Iranians Hit Threshold
Jill Marie Parillo
June 20, 2009
Fires, tear gas and blood are flowing in Tehran today (June 20), but the crowds are thinner than expected. The Green Movement (made of reformist supporters in Iran) is being seriously beaten by police. At least 100 people have been seriously injured. European and Australian Embassies have opened up for the injured in Tehran.
People are being killed by the Basij, a paramilitary arm of the Revolutionary Guards, which is now in every main square of Tehran. It is hard to know who the Basij are, since they are dressed in regular clothes, but they are noticeably trained. Water cannons and tear gas are being used to push back supporters.
This is no longer just a fight for a fair election. As Paneta Beigi, Center for Human Rights in Iran, said, this is now a "freedom movement." The protestors are chanting Death to the dictator!! We want freedom!! To stifle the green movement, the Iranian government jailed human rights lawyers, 100 journalists-bloggers and young demonstrators. They are also cutting cell phones off. The government issued a fax from the Foreign Minister of Culture and Guidance telling all reporters in Iran that they could not report from the streets without checking with the ministry.
No Iranian officials are reporting to the international community what is happening on the ground. Press TV, run by the Iranian government, did confirm reports that the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini (father of the 1979 Iranian Revolution) was bombed by a suicide bomber. The bombing killed two and injured eight. It is unclear who did the bombing. It is not anywhere near the two squares (Revolutionary and Freedom) where the Green Movement was meeting. It could have been the Mujahedin (MEK/MKO), a terrorist organization trying to overthrown the Islamic Republic.
The Guardian Council said it would meet with Mousavi, and recount up to 10% of the vote. Mousavi no longer wants a recount, just a revote. Mousavi reportedly came out to the streets today, and said that he is ready to be martyred. He said that rigging of elections was planned months in advance and is now insisting that the elections be annulled.
The difference between this week of protesting and past protests, said Beigi, is that this is no longer about a certain candidate, person or election, "this is about the threshold that the people of Iran have hit."