We know have the beginning of the answer as to how the Iranian regime will respond to continued unrest in light of Ayatollah Khamenei’s hardline sermon yesterday. The Basij militias were out in force in Teheran violently confronting demonstrators all over the city. There were fires, smoke, shootings and chaos in multiple locations. The NIAC blog says that Moussavi’s Facebook page reports that police are pouring acid on demonstrators. The N.Y. Times quotes eyewitness reports of a woman bleeding to death and a man’s body being carried away by demonstrators.
The N.Y. Times Lede blog quotes this report from someone who witnessed the woman’s death at the hands of a Basij sniper:
Basij shots to death a young woman in Tehran’s Saturday June 20th protests At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know.
I simply don’t have the heart to watch this video, but I offer it to you if you choose to do so.
Iranian TV reports a suicide bomber detonating a bomb at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. This appears to be a carefully orchestrated provocation by the security forces which allows them to raise the specter of sabotage directed against one of the saints of the Iranian revolution. Though Christiane Amapour on CNN raises the possibility that an anti-regime militant group like Mujahedeen Khalq might have perpetrated the attack.
We also have the answer to how Hossein Moussavi will respond to the regime’s crackdown. If there was any doubt of his steadfastness they should be gone now:
Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said he was “ready for martyrdom,” according to an ally, in leading protests that have shaken the Islamic Republic and brought warnings of bloodshed from Iran‘s Supreme Leader. Mousavi also called on Saturday for a national strike if he is arrested, a witness said.
…Defeated candidate Mousavi…made clear he would not back down.
“In a public address in southwestern Tehran, Mousavi said he was ready for martyrdom and that he would continue his path,” a Mousavi ally, who asked not to be named, told Reuters by telephone from the Jeyhun street in Tehran.
A witness to the address said Mousavi…appeared to anticipate action against him. “Mousavi called on people to go on national strike if he gets arrested,” the witness told Reuters.
Mousavi demanded the elections be annulled. “These disgusting measures (election rigging) were planned months ahead of the vote … considering all the violations … the election should be annulled,” Mousavi said in a letter to the country’s top legislative body.
Pres. Obama has released a masterful statement about the violence which clearly shows his own hand, and his own personal experience as an African-American, in the writing:
In a statement on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Obama called the government’s reaction “violent and unjust,” and, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., warned again that the world was watching what happened in Tehran.
“We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost,” he said, adding: “Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.
“Martin Luther King once said: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ ” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”
Iranian state TV did not have the guts to translate the statement accurately and instead told viewers that the president called for demonstrators to rally against the government. It figures.
It looks like the world should prepare for a very dark period in Iran and determine how to respond to a massive violent suppression of a national democratic movement. We don’t want to completely stop any interactions with whatever rump government will come out of this, especially if it might be willing to negotiate seriously about nuclear and related issues. But we don’t want to reward such repression either. It will be a delicate balance.
What we must not do, despite our justifiable anger, is play into the hands of the power elite which will seek to play the victim card. If we treat Iran overly punitively as the Allies did to Germany after WWI, we could enable the mullahs to remain in control for decades to come.