Bullets, Beatings, Chanting


Published on German daily newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on February 11 2010
Source (German) http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/687/502916/text/

On the anniversary of the Revolution, president Ahmadinejad brags about the achievements of the nuclear program – but his opponents are not far. Their chants of “death to the dictator” can be heard. The regime resorts to rigorous steps.

Criticizing the West, acclaiming the nuclear program: President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Photo: AFP

Showdown on revolution day: On the sidelines of the official ceremonies.

On the 31. anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and the toppling of the Shah, security forces clashed with opposition supporters in Tehran today.

Several hundred supporters of the Iranian opposition movement used the mass rallies to stage protests against the government. The regime forces immediately intervened against the protesters who showed up in the symbolic green color of the opposition.

According to eyewitness reports, the security forces used paint balls, batons, and tear gas, even shots have been reported.

Pictures of dissidents were published on the internet
During the protests, chants were heard such as “Death to the dictator”, “Don’t be afraid, we are all together”. Reports indicated clashes in Western, Central, and Northern Tehran. Several protesters purportedly were arrested.

Videos that were published on YouTube showed chanting in metros, streets, and squares.

A group accompanying the oppositional political figure Mahdi Karroubi was attacked when trying to join the opposition protests. This was reported by Karroubi’s son Hossein. The attackers, apparently members of the Basij-militias, smashed the windows of Karroubi’s car.

Zahra Eshraghi, a granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, together with her husband Mohammad Reza Khatami, both political figures from the reformist camp, were arrested and detained for about one hour, as reported by the opposition website Rahe Sabz.

As in earlier protests, the opposition movement again used the micro blogging service Twitter to describe the situation in the streets and draw attention to pictures and videos. Under the hashtag “iranelection” at times more than 100 short text messages were published per minute, among them many references to blogs and messages of support from twitter users from all over the world. However, origin and validity of those messages can not be verified.

The first videos that appeared on YouTube showed rallying opposition supporters, chanting “Referendum! Referendum! This is the call of the people!” In another video, showing the broadcasting of Ahmadinejad’s speech on state television, chants of “Death to the dictator” are being faded out after getting too loud.

Again and again since after the disputed re-election of the ultra conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, mass protests have been staged against the regime.

The international press was allowed to cover Ahmadinejad’s speech on Azadi Square in Tehran, however, had no permission to get a picture of the opposition protests. Apart from that, internet access was very restricted, it was barely possible to send SMS or make phone calls from mobile phones. Ahmadinejad had announced in his speech that Iran had just produced a first batch of 20% enriched uranium.

Regime is planning a state-run e-mail program
While reports of protests and crackdowns of opposition supporters circulate on dissident websites, the rulers are busy jubilating.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seized the opportunity of this anniversary to proclaim new achievements in the disputed nuclear program. In his speech for the 31. anniversary of the Revolution he claimed that Iran, having produced high enriched uranium, is now a nuclear state.

In the run-up of the anniversary, the US-based internet group Google had confirmed that currently very few messages are being sent via Gmail in Iran. Wall Street Journal had reported plans of the Iranian authorities to block Gmail in order to establish a state-run e-mail system. Gmail is being used by many opposition supporters, since it provides a chat service as well.

On Wednesday night, regime protesters had started their nightly chants of Allah-u Akbar from the rooftops of the capital. Authorities restricted internet bandwidth and sms transmission. According to a Google spokesman, access to e-mail-services in Iran was disrupted. Also, the company had recorded a significant drop of data transmission.

click here for video footage

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