There are signs now that the regime in Iran is expanding its crackdown and that the news this week could be increasingly grim: some dissidents have been arrested and the body of a key of Ali Habibi-Mousavi, opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s nephew, is now missing. News reports are saying “allegedly confiscated” but the odds are it is unlikely to be a case of allegedly.
The bottom line is this: Iran is now clearly poised to decide on one of two paths. One: opening itself up a bit and “stealing the thunder” of the Green movement by trying to defuse the opposition and making some concessions to the protesters in the streets. Two: a bigger clamp down, further represssion which will maintain power but rip to shred any of the rhetoric the regime has used to garner support over the years.
What appears to be happening now is the second road: the Iran regime is now morphing into what protesters thirty years ago claimed the Shah was, without the Shah’s jewels. The LA Times reports:
Iranian authorities intensified a crackdown against a budding opposition movement, arresting prominent political activists and allegedly confiscating the corpse of an opposition leader’s nephew in an effort to stem further protests.
At least eight people were killed in Sunday’s unrest, according to Iranian news outlets, with dozens of police and protesters injured and huge swaths of the capital littered with debris and ash from the unrest…..
According to the reformist website Parlemannews, the body of Ali Habibi-Mousavi, opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s nephew, went missing today after he was allegedly shot dead by security forces or allied militias during massive anti-government Ashura protests Sunday.
“Unfortunately, they have taken the body of my brother from the hospital, and however much we search, we can’t find the body,” his brother, Reza Mousavi, told the news website. “No one is accepting responsibility for the body or is accountable.”
The Times, citing a report by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency, says the official line is that Habibi-Mousavi’s bodie and four other demonstrators shot to death by police were taken away by police for “investigation.” Why would this have an impact?
Removal of the bodies also might stymie potential political unrest associated with funerals and the religiously significant third, seventh and 40th days of mourning.
And the regime’s problems are increasing: it’s notable the number of cities where the are now protests — and the fact that in some areas security forces are refusing to fire on crowds.
Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor reports that Green movement supporters are now taking stock:
The young, unemployed college graduate joined Sunday’s bloody anti-regime protests in Tehran even after an army friend of his warned him that Iran’s security forces might use live rounds. After several hours on the Iranian capital’s smoky streets, he returned home in a daze.
“People took the fight to the police in several places, attacking them with stones for the first time,” he said, asking that his name not be used. “We saw them overturn a police jeep and set it alight.”
The pace of change in demonstrators’ attitudes has accelerated, he said.
“We started [in June] with peaceful silent protests but then slogans got more radical,” he said. “At first, all we wanted was ‘our vote back,’ then ‘our presidency,’ and when there was still no answer we demanded ‘Death to the Dictator.’ ”
Iran’s so-called Green Movement has returned to international prominence after several months when it simmered without spreading to poorer sections of society or the provinces. The regime has met the swelling movement with force. The official death toll from Sunday’s crackdown stood at 10 on Monday and Harana, a website close to Iran’s reformists, said more than 500 activists have since been arrested.
Among Sunday’s dead was Ali Habibi Mousavi, a nephew of former presidential candidate and Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Reformists allege the younger Mousavi was targeted for assassination by the government. Reformists websites said Monday that his body was seized by government security forces, speculating that the regime is seeking to head off his funeral and ritual morning that could fuel further anti-regime protests.
“I’m very worried about the violence escalating,” said Djavad Salehi-Esfahani, a professor of Economics at Virginia Tech and a Brookings scholar who visited Iran last week. “Society is even more polarised and I can’t see the young pople easily giving up. It’ll take a lot more violence till they’re all scared off.”
There’s a lot more so go to the link and read it in full.
Reuters offers this timeline on the demonstrations since June.
HERE ARE SOME VIDEOS
CNN’s latest report on the protests:
French TV report:
More CNN looking at the weekend:
Some photos just posted on Dec. 27th’s protests via You Tube. WARNING: Some are graphic:
The cartoon by Rainer Hachfeld, Neues Deutschland, Germany, is copyrighted and licensed to run on TMV. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. All rights reserved.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.