Dark days

Yesterday was the 10th Iranian Presidential Election.  The major candidates for presidency were Mousavi and Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran.  Many of the Iranians were willing to try to make sure that Ahmadinejad would not get re-elected for another four years, and most of them started supporting Mousavi.  The competition became more intense after some of controversial debates on the national TV, and supporters of Mousavi and Ahmadinejad started to protest and demonstrate on the streets, vouching for their respective candidate.  Mousavi’s campaign chose the color green as their color sign.  More and more people started to take part in the demonstrations in support of Mousavi and opinion polls started to show that Mousavi has excelled in vote count by a considerable margin.  I didn’t hear of any violence in these demonstrations, and things were all looking good.  People started unofficial campaigns to encourage voting in order to maximize Mousavi’s votes.  I and many others were certain that Mousavi would win the election on Friday, but things didn’t work out as we hoped.

The first vote counts were announced today at about 12:20AM, with Ahmadinejad having about 69% of the votes.  That was surprising, but considering the fact that the votes from rural places are counted first, and he has a better reputation in those areas, the news wasn’t alarming.  The later results however started to get us worried.  In fact, I couldn’t get much sleep last night.  One important point was that as more votes were counted, the ratio between the votes for major candidates didn’t change much, and things were moving on in a linear fashion.  That simply cannot happen in a real society, because the people in cities and villages, and even in different cities do not think like each other.  After some time, we figured that we can actually predict the results by simply extrapolating the linear graphs given the number of votes counted at any given time!  Let me share the graph of the changes of the number of votes for three pairs of candidates.

 

Things went on and around 8:00AM when most people were waking up, the results were down to Ahmadinejad having 65% of the votes, and Mousavi having only 32%, with the other two candidates having less than 2% and 1%, respectively.  80% of the votes were counted until then, according to the Interior Ministry which runs the election here.  In the early morning, everyone was shocked to hear about the poll results.  We were calling up friends and family and asking "Can you believe this?!  What’s going on?".  After a while, anger and hatred replaced the shock, and people started to gather on the streets.  The police, who were running the "Authority Maneuver" on the city streets from yesterday had orders to split out any gathering (which was seemingly defined to include even two people standing besides each other on the street) confronted people, and starting nearly before noon, we heard that they have started to beat up people who refuse their orders of dispersal.  I didn’t believe it until I heard it from a friend who had eye-witnessed.

Communication have been limited to phone calls, since starting from late Thursday the text message service (which was Mousavi’s primary information media given their lack of newspapers and TV stations) was shut down throughout the whole country, many of the reformist websites were filtered starting from last night, and the national TV only broadcasts official government announcements.  The universities which are facing the exam season were also closed until Monday.

After noon, the people gatherings started to turn into riots.  People including mere pedestrians, women and elderlies were beaten up on the streets, and more and more people started to protest against the police forces, demanding their voice to be heard and election results be re-evaluated.  But all hopes were lost around 2:30PM when the government announced the official results stating a win of 63% for Ahmadinejad against 34% for Mousavi and Rezaee and Karroubi with 2% and 1%, respectively.

The protests entered a new level.  The police started to use tear gas, and people started to fire up trash cans in order to neutralize the effect of the tear gas.  According to the pictures and movies posted online, and also my friends eye-witnessing the events, people started to throw stones to the police and the police reciprocated in addition to beating the people with batons.  I saw pictures of a bus fired up by the people, and heard of many many people who were confronted with the police.  According to them, the police even started to break the car and house windows.

Ahmadinejad appeared on the national TV about an hour ago to assert his victory, but the TV here didn’t mention the riots and unrest even once.  According to them, a normal election was hold and the results were correctly counted and reported to the public.

Mousavi and other reformist candidates and campaigners have mostly gone silent starting from last night, and at best case have only issued statements assuring people that they will pursue the vote of the people, but no one is really hopeful.  I have also heard that the police has started to arrest members of the Mosharekat Party, which is a reformist party here.

The amount of information posted online is shocking, photos and videos are being posted on Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, but the government is starting to filter those sites as well.  You can see samples of the pictures and videos on those sites, among elsewhere.

I’m really worried about the current state of affairs.  I was too scared today to get out of the house, and too sad to get any real work done.  I’m not sure what happens tomorrow but I get the feeling that it won’t be pleasant.  I think we’re going to have dark days ahead of us, today being the first.

I decided to post this to Planet Mozilla as well in order to spread the word.  This is my first time posting a personal note on Planet Mozilla, and I hope that my fellow Mozillaians won’t mind.

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22 comments on “Dark days
  1. Jeff Balogh says:

    Thanks for sharing with us Ehsan. Your post makes the situation feel much more tangible to me. I hope you and your country come out of this in a good way.

  2. Jeff Walden says:

    Of course not; Planet is what its constitutent posters choose to make of it, to whatever degree that is, as long (in my opinion) as they touch on Mozilla at least from time to time. Further informative posts on this matter (and anything else you might care to share) appreciated!

    To anyone reading this who might actually mind, I direct you to Planet GNOME as another planet that works on this basic principle (and which has similarly seen at least one post recently on the Iranian election, despite Iran having no direct connection with GNOME).

  3. Shaghayegh says:

    Salam. Please be careful – it looks very dangerous over there!

  4. Wow, the graphs you posted are so bluntly faked that I wonder if they either actually *wanted* this to be discovered or feared so much that the outcome would still favor the candidate that “shouldn’t win” that they went for the easiest way to fake it. In any case, this can’t be related with reality, people don’t vote that consistently anywhere in the world.

    The whole situation is really, really scary, starting from the unbelievably falsified votes and ending with the whole riot situation that endangers the actual lives of people. I just hope that it somehow can turn in a way that makes hope for a peaceful solution.

  5. Marco Zehe says:

    Hi Ehsan!

    My whole family’s thoughts are with you at these grim times! Stay safe, and let’s hope that there will be some possibility to trash this charade!

  6. Kai Liu says:

    This has all been very chilling, especially the rumors that I read about ballots being burned and the news reports about the police preparing for riots even before the results came in. I hope you remain safe.

  7. Alex Faaborg says:

    Similar to Jeff’s comments, of course we don’t mind! While it sounds like communication is being significantly limited for you domestically, the world media and everyone on the Web has been following the events closely. Citizens from pretty much every country on earth have been haunted by the coverage, and have been in awe of the riots and protests. If it is any comfort, at least in the dark days ahead information like the pictures and videos you linked to, and even this post, remains free and globally accessible thanks to the Web. The world feels far more connected than it used to be just a few years ago, and hopefully that has created a momentum that will slowly but inevitably overcome even the darkest of days. Please stay safe.

  8. Visitor says:

    We are praying for the People of Iran, may God be with you and keep you!

  9. Mana says:

    Dearest Ehsan,
    Please tell people we are getting beaten even in our house!
    Tell people a riot commando, (someones we didn’t even know they are exist!!!) throw his baton to our window just because I was seeing him without scarf and call me “dirt” for no reason!
    Please tell them that we have not any good internet connection in Iran nowadays, tell them the best internet rate is 1kb/s!!! And tell them today is 5th day that we can’t use sms!!!
    And don’t forget to tell them that last thing we can do is go to top of our house in nights and shout from bottom of our hearts: “Down With The Dictators!”

  10. I must tell you, Ehsan, that many of us over here have been watching this whole thing unfold with a combination of sympathy and anger. I hope you and your loved ones are safe, and that the Council’s talk today about an investigation into vote fraud is not empty. When you can, please keep us up to date.

  11. […] Because there is a significant question about the legitimacy of the vote results. A posting on Ehsan Akhgari’s blog sums up the issue well: By plotting the vote results for each candidate as they were announced […]

  12. […] Because there is a significant question about the legitimacy of the vote results. A posting on Ehsan Akhgari’s blog sums up the issue well: By plotting the vote results for each candidate as they were announced […]

  13. Hang in there, Ehsan. I hope things get straightened out for the best; I’m worried for you all over there.

  14. Mike Beltzner says:

    This is chilling news, Ehsan. I had, like you, been hoping for the best and for a clean-run election campaign. It looks like that was not to be. I will continue to hold out hope for you, your friends and your family. Be careful and safe.

  15. This is indeed sad and scary news, Ehsan :-( Stay safe, and here’s hoping for a light to pierce the dark days.

  16. Tomer says:

    We were hoping you’ll get a new president which will be more open to the wasteren world. Sadly, it is not the case and the person *we* hoped to see leaving the president position is winning the elections for yet another four years. The local news here were following the progress of the vote counts in Iran all over the day, hoping for a change to come and to see Mousavi winning the election.

    Trust me, if your government will allow our country to vote, no one will vote for Ahmadinejad; The problem is that our country is too small and I’m not sure how this will reflect the final count…

    I hope you’ll be kept safe and Ahmadinejad will soon become more reformist and open to the world.

  17. David Baron says:

    Best of luck over there; hope things don’t get too bad.

    For what it’s worth, Nate Silver’s take on the statistical analysis is that the data on the rates of votes coming in aren’t very convincing. (However, the regional variation, or rather lack thereof, seems much more convincing, although I’ve yet to see a good map/plot of that.)

  18. Laura Thomson says:

    Sorry to hear about this Ehsan :( Look after yourself.

  19. Josh Aas says:

    Hoping for the best for you and your family and friends. Take care Ehsan.

  20. Aaron Train says:

    Stay safe Ehsan. Thank you for posting this on your blog – let us hope for better days ahead.

  21. Hùng. NGUYỄN Mạnh says:

    Well, in Vietnam, just yesterday, a famous pro-democracy activist was arrested.
    And we don’t even have an election to vote – the president is picked up by some head members of the Party.