By Nancy K. Matthis | Saturday, June 20th, 2009 at 6:30 am
Thousands of unarmed peaceful protesters are walking silently toward Azadi Square in Tehran right now. Each carries a copy of the Quran, because Islamic law states that it is a sin to kill anyone with a Quran in their hand. It is 6:30AM in the morning EDT, and they are flooding Twitter with this message:
Pray for us. Today is our independence day.
Announcements on Iranian media purporting to be from the opposition leaders Mousavi, Karroubi, et. al. said that the rallies were cancelled, but this was government disinformation intended to trick the protesters into staying home. With its two reassigned satellites in service, the BBC is streaming content from the outside world into Tehran despite government attempts to jam the signal, and the demonstrators are getting accurate updates that the rallies are still scheduled.
Khatami and Karroubi are expected to attend, and Mousavi will address the crowd. Mobile phone networks are down, the Internet is down.
Tell the world they are disconnecting us.
Reports are circulating that the regime has flown in planeloads of Hezbollah mercenaries from Lebanon, out of concern that the Iranian military might refuse to fire on their own civilian population.
The streets are lined with Revolutionary Guards and police wielding batons. The government has announced that it will arrest ALL of the demonstrators. The round-up of bloggers and Iranian journalists has begun. Most demonstrators who can still send messages now report that several friends have been arrested.
Here is a list of rallies being held around the world in support of the protesters in Iran.
Revolution Martyrs is a list of martyrs who have died for the revolution.
UPDATE: 7:30AM EDT and the rally in Tehran has begun. Our hearts are with them. CNN has thoroughly disgraced itself by parroting the disinformation line of Iranian state media, saying there are few protesters to be seen. Thus CNN becomes an agent of the Iranian theocracy in their attempts to quell the freedom movement. Or, as the Tweeters would have it:
CNN is propaganda, not press.
At the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan writes — Whose Side Are We On? You Have to Ask?:
With Twitter’s help, the youth of Iran take on the ayatollahs….
it’s pretty wonderful to see what we’re seeing. It is moving, stirring—they are risking their lives over there in a spontaneous, self-generated movement for greater liberty and justice. Good for them….
If the rebels on the street win, however winning is defined, they, being more modern and moderate than the ruling government, will likely have a moderating influence on their government. If the rebels on the street lose, however that is defined, this fact remains: Something has been unleashed, and it won’t be going away. A thugocracy has been revealed as lacking the support and respect of a considerable portion of its people, and that portion is not solely the most sophisticated and educated but, far more significantly, the young. Half the people in Iran are under 27. When the young rise against the old, the future rises against the past. In that contest, the future always wins. The question is timing: soon or some years from now?
UPDATE: 9:30AM EDT and police are using tear gas and water cannon against the protesters.
Heavy clashes on Azadi Street, chants of death to Khameni! The street is full of rocks and fire.
Houses in alleys open doors to injured protesters, one source reporting hallway is full of beaten people, many crying.
Protesters report Basiji shooting directly into the crowd in Azadi Square. Television coverage of the shooting was first posted here at BBC Persia. Now it’s up on YouTube and we can embed it:
Iran’s state-run Press TV reports a bomb explosion at the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini in southern Tehran, with two people reportedly injured. Protesters disclaim any responsibility for this, and believe it is a government ploy to justify a violent crackdown.
Bombing was not by Green Movement. Do the mullahs think that people are so gullible? How desperate are they to retain power?
Here’s a clue:
According to people on the ground, Iranian State Television reported on the blast, BEFORE it actually went off.
UPDATE: 10AM EDT Reports begin to surface that Rafsanjani will speak out this week against Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, and that many Ayatollahs are with Rafsanjani. One person has been killed:
One person shot dead in Valiasr – Enghelab crossing, body immdeiately taken away by police.
UPDATE: 10:30AM EDT Is the tide turning? First reports come that about 5000 protesters are beginning to push back the police, Basiji, and Hezbollah mercenaries to Azadi Street. A crowd has formed in Vanak Square. Now people are reportedly attackng police near Laleh Park and pushing them back, as well. Here’s the first video of protesters forcing the riot police to retreat:
European countries open the doors of their embassies to take in the injured.
Late in the afternoon, police arrested, and later released, five relatives of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran and an influential member of the opposition to Ahmadinejad. Those arrested included his daughter Faezeh Hashemi, and her daughter, taken while attending a protest rally.