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Eye-witness Account from Ashura Protests in Tehran

Sunday Decmber 27, 2009

What I experienced yesterday is beyond me. I can’t describe it in words. it was the worst experience and at the same time amazing. People are so so courageous and the basij and nirouye entezami were the scariest things ever.

I went there with a couple of friends. the crowd was spread in different streets, at one point we found ourselves in the pavement when the forces attacked. they passed by me and S., 7 of them, 5 meter distance, aimed a huge rifle at us saying ‘bezanam? bezanam?” me and S. held each other tight, screaming. I thought it was a kind of a rifle but S. knew already that it was the tear gas weapon. They shot, a few meters down, and the tear gas affacted the hundreds of green courageous people running towards us. Some fainted, some burnt newspapers and a cigarette to get rid of the tear gas effect.

We continued onto Bozorgmehr avenue, under Pole Hafez, a place which we were later told was the worst spot as 4 people were killed there. M.i, who was also in the crowd somewhere, saw people taking a police, taking away his helmet and hit him on the head with a stone to death. while walking on Bozorgmehr avenue, the crowd was unbelievably huge. We walked, chanted, for 15 mins. when we were half way, they attacked by tear gas, people started running frantically back. then they captured us from the back, as they were standing on the Hafez bridge (the bridge were they had blocked from both sides and had stationed themselves on it) and started throwing big rocks to the crowd. it was so scary and you could see a fountain of rocks, with an unbelievable speed hitting people. we ran and me and A. lost the rest.

We went under the bridge to be safe. we waited and after a while decided to go towards the car, thinking that the rest might join us later. as we walked on another street parallel to Hafez, the worst crowd, numerous, with black masks, tiger pattern jackets, electric batons, coming towards us. I decided to run. A. kept me and told me to walk passed them and not run. I looked at him in shock as ‘walking pass them’ was an impossible task!! he told me ‘biya’. We did that and they were all so close to me that I could hear their breath, they made sounds like animals, running like dogs after their prey, hitting whoever was running. we were safe as A.i knew perfectly well how to manage the situation, thank god. one needs to walk slowly.

we got onto Somayyeh, where our car was. half way he told me to wait for him there so that he checks the car. while I was waiting for him, I heard a terrible nose behind me, as I looked back, I saw 15 basijis with the same scary outfit, very close to me, going on top of the cars which were stuck in traffic, hitting their roof, breaking their windows and lights. I could die there. I was dead scared. the sound it make, the sound they made, the screaming…….I started walking slowly towards A. and I saw the same crowd coming from the front. I lost A. so I was alone. I walked slowly passed them, shivering, until I got to Hafez bridge again. They were beating everyone, men, women. I stood and watched for a while until some basijis, this time plain cloth with wooden batons approaching me, saying ‘kesafat, gomsho az inja boro’. I did of course!

I walked from Hafez to Haft Tir square, going through various zigzag small streets as some were blocked and some had fire inside. there was NO people and only police, everywhere. single woman, walking alone, didn’t catch too much attention, but I could see them arresting people when they were hiding in various houses, I saw them beating three people walking in an empty street, I saw three women with bruises on their arms as big as a watermelon, I saw them dragging a man out of his car from the window and dragging him on the pavement while others were hitting me. I saw burnt buses, a burnt house. I got under the Karimkhan bridge were the basijis were in big numbers. they were beating, mercilessly everyone. now looking back, I was damn lucky. they were animals, animals. People smiled, in the middle of all that basij, would go up a pole and drag the photo of Khameneyi down. I witnessed all this in 3 hours, the longest ever. I finally managed to get into a street where no traffic was and I saw men, in plain clothes, leaning on the wall on pavements, with wooden batons hidden under their sleeves, waiting for their prey. I took a taxi and went home. as soon as I opened the door of my house, I started crying hysterically until I calmed down.

When you’re there, in the middle of the mayhem, I know and I felt that it was impossible to restrain from fighting back, being a bit violent. You really need to defend yourself and if you’re courageous enough you attack the police or kill. so i’ts a vicious cycle. We have to go in the streets and continue our fight, but on the other hand we need to restrain from violence. how? I have no clue.

Tehran, December 27, 2009


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