Who can we trust?

22 Feb 2011

■ N. Sayeh
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Feb 22, 2011 – N. Sayeh is a young woman in her twenties who took part in the Iranian street protests of February 20 (1st of Esfand). This is an eyewitness account of her day.

1st of Esfand. It is the seventh day after the death of two young martyrs of the Green Movement, Sane Jaleh and Mohammad Mokhtari. The Leaders of the Green Movement, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are under house arrest.

The plan for the 1st of Esfand protest was first published by a group in the Green Movement and afterwards confirmed by Ardeshir Amir Arjmand, legal advisor of Mir-Hossein Mousavi. No specific path was announced, but on Facebook and other green sites, all main squares in Tehran were suggested. I chose Valiasr Sq. (second important square in Tehran after Azadi Sq.) to the Valiasr four-way, and then to Azadi Sq. This direction links two of the most well-known universities of Iran, Tehran University and Sharif University. On the way to Valiasr Sq., there were security forces in all the crowded and important parts of city and also at the entrance gate of fuel stations. When I arrived at Valiasr Sq., I saw a huge amount of government forces at four sides of the square. People were walking on the sidewalks.

As usual, plain clothes forces were moving in the bus line with their motorcycles. As we got closer to Valiasr four-way, people and also forces increased. In front of the Academy of Arts an elderly woman walked along with us. She thought we should manage the protest to Pastor Street where Mousavi’s house is located, and that maybe we could do something useful for our leaders under house arrest. But they closed the entrance way of the fuel station in Enghelab Street – it was full of basiji. One of them was standing on a stone, recording with a handy cam people walking on the sidewalks.

A basiji was recording with a handy cam people walking on the sidewalks

Everywhere on our way, forces were standing with batons in their hands on the sidewalks. Slightly ahead in front of the veterinary faculty, there were more and more people and the atmosphere became tense. They hit some people with batons and arrested some of them and took them to police vans. We ran away to the middle of street between the cars. On the other side of the street, some of the protesters began to shout the slogan “Death to dictator”. Forces on the other side attacked the protesters. The atmosphere on both sides of the street got very tense and at last, Revolutionary Guards fired tear gas and the crowd was dispersed.

Slightly ahead, people gathered anew. In bus line 4, basiji in shroud walked and chanted slogans with Khamenei’s picture and flags in their hands. We turned our heads toward them; the uproar increased so I couldn’t understand what those basijis were shouting. A traffic soldier who was standing in the middle of the four-way came toward us and said: ‘Don’t talk with people around you, do not trust anyone, the streets are full of intelligent service officers’. He lowered his voice and continued: ‘Light pink shirt- shiny black suit- tapered shoes.’ I looked around and saw two men with these clothes; I looked back to the soldier and he moved his head in approval. I felt terribly insecure.

I felt terribly insecure

We continued our way. It was raining and the weather got colder. As we got closer to Azadi Sq., the crowd became smaller. Forces who were standing on the sidewalks with Sepah uniforms were teenager boys with batons and shields. ‘It’s not serious’, they laughed and winked at us, and just as their chief came toward them they stood in rows again and the smile disappeared from their faces. The old Sepahi hit their arms with his batons and warned them to be careful about their behavior.

Near to Azadi Sq., in front of Meghdad Basij station, basiji formed a long tunnel on the sidewalk. On both sides basiji stood with their batons in their hands and shields in front of their faces. Everyone should pass this tunnel. People were silent, but there was anger in their eyes. When it seemed that someone said something, the basiji raised their batons and started to hit people. We arrived at Azadi Sq. at 7 o clock. It started raining heavier. I got in a taxi and called my friends.

Two of my friends were near Vanak Sq. and talked about what they had seen. Most of the stores were closed and those that were not yet were forced by police to close their stores. Again the guards attacked people, and they ran away toward taxi and bus stations and hid. All of the roads to Vanak Sq. were heavily in traffic and most of the cars were hooting. My friend got there about 6 and then she found a taxi.
Another friend of mine was in Haqani St. He went toward Vanak and saw the crowd silent but vibrant. It seemed that an hour before, repressive forces came to that area, shouting their specific slogans like ‘Heidar Heidar’, they formed a climate of fear. Plain clothes hid their faces behind masks, whereas last year the protesters hid their faces – but now the regime’s forces are doing it because of fear of detection by people!

At the end of the day, we get in a taxi together, and everyone was talking about politics, everyone, everywhere people were talking about discontent and suffocation, but who can we trust?

Tehran Review
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