ABC’s Jim Sciutto: Buzz Over Plans For Fresh Tehran Protests

By Sadie Bass

Jul 8, 2009 9:44am

ABC's Senior Foreign Correspondent Jim Sciutto covered the recent Iranian election protests from the streets of Tehran: Speaking to dissidents on the ground in Tehran, there are ambitious plans for protests tomorrow to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1999 student uprising. The demo’s are just ambitions for now – recent planned demo’s have fizzled – but tomorrow’s appear to be more organized. Protesters plan to make a showing in a number of Iranian cities. They’ll gather in several locations to confuse police – nine locations in Tehran, nine locations in Shiraz, similar numbers in Isfahan and other cities – and then march toward a common gathering place. Word is spreading organically: fliers, internet notices and friends calling friends. “In the past, people would just go to the university,” an opposition supporter told ABC News over the phone. “Now there are fliers, it’s all over the internet, people are calling each other.”   Protesters are emboldened in part by opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi’s refusal to back down, but more so by their own continued anger and frustration. They, like several prominent Iranian leaders from Mousavi to speaker of parliament Ali Larijani to many leading clerics in the holy city of Qom, believe they’re fighting not just to overturn the presidential election but to rescue the last vestiges of democracy in Iran – as opposition presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi told me in Tehran, to keep the ‘republic’ in the ‘Islamic Republic’. Many protesters are speaking in bold terms. “We’re ready for anything, to be killed, beaten up, arrested,” said the opposition supporter. “When we go out there, it’s real war.” Government security forces are certainly aware of the plans – which have been advertized widely on Facebook, Twitter, etc. – and will be waiting for them. One Iranian dissident in London told ABC News, “Security forces are so repressive. Just one person with a gun can disperse a hundred protesters.” It’s an open question as to whether protesters can somehow regain the upper hand but their intention is to show they can still generate numbers. UPDATE 12:55pm EST: To answer some concerns, protesters themselves have put out the general outlines of tomorrow's planned protests via websites such as Twitter and Facebook. It is not a secret they're hoping to draw large numbers of people. And I have not reported specific details such as the exact locations protesters will gather.

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