Nico Pitney is doing an outstanding job covering developments in Iran at the Huffington Post. Below is an email he received from a reader named Anif with family members in Iran. Information like this is critical now that the regime is imposing harsher restrictions on journalists.
Phones are horrible; it took me over 10 tries to get it ringing. He’s attended a lot of the protests, including the big one for Mousavi earlier this afternoon. Above all, he kept repeating how shocked he was at the peaceful and civilized nature of the protests. For the majority of the 3 hour march earlier today, he said everyone was completely silent and simply holding up the “V” while they marched. The Basij, which are comprised of hard-line Iranian civilians and Hezbollah-affiliated arabs, are causing the majority of the violence. Most of the police empathize with their own; the government knows this, and thus they’ve brought in foreigners (as they have for past protests) to take care of the dirty work. The shooting earlier today was an example of this.
I asked him how social life in Iran is right now, ie if people are going to work, etc. He said that probably half the stores are closed, but that unemployment is 40% anyway, so its not like protestors have anything better to do. These people are mostly young, unemployed, have poor access to higher education, and no foreseeable future prospects. All they had was their perceived voice in government, and since that has been so blatantly taken away, the situation is ready to explode. He’s also heard that in smaller cities around the country, the protests have become much more violent with a lot of skirmishes between the Basij and protestors. [...]
The focus right now seems to be in trying to channel all this frustration and anger into something positive and constructive. Iranians have experience letting these kinds of movements get out of control (the 1979 Revolution), so I think people in general are being cautious. No one, aside from the Basij, really wants any kind of violence. All the protestors want is democratic reform and to at least have their votes counted in an honest manner. In my cousin’s own words: “We must think of constructive and positive outlets for the pressure and momentum the people of Iran have found. We must put Iran on a path towards a first-world nation with national cohesion among minorities and equal rights for all.” The facts on the ground, though, indicate that the government may not give the people constructive and positive outlets, and we might descend into violence.