Wednesday, June 17, 2009

While I'm On Vacation, Things Go Crazy

Image credit: .faramarz

Every time I leave things go crazy. Or maybe it has more to do with a country that's had enough of rigged elections:

Supporters of Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi have rallied in northern Tehran, witnesses told the BBC.

A BBC correspondent in Tehran said one eyewitness told him the rally was even bigger than Monday's demonstration by hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters.

Iran Demonstrations

They're doing this despite the fact that the Iranian government have been cracking down on demonstrations and have severely restricted news services and Internet access:

"Censoring is very bad here and they have reduced Internet speed," two Iranians said to a friend outside the country. The pair wanted to broadcast images of damage and casualties after a reported attack on a dorm at the University of Tehran. "We managed to upload a few pictures and movies ... please give it to news agencies and ask them to air it."

The witnesses said riot police and militia attacked the dormitory Sunday night after a student protest the day before. Up to 150 students were arrested, according to the account, and at least one was killed. Students were beaten and shot, and one of the buildings caught fire. Some university professors resigned after the incident, the witnesses said.

Witnesses Describe Violence In Iran As Protesters Stand Firm

Pictures like the one at the top of this article have been appearing all over the news now. As several of the articles I've linked to state, people have been trying to smuggle such photos out of Iran so that the rest of the world can see what's really going on. The obvious parallel with how many Americans felt after the 2000 Presidential election is drawn by a sign written in English by protesters in a country that speaks a different language. I think it would be wrong to say that this is about Iran becoming a secular society - there are Muslim clerics representing both sides of this debate. It's probably more accurate to say it's about how much freedom Iranians want.

As part of an excellent roundup of what's been going on in Iran, Taylor Marsh made this observation:

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is rumored through a Twitter feed to have commanded a meeting to unseat Khamenei. Shorter: the corrupt Rafsanjani has done his own meddling and may be at the heart of it all.

The Unwinding In Iran

[links from original]

In many ways, Iran's problems resemble our own - a corrupt government that has manipulated the elections to its advantage.

The rumor that Taylor mentions might be true, according to this recent article by the BBC:

Iran's powerful Guardian Council says it is ready to recount disputed votes from Friday's presidential poll.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election is being contested by rival Mir Hossein Mousavi and other moderate candidates, who are seeking a rerun.

Iran 'To Hold Election Recount'

That's certainly not a confirmation, but it's clear that the real rulers of Iran, the theocratic council that determines who can run for office, are feeling the pressure.

UPDATE: Replaced an AFP photo with one at the .faramarz's Iran protest gallery, which is released under the Creative Commons license.

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