From Tehran Bureau on protests that were anticipated to coincide with today’s anniversary of the revolution in Iran:
Everyone we have spoken to so far this morning has said about the same thing — in a word or two: “A big anticlimax,” “defeat,” “An overwhelming presence from the other side. People were terrified.”
In fact, it appears that the regime was so confident, it did not feel the need to disrupt cellphone or messaging services, or even the internet for that matter.
One Tehran Bureau correspondent relayed the following:
Today has been a bust. Lots of people left town, left the country. There was extra security. I was down at Azadi Square, and they [regime] couldn’t even get the huge crowd they wanted. It didn’t matter though, because the Greens either didn’t show up or authorities were successful in keeping them out.
The square was crowded, but not super crazy. There were definitely a lot of people, but compared to the way it’s been filled by Greens a couple of times, it was much less than that. One could move around and it wasn’t the crush of people you sometimes see (except in the front). I think they used all their resources to get people there, but the fact is this was a five-day weekend this year and many people (even from their side) just decided to get out of town. They also blocked all of the entryways into the area, so it was hard to get in without permission.
In terms of actual numbers, it’s hard to say… Of course tens of thousands (from the non-Green side), but I have seen bigger crowds here from both sides.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported:
In recent weeks, security officials have unleashed an epidemic of arrests across Iran in an effort to neutralize the political opposition, silence critical voices and head off widespread protests when the nation observes the anniversary of the revolution on Thursday, Iran analysts inside and outside the country said.
Though the government has refrained from arresting the principal leaders of the opposition, the category of people it has pursued has grown broader over time.
While a number of well-known reformists were detained shortly after the contested presidential election last June, the ranks of those imprisoned now include artists, photographers, children’s rights advocates, women’s rights activists, students and scores of journalists. Iran now has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world, with at least 65 in custody, according to Reporters Without Borders.