Update [2009-6-13 21:12:19 by Steven D]: Roger Cohen has a video report from a rooftop in Tehran which can be viewed at this link. The video shows black clothed police beating protesters, among other things, including still pictures, all to Cohen;s voice narration. You can also see Cohen himself taping the report while standing on a Tehran rooftop, a place he claims was chosen because he would not have been permitted to tape his report from the streets of Tehran.

Also, Al Jazeeera’s reporter on the scene had this to say about the street protests in Tehran earlier today:

Al Jazeera’s Teymoor Nabili, reporting from Tehran, said major streets in the north of the city had come to a standstill.

“Coming up the street there were running battles happening between riot police and students and there were refuse bins alight in the middle of the road,” he said.

“I saw riot police hitting students with sticks. I saw students – or young people – throwing stones at the riot police, trying to knock them off their motorcycles.

“But you didn’t get a sense that there was any kind of organised movement in this.”

* * *

To the extent that reports are coming out of Iran regarding the election controversy, the indications are of great civil unrest in several cities (clashes between protesters and riot police) and also of alleged arrests of opposition political figures. I refer you to this story at The Huffington Post by Nico Pitney who has been attempting to follow post election developments despite the news blackout imposed by the government.

The highlights:

6:24 PM ET — More house arrest reports. The National Iranian American Council notes reports that Ahmadinejad’s main challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has been placed under house arrest, as well as another of the four presidential candidates, Mehdi Karroubi, and Karroubi’s campaign manager (and former Tehran mayor) Gholamhossein Karbaschi.

6:12 PM ET … From a reader: ” My next door neighbor is an Iranian immigrant who came here in 1977. He just received a SAT phone call from his brother in Tehran who reports that the rooftops of nighttime Tehran are filled with people shouting ‘Allah O Akbar’ in protest of the government and election results….”

5:53 PM ETReport: Khatami’s brother arrested. [Note: Khatami was the former President Ahmadinejehad defeated in 2005 who supported Mousavi] The excellent National Iranian American Council, which I’ve cited several times today, offers some new translations of Twitter messages coming out of Iran. […]

“Seyed Mohamad Khatami has not been arrested, but his brother Mohammad Reza Khatami and (his wife) Zahra Esraghi have been”

“[Tehran Univ. political scientist] Ahmad Ziadabadi and [prominent political blogger] Saeed Shariati have been arrested”


4:15 PM ET — A reader gets a message from his cousin in Tehran: “Please share this message on Facebook or share it in a way for us to be heard: Tehran-9:50pm: We don’t have text message, cellphone network, Facebook, youTube, Twitter and lots of other websites. BBC PERSIA is gone also on HOTBIRD. 3 reformist newspapers are banned (I can’t check the names I’ve just heard and everything is blocked on internet) If anyone can, help me share the news. They have cut us off from the world.” […]

3:41 PM ET — Potentially stunning development. The National Iranian American Council links to a Farsi language story saying the President of the Committee of Election Monitoring has requested that the election be canceled. [

Hojjat-ol-Eslam Yali Akbar MohteshamiPour officially requested that the Guardian Council to cancel this election and schedule a new election balanced and moderated democratically with the widespread and national presence of the people.

Nico Pitney’s report also includes excerpts from a Wall Street Journal report, and videos of street protests and violence occuring in Tehran and Shiraz, including video of buses set ablaze in Tehran.

Alleged Tehran video:

Alleged Shiraz video

A former Iranian Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Yazdi, in an interview with The Nation’s Robert Dreyfusshas described what’s occurring as a coup and the creation of a dictatorship. Whatever is happening, it certainly sounds like a very chaotic and rapidly evolving situation.

Here’s long time and respected Middle Eastern correspondent, Robert Fisk, writing for The Independent:

First the cop screamed abuse at Mir Hossein Mousavi’s supporter, a white-shirted youth with a straggling beard and unkempt hair. Then he smashed his baton into the young man’s face. Then he kicked him viciously in the testicles. It was the same all the way down to Vali Asr Square. Riot police in black rubber body armour and black helmets and black riot sticks, most on foot but followed by a flying column of security men, all on brand new, bright red Honda motorcycles, tearing into the shrieking youths – hundreds of them, running for their lives. They did not accept the results of Iran’s presidential elections. They did not believe that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won 62.6 per cent of the votes. And they paid the price.

“Death to the dictator,” they were crying on Dr Fatimi Street, now thousands of them shouting abuse at the police. […]

. . . That Mir Hossein Mousavi had been awarded a mere 33 per cent of the votes – by midday, the figure was humiliatingly brought down to 32.26 per cent – brought forth the inevitable claims of massive electoral fraud and vote-rigging. Or, as the crowd round Fatimi Square chorused as they danced in a circle in the street: “Zionist Ahmadinejad – cheating at exams.” That’s when I noticed that the police always treated the protesters in the same way. Head and testicles. It was an easy message to understand. A smash in the face, a kick in the balls . . .

Back on the streets, there were now worse scenes. The cops had dismounted from their bikes and were breaking up paving stones to hurl at the protesters, many of them now riding their own motorbikes between the rows of police. I saw one immensely tall man – dressed Batman-style in black rubber arm protectors and shin pads, smashing up paving stones with his baton, breaking them with his boots and chucking them pell mell at the Mousavi men. A middle-aged woman walked up to him – the women were braver in confronting the police than the men yesterday – and shouted an obvious question: “Why are you breaking up the pavements of our city?” The policeman raised his baton to strike the woman but an officer ran across the road and stood between them. “You must never hit a woman,” he said. Praise where praise is due, even in a riot. […]

Last night, all SMS calls were blocked. The Iranian news agency announced that, since there would be no second round of elections, there would be no extension of visas for foreign journalists – one can well see why – and so many of the people who were praised by the government for their patriotism in voting on Friday were assaulted by their own government on Saturday.

It sounds like a nightmare is being played out in real life in Iran right now.

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