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Anniversary of Iran’s Disputed Election: Brave Iranians Protest … Update

12 June 2010 No Comment

Despite facing a violent if not deadly crackdown at the hands of Iran’s murderous Regime, on the one-year anniversary of the Green Movement in the Islamic Republic of Iran, brave Iranians have taken to the streets in protest.

CNN reporting: Clashes erupt in Iran as night falls on election anniversary.

Tehran, Iran — Saturday began with calm on the streets of Tehran but clashes erupted later in the day between Iran’s security forces and crowds of people gathering at the key sites to mark the first anniversary of a contested presidential election.

The first clashes Saturday were reported at about 6 p.m. as uniformed riot police and plain-clothes security forces chased away growing crowds along the sidewalks of Tehran’s Vali Asr Square, witnesses said.

Witnesses told CNN they saw several people struck by batons as they were running away. They said that at least three men were arrested, blindfolded, handcuffed and swept away by security officers on motorcycles.

By most accounts, the streets of Iran’s capital city were remarkably quiet from Saturday morning into the afternoon.

But tensions began to rise around 4 p.m. when a large number of security forces, riot police and members of the Islamic government’s voluntary Basij forces filed into major squares and intersections, including Vali Asr, Azadi Avenue, Azadi Square and Revolution Square.

Police blocked part of a road leading to Revolution Square and traffic backed up for blocks, witnesses said. Scores of Basij and other security forces were seen waiting inside several mosques and schools near major intersections.

Read more here.

Latest video coming out of Iran.

12:39 PM ET
Tehran 12 June 2010 Chanting Death to Dicatator

12:30 ET
Iran Tehran 12 june 2010 clashes at Tehran University

10:30 AM ET
Protest in Sharif University Tehran 22 Khordad anniversary 12 June, 2010

June 12, 2010 — Students Protesting at Sharif University Singing My Fellow Classmate Location: Tehran, Iran

A look back to last year.
HBO documentary: For Neda. Neda Soltan became the symbol of the Green Movement after she was shot in the heart by a Regime sniper on June 20, 2009. Her killer remains at-large.

Latest on Twitter:

More: Liveblogging with The Daily NiteOwl

1550 GMT
Unconfirmed reports are coming from Mashhad now. Reports claim that people have attempted to gather and protest, but have met with stiff resistance from security forces. I cannot confirm this at this point, however, this add another city to the unconfirmed category. Right now, unconfirmed protests are being reported from Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Sari, Aryashar, Zahedan and Sari.
1540 GMT
Several injuries have been Tehran and can be confirmed. So far, no one has been reported to have been killed during clashes. Hoping this one goes down peacefully. Any doubts about the Green Movement by the mainstream media seem to have been cleared now.
1530 GMT
There are reports that gunshots have been heard from IRIB (Iran’s government–run broadcasting agency) and security forces have surrounded it. There are now reports of clashes from Taleghani and Ferdowsi Squares. Enghelab Avenue has been blocked. Students in Tehran University are asking people to come and help them, but security forces are blocking routes and preventing people from joining students at Tehran University.
1525 GMT
Unconfirmed reports of protests from Sari, Aryashahr and Zahedan. There are reports that in Moalem Square in Sari, in clashes, at least three people have been injured. Awaiting confirmation on all of these so far.
1520 GMT
There are now unconfirmed reports of people in Kerman gathering in the city’s Azadi Square. Waiting for further confirmation.
1515 GMT
There are unconfirmed reports of protests in Isfahan now. Sources claim that people are walking from Enghelab Street to Darvazehye Davlat. I cannot confirm this yet. Protests in Shiraz are also unconfirmed at this point. So far, only protests in Tehran can be unquestionably confirmed.
1510 GMT
Radio Farda reports that at least 5,000 security forces have gathered in and around Enghelab Square. They speak of clashes between people and security forces in different parts of Tehran and confirms that people continue to pour into the streets of Tehran.
The report also confirms the use of tear gas in Tehran University and clashes there.
1500 GMT
More reports are coming in about tear gas use by security forces. Confirmation of tear gas use in Amirabad is now at hand as well. More and more people showing up. Claims of hundreds of people gathering in different areas at a time. Eventual numbers could be in thousands overall, but we’ll have to wait and see. So far, I can confirm that several people have been arrested. Exact number is anybody’s guess right now.
14:50 GMT
Reports indicate that people are trying to get to Tehran University to stop security forces from arresting and torturing students, but have so far been unsuccessful. Throngs of people are marching through Enghelab Street.


14:41 GMT
Several sources are claiming that several gunshots have been heard in Tehran. Other sources claim that central Tehran is at a virtual standstill. In other news from Mashhad City, security forces have filled the streets there too. There are partially confirmed reports of tear gas use on Tehran University students. More in a minute.
1435 GMT
Protesters in Tehran University are chanting “Death to Dictator” and “Allah o Akbar” while protesters in Sharif Industrial University are using “Ya Hossein; Mir Hossein” to encourage each other. There are further reports of clashes in Central Tehran.
At least three people have been arrested from Valiasr Square. Clashes are ongoing there and in Tehran University. Sharif Industrial University has been surrounded by security forces.
Unconfirmed reports of protests in Shiraz are just coming in.

Check back for the latest from Iran.

Update
3:30 ET
Latest according to the Associated Press: Anniversary of disputed Iran vote passes quietly

TEHRAN, Iran – The one-year anniversary of Iran’s disputed election passed quietly Saturday with little more than a subdued Internet appeal by opposition leaders for supporters to speak out on the Web against government repression.

Fearing bloodshed and calculating that it would gain them nothing, the movement’s leaders called off a day of mass protests, reflecting their increasing powerlessness against the government’s military muscle. Witnesses and the opposition reported a few isolated confrontations in the capital.

“We have to expand social networks, websites, these are our best means,” said Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister who maintains he was robbed of the presidency through fraud in the June 12, 2009, election.

“These work like an army. This is our army against their military force,” he said on his website, Kaleme.com.

The retreat from Iran’s streets and university campuses to the Web is certain to be seen as a victory for the ruling hard-liners and for the armed forces that preserved their grip on power with a harsh crackdown on postelection protesters.

The anniversary passed with no signs of major disturbances or large public gatherings.

Witnesses reported sporadic but minor clashes at Tehran’s Azadi Square between a few dozen protesters and anti-riot police swinging batons.

At Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology, students scuffled with hard-liners and plainclothes paramilitary personnel on campus, according to Mousavi’s website. “Liar, liar,” students chanted in a denunciation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Read it all here.

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This explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Check out Philip Sherwell and Colin Freeman’s superbly informative article in the Telegraph UK.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards cash in after a year of suppressing dissent

Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards have been rewarded with multi-billion dollar business contracts as payback for helping to suppress the mass protests that convulsed the country a year ago.

In return for standing by him in the bloody crackdown that saw thousands arrested and up to 100 people killed, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has awarded a series of lucrative oil and gas deals to Guards-owned front companies.

The deal will hugely boost the power of the group, a paramilitary outfit that sees itself as the ultimate defenders of the country’s Islamic revolution, and lessens the chances of any kind of compromise with Iran’s reformist challengers.

It comes as the Iranian government flooded cities on Saturday with troops, police and plain-clothes security forces to prevent protests marking the June 12 anniversary of last year’s disputed presidential elections, which sparked a summer of anti-governent street violence.

The country’s main opposition leader, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, cancelled a planned demonstration after being refused official permission by the authorities, and other than a brief protest by a small group pro-Mousavi students at Tehran University, the anniversary passed largely unobserved.

The sole sign of dissent was sporadic cries of “Allah Akbar” (God is great) – an opposition mantra – from rooftops in some areas of Tehran on Friday night.

As the most loyal and formidable of the armed forces serving the Islamic regime, the Guards have played a prominent role in the last 12 months in striking fear into supporters of the opposition movement.

Prior to last year protests, the head of the Guards’ political bureau, General Yadollah Javani, famously warned that any attempts at a “soft revolution” would be vigorously crushed. Human rights groups claim he subsequently sanctioned the use of violence against arrested demonstrators, whom the Guards assumed a lead role in interrogating.

Mr Ahmadinejad is understood to have been hugely grateful for the Guards’ support, which did not seem guaranteed at the time because of the way his presidency had bitterly divided the population.

The Guards’ reward has been contracts that will not only channel huge funds into their operations budget – which has included financing terrorist operations and attacks on British troops in Iraq – but will also line the pockets of its seniormost figures, buying future loyalty to Mr Ahmadinejad.

Among the contracts is an $850 million pipeline deal which has been awarded to GHORB, an engineering company affiliated to the Guards, and a $7 billion project in the huge South Pars oil and gas field that became vacant after a Turkish consortium withdrew.

“The Revolutionary Guards are making the case that they are the guarantors of the regime’s survival and security,” said Mark Dubowitz, who advises the US government as head of the Iran Energy Project at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies policy institute.

“From Ahmadinejad’s perspective, this is case of ‘you do our business and we’ll give you yours’.”

Read it all here.