Political events in Iran continue to unfold following the June 12 presidential election. For the past week, I have tried to (and often failed to) keep up with the rapid-fire clips of news coming from Iran. This has been helpful, at least to me.
I wish to shift gears now, though, and contextualise the situation. It is helpful to have a play-by-play, but it’s also helpful to take a step back and have a look at certain things such as: what is the character of Iran’s contemporary and past culture, are the motivations of people being accurately portrayed, what is political life like within the country? Essentially, I believe much more analysis is needed, and that, at least in some cases, the core issues indigenous to Iran are perhaps increasingly being misunderstood.
So, I will from this point on suggest other people’s relevant analysis or write my own in future posts.
Regular updates and live blogs are available at a number of different sites following Iran’s post-election politics, such as on the Guardian’s blog, and at the Huffington Post. You can also review my past updates below, covering some of the events in the past week.
Archive of previous updates: Week 1
China’s Xinhua news reports that: “Four family members of Iran’s influential former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani have been released, but his daughter is still under custody, Iran’s satellite channel Press TV reported Sunday.”
Grand ayatollah Montazeri has declared three days of mourning in Iran. Tehran Bureau has a translation of his statement on their site. Also provided here, below:
In the name of God
We all come from Him and will go back to Him
The great and dignified Iranian nation:
With much sorrow I was informed that, during peaceful rallies to defend their lawful rights, the great Iranian people have been attacked [by the security forces], beaten, and bloodied, and killed. While expressing my condolences for this painful event and the losses, and feeling the pain of the nation, I declare Wednesday [June 24], Thursday and Friday days of national mourning. I express my strongest support for the Muslim nation [of Iran] in their defense of their rights in the framework of the Constitution that recognizes republicanism [direct and free elections, and respect for the votes] as one of the pillars of the [political] establishment, and declare that any action that would harm the republicanism of the system is not permitted [is against religion]. Every one of our religious brothers and sisters must help the nation in defending its lawful rights. Based on this principle, any resistance in this direction [against people who are defending their right], particularly use of violence, beating, and killing of [the people of] the nation is acting against the Islamic principle that the nation must decide its own fate and path and, therefore, I declare it to be religiously haraam [the worst sin].
Hossein Ali Montazeri
Unconfirmed reports are circulating from Iran of a rally to be held tomorrow in honour of those who have died in the past week of protests.
More images have been coming from Iran, some gory: photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4, photo 5, photo 6 (all uploaded by the same source). There is a photo of a policeman striking a car here (date unknown).
Below is alleged to be from protests on June 20.
Below of unknown date, showing security forces:
A reader, Simon Owens, has conducted an experiment to better understand the role of Twitter in disseminating information regarding Iran. You can read his short post here. Below is an excerpt:
“..if an Iranian protester tweets his experience, how many retweets should he expect to get?
“…Out of the 100 random tweets, each one was retweeted an average of 57.8 times. The tweet that received the highest volume of retweets had 311 retweets. The smallest had only 6 retweets. Most of the tweets I found had between 30 and 50 retweets.”
The Guardian’s blog, Comment is Free, has an interesting post on Iran, by Peter Beaumont. I found it a fair representation of the complexity of opinions found within the various political groups in Iran, reflecting the opinions of many of my Iranian friends, family, and acquaintance within and without the country who supported Ahmadinejad, Mousavi, another presidential candidate, or who did not vote in the June 12 election. Here is an excerpt:
“Visiting Iran last year to cover parliamentary elections, I discovered a country utterly at odds with most of its depictions. I found myself discussing the sociologist Durkheim with a classical record producer in a cinema-cafe and debating the political situation in Iraq‘s Shia holy cities with a conservative mosque guard in southern Tehran. I sat with artists drinking bootleg vodka at a party and discussed the limits of personal freedom over the Islamic dress code with a liberal but headscarf-wearing teacher. Even the attitudes among supporters of President Ahmadinejad, whom I encountered in the countryside, were complex, confounding what I thought I knew. Iran, you see, makes a mockery of how the west would like to frame its reality.
“Which makes reading many of the views expressed in the west during Iran’s election crisis often baffling – I have struggled to recognise the place depicted.”
CNN points to a story from Iran’s Mehr news that quotes Tehran’s police chief as stating that the police have not been authorized to use firearms against protestors. In most cases that I’ve seen reported from those in Tehran, the Basij militia are the ones mainly accused of the worst violence, including shootings.
Al Jazeera has a short video report on rumours regarding political activity regarding the clerics in the religious city of Qom. Clerical support for either side would greatly help in the oppositing parties in the contest for power and influence. View the video here.
For those who would like more detailed information on the history of Iran leading up to the 1979 revolution, I highly recommend the following book: “Roots of Revolution“, by Nikki R. Keddie. It is an insightful analysis of the history, economics, and politics of Iran leading up to the Islamic revolution.
Unconfirmed reports continue to come in claiming a number of Iranian journalists are being arrested.
A video alleging to be of protests today in Tehran is available here.
I’ve quickly compiled a series of articles from media outlets around Iran in order to provide a very rough perspective from some of its neighbours (or at least from a handful of publications)
Turkey – Hurriyet – World divided on disputed Iran poll: “International opinion is roughly divided between the Western line – a pro-democratic stance that implies or levels criticism at Iran‘s leadership – and economic allies, mostly among developing nations, that accept the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
Egypt – Al-Ahram – Understanding Iran’s elections: “To even begin answering such a complex question we must look beyond customary platitudes. Some Ahmadinejad fans maintain that he was the “candidate of the poor”, the leader of the “rejectionist axis” in the region, and “the chief enemy of the US and Israel,” and that these are the factors that decided the election in his favour. However, such labels that play on the prevalent themes of his ideological rhetoric fail to supply a sufficiently objective analytical framework. Nor does the customary left-versus-right framework serve the purpose, given that all candidates were solid members and supporters of the establishment and that their ideological stances elude such ready-to-hand pegs; that the entire socio-political map in Iran is much more fluid.”
Egypt – Al-Ahram – Iran’s democratic upsure: “Regardless of their integrity, Iran’s elections — and even their aftermath — are the fundamental democratic and collective expression US hawks and Zionists fear most.”
Israel – Ha’aretz – Mousavi testing how far he can take Iran protests: “Mousavi’s actions have managed to show up Khamenei as being “the leader of one side” and an interested party, and therefore not an arbitrator. This is yet another significant challenge to the authority of the Islamic supreme leader”
Lebanon – The Daily Star – An iron fist won’t resolve the fact that Iranians have lost trust in their leaders: “The supreme leader has said that Ahmadinejad is the president of all Iranians, and that all citizens should therefore support him. But the duties of the governor and the governed go both ways: Iran’s leaders must also be responsive toward all Iranians.”
I will try and find more articles from the region later. Also, do send me any opinion pieces on Iran from the wider region (nima(at)nmaleki.com).
The Twitter feed, mousavi1388, maintained by Mousavi’s supporters writes that, “GhalamNews (our newsagency) seems to be hacked. Please await further instructions.”
This image was just sent to me (it has no time stamp, so location/date unknown):
A journalist from Iran has written a piece for IPS reviewing Saturday’s events in Tehran. Excerpt below:
“Protests continued at least until 9 p.m., with Iranian state television reporting a total of 13 deaths, while state radio said 19. There is no doubt that there are many more injured and arrested.”
CNN reports that “Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Sunday disputed allegations of ballot irregularities in the presidential election, calling the possibility almost nonexistent.” Read the article here.
Photos said to be from yesterday’s events in Tehran are available here (people spreading sand to thwart security forces’ motorcycles), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (people spreading sand), here, here, here, here, here, and here. Most of these were uploaded by a single source.
Tehran Bureau also has images on its site.
A recent video on YouTube claims that a Basij militia building in Iran was caught in an explosion after a natural gas line was set on fire. You can view it here.
Despite rumours circulating throughout the internet regarding the possible presence of the army, including tanks, in Tehran, most reliable eye witnesses on the ground deny this.
There seems to be no reliable estimate of the injured and dead from Saturday’s clashes in Tehran.
Yesterday, a significant number of tweets from Iranians relayed links to first aid instructions, and pointers on how to deal with tear gas (in Farsi and English). This may in part have been a response to rumours that Basij militia were searching hospitals for opposition to the government.
The Telegraph has a short profile of Mousavi on its site, here.
Below is an image claimed to be from yesterday’s clashes in Tehran.
June 21, 8:59 am (GMT -5 hours)
Grand ayatollah Montazeri, one of the leaders of the 1970 revolution, is said to have released a statement today, published on peykeiran.com. The date at the bottom of the release indicates it was written on June 25, however peykeiran.com has published it as a new release. It is available in Farsi here, as well as a very rough English version here.
June 21, 8:53 pm (GMT -5 hours)
Contested Iranian president Ahmadinejad tells the US and Britain not to interfered in the country’s internal affairs. Reuters reports on this.
“Definitely by hasty remarks you will not be placed in the circle of friendship with the Iranian nation. Therefore I advise you to correct your interfering stances,” Ahdmadinejad was quoted as saying in ISNA news.
June 21, 8:49 am (GMT -5 hours)
A Farsi and English version of Mousavi’s fifth statement is available here. An excerpt below:
“The great participation in this election was, in the first degree, indebted to the efforts for creating hope and trust among the people, to obtain a befitting response to the existing administrative crises and the widespread social dissatisfaction, whose accumulation can target the bedrock of the Revolution and the Regime. If this good faith and trust coming from the people is not answered by protecting their votes, or the people can not react in a civil and peaceful way to defend their rights, there will be dangerous pathways ahead, responsibility for which lies with those who can’t stand peaceful behaviors.”
June 21, 8:41 am (GMT -5 hours)
June 21, 8:26 am (GMT -5 hours)
Rafsanjani’s daughter is said to have been arrested, according to Fars news. Rafsanjani chairs Iran’s Assembly of Experts (a body that can impeach the supreme leader), and is one of Iran’s most powerful political figures. Times of India reports the following:
“The daughter of Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and four relatives were arrested over their involvement in protests against alleged election fraud in Iran, the Fars news agency reported on Sunday.
“Faezeh Hashemi, a renowned women’s rights activist, former parliament deputy and head of women sports in Iran, has in the recent years emerged, like her father, as one of the main opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
An ABC news journalist, Lara Setrakian, tweets that, “BBC resident Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne, a friend and ace reporter, given 24 hours to leave.”
Multiple reports have come in that Mousavi and pro-Mousavi websites had been hacked today.
June 21, 7:56 am (GMT -5 hours)
Tension in Iran is at a new high following Saturday’s rise in violence in Tehran, where clashes between opposition demonstrators and security forces grew one day after a speech by the supreme leader Khamenei supporting Ahmadinejad as president, and asking an end to demonstrations.
Rumours were rife on Saturday, claiming the arrest of a number of influencial members of the Iran’s reformists, including former parilamentary (majlis) members. Other rumours are circulating regarding the activity of the Revolutionary Guard, and the army. The possible mobilization of the military seems to have become a particular concern of the opposition in Tehran.
Images said to be from Saturday are available in a number of archives, one of them here. The below image was uploaded to the internet by someone in Iran, claimed to be from Tehran on Saturday.
A video claimed to be from the city of Shiraz on Saturday, shows a demonstration that is broken up by security forces, view it here. The most prominent male voice, among saying many things, can be heard saying “don’t hit the old woman.”
June 21, 7:24 am (GMT – 5 hours)
Iran’s speaker of the parliament (majlis), Ali Larijani, on Saturday criticized some members of the powerful Guardian Council as biased. The Guardian Council supervises the election process and has more recently offered to conduct a partial recount of poll results.
Iran’s Press TV reports on this after Larijani was seen live on an IRIB channel 2 broadcast in Iran. Excerpt below:
“Larijani, however, believes that the Iranian people have lost their trust in the country’s legal system. “Although the Guardian Council is made up of religious individuals I wish certain members would not side with a certain presidential candidate.”
“The Guardian Council should use every possible means to build trust and convince the protesters that their complaints will be thoroughly looked into,” the parliament speaker added.”
June 21, 7:16 am (GMT -5 hours)
A video of some of the Saturday’s chaos in Tehran is available here. It is graphic, showing a dead man, and the grieving. Other videos claimed to be from yesterday’s upheaval in Tehran are available here, here
Archive of previous updates: Week 1