An Eye Witness Account Of Demonstrators Ambushed By Plainclothes Forces, Teargas, And Shots Fired In Tehran

Feb 15, 20110 comments

Photo courtesy of BBC Persian

A journalist who was an eye witness among the protestors today, sent the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran his observations of violence unleashed by forces, use of teargas, electric batons, shots fired, and finally getting hit by batons during the 14 February demonstration. He explained in his report that police forces and Special Guard motorcyclists ambushed people on side streets, and Basijis in unrecognizable clothes stepped into the crowds and started beating and injuring them: “It was 3:30 p.m. when I parked my car in one of the alleyways off a Yousef Abad street, and started walking toward Vali-e-Asr Avenue. When I reached the Yousef Abad cross-section, I observed that five or six Special Forces vans were parked on the right side of the street, toward Fatemi Avenue. In each of the vans, seven or eight Special Forces, with helmets and batons and shields, were sitting, as if waiting. I passed by them and continued toward Fatemi Avenue. I passed Felestin Avenue and headed south. Inside Fatemi Square, there were no Special Guards forces or police officers in sight, but as soon as I entered Felestin Avenue, on the second street leading to Vali-e-Asr Avenue, I saw 10 or 15 Special Forces motorcyclists, sporting the same helmets and batons. They were hiding in that street. I saw the same scene of forces hiding several times on my way. They were hiding in back alleys or even in parking lots of businesses on Felestin Street, waiting to swarm the scene when they received a signal.

See BBC Persian’s pictures of today’s protest in Tehran Here. Watch dozens of videos in this playlist on Youtube here.

When I reached Vali-e-Asr Avenue, it was past 4:30. On the corner of Enghelab and Felestin, I saw a large group of people who were in the sidewalks, going toward Enghelab [Square]. But the Special Guards would push people to side streets by closing the road. A few others and I wanted to go toward Enghelab Square. Two Special forces showed us a hand signal, pointing to the south of Felestin Avenue. When several people objected to the forced change in their direction, they replied violently: “The road is closed.” They said “you can either go toward Felestin Avenue, or toward Vali-e-Asr Intersection.” A group of us were forced to choose going south on Felestin, toward Jomhoury Avenue. Some went toward Vali-e-Asr Intersection, but the flood of people who were walking from the east side of Enghelab Avenue, from Imam Hossein Square and Ferdowsi Square, toward Enghelab Square, was so huge that the forces could not control it. Many groups were walking toward Enghelab Square. I was heading south on Felestin Avenue with a group of people. At the first side street, we changed directions and started walking toward Aboureyhan Avenue. There I evaded the forces who were not letting us return to Enghelab Avenue, and got myself to Tehran University’s gate. There was such a large crowd there, that the sidewalk on the side of bookstores was full of people. It was not possible to walk, except to walk through the middle of Enghelab Avenue. I could see flames in the distance. I learned later that people had turned the city dumpsters upside down and set them on fire, and that a large number of the Special Forces motorcyclists in a line with their backs toward me, had entangled with the people. This was when I heard the people’s slogans clearly for the first time: “Feel the shame Khamenei, take a look at Mubarak,” and “Mubarak, Ben Ali, it’s your turn Seyed Ali.” I was so engrossed in watching the people chanting their spontaneous slogans, I did not see the forces who suddenly descended upon the crowd toward Enghelab Square from behind me from the direction of Vessal Intersection. People were running toward Enghelab Square in order to avoid getting beaten with the forces’ batons. I lost my balance and fell down after several people ran into me in their haste. After I fell down, I had a strange burning sensation on my right shoulder. First I thought I was shot, but it felt like a hand reached out from nowhere and picked me up like a straw and pulled me out and saved me from the stampede of the frightened crowd. I don’t know who it was, because immediately thereafter, about a 100 meters farther, a cloud-like mass overtook everywhere and my eyes closed from the sting of the teargas. It was not possible for me to see the face of my rescuer. All of a sudden I saw myself in front of Jeyhoon Bookstore. There were several girls there, who were screaming for they, too, had been affected by the teargas sting. One of them yelled at her screaming friends, saying, ‘don’t be afraid, I brought some vinegar from home…” Blinded, I “felt” my way to Daneshgah Avenue. I could hear the teargas bullets and shots fired into the air and Enghelab Avenue felt like the 1979 revolutionary times. I tried to reach my right shoulder under my jacket and shirt, as it was burning painfully. I imagined that when I could touch my shoulder, my hands would get bloody. But when I removed my hand and pulled it out and looked at it, it was not bloody. I realized then that my shoulder was burning because it had been hit by an electric baton. The girl who handed me the vinegar-soaked piece of cotton told me kindly, ‘Sir, you are not well. You should go back,’ but I didn’t heed her, and without thanking her for her kindness in helping relieve the sting in my eyes, I started walking toward Enghelab Square. I couldn’t believe that my people would again show the same courage they had shown me in 1979, yelling again “Death to Dictator,” and how sweet was this scream, coming from their souls.