16 June 2009

Eyewitness report from Tehran

This is an eyewitness account of the events in Tehran on 15th June 2009. It was posted on Facebook, Street protest in Tehranwhere you can read the original version.

In case you can't see the Facebook copy, here it is in full...


I left my home in Tajrish along with my family at 3 p.m. We went down Valiast Street which is the main northern-southern avenue in Tehran and entered the Evin Exp'way which leads to Enghelab Street. We knew that people are supposed to gather in Enghelab Sq. (Revolution Sq.) at 4 and march toward Azadi Sq. (Freedom Sq.). From Gisha Bridge onwards, we saw people walking down. Cars were blowing their horns and people were showing victory sign. We went to Navvab Street and parked our car at the end of the street. Then we took a taxi to bring us back to the Enghelab Street. On our way, near Jomhouri Sq. (Republic Sq.), I saw a group of about 20 militia with long beards and batons on motorbikes. My hand was out of the car window with a little green ribbon (the sign of reformists) around my finger. One of the militia told me to throw that ribbon away. I showed him a finger. All of a sudden, about 15 people attacked me inside the car. They beat me with their batons and wanted to pull me out. My wife and my daughter who were sitting in the back seat cried and hold me tight. I also hold myself tight on the chair. They wanted to shatter the car windows. The driver went out and explained that he is a taxi and we are his passengers and he has no fault. After about 5 minutes,they left. My elbow hurts severely. Then, a young man from their group came and kissed my elbow! I told him: You know, I don't hate you. I am like you with the only difference that I know more and you are ignorant. He apologized and left.

We joined the crowd in Enghelab Street.

Read carefully:

What I saw today was the most elegant scene I had ever witnessed in my life. The huge number of people were marching hand in hand in full peace. Silence. Silence was everywhere. There was no slogan. No violence. Hands were up in victory sign with green ribbons. People carried placards which read: Silence. Old and young, man and woman of all social groups were marching cheerfully. This was a magnificent show of solidarity. Enghelab Street which is the widest avenue in Tehran was full of people.

I was told that the march has begun in Ferdowsi Sq. and the end of the march was now in Imam Hossein Sq. to the further east of Tehran while on the other end people had already gathered in Azadi Sq. The length of this street is about 6 kilometers. The estimate is about 2 million people. On the way, we passed a police department and a militia (Baseej) base. In both places, the doors were closed and we could see fully-armed riot police and militia watching the people from behind the fences. Near Sharif University of Technology where the students had chased away Ahmadinejad a few days ago, Mirhossein Mousavi (the reformist elect president) and Karrubi (the other reformist candidate spoke to people for a few minutes which was received by cries of praise and applause. I felt proud to find myself among such a huge number of passionate people who were showing the most reasonable act of protest. Frankly, I didn't expect such a political maturity from emotional Iranians who easily get excited. My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression. Placards that people carried were different; from poems by the national poet Ahmad Shamlu to light-hearted slogans against Ahmadinejad. Examples include: " To slaughter us/ why did you need to invite us / to such an elegant party" (Poem by Shamlu). " Hello! Hello! 999? / Our votes were stolen" or " The Miracle of the Third Millenium: 2 x 2 = 24 millions" (alluding to the claim by Government that Ahmadinejad obtained 24 million votes) , "Where is my vote?" , " Give me back my vote" and many other.

We arrived in Azadi Square where the entire square was full of population. It is said that around 500,000 people can be accommodated in this huge square and it was full. Suddenly we saw smoke from Jenah Freeway and heard the gunshot. People were scared at first but then went forward. I just heard the gunshots but my sister who had been on the scene at that part told me later that she saw 4 militia came out from a house and shot a girl. Then they shot a young boy in his eye and the bullet came out of his ear. She said that 4 people were shot. At least one person dead has been confirmed. People arrested one of the Baseeji militia but the three others ran away when they ran out of bullet. At around 8 we went back on foot. On the way back people were still in the street and were chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great).

I was coming home at around 2 a.m. In parkway, I saw about ten buses full of armed riot police parked on the side of the street. Then I saw scattered militia in civil clothes with clubs in hand patroling the empty streets. In Tajrish Square, I saw a very young boy (around 16) with a club who was looking at the cars to see if he can find something to attack. I don't know how and under what teachings can young boys change into militia.

I came home. Tomorrow, people will gather again in Valiasr Square for another peaceful march toward the IRIB building which controls all the media and which spreads filthy lies. The day before Yesterday, Ahmadinejad had hold his victory ceremony. Government buses had transported all his supporters from nearby cities. There was full coverage of that ceremony where fruit juice and cake was plenty. A maximum of 100,000 had gathered to hear his speech. These included all the militia and the soldiers and all supporters he could gather by the use of free TV publicity. Today, at least 2 million came only relying on word of mouth while reformists have no newspaper, no radio, no TV. All their internet sites are filtered as well as social networks such as facebook. Text messaging and mobile communication was also cut off during the demonstration. Since yesterday, the Iranian TV was announcing that there is no license for any gathering and riot police will severely punish anybody who may demonstrates. Ahmadinejad called the opposition as a bunch of insignificant dirt who try to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. He also called the western leaders as a bunch of "filthy homosexuals". All these disgusting remarks was today answered by that largest demonstration ever. Older people compared the demonstration of today with the Ashura Demonstration of 1979 which marks the downfall of the Shah regime and even said that it outnumbered that event.

The militia burnt a house themselves to find the excuse to commit violence. People neutralized their tactic to a large degree by their solidarity, their wisdom and their denial to enage in any violent act.

I feel sad for the loss of those young girls and boys. It is said that they also killed 3 students last night in their attack at Tehran University residence halls. I heard that a number of professors of Sharif University and AmirKabir University (Tehran Polytechnic) have resigned.

Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tear in these early hours of Tuesday 16th June 2009, I glorify the courage and bravery of those martyrs and I hope that their blood will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights.

Viva Freedom, Viva Democracy, Viva Iran

15 June 2009

A free vote?

Here are the crowds in Tehran, protesting about the election results. Crowds in Tehran protesting about the electionThis picture was posted on Twitter just a few minutes ago.

Read the latest news from Tehran as it develops on Twitter. Some of the streams of tweets are coming from people on the streets in Tehran, posted from mobile phones (this guy deserves a medal but is probably in line for something much harsher). Others are comments from others not involved in the protest. And then there are also comments, good wishes, prayers, and thoughts from people world wide.

There are more photos online, and the major news channels have reports, for example the BBC. It'll be all over tomorrow's front pages for sure.

Live news reporting is one of the things that Twitter does best.

26 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Freedom?

We discussed the final details of the leaflet for the Eynesbury kids camp, and we also talked around the issues in reaching out openly when this might put our families or friends in danger. HandcuffsAlthough this is not something that is a problem for us in the UK right now, it is a severe problem in some countries. It's interesting to ask ourselves how we'd react if this happened for us. We have no idea how the political and social scene will change, wherever we may live!

Chris asked, 'What are the two most important things we can do to make the church more successful?'. The major points seem to be that we should listen to the Lord's direction and follow it, and that we should give one another the freedom to do the same. After all, we must love the Almighty with all our heart, mind and strength and we must love our neighbour the same way we love ourselves (Mark 12:28-34, Romans 13:8-10). If we have that kind of love in our hearts we cannot help following the Lord's commands and giving one another the freedom to do so too.

Yahshua set us free so that we could live free (Galatians 5:1). And if he has set us free, we really are free! (John 8:36) Does this mean we are free to follow whatever men and women tell us? No! We always had that freedom, Israel demanded a king 'like the other nations' and in modern times people have followed all sorts of leaders.

No, we were set free to follow the Lord! We are free to hear his voice, to walk as he reveals, to love, and to give that same freedom to one another.

22 May 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Moggerhanger

We made very brief notes this week, there were only two of us as Roger and Jules were unable to join us. Bluebells at Moggerhanger ParkWe brought one another up-to-date on news from friends, prayed, and talked about a range of other topics.

Then we visited Moggerhanger Park for lunch as a change. We sat inside, ordered our meals, and later Jim come out of the kitchen and joined us for a chat. It turned out to be a useful time as Jim and Paul had not met before, but also because Paul may be able to use the Moggerhanger facilities for his Acorn Group in future.

19 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Family tragedy

We have only brief notes from this meeting.

Jim mentioned King David who was 'a man after the Lord's heart'. Despite this, he had some major issues in his life. One of his sons raped his own sister, and then another son killed the first. We thought about what a dreadful experience this must have been for David. What a tragedy to overtake a family.

We also talked about street pastors, an opportunity has come up to take part in training for this.

18 May 2009

Great Doddington - Can't see me!

We read Exodus 20:1-21 which concerns the law. As believers we are free from having to meet all the conditions of the law, Hiding her eyesfree providing we don't cause a weaker one to stumble in some way. So our freedom is constrained by love.

Jesus told us that loving the Almighty and loving your neighbour actually fulfils the law. Matthew 5:17-20 also discusses the law. It is not abolished, and unless our righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees and law teachers we are certain to be barred from the Kingdom. How can we ever have this kind of righteousness? Only because of Christ, for he is our righteousness.

We considered the fruit of the Spirit as this seem to have a great deal to do with how we relate to other people, in other words how we love our neighbour.

Barbara read Psalm 106:1-3, the Lord's love endures forever! We are blessed if we are constant in doing right, but again Christ himself is our righteousness. We also thought of Zechariah 14:9 where we read that there will one Lord and his name will be holy.

Chris prophesied, 'You are struggling, aren't you! You are heavyily loaded. Come to me and I will give you rest. I didn't call you to great faith or love or power but to walk with me day by day and speak the words I give you and confort one another. You are my children.'

Rachael described three visions. In the first she saw a woman bound in chains.

In the second vision she saw a little girl with here hands covering her eyes, and she was thinking, 'If I can't see, nobody can see me!' But Father says, 'Just because you can't see me doesn't mean you're not in my mind'.

And thirdly, she saw a large boat with sails caught up in a great storm. And she knew that no matter what the world does, this boat was not going to sink! Instead it will stay afloat and it will arrive at its destination no matter how big the storm.

Then Jody prophesied, 'I will release you from those chains. You are not invisible, I'll carry you through like a small child. I'll be your protector. You are like golden beams of light shining across a golden land. Like beams of light you will get past the darkness. I have shone beams of light for you so you will certainly get past the obstacles.'

'You just need to focus on being in me. You are not standing still, you are walking along the path, you will get through and you will be triumphant.

Rachael spoke another word from the Lord, 'I'd encourage each one of you to raise your head and see my face. I'd encourage each one to raise your eyes and see my eyes and know that I am here.'

Finally, we read Psalm 45, especially noting the verses about the bride, the princess (9-16).

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