Removing The Veil That Covers The Truth

The Iranian government has done an effective job of putting a veil over what is happening on the streets of Tehran. Yet, tech-savvy Iranians are finding ways to bypass the shutdown of cell phones and the Internet, passing Tweets, photos and videos to the outside world.

Because of restrictions placed on the media by Iranian authorities, radio and television outlets and Web sites searching for the latest news are sifting through tens of thousands of fragments — text messages, photos, videos and phone calls — that show up on Twitter, FriendFeed, YouTube, Facebook and other sites, trying to piece together a picture of what is happening on the ground in Iran.

(YouTube )
(Left: Image of a video posted on YouTube of an Iranian election protestor apparently shot by security forces during a demonstration in Tehran, June 20, 2009.)

The few foreign correspondents left in Tehran are confined to their hotel rooms and watched over by Iranian government officials. Without eyewitness reporting from journalists, nearly every fragment of information carries the caveat, "We can't confirm the authenticity of anything we are showing."

It remains unclear just how many people were in the streets of Tehran and other cities, or how many protesters were killed or injured. But despite the fragmentary nature of the information, a basic picture emerges:

Several thousand protesters took to the streets yesterday in defiance of orders from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranian security forces tried to block access to areas, and used tear gas and water cannons. Protesters threw rocks at security forces. Some protesters were killed by gunshots. Opposition activists shouted from the rooftops, "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).

There are also unconfirmed tweets of helicopters pouring some chemical on people from the sky; riots in other Iranian cites, including Tabriz, Mashad, Isfahan and Ahwaz; Iranian security forces arresting injured protesters at hospitals; foreign embassies and hospitals accepting (or rejecting) injured protesters seeking to avoid the police at hospitals; bus worker strikes and calls for the "sea of green" dissenters to march today.

Meanwhile, the political drama and power struggle in Iran, as well as on the world stage, continues to play out. Iran's Guardian Council said that 10 percent of the vote would be recounted. Mir Hossein Mousavi, whose supporters believe actually won the vote over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, allegedly said he is prepared for martyrdom, and that if he is arrested the nation should go on strike indefinitely. Former president Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani also looms as a strong force opposing the re-election of Ahmadinejad.

Keep track on the latest on the Iran situation at IranWatch

President Barack Obama called on the Iranian government to stop the violence against its own people. "We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights," he said.

As expected following Mr.Obama's remarks, today on Aljazeera TV, Iranian President Ahmadinejad asked the United States and United Kingdom to stop their interference in Iran's internal affairs.

Former President Bill Clinton speaking in Cincinnati, Ohio, said yesterday the Iranian government is at odds with the modern world.

"Basically, this is about a government trying to deny the modern world. Ultimately, they don't think they can keep control if everyone can say what they want and do what they want and go where they want. And they're right. We're all going to have to get used to having less control if we want to live in win-win world instead of win-lose," Clinton said.

(CBS)


Governments can't keep the world from seeing and hearing what is happening, even if it's fragmentary evidence in the modern world--the Internet Age. The graphic video of the woman identified as "Neda" apparently shot by Iranian security forces posted on YouTube, and which has galvanized support for the opposition, as evidenced by images circulating online (above), is the kind of image that could be a pivot point in the course of Iranian history.

CBSNews.com Editor-In-Chief Daniel Farber


To watch Elizabeth Palmer's report on Saturday's election violence click on the video player below.

  • Dan Farber On Twitter»

    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

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