Tusenvis av iranere strømmet ut i gatene i Teheran torsdag og markerte at opposisjonen på ingen måte er slått. Det som må bekymre myndighetene er den store passive støtten demonstrantene møter, fra bilister og fotgjengere. Det er tydelig hvem som har et psykisk overtak.
Sikkerhetspolitiet beslagla hauger med nummerskilt fra bilister som tutet i sympati med demonstrantene; et tegn på avmakt som gjør bilistene til motstandere.
På universitetet sto flere tusen demonstranter ved inngangen, politiet slapp dem ikke inn, men forholdt seg passive. Når de arresterte en demonstrante, ropte massen tilbake: «La ham gå, la ham gå», helt til politiet ga etter.
De ropte også «beskytt oss, beskytt oss», til politiet. Det sier noe om opposisjonens selvtillit, og at de vet at politiet egentlig er med dem.
Det er 11 dager siden opposisjonen sist marsjerte i et antall som monnet. Torsdag var årsdag for Basji-militsens storming av studentboligene i Teheran for ti år siden. De for brutalt frem, en student ble drept. At opposisjonen kunne mobilisere idag, var derfor symbolsk viktig.
De som har trodd at regimet hadde lykkes å legge lokk på kjelen, får seg en overraskelse. Opposisjonen har ikke latt seg avskrekke. Tvert om.
Heavy police forces deployed at key points in the city ahead of the marches, and Tehran’s governor vowed to «smash» anyone who heeded the demonstration calls.
In some places, police struck hard. Security forces chased after protesters, beating them with clubs on Valiasr Street, Tehran’s biggest north-south avenue, witnesses said.
Women in headscarves and young men dashed away, rubbing their eyes in pain as police fired tear gas, in footage aired on state-run Press TV. In a photo from Thursday’s events in Tehran obtained by The Associated Press outside Iran, a woman with her black headscarf looped over her face thrust her fist into the air in front of a garbage bin that had been set on fire.
In another image, a man dropped to his knees, overcome by the effects of tear gas.
But the clampdown was not total. At Tehran University, a line of police blocked a crowd from reaching the gates of the campus, but then did not move to disperse them as the protesters chanted «Mir Hossein» and «death to the dictator» and waved their hands in the air, witnesses said. The crowd grew to nearly 1,000 people, the witnesses said.
«Police, protect us,» some of the demonstrators chanted, asking the forces not to move against them.
The protesters appeared to reach several thousand, but their full numbers were difficult to determine, since marches took place in several parts of the city at once and mingled with passers-by. There was no immediate word on arrests or injuries.
Onlookers and pedestrians often gave their support. In side streets near the university, police were chasing young activists, and when they caught one, passers-by chanted «let him go, let him go,» until the policemen released him. Elsewhere, residents let fleeing demonstrators slip into their homes to elude police, witnesses said.
All witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. Iranian authorities have imposed restrictions that ban reporters from leaving their offices to cover demonstrations.
Many of the marchers were young men and women, some wearing green surgical masks, the color of Mousavi’s movement, but older people joined them in some places. Vehicles caught in traffic honked their horns in support of the marchers, witnesses said. Police were seen with a pile of license plates, apparently pried off honking cars in order to investigate the drivers later, the witnesses said.
Demonstrators dispersed by nightfall. But after sunset, shouts of «death to the dictator» could be heard from rooftops around the city — a half-hour nightly ritual by Mousavi supporters that has continued even since the previous crackdown.
Arrestasjonene fortsetter. Styrkebalansen er slik at jo hardere regimet slår ned, jo sterkere blir motstanden. Hvis det slakker på tøylene, vil gatene fylles. Uansett hva de gjør, taper regimet.
Riksadvokaten opplyste torsdag at 2.500 er blitt arrestert, ikke 1.000 som tidligere oppgitt. Av dem vil 500 bli stilt for retten.
In the latest detentions, prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was taken away by security forces from his office Wednesday along with his daughter and three other members of his staff, the pro-opposition news Web site Norouz reported. A former deputy commerce minister in a previous pro-reform government, Feizollah Arab-Sorkhi, was also arrested at his Tehran home, the site reported.