Defying Iran censors, a blogger reports from Tehran
'All of a sudden, 15 people attacked me inside the car. They beat me with batons and tried to pull me out.'
This is a blog entry that was written by a participant in the pro-reformist demonstrations staged by supporters of the opposition in Iran. This dispatch was sent to relatives with an explicit request to disseminate it to as wide an audience as possible, thus circumventing the draconian censorship imposed by Iranian authorities on journalists, particularly foreign correspondents.
The writer, whose name has been omitted here for understandable reasons, describes his first-hand observations from the massive demonstration in Tehran which took place on Monday.
To the extent it was possible to verify the content of the piece, one is left with the impression that the report is credible and reliable.
I left my home in Tajrish along with my family at 3 P.M. We went down Valiast Street which is the main northern-southern avenue in Tehran and entered the Evin Expressway which leads to Enghelab Street. We knew that people are supposed to gather in Enghelab (Revolution) Square at 4 and march toward Azadi (Freedom) Square. From Gisha Bridge onwards, we saw people walking down. Cars were blowing their horns and people were showing victory sign.
We went to Navvab Street and parked our car at the end of the street. Then we took a taxi to bring us back to the Enghelab Street. On our way, near Jomhouri (Republic) Square, I saw a group of about 20 militia with long beards and batons on motorbikes. My hand was out of the car window with a little green ribbon (the sign of reformists) around my finger. One of the militia told me to throw that ribbon away. I showed him a finger.
All of a sudden, about 15 people attacked me inside the car. They beat me with their batons and wanted to pull me out. My wife and my daughter who were sitting in the back seat cried and hold me tight. I also hold myself tight on the chair. They wanted to shatter the car windows. The driver went out and explained that he is a taxi and we are his passengers and he has no fault. After about five minutes, they left. My elbow hurts severely. Then, a young man from their group came and kissed my elbow! I told him: You know, I don't hate you. I am like you with the only difference that I know more and you are ignorant. He apologized and left. We joined the crowd in Enghelab Street.
Read carefully: What I saw today was the most elegant scene I had ever witnessed in my life. The huge number of people were marching hand in hand in full peace. Silence. Silence was everywhere. There was no slogan. No violence. Hands were up in victory sign with green ribbons. People carried placards which read: Silence. Old and young, man and woman of all social groups were marching cheerfully.
This was a magnificent show of solidarity. Enghelab Street, which is the widest avenue in Tehran, was full of people. I was told that the march has begun in Ferdowsi Square and the end of the march was now in Imam Hossein Square. to the further east of Tehran while on the other end people had already gathered in Azadi Square. The length of this street is about six kilometers. The estimate is about two million people.
On the way, we passed a police department and a militia (Baseej) base. In both places, the doors were closed and we could see fully-armed riot police and militia watching the people from behind the fences. Near Sharif University of Technology, where the students had chased away Ahmadinejad a few days ago, Mir Hossein Mousavi (the lead Reformist candidatef for president) and Karrubi (the other reformist candidate whose short speech was received by cries of praise and applause). I felt proud to find myself among such a huge number of passionate people who were showing the most reasonable act of protest.
Frankly, I didn't expect such a political maturity from emotional Iranians who easily get excited. My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression. Placards that people carried were different; from poems by the national poet Ahmad Shamlu to light-hearted slogans against Ahmadinejad. Examples include: "To slaughter us/ why did you need to invite us / to such an elegant party" (Poem by Shamlu). "Hello! Hello! 999? / Our votes were stolen" or " The Miracle of the Third Millennium: 2 x 2 = 24 millions" (alluding to the claim by Government that Ahmadinejad obtained 24 million votes) , "Where is my vote?" , "Give me back my vote" and many other. We arrived in Azadi Square where the entire square was full of population.
It is said that around 500,000 people can be accommodated in this huge square and it was full. Suddenly we saw smoke from Jenah Freeway and heard the gunshot. People were scared at first but then went forward. I just heard the gunshots but my sister who had been on the scene at that part told me later that she saw four militiamen come out from a house and shoot a girl. Then they shot a young boy in his eye and the bullet came out of his ear. She said that four people were shot. At least one person dead has been confirmed. People arrested one of the Baseeji militia but the three others ran away when they ran out of bullet. At around 8 we went back on foot.
On the way back people were still in the street and were chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great). I was coming home at around 2 A.M. In parkway, I saw about ten buses full of armed riot police parked on the side of the street. Then I saw scattered militia in civil clothes with clubs in hand patrolling the empty streets. In Tajrish Square, I saw a very young boy (around 16 years of age) with a club who was looking at the cars to see if he can find something to attack. I don't know how and under what teachings young boys can change into militiamen. I came home. Tomorrow, people will gather again in Valiasr Square for another peaceful march toward the IRIB building which controls all the media and which spreads filthy lies.
Two days ago, Ahmadinejad held his victory ceremony. Government buses had transported all his supporters from nearby cities. There was full coverage of that ceremony where fruit juice and cake was plenty. A maximum of 100,000 had gathered to hear his speech. These included all the militia and the soldiers and all supporters he could gather by the use of free TV publicity. Today, at least two million people came only relying on word of mouth while reformists have no newspaper, no radio, no TV. All their internet sites are filtered as well as social networks such as Facebook. Text messaging and mobile communication was also cut off during the demonstration. Since Sunday, Iranian TV was announcing that there is no license for any gathering and riot police will severely punish anybody who may demonstrates.
Ahmadinejad called the opposition a bunch of insignificant dirt who tries to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. He also called the Western leaders as a bunch of "filthy homosexuals." All these disgusting remarks were answered by the largest demonstration ever. Older people compared Monday's demonstration with the Ashura demonstration of 1979 which marks the downfall of the Shah regime and even said that it outnumbered that event.
The militia burnt a house themselves to find the excuse to commit violence. People neutralized their tactic to a large degree by their solidarity, their wisdom and their denial to engage in any violent act. I feel sad for the loss of those young girls and boys. It is said that they also killed three students last night in their attack at Tehran University residence halls.
I heard that a number of professors of Sharif University and Amir Kabir University (Tehran Polytechnic) have resigned. Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tear in these early hours of Tuesday, the16th of June 2009, I glorify the courage and bravery of those martyrs and I hope that their blood will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights. Viva Freedom, Viva Democracy, Viva Iran.
P.S.: If you find this report of any value, please share it with as many people as possible. Facebook is filtered and internet is very slow in Iran. Please somebody put this on Facebook.
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