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An Iranian opposition website said on Thursday the government was moving troops and armoured military vehicles to the capital on the day supporters of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi planned to hold a rally.
"Hundreds of military forces and tens of armoured vehicles ... are moving towards Tehran. Some of the vehicles are used for suppressing street riots," the Jaras website said.
The report could not be confirmed independently by Reuters.
Finally, with the arrival of the first shipment of armoured vehicles, China has officially joined in to repress the Iranian people, most likely to prevent the downfall of the “Supreme Leadership” and its own illegitimate interests in the region. The vehicles are built by military complex of Dalian DES-516B. Here is the description of the manufacturer:
Dalian Eagle-Sky Co.
The armoured anti-riot vehicles have a capacity of 10,000 liters to shoot cold and hot water, and three 100 liter tanks to shoot burning chemical liquids. The water is mixed with paint or tear gas that cannot be washed away. Each vehicle has two guns for shooting liquid up to a distance of 70 meters- it is controlled from inside the cabin. The price tag for each unit is 650,000 dollars. Also, a lot of extra burning liquid, paint, and tear gas was purchased.
It took four months for the delivery of the armoured vehicles, and since the Iranian regime was in a hurry, they had them delivered from China’s army organization- this is rare! China’s government was in as much of a hurry to get these to Iran.
We pray that this regime will not last to get to use these violent equipments. But even if they do get to use them on the streets, it is nothing to worry about. Iranians are so creative that we will find the cheapest way to destroy them. The tyrannical and blood thirsty government of China should realize that this inhumane action against the people of Iran will turn out to be a big punishment. We will cut off their hands from our country and we will try our best to get rid of their products in our region. Also, China should wait for our full support of the people of Tibet against their barbaric crimes and the Muslim people of Sien Kiang, and we will punch their dirty mouths.
This clear interference of China in Iran’s internal affairs and their cooperation in putting down the Iranian people must be condemned by all nations of the world. We also feel sorry for the “Supreme Leader” who is willing to kiss the bottoms of the Chinese who do not even believe in God, but is not willing to listen to the people of Iran.
The Iranian government is escalating a crackdown on the opposition with more threats of arrests and possible executions. Eyewitness reports say security has been beefed up in the capital, Tehran, amid calls for more opposition protests.
Iran's top security figures are stepping up their threats to prosecute and punish supporters and leaders of the country's opposition movement in what appears to be a calculated attempt to demonstrate that they are still in control of the situation.
Opposition websites also report troops in Tehran have been reinforced.
Iranian government TV indicated the country's top security officials met late Wednesday to discuss the ongoing crisis created by what the television called "rioters and those fomenting sedition against the Islamic Republic."
Intelligence Minister Haidar Moslehi insisted the Marxist "People's Mujahideen" movement is heavily involved in the opposition movement and recent demonstrations:
He called the recent opposition demonstrations anti-revolutionary and says a large number of people arrested for participating in them are Marxists or belong to the People's Mujahideen. He said Iran's intelligence apparatus has a good deal of information and has identified many of these instigators and he expects the judiciary to take tough action against them.
Iran's top prosecutor Abbas Jaafar Doulatabadi also said opposition protests over the disputed June presidential election were just an excuse to attack the Islamic republic and its leaders.
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani lashed out at the opposition during a visit to a provincial city, insisting the people are demanding an end to opposition demonstrations:
He says the people are losing patience with the sectarian conflict he claims some are trying to provoke. Both the government and the parliament, he argues, will do what is being asked of them and put and end to violence and seditious acts, like what he called the sacrilege against Imam Hussein by protesting during Ashoura.
Iran's top police official, Esmail Ahmedi-Moghaddam also warned the opposition the government would no longer be lenient. "The time of pardoning is over," he says. "We were patient at first, but now our reaction will be even more harsh."
Hundreds of opposition protesters, activists, and intellectuals have been arrested since Sunday's opposition demonstrations, in which protesters fought running-street battles against government security forces, leaving at least eight people dead.
Iranian TV also broadcast videos of pro-government marchers, chanting slogans in favor of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and against the opposition and Western powers that allegedly support it. Some participants have been shown wearing white shrouds to indicate they are ready to die for the Islamic Republic.
Riot Control Vehicles
Being an expert on riot control vehicle technology, and the use of riot control vehicles, and the development and distribution of riot control vehicles, I can assure you of one thing--the Iranian regime just screwed the pooch by using the Chinese vehicles you see pictured above.
Ezatollah Sahabi, an opposition activist and the head of the council that runs the group known as Religious-National group spoke with Rooz Online about his concerns over the recent events in Iran and stressed on refraining from violence, adding, “This regime is imposing violence on people. It is doing this in an effort to radicalize people’s struggle.” Read on for the details.
Rooz: In view of the events that took place in Tehran and other major cities in Iran, do you think that the peaceful struggle is taking a different direction?
Ezatollah Sahabi: We have specific information that the regime desires and insists that this struggle turn into violence so that it can comfortably suppress it. This is why we stress now and more than before that violence should be avoided and that the struggle needs to continue peacefully.
Rooz: But what are people supposed to do?
Sahabi: People must refrain from violence and continue their democratic struggle making it least costly with the same vehemence that the other side is insisting on violence, even on a day such as Ashura. People must exercise restraint. This is our understanding and experience of political struggle in this country and this is what we request from the Iranian nation. How well they accept this request is a different matter. We can only try and that is all we can do under these conditions. Our twenty five year experience of the revolution shows that those who wanted to response with violence gradually turned into violent as well. Furthermore, if violence becomes the norm, the rulers have the instruments of violence in their hands and are more violent.
Rooz: It appears that the rulers have decided to act violently. Today’s events have resulted in that people too are not becoming aggressive, when compared to the past.
Sahabi: We all know that the rulers are violent and are imposing violence on the public. We know that they are imposing violence and pressure so that the people’s movement becomes radicalized so that they can in turn suppress it. But what we are saying is that if violence becomes the basis of action then this regime has no constraints even if it has to kill one million people. They have decided to stay their course. Therefore, our fellow Iranians that I see in the streets should exercise restraint and sacrifice. Sacrifice of course does not necessarily mean that I should go and face the bullets of the enemy. Sometimes it means that I should control myself so as to prevent going where my enemy wants me to go.
Rooz: How optimistic are you about the strategy that you just mentioned?
Sahabi: There is no struggle that can be precisely predicted, particularly in the complex environment of Iran. I think there is no other society in the world as complex as ours. Still, we must have plans to move on from one phase to the next. We are not the only ones who are concerned about violence. Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karoubi too, among others are concerned about this. Mr. Khatami has been advocating the non-violent approach for twelve years now and has been defending it. We must focus our struggle on removing Mr. Ahmadinejad and take a step forward in this goal and this would push the threat of greater harm to the country by this government one step away and thus give us breathing space to seriously think about the future of our country.
DUBAI -- Iran's most prominent opposition leader launched a defiant broadside at the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday, striking back after two days of heavy criticism by supporters of the regime.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, the former presidential candidate who has become the opposition movement's de facto leader, criticized a harsh government crackdown on protesters Sunday, and said he was willing to die in the fight to allow the Iranian people to express their religious and civic rights.
Iran's leading religious leaders have issued another warning to the country's opposition supporters to halt their anti-government protests.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the speaker of the Iran's top legal body, the Guardian Council, accused the protesters of corrupting Gods earth - a charge punishable by the death penalty.
But Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran's main opposition leader, has said he is prepared to die for his cause, and he called for an end to the government crackdown on opposition protests.
Al Jazeera's Alireza Ronaghi reports from Tehran.
Mir Hossein Mousavi today released a new statement denouncing the regime’s brutal tactics against the Green Movement and outlined peaceful measures the government can take to calm the situation. While the statement is quite similar to other statements he has released in the past, several points on closer inspection stand out. The statement also shows Mousavi’s resolve and his continued willingness to finding a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.
One of the most striking features of the speech is Mousavi not mentioning the killing of his nephew Sayyed Ali Mousavi in Tehran on Ashura (December 27). It echoes his and his wife Zahra Rahnavard’s response to the imprisonment of her brother which they kept under wraps for months because they didn’t want to turn their statements personal, but rather speak for the entire Green Movement.
What’s more important is also the fact that Mousavi for the first time actually discounts his own influence and that of Mehdi Karroubi. He admits that even though people asked him to call for protests or at least lend his support, he did not do so in the case of Ashura. He also acknowledges the fact that people came out without him calling them to come out. This is a very significant development and has been noted by myself and other colleagues before.
The Green Movement has indeed partially spiraled out of the hands of Karroubi and Mousavi. What this could achieve cannot be easily quantified or qualified, but it is important as the movement will continue to live on even if Mousavi and Karroubi are no longer alive. And Mousavi acknowledges it by saying that he is ready to die alongside other members of the movement, knowing that the movement would continue even with his absence.
But there were three very important new points that I noticed in his speech that I had formerly not seen – or at least not together.
First off, Mousavi openly speaks out against the IRGC. It is no secret that the IRGC has been one the driving forces behind the suppression of peaceful protesters and the main source of Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s power. Along the Basij – which falls under its command – they have been responsible for most of the bloodshed on the streets of Iran during protests. He ridicules the IRGC, possibly sending a message to his supporters that they can now openly denounce the IRGC as well as Basij.
As he denounces corruption in his statement, Mousavi goes on to say this about the IRGC:
“We say that a large and influential organization like IRGC cannot defend the country and national interests if it wants to calculate everyday how much the stock market has gone up or down; it will corrupt both itself and the country.”
Secondly, Mousavi yet again questions the government’s legitimacy. Unlike presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei’s statement earlier which denounced Ashura protests and forwarded the preposterous idea that Mousavi has somehow come to accept Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president, he continues to defy Ahmadinejad. So IRNA’s propaganda regarding Rezaei’s letter is promptly disqualified:
“Assume that, with all the arrests, brutalities, threats, and shutting the mouths of newspapers and media, you can silence people for a few days. How do you solve the change in people’s view of the establishment? How do you rectify the lack of legitimacy? How do you change the stunned and blaming views of all people of the world over all this brutality of a government against its own people? What do you do with the problems of the country’s economy and living conditions that are getting worse because of extreme weakness of the administration? With what backing of expertise, national unity and effective foreign policy, can you alleviate the shadow of more UN resolutions and international attempts to win more points against our country and our nation?”
He also puts the blame of protesters and Friday prayer Imams calling for the killing of Mousavi and Karroubi on the government:
“I clearly and bluntly say that the order of execution, murder, or imprisonment of Karoubi, Mousavi and figures like us will not solve the problem. The announcements made this Wednesday in Enghelab Square (central Tehran) and before that during the last Friday prayer by some figures affiliated with the establishment will make the consequence of any terrorist act the direct liability of the center [of the establishment] and will make the problem of the current crisis unsolvable.”
Thirdly, and perhaps the most important of all the points in his new statement is the fact that he acknowledges protesters taking action against security forces during the protests. He also puts the blame for violence against security forces on the government. However, it is important to note that he neither endorses these actions, nor asks for further actions in future protests. He also notes that people were also compassionate to security forces and tried to save them from other more angry protesters. I believe it is important because Mousavi continues to wish for a peaceful political resolution and does not wish the government to be violently overthrown:
“Watching the shocking footage of Ashura shows that if sometimes slogans and actions moved toward unacceptable radicalism, it is because of throwing innocent people off bridges and heights, shooting them, running them over by cars and assassinations. It is interesting that in some of this footage, people were seeing their [religious] brothers behind the faces of the oppressive police and Basij forces, and in that critical situation and on that deafening and hateful day they were trying to protect them from any harm. If the state-run television and radio had the slightest bit of fairness,to calm the atmosphere and bring people closer together, it would have shown a little of these scenes. But no way! The progress of events after Ashura and the extent of arrests and other Government actions show that the authorities are repeating the same past mistakes this time in a greater scale and think that the policy of terror is their only solution.”
Having said these points, Mousavi yet again calmly asks the government to take steps to resolve the current crisis. This perhaps might seem a bit repetitive; however, it comes as no surprise. The Green Movement has repeatedly shown that they are open to talks; that they are not in favor of violence – unless it knows no bounds and even then, only few incidents of self-defense. And finally, that they are still hoping for a peaceful and non-violent resolution to the current crisis. Mousavi outlines these points for the resolution of the current crisis:
1. The administration should be held liable in front of the people, the parliament and the judiciary system so that there would be no unusual supports for the administration in response to its incompetence and ineffectiveness and the administration be held accountable for all the problems it created for the country. For sure if the administration is competent and right it would be able to respond to the people and the parliament, and if it is incompetent and inept, the parliament and the judiciary system would confront it based on the constitution.
2. Legislating new and clear election laws in a way that it would regain people’s trust in the free and fair elections without meddling and interference. This law should ensure the participation of all the people despite their differences in opinions and views and should prohibit the biased and partisan interference of the authorities in all levels. The primary parties in early days of the revolution can be considered as a model.
3. The release of all political prisoners and restoring their dignity and honour. I am sure that this move would be interpreted as a strong point for the establishment rather than a weakness and we know that the defeated political movements are against this solution.
4. One of the necessities of the improvement is the release of the banned press and media and letting the shut down newspapers to publish again. The fear of free media should be eliminated and the international experience in this matter should be considered. The expansion of the satellite channels and their growing importance and the decisive influence of this media clearly show the inadequacy of the traditional methods and limitations of National TV and radio channels. Signal jamming methods and internet censorship can only be effective for a short time. The only solution is having various free and informed media inside the country. Isn’t it time to turn eyes back from beyond our borders to domestic political, cultural and social prosperity by a courageous act and based on trusting the intellectual and innovative forces of the society?
5. Recognizing people’s rights for having legal demonstrations and forming parties and groups and abiding to the 27th principle of the constitution. Acting in this matter that can be done with the wisdom and collaboration of all of the country’s enthusiasts can replace the battle between the Basij and security forces and people or people and people with an atmosphere of friendship and national affection.
After all is said and done, Mousavi’s statement can be seen as a watershed. After the bloody events of Ashura, many expected Mousavi to maybe even partially consider a more violent means to changing the political situation in the country. He could have at least warned the government. He could have at least warned the IRGC or the Basij of violent confrontations. However, he offered his own life instead of endorsing retaliation against the security forces or the government.
It is perhaps the last chance for the government of Iran to act peacefully if it wants to resolve the current crisis. Tensions run high. Arrests are becoming rampant. Violence has increased. Mousavi and Karroubi no longer look as safe as they did a few months ago. In such a climate, Mousavi’s conciliatory statement is a breath of fresh air. Whether the government is going to make use of the time that’s running out or not remains to be seen.
On New Year's Eve, days after the some of the bloodiest confrontations to hit the streets of Tehran since last June's disputed election, security forces were still stationed in large numbers at major intersections and squares. Alongside regular, uniformed officers stood civilian members of Iran's Basij paramilitary front, many of them teenagers with flossy beards and uncertain looks, lacking shoulder pads and body armor. Their borrowed batons and riot helmets looked incongruously large in comparison with their skinny frames. Meanwhile, the ranks of the opposition bristled with reports that the now plan to field armored anti-riot vehicles purchased from China in their fight against street protesters.
However, there had been no riot police or civilian milita men to deter one large gathering. On Wednesday, in Tehran's Revolution Square , firebrand pro-government cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda stood before a large pro-government rally and tried to pump it up with language little short of an incitement to civil war. "Enemies of the leader, according to the Koran, belong to the party of Satan," Alamolhoda declared. "Our war in the world is war against the opponents of the rule of the supreme leader."
The make-up of the crowd in Tehran belied the popularity of Alamolhada's message. Hundreds of buses had ferried families into the capital from outlying areas the previous day. Cancelled school exams and days off from government offices ensured that some tens of thousands were at Revolution Square to receive free food and drink, and to carry banners and shout slogans prepared for them by government officials such as "Death to [Mir-Hossein] Mousavi" [the central figure of the opposition movement] and "Rioter Hypocrites Must Be Executed." There were no pro-government rallies in the large cities of the Mashad and Isfahan. (See pictures of the protests in Tehran on Ashura.)
The marchers on Ashura the previous Sunday seemed to materialize spontaneously, in Tehran and elsewhere in the country, much to the government's chagrin. They did not receive nourishment from the government, just blows — or worse. At least eight people were killed as a result of the confrontations on that day. Some oppositionists say the police opened fire on protesters — though the government denies that its forces were armed. Grainy video footage on YouTube and elsewhere apparently shows protesters crushed under the wheels of police vehicles. Other deaths were reportedly caused by falling from bridges or as a result of clashes with men who had been goaded into violence amid the frenzied chest-beating of Shi'ite mourning ceremonies. (See the long shadow of Ayatullah Khomeini.)
Even as government was rallying support to itself on Wednesday, the funeral of Ali Mousavi, the nephew of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, took place under the watchful and wary eye of state security. He had died in a hospital shortly after being reportedly shot in the chest during Sunday's riots. An account of the funeral, said to be written by a member of the Iran's security forces with sympathies towards the opposition, is currently circulating. It describes a bleak ceremony, held just after dawn, with men and women from the Revolutionary Guards dressed in black mingling with family members. The undercover agents hissed the mourners to quiet down when the cries and wails grew too loud.
On his website, Mir Hossein Mousavi makes no reference to his martyred nephew, nor does he offer strategies or issue any call to specific action. Instead he accepts explicitly what many on the ground have been saying for months. "For the Ashura ceremony, despite numerous calls to do so, neither Mehdi Karroubi, Mohammad Khatami [who are the two other main leaders of the opposition] nor I or my associates issued statements," he wrote. "Once more, the god-seeking people showed themselves to be a broad social and civil network which... has taken shape spontaneously and does not wait for statements or announcements."
"Water which has joined the stream cannot turn back," Mousavi wrote, apparently assuming a role that is less commander and more interpreter and spokesman for a movement which the government cannot seem to stem in spite of months of repressive action. "To execute, kill or imprison Karroubi and Mousavi will not solve the problem," Mousavi wrote. As for dangers to himself, "My blood is no different than that of other martyrs."