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Entries in Reuters (2)


The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day

The Latest from Iran (31 July): And Now….?

Latest Iran Video: The "40th Day" Memorial (30 July)
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July – Part 2)

NEW Media Mischief: The Return of #CNNFail on Iran?
NEW Iran: Ayatollah Montazeri on the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi Letter (29 July)
The Latest from Iran (29 July): The Memorial and the Inauguration

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IRAN NEDA MOTHER2115 GMT: Good Night. For us at EA, a thank you to all those who have joined today and a symbolic reminder: pictured at left is Neda Agha Soltan's mother, who was not able to attend the ceremony at her daughter's grave but who lit a candle in a nearby park as her memorial.

2110 GMT: Coming to the close of an eventful day, let's drop in on Press TV's coverage: "Iran's opposition supporters, gathered at a cemetery in Tehran for a memorial service for the victims of the recent post-election unrest, have been met by Iranian police."

The image of a casual "meeting", perhaps for cake and a cup of tea, is dispelled in the next sentence, however, "Police forces on Thursday used tear gas to break up supporters of defeated presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi." And the overall report is neutral, even (whisper it) somewhat favourable towards the Green Movement.

That is, except for an obligatory last sentence: "Iranian authorities say foreign agents have fueled the post-vote violence which led to the deaths."

2015 GMT: has posted a range of photographs from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

2010 GMT: Tehran Bureau has an excellent selection of eyewitness accounts, all of which point towards the significance not of a single demonstration (although, if true, 40,000 in Behest-e-Zahra cemetery is impressive) but of numerous demonstrations across the capital. As one demonstrator caught the excitement, "It’s NUTS! I’ve never seen it like this before! It’s still going on, 9 pm now — raging! As I said, it's more like a riot, totally out of control."

1940 GMT: Radio Farda's website reports that hundreds of people demonstrated in Isfahan today.

1755 GMT: Islamic Republic News Agency, going "behind the scenes of the street riots", claims that the leadership of these riots are "political powers" and "retired elements of some security forces", implying that the recent protests are similar to those against the regime in the early 1980s.

1715 GMT: Reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi, Mahnaz Mohammadi, and Rokhsare Ghaem Maghami released after being arrested earlier at Behest-e-Zahra cemetery.

1645 GMT: State-funded Press TV in Iran apparently covered the protests at Neda's grave site, with a reporter calling in a live update.

1615 GMT: Etemade Melli has an account of Mehdi Karroubi's appearance at the memorial, including the resistance of mourners when security forces accosted him, and of his speech. The English translation, courtesy of Mani:

Karroubi walked towards Neda Agha Soltan's resting place, surrounded by a large group of people. The special forces attacked him and tried to disperse and separate the people from "the reform sheikh" [Karroubi] by beating them with clubs and pepper spray. The police encountered stiff resistance from the people, and Karroubi held his ground and stated strongly that he is staying in this place.
Karroubi sat beside Neda Agha Soltan's  grave and accompanied the people by reading the Fateheh [the prayer for the dead]  for Neda. The Prayer was read with protest intonations. Afterwards Hojjatoleslam Hadi Ghaffari joined Karroubi and spoke to the people for a few minutes. During Karroubi's speech, the security forces had a conflict with the people and arrested some individuals. These forces were confronted with slogans like "let him go, let him go" and flowers by the people [police presumably released those arrested].

Mehdi Karroubi, after spending an hour with the people, moved to the exit and his vehicle, accompanied by a large number of people chanting slogans.

1600 GMT: A reader sends in two other slogans:

"As long as the Supreme Leader isn't dead, our homeland won't be our homeland"
"We don't want crocodile's tears, we don't want the government of Mesbah" [referring to Ahmadinejad's religious mentor, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi)

1552 GMT: Ahmadinejad Flees? On 16 July, the day before Rafsanjani's Friday prayers, the President went to Mashaad. He did so again today, ostensibly to attend a gathering of scientists and faculty members.

1550 GMT: Some of the slogans from today, as reported by Mardomak's live blog:

Our Neda is not dead/the government is dead
Oh Martyred countryman! I will wrest back your vote
Fear not! fear not! we are in this together
Death to dictator
Mojtaba [Khamenei], may you die as you yearn for supreme leadership
The missiles of the basiji have no effect [Mani's Note: This echoes what was said in the 1970s, "The missiles have no effect, the Shah can only kill himself", implying what some think Ahmadinejad and maybe Khamenei must do.]

1545 GMT: Ramin Mostaghim of the Los Angeles Times (see 1345 GMT), who appears to be the best-placed "Western" correspondent in Tehran today, also says 40,000 were in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1540 GMT: Moments after writing the previous entry, this comes in from the Green Movement website Mowj-e-Sabz: there are clashes in several major streets in Tehran, including Motahari,Vali-e Asr, Beheshti, Hafez and Fatemi, with reports of police using tear gas and batons.

1535 GMT: We are receiving numerous reports of "heavy clashes" across Tehran and now in other cities like Ahwaz and Isfahan. We are refraining from giving details at this point because there is no verification of the extent of the protests and fighting.

1520 GMT: The Iranian pro-reformist website Mardomak has been live-blogging events. It reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, was able to get into the cemetery. Although there were many anti-riot police present, there were no major clashes inside Behesht-e-Zahra.

Here, however, is the striking entry. In contrast to CNN's report, taken up by other Western media, of 3000 mourners, Mardomak claims there were 40,000 in the cemetery.

1445 GMT: Picking up on some earlier news: the "reformist" Islamic Iran Participation Front has issued a strong statement asserting that the only way out of the disgrace of detentions and killings is the fall of the "coup government". Tehran Bureau offers a useful summary.

1440 GMT: A quieter phase in today's events. It appears that some mourners/demonstrators, having been hindered in their attempts at a memorial in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, are moving towards the Grand Mosala (the original location for today's gathering). Others are in streets around Tehran: it is report that "Vali Asr from Vali Asr Square to Vanak Square is jampacked and smokefilled".

So it is wait-and-see as to whether there is a Phase II or a series of scattered encounters. Meanwhile, a question: when he was turned away from the cemetery by security forces, where did Mir Hossein Mousavi go?

1405 GMT: Reuters,via Mehr News Agency, reports that Saeed Hajjarian was transferred from prison to a "state-owned" house today. Kazem Jalali, the head of Parliamentary Security Committee, said, "The Tehran prosecutor told me that Hajjarian was transferred today to a state-owned house with proper medical facilities....His relatives can visit him at the new place."

1345 GMT: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim have just filed this report for the Los Angeles Times, "Mourners overwhelm Iran security forces". If true, it is a significant account of a building protest movement. (Much of this information has circulated on Twitter but EA has not run some of the details because we could not verify. It is unclear how much of this article is based on the Twitter traffic and how much on first-hand reporting --- Mostaghim is apparently based in Tehran.)
Thousands and possibly tens of thousands of mourners, many of them black-clad young women carrying roses, overwhelmed security forces today at Tehran's largest cemetery to gather around the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose videotaped shooting at a June 20 demonstration stunned the world.

"Death to the dictator," those in the long procession of mourners converging on the burial site chanted, kicking up a storm of dust as they walked. "Neda is not dead. This government is dead."

Uniformed security forces initially clashed violently today with some of the mourners, supporters and leaders of the opposition, who were trying to publicly mourn protesters who died in the recent unrest. Unsuccessful presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi attempted to attend the graveside ceremony marking the religiously significant 40th day since the death of Agha-Soltan and others killed in the fighting.

"Oh, Hossein! Mir-Hossein," the mourners chanted in support of him.

According one witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, Mousavi stepped out of his car only to be surrounded by police, who forced him back into his vehicle and out of the cemetery.

At first mourners were confronted by the security forces, who struck them with truncheons and arrested some in an attempt to bar them from gathering at Tehran's Behesht Zahra cemetery, the country's largest. The tree-lined streets leading to the graves of Agha-Soltan and others were blocked by riot police, the witness said.

The witness said the mourners also identified and violently confronted several plainclothes Basiji militiamen.

"Police, police, support us," the mourners chanted. "God is great!"

But as the numbers mourners poured out of the nearby subway station and taxis along the highway, security forces retreated. One witness said police released detainees and began cooperating with the mourners, directing them to section 257 of the cemetery, where Agha-Soltan and others were buried. Mourners have been denied a permit to hold a ceremony in the city's Grand Mossala mosque later today, but protesters have said they will try to come together near the site of the mosque anyway, and march along nearby streets if they are prevented from entering the site....

1330 GMT: EPersian Radio is claiming that Mehdi Karroubi, 20 minutes ago in Behesht-e-Zahra, told those gathered to move towards the Grand Mosala.

1325 GMT: We've just posted the first video to come out of the memorial at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1305 GMT: BBC Persian, citing Press TV, says security forces have used tear gas to disperse mourners at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery. (hat tip to a reader)

1255 GMT: Mohammad Khatami has issued another statement on detentions and interrogations, criticising the closure of Kahrizak Prison as a token move and declaring, "Those who are responsible must be dealt with and those abused must be compensated."

1245 GMT: Revolutionary Road is live-blogging on the memorial with details such as, "Mourners chant: 'Death to Dictator!' Basijis now chanting 'God is Great' too."

1234 GMT: Claim that Mehdi Karroubi has entered Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1228 GMT: Claims of gatherings across Tehran, with largest at Ferdousi Square.

1218 GMT: BBC Persian reports that filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mahnaz Mohammadi have been arrested during today's memorial.

1209 GMT: Deutsche Welle is also reporting (in Farsi) on clashes and arrests at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

Al Jazeera English has just cut to a correspondent in Tehran (on a rooftop far from the cemetery) who is repeating the news provided by Reuters.

1200 GMT: Not a word from "mainstream" media in their headlines but EPersian Radio is claiming to carry reports by cellphone from Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

1145 GMT: Witness to Reuters: "Police forced Mousavi to return to his car and leave the cemetery. Police are also warning mourners to leave the place or face the consequences."

1140 GMT: Reuters reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi has entered Behesht-e- Zahra cemetery to pay his respects to those killed in post-election violence. Marchers clung to his car, chanting "Mousavi we support you".

However, there are also UNCONFIRMED reports that he has been forced to leave by security forces.

1130 GMT: And So It Begins. It is now 4 p.m. in Tehran, and Reuters is reporting, via a witness, "Hundreds have gathered around Neda Agha-Soltan's grave to mourn her death and other victims' deaths....Police arrested some of them....Dozens of riot police also arrived and are trying to disperse the crowd."

1125 GMT: Saeed Mortazavi, the prosecutor of the Islamic Revolutionary Court and Prosecutor General of Tehran, has issued a statement announcing the first trials of detained protestors on Saturday and criticising the "enemies" who challenged the Presidential election, a "golden page [in] the book of religious democracy":
Once again we had to witness that the global imperialism lead by America and Britain did not accept one of the world s most democratic election and the will of you free people....Obviously some mercenaries and misled groups within the country were manipulated by foreigners, and by committing illegal and dishonest actions formed a base for the unrest of elements of the enemy.

Charges include "attacking military centres with weapons, firearms, and incendiary bombs", "attacking government centres and setting them on fire", "destroying public property", "creating panic among the people", and "contact with heretic and infidel groups".

1120 GMT: Peykeiran reports that "opposition" newspapers have been removed from the front of kiosks in Tehran since Sunday.

1100 GMT: A reader has pointed towards an Iranian blog on conditions in the Kahrizak prison, whose closure as a "non-standard" facility was ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei earlier this week. The author of the entry, who claimed he/she was detained for almost a month, writes of "200 people in single room, all beaten, bruised and wounded" and names six people who allegedly died in the prison.

1020 GMT: Revolution in Iran, drawing from a variety of sources, is maintain a running list of those who have died in the post-election conflict, adding names where possible. The list, updated yesterday, now has about 180 listed deaths with more than 60 persons identified.

1000 GMT: We've posted a separate entry, half in jest, half as serious comment on "media", on the approach of CNN to today's events: "Media Mischief --- The Return of #CNNFail?"

0753 GMT: Rooz Online breaks the news that Neda Agha Soltan's mother will NOT be at the memorial at her daughter's grave in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

0745 GMT: Reconfirming the Memorial. Ghalam News, Mir Hossein Mousavi's website, still features its story from last night: "Commemoration of Martyrs Movement: Behest-e-Zahra, 1600 Hours on Thursday".

0730 GMT: New Move for Political Front? Rasoul Montajebnia, a deputy of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad-e-Melli Party, has suggested that reformists form a "leadership assembly" including Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami to lead all reformist groups in Iran.

0720 GMT: How You Know the Regime is Nervous. Two notable stories from the "conservative" press:

Kayhan has claimed, "We have found documents proving that some of the rioters participating in the Tehran have been killed by some thugs hired by Mousavi and Khatami."

Fars News tops this, asserting that Neda Agha Soltan "is alive and in Greece"!

0715 GMT: Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani has also responded to the Khatami-Mousavi-Karroubi letter. Summary is in separate entry.

0700 GMT: Summarising News on Detainees. From Parleman News:

Although a lot of publicity has been given to "the release of Said Hajjarian", he has not yet been freed.
Mohammad Tavassoli, the head of the political office of the Freedom Party, was released on Monday.
Journalist Aida Mesbahi has been released on bail.
Shadi Sadr, the attorney, was released on bail.
The families of attorney Abdulfath Soltani and journalist Abdoreza Tajik have been asked to post bail.
Mohammad Atrianfar has spoken with his family and seems to be in good health.
The families of Hengameh Shahidi and Somayeh Tohidlou are concerned because they have heard nothing regarding them.
Jila Bani-yaghoub has met with her mother. Bani-Yaghoub told her mother that she does not expect to be released soon. Her husband Bahman Ahmadi has also met his family.
The families of Saeed Laylez, Ahmad Zobd Abadi and Kaveh Mozaffari have been told that these individuals are quarantined and prohibited from meeting people.

0650 GMT: Ayatollah Montazeri has published a response to the letter from Mohammad Khatami, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mir Hossein Mousavi asking for intervention on the detainees issue. We've posted the English translation, as well as other statements by clerics, in a separate entry.

0530 GMT: The Iranian post-election conflict has been marked by a convergence of complicated, often hard to see, manoeuvres behind the scenes and of high-profile events. Today's planned "40th Day" memorial, set for 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, is one of those events. It is the most prominent since the 17 July gathering for Friday prayers in Tehran and, arguably, the most significant since the first organised mass demonstration on 15 June, three days after the election.

Put bluntly, if the Green Movement can mobilise thousands of people on the streets of Tehran, whether or not they make it to Behesht-e-Zahra, and if Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi make their planned appearance, this will be the symbolic moment that shows --- seven weeks after the election --- that the Government has not been able to put down opposition. Conversely, if those thousands do not appear and if opposition leaders do not show up, it will be an indication that, while symbolic protests will continue, they will not put the pressure of mass activity upon the regime.

A sign of that importance is the return of some "mainstream" foreign media to the Iran story. The BBC is highlighting, "Iran Opposition Vows to Defy Ban", both in its broadcasts and on its website. Their reports have been bolstered, and indeed prompted, by a message from Neda Agha Soltan's mother expressing gratitude to those remembering her daughter. (Neda's mother will also be at Behesht-e-Zahra today, although it is unclear whether this will be as part of the 4 p.m. ceremony.) In contrast, Time magazine casts an ominous, even negative, shadow as "Tehran Braces for Another Day of Street Battles": "Although tens of thousands are expected to march in silence July 30,...many more will be staying home." (CNN and Al Jazeera English lag behind, with neither referring to today's plans.)

Understandably, the significance of this moment emerged in some confusion and nervousness amongst activists yesterday. The apparent change of plans from the 6 p.m. gathering in the Grand Mosala to the Behest-e-Zahra memorial took time to emerge, and with the Government-imposed difficulties in communication, the opposition feared that many would not get word of today's schedule. This morning there seems to be an easing of those concerns, and attention is turning to the response of the Government to the gatherings. An unconfirmed report last night asserted that the Supreme Leader's office had put out a communiqué ordering no use of force against marchers. If true, that would appear to be an acceptance of large crowds at Behehst-e-Zahra and, indeed, in the streets surrounding the cemetery.

Iran: How the "New Media" Tore Down the Gates of the "Mainstream" 

The Latest from Iran (24 July): Waiting for the Next Move

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ANONYMOUS IRANCNNThis afternoon, the headlines have blared out about a sudden crisis within the Iranian regime: CNN "Iran's supreme leader tells Ahmadinejad to dump deputy"; Reuters "Iran supreme leader wants vice president sacked"; BBC English "Iranian leader 'orders dismissal'". All the reports accurately summarise the story, in line with our updates today, that the Supreme Leader has sent a letter to President Ahmadinejad demanding the removal of the First Vice President Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

There's only one catch: all these news outlets are reporting about an event that took place on Tuesday. From our update at 1600 GMT that day:
According to Parleman News, the Supreme Leader ordered President Ahmadinejad to remove his choice as Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, who is also the father of Ahmadinejad’s daughter-in-law: “Without any delay, the dismissal order or Mashaei’s resignation must be announced by the President.”

OK, but what's the big deal? Better late than never to the story, right?

Well, from a political point of view, the problem with the sudden appearance of the stories is that they give a simple portrayal of a sudden dispute between Ayatollah Khamenei and the President. The true story is that the letter was sent to Ahmadinejad privately but that sources with an interest in the battle quickly leaked the news to Iranian newspapers. For the rest of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, as we've been noting on EA, there has been manoeuvring and clashing between the Supreme Leader's camp, the President's supporters, and other "conservative" factions. The significance of today is that Khamenei has raised the stakes once more by allowing the letter to go public.

None of that context, and thus analysis, is possible with the "out of the blue" narrative of the mainstream media. For example, none of the stories note that Ahmadinejad threw Khamenei's letter back at the Supreme Leader later on Tuesday, with the President declaring that he was standing by Rahim-Mashai. Whereas CNN, BBC, etc. are at the starting gate on this story, the actual dispute is already halfway around the track.

From a media point of view, the lesson seems to go beyond the stories EA has been running about the place of "new media" in this crisis and those to come. This is no longer a question of who is more reliable because the mainstream media aren't necessarily even in the competition.

In this case, the mainstream media only "found" the story when one of the news services (I suspect, though am not sure, that it was Reuters) lifted the news from Iranian state television and news agencies. Of course, none of the mainstream outlets have correspondents in Iran, given the Government's restrictions, but --- more importantly in this case --- it appears that none of them have reporters reading the Iranian press, much of which is not run by State agencies but is linked to political factions. The story on Parleman News apparently never made it on the radar of CNN, BBC, etc. (What's more, it appears that the mainstream outlets are not even keeping an eye on English-language websites covering Iran. The Parleman News report showed up quickly on the site of the National Iranian American Council.)

In contrast, "new media" like Enduring America or the "Green Brief" of Anonymous Iran, as well as bloggers like Nico Pitney at The Huffington Post, rely upon a web of sources who have sent in or analysed material from across not only the Iranian press but regional media and websites. The point about Twitter and other devices such as Google Reader, from my perspective, is that has made this web possible. Whereas the hardest-working journalist might be able to monitor only a handful of sources even a few years ago, now dozens quickly come into play. Thus the disadvantage for most of the new media  --- namely that we don't have any money for full-time staff --- becomes a marked advantage: we don't have to rely on a Reuters to put out the story before we'll write and publish.

This is no longer a matter of "to Twitter or not to Twitter". The mainstream news services are no longer the gatekeepers of the stories because they are not at the gates. The sharpest, up-to-date coverage is coming from a new network of citizen journalists, activists, and even readers who are quick to pass on important breaking stories. It is that network that has presented the post-election Iran crisis as a continuing story, with ripples and fluctuations, rather than the mainstream media's sudden ups and downs of "the Green Movement is here"; "the Green Movement is dead"; "the Green Movement is back". And, now that the story is no longer of the Government v. the Movement but of tensions and shifts within the Government and regime, it is that network that will be the daily port of call to find out what is happening and what may happen.

Because when the gates are down, the view is less, not more, restricted.