Sunday, June 28, 2009

And Even More On Iran

This is a difficult topic to write about. It is about a government which represses its people, about an election which most likely had severe problems and it is about violence. At the same time, it is clearly also about women, women who take to the streets with men, who demonstrate, who put their lives at risk, knowing that they do that, who are telling us how very tired they are of not having the rights men have.

But the Iranian government has banned foreign journalists from witnessing the events. Some have reportedly been jailed. Information from Iran is difficult to acquire when it comes to the larger picture, and verification of any information that comes through is almost impossible. Rumors remain rumors without such verification.

At the same time, it seems very wrong for me not to write about the events. Here are the most recent bits of news:

Iran's government said Sunday that it had arrested Iranian employees of the British Embassy, while the police in Tehran beat and fired tear gas at several thousand protesters who joined a demonstration at a mosque in support of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi.

The government's arrest of nine Iranian employees of the British Embassy marked a significant escalation in its conflict with Britain, which Tehran has sought to cast as an instigator of the unrest since the disputed June 12 election. It said the embassy employees played a significant role in organizing the protests, which have reached across the country and across social and economic lines.

Tehran also continued to charge journalists with working as agents of discord, publishing one editor's "confession" while continuing to keep others behind bars without charge or barred from working.


In spite of all the threats, the overwhelming show of force and the nighttime raids on private homes, protesters still flowed into the streets by the thousands on Sunday to demonstrate in support of Mr. Moussavi.

Mr. Moussavi, who has had little room to act but has refused to fold under government pressure, had earlier received a permit to hold a ceremony at the Ghoba mosque to honor Mohammad Beheshti, one of the founders of the 1979 revolution who died in a bombing on June 28, 1981, that killed dozens of officials. Mr. Moussavi used the anniversary as a pretense to call a demonstration, and by midday the streets outside the elaborately tiled mosque were filled with protesters, their arms jabbing the air, their fingers making a V symbol, for victory.

The demonstrators wore black, to mourn the 17 protesters killed by government-aligned forces, and chanted "Allah Akbar," or God is great.

"There was a sea of people and the crowed stretched a long way onto the main street on Shariati," said one witness, who remained anonymous because he feared retribution.

What started as a peaceful demonstration turned into a scene of violence and chaos by late Sunday, witnesses said.

Some described scenes of brutality, telling The Associated Press that some protesters suffered broken bones and alleging that police beat an elderly woman, prompting a screaming match with young demonstrators who then fought back. The reports could not be independently verified because of tight restrictions imposed on journalists in Iran.

What is very clear, however, that this is very much a cause women participate in. Ahmdinejad was never interested in women's rights or lives, except perhaps for further curtailing both of those.

Any information on reliable news sources would be much appreciated.