Message from the people of Iran for President Mousavi spoken by director Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A few days ago the Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf recorded a video on behalf of the Iranian people expressing what they want of President Mousavi, and I decided to play around with it a little by adding the Azadi Tower at night (image comes from here; very nice shot by the way), music, and the message in both English and Persian (English comes from here but tweaked a little; Persian comes from here). He starts talking 17 seconds into the video. Enjoy.



Image attribution tag:

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Iran after the elections: 29 June - part 2


It's 9 pm in Iran right now.

Ahmadinejad today ordered an investigation into Neda's death, showing just how powerful an image she has become. The government first adopted a tactic of trying to keep the story as quiet as possible, but over the past few days has begun to attempt to portray her death as being at the hands of foreign forces, and this investigation is a part of this. References to OJ are prevalent as Ahmadinejad looks for the "real killer".

A few articles have been pointing out the expanded role of the Revolutionary Guard and the resulting increased influence, including in the economy itself. Note though that Rezaei was the leader of the Revolutionary Guard and still ended up in fourth place, so their influence certainly does not extend without limit. Press TV for example only covered the debates that Ahmadinejad participated in, so Rezaei + Mousavi and Rezaei + Karroubi didn't even get shown by them.

Avaaz.org is holding a fundraiser to provide Iranians with bandwidth and technical resources in order to keep information flowing. One interesting development as a result of this election has been that both those from the so-called right and left agree on the election in Iran (but differ widely on what should be done). Before this election there was a tendency by some to defend Ahmadinejad and his statements, but since June this has completely evaporated and Ahmadinejad has lost pretty much all the goodwill he ever had in the West.

We're now being told that the Iranian footballers who wore green have not been punished. I wonder if this is another example of the moderating influence of the internet that Google's CEO cited the other day.

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The Moon vs. Mars again

Monday, June 29, 2009



Spaceref.com has an interesting opinion piece today arguing for colonization of the Moon before Mars (it's interesting because it's quite a bit longer than your average article on Spaceref), which I agree with when the only two options being considered are the Moon and Mars. At the moment the idea of sending people to Mars is simply not doable, not without a ton of extra funding and will, and if that funding were to exist it would still make more sense to go to the Moon first.

Two other things to note:

- Even if we were to decide the location purely on resources (i.e. not having to take all the resources from Earth), Ceres would still be a better bet than Mars
- Since the Moon is so scarce in terms of resources, plus the extra effort in having to blast off from the surface of the Moon again before returning, the argument is often made that simply colonizing LEO or some other orbit around or near the Earth would be a better idea. Artificial gravity is said to be difficult to create due to a space station having to be quite huge (1g could be created with faster rotation but this causes nausea due to the Coriolis effect), but remember that this is assuming the same gravity as on the Earth, and that much gravity wouldn't strictly be necessary - a certain amount simply to keep objects and liquids manageable and walking possible would be acceptable. This graph shows the required rotation period for 1g with certain sizes, so take the rotation period and multiply it by maybe five to ten times to imagine what partial gravity would require.

Back to the Moon: here are some of the arguments the article makes.

- Location - short trip, always accessible. Mars and other locations require launch windows and long wait times.
- Polar locations are ideal - most of the Moon has 14 days of day and 14 days of night, but polar regions are different (almost permanently lit by the Sun) and also have a more friendly environment temperaturewise. Then there is also the lack of weather (something I also noted on the Ceres-Mars comparison) and seasonal variation that makes planning much easier.
- Many existing rockets could be used to place solar power platforms on the Moon right now (followed by people later on).
- The Moon still has enough metal available within the regolith to build structures using resources available there instead of having to bring them from Earth.

It then gets into a number of other subjects related to the construction of such a base, after which summing up the article gets a bit difficult so anyone with their interest piqued should read the whole thing.

One blog here written by someone I encounter on space.com from time to time is also worth reading, and he is also a Moon first advocate.

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Iran after the elections: 29 June

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.



One fairly important online development can be seen here:

That's right, the hashtag #Iranelection has dropped off the list of trending topics for the first time since the election. Apparently the BET Awards are going on right now and #Iranelection will surface a bit after they end, but it still shows how weak it has become in being able to be completely replaced like that. Those on Twitter may want to think about upping their posting frequency. As I wrote before, Twitter is more important than you may think.

Interesting to note that state-owned Press TV also covered the demonstrations yesterday, even mentioning Mousavi and election irregularities.

A tweet in Persian just now says that Mousavi supporters will gather from 6 pm today, going from Railway Square (Râh Ahan) to Tajrish Square.

This blog post has the same thing. Apparently this is to be a human chain. Note how huge the distance is between the two locations:


View Larger Map

That's Tajrish Square - now take Valiasr road all the way down west and south...keep going down until the road finally ends and you reach the railway station. That's a distance of 16 km or so as the crow flies, a bit more than that including all the twists and turns on the way.

Update: three hours after the first part of this post, #Iranelection has returned to the list of trending topics. It's currently in third place.



A video from yesterday's gathering inside Ghoba Mosque has been released; you may want to turn down the volume a tad if you have it up.



A few days ago there was an interview with Google's CEO that is definitely worth a read as he talks about the effects of technology on the current situation in Iran, concluding that better and better technology makes it increasingly more difficult for governments to hide their tracks. He also mentions that the huge media exposure probably contributed to a slight moderation by the government, which would probably have been much more iron-fisted if they had thought nobody was watching. I suspect Google is working on quickly getting the Persian translator out of alpha mode and into something a bit more robust.

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Iran after the elections: 28 June

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.


To no one's surprise, Mousavi has rejected the 10% recount idea proposed yesterday that I mentioned. As Foreign Policy pointed out, the ballot boxes have been under government control since the election and nobody has been able to monitor them, so it would be a 10% recount of boxes they've had the opportunity to do whatever they want with since June 12th - not a very tempting proposal.

Nico on Huffington Post pointed out a really interesting video from today featuring director Mohsen Makhmalbaf (who really, really looks like a director by the way) reading out a request to President Mousavi, along with an English translation. Not only is the video itself quite good (the point has been made on Twitter and elsewhere many times that the term "President Mousavi" needs to be used more often) but it's also definitely worth bookmarking for those studying Persian. Clear, topical, easy to follow.



The English translation is below, and you can read it in Persian (the statement itself, not the preamble) here.

The people of Iran, by phone and mails, have asked me to send their message to mister Moussavi.


This letter is a summary of what they have told me these past days from inside Iran and all over the world:

"President Moussavi:
give us your orders!
Political power is gained by making people act,
and is lost in the contrary case.
The liars and stealers of the people's vote,
by buying time, are weakening people's social powers.

President Moussavi:
do not keep silent, do not wait, give us orders !
What us people of Iran had lost was not information, but courage.
Our fear came from each one of us feeling alone;
but participating in the elections,
and demonstrating by the millions
proved that if we stand together we are invincible.

President Moussavi:
do not send people to their houses !
So that they are once again crushed by despair and fear.
From a goverment that is itself illegal,
do not ask for a legal permission to peacefully demonstrate.

The majority of people of iran, who has voted for you, is waiting for your orders;
give us the orders to demonstrate !
give us the orders of a general strike !
give us the orders of resistance !

The people's common need is your orders.
President Moussavi
give the people your orders !"

on the behalf of the people of Iran
Mohsen Makhmalbaf
the 6th of the month of Tir, 88


NPR has another article here on the lack of good intelligence on Iran within the United States. I wrote on the same day that this election and media like Twitter in particular are perhaps the first steps in fixing this, as an increased overall understanding of a country by the populace as a whole is the first step in being able to accurately assess it. For example, imagine for a moment that for some reason over the past 30 years there has been almost no contact between Canada and the US and a new generation in the US has grown up knowing almost nothing about Canada, to the extent that even basic facts like "people in Quebec speak French" have become nearly specialized knowledge. With a climate like that where specialists on Canada are forced to conduct analysis all by themselves, it wouldn't be surprising to find a lot of mistaken analysis going on considering that these agents likely would not have grown up knowing about the country (i.e. they have no "instinct" for the country), and discussions on the news would also be next to no help at all, since these people also have little to no idea about what kind of country they're talking about.

Continued discussion on a certain topic / country eventually results in a kind of instinctual understanding, at least on a very low level. Right now there are few in the US and other countries that aren't aware that Iraq is composed of Sunnis and Shiites plus Kurds in the north, facts that were rarely known before the invasion in 2003. Along with that areas like Kerkuk, Basra, Tikrit, etc. have become common knowledge in a way they weren't before. Iraq is a good example of how knowledge of a certain country or issue becomes more or less common knowledge with enough media exposure, and this election in Iran and the aftermath may result in the same thing.


The Guardian has an article today on the apparent movement behind the scenes to replace Khamenei with a council of senior clerics (of which Khamenei would be one).

It's 3 pm in Iran right now, and many are writing and tweeting about today's ceremony at the Ghoba Mosque. The reason why this is important is because 1) Mousavi will be there, and 2) finally this gathering has government permission.

As for what the mosque looks like, see here. This image seems to give the best idea of how many people could gather there.

BBC Persian right now has this story on the top - eight British embassy officials in Tehran have been detained for "involvement in post-election unrest". That's not going to help relations, especially after Khamenei calling the UK the most evil country in the world.

Okay, here's one video of the gathering at the mosque today.



A tweet in Persian just now:

says that all lines and cell phones at the mosque were cut, and estimates there were 700,000 people at the mosque and in the area.

To not much surprise the gathering has eventually been met with tear gas and some clashes with the police, but it doesn't seem to have been as serious as some other clashes in recent days (Baharestan for example). CNN has an article on today's gathering here.

Here's a new video, quite short but important. Recognize the guy walking by? It's Karroubi himself.



The message written to the right of the video in Persian says that just a few minutes after Karroubi walked by security came in and dispersed the crowd with shots and tear gas.

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Iran: settling in for the long term

Saturday, June 27, 2009


It has now been 15 days since the election, and the situation in Iran isn't showing itself to be anywhere close to being resolved. The hope at the beginning was that a large enough swell of people would result in it simply being too obvious for the government to ignore that Ahmadinejad had not won in a landslide and in fact not won at all, and that they would then decide to take a look at the election results again and either proclaim Mousavi the winner or decide on a runoff election between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad.

Since the 19th when Khamenei made his speech warning of a crackdown and the real crackdown that began on the 20th and every day afterward though, the situation has become much more desperate and divisive than before. It has become obvious that Khamenei is not an apolitical figure but rather a partisan one that prefers Ahmadinejad as president at any cost, and this has completely changed the view of the people toward the government. Since this election was a sham, then there's no reason to think that the next one won't be, and if they are willing to do whatever it takes to force through an Ahmadinejad win then there's also no reason to think that they won't come up with some excuse to remove the two-term limit for the president, for example. Even worse, Khamenei reportedly wants to see his son succeed him as Supreme Leader. All this is unacceptable to the people of the country and shows a complete disregard for the government they would like to see.

At the same time though, the crackdown has been hard and protesters have been intimidated to the extent that it makes it very hard to gather, not to mention the technical barriers that have been put up. It seems that the existing government has won the first round, but bear in mind that the last time Iran overthrew their government it took over a year (January 1978 - February 1979), so that one was not a short-term event either.

What is needed then is a long-term approach, especially now as mainstream interest begins to fade. Plus, even if the ideal situation happens to occur here (let's say Khamenei somehow gets deposed and is replaced with Montazeri and Mousavi becomes president) there's no reason to think that allies of Ahmadinejad will simply give up and go home, so a long-term approach is needed even in the most ideal of situations. Google Trends shows us that interest is still higher than it was before the election but has fallen quite a bit since the first week or so.

At the same time though the hashtag #Iranelection is still near the top on Twitter, which is definitely something for the members there to be proud of (and this is after Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson unfortunately passed away, mind you). So there is still a large amount of support online that can be put to use in the long term.

So here are a few ideas of what might be effective in not only the short term, but afterwards as well (feel free to add your own below if you have any).

  • #Iranelection naturally needs to be maintained on Twitter, so keeping up the reporting on the situation needs to continue. The longer it stays up the more those that would not normally have an interest in Iran will eventually begin to notice.
  • Why not try learning Persian? It's easier than you think. If you've been obsessed with the events in Iran since the election and would one day like to visit, then you might as well start learning the language now. Nothing keeps you informed of the events in a country like learning/knowing the language.
  • Keep an eye on these links as well in order to find information written in Persian (automatically translated) as soon as it goes up.
  • If you know Persian or are learning it, consider submitting better translations to Google to help it improve the service. Google released Persian quite quickly after the election in order to provide a tool for those looking for information in the language as well as those in Iran that wanted to quickly get information out in English, and because of this it's still in alpha mode and is quite rough. The more accurate this becomes the easier it will be for people to obtain information without having to wait for someone else to do a translation for them.
  • If your activity until now has been completely internet-based, it might be worth it to look around your city to see what organizations there are where you could meet overseas Iranians in person to get a better or more direct idea of how the situation is, and of Iranians in general. Metro Vancouver for example has a particularly large Iranian population, as do many cities, so it shouldn't be too hard to start meeting like-minded Iranians in person for those living in large cities.
  • If you haven't joined sites like Reddit and Digg yet, consider doing so. Simply voting up submissions that are about things that matter (Iran) and voting down those that don't ("don't matter" is usually personal preference so no examples here) can help.

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Iran after the elections: 27 June

This video isn't recent news (this video is from the 16th of June), but what's recent about it are the English subtitles. It's a speech by MP Alikhani in the Majlis (Parliament) on that day in support of Mousavi. Note that the date below is 26 Khordad 1388, a number which has caused much confusion by those watching the video but it's simply the calendar used in Iran.



We're being told that the cries from the rooftops haven't decreased in intensity at all.

One other bit of news from yesterday was about the Guardian Council's offer to recount 10% of the votes, which seems to be different from the last offer to recount 10% in that this one would be done in the presence of "media"; not sure what sort of media though. Most likely another empty gesture though, because as Foreign Policy notes the ballot boxes have been out of sight and under government control since the day of the election (June 12) so there is no guarantee whatsoever that they haven't been / aren't being tampered with.

This is perhaps what will keep the current situation going in the near future, since 1) the issue now is Khamenei and Iran's governmental system itself, and 2) with the complete lack of transparency there really isn't anything the government can offer the opposition that won't be taken with a great deal of suspicion.

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Iran after the elections: 26 June - part 2

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.


Right now it's nearing 3 pm in Iran and many people on Twitter are saying that Khamenei did not appear as scheduled; looking for a source to back that up.

It looks like a cleric named Khatami (Ahmed Khatami, not former president Khatami) spoke in his place, saying that protesters should be given capital punishment.

Peiknet.com now has the following headline:
Means "Supreme Leader cancelled at Friday prayers!"

Someone just uploaded a recent quote from Montazeri:

Translation: "Montazeri warned Khamenei and Ahmadinejad that "when mighty regimes repress the just gatherings of the people, they will fall".

One of the founders of the Revolutionary Guard and a former prime minister gives an interview here on why this is simply a military coup and nothing else.

One note: articles on Iran are pretty plentiful right now, and along with this are numerous examples of good and bad headlines. One example is Ahmadinejad's recent comparison of Obama to Bush.

First the good headline, from Euronews (seen above): Ahmadinejad demands apology from Obama. Ahmadinejad said it, he demanded an apology from Obama, 100% accurate headline.

The next headline is not quite so good: Iranian president demands apology from Obama. Only a very few would make the argument that events have passed and Ahmadinejad is ready to settle into a second term, but the headline could be worse.

How? By writing the following: Iran wants Obama apology. Gack - suddenly Ahmadinejad speaks for Iran? Not only is this last election not going over with the people, the president doesn't even really speak for the country in the first place considering its lack of authority compared to the Supreme Leader.

The Daily Show aired their last piece of Jason Jones' trip to Iran today. Comedy as usual, but gets serious at the end. Canadians can see it here (I think you have to fast-forward two clips though to get to the Jason Jones part though).

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jason Jones: Behind the Veil - The Kids Are Allah Right
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


The latest news (from about 6 pm in Stockholm) is that about 150 protesters in Stockholm, Sweden, have stormed the Iranian embassy. Some are saying on Twitter that they've broken in but I haven't seen confirmation of that. You can also see the news på svenska here.

Wired has an article here on some of the technology being used by protesters to get past firewalls. This technology comes from the US, but note that a lot of the technology being used to create the firewalls comes from Germany and Finland, so there's no generalizing this as Iran vs. The West.

Green balloons were launched today in the afternoon as a symbolic (and safe) form of protest.



The Guardian has a first-person account of the atmosphere on the streets of Tehran (and a bit outside the city too) right now.

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Iran after the elections: 26 June

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.


A 10-minute video has just gone up of the 24th and now we have some real footage of what actually happened in Baharestan that sheds light on the day in a way only a video can. The video's quite grainy so I'll make it extra small here.



A possible runoff between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad? Really? Reza Aslan details this possibility here and mentions that we'll be able to find out later today, as it's Friday and Khamanei will be making a speech. Last week's speech was ominous and ended up being the predecessor to the bloodshed of this week. A runoff _might_ work; hard to say. It would probably be an excessively bitter and mistrustful runoff though, with Ahmadinejad supporters asking why they need a runoff when their candidate so "clearly won" (include references to appeasing rioters / traitors / what have you here), and Mousavi supporters wondering if the rug is about to be pulled out from under their feet in some other way while not paying attention. Plus the effect of all the deaths so far.

By the way, take a look at the search engine traffic for Reza Aslan over the past year.

Just about every other Iran-related term is also way up, which is good for national security as I wrote a few days ago (informed populace = greater oversight over government actions; a more informed populace could have prevented the Iraq War before it started).

Mousavi has posted a message on his Facebook page to Iranians outside of Iran, in both Persian and English.

Canada has now rescinded an invite to Iranian diplomats to attend Canada Day (that's July 1st) celebrations. A pity they didn't give different reasons for doing so though - the Canadian government has said that they did so on the suspicion that they don't share the same values Canada stands for. This is the wrong approach. A better statement would be to say that they simply can't invite diplomats from a government that might not have been selected by its people, that the election still seems to be up in the air and thus Canada can't put out an invitation at this time. There's no sense in making Canada and "Canadian values" the focus of the story when it should be the election results in Iran and the clear opposition the people are showing towards the alleged numbers.

The best way to craft statements like this is to imagine what it would be like when the shoe is on the other foot. Imagine for a second that your country has been disinvited to Iran's official celebrations because you don't hold "Iranian values". Big deal - who wants those values in the first place? You're not Iran. Now imagine the same situation where you have been disinvited with the reason being that your newly elected government doesn't seem to have been elected legitimately. That's a comment that actually stings.

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Iran after the elections: 25 June 2009 - part 2

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Daily Show episode for today has just been uploaded and Reza Aslan was there (sporting a green band on his right arm) for a fairly long interview on Iran that you can see below. Two points he made that were particularly interesting were 1) The US has next to no leverage with Iran, so those that want to help would do best by convincing the EU or the UN to pressure them. 2) Iran is on the verge of becoming a country either resembling China or North Korea. This is true, although it wouldn't be exactly like North Korea since Iran just isn't capable of sealing their border like North Korea has done to the south. Countries bordering Iran are Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, plus a ton of other countries nearby connected by the sea - Russia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

(Canadians can watch it here I think)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Reza Aslan
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


CNN has an interview with two women that have just gotten back from Tehran, who have concealed their identity for the interview in order to protect family members back in Iran.



Big surprise (that's sarcasm; Ahmadinejad always talks about Bush) - Ahmadinejad has decided to draw a comparison between Obama and Bush.

The government in Iran is showing a lot more movies than they usually do. This article also has quite a few Persian sentences so definitely check it out if you're studying the language.

Remember the scandal about firing those that weren't "loyal Bushies" in the Justice Department? Well, that's nothing compared to the 10,000 government employees Ahmadinejad had reportedly replaced over his term as president in order to increase loyalty to him.

A video of tear gas being used on protesters yesterday.



290 MPs were invited to Ahmadinejad's celebration of his election "win"; only 105 showed up.

Esquire has an article here making the argument that an Ahmadinejad win is better for the interests of the United States. The argument is similar to those we saw during the election: as a hardliner, Ahmadinejad is able to do things that Mousavi couldn't since any conciliatory moves by A. would be seen as being out of character whereas M. would have had to spend a while burnishing his credentials as a president with Iran's interests in mind, and a quick trip off to the US for example soon after winning the election would look weak. The problem with that argument is that it's too ingrained in the pre-demonstration mindset - the situation is vastly different at the moment, with the legitimacy of the entire system in Iran at stake, and the post of president really isn't relevant to the discussion now. That is, people protesting in Iran aren't so much protesting the idea of another four years of Ahmadinejad - if he had pulled off a 54% or so squeaker in the first round there might have been grumbling and a bit of "how can we be so stupid?" similar to the US after Bush was reelected, but the results in this election are a slap in the face to those that voted, as the high turnout is being used by the other side to make the claim that nearly the entire country is behind Ahmadinejad, which is patently untrue.

FIFA is looking for answers on why the Iranian soccer/football players were suspended.

CNN seems to be benefiting trafficwise from their coverage of the events in Iran. Glad to see this as CNN seemed to have chosen a losing hand starting last year in attempting to hold a neutral stance (in contrast to Fox and MSNBC), and it would be a bit sad to see a news network be punished simply for trying to remain more neutral than others.

An article here translated from Persian by Tehran Broadcast features an interview with a man from the countryside who is being paid vast sums of money ($200 per day) to go around with a club and beat protesters.

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Iran after the elections: 25 June 2009

A few hours ago a few photos were released here of the bazaar in Saghez/Saqqez (سقز) in Kurdistan, such as this one.

The city can be seen here.



View Larger Map

Tweets in Persian are now saying that there will be a gathering today from 4:30 pm today by supporters of Mousavi and Karroubi from Valiasr to Enghelab Square.



The Daily Show aired the third part of Jason Jones' trip to Iran last night; here it is.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jason Jones: Behind the Veil - Ayatollah You So
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


Another video from yesterday with a burning car and some gunshots fired (nobody hit).



An article can be seen here on the cat and mouse game between broadcasters and censors in Iran, and the Independent has one here on the nearly 24/7 coverage BBC Persian has been broadcasting since the election.

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Iran after the elections: 24 June 2009 - part 2

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.


I was out this evening and just got back; it's now almost 9 pm in Tehran and it looks like today was a mess. It was also a day that showed that the protests are nowhere near subsiding. Here's a video of protesters rushing the police.



Another video here of chants of death to the dictator (marg bar diktator) and some gunshots, but luckily they seem to have just been fired into the air. This is from Tehran.



A lot of the clashes today (many are saying it was more of a massacre) are said to have occurred in Baharestan Square (میدان بهارستان), which is in the centre of the city next to the Parliament building. Bahar means Spring (the season) and -estan is a suffix to mean "place of". Golestan (gol = flower) is a flower bed for example.


View Larger Map

Heh, some are miffed at Nico Pitney from the Huffington Post being picked to answer a question, even though he's one of only a few people (Andrew Sullivan is another) that have been on this since the day after the election happened. The question taken directly from an Iranian was far superior to many of the others that had more to do with White House gotcha politics than the situation in Iran itself.

The least surprising news of the day - looks like a lot of people who have been captured are being forced to confess to violent acts and being coerced by Western media on state television. That tactic is as old as human history itself.

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Iran after the elections: 24 June 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.



The White House released a video today of Barack Obama's statement on Iran, with Persian subtitles below.



In addition to the full transcript here.

A few days ago Iranian state TV deliberately misquoted Obama a few times and haven't been shy of doing this before, so this is a nice way to preempt any attempts to misquote the speech.

The White House also tweeted in Persian to announce this.

Barack Obama actually alluded to this today as well in his response to a question here.



One really interesting article from yesterday is this one, which goes over the reactions in the Arab world to the events in Iran, where depending on the type of government and relationship with Iran the reaction in the press is either nearly completely muted (for those that either like Iran's current government or are afraid their own people might rise up in a similar fashion) to fanatical coverage as seen in the West.

Here's a good message to copy and paste in Persian to promote this latest movement to go to the bazaar and not buy anything (if you're not sure what this is about read here to understand the tactic).
امروز همه به سوی بازار های شهرمون! بدون نشانه سبز و بدون خرید و بدون درگیری! بازار را فلج می کنیم #Iranelection
It says: Today everyone to the bazaars in our city! Without showing green and without buying and without involvement/conflict! We paralyze the bazaar.

Nate Silver has turned up another oddity here on the numbers in this election.

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How Twitter (and other media) is aiding American national security

...actually not just American but many other countries as well.

Take a look at the following ten names and terms:

Mousavi
Ahmadinejad
Khatami
Khamenei
Rafsanjani
Guardian Council
Qom
Tabriz
Montazeri
Basiji

How many of those do you recognize? Astute followers of events after the election will recognize them all, and many people will certainly now recognize at least half. Compare that to how many you may have known before the election - the average person probably would have been familiar with maybe one of these (Ahmadinejad), none of the others.

Since the election the hashtag #Iranelection has been on the very top of trending terms almost 100% of the time, people have been doing what they can do aid the protesters, and with that has come a much deeper understanding (at least compared to before) of how the political system in Iran works. Along with that as well has come the breaking down of stereotypes about the Iranian people, from something that probably resembled this:

to something more along the lines of this.

As for why this is important for national security, see this article from today from the New York Times. The biggest problem with countries like the US re: Iran is that the decades of isolation have resulted in a nearly complete lack of understanding of how the country works (is Ahmadinejad the leader? Khamenei? Rafsanjani? The Guardian Council?) and what the people there are like. As the article mentions, having an embassy on the ground is invaluable in just being able to gauge the mood of a country in a way that secondary contact with diplomats from other countries just isn't able to impart.

Note that the term "national security" doesn't necessarily mean hard intelligence gathering either. A more complete understanding of Iraq by the populace back in 2002 would have led to a much tougher questioning of a proposed invasion of a country with such distinct religious and ethnic groups. An informed populace is the best way to keep a government from doing something idiotic that results in a waste of time, money and sometimes even lives.

So far it's been eleven days since the election and as yet no one has any real idea how the situation will be resolved. It's possible that Rafsanjani may be able to work a little magic in Qom to replace Khamenei with a governing council (and Ahmadinejad would be forced to resign there too), or it could take much longer. Don't forget that the last revolution didn't happen right away either but took over a year to play itself out. And so far the American populace has been right on the money in wanting Obama to play it mostly at an arm's length for the moment, as there is no reason to make the United States the story when this election is about Iran and Iran only. A less intelligent and more fearful populace might have been after him to "do more", which would be counterproductive at best and disastrous at worst (giving protesters false hope that the US would be able to save them, then a fierce crackdown by authorities and the realization that the US wasn't going to be able to save them in the first place in spite of all the rhetoric to the contrary).

Also don't forget that Afghanistan is right next to Iran and has Persian (Dari) as an official language, so an understanding of Iran can only help there as well.

Curious about what else you could do to help? You may want to think about learning Persian, a language that is much easier to learn than you might have been led to believe. It also sounds great too.



Learning a language is no easy task but if you've been wanting to learn a foreign language for a while and have been following each and every event after this election, taking it up might be a natural course of action.

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Iran after the elections: 23 June 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.


First of all, a video from last night from Shiraz with protests done by turning on all the lights and honking the horn as much as possible. I noticed a few tweets mentioning turning on all the lights in the car yesterday but didn't mention it in yesterday's post as I wasn't sure what turning on the lights alone would do - add the horns to the mix though and now it makes sense. Here's the result.




No surprise here
- the Guardian Council has upheld the results of the election on the 12th; believes more than 100% of voters voting in over 50 cities and some 3 million votes out of place is good enough.

3:30 pm in Iran: Persiankiwi has just added a number of updates that have cleared up quite a bit. The strike for example seems to be going on but perhaps not 100% (tweets in Persian also say the same thing), Rafsanjani is continuing to work behind the scenes, walls say "death to the dictator" everywhere, and more.

Some more news of bannings today: prayers for Neda, and the soccer/football players who sported green. Just two more sources of resentment that will do nothing but fester with time.

I mentioned yesterday that some articles in Turkish had mentioned that increased pressure from the government would result in a revolt in the Kurdistan region in the northwest, and it turns out that that's where the general strike is the strongest (link is in Persian), with some 40% of shops (I think) closed down today.

Today's Daily Show episode just came out and it looks like they've finally been able to edit Jason Jones' trip to Tehran in order to fit in with the events after the election. As they said, it was originally supposed to be a bit of comedy where he visits Iran and makes fun of American impressions towards the country, but then it turned out that three of the people he spoke to were arrested afterwards and nobody knows exactly what even the near future will hold there, so it became a bit of a juxtaposition between comedy and extreme seriousness.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jason Jones: Behind the Veil - Persians of Interest
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Ebrahim Yazdi's Arrest
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran


Great video here of Joe Scarborough on why McCain is wrong about wanting Obama to be "tougher", as if somehow a tough-looking president would give strength to the protesters and cause Khamenei to begin shaking in his boots.



Mainstream media analysis has also been getting progressively better and better as the days have gone by, with two good articles here, here and here from the New York Times.

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Iran after the elections: 22 June 2009 - part 2

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.



It's almost 4 pm in Iran now, and today's big event is a gathering in Haft-e-Tir Square to mourn the recent casualties in the uprising. Mousavi1388 on Twitter has just put out a message that many are RTing:



You can explore the area here.


View Larger Map

This is a gathering for mourning and so it's hard to say just how strict security will be considering how bad it would look to be seen cracking down on mourners, but then again emotions may also run high. We'll find out today whether yesterday's relative calm was an indicator of a shift in mood (perhaps towards more targeted goals like the strike due to start tomorrow) or whether everyone was just tired from the events the day before.

It's 5:30 now and a tweet in Persian is now saying that there are too many police in the area for people to gather. No idea whether this is true or not.



A reporter from Mardomak News is saying that there are about 3000 people gathered in front of the Ali-ibn Musar Reza Mosque, quite close to Haft-e-tir:


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No idea what the police presence is like over there.



Juan Cole has been doing some great writing on the numbers for this election and has a piece today on the definite conclusion (not that it wasn't obvious to anybody else paying attention) that the election was stolen. The official numbers simply demand too large a suspension of disbelief (not to mention the fact that more people voted than were registered in at least 50 cities, and this was reported by Press TV).

A video has just been uploaded of some of the attempted protests today, where Shiroudi Sports Complex was used as a kind of military garrison for the day.



The sports complex is here and you can even see that gate they were using to enter. This also shows why authorities are loath to restore SMS access to the city, as word could have easily spread of them moving in in the morning, whereupon a protest could easily be rescheduled.


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An op-ed here in the New York Times sums up the core of what I wrote yesterday with this sentence: "...the loss of trust by millions of Iranians who’d been prepared to tolerate a system they disliked, provided they had a small margin of freedom, constitutes the core political earthquake in Iran".

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Ramush Haradinaj working on making Turkish an official language in Kosovo again


Kosovo at present has two official languages: Albanian and Serbian. The country has a Turkish minority of 20,000 (1% of the country) and a history with the language as well so Turkish used to be an official language, but this was removed in 1999. At the moment it has the status of a recognized regional language, being official in Gjilan, Vuchitrn, Prizren, Mitrovica, and Pristina.

This piece of news in Turkish says that Ramush Haradinaj (former prime minister and leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) wants to see Turkish as an official language of the country and said he will be sending a letter to that effect to the president of the Assembly Jakup Krasniqi. Haradinaj said that making Turkish an official language along with Albanian and Serbian would be good for not only democracy but also protection of human rights and freedoms in the country.

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Iran after the elections: 22 June 2009

I was just about to start looking for information on this when Press TV has turned up exactly what I was looking for - thanks to Rezaei we now know that over 100% of eligible voters somehow managed to vote in over 50 cities. The reason why Rezaei is so important here is that he was apparently given the smallest vote total of the four, making it much easier to prove the numbers wrong as he simply has to find more IDs of people that voted for him than election monitors claim actually did. Rezaei has proven to be an interesting thorn in the side of Ahmadinejad this whole time, and without appearing to be doing anything disloyal either (he even attended Khamenei's speech on the 19th for example).

Nate Silver also has a post on this subject.

Here's the video of police running away on the 20th in embeddable form now.



One other interesting thing to note is that since the election a number of major services have stepped up their Persian-language support (Google and Facebook in particular), and a lot of people have 1) realized that Iranians are not one-dimensional caricatures and 2) started to acquire an interest in the language too. The reason why this is important is because the authorities in Iran can't keep blocks going forever, as not having access to major sites, news, SMS service and all the rest is a detriment to the economy, but as soon as those open up again it may make it that much easier to plan protests and strikes, and inform the outside world of what's going on. It's a big dilemma for them.

Andrew Sullivan has found an interesting (very clumsily-made) propaganda film from 2008 illustrating just how the government in Iran tries to get its citizens to view the outside world. It's also a great link to bookmark for those learning the language.



BBC Persian has another video of a showdown from yesterday here in central Tehran. Not sure what happened after that first two minutes.

Many tweets in Persian are referencing Mousavi's most recent sixth statement, especially the part that "it is your right to protest against lies and cheating":

I've tweeted that as well (Persian + English) so you can RT that if you want.


There are a lot of tweets in Persian now about a general strike planned for Tuesday, with some saying to stock up before then. A lot are also talking about a general strike that day in Kurdistan (the area in northwest Iran where the majority of the people are Kurds) that you can see automatically translated here. This is something I've noticed in the Turkish press as well such as in articles like this one (automatically translated here), where the belief is that an increased crackdown from the government would result in a revolt in the Kurdish-dominated area in the northwest.

This one:
says "Tuesday has been declared as a general strike across Iran". And this one:

says "Call for civil institutions and political and civil activists in Kurdistan: general strike in Kurdistan on Tuesday!"

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Iran after the elections: 21 June 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hi - if you're here due to a Twitter update, check the bottom of the post.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day as events warrant.



There was a lot of burning pictures of Khamenei and Ahmedinejad last night. In this video for example.



As well as these pictures.

And just in case anyone thought yesterday's crackdown had caused a change in the atmosphere, here's a video from today with a huge crowd.

Mousavi's statement yesterday can be seen here in both Persian and English side by side.

If you prefer your news analysis en español there's quite a read here.

Al Arabiya has a piece here on how Rafsanjani and others might be working behind the scenes to create a new power structure in the country with a collective ruling body instead of a Supreme Leader, and/or the resignation of Ahmadinejad. Though the name of the country would remain the same this would be a completely new power structure - it would be like replacing Obama (and the presidency) with a collective ruling body and having Biden resign.



Right now on the top of Balatarin.com (like Digg.com in Persian) is a post about how the Canadian Embassy in Tehran was closed to the wounded yesterday (other embassies were taking in wounded, as many reported on Twitter at the time).

The link can be seen here, and automatically translated here (though the automatic translation isn't very accurate). It asks people to contact CTV to tell them about this, and to contact the Canadian government as well to protest. The post ends by saying that this is one of the things that overseas Iranians can do to help, but this doesn't have to be limited to overseas Iranians alone IMO.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has also called for the Canadian government to do what it can for protesters in Iran.


Quite the video here from yesterday (BBC) with police eventually turning tail and running for dear life near the end.

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The beginning of the end of the Islamic Republic of Iran


As we know it, at least. Nobody knows what sort of new system is going to emerge from the events of the past few weeks, but it has become quite clear that the system as we know it will not be able to sustain itself for much longer. Whether this means days, weeks or a few years is hard to say.

The biggest reason for this is a very simple one: the current regime is fighting not just against opposition forces, but against a very potent enemy that could best be described as an erosion of national morale. The only way for a certain system of government in a country to exist is if those that work for it believe it to be the best system available at the time, and that radical changes just aren't worth doing. Even in some of the best-run countries in the world there is always a harping on the government by the media for change, but in well-run countries these are always fairly incremental: perhaps salaries for politicians are too high, health care is a mess, the leader of the country is an idiot, etc. etc., but none of these ever compromise the basic morale of the country where those that live in it see their system as being good enough for the moment, and malleable enough to change for the better. In other words, people that live in countries like that just don't find enough fault in them to rock the boat by trying something completely new.

Iran was able to maintain this before the election on June 12th. The previous landslide victories by Khatami before and the huge rallies for Mousavi in this election were seen as proof that even though the country was still being run by a Supreme Leader, the average person in the street still had a voice and was able to bring about incremental change in the way the country was run. The Supreme Leader would still be the Supreme Leader, but with the election of a new president a kinder (and more intelligent) face to the world was a possibility.

After the elections though, and especially after the 19th with Khamenei's speech and the crackdown the next day, it has become more than clear that there is no way to bring about the incremental change that citizens need to be able to bring about in order to stay loyal to their country's current system. Khamenei made it perfectly clear that the election would not be contested, that he favoured one candidate over the others, and that no more dissent would be tolerated. A ridiculous move considering Iran's recent history, as it wasn't all that long ago that they overthrew another leader that advocated his way or nothing else.

With this, the current system has undermined its legitimacy in the eyes of the opposition. Before the election the Ahmadinejad-supporting camp was seen as a part of the system that could be voted out of office with enough effort, but now it has become clear that the entire system itself is flawed and needs to go. This is the entropy in national morale that has brought about the end of other governments in recent years (Serbia, Georgia), and is seen most clearly in the form of riot police simply deciding that they care more about the people demonstrating in front of them than the government that hired them.

This erosion of national morale is also seen in other areas as well. Once a government begins to be seen as legitimate, all of a sudden every cent (toman) paid in taxes is seen as support for an unlawful regime, every statement made on national media is suddenly more suspect than before, those working within the government that feel sympathetic may decide to leak information that they wouldn't have before. It's this constant erosion of belief in the legitimacy of the system that weakens it and eventually brings it to an end.

The only question is how long this will take. Serbia (Yugoslavia) for example had mass protests in 1996 and 1997, but it wasn't until 2000 that it resulted in the downfall of the government. Sometimes a government can survive by making huge concessions, but Iran is probably too late for that. The video of the young woman killed yesterday (Neda) itself is turning out to be a huge symbol of just what the current system stands for - a government that is willing to execute the young in order to stay in power. How many within the government are willing to give their all for the current system when the results have become so clear?


Some other links on this subject:

Even state-run media is running articles like this one
Tick-tock, motherfuckers
A supreme leader loses his aura


I'll begin keeping track of events again as they happen later in the day.


One quick note a few hours later: there's also a strong possibility that the Islamic Republic of Iran could continue to exist with the same name but a vastly different system in the end. An IRI with an elected president (and fair elections) instead of a Supreme Leader would IMO be a completely different country from the one existing now, even if it ended up keeping the same name in the end. Don't forget that names themselves mean very little - the Korea with Democratic in the name is the one without any form of democracy, and as Jon Stewart put it, the Canadian Conservative Party's US equivalent would be Gay Nader Fans for Peace. Titles mean very little.

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