“Talking with family and friends in Tehran”

My friend Gazelle, who has friends and family in Iran, shared the following note on Facebook and said I could repost it here. Much more detailed and straight-from-the-source explanation of what’s going on today. Plus pics at end of post Thank you Gazelle!

I was a bit tired of people on Twitter “tweeting” from the US instead of Iran and not knowing how much of what they were saying was true, so after about 45 min of trying to get through, I managed to speak to a few of my family members and friends. With hoarse voices from screaming and yelling, they were able to tell me a bit of what was actually going on yesterday…some of this might be repetitive to news reports, but this was just what my family told me.
– Protests in Tehran are going strong, no sign of waning, as I had feared. People are observing the “silent” protest that has been permitted by the government and there are millions and millions of opposition protesters of all ages as opposed to just several thousand of Ahmadinejad’s supporters. They are planning to go every day until there is a new election, no compromises on that point. That made me feel very hopeful, because I feared the opposition would eventually slow down, but she says there is absolutely no sign of that

-They have promised a recount, but no one accepts this as an option because they feel the entire election was a sham. One relative told me that in Isfahan, a traditionally conservative city, there are also massive demonstrations because the vote totals that were released were so skewed.

-The numbers that were unofficially released by the Interior Ministry by a worker have Ahmadinejad coming in 3rd with a little over 5 million votes, and Mousavi as the winner. That worker was suspiciously killed in a car accident yesterday, Iranian state TV reported on his death and described him as a “liar” and “traitor to the government” but people believe the statistics that were released. My family members are all convinced this was in fact a stolen election, not just because of Tehran’s outrageous results but other provinces and cities are protesting including Isfahan, Rasht, Tabriz, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Bushehr, among others.

-Rafsanjani is starting to get involved and trying to call a meeting of the Assembly of Experts (which is separate from the Guardian Council, who has promised a partial recount only). Much of what is going on reflects the tension between Khamenei and Rafsanjani, and many prominent clerics are speaking out and taking sides, reflecting a schism in the clerical community that has not occurred in the history of the Islamic Republic. As many others have stated, she reiterated the point that it has shaped up to be a fight against the Revolutionary Guard, Ahmadinejad, Khamenei and some of his principalist clerics vs. the people, Mousavi, Khatami, Rafsanjani, and other prominent moderate or reformist clerics. Khamenei is losing the upper hand because even the army is beginning to disobey orders to shoot protesters…during the protest yesterday, my cousin said some of the soldiers were smiling and waving to the protesters from the tops of their cars/mobile units.

-My aunt was saying that during the day, the protests are incredibly peaceful. The violence we are seeing begins in the late afternoon/early evenings by a group of instigators who begin to attack the Basijis and the Basijis who attack anyone in the streets. (For those that don’t know, the Basijis are a fringe militia group that is unofficially supported by the government–they usually wear scarves around their necks, are in plainclothes, and ride around in twos on motorcycles trying to “control” people and “enforce” their notion of the rules.) She suspects that these instigators are mostly hooligans who are taking advantage of the disorder to cause violence and many are not even primarily interested in the election, just with attacking the Basijis and government. Many believe that those who are causing the violence are in fact hurting the reputation of the opposition, and gives the govt the ability to crack down on them, and then blame all the protesters collectively for being violent and say they are being influenced by “foreign powers”.

– She also said that this is not going away any time soon and people are not going to rest until there is a new election. There is no sign that they are going to give up. Like the revolution, they are going to their roof at night and yelling “God is Great–Allahoo Akbar”, which is very telling. Schools are closed and exams have been pushed back indefinitely. She says that the only time it is quiet is the early morning when people can do their shopping and business, and then everything starts again. People have been stockpiling food and water in their homes. My other aunt was saying that the electricity has been shut off for hours at a time…in their home it was shut off from 4am-6pm, over 12 hrs.

– Many people are outraged at the attack on the dormitory at Tehran University and this has become a major issue for the protesters as well. Although other people have been killed during protests, this is particularly a sore point because everyone says the students were defenseless and the Basiji’s attacked without being provoked. Parliament head Larijani and other government representatives have condemned the attack and supposedly are investigating it because they say the students were innocent of any illegal protest or activity.

– Basically she told me not to worry because everyone is trying to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner as to not give anyone the reason to attack them. The government has no idea what to do, it is obvious they are completely backed into a corner, where if they have a new election, they will surely lose legitimacy when they lose because its obvious they have lied. However, if they don’t do anything, they fear the entire system will come undone because people will not rest until this is resolved. They have tried to take the middle road by promising this partial recount, but no one is satisfied by that because of stuffed ballot boxes and other irregularities.

– She said most people think Obama is doing the right thing not getting involved and letting Iranians sort this out for themselves. Already Ahmadinejad’s supporters are trying to say that this is another “US-led coup like 1953, and the CIA is behind it” or other such nonsense about foreign involvement, but a few of the newspapers are offended and have come out and said “why can’t Iranians protest without everyone thinking someone else is behind it? We have brains and ability for ourselves– “nafaam neesteem”- we are not stupid”.

– In short, even my aunt who has massive back problems and other health issues, is going to go walk and join the masses, something she would never do out of concerns for her health and safety…which made me want to cry with pride. Its people like her who are going, regardless of physical condition, people who are tired of feeling pressure and feeling suffocated. They’ve had enough. That is why I think this time we will succeed.

These photos were sent to me by a relative who is from Isfahan, and another relative from Tehran. Not sure if they took themselves or if they received from other friends.

Isfahan’s Naghshe Jahan Square
love this photo…

26 thoughts on ““Talking with family and friends in Tehran”

  1. You can’t oppress people forever. Gandhi saidhttp://www.quotationspage.com/quote/33237.html When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.
    Mahatma Gandhi

  2. I am so grateful to your friend for sharing her conversation with her family so that we can have an inside story of what is going on. If your friend talks to her family again, she should tell them we are supporting them and many of us pray for the safety of Iranians as they take this bold step to let their voices be heard.

  3. I am in somewhat agreement on the amount of retweeting going on, the signal to noise ratio is extremely low. However, that also benefits tweeters in Iran as govt monitors must sort out who is tweeting from abroad and who is tweeting from inside Iran. Think of the movie Spartacus where the Romans are looking for Spartacus and when asked for Spartacus to stand up, the whole lot of captured slaves stands up yelling “I’m Spartacus”. I have done some RTing but have become much more judicious in doing so.

    President Obama’s relative silence on this matter have not persuaded the Ahmedis to not attempt to paint their opposition as CIA toadies. What many of us here in the States want is for President Obama to offer words of encouragement to the opposition.

  4. This was a wonderful article. Your family’s feedback gave me hope that the Iranians will not give up what they have started and their struggle will lead to something wonderful…Thank you for posting.

  5. Governments around the world are powerless to do or say anything, but the people of the world stand arm in arm with the brave patriots of Iran who defy the status quo and the corrupt leaders who steal elections. My respect and my prayers are for you and your families.

  6. Thank you for this informative and interesting perspective on what is going on in Iran. Hope you will continue to update as you can. Godspeed to your friend’s family…

  7. Pingback: Wednesday’s running story « Iran Election 2009

  8. thx for all comments. Marcus Aurelius, I didn’t get the impression that she is against RTs on Twitter, simply that she was hungry for more info than she was getting from tweets alone…

    re: Obama’s reaction I think the less he does the more silly Ahmadinejad’s “CIA-sponsored protest” accusations look. Unfortunately that’s the reputation and political capital that the US has to work with right now. Our endorsement of movements in the region is seen as dubious by many folks. But I will be posting more thoughts on this with an interview soon.

  9. If possible, please convey to Iranians the support and sympathy of this New Yorker! I am truly touched by the courage and unity displayed on the streets of Tehran & elsewhere. No matter the immediate outcome, their voices are being heard and will never be forgotten.

  10. Stand for Freedom! Your oppressors cannot win -Your numbers too vast -Your Hearts too big -Your will too resolute..VICTORY! A native Texan – and our state was once young, free, independent republic. Godspeed – you guys are remarkable – Keep the Faith!

  11. God bless the courageous people of Iran. I support their cry for representation and freedom. My God grant them peace and success very soon. People of America take note they are just like us!! Do not forget we are all Gods children and we all deserve a chance to be free.

  12. I hope they are successful in changing things peacefully! One thing that not been mentioned much is the effect this will have on perceptions of Iran from outside of Iran. Following these events, allot of people have learned a great deal about the Iranian people, their government’s structure, their history and their social issues. Hopefully, by watching these events unfold through the eyes (or blogs) of normal Iranians, we can leave behind some of the grotesque negative caricatures of each other that have developed over the years. My thoughts are with the Iranian people. Thanks for an excellent blog!

  13. What they’re doing is truly inspiring. That government didn’t expect its own ppl to stand for what they belive in!
    They should stand united and get what they want…that’s democracy!

    All our support go to the Iranian People from Australia!

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