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18th of September 2009 – live reports from Tehran

21 September 2009. A World to Win News Service. Following are excerpts from two reports on the 18 September protests sent by Tehran activists to the Iranian student newspaper Bazr (http://www.bazr1384.com)

It's a little past 10 a.m. The streets are filling up with people who've come to protest. Some are going towards Enghelab Street, some up the street I'm on. Some towards the side roads and side streets. They're trying to join another demonstration without being dispersed. People are smiling at each other, as if we all knew each other but just didn't remember from where or when. Some are flashing the V-for-victory sign. An old man sitting in his parked car is smiling with satisfaction. A young boy has hidden his mobile behind his hand and is taking photos. Maybe we will see his report on the Internet later on. A woman says, "Don't go that way, that's where they'll attack." People in cars are honking their horns.

The women in this country are so brave. You can see them all over the place no matter their age. They seem so determined. Sometime they smile… It is true, as the saying goes, that "You can find rebellion where there is more oppression." A young girl is shyly showing the victory sign; it seems this is her first demonstration. There are so many middle-aged women with young men. Probably it's because mothers are going to the battlefield with their sons. There are so many groups of women of different age groups and also women just on their own.

When I get close to Vali Asr square everyone is going up the road. In any case the crowd has come to protest. People have no intention of taking part in the Friday prayers, especially when the imam leading them is Ahmad Khatami [a cleric closely associated with the regime]. On the contrary everybody is violating the Ramadan fast by eating. This is also part of the protest and a sign of the volatility of the religion the ruling power is based on.

The quantity of people in the streets protesting against the regime has made everyone happy. However, the slogans are not always so great and encouraging. Some people tentatively shout "Death to China and Russia." Slogans of two and three months ago are making their reappearance. "Down with the dictator" is more general and so it is echoing stronger. I hear some women say, "The real religion authorities are Montazeri and Saneei" (referring to the supposedly opposition ayatollahs Hossein Ali Montazeri and Saneei). I am surprised that instead of questioning the whole concept of reactionary religious authority, they want to replace one set with another.

The people have poured into the streets but the reformist leadership has reduced the power of this massive crowd. The slogans are often meaningless and are repeated by people who have doubts about them. The people have poured into the street but there is not the kind of strength that enables them to face the ruling power's thugs. There are hidden hands behind the scene. Something is happening. But the people who are in the streets have no role in those decisions. The future is not ours yet. Not yet.

Contrary to some assumptions, the Green movement has not been defeated. Today's events show that they have the power to take more control over protestors, acting in a more organised way than before, strengthening the religious aspect of the demonstration and defending religion authorities such as Montazeri and Saneei in opposition to the Supreme Leader Khamenei.

Once the most important condition for the internal fights between the two factions of the Islamic Republic was that both agreed to keep the people out of it. But after the election, the rules of the game have changed, and both factions are looking for ways to deal with the new situation.
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As we approached Karimkhan street, we could hear the slogans more clearly: "Down with the dictator" , "Iran has become Palestine, people why do you stand idly by?". We could see hundreds of the hands held high and clapping. It promised to be a massive march. We joined the protest under the Karimkhan Bridge. To be honest some of the slogans were not so pleasant to our ears. "Hi Hossein, Mir Hossein" in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi. "Not Gaza, not for Lebanon, I give my life for Iran."

It was clear that in the absence of advanced and revolutionary forces to put forward correct slogans, wrong slogans had spread and would have a very negative political and ideological influence on the movement: once again the clerical apparatus of ignorance and superstition would be strengthened and reactionary Iranian and Persian chauvinism would replace the solidarity of the oppressed people of the world….

The bridge is packed with people. The crowd has created a beautiful scene… suddenly from the north side of the square we notice a new crowd of protestors consisting of young women and men. Here the slogans are more radical. "Rape and torture don't scare us anymore" they chant as they try to join the protestors pouring into the Seventh of Tir square from the south. Basiji, plainclothes police and security forces have appeared between them. Clashes between demonstrators and the regime forces are imminent.

After a period of pressure, the people have revived. Their morale is clearly very high. All this promises a very hot start of the semester in the universities and schools, a hot new educational year and big school of struggle for everyone.

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