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Thursday, July 09, 2009
A Basij speaks

Last week, France 24, a French satellite station, published on its website an account of what compelled one Basij to shoot at demonstrators.

Mehdi (not his real name) is a 39-year-old Basij commander and a former classmate of one of our Observers from Tehran (who prefers not to be mentioned). Mehdi led a mission in the city centre, close to the Tehran military base, on June 20, one of the most violent days of the clashes.

“I did shoot at people myself. I am a military man I have to obey my orders. The crowd was attacking us like crazy people; throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. We had to protect ourselves; to show we were serious, and we did warn them, shouting several times, before opening fire. But they continued to attack. I don’t remember who I shot, I just tried to shoot at the people’s feet.

Later, we moved back and went behind the vans in middle of the street and I ordered my unit to shoot into the ground in the hope of scaring the crowds from coming closer.

I hoped it would never come to shooting them. That night, I had a nightmare in which the protesters threw me on a fire. It’s come back several times, and I can see the faces of the people I was ordered to shoot. I’ve asked a very spiritual mullah to pray for me.

I did it for Islam but it wasn’t easy to kill people. We have to remember who they are though - they’re deceitful people who are against the Islamic Revolution. You can’t expect us to stay calm when they want to overthrow our regime.”

"Following orders." Some things never change.

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posted at 9:36 AM

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