iranian presidential election 2009
subjective and incomplete report by shoma kihastin
updated dec.30. 2009
wed. dec.30. upfront: apologies for any (many) typos. i don\'t have the energy for proof reading at this point.
we just got the news that zahra rahnavard, is probably arrested. this would be dramatic news.
a helicopter is circleing in the air since 20 min. it is probably related to the pro government ralley today which most likely has a huge turn out since not only did they bring schoolchildren in buses from near and far but also factory workers were \'asked\' to join todays manifestation of the regime\'s will to stay in power. the helicopter is there to deliver some nice helishots from the crowds. the crowd is what counts on television and from above it probably looks more convincing then when you actually see peoples faces.
the last few days were very tense and further developments are really unpredictable. every night we got news of more arrests of key figures and family members of activists. all together they seemed to have arrested 1500 people since sunday. the number of people who got killed on sunday is now reported to be 37. the parliament is discussing a law that would allow to execute people that took part in demonstrations within 24 hours. it feels like coup d\'etat part II.
we discuss about strategies and tactics a lot. since the movement has started to fight back using physical force and attacking militia and police on the day of ashura things have changed. the opinions are diverse about whether violence is necessary. necessary violence as a logical consequence and expression of the determination and radicalization of the movement on the way to unevitable revolution. the only way to victory. or violence as a dead end, a trap that leads to an escalation turning into chaos and maybe civil war and that will not win more people over maybe even make some people withdraw. some voices on both sides demand that there needs to be a leadership for this movement. these discussions feel familiar from other situations in other movements. but here they seem more tricky since the decisions following them have much much more serious consequences, at least any that i have ever experienced. i have never faced a civil war nor a revolution. i just know that both will cost a lot of lives in this case. it is quite obvious at this point that there are forces in this country that will not step down, nor will they be won over. they are too involved, too dependend on the existing regime and they know that they will go down with it. so they have to fight to the end. that\'s one of the elements that makes the decicions around violence so tricky. imagening members of parliament demanding martial law -like punishment for demonstrators who might be their own children is just one of the details that tells me that these people have a lot to loose. they need to stop the demonstrations by any means. in case the movement decides for violence and eventually (guerillia) warfare, it faces a highly dangerous wounded animal that will be hard to match in its viciousness and killing instinct. challenging it in a physical battle means a lot of blood and very high risk. so far the movement has been so amazingly clever and witty in its choice of weapons. it seemed like it knew very well about the ways of the force. will it not loose this force, putting aside its powerful weapons, which so far had been: defacing and appropriating the language of the revolution, performance and (re-)inactment tactics, citizen journalism, lack of leadership, civil disobedience among others? or is this the nesseccary next step in the completion of a revolution that has started 30 years ago and took a detour via an islamic republic? it\'s strange how much this question is a \'classical\' topic that demands revisiting revolutionary theory and historical examples such as the paris commune and makes one think of shakespeare and star wars and at the same time it has no precendence, no comparison because of the historical background of the iranian revolution, the unique situation and role of iran internationally, and maybe even the mentality of its people.
mon. dec. 28. sms is still not working today, the internet is slowed down to a minimum, email hardly working. i finally managed to send a few emails yesterday night but could not receive any. gmail and hotmail are not working at all.
sun. dec. 27. the ashura demonstration was supposed to start at 11. we left the house at quarter to ten in the morning. we decided to go early and choose a destination half way between the starting point at imam hossein square which is east central and azadi square in the west which was supposed to be the end point. if you check a map of tehran you will find that it is indeed a very long route.
we took the bus to enghelab square and even though it was ashura and quite early, more and more people got on the bus. we were still not sure wether they were all going to where we were going but we hoped for at least half of them to do so. by the time we reached tohid square and turned left towards enghelab the bus was packed. the traffic came to a hold close to azadi street and people started to get off the bus. by then we had noticed that not only was everybody on the bus going to the demonstration, also outside the bus people were streaming from all sides towards enghelab. while we walked into azadi street the cars started honking. very nice start. people started chanting ya hossein mir hossein and allah akbar while heading towards enghelab square. it was quarter to 11 when we got to enghelab square. so far no police in sight. yesterday same time azadi street and enghelab square had police every 20 m. i was suspicious about their wherabouts now but at the same time their absence helped to restore some confidence that this was going to be a good day for the movement. i had forgotten to use the bathroom before going and so had my friend. we went into a mosque on the north west side of the square. the sidewalks were now filled with hundreds of people and fast growing in numbers. stepping into the mosque i got a glimps of at a few police further down. coming out of the mosque a few minutes later, suddenly the square was basically empty.
where had everybody gone? we walked around the corner towards azadi and saw people heading down the streets. a flock of police in black on motorcross-bikes chasing them. we went on the other side of the street and continued. azadi street is a vast boulevard. it has two car lines on each side and two bustracks in the middle framed by yellow metall sidebars, separating the street into three sections. the yellow sidebars open only on crossings and bus stops. in this case it made the movements of the ca. 15 motoris more predictable and we could observe their tactics. they were not beating yet but at first we thought they were shooting. a sound like gun shots came from their direction. soon we understood that it was fake. their motorcycles apparently had a device attached to them that made a scary sound. they were waving their batons over people\\\'s heads while driving through the crowd fastly, obviously to disperse it. we had almost reached the enghelab bus station, a bigger space with several lines of bus shelters. around a thousand people had gathered there, chanting slogans. it was not long before the motorcycles came over to our side. we hid behind a corner while they were racing into the crowd. people ran into all directions, some trying to hide in the bus shelters. clearly the police was only attempting to hinder people from grouping larger crowds and not really trying to catch anybody or even getting of their bikes. they were really just racing through in a flock. like a pack of dogs enjoying a herd of sheep run in panic, one might think. but this was tactics. one that was yet unclear to me. were was all the other police? were where the basidj forces? why did they let us get so far? on other demonstrations before they had stopped people long before enghelab using tear gas when groups of more then ca. 80-100 people gathered. why not today? people quickly gathered again. we stayed at the bus stop for a while chanting and then moved on with the crowd westbound. a few corners later I remembered a friends house near by and called him to see whether he was out. he was standing 50m away at the corner of a little park. then the motorcycles came again. you could hear their fake gun shots from far. everybody including us ran into the park. the motorcycles did not follow.people returned and joined the growing crowds on the street. maybe two to three thousand were blocking an intersection. some people were tearing down streetsigns and threwing them on the street to block the way for the motorcycles. others gathered in the middle of the intersection, forming a circle and beating their breast. people were chanting \'marg bar khamenei\' very loudly. quite a shock for me since one could be severly punished just for doing that and the last time i had been to a demonstration -which was in late july- \'marg bar dictator\' was a really radical thing to chant. but to chant this slogan in bright daylight on the street, wow, it gave me goose bumps, but ok it means next level. and yes were people \'next level\' today. the determination in their voices, their faces, in their movements was breathtaking. they were determined to take the streets and then much more than that. this was already a crowd much too large to disperse with a couple of motorcycles. still no tear gas. very strange. I was really torn inbetween a blossoming excitement that this could turn into something really fantastic and the glooming worry that it can\'t be that easy and that it\'s some sort of trap. we crossed the street and moved on. we passed a huge police headquarter on the left side of azadi street. it almost fills a whole block. the front yard was filled with police vans and police in riot gear. at the entrance gate a couple of police and plain clothes were standing. some of the police had a big smile on their face. they looked almost happy. the plainclothes looked rather grim but somewhat defeated I felt. the street in front of the headquarter was taken by the people. they took no notice of the police. the next intersection was occupied by an even larger crowd. one or two teargas canisters came from somewhere but were thrown away from the intersection by the people. we lit cigarettes to fight the gas. a very old woman, maybe in her eighties told us off. she said: \'don\'t smoke. it will give a wrong impression of this movement if girls start smoking.\' other people said \'let them, since teargas it is not a shame for girls to smoke in the streets\'. then a bearded man in his late fifties approached us. his eyes were red from the gas and tears were running down his face. he asked us to blow smoke into his face. what a nicely bizzare moment, blowing smoke from close proximity into this stranger\'s face. we crossed to the other side. another man in his sixties obviously a resident of this area was telling some youngsters to find something black to throw into the face of khamenei looking down on us from a large mural above. he said that the wall had had a bigger picture of khamenei before. but he had thrown eggs on it and it was replaced by a smaller one. then suddenly some people started to run down south waving their arms. we turned around and saw a massive crowd heading towards us. i can\'t remember exactly but i think we were at the intersection with navab highway. people do really transform space. nothing looks like it normally does. when I saw this moving mass heading towards us I thought: this is it, they can\'t stop this anymore. people started to dismantle the yellow sidebars of azadi street and build baricades. a few trashcontainers were pulled to the middle and set on fire. the slogans chanted were witty and funny and new and in my tired brain i can\'t recall a single one right now. it will have to wait for a later entry. most of them were about the supreme leader. now we were standing at the southwest corner of the intersection. a helicopter approached from north west and stayed over azadi street, probably reporting the number of demonstrators and their movements. nobody took any notion but for a moment it made me think of the absence of police and militia again. I wondered, whether the helicopter meant that the riot police will come soon. they might have been sent to imam hossein square first, simply because they didn\'t predict that people would gather towards the end of the route so soon, or maybe there was heavy fighting elsewhere. but i also had the fantasy that they had order not to intervene for some reason, maybe because it was ashoura and it is seen as the worst sin to hurt anybody on ashoura. the helicopter moved on. i should mention that surrounding us were all kinds of people, old, young, groups of chadori girls, families, workers, students, people from a wide range of social backgrounds. most people were wearing black because of ashura. the crowd began to move towards azadi. people had said, that the police would not let anybody go further then navab but obviously we were past navab. another huge crowd came marching up from south, which must have been on roudaki street. westbound on azadi there seemed to be fightings. teargas was fired. people started to run. we seeked shelter in the frame of a shopwindow on the corner. it seemed more dangerous to run in such a huge panicking crowd then to stay on the intersection and seek something stable to hold on to. we lit paper that a woman had given us against the gas. a lot of stones were being thrown. but we could not see who was throwing them. we assumed that it was police defending azadi westwards. the crowd turned back. everybody was chanting \'don\'t be afraid. we are all together\'. the crowd was pushing into the intersection obviously wanting to break through towards azadi. they were answered by more tear gas and more stones. it started to become very uncomfortable where we were standing. I got claustrophobic and nervous being squeezed into the shopwindow corner not being able to go back or forth. it was obvious that we would not be able to stay there long. I felt I needed to check the street below for any safe back alleys as escape routes. I told my friend I wanted go down to check. she wanted to stay. I didn\'t make it back up. the situation escalated. the crowd was massive and dangerously unpredictable. one moment storming forward trying to gain ground, in the next running back in panic. still i had not seen the police forces yet. I don\'t know how many they were and what type. but they seemed determined to defend access to azadi square. the air was filled with gas. the battle was going back and forth. people got hit by stones. It was 12.45 by now.
\'nothing will happen! nothing at all! they just want to create chaos. nothing at all will happen\'. two heavy ladies, sweating under their chadors stand in the entrance of their courtyard and talk to a young woman inside and obviously hindering her from leaving the yard. a man holding his hand to a bleeding wound on his forehead walks by. i had decided to check the surrounding streets for something to drink. i found a weird mix of dispersed demonstrators, people standing in front of their houses to see what was going on and gatherings in front of hosseinis and nasris either to grab a ghorme sabzi, a cup of shir cacaoo or in preparation for sine zadi. one proccesion with ca 20 young men hitting their shoulders with metall chains had just started moving. the sound of the drums and the singing mixed with the shouting from the streetbattle near by added to this incomprehensible density of sensations and feelings. i got myself a shir cacaoo and just stood there in a mixture of exhaustion and amazement. the sugar did its job and got me back on my feet. I didn\'t feel like going back to the battle and we had said we would meet at a friends house if we loose each other. the phones were not working anymore by now. I walked towards navab on kalhor and further. I wanted to see what was going on elsewhere. soon I saw basidj milita gathering in the side streets. in front of one hosseini on the corner of kalhor and bastan it was especially terrifiying to watch. after crossing the street that they had occupied I stood in a corner for a while holding on to my shir cacaoo and observing the scene. they were about 10 to 15 men getting ready for action. their jackets strangly deformed from hiding batons and mostly likely guns underneath. more men came. one was very tall and muscular and stood out because of the specifically agressive look in his eyes. they were shaking hands and polite sentences longer or shorter depending on the rank of the other person while locking around as if they were being watched pushing the batons that slipped out back under the jacket. I asked myself: why are they making such a fuss? everybody knows what they are and what they do. some looked indifferent, emotionless, some looked agressive and agitated. especially the tall guy. he was out to destroy and slaughter. i could smell his adrenalin from the distance. these guys were somewhat different from the usual basidj lot. their assignment was to kill people. i was quite certain about that.
i moved on, painfully thinking about the people who will get hurt and probably killed today. by now i was certain, that was would follow, would be violence and only violence. i was worried about all my friends out there who i can\'t call to check on them. i watched a crowd of demonstrators chasing a police car, its back window broken. the crowd celebrated, some boys had obtained four to five police shields which they held into the air in a sign of victory. people told them to distroy the shields. they tried but didn\'t manage.
arriving at a friends house close to enghelab square at 2 pm i watched an endless stream of basidj on motorbikes and police vans on azadi street heading towards navab. thousand of them. there was a lot of smoke over azadi to the west but also over what looked like valiasr square or even further east.
my friend arrived at 3. she had been hiding from basidj in a private yard together with other people. apparently at some point people brought in a wounded man who was shot in the upper leg. the bullet had gone through both legs. there was no way to bring him to a hospital with the basidj outside. we rested and talked until the evening. the phones started working at around 5pm. people started checking on each other. everybody i knew seemed ok even though a lot of them had been at kalej bridge where the streetfights were most violent and people got killed. so far we heard that four people got killed. later we understood that one of them was a nephew of moussavi.
fri aug 6
thur aug 5
sat aug 1st in an earlier post i mentioned a communique released by the association of iranian documentary filmmakers. except for one, all 113 members of the association signed the communique. some of them were arrested afterwards like Maziyar Bahari, the rest was informed that they have no permission to make any more films.
the 40th day after the death of a person is special day of mourning in islam. it was yesterday that the death of neda agha soltan had been 40 days ago. other people have died one that very same day and also afterwards but her death has a special symbolic power and became the face of the many victims who\\\'s death hasn\\\'t been so well documented. this symbolic function made people gather first of all at her grave yesterday on the 40th day of her death. her grave is in behesht zahra cemetery in the section 256. behesht zahra is huge and it is not so easy to reach as it is outside of town close to the imam khomeini shrine. as we learned, the metrostation of behesht zahra was already closed a few days ago so you could only reach it by bus or by car. friday is traditionally a day to visit the cemetery and spend the day with the dead, but it was expected that the security forces would make it very difficult for people to reach the grave. still, reports say that around 40 000 people gathered, mourning the dead of the election aftermath and showing their dedication to movement and their dissent with the current regime.
i didn\\\'t go. i listen to the reports of other people and watched the footage. it must have been a very powerfull experience despite teargas and beatings. people were putting flowers onto the graves, they were chanting and praying. apparently karoubi surrounded by a large group appeared at neda\\\'s grave and despite the attacks by security forces they spoke a verse of the koran. but seeing footage of armed men awkwardly trampling on graves while they bring down their batons onto people mourning, is another chapter in the folder of haunting imagery. somehow it feels like these images will never go away. they stay imprinted on my retina like a smear that blurs everything i look at.
while people gathered in behesht zahra during the day, there were also gatherings and later at night heavy fighting in various parts of town and even in other cities. the most uplifting images i saw were from takhtavoos, not so far from mosala mosque where a mourning ceremony had been canceled because it was not granted permission. people gathered on the streets and once again they were supported by the cars. the whole avenue (8 lanes) was filled by the sound of honking cars while people were walking inbetween the cars and showing the victory sign. later when militia arrived, it once again became extremly violent. a friend who was there saw a person killed in front of his eyes. at night there were street fightings in many parts of town probably with more people injured, arrested, maybe killed. but some events were once again showing the crack within the system. friends reported that they saw basidj fighting with the police at vanak square. they even pointed guns at each other.
mon july 27 i\\\'ve been sitting and staring at some pieces of a puzzle, trying to put them together. the revolutionary guards are the center piece of the puzzle. the revolutionary guards is the english name for an apparatus that has so many names and faces. a hydra with many heads, moving around with their long necks. a mafia embracing several family trees and a widespread network of messengers, muscle and footsoldiers to do the dirty work, a medusa that kills you when you look at it, a guard that has long killed the revolution its guarding, in the name of national security. welcome to the horror show, welcome to the worst nightmare, welcome to fascism.
its official name is \\\'sepah e pasdaran e enghelab e eslami\\\'. in short sepah or pasdaran. they are an army, but separate from the national army, they also have a political wing whos most prominent figure is mahmoud ahmadinejad himself. he joined sepah/basidj as a simple soldier in 1985 and has since made an impressive carrier. also a majority of his cabinett members are pasdaran as is a third of the majles, the parlament. so far i wasn\\\'t able to figure out the history of how the basidj militia was related exactly with the pasdaran during and since the time of the war. they have always been associated, but apparently it has only been two years ago that the basidj has actually been incorporated in the corps of the revolutionary guards. during the war the basidj, who is an army of volunteers was basically canon fodder, they died on the mine fields in great numbers, a lot of them children, teenagers. their families form the influencial class of the martyrs. they say that even today they have a few million volunteers which comes as no surprise given the numbers of unemployed. i know, ahmadinejad has made these numbers to go down not only by blowing up sepah and basidj. a film that circulated since before the election shows how he did it by showing statistics from the governments website. under khatami\\\'s presidency the definition of umemployment was: working less than 15 hours a week. under ahmadinejad\\\'s presideny the defintion of unemployment was changed to: working less than 1 (one) hour a week. of course the numbers of unemployed dropped. so as in many other places in the world the only perspective for \\\'work\\\' is the mafia. in the end ahmadinejad and berlusconi belong to the same type, the same species. so since the election their assignment has been to beat and kill, storm and destroy student dormitories and private houses, arrest or kidnap opposition members and spread fear and terror where ever it seems neccessary. one of the puzzle pieces that i haven\\\'t worked out to put together yet is ehtelat, it means information and stands for a sort of ministery of the interior including secret service, only there is no interion ministry in iran. so it is basically just secret service i guess. but how do they exactly connect to pasdaran? most likely most officials in ehtelat are pasdaran but above that, how do they relate? another piece in the puzzle is of course hezbollah and that\\\'s where the corps, the apparatus -which is almost like an organism so i\\\'m still looking for appropriate names- reaches out internationally. a lot of the oil money is spend on training hezbollah fighters in lebanon, sending arms and also and importantly on \\\'charity\\\'. charity being the very way of extending the sphere of influence and power. the iranian government invests in charity and the investment pays back. it\\\'s based on the simple logic that if you make someone a present, they are in \\\'debt\\\'. next time they will have to make a present to you in showing they loyalty, helping out, giving their vote etc. it came as no surprise that some of the men beating protesters with batons were talking in arabic. i think back of the first moment when i felt that i was witnessing a coup d\\\'etat and then again i wasn\\\'t sure. it was confusing because i didn\\\'t see any military, i mean real military and secondly, the people who seemed to perform the coup where actually in power. what where they overthrowing? it makes more sense in retrospect. sitting in front of the puzzle i notice that the clergy that everybody assumes as the most powerfull force in the country is marginalized and scattered in the picture that i see in front of me. it\\\'s position at first seems central as the face of the supreme leader, khamenei is on every puzzle piece. but the more i look at him and his history he appears like an empty mask, like with the cat in alice in wonderland. the cat repeatedly appears and disappears before alice to the point where alice says to the cat \\\'either go or stay\\\' and the cat grins and dissapears but the grin stays. khamenei is maybe just a grin without a cat. i suspect that the cat is actually sepah and not the clergy. i will have to elaborate on this one tomorrow...
wed july 22, out of the 90 mayors of the different districts of tehran only 1 (one!) has congratulated ahmadinejad for winning the election. all the others were fired and replaced after rejecting to congratulate.
just so you get an idea of the general \\\'quality\\\' of ahmadinejad argumentations in demonizing the protests: here is what he had to say about the planecrash in iran a few days ago quoted from:
i only really have one question: below you see an image of dust and dirt that i downloaded from the internet. how can one possibly get rid of dust and dirt using guns, knives and batons???
mon july 20, I apologize for not having been able to update the blog in recent days. i hope that some of you are still around checking from time to time. i will add my reports of 18 tir (july 10) till today.
since protesting on the streets has become so difficult and dangerous, people have come up with alternative forms of protest. one is boycott. since the government had allowed the use of sms again, nobody is using the service anymore. the phone companies had claimed huge losses during the days while sms service was blocked. to cover these costs, not only did they raise the prices but they also sent the messages from 10 days ago so that they could charge people for it. the day after sms service was working again people called for boycott and it seems to work pretty well. i have not send or received a single sms since. the other boycott is directed towards companies that belong to the government. people are invited to avoid buying products such as:�CHEETOZ, MAZ MAZ,GHALAMCHI BOOKS, SEHAT SHAMPOO, VARANA CANNED FOODS, GOLRIZ KLEENEX, TALAVANG EGGS, ROSE MACARON PASTA,�DIETI ICE CREAM, IRANCELL SIM CARDS
another attempt to bring the system to a halt starts tommorrow night at 9pm. everybody will turn on household equipement that uses a lot of electricity like irons, washing mashines and hairblowers in order to collectivly shut down the power of the whole country. it has been estimated that it needs about 3 million housholds to make the power system collaps. it will approximatly take them 2 hours to bring electricity back.
friday july 17,
we decided not to go to namaz jome, the friday prayer. in a discussion the night before we came to the conclusion that it would be too easy to use a massive turnout of people for all sorts of propaganda puposes that one doesn\\\'t want to be part of. we were also doubtful about the content of rafsanjani\\\'s speech. he would probably suggest to accept the situation for now until a better solution was figured out by the council. our decision was guided by a mixture of pessimism and deep mistrust for a figure like rafsanjani\\\'s. instead we decided to watch the prayer on television. namaz jome was always shown live from tehran university. after waiting for it to start for some time we slowly understood that they would not show it. as the fantastic pedestrian blog described correctly, at the time of namaz jome \\\"iranian state TV was broadcasting via its five channels:
as we didn\\\'t have a radio we went online instead to read the transcription on serveral blogs. we became more and more excited because rafsanjani\\\'s sermon seemed quite strong and the crowd expressed its support for the content of his words with repeated chants and a huge turn out that turned the usual procedure of namaz jome upside down. as you can see on some of the images men and women are praying side by side. some of them not even wearing a chador. pedestrian blog offers a really good translation and a fantastic contextualisation of this namaz jome.
the neoresistance blog has a more complete translation of parts of rafsanjani\\\'s speech but is sometimes a bit polemic in its comments which i personally find distracting. nevertheless both do such great jobs. thanks and respect.
I recommend reading the reports on those blogs as they descrive vividly this amazing event. also check out the lede blog for report on the arrest of shahi sadr and pictures of the cleric karoubi, one of the presidential candidates being beaten by plain clothes after leaving the prayer.
following is the translation of the speech from the pedestrian blog:
13:46 The prophet went to Baghi (where his old friends were buried) and said to them: you are lucky that you are no longer here to see that your old brothers are killing and destroying one another.
friday july 10, the weather has cleared up. yesterday\\\'s turn out on the streets was big, but spread all over town. it had been very difficult to reach enghelab square so people gathered in alternative spots. i left the house at 4.45 walking on karim khan towards valiasr square. valiasr square was busy as usual but it was obvious that most people were heading towards enghelab and not just shopping. a lot of them were equipped with medical masks and small watterbottles as it had been advised for this day. on the corner of boulevard keshavarz there was police but not in riot gear. people passed them and walked towards enghelab or took taxis. i also went into a taxi joining a middle aged chadori woman on the back seat who talked to the driver. \\\"we sharestanis (people from smaller cities or villages) depend on you tehranis. we can\\\'t perform the revolution. you have to do it!\\\" the taxidriver responded: \\\"but mam, we have done a lot here. people were very engaged. they were on the streets every day.\\\" the woman goes on about how hard life has become and how the government had betrayed them and stripped them of any posibilities to sell their products or get permissions to build. she was waving around with papers. apparently she was on a mission to file a complaint to the government about a legal affair in her village.
we approached park lale when the traffic came to a stand still. i heard shoutings of allah akbar from ahead. then all the cars started honking continuously. a young woman was walking in between the cars, her hands raised showing the V-sign. she was dressed in black wearing a green headscarf. she looked very bold and fearless. i had goose bumps all over my back. only now did i noticed how much i had missed the gatherings in the streets. as much as i feared for the woman, the scene already made my day. the taxi driver said, that he would turn right before park lale so i left the car and continued by foot. police came from the left side of the boulevard trying to force people north away from enghelab: \\\"harekat kon, zood bash!\\\" (move, hurry up!) they were shouting waving their batons. i slipped into a contruction side that led to the sidewalk next to the park as many others. i continued towards kargar. the cars were still honking, the chants of allah akbar became louder. then the chants changed to \\\"margbar dictator\\\". obviously a few hundred people had gathered on the intersection of kargar. before i reached kargar clouds of tear gas filled the air. i decided to go into the park and surround the intersection. the park was full of people doing the same. i reached kargar below the museum of contemporary art. people had also gathered above the museum towards the intersection with dr.fatemi street. they had occupied the street letting the cars through one by one, chanting and waving green banners. in front of the museum three girls were writing slogans on the ground by dripping green paint onto the pavement. the writing suited the jackson pollock painting that announced the current exhibition of the museum\\\'s collection very well. everywhere people were standing, sitting, looking, talking. the older women a lot of them chadori were sitting on the sidewalk wearing their medical masks. the younger ones were on the street. often i saw what looked like whole families, father, mother, adult or teenager children who had obviously come here together. i walked onto kargar and looked down the hill towards enghelab. from the intersection with keshavarz clouds of tear gar obscurred the view so i could not see further down. then i looked up the hill and another cloud of tear gas was filling the sky there too. i felt that it would be best to go into one of the little alleys in between. it was 5.30pm. later friends told me that at 6pm the police stormed the park and beat up and arrested many people.
i continued through the little alleys reaching keshavarz again at the intersection with jamalzade. in between i saw a lot of people having escaped from further south trying to recover from tear gas attacks. an older woman holding her hand to her cheek asked me anxiously whether they had started beating again. she said that her children were out there. i decided to buy a pack of cigarettes to fight the gas and went into a cornershop that was just about to shut its blinds in expectance of streetfighting. in front of the shop a discussion between a man leaning out of his car and a basidj was holding up the traffic. the man was obviously trying to discuss the role of basidj with the young but heavy and bearded militia who apparently was on his own. i went into the shop. by the time i came out the basidj had hijacked a motorcycle. he had stopped a little skinny motorcyclist with glasses who drove by. he mounted the vehicle and shouted at the driver \\\"drive!!\\\", the man at first didn\\\'t want to be at the uninvited passenger\\\'s service but when the basidj shouted a second time he seemed scared to reject the order. they drove off towards azadi. i lit a cigarette which felt nicely absurd and fit perfectly into the list of ironic shifts of meaning of things that the events have brought about: a woman smoking on the street indicates tear gas not immoral behaviour.
as i continued walking towards tohid square passing imam khomeini hospital, a motorbike drove passed me with high speed. on the motorbike between two men in camouflage was a third person, a young man, obviously unconcious. the camouflaged man on the back seat held him with a desperate expression on his face. it was a dramatic yet confusing scene because they were heading away from the hospital and not towards it. i reached tohid square and went on a bridge to overlook navab. towards the intersection with azadi a few hundred people had gathered on the east side of navab. they were first just blocking the northbound traffic then the street filled up from the other side too so that the southbound traffic was also blocked. they were shouting \\\"margbar dictator\\\". i watched the scene for a while to understand the dynamics. my plan had been to go down navab but the situation could escalate any minute. i could not see any police or basidj yet. it seemed like they could not control these spontanious gatherings immediatly that seemed to happen almost everywhere. i went down from the bridge but by the time i reached street level tear gas was shot into the crowd. it seemed such a senseless measure as it was so obvious that people would form up again in another location. the protests seemed like a fungus that they tried to spray away but people just like spores disperse into all directions and even more fungus grows in other locations. i thought of deleuze guattari and tried to remember what they had written about the rhizome and the war-machine while i was trying to catch the bus. i missed it, but then i saw that i was actually lucky because it got stuck in the tear gas mess. my eyes were burning and my stomach started to cramp as if i had to throw up. i decided to take roudaki street parallel to navab to go south. on azadi people were being pushed by the police towards azadi square. after jomhori square i went back onto navab to jump into a taxi. everybody in the taxi was sweaty and exhausted. one man said that he had been walking all the way down from gisha bridge where apparently there had also been clashes. another man just repeatedly said \\\"what had this country become\\\". i reached a friends house on mortazavi street at 8.30 pm.
later friends reported of very brutal basij forces beatings people around enghelab square that day. in groups of twenty they singled out individuals to beat them unscrupulously. one friend described how her and her friends carried a woman away from the scene who was unconscious from a basidj repeatedly hitting her head with a baton. her leg was also broken by a baton with the bone sticking out. another friend reported of clashes at koohe daneshgah much further north.
thurs july 9, today is the 9th anniversary of the student demonstrations against the closing of the reformist newspaper salam that started on 18 tir which is july 9 in 1999. the peaceful manifestations ended bloody. the exact number of dead students is unknown, some were thrown of the roof of the university dormitory, many were imprisoned and tortured after the basidj forces ended the ongoing demonstrations in tehran and other cities brutally. so today in expectance of huge manifestation in memory of 18 tir the government decided to use the weather as an excuse to shut down the whole city. on monday a western wind brought a cloud of brown dust from iraq where apparently a sandstorm had hit and now the sand was distributed westwards. the air became very thick and dusty and visibility was reduced drastically. it looked apocalyptic and it seemed to cause heart problems, headache and breathing difficulties. local flights were canceled and on tuesday schools and government offices were closed. the same day the government announced from wednesday on not only schools and public buildings were closed but also banks and most other important centers of business. they basically closed everything apart from small shops. the weather had cleared up but the tension leading up to 18 tir was probably the more important issue in this decision anyways. the government hoped that being granted an unexpected holiday, tehranis would go on vacation and not come back before friday night. they were right, people in tehran don\\\'t miss any chance to leave to the caspian sea or make family visits if they are granted a day of. the motorway heading towards the north were full yesterday. if they had announced it earlier even more people would have left. again it is uncanny how the weather plays a part in the recent events here. interestingly the wind changed since the protests in the streets were silenced. it came from the east before and brought blizzards and rain and fresh air, now it is coming form the west and brings dust and dirt. it mirrors the obstructed vision towards what\\\'s going to happen today and what has been happening behind closed doors in recent days, most interestingly in ghom the holy city and the center of the clergy. a group of very important clerics have sided with the protest movement and called the election process and the following acts of violence illegitemate. this comes during a week that saw more arrests and a suspiciously more quiet behaviour from ahmadinejads side. it might be a trick of the mind but he seems less bold in rare public appearances. there are more reports of people being arrested at the airport on their way out of the country. a 23 year old french girl who worked as a teacher and was not involved in the movement was arrested when she wanted to leave the country to go to beirut. friends in beirut called and said that she hadn\\\'t arrived at her destination. she is in evin since then and was allowed to call three times but the lawyer was still not allowed to see her. they want her to confess that she is a spy which according to friends of her is a ridiculous accusation. but it shows that they are deperately working on rewriting the story of this movement, a movement that was started by iranian voters in protest of election fraud. the plan seems to be to use the foreigners who are in the country to become new faces of what the government calls an attempt by foreign agents to overthrow the government. i doubt though that these confession can successfully overwrite the powerful images that the events, that the movement has produced so far. this intense struggle over images shows how important images have been in these weeks. the violent supression of any kind of documentation of events but also of visual expression of opinion (the colour green, grafitis, gatherings on the streets) that they can\\\'t control shows how seriously the government takes the image that is created inside and outside the country.
the demonstration today is scheduled for 5pm at enghelab square, not far from tehran university compound. everybody fears to go but feels the duty to do so. nobody knows at this point what will happen. let\\\'s look at the weather very carefully.
sun july 5, the past few days have been very odd. a sense of suspension is hanging over the city like a layer of pollution that affects clear vision and makes movement an effort. a lot of people say that they think they are depressed but they can\\\'t really tell. it feels like a migrane caused by a pending seizure of the important bloodvessels. it\\\'s certainly not yet fatal or final, but the unbearable state of waiting for either the final blow or the release of what\\\'s blocking the flow creating all these clumsy displacement activities like: maybe we should go to the cinema. but then the film one would select would be \\\'darbareye elly\\\' (about elly) which will just increase the headdache. it is very unfortunate for this really good film that it came to the cinemas at the time of the elections. in my opinion it is quite a precise analysis of the psychology of modern iranian society. it is almost unbearable to watch though, not only in times like these when one is longing for something or someone to call an end to suspension and opression. when one wants to do something that makes sense, that helps moving the obstructions out of the way. because the opression really feels upsettingly obstructive more then anything else. the stupidity of it, the short sightedness, the sheer force that keeps people fron the streets but that will never change their hearts is an like an obstacle on the sidewalk that one impassionatly wants to push aside. something needs to move.
sat, july 4,
Year that trembled and reel\\\'d beneath me! Your summer wind was warm enough, yet the air I breathed froze me, A thick gloom fell through the sunshine and darken\\\'d me, Must I change my triumphant songs? said I to myself, Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirges of the baffled? And sullen hymns of defeat?
thurs, july 2nd, 10pm, outside the nightly \\\'allah akbar\\\' just started. it is reasuring and simply amazing that despite the continuous rewriting of recent events on iranian media people stick to this agenda. one of the very few means of expression left to show one\\\'s opinion. yesterday the first series of confessions were screened on iranian television. confessions by intellectuals, journalists and filmmakers, who after having been tortured confessed on tape that their had been instructed by foreign forces to design and perform an uprise in iran. these confessions are painful in two respects. first the torture that those people have gone through and the prospect of having to live with this confession from now on must be a complete nightmare. as i am told at evin they often use white torture, which means that you are mostly threatened and confronted with pain inflicted to people who are close to you, family mostly. they threaten to kill your sister, your children, your wife if you don\\\'t make the confession. then they threaten to execute you repeatedly. they don\\\'t allow you to sleep and deprive you of all the means to regain strength and a sense of willpower until you finally break. it takes different amount of time with each person but everybody breaks at some point, a friend described to me today. then they sit with you and practice what you have to say. they go through the text so many times to make your confession sound natural and credible. of course everybody who has experienced what happened in the streets of tehran, shiraz, esfahan and other cities will never believe those confessions. but people who stayed home for fear or other reasons, people who want to believe because it makes live simpler, people who are afraid of thinking for themselves might very well believe this bullshit. and that is the second painful and depressing aspect of these confessions. for now we are all waiting. waiting for something to happen or something to become apparent.
tue, june 30, 2.30 am, evin prison is in the northwest of tehran close to chamran highway. it is an areal of a few km2 surrounded by a wall with soldiers watching the inside and outside from several watchtowers. the main entrance is next to evin expressway. when i was there today between 4.30-5.30 around 100-150 people were waiting in front of the entrance and in the shade under the bridge of the motorway. they had brought blankets and tea, some were leaning against the pillars of the bridge, some were sleeping, others talked. their waiting seemed more symbolic than aimed at an immediate goal. officially 1000 people have been arrested since the election, but the unofficial number is 2000. today the news spread that a lot of them might be detained in provisory camps near behesht zahra, the martyrs graveyard south of tehran. the report that apparently came from somebody who had been detained there says, that it is very hot and people are actually dying from the heat. every few hours squats are sent in to beat up the detainees. they sometimes get potatoes to eat.
after the \\\'sucessful\\\' rally inside a mosque yesterday, today another human chain from tajrish to raahan square was scheduled for 5 pm, just like the spectacular green human chain before the election. i was not very convinced by the idea. i left the house at 4.30 to go to evin. at parkway intersection a couple of dozen police and basij had lined up on both sides of valiasr street and across the square. we heard that vanak square and tajrish were very busy but it was not apparent whether that just meant police or actual fightings. on my return at 6pm the armed forces had multiplied. on parkway intersection itself there were hundreds of men in riot gear, down valiasr street towards vanak basidj were standing in a line on the west side, police on the east side. so naturally i choose to walk down on the east side. there was a police man every 10 m in green uniform with baton and shield, every 100 m one with a teargas gun, a bag of teargas munition hanging from his waist. walking along this arrangement it suddenly occured to me that they had formed a human chain and even a green one. unintenionally they had adopted the idea of the protesters of creating a human chain all along valiasr. and they didn\\\'t realize that they had created what they had tried to prevent. they didn\\\'t realize precisely because they didn\\\'t sense themselves as humans in the very moment of acting out their duty as police. it was so ironically funny that i had to grinn while i passed every post till i reached my street. later at around 10pm we went out to see friends north of tajrish. all the way up to khods square there were basij in big crowds. they had gathered on intersections, in parks, on the squares. they were in plain clothes, in camouflage, sitting on the sidewalk, on their motorbikes, in the grass, drinking tea and eating sandwiches with their helmets,baton or wooden sticks lying next to them. unlike a few hours before there were no other people walking in the streets. in the afternoon the street had been busy with people doing their shopping but even more so with people in \\\'ice cream camouflage\\\' just strolling up and down valiasr as if it was a nice day to be out promenading along streets full of police. now as there is rumours that after wearing green became prohibited, black might be the next colour to be forbidden to wear one can very well imagine that it won\\\'t be long before they ban ice cream and ab talebi (melon juice). it might sound bizarre but in a time where in an islamic republic houses get raided for singing allah akbar on the roof nothing is to absurd to anticipate anymore. in a time where the police claims that the violence, even the killings on the streets was acted out by protesters disguised in police uniform you can expect just about anything. but they didn\\\'t just come to this conclusion only now when the basidj leader today announced that \\\"imposters sic had worn police and Basij uniforms to infiltrate the rallies and create havoc.\\\" a friend who lives near engelab square told me that on \\\'bloody\\\' saturday when people fled into the nearby streets and alleys, they also came into his street. he watched people opposite the road helping them by letting them into the house. he filmed how the police (niru entezami) started to smash every car in front of the house and in the parking, then they smashed the windows of the first floor of the house itself and set the first floor on fire. he also filmed how they smashed his own car. on sunday he called the police to tell them that their men had smash his car and that he had it on film. the officer on the phone just said that there is many people with that kind of clothing in the streets now and hung up. good night.
sun, june 28, 00.23, i just heard that there is a crowd in front of evin prison hoping to learn the whereabouts of their loved ones. apparently they are camping there. i want to go tomorrow to understand more. a friend says that they probably brought a lot of the prisoners to karaj as there is probably a couple of thousands of them. he says they mix them with inmate brutes to make their stay a horror trip.
sat, june 27, the protests on the streets have stopped. after another attempt to gather in front of the parliament on wednesday that started calmly with people walking around in small groups with melon juice or ice cream as camouflage, or sitting in the grass, the assembly was dispersed after reaching a critical mass and after resisting to leave people were heavily beaten, men and women alike. mousavi did not show up which was a huge dissapointment for people as he had announced he would come. there is word of more killings in the following battle after dark. there is no confirmed numbers of the dead in general. there is no trace of where they take the bodies. there are reports that they took them away on vans and buried them immediatly in behesht zahra the huge graveyard some 20 km south of tehran. there are also reports of basidj taking the bodies out of the hospitals if they died later, it has been confirmed by a couple of people that they forced families to bury their childrem without ceremony if they wanted the body back. the arrests and house raids continue while the streets returned almost to \\\'normal\\\' since thursday. normal meaning that you see a couple of basidj posts on some intersections. no protesters, no confrontations, no attempts to gather. the collective mourning ceremony that was scheduled at behesht zahra for thursday did not happen. friends drove all the way down there and then all over town to look for it. no sign of a gathering to mourn the dead of the past few days. the event had gotten no permission, which does not come as a big suprise since it would have created an opportunity to actually announce who is missing or dead and start counting. it seems like a lot of people are missing and it is next to impossible to get information about their whereabouts. luckily nobody in my direct surrounding but friends miss friends and/or family members. most of these people are probably in police custody and in provisory prisons or they went straight to evin prison, notorious for torture and burial of political resistance since a long time. since ayatollah khatami yesterday announced that the demonstrators should be punished \\\'ruthlessly and savagely\\\', i am am worried that there will be a wave of executions. the thought makes me sick to the stomach.
my stomach has been very sensitive to the events and granted me to experience another aspect of political resistance. everybody who was out in the streets these past weeks has responded emotionally and physically different to the tense atmosphere, to witnessing or experiencing violence, to injustice, to helplessness. i, apparently as a lot of people, had very painful stomach cramps. on thursday i decided to go to the doctor instead of going to the demonstration at baharestan square. the doctor could not find a physical cause for the pain. he asked me whether i had been following the news after the election and i confirmed that i had been watching. he considered that the pain was a cause of being upset and advised me to take a set of different pills that i should get from the pharmacy. the pharmacy here often hands out just the pills without the box, so i googled what he had actually given my after i came home. it turned out that two out of the three were antidepressant one of which was \\\"relieving or minimizing such symptoms of schizophrenia as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thought and speech.\\\" the other \\\"It is used in the treatment of major depression and childhood nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting).\\\" the third pill in the set was a \\\"substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system.\\\" with a number of amazing side effects. the most striking to me: \\\"visual, auditory, or other sensory hallucinations, warping or waving of surfaces and edges, Textured surfaces, \\\"Dancing\\\" lines; \\\"spiders\\\", insects; form constants, Lifelike objects indistinguishable from reality, Hallucinated presence of people not actually there,
i imagined everybody being objected to such a treatment. it would probably work even better than beating and shooting and what iranian media has been doing to people\\\'s minds.\\\"delusions, disorganized thought and speech, hallucinated presence of people not actually there.\\\" it all made perfect sense. medication as the last and most powerful repression of people\\\'s voice, of dissent, of information, of communication, of emotional attachment to the events, to injustice, to violence. indifference. i have to repeat this powerful word: indifference. i remember a cousin overhearing a conversation between four women on the bus. they were talking about neda\\\'s death. one of them said that she deserved to be shot. why did she go outside? it is her own fault that she\\\'s dead now. the others agreed. i tell my friends what the doctors had given me and they confirm that they are taking pill to fight anxiety and pain. valerin seems to be a helpful friend to people who have to cope with the recent or also with past experiences of repression and violence. i had not thought of this aspect of dissent before. you have to block certain physical and emotional reactions in order to continue. i think this will lead into trauma research, which i guess is partly what the society as a whole has to confront now. how to protect oneself from recent and past traumatic events and the perspective of a repressive and ruthless regime staying in power (for the moment) without becoming indifferent. for now i feel strongly that most of the visible indifference in tehran today is just camouflage like icecream and melon juice. after this election and it\\\'s aftermath, the huge cracks in the walls of this house will grow and the roof will eventually come down.
wed, june 24
And you O my soul where you stand, Surrounded, detatched, in measureless oceans of space, Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them. Till the bridge you will need be form\\\'d, till the ductile anchor hold, Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
tue, june 23, 3.32 am, today i suddenly lost my fear in the midst of streetfightings. it is so weird which rollercoster of emotions one experiences in these past weeks, days, hours, minutes. on saturday the presence of raging militia plus the expectation of gunfire made me scared shitless. it also created this feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness. today i hadn\\\'t planned to go to any demonstrations. i was invited for dinner and i decided to go earlier to not get into any trouble on the street. they were saying that there is a demonstration at ferdowsi and i wanted to go to karim khan which is further up. my friends told me that hafte tir is calm. i got on a taxi to hafte tir at parkway. we got stuck in thick traffic and the driver choose to go through the little alleys instead. but we got stuck there too. slowly getting closer to hafte tir suddenly people were running towards us. they ran in the middle of the street between the cars and on the sidewalk. after them came black motorbikes with men in camouflage and black with batons and paintball guns. they were big guys, their faces distorted from the wish to destroy. they looked like they were on cocain. with high speed they drove on the sidewalk trying to single out individuals to catch them. the men on the backseats were shooting with orange paintballs. in the taxi the guys in the backseat were on their way to the demonstration. they commented the events outside with dry sarcastic humour. one said: \\\'mister, i guess closing the window is better then not closing the window.\\\' then they were complaining about the orange colour of the paintballs. it would not match with their t-shirts. outside the men on motorcycles had caught one young man. he tried to escape, one man drove his motorbike into his legs. the boy fell over the motorbike headover really badly while batons were hitting him from everywhere. a scream escaped me. it looked really ugly. at the same time the paintball guns created this sense of absurdity that almost made me laugh. he escaped in a miracolous way. the taxi moved and we passed another young men that they had actually caught. it was awfull to watch. there were four men holding him while four others hit him with batons, kicked him and pushed him. i don\\\'t know what happend to him as we drove further. the cars were all honking in protest. people looked from balconies and windows, shopkeepers stood in front of their shops. these days shopkeepers have often been the last refuge for people. they let people in who try to escape from the \\\'police\\\' and shut the iron shutter. the traffic did not move a bit. in front of us one of the black vans that carry niru entezami or sepah, i can\\\'t seperate all the different forces any more. whatever they were. the men on the van looked like robocops from a computergame. after some time the driver said, that he probably wouldn\\\'t make it to the square. together with a chadori woman i decided to get out of the car and walk. we were just around the corner from hafte tir. when I arrived at the square i was first shocked. basidj, and armed forces of all possible kinds everywhere. some of them looked dangerous others lookes completly pityful and out of place. then this unit of youngster marched in. juje basidj - chicken basidj. they were on the verge of puberty some had fluffy hair on their upper lip most didn\\\'t. they were maybe 12, 13, 14. I had the same weird feelings as when watching the paintball cops in that sureal videogame appearance. it was to absurd to be true. i felt like laughing and screaming at the same time. they send children! i looked into their eyes. they were scared but they were trying to hide it. they wanted to be men. as i entered the very big square i saw that the whole of hafte tir was a full and they were beating, arresting, peperspraying. a big cloud of teargas adding to this war like scenery. but miracolously i could walk without being hit in the midst of all of this. i descovered that women could walk on the sidewalk without being hasseled while men of young age were immediatly in trouble. maybe a result of the impact that the video of neda\\\'s death had. the image dropped like a bomb. they sure want to avoid such nasty proof of their violence from now on. anybody who openly carried a mobile phone was beaten. they were constantly taking young men to busses waiting in the alleys and to a mosque which seemed to be some kind of headquarter. mosques in these time being used for all sorts of purposes, a prison came as no surprise. a few days ago the iranian television showed images of a burning mosque close to navab. they claimed it to the protester \\\'terrorists\\\'. now there is nothing worse than burning a mosque in the shia religion. what they didn\\\'t show or mention was that they own men had been shooting on people from inside the mosque. so the mosque was abused twice. once as a shelter for snipers, secondly as a tool of propaganda. so now the mosque as a prison. i thought that they really make big mikstakes. the past days and weeks they have been damaging the reputation of this regime in such irrepairable ways. how do they think they can possibly fix that after the uprise. they can\\\'t people don\\\'t forget. tonight a person at the dinnertable said that one of his friends had actually voted for ahmadinejad. everybody looked at him in disgust. he explained to his friend a goverment was like a house. a window breaks, you repare it. the sanitary system breaks, you repare it. but the roof, if the roof falls down you abandon the house. he said that the house was damaged now but after four more years of ahmadinejad the roof and with it the building will have collapsed. an argument started but that\\\'s another story. i was walking on the sidewalk of the northeast side of the square. i had to go to the southwestside. i had no idea how i could get through the mess. who knows what\\\'s happening at the other end. i tried to ask a soldier. he didn\\\'t look at me, tried to ignore me. I asked again. he looked at me with a confused and anxious expression in his face that made me think: boy you need to go home. he said: \\\"misses I really don\\\'t know.\\\" i looked around and i had no other way than going. so i just kept walking along the square observing the crowd very closely. i was totally calm. it was interesting and disgusting. the square seemed to neatly present the whole fascist (i am ready for this word now) apparatus. a blown up corpus consisting of all these different layers of benefactors that had given up their will and common sense in order to serve the system that supported them with very different things from food, over money, to power and the promise to go further up at some point maybe. all these men, the unshaved men in plain clothers with headsets who i personally find most appaling, the armed forces, the kids, the daylabourer who doesn\\\'t even know how to hold the baton are the apparatus that keeps a senseless system alive with only few really believing in it. when i arrived on the other end of the square i saw tired basidj sitting on the gras, picknicking. i couln\\\'t believe my eyes. then i jumped into a taxi.
some more news in short: the embassies of various countries have announced that they open their doors for people who got injured in the demonstrations. this comes after people understood that all ambulances take the injured to sepah hospitals and after that knowbody knows what happens to them. so you don\\\'t want to have anybody being carried away by an ambulance.
many more people have been killed than first announced. at least 38 people died on saturday but the numbers could be higher. today more people died on hafte tir and in different places in the city.
iranian television showed four boys who admit that they started the riots because they got an sms from england. they also said that they didn\\\'t vote. they didn\\\'t care about the election. they just wanted to have some fun. how low can you go. do they really think people are stupid enough to believe that.
our teacher at school announced that she got instructions to advise us to not leave the house after 3pm because we might be shot. she herself would do the same. this almost sounds like a soft curfue. good night
sun, june 21,
I have been struggling with access problems to the blog the past two days but also with loosing my language. the words of khamenei have changed the conditions for opposition drastically and the tension in the air after the friday prayer made me literally sick to the stomach. everybody agreed that this means war. after seeing people being so truly invested in this movement it was painful to wait for the forthcoming bloodbath. and there came saturday. black saturday. i was at a friends house, we were constantly getting phone calls with differing content. one minute the ralley was canceled, the next minute it was on. then again someone said they have order to shoot but only below the stomach. then we heard that enghelab square was already busy. we decided to go. slowly and carefully, first checking out the situation. we went with a neighbour who had a car. there was no buses no taxis going down that direction. he left his car in gisha and we separated to find cars to go further down. we went into a car. the driver asked us where we were going. we said enghelab. so you\\\'re going to the demonstration. we said no we were not going anywhere. my friends mother asked him which side he was on. he said he was on their side, he was on the side of the law. she started arguing with him what kind of law allowed beating up people shitless. he said he was not for beating people but the rioters on the streets who burn and destroy people\\\'s property have to be punished. then he repeated khamenei\\\'s speech almost word by word about how one cannot possibly forge 11 million votes. and how the rioters were responsible for the chaos in the streets. he was a perfect prototye of a brainwashed citizen who just wanted to do everything right and who had give the responsibility for what is right to the leaders, closing his eyes to what is happening in front of him. we had to leave the car before the conversation could develope further. we caught a bus towards kargar street. from the bus we could already see them. they were on every streetcorner even we were still very far away from enghelab square. they were men of all ages and posture in plain clothes but equiped with a helmet, a baton and a shield with a camouflage badge on it. they looked pityful. as if they had picked up hundreds of daylabourers from the streetcorners and put a helmet on their heads. they were many. we finally got of the bus on street before kargar. we went down one alley only to understand that every street going east towards kargar was blocked. we decided to go down to enghelab street like many other people did too. people were coming the other direction saying, don\\\'t go down, they are hitting really badly. someone said, they are using live rounds. we waited a while to understand the situation. then a group gathered of around 70-100 people to try and go down. we went along only to be teargased on the next streetcorner. we backed up lighting cigarettes to fight the gas. someone lit paper to create smoke and waved it into peoples faces. someone else lit the trash opposite the road. then people started to run down towards us from the other direction. they said that they were beating further up too. we were inbetween. my stomach turned upside down. maybe from the gas. someone says it is pepperspray not gas. i don\\\'t know. maybe it was also the unbearable tension. I saw basidj on the roof of buildings. they were everywere. i didn\\\'t see a single police. i felt my bloodpressure heading towards zero and i had really bad stomach cramps. i told the others that i would leave. they wanted to stay and try to go with the next wave. they wished me good luck and i wished them good luck. i felt tears running down my cheeks while i was walking up the street. a boy, his tshirt dirty and wet ripped the green ribbon from around his neck to erase the sign of his belonging to the movement. the expression in his sweaty face was one of desperation and unlimitless dedication at the same time. it was the moment were I understood that the movement would go underground. were the green bands that people so proudly presented and celebrated only days ago could kill them today. only later did a girl at school tell me that she actually went with a green headscarf that day and people on the street ripped it off her head telling her that she was crazy to wear that. she covered her head with her hands fearing to be arrested. but people said better get arrested then getting killed. I walked past more people who were exhausted from running, from fear, from disorientation. this was a total mess. i walked past the basidj on the street corner and i just wanted to hit them. i was so angry at them for being such animals and i felt so much pain for all these people that were terrified and at the same time so brave. and as i -instead of hitting them and swearing at them- just walked past these ugly men with their batons in silence, my head down, i felt crushed. suddenly it was all just black and silent. i knew that people will die here today and i can do nothing to stop it. i somehow got on a bus to parkway. i got of there to find more militia controlling the intersection. maybe 100. here they were wearing black with camouflage on the shields. they looked more organized. back home the others arrived half an hour after me. nobody was hurt. slowly the messages came in from others. the people who had made it to enghelab square reported that it had been a trap closing in people and then chasing them. on kargar street a woman was shot. everywhere it\\\'s a warzone. aljazeera reports that the \\\'ralley\\\' apparently saw only a few thousand protesters. much less then the days before and she wasn\\\'t sure whether it was because people just couldn\\\'t get through to the square or whether they had listened to khamenei\\\'s warning not to go out. the images were partly from iranian state television showing a burning bus and baricades and people beating up a police and only a few clips where you could get a slight idea of what was happening in the streets. it had been so dangerous to take pictures today and if you had, with the internet slowed down to almost zero byte it was a real challenge to upload. we were upset. all the journalists who hadn\\\'t left yet were locked up in hotel lale and they had no clue what was going on outside. eventually the image war that the iranian media was fighting would be won by the stupid and shameless propaganda of a regime that had lost its legitimation to govern and was holding on to power bay shear violence. then they showed the video of the girl shot on kargar. i had to leave the room.
the \\\'allah akbar\\\' tonight sounds furios, desperate and very loud. many people swear at khamenei and shout \\\'down with the dictatorship\\\'.
today\\\'s (sunday) numbers say that yesterday at least 19 people got killed, many injured. the doctors at the hospitals are apparently put under pressure to write \\\'died under surgery\\\' in the reports of the bodies who have been brought in from the streets. a friend says that she wants to try and get access to a hospital to take photos of the injured. it sounds very risky as the militia controls most hospital. when i walk past imam khomeini hospital on my way back yesterday, the courtyard of the hospital was FULL of basidj.
the streets are spookily calm today. no sign of protest, no green anywhere, no gatherings. the shopkeeper asks me \\\'are you not going out in the streets today? where is the demonstration?\\\' there are rumours that people would gather in front of jamejam the television station opposite our street. but no signs. nothing.
we hear about more and more people getting arrested. now it\\\'s the filmmakers. apparently they started arresting filmmakers who had been granted permission to film over the past month but also those who had signed the statement of the documentary filmmakers. a close friend says that the next two years will be very dark. he jokes about the things he will do in prison.
fri, june 19,
everybody was waiting for what the rahbar, the supreme leader khamenei in his friday prayer today would have to say. the friday prayer that takes place at tehran university is always shown live on iranian television. but i have never seen the whole country watching it. you could hear it from every window. the shopkeeper had it on. the taxidriver was listening to it on the radio. everybody listened and got more and more upset by khamenei\\\'s words. for somebody who is not used to it the set up is quite impressive. the auditorium, a vast space is full with thousands of men sitting still just shouting down with amerika, down with israel whenever khamenei makes a pause. the first third of the space in front of the stage is occupied by important people with ahmadinejad sitting in the front row. rezaii one of the other election candidates sits in the last row of this first section. none of the other candidates not moussavi, not karoubi but also no other important cleric has shown up. the television shows a split screen image of inside the auditorium and the outside around palestine square which is also full of people. khamenei first sites from the quran, talks metaphorical and advises to not let politics come between you and god . in the second part of his speech he then adresses the situation directly. he talks about the unrest, about the election results and also about the mistakes that the candidates had made during the election campaigns. his explanation for all the problems that occured after the election is fantastically simple. he applies the doshman method.
introducing: \\\'doshman\\\' - doshman means enemy and farsi allows in a very convenient way to use it very undefinedly. it is not \\\'the\\\' enemy or \\\'a\\\' enemy, it is just enemy - doshman. so doshman had caused all this turmoil not the mellate aziz- the dear people of iran. the people of iran this fantastic people has shown the world how different and great a country it is by turning out in great numbers to vote. fourty million voters showed the world that they are one great people dedicated to their country. and they had decided that ahmadinejad is their president. he will not allow any further talk of fraud. there was no fraud and even if there was, nobody should talk about it because it upsets the people (i remember the poor soul in the interior ministry who told a journalist, that they didn\\\'t even count the votes but just wrote a number and who was executed for it). even if there has been fraud, it would be impossible to forge 11 million votes, which is the difference between votes for mr moussavi and for mr ahmadinejad. so stop talking about fraud. mr ahmadinejad is the president, and khamenei admits, he is the president that he most favours and who is closest to his own way of thinking and his ideas. he says that all the candidates had made mistakes. they should never have accused each other and others of lies and brought up names. it is all not true. he himself would never bring up names but now he sees himself forced to. he talks about hashimi rafsanjani and defends him as a true part of the revolution and a dear fellow citizen and that noone has the right to accuse him. and then he goes on about the protests and that they were organized from abroad by zionists, americans and the british, by doshman. he says that the people who continue to organize ralleys will have the blood of the people on their hands. they will be responsible for the bloodshed. the crowd shouts: \\\'down with america, down with britain, down with israel\\\' we are in a taxi while we listen to this part. the taxidriver says: \\\"this means war\\\". i have really bad stomach cramps since the morning. after lunch i try to rest. the whole city is on holt.
the evening we spend subtitleing a video statement by the assosiation of iranian documentary filmmakers in french and english:
Statement of Iranian documentary filmmakers
In the Name of the God
We are documentary filmmakers. Our work is to discover and to tell the truth. Truth can only be found when all aspects of reality are told. In the course of recent events in our country, our national media, by deliberately hiding the reality of the situation, is making it impossible for the public to access the truth.
We are documentary filmmakers. Our work takes place through media. Iranian National Television belongs to the entire Iranian society and should be committed to represent social events truthfully and different points of view in their diversity. It should not be the mouthpiece of a specific faction and ignore a vast part of society.
We are documentary filmmakers. Our work is art and we are committed to the culture, the art, and the language of our country. The language of journalism should respect the dignity and honor of a society. Iranian National Television, by distorting and suppressing the news and with the use of degrading rhetoric, legitimizes lying and slander.
It also addresses people by using degrading and abusive vocabulary and thus provokes people into confrontation and upheaval.
We say this as a warning: depriving citizens of peaceful and respectful communication in the midst of the tense circumstances of the present time, can lead to a violent reaction on the part of society; a society whose people were peacefully and respectfully promoting their diverse views up until election day.
We say this as a warning: this kind of action means sharing the responsibility for any kind of violence, terror, social disruption, and all human tragedies. It divides and antagonizes a society that is able to create unity through justice. In the last 30 years, each and every citizen of this country has shared happiness and sorrow. People have fought side by side, endured sacrifices and lost loved ones. We are a people with a long history dating back a few thousand years. We all belong together, and we share this country and its history.
Do not tear us apart.
17 June, 2009
thurs, june 18, 11.44am, we went to the mountains this morning. we climbed up the steep path next to the telecabin at tochal. we reached the top after 2 hours. the weather was clear and the city underneath us, the unrest, the fears, the hopes and the efforts that people have been engaged with in the past three weeks seemed so far away. we imagined if we went back down and everything would have gone back to \\\'normal\\\'. but which state of normality would we like to return to? to before the elections? surely not. it was good to zoom out for this moment to take a deep breath in order to be able to continue.
today saw another big ralley. we were not there. everybody in the house fell asleep in the afternoon. the constant hunt for news for access to news and evaluation of the sources and the information came to a halt for a few hours. but we heard that several hundred thousand people all dressed in black to mourn the dead were there. I probably said this before but the energy of people is unbelievable. everybody is going to work during the day. but at 4pm people make their way through thick traffic to be there every single day with the same passion and commitment. i have never seen such a thing before.
our nightly \\\'allah akbar\\\' happened under rainy skies full of lightning and thunder. the neighbours came up too and we shouted until our throats got sore. the weather has accompanied the events these past weeks in a strange way with explosive blizzards in the night of the election, with beautiful weather for the ralleys and rain at night. tonight it feels as if the weather is announcing a new level of the \\\'green revolution\\\'. we hear that esfahan is seeing heavy street fighting and war-like situations whith niru entezami having lost control over the city. i can\\\'t even imagine what that would mean if it\\\'s true. have the armed forces given up or have they sided with the movement? what will people do once they took over the city? are they prepared for a real revolution instead of simply a new election? i guess you can never really be prepared for such things. i certainly wasn\\\'t. at the same time as these news reach us we constantly receive news of new arrests and attacks on individuals. people are arrested in their houses, in their offices, at the airport. intellectuals, activists, people who work for karoubi\\\'s and moussavi\\\'s campaigns. we all get suspicious of people watching the house, strange calls and our computers playing weird. they say that callers that have numbers with a lot of zeros are related to ehtelat. they call random numbers and say \\\"we saw you at the demonstration. we got your picture. you are in deep trouble. stop going to the streets.\\\" stuff like that. we never pick up when these numbers come up. since yesterday i can\\\'t access and update the weblog from my own computer any longer. so, one of my main tasks for today was to find stable proxy servers. i installed a freeware called privoxy but haven\\\'t figured out yet how it works. i know now that the only way is a downloadable proxy programm because the url-proxys that people send around are blocked five minutes after people post them. i should have done research on the security issues much much earlier. how long have i heared friends preaching about encryption etc.
the iranian media has also entered level 2. instead of just amnesia with flowers and turtles they turned to attacking the movement. out of the many newspapers that were available at the newsstand nearby, there are only the ones left that are controlled by ahmadinejad. on their frontpages they show the senseless vandalism that the \\\'kesafat\\\' -the dirt that supports mossavi has spread over the country. they show burned trashbins, destroyed phonebooths, smashed car windows and demand that this terror has to stop. while i look at the images, a man passing by comments \\\'only the basidj are smashing car windows. they did this themselves and claim it to us.\\\' on television they show a programm that they copied from a bbc farsi programm where callers can comment on the situation. a woman takes the calls while in the background a videoloop shows images of the \\\'vandalism\\\'. callers are of course all pro ahmadinejad and complain about the senseless chaos and say that people should accept the results of the election. a friend tells me that during the first two days after the elections they read sms messages instead of taking calls until a clever person called them and reminded them that sms text messaging was impossible since two days in the whole country. how can they possibly receive sms messages? they saw their mistake and switched to callers. good night.
tomorrow is jom\\\'eh, the day of friday prayers and people want to gather at 11am. still not confirmed whether it is recommended to go or too dangerous.
wed june 17,
1am the images below are from today\\\'s silent march from hafte tir square to valiasr and as we heard further to enghelab or even azadi. we returned home after three hours of marching when we were close to valiasr. it was getting dark and we were hungry. we think it was at least half a million people but if it\\\'s true that they continued towards azadi it was even more. tommorow everybody is instructed to wear black to mourn for the people who have died already and meet at 5 at topkhane. i switched from camera to mobile phone to take pictures. it\\\'s not as risky, everbody does it.
while the demonstration today proved again that the people are commited to their demands, a rigorous, brutal and intense persectution of leaders, activists, journalists, anybody involved in distributing information and organizing the movement is launched. already 500 people are in prison, there are people missing and people killed. apparently somebody working at the interior ministry who had witnessed and reported about the fraud was executed today. they started raiding houses looking for people involved in the movement and there is word that they started to clean the roofs from satelite dishes. everybody is advised to not let anybody in the house. the basidj went into a house two streets further up towards parkway tonight with batons, we saw them. they are not just in plain clothes but there were basidj wearing camouflage outfits and they had shields and helmets like niru entezami. they try to crush the movement by crushing the hubs. they shut down every possible channel. they blocked not only the important websites but constantly block new proxies to access the sites. we can\\\'t make phonecalls outside of the country any more. We tried calling germany,france and usa. no chance. our mobile phones only work in the morning after 4pm they don\\\'t work any longer. text message doesn\\\'t work since election day etc. but people are very inventive and flexible in their ways of communicating. mysteriously the message spreads in no time where and when to go or not to go. it really is very dangerous for everyone involved. that\\\'s why it is even more impressive that people just go on. they won\\\'t stop until they get what they demand.
one can only imagine the powerstruggle inside the religious class. it must be like a hurricane. today karoubi came out on the street on hafte tir just when we arrived. he was walking in the crowd and people raised the victory sign in support. for saturday the biggest march so far is announced and the people seeking for permission are all clerics.
the boy on the photo is one of the dead
a picture of one of the people who died monday, printed out from the internet, photographed by hundreds of mobile phones and then distributed again. people replacing newspaper and television for those who don\\\'t have access to the information that is really hard to get these days.
no chaos, no violence, just genuine election
burning sage to get rid of bad spirits
wed, june 17,
3pm we thought he had left the country but here he is: please read
12.00 pm, now that is an insult! I can\\\'t find any open proxy any longer to access all the sites we need so dearly. help!
tue june 16 2.30am I just scanned the news coverage online and I want to comment on two things quickly. first: the demonstration of ahamdinejad supporters today on valiasr square that looks so impressive on the photo in the new york times article (\\\'Recount Offer Fails to Quell Political Tumult in Iran\\\') was actually (like most of these events) made possible by utilizing public busses to bring people from karaj (a city near by) and other places to tehran, put a poster or banner in their hands and promise them food afterwards. a friend was there and watched it. she said, the poor souls had no clue. the second thing I would like to comment on from the same article that is otherwise good as most of their coverage, is the explanation for people wearing surgical masks: \\\"Other marchers covered their mouths with surgical masks, apparently fearing tear gas attacks.\\\" people here know quite well that surgical masks don\\\'t help much with tear gas. they wear them because ehtelat (the gentlemen in plain clothes who are working for the miinstery of the interior) are constantly filming and taking photos of everbody. luckily there is no \\\'vermummungsverbot\\\' like in germany but rather an official encouragement to veil in general and the surgical masks are also often used against the smog. it\\\'s another of these subtle but precise reappropriations of common tools that noone can punish you for. \\\'I\\\'m just shouting allah akbar. is there anything wrong with that?\\\' \\\'i\\\'m just wearing a mask against the terrible smog. is that a problem?\\\'. but i waswondering how the 250 protesters in front of the iranian embassy in berlin dealt with the conflict between not being allowed to hide their faces but putting themselves in danger by not masking their identity. we saw footage on VOA from in front of the iranian embassy in dubai today. a crowd of at least 100 people all wearing surgical masks, dark sunglasses and hats shouting and chanting energetically. only now do i understand the extend of how important it is to see people\\\'s doing these kind of things in other places. not only to put pressure on the officials but to show their support and solidarity with the people. it really helps. it does. but even there a man from the embassy was filming.
but back to the events in tehran. as i said earlier we decided not to go to valiasr which turned out a good idea because everything was happening uptown as valiasr square was taken by the busloads of sharestani. valiasr street witnessed a huge march this afternoon after 5pm including a sit-in in front of jamejam the compound that hosts the television stations (the ones that show flowers and turtles and gameshows all day). of course the place is a fortress. flowers and turtles are gentle creations. they need a lot of protection. but the gesture was beautiful and precise also since iran managed to block the emission of bbc farsi tv in the whole middle east. today i heard that bbc has moved the channel to another satelliite but we can\\\'t receive it. so, valiasr was very busy and another powerful demonstration of peoples will. they are not satisfied with khamenei\\\'s announcement that the votes would be counted again. they want so much more. before night falls people make their way home quick. the \\\'green revolution\\\' has a tight schedule and safety precautions. at night the street is too dangerous. people take it to the rooftops instead. at 9pm (in iranian time that means roughly between 9 and 10) you hear the \\\'allah akbar\\\' and \\\'margbar dictator\\\' from rooftops all over the city. it\\\'s the biggest sound piece i\\\'ve ever witnessed. as soon as your eyes got used to the darkness you see all these shadows of people on the roofs everywhere. some stand openly at the ledge , some are hidden in a corner or behind the arrangements of coolers and satellite dishes.
for tomorrow a demonstration is scheduled for 5 pm at hafte tir. but that might change according to events tomorrow.
i recommend the lede blog on the new york times website.
5.20pm first of all, here is a message to all dear friends and other people who tried to contact me or sent emails asking about the situation. thanks so much for your concern and interest but I can not answer your emails and talk about the situation here in iran openly, let anone give interviews over the phone. for now it will have to be only through this weblog which is the only safe channel i have at the moment. telefon and email for now is only for talking about the weather and flowers and stuff. just like iranian television does. we all cleared our hard drives today and took all the material that was in the flat to friends houses. videofootage, photos.. everything from the last few days that could be dangerous in case they raid the house. I am now at a friends house waiting for the dust to settle a little to get a clearer vision. outside there is a huge ralley down valiasr heading towards vanak. at this moment I don\\\'t know whether the big march from valiasr to raahan square has been canceled or not. we decided not to go because we got warnings that it would be too dangerous.
so yesterday night it was as i had expected that after dark they let the dogs out. there is word, that they brought hezbollah from libanon to support the local species. people said that they heard milizia men talking in arabic. the brutality that ended the fantastic and powerful march yesterday leaves us all speechless and angry. at the time they started shooting at people on azadi square i was a km away safely sheltered in our friends house close to navab. we only saw smoke and heard gunshots from the roof. later i saw the photos of the people shot on the ny times website. I heard several people were shot. at least one is dead, maybe seven. it is so abstract to think of whether they have died for a cause. at the same time these deaths create even more firmness and responsibility in thinking about how to continue. the rahbar has announced that the council will investigate into the allegations and recount the votes, which is an amazing step when you think that the word of the rahbar is untouchable and he had already announced that ahmadinejad is the new president. it is almost like he is taking back his own decicion. but only almost because the only way to really make sure that there is an election result that represents people\\\'s actual vote there would need to be a new election and not just simply a recount. if you had seen the election system here, you would not trust the recount for a minute. and knowing that they have 10 days for it doesn\\\'t help either. they can basically just sit down and rewrite every ballot of they want to. but the rahbar\\\'s announcement was exceptional because it weakens his own position immensly. at least for the moment. imagining the power struggles within the council, within the religious class this might shake the system to an extend that we cannot forsee at this point. maybe they will have to sacrifice ahmadinejad in the end because holding on to him makes their own chairs shaky. and he would be the only person to blame for this mess. but what would that mean? would the basidj allow for their leader to withdraw? in the end it would mean the end of endless moneyflow and power for their system. together with hezbollah they were the great benefactors of ahmadinejads leadership during the last four years.
% mon june 15, 8.00pm we are at a friends house on azadi. outside the march which eventually did take place is still going on. we tried to estimate the amount of people that kept coming. it\\\'s impossible. but let me describe. we started at the corner of enghelab and valiasr were people were forming into the march going down enghelab towards azadi square. the westbound side of enghelab was full. people were holding their hand up showing the victory sign. some groups were chanting slogans until a boy coming from the opposite direction told people to be quiet. \\\'rahpeimai sakote\\\' it is a silent march with the victory sign as the only gesture. people were immediatly quiet still holding there V in the air. what a powerfull and precise movement. I am so impressed with these people. no, I should actually say I am totally in love with them. they are fantastic. we go down enghelab in silence until we reach tehran university where the basidj had stormed the dormitories this morning and devastated the place shooting and killing at least five students. we also heard reports that they actually came in with swords and they might have killed more. the big gate of the university is closed. I see around 100 students girls and boys alike inside holding on to the bars of the gate or standing on top of the reception counter. they are all masked, holding up signs and showing the victory sign. I take a photo but they tell me not to photograph them. we continue towards enghelab square. so far we have seen very little police and everybody on motorbikes that we suspected to be basidj show the victory sign while driving by. we slowly relax a little bit after being very anxioux and uptight about what the situation would be. enghelab square is full and we see the first police in riot gear but people don\\\'t stop. the march silently crosses the square and continues towards azadi. we start to take pleasure in the event instead of being scared. the police obviously has different instruction from the two days before. they stand quietly their eyes soft and not focused, their shields down and teargas shotguns next to them. i guess that with the whole world watching they can\\\'t allow for the nasty pictures that everyone expected. but there is no reason to be releaved. when night falls it will be a different situation. I can\\\'t figure out the strategy but i can feel that there is one and one has to be very careful. still we become cheerful and joyfully observe people in the march. they are all age groups, men, women, families, students, workers, poorer and richer. some hold signs. some people have entered the roofs of two busses that became included in the march with the drivers slowly continuing their ride. a man on top of one of the busses holds a handwriten sign that announces \\\"10 pm tonight, rooftop, allah akbar\\\" it is like an analogue sms message. since textmessaging has been shut down since the election people use all sorts of means of communication. we continue towards navab and we can only guess that this march is huge. no end in sight. we rest in a park along the way refreshing ourselves with carrotjuice and ice cream. the masses of people that are marching past the park in complete silence are impressive. a police helicopter approaches from azadi and suddenly everbody starts shouting and waving. then again silence. we decide to go to our friends house to see the march from the rooftop. when we arrive we hug each other and only now I understand that this march has given me back all the energy that I have lost in the last two days. for the first time I don\\\'t feel devastated and helpless. as one of the chants of the protesters goes\\\" natarsid, natarsid, ma hame baham hastim!\\\" don\\\'t be scared, don\\\'t be scared, we are all together! evening falls. let\\\'s see what this night will bring.
1.20 pm I just came home from school. an aquaintance who works there told me that I should come to school everyday. the school reports back to the secret service who is not coming to class these days. we have to be very careful from now because they started raiding houses as well. I erased my writings from the harddrive, the texts remaining only in the blog which is save. we can not talk openly on the phone or in emails and we don\\\'t open the door to strangers. outside everything is \\\'normal\\\' people are busy working, making their way through traffic and shopping. only if you zoom in you understand that in conversations they exchange news, thoughts and experiences about what happened. but one call feel that after work people will pick up where they left the scene yesterday. coming home I understand that the demonstration has been canceled. it is too dangerous because the police uses live munition. there is rumours that there might be a gathering at khomeini\\\'s grave instead. this would continue the very wise choice of using means of the revolution. today five names of people killed were published. they have already been buried in behesht zahra without telling their families. three of them are women. a familymember of a friend at school, a doctor who workes at a hospital reports about hundreds of people with stabbing wounds. we had heard already of basij drivin on the sidewalks stabbing people from behind. they have used this method already before in other uprises. zahra rahnaward, moussavi\\\'s wife has spoken at tehran university again telling people to continue their protests like yesterday, going on the roof tops and shouting \\\"allah akbar\\\".
sun june 14,
1.30. there have been protests and demonstrations in other cities. we have news from shiraz, isfahan, tabriz and mashad. in tehran the police has shot at demonstrators, at hafte tir square they shot from helicopters. ayatollah saanei arrived in tehran from qom and now sits in khomeinis house in protest of the events. the permission for the demonstration in tehran tommorow that is announced to start at 4pm at enghelab square has not been granted. but by now it seems clear that people will not follow orders any longer. reality has split. television is one of this split\\\'s indicators. the only event that iranian television shows is ahmadinejads speech on valiasr square. the rest is amnesia, the usual programs, films, shows as if nothing happened. at the same time bbc farsi, voa and partially aljazeera are showing and reporting what is happening on the streets by talking to callers, showing clips that people sent to them and reading emails. seeing ahmadinejad holding his bold victory speech on television while his police terrorizes the rest of the city, I imagine that every word of this arrogant, offensive speech that he shouts into the microphon will come back to him in million voices in the way the people have chanted \\\"allah akbar\\\" tonight. the shizophrenia of this split reality is something people here are so used to and able to play with while I feel exhausted from trying to digest and understand all the layers. I think I have to call it a night. check: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/ .and also on the ny times: MEMO FROM TEHRAN Reverberations as Door Slams on Hope of Change? http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/world/middleeast/14memo.html&OQ=_rQ3D1&OP=6c023dc0Q2FuWgQ7DuQ5DwV0tww49u9EEFuEQ3AuQ24Q5CuWwt5Q5Duj)Q5DQ5D5ggN04uQ24Q5Cjgjw_Q2F4j5
10pm people are outside. they shout \\\"margbar diktator\\\" and \\\"allah akbar\\\". They shout in the streets, from windows and from the rooftops of buildings. it comes from everywhere, near and far. another layer of sound comes from the constant honking of the cars in the streets. it compiles into a very powerful and moving answer to the terror spread by the police and basiji on their motorbikes. \\\"allah akbar\\\" being a universal expression that had been used by ahmadinejad supporters before the election but that is more importantly a sentence from the revolution. now it becomes an expression of people insistence on their rights, their lives, their wishes that goes way beyond supporting moussavi. the movement has shown that voting for moussavi was an option on the road to change but moussavi was at no point an idealized hero. people want much more and they take responsibility and unimaginable risk for their wishes and demands.
VOA television just showed footage from the streets where demonstrators had set a niru entezami motorbike on fire and were about to hit the driver. a group of demonstrators build a wall in front the young man and brought him into an entrance of a building to protect him. they told people to back up and not hit the man. these scenes show that people act responsibly. I can\\\'t count the burning trash bins but I have not seen a single privat car on fire.
8.45pm the situation is getting really bad. please, whoever reads this spread the news. men of the secret service and basiji are in the streets and alleys with guns and bats. they are writing down the number plates of cars in our street. we can\\\'t go outside. I can most certainly say now that we have witnessed a coup d\\\'etat.
5.30pm moussavi is not under house arrest any more. his website announced, that there will be a demonstration tomorrow at azadi square and that people should stay at home today. it is the official mothers day in iran today and ahmadinejad wants to celebrate his victory at valiasr square. moussavi\\\'s wife gave a speech at tehran university earlier today asking people not to go to that event to protest because the government will use the number of people coming to see ahmadinejad as a proof for his acceptance. they would take photos of the crown from above were you can\\\'t see that half of the people are actually protesters. people should come to the big demonstration tomorrow instead. she also warned that it was dangerous to go outside to protest today as yesterday people got killed. there is still no official numbers but we heard that 11 people got killed yesterday. a girl in my class at school today said that they killed at least one person in her street opposite park mellat and that police was shooting at people indifferently. she had to seek shelter behind trees together with a family with two children she said. i was reading some of the international news coverage. new york times and the guardian have articles that are worth reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/world/middleeast/15iran.html?_r=1&hp http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/14/iran-tehran-election-results-riots .it helps reading international coverage because I felt very anxious and sad today.it feels as if we are totally isolated and forgotten by the world. i guess it\\\'s very difficult to imagine what is going on here from afar.
sat june 13 4am three hours ago the first results were announced on television and on the internet. ahmadinejad is leading with an overwhelming percentage. it\\\'s still not clear how and where the votes were counted. but ahmadinejad has already been announced as the winner of this election. it feels completely sureal, something like a coup d\\\'etat. we\\\'ve just been out in the street because we heard sounds. the atmosphere outside has changed completely. there is only police and a couple of fast cars with iranian flags and hazard warning lights blinking and basidji on motorbikes looking for trouble. it is spooky and scary. we did not dare to stay outside. we are all devastated and shocked sitting in front of the television and internet to check the different news that constantly come in.
5pm the internet is not working any more as are sms messages. we all want to go to bed and wake up tomorrow from this bad dream.
12.30 noon it was announced that moussavi will give a speech outside at 2 pm and there will be a demonstration. we will leave the house now to join the demonstration. everybody is saying we are witnessing a coup d\\\'etat. nobody knows what will happen today. they shut down a lot of websites and it is hard to get information. they say ahmadinejad is at 77% which is ridiculous. maybe moussavi will be able to give some information on what happened.
moussavi\\\'s speech was just cancelled. we are waiting for him to speak on television (bbc farsi) http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2009/06/electionfraud/
14.56 pm we just heard moussavis voice in a phone announcement that they would try and find out by tomorrow what had actually happened using all possible legal means. the speech was canceled as it seems. also we just saw first images of the armed forces seizing the headquarter of moussavi. we are trying to download these images right now. the pictures are taken from above most likely from a building across the street. facebook also has first videoclips of moussavi supporters gathering on valiasr.
15.40 pm. sahra rahnaward, moussavis wife just gave a phone interview on bbc farsi. she said, that in their opinion the votes were actually 4:1 for moussavi. she adressed the people of iran and said that this is a very important moment in the democratic process of this country and they would do everything they can to make sure people\\\'s vote would count and would be counted correctly. she mentioned the results in azerbaijan and lorestan as two areas that she is able to judge and she said that according to the wrong outcome in these areas one can assume that the whole election was subject to fraud. she said that moussavi is in an important meeting that she can give no information about at this point. also they talked about a letter that moussavi had sent to khamenei and that they were waiting for a response.
16.25 . khamenei has just congratulated the iranian people on the outcome of this election. there is definitly a serious powerstruggle between khamenei and rafsanjani. there is a discussion now that maybe maybe rafsanjani will be trying to take over the position of the rahbar in all this mess. we are considering to go outside. not sure yet as it is quite risky. we are calling friends to see what the situtation outside. now somebody is saying don\\\'t go to valiasr. it\\\'s very dangerous. still checking...
8pm. we just came back from the streets. we went down valiasr towards vanak square. about 30 open vans and busses full of niru entezami in riot gear were driving towards vanak in the middle of heavy traffic. some vans had armed men on board. following were the same kind of riot forces on motorbikes. over loudspeaker they told cars to make way for the vans. cars were honking on both sides of valiasr in protest. the vans went right after parke mellat which seemed strange at first but made sense if one imagines a bigger stratetic plan. niru entezami was distributing forces throughout the city not just around events like the spontanious demonstrations at vanak square and elsewhere. going further down people started running towards us shouting \\\'they are beating, they are beating!\\\'. there were more armed forces at the intersection of mirdamad about 0.8 km north from vanak square. police were chasing people north. we went on a bridge shortly before mirdamad to get an overview. we could see a crowd on vanak square and a smaller crowd on mirdamad. police beat people with bats and were apparently also throwing stones or bricks as were some of protesters. traffic was standing still southbound and blocked at mirdamad northbound. all cars were honking, some waving green banners. the police went to the other side and started hitting the cars. we heard shots but could not figure out where they came from. it was probably teargas as my eyes started to burn even though we were further away. a girl who came on the bridge said that they are beating everybody, men, women alike.
the images show valiasr/vanak square. the truck full of bricks was rather dubious. there was another one further up at mirdamad.
now back home we find that facebook, youtube is shut down as is the bbc website. luckily they can\\\'t shut down satelite television.
people tell us of similar outbreak of violence all over town. i might sound paranoid but to me it seems no coincidence that there was no police in the streets throughout the election campaign. just shortly before the first election results were announced yesterday night the niru entezami in riot gear (I mentioned before that it was so strange to me that I didn\\\'t see such police at the ralleys before election day) appeared in front of the campaign headquarter of moussavi and started pepperspraying campaigners and beat people up. then they closed the headquarter of moussavi and karoubi. that was the start of this sudden mode-change. then it was announced that from now on demonstrations are forbidden. then the election results were announced. to me that looks like a systematic preparation for what they already knew would be the outcome of this election. and now the police tries to prevent anybody from expressing their opinion in the street. but people are amazingly brave and still express their anger and disappointment.
22.00. it was just announced that moussavi is under house arrest in his home.
the others are going outside again. the intersection of parkway is full of people and they are spreading teargas a friend just told us. as we are now cut off our most important news feed which is facebook they feel they need to go out and see what\\\'s happening. people in the streets are all talking to each other to spread news. I witness this earlier. since sms is not working anymore it is a very important way of communicating. I hear the cars honking outside. people are shouting \\\'makbar diktator\\\' down with dictatorship!
23.20. the smell of burned plastic fills the house. in front of our street a trashcan was set on fire. people poured into our street. after them came the riot police on motorbikes chasing people. since it got dark basiji have also appeared on the scene. they are like animals on bikes with long bats. the friends here in the appartment jokingly say that \\\'level 2\\\' started. like in a video game where in level 2 the basiji appear as a more cruel and dangerous challenger. we went on the roof to see what was happening. the police were hitting someone with a teaser in front of our door. a woman shouted at them to let go. they tried to catch others who were standing nearby. the teaser sparked in the dark while people tried to hide behind cars and in the dark as the street lights were turned off. bit by bit they are turning off everything that helps orientating and organizing. mobile phones, websites, street lights.
24.00 since the internet is down now too, our mobiles don\\\'t work any more and strangly even the satellite tv is not working properly we are only waiting for the electricity to be cut as well. when the internet was still working a message from moussavi came in that told people to return to their houses and stay calm. himself and his people would deal with the situation. a strange suggestion as he is under house arrest.
tehran, wed june 10 I don\\\'t know how much of what is happening around the presidential elections in iran is on the news in europe and elsewhere. It seems that at least facebook is full of mobile phone clips documenting the events. people here think that the dynamics of this election campaign, the open debates and daily growing turn out on the streets are unique in recent history of the country. for me quite certainly the last ten days have been very impressive. I will try to report what I have seen, heard and witnessed during the last ten days. I will not try to give any in depth analysis, evaluation or interpretation at this point. I am to tired but also to overwhelmed with new events occuring every day. it is truly exhausting to be out in the streets, while keeping updated with what is happening between the candidates on tv, discussing it with people, then fighting your way back home through a traffic in collaps where the fumes from thousands of motorcycles cutting traffic by driving like hellraisers on the sidewalk kill you before you even got run over. arriving at home and trying to write everything down, my brain just doesn\\\'t function properly.
as you might know, the election will be decided between four candidates one of which is the current president dr. mahmoud ahmadinejad. then there is people\\\'s most favourized candidate mir hossein moussavi, a secular reformist ally of khatami, who was involved in the government during the war period but then turned his back on politics and pursued his work as an architect and artist. Then there is Mr karoubi, an older cleric and mr rezai, retired sepah leader (political wing of the basidj). all of the candidates have been in a live television debate with one another on the past days. this is new to the election process in iran and turned out to influence the dynamics of the election process enourmously. but let me first report about the streets of tehran during the last two weeks. I will get to the television debates and their outcome later.
tehran, thurs june 4 its been five nights now that the big street of valiasr basically in front of my house became the center of an election ralley that grows every night and developes into a fascinating celebration of people\\\'s needs and desires. it started last friday which is a holiday and valiasr usually becomes the location for young people driving up and down the street exchanging phone numbers and listening to music. last friday most of the cars not only had loud music and party crowd on board but were also decorated with green bands and mousavi posters. mousavi being the favourized \\\'secular\\\' reformist candidate, an architect and artist who is close to khatami. intererstingly his campaign is all in green- a colour that is usally a color associated with hossein and islam in general. now people are wearing green around their necks or wrists not as an expression of their religious believe but showing their commitment to mousavi as a canditate in the election. it became a symbol for \\\'change\\\'. also a keyword in karoubi\\\'s campaign, the other canditate opposing ahmadinejad in this election. himself being a cleric and and challenging not only the president but khamenei the religious leader himself in his campaign, he became the favourite candidate of the intelectual circles in tehran, who don\\\'t neccesarily take it to the streets as the youth does, so the karoubi supporters are not as visible as the mousavi ones.
so that friday night the street was a parade that lasted till the morning hours and as much as people exchanged their dating interests they were also singing and shouting mousavi slogans. we came home from a dinner and got stuck in that surprising situation on our way home in the taxi at around midnight. it had only been a few days that a few election posters had been visible in the streets so we were not prepared for people being in such \\\'election mood\\\'. the street was taken by mousavi supporters. a single car of ahmadinejad supporters waving iranian flags and posters of the current president was shouted and sweared at and basically fled downtown. later from my room I could still hear people shouting and honking till I fell asleep. we thought this event occured because it had been a holiday and people would go back to work the next day and that was that. but no, the next night it was the same story and the next. monday night we came home for a dinner party again this time at 2am and the intersection parkway and valiasr was basically closed with mousavi supporters shouting and singing mostly gathered at the south east corner of the intersection but that night the ahmadinejad people had caught up. the square was busy with bearded basidj on their motorbikes and grim men in suits from ehtelaat (information), the secret service. the atmosphere was much darker and unpredictable. I didn\\\'t see a single woman. we had to take a detour even though we very close to our house. but we didn\\\'t dare to walk. the next night we were more brave and took a walk. it was less scary than the night before.
during the day vanak square and valiasr square two other main squares further downtown but also intersecting with valiasr became the loations for gatherings during the day. people talk. it\\\'s quite fascinating, people gather on the sidewalks of the big square and discuss passionately. this has also been going on the last few days. it seems as if the strict reglementations of the public expression of one\\\'s oppinion are set on hold. people openly express their opinion and seem very dedicated to discussing them with others. people of all age groups, more men then women but women were involved. and nobody seems scared to express were they stand and what they vote for. people who had voted for ahmadinejad before but are now disappointed, people who don\\\'t think much of either candidates but see moussavi as the lesser evil, people who the current govenrment had helped financially and therefore felt they needed to support them...anyway the question of who one votes for and whether one votes became THE topic amoung people. even the taxidriver would discuss it with their clients, and its a popular way of approaching girls. in order to start a conversations these days one asks:\\\' are you going to vote? who will you vote for?\\\' of course the next question might be:\\\' are you married?\\\'
I\\\'m trying to collect the slogans and lyrics that i come across. unfortunatly like with jokes i am not very good in rembering them. so a very common one used by the crowd yesterday was \\\'ahmadi-byebye\\\'. both mousavi\\\'s and karoubis campaign are based on elements from obamas election campaign. Karoubi: \\\'we are here for change!\\\' and mousavi even uses \\\'yes we can\\\'. one of the posters shows him accompanied by his wife taking a walk. needless to say that for iran its very very uncommon to introduce the first lady. but as people here translated obama into \\\'o ba mast\\\' (he is with us) the politicians also adapted his campaing methods including mousavi campaigning on facebook and through sms. I get sms messages every day. ahmadinejad cleverly stays out of this game. he chose a very smart image politics mostly showing an image of common people carrying his poster, sort of poster in poster style.the slogan would be: \\\'it\\\'s the people\\\'s vote.\\\' or he stylizes himself into a sort of saint in image and words often quoting and using religious language. yesterday in the first round of live \\\'high noon-style\\\' television talks he confronted his most important opponant mousavi. he said a lot of incredible things and attacked moussavi openly but also rafsanjani. he victimized himself by saying \\\'it\\\'s three against one!\\\' expressing how much he stands out from the three other candidates. unfortunatly, as we were outside, filming we could not hear everything he said. the next days the show down on television will continue with the other candidates.
so yesterday night this live debate between ahmadinejad and moussavi was screened live on on a big display on valiasr a few blocks south of parkway so basically in front of our house. hearing the sound we decided to go outside to watch what was happening. the street was packed. the square with the screen was also full of people. in front were the mousavi supporters behind were ahmadinejad people carrying a huge iranian flag maybe 5x20 m. surrounding the whole thing were the men from ehtelaat with guns under their chic but tasteless suites looking like straight out of miami vice, then the unshaved bassij and hisbollah. the smell of testosteron, sweaty sour body odor and monodioxid took my breath away. we had decided to film. my friend had gotten her permission to film just yesterday and i am on it as a sound person, so we were save. at first we were scared but becoming more confident while being there. there were lots of camera teams and photographers and luckily also a couple of other women. we spend some time watching a group of teenage boys who had gathered on the east side of valiasr singing songs in support of mousavi. they were all very skinny which is worth mentioning as bodybuilding has become very trendy and young men walk arround like they had been pumped up at the gas station. Apart from being skinny their look was an iranian mix of new romatic and emo. all of them were so remarkably beautiful and cheerful that we coulnd\\\'t stop looking at them. at least some of them looked openly gay and they didn\\\'t seem scared to relate to each other tenderly. so as you can imagine it was a scene of very contradictory yet equally energetic agents in a game that seemed to have set the strict rules of public life in tehran to a holt. we went back home to rest a little only to return to the scene two hours later at 1.30 am to find the crowd divided into the ahmadinejad supporters on the west side of valiasr and the mousavi people on our side, the east. inbetween the streetsides a fence had just recently been installed to stop people from crossing the street and get run over by the cars. now this fence had turned into a border between two worlds within iranian society. with a couple of police watching that border it was mostly an exchange of songs and slogans from both sides. \\\'ahmadi-bye-bye. ahmadi-bye-bye\\\' versus \\\'allah akbar\\\'. after filming and watching for two more hours we went back home.
friday june 5_
we were out again yesterday night. the intersection of parkway was packed with thousands of people. again ahmadinejad on the west, mousavi on the east side. here the groups being devided only through a line of a few police and the traffic trying to pass through the crowd. police had blocked the trafffic coming from the north and coming from parkway highway. also parkway bridge that goes over the intersection was blocked from traffic. a crowd had gathered there to lower big banners and shout and sing from above. the crowd was even more mixed then the night before. whole families with their kids, many more women on both sides, again gay boy groups, youth, basidj, secret service. the sound of thousands of people singing and shouting almost made my ears burst.
on arrival we mixed in the crowd only to find out that we were on the ahmadinejad side. people didn\\\'t seem so different on either sides that night. weird confusion: girls with fakeblond hair and heavy make up waving ahmadinejad posters. we laughed about ourselves being on the \\\'wrong side\\\' and moved to the edges of the square to get an orientation. the crowd was highly energetic and even though in a good mood it felt like the situation could escalate any moment. on the \\\'moussavi side\\\' people used the billboards under the bridge as drums creating an atmosphere of a tribal rave. the constant screaming and chanting on top of the drum rythms was halluzinogenic. \\\'basidjiha boyad berakhsand!\\\'- \\\'the basiji should dance!\\\' people are chanting.
most unusual for me, coming from germany, was the absence of police. a few (maybe 10) nirou entezami (armed forces) with bats using their motorcycle helmets as protection arrive at the scene dispursing the crown in close proximity. with their agressive faces they tell us not to film but they don\\\'t take our camera. in germany there would have been hundreds if not even thousands of police in riot gear threatening people and eventually using tear gas to dispurse the crowd. a spontanious unregistered demonstration of this size is unimaginable in germany if it is not related to events like the soccer world cup. not here. the police just keeps a small gate open to let cars through and occasionally shows the bat to keep people on either sides. the crowd seemed responsible and reasonable though even in this hyped up atmosphere. I saw people wanting to throw bottles to the other side. they were stopped by others in the crowd. I guess everybody here is aware of the consequences of escalation. there might be no police now but if it the situation becomes violent, it will get really nasty and the army might come and shot everybody. again we found a group of gay boys who used the situation to celebrate their friendship. they looked like from a japanese manga with make up, big eyes and hair shaped with gel and hairspray into postpunk-emo landscapes. they were huging and singing but they asked us not to film them. \\\'ma khodemon tableauim\\\'- don\\\'t take our picture -we are already pictures ourselves, meaning, we stand out enough as it is.
sat june 6_ tonight we went to an event at azad art gallery. shahab foutouhi an interventionist artist who is currently based in frankfurt but actively involved in the art scene in tehran had turned the gallery into a campaign office for moussavi. at the opening tonight he had organized a panel discussion with four people from the moussavi campaign. he had printed a stencil of moussavi\\\'s face onto stickers and posters referring to the famous stencils of the revolution period. people took the stickers and started distributing them immediately. they stood outside the gallery handing them out to all the cars moving slowly in thick traffic. a lot of the cars already had posters and green bands attached and honked in sympathy. inside the panel discussion was rather dull and tireing once it opened to the floor people showed their disapproval and critique and that they would only vote for moussavi in lack of a better candidate. one student attacked the podium openly and reminded of moussavis involvement in the killings in 89 if I\\\'m not completely mistaken. the bearded elderly on the podium defended those killings as rightous and neccessary. at that point the audience got very angry but then time was already over. the event lacked a strong and tight moderation that would not just give the floor to these people who were obviously very ugly. but then again, it was a chance to be reminded that nobody who is a candidate in this election is outside. they are basically all part of the same regime. there is only more dirty and less dirty. leaving the gallery frustrated and tired it took us two hours to get back to our neigbourhood.
mo june 8__ today the biggest events of this election campaign took place and made the traffic collaps entirely. it took me four hours thirty minutes to get home. I walked most of the way. but let me describe the events first. we were at valiasr square in front of the moussavi campaign office at 3. a human chain was planned for today. a chain along valiasr street that would start at the railway station in the southern part of town, then going all the way up to tajrish, a square in the far north of the city. people started to gather already and by 5 pm the street was full and traffic collapsed once again. the chain was spectacular and cheerful. I have no idea how many people turned up but it was a thick chain basically blocking most of the east side of valiasr and I assume that it did not look so much different in other parts of town. we walked down valiasr towards enghelab and further down towards theatre shar and it was the same. the slogans and other expressions of support had boroughed from the debates and playfully turned things that ahmadinejad had said into very funny elements of the ralley. I will try to describe a few. in the debate with moussavi ahmadinejad had held up a photo of moussavi\\\'s wife looking at mousavi saying \\\'begam?\\\' (should I say it?) and then he talked shabily about her and the way she had gotten were she is now. so this \\\'begam?\\\' became the basis of one of the chants. devided in two groups the one group would chant: \\\'begam\\\', the other would answer: \\\'begoo!\\\' (say it!), this would be repeated several times before the first group would eventually either say: \\\'ahmadibyebye\\\' or: \\\'2+2=10\\\' which also refers to something that ahmadinejad had said, or: \\\'doroughgoo!\\\' (lier!). people would also refer to the statistics that ahmadinejad had showed in his debate with karoubi. hillarously manipulated figures and graphs that were so obviously false that even karoubi called him a lier. moussavi the next day in the debate with karoubi showed some examples of the \\\'real\\\' numbers and graphs and said that a government should not lie to its people in such a way. also people refered to a film about the candidate ahmadinejad shown on tv the night before (every candidate had a film presenting themselves for 45 min on tv). in his film ahmadinejad showed himself as a common man in his garden, explaining the vegetables he had planted. he showed how to seperate the good and useful plants from the useless and have a productive garden. of course a highly symbolic gesture. he gave the camera person radish to eat. the slogan at the ralley then was: \\\'ahmadinejad bikare, to hayat sabsi mikare\\\' (ahmadinejad is now unemployed, he is taking care of his garden now). \\\'people had even brought radish to wave arround. people were also using pop songs or expressions like \\\'eyval!\\\' or \\\'ya hossein\\\' . it was an endless list of inventive and very humourous forms of dissent and disapproval.
the event was spectacular indeed and unprecedented. the amount of mobile phones up in the air documenting the event spoke for itself. often people were filming and chanting at the same time. a lot of people had their face covered, a assume also because of the amount of pictures being taken. not so much because they are afraid, but more because their face didn\\\'t matter. I want to write about this topic more as it is interesting to see how much the faces of the candidates became icons in the campaign and now you see people covering their face with the poster of the candidate or other expression of their political views. I will have to get back to this later.
the human chain lasted for at least two hours. at 8pm the flash card of my camera was full, I had lost my friend and I was totally exhausted. I decided to go home. the direct way up valiasr was obviously blocked so I decided to use a detour to hafte tir in the east and take a car up north from there. what I didn\\\'t know was that the other big eventv that day was the ralley of ahmadinejad supporters in a contructionside of the biggest mosque of the country (I heard it will be the biggest in the world once it\\\'s finished) ahmadinejad was suposed to speak there but it was cancelled officially because he couldn\\\'t get in. I don\\\'t know the real reasons. anyways hafte tir a huge square was full of ahmadinejad supporters. traffic had collapsed there all well. after trying to find a car fro an hour I decided to take the metro up to mirdamad which is closer to my quarter and find a car from there. but the metro stopped earlier and i found myself on a motorway with hundreds of other people trying to get into cars which would also just be stuck in traffic. eventually I conquered a seat in a car and was just grateful for sitting somewhere for some time. I didn\\\'t care that we basically did not move more then 200 meters in 45min. it allowed me to close my eyes and listen to the conversation in the car.
the driver was a medical student and the person next to him had just finished his BA in engineering. so while the front seats were occupied by young educated men, the back seats were taken by two older men who were from the formerly very influential class of the basari that has now lost a lot of its power due to a number of reasons. interesting combination. first everybody agreed that they were not for either sides and that what was going on in the street was shere madness. then the medical student held a monolog on how stupid th campaigns were, where one candidate would choose to represent himself using the iranian national flag that carries the symbol of the islamic revolution -I mean, can you imagine!- while the other candidate basically cuts out the red and white from the flag using only the green. being also totally ignorant of the religious background of the colour, he claims the colour stands for peace. how stupid can it get, our driver complained. it shows the wrecked state of iranian society where basically everything is just wrong. the others agreed. he went on about his own situation. he said that we, the young and educated, we just want a good job, a house and a decent life but we have no perspective of ever achieving that in this country. the others agreed. he continues about the prices of appartments and the impossibility of getting a loan from the bank to buy a house. it was impossible before this government came into power for him to buy a house he says, but now it is even more impossible. the guy next to him adds, that the government gave rediculous loans to young men who wanted to get married without any sense. now the man next to me stepped in and told his story. he had a factory and he suddenly lost a lot of money. he could not pay the workers and he was about to close. then somebody who knew somebody suggested to him to write a letter to soandso. within a week he had the money to continue and he is still greatfull for that. the man in front of me replied that this was precicely what was wrong in this country. instead of having to prove that your business is viable and makes profit you just have to know the right people and write a letter to them. instead investing money reasonably, the goverment is just giving out presents to people. in his opinion this was a fatal mistake and shouldn\\\'t go on. the old man next to me replied, that he would have had to close otherwise. but the young man insisted that this was not the way to make this country work. then the other basari stepped in. he described how the market had changed in recent years through deregulated import. produce made in iran was worth zero since the influx of chinese produce. he was in clothes and he said that the market of iranian made fabric had collapes and that they were in no way protected by any regulations from the governments side. he admitted that he himself even was buying and wearing clothes made in china. but where would that lead the country. everybody agreed that this issue needed to be adressed. we had just gotten a few hundred meters further towards vanak square and the traffic was not moving a bit. everybody exept for the driver decided to walk. we were still on the motorway but a lot of people were walking. all along the way people were still honking and waving with posters and banners. i couln\\\'t believe where they got the energy to continue like this while there was no air to breath. one girl all dressed in green was running between the cars, screaming and holding a moussavi poster into peoples faces. people were honking in reply as much for the poster as for a young girl with blond hair running around like that. some shouted \\\'rusarit vardar!!\\\' take of your headscarf!. I arrived at vanak square only to understand that there was no chance in finding a car there either. the square was full of chanting crowds blocking the traffic. I started walking up valiasr. finally I got into a car together with two other women. the car was cool, the stereo played traditional music, the driver, a young woman smelled of coconut. it was like reaching an oasis in a desert storm. again talk about the events. everybody agreed that people outside were completely nuts but that of course they themselves would also vote for mousavi as they had to prevent another four years of ahmadinejad. it was only a few minutes before i had to leave the car and continue the journey by foot, diving back into the raving crowds.
Completely exhausted I arrive at the house 30 min before my friend who had hitch hiked up valiasr. We sit in front of the television to check the coverage on bbc farsi, aljazeera international and on national iranian television. the news is that hashemi rafsanjani has written a letter to the rakhbar khamenei. we had been waiting for him to actually come on television already two days before to comment on ahmadinejads accusations during his live debate with moussavi the other night. ahmadinajad had basically called hashemi a thief who had plundered the country ruthlessly and stole money from the people of iran. which of course is completely true but nobody had said this publically yet. hashemi was obviously furious. in the letter to khamenei the news report says he complains about ahmadinejads accusations and demands immediate consequences. meanwhile some clerics in the holy city of ghom, the headquarter of the religious class have expressed their support for hashemi. this letter drops like a bomb. a round table on bbc farsi speculates about how the rakhbar will possibly react to the letter.
check out the table that they are sitting at. we decided that it looks like an electric mosquito trap.
it is really fascinating to see how the decision to have live debates on national television has had such manyfold yet strong consequenses. I don\\\'t think anyone had expected that. surely the candidates made use of this option and surprised each other and the audience by attacking enemies openly and naming names while the whole country was watching. ahmadinejad had not only attacked rafsanjani but also used his time to try and deface his rival moussavi as somebody who had not been commited to the post revolutionary iran but instead just followed his own career. but his decision to hold a picture of moussavi\\\'s wife into the forementioned face and try and blackmail her, an established intelectual, former university president was a cheap and shaby move that noone approved of. in the debate the following night between karoubi and ahmadinejad, karoubi told him off like a stupid young boy. he was very clearly upset and angry about his behaviour in the debate but also about how he had managed to damage the countries reputation all over the world. he retrieved a document from the pile of papers and notes he had in front of him and read it aloud. the paper roughly said that not a buget a few billion dollars for propagana and warfare would have had such a positive effect for israel as the words and behaviour of mr ahmadinejad. the paper was from mossad. ahmadinejad was smiling all the time in a mix of discomfort and rebellious youth. he barked back but instead of replying in depth he sticked to his own agenda which was the presentation of different charts that have become the material of great number of jokes and cartoons. these chart which he claimed were based on official statistics from the central bank showed the fantastic success of the four years of his leadership. the unemployment had dropped as did the inflation (suprisingly it had been 25% the day before and now suddenly it was only 14%!) etc. it was like a fairy tale that was so obviously so far away form the reality in the country that even karoubi made jokes about it. he said that naturally himself coming from the desert he would not know about such news and data. in this debate the winner was clearly the older and experienced authority karoubi. but the charts would stay in the game for a while. as much as they were incorporated in the protest on the streets they were also used in the next debate two nights later between karoubi and moussavi. to be continued...