Dispatch From Tehran's Streets
We went today. All the routes were closed but we made it to about a half-mile away from Revolution Square. At every intersection they had riot police dispersing us, trying to make sure we wouldn't get through.
But we managed to get a little further. My guess is that I was among a crowd of 50,000 on the northern side of Enghelab Square. They were using water cannons at the gate of Tehran University.
They kept breaking us up. The regular riot policemen were generally okay but then riot police with army fatigues came and started beating people. They were hitting people on the head; one young woman's head was broken in front of us. We all jumped in the gutter and some of our men protected us from the batons. The girl was in a bad way. We dragged her out and then the police just kept shouting. One of them had really red eyes and was screaming from the bottom of his lungs. Then the tear gas came and we kept running, but then we re-grouped. At some point the younger men among us started chasing them, chanting "Death to the Basij."
But then came more tear gas and batons.
Along a road running north near Tehran University, the Basij mingled with the army types in yellow T-shirts. They all had tear gas canisters. We were separated from our friends on the way. We managed to get to Laleh Park but there were lots of riot police there. At the cross section of Fatemi and Kargar, the robocops were waiting, the ones in black with the rubberized gear.
We gave up and tried to get back home. The streets were jammed. In one of the alleys running parallel to Amirabad, the main road running to the university dorms, there was a commotion. We could see the smoke of tear gas. They were out in force; they even had communication officers with radios on their backs. Now they say someone was shot there, in Amirabad.
On the way, when our cell phones suddenly came back to life, we heard that they have exploded two bombs in the shrine of Khomeini. I don't know what will happen next. The news from CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC's Persian service is out. Most people can't get on the Net.
At Laleh Park, there were a lot of people lingering around, asking "What's going on?" and wondering how they should proceed. One of us went further east and tried to get onto Azadi Street from the west, west of the Navab Highway, but he met the same depressing scene.
One of our friends was hit on the knee; another was run over by car. The one run over by the car says the hospital she went to was full of people coming in with broken heads and limbs.
We are home safe but apparently it's going on in Yanak Square. We know that Amirabad is in turmoil.
Today, there were all kinds of people there, not just rich Westernized Iranians. They have always been there in all the marches. The difference today is that we were not left to march in peace. They were out to get rid of us. I still think some of the forces there did not really want to hurt us. But the Basij and the military-fatigued riot police relished the chore. Some people said that these guys don't speak Persian, I don't know, I didn't hear any Arabic spoken. Others believe most of these people are brought in from client states.
We were scared, but we marched anyway. We don't know what will happen next but if the opposition organizes it, we will have to go again. There's no other way. We can't let extremists turn us into another Lebanon or Palestine. There is no way but to go out.
The bombing of Khomeini's tomb is bad. They will blame it on the protesters. But we all feel this is their own work. The protesters don't even have batons, much less bombs. We've only our fists and we are not yet using them. The bombing will give them a chance to declare martial law. They are trying to create something bad here; a civil war, a military takeover.
I wonder if the young girl we dragged out will live. There was so much blood.
Let people know what is happening here.
The writer is an artist and writer in Tehran. The identity has been withheld to ensure the writer's safety.