'Iranian opposition still resolute'

Sources say regime is ruthless in suppressing those who defy it - from without and within.

iran protest 88 248 (photo credit: )
iran protest 88 248
(photo credit: )
While a sense of calm appears to have washed over the streets of Teheran, oppositional and anti-regime forces quietly continue to gain momentum, according to sources in Teheran. In recent days, mullahs opposed to the regime's post-presidential election crackdown on its opponents have attempted to visit inmates at the capital's Evin prison and other detention facilities, pleading for their release on behalf of concerned families who have not received word from detained loved ones. They have had some success. "There are cracks in the regime's security forces and they are doing everything in their power to keep such discrepancies secret," said one source in Teheran. "The government wants to scare the people, making them believe that it has won. But it is a matter of time until the truth comes out. Soldiers and police officers have been arrested for helping 'the terrorists.' "Mullahs are standing outside detention centers praying, and on many occasions pressing successfully for the release of those detained. They are also holding special services for those who have been wrongfully detained. On the other hand, many more opponents of the regime are arrested every day." In a telephone interview, another Teheran native, with strong ties to the sacred Shi'ite city of Mashhad, told this reporter of the active participation of religious figures throughout Iran in what amounts to opposition to the regime. "In the avenues and sidewalks, mullahs have led afternoon prayers outside with photos of those who have been arrested in front of them. On one of these days, the mullah leading the namoz (Shi'ite prayers) was attacked by plainclothes militiamen during a peace service staged in front of a security force headquarters. However, other security force personnel ran out of the building to stop the violent and disgraceful assault. Then, the plainclothes animals were beaten by their own superiors and were apprehended." He also went on to say that "uncooperative" soldiers have been another target of the hardliners' crackdown. "There have been many young conscripts who have been either threatened or temporarily detained for not following orders… These boys have been forced to work closely with the basiji [militiamen] on many occasions [in the bitter aftermath of the June presidential vote], even though such a union had never been done before. And if the drafted soldiers do not perform their duties, they will be arrested and their passports will be taken away. And if they don't have their passports, they can never get married and cannot get another one issued for the rest of their lives." According to this source, "it is hellish right now" for many conscripts who come from good families and are college graduates. "Even those who are stationed in cities close to their families are not allowed to leave their compounds. And for what I have heard, they are given guard duties in the various detention facilities in Iran. Something that I will say again is unusual. "Some are also required to extract information on the prisoners. In some cases, those in charge will intimidate the young conscripts by saying that they will go after their families if they don't make a certain inmate talk. However, the conscripts are said to have shown mercy to the detainees, regardless of the risk. For instance, feeding them, refraining from torture, and changing files to lighten their sentence and their alleged crimes." This source spoke of a worrying shift in power within the security forces. "Men who have been recently recruited by the government to suppress demonstrations are given higher ranks for their loyalty. This has caused a shift in the nation's paramilitary structure; the old are being replaced by the new." Still, said this source, not everything is always the way it seems: "We might see a soldier beat demonstrators on the street, but he will later let them go when no one is looking… Under what appears to be ashes, a fire is growing."