An Eye Witness Account of What Happened in Tehran Yesterday

This is a cross post from Potkin’s blog

They separated us in groups.  I am sure that there were at least a million but in every street sign, the guards pushed people north or south.  I marched from Ferdowsi to Yadegar emam with a lot of people and I can estimate about a million people were involved.  Here is a piece that I just sent Golnoush.  Maybe you can get some estimation from it.  People however were filming so I think there would be a flood of videos eventually.

We walked down Gharani Avenue from Karimkhan Avenue to reach Ferdowsi Square around 3 pm.  There were only three of us and we made a promise that if others do not show up we will abandon the march altogether, but were we for a nice surprise.  Even before we got to Ferdowsi Square we saw silent groups of people marching randomly with dedication in their eyes.

3:10 pm the guards were everywhere but not like they were in the Ashura demonstrations (last year).  We reached College Crossway (where Hafez Avenue crosses Enghelab Avenue) and already the sidewalks were filling up with quiet demonstrators without any signs or any slogans.  By the time we reached Vali Asr avenue we realized that the tactic of the guards and the militia is to let groups of people go and then separate them at each cross road so we tried to keep together and stay cool.  3:30 pm marked a painful visual landscape for me that I will never forget; the Basiji thugs and the Revolutionary Guards had brought children in the street.  They gave them clubs and were directing them for the attack, which happened right at that cross road.  The kids were probably 15 or 16 years old but their eyes were filled with hate.  “Good Islamic Teaching, right?” said an elderly man in an angry but muffled voice.

I called my family to tell them where I am but the phones went dead around 3:45 and this was when the bikes rolled into the sidewalks and started beating people.  I was separated from my friends in Enghelaab square but kept on going.  The energy of the people and especially of the women and the elderly was like an electrical charge.  I could not feel the beatings anymore and the clubs kept on coming on our heads, shoulders, legs and knees.

Right at Jamalzadeh crossing, I heard a cheering crowd and realized that a large group of screaming demonstrators pouring south into Azadi avenue (the continuation of Enghelaab avenue after Enghelaab square towards Azadi square is called Azadi avenue.  The guards stopped all of the busses in the middle of the boulevard and forced us into the middle of the street.  I was feeling a déjà vu as we reached Dampezeshki (Animal Husbandry Hospital).  This was the same place that I was badly beaten in June 2009 post election demonstration.  So I kept myself on the extreme right side of the sidewalk.  It seems that the revolutionary guard thugs repeat the same tactics again because they rounded up the people in the middle of the street and attacked them the same way they did in 2009.

I slipped through the angry looking guards and plain clothed militia just to confront another scene.
I reached Eskandari street and it looked like a war zone, smoke, dust, tear gas, screaming people and flying stones with regular attacks of the well equipped, motorcycle riding guards.  A petit young girl with a green wristband and a small backpack was walking to my left.  Just before we reached Navab Avenue the guards charged from behind, one of their clubs hit my left leg but three of them attacked the girl relentlessly.  She started to scream and fell down, but the guards kept on hitting her.  I ran towards them, grabbed the girl’s right hand and pulled her out of the hands of the guards.  She was dazed and crying unstoppably. I pushed her north into Navab Avenue towards Tohid square away from Azadi avenue when the guards charged towards us.  This time the crowd fought back and stones of all sizes were sent back to the dogs of war.  This gave me bit of time to ask one of the restaurants to open their door and let us in.  The girl was in shock and pain so I got her some water and tried to see if she was feeling fine.  Her clothes dusty, her backpack torn and her hands shivering she was just asking “WHY?”

The battle in front of the restaurant was an uneven war.  The crowd had only their feasts and stones found on the sides of the street, but the guards were shooting people in the head by paint guns, were spraying pepper gas and shooting tear gas canisters.  Then in a moment that I thought I would never see, to guards ran sat on one foot and fired plastic bullets into the crowd randomly.  We waited until the demonstrators pushed the guards back before leaving the restaurant.   Tear gas smoke was everywhere and the girl offered me a cigarette and although I am not a smoker, the cigarette did alleviate the burning sensation.  Within a few minutes her friends showed up and they went back down to Azadi Avenue.  For them and for all of us, the battle has just begun.

The battle raged on.

PS: The BBC reports:

Members of Iran’s parliament have called for opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to be tried and executed.

Some 50 conservative MPs marched through parliament’s main hall on Tuesday, chanting “Death to Mousavi, death to Karroubi”, shown on state TV.

Gene adds: Parliamentary democracy in action. Members of Iran’s Majlis chant “Death to Mousavi and Karroubi and Khatami.”