Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Sky News (2)


The Latest from Iran (20 June): From Rally to Street Fighting

NEW Video and Transcipt: The Moment of Truth?  Mousavi's Speech at Saturday’s Protests
NEW Iran: EA’s Chris Emery in The Guardian on Khamenei and Mousavi
Iran: An Iranian Live-Blogs the Supreme Leader’s Speech
Twittering Iran: What the “New Media” Means for Politics, Protest, and Democracy
The Latest from Iran (19 June): Speeches and Rallies

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IRAN DEMOS 82350 GMT: An Iranian activist claims, based on this posting in Farsi, that the Assembly of Experts' letter backing the Supreme Leader was issued a day before his Friday address. That would be more evidence of a systematic effort to rally the clerics behind Ayatollah Khamenei, rebuffing Hashemi Rafsanjani.

2152 GMT: CNN, based on Iranian hospital sources, is reporting at least 19 people died in today's violence. The unconfirmed death toll is as high as 150.

2150 GMT: More from the activist who was at today's marches (see 2110 GMT): "All routes to Azady square were blocked & if anyone stopped walking or walking slow [security forces] hit him/her brutally. There was no safe path, people were walking in cycles between all variety of security forces. I think they made fun of people, don't go here, go this way, not that way & for no apparent reason suddenly attacking random people. We tried our best using all known shortcuts for reaching Azady SQ where Mousavi was, but ended up in face to face with IRG [Republican Guard]. They weren't just the ordinary police or motorcycle riot guard, they were soldiers holding MP5 supported by reinforced military cars. We didn't realize for a moment they started shooting at people, the gun's sound was like a toy gun, not loud & the soliders were smiling. I was going to tell Masood they are using fake guns for scaring people! until people started screaming in agony. We ran as fast as we could in the opposite direction, at the same time Basiji bastards started to hit fleeing people. I think I saw 2 or 3 people lying on the ground in blood & IRG started to move them, probably hide them."

2140 GMT: We've posted the English translation of this afternoon's speech by Mir Hossein Mousavi.

2110 GMT: One of the most prominent activists on Twitter has returned from today's marches with this report, "It was a nightmare, I can barely breath & my face is burning, Masood got shot in the arm & Shayan's brother is missing. I don't know where to start with, first they attack our peaecful memorial gathering in front of the university with water gun.The university's doors were closed, we couldn't run everywhere! & then they start shooting tear gas at us. they were so many! riot police, normal police, intel, IRG [Republican Guard], Basij! I managed to scape, but they captured so many people."

2105 GMT: An Iranian activist asks on Twitter, "Why are Rafsanjani and Khatami so silent?" Indeed, apart from Ayatollah Montazeri with his general letter this morning, has any "establishment" figure come out alongside Mousavi with the demonstrators today?

2055 GMT: Twitter sources say that this Mehr News page (in Farsi) summarises the support of the Assembly of Experts for the Supreme Leader's Friday statement. This in turn indicates that the initial attempt of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to mobilise the Assembly against the election outcome has fizzled out.

2050 GMT: Latest reported arrest is of Mohsen Mirdamadi, the head of the pro-reform Islamic Iran Participation Front.

2005 GMT: Reported arrests throughout the day in Iran, including editors, Mousavi campaign workers, and journalists. The latest reported detainee is Jila Bani Yaghoub, journalist and women's rights activist.

1915 GMT: A few hours ago, we posted a video of a woman "badly injured" by a gunshot in today's demonstrations. The footage is so graphic that we have moved to the "jump page" after the More... tag.

I have just read more information on The New York Times blog about the incident. The woman was a bystander watching events; according to a doctor who witnessed the event, a paramilitary Basiji deliberately fired at her chest. She died within moments of the shooting.

1905 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports, "Hospital close to the scene in Tehran: 30-40 dead thus far as of 11pm and 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured."

1900 GMT: Press TV continuing to lead with "police usedbatons, water cannons, and tear gas on protesters", over images of a burning bus in the centre of a Tehran boulevard. It adds, "Reports say clashes are continuing" and "several people have been injured".

Press TV continues to declare " a terrorist attack" at Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum although casualty figures have been revised downward to the dead assailant and three injured. No supporting footage is provided.

1835 GMT: President Obama has just released this statement on Iran:
The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

1810 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports, "WHOLE city is shaking with very loud screams from rooftops. Their loud voices calling only for God is filled with fear, hatred, and hope." Lara Satrakian of ABC News: ""People are very angry…they are screaming like a banshee…this ain't aloha [sic] akbar anymore."

"Explosive" shouting also reported in Mashaad.

1755 GMT: Reports of loud shouts of "God is Great" from Tehran rooftops.

Reports of clashes with paramilitary Basiji at Haft Hooz Square. Further claims that demonstrators set fire to a mosque in Tehran and also set alight a bus and several motorcycles.

1745 GMT: The UK's Sky News is currently showing footage of protesters in Tehran seemingly being kicked and beaten. They are streaming a small amount of footage on their frontpage. You may also be able to see the footage by clicking 'Video News Headlines' or 'Watch Sky News Live' in the right-hand bar of their main story.

1725 GMT: The English translation of a  letter purportedly from Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, the designated successor Ayatollah Khomeini before falling out of favour in 1998, has been posted: "A legitimate state must respect all points of view. It may not oppress critical views. I fear that this will lead to the loss of people’s faith in Islam."

1720 GMT: Reports that IRIB 1 [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] now broadcasting "confessions" from detained protesters.

Also reports that people are blocking streets in east Tehran and setting fires.

1650 GMT: Claims now of fighting in Tehran, Shiraz, Rasht, Tabriz, Ahwaz, and Isfahan.

1645 GMT: We've posted a video which purports to be of Mir Hossein Mousavi addressing a rally in Jeyhoon Street in Tehran this afternoon. If verified, this could be footage of a key point in the development of this crisis.

1600 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page has been updated three times in Farsi in the last hour. We're seeking a translation.

1543 GMT: Claims that, in his speech, Mousavi declared the Presidential election "null and void". Claims also that he cast shame upon the Government and declared that he is ready for martyrdom.

1540 GMT: Eyewitness reports, via The New York Times blog, confirm fighting in Shiraz.

1530 GMT: Reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi is now addressing a crowd in Jeyhoon Street, beginning his speech, "We all go back to God."

1525 GMT: Reports of heavy fighting in Khosh St. and claims of shot protester as security forces dispersed people in Khargar Street. Claims that many people are trapped in Azadi Square.

Also reports of fighting in a 2nd city, Shiraz.

1520 GMT: CNN, whose reporters in Tehran are not allow to broadcast without permission of Iranian officials, are going to great lengths to cast scepticism on Press TV's report of the bombing at Ayatollah Khomeini's mosque. At the same time, to offer some coverage, they are playing portions of Press TV English's broadcast.

1505 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports clashes across Tehran, including Vali-e Asr Street, and gunfire and sirens around Tohid Square. It also reports protesters gathering at Vanak Square in north Tehran. There are unverified reports of one demonstrator killed at the crossing of Vali-e Asr Street and Enqelhab Square, and 20 injured protesters transferred to Loghman Hospital in 30 minutes.

There are reports that Mousavi supporters set fire to an Ahmadinejad headquarters.

Tehran Bureau: "The city is boiling over. It's a mess."

1500 GMT: Press TV's hourly lead: "Police have used batons and water cannons to disperse protestors in central Tehran who gathered to hold an illegal rally. Reports say sporadic clashes are continuing....Two helicopters have been seen hovering over the area....Police say a week of protests in the capital have injured 400 forces and done a great deal of damage to public property."

In what is likely to be a significant line, Press TV also emphasized that the Assembly of Combatant Clerics (associated with former President Khatami) had called off the rally after the Ministry of Interior refused a permit. And the station is repeating the morning statement of police commanders that Mir Hossein Mousavi will be responsible for any violence.

Press TV says three people, including the bomber, and eight were injured in the "terrorist" attack on Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum in southern Tehran.

1450 GMT: We've posted latest video of the clashes in Azadi Square and off Engelab Square, including BBC footage of shooting, fires, and clashes.

1430 GMT: We're back with the following. The bombing at Ayatollah Khomeini's shrine was reportedly caused by a suicide bomber.

Eyewitnesses reported about 20,000 riot police surround Enqelab Square, armed with rifles, water cannon, and tear gas. Dozens of people were reportedly beaten to force them to leave the square, with security forces reportedly beating passing motorcyclists and even those just passing by. Some demonstrators took refuge in Tehran University.

1325 GMT: We're off to check out some reports. Back just after 1400 GMT.

1317 GMT: Press TV reporting two blasts at Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum, with two hurt (Fars News says one dead). Reports that police have closed off Tehran University.

1310 GMT: Twitter report: "In Khosh Street police is attacking people with batons & pepper spray trying to disperse people, shots can be heard around Azadi [Square]."

1300 GMT: Reports of security forces trying to prevent people assembling, chasing them into alleys and allegedly using batons. Demonstrators reportedly trapped between Behboodi and Enqelab Squares.

Reports of gunshots being fired into the air, possibly as warnings. Also reports of tear gas and water cannon being used.

1240 GMT: First pictures coming through from today's march: riot police around square (left).

1230 GMT: Associated Press reports entrance to Revolution (Enqelab) Square blocked by fire engines, with riot police surrounding Tehran University.

1213 GMT: Classic state-run double-speak on Press TV's website. It is still not mentioning today's march. Instead, its story is of the National Security Council warning Mir Hossein Mousavi "against 'the consequences' of backing street rallies". The picture? A very large rally.

1203 GMT: Unconfirmed report "from usually reliable source" to The Guardian of London that Mousavi walking with 10,000 supporters from his party office.

1200 GMT: Witness reports (albeit from before 1130 GMT) that riot police cutting off access to gathering point for march.

1150 GMT: First reports of clashes, with beating of demonstrators near Azadi Square.

1133 GMT: First reports of the march: large numbers gathering, no action by police. Cellphones in area reportedly disconnected.

1107 GMT: Al Jazeera English and Twitter sources report heavy presence of riot police on both sides of Enqelab Square.

1103 GMT: It's On! This message was posted 20 minutes ago on the Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi: "The CRUCIAL Demonstration on Saturday 16:00 in Tehran and all around the world, please spread this message around."

1100 GMT: From one of the most useful Iranian sources on Twitter: "To Western Media: Stop sharing false information given to you by Iranian state television. The demonstration will GO ON. It is NOT canceled."

1045 GMT: As we wait for developments, some interesting thoughts from Gary Sick, one of the foremost US experts on Iran, on the Supreme Leader's address, Mousavi's position, and President Obama's strategy on his blog.

1030 GMT: One hour to the scheduled start of the march. Still awaiting statement by Mir Hossein Moussavi. Reuters reports the statement of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemad-e Melli party, "Because permission was not obtained, the rally today has been cancelled."

1000 GMT: Press TV English interviews Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi of Tehran University (and a past contributor to Enduring America) about "reports here and there of protests today in Tehran": "Wouldn't this be some kind of defiance of the Supreme Leader's call for calm and peace?"

Marandi replies about "one of the things important things the Leader said yesterday and what most people believe": "It's very hard to imagine vote-rigging where 11 million votes have been manipulated....It's virtually impossible to do that." He criticises Mousavi and Karroubi for their absence from this morning's Guardian Council meeting. "All sides should calm down a bit....Shopowners and ordinary people on the streets want calm. Demonstrations on the part of any candidate...[are] irresponsible."

0930 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that Guardian Council, after its meeting with campaigns this morning, says it will conduct a random recount of "up to 10 percent" of ballot boxes from last Friday.

0907 GMT: Events moving fast. Questions now as pro-Mousavi website (text in Farsi) has announces the withdrawal of support from the Assocation of Combatant Clerics for the rally.

(It should be noted that withdrawals of support also happened on Monday, but in end Mousavi --- who had supposedly backed away from the protest --- appeared at gathering of hundreds of thousands.)

0903 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports from Iran state media that main reformist cleric body, the Association of Combatant Clerics, which includes former President Khatami, say they do not sanction this afternoon's rally.

News agencies are reporting an "important" statement from Mir Hossein Mousavi soon. Al Jazeera also passes on reports that Parliamentary committees are meeting with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani to ask him to take a "greater role" in resolving the crisis.

0900 GMT: A clue to the day? Press TV English reports that Mohsen Rezaie attended this morning's meeting with the Guardian Council but Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi did not appear.

0850 GMT: Juan Cole has posted his analysis of the Supreme Leader's Friday address: "The real question is whether this is 1963, when the shah managed to put down a rebellion led by Ruhollah Khomeini, or whether it is 1978-79, when he failed to do so. The answer lies in the depth of support for the protests among the population, and in the stance of the various armed forces toward the latter."

0830 GMT: Reuters, via Iran's Fars News Agency, quotes an Iranian police commander that his forces will deal firmly with "illegal" rallies "beginning today".

0800 GMT: An aide to Mehdi Karroubi has told Agence France Presse that the rally will go ahead.

0705 GMT: There is an intriguing story on Press TV's English website, indicating both that the "inaccuracies" in last Friday's vote may be far greater than the outside figure of "1 million" in "mistakes" cited by the Supreme Leader yesterday and that challenges to the system are coming from candidates across the board, not just Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Presidential challenger Mohsen Rezaei is claiming that he received 3.5 to 7 million votes in last Friday's elections (official returns gave him less than 700,000). A spokesman of the Guardian Council "cautioned" Rezaei against "agitating public opinion".

0700 GMT: Press TV English is making no reference to today's march. Instead, it is still focusing on the Supreme Leader's address from almost 24 hours ago and saying that the National Security Council is "holding Mousavi responsible" for any violence from "unauthorised protest rallies".

The NSC also said that "a network" of agitators responsible to "foreign powers" has been carrying out violence.

0655 GMT: Meanwhile, we are waiting to hear the outcome of a meeting that could have a significant influence on developments. The Guardian Council is seeing representatives of all four Presidential campaigns about the 646 official complaints over the election. On Tuesday, when the Council agreed to hold at least a partial recount, it said the process would take 7 to 10 days.

Morning Update 0630 GMT (1100 Tehran): Five hours before the scheduled start of today's major rally, in Enqelab Square in Tehran, and there are still conflicting stories as to whether it will go ahead. Reuters is still quoting "an ally" of Mousavi who spoke to them yesterday, "Mousavi has no plans to hold a rally tomorrow (Saturday) or the day after tomorrow."

However, Twitter sources inside Iran who have proven reliable continue to publicise the march, quoting former President Mohammad Khatami. Khatami's Facebook page continues to carry the announcement, posted last night, that the demonstration will take place, with Khatami and Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in attendance.

My guess, following the excellent analysis of Chris Emery yesterday, is that the march proceeds.

The Latest from Iran (19 June): Speeches and Rallies

Iran: The 7 Lessons of the Supreme Leader’s Address
Iran: Live Blog of Supreme Leader's Address (19 June)
NEW Transcript: Ayatollah Khamenei’s Speech at Prayers (19 June)
NEW Video: Obama Statement on Iran (19 June)
Latest Video: The Protests in and Beyond Tehran
Iran Eyewitness: The Wednesday and Thursday Demonstrations in Tehran
Iran Eyewitness: More Audio from “Alive in Tehran”
Text: Mousavi Speech to Tehran Rally (18 June)

The Latest from Iran (18 June): From Green to "A Sea of Black"

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KHAMENEI2003 GMT: From former President Mohammad Khatami's Facebook page: "Please join Mousavi, Khatami and Karoubi tomorrow at 4pm from Enghelab Sq. to Azadi Sq. in Tehran for a crucial green protest."

2000 GMT: We've posted the video of President Obama's latest statement on Iran.

1955 GMT: The US Senate has followed the House of Representatives in a resolution supporting Iranian citizens espousing "the values of freedom".

1940 GMT: Reports that residents in Tehran again took to their rooftops tonight to shout, "God is Great" and "Death to the Dictator", despite the warning in Ayatollah Khamenei's address at Friday prayers.

1845 GMT: The US House Representatives has passed, by a 405-1 vote, the following resolution:
Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas cast the lone No vote.

1725 GMT: We've just posted a rough English-translation transcript of the Supreme Leader's speech.

1525 GMT: We've just posted Chris Emery's snap analysis of the Supreme Leader's speech, "7 Lessons".

1330 GMT: The Ministry of the Interior has turned down the application for a permit for Saturday's 4 p.m. march at Enqelab Square.

1300 GMT: Press TV English is focusing on the Supreme Leader's criticism of "Western countries" and "Western media" in his speech today calling for an end to "illegal rallies".This includes Khameini's misrepresentation of President Obama's statement this week: "The US President [said] Washington had been waiting for people to take to the streets."

Press TV English is also reproting on a "massive rally" by worshipers denouncing the West and expressing "their readiness to defend the achievements of the Islamic revolution".

1240 GMT: The Clerical Challenge? Today's Washington Times offers further details on Hashemi Rafsanjani's attempt to rally clerics against the electoral outcome: "Three grand ayatollahs have responded, but they are the same three who have gone on the record in the past denouncing government policies to little effect." They are Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who at one time was the designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini but is now under effective house arrest, Ayatollah Yusef al-Sa'nei, and Ayatollah Mousavi Ardabili. According to the paper, "The dozen or so other senior clerics in Qom are doing little."

The report relies on Mehdi Khalaji, who is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and has been a strident critic of the Iranian Government, but it does correspond with other information we have received.

1200 GMT: The opposition campaign has made an immediate response to Ayatollah Khamenei's challenge. According to reliable Twitter sources, there will be a rally at 4 p.m. local time in Enqelab Square. Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and former President Mohammad Khatami will attend.

1005 GMT: And not too difficult to read the next critical step. Do the opposition campaigns and their supporters, given the Supreme Leader's threats against any new marches, stand down their plans to demonstrate tomorrow?

That decision will be made not only in response to today's speech but in response to the Guardian Council's meeting with representatives of Presidential campaigns tomorrow.

0953 GMT: Not too difficult to give an immediate reading of the Supreme Leader's address: he laid down the line to those challenging last Friday's election results. He declared that the outcome was final, indicating that any adjustment of "mistakes" would be far less than the 11-million vote lead of President Ahmadinejad. While not blaming the leader of opposition campaigns for violence, he said they would be "responsible" for "terrorist plots" carried out under cover of the demonstrations.

Khamenei's attacks on "Western interference" had a dual purpose. He was warning off other countries, especially the US (note the direct reference to President Obama's relatively mild statements about the demonstrations), from any intervention. At the same, he was using that pretext of "intervention" to mobilise support for the re-election of President Ahmadinejad.

And there was also a challenge to former President Rafsanjani to cease and desist in his own attempts to challenge Ahmadinejad and, by implication, the Supreme Leader. I may have immediately mis-heard/mis-interpreted Khamenei's references to Rafsanjani and "corruption" --- analysts are saying that the Supreme Leader was not targeting Rafsanjani's allegations of corruption against Ahmadinejad; instead, Khamenei was offering a conciliatory hand by chiding the President's allegations against Rafsanjani --- the final statement was definitive: "I am closer to the President's views."

0945 GMT: We've moved the live blog of Supreme Leader's address to a separate entry.

0815 GMT: In Britain, Al Jazeera is giving a English translation of the Supreme Leader's address. CNN is carrying out a commentary, while Sky News is taking the Press TV English feed.

0810 GMT: The Supreme Leader has now appeared in the square, which is opposite Tehran University.

0805 GMT: Press TV English is providing live coverage of Friday prayers, with a large crowd awaiting the Supreme Leader. Their current commentary is defending the recent silence of President Ahmadinejad and his advisors, as the "powerful bodies" of the Assembly of Experts, Expediency Council, and Ministry of the Interior are making the necessary statements. Their analyst, Nader Mokhtari, is praising "a tribute to the strength of Iranian democracy that allows people to go out and voice their opinions and voice their grievances on the streets. It shows a great degree of tolerance in the face of destruction that has been wrought on Tehran by certain elements."

0710 GMT: Tehran Bureau has posted an interesting overview of the political battle between former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "Rafsanjani's Next Move".

0700 GMT: It is 1130 GMT and almost everyone, including news reports, are awaiting the Supreme Leader's appearance. An Iranian witness has told "Alive in Tehran" (see separate post) that, rather than marching to prayers, the opposition protestors will demonstrate on Saturday.

We have also posted eyewitness testimony from Thursday's demonstration and the text of Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech to the rally.

Morning Update (0530 GMT): The Known: the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, will address those attending Friday prayers in Tehran. It will be his first public appearance since the election, and his first statement since his call for "calm" and "unity" earlier this week after meeting with representatives of the Presidential campaigns. The event will be shown live by State media, including Press TV English.

The Unknown: it is unclear whether opposition campaigns, notably that of Mir Hossein Mousavi, will organise a march to today's prayers or whether they will hold a demonstration on Saturday, when the Guardian Council will be meeting with representatives of all four Presidential candidates.

It is even more uncertain what is happening in political and religious gatherings behind the scenes. In particular, there is speculation about the latest initiatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been trying to organise clerical protest and even a formal position of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Council against the electoral outcome. We have gathered some interesting analysis about Rafsanjani's position and will be posting later today.

Press TV continues to give prominence to the "official" Government line, featuring not only the Supreme Leader's Friday speech and the Guardian Council's Saturday meeting with the campaigns but also an extended report on protests in London against the BBC's coverage of the crisis. However, the broadcaster is also referring (briefly) to Thursday's demonstration in Tehran and noting Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei's appeal for details of the vote recount (he was turned down sharply). CNN's correspondent in Tehran says he is now restricted to one report per day --- today, it will be the Supreme Leader at Friday prayers, the images of which can be broadcast --- and CNN crew's requests for extensions of visas are being turned down.