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Friday, June 19, 2009

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Threatens Iranian Protesters

Opposition leaders, he said, will be “responsible for bloodshed and chaos” if they do not stop further rallies.
Via NYT.

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Khamenei firmly called for a stop to the recent street demonstrations by Mr. Ahmadinejad's rivals and said vote disputes must be settled legally, not in the streets. He also said if the demonstrations didn't stop there might be chaos and bloodshed, and that rival candidates calling for protests would be blamed.

With his own words, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei verifies the rumors that have been floating around the past couple days saying the Iranian regime would be taking even more violent action against the protesters that have been protesting since Friday's rigged election allowing Ahmadinejad to keep his presidency.


For a week now, we and the world have been following the protests being held, how the Iranian government have barred any journalists from reporting on the protests, with one journalist being injured badly, phone services have been interrupted, text messaging was stopped for a while and any other means the Iranian government could use to stop the protesters from being able to communicate.

Not only have the people managed to communicate with each other to stage massive protests, but they have also used proxies to get the word, photos and videos, out to the world, via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

(Karim khan bridge filled with protesters crossing)

All previous pieces will be linked at the bottom of this post.

Fast forward

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had previously promised to run a partial investigation into allegations of fruad during the election, with news reporting it could take up to ten days, yet a few days later, he gave a speech backing the election results and threatening the protesters.

Amnesty International is saying the speech gave "legitimacy to police brutality" against those protesting.

Their statement:

This morning's speech by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, indicates the authorities' readiness to launch violent crackdowns if people continue to protest which may cause a widespread loss of life, Amnesty International said today.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, said:

'We are extremely disturbed at statements made by Ayatollah Khamenei which seem to give the green light to security forces to violently handle protesters exercising their right to demonstrate and express their views.

'If large numbers of people take to the street in protests in the next couple of days, we fear that they will face arbitrary arrest and excessive use of force, as has happened in recent days, particularly as permission for a demonstration to be held in Tehran on Saturday 20 June has been denied.'

'For a Head of State to put the onus of security on peaceful demonstrators and not on the security forces is a gross dereliction of duty and a licence for abuse.'

In a televised address to the nation during Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei called for an end to street protests against the outcome of the election. Instead of warning security forces, including the volunteer Basij militia, to act with restraint and in accordance with the law, he said that if people continued to take to the streets, the consequences would lie with them.

Peaceful assembly is expressly permitted under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a state party. Law enforcement officials must use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty. They must not use firearms unless strictly unavoidable and in order to protect life. Law enforcement personnel must exercise restraint, minimise damage or injury and respect and preserve human life.

Farzad Agha, an Iran analyst explains "This is clearly a threat to the demonstrators and supporters of the opposition candidates ... saying if you continue the process we will deal with you."

Transcript of Khamenei's speech, found here.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls the speech "disappointing."

The Telegraph reports:

Mr Khamenei's address was a mixture of the profane and the declamatory. Like an onion the speech got sharper as the layers of his message were peeled away. The mass demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere this week were declared illegal. The explicit threat to unleash the thugs and hardmen of the Basij militia was made and reiterated.

It is a measure of the gravity of the challenge the Islamic Republic faces that Mr Khamenei chose to go on a direct attack against his opponents. Not just against the "Zionists and British," but the only active Iranian leaders who could be considered his peers.

The demonstrations in favour of presidential challenger Mir-Hossein Musavi were declared to be a threat to the Islamic Republic....

Gateway Pundit shows, quite graphically via video, what type of violence is already being seen from the Iranian regime against protesters.

In the meantime, while Barack Obama pussyfoot's around, Congress is not and they are offering what they can, which is a bipartisan resolution to stand with the people of Iran, the protesters.

Via RedState, we have the wording of the resolution:


Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;
(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and
(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

That resolution is expected to be voted on today and Senator John McCain has introduced a similar resolution in the Senate.

Find your spine Obama.

Perhaps everyone should send Obama a copy of this NYT column, words from a student in Iran:

WE look over this wall of marching people to see what our friends in the United States are saying about us. We cannot help it — 30 years of struggle against the Enemy has had the curious effect of making us intrigued. To our great dismay, what we find is that in important sectors of the American press a disturbing counternarrative is emerging: That perhaps this election wasn’t a fraud after all. That the United States shouldn’t rush in with complaints of democracy denied, and that perhaps Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the president the Iranian people truly want (and, by extension, deserve).

People can not sit back any longer and say "well they voted him in, they deserve what they get".... these massive protests, at the risk of their lives, should show everyone that these Iranians did not choose their leader.

The fact that these protesters are risking just as much to find ways to get the photos, videos and news out because reporters cannot, tell us that they need international support, they are begging for it.

Khamenei had demanded that Hossein Mousavi, the man who supposedly lost the rigged election, that he must stand by him, "toe the line" in his appearance.

Mousavi's answer.... nope, didn't happen. (H/T Weekly Standard)

No one is asking Obama to get his hands dirty, to do anything except speak up. Lend his voice to Germany's, to others, that are giving moral support to the people of Iran who are shouting, literally, from their rooftops.

The Spirit of Man found the perfect cartoon to represent Obama's lack of appropriate responses here.


[Update] Via MotherJones, the worrisome warning from Wayne White, a former State Department intelligence analyst with expertise on Iran. from an email he sent colleagues:

Those who have talked of the regime's need for compromise, Khamenei's fears and hesitation, etc. urgently need to reconsider seriously the overall situation.

Khamenei's sermon today appeared to have closed the book on substantial concessions to the opposition and its ardent supporters on the streets. Although the Guardian Council's review might still be underway technically, Khamenei reiterated flatly that Ahmadinejad was and remains the winner and warned protesters to get off the streets or face and be responsible for the consequences. In fact, Khamenei rendered an accurate evaluation of the relatively insignificant investigation and partial recount supposedly underway: the margin of victory the regime has accorded Ahmadinejad (albeit falsely and shamelessly) was so wide that the collection of individual complaints involved in the recount probably could not erase Ahmadinejad's victory (even if most all of the complaints were ruled valid by a biased Guardian Council led by a notorious hardline cleric who probably was party to the election theft scheme in the first place).

The conservative, anti-reform establishment's patience would appear to have worn out at this point, and now we can expect a ramped-up crackdown on demonstrations and other signs of dissent with most of the media previously able to record such ugly, brutish behavior now largely swept conveniently away and much of the country's prominent reform-oriented leadership behind bars. Many accurate reports on the unfortunate events to come doubtless will get out to the world, but probably only the proverbial tip of the iceberg regarding the totality of the violence that may well be pending. As has been the case already (especially away from the main demonstrations and in other cities beyond Tehran less generally accessable to the media), the crackdown will likely become gradually more severe and more costly in terms of casualties, with the regime hoping that such a paced escalation can drive the protests to ground without one huge confrontation.

A report this morning by email or some such routing from Iran read out on, I believe, CNN came from a hospital (specific location unknown to me) speaking of numerous civilian casualties flowing in—both dead and badly wounded—with authorities arriving to prevent any personal data from being recorded and taking away the arrivals. Such is being carried out by the same ruthless, fanatical elements that dragged an ailing Ebrahim Yazdi out of a hospital intensive care unit on Wednesday. I very much fear that this is the future.

I would like nothing more than to post analysis that would convey more hope and less in the way of dire warnings, but, with considerable sadness, the above is what I truly believe to be yet another emerging bottom line that will increasingly define the remainder of this crisis. Over the long-term, especially with the steady mounting of demographics largely against this now more bare-knuckled, abusive authoritarian order, the days of the regime are numbered, but the robust, admirable challenge mounted in the course of this crisis may well be unable to overcome such violent countermeasures this time around. [Emphasis added.]

Go to Twitter, #IranElection and watch them as they continue to fight for their vote to be counted.

All previous pieces about Iran's election can be found here.