Pictures From Bil´in – A Flying Carpet Institute Report

20 02 2010

Pictures from Bil´in´s 5th anniversary of weekly demonstrations against the Wall -A Flying Carpet Institute Report

The FCI was in the village of Bil´in yesterday to witness the 5th anniversary of the protests against Israel´s Separation Wall in the West Bank. Three thousand people attended the event according to Maan News Agency, including Palestinian caretaker prime minister Salam Fayyad, other members of government, as well as many individuals and groups from Israel including, among others, Anarchists Against The Wall (AATW), Gush Shalom, Maavak, Machsom Watch and Rabbis For Human Rights. The event also coincided with the anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). After the speeches given by Salam Fayyad and other dignitaries, a march commenced towards the fence. There was a strong media presence along the march with camera crews from Al Jazeera, BBC Persian, German, Spanish and Turkish state broadcasters among others. A group of Palestinians and international solidarity activists managed to tear down a part of the fence, symbolically liberating an abandoned building on the other side of the fence. It was at this time that a white water cannon truck appeared on the scene, spraying large quantities of a foul-smelling liquid known as „skunk“ to disperse the protesters. Soon after, a barrage of sound bombs and tear gas were fired towards the crowd which included many parents with their children, forcing the bulk of the demonstration to retreat. The protest continued on for about an hour.

Palestinian villagers see the fence as an instrument of confiscating land for the expansion of nearby settlements, and have held weekly Friday demonstrations since 2005 to protest the course of the barrier. The demonstrations are often unpredictable and violent. Bassem Abu Rahman, a local protester, was killed last year after he was hit in the head by high speed gas canister fired by the Israeli Defence Forces.

Israeli participants at the demonstration

Salam Fayyad addressing the rally

Marching to the fence

Palestinian and international demonstrators manage to tear part of the fence

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Iran’s bus drivers union calls for Green-Labor unity

15 02 2010

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

Disclaimer statement

On February 12, a statement appeared on various Iranian websites, including Balatarin which is one of the largest Persian-speaking community websites in the world, in the form of a poster.  The poster called for solidarity with the imprisoned leader of Tehran’s bus drivers union, Mansoor Osanloo, through acts of civil disobedience beginning on March 4 around Tehran’s Valiasr square.  The statement purported to be an offcial statement of the union (formally known as the Syndicate of Vahed Company Workers of Tehran and Environs).  Subsequently, in an article for the popular web journal Tehran Bureau, a staff member at Iran Labor Report wrote an analysis of the union statement as it had appeared on the various websites.

It now appears that the poster-statement was not authentic and that the union’s leadership had not issued the statement. Moreover, the provenance of the statement is still not clear. The union had apparently not published an official disclaimer earlier on due to the recent disuptions with internet use in Iran.  Subsequent to this, the union requested that the inauthenticity of the statement be made public and that henceforth no reference would be made of it.

Iran Labor Report which is the voice of Iran’s beleaguered labor movement gladly honors the union’s request and removes from circulation the link to the article.

Iran Labor Report editorial board
February 15, 2010

________________________________________________________________________________________

Source: Tehran Bureau

by Hamid Farokhnia in Tehran (Hamid Farokhnia, who is using a pen name, is a staff writer at the Iran Labor Report. He covers labor issues for Tehran Bureau.)

In a potentially significant development, a leading constituent of Iran’s labor movement has now unequivocally aligned itself with the Green Movement.

On February 12, Tehran’s Bus Drivers Union (Syndicate of Vahed Company Workers of Tehran and Environs, or SVCWTE) circulated posters throughout Tehran declaring itself fully on the side of the democratic movement and called on the Greens to support the beleaguered union through acts of civil disobedience.

The poster reads:

“Green Traffic Every Day at 6 p.m. from March 6 to March 22”

“Call to Action from SVCWTE to the People of Iran, Especially the Democratic Green Movement, for Civil Disobedience.”

“Starting March 6, we the workers of Vahed Company will wage acts of civil disobedience (or white strike) to protest the condition of Mansoor Osanloo in prison. We appeal to the Iranian people and to the Democratic Green Movement — of which we consider ourselves a small part–to join us by creating a deliberate traffic jam in all directions leading to Valiasr Square.”

“To Publicize Information is a Form of Struggle”

The Bus Drivers Union’s February 12 statement has far-reaching consequences for both the democratic and labor movements. As many observers have commented, the Achilles’ heel of the protest movement continues to be its failure to produce cohesive forms of political and economic demands. In ignoring the workers’ economic grievances, Green Wave leaders and activists may miss an opportunity imperative to their struggle. Without the mass-scale backing and active participation of the Iranian working class, the democratic movement lacks the muscle to wrest concessions from the regime, let alone bring it to its knees.

For its part, the fledgling labor movement has come to appreciate the centrality of the protest movement in the general democratizing process. Clearly, no talk of organizing the unorganized masses of workers can take place as long as the coercive powers of the regime remain intact; hence, illuminating the interdependence of the two movements in their common struggle.

The decision to issue the statement has probably not come easily. By siding itself unambiguously and openly with the protesters, the union is opening itself up to charges of subversion and sedition. The government and its supporters consider the democratic movement to be a tool of foreigners and therefore, appeals to the Greens for civil disobedience is likely not going to sit well with the authorities. When union leaders decided to issue this statement, they must have contemplated the risks of this decision. For the union’s incarcerated leaders like Osanloo this could mean the introduction of new punitive measures like the cutting of food rations or visits, and beatings and long periods of solitary confinement.

What makes the statement especially noteworthy is the fact that the bus drivers union is in a way “the advance guard” of Iran’s new labor movement–and its conscience. The bus drivers were the first to organize themselves in a broad-based union (sugar cane workers and teachers followed), the first to stage a coordinated high-profile strike and the first to have remained undeterred by either blandishments or threats. For these reasons, their tactics and collective decisions are closely followed and emulated by the entire labor movement.

The statement may presage a budding Green-labor alliance in the making, should the Green Movement proceed as decisively as the Bus Drivers Union.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau





Workers’ minimal demands on the occasion of the 31st anniversary 1979 revolution

15 02 2010

The logo of Tehran and Municipality Bus Workers Syndicate

Source: Iran Labor Report

Four independent workers organizations have issued a communique honoring the thirty first anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran.  A translation is provided below:

Thirty-one years have passed since the February 1979 revolution.  At that time millions of Iranian people, full of hope for a better life, took to the streets in order to break the yoke of despotism and repression.  A nationwide strike lead by workers at the National Oil Company, the vanguard of the Iranian working class, shut down oil pipelines, ultimately tearing the despotic regime asunder. Masses of people chanted, “Our oil works! Our resolute leader!” Power fell to the people.

February 11, 1979, a day that marks an end to despotism, is a day that calls forth unforgettable memories of men and women, young and old, who had grown tired of repression and injustice; people embraced one another in the streets, cried out with joy, and, with tears in their eyes, looked forward to a liberated future.

Now, thirty one years have passed since those glorious days full of enchantment and rebirth.  Yet, today the feelings of hope, enchantment, and glory, has been transformed into nothing but misery, destitution, unemployment, sub-poverty wages, and subsidies cuts—unbearable agony for millions of workers and wage earners.

Life continues. And, the Iranian people still have a burning desire for change. They have not lost their hope for life, their yearning for happiness, freedom, dignity.

Born of democratic struggle, strikes, protests, and the campaign to establish independent organizations on its behalf, the working class has fought for its right to survive. Many of us now sit in jail for attempting to organize the working class and build a better life.

But these jail cells do not mark the end of the road. We millions are the producers of wealth, the wheels of production. Society moves only because we move it. We have at our back the historical experience of the united and grand strike of the oil workers during the February revolution. Relying on this experience and the power of our millions we inspire the best and most humanistic aspirations of the 1979 revolution. Today, after thirty-one years, we present our minimal demands and call for immediate and unconditional realization of all of them:

1.  Unconditional recognition of independent workers organizations, the right to strikes, to organize protests, the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom to associate with any political party.

2.  An immediate stop to all executions, and the immediate and unconditional release of labor and other political activists from jail.

3.  Immediate increase of the minimum wage based on workers input through their representatives in general workers assemblies.

4.  End to Subsidies Rationalization Plan and delayed wages of workers should be immediately paid without any excuses.


5.  Job security for workers and all wage earners, the end to all temporary contracts and blank signatures, removal of all government-run organizations in the work place, institution of new labor laws through direct participation of the workers in their general workers assemblies.

6.  Halt to all firings under any circumstances. Anyone expelled or at employment age must benefit from social security in line with human dignity.

7.  End of all discriminatory laws against women and insuring full and unconditional equality of women and men in all aspects of social, economic, political, cultural, and family affairs.


8.  Insuring all the retired with a life of welfare, devoid of economic anxieties, putting an end to all discriminatory payment practices, and allowing everyone to benefit from social and medical services.

9.  All children, irrespective of their parents’ economic and social status, gender, nationality, race, and religion, must be granted free and equal educational, welfare, and health care benefits.

10.  May 1st must be declared a national holiday and included in the official calendar; all legal restrictions on its celebration must be removed.

Tehran and Municipality Bus Workers Syndicate

Haft Tapeh Sugar Refinery Syndicate

Free Assembly of Iranian Workers

Kermanshah Electrical and Metal Workers Guild





Interview with an anonymous steel labor leader

13 02 2010

The text below is an interview conducted with a leader of a recently-formed labor organization at the sprawling Isfahan Steel Factory. Iran Labor Report has translated this highly informative interview for the benefit of our English-speaking readers. (Original Source: Radio Farda)

Translation: Iran Labor Report

Question:  A group of workers at Isfahan Steel have set up an ad hoc council for the workers there. What were the reasons for this and why wasn’t it done before?

Answer A host of domestic and international factors led us to the conviction that a council was badly needed. In the international arena, the rightward shift in economic thinking has become dominant. In our country, following the eight-year war with Iraq, the economic restructuring of the construction period, privatizations, axing of subsidies, etc, the same policy prescriptions were adopted and augmented.

We are of the opinion that the first to take the brunt of these policies are the laboring classes and the poor.  Among the byproducts of economic liberalization and integration to the world economy for our weak and semi-autarkic economy could be counted the following: the unbridled rule of capital and employers; a gaping class divide; polarization of the society; a drop in the living standards; lowering of the wages; lack of job security and countless other problems.

While today the state feels it necessary to protect the steel industry against the slump and the financial crisis, with the onset of privatization, this industry, just as in ‘Arak Aluminum’, will face massive layoffs from the management of the newly-privatized companies, or in a best-case scenario, workers would have to go without pay for months.

We realize that sooner or later, the steel industry will be subjected to privatization. Therefore, we are intent on organizing the workforce before that takes place. It is easy to understand why: the steel sector wouldn’t be terribly profitable for the private sector and their first step is bound to be slashing the wages and the benefits of workers or restructuring the labor force.

On the other hand, the temporary workers and those employed by the sub-contracting firms, as is often the case in the private sector, are really in terrible straits; a situation which is made even worse by the crisis in the steel industry. For months, the wages of the workers in the sub-contracting firms have been paid after long delays.

Under the circumstances, resorting to strikes inevitably comes up against threats, suspension, dismissal and use of scabs. Clearly, as there is no bright spot on the horizon for the steel sector, one could expect to see long delays in payment of wages for both the permanent-contracted and temporary-contracted workers.

All these, plus the inalienability of workers’ right to organize, led us to the conclusion that we had to take the preliminary steps.

Earlier, we had come to appreciate the need for such a decision but decided to make the move at this particular juncture because the situation, as far as its acceptance and support of unions among workers, seems to cohere more now.

The economic decline is creating favorable conditions for an upsurge in labor activity; for recognizing the necessity of organizing; and for fostering a sense of class solidarity amongst workers, which in normal circumstances may be hard to achieve thanks to discrimination or divergent interests (among workers) where you may see conflicts and even mutual animosity among them.

On the other hand, given the high level of activism among the other social classes at present [referring to the ongoing protest movement—ILR], we deemed it a propitious moment to take action.

Question: How are the conditions for workers employed in Isfahan Steel as far as wages, insurance, job security?

Answer: In general, steel workers fall in three groups: the permanent employees, the temporary-contracted workers, and those employed with the sub-contracting firms.

The wages and benefits of about 8,000 permanent workers are based on the guidelines set down by the Ministry of Industry– they are outside the country’s labor law. The base salary for these workers is $400 per month. On the average, based on the company’s own performance, they are eligible to get bonuses above $200 a year. Also, throughout a lifetime of employment, every permanent worker is paid $10,000 in housing loans and $7,000 in emergency loans. (One can also ask for further loans, once 4/5 of outstanding loans have been paid off.)

Other than this, anywhere between $300 to $400 worth of consumer goods are delivered in coupon form to permanent workers. Vacation packages and pilgrimage tours are also offered to workers, once their turn comes up.

The terms for the temporary-contracted workers were put in place early this (Persian) year and on the eve of the presidential election. According to this, starting in June, the workers employed by the Steel Company’s subcontractors, which kind of played the role of middleman, signed their contracts directly and in accordance to the labor law; meaning that the subcontracting firms were eliminated from the scene. We could say they obtained better job security and their wages were paid on time. However, their salaries have dropped by $40 to $100 across the board.

The reason for this drop is that beside their base salary, the workers only receive the “shift” benefits currently  (such as working in evening and graveyard shifts—ILR) while such benefits applying to those having an espouse and children, as well as the so-called “hardship” benefits, etc have been all terminated. In some instances, even their base salaries have been affected. Their contract is only 6-months-long. Also, the overtime cap for them which used to be unlimited before is now set at 45 hours. These workers, used to make up for their low pay by taking lots of overtime before. They number around 3,200 people.

The workers in the contracting companies are of two types. One group are those based on project-specific operations. These are mostly working with the so-called “steel stabilization project”.  These workers have not been paid for 4 to 6 months. Further, most of them do not have any contracts per se with the subcontractors. Rather, they are employed by subcontracting individuals, meaning that the firms feel no particular obligation towards them. Of course, this is the case with just about most project-based workers in Iran.

The second group are those working in the subcontracting firms which operate in independence at the steel complex. These companies sell most of their products to Isfahan Steel. They also provide various types of service to it.  For example, the company “Nasouz Azar” manufactures heat-resistant bricks. “Taban Nirou” supervises and repairs the electrical equipment at the plant, etc.

Thanks to the interdependence of these units with Isfahan Steel, financial crisis at the mother company quickly spreads to the others like contagion. It is akin to saying once it catches cold, they catch pneumonia.

The workers’ contracts in these companies are about three-months-long—of course this doesn’t mean there are no one-month or one-year contracts. In general, aside from a handful of companies such as “Merat Poulad”, “Taban Nirou” and “Nasouz Azar” where workers enjoy better wages and benefits and get some bonuses and their wages are not postponed for more than a month at a time, the rest of the workers at the other (subcontracting) companies work with no bonuses, take very limited benefits, their wages are paid intermittently while resorting to strikes for demanding back-wages has become a common practice.

Most of these workers haven’t been paid in two to four months. As for their insurance, all the workers are insured or at least receive benefits from the Labor Office. Dismissal is generally not very difficult to do for the employer, although factory’s security section sometimes interferes and prevents this fearing workers’ unrest.

Question:  How important is organizing for workers, especially workers at Isfahan Steel?

AnswerIn our opinion, sooner or later, waves of economic liberalization will arrive at our door and Iranian economy will march headlong to integration with the global economy. With this horizon and considering the response I tried to outline to the above questions, the working class will almost certainly face much tougher conditions in future, although both currently and previously, the workers have generally been under strain from all manner of political, social or economic changes while benefiting next to zero from them.

In this situation, organizing will be literally more important than your daily bread since without it, there can be scant hope of earning enough to eat…Besides, without organizing the workers, we can’t hope to achieve a full-blown democracy.

In our opinion, independent working class organizations are the very bedrock of any democracy since it is just the workers that through their power to go on strike and immobilize economies can be a bulwark of opposition against the states’ assaults on civil liberties.

The organizing drive of the steel industry, if successful, can significantly impact organizing drives in the other key sectors. As steel is a pivotal industry with well over 20,000 workers employed there, their organizational successes can bring about major improvements in both their wages and working conditions.

Suffice it to say that when workers are organized, they generally achieve a higher-level status in society and capital-labor relations tend to be become more democratized.

Question:  In recent months, we have been witness to strike actions at several sections in Isfahan Steel. What were their objectives and what did they achieve? The bulk of the strikes were triggered by delays in worker’s paychecks. Months of delay in receiving their due payment is creating abysmal conditions for the workers, leaving them no other routs but labor strikes.


Answer
Most strikes this year have been in protest to the delay in payment of the wages.

Several months delay in wage payments creates dire situations for the workers and strike has become the only arsenal available to the workers.

Strikes generally end in payment of one or two months of backwages to stop them from spreading or stopping the operations but they resume at the end of the month when wages are again not being paid.  Of course, there have been cases such as in “Nasouz Cheen” or “Nasouz Azar” companies where management sought aid from other companies to break the strike and forty workers lost their jobs in the process.

Question:  What has been the reaction of the state to workers’ economic protests in Iran and their attempts at organizing?

Answer It seems to us that the policy the government pursues with regard to economic protests and organizing drives is multi-layered. The government is extremely sensitive to the economic protests getting out of hand or becoming politicized. Their approach could vary depending on the cohesiveness, the numerical strength and the leadership of the workers.

In industrial parks and smaller-scale enterprises, the authorities usually show benign neglect or shirk responsibility in dealing with labor unrest while workers often fail to advance their cause thanks to their small number or lack of cohesion. In the more serious circumstances, the approach is a mixture of threats and pressure on the one side and promises and foot-dragging on the other. Sometimes, there are concessions made if there is enough resistance put up.

Of course, one shouldn’t lose sight of the differences in attitude among local officials themselves. But, by far, the biggest sensitivity is reserved towards large plants and factories—although even in these (such as in Wagon Pars, Avangan, or Ahvaz Pipe-Making) the workers’ protests don’t get very far.

Nevertheless, as labor protests have become one of the chief security concerns for the government, it has tried very hard to reduce and contain tensions..
As for the public sector, tight control and repression on one hand, and conservatism and relative accommodation of workers’ needs on the other, have detracted on protests.

What is indisputable though is that “worker organizing” is the unsurpassable line for every government in Iran. The violent treatment meted out to Tehran Bus Drivers Union and the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers Union attest to this fact.

But the more disturbing fact is the indifference most civil and political activists show to workers concerns. Those who haven’t devoted a single page in their multitudinous newspapers to the workers’ issues are obviously interested in the subject in so far as it benefits them in their power struggles.

Question: What do you think the prospects of workers, including Isfahan Steel workers, would be once the “subsidies rationalization law” (referring to Ahmadinejad’s plans for slashing all state subsidies to the public—ILR) goes into effect?

AnswerWith the “Subsidies Rationalization Law”, we believe the plan will force millions of workers to the very edge of destitution. In addition, with increases in production costs, many industrial firms would be driven to bankruptcy or forced to close down. Unemployment would skyrocket too.

On the other hand, the high and sustained inflation rate that flows from this law, will cause a precipitous fall in living standards for both the middle class and the poor. Of course, it will also engender waves of urban riots in the shanty towns and poor neighborhoods.

On the other hand, the extreme inflation which will be result of this plan, will result in massive fall in middle and lower class purchase power.  Of course, it will also cause massive riots in towns especially the lower sides and those on the edges of the cities.





The events of 22 Bahman (LIVE UPDATE)

11 02 2010

16:02 GMT: END OF LIVE UPDATES FOR NOW! (With special thanks to reader Paria who provided us with news)

16:oo GMT:

15:55 GMT: People broke both side windows of Ahmadinejad’s supporting car.

15:45 GMT:

15:40 GMT: Persian2English writes: A 27-year old woman named Leila Zareyi was shot and murdered by goons in Tehran’s Valiasr Square. Reports indicate that the “goon’s” name is Rahim Rezaei.

15:28 GMT: Security forces continue to clash with opposition demonstrators in various parts of Tehran, including Arya Shahr and Ferdows Boulevard. Basijis and police who have been stationed in the city since last night are reportedly exhausted and have been compelled to retreat on several occasions.

15:27 GMT: Protesters continue to demonstrate in Chamran & Namazi streets. 6:45 PM Tehran time Shiraz

15:23 GMT:

15:20 GMT: Twitter RUMOR: “Khomeini’s daughter and her husband arrested.”

15:15 GMT:

15:01 GMT: Basiji’s attack people!

15:00 GMT: Regime bike on fire!

14:55 GMT:

14:50 GMT: Some Photos:

14:40 GMT: Kalameh (translated by mousavi’s facebook group):

“Despite the false news of coup government’s propaganda machine reporting that Mir Hossein Mousavi was absent in today’s demonstration, this morning Mir Hossein Mousavi like the previous years, attended the Feb 11th demonstrations. He was trying to join the people from Azadi St when the plain clothes militia, Special Forces and thugs with batons surrounded him and did not let him join the crowd. This is despite the fact that Mousavi every year in the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution attended the demonstration and marched with people but this year the hardliners blocked his way and did not let him join the people.”

14:35 GMT: Brutal attack on protestor

14:30 GMT: Still clashes in Aryashahr and Ferdowsi Boulevard….

14:27 GMT: Kalameh confirms report (translated by facebook group close to Mousavi:

“Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was intending to join the people in the demonstration from Sadeghiye Square was surrounded and attacked by plain clothes militia. The plain clothes militia physically assaulted her and beat her with batons at her head and back. Zahra Rahnavard after this incident with the support of a large crowd of people who made a human shield to protect her, was able to leave the area.”

14:24 GMT: Apparently the reports about Zahra Rahnavard being attacked are true.

14:22 GMT:Iranian Opposition reports widespread protester turnout.

14:18 GMT:

14:13 GMT: TWITTER RUMOR: Zahra Rahnavard was assaulted by basijis at Sadeghieh square

14:10 GMT:

14:02 GMT: An eyewitness told Radio Zamaneh that in Aryashar, in the west of Tehran, protesters are being beaten up by government forces. Anti-riot police have used electric batons to disperse the crowds and some protesters have been sighted with blood on their faces.

13:55 GMT: Clashes continue in Tehran and other cities.

13:50 GMT: Video of a small pro regime rally in Tabriz

13:43 GMT:

13:40 GMT: There is an unconfirmed report that Leily Zarei,  a 27 year old girl, was killed by a bullet at Tehran’s Vali Asr Square.

13:30 GMT: TWITTER RUMOR: “Heavy clashes reported from Azadi Sq at 4:15pm, many injured,police using shred guns.”

13:20 GMT: Radan ordering total confrontation and arrest of protesters on police radio.

13:18 GMT: The reports coming from Shiraz (South Eastern Iran) indicate that scattered clashes around Setad Square and side streets in central Shiraz are taking place. Regime forces are using paintball bullets to mark and identify the protestors.

Reports from Mashhad (in Eastern Iran) indicate clashes in 15 Khordad Square and Taghi Abad neighborhood  between people and Basidijis.
Reportedly , Ali Karroubi, the son of presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi has been arrested.

13:10 GMT: TWITTER RUMOR: “Greens managed to start a crowd of a few 100 north of Tehran.Big crowd around Vanak square.”

13:08 GMT:

13:05 GMT:

12:55 GMT:

12:53 GMT:

12:50 GMT: STOMPING ON SUPREME LEADERS PORTRAIT

12:45 GMT: According to reliable sources Rafsanjani apparently took part at the OFFICIAL rally and not the Green march!

12:38 GMT:

12:35 GMT:

12:22 GMT: Reports about plans for mass gathering at central squares of Tehran at 12:30 GMT and 16:00 local time!

12:19 GMT:

12:17 GMT: At least 100 people arrested in Mashad.

12:15 GMT :

12:12 GMT: Hossein Karoubi: “Today we have witnessed the most brutal behaviour of Pro-Gov forces in the past 8 months.”

12:10 GMT: People in Tehran’s Shahrake Gharb destroyed the portrait of the Supreme Leader

11:57 GMT: Karoubi’s son confirms to CNN: “My father was attacked…now the doctors are treating him, because  his eyes have been hurt because of tear gas.”

Mehdi Karoubi’s son confirms to CNN his father was attacked. Doctor treating him for tear gas burns to his eyes.

11:55 GMT: Video from Sadeghie Square…people demand a referendum!

11:52 GMT: Protesters Gather on Yadegar Imam Road

11:45 GMT: VIDEO OF HEAVY CLASHES IN TEHRAN:

11:41 GMT: JARAS: Official pro-government march of 22 Bahman have ended, yet sporadic clashes continue in different areas of the city of Tehran. More riot police forces are called in to suppress the protesters. Eyewitnesses report armed riot police on motorcycles heading toward Central Tehran. It is also said that a large number of military forces are stationed around Supreme Leader’s residence, TV and Radio building, and Amirabad Shomali street.

11:40 GMT: Photo from Sadeghie Square

11:35 GMT:

11:30 GMT: Report of people burning portraits of Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader in Shiraz

11:27 GMT: Twitter Rumor: “Clashes at Vesal St./ Mobile Network is Shut Down”

11:26 GMT: Twitter Rumor: “Clashes at Chahrbagh Bala Blvd. in Isfahan.”

11:25 GMT: Twitter Rumor: “Clashes at Satarkhan St., Police Fire Tear Gas on People.”

11:20 GMT: Shootings in the air to disperse protests and heavy clashes between People and security forces in several iranian cities.

11:15 GMT: Concentration of Anti-Riot forces to governmental buildings! (see photo)

11:05 GMT:

11:00 GMT: Now the Greens have apprently also gathered in the city of Ahvaz and are chanting Anti-regime slogans like “death to the dictator”.

10:55 GMT: Peyke Iran:  In Isfahan, people have gathered on and around SIO SE POLL and are chating Green slogans

10:41 GMT:

10:40 GMT:

10:39 GMT:

10:37 GMT:

10:31 GMT: Rahe Sabz: Anti-Riot forces are moving to central Tehran, Seda o Sima Head Quarters and even to the Supreme Leaders house!

10:26 GMT:

10:25 GMT: BBC: Foreign Journalist aren’t allowed to leave Azadi Square.

10:20 GMT: Rahe Sabz:  Massive Clashes between plain clothes and Greens at north Amirabad

10:15 GMT: VIDEO FROM ISFAHAN

10:12 GMT: Rahe Sabz: Security  forces firing tear gases in Vanak square/ Severe clashes around Vanak.

10:11 GMT: 2 girls not wearing scarfs got arrested in Vali-Asr street

10:05 GMT:

9:50 GMT: TWITTER RUMOR: Protests in Mashad – ‘bigger than ever’ according to source. Mullahs again joined the Green protests.

9:45 GMT: The Rev. Road blog: Clashes on Vesal St. have continued, preventing the people from moving to Azadi Sq.

9:40 GMT: GOOD OVERVIEW from our friends at Enduring Amrica: “So far, this morning is a repeat of the mornings of other protest days. While the regime tries to hold its showpiece rally, the priority of security forces is to prevent any mass gathering of opposition.

So the running violence throughout the capital is of Iranian security forces pushing back at crowds as they move towards squares. The most dramatic examples was the aggression against the entourages of Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami, but the episodes is being repeated in numerous places.”

9:37 GMT: IMPORTANT REPORT: Ayatollah Rafsanjani joined ppl rally from Palestina St.

9:30 GMT: More TWITTER: “People are moving towards Evin. Heavy traffic in Chamran & Yadegar Emam highways”

9:25 GMT: many many different rumors are spread via TWITTER like: “Ppl are about 3 km from Evin & clashing with Basij & IRGC.” AND “Emergency Status declared for greater Tehran.”

9:22 GMT: Twitter Rumor: Severe clashes in Isfahan, many injured

9:20 GMT: Twitter Rumor:  Basijis shooting in the air in panic at Enghelab Square

9:15 GMT:

9:12 GMT:

9:10 GMT:

9:00 GMT: The first Video:

8:56 GMT: TWITTER RUMOR: Over 10 people injured in Aryashahr .

8:55 GMT: The Rev. Road: Police forces have shot at the people in Arya Shahr. According to a Jaras reporter, the forces attacked the rally just before noon and shot at the protesters. Following the shooting, the crowd began to chant: “Khamenei is a murder! His rule is illegitimate!”
Our reporter has also stated that a large crowd gathered in Arya Shahr and was dispersed by the police through gun shots.

8:50 GMT: The Rev Road Blog reports that Mohammad Reza Khatami & Zahra Eshraghi were released.

8:47 GMT: The Revolutionary Road Blog reports that Zahra Eshraghi, Khomini’s granddaughter, has been arrested. Some sources have also reported the arrest of Ali Karroubi and Mohammad Reza Khatami. Enduring America adds that Rah-e-Sabz is claiming that her husband Mohammad Reza Khatami, first Secretary-General of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front (and not to be confused with former President Khatami) has also been arrested

8:45 GMT: Peyke Iran and swedish DN report that gun fire was heard in some part of Tehan (apparently Aryashahr)

8:05 GMT:  CONFIRMED: Mehdi Karoubi’s son ALI has been arrested

7:35 GMT: Reports of Mehdi Karoubi’s car being attacked by pro-gov forces is confirmed

7:30 GMT: Enduringamerica.com reports that Ahmadinejad held a speech at Azadi Square





Overview: Reading 22 Bahman

10 02 2010

Source

by HAMID FAROKHNIA in Tehran

[ analysis ] Feb. 11, 2010, may stand as a decisive day for the regime. Its leaders hope to prove to domestic and international audiences that they are in full control and that the protest movement which arose following last June’s election is a spent force. In order to do that, they must make sure that unlike Ashura, as well as other occasions, the protesters cannot congregate in large numbers and upstage the regime’s well-choreographed processions. In light of such a production, all the protest movement must achieve to avoid appearing vanquished is to show even a modest display of vigor and vitality.

Background

Ashura (December 27) proved to be a pivotal day all around. First, it forced other governments (beginning with the Obama Administration) to re-evaluate their views of the Green Movement as a democratic but ineffectual force. Second, it allowed the hardliners in Iran to claim that the Green Wave movement presented a mortal threat to the entire regime. Prior to that, some moderate conservatives and some important traditionalist high clerics in Qom were leaning toward accepting the need for some version of a grand compromise–especially evident after the huge funeral march for the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri right in the heart of the holy city.

However, the anti-regime militancy of the protesters on Ashura changed those sentiments, at least temporarily. The centrist forces were either terrified or forced into adopting strong positions against the protesters. Taking advantage of a sudden opportunity, the hard-line forces who had now been badly divided or demoralized hastily mounted a large counter-demonstration on December 30, in which calls were made for the immediate arrest of the opposition leaders and the execution of those earlier detained. What made this development particularly ominous was the fact that information seeping out pointed to the creation of death squads by forces specifically tasked with the elimination of opposition leaders and activists. This would have taken the form of “independent” and “spontaneous” lynch mobs which would have carried out their ignominious task claiming to represent ordinary Muslims outraged by the despoiling of Islamic values.

On January 9, Ayatollah Khamenei famously made a stand against this development, probably under pressure from Qom’s grand ayatollahs. “Any roguish activity helps the enemy,” he told a visiting crowd from the holy city. “The involvement of those without legal status or responsibility only compounds the problem.” This meant that the stalemate continued unabated.

What is at stake

The main objective of the regime is to announce that (in continuation of the Dec 30 gathering) on Feb 11 the people of Iran by referendum have cast their verdict against the protest movement and in favor of the current regime. Once this occurs, authorities would move to arrest Mousavi (assuming that he hasn’t caved in by that time on his own accord) and forcefully clamp down on the whole Green Movement.

For this all to be successful, they must (a) contain the protesters on the 11th, (b) fill the surrounding streets with their own people, and (c) make things appear as calm and orderly to the state media and ideally to the international media (they have allowed some networks and journalists entry to Iran for Thursday).

What is planned

These are the specifics of what is planned:

A) a complex logistical scheme is to be implemented whereby the two sides of the Azadi Square from North and East (where the protesters always emerge) will be blocked for several kilometers in each direction. Those on these two sides will be diverted away from the eyes of the international press confined to designated areas within the square. At the same time, supporters will be marshaled en masse from the West and South ends of the square.

B) Two days prior to the ceremonies, the famous inner ring of Azadi Square has been sealed off by special partitions. On the early hours of Thursday morning, the plan is to fill the space with die-hard supporters while checking the bags and pockets of the others wanting to gain entry to the protected zone to make sure they don’t carry any Green paraphernalia.

C) Dozens of Basij contingents from the provinces have started arriving in Tehran with each group assigned to one part of the northeast quadrant of the city, using Azadi Square as the reference point.

Aside from this, for the last 9 or 10 days a deliberate campaign has been under way to intimidate and warn off potential protesters by: a) the first executions of political prisoners carried out in a long time. Nine others have also been given the death sentence. b) the police chief has on several occasions gone on record claiming that everyone’s emails, telephone calls and text messages may be pried open, adding that those engaged in anti-regime activities will be immediately arrested. Other top law-enforcement officers have claimed that many people have been arrested based on photos taken from them during Ashura protests. Just to prove their point, a wave of arrests has begun in the past two weeks. c) those taking part in protests are now referred to regularly as Mohareb, meaning they are engaged in war on God, an act punishable by death. d) the regime now asserts that it will respond very harshly to those protesting. It is hard to accurately gauge the exact impact of these threats and the actual use of violence on the protesters.

Analysis

What the protesters may not realize is that most of the gestures are mere bluffs. Why? First, Feb 11 is clearly a day where the government cannot apply severe force on a large scale because the revolution was supposed to have been in reaction to the violence and injustice of an oppressive regime in the first place. It would look monstrous, even among some supporters of the regime, if innocent unarmed civilians were subjected to indiscriminate beatings and attacks just like the film footage of the revolutionary days aired incessantly in the last few days. Next Thursday, up to 250,000 ordinary supporters may come out to the rally along with all their families, including small children and the elderly. This would make it extremely hard to throw tear gas and administer beatings when the line between protester and supporter blurs.

It is important to know that the security forces have not used the same standard riot-control tactics for every protest action in the last few months. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the issue of quelling unrest. For the security establishment, each day of the protests has its own special dynamic.

For example, June 20 — after Khamenei’s first ultimatum–the protesters stood as fair game. This was no official holiday or national day of ceremonies and the Leader had made his threat public. This day took the largest number of casualties of any other day in the last 8 months–it’s the day Neda was murdered. On July 17, the day Ayatollah Rafsanjani was the Friday prayer leader, the protesters had virtually full protection against the regime’s predations until about one hour after the conclusion of the prayer-speech. On September 18, the so-called Qods Day (day of solidarity with the Palestinians) there were not overly aggressive tactics on a large-scale used against the protesters since this day was supposed to be all about the beatings and physical attacks meted out on unarmed Palestinians. A repeat of such tactics in broad daylight on the streets of Tehran would have terminated the utility of the Qods Day once and for all. (Of course, by mid-afternoon, after the dispersal of the pro-regime crowd, it was an altogether different story.)

On December 7, the national day of students, since traditionally the regime had tolerated some protest activity on the country’s university campuses, the students were able to protest and rally relatively unmolested but those demonstrating outside the campus compounds were mercilessly beaten and arrested, etc.

Along these lines, one should not expect severe and massive attacks on protesters on Thursday, at least not until the regime loyalists have left the premises. That would be roughly by 2 pm or thereabouts.

Therefore, if the foregoing is an accurate picture of the situation, we should not see bloody reprisals as has been repeatedly announced by various officials and senior security officials in recent days.

Aside from this, those arrested in the last few days have all been under surveillance for quite some time. They were arrested only now as a terror tactic. This had nothing to do with the alleged ability to listen in to all the phone conversations and read all the emails.

Third, the two executed had been arrested before the June 12 election. Unfortunately, they had been involved with a group connected to the bombing of a mosque in the city of Shiraz last April. In fact, their trial and sentencing were postponed for many months in order to implicate the entire protest movement with that act.

The important fact is that the regime has no consensus for executing any of the protesters on death row for the crime of “mohareb” before February 11. Had it reached that kind of consensus, it would have almost certainly carried out the ghastly sentences.

However, the cumulative effect still may be to frighten the parents of the young protesters to stop their children from going out on the 11th.

Aware of these maneuverings and clearly intending to offset the impact of the regime’s terror tactics, Mousavi issued his sharpest criticism of the regime yet. This came in a 20-plus-point question-answer format. Among the points he raised were: “Dictatorship in the name of religion is the worst kind of dictatorship.”

At this moment it is impossible to know what may happen on Thursday. All eyes will be on the turnout and the resiliency of the green-clad protesters. Will they defy the threats and fulminations of a desperate and mendacious regime, or will they remain in the safety of their homes while the regime’s henchmen are preparing for mass reprisals?

Hamid Farokhnia, who is using a pen name, is a staff writer at the Iran Labor Report.

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau





Iran Labor Report: Mansour Osanloo transferred to solitary ward known as the “doghouse”

10 02 2010

Network of Iranian Labor Unions (NILU)

Based on reports obtained by the group Human Rights and Democracy Activists of Iran, Mansour Osanloo, the famed leader of the Tehran bus drivers union, has been transferred to the solitary ward no.1 in Gohardasht prison, also known as the “doghouse”.

On Tuesday, February 9, Osanloo and another jailed prisoner, Afshin Baymani, have been called in by the ward security at Karaj Gohardasht prison where he had been jailed and interrogated for extended periods of time. After threatening them with further pressures, they were then transferred to the solitary cells in hall 2 of ward number1.

These cells are notorious for having the most appalling conditions in the entire prison. Those in detention are physically abused and denied visitor rights. The political prisoners and the regular inmates suffer from all manner of mistreatments from poor sanitary services to denial of medical care and medicine to lack of blankets to paucity of food rations.

The medieval-like conditions dominating in these wards have in the past caused frequent protests by inmates including three full prison takeovers by the prisoners.

February 15 has been designated as the global day of solidarity with Mansour Osanloo. The abhorrent treatment of a trade union leader in such conditions is truly unpardonable.