Unrest in Iran

UNREST IN IRAN…. The Iranian regime’s efforts to severely limit reporting on developments has stunted access, but there’s still some excellent journalism coming from the country, shining a light on a brutal day.

Hours after police and militia forces used guns, truncheons, tear gas and water cannons to beat back thousands of demonstrators, a tense quiet set over this city Sunday as amateur video continued to emerge of the violent clashes that filled the streets the day before.

It was unclear how the confrontation would play out now that the government has abandoned its restraint and large numbers of protestors have demonstrated their willingness to risk injury and even death as they continue to dispute the results of Iran’s presidential election nine days ago.

There was uncertainty as well about how many deaths resulted from Saturday’s violence. Witnesses and human rights groups reported at least several deaths. Iranian state radio reported that there were 19 deaths, and Iran state television reported 13.

Among the developments we’ve learned overnight, protestors seeking medical treatment were being arrested, as were many reformers, journalists, intellectuals, and their families. Mir Hussein Moussavi did make an appearance yesterday in southern Tehran, telling supporters, “I am ready for martyrdom,” and calling for a general strike in the event of his detention.

And while yesterday was considered a key showdown, as protests continue, the brutality may be poised to get worse. An Iranian military leader said on state television last night that soldiers “acted with leniency” on Saturday, which may change starting today. “The events have become exhausting, bothersome and intolerable,” he said. “I want them to take the police cautions seriously because we will definitely show a serious confrontation against those who violate rules.”

In terms of the commentary, be sure to read Roger Cohen’s piece, reported from the streets of Tehran. He not only has a fascinating on-the-ground perspective, but just as important, he emphasizes the fact that the demonstrations are no longer simply about a controversial presidential election.

“[T]he initial quest to have Moussavi’s votes properly counted and Ahmadinejad unseated has shifted to a broader confrontation with the regime itself,” Cohen explained.