Eyewitness Account from the Streets of Tehran
Today, on the streets of Tehran, at 4 pm sharp, people started to congregate along routes that had been previously announced.
Their eyes communicated with each other, expressions of familiarity, sympathy, and solidarity that today we shall make history together, yet once more. Security forces, in large numbers and from early hours, were visible on the streets. They were vigilantly preventing any gatherings from forming.
But along the intersections of Kaveh Street — at Jamalzadeh Street and from Tohid Circle to Navab — and on Vesal Street as well as along Keshavarz Boulevard, groups of three to four hundred protestors would occasionally manage to form, chanting slogans and holding up their V-shaped fingers.
Security forces and Special Forces would attack protestors from all directions, beating them with batons and mercilessly targeting them with tear gas.
Large numbers of plain-clothes agents were present, actively identifying activists and attacking them. They would hit the activists on the head with batons with much cruelty. When women screamed, they didn’t care at all and would arrest protestors who were barely alive.
They had closed all routes and attempted to prevent groups of protestors from joining. But the people would use any possible route to get closer to the front of the university. Along Revolution Street, from Daneshjoo Park to the gates of the university, people filled sidewalks.
When the plain-clothes agents and the Special Forces started marching in unison, people booed them and cars honked their horns. The Special Forces began to attack the protestors and passing cars, threatening drivers to get out of their cars and yanked off their plates.
Women would scream and protect the youth under attack. What was significant, in contrast to previous protest, was that people would not run away as they came under attack, but held their own. Particularly the women would respond to the security forces: “Why should we run? This is our country, this is our land, we cannot be pushed out of our land. These sidewalks are ours. Who are you to tell us to go away, we shall not go.”
As the security agents and the Special Forces were beating up the protestors, telling them to walk faster and go home, a man started to move among the crowd on his feet and hand, like a sheep, telling them “Is this good? Is that what you want us to behave like (like subservient four legged animals)?” This made the security forces more angry and they urged them to go away, but the women kept refusing to move on and sat on the side-walks, responding: “ Why should we go? This is our country and you can’t tell us what to do.”
A woman, clad in chador, was being harassed on Vali Asr Circle by a plain-clothes agent who kept yelling at her: “ You …(whore), I shall strip of your cloths” and threatening her. Some men interfered and managed to get her away.
Another woman, when a group of about thirty Special Forces attacked a group of youth with batons, screamed so loud that they started to beat her, hitting her several times on the head. But she did not run away and kept screaming so loud, attracting so much attention with many coming to her aid that the Special Forces were forced to retreat. The power of her screams and perseverance made the agents run away. Today’s most significant point was that the people were not running away. The youth were brave and ready to sacrifice their lives. No one intended to retreat. The beatings and chasings along the avenues lasted for about three hours in the neighborhood around the Tehran University campus. The women were fighting back, especially many middle aged women wearing chador. Many had come with their families. Drivers orchestrated their honking with the protestors to exert maximum stress on the forces of repression.
Eventually, agents started to urge the women around Daneshjoo Park to go home and rest and sleep. People greeted their requests with laughter, saying “We have been just awakened, you want us to go back to sleep?”
As the darkness sat in, increasing numbers were being detained. One of the most heart wrenching aspects of today was the sight of metal pipes in the hands of Basij forces for beating up protestors.