Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (14 February): It is 25 Bahman

2140 GMT: Something's Missing. Peyke Iran prints the front pages of Iran's newspapers for Tuesday --- surprisingly, the marches of 25 Bahman have disappeared.

2130 GMT: Clerical Intervention. Grand Ayatollah Sane'i, meeting families of political prisoners, has said that today's tyranny is unprecedented in Iranian history.

The families also met Grand Ayatollahs Vahid Khorasani and Mousavi Ardebili.

2125 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mohsen Barzegar and Hossein Zamen Zarrabi,members of the Islamic Association of Nooshiravani University of Babol, have been arrested.

2105 GMT: MediaWatch. Fars News, while continuing to describe the protests as made up of "mercenary hypocrites", echoes claims on Green websites that one person was killed and several wounded.

Fars says the casualties were passers-by hit by fire from demonstrators.

Press TV tries this original interpretation: "Small groups of anti-government protesters have disrupted order in the Iranian capital Tehran, prompting citizens to hold counter-demonstrations."

2055 GMT: "100,000s". Writing for The Financial Times of London, Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Monavar Khalaj --- based in Tehran --- are the first "Western" reporters to claim "hundreds of thousands" marching in the capital.

2035 GMT: A First-Hand Account. We post this from a correspondent for Tehran Bureau with caution, especially about the crowd estimate; however, if it is even halfway to the truth, it is significant testimony to the force of the turnout today:

It was beyond anything we had expected. They didn't shut off the mobile phones so word spread quickly [that they were not cracking down hard] before they shut them off around 4 p.m.

It seemed like the Basij were ordered not to act until ordered. They just stood around looking bewildered. When the riot police would drive by on their bikes, they just put the fires out.

Rarely did they arrest. I saw 10 people arrested; this means probably up to 1000 were arrested [across Tehran].

I was all over on foot and on the rapid transit buses. The crowds were EVERYWHERE. They were remarkable for their peacefulness. They filled a radius of about half a kilometer to 400 meters on both sides of Enghelab Avenue. It looks like for the first time people from working class areas were involved too.

I left two hours ago but the crowds were still out there. The security presence was large, perhaps 13,000.

There may have been some killings. We saw two people beaten to a pulp. The first [beating was administered] by intel ministry officers, the second by Sepah [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps]. Overall people worked hard to stop the beatings of the regime forces.

2025 GMT: Not Just Tehran. An EA reader received an e-mail this afternoon from a friend in Arak, 160 miles west of Tehran:

I am at home now but (...) is in the street. She said that there is a mass poplulation in streets but not same as a protest walk! I will join them now.

Internet and satelike is down in Iran. We just can check e-mail and Yahoo Messenger. My uncles are in Azadi Square of Tehran now!"

1920 GMT: MediaWatch. Semi-official outlet Fars has noticed the protests, but it is not too complimentary about an "unlawful assembly of hypocrites, monarchists, thugs, and intriguers" in some streets of Tehran on the pretext of supporting the people of Egypt and Tunisia.

1900 GMT: A Tehran witness to Reza Sayah of CNN (1630 GMT): "Thousands security forces block protester path to Azadi Square on Azadi Avenue. Security forces beat protesters in side streets."

1850 GMT: Senior Mousavi advisor, Ardeshir Amirarjomand, has told the BBC that security forces prevented the participation of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, but Greens have participated with great numbers and the regime has learned suppression is no longer effective.

1840 GMT: RAHANA claims that security forces have beaten a number of students of Sharif University in Tehran.

1835 GMT: Footage has been posted which claims to be of a night-time protest in Shiraz.

1830 GMT: Mardomak reports that 10,000 security personnel are preventing people from spending the night in Azadi Square.

1825 GMT: An EA correspondent brings up to date, "Electricity interrupted along Enghelab [Avenue], ostensibly to ease repression. BBC has also posted unconfirmed report of two people being wounded by gunfire."

He warns, "All very ugly and leading to increased repression in next few days. Expect a new wave of arrests to begin tonight or tomorrow."

1810 GMT: Radio Zameneh reports "tens" of arrests in Isfahan. It also claims that more and more people are trying to Azadi Square, carrying have warm clothing and food to stay. There is confusion, however, as to whether anyone has actually managed to enter the square.

1719 GMT: Kurdish, civil rights activist Susan Mohammadkhani Ghiasvand has been arrested.

1715 GMT: Kalemeh reports that the residences of former President Mohammad Khatami and former Vice President Abdollah Nouri are "under siege".

1705 GMT: BBC Persian is reporting clashes in Vanak Square in north Tehran.

1700 GMT: An EA correspondent notes, "Interesting thing is that there is a new slogan being shouted about soldiers needing to come over to the people. A carry over from Egypt."

1630 GMT: The BBC's account of events in Tehran reports use of tear gas by police against thousands of protesters. A BBC producer, affected by the gas, described central Tehran as "total chaos" with "severe clashes" and many arrests.

1555 GMT: A witness tells Reza Sayah of CNN (1530 GMT) that crowds are now "tens of thousands walking quietly towards Azadi Square".

1550 GMT: An absolutely reliable EA source is reporting tear gas and violent confrontations in Shiraz.

1545 GMT: In a brief report, Human Rights Activists News Agency is claiming one dead and 250 detained in protests. We are treating as unconfirmed.

1520 GMT: Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe reports from an eyewitness in Isfahan: "Heavy presence of anti-riot guards, many people in main square."

1500 GMT: Thanks to James Miller of Dissected News for covering the last 2 1/2 hours. A summary of current situation...

Reports of violence are now widespread, with comparisons with the march of 15 June 2009 flowing in. BBC Persian is quoting a "secure and certain source" that tear and pepper gas deployed in Imam Hossein Square. Police deployed everywhere along Enghelab Avenue, blocking traffic. People are trying to get to Azadi Square on foot, with security forces getting more aggressive as marchers near the square.

1416 GMT: According to Mardomak, security forces are using tear gas to disperse crowds in Enghelab Square Enghelab Avenue. RAHANA is also reporting that security has blocked Taleqani Avenue and other cross sections and people in cars are honking in protest. 

Also, reports are coming in from other cities, including a report from Radio Farda that thousands have gathered to protest in Isfahan and Kermanshah.

There are many reports of clashes and protests. All over Tehran, but we will wait to report them until we have confirmation of details.

1343 GMT: According to CNN's Reza Sayah, there have been violent clashes in fron of Tehran University, where some protesters have been taken away on motorcycle. There are also many protesters clashing with security forces at Iman Hossein Square, where people are chanting "Death to the Dictator, Death to Khamenei." 

From all accounts, the protesters have been peacefully marching, but security forces are trying to disperse them.

The opposition website Iran Green Voice is reporting that Mousavi has broken out of his house arrest and is attemtping to join the protesters. This is still unconfirmed, however Al Arabiya is now reporting that Mousavi and Rahnavard have joined the protests.

1318 GMT: According to Bardia, e-Persian radio's correspondent, between Azadi and Enghelab Squares there are trash fires, tear gas is in the air, and Basij have attacked protesters from motorcycles.

There are multiple reports of clashes between security forces and protesters on Somayeh Street. There is a reliable report that cell phone service is down in parts of Tehran, and there is tear gas being fired in Enghelab Street. I appears that these clashes are occuring outside the square itself, suggesting that there protesters are not being allowed in.

Another very reliable source, has posted this on Twitter: "On Rasht st., Valiasr st. and valiasr intersection, many got severely beaten by security bikers."

Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari reports

a "heavy police presence, including paramilitary forces, the Basij forces, as well as undercover officers in the crowds.

Saham News, the official website of Mehdi Karroubi's National Trust Party, is now under attack.

1247 GMT: According to Saham, sources close to Mousavi claim that he is attempting to leave his house but he is being blocked. 

According to a trusted source, Mehdi Saharkhiz, there have been clashes on the ground at Valiasr Intersection. 

1225 GMT: Building? Rah-e-Sabz and Kalemeh are reporting people in Imam Hossein Square and along Enghelab Avenue, with "several thousand" gathered around Enqhelab Square in a silent march.

1220 GMT: A 25 Bahman message? At his press conference with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said: "My view is that what is happening should in no way be regarded as a surprise. In this age of communication, in an age where everybody is aware of each other, the demands and desires of the people are very realistic. We see that sometimes when the leaders and heads of countries do not pay attention to the nations' demands, the people themselves take action to achieve their demands."

There was no report of Gul referring specifically to the internal situation in Iran.

1215 GMT: The 1st Protest. A witness has told the BBC that at least 2000 people gathered in Sadeghiyeh Square in Tehran this afternoon (see 0943 and 1023 GMT).

There are also reports of people gathering on various parts of Enghelab avenue and marching towards Azadi Square.

1135 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ali Bagheri, a senior member of the reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution Organization, has been arrested after he was summoned by the Intelligence Ministry and escorted home after nearly two hours of interrogation. His property was searched and possessions confiscated.

1130 GMT: Go? This is now the official time for the marches across Iran to start.

1125 GMT: A False Story. A flutter in last few minutes, as the conservative Aftab News supposedly reported that a permit had been granted for the rally and that visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gul would join it. (Aftab cannot be accessed at moment.)

A Deputy Minister of Interior is now telling IRNA that no permit has been granted.

1115 GMT: A Sign? An EA correspondent reports, "People bidding each other 'goodbye on Facebook and making their way to the demos within the past hour. Quite a few people, it's a phenomenon."

1100 GMT: Securing the Roads. Mardomak reports that all routes to Azadi Square are now blocked by security forces.

1046 GMT: Reza Sayah of CNN quotes Tehran witnesses that "thousands of security forces [are] patrolling neighbourhoods, major squares, and intersections".

Mardomak says that a number of Tehran metro stations have been closed.

Saham News says "fake traffic" was generated to prevent security forces from taking over Azadi Square and reiterates that there are no Revolutionary Guards or Basij militia on the streets, only police forces at this point.

1027 GMT: Reuters quotes a witness, "There are dozens of police and security forces in the Vali-e Asr Avenue [in central Tehran]....They have blocked entrances of metro stations in the area."

1023 GMT: A photograph from Facebook claiming to be on the gathering at Sadeghieh Square in Tehran (see 0943 GMT):

1020 GMT: The Supposed Routes. Arshama3's Blog posts the list of declared routes for marches in 41 Iranian cities.

1010 GMT: Where Is the Security? A reliable EA source from Tehran says that there has been no security presence in the centre of the city this morning, calling the absence of police "strange".

0943 GMT: A Protest? Green Voice of Freedom is reporting that people are gathering at Sadeghieh Square in Tehran.

Sadeghieh is a lower-middle class area far off the official itinerary for today's march. There is a large metro station there.

The website claims there is still no sign of Revolutionary Guards on Tehran's streets.

0940 GMT: Remain Indoors. Saham News claims that office workers have been offered overtime if they remain at their desks until 6 p.m. today.

0934 GMT: Security Moves. Saeed Ahmed of CNN reports, "About 50 riot police in bikes were headed toward Azadi Square. Another 100 are at Ferdowsi square. No protests yet."

0930 GMT: Shutting in Mousavi (cont.). Plainclothes policemen have physically prevented Zahra Rahnavard from exiting her house, ostensibly to go to the rally.

0910 GMT: Shutting In Mousavi. Kalemeh reports that police have blocked off the alleyway leading to Mir Hossein Mousavi's residence, shutting him in, and it repeats the news that phone communications of both Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have been cut.

Security forces enforcing an effective house arrest on Karroubi residence are now preventing Karroubi's wife Fatemeh from leaving the home.

0730 GMT: The Official Line. And now the State's preferred news for the day, with the President's office putting out the picture of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meeting Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.

It is not known if the two men discussed the offer by the organisers of the 25 Bahman rally for Gul to join the march (see 0535 GMT):

0725 GMT: Protest on a Crane. Thanks to EA readers who have notified us of the woman atop a crane in Tehran. Internet chatter is that he may be demonstrating over the death of a relative, whose photograph he is waving, as well as a green cloth. (A later report said she was inviting passers-by to join the rally.)

Mardomak has a couple of pictures. Video has also now been posted:

0720 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Music Video Edition). Singer Aria Aramnejad has been sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Aramnejad, known for his song “Ali Barkhiz” (“Rise up Ali”), was accused of actions against national security and collusion to topple the regime when he put out a song criticising state brutality during the Ashura protests of 27 December 2009. He was arrested on 14 February 2010 and spent almost two months in solitary condiment.

He was notified of the judiciary’s decision via telephone.

0715 GMT: CyberProtest. The website of Iran's official broadcaster IRIB has been knocked off-line.

Last Thursday the collective Anonymous, which has taken out many Government sites, including in Tunisia and Egypt, promised the initiation of Operation Iran.

0620 GMT: Linking Up. RASA TV, the channel of the Green Movement, features a message of support --- in English with Persian subtitles --- from a Tunisian activist:

0610 GMT: MediaWatch. Iranian state outlet Press TV has just discussed the planned "Day of Rage" in Bahrain today and reviewed Sunday's protests in Yemen. Somehow, they forgot to note the 25 Bahman marches.

0555 GMT: Conflicting accounts on the position that the Revolutionary Guards will take towards any large rally....

There were reports yesterday that the Guards will not confront any rally but just "control" it; however, commmander Hossein Hamadani was talking tough, “The conspirators are nothing but corpses. Any incitement will be dealt with severely.”

0550 GMT: Senior Mousavi advisor Amir Arjomand, in a move far more significant than his invitation to Turkish President Gul (see 0535 GMT), has declared that both Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi --- despite the regime's restrictions on their movement and commmunications --- will make it to today's march.

0535 GMT: A couple of moves from the Mousavi camp on the eve of 25 Bahman....

Zahra Rahnavard, academic, activist, and wife of Mousavi, has promoted a statement from women political prisoners declaring their faith in the Green Movement, expressing full support for the march, and inviting the public to participate in this rally.  

And, in a rather cheeky move, a senior advisor to Mousavi, Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, has called on Turkish President Abdullah Gul --- whose current four-day tour of Iran is the star publicity turn for the regime --- to join the march:

0525 GMT: It is 8:55 a.m. local time in Iran. The rally for this afternoon --- which still has not been formally denied permission by the Minister of Interior --- is not scheduled until 3 p.m. (1200 GMT) in Tehran and up to 40 other locations across Iran.

So there is likely to be a long lull before any significant developments.

The US State Department has made a move --- whether it is more than symbolic remains to be seen --- by launching the Persian-language Twitter account, @USAdarFarsi. Its 1st message announces its presence. Its second call the Iranian regime hypocitical for suppressing dissent while praising the uprising of the Egyptian people. Its third called on Tehran "to allow people to enjoy same universal rights to peacefully assemble, demonstrate as in Cairo".

0515 GMT: Today is 25 Bahman. Unlike many dates in Iran's post-election crisis --- Qods Day, Ashura, National Students Day, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution only three days ago --- it has no religious or political significance.

That is an unexceptional status which the opposition hopes to change today. Earlier this month, former Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi sought a permit for a rally from central Tehran to Azadi (Freedom) Square, the large open space with the striking monument that has been the symbolic space of the Islamic Revolution.

Ostensibly, the march would be in support of the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings, but its overriding aim was simpler and closer to home: just to be seen. The "Green Wave" has been unable to put up a significant public demonstration since the Ashura rally at the end of December 2009. While resistance has continued in many ways, it has been a scattered challenge which has done little more than to keep a question mark over the regime's legitimacy.

But, as the Tunisian and Egyptian examples have shown in the last two months, that question mark can quickly change into a widespread, public confrontation with the regime. And so the Green Movement, which began 18 months before those challenges in Tunis and Cairo, hopes to get a political foothold once more.

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