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Mousavi is Being Watched Around the Clock by Security Forces (and Other Updates on Events in Iran)

Mir Hossein Mousavi

Mir Hossein Mousavi

John Litchfield of the Independent UK reports that according to Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a film director and long-time close friend of Mir Hossein Mousavi is “under 24-hour guard by secret police and no longer able to speak freely to supporters.”

In a telephone interview, Mr. Makhmalbaf, the director of the 2001 film Kandaha, denied suggestions that the protests against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were losing steam.

“The regime, arguably, is losing ground, not the protests,” he said. “Ordinary Iranians are openly rejecting the legitimacy and power of Ayatollah Khamanei. That is entirely new, unheard of.”

Mr Makhmalbaf, a friend of Mr Mousavi for 20 years, said that there were reports from Iran that some of the militia deployed to suppress protest were “speaking Arabic”. “That is unconfirmed but it suggests that the regime is unable to trust its own security forces to repress the Iranian people,” he said. “It suggests that people are being used from abroad.”

Makhmalbaf says that Mousavi has told his supporters that they should avoid confrontation and use non-violent means of protest. Makmalbaf also said there is little chance now for further negotiation between the opposing forces.

“Within the last ten days, there has been a meeting between Mousavi and Ayatollah Khamanei,” he said. “Nothing came of this meeting. I do not know of any further dialogue which is now going on.”

In The New York Times, Roger Cohen also argues that the Iranian government has been weakened by the protests and by it’s own failed responses.

Why? I see five principal factors. The first is that the supreme leader’s post — the apex of the structure conceived by the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — has been undermined. The keystone of the arch is now loose.

Khamenei, far from an arbiter with a Prophet-like authority, has looked more like a ruthless infighter. His word has been defied. At night, from rooftops, I’ve even heard people call for his death. The unthinkable has occurred.

The second is that the hypocritical but effective contract that bound society has been broken. The regime never had active support from more than 20 percent of the population. But acquiescence was secured by using only highly targeted repression (leaving the majority free to go about its business), and by giving people a vote for the president every four years.

That’s over. Repression will be broad and ferocious in the coming months. The acquiescent have already become the angry. You can’t turn Iran into Burma: The resistance of a society this varied and savvy will be fierce.

The third is that a faction loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, fiercely nationalistic and mystically religious, has made a power grab so bold that fissures in the establishment have become canyons.


They have their way for now, but the cost to Iran has been immense, and the rearguard action led by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a father of the revolution, and Mir Hussein Moussavi, the opposition leader, will be intense.

The fourth is that Iran’s international rhetoric, effective in Ahmadinejad’s first term, will be far less so now. Every time he talks of justice and ethics, his two favorite words, video will roll of Neda Agha Soltan’s murder and the regime’s truncheon-wielding goons at work. The president may prove too much of a liability to preserve.

The fifth is that, at the very peak of its post-revolution population boom, the regime has lost a whole new generation — and particularly the women of that generation — by failing to adapt.

Today more information has come out about Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman whose murder was caught on a cell phone video camera and who has become a symbol of the struggle for freedom in Iran. The LA Times has a heartrending story of Neda’s friend “Golshad,” who learned of Neda’s death from an aunt who called her from the U.S., begging her (Goldshad) to stay at home and away from the violence on the streets of Tehran.

Neda Agha-Sultan

Neda Agha-Sultan

The relative proceeded to describe a video, airing on exile television channels that are jammed in Iran, in which a young woman is shown bleeding to death as her companion calls out, “Neda! Neda!”

A dark foreboding swept over Golshad, who asked that her real name not be published. She began calling the cellphone and home numbers of her friend Neda Agha-Soltan — who had gone to the chaotic demonstration with a group of friends — but Neda didn’t answer.

At midnight, as the city continued to smolder, Golshad drove to the Agha-Soltan residence in the Tehran Pars section in the eastern part of the capital.

As she heard the cries and wails and praising of God reverberating from the house, she crumpled, knowing that her worst fears were true.

“Neda! Neda!” the 25-year-old cried out. “What will I do?”

The two women had spoken by phone before Neda went to the demonstration on Saturday with a group of friends.

“I told her, ‘Neda, don’t go,’ ” she recalled, heaving with sobs.

But Agha-Soltan was as stubborn as she was honest, Golshad said.

“She said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s just one bullet and its over.’ ”

Her friends say she, Panahi and two others were stuck in traffic on Karegar Street, east of Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square, on their way to the demonstration sometime after 6:30 p.m.

After they stepped out of the car to get some fresh air and crane their necks over the jumble of cars, Panahi heard a crack from the distance. In the blink of an eye, he realized Agha-Soltan had collapsed to the ground.

“We were stuck in traffic and we got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her,” he said. “It was just one bullet.”

The LA Times story is the best one I have read so far about Neda. It really fills in the details about what happened to her and about her family and background.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Iranian state television is forcing protesters who have been arrested to say that they were influenced by Western media to get involved in riots. In addition,

Iranian TV, quoting an unnamed source, said Neda was not shot by a bullet used by Iranian security forces. It said filming of the scene, and its swift broadcast to foreign media, suggested the incident was planned.

But Neda’s family says she wasn’t politically active, although she was disappointed by the results of the election.

Her fiance Caspian Makan told BBC Persian TV that Neda Agha-Soltan had been caught up accidentally in the protests.

“She was near the area, a few streets away, from where the main protests were taking place, near the Amir Abad area. She was with her music teacher, sitting in a car and stuck in traffic,” it quoted him as saying. “She was feeling very tired and very hot. She got out of the car for just a few minutes.”

More and more media sources are calling attention to the role of women in the Iranian protests. For example, this from Bloomberg News:

Soltan was among countless women, of all ages and backgrounds, who have taken to the streets to demand a recount of the presidential vote they and others say was won by Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister. Mousavi made his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a feature of his campaign and promised to give women more rights….

Iran’s 34 million women are demanding female cabinet ministers, the right to able to run for president and the revision of civil and family law, Rahnavard said earlier this month. The country’s population is 66.4 million.

And CNN quotes and Iranian woman:

“When they want to hit me, I say hit. I have been hit so many times and this time it doesn’t matter. I just want to help my brothers and sisters,” says the 19-year-old woman whose identity is being withheld by CNN for her safety.

Amid the clashes and chaos, there has been a recurring scene on the streets of Tehran: Women, in their scarves and traditional clothing, at the heart of the struggle. Some are seen collecting rocks for ammunition against security forces, while video showed one woman trying to protect a fallen pro-government militiaman wounded in the government crackdown. At Shiraz University, riot police clubbed women dressed in black robes. “Don’t beat them, you bastards,” one man yells.

When security forces come to attack, the 19-year-old woman protester says she looks them in the eye and asks: “Why do you kill your brother? Why do you hit your mother, your sisters?”

“We all tell them, if you’re Iranian, you shouldn’t do that to your people, to your own country’s people,” she told CNN by phone.

These Iranian women are truly strong and determined. I wish them success in their struggle. I can’t help but believe that with this kind of courage they will win in the long run.

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23 Responses

  1. When we get some social links, I’ll totally digg this.

  2. “I can’t help but believe that with this kind of courage the will win in the long run.”

    I hope you are right…but, in the long run, what’s happened to women here? Partly TPTB’s fault, partly the media, partly women themselves….progress slipping away.

    When do we REALLY win???

    • We’re hardly in the position of the women of Iran. But we aren’t showing the same courage they are either.

      • We got too comfortable before we had finished our work. The glass ceilings should have been broken, violence against women should have been elevated to much higher crime levels, and objectifying women should have been dramatically curbed before we relaxed.

        We’re in a better position now to know what goals need to be met before woman have accomplished true equality in the eyes of all.

  3. Iranian regime targets Neda’s family, tears down posters honoring her memory.

    Relatives said the authorities had insisted Miss Agha Soltan was buried in a cemetery plot reserved for slain “rioters” and that attempts to hold memorial services had been banned.

    Hamid Panahi, her friend and music teacher, was with her when she died. He recounted hearing the crack of a bullet before she fell to the ground.

    “We were stuck in traffic and we got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her,” he said. “It was just one bullet.”

    After she fell to the ground, the tourism student cried out in pain. “I’m burning, I’m burning!” Mr Panahi said as he recalled her final words.

  4. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Obama talks democracy to Iran while displaying the lack of free press

  5. Neda’s life and death, the whole struggle in Iran, it’s just heartrending. The protestors with no armor but the clothes they’re wearing versus the riot thugs. Tienanmen Square all over again, in another key. Dear God, I hope the good gals (and guys) prevail.

    I wanted to add a small point about this:

    reports from Iran that some of the militia deployed to suppress protest were “speaking Arabic”.

    What may not be well known here is that the Iranians think of the Arabs approximately like, say, the French did of the Germans right after WWII. There’s an enmity that goes back a couple of millennia. (Fully mutual!) So talking about Arabic-speaking militia is a lot more than just implying “damn furriners.” It’d be more like saying at the height of the Cold War that the Democratic National Convention used Russian secret police as guards.

  6. Thanks for your efforts, bb! You are aces at finding the most informative and thought-provoking articles.

  7. Doesn’t the “quote” from Neda, “She said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s just one bullet and its over.’” seem peculiar?

  8. Basij Militia brutaly are beating protesters to death on the streets of Tehran June 24 2009

    • There is another video which shows that they are now deliberately hitting them on the head, via the same youtube account. The UN most issue a stronger statement, as these protesters are unarmed and defenseless against the government forces.

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