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.