I AM UNDER EXTREME PRESSURE TO ACCEPT THE RESULTS OF THE SHAM ELECTION. THEY HAVE CUT ME OFF FROM ANY COMMUNICATION WITH PEOPLE AND AM UNDER SURVEILLANCE. I ASK THE PEOPLE TO STAY IN THE STREETS BUT AVOID VIOLENCEThe above is a message supposedly from Iranian presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi (H/T Andrew Sullivan), in hiding after the Iranian government appears to have falsified election results to give the win to incumbent and widely-hated (by both U.S. left and right) Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in what appears to have been one of the most outrageous attempts at rigging an election by a major country since... Bush v Gore in 2000.
From Juan Cole's Informed Consent, which also has documented much of the evidence marking the election fraud.
On Saturday, thousands of pro-Mousavi protesters staged sit-down strikes, started fires in metal trash bins, and confronted police and Islamic Republic of Iran paramilitary forces, pelting them with stones. Riot control police were sent in on motorcycles, in heavy gear. Toward midnight Saturday, tear gas canisters were being lobbed at the thinning ranks of protesters, with at least one hit in the head and wounded by a canister. Observers in Iran said that Facebook was taken off line and that even cell phone service was interrupted. (The latter two techniques are further circumstantial evidence that the election was rigged, since the regime seems to fear it has something to fear from a free and open inquiry and from communication among voters.)From what I have read and heard today, parts of the country appear under military control, universities have been attacked, deaths and many injuries have been reported.
The demonstrations did not only take place in Tehran, as some observers have charged, but were also staged in parts of other cities (I've seen Tabriz and Rasht cited).
I won't pretend I can cover such a fast-breaking and important story. Since cable news has been so tepid regarding their coverage, it's fallen to the Internet, and especially breaking Twitter commentary straight from Tehran and other Iranian cities, to bring us the latest on this huge story.
I will, like most of you, be glued to these various sites and others like them to piece together what is happening. How exciting it is to think the despicable Islamic Republic might fall! But what would replace it? Certainly not a craven U.S. client state. In many ways, Iran is the key country of the middle east, a giant, but with a society that has been terribly repressed for a generation. And there is no guarantee that the mullahs may not consolidate their bogus electoral results via a successful crackdown on the population, or via an outright military dictatorship.
While the U.S. has kept a relatively quiet stance thus far, you can be sure there is feverish work going on behind the scenes. We must also beware the possibility that the U.S. or Israel will use this situation to pursue their own ends, which would certainly only backfire in the long run (as did most of U.S. policy in Iran from 1953-1979). For now, we watch, we give our support, and await events. Hopefully, there will be more we can be called upon to do in coming days.
Photos of Iranian riot police in action, attacking the populace
Students show their injured bodies after police attack a student dorm at Isfahan University
BBC on the Iranian protest against the election fraud
Cliff Lyon at Daily Kos says the best Farsi websites to follow for latest news are Pyknet, PeykeIran, and News.Gooya. I can't read Farsi, so I can't say, but are added here as public service.