Wednesday, July 22, 2009

U2 Amsterdam July 21, 2009

U2 Amsterdam July 21, 2009
Originally uploaded by

Wish I could have been at the concert.

U2, please support United 4 Iran! You could help us cover some of the costs of the demonstration. We don't need a lot.

Be a Hero: Unted4Iran, July 25

This is my first ever youTube upload created with the help of the amazing united4iran-amsterdam all volunteer team!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Green Brief

Josh Shahryar's newest Green Brief:

Protests / Unrest

1. Mir Hossein Mousavi has endorsed his protesters’ tactic of causing massive black-outs. The Iranian Government has equated the tactic to sabotage, but protesters have used it as a non-violent means to defy the government.

2. Neda Aga-Soltan’s family will be congregating at her grave site on the 40th day after her death on July 30, 2009 (the 40th day after a person’s death is traditionally the most essential day of mourning for Muslims). No prior announcements will be made - however, the family said they will welcome anyone who may want to partake in Neda’s bereavement.

3. There are calls for demonstrations tomorrow to commemorate the deaths of protesters killed on June 20th. It has not been confirmed whether or not it has the backing of any opposition leaders.

4. Italian fashion designer, Guillermo Mariotto, wore a shirt that said “Neda Alive” (in green writing) during Haute Couture. All the models presenting his newest creations also wore green wristbands in solidarity with the Green Movement in Iran. Video:

5. Archbishop Bishop Desmund Tutu – a Nobel Peace Prize winner and South African human rights activist – has announced that he too will be joining the Global Day of Action in support of the Green Movement. Other prominent Iranian and international personalities including Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, Betty Williams, Mairead Maguire, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Dariush, and Simin Behbahani. Details on the event can be found here:

6. Noam Chomsky – an eminent American philosopher, linguist, author and lecturer who is 81 years old – has announced that he will partake in the hunger strike in support of the Green Movement in New York. The hunger strike is reportedly being held from July 22-25, and will encompass many important Iranian and international figures.


7. The grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, Sayed Hassan Khomeini, has reportedly left the country. Reports indicate he left the country after being pressured by the government to attend Ahmadinejad’s Inauguration Ceremony - in order to provide the government with much needed legitimacy.

8. Mousavi had a meeting with families of detainees today, where he made several statements:
* He announced that the Green Movement was a peaceful movement, BUT that it was ready to make sacrifices should the need arise.

o He asked the government to ensure freedom of speech. He claimed that it would foster a calm environment in the country – a much better alternative to the current atmosphere of fear created by the extensive use of security forces.

o He stated “The Iranian Nation had matured and that the use of pre-1979 tactics wouldn’t be enough to silence it,” and “The Nation had been reborn and was going to defend its achievements.” He condemned the on-going arrests in the country and called it a “National issue – one that would not solve the government’s problems.”

o He called it “An insult to the Iranian Nation to suggest that foreigners had orchestrated the post-election protests in Iran.” He also criticized the government for defending the arrests of peaceful protesters and called it unjust and cruel.

o He added that, “NO ONE in the international community was going to believe the lies the government was spreading with forced confessions from detainees.” Mousavi, Karoubi and Khatami have been holding regular meetings with the families of detainees during the past three weeks.

9. Supporters of Mousavi in Eastern Azerbaijan Province held a meeting Sunday night and released a statement in support of Mousavi. Hundreds of prominent members of society including politicians, human rights activists and university professors attended the meeting.

10. Press TV quoted Mousavi as saying that he had “spent nearly $3.5 million US dollars on his campaign,” and that “Mahdi Karroubi had spent roughly the same amount.”

In a rare break from the government, Press TV’s printed:

“According to Mousavi, Iran needs what he called a ‘free media’ to reverse the growing ‘appeal of foreign media’ which he claimed is a side effect of the ‘lack of press freedoms’ and the national broadcaster's ‘mistaken approach.”

The report also accused protesters of turning to violence and claimed that the Guardian Council had authenticated the elections after ‘launching an extensive probe’ of examining the complaints from the defeated candidates.

Government / International

11. Ali Motaherri – a representative of Tehran in the Iranian Parliament – criticized Ayatollah Yazdi’s statements that questioned Rafsanjani’s sermon on Friday. Motaherri said, “A regime’s legitimacy was only guaranteed by people’s support.”

12. Khamenei issued harsh words today to ‘Iran’s Elite.’ He said, “The Elite should watch their words and actions carefully, because they are facing a test.” He added, “Failing the test would mean that not only would they lose their positions within the regime, but also lose their credibility and become pariahs.” Although no names were mentioned, many say his speech was directed at Rafsanjani – for creating insecurity and disorder in the country. Khamenei declared, “The Iranian Nation would hate anyone who participated in such actions.” He called the “creation of violence the biggest sin.”

13. President-Select Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s office has asked people who want to help the country to come forward and offer their services. According to his office, the government was looking for people to help the president’s administration at different levels and that a committee will soon be formed to recruit such people.

Arrested / Released / Killed

14. Partially-confirmed reports from Evin Prison indicate that one protester was tortured for days in order to extort a confession. After all torture tactics failed, a doctor was brought in to examine the detainee who was found to be deaf and mute. He was later released. Other reports from Evin Prison suggest a new torture tactic: hanging detainees’ upside-down for hours, and sometimes the entire day.

15. Mohammad Kamrani’s body was laid to rest today at Beheshte Zahra Cemetery. He was one of the protesters who was detained and tortured severely. He was transferred to Tehran’s Mehr Hospital unconscious and shackled. He never regained consciousness, and later died.

16. It is now confirmed that Hamid and Puran Ebrahimnezhad – who have been in detention since their arrest – were in fact arrested on July 7, 2009. They were reportedly beaten while being hauled away.

17. On a positive note, detained political activist Mehdi Khazali has been released from Evin Prison. In a statement released today, families of political prisoners asked the government, yet again, to “promptly release all prisoners and stop the violent repression of the populace at the hands of security forces.” Their statement also thanked Rafsanjani for taking a bold stand against the continued detention of political prisoners and peaceful protesters.


18. A leading Iranian Cleric – Hojatoleslam Seyed Mehdi Tabatabai - criticized Ahmadinejad’s statements (against his opponents right after the election) in a televised interview on IRIB. He said, “Ahmadinejad should have immediately called for dialogue with his opponents and should NOT have subjected them to ridicule.” He added, “The post-election violence was caused by hostility stemming from the blatant ridicule.” It should be noted that this is one of the very FEW instances where Iranian media has allowed criticism of Ahmadinejad to be broadcasted on IRIB.

Note: The Green Briefs are a daily report that is compiled using sources on twitter, Iranian websites and other media outlets. Verification of most news items cannot be obtained using regular mainstream media standards; however, they have been as authenticated as possible given the current ban on most foreign media outlets in Iran.

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 16th on Facebook: "Open your eyes, Sohrab! Your mother is devastated by your picture."

This has been a week of heartbreak. Families discovered that loved ones had been killed, beaten, and abused, and a plane on its way to Yerevan from Tehran crashed 16 minutes after take-off. For many the crash just seemed to pile heartache upon heartache. Anyone who has ever been depressed and experienced calamity knows that when people say, "It can't get any worse," it can.

It's also been a week of rumors and confined hope as people buzz about a planned compromise, speculate on strange twists and turns, and hear that Rafsanjani just may be giving the sermon at Friday prayers with Mousavi and Karoubi in attendance. I've tried to summarize more than today's postings on Facebook, but frankly I have not made a dent in the backlog.

"How quickly you've grown in these 25 days that your mother has been going door to door looking for you," said the poem, posted on Norooznews. "Open your eyes, Sohrab! Your mother is devastated by your picture."

The biggest story of the week is the heartbreaking one of Sohrab Aarabi, the nineteen year old who disappeared on June 15th, the day of the first mass demonstration after the election results.

Sohrab Aarabi

Sohrab Aarabi

After a week in which we heard that a young man had died from beatings in custody and that the family was being told to keep quiet or risk not having his body returned, Sohrab Aarabi's mother has decided to speak out about the death of her son. (We do not know, however, if Sohrab's mother was ever told to keep quiet about her son's death.) Friends are sharing videos posted on youTube that show his funeral and her grief. One friend wrote, "That's my mother 27 years ago." We see the mourners chanting, "Allah-o Akbar," with their cell phones raised in the air to record the funeral. His mother shouts about the cowardice of the men who killed her son. Earlier in the video, we see her on one of her daily trips to Evin to search for her son. She brought his photo and asked for help finding him.

There is news of Rafsanjani's return to leading Friday prayers in Iran. This will be his first public appearance since the election results were announced and there is much anticipation of what he will say. Twittering activists are calling for chants of Hashemi, Hashemi throughout the sermon to demonstrate support.

In its summary of events in Iran,
Enduring America
has reported that Keyhan editors have been called to court to answer to charges of disseminating lies.

Taraneh: Arrested at the Ghoba Mosque in Tehran

Taraneh: Arrested at the Ghoba Mosque in Tehran

Over at Words, we read of the horrible abuse against those arrested.

On Friday July 19, a large group of mourners gathered at the Ghoba mosque in Tehran to await a speech about the martyrs of the post-election protests by presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to one Iranian blog, 28-year-old Taraneh Mousavi was one of a group of people that was arrested by plainclothesed security forces for attending the gathering.

Taraneh, whose first name is Persian for “song”, disappeared into arrest.

Weeks later, according to the blog, her mother received an anonymous call from a government agent saying that her daughter has been hospitalized in Imam Khomeini Hospital in the city of Karaj, just north of Tehran — hospitalized for “rupturing of her womb and anus in… an unfortunate accident”.

When Taraneh’s family went to the hospital to find her, they were told she was not there.

Cross posted at Vote for Iran

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Soft Reform, Non-Violent Change"

I have been interviewing people about their experiences before and after the June 12th elections in Iran. The interviews are long, but I will post some highlights here. This first interview was with a 52-year old teacher who I am calling Shirin. I learned a lot during the interviews. They provide a personal perspective to the events that many of us have been caught up in. So, without further introduction:

Shirin, 52, teacher of 7-12 year olds

The Decision to Vote

Photo from Reuters

Before the campaign really began, I thought that it would be better to boycott than to vote. It was my feeling that we shouldn’t vote. I had a lot of discussions about this with my friends and family and came to the conclusion that it was important to vote and to vote for Mousavi. I want soft reform and changes that are non-violent.

Election Day

Photo by Kamran Jebreili

Everyone at the polling station was so careful about writing clearly. Still, you might not know, but Ahmadinejad’s code was “44” and Mousavi’s order in the list was number 4. The difference between the code and the numbering was not clear. We thought this was done on purpose so that if people wrote in the number 4 instead of Mousavi’s code, which was 77, it could be changed easily to 44. I said to the poll workers, "My son has his Master’s and even he is confused by the difference between the code and the numbering. Why do we have to write the code at all?" The poll worker said, "You’re right, ma’am (khanum). Just write in the name of the candidate you support." Still I put lines on either side of the code so that nothing could be added to it.

At 2:30, the poll workers announced that they were closing the polling station for lunch. The people waiting in line argued with them saying, "You cannot close both doors. If you close both doors then we will think that you are changing our votes." After several minutes of discussion, the poll workers agreed to keep one door open.

I stayed up all night watching the results come in. I could not believe it. Since I do not trust state tv, I watched VOA. It was so strange that they announced the results so quickly. What really surprised me was how few votes Karoubi received. I asked myself, how could Karoubi get so few votes?

When they announced that Ahmadinejad was the winner, I couldn’t stand up. My legs were shaking. I thought, maybe a lot of people made a mistake with the code and that the computer only read the code, not the name. They are supposed to look at both and both need to coordinate. I just didn’t know what to think.

The next day, BBC and VOA were asking the same question: why wasn’t the number of blank or unreadable ballots announced? That put pressure on the government to announce the number of unreadable ballots.

Demonstration, June 15: The Monday after the Elections

Photo from UPI Photos

On Monday, we went out to the demonstration wearing all black. State television reported that the demonstration was cancelled, but we went anyway. Me, my son, my daughter. From Enghelab to Azadi, it was completely packed. I am not just talking about the streets, but there were people on every inch of ground. We were chanting, [Note from me: it rhymes in Persian, sounds way better!] Where are those 63%, Liar?

People were coming from three different directions. The chanting only took place on our way to Azadi. Once we got there, we were completely silent. The Basiji were moving through the crowds. My nephew kicked one to get back at them for beating him the night before.

One woman came up to me and said, "Oh that Karoubi, he is so arrogant. He came in fifth and he dares to show his face in the streets." I said, "Khanum, how could he have come in fifth? There were only four candidates."

I did not go to any of the other demonstrations even though I wanted to. My son said to me, "If you go, I have to come with you. I would be so worried if you went without me." But my son is still studying, and he could lose every chance for a future by going to these demonstrations. Because of that, I had to stay home.

Allah-o Akbar

In our neighborhood, very few people go out at night to say Allah-o Akbar. From 23 apartments in our building, only my son chants. Our neighbor does too. But we live in a neighborhood that is mainly Sepa-Pasdaran. Even though many of them voted for Moussavi – he had three large campaign offices in our neighborhood and a lot of support – they are afraid to chant Allah-o Akbar or to join the demonstration. Many who did, have had their windows broken and their property vandalized. Our neighbors are more nervous than others in Tehran because they are Sepa Pasdaran.

Response to the Recount

I am very disappointed by the decision of the Guardian council to approve the vote. I don't want to go back to work at all, but I have too. I will do everything in my power to make sure that work does not get done.

Monday, July 06, 2009

United 4 Iran, July 25

Join us in organizing a global day of action in solidarity with the Iranian people!
Join us on July 25, 2009 for a rally in your city in support of the Iranian people and in condemnation of the human rights abuses being committed by the Iranian government. Learn how you can get involved by emailing

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rampaging Riot Police, Solidarity, Music, and More on Facebook

I've been working on and have been writing occasional posts there. (Less occasional than here...) I think our readers may be interested in the Facebook Reviews. Here is the most recent. And happy fourth! I hope to be celebrating Iran's independence day soon.

Facebook, July 2-3

I Know How the Caged Bird Flies
I Know How the Caged Bird Flies

The past two days have brought one piece of bad news after another: friends, colleagues, and innocents in prison; loved ones despondent; riot police on rampages. During the last two days much information has been shared on Facebook. Khatami and Mousavi's statements; routes for planned demonstrations; tons of stuff in Persian that takes me way too long to read (Shervin will review those pieces). The past two days, however, was not a time for more images of demonstrators being beaten; it was a time of music and poetry. We were treated to an interview with the great Iranian poet Simin Behbahani on NPR and heard new music from Mohsen Namjoo, among others.

One friend writes that this time has helped her bridge the generation gap that separates her from her parents, aunts, and uncles: "I never thought I would see similar days or make such a strong emotional connection to these lyrics..."