A Report from Tehran

Shahram Kholdi, a graduate student in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Manchester, has extensive contacts in Iran, and he just shared the following email report with academic colleagues on a private listserv. He’s allowed it to be posted publicly with references to sources excised:

According to my [contacts]:

1. Yesterday, XXXXX watched from their apartment window a clash between the police and the construction site workers at the Towhid Tunnel (which is predicted to connect Parkway to Nawab). The police tried to make a shortcut to reach the protesters, and ambush them on the other side, when the workers told them they would not let them through this led to a clash between the workers and the police. The workers used all types of construction machineries to halt the police from shovels to bricks and the cement truck. The situation between the workers, mostly from Lor and Turkish background, caused some of the protesters to rush to the aid of the workers.

2. Most Azad University branches in Tehran have declared two exam dates for each subject for the end of the year and have stated that the students can take whichever that is most convenient for them. Pro-Ahmadinejad students and baseej have interpreted the move as a pro-Musavi action by Jasbi that allows pro-Musavi students to conveniently distribute their forces between the two dates and fill the streets. Pro-Musavi students have intrepreted this move as an action by the Intelligence elements to identify the students, making them Setareh-dar, as they will easily identify who has been absent when.

3. Tehran is full of checkpoints but the police are inconsistent due to personal taste of the commanders. The checkpoints are active at night. They mostly look for counter anti-riot gears, such as masks, wipes and first aid boxes, but it also seems that they also look for aatellite dish equipments. Most “illegal” satellite dish technicians have gone underground as they know that the police are after them. One case reported to XXXXX is exemplary in showing that there is a division in the ranks of the police, which in a way is a good sign. Two close friends of XXXXX, one of them a member of Musavi campaign, were stopped at a check point and their car trunk was full of posters and green bands. The constables took them to their immediate commander who confiscated all the material and ordered them to be arrested. However, as they were taken to another check point where the district commander was, he overruled his superiors and ordered XXXXX to be released and also oversaw the return of the posters and other pro-Musavi material to them. As they got in the car to leave the station, the district commander told them that they have to be extra careful and told them Movaffagh Bashid (meaning roughly “good luck”).

4. One of XXXXX’s friends, a [POSITION DELETED] at Martyr Foundation hospitals, told YYYYY that about fifty young people brought to their hospitals had head injuries from rubber bullets. Half a dozen of them passed away before getting to the operation theatre. XXXXX asked him/her to contact me, but he/she believes….people who are close to Karrubi family…are under surveillance.

5: The Internet speed has dramatically increased and that is why I was able to have a full two hour hearty uninterrupted talk with XXXXX.

6. A XXXXX whose equipment was confiscated by the security forces told me that the intelligence have postponed his/her interrogation. Yesterday, XXXXX helped transport three people to the hospital (which one I do not know), but as they arrived the police arrested several other people who had brought in more wounded, and thus they were able to get away without being arrested.

You can follow David Corn’s postings and media appearances via Twitter.


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.