The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on this very question tomorrow. Contact your elected officials to tell them what you think should be done:
#1: The US shouldn’t interfere.
#2: U.S. involvement would be counterproductive, but human rights violations must be condemned.
#3: The US should voice its support for the demonstrators.
* We have attempted to broadly capture the most common ideas about what the United States should be doing, but we recognize this is not an exhaustive list of options. If your views aren’t fully reflected, simply modify the message to reflect your views.
10:55 pm: Breaking: House to vote on Iran resolution tomorrow
According to CQ, the House will vote tomorrow on a bipartisan resolution expressing support for Iranian dissidents who have been demonstrating since the presidential election last week.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) joined with Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) on a resolution condemning the violence against the protesters, the suppression of communication technologies, and affirming “the universality of individual rights.”
This measure is almost guaranteed to pass–probably with an overwhelming number of votes–which will unfortunately put the Congress directly at odds with the White House in responding to the crisis in Iran. Up to now, the President has been very cautious not to be seen as choosing one side over the other in the election dispute, saying he doesn’t want the US to become the story inside Iran. But the Congress seems poised to speak out more vocally on the subject, choosing to come down squarely on the side of the dissidents.
Les Gelb, earlier in the day, had this to say:
Republican leadership calls for Obama to condemn Iran’s election results and speak out for the demonstrators shows no knowledge of Iran whatsoever. If he did so, America would become the issue in Iran, not Ahmadinejad, and we would become the excuse and justification for spilling Iranian blood.
These sniping remarks by Republican leaders also shows they put pandering to their right wing above American national security. Why can’t they listen to their own real foreign policy expert — Senator Richard Lugar — and see and say that the U.S. must exercise restraint in our public statements for Iran’s sake and our own.
As we’ve been saying for some time now, the President has it right here. Though of course everyone supports free and fair democracies, Iran is a country in flux at the moment. If US political figures come out in strong support for Mousavi, then what? Won’t Ahmadinejad just use that to declare Mousavi is a puppet of the West? That certainly won’t do much to help the cause for reform in Iran.
9:00 pm: A powerful and frightening account of a Canadian journalist mistakenly detained by the Ministry of the Interior in Iran:
Before I knew what was happening, I was whisked away on a motorcycle to the Interior Ministry headquarters, and taken to a large basement room.Inside a concrete room to my left, I could see more than 50 others being made to stand in uncomfortable positions – on their toes with their hands pressed behind their heads. Some were covered in blood, and police with batons patrolled the rows, tapping some detainees on the shoulders with their sticks.
There was no screaming, just the sound of boots pacing on the concrete floor.
For a few terrifying hours yesterday, I was mistaken for an anti-government protester, giving me a glimpse into how the hundreds arrested over the weekend are being treated by authorities in a system where dissidents are known to “disappear” and not be seen again for months.
What was dubbed a “terrible misunderstanding” by the officers in charge has given this Canadian journalist a glimpse into the nightmare that countless Iranians are experiencing right now. When President Obama condemns the violence and human rights abuses going on in Iran, this is what he’s talking about.
8:51 pm: A loyal niacINsight reader used the website we mentioned earlier to subtitle one of Mousavi’s campaign videos:
7:21 pm: Basij Killed
According to Iranian state media, (words in quotes are the language they used) 1 Basij has been “martyred.” He was killed by “thugs” (referring to the protesters who ran him over in Sa’adat Abad a northern well-off part of Tehran). According to state media, they have reported 8 deaths, one of them being a Basij and the others, according to them “thugs.”
6:32 pm: What’s going on here?
Earlier in the day, we saw a message posted on Mousavi’s facebook page saying “Mousavi & Karoubi ask supporters NOT to attend Friday prayers (which is being delivered by supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei).” We thought this was strange, since they were saying exactly the opposite just a little while ago. Now, Nico and the NYT both have commented about the same message going up on Twitter.
Just as we were trying to figure out what was going on on Mousavi’s facebook page, the message was removed. This appears to be an organized attack on Mousavi and Karroubi’s facebook and twitter accounts to send misleading messages to supporters. We got the impression that they were trying to take these messages down as fast as possible, so we are pretty convinced they’re not legitimate.
5:22 pm: Before and After the elections (thanks to NIAC intern Ali for the translation):
5:14 pm: Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, wrote over at HuffPo:
Iranian Authorities Must Void Elections to Restore Peace on Streets
On Monday, June 15, more than 1 million people marched in the streets of Tehran to support Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi — two defeated presidential candidates — and to object to the results of last week’s election. Their destination was Azadi Square (Freedom Square) which, at the time of the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago, had been the gathering spot for revolutionaries. Mir Hossein Moussavi climbed on top of a minibus and spoke to the people through a loudspeaker. He told them to continue their objections but refrain from aggressive behavior, in order not to give security forces an excuse to resort to violence.
5:10: More on the victims’ families in Qom from http://twitter.com/iranbaan:
“According to Fars News Agency, the martyr Rajae’s wife has been arrested in Qom. It is said that the family and wives of some of famous martyrs such as Hemmat and Bakeri were also with Rajae’s wife. Fars wrote that these women along with Jamileh Kadivar and Ms. Mohtashami Pour were planning a sit-in in Qom when they were arrested by the armed forces.”
4:44 pm: Greatest headline ever, courtesy state-run Fars news — “Government: Iranians’ Unity Thwarts Enemies’ Plot”
4:18 pm: According to a reader comment, at least a few of the government phone numbers we posted below check out:
Those numbers you posted at 1:34pm – they work! I tried a few. A couple were engaged and on a couple more I got through! A great way to maybe make a real difference – call up our government and tell them what you think. Btw, I am not in Iran – just from there.
3:54 pm: Translated from twitter.
Though I have read reports in recent days that the protests have been spreading to cities such as Ahvaz and Esfahan, this may represent a substantial escalation of state violence. We’ll keep you posted on whether the reports confirm this.
3:51 pm: Fars News is reporting two children of Rafsanjani (Faezeh and Mehdi) have been forbidden from leaving the country. They also claim that students gathered at the prosecutor’s office to demand that legal action be taken against them. I’m not going to speculate, but you can read the story below and draw your own conclusions.
3:37 pm: Translated from twitter.
I’ve been watching intently for any signs that Rafsanjani will tip his hand. As of this point, he’s been working largely behind the scenes. He reportedly called an emergency meeting of the Assembly of Experts yesterday, which (we can only speculate) might have been intended to raise questions about Khamenei’s fitness to remain as Supreme Leader. (The Assembly of Experts is in charge of naming Khamenei’s successor, and has some oversight responsibility for the Supreme Leader).
Though we’ve heard conflicting reports about him resigning from his very powerful government posts, he has yet to reveal his positions publicly. In my opinion, if Rafsanjani comes out of the woodwork and joins the demonstrations, the entire situation will be changed drastically.
If this news is correct, the hardliners understand the threat, and are trying to neutralize it.
3:35 pm: US rallies continue
As all of you know, rallies have been taking place all over the country. The past week’s demonstrations have been seen in Iowa, North Carolina, New York, DC, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington, and more. These rallies have been widely successful as hundreds of Iranian Americans across the country have spoken out against the human rights abuses and election fraud of the Iranian elections. From Orange County to Raleigh to the nation’s capitol, young and old alike have come together to support their fellow Iranians.
Via facebook’s Where is my vote? group, upcoming Iran election demonstrations will be held in the following days in Colorado, San Jose, New York, and Sacramento, as well as another tonight at 6 in DC outside the Iranian interests section, with a processions to the Russian and Chinese Embassies.
3:00 pm: The Twitter Revolution
For the first time in history, ordinary citizens have taken it upon themselves to report news instantaneously, spreading information to all the corners of the world online via Twitter. Though internet connectivity in Iran has been somewhat spotty, Iranians have been able to chat with the outside world to give an accurate account of the events on the ground.
This firsthand perspective is even more important given the crackdown on foreign journalists, many of whom have had their equipment confiscated and even a few of whom have been detained by the authorities.
So I am struck by the tragic irony, then, of a story we reported on recently here at niacINsight, about how Microsoft has blocked its instant messaging service in Iran, citing its interpretation of US sanctions laws. The US Treasury has made it clear that transfers of informational materials are allowed:
The receipt or transmission of postal, telegraphic, telephonic or other personal communications, which does not involve the transfer of anything of value, between the United States and Iran is authorized
We’ve spoken to OFAC, who said that Microsoft did this without any prompting from them, and that they are discussing the matter with Microsoft officials. (We’re also reaching out to them as well).
At a time like this, it sure would be nice to be able to have as much access as possible to the Iranians on the ground, letting them tell the world what is actually going on. It’s a shame that they have to fight against their own government’s repression and censorship and at the same time struggle with America’s attempt to isolate the Iranian regime at the expense of its people.
2:27 pm: Today’s rally was called “green wave in black silence” as Iranians paid respect to those who have lost their lives in the demonstrations.
“I fear the day that the youth will demonstrate for their rights against you as result of your incompetence.” – Ayatollah Khomeini. (This photo was posted on Mousavi’s website today.)
2:14 pm:Victims’ families visit Qom’s religious authorities
According to Mowj [Farsi], a group of families affected by the recent violence and several widows of Iran-Iraq war joined together to gp Qom today to plead for justice and express their opposition to the use of violence against the Iranian people.
They also issued a statement asking the Ulema (religious authorities) to come to their help, saying:
Where should we, women of this land, take our complaints? Today, our daughters and sons in universities, dorms, and streets are getting slapped in the face, their blood is being shed, [they] are being hit by sticks, batons and bullets, and [they] are losing their lives while they are defending their rights and their nation’s rights.
The families asked the Ulema to help them and to speak up against the atrocities being committed against their children and the Islamic Revolution. As representatives of “concerned and suffering mothers,” the families said they expect the Ulema to defend the ”oppressed, patient, and resistant people” because “if you don’t think about saving Islam from the claws of petrifaction, fraud and lies today, it will be too late tomorrow.”
1:58 pm: Nico points out that there is a website that allows users to insert their own subtitles to videos. Check it out and send your translations to yourletters /@/ niacouncil.org.
1:54 pm: By now, most people have heard about the six Iranian soccer players who wore green arm bands in yesterday’s game with S. Korea. But what you may not know is that the team is always accompanied by an “ethics official” who did not approve the green arm bands, and the players were forced to remove the armbands at half time. Multiple twitter reports say the official has already sent a report to officials in Iran about the players’ conduct.
The players showed remarkable bravery to make such a display during the game, which was broadcast live by the Iranian state media.
1:32 pm: From a reader comment in a thread below, a website encouraging people from anywhere BUT in Iran to call and speak out about the election violence. (Usual caveats apply, since we haven’t tested any of these numbers and have no knowledge of their validity).
Call these numbers to discuss the Iranian elections! Do NOT do from within Iran.
Esfandiyar Rahim-Masha’i – Vice President of Iran
Council of Guardians
Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi – President’s trusted advisor and campaign manager
Ali Akbar Javanfekr – Press advisor to the President
* 00989123279500 (telephone)
* 00982164454028 (fax)
Gholamhoseyn Elham – Government spokesperson
12:43 pm: Thanks to Jill at PSR, a tweeted translation of Mousavi’s statement to supporters early afternoon today:
I have come due to concerns of current political and social conditions – to defend the rights of the nation. I have come to improve Iran’s international relations. I have come to tell the world and get back Iran’s pride, our dignity and our future. I have come to bring to Iran a future of freedom, of hope and of fulfillment.
I have come to represent the poor, the helpless, and the hungry. I have come to be accountable to you, my people, and to this world. Iran must participate in fair elections. It is a matter of national importance. I have come to you because of the corruption in Iran. 25% inflation means ignorance, thieving and corruption.
Where is the wealth of my nation? What have you done with the $300 billion in the last four years? The next Government of Iran will be chosen by the people. Why do all our young want to leave this country? I know of nobody else who places himself ahead of 20 million other of a nation.
12:12 pm: Basij scared and cover their faces
The Basij have now begun to cover their faces, whereas previously they hadn’t. This indicates they are becoming more scared of retaliation from the general public. Also, we have heard that cell phone service is cut off at night. There have been efforts to identify members of the Basij who have used violence against demonstrators, through facebook and other social networking websites.
11:48 am: Friday prayers
Through contacts in Iran we have heard people are being bused and brought into Tehran for Friday prayers. They have closed down some streets and have made others one way to help with the constant flow of traffic coming into Tehran. There is much confusion whether or not to protest tomorrow is an especially sacred day as prayers are led by Supreme Leader Khamenei. Apparently, Moussavi, Rezai and Karrubi will show up as well.
11:26 am: Rallies Spread to San Francisco
Iranian Americans have showed their continued support for the demonstrators in Iran, by rallying day in and day out all over the country. In fact, the demonstrations have spread worldwide, as many have made a stand against the disputed presidential election.
On Tuesday, hundreds came out in San Francisco’s Union Square in their bright green colors demanding human rights and democracy in Iran, and urging the UN to be involved. Demonstrators planned on sleeping in Union Square until another rally started Wednesday at 6:00pm. These demonstrators are not giving up, as the rallies are planned to continue for a fourth straight day on Thursday.
The demonstrators in San Francisco are inspired by the young people in Iran, as are many of us all over the world. According to one demonstrator, Sahar Maali, “We see them fighting on everyday and it’s a matter of showing them that we’re back here supporting them as well, so they keep on pursuing their fight for basic freedoms that everyone deserves.”
The rallies in San Francisco and throughout the country show the anger and frustration that this election has caused for many Iranian Americans. And no one can deny that the demonstrators in Iran indeed have a tremendous amount of solidarity outside of their country.
11:00 am:Ahmadinejad heckled by Mousavi crowd (before election: “Just don’t cheat this time.”)
This video shows Ahmadinejad getting heckled by a throng of Mousavi supporters during the campaign. This actually happened before the vote, which I think makes it even more significant. Mousavi supporters pointed to the “Green Wave” that was then sweeping across the country with a wave of optimism for reform (highlighted by a prescient bit of caution: “Just don’t cheat this time.”)
For my money, chants don’t get much better than “Ahmadi Bye Bye!”
Someone I assume to be a government official walking up to a car with hand raised, in gray suit, condescendingly saying “Droplets of water, return to the ocean.” (it’s a reference to a poem)
The cameraman asking him: “Have you not been looking to the streets? Just look at the streets!”
Second cameraman: “Mr. Mirzavi, we liked you.” [too many people talking at the same time – inaudible] Cameraman again: “Just don’t cheat this time.”
Then they start screaming “MOUSAVI!” when Ahmadinejad shows up and “LIAR!” when he is pulling away, and then my favorite: “Ahmadi Bye bye.”
US rallies continue
As all of you know, rallies have been taking place all over the country. The past week’s demonstrations have been seen in Iowa, North Carolina, New York, DC, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington, etc. These rallies have been widely successful as hundreds of Iranian Americans across the country have spoken out against the human rights abuses and election fraud of the Iranian elections. From Orange County to Raleigh to the nation’s capitol, young and old alike have come together to support their fellow Iranians.