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The Latest from Iran (15 February): Watching a Revival

2110 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Activist Ali Nabavi, whose wife Atefeh is already imprisoned, has been arrested.

Farhad Fathi, Secretary of reformist students of Qazvin International University, was arrested on Monday.

2105 GMT: Deaths on 25 Bahman. Iranian officials are naming a second fatality in Monday's protests, 22-year-old Mohamad Mokhtari, 22, claiming he was shot by the banned Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO)

This morning, the Government also said Sanee Zhaleh, 26, had been killed by the MKO. That claim has also come under pressure with a photograph linking Zhaleh to the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, an opponent of the regime (see 1650 GMT).

2034 GMT: Prediction Come True. We said in our analysis this morning (see separate entry) that the regime would respond to Monday's marches by ramping up the intimidation and arrests.

And so it is already coming to pass. Tahavole Sabz reports a group of pro-Government men gathered in front of Mehdi Karroubi's residence this afternoon, chanting slogans against him.

The crowd assembled after a call by a website linked to the Government for a rally against Mir at Ark Square in front of the Tehran Prosecutor's office against Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, whose effigy was hung. After a few hours, the group moved towards Karroubi's residence.

Karroubi is under effective house arrest, prevented by security forces from leaving his home.

2030 GMT: Ahmadinejad Speech (cont.). The top State outlet IRNA may not have noted any mention by the President, in his speech tonight, of Monday's protests. AFP, however, is not shy: it quotes Ahmadinejad as saying that "enemies" who planned the demonstrations will fail to achieve their goals.

Mardomak has a LiveBlog of the speech. Notable in its record is Ahmadinejad's defense of his controversial Chief of Staff and confidante, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, as a "faithful" man with a "gentle" soul.

Iran Analysis: Guess Who's Back? Back Again?
Iran Feature: Facebook and A Resurgent Opposition? (Habibinia)
Latest Iran Video: The Marches of 25 Bahman
Iran in Pictures: Security v. Protesters on 25 Bahman
The Latest from Iran (14 February): It is 25 Bahman

2025 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An activist is claiming that the son and daughter of Grand Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, Susan & Mohamad Mostafa Bayat Zanjani, were arrested yesterday at Sadeghieh metro station in Tehran.

2000 GMT: Nothing to See Here --- Move Along. Back from an academic break to find that President Ahmadinejad has responded to Monday's ignoring them, at least in the account of State outlet Islamic Republic News Agency.

Ahmadinejad, in a nationally-televised speech, focused on the nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, Russia), even though these are effectively in suspension after a failed discussion last month. He emphasized is Iran "always ready for dialogue" but talks should focus on "positive results".

Ahmadinejad also offered a general defence of his subsidy cuts programme.

Meanwhile, names continue to emerge of those among the 1500 the regime supposedly detained yesterday. Tehran University School of Fine Arts student Abozar Rostami, Mashhad students Farzaneh Najarnejad(F), Housein Ahmadnejad, Ali Razaghi, and Amir Shaibani, poet and author Hamed Shamloo, and student activist Saeed Sakakian are among the arrested.

1650 GMT: Getting to the Truth on the Casualty of 25 Bahman. A Facebook photo undermines the official Iranian line that Sanee Zhaleh, killed on Monday, was a regime supporter slain by Mujahedin-e-Khalq demonstrators.

Zhaleh is first on the left. The cleric in the centre is the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, an opponent of the regime who was under lengthy house arrest before his death in 2009.

1635 GMT: Another VIP Detainee. Javan News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guard, claims a Japanese diplomat was arrested during opposition rallies on Monday.

The assertion follows news that a high-ranking Spanish diplomat was held for four hours (see 1220 GMT).

1625 GMT: A Warning. Back from academic break to find an ominous signal from Mohsen Rezaei, Secretary of the Expediency Council and 2009 Presidential candidate.

Rezaei said that "leaders of sedition" have until tonight to apologise; otherwise, people are fully entitled to take any reaction against them.

Rezaei said Monday's rally was "small" and hastily planned by the US, but he added that repetition could threaten the Iranian system.

1335 GMT: 25 Bahman. Two more videos from Monday's protest:

1235 GMT: How Many Were Arrested? The Committee of Human Rights Reporters claims that Iranian prosecutors have named 1500 detainees, seized on Monday, who have been taken to Evin Prison.

1220 GMT: A Special 25 Bahman Detainee. The Spanish Foreign Ministry says Ignacio Perez Cambra, the third-ranking diplomat at the Spanish Embassy in Tehran, was stopped by Iranian security forces while riding in a car to the Embassy and held for four hours. The Iranian Ambassador in Madrid has been summoned for an explanation. The Ministry official said she did not know if the car was driving near Monday's 25 Bahman rally,

The Iranian newspaper Tabnak claims that Perez Cambra was at the rally for about three hours before he was arrested.

1140 GMT: A 25 Bahman Participant Speaks. Extracts from an interview on Monday by insideIRAN w "Ali":

Q: Please describe what is happening right now in Tehran?

A: Lots of people were on the streets; maybe a few hundred thousand. We started at Amir Kabir University, but security forces shut all the gates at the university. My friends and I wanted to march together so we would be in a group to reduce the risk of getting caught. Around campus, security forces split us up in two groups. There was a pro-government professor yelling and chanting against us. Some people were arrested on campus. We moved near Vali Asr Square, but police locked down the entire area. We tried to walk to Azadi Square. You could not see a single open store. It is a good hour or so walk from Vali Asr to Azadi but you did not see a single open business.

Security forces implemented their old, and well- practiced techniques. Their forces were everywhere and very well organized. I just left my friends. We are trying to get a head count and see what happened to my friends.

Q: Were there a lot of arrests?

A: They filled vans with people. They rushed us and took people away. There is a language school near Danshjoo Park. Police occupied that building and the one next to it and turned it into a temporary detention facility. Four or five officers would attack students and kidnap them and then keep them in the building.

At noon, we told everyone that we had a permit to reduce the fear and anxiety of people. Phones did not work in that area, but we still managed to get many people out. This was a very successful event. Many people showed up and not many got hurt.

Q: How did the police treat the demonstrators?

A: Some police forces were surprisingly nice, especially around Azadi Square. But other forces in other areas used brute force. I saw a man whose face was struck with something. I couldn’t tell what it was, but there was blood all over him and he fell down. The government is really worried about people with cameras and this man had a camera. He was taking pictures. The government doesn’t want any media coverage.

There was such little information about what to do and where to go. We got all our information from the internet. And there is no information about what to do next. But I am very happy about today’s turnout....

Q: What is going to happen next?

A: We don’t know. Moussavi was supposed to talk to BBC, but he is under house arrest. So is Karroubi. People need information but no one is adequately covering the events in Iran. Lots of people have good internet access at work and more people have basic internet at home. But there is not any information for them as what to do.

I think people are waiting for another call to protest. People want to take advantage of internal rifts in government. The Majlis and the government cannot work together. They always insult each other. And people are fed up with this situation that nothing gets done and there is so much infighting. Everything is getting more expensive because of Ahmadinejad’s subsidy cuts. Metro tickets in Tehran are going to quadruple in price. People, especially the urban poor, cannot live like this. The same people who voted for him because of handouts are now getting tired of his policies.

1125 GMT: The Regime Counter-Attacks (cont.). Video of MPs this morning, condemning Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi after the rallies of 25 Bahman:

1055 GMT: "Mubarak, Ben Ali, Now It's the Turn of Seyed Ali (Khamenei)". Another claimed video from Monday:

1040 GMT: The Regime Counter-Attacks (cont.). Look for Iranian authorities to put out the story that a Tehran University student, Sanee Zhaleh, was killed by protesters, specifically members of the banned Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO). Basij students are planning a memorial service for Wednesday morning, as Zhaleh is buried.

1000 GMT: The Regime Counter-Attacks. The regime's response to the 25 Bahman protests this morning included a declaration of support for the security forces from Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and, broadcast on State TV and featured by the Islamic Republic News Agency, a noisy demonstration by some MPs calling for the death penalty for opposition figures: "Mehdi Karroubi and Mirhossein Mousavi are corrupts on earth and should be tried."

Press TV --- which features the MPs' demand for prosecution but censors their call for the death penalty --- also quotes Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei that the judiciary will “firmly and swiftly” deal with "those behind the riots". He said the protests were sponsored by the US and anti-revolution forces.

0800 GMT: The True Story. Press TV, using Fars News, tries again to set everyone straight about Monday: "In the Iranian capital Tehran, anti-government groups, including members of the anti-Iran terrorist group Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), have staged riots, killing one person."

Iran's Deputy Police Chief, Brigadier-General Ahmad Reza Radan, said nine security forces were among the injured and several people were arrested.

0750 GMT: A new video from Monday shows passengers on a bus asking the driver to stop so they can join a rally chanting, "Death to the Dictator":

0730 GMT: The Opposition Comments. Ardeshir Amir-Arjomand, a senior adviser to Mir Hossein Mousavi, has called Monday's rallies across Iran a "great victory", telling BBC Persian, "What we were looking for a peaceful movement from the Iranian people and to show that Green, despite all claims of the last year, is alive and lively."

Amir-Arjomand said opposition figures were "evaluating what happened today to determine the next tactic".

0715 GMT: Assessment of the Day. Great stuff from Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi of Tehran University, who sees only "a few hundred" on the streets on 25 Bahman, all of them agents of Washington: "The United States seems very desperate, because this is a very desperate measure. Americans know they are losing out in the Middle East."

0700 GMT: Assessments. Hamid Farokhnia of Tehran Bureau may have the best, understated one-liner: "Overall, this wasn't a good day for those who rule the Islamic Republic of Iran."

US media have woken up again to the post-election conflict in Iran, from fuzzy analysis (MSNBC) to The New York Times summary to the report (of Tehran-based Thomas Erdbrink in The Washington Post):

The gathering in Tehran appeared to be the most significant anti-government protest here since security forces cracked down on a series of massive demonstrations in 2009....The government seemed to have been taken by surprise by the large numbers of protesters. 

0550 GMT: We begin today with two analyses --- one written before the marches of 25 Bahman, one after --- on the Iranian political situation. Omid Habibinia, commenting just before tens of thousands went on the streets of Tehran and other cities yesterday, considers "Facebook and a Resurgent Opposition?". Scott Lucas, having seen the resurgence, asks the simple question, "Guess Who's Back? Back Again?"


Political Prisoner Watch

We are predicting that the regime will strike back today, after the larger-than-expected show of opposition resistance, and already we are winning the bet: Seyed Bagher Oskoei, the head of the youth branch of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli Party, has been arrested.


Daneshjoo News, the key outlet for news on Iran's student movement, appears to be under recurrent attack, with access intermittent this morning. Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News is off-line. The news portal Balatarin is under the heaviest assault it has ever face.

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