Wall Street Journal:'The Fear Is Gone'Editor's note: The following are firsthand accounts that were solicited by Journal assistant editorial features editor Bari Weiss. Some were translated from Farsi. Surnames have been omitted to protect the writers.Don't Accept This Coup
By Kaveh from Tabriz
Ahmadinejad has taken revenge on the students of Iran during these violent days. The regime's aim is to damage universities, since they are the first base of change, movement and protest.
I live in the dorms at Tehran University. I was asleep when Basij militiamen entered my room early Monday morning, demolished everything and started beating us. A man with a long beard broke my notebook and said: "It is destroyed, this book that you were using against Islam and Ahmadinejad."
They beat students more when they saw posters of Mousavi in their rooms. And they carried big knives and guns.
They also attacked the women's dormitory next door. The Supreme Leader calls us rioters, but I want to ask him: How can sleeping women in their beds be rioters? Is this the Islamic justice he believes in?
President Obama's speech was good; he says that he will support us. He also said that nations must decide the fate of their countries by themselves. I agree with him, but now we don't have any power to change the situation, so we need help and attention.
We ask the president not to accept this coup d'etat.Marching to Freedom Square
By Alireza in Tehran
There is something in the air in Tehran these days. We remain afraid, but we also dare to speak.
I left my home in Tajrish along with my family at 3 p.m. to head to the protest on Monday. We knew that people were supposed to gather in Enghelab [Revolution] Square at 4 p.m. and march toward Azadi [Freedom] Square. From Gisha Bridge onwards, we saw people walking. Cars were blowing their horns and people were flashing the victory sign. I also saw a group of about 20 militiamen with long beards and batons on motorbikes.
My hand was hanging out of the taxi window with a little green ribbon -- the color of the reformists -- tied around my finger. One of the militiamen told me to "throw that ribbon away!" When I refused, 15 people attacked me inside the car. They beat me with their batons and tried to pull me out.
My wife and my daughter who were sitting in the back seat cried and held me tight. I also held myself tight to the chair. As they tried to shatter the car windows the driver went out and explained that he is just a taxi driver, we are just his passengers, and he hadn't done anything wrong. After about five minutes they left us alone.
Soon we joined the crowd at Enghelab Street. What I saw there was the most magnificent scene I have ever witnessed in my life. The huge numbers of people were marching hand-in-hand peacefully. There were no slogans being shouted. Hands were held up in victory signs with green ribbons. People carried placards which read: silence. Young and old, men and women, rich and poor were marching cheerfully. It was an amazing show of solidarity. I was so proud.
Enghelab Street, the widest avenue in Tehran, was full of people. Some estimated that there were one to two million people there. As we marched, we passed a police department and a Basij base. In both places, we could see fully-armed riot police and militiamen watching us from behind fences. Near Sharif University of Technology, where the students had chased away Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a few days before, Mir Hossein Mousavi (the reformist president-elect) and Mehdi Karrubi, the other reformist candidate, spoke to the people and were received with cries of praise and applause.
My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression of the regime. Other people carried signs. One quoted the national poet Ahmad Shamlu: "To slaughter us/why did you need to invite us/to such an elegant party." Another made fun of the government's claim that Ahmadinejad won 24 million votes: "The Miracle of the Third Millennium: 2 x 2 = 24 million." Others just read: "Where is my vote?"
When we finally arrived at Azadi Square, which can accommodate around 500,000 people, it was full. We saw smoke coming from Jenah Freeway and heard the gunshots. People were scared but continued walking forward.
Later, my sister told me that she saw four militiamen come out from a house and shoot a girl. Then they shot a young boy in his eye and the bullet came out of his ear. She said that four people were shot.
On my way home at around 2 a.m. I saw about 10 buses full of armed riot police parked on the side of the road. There were scattered militiamen in civilian clothes carrying clubs patrolling the empty streets. And in Tajrish Square I saw a boy around 16 holding a club, looking for something to attack.
At Ahmadinejad's "victory" ceremony, government buses transported all his supporters from nearby cities. There was full TV coverage of that ceremony, where fruit juice and cake were plentiful. At most, 100,000 gathered to hear his speech, including all the militiamen and soldiers.
We reformists have no radio, no newspaper, and no television. All our Internet sites are filtered, as well as social networks such as Facebook. Text messaging and mobile communication were also cut off during the demonstrations. And yet we had hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
The state-run TV station has announced that riot police will severely punish anybody that demonstrates. Ahmadinejad called the opposition a bunch of insignificant dirt who try to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. But his remark was answered by the largest demonstrations ever.
Older people compared Monday's gathering to the demonstrations of 1979 which marked the downfall of the Shah's regime. They even said that this event was larger.
Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tears in these early hours of June 16, I glorify the courage of those who have already been killed. I hope that the blood of these martyrs will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights.Women on the Front Lines
By Negin in Tehran
Friends from all over the world call my cellphone nonstop to make sure we're safe. The connection is either cut or so bad that we have to guess what the other person is saying. But the other day one call was very clear: My mother was wondering if I could help her with her computer. She recently joined Facebook and can't stand the fact that her favorite site is filtered.
She's stopped complaining that my father follows the news day and night. If they're not outside in the middle of the city, my parents are both glued to the television.
Until a few days ago most people believed that this protest was just the voice of suppressed students and youngsters. But now we know this isn't true. "No fear, no fear: We are together." This is what we heard today from millions of people from different generations in Tehran.
The number of people that participated in the demonstration surprised everyone, but what has fascinated me is their variety. At the beginning I thought this was going to be a fight between the lower class and the middle class. What I saw on Monday changed my mind completely. I saw many women, young and old, covered head-to-toe in black chadors shouting and chanting among the demonstrators and joining the young girls who were sitting on the ground in the middle of the street to stop the Basij militia from walking inside the crowd.
That image will never be wiped away from my mind. The women on the front line with their loose colorful scarves had opened their arms, ready to be killed, while others were beaten by the Basij on the side of the road.
People want to be heard and supported by the rest of the world. They were sending messages to the West with their cameras. They were calling on Obama and Sarkozy to demand that the Free World not recognize this government. I saw a few women shouting: "Now it's your turn to support democracy and human rights."
"The fear is gone. Nothing seems to be an obstacle anymore. They can filter all the Web sites and shut down the Internet, SMS service, and mobile phones, but they cannot shut our mouths." This is what I hear all the time.
Late at night everyone wants to share their experience with others. Telephones don't stop ringing. Sara, my girlfriend, called me half an hour ago. She had heard gunfire near her house and had seen bloodied people. Although she was panicked and needed to talk to someone, she hung up the phone to go onto her roof and shout. Within a few minutes I heard my neighbors shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) from their balconies as well.
I remember how sometimes I used to be irritated by the loud prayer call which starts with the same phrase, Allahu Akbar. Now this phrase has turned out to be the most beautiful one.
After a while I called back my mother to help her with her computer problem. She didn't answer. Perhaps she is on the roof too.This Government Is a Lie
By Soudeh in Tehran
I have never seen such a huge number of diverse people protesting in Iran. People are really angry and refuse to be patient. Ahmadinejad's government challenged our honor. How can we trust anything when the government perpetrates such a big lie?
They don't have pity on anyone. Some of the police cannot speak Farsi. I saw one of them beating a man as he cursed in Arabic. People say they are from Hezbollah.
These men barge into homes and threaten people by calling their families. And they are savage against peaceful demonstrators.
Hospitals are full of people injured by the Military Guard, yet the Supreme Leader of Iran called us seditious. We just want the right to a real vote.
This is the first time an American president did not interfere with Iran's situation -- and it's a good thing. In the past, U.S. support for the protestors led the Iranian government to punish the people more, accusing them of being spies for or taking money from the U.S.
But I think Obama must hear the message of the protests: Ahmadinejad's government is a lie.A Grenade Exploded At Our Door
By Shahin in Tehran
It was about 1:30 a.m. when I heard windows and doors on our street being smashed one after another. My parents had gone to sleep an hour earlier and I was surfing the Internet to see the latest reactions to Monday's demonstration of Mousavi supporters.
The people from our neighborhood who protested in the streets had already gone back home, so I was scared for them.
The smashing sound came closer and I could hear that my family's apartment door was being attacked. I was really frightened because I had heard that the people who were breaking into houses at night were the plainclothes police who support Ahmadinejad.
I was pacing around my apartment when I heard a massive explosion that woke up everybody in our apartment complex.
I rushed downstairs in the dark with my neighbors as our complex was being attacked. One of them said "Man! They exploded a grenade just few feet from me. Can you see the blood dropping from my fingers? I can barely hear anything." An old woman on the first floor said the plainclothes forces broke the front porch, knocked on some doors and left.
We learned that the sounds of windows being broken were coming from three neighboring apartment complexes and garages. My injured neighbor had gone to check the source of the sound just when the grenade exploded.
In the morning, I checked out the damage myself and took pictures of smashed cars, windows and doors. I also found some bullet casings left in front of our house. I quickly posted them on Facebook where I received lots of comments from others who had the same experience. One of them commented "Yours was just 23 cars. How about our four-story parking garage that now looks like a junkyard?!"
Mousavi's supporters wanted the crowd to stay calm and stage a peaceful demonstration, so as not to give Ahmadinejad's supporters a reason to resort to violence.
State-run TV asked everybody to gather in Vali-asr Square to protest against Mousavi's supporters who the government accused of rioting late into the night. Mousavi's supporters planned on having their second peaceful demonstration in Vali-asr square on Tuesday but cancelled it right after this TV announcement. But despite the announcement, I saw a huge crowd protesting either on foot or in their cars all the way up Vali-asr Street, Tehran's longest street. People are enraged by the lies.
As an optimistic young Iranian who voted in all the presidential elections since 1997, I feel strongly that all those who voted for anyone but Ahmadinejad were insulted badly. I believe some in the ruling elite have come to realize that supporting Ahmadinejad was not worth an uprising in every city.
I hope that the Guardian Council can fix this through a recount or void the whole rigged election.It's Like an Invasion
By Setareh in Tehran
In the past few days, I've participated in several rallies. During all of the protests, plainclothes militiamen would enter the crowds and manipulate people into dispersing by telling them that if they stayed the security forces would shoot them.
All satellite signals have been jammed, SMS texting has been cut off since election day, and land lines have been disrupted. Though it takes about 20 minutes to download Yahoo's Web site in Tehran, in other cities the Internet has been completely shut down.
The regime is also using psychological warfare to keep people in their homes, calling protestors "hooligans" and constantly warning parents to keep their sons and daughters inside so they don't get killed.
But we are nonviolent. It is the Basij who attack protestors and set cars on fire. They do this so that the security forces have a pretext for using harsher tactics on the demonstrators. The security forces have knives, body armor, tasers and mace. It's as though Iran is under invasion by a foreign government. They have killed many university students in the past few days.
Labels: Iran Protests, MR