In spite of attempts by the regime to intimidate people with threats of violent repression, thousands turned out to demonstrate yesterday in Tehran. Here we have eyewitness reports about the events that unfolded.
Large numbers of police, basiji, plain-clothes agents, and riot police were stationed from the dormitory of Tehran University to Enghelab (Revolution) Square. Around 4pm there were people waiting for the start of the protest in Fatemi Street (Continental Hotel) and Laleh Park. There were already reports from the University dormitory of severe clashes with the police and security forces.
From 5pm until 5.30pm the demonstrators entered North Kargar (Worker) Street (the northern corner of Laleh Park) and the basiji and riot police forces began following the protesters, firing tear gas canisters, paint ball pellets and even overhead live rounds. During this time the protesters chanted slogans like “Down with the dictator” and “Down with the coup d’état government”.
Some of the demonstrators went into Laleh Park. The tear gas was so intense that it made your eyes burn from dozens of metres away. During this time nearly all of Laleh Park was surrounded. A part of the crowd reached Fatemi Street and began moving towards the Continental Hotel. Another part of the crowd entered the Park in order to make its way to the Hotel through it. Slogans like “One Hossein until Mir Hossein”, “Allah-o akbar” and “Down with the dictator” were repeated. But the riot police blocked their way to the junction of Hejab and Fatemi streets and police on motorbikes, wielding batons, mounted the pavements.
The attacks were so sudden and brutal that people jumping over the water channel [between the pavement and the street] to go into the street, fell into the channel. Then tear gas canisters and overhead shots were fired and everyone sheltered behind cars and by lying on the ground. (During this time mobile communications were not possible.)
We went a bit away from this area in a car and then began walking again. Walking towards Tohid Square we saw that all the side streets had been closed off. People began setting rubbish bins on fire and chanting slogans like “Down with Khamenei”. It was impossible for cars to move in either direction.
By passing through the side and main streets we eventually reached Enghelab Square. By around 6.30pm the numbers of basiji and plain-clothes forces had grown to much more than before. People were swearing at them from inside buses. When returning, and during the bus journey, we saw many clashes: Enghelab Square, Daneshjoo (Student) Park, Pol-e Choobi, and so on. In some cases we even saw the riot police throwing stones at the protesters.
The severity of the fires was such that some of the riot police were carrying fire extinguishers. In any case, this action was also massively repressed but the scattered nature of the protests created problems for the forces.
The morale of the demonstrators was very high. Despite the regime’s threats the day before, the numbers of demonstrators was very high.
Most of the workers did not take part in the demonstration.
9 July 2009 (18 Tir 1388)