Ominous warning to protesters

Iraq's Guard threatens "revolutionary confrontation." Plus: Video of Neda; rifts deepen among clerics

By Vincent Rossmeier

Published June 22, 2009 12:23PM (EDT)

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.:

  • The government's promised crackdown on protesters has arrived. The AP confirms earlier reports that police broke up a ceremony in memory of Neda today in Iran by using teargas and by firing live bullets into the air. Witnesses at the protest, which occurred at Haft-e-Tir Square, said police would not even allow them to stand still in small groups. One witness, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "There is a massive, massive, massive police presence...Their presence was really intimidating." The New York Times reports that Basijis are behind today's violent suppression of the protest.
  • Iran's official Press TV announced that the government will release a box-by-box vote tally. There was no word on when the vote counts will become available.
  • Tehran Bureau, one of the best and most reliable Twitter feeds on the Iranian protests, has continued to advise readers all day of the ubiquity of Basij paramilitary guards on the streets of Tehran today. The site reports that Basij are stopping cars at checkpoints and confiscating cameras and ID cards.
  • Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of Iran’s parliament and one of the reformists who unsucessfully ran for president, has called for a day of mourning on his website for those who have lost their lives in the protests.
  • This site purports to have video and photos from today's protest.

UPDATE 12:45 p.m.:

  • Today's protest, which police broke up with tear gas, was in honor of Neda, a woman killed during the protests this weekend who has become a symbol to pro-Mousavi supporters. Tehran Bureau's Twitter feed reports that Basij paramilitary members are all over Tehran.
  • The Guardian has an interview with Hamed, the anonymous user who first posted video of Neda's death. The author Paulo Coelho also put up a blog post in which he wrote that the doctor who worked to save Neda's life is one of his best friends.
  • Iran is considering a revision of its relationship with Britain. During his speech Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei called Britain "the most evil" of foreign governments. The British government is evacuating families of staff members at its embassy in Tehran.
  • The New Yorker has a great firsthand account of the protests as seen from the rooftops of Tehran. The writer said that estimates of the weekend's protests were low: Instead of 1 million people, there were at least 2 million on the streets.

UPDATE 10:25 a.m.:

  • The AP and Reuters are contradicting the claim made by official Iranian media that the streets of Tehran are calm today. The AP is reporting that police are attacking protesters with tear gas and firing warning shots into the air. Reuters reports an opposition rally of around 1,000 people took place in Tehran Monday.
  • According to the N.Y. Times, the Iranian government is now considering taking legal action against Mousavi, describing his protest of the election as a "criminal" act.
  • Below is a helpful graphic put together by the AP explaining the Iranian government's power structure.


  • In the United States, the conservative criticism of Obama's reaction to the Iranian protests has taken a somewhat inane turn. Some conservatives are upset that Obama is referring to Ayatollah Khamenei as Supreme Leader.
  • Salon has a new piece up on Neda, an Iranian woman whose death was purportedly caught on videotape and has become a symbol for the opposition movement in the nation. Neda has already been hailed as a martyr and a memorial page has been set up for her on Facebook. There is a great deal of media speculation that she could ignite a larger revolutionary movement in the nation. Jezebel has also put together a comprehensive post with links to articles on Neda's death. Below is a CNN video of Neda and the tragedy surrounding her death (as a warning, the video includes graphic images of Neda right after she was shot).

    Embedded video from CNN Video


UPDATE 9 a.m.:

The big news out of Iran this morning is that Iran's most potent security force, the Revolutionary Guard, has announced that protesters should be prepared for a "revolutionary confrontation" if they go to the streets again to denounce the nation's June 12 election. This is by far the most direct and dire threat the force has issued thus far during the conflict. AP reports coming out of the country have said there are massive police forces on the streets in Tehran.

The situation in Tehran appeared to be relatively calm overnight, however. Iranian state radio said that there were no protests in the capital for the first time since the presidential election on June 12. Sunday night, Mir Hossein Mousavi vowed to continue to contest the election with his supporters.

There also appears to be an increasing rift between Iran's most powerful clerics over the outcome of the election. According to Huffington Post's Nico Pitney, the news site Peiknet has reported that "Ayatollah Rafsanjani has a letter signed by 40 members of the powerful 86-member Assembly of Experts calling for the annulment of the recent presidential election results." This comes in the wake of some of Rafsanjani's family members being arrested over the weekend. Rafsanjani is a former president of Iran and the current head of the Assembly of Experts, a group that selects and oversees the supreme leader.

State television reported the death of at least 10 protesters over the weekend. Radio reports put the number at 19. As Salon's Alex Koppelman wrote over the weekend, independent sources put the number of dead at 30 from the Saturday protests. State radio also announced the arrest of 457 people in the strife between protesters and police that took place Saturday in Tehran. Iranian state radio said that 40 police officers had been hurt in the fighting.

Pitney, one of the best sources of information on the Iran protests, wrote this morning that a dependable Twitterer from inside the country has said that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will give another speech this coming Friday. During a speech Khamenei gave last Friday, he declared the elections fair and warned protesters to stop gathering or face reprisals from the government.

There continue to be serious questions about the legitimacy of the election. Iranian authorities have now admitted that there could be problems with up to 3 million votes. In 50 cities, there were more recorded votes than there were voters. However, the powerful Guardian Council said the irregularities did not violate Iranian law and gave no indication as to whether the votes would change the result of the election.

As outside analysts begin to take a closer look at the results, they're finding startling discrepancies and irregularities. As one example, in two conservative voting districts, turnout was listed as more than 100 percent.

Iranian leaders are also continuing to lash out at the West. At a Monday press conference, Hassan Qashqavi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, praised the election turnout and then accused unspecified Western powers of fomenting "anarchy and vandalism." BBC posted video of the Qashqavi's speech in which he said the West sought "Iran disintegration."

Tehran Bureau, an independent and valuable news site on the Iranian protests, has also compiled a partial list of the Iranian journalists and politicians who have been arrested during the unrest.

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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