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Iran: The Events of 22 Bahman, Seen from Inside Tehran

EA correspondent Mr Azadi, who was in close contact with sources in Tehran throughout Thursday, writes this summary:

At 10 p.m., Iranian television began its news with part of the Supreme Leader's declaration, "Iran will be safe to the day that we follow Velayat-e-Faqih (ultimate clerical authority)."

This was followed by the images from the Azadi Square rally, as the narrator said that the day was mainly to show "our" support for the Supreme Leader and the defeat of foreign enemies and those who would deceive "us".

It was a symbolic end to 22 Bahman, with all the noise coming from the regime: many Green Movement supporters believed that, even though they were "countless", they still were not able to show their presence.

What Happened:

From the early hours, plainclothes security forces and the Basij militia were stationed around various streets, putting them . under the control and surveillance of undercover and uniformed security forces. All entry and exit routes around Tehran, as well as bus terminals, were controlled as well. Government buses had transferred Basij forces and plainclothes officers from different parts of town to the demonstration routes.

From Imam Hussain Square to Ferdowsi Square, there were fewer forces. But from Ferdowsi Square onwards, anti-riot force bikes and trucks loaded with batons and tear gas were on standby: on Keshavarz Blvd, from Aria Hospital to Palestine Avenue, and especially around Tehran University.

The security forces were preventing the people from reaching Enghelab and 7 Tir Squares, as a large group moved along the streets leading to Enghelab Square. From Enghelab to Azadi Square the number of anti-riot police forces was low; instead, there was an increase in the plainclothes forces, who could be identified easily from their walky-talkies.

As there was high probability for students protesting at (state broadcasting) IRIB, a large number of military and Basij surrounded the broadcasting complex, on Jam-e-Jam Street, around Karegar and North Amirabad streets.

Tehran’s Sadeghieh Square was one of the focal points of protesters. Mehdi Karoubi had announced the place as the starting point of the demonstration, and  thousands of supporters of green movement had gathered here. Large crowds of green-clad protesters moved from Apadana, the home of Sohrab Arabi (a martyred protester) towards Azadi sq. and Mohammad Ali Jenah Street. A large crowd of people were moving from Sadeghieh Sq. towards Azadi Square; even under tight security in the area, the slogans of “Down with the Dictator" could be heard.

In Asharafi Esfehani Street, people were shouting slogans such as "Death to Dictator and were tearing photographs of Khameini. The sound of car could be heard, which led to severe clashes between people and government forces. Tear gas was thrown and gunshots were heard. The first cases of arrest were reported from Azadi and Sadeghieh Squares.

Around 10:30 a.m. Mehdi Karroubi was attacked in Asharafi Esfehani Stree by plain-clothes officers. His bodyguards and others around him were beaten by batons and hit by "paint" bullets, while his car windows were broken. Karroubi left in another person’s car but the windows of this car were shattered as well. Two of Karroubi’s close friends, who also act as his bodyguards, were arrested by intelligence services and were sent to Evin Prison. (The two, Askarian and Anbar Nejad, each lost a limb defending their country during the Iran-Iraq War.)

Around 11 a.m. Mohammad Khatami joined the protesting crowds at the intersection of Zanjan St. and Azadi St., but was immediately forced to leave as a result of an attack on his car by plain-clothes officers. About 12 o’clock Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard joined the rally but again they were harshly attacked by plainclothes forces, and they were forced to leave the rally immediately.

In Azadi Square, the people on the East side were shouting “Death to Dictator!” and chanting: “Courageous Iranians: Support! Support!”; however, loudspeakers in the area were extremely loud and appear to have been arranged to overpower anti-government slogans. Government helicopters were spotted in the sky, flying just above the crowd of people. Rumours went around that the helicopters were taking videos of the crowd.

During Ahmadinejad’s speech, at some points, people could be heard shouting, "Liar, liar’, possibly causing him to lose his concentration on a couple of occasions. After the speech, because of security concerns, he left by helicopter.

The official pro-government march of 22 Bahman was finished, yet sporadic clashes continued in different areas of the city. More anti-riot police forces were called in to suppress the protesters, and eyewitnesses reported armed anti-riot police on motorcycles heading toward central Tehran. A large number of military forces were reported to be stationed around the Supreme Leader’s residence, the IRIB building, and North Amirabad Street. Until 11:30 p.m. local time, the sounds of siren and slogans could be heard in Shahrak Gharb and Vanak Square near Tehran University.

Those involved in the day assess that Green Movement was not able to show itself as well as it wished, even though there were many people on the streets:

1. The city was like a military base, and the control of the police was extensive.

2. Opposition leaders were stopped m participating in the rally, to prevent the formation of a Green Wave

3. People carrying Green symbols were arrested quickly.

4. The Green Movement made a mistake with the instruction to hide Green symbols until Azadi Square. This caused confusion amongst Green protesters, as it was hard to identify who was with and against them.

5. It seemed that people were waiting for others to make the first move and then follow them.

In conclusion, all involved declared that, while the Government used the day for their propaganda, 22 Bahman was still an important experience for the Green Movement to continue on its path.

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Reader Comments (8)

Greens were instructed to march peacefully to Azadi square. They did. Khatami, Kourubi, Mousavi, joined the people as they had promised. They marched straight into a military base that had been erected within Azadi square and shouted green slogans directly at AN during his 22 Bahman speech. Greens have never showed off their courage more than they did on 22 Bahman. This is not about overwhelming street forces with rocks or street fighting...its about putting pressure on the internal workings of a flawed government. The green figureheads made their point and gained a little street cred in the process. This day will look brighter as we move away from it. Stay strong greens we are countless!!!

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJames

[...] Schilderung der Ereignisse des 22. Bahman aus Teheran [...]

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNews vom 12. Februar « A

@James: Thank you for your very true words! Well said!!

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRamin

We think you are very courageous, and with perseverence you will win in the end !!!

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertupungato

Contrary to many commentators I am sooo happy that yesterday's rallies went on mostly peacefully, and that we had no victims.
By asking their supporters not to show their green symbols, Moussavi and Karroubi have saved many lives. I bow to them in deep respect for not sacrificing people's lives for their "victory". Both have proved sovereignty and statesmanship.
Both of them and the whole Green movement have to be reckoned with ...

ma bishomarim :-)


February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

What's more , the mediatic impact was very strong; they could have been 4000000 and without any impact, that's what it's important; all the countries in the world support iranian people and now this issue is more important for them than any economic benefit , having trade with Iran.

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

True words James.
Couldn't have explained it better.

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNader

the topic has sueprised me. i was there and had walked along azadi street from enghelab sq to azadi sq and what i couldn't see at all was anything as the green movement, but the crowd of people shouting against USA, israel and other enemies of iran had filled all of the central streets of tehran.

February 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterali

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