Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Voices from Iran – Important Update

Part of the Guest Blogger Series

If my experience is any guide, Iranians outside Iran are living some of the most intense days of their lives. Since the first, disputed results of the presidential election were announced soon after the polls closed on 12 June 2009 and the protests almost immediately started, my waking hours are absorbed- hour-by-hour, even minute-by-minute – in gathering computer-delivered news about what is happening in my homeland

It is compulsive, and also complicated. The intense emotional engagement brings with it far more unease than satisfaction. The process of digesting the news from family and friends in Iran that clogs my inbox, of following multiple links to blogs,of watching sometimes horrific videos, leaves me at once outraged and energised yet also sickened and paralysed into inaction and silence. If there is a pattern to these feelings, it lies in an often wild pendulum-swing between a vague sense of hope and elation, and deep shame and depression.  

The shame is hard: that even while people were being beaten and shot in Tehran on 20 June, police were waiting at the hospitals to arrest or take down the names of the injured – the foretaste of a midnight visit to their homes from the basij militias; that while the regime was killing its own people, it was the foreign embassies that opened their doors to the wounded to help us.

But the pride too is profound: in the fearlessness of my compatriots; in the humanity and solidarity that binds us, a reminder of the Persian poet Sa’adi’s words – as true today as when they were written in the 13th-century – “The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence”; and in the defiant night-time chants of allahu akbar (God is great) that arise from the Tehran rooftops, at once an echo of the 1979 revolution, an eerie act of resistance, and a desperate call for mercy and strength.

In 1978-79, these cries were symbolic of opposition to the Shah’s tyranny and the much-proclaimed gharbzadegi (westoxification) of Iranian society, and of the call for a returnto the core Shi’a Muslim values that a vast majority of Iranians held dear. Now, they are being raised against the architects of the Islamic Republic themselves, the very men who helped Ayatollah Khomeini shape the regime that he called “God’s government”. 

An epic struggle for the soul of this government is now being waged in the regime’s upper echelons. The people of Iran – voters, citizens, students, protestors, women and men, exiles, those resident abroad – are looking on, seeking to make their voices heard.

Amid the storm

A friend who works for the provincial governor of one of Iran’s remoter provinces tells me: “The people know that this is not about regime change. Most people want Iran to remain an Islamic Republic. But they feel that perhaps there is a way open to them now to improve things a little from within the system. At least to keep alive the republican elements of the system that [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s years in power have been eroding.”

The leading opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi may be depicted in the west as an outsider to the regime but Iranians know that he is part of the religious establishment and hardly a radical. “We voted for him because he is the only one who spoke even a little to our concerns”, says a 30-year-old, Bijan. “We thought that perhaps, being so well-established in the regime would give him the ability to really change things.”

Bijan belongs to that burgeoning majority of Iranians (upwards of 70%) who were born since the revolution of 1979 or were then small children. These young people barely remember the events of thirty years ago, and they are not demanding a change to the system of Islamic rule. Above all else they are pragmatic, sharing little of the idealism of their parents who took part in the revolution; and this pragmatism makes them shy away from anything but a gradual loosening of the regime’s tight grip on their civil liberties.

“People are angry and they have had enough”, says Sara, a journalist in Tehran, “The last four years have been really difficult but we have all sat quietly like good children and waited for a legal opportunity to vote for change. Then with this cheating they have really insulted our intelligence. It was too obvious. People are really fed up. It sticks in our throats.”

Sara herself was arrested and hit with batons during the post-election protests in Tehran. She tells me that Tehran is quiet now because there are police and militia everywhere. “It’s like martial law. The plainclothes guys” – a reference to the basij -“are everywhere on their motorbikes, with batons in their hands. They are patrolling the streets, hiding themselves in each corner. They do what they like. The university is quiet today – I think they have postponed exams – but I don’t think it means the protests are over. The flames are still alive under the ashes of Saturday…”

Bijan informs me that state television – the only kind available now that satellite channels have been scrambled – has been laying the groundwork for the regime’s violence, which is consciously planned. “They broadcast nationalistic programmes and in between, they have phone-ins in which people support Ahmadinejad and say the protestors are vandals and destroying their livelihoods. These people asking for more force from the government, for the army to be called in to protect them. I don’t know if they are real opinions or just planted by the regime, but in any case, they are preparing people for what might still come – massive bloodshed.”

Another friend in Tehran says: “The demonstrations now are happening in complete silence, and on the pavements instead of the roads – to give the basij no reason to retaliate. Also to stop the regime being able to blame the unrest on ‘terrorists’, which is what they have been doing.”

Sara tells me that state television’s portrayal of the terrible confrontations of 20 June – when live rounds were fired on protestors and teargas was used – highlights scenes in which protestors chased and beat members of the security forces. The narrative implies that they are terrorists from groups such as the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) supposedly backed by the west. “People are getting their news from each other, although most mobiles stop working in the late afternoons and evenings. Since the election we haven’t been able to send text-messages. The internet is censored and getting online is very difficult. The connection speed is down, and skype was scrambled too. But we find our ways, we are used to working around the system.”

Ahmad, a university student from Shiraz – where, as i
n Tehran and other cities,  there have been bloody attacks on campuses – is both elated and apprehensive by what has been happening. “There will be plenty more bloodshed before any further developments take place. The basij are not shooting, but they are hitting young people on the head with the end of their rifles, and they have been attacking dormitories.”

In face of power

What of the titanic political struggle behind the scenes? Bijan says: “Everyone is looking at [former president, Hashemi] Rafsanjani to see what he will do. The rumour is that he is in Qom rallying support from the ayatollahs. The public’s opinion of Moussavi has massively improved since the supreme leader’s speech on Friday. People feel that now he will go down in history, and they are willing to forget his past. He has a clean slate now…”

I tell Bijan that Rafsanjani isbeing called a reformist in the west. We laugh at the absurdity of a situation in which one of the richest and (it is commonly believed) most corrupt conservatives in the land – the man whose unpopularity in 2005 was a key to Ahmadinejad’s ascent to power – is now viewed as a figurehead of rebels.

This very Iranian irreverence towards power is itself a force of resistance. Sara says: “We are scared and depressed. You can see the depression on the faces of the people. But there are jokes doing the rounds too. That’s how we have borne the last thirty years – by laughing at the mullahs. And God help us, whatever they do to us, we will keep laughing at them.”

Kamin Mohammadi is a journalist who has written widely on Iran, as well as on travel and health issues. Her website is here

IMPORTANT UPDATE by BRIT: Kamin has been trying to reply to comments before she leaves Italy tomorrow, but as she explains…

I haven’t done any comments yet, sorry. Everything slightly trumped by this news that one of my very great friends languishing in jail in Iran. He is a foreign journalist who has been detained for over a week now. Friends and family have decided to change strategy which for last week has been silence, and write some Op-eds etc so we can control the message. Can you help us at all??

If the Moose can help at all in getting this story out…

*Nieman Foundation Calls for Release of Journalist Detained in Iran *

Iason Athanasiadis, our friend and

colleague from the Nieman Class of 2008, has been arrested and is being detained by the Iranian government. Iason, a Greek citizen, was in Iran to

report on the June 12 presidential election. He was traveling with a valid journalist’s visa and credentials when he was picked up by Iranian officials at the Tehran airport last Wednesday evening. Iranian news agencies have reported his detention, although no precise charges have been presented.

“The Nieman Foundation and members of the Nieman community around the world are supportive of the Greek diplomatic initiatives to secure Iason’s safe and immediate release,” said Nieman Curator Bob Giles. “His dispatches from Iran are the work of a professional journalist who cares deeply about the Iranian people, for whom he has developed a deep affection during his years

of reporting there.”


Iason once recalled the Persian saying that “knowing another language is tantamount to possessing another culture.” He said he recognized the difference in his coverage of the region after achieving fluency in Farsi and freeing himself from dependence on a translator.


During his recent reporting visit to Iran, he filed stories for The Washington Times, GlobalPost and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

The Nieman Foundation and Nieman Fellows in many parts of the world are asking news organizations to work through diplomatic channels in an effort to secure his release. Iason’s family has Requested help from the Greek Foreign Minister and the Greek Ambassador to Iran.

Iason is among at least 40 journalists and bloggers who have been detained by the Iranian government since the contested election took place earlier this month.

Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard


Walter Lippmann House | 1 Francis Ave. | Cambridge, MA 02138 |



  1. I hope you know how much we support your people’s desire for self direction.  Yes, we recognize that this is likely be in our interests as well, but nevertheless it is independently inspiring to see people pursuing the freedom to choose their own futures.

    I can’t tell your friends in Iran to not be scared.  In their place I, for one, most certainly would be.  But they shouldn’t be depressed.  They have today the power and the opportunity to free themselves if they stick together and master the fear that others are trying to impose on them.

    My thoughts are with all of you.

  2. Many of us have been following the events in Iran as closely as possible. One good thing that has come from this is that many Americans have had their eyes opened about Iran and its people. Others of us have always known that Iran was a complex country with an ancient heritage and have been troubled by the simplistic antagonism shown by some of our countrymen. We have also been aware that much of the antagonism between our countries has been caused by our actions, both in the past and recently. Any movement towards a more open relationship between our countries will be a positive step forward for everyone, except for those who thrive on conflict.

  3. then I read this a few minutes ago on Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

    Here’s my earlier post.

    The threat of strikes has to be worrying the gov’t.   (0.00 / 0)

    The strike by the Bazaaris’ in 1979 was one of the most important events in the downfall of the Shah. Here is a fascinating article about the Bazaari written in 1996 by Richard Kaplan of The Center for a New American Security. The CNAA is a leading centrist think tank that Obama has leaned on heavily in the early days of his presidency. Board members include people like Madeline Albright, Richard Armitage, and John Podesta.

    and this is from Sully’s blog

    A Bazaar Strike?

    Via persiankiwi, Mousavi seems to be calling for a new direction with the demonstrations:

    Mousavi – We will not expend any more energy talking to the Gov in the streets – we must change course #Iranelection breaking news RT RT RT

    Mousavi – From Today every morning at 9am WE ALL travel to Tehran Bazaar – whatever reaction from Gov – Bazaar will close

    Mousavi – stop all work and travel with friends & family toward Tehran Bazaar every day at 9am

    Mousavi – do NOT wear green – dress normally – bring your children – if stopped u are ONLY going shopping

    Mousavi – the objective is to bring Tehran to standstill – millions of people go shopping but NOBODY SHOPPING

    Mousavi – There is nothing to fear – if asked – YOU ARE ONLY GOING SHOPPING

    Mousavi – no matter what the reaction of the Gov – the Bazaar will close or be at standstill

    Mousavi – – #Iranelection RT RT RT

  4. marches and violence happening on the streets of Iranian cities, the real action may be happening behind the scenes. I’ve posted bits here and there about Rasfanjani and Ayatollah Montezari and their influence in Iran. This report from EurasiaNet goes into a lot more detail and speculation about what may be happening in Qom. This report warrants the usual skepticism about unnamed sources, but matches much of what I’ve been reading between the lines in most reports out of Iran.



    Looking past their fiery rhetoric and apparent determination to cling to power using all available means, Iran’s hardliners are not a confident bunch. While hardliners still believe they possess enough force to stifle popular protests, they are worried that they are losing a behind-the-scenes battle within Iran’s religious establishment.

    A source familiar with the thinking of decision-makers in state agencies that have strong ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said there is a sense among hardliners that a shoe is about to drop. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — Iran’s savviest political operator and an arch-enemy of Ayatollah Khamenei’s — has kept out of the public spotlight since the rigged June 12 presidential election triggered the political crisis. The widespread belief is that Rafsanjani has been in the holy city of Qom, working to assemble a religious and political coalition to topple the supreme leader and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    “There is great apprehension among people in the supreme leader’s [camp] about what Rafsanjani may pull,” said a source in Tehran who is familiar with hardliner thinking. “They [the supreme leader and his supporters] are much more concerned about Rafsanjani than the mass movement on the streets.

    Now that Ayatollah Khamenei has become inexorably connected to Ahmadinejad’s power grab, many clerics are coming around to the idea that the current system needs to be changed. Among those who are now believed to be arrayed against Ayatollah Khamenei is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shi’a cleric in neighboring Iraq. Rafsanjani is known to have met with Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s representative in Iran, Javad Shahrestani.

    A reformist website, Rooyeh, reported that Rafsanjani already had the support of nearly a majority of the Assembly of Experts, a body that constitutionally has the power to remove Ayatollah Khamenei. The report also indicated that Rafsanjani’s lobbying efforts were continuing to bring more clerics over to his side. Rafsanjani’s aim, the website added, is the establishment of a leadership council, comprising of three or more top religious leaders, to replace the institution of supreme leader. Shortly after it posted the report on Rafsanjani’s efforts to establish a new collective leadership, government officials pulled the plug on Rooyeh.

    Meanwhile, the Al-Arabiya satellite television news channel reported that a “high-ranking” source in Qom confirmed that Rafsanjani has garnered enough support to remove Ayatollah Khamenei, but an announcement is being delayed amid differences on what or who should replace the supreme leader. Some top clerics reportedly want to maintain the post of supreme leader, albeit with someone other than Ayatollah Khamenei occupying the post, while others support the collective leadership approach.

    To a certain degree, hardliners now find themselves caught in a cycle of doom: they must crack down on protesters if they are to have any chance of retaining power, but doing so only causes more and more clerics to align against them.

  5. Cheryl Kopec

    I will try to monitor this thread from time to time, but for some reason my subscribe isn’t working! I have checked my spam folder… 🙁


  6. HappyinVT

    4:06 PM ET — Iran expels British diplomats. The AP reports: “Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it expelled the two Britons for ‘unconventional behavior’, state television reported, and Britain announced it was sending two Iranian diplomats home in retaliation.” AP adds that there were also protests by hard-liners outside the British embassy in Tehran.

    Nico also was called on second at the President’s presser today.

    1:45 PM ET — HuffPost asks Obama a question about Iran at press conference. My colleague Nico Pitney was given the opportunity to ask a question at Obama’s press conference today that came directly from an Iranian. His question for the president was: “Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad, and if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of what the demonstrators there are working toward?”

    Obama’s response:

    Well look, we didn’t have international observers on the ground, we can’t say definitively what exactly happened at polling places throughout the country. What we know is that a sizeable percentage of the Iranian people themselves, spanning Iranian society, considered this election illegitimate. It’s not an isolated instance, a little grumbling here or there. There [are] significant questions about the legitimacy of the election. And so ultimately, the most important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes of its own people, not in the eyes of the United States. And that’s why I’ve been very clear, ultimately this is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government. What we can do is to say unequivocally that there are sets of international norms and principles about violence, about dealing with peaceful dissent, that spans cultures, spans borders, and what we’ve been seeing over the Internet and what we’ve been seeing in news reports, violates those norms and violates those principles. I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it.

    For those in the MSM who think this question was a set-up, here’s the answer.

    A few words about how this came about for those who are curious: as readers know, I’ve spent a lot of time writing and debating about the President’s reaction to the events in Iran. Last night, after emailing with a few people about Obama’s press conference and what he might say, I decided to throw it open to our readers. I received a call from White House staff saying they had seen what I’d written and thought the President might be interested in receiving a question directly from an Iranian.

    The White House didn’t guarantee that I would be able to ask a question. But I decided that if there was even a chance, I should try to reach out to as many Iranians as possible. With the invaluable help from some readers — Chas, Chuck, and other Iranian Americans I wish I could name because they deserve the credit — I was able to post a message in Farsi on Twitter and have my request for questions posted late last night on Balatarin. I ended up choosing the question I did because it was one of the consensus questions that many people had suggested.

    Thanks also to the White House staff. They were up front about not being able to assure that a question would be asked, they never asked what the question would be, and they helped me move through the very packed briefing room when I showed up a bit late (sorry to the many toes I stepped on getting through).

    Nico deserves an award for all his work covering the Iranian crisis.  It was great that the president called on him even before some of the network idiots.

  7. Thanks for posting this here. You were one of the first people to tell me about the reality of life in Iran, especially for the young – how distant they felt from the restrictions of the regime, if still Islamic. I remember you vividly telling me how sex was burgeoning in Iran because – for many young people – there was little else to do.

    I don’t know why the last election, the vote rigging and the protests that followed, struck such a chord with the Moose (we even turned our banner green). Maybe it has something to do with the Bush years (and the feelings of a thwarted popular vote. Perhaps it has something to do with Obama’s campaign, and the re-registering of basic humane tolerant values that can attract religious and irreligious, fiscal liberals or fiscal conservatives. We’re a motley bunch from left, right and centre, but one thing we share is a nebulous but very real belief in progressive values, pluralism and dialogue. And seeing so many men and women, boys and girls, risk (and lose) their lives for such ideals fills many of us with respect for you, and pride in those essential common values we all believe in.

    I know you’re on Italian time, and might not get to reply till it’s morning in Europe, but you’ll find the Moose waiting, with bated Moosey breath

  8. HappyinVT

    Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has made the following call for mass action tomorrow, Wednesday, morning throughout the cities and towns of Iran.

    Leading opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, has just posted Khatami’s call to his Facebook page:

    In the name of God

    We will not waste our energy, but act efficiently. We have conveyed our words to the coup-makers to the world in the streets. Now we need to change our strategy.

    From this Tuesday, at 9 every morning we will all go to the bazaar in our towns all over the country. If they prevent us, the bazaar will close. If they do not, there will be such congestion that the business will get interrupted and the bazaar will close. If they disconnect the telephone lines, again all activities will get interrupted and the bazaar will close. As much as possible, we will shut down the whole town and go to the bazaar to shut it down.

    Take everyone with you. Bring the children, too without any sloganswithout green signs-without sit-ins; pretending to go shopping but not buying anything. We will only think of shutting down the bazaar, but do not leave any traces, not even a victory sign by our hands. NOT AT ALL.

    We will only think of victory. Bring the children, all the towns of Iran, without slogans, without slogans, without slogans, quietly, quietly, quietly, without greens, without sit-ins, without fighting. If anyone starts quarrels or shouts, we will not join because we pretend to be going shopping. There is no need to fear, and everyone will come. No fights, no bloodshed, no slogans, no sit-ins. If they prevent us, we simply return because we mean to shut down the bazaar, not to assemble. If they shoot tear gas, the bazaar will close. We will act smartly and will not engage in any sort of fights although if any fighting happens the bazaar will close due to insecurity. But we will not engage in any fights, and calmly and solely think of victory. With the congestion the bazaar will shut down, or no one will be there. Under any circumstances we will win. Dear Mr. Mousavi: We do not need your martyrdom and self-sacrifice; we need your leadership until we reach our goals. Until 9am Tuesday, the 3rd day of the martyrdom of June 20th martyrs, we will have enough time to inform everyone.

    Inform friends by any means: through websites, foreign media…. From Tuesday towards bazaar.

    Send this message to friends and the addresses below so that it gets widespread all over our dear Iran. This strategy is effective and there is no need to fear, and will bring millions of Iranians into the scene without any bloodshed. Rest assured this strategy is so effective that the enemy will soon start denying and making rumors, and will start struggling. Do not believe them because this program will continue. Do not listen to rumors and inform everyone by whatever means possible.

    Wishing for success



    Al does not provide the link but I don’t have any reason to doubt its authenticity and it ties in with other reporting.

  9. Karim Sadjadpour, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was asked about what would be happening in Iran right now if Bush was still in the White House.  He made a very good case that the answer is effectively “nothing”, that in fact there has been a great deal of individual restraint of dissent on the part of the Iranian population during the Bush years.  With “no option off the table” and imminent threat of attack from the US or it’s allies in the region (Israel), Iranians have been more united and more tolerant of the problems within their country than they are today with the current US administration.

    This could easily be extrapolated to “what would be happening in Iran right now if Palin was President?” (OK, sure: “McCain – whatever).  I think it is quite likely that there would have been no uprising if the White House was holding B52s over Iran’s head.

  10. is the clampdown on information in Iran. What does the regime think will happen if they manage to suppress the green revolution? They will have to open up communications sooner or later. Everything that has gone out and been posted to the ‘Net will come back to haunt them eventually. They can’t keep the population isolated forever. Neither can China, for that matter.

    Change is coming. Enabled by a simple little file transfer protocol intended to make it easier for researchers to share documents. By a strange twist of fate, TCP/IP, the main network protocol that the Internet runs over, and the Iranian Islamic Revolution are about the same age. I believe I said in a recent comment that I thought the Internet was the greatest force for democracy since the printing press. If I didn’t say it, I should have.  

  11. Shaun Appleby

    Seems we are at the ‘end of the beginning‘ of events in Iran.  It will be interesting how the next weeks unfold but it seems, for the moment, that the ability of the Mousavi campaign to organise and mobilise public protest has suffered from the reformist arrests of the past week and the interdiction of their communication networks both virtual and traditional, the suspension and arrest of staff of allied newspapers strikes me as being particularly damaging.  It seems that an arrest or further constraints on Mousavi may also be imminent.  I’m guessing it is time for them to regroup and renew the struggle with more sustainable tactics as has been noted elsewhere, but this will take some time.

    Having said that, however, my guess is that the situation as it stands is not particularly favourable to the regime on a number of levels, both domestically and internationally, and there is clearly nothing that they can do to remedy this.  The participation of Khamenei in the election dispute has seriously eroded his authority, even among the devoted, and the imposition of martial law is a highly visible affront and nuisance to the entire population which belies the explanations offered.  Ahmadenijad is keeping a low profile and that seems wise, much of his bombastic rhetoric of the last four years is directly contradicted by the evidence of the average Iranian’s own eyes.  The argument put forward that the Mousavi campaign was intentionally seditious, that the killings were the work of ‘miscreants’ and that the movement is a plot by foreign influences will only be believed by those predisposed to do so and will likely raise reasonable doubt among many who would not otherwise have cause to question the regimes motives or actions.

    As far as Iran’s international influence the events of the last two weeks have basically already achieved a significant erosion of their power, both moral and political, in the region.  Even Netanyahu will now be hard pressed to make the case that Iran is the immediate issue facing the Israel/Palestine peace process and Hamas and Hezbollah must be apprehensive regarding their assumption of political and theological legitimacy not to mention their ongoing financial support in this period of uncertainty regarding Iran’s leadership and it’s demonstrably autocratic behaviours.  The regime may have censored news within Iran but the story of the movement against them by their own people has been credibly broadcast throughout the Middle East.

    In spite of their uncomprimising rhetoric and apparent dominance in the street this is clearly an unsustainable situation for the regime and even a notional resistance on the part of the reformist movement will keep the pressure uncomfortable.  Tick-tock.

  12. Cheryl Kopec

    It’s getting so bad over there it’s hard to even read the tweets anymore. People thrown off bridges, hewn with axes, injured being dumped in desert instead of treated, phones/Internet cut off, etc. Why doesn’t some Muslim nation over there step in to try to quell the violence? If one did, others would too. And then maybe the West could get involved — or not. But somewhere, some fellow Muslims have to be as outraged as we are about the wanton killings and beatings! Why can’t this happen?


  13. besidemyself

    Where are the voices of Muslim clerics in the US? It is unconscionable that Muslim leaders in the free world are not raising their voices to protest the actions of a theocracy run amok and a government that sanctions savagery of the most hideous sort. For shame!  

  14. Not sure if you all caught this news from yesterday, but it gives an insight into the brutal and callous clampdown of the Iranian hardliners

    Sorry for the long post, but worth quoting in full

    Neda Soltan’s family ‘forced out of home’ by Iranian authorities

    The Home of Neda Agha Soltan

    The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.

    Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.

    “We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat,” a neighbour said. The Guardian was unable to contact the family directly to confirm if they had been forced to leave.

    The government is also accusing protesters of killing Soltan, describing her as a martyr of the Basij militia. Javan, a pro-government newspaper, has gone so far as to blame the recently expelled BBC correspondent, Jon Leyne, of hiring “thugs” to shoot her so he could make a documentary film.

    Soltan was shot dead on Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators, turning her into a symbol of the Iranian protest movement. Barack Obama spoke of the “searing image” of Soltan’s dying moments at his press conference yesterday.

    Amid scenes of grief in the Soltan household with her father and mother screaming, neighbours not only from their building but from others in the area streamed out to protest at her death. But the police moved in quickly to quell any public displays of grief. They arrived as soon as they found out that a friend of Soltan had come to the family flat.

    In accordance with Persian tradition, the family had put up a mourning announcement and attached a black banner to the building.

    But the police took them down, refusing to allow the family to show any signs of mourning. The next day they were ordered to move out. Since then, neighbours have received suspicious calls warning them not to discuss her death with anyone and not to make any protest.

    A tearful middle-aged woman who was an immediate neighbour said her family had not slept for days because of the oppressive presence of the Basij militia, out in force in the area harassing people since Soltan’s death.

    The area in front of Soltan’s house was empty today. There was no sign of black cloths, banners or mourning. Secret police patrolled the street.

    “We are trembling,” one neighbour said. “We are still afraid. We haven’t had a peaceful time in the last days, let alone her family. Nobody was allowed to console her family, they were alone, they were under arrest and their daughter was just killed. I can’t imagine how painful it was for them. Her friends came to console her family but the police didn’t let them in and forced them to disperse and arrested some of them. Neda’s family were not even given a quiet moment to grieve.”

    Another man said many would have turned up to show their sympathy had it not been for the police.

    “In Iran, when someone dies, neighbours visit the family and will not let them stay alone for weeks but Neda’s family was forced to be alone, otherwise the whole of Iran would gather here,” he said. “The government is terrible, they are even accusing pro-Mousavi people of killing Neda and have just written in their websites that Neda is a Basiji (government militia) martyr. That’s ridiculous – if that’s true why don’t they let her family hold any funeral or ceremonies? Since the election, you are not able to trust one word from the government.” A shopkeeper said he had often met Soltan, who used to come to his store.

    “She was a kind, innocent girl. She treated me well and I appreciated her behaviour. I was surprised when I found out that she was killed by the riot police. I knew she was a student as she mentioned that she was going to university. She always had a nice peaceful smile and now she has been sacrificed for the government’s vote-rigging in the presidential election.”

  15. HappyinVT

    comes about a minute into the video.  The anchor says that they have been able to confirm that the video is from June 20 and corresponds to the first account that Neda was shot by a rooftop sniper.  I don’t mean to suggest that it is this guy who shot her; there are other reports that she was shot by someone on a motorcycle.  But the video does confirm that Basij were shooting into the crowds.

    h/t Nico for the video.  He also has a new video that seems to be of Neda and her professor walking in an alleyway.

  16. HappyinVT

    who tried to save Neda.  BBC

    Dr Arash Hejazi, who is studying at a university in the south of England, said he ran to Neda Agha-Soltan’s aid after seeing she had been shot in the chest.

    Despite his attempts to stop the bleeding she died in less than a minute, he said.

    Dr Hejazi says he posted the video of Ms Soltan’s death on the internet and images of her have become a rallying point for Iranian opposition supporters around the world.


    “I was there with some friends because we had heard that there were some protests and we decided to go and take a look,” he said.

    “Anti-riot police were coming by motorcycles towards the crowd.”

    Dr Hejazi said he saw Ms Soltan, who he did not know, with an older man who he thought was her father but later on learned was her music teacher.

    “Suddenly everything turned crazy. The police threw teargas and the motorcycles started rushing towards the crowd. We ran to an intersection and people were just standing. They didn’t know what to do.

    “We heard a gunshot. Neda was standing one metre away from me. I turned back and I saw blood gushing out of Neda’s chest.

    “She was in a shocked situation, just looking at her chest. The she lost her control.

    “We ran to her and lay her on the ground. I saw the bullet wound just below the neck with blood gushing out.

    “I have never seen such a thing because the bullet, it seemed to have blasted inside her chest, and later on, blood exiting from her mouth and nose.

    “I had the impression that it had hit the lung as well. Her blood was draining out of her body and I was just putting pressure on the wound to try to stop the bleeding, which wasn’t successful unfortunately, and she died in less than one minute.”

    It’s s 19-minute video and worth listening to until the end.

  17. Cheryl Kopec

    I’ve tried a Google search, but mostly I find exports to Iran, not vice versa. I got the bright idea to write to their embassy, as a private citizen, and pledge a personal boycott of any products made in Iran or with Iranian components. But I can’t find any!


  18. Shaun Appleby

    On the subject of entire cycle of The Lord of the Rings trilogy as the chosen distraction for the Iranian public during these disturbances, wasn’t this a very, very bad idea?:

    I wonder which official picked this film, starting to suspect, even hope, that there is a subversive soul manning the controls at seda va sima, central broadcasting.  It is way too easy to find political meaning in the film, to draw comparisons to what is happening in real life.

    Watching The Lord of the Rings in Tehran Time 25 Jun 09

    To anyone who has revered these films as a cinematic expression of the eternal ‘you fascists are gonna’ lose’ narrative, and who recognises they were a solemn mythology written with Jungian depth during the Second World War at the height of Britain’s unequal struggle against the forces of darkness, this has got to go down as the worst programming decision of the new century.  They should have shown Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, I’m guessing.

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