Tag Archives: Iran

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Police Shoot Protesters in Tehran

Received this video this morning. Not sure about dates, exact locations, times.

A rough translation:

“it is plastic bullet…he has shot three air shots…they give him
info who to shoot…yes..like Palestine…he is shooting to air…oh
bastard, bastard….Mohammad get away (from the window) they are
shooting…(when the soldiers flee) good for you, good for
you…(woman’s voice) bastards, someone help him, bastard…
(people) ya hussein.
(woman) get away, get away (from the balcony)”



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Khameni on the Streets?

The other day I spoke with a former colleague based in Tehran. Someone with a knack for getting stupid foreign journalists out of Iran’s more logistical minefields. She’s had to switch phones regularly to avoid having his mobile connection blocked. It’s the first time I’ve spoken to her since election day.

“It’s going to be difficult to report from Iran without jeopardising yourself. Even me. I’m local, I have all the right papers. But I don’t know if someone will come for me tonight. I’m old. I saw this the first time round. It’s not paranoia when you know what’s possible.”
My friend begins to wax lyrical about the days before 1979. The days when a diva known as Googoosh gyrated her way into every man’s fantasy and children had Kanoon illustrating their books and stories.
I’ve heard my friend’s stories before. They sound just as good the twentieth time as they did the first time because I know the sparkle in my friend’s eyes as the wrinkles relax and the stress ebbs away as they recount jaunts and japes.
Foreign media have been pervented from reporting on the streets. Almost all of them are based in Tehran and whoever is left is probably at the Esteglal Hotel. They’ve been instructed to stay in their offices or hotels refreshing websites on crap internet connections, make phone interviews that get cut off mid-way, and watch state television.
I mention that a mutual friend, a British television correspondent, has been ‘invited to leave’ by the Iranian government ahead of Friday prayers.
“That’s because Khameni [the Supreme Leader] will be addressing a crowd at Friday prayers. He’s bussing in people from around the country in a show of force, to build up the numbers.
I honestly can’t say what’ll happen. My daughter comes back late at night from spending the day marching in the streets. My spouse does the same. I fear for them but I’m secretly envious. Hey. Work’s work.”
Work, in this case, is being a journalist’s odd job man. They’re called fixers. They organise everything from filming permissions to interviews with politicians. To doing the odd bit of reporting on the side. They make sure you have a discreet driver, find you contraband alcohol and dope, and might even fix you up with a prostitute. Or they report your activities directly to the authorities who facilitate your speedy and permanent exit from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
I ask how Press TV has been doing. Press TV is an English language state-owned news channel. Like Russia Today without correspondents who look like they charge for your time by the hour.
“Press TV…I couldn’t believe my fucking eyes! The guy on the ground at a Mousavi demo was upping the numbers of protestors while the guy in the studio was trying to dumb it down. But he just kept going saying ‘you are not here to see this with your own eyes…there are thousands…it’s incredible’. I mean, I do a bit of reporting for them. I can speak very freely on Press TV. No problems whatsoever.”
For now?
“Yes. For now. If there’s a major crackdown, this could be the last time I could be speaking to you, my friend.”
Broken silence.
“You know the Ministry said I should sue the shit out of [an American television network]. You know [female television correspondent]? I saw that bitch the other day in….”
Dead line.
Dead line.
Busy line.
Dead line.

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A Protester’s Truth (Dispatch from Iran)

As the rest of the world is discovering, Iran is a rather modern place. With nearly 70% of the population aged under 35, it would be. Men’s hairstyles may have a tad too much hair gel on the go and women may have a liking for bug-eyed sunglasses, but those are regional crimes of fashion to be found from Beirut to Bahrain.
iran demo
The people you see on the streets can be mistaken for the literati, the loathesome middle-class who aspire towards a higher quality brand and matching furniture. Social onanists – those in touch with themselves who doff a patronising hejab at those who never crossed a University’s door.
But they’re not. What you are seeing is Iran. These young angry voices will, in five years’ time, be more mature. Their positions will carry more gravitas. Nobody likes listening to ideas from a smart alec kid, but they will listen to ideas from a considered adult.
Today, the likes of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mohammad Khatami will be marching in memoriam to those who’ve died in demonstrations over the past few days. They will be wearing black. And they will be going via a mosque or two.
Doctors will attend rallies, some wearing white coats so as to be easily identifiable to the injured. Two million people are expected to attend the Tehran rally at Imam Khomeni Square.
The Supreme Leader is expected to address crowds at Friday prayers tomorrow. He’s shipping in people from the countryside to swell the numbers a bit.
How big is Tehran? Massive. A population of nearly 8 million and packed with flyovers, motorways, and nearly two dozen Universities. The roads are wide and the cars and motorbikes plentiful. The smack problem is a major issue – heroin and opium use across all ages is on the rise, employment is on the decline. However, female entrance into higher education is steadily progressing.
Protesters may not succeed at this junction. Friends in Iran are suffering activist fatigue. They sleep little and march a lot. How long they can keep this up for is not clear. The Islamic Revolution didn’t come out of a shoot-from-the-hip rage. It was a carefully orchestrated overthrow of another regime seen as morally corrupt and financially shady. This is more reactive, without a clear direction or plan of action beyond what emotion dictates.
Mousavi, the man the world now sees as Iran’s Obama, is as much a part of the establishment as the Guardian Council. He was Prime Minister of Iran when snatch squads ensured Tehran’s Evin prison maintained its fearsome notoriety.
Will things change? Depends on what you expect from the word “change”. An overthrow of the Islamic Republic? No. A capitulation in light of a lot of pissed off people wondering why the guy they voted for wasn’t declared President? Much more likely.
American and British pundits egging on the fall of the Ayatollah will fall flat on their faces. Iran does not want a complete overhaul of its government. A lot of it does work for the people it’s meant to work for. Women aren’t clamouring to chuck off the chador nor are men that desperate to get a drink in. Those who are so inclined can find places to do as they please. Such is the Russian doll that is Iran. You see one image, but inside lie half a dozen more. How much an Iranian chooses to show you is their perogative.
This is what I received in a message from a friend this morning. It is their truth, a protester’s truth.

Just a few things to clear up what Fox, BBC or CNN are saying. They are liars, as Ahmadinejad says.
So check this…right from us…the people, the protesters.
1- Iranian government blocked most community and communication websites
2- Iranian government tries to avoid accepting people’s right to protest and calls us rioters and vandals
3- Iranian government abused the election results
4- Over 40 youth have been killed, beaten, or imprisoned.
5- Iranian national TV is in the hands of the system that prevents people from airing their ideas
6- They make fear and beat people with their militia called Basij and abused the name of the old Basij. They now use Basij for killing intellectuals instead of upholding Islam.
7- Basij and police go to streets at night and destroy public property, blame it on protesters, then beat protesters up in the morning.
8- Ahmadinejad has shown that he doesn’t respect Iran and Iranians by calling 13 million of us “thorny twigs” and “mindless anarchists who can be blown away with a breath”.
9 – During the last protest in Tehran, several policemen were spotted wearing green bands. Green is the colour of this protest. The policemen candidly told these protesters that they are with them.
10 – During the protests, on several occasion, Basiji who attacked peaceful protesters were arrested by police. Sources say although this happened in several place, it can’t quite be called a crackdown. A few cases only!
11 – Several Basiji militiamen were spotted laying down their arms and going home after being asked to interfere with the protestors.
12 – The biggest threat people are facing right now are plainclothesmen. They seem to be everywhere and are targeting people from their homes, etc.
who are not in groups. These men have mostly been linked with Ansar e Hezbollah. They are responsible for beating people up, arresting people, threatening protesters, taking reformists
13 – So far, it’s been confirmed that 15 people in Tehran and 32 people around the country have been killed. Hundreds more have been injured and over 800 have been detained. Among these are dozens of reformists. Most of these arrests have been made by the notorious plainclothesmen mentioned earlier.
14 – During yesterday’s protestss, mullahs and Ayatollahs were spotted joining rallies within Tehran and in several other cities. No one could confirm the mullahs’ status within clerical society, but their numbers have been visible.
15 – In addition to Tehran, protests occured in Ahvaz, Mashad, Kermanshah, Qazvin, Shiraz, Tabriz, and Qom.
16 – Pro-Ahmadinejad protesters’ numbers have been greatly exaggerated by the state media in comparison to Mousavi’s supporters. In reality, pro-Ahmadinejad protesters have been identified as either people who work at government offices or people brought in from the countryside to boost the numbers.
17 – After downplaying the protests for days, state-run media finally started to announce news of events more accurately.
18 – Text messaging (SMS) is still down in Iran and internet is extremely slow. People are unable to get satellite channels on their televisions. At the same time, police and plainclothesmen are going door to door taking away people’s satellite dishes.
19 – Mohsen Rezai, one of the candidates, is going to declare his support for a re-election tomorrow. The fourth candidate, Mahdi Karroubi, openly joined yesterday’s rally.
20 – A group of prominent officials at the Ministry of Interior have written a letter to the Guardian Council declaring that they have witnessed widespread irregularities within voting and counting processes during the election. They asked for this matter to be thoroughly investigated.
21 – To date, there no report of the military’s intervention into peaceful protests has been established. Not a single one.
22 – Khatami and Mousavi have both asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate the involvement of plainclothesmen in the violence during protests.
23 – Several eyewitnesses have seen non-Iranian Arabs waving Hamas/Hezbillah flags around the protests. These reports have been fully confirmed and are NOT a rumour spread by Israel.

We are not happy. We distrust media like the BBC. But the government called us followers of the BBC. Lies. Insults for us the people. So we continue to resist and make Ahmadinejad fall on his knees and beg. Until the government has pissed off.

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Why We Protest (A Letter From Iran)

Dissidents. That’s what you want to call them. People who actively challenge an established doctrine, policy, or institution.

Iran is a country where there is no clear black or white, good or evil. Like the chadors, hejabs and jilbabs worn by women, you see one thing, but beneath the veil can be the unexpected.

On the surface, everyone conforms. Under the skin, where the blood flows, the flesh stings and the bone breaks is where you find the heart of Iran.

I’ve been receiving many letters from friends in Iran. Most of which I cannot publish either due to their personal nature or because I like my friends’ heads attached to their necks.

This is a rare letter. One from an Iranian who has discovered the bottomless pits of anger and the swelling of rage. The words are not mine — I’ve cleared up the spelling and punctuation but, otherwise, have left it as is.

Why we protest? Because we see and witnessed that they abused our votes. We witnessed that Stupid Ahmadinejad disrespected us and called us some vandals and some thornytwigs.

Who we are? We are among people who made the votes number from 19 million to 40 million votes.

Now I am sure that this government in Animals government.
They killed university students and beat children and people in streets.
We are not against peace. We are not against Islam. We are against lies. We are against abusing our being.
We are against lies, we are against killer police.
We are against the way police are beating calm people.
I am sure this government is based on lies and this leader is a pig. Is shit.
I am mad and sad.
Fuck Ahmadinejad.
Fuck their security police. Fuck their lie they call law.
I saw these brainwashed Muslims broke my mate’s camera when he filmed them while breaking public environment to say we broke.
Spread the reality.
Ahmadinejad blocked all websites and satellite, blocked mobile access and control every phone call ….
We have nothing too lose when we see they are abusing my being.
This video was filmed on 16 June 2009. It’s an exclusive, if you’re into that sort of thing. I won’t say who filmed it or edited it, but if you like it, let me know and I’ll pass it on.


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Turban Warfare (Tehran Street Art pt.2)

My friend is tired. Having spent the day erecting over 400 street pieces throughout Tehran’s concrete, steel, and rage-lined arteries. Having run away from angry men on motorcycles wielding batons towards angry men wearing green and throwing rocks.

The world has been introduced to a new lexicon. The Guardian Council, the Basij, Khomeni, Khameni, Khatami, ValiAsr, Supreme Leader, Ayatollah, Mousavi. We knew about the other guy. The one everyone called Dinner Jacket. We knew about Iran. Or at least we thought we did. Something to do with nukes and Islam and not liking Israel very much. Strange race. Don’t they speak Arabic? No? Farsi? What the fuck’s that it all looks the same. Threatening. Angry. Alien.

The phones are dead. Dying. Or gasping. They’re not good. The internet is equally dodgy but proxy servers are still operating. So, for now, the internet is providing either a vital means of communication or a useful weapon for control.

The Guardian Council is probably eyeing Burma and North Korea enviously. It seems they are trying to emulate their regime cousins by restricting communications and limiting foreign presence.

I received more images and a note from Tehran’s street art Scarlet Pimpernel. I’ve been asked not to reprint the discussion.

The text on the top photo reads “Where’s my vote?’




All photographs and artwork are by [REDACTED]. Names and identities have been withheld for the security of those involved.

Should you choose to repost these images, please drop me a line with a comment I can forward to the artist(s) involved.


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Images For A New Age (Tehran Street Art)

Sometimes the best presents you receive are the ones that show you people are not alone in fighting for what is right. Weapons of this battle? Feet. Minds. Paint. Words.

If you wander through the streets of Tehran, you may encounter some of these images. Look closely.

If you wander through the streets of Tehran, you may encounter a country whose population is primarily under the age of 35. The beards who ran the Islamic Revolution had an issue with condoms around 1979. And since nobody could go out and have a drink and a dance to bide their evenings, young couples took up more amourous pursuits. The result is a country with a young population. A population with ever increasing female university students. A country with people who know how to dodge firewalls. A people imbued with a passion for self-expression and a rich artistic tradition.

Nothing – not a beard, a Basij, a club, or a gun – can repress the creativity and flair I’ve seen with my own eyes in Iran.

This video was shot from a balcony in Tehran. The pictures below are of art recently placed on the streets of Tehran.

musavi sticker







All photographs and artwork are by [REDACTED]. Names and identities have been withheld for the security of those involved.

Should you choose to repost these images, please drop me a line with a comment I can forward to the artist(s) involved.


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Letter From Tehran (Dude…Where’s My Election?)

Lounging langourously on a Sunday afternoon, I received the following on my BlackBerry. It’s a letter from a friend in Tehran who asks their name and profession not be published. Having subsequently spoken to other friends in Tehran (social networking, SMS, and other tricks of youth have been shut down…unless you know a hack or two), the anger on the streets is as thick as the smog on the motorways.

Whether they feel this is a “revolution” is an issue for debate. Do they want to overthrow Ahmadinejad or the Ayatollah? What is clear is that they feel the democracy they were offered was ersatz. That the powers that be (in this case, the incumbent) held an election they’d already determined the result for and took the people along for a ride to make it look good.

Opposition candidate and reformist Mir Hossein Musavi has launched a formal appeal to cancel the election results announced in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the Interior Ministry. His appeal was lodged with the Guardian Council, a group appointed by the Supreme Leader whose remit is to interpret and implement Iran’s constitution.

Meanwhile, Musavi’s wife Zahra has called for peaceful demonstrations across 20 cities from 1600h local time on Monday and a national strike on Tuesday.

Given reports of deaths, beatings, and missing from anti-Ahmadinejad protests in Rasht, Qom, Tehran and other Iranian cities, nobody is sure how many people will answer her call.

As one pro-Musavi voter said “I’m very angry with myself for being fooled so easily. They got us to vote, which gives them legitimacy. Then they manipulated the results.”

My friends in Iran are of the literati – artists, writers, journalists, teachers. They fear chain murders – murders and disappearances of those critical of the religious regime. The last time such killings came to the fore was as a reaction to the election of pro-reform president Mohammad Khatami in 1997.

Their fears are real. Almost all of them have been either under official surveillance, arrested on bogus charges, detained for indeterminate sentences, bullied by the Basij, received death threats etc etc.

What my friend has written isn’t much, but it is a voice among many that is crying out for something new… even though those voices aren’t clear what form that reform should take. As another friend said, “Anything. Anything but this.”


Yesterday, after coming back to my studio from the street revolts, we saw that they blocked all satellite TV. All the internet sites like YouTube, Facebook and… and maybe more. All blocked.

Internet speed was reduced from 128k to 12k. I tried to send you a video of streets to publish on YouTube and… but it is impossible.

They bit and hit people and young on the streets. They fear our power. We trusted them but they abused our votes. We could never imagine such pig minds.

I just sent you this and hope you try spreading this news. Not just from me but from all Iranian freedom seekers. They are banning us. They make us fear and keep us silent.

I cannot be associated with this letter. Or with anything else I send you. Have you heard of chain murders? This is what I fear. Some Muslims. Individuals. The Basij. They call around, find a person easily and cut his neck at night.

Even the person we voted for [Musavi, Karroubi] told us to “be silent because this government has no fear to tear your breasts and spill your blood in all of Persia’s rivers”. The person we voted for asked us to be silent. To forget. He said these people are not Muslim. They are liars.

The police here are like wolves. Religious people in neighbourhoods laugh at and disrespect us as non-Iranian. It is hard.

The government blocked YouTube to stop many Iranians from publishing videos of dangerous streets. We have our ways around this. For now.

The police and the basij  set fires and broke into banks at night to say we, the people, did this. But the people are doing nothing wrong, nothing criminal. We are shocked. We are angry. We just want to know where our votes went. We elected one man and they empowered another. The only people who don’t agree with this are the liars who are scared to lose their regime and their control.




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