled news organizations of a suicide bombing in Tehran.”

Also, CNN reports that state-run TV now says the alleged blast killed 1 and injured 8.

10:34 AM ET — More video reportedly from today. Demonstrators square off with riot police. Some new photos here and here.

10:22 AM ET — The demonstrators’ dilemma. From an Iranian via reader Samira: “All streets are full of basiji and police. they have blocked all the streets. You can not go south of Felestin street. So if one stops to ponder what to do next, they attack and beat!”

10:19 AM ET — Timing of reported blast. Many are reporting a message on Twitter claiming that the alleged suicide bombing at a shrine in southern Tehran was reported by state media before it actually occurred. There is no confirmed evidence of this. I’ll update if I see any.

10:15 AM ET — AP: Dozens of protesters “seriously beaten.” “The witnesses told The Associated Press that between 50 and 60 protesters were seriously beaten by police and pro-government militia and taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in central Tehran. People could be seen dragging away comrades bloodied by baton strikes. Helicopters hovered over central Tehran. Ambulance sirens echoed through the streets and black smoke rose over the city. Tehran University was cordoned off by police and militia while students inside the university chanted ‘death to the dictator,’ witnesses said.”

10:11 AM ET — AFP: Unrest at Tehran University. “One to two thousand protestors have gathered in front of Tehran University, which is close to the site of a mass rally planned on Saturday, a witness told AFP.”

10:09 AM ET — CNN: Iranian state TV says Mousavi will be held responsible for protests. Also, here is video from an earlier CNN broadcast on the state-run PressTV’s report of a bombing at a shrine to Khomeini.

10:06 AM ET — “Impossible” to get through police. A BBC correspondent:

I’m in the centre of Tehran close to Enghelab Square where the demonstration was supposed to have been held. But there’s a huge security presence here, thousands of men from every possible service: police, revolutionary guard, military police, the riot police in full riot gear, and the much-feared Basij – religious paramilitaries who see themselves as the shock troops of the Islamic revolution.

It’s impossible for any groups of people to get through these to Enghelab Square and hold their demonstration.

10:04 AM ET — Shrine bombing attributed to suicide bomber. “More on that explosion at the shrine: ‘A suicide bomber was killed at the northern wing of Imam Khomeini’s shrine. Two people were injured,’ Fars news agency said, according to Reuters. Khamenei talked about the threat of terrorism in his speech yesterday. ‘Street demonstrations are a target for terrorist plots. Who would be responsible if something happened?’ he said.”

10:01 AM ET — AP reports “fierce clashes.”

Eyewitnesses described fierce clashes near Revolution Square in central Tehran after some 3,000 protesters chanted “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to dictatorship!” Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, the witnesses said. […]

English-language state TV said a blast at the Tehran shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had killed one persona and wounded two but the report could not be independently confirmed due to government restrictions on independent reporting. […]

Web sites run by supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said he planned to post a message, but there was no statement by the time of the planned street protests at 4 p.m. (7:30 a.m. EDT, 1130 GMT).

9:52 AM ET — Video reported to be from today by a reliable Iranian on Twitter shows people running from a large cloud of tear gas.

9:40 AM ET — State media claims 2 injured at Khomeini shrine explosion.

NBC’s Ann Curry tweets: “Iran state tv claims explosion at tomb of revered Ayatollah Khomeini. Would incite anger against protesters. Is it true? … Remember Iran govt is the only source of this explosion report. NO independent confirmation and misinformation is dangerous.”

A reader, speculating that the government set the bomb, writes, “The mullahs did something similar in August 1978 in Iran – they set a cinema in Abadan ablaze and blamed the Shah. That was the turning point of that revolution as the people bagan to see the Shah as ruthless.”

9:31 AM ET – Reuters: “Iranian riot police used tear gas on Saturday to disperse demonstrators protesting in Tehran against a disputed presidential election, a witness said. Smoke was rising over Enghelab (Revolution) Square, where supporters of defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi had gathered in defiance of a ban on protests, the witness added.”

9:24 AM ET — CNN: “Blast” at mausoleum. CNN, citing state-run media, is reporting a “blast” at a mausoleum.

Update: CNN reporting that the explosion was at the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum “about 20 minutes outside of the city.”

9:20 AM ET — Basiji attacks. This video, posted to YouTube today and apparently footage from a few nights ago, appears to show plainclothes Basijis attacking pedestrians in the nighttime (a widely-reported practice). A reader translates the woman’s words:

It’s really striking when you actually know what she’s saying: At first she’s worried about her mom, who has left the house. She’s concerned that her mom may be caught up in a scene like the one she’s watching. But when she starts crying, it’s actually because she sees “them” (she never says who exactly, but you can assume from context that it’s the basiji) climbing balconies and breaking into houses with bricks. She keeps screaming: “They’re going into people’s homes!” and “They’re destroying everything!”

9:15 AM ET — AP: Tear gas and water cannons being used.

Witnesses say police are using tear and water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters rallying in Tehran to demand a new presidential election.

Eyewitnesses contacted by The Associated Press say the protesters gathered in central Tehran in open defiance of the cleric-led government.

The witnesses say some 3,000 protesters chanted “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to dictatorship!” near Revolution Square in central Tehran. Police confronted them by using tear gas and water cannon.

Witnesses say thousands of police and plainclothes militia members filled the streets to prevent rallies.

A German news service has similar accounts: “In ongoing confrontations, Iranian police clashed in Tehran with opposition protesters on Saturday, according to reports reaching the German Press Agency dpa in Berlin. The reports cited eyewitnesses as reporting a clash and that police and riot forces had used tear gas.”

9:01 AM ET — “Rocks and fire.” Another reliable Iranian has sent 3 messages in the last 7 minutes:

– “HARD conflict between the people and the Special Guard. people: down with khamenee”

– “Heavy clashes on azadi street, chants of death to khameni! The street is full of rocks and fire.”

– “Voice of shooting in Azadi street in Tehran”

For Persian speakers: a live stream of BBC Persia is here. If you see any notable coverage, please email me.

8:43 AM ET — Reports of violence. From a reliable Iranian on Twitter: “special guards confronted with people, attacked them with batton dispersed them into small ally ways”

CNN: “1,000s of people attempting to enter Tehran protest site have been blocked by heavily armed police — eyewitness”

A trusted Iranian reporter writes, “The rally of Silente continues today in Iran. Some witnesses are reporting gunshot in Azadi St.”

8:28 AM ET — “Clashes.” ABC’s Jim Sciutto: “Tweets from inside Iran say rally is on and police clashing with protesters.”

CNN’s Rosemary Church: “A few thousand people attempting to enter 1 of the protest sites in Tehran have been blocked by heavily armed police.”

8:23 AM ET — Saturday morning before the demonstrations. A reader sends in this picture of Ferdosi Square, reportedly taken today around noon local time:

Another photo, reportedly from today, from readers Mona and Allie:

8:20 AM ET — The mindset of the demonstrators. Insights from Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, who appeared on MSNBC this morning with anchor Alex Witt:

WITT: Do you think the riot police presence will keep people from coming out ultimately?

PARSI: I don’t think so. I think…they’re far less fearful of the riot police than they are from the Basij, who have been far more brutal in their crackdown on the protests. I think they know that if the images of the protest end up being rather small and meek, that will be a huge psychological victory for the Ahmadinejad supporters, and most people I’ve spoken to seem to be determined to want to prevent that.

8:09 AM ET — Heavy presence of security forces reported. Information is hard to come by right now but multiple reports suggest that security forces are out in droves. From Reuters: “Witnesses said they had seen Basij Islamic militia deploying across Tehran and one resident saw at least three buses full of Basij heading for the capital from the nearby city of Karaj on Saturday, as well as four trucks full of the motorcycles used by Basij militiamen during previous demonstrations.”

Also, from 15 minutes ago: “Iranian riot police were deployed in Tehran blocking off the area where supporters of defeated candidates had planned the rally.”

AP: “Firetrucks took up positions in Revolution Square, the site of the planned gathering, and riot police surrounded Tehran University, the site of recent clashes between protesters and security forces, one witness said.”

8:01 AM ET — The implications of today’s events. From BBC’s Jon Leyne:

It is a very confused and tense situation. The security forces are out on the streets. They have been issuing dire warnings that they will deal with any unauthorised demonstrations with determination.

This is all about the position of the Supreme Leader. Any rally, particularly if it is attended by the opposition leaders, would be the most direct challenge to his authority. If it goes ahead and there is a large crowd, that would be a massive challenge to him. If it goes ahead and it is broken up with violent force, that could also damage his position enormously. It is a very tense situation. These are huge political issues at stake, if not even the future of the Islamic Republic.

7:55 AM ET — Alleged photos from today. Via reader Rich. A few similar shots here.

7:41 AM ET — Demonstrators issued new warnings.

Iran’s interior ministry said no permission has been given to hold any rally anywhere in the country on Saturday, the ISNA news agency reported.

“There are rumours by different political groups saying that a permission for a rally on Saturday has been issued. Hereby, these rumours are denied,” the ministry said.

“The dear and alert people are informed that no permission for any rally and gathering anywhere in the country has been issued.

“Obviously, those who violate this will be confronted according to the law,” the statement added, without elaborating.

According to state-run media, Iran’s Security Council said: “We believe this is an organised network which is most probably affiliated to foreign-related groups and deliberately disturbs the peace and security of the public. Of course we have already ordered the law enforcement forces to deal with the issue,”

Also, AP reports: “Police and members of the pro-government Basij militia were out in force on the streets on Tehran, particularly in central commercial districts. Tehran Province Police Chief Ahmad Reza Radan said ‘police forces will crack down on any gathering or protest rally which are being planned by some people.’ English-language state TV said the country’s highest national security body had ordered security forces to deal with the situation. It did not elaborate.”

7:31 AM ET — Guardian Council open to random recount of 10% of ballots. “Iran’s electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, has expressed its readiness to ‘randomly’ recount up to 10 percent of the ballot boxes from last week’s disputed presidential election, state television quoted a spokesman as saying.”

France24 reported, “Iranian presidential candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi failed to attend a meeting with the Guardian Council, according to Iranian state TV.”


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