Let us open Window 64 without delay. In Iran the street protests continued to be stifled under extremely heavy presence of the Revolutionary Guards and their militia, the Basij. A couple of attempts to gather by people led to arrests and dispersion of the crowd.
The General Mood in Iran
The mood in Iran is that of exhaustion and anxiety and fear that the green movement can lose its momentum completely. My anonymous e-mailer from Tehran writes:
“I am ok physically, very low in spirit. We all are. The movement is coming into nothing again. After several people getting killed, hundreds wounded and arrested, we feel very bad. They have suffocated the reformist movement. We are doomed.“
Much of the frustration is due to the people’s inability to move physically or access information. In the meantime, they are bombarded with messages from the state run media suggesting that the protests are over. And that these protests were funded by secret projects by the CIA (see image to the right). It is the front page of “Kayhan,” one of the the most widely distributed dailies in Iran. The headline reads “CIA’s $400 million Dollar budget for Post-Election Disturbances in Iran.”
Has Everything Ended?
* The Grand Ayatollah Montazeri has declared three days of national mourning starting this Wednesday.
* Mr. Mousavi has announced, via facebook, a peaceful rally at the tomb of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini.
A Legal Victory Already
* For years the Iranian human rights activist, and Noble Laureate, Shirin Ebadi had struggled to get the Iranian Parliament to pass a bill to declare severe punishments such as stoning, cutting of limbs, and execution of minors illegal. While the government has spoken against them and tried to limit them, no such bill was ever taken to the parliament. Today, according to Tabnak News (quoting Mr. Ali Shahrokhi, the Chair person of the Iranian Parliament’s Legal Committee) announced that the bill to abolish these punishments was submitted to the parliament for approval: http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=52684. This is a major legal victory for the reformists – and the first fruit of the recent uprising.
Other indications of new and significant development
* First, those who did go out reported interesting interaction between the Basij and the demonstrators. Here is an excerpt from a demonstrator posted on NIAC blog. He went out to the Hafte Tir Square to grieve – with others – the death of Neda, the young woman who died of a gunshot aimed at her heart from a rooftop on Saturday. In the evening he posted this:
“I cannot sleep and not write this. Today in Haft-e Tir, there were so many members of Basij that they outnumbered the demonstrators 3 or 4 to 1. They were less focused on women. This must be related to the murder of poor Neda. And this was also why whenever they got hold of a man, women would surround them and shout don’t beat him, don’t beat and they would turn and anxiously say we didn’t beat him. It was astonishing. They explained; they talked. But they didn’t allow us to congregate; they kept telling us to walk and the crowd walked quietly for 2 hours in the circle (meydaan) and spontaneously gathered in whichever area they were not present. About 2000 of us were walking around the circle and only shouting Allah-o Akbar [my omission]… I thought people’s patience and persistence was great, although there were also many bad scenes and I cried. They arrested a whole bus load of people. There were many intelligence folks in the crowd too. They would point to a person and the Basijis would arrest that person. There was no one from Sepah (the Revolutionary Guards) and the police was obviously sympathetic to the crowd. I swear some of the Basijis were only 14 or 15, or at least what they looked like to me.“
* Second, there are very important (unconfirmed) reports of further developments behind the scenes. An indication of the authenticity of these reports is that the the two websites reporting them (including that of al-Arabiyyah) have now been blocked to Iranians. According to these, Mr. Rafsanjani has now reached an agreement with the “Assembly of the Experts” concerning removing Mr. Khamenei from the post of the “supreme leadership.” The remaining discussions are about the arrangements for replacement. One possible replacement is a council made up of three or four clerics.
Other Significant Unconfirmed Reports
* The Supreme leader has moved out of his regular residence to a safer place.
* The army has declared it will not take responsibility for security, as long as Basij and the plain clothes security forces are on the street.
Important Information for Protesters in Iran!
* Mr. Mousavi’s website Kalemeh.ir provides a fax number for people to report grievances and possible injuries to his headquarters. Please be warned (and tell relatives and friends in Iran) that this number may have been inserted by hackers who wish to identify the protesters.
New Forms of Protest In Iran
* Since the peaceful rallies are now occasions for the Basij to attack unarmed people, a new and creative form of Protest has began. The video you see is from the City of Shiraz (my hometown).
Please remember that you can access these windows on Iran and share them with others at my blog: www.windowsoniran.wordpress.com.
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399