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Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Bringing people together

Nokia/Siemens is defending its sale of eavesdropping programs to the Iranian government last year. The government has very brutally and effectively used the technology to track people using cell phones to convey information to each other and the outside world, via phone calls, emails, texts and the internet.

I first assumed that the company's defense would be based on the premise that they sell things, and the Iranian government had money, but there was more.

A spokeswoman named Riitta Mard, expressed surprise at the negative reaction once people became aware of Nokia/Siemens' involvement. Mard pointed out that the company had followed trade rules and acted ethically, and also claimed that the technology permits the monitoring of local calls, but it does not allow monitoring international calls, Internet communications, or SMS or picture messages.

"Local calls, but not international?" Sure, that's believable.

Just 'fess up, admit that Nokia/Siemens saw the chance to make a sale, and made it. We buy oil from Saudi Arabia, even after fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers came from there, and we sold weapons to Saddam Hussein in the 80s.

Religion, ideology, politics, they all fade to obscurity when there's a buck to be made.

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posted at 6:15 PM


Kidnapped reporter "confesses"

An unconfirmed report of a "confession" by kidnapped Newsweek reporter, Maziar Bahari. He has been missing since June 21st, which was the day of the most violent clashes in Iran. The report comes from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Iran Journalist Bahari False Confession ?!
Uploaded by TECHNOLOGOS. - Up-to-the minute news videos.

This sounds like old-school Soviet-style propaganda to me. Bahari has not been released, as far as anyone can tell, and the sheer vileness of the Iranian regime is more obvious than ever. Hopefully, Bahari will be freed soon.

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posted at 1:31 PM


Democracy + Autocracy = Autocracy

It apparently wasn't enough for the Iranian Guardian Council to certify the fastest recount in history, declaring Ahmadinejad the winner in the June 12th election. The deputy head of the council has declared to the FARS news agency that Mir Hussein Moussavi's career in presidential politics is over:

"If people like me remain in the Guardians Council and if Mousavi is a candidate in the next election, we will not approve him."

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, who earlier suggested that leaders of protests should be executed, referred to Mousavi, who was premier in the 1980s and once a close aide to the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as being "anti-revolutionary and against the regime."

Council spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai advised reporters that the opposition

"cannot object or protest in any other way. The Guardians Council is the final authority on the election and we announced our decision unanimously."

The full report can be seen here, but it's beyond clear that this criminal regime is committed to use any means necessary to hang on to its power.

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posted at 12:18 PM


Missing votes, missing people

The election, having been officially stolen, excuse me, "certified," Iran's citizens seem to be moving their focus from wondering what happened to their votes, to trying to find out what may have happened to their loved ones.

Iranian journalist living in Switzerland, Omid Habibinia, sent this via Twitter today:

More than 2000 ppl gathered infront of Islamic R Court in Uromieh asking about their detained relatives. #iranelection

The UK paper, The Guardian, is attempting, with assistance from readers, to assemble a list of Iranians killed or detained since the election. Contact them if you have information.

The Revolution in Iran website is also compiling a daily list of “martyrs of the new Iranian revolution" murdered since the election.

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posted at 9:52 AM


Neda's killer showed remorse?

The doctor who tried to save the life of Neda Agha-Soltan, the Iranian woman killed June 20th, said in a BBC interview that the militiaman who murdered her claimed that he didn't mean to.

"It was a tough decision to make, to come out and talk about it," he said. "I am jeopardizing my situation because of the innocent look in her eyes before she died. She was fighting for basic rights... I don't want her blood to have been shed in vain."

Doctor Arash Hejazi, who fearing for his own life, fled for London, said that the crowd reacted to the incident immediately, grabbing a Basij gunman off of his motorcycle.

"They disarmed him and took out his identity card. People were furious and he was shouting, 'I didn't want to kill her! I didn't want to kill her!'" Hejazi said. "People didn't know what to do with him so they let him go. Some people said, 'Don't harm him. We are not killers like him."

Dr Hejazi said he first thought the gunshot had come from a rooftop.

"Suddenly everything turned crazy. The police threw teargas and the motorcycles started rushing towards the crowd. We ran to an intersection and people were just standing. They didn't know what to do.

"We heard a gunshot. Neda was standing one metre away from me. I turned back and I saw blood gushing out of Neda's chest.

"She was in a shocked situation, just looking at her chest. Then she lost her control.

"We ran to her and lay her on the ground. I saw the bullet wound just below the neck with blood gushing out.

"I have never seen such a thing because the bullet, it seemed to have blasted inside her chest, and later on, blood exiting from her mouth and nose.

"I had the impression that it had hit the lung as well. Her blood was draining out of her body and I was just putting pressure on the wound to try to stop the bleeding, which wasn't successful unfortunately, and she died in less than one minute."

The BBC article also said that Dr. Hejazi did not believe that he would ever be able to return to Iran.

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posted at 9:11 AM


Ahmadinejad's victory...is YOUR victory?

Iran's president referred to the Guardian Council's confirmation of his "win" in the June 12 election a victory for the people of Iran.

"This election was actually a referendum. The Iranian nation were the victors and the enemies, despite their ... plots of a soft toppling of the system, failed and couldn't reach their aims."

I sit here, and I look at these types of quotes, straight out of the Orwell playbook, and I think, "How the hell do people swallow this stuff? What is the matter with the Iranians that they believe obvious lies spoken by authority?"

But it's not the Iranians. This is just how some people are. John Dean, former White House Counsel under Nixon, wrote a book a few years back called Conservatives Without Conscience. It's a fascinating study, explaining how there is a percentage of the human population, 20-25%, that is simply wired to be hyper-deferential to authority.

When you combine that with a religious culture led by an infallible leader, be he Ayatollah Khameini, or George W. Bush, you will always have a faction that is fearful of any change, or any thought process deemed outside the norm. The people in my own country that act this way scare the hell out of me, my guess is they are no different in Iran.

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posted at 8:41 AM


Monday, June 29, 2009
Recount info

The Guardian Council's vote recount included 10% of randomly selected ballots in Tehran's 22 electoral districts. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the government is admitting a mistake.

Turns out that in one district, Ahmedinejad got more votes than initially reported. So again, go home, nothing to see here.

Paul Salem, of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut said,

“There is a serious crisis of confidence and danger between the state and a large section of the population. I think this anger and discontent right now might have been managed and controlled, it might not erupt again in the next two days or week. But it has not been resolved.”

And that's pretty much it, this is going to be a long-term fight for the people of Iran to free themselves from religious fascism. Not that I particularly favor the secular version. Meanwhile, all people outside of Iran can do is try to keep communications up, so that the truth can be known to all, good and bad.

A political analyst in Iran, asking for anonymity, put it this way:

“It is a divided country now. We have two completely different world views. Ultimately, it is the competition between tradition and modernity.”

Tradition can be a fine thing. But some traditions are wrong, whether codified in scripture or not, and even people of faith inside Iran know it.

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posted at 6:19 PM


Basij in the streets - more

Lara Setrakian of ABC News in Dubai has been sending Tweets about today's events:

"Clashes reported in Tehran after people take to the streets protesting the Guardian Council's ruling"

“e-source: Tehran crawling w/ basijis carrying sticks, some on motos sporting camouflage vests, the new thug uniform. they look ridiculous.”

And my personal favorite:

"From Tehran: people were wearing green wristbands in support of Moussavi/change. Govt banned it, so now people wear them around their ankles"

Iranians are doing what they can to keep the fire of democracy burning, please continue to pass along what you know, and keep talking to friends, acquaintances, people online, just keep talking.

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posted at 2:41 PM


Basij in the streets

Following the Iranian Guardian Council's decision to confirm the fraudulent vote of June 12th, they have also sent security forces into Tehran's streets, presumably in anticipation of protests. The contingent includes plainclothes Basij thugs, who are most likely responsible for many of the protester deaths, including Neda's.

The city is basically under martial law at this time.

Monday night in Tehran, loud shouts of "Allahu akbar!" continued to be heard from rooftops all over the city, defiant as ever. The spirit of the opposition is still strong, but the government has been brutally effective in controlling the streets.

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posted at 12:34 PM


Recount completed!

Iranian state network IRIB reported that the Guardian Council has confirmed the results of the June 12th election. The council had conducted a partial recount of 10 percent "random" ballot boxes from across Iran, and to no one's surprise, found no irregularities.

Mir Hussein Moussavi has rejected the findings, and still is asking that the election be annulled.

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posted at 10:32 AM


Video - Sunday rally

Here is some video of Sunday's rally near the Ghoba mosque in Tehran.

Thousands were reported to have attended, and judging by what I can see here, there's no reason to doubt that figure. I can hear the crowd chanting "Karroubi" and "Moussavi" but I don't understand the rest of it.

I've read reports of another mass protest near Vali Asr Square, but I cannot yet verify this.

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posted at 8:46 AM


Neda death investigation?

Iran's state-run Press TV is reporting that President Ahmedinejad has asked the Iranian Judiciary Chief, Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, to make a thorough investigation of the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan, the Iranian woman who was shot dead on the street on June 21st.

The report said,

Neda's death "...first became suspicious after revelations that she was killed by a small caliber pistol -- a weapon that is not used by Iranian security forces."

Because, you know, vigilantes are so well regulated and supervised. A BBC reporter has already been suggested as the killer, and if this investigation goes on long enough, it'll be judged that she committed suicide.

In other news, fantastic prices on whitewash in bulk in all Tehran markets this month.

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posted at 8:30 AM


5 of 9 released

Five of the nine Iranian employees of the British embassy who ere arrested for allegedly contributing to the unrest in Iran, have been released. I couldn't find any other information as to the remaining four.

Also, the 12-member Guardian Council began a recount, supposedly of a random 10% of the votes cast. No one expects the outcome to change.

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posted at 8:24 AM


Sunday, June 28, 2009
Protest in Iran today

Mir Hussein Moussavi, leader of the Iranian opposition, received a permit to conduct a ceremony this morning at the Ghoba mosque in Tehran, ostensibly to honor one of the founders of the '79 revolution, who was killed in a bombing in 1981.

By noon, the streets outside the mosque were full of demonstrators, holding their hands high making the "V" for victory sign. Many were wearing black, to mourn the 17 murdered by various government forces, and they chanted "Allahu akbar." Protesters numbered in the thousands, and police fired tear gas to break up the crowd. I did not see any reports of clashes or injuries, but obviously, information is very hard to come by.

Meanwhile, the Iranian government is continuing to try and pin the blame for unrest on foreigners and journalists, arresting nine Iranian embloyees of the Bristish embassy, alleging they played a significant role in organizing protests across Iran.

Historically, this type of government action and rhetoric has been enough to get the people to fall in line behind the leaders, with such widespread doubts about the legitimacy of the recent election, people are highly skeptical:

“I think no one can predict Iran’s political future,” said an Iranian intellectual who asked not to be named for fear of arrest. “I do believe some things have changed after this recent upheaval and that events will play out in months and years to come.”

Public demonstrations have been largely squelched, but that isn't the same thing as turning back the clock to a point where people were willing to trust the story being dished out by the government.

Former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rasfanjani spoke publicly for the first time, seemingly suggesting support for the actions of the public. According to the ILNA news agency:

“The recent events were a complex plot by suspicious elements that wanted to create a gap between people and the establishment and was aimed at people to lose their confidence in the establishment. Whenever people have entered the scene such plots have been neutralized.”

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posted at 1:04 PM


Saturday, June 27, 2009
Roger Cohen - from Tehran

Just a really fantastic article in Saturday's New York Times about Iranian women, how important they are to what's going on right now, and the reasons why change must come soon...

I asked one woman about her fears. She said sometimes she imagines an earthquake in Tehran. She dashes out but forgets her hijab. She stands in the ruins, hair loose and paralyzed, awaiting her punishment. And she looked at me wide-eyed as if to say: do you understand, does the world understand our desperation?

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posted at 11:22 PM


Saturday in Tehran

Reports are that things are very quiet there, not just in terms of rallies, but just in general. Traffic is very light, and businesses, while open, are seeing very few customers, even beauty salons.

People may be afraid to go out for fear of being attacked as dissident protesters, just for being on the street. In a report by Nazila Fathi of The New York Times, a businessman who declined to give his name on Fredossi Street said, “We are waiting, we have to see what will happen after all these lies and bloodshed.” Best guess is that several hundred people have been jailed already.

The Iranian Expediency Council, headed by former president Rasfanjani put out a statement declaring that the supreme leader’s decision would be the final word on the election, although it did say the government should investigate voting complaints “properly and thoroughly.” Rasfanjani has been generally supportive of the opposition, but seeing as how he is perhaps the ultimate political insider in Iran, he may see the writing on the wall.

Moussavi issued his first statement in a few days, but it merely made the same demands for a new election, which Khameini has dismissed out of hand.

Reports of Soviet-style forced confessions are beginning to surface, including Amir-Hossein Mahdavi, was the editor-chief of a reformist newspaper close to Mr. Moussavi that was shut down before the election. He is alleged to have said that reformist politicians were the masterminds behind recent protests that drew tens of thousands into the streets.

A hairdresser called Nassim, said it best, “People are depressed, and they feel they have been lied to, robbed of their right and now are being insulted. It is not just a lie; it’s a huge one. And it doesn’t end; they keep on insulting people’s intelligence with more lies on TV.”

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posted at 2:49 PM


Friday, June 26, 2009
Reader insight

A reader of this blog, Nima, put it this way:

First months after the revolution of 1979, they used the same tactic to eliminate the opposition. The opposition who are either completely demolished or are scattered around the world, like the group "mojahedin" who are in France right now. They executed them with the same accusations as you said. So, we have to believe that they have the power to do so, but I don't think they can do anything right now.

There are two sides for this game: Either Mousavi wins and the election is annulled which makes him enormously powerful (even more than the Supreme Leader who has just drunk the poison because of accepting the annulment)and then he can demolish the conservative side with the help of Rafsanjani, and also take down the Leader from power, revise the constitution and etc.

Or, Mousavi is defeated which will definitely end up in his execution and hundreds of his companions who are already arrested in bulk and are in the stand-by mode(exactly like 30 years ago)! It is said that some of these activists are being tortured to confess that they had planned for another "soft revolution". In this case they would be more at ease to arrest Mousavi (as they don't have any black record of his past). Also the reason he is not arrested yet is that the government is afraid of the people's reaction. Till now, the strikes are not at all numerous and serious, but who knows what happens next.

About the Guardian Council, Mousavi himself said he is not so hopeful about that. Cause this council contains 12 hyper conservatives, 4 of whom have already supported Ahmadinejad directly and one of them is also the spokesman of his government!!!

The show goes on. ;)

Thanks to Nima for your insights, all readers are welcome to share via the comments section!

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posted at 10:20 AM


Iran embassy in Sweden attacked

The Associated Press is reporting that the Iranian embassy near Stockholm has been attacked by 150 people throwing stones, and attempting to storm the building.

"It was chaotic out there," police officer Jan Hedlund told Swedish news agency TT. "We're trying to get organized and see what happens. Right now it's quiet."

If the Swedes are pissed off and on your side, how can you lose?

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posted at 9:28 AM


BBC Report

Jeremy Bowen, The BBC's Middle East editor,
reports from Tehran today:

In the centre of Tehran there are many fewer security forces on the streets. A stadium where Basij militia - an arm of the Revolutionary Guard - were based is now being used for sport again. But the power of the regime is not far from the surface. On the main avenues black cars with the words special police painted on them move steadily through the traffic, each one containing four or five men in camouflage uniforms.

It has been much quieter these last few days. One elderly witness said she felt it was the calm of the grave. [...]

It is looking as if the supreme leader will install President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for a second term. Longer-term, the question is whether the fracture in the ruling elite that this crisis has caused will heal.

The religious and political elite in Iran have had many internal disagreements over the 30 years since the Shah was overthrown in 1979. But never before have they chosen to take them outside the charmed circle at the top of the Islamic Republic in the way that has happened since the election.

A hint of what was coming was on display in the rancorous debates between the candidates before the vote. But that was nothing to what has followed. When you ask Iranians about the way this might go, a phrase keeps cropping up. They say it might seem quiet to an outsider, but there is fire below the ashes.

And this type of fire doesn't go out on its own, and is impossible to extinguish through force.

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posted at 9:20 AM


New style protest -Friday

Plans to release green balloons into the sky in Iran have apparently come to fruition, "putting their words into the sky instead of on the ground." In this video, green trash bags being inflated and sent skyward.

Truth, in any form, is still louder than guns and bombs.

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posted at 9:06 AM


Twitter strikes again

Lara Setrakian of ABC News in Dubai is Twittering again. Some samples from the past day or so:

e-source: "Tehran is very very quiet. There's anger & passion, but going out to show it doesn't seem very productive and is very dangerous"

Confirmed firsthand account of another "Allahu Akbar" protester killed on the rootfop, this one in Tehran. #iranelection

Russia calls #iranelection "an exercise in democracy"

Neda's Professor to BBC: 'I've never seen such a thing..the bullets seemed to have blasted inside her chest. She died in less than 1 minute'

just intvwd analyst who thinks Iran authorities are calling the new protests, bringing out front line of protesters so they pick them off

from trusted source, eyewitness at #iranelection protests: the acid attacks were real, dumped on protesters from above.

There has to be a ray of hope, there doesn’t seem to be any. Having said that, things will never be the same. The taboo is broken.

The last one may be the bottom line on this entire thing. It feels like the Iran government is choking the life out of the most overt protests, but the desire to have one's vote counted doesn't just evaporate and disappear. The balance of the events in Iran will take place more slowly, behind the scenes, in meetings in private homes.

But change is coming...

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posted at 8:46 AM


View at your own risk

Truly horrific video of a protester shot in the head and killed by Basij. The footage is undated, but my guess is that it must be from last Saturday, when the largest confrontations happened.

I am not putting this video up, you may see it here, but it is truly awful, and unless you have a strong stomach, I would advise not looking at it, to be honest. I cannot say this strongly enough, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Still no way to know how widespread this sort of brutality is, but it's definitely happening.

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posted at 8:32 AM


Sorry, try again

Iran's English-language channel, Press TV, places the blame for the recent unrest in Iran on the foreign press, and besides, nothing really happened anyway, so shutup.

Iran has warned Western countries against “meddling” in the country’s domestic affairs, blaming US and British media outlets such as Voice of America (VOA) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for “dramatizing” the recent post-election turmoil in the country by providing extensive coverage of the developments — based on unreliable” sources such as Twitters and posts on Facebook — and provoking the post-election violence.

The revision is already starting, and this thing hasn't even played itself out yet...

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posted at 8:24 AM


Well, glad that's over

Speaking with the official IRNA news agency today, a spokesman for the Guardian Council said the panel had “almost finished reviewing defeated candidates election complaints” which they say numbered almost 600.


The spokesman, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, went on to say, “The reviews showed that the election was the healthiest since the revolution,” Mr. Kadkhodaei said. “There were no major violations in the election.”

So, break it up, nothing to see here, all is well, we've always been at war with Eurasia.

A report from Reuters quotes a senior cleric, Ahmad Khatami, as saying that protesters who disputed the official election results were “rioters” and suggested that they might be subject to execution: “I want the judiciary to … punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson,” Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University. Iranian state television said on Thursday eight Basij militiamen were killed by “rioters” during the protests.

Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts, said the judiciary should charge the leading “rioters” as being “mohareb” or one who wages war against God. “They should be punished ruthlessly and savagely,” he said. Under Iran’s Islamic law, punishment for people convicted as mohareb is execution.

I'll give them credit, they really believe that they can sell this garbage. What worries me is that I'm beginning to wonder if they might have the power to make it stick.

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posted at 8:07 AM


Thursday, June 25, 2009
Late Thursday

A late report from someone in Tehran:

Just spoke to a friend in Teheran few hours ago (10:10 pm local time). You could hear the sound of Alluh’o Akbar in the background. He was in Baharestan yesterday. He mentioned heavy police presence, but there were lots of people on the side walk just walking. The riot police would attack people randomly but no one was running away.

I expect Friday will be relatively quiet for the Sabbath, but I'll keep my ears open.

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posted at 11:10 PM


Al Jazeera English - New video

A very thorough report, including video from Saturday's clashes in Tehran, with what looks like Basij thugs shooting at protesters from rooftops.

Saturday was the day Neda was murdered.

Also, please read the comments left on this blog by Nima, who has some insight into some of the goings-on. Thanks so much, Nima!

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posted at 5:56 PM


New video: destruction of property

Video uploaded today shows possible evidence of security forces striking at the personal property of citizens believed to be opposition supporters. Air conditioners are being wrecked as a warning to the opposition, which I have to admit, is a pretty effective tactic.

The man in the video told the person filming

“They were police. They had Arabic accents. They broke this entry way. This door is locked from inside. They broke the door, as a matter of fact they took the door off its hinges. They went up to the roof where the air conditioners and everything are and threw them down.” When the cameraman asks “Did you contact the police?” the man replies: “Those who came had police uniforms on. What police is there to call?”

It reminds me of Joseph Heller's Catch-22, where a man is being arrested by police while being thrown into the back of a police van, all the while yelling, "Help! Police!"

Maybe it's not a call for help, maybe it's a warning to others.

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posted at 4:13 PM


Good news, bad news

Not necessarily in that order. I prefer getting the bad news first, so I feel better at the end, because I'm such an upbeat person.

Neil MacFarquhar wrote in today's New York Times, that while there does seem to be some dissent among Iran's ruling clerics, President Ahmadinejad has been very savvy about loading the country's media, military, and security forces with people who are loyal to him.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has filled crucial ministries and other top posts with close friends and allies who have spread ideological and operational support for him nationwide. These analysts estimate that he has replaced 10,000 government employees to cement his loyalists through the bureaucracies, so that his allies run the organizations responsible for both the contested election returns and the official organs that have endorsed them.

“There is a whole political establishment that emerged with Ahmadinejad, which is now determined to hold on to power undemocratically,” said one American-based Iran analyst, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of his work in Iran. “Their ability to resist the outcome of the election means they have a broad base as a political establishment.”

Not to mention Ahmadinejad's unwavering support from the Supreme Leader...

Now for some good news.

The BBC's John Simpson, who had been in Iran until last Sunday when his visa expired, writes that President Ahmedinejad doesn't have unanimous military support:

For reasons best not explained, I’ve come to know a former member of the Revolutionary Guards really well. He’s done some pretty dreadful things in his life, from attacking women in the streets for not wearing the full Islamic gear to fighting alongside Islamic revolutionaries in countries abroad.

And yet now, in the tumult that has gripped Iran since its elections last week, he’s had a change of heart. He’s become a backer of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate who alleges fraud in the elections. He’s saved up the money to send his son to a private school abroad, and he loathes President Ahmadinejad. He’s not the only one.

I had to leave Iran last Sunday, when the authorities refused to renew my visa. But before I left, another former senior Revolutionary Guard came to our hotel to see us. “Remember me,” he pleaded. “Remember that I helped the BBC.” I realised that even a person so intimately linked to the Islamic Revolution thinks that something will soon change in Iran.

This is comforting, but only in a small way. I wrote in April of 2007 about some American generals, who, after retiring, found their voices in speaking out on the blunder that was Iraq. I castigated them for not speaking out when doing so could have prevented this entire misadventure, and to simply say what was obvious long after everyone else had realized it was no virtue.

In the Iraninan military officer's case, he has a hell of a lot more at stake than just being demoted or asked to retire, so I'm not going to start in. But I sure hope that he or she has at least had open and frank conversations with his troops, and that there is support for the opposition in Iran's military. No revolution can succeed if the military is united behind Ahmadinejad.

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posted at 3:23 PM


Graphic photo montage

A blogger who may be in Iran has published an image of what he or she refers to as “martyrs” of the opposition protests.

I have published the image on the small side, you may see it full-size by clicking on it. It is very graphic, please do not scroll down if you are easily disturbed.

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posted at 3:00 PM


Cast blame everywhere

After doing the usual "Greatest Hits of Blame" in pinning the unrest in Iran on Britain, the US, and Zionists, and even going so far as to blame Neda's murder on a BBC reporter who "had her killed so he'd have material for a documentary," we have a new candidate.

Press TV, Iran's English-language channel, referring to a New York Times article from Wednesday about possible links between al Qaeda and some members of the Saudi royal family, headlined their story, "Saudi Royals Funded 9/11: Lawyers."

So, now the Saudi government is behind the unrest in Iran. It's no longer only an Islam vs The West battle, it's now devolving into a Saudi/Sunni vs Iran/Shi'ite issue.

Paranoia has got to be exhausting, and the clerics in Iran have it by the truckload.

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posted at 2:41 PM


Interview with Neda's doctor

As reported yesterday, he fled to London, in order to save his own life. Here is the BBC interview.

This was just completely senseless, gunning down an innocent, apolitical bystander. Fascism is Fascism, in brown shirts, or black robes.

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posted at 2:23 PM


Sorry, sorry, sorry

I've been unable to get online for the past 16 hours, I'll be updating here shortly.

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posted at 2:16 PM


Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Translation provided

Thank you to the kind person who translated the screenshot, I am in your debt.

Nima said...

This is the translation of this verse of Quran my friend.

"GOD is Lord of those who believe; He leads them out of darkness into the light. As for those who disbelieve, their lords are their idols; they lead them out of the light into darkness - these will be the dwellers of Hell; they abide in it forever."

Thank you again, I appreciate all of the help people have provided in pointing me to information, and to help me understand this thing that is bigger than all of us.

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posted at 5:48 PM


Can anyone translate?

I have a screenshot of the http://www.gerdab.ir website I referenced earlier, but I can't read it. If you are able to help, please leave notes in the comments.

Click for a larger version, and thank you for your help.


posted at 4:31 PM


Following up

Jack Bell at the New York Times elaborates on the punishment given to members of the Iranian soccer team who wore green to support free elections.

Paulo Coelho, who had blogged that he knew and was friends with the doctor who tried to save Neda, reports that the doctor has fled safely to London.

Laura Secor of The New Yorker postulates on what's going on behind the scenes:

The struggle in Iran, we are hearing, really comes down to a fight among the élites inside the power structure.

It is clearly true that Iran’s élites are disunited, but to place great emphasis on this fact is misleading. Factional differences have riven the Iranian political establishment since the Islamic Revolution itself, and sometimes quite dramatically, as during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, from 1997 through 2005. As for Rafsanjani, about whose possible role much has been made, he has been a rival of Ahmadinejad since losing the presidency to him in 2005; this has increasingly driven him toward the reformist camp, where he has been accepted only partially and reluctantly. None of these cleavages are new. In a country that does not tolerate political parties or associations in its civil society, the contest for power, and over the future of the political system, has been largely confined to the establishment itself. Khamenei has spent much of his twenty years in power checkmating his rivals inside the system and discrediting them with their supporters outside the system.

What is new today is not that cracks have opened inside a monolithic system, or even that particularly powerful figures, like Rafsanjani, have broken onto the side of the reformers. What is new is the fierce mass movement from below, which is not confined to students and intellectuals but seems to span demographics and age groups. Even while exercising legal rights, nonviolent methods, and issuing constant appeals to Islam and to the ideals of the revolution, this movement has openly defied Khamenei, the Basij, and the Revolutionary Guards, by ignoring the threats of bloodshed and mayhem. Nothing like that has happened in thirty years.

It's the middle of the night in Tehran, but I will pass on whatever news I find.

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posted at 4:03 PM


"We have found each other again."

Iranian filmmaker, Moshen Makhmalbaf speaking from Rome, encouraging continued support of the opposition. It's in Farsi, but has English subtitles:

It's very beautifully and eloquently stated. The Iranian people deserve democracy.

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posted at 3:47 PM


Props to Tehran mayor

Press TV, which is Iran’s state-supported, English-language channel, aired an interview yesterday with Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, who suggested the street rallies should be legalized.

Tehran’s mayor has urged relevant Iranian officials to authorize peaceful opposition rallies, saying the public should have an outlet to express its opinions. In a Tuesday interview with IRIB channel two, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf said that legalizing street rallies would prevent ’saboteurs who draw weapons and kill people’.

Qalibaf drew a clear line between ‘those protestors who had voted in the presidential election but had doubts about the result’ and ’some saboteurs, taking advantage of the situation’. [...]

Last Monday saw hundreds of thousands of protestors marching the streets of the capital. At least seven people were killed in Monday’s rallies, which turned violent after protestors were attacked by people wearing plainclothes. Iranian authorities also said the police killed at least 13 saboteurs during an ‘illegal rally’ on Saturday.

Tehran’s mayor stressed that the ‘use of force’ was the wrong way to clarify public’s doubts about the election results, calling all ‘the supervisory and executive bodies in the government’ as well as, ‘the media and presidential candidates’ to play a major role in resolving the issues. (italics mine.)

A very interesting turn if events as members of the power structure seem to be, if not supporting the opposition, at least recognizing that demonizing and brutalizing it are not good strategy.

Past reports of the Iranian government using technology purchased from Nokia/Siemens to track cell phone users and spy on mobile calls have prompted protesters to create this:

More as I hear it...

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posted at 3:24 PM


Differing reports from Tehran

The blog for the National Iranian American Council is quoting “a trusted source who attended today’s silent rally at Baharestan Square” gives a far less dire report of what went on at the rally.

I was there from 5:15 to 7:30. It was very tense. Being out in Baharstan was an act of defiance. No one said anything, there were only a few chants coming from outside the square. Although the police were a lot nicer, the Basij continued to be brutal. No one was allowed to stand in one place, we had to keep on moving. The moment we stood in one place, they would break us up. I saw many people get blindfolded and arrested, however it wasn’t a massacre. I heard that someone was killed, however I didn’t see it.

Still no confirmation of a 19-year old woman being shot to death, although I have seen reports of it from a couple of different sources.

Iran's state-supported English-language outlet, Press TV, reported the rally this way:

Some 200 people have gathered outside Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) building in central Tehran to protest at the result of the country’s presidential election. Protesters, who had gathered in small groups at a nearby subway station in Baharestan Square, were dispersed by security forces. Another group of about fifty people also converged on another square to the north of the neighborhood.

A heavy presence of the police prevented violence in the area. Traffic was light and the police controlled all the routes to and from the areas surrounding the parliament.

The report included this image:

Furthermore, reports from inside Iran via Skype, which still appears to be working, report that Iran's government is using the website www.Gerdab.ir to identify protesters by crowd-sourcing. It has been very difficult to access the site, hopefully it is being attacked and neutralized. Click if you want to help.

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posted at 2:43 PM


Neda's family forced out

An unnamed reporter for The Guardian in Tehran is reporting the family of the woman killed last Saturday may have been forced out of their home.

Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.

“We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat,” a neighbour said. The Guardian was unable to contact the family directly to confirm if they had been forced to leave.

First, the government refused to let the family hold a memorial for their murdered daughter, then they demanded another victim's family pay $3000 for the bullet that killed their son before the body would be returned, and now this.

They're also setting up "special courts" to try demonstrators. Wow, a frightened government is setting up ad hoc courts to try people in secrecy. That ring any bells?

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posted at 11:59 AM


Some perspective

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek has published a very interesting piece about how the roots of the current unrest extend backward 30 years. From the essay:

The green color adopted by the Mousavi supporters, the cries of “Allah akbar!” that resonate from the roofs of Tehran in the evening darkness, clearly indicate that they see their activity as the repetition of the 1979 Khomeini revolution, as the return to its roots, the undoing of the revolution’s later corruption. This return to the roots is not only programmatic; it concerns even more the mode of activity of the crowds: the emphatic unity of the people, their all-encompassing solidarity, creative self-organization, improvising of the ways to articulate protest, the unique mixture of spontaneity and discipline, like the ominous march of thousands in complete silence. We are dealing with a genuine popular uprising of the deceived partisans of the Khomeini revolution.

There are a couple of crucial consequences to be drawn from this insight. First, Ahmadinejad is not the hero of the Islamist poor, but a genuine corrupted Islamo-Fascist populist, a kind of Iranian Berlusconi whose mixture of clownish posturing and ruthless power politics is causing unease even among the majority of ayatollahs. His demagogic distributing of crumbs to the poor should not deceive us: behind him are not only organs of police repression and a very Westernized PR apparatus, but also a strong new rich class, the result of the regime’s corruption (Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is not a working class militia, but a mega-corporation, the strongest center of wealth in the country).

Second, one should draw a clear difference between the two main candidates opposed to Ahmadinejad, Mehdi Karroubi and Mousavi. Karroubi effectively is a reformist, basically proposing the Iranian version of identity politics, promising favors to all particular groups. Mousavi is something entirely different: his name stands for the genuine resuscitation of the popular dream which sustained the Khomeini revolution. Even if this dream was a utopia, one should recognize in it the genuine utopia of the revolution itself. What this means is that the 1979 Khomeini revolution cannot be reduced to a hard line Islamist takeover – it was much more. Now is the time to remember the incredible effervescence of the first year after the revolution, with the breath-taking explosion of political and social creativity, organizational experiments and debates among students and ordinary people. The very fact that this explosion had to be stifled demonstrates that the Khomeini revolution was an authentic political event, a momentary opening that unleashed unheard-of forces of social transformation, a moment in which “everything seemed possible.” What followed was a gradual closing through the take-over of political control by the Islam establishment. To put it in Freudian terms, today’s protest movement is the “return of the repressed” of the Khomeini revolution.

The rest of the piece can be seen here, really eye-opening stuff...

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posted at 11:41 AM


AP reports on Tehran rally

About 10 minutes ago, the Associated Press filed this:

Protesters and riot police clashed in the streets around Iran’s parliament Wednesday as hundreds of people converged on a Tehran square in defiance of government orders to halt demonstrations demanding a new presidential election, witnesses said.

Security forces appeared to vastly outnumber the demonstrators, and they beat protesters gathered on Baharestan Square with batons and fired tear gas canisters and rounds of ammunition into the air, witnesses told The Associated Press. They said some demonstrators fought back while others fled to another Tehran plaza, Sepah Square, about a mile (2 kilometers) to the north.

A helicopter could be seen hovering over central Tehran, where a witness told the AP that the area was swarming with hundreds of riot police who were trying to prevent people from gathering even briefly. Thousands more security officers filled the surrounding streets, said the witness, who declined to give his name for fear of government reprisals.

“There was a lot of police — riot police and Basiji everywhere,” a 53-year-old housewife said, referring to Iran’s volunteer militia corps. She said police stopped her and others from entering the square.

Severe restrictions on reporters have made it almost impossible to independently verify reports on demonstrations, clashes and casualties. Iran has ordered journalists for international news agencies to stay in their offices, barring them from reporting on the streets.

The media crackdown is getting more effective, no one seems to be able to verify the Twitter, phone or blogging reports coming out of Iran.

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posted at 11:21 AM


Phone report from Tehran

Daniel Nasaw from
The Guardian, interviewed a woman by phone about today's rally outside parliament. It's bad:

"I was going towards Baharestan with my friend. This was everyone, not just supporters of one candidate or another. All of my friends, they were going to Baharestan to express our opposition to these killings and demanding freedom. The black-clad police stopped everyone. They emptied the buses that were taking people there and let the private cars go on. We went on until Ferdowsi then all of a sudden some 500 people with clubs came out of [undecipherable] mosque and they started beating everyone. They tried to beat everyone on [undecipherable] bridge and throwing them off of the bridge. And everyone also on the sidewalks. They beat a woman so savagely that she was drenched in blood and her husband, he fainted. They were beating people like hell. It was a massacre. They were trying to beat people so they would die. they were cursing and saying very bad words to everyone. This was exactly a massacre… I don’t know how to describe it."

Lara Setrakian of ABC News in Dubai reports via Twitter that her sources in Tehran tell her

they are beating people severely. helicopters all over the city finding protesters & telling guards so they go attack

people are hoarding the injured in their homes because they’re afraid of going to hospitals

I know the United States can't be directly involved, as badly as we'd like to help. We cannot officially call for people to take to the streets to be beaten and killed when we have absolutely no capability of assisting them.

Stephen Colbert said it best when he described tough-talking Republican demands for President Obama to speak out more forcefully as the equivalent of standing on the beach while someone drowns, and screaming, "HEY! I'M A LIFEGUARD!"

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posted at 10:43 AM


New video, June 24

Believed to be filmed this morning at the opposition rally outside Iranian parliament. Before the sound cuts out, shots can be heard.

Wildly varying reports are still coming out of Tehran, but at least two that I have read say a 19-year old woman was shot in the neck and killed by security forces. Some have said that the rally was dispersed in fairly short order by the large police presence, and others have said that a police riot occurred with dozens of citizens being beaten, shot and killed.

I'll try to confirm what I can, but citizens still communicating from inside Iran are saying that doing so is getting tougher by the hour.

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posted at 10:30 AM


This morning in Iran

Still trying to get confirmation about the opposition rally in Tehran.

This report from Reuters quotes Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli as knowing who is to blame for all of the unrest:

"Britain, America and the Zionist regime (Israel) were behind the recent unrest in Tehran."

So, pretty much a fundamentalist Islam Greatest Hits of who is responsible for any bad thing that happens.

Indications are also that the estimated death toll of 30-40 is likely much higher.

More in a little while, I'm still sorting through info.

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posted at 10:09 AM


Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Opposition rally scheduled

Lara Setrakian of ABC News in Dubai is reporting that Mir Hussein Moussavi and the former president Mohammed Khatami will speak at a rally, 4pm Wednesday at Baharestan Square, which is outside of the Iranian Parliament in Tehran.

Meanwhile, British paper, The Independent is reporting that Mr. Moussavi, while not under house arrest, is under constant surveillance by Iran’s secret police and is not free to meet or speak with his supporters.

Tomorrow should be another interesting day, and we'll know a lot of what's happened in the morning...

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posted at 3:20 PM


Four Iranian soccer players "retired"

Last week, six Iranian soccer players wore green armbands during a match to show solidarity with the crowds of Iranians disputing the clearly rigged election.

According to the pro-government newspaper, Iran, Ali Karimi, 31, Mehdi Mahdavikia, 32, Hosein Ka’abi, 24 and Vahid Hashemian, 32 – have been “retired” from the sport after their gesture in last week's soccer game against South Korea in Seoul.

The four have been banned for life.

A total of six Iranian players wore the green armbands during the game, but I have not seen any information on what, if anything, will be done to the remaining two players. My guess is, they're probably too valuable to the team to punish for political reasons.

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posted at 9:41 AM


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


Monday, June 22, 2009
Neda was targeted by Basij

According to this report by the BBC, her fiancee' discusses the circumstances before she was shot by plainclothes paramilitaries, the pre-dug graves for Tehran demonstrators, and how the Basij refused to let a memorial service be held for Neda.

Her death was murder, and it is also part of the cost of freedom. The Iranians who demand to be heard by the ballot and in the street are not afraid to stand up and die for what they believe in. What about you?

And by the way, you teabaggers here in the US are fucking pathetic.

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posted at 4:50 PM


Slain Iranian woman identified

Her name was Neda Agha Soltan, and she worked for a travel agency.

She was murdered while watching the demonstrations with her father on Saturday in Tehran, apparently by a member of the security forces who shot her in the heart from the rooftop of a building.

Neda's death has become a symbol in Iran and globally, and no matter the result of the recent turmoil, she will not be forgotten.

She may become Iran's Joan of Arc. I hope that the result of all of this somehow makes her death worthwhile.

UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting that a memorial for Neda was broken up by Basij and Iranian police who beat and arrested protesters. Security then attacked nearby homes of people who were filming the event, and arrested some of them as well.

"Islamic Republic" my ass.

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posted at 10:44 AM

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