We’re witnessing something unprecedented in Iran: a revolution that you can watch, sort of, in real time. News reports indicate that violent clashes are going on between police or militia and protesters:
Police beat protesters and fired tear gas and water cannons at thousands who rallied Saturday in open defiance of Iran’s clerical government, sharply escalating the most serious internal conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Eyewitnesses described fierce clashes after some 3,000 protesters, many wearing black, chanted “Death to the dictator!” and “Death to dictatorship!” near Revolution Square in downtown Tehran. Police fired tear gas, water cannons and guns but it was not clear if they were firing live ammunition.
Some protesters appeared to be fighting back, setting fire to militia members’ motorcycles, witnesses said. Helicopters hovered, ambulances raced through the streets and black smoke rose over the city.
If you follow the Twitter feed #IranElection, updates come at unbelievable speed; hundreds per minute. Most are not from Iran, but some at least purport to be, and many contain links. Likewise, YouTube channels like Iran election 2009 contain thousands of videos. Most of what we are seeing from Tehran is in the form of cell phone videos. The person who uploaded this video says it was shot earlier today; the protest is large but peaceful:
Here, you can watch one of the most striking videos I’ve seen. It was shot from a balcony with a cell phone and obtained by BBC Persian, which unfortunately has disabled embedding on YouTube. A couple of minutes into the video, the militia opens fire.
It’s impossible to say at this point what consequences these events will have, but videos like these make it clear that a revolution is in progress. In a fragmentary but fascinating way, thanks to the internet and ubiquitous amateur video, you can watch it unfold.
UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post has an excellent letter from an Iranian student describing what he has been able to observe.
FURTHER UPDATE: This video, posted on Facebook just a half hour ago, shows a young woman apparently dying in the street after being shot, presumably by police or militia forces. Warning: it is brief, but graphic.
ONE MORE: Because of the video’s news value and because I don’t know how long it will stay up on Facebook, I captured it and am posting it here. WARNING again: it is graphic: