Monday, February 14, 2011

"Mubarak, Ben Ali, now it's time for ..."

"For all of its empty talk about Egypt, the government of Iran should allow the Iranian people the same universal right to peacefully assemble and demonstrate in Tehran that the people are exercising in Cairo."
- White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor

”We wish the opposition and the brave people in the streets across cities in Iran the same opportunity that they saw their Egyptian counterparts seize in the last week.” She added, ”We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is once again using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people.”
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Video from Feb 14, 2011 protests against Ahmadinejad in Tehran

An eyewitness in Tehran today reports for the BBC:

Mohsen Asgari
BBC News, Tehran

"Riding on the back of a motorbike, holding my mobile to take video footage, I went to central Tehran on Monday afternoon. My driver skilfully found back alleys to reach Azadi (Freedom) Square, the Iranian counterpart of Egypt's Tahrir Square.

Thousands of people made their way amicably and silently towards the square, most of them young. Many wore trainers, suggesting they were anticipating having to run away from the security forces to escape arrest.

Riot police began to disperse the crowd before they even started the rally. Men on motorbikes belonging to the police and Republican Guards charged the protesters and beat them severely with batons. However, this merely emboldened them.

When the troops fired tear gas at the crowd, it became very difficult to breathe. Some girls and women fainted. Many of the protesters were also detained. Others set rubbish bins on fire to combat the effects of the gas.

My driver was hit by a paintball fired by a policeman and lightly injured, but he was still able to drive me back to the office. Once there, I was shocked to see that official and semi-official news agencies were saying everything was normal when for a couple of hours there had been total chaos."

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