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PERSIAN LETTERS: 'They Would Arrest Young And Beautiful Girls'

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

A woman protester in Tehran (July 2009)

On his blog, Mehdi Khazali has written his observations of the June 12 "silent" opposition protest that took place in Tehran on the second anniversary of the 2009 disputed presidential vote, which led to the rise of the opposition Green Movement.

Opposition websites reported that dozens of protesters were detained.

Khazali, the son of a prominent hard-line cleric, is an opposition supporter and a critic of the Iranian establishment. He was arrested in the postelection crackdown in June 2009.

Here are excerpts from Khazali's blog post:

Despite the forced closure of the shops, the sidewalks were full of people. They walked calmly and silently, The streets were the realm of [government forces] on motorbikes. Plainclothes agents and security forces were mingling among the people.

One friend was talking on his cellphone. He's asked by the person he's talking to, "Where are you?" He responds: "Vali Asr [Street], Hemat Bridge." The plainclothes agent next to him says, "Are you inviting people to join you here?" And he arrests him and takes him into a minibus. We tried hard to prove that he didn't mean anything and that he was just answering a question. Remember, if your wife asks you where you are, answer the question where there are no plainclothes agents around!

Anyway, with the mediation of some Basij member, the innocent young man was released. Of course, his beard played a role in his release (conservatives and Basji members have beards in Iran). He was the second person who had been taken to the minibus. Within two minutes, two minibuses under the Hemat Bridge were filled with people [who had been detained]. Now it's up to you to estimate the number of detainees at Vali Asr Street.

In the 10 minutes that we waited near the Basij forces for the release of our friend, many were arrested. [Security forces] would arrest mostly girls. I tried hard to understand on what principle they were arresting people but didn't manage to figure it out. [People] would walk calmly and without making any noise. All of a sudden, [security forces] would choose someone from the crowd and guide that person to the minibus.

Maybe they were arresting mostly good-looking people. I'm not joking. I saw with my own eyes that they would arrest young and beautiful girls. Maybe they see them as war trophies.

An old man felt dizzy and fell down next to the sidewalk. A young Basij member went with a smiling face to help him. As soon as the old man saw the uniform of the Basij, he said: "No, there's nothing wrong with me. I'm feeling fine." The Basij member who had seen fear in the eyes of the old man stepped aside and a young man from the crowd came and helped the old man and took him away.


Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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