Editor: From 5:00 am this morning Pacific Coast time to about 1:00 pm PDT, I live-blogged coverilng the situation in Iran, Saturday, June 20th, and used mainly three or four live blogs – : The New York Times’ The Lede, Huffington Post by Nico Pitney, and Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic, as well as other sources as may come available. My writings are in Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).
UPDATE 3:00 PM PDT/ MSNBC is reporting that there were 19 deaths from today, for an “unconfirmed total” for the week of 150 death.
IT IS NIGHT FALL IN IRAN
UPDATE 12:44 PM PDT / Riot police target people with cell phone. A brave Iranian photographer has been sending HuffPost photos (through an amazing Iranian-American reader who has been helping them cover the situation since they started). The photos are in the slideshow currently on the homepage. Nico Pitney of HuffPost reports: The photographer also included this note:
I could not get through. the guards were hitting people really hard to block their way. I got hit a few times, fortunately a few bruises but nothing major. they were hitting the women as hard if it didn’t seem harder. they smashed all mobiles and then smack the mobile owners with batons. they also blocked all above ground routes out. the only way out was via the metro
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of the riot police and basiji targeting people with cell phones and mobile devices. A contact from the National Iranian American Council wrote this today:
Security and police have been confiscating cameras and arresting those who are taking footage. I saw this young guy taking a video and 5 people attacked him and throughout it all he help his hand up with a peace sign.- then they arrested him. They have also handcuffed students to the Tehran University fence.We talk to some normal police and patrolling cops- they are nice and are trying to help people. But it is the Basij and anti-riot that are ruthless.
UPDATE 12:42 PM PDT / Accounts from the ground. From a reader at Huffington Post in Iran who Pitney has been corresponding with for the last several days:
Just got home…haven’t read you’re blog yet but if there’s a lot of stories about violence I’m sure they’re all true. I don’t know where to start, I’d taken my camera but had the sence to take out the memory card this came in hany as I was serched twice (by Basij) before getting stuck in the middle of hell. If I’d been caught with pictures it would mean jail time and a possible a charge of spying (as I’m a Canadian citizen). Eventually I dropped of the camera at the house of a friend without being able to take any pictures as it would make me a definate target…The chants of death to Khamenei are true…I witnessed peoples fear of the Basij dissapear, an 80 year old chadori woman with rocks in her hands calling for the exacution of khamenei and all Basij…A group of Basij were surrounded and forced in to a building, the front was blocked with garbage and set on fire, They (basij) opened fire on the crowd with what I assume were blanks, the crowed disspersed for a moment the came back with a fury…thats when the molotov cocktails came out. When I moved on the building was on fire…an hour later when I passed by again there wasn’t much of a building left. There was full blown war…there was a young man who had taken all of a basij’s things including their teargas rifle. We were finnaly able to get out on the back of motorcycle…the ride home took 25 minutes,for 15 minutes of it we were passing intermitently though Basij and protesters fires placed to displace the teargas… might I add the 3 hours that we walked through fire we didn’t see one shop or car that had been damaged by protesters…however I just recieved word for the one who was kind enough to keep my camera and other belongings that the Basij had gone into her street and destoryed cars…thats all I can get out for now hope some of it may be useful…I’m pissed I was unable to get pictures.
In a follow-up email, he adds, “oh and one last thing the water canons didn’t seem to do anything but cool people down. the one that I saw was chased off my a mass of people not seconds after it opened fire (or is it water).”
UPDATE 12:38 PM PDT / TehranBureau:
according to same private listserv source, “People from all around Tehran are gathering to march into the city later at night.”
UPDATE 12:34 PM PDT / Reports from Tehran, Azadi St., Sanati Sharif University indicate that more that 10 helicopters landed inside the university, unloaded massive amounts of guns for more than 500 basijies whom had been sent there several hours earlier to confront the demonstrators.
UPDATE 12:30 PM PDT / About 30 minutes ago, TehranBureau.com reported via tweets:
– Fatemiyeh Hospital Tehran: 30-40 dead as of 11pm Tehran time; 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured.
– reports at least 10 protesters shot By Basij, Bassij opened gunfire on people at Haft Hooz SQ.
– good source: Hospital close to the scene in Tehran: 30-40 dead thus far as of 11pm and 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured.
UPDATE 11:57 AM PDT / Confirming what Iranian bloggers reported earlier today, Reuters reports that an ally of Mir Hussein Moussavi says that the opposition leader addressed a rally in Tehran today and said that he is “ready for martyrdom.” Reuters adds:
Mousavi also called on Saturday for a national strike if he is arrested, a witness said. As darkness fell, rooftop cries of Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) sounded out across northern Tehran for nearly an hour, an echo of tactics used in the 1979 Islamic revolution against the Shah. […] “In a public address in southwestern Tehran, Mousavi said he was ready for martyrdom and that he would continue his path,” a Mousavi ally, who asked not to be named, told Reuters by telephone from the Jeyhun street in Tehran. A witness to the address said Mousavi, center of protests unprecedented in the 30-year history of the Islamic Republic, appeared to anticipate action against him. “Mousavi called on people to go on national strike if he gets arrested,” the witness told Reuters. Mousavi demanded the elections be annulled. “These disgusting measures (election rigging) were planned months ahead of the vote … considering all the violations … the election should be annulled,” Mousavi said in a letter to the country’s top legislative body.
UPDATE 11:50 AM PDT / A BBC eyewitness reports:
Security forces were everywhere in central Tehran in the late afternoon and early evening.
As I spent a couple of hours driving around in heavy traffic I could see thousands of men, some uniformed members of the military riot squads, some units of revolutionary guard, and everywhere basijis – militiamen who look like street toughs.
The security men were deployed on every street corner, in long lines down the sides of the roads, and in all the main squares.
The basijis wore riot helmets and carried big clubs. It was designed to intimidate, and while I was there, it was working.
UPDATE 11:25 AM PDT / The BBC reports that, “A BBC correspondent at Enghelab Square said he saw one man shot and others injured amid a huge security operation involving thousands of police.” The Lede reports: The video of a young woman who was reportedly killed in Tehran today has been uploaded to many Web sites and Facebook pages this afternoon. One of our readers comments:
Make special note of that unarmed innocent Girl shot and bleeding from her mouth, nose, eyes, ears…..hundreds of copies just went up on Youtube. The tide of the ‘79 revolution was turned overnight by a similar front-page photo of a Soldier at point blank range shooting an un-armed protester.
UPDATE 11:22 AM PDT / Tweets in green from Iran: :(( eye witness reporting that milita using Ambulances to lure people & then shoot at them near roodaki & azarbayjan st. WHOLE city is shaking with very loud screams from rooftops. Their loud voices calling only for God is filled with fear, hatred, and hope. it comes from every direction. now it’s “ya hossein, mir hossein”
UPDATE 11:13 AM PDT / The New York Times reports (sorry I don’t have the link):
In some places, the protesters pushed back, rushing the militia in teams of hundreds, pitching at least three basijis from their motorcycles and setting the vehicles on fire. The protesters included many women, who even berated as “cowards” men who fled the basijis.
UPDATE 10:56 AM PDT / 5 DEAD, 400 ARRESTED – reported by on-the-ground Iranian tweeters.
Night begins to fall in Tehran. More tweets (in green) from there report at least 5 protesters shot dead and about 400 people arrested, and the defiant shouting begins from balconies and rooftops: People Shouting on the roofs, all over the Capital: “Death to the Dictator”! Reports: People Blocking Streets at Tehran Pars (East Tehran) and Setting Fires Reports: At least 5 Protersters Shot Dead By Police, Army Forces and Milittia in Tehran… Mass arrest of protesters, about 400 people arrested in today’s clashes…
UPDATE 10:53 AM PDT / The City of Shiraz erupts. This video shows police clubbing defenseless people. What is so shocking about many of these videos is that the armed police are willing to attack completely defenseless bystanders. This video, apparently from the university in Shiraz, shows police not in any immediate danger walking up to veiled women who are leaning against a fence and raising their batons above their heads, threatening them, and then occasionally striking them. It is pure brutality. A reader on HuffPost, Poria from Amsterdam, provides the rough translation of the guy who is ‘narrating’:
“prepare, get ready… pedar sag (your dad is a dog) farsi equivalent of SOB… he says Haroomzadeha a lot. which is a typical farsi insult meaning Bastards (plural)… He shouts at them: Dont hit them! Dont hit them combined with above insults… Dont hit an old woman several times… go away… bastards(really pissed), why are you hitting peoples daughters… israelis (used as slang for very violent people)… honorless ones… they are hitting people daughters and sisters… then you hear the girl shouting bastards after which the guy says: i shit on the souls of your father and mother… go away filths, bastards, fatherless ones
UPDATE 10:42 AM PDT / FG: There is a new very clear video from today in Tehrah – of a young woman being murdered – it is too graphic, she dies before your eyes – and my emotions burst as I write this. I can’t put it up but here it is, at “1:25”. CNN has aired the same very disturbing, graphic video uploaded to Facebook, which appears to show the same young woman who has been shot, bleeding profusely. A reader of The Lede writes to say that he was present when this video was shot and describes it like this:
Basij shots to death a young woman in Tehran’s Saturday June 20th protests At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know.
Again, we have no way of knowing when or where the video was shot, or if this reader’s account is accurate, due to the intense restrictions on first-hand reporting imposed on the press inside Iran.
UPDATE 10:40 AM PDT/ Twitters from Iran report: “confirmed – Riots in Tabriz, Mashad, Isfahan, Ahwaz – Gov using violence”
UPDATE 10:04 AM PDT / The state media are putting words into Obama’s mouth:
This morning a friend of NIAC who gets Iranian Satellite TV here said that state-run media showed President Obama speaking about Iran this morning. However, instead of translating what he actually said, the translator reportedly quoted Obama as saying he “supports the protesters against the government and they should keep protesting.” Assuming this report is correct, it shows the Iranian government is eager to portray Obama as a partisan supporting the demonstrators.
UPDATE 9:54 AM PDT / 5 minutes ago, Mousavi states on his website mousavi1388 :
I am prepared For martyrdom, go on strike if I am arrested #IranElection
UPDATE 9:50 AM PDT / — The world is watching. The people fight back against the Basiji. Another high-quality video of a similar scene is on Facebook is here. And this video — extremely, extremely graphic — shows what is apparently a young woman shot in the street from today.
UPDATE 9:38 AM PDT / There are more images of today’s unrest here from the citizen journalist site Demotix.
UPDATE 9:26 AM PDT / More twitter messages:
Deeply concerned on what will happen in the coming hours..
My heart is pounding fast as I’m hearing about dead ppl lying on streets in Tehran
Will chemical warfare B next by the gvmt to kill ppl? Seems they’re doing anything 2 stop ppl
Bassij opened gunfire on people near Sadeghieh, West of Tehran.
hospital source – Tehran hospitals report hundreds of casualtys –
Unconfirmed – The Army will not follow orders to kill the people
Reports: Protesters at 7Tir pushed back Militia and gathering at the SQ
UPDATE 9:23 AM PDT / — Gridlock. CNN reporting that metro stations have been shut down to block additional people from reaching central Tehran.
UPDATE 9:17 AM PDT / ABC News twitters:
“So much tear gas everywhere that people in their neighborhoods around have burning eyes.
“Since guards turned back people going to Azadi Sq, they retreated to those areas and are fighting the police there.”
“War going on in South Kargar st. , Tohid Sq., Arya Shahr… in Tohid Sq. people have captured and blown up a police truck”
UPDATE 9:00 AM PDT /— 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.” — “Death to Khamenei!” The NIAC translates the video posted 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.” — More from Twitter: “Crowd rushing to Jihoun St, where people are saying Mousavi is there and talking with protesters”
UPDATE 8:56 AM PDT / Green text indicates tweets from Iran:
Reports: A Police Post is Burning in 7Tir SQ.
Reports: Bassij Opedn gunfire on People Near Shahrak Sadeghieh, West of Tehran.
UPDATE 8:59 AM PDT / The TehranBureau.com twitter reports:
European embassies reportedly open doors for injured, tell families to take them there
UPDATE 8:49 AM PDT / — 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.” — 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.
UPDATE 8:40 AM PDT /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”
UPDATE 8:32 AM PDT / — 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” Report: Mousavi giving speech. “Mousavi is giving a speech to the protesters,” reports Lily Mazahery, a DC based Iranian-American lawyer.
UPDATE 8:30 AM PDT / More From Shiraz, by way of a reader gb’s mother:
My mom is again stressing that the protesters were totally peaceful not even chanting when they were attacked. My mom’s friend said she saw right in front of her that a plain clothes person hit this young man with a baton so hard that the baton broke. Another friend that lives in Daneshjoo Square (the place the protests took place) said that plain clothes police came to their homes this morning and told them they are not allowed to let any of the protesters seek refuge in their houses or they will be held responsible.
Uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed around Revolution Square, the site of a major planned demonstration, and traffic was being turned away on a major thoroughfare leading to the square, a witness said. The forces confronted demonstrators who tried to avoid the thoroughfare and take side streets toward the square. Clashes erupted as forces used clubs to beat back protesters. Periodically, groups of armed police would fire rifles into the air to disperse protesters along the side streets near Revolution Square. Cell phone service was brought down after 5:30 p.m. in the area, witnesses said.
Responding to reports of a suicide bombing in Tehran on Saturday, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who is outside Iran, said that it is possible that an anti-regime militant group, like the Mujahedeen Khalq, might try to take advantage of the protests in Iran to stage an attack. Given the restrictions on the foreign press in Iran, at the moment we should stress that there is no way of telling if a bombing really did take place in Tehran today — or, if it did, who might have been responsible. UPDATE 8:15 AM PDT / NBC is reporting:
NBC News Iran bureau chief Ali Arouzi said he had never ever seen so many police on the streets at once.
Witnesses said between 50 and 60 protesters were seriously beaten by police and pro-government militia and taken to a hospital. People could be seen dragging away comrades bloodied by baton strikes.
Some protesters appeared to be fighting back, setting fire to militia members’ motorcycles, witnesses said.
Helicopters hovered overhead, as 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.
UPDATE 8:11 AM PDT / Sullivan’s tweets:
Got A Call: Many People Injured By Police and Milittia Near Tohid SQ.
Eye Witness: At Least 20 injured Protesters transfred to Loghman Hospital in last 30 mins. Press TV reports the number of casualties of the explosion at Khomeini’s shrine to be 8.
UPDATE 8:00 AM PDT / An Iranian reader, using the alias gb, writes that he has heard from his mother in the city of Shiraz, where similar scenes are apparently playing out on the streets:
From Shiraz, My mom said the protesters were just walking in silence from Daneshjoo Square to Eram Square then the plain clothes men on motorcylces started going in the crowd and in the side walks and told the crowd to disperse. When the people didn’t disperse they started shooting in the air. My mom said that then people dispersed and she doesn’t know if anyone was hit or not.
Here is the live stream for BBC Persian TV’s Farsi-language broadcast. At the moment their reporters seem to be studying the Internet for clues, like other foreign media organizations barred from reporting first-hand on events in Iran.
UPDATE 7:48 PM PDT / Messages in green to Sullivan from Iranian bloggers:
People reportedly attacking police near Laleh Park and pushing them back, first injury transferred to Khomeini Hospital near the clashes People gathering at Vanak Sq. North of Tehran Reports: 1 young man shoot dead near Vali Asar Cr.