Monday, June 29, 2009

Iran: Basij Carry Out Nighttime Raids On Homes - Mousavi Attacks Khameini

It seems the news out of Iran is intensifying, not dying out.

Human Rights Watch has accused Iran's volunteer Basij militia of carrying out night-time raids, destroying property in private homes and beating civilians. The New York-based group says the raids are an attempt to stop the nightly rooftop chants against the government. It also says satellite dishes are being confiscated to stop people from watching foreign news.

"Witnesses are telling us that the Basijis are trashing entire streets and even neighbourhoods as well as individual homes trying to stop the nightly rooftop protest chants," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director, in a statement posted on the group's website.

Videos have also been posted on the internet of the aftermath of the raids, showing damage to satellite dishes.

A man interviewed on the video - which the BBC did not shoot, but which appears to be authentic - said he could not complain to the police because they too were involved in the violence.

The rooftop protests were detailed in the London Times the other day. At 10:00 PM nightly, the Iranian people are going out onto their rooftops and howling Allahu Akbar, as a means of not only protesting, but of reaching out to each other in solidarity and encouragement.

At about 9pm each day Nushin, a young housewife, performs the same curious ritual. She climbs up the stairs to the roof of her Tehran home and begins shouting into the night. Allahu akbar,” she cries, and sometimes “Death to the dictator”.

She is not alone. Across the darkened city, from rooftops and through open windows, thousands of others do the same to form one great chorus of protest — a collective wail of anger against a reviled regime that no amount of riot police and Basiji militia can stop. “It sounds like the wailing of wolves,” said one Tehrani.

And each night, as the street demonstrations are crushed with overwhelming force and the regime cracks down on all other forms of dissent, it grows steadily louder and more insistent, not just in Tehran but in other densely populated cities of the Islamic Republic.

“It’s the way we reassure ourselves that we are still here and we are still together,” says Nushin, a woman who has never dared to rebel before.

“This is what people did before the revolution and I hope it warns the regime about what could happen if it doesn’t change its way.

“And because I’m a religious person the sound resonating in the neighbourhood makes me feel better. Even my little daughter joins me, and I can see how she feels that she is part of something bigger. It is our unique way of civil disobedience and what’s interesting is that it increases every time they do something that makes people angrier.”

One has to wonder if the Wailing of the Wolves is also emboldening Mousavi, who had, in past days, been strangely silent. Today, he is openly criticizing the unassailable Ayatollah Khameini:

After days of quiet, opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi launched a broadside against the Iranian leadership in comments published yesterday, suggesting that the political rift over Iran's disputed presidential election is not over. The former prime minister accused Iran's supreme leader of not acting in the interests of the country. He slammed state-controlled broadcast outlets, which have intensified a media blitz against him and his backers with allegations that the unrest over the June 12 vote was instigated by foreign countries. And he vowed to pursue his quest to have President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection nullified. "I am not only prepared to respond to all these allegations but am ready to show how election fraudsters joined those who are truly behind the recent riots and shed the blood of people," he said in comments that appeared on his Web site and were distributed to supporters via e-mail. "I am not prepared to give up under the pressure of threats." Mousavi's forceful remarks appeared to show that he was willing to risk his standing as a pillar of the Islamic Republic to take on Iran's powerful leadership, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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