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miércoles, junio 24, 2009

Iran: This Is What Violent Repression Looks Like


Iran's Government has decreed that the demonstrations must end. And if the Government kills many of its citizens, and assaults and imprisons and threatens numerous others, that's apparently just fine with the Government.

The New York Times story is chilling in its understatement and lack of descriptions:
Hundreds of protesters clashed with waves of riot police and paramilitary militia in Tehran on Wednesday, witnesses said, as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted the authorities would not yield to pressure from opponents demanding a new election following allegations of electoral fraud.

It was impossible to confirm first-hand the extent of the new violence in the capital because of draconian new press restrictions on coverage of the post-election mayhem. But the witnesses reached by telephone said the confrontation, outside the national Parliament building, was bloody, with police using live ammunition.

Defying government warnings, the witnesses said that hundreds, if not thousands of protesters, had attempted to gather in front of the parliament on Baharestan Square. They were met with riot police and paramilitary militia, who struck at them with truncheons, tear gas, and guns. One witness said he saw a 19-year-old woman shot in the neck.
Truncheons, tear gas, and bullets. Riot police and paramilitary militia. And, of course, suppression of the press. Not only will the Iranian government not yield, it's evident that it intends to end all demonstrations with deadly force, which it naively hopes will not be widely reported. And, of course, it plan on massive incarceration:
A New York-based human rights group, International Campaign for Human Rights, listed the names Wednesday of 240 of the 645 people the Iranian state media has reported detained in the crackdown. The total number of detained, the organization said, citing human rights activists in Iran, may be as high as 2,000.

Among them are people arrested in a Monday night raid of a campaign office for Mr. Moussavi in Tehran, Press TV, state television’s English-language satellite broadcaster, reported Wednesday... snip

The detained, most of whom are being held incommunicado, also include students picked up at their dormitories, dozens of street demonstrators, and “targeted, politically motivated arrests of intellectuals, civil society leaders, political campaigners, journalists, and human rights campaigners,” said Aaron Rhodes, a consultant with the organization in Vienna.
I am having trouble watching these events unfold. I am very afraid for the people of Iran. I am afraid that what will now happen will be far worse than Tiananmen.

I am having trouble reading the 140 character posts at #iranelection on Twitter. I am having trouble reading even the traditional media, like CNN, which doesn't withhold descriptions of the violence:
Security forces wielding clubs and firing weapons beat back demonstrators who flocked to a Tehran square Wednesday to continue protests, with one witness saying security forces beat people like "animals."

At least two sources described wild and violent conditions at a part of Tehran where protesters had planned to demonstrate.

"They were waiting for us," the source said. "They all have guns and riot uniforms. It was like a mouse trap."

"I see many people with broken arms, legs, heads -- blood everywhere -- pepper gas like war," the source said.

About "500 thugs" with clubs came out of a mosque and attacked people in the square, another source said.

The security forces were "beating women madly" and "killing people like hell," the source said.

"They beat up a woman so bad, she was all bloody," the source said in a description that underscores the growing and central role of women in the uprising.
And, of course, I cannot stand to watch the videos. Or look at the photographs. Who can? The Iranian Government's actions are brutal and inhumane. And as individuals and as foreigners and even as a foreign government, we are entirely powerless to protect the demonstrators. This is a frustrating and unhappy position for us to be in. The whole world is watching. And, I'm afraid, it's about to see a bloodbath photographed on cell phone cameras.

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