IranWatch: June 21

For highlights of previous coverage, see IranWatch: June 20 | June 19 | June 18 | June 17

Updated 9:05p.m. Eastern: Missing journalists, bloggers, politicians said under pressure to confess to intrigues

As the Iran crisis enters its second week, opposition politicians, professional journalists and bloggers face increasing personal risks. Earlier Sunday, Reporters Without Borders said that 23 journalists, bloggers and Iranian political leaders have been arrested while many others are missing.

Meanwhile, the Harvard-sponsored Tehran Bureau says that many of the missing have been arrested and imprisoned and are under pressure to confess to being involved in plots with foreign countries as well as to "planning the demonstrations well in advance of the elections." You can find the full list on the Tehran Bureau's Web site.

Updated 8:45 p.m. Eastern: CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer is still in Tehran--watch her latest report

Elizabeth Palmer reports from Tehran with the latest on the ongoing power struggle, players protests and iconic moments in this video:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Updated 7:15 p.m. Eastern: Brit academics' conclusion: Vote-rigging in spades

British academics say that their analysis of the outcome of the Iranian presidential elections has confirmed allegations of vote-rigging.

Updated 6:15 p.m. Eastern: Guardian Council acknowledges vote fraud

From the vote early, vote often files, Iran's PressTV which is funded by the government, reports that "Iran's Guardian Council has admitted that the number of ballots collected in 50 cities surpass the number of those eligible to cast ballots in those areas."

However, a spokesman for the council added that "it has yet to be determined whether the amount is decisive in the election results."

Updated 6:01 p.m. Eastern: Symbol of a movement before she died

TwitPic has found a photo of Neda before she met her death on Saturday and got turned into a symbol.

Updated 5:15 p.m. Eastern: Obama stance picks up unexpected support

Republicans continue to criticize President Barack Obama for his response to anti-government protests in Iran. (On CBS's `Face the Nation,' Arizona Senator John McCain acknowledged that while President Obama was "walking a very fine line," he said that other world leaders had issued stronger statements of support for the demonstrators.)

So file this under the heading of politics making for strange bedfellows. In the last couple of days, the administration has picked up support from a couple of noted conservative writers for striking the proper chord even as the debate about the correct U.S. foreign policy posture heats up.

On Sunday, Conservative pundit George Will said on ABC's This Week that:

"The president is being roundly criticized for insufficient, rhetorical support for what's going on over there. It seems to me foolish criticism. The people on the streets know full well what the American attitude toward the regime is. And they don't need that reinforced."

His comments were in reaction to an appearance earlier on the show by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who had described President Obama's response as "timid and passive more than I would like."

Will's take followed by a day that of another prominent conservative voice, Peggy Noonan, who also took a different line than the Republican leadership. Instead of urging more aggressive engagement by the U.S., she wrote that:

"To insist the American president, in the first days of the rebellion, insert the American government into the drama was shortsighted and mischievous. The ayatollahs were only too eager to demonize the demonstrators as mindless lackeys of the Great Satan Cowboy Uncle Sam, or whatever they call us this week. John McCain and others went quite crazy insisting President Obama declare whose side America was on, as if the world doesn't know whose side America is on."

Updated 4:40 p.m. Eastern: Waves of demonstrators overwhelm police

The media crackdown ordered by the regime makes it hard to accurately access what's happening on the ground in Iran. But while the foreign media has been turned away, citizen reporters have helped fill the vacuum with sundry tweets, text messages and video blogs. And among the thousands of videos uploaded to the Internet, this clip hosted by the BBC's Persian service recounts an extraordinary episode in the history of the clashes between the authorities and the protesters.

Updated 4:25 p.m. Eastern: Religious mourning rituals and the crisis faced by the regime

For anyone who recalls the rolling cycles of clashes between demonstrators and security forces which brought down the shah, the role played by Shiite traditions can't be underestimated. For more, check out Time's Web site excellent exploration of the role religious mourning played during the Iranian revolution.

Shiite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and Time points out that "the pattern of confrontations between the shah's security forces and the revolutionaries often played out in 40-day cycles."

That was a particular problem for the Shah's security forces, which seemed to always be on the defensive.

"The first clashes in January 1978 produced two deaths that were then commemorated on the 40th day in mass gatherings, which in turn produced new confrontations with security forces — and new deaths. Those deaths then generated another 40-day period of mourning, new clashes, and further deaths. The cycle continued throughout most of the year until the shah's ouster in January 1979."

For the authorities, especially those with a sense of history, the concern is whether the same cycle will play out 30 years later.

Updated 3:45 p.m. Eastern: Neda: Face of the Iranian protest

(YouTube )
She's fast become the symbol of the Iran protesters, Neda, the young woman whose death was recorded by video on Saturday, apparently by Iranian Basiji security forces on rooftops. A video has since surfaced that apparently shows Neda with her father before she was shot.

Updated 3:35 p.m. Eastern: Newsweek: We've lost contact with detained reporter

As reported earlier today, Reporters Without Borders put out a statement that so far, 23 journalists and bloggers have been arrested in Iran.

Now, Newsweek says that Maziar Bahari, a Canadian journalist working in Iran for the magazine, was detained without charge by the authorities on Sunday and they have lost contact with him.

"Newsweek strongly condemns this unwarranted detention, and calls upon the Iranian government to release him immediately," the magazine said in a statement. "Mr Bahari's coverage of Iran, for Newsweek and other outlets, has always been fair and nuanced, and has given full weight to all sides of the issues. He has worked well with different administrations in Tehran, including the current one."

Updated 3:15 p.m. Eastern: Split widens within
Iranian political elite

(AP Photo)
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said today that the government's move to prevent demonstrations in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi "will have dire consequences."

"Linking the healthy movements of the people with foreign interference is a flawed political practice, which leads to alienating the people from the government," Khatami said, according to a statement put out by the Iranian Mehr news agency.

Updated 3:00 p.m. Eastern: Mousavi accuses government of breaching constitution

Al Arabiya reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi compares current Basiji security practices to those existing the era of the Shah. He also reportedly denounced the recent arrests and shootings, accusing the Iranian government of breaching provision 27 of the Iranian constitution, which grants the right to protest peacefully.

Updated 2:50 p.m. Eastern: Al Arabiya TV orders to close Tehran bureau indefinitely

Dubai-based TV channel Al Arabiya report that its Tehran bureau has been ordered to remain closed indefinitely for "unfair reporting" of last week's disputed presidential election.

Updated 12:50 p.m. Eastern: Faeza Rafsanjani released but will continue to protest

Al Aribiya reports that Faeza Rafsanjani, daughter of moderate Hashimi Rafsanjani, refused to sign a statement that she would not take part in protests before she was released.

Updated 12:55 p.m. Eastern: Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri calls for three days of national mourning

Reuters report that the web site of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazer, the "senior dissident cleric" who was part of the 1979 Iranian revolution, calls for three days of national mourning in honor of those killed during the recent protests over the Iranian election.

Updated 12:50 p.m. Eastern: Former President Mohammad Khatami calls for release of arrested protesters

Iran's former President Mohammad Khatami wants protest prisoners released to relieve the tensions:

"The immediate release of those arrested during protests can
calm the situation in the country," he stated.

Updated 12:40 p.m. Eastern: Updates from the Twittersphere #Iranelection #Neda

Below gives a flavor of the tweets flowing today, unconfirmed tibits of data:

  • Reporters Without Borders: 23 journalists and bloggers have been arrested in Iran. Many others missing.
  • LIFE's Iranian photojournalist is missing
  • ppl r saying previously posted photo of chopper is from Czech, not Iran, sorry for the misinfo
  • Unconfirmed: About 5000 People holding lit candles in Hafte Tir Sq. have been attacked by anti-riot police

    Updated 11:20 a.m. Eastern: Protesters allegedly marching toward the UN in Tehran, dated June 21

    Updated 10:45 a.m. Eastern: Senator John McCain discusses Iran situation on Face the Nation

  • America has a moral obligation in regards to Iran, but that doesn't mean sending arms to the country
  • Germany by Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have been stronger than Obama on Iran

    Blog post on McCain's appearance on Face the Nation

  • U.S. has to be on the right side of history in responding to Iran election protests
  • Proud that Iranians are using American technology like Twitter to communicate to the outside world

    Updated 10:20 a.m. Eastern: Roger Cohen on Ayatollah Khamenei's "radical risk"

    Roger Cohen in the New York Times June 20:

    "Khamenei has taken a radical risk. He has factionalized himself, so losing the arbiter's lofty garb, by aligning himself with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against both Mir Hussein Moussavi, the opposition leader, and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a founding father of the revolution.

    "He has taunted millions of Iranians by praising their unprecedented participation in an election many now view as a ballot-box putsch. He has ridiculed the notion that an official inquiry into the vote might yield a different result. He has tried pathos and he has tried pounding his lectern. In short, he has lost his aura."

    Updated 10:15 a.m. Eastern: News organizations still in the dark

    On NBC Ali Arouzi in Tehran reports that he cannot go out into the streets to report, but he has not been restricted on what can say or write. Not sure how to square that statement...

    Updated 9:00 a.m. Eastern: Alleged Mir Hossein Mousavi web site

    A Mir Hossein Mousavi Web site that may be official or unofficial includes news covering the Iran protest. It appears to be the same new circulating on Twitter and social networks.

  • Unverified number of people killed during yesterdays protests. Reports vary from 13 to 20
  • Hundreds of people were injured by tear gas, live bullets, water canons, battons and the liquid substance poured onto crowds from helicopters
  • Hospitals in Tehran have sent out messages requesting more blood
  • Iran's influential parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani implied Saturday the election authority sided with a certain candidate ( Ahmadinejad).
  • National Police Chief Ismaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam has said that the police's strategy so far has been to show leniency toward Mir-Hossein Mousavi's supporters, who have been rallying in the streets claiming election fraud in the June 12 presidential election.
  • The girl in the video is called Neda.
  • Confirmation today that Faeze Hashemi Rafsanjani arrested yesterday. She is the daughter of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
  • Guardian Council members meet with the clergy and religious leaders in Qom with the promise to fully follow up on election complaints

    Updated 8:50 a.m. Eastern: "Neda" becomes a symbol for the opposition movement

    (YouTube )

    In the modern world--the Internet era--governments can't keep the world from seeing and hearing what is happening, even if it's fragmentary evidence. The graphic video of the woman identified as "Neda" apparently shot in the chest by Iranian security forces has galvanized the protest community challenging the presidential election results.

    A montage of images memorializing Neda, a young woman apparently killed by security forces during election protests in Tehran on Saturday, June 20, 2009.


    Updated 8:30 a.m. Eastern: Bill Clinton: a government trying to deny the modern world

    Former President Bill Clinton speaking in Cincinnati, Ohio, yesterday, said 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.

    Updated 8:05 a.m. Eastern: Words from Khatami and Ahmadinejad

    Aljazeera has a report that former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami has called for the immediate release of all detainees, and that closing the door before peaceful demonstrations will open many doors for anger and violence.

    On the other side of the debate, and following President Obama's call for the Iranian government to stop the violence against its own people, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked the United States and United Kingdom to stop their interference in Iran's internal affairs. In addition, Iranian Foreign Minister Menoushehr Mottaki chided the UK for "sabotage acts" in Iran.

    Updated 7:21 a.m. Eastern: Daughter Of Ex-President Arrested

    Iranian state television said authorities have arrested the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, together with four other family members for taking part in unauthorized protest rallies.

    It said the arrests were made late Saturday. Sunday's report by Iran's official English language TV does not identify the four other family members or give more details.

    State TV has shown pictures of Faezeh Hashemi, Rafsanjani's eldest daughter, speaking to hundreds of opposition supporters last week.

    Rafsanjani has made no secret of his distaste for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose re-election victory in a June 12 vote was disputed by opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Ahmadinejad has accused Rafsanjani and his family of corruption.