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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Reports from Tehran residents

Updates from the Tehran Bureau website include dispatched from two people in the city.

8pm local time Monday:

"I am just back from 7 tir square where there was supposed to be a memorial for the 7th day of the martyrs.

Drove down there at 4 ish. there were a lot of people in the square, but no one allowed to gather, so people were just walking up and down the meydoon (square). there was a HEAVY military presence — all kinds, basij, riot police, khahki (camouflage) uniformed ones — all on motorbikes, or in pick up trucks or standing — they ALL had those batons and weren’t allowing people to stand still (ie. gather). we walked around and tried to have a look from those walkways that cover the meydoon/square but the police were also on them so wouldn’t let u stand still for a second.

people were also gathering in the koocheh’s (alleyways) off the side of the square too see what was going to happen and if we could gather in one place. there was not just young people, but all kinds of age groups and people from all walks of life. then the police would start coming to an alley where a lot of people were and shout at them to move along/disperse. they would then get aggro and start chasing people down the alleyways, hitting with batons. people would run but then gather in another alleyway… very resilient.

we moved through the various alleyways too until shouted at to leave. these police are v v intimidating. like animals really as u just dont know if they are gonna wack you (which they would). i wanted to take photos of the milit presence, but it was way too scary. honestly people who manage to record or take photos are incredibly shoja (brave). then we saw that they had blockaded one alleyway (koocheh mina) and people were getting trapped and beaten up with the batons. there were people on roofs/windows looking so i hope they managed to record some stuff. we moved around the meydoon and streets. after hearing/seeing that they were blockading people in alleys.

we decided it was safer to stay in the main square and move around. over the few hours it was getting busier with protesters, but i think they needed someone like mousavi or another figure so as to gather around him. it was v v difficult to gather.

then we moved to another side of the square and the police started chasing and tear gassing people — it really spreads… and though i wasn’t too close it went up my nose and had a strong burning/stinging sensation. people were now wearing those surgical masks but there eyes were all red. people were lighting cigarettes and blowing the smoke into peoples eyes as it helps get rid of the stinging. i gave several people cigarettes to help and blew smoke into a strangers faces to help them (something i would of course never do!!). then the police started chasing people down a street and smashing windows and following protesters into bldngs which was quite scary (no where is safe then).

we kept moving around the meydoon and streets, as were other people, which were definately in their thousands. people were breaking into sporadic chants of ‘allah akbars’ on the meydoon — which i managed to record.

then around 6 ish we were standing near an alley entrance and the police on motorbikes with batons started chasing us badly. we could only run up the street and they are chasing u on these bikes about 5/6 mtrs away shouting at u to disperse — it is absolutely petrifying. we were running on the sidewalk. they also had whips with them. there were so many of them just riding and shouting at you. then we heard shots and u just don’t know whether they are going to even shoot (as we know they have done before). i am not sure whether it was guns or firecrackers or what but at the time u all think is that it is guns, and that u are about to feel a bullet hit u in the back or something as u run. all i did was run with my hands clasped (like i was praying) and just trying to make eye contact with them so that they could see the sheer fear in my face! then a door opened in the street and some people were ushering us into their garden to hide in there in case the motor police guys came back (honestly there must have been like 50-70 of them chasing us).

we then hid in this grdn for a bit with like 20 or so other people but it really wasn’t the best idea. i thought as i had seen them go into people’s houses and smash doors etc minutes before and then there is no escape for u. so we waited like 10 mins and crept out. it was really quite scary. anyways. let us see what else comes out of the news this evening. i hope no one was killed but i do know pple were beaten up for sure.

also, on another note, i heard (god knows if it was true) that hashemi-rafsanjani has just come from qom with 40 signatures."

Another Tehran resident, early Tuesday:

"I cannot sleep and not write this.

Today in Haft-e Tir, there were so many members of basij that they outnumbered the demonstrators 3 or 4 to 1. They were less focused on women. This must be related to the murder of poor Neda. And this was also why whenever they got hold of a man, women would surround them and shout don’t beat him, don’t beat and they would turn and anxiously say we didn’t beat him. It was astonishing. They explained; they talked.

But they didn’t allow us to congregate; they kept telling us to walk and the crowd walked quietly for 2 hours in the circle (meydaan) and spontaneously gathered in whichever area they were not present. About 2000 of us were walking around the circle and only shouting Allah-o Akbar until they were forced to disperse us with tear and pepper gases. I thought people’s patience and persistence was great, although there were also many bad scenes and I cried.

They arrested a whole bus load of people. There were many intelligence folks in the crowd too. They would point to a person and the basijis would arrest that person. There was no one from Sepah and the police was obviously sympathetic to the crowd. I swear some of the Basijis were only 14 or 15, or at least what they looked like to me. On the other hand, women are playing an amazing role in the streets; both in terms of numbers and effectiveness…"

The crackdown is effective in large measure, but the Iranians are holding out as well as anyone possibly could. If you are technically savvy and know ways to help, please do so. If you are like me and are not, contact your people in Congress and tell them to keep their stupid mouths shut. This isn't about us.

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posted at 8:46 AM

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