Nationwide Protests Met with Main Force; Regime Arrests Head of Refineries for Fear of Oil Workers Strike; Ebadi Aide Arrested

AP reports the course of Thursday’s protests in Tehran. Some 2,000 protesters initially gathered in several spots in the capital, later growing some 3,000 strong. Outside Tehran University, an approaching crowd grew 1,000 strong. Police prevented them from entering the campus, AP says, but then allowed them to gather and chant ‘Death to the dictator!’ In other areas of the city, the Basij paramilitary dispersed crowds them with tear gas and by firing shots in the air. On Vali Asr Street, security forces chased down demonstrators and beat them. Residents hid fleeing protesters, and auto drivers honked horns in support of them.

What AP does not say on is that numerous small demonstrations are reported to have taken place all over the country, including in the southwestern city of Shiraz and elsewhere.

Regime repression continued, with the arrest of a key member of the team around human rights activist and Nobelist Shirin Ebadi.

Human Rights Watch documents the use of beatings and other forms of coercion by the Iranian regime to extract so-called ‘confessions’ from those arrested by security forces, often at peaceful demonstrations.

Asef Bayat weighs in, arguing that by resorting to brute force the Iranian regime is undermining itself. Bayat is always well worth reading.

James Vega argues that Thursday’s demonstrations are significant because they disrupt the regimes favored script of ‘a return to normalcy.’

KXAN in Austin gives the context of today’s protests as a commemoration of the regime’s crushing of student rallies in 1999.

CNN provides ‘amateur video’ of the July 9 demonstrations:

Unverified video said to be of the July 9 demonstrations in Tehran:

This site has a whole collection of protest videos said to be from Thursday.

Aljazeera English interviews Iason Athanasiadis, a Greek-British reporter, who was held for three weeks in Tehran’s Evin prison.

The USG Open Source Center translates or paraphrases some items relating to Iran’s economy:

‘ Head of Tehran Refinery Arrested Over Fear of National Strike

— Alef and Peiknet noted on 8 July that there is no information on the whereabouts of . . .[Shahaboddin] Metaji, head of Tehran Refinery. He was arrested several days ago and taken to an unknown location. Metaji ‘s colleagues, according to the report, said he was arrested because his family was chanting “Allah-O-Akbar” (God is Great) on the roof of their homes as a sign of protest to last month’s presidential election results. [This chanting indicates support for opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi]. His employees reportedly said: “The officials are trying to create fear among us, but that will not help. Our chanting has not stopped and will not stop. In one of his visits, (Iranian President Mahmud) Ahmadinezhad told one of the oil officials to use big tankers instead of barrels when exporting petroleum. The employees couldn’t believe how uninformed he is. The employees of the oil industry are angry because hundreds of small and big energy projects are now suspended, and now the employees are counting the seconds to exit this crisis. The structure of the oil industry is very much against Ahmadinezhad ” (Internet Alef – informative-analytical website that is close to principlist economic experts. URL: ) (Internet Peiknet in Persian – an opposition website associated with Iran’s Tudeh (Communist) party. URL: http:// ). . .

China, Iran’s Number One Asian Trade Partner – The Mehr News Agency indicated on 7 July that Sa`id Shabestari, Iran’s charge d’affaires to China, said China was Iran’s largest Asian trade partner in 2008. Addressing a conference in Beijing on investment opportunities for refinery projects in Iran, Shabestari said bilateral trade between Iran and China in 2008 reached $27.6 billion, showing a growth rate of 34 percent over 2007. He also said: “In 2008, Iran exported nearly $3.8 billion worth of non-oil products to China, and its imports amounted to $8 billion in the period.” China and Iran enjoy an extensive economic relationship despite global economic sanctions, noted the report. Iran and China cooperate in many sectors, including energy, construction, trade, and tourism. China currently helps Iran build dams, shipyards, ports, airports, mine development, and oil and gas infrastructure. With more than 100 Chinese state companies operating in Iran, Beijing wants to increase its presence in Iranian markets, according to the Mehr report (Mehr News Agency (Internet Version-WWW) in Persian – conservative news agency sympathetic to the traditional clerics. URL: ).

. . . Economic Situation To Worsen as Oil Prices Decrease

— AyandeNews noted on 7 July that it is estimated that the oil revenue for the current year is predicted to be less than last year at between $45 billion and $50 billion, which, the report said, will not meet the needs of the people and the country. For example, the report suggested, imports should be reduced by 20 percent. “On one hand, the country will face foreign currency shortage, and, on the other, the country is grappling with high inflation and unemployment and that will create a bigger crisis,” the report concluded.

Tehran More Expensive Than Madrid, Frankfurt, Chicago

— Khabar-Online reported on 8 July that, according to Mercer’s 2009 Cost of Living Survey, [Tehran] is ranked 33rd among the most expensive cities in the world in which to live, knocking off Chicago, Madrid, and Frankfurt. The survey covers 143 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment (Internet Khabar Online in Farsi – a daily online newspaper posting news, articles, and interviews supporting pro-reformers. URL: ).’

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