June 13, 2009

Election Liveblogging – Saturday

For day two coverage of the unrest in Iran, click here.
6:14 update: Through Facebook we have received news that Mir Hossein
Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Gholamhossein Karbaschi are under house arrest.
5:43 update: Things are slowing down, for now at least.  We will continue to monitor developments as they come in, and will continue to inform you along the way.
For more information, and more liveblogging, check out Andrew Sullivan, HuffingtonPost, and the NYTimes, all of which have had amazing coverage throughout the day.
5:26 update: Khatami’s brother arrested.
More from http://twitter.com/iranbaan:

“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”

“There has been no news published about the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi”

4:36 update: From http://twitter.com/iranbaan:

It is said that Larijani has gone to Qom to meet with authorities.

In Eram Steet, Shiraz University, students have clashed with the police and the police has used tear gas.

Slogans “God is great” and “death to dictator” is echoing in Tehran.  People are demonstrating on the rooftops.
The office of the participation front was attacked.  They have closed the office.  On the door, they wrote this office is closed until further notice.

4:27 update: According to Juan Cole:

Top Pieces of Evidence that the Iranian Presidential Election Was Stolen
1. It is claimed that Ahmadinejad won the city of Tabriz with 57%. His main opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is an Azeri from Azerbaijan province, of which Tabriz is the capital. Mousavi, according to such polls as exist in Iran and widespread anecdotal evidence, did better in cities and is popular in Azerbaijan. Certainly, his rallies there were very well attended. So for an Azeri urban center to go so heavily for Ahmadinejad just makes no sense. In past elections, Azeris voted disproportionately for even minor presidential candidates who hailed from that province.
2. Ahmadinejad is claimed to have taken Tehran by over 50%. Again, he is not popular in the cities, even, as he claims, in the poor neighborhoods, in part because his policies have produced high inflation and high unemployment. That he should have won Tehran is so unlikely as to raise real questions about these numbers.
3. It is claimed that cleric Mehdi Karoubi, the other reformist candidate, received 320,000 votes, and that he did poorly in Iran’s western provinces, even losing in Luristan. He is a Lur and is popular in the west, including in Kurdistan. Karoubi received 17 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections in 2005. While it is possible that his support has substantially declined since then, it is hard to believe that he would get less than one percent of the vote. Moreover, he should have at least done well in the west, which he did not.
4. Mohsen Rezaie, who polled very badly and seems not to have been at all popular, is alleged to have received 670,000 votes, twice as much as Karoubi.
5. Ahmadinejad’s numbers were fairly standard across Iran’s provinces. In past elections there have been substantial ethnic and provincial variations.
6. The Electoral Commission is supposed to wait three days before certifying the results of the election, at which point they are to inform Khamenei of the results, and he signs off on the process. The three-day delay is intended to allow charges of irregularities to be adjudicated. In this case, Khamenei immediately approved the alleged results.

3:49 update: Stratfor is reporting that Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Council, has resigned.
Though unconfirmed, the report is saying that Rafsanjani is resigning from his position as head of the Expediencey Council, NOT his position as the leader of the Assembly of Experts, which has oversight responsibility over the office of the Supreme Leader and would be responsible for naming Ayatollah Khamenei’s successor.
3:40 update: Trita, on CNN:

“[The election aftermath] is creating significant obstacles [to U.S. diplomacy] in my view. There will be an Ahmadinejad that will have very little legitimacy internationally, mindful of how this is being played out. Or if it is not Ahmadinejad, it probably will be a prolonged internal battle in Iran in which there will be no clarity at all who will hold office of the presidency. That’s very negative for the president [who] already has somewhat limited time to be able to pursue diplomacy. He cannot really afford to have more of the time being lost because of political paralysis inside of Iran.

3:18 update: The President of the Committee of Election Monitoring: The Election is Invalid
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.
The Iranian Electoral Commission (Sianat az ara) was approved by all
candidates to monitor the election results
Conflicting reports, now, about Mousavi’s supposed arrest.
3:05 update: According to Mousavi’s website, a group of employees in the Ministry of the Interior in an open letter warned that the votes have been changed and manipulated in the state election commission.  In this letter, which was addressed to the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, the President, the of Majlis of Iran, the heads of the legislative and judicial branch and several other government agencies, a group of employees stated that “as dedicated employees of the Interior Ministry, with experience in management and supervision of several elections such as the elections of Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami, we announce that we fear the 10th presidential elections were not healthy.”
Full letter is available here in Farsi: http://mowj.ir/ShowNews.php?7217
2:35 update: Readers’ comments from Mousavi’s website, http://mowj.ir/ShowNews.php?7210:

Saeed: We will never forget this tragedy.  Shame on you Ahmadinejad…Shame.

Aref: This is not over yet.  Tell people who voted for Mousavi to come to the streets on Saturday so we can show how many votes Mousavi has.  If Mousavi and Karoubi keep their word, they should participate in the protests as well.

Amin: This is the world’s biggest dictatorship.  I will never vote again.

2:13 update: From the NYTimes “Memo from Tehran”:

Although there were bursts of defiance that were forcibly subdued, there was also a palpable fear; on Saturday, unlike on Friday, few opposition voters would let their names be used.
“By the evening people will pour into the streets,” predicted one young woman, from inside the hood of her black chador. “But Ahmadinejad will become president by force.”

1:55 update: Ali, a university student, went to the take a final exam today but ended up in an alley all beat up and bloody after he decided to attend the protests in the Fatemi Square.  His friends found him in back streets near the Fatemi Square where thousands of people gathered to protest the results of the election.  Ali’s family said, “There is not a spot on his body what was not beat including his head and face.”   Ali’s real name has been changed to protect his identity.
Eyewitness – Mina, a resident of Tehran went to a dentist appointment near the Ministry of Interior where she encountered thousands of protesting young people.  She talked to some girls who were crying.  “They said they worked so hard for two months, they where certain Mousavi was going to be elected.”  Mina saw buses full of soldiers and Special Forces with batons and shields who came to crack down on the protests.  “They were pushing people away from the interior ministry.  People who didn’t listen to them were beat up viciously.” She also said “there was a guy who lost consciousness after the police beat him up in the head with a baton.  They took him away.”
According to phone reports from inside Iran, there are rumors that Mousavi is under house arrest.
Also, Mohsen Mirdamadi, the head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front has reportedly been arrested.
About 200 police forces have surrounded the newspaper offices of Etemademelli and Green Word, holding at least 30 journalist inside.  The fate of the journalists is not known.  According to Mousavi’s website:

On Friday evening Iran time, and in the middle of live internet coverage by Mowj-e Sevom (Third Wave), several officers without uniform and without a warrant attacked the office of Mowj-e Sevom in Gheytariyeh, Tehran and threatened the journalists and others who were there for interviews, beating
them up and using tear gas.

Protests are continuing in Valiasr, Tajrish and Vanak streets.
1:20 update: From http://twitter.com/iranbaan

“Association of Combatant Clerics has announced we must cancel this election’s results and hold a new election”

This is the main party that backed Khatami in 1997
1:07 update: From Facebook:
One word of caution: though the disturbing images coming from Iran have shocked us all, we are getting reports that the unrest is largely concentrated in certain areas around the Ministry of the Interior in Tehran.  The majority of the supporters of the opposition candidates are channeling their disappointment through non-violent means; Mousavi himself has put out a statement calling for calm and restraint, although he is also acknowledging that his supporters are being attacked.  He is urging clerical leaders in Qom to speak out to those in power in favor of fairness and justice.
12:30pm update: From twitter (translated from Farsi):

“I’m on the top floor of a building in the Fatemi Square and can see they are beating people up with metal and electric batons and you can even hear sound of gunshots.”
“Facebook has been filtered in Iran.”
“People in Tabriz clashed with the Special Forces.”

https://twitter.com/gkarbaschi (Karroubi’s campaign manager)

“Karoubi’s camp believes that if there is no resistance this time, people’s help can never be expected again.”
“Making any decision is very difficult and we are in a very difficult situation, any protest must very carefully calculated.”
“Karbaschi asks people to follow the news through satellite, facebook and internet and ignore rumors.”
“Karoubi will never be silent.  He is present in the scene and never left it.  Solutions are being considered.”

12:10pm update: From a Western analyst who broadcasts a weekly television show into Iran on state-run media:

The election is a huge disappointment. There is likely to be continued protest in Tehran and other cities tomorrow and then I would expect things to die down. However, the opposition within Iran is likely to be strengthened by the events of the last two weeks, and I suspect a large proportion of Iranians will see this election as illegitimate, whatever the truth behind these results. This could well encourage the regime to attempt some sort of reconciliation, domestically (but less likely internationally), or an attempt to beat such skepticism out of the public in one way or another.
Whilst the result of this election would not have had a major impact on the control over the issues in this dispute one way or another directly, the forces of political and cultural change in Iran continue, and the events of the last two weeks are testament to that. Mousavi himself was not a radical candidate (and hardly a strong reformist one), but his numerous supporters appear to have been, and to have been sufficiently fired up by the promise of change. They will not disappear in a puff of smoke, and they will have learned more than the government from the last couple of weeks.
Longer term Iranian politics is fascinating. Trouble is, will Obama be able to hold off the hawks long enough to see any fruition to these dynamics?

And more videos are coming in, this one from BBC, showing the growing unrest in the streets.  (Warning, this video shows some disturbing images).
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Lots of information streaming in every minute today–it looks as if the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not go unchallenged, but the big question on everyone’s mind is what will Mir Hossein Moussavi do?
Will he urge his supporters to take to the streets in protest?  If so, can a challenge be made to the election results without also calling into question the entire system of the Islamic Republic and velayat-e faqih?
We’ll be constantly updating as news comes in today, particularly watching Iranian twitter feeds and translating them for you here at niacINsight.
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