Page last updated at 17:08 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Eyewitness: Iran protester Siavash on political slogans

Opposition protest in Tehran
Tear gas in a crowd of opposition supporters in Tehran, 4 November

Siavash, a student in Tehran, believes the opposition movement he supports will be put to the test in mid-December, during the ten days of Shia mourning.

In the early days families would go to demonstrations together.


Now, the authorities' actions have become so wild and animalistic people don't go out as much, certainly not as families.

We tend to go out in groups, so if one of us gets arrested the others will know what's happened.

I went on the last demonstration on 4 November, to mark the US embassy siege.

People use these official key dates to come out and protest because they know there'll be a big crowd. There's safety in numbers.

There was a Basiji, or guard, or riot police, with batons and guns every five steps. Even the Basiji now wear defensive anti-riot uniforms and masks. They are very violent.

We'll know how strong this movement is during Muharram, the ten days of Shia mourning from mid-December

The people we're up against, the government's enforcers, are not normal people.

You can tell just from looking at them that they are either being given certain substances to make them brutal, or they've been brainwashed. They look like monsters, or animals in the shape of people.

There are terrible class differences in Iran and this plays a part in it all.

The demos take place in big central squares which are seen as the home of the privileged. In fact, there are hospitals and medical staff in those areas too, it's not just the home of useless, rich people.

But the Basiji, or the police do come from a different background from many of the people demonstrating. I think they are taking out their resentment on people they see as rich and privileged.

One key time we're waiting for is Muharram, the mourning for Shia martyr Imam Hossein [from mid-December]. It's ten days of back-to-back formal mourning ceremonies.

During these ten days we will find out just how strong this movement is.

At some point in 1979 the silent, civil protests turned into armed protests. We haven't got there yet. All we have are our chants. We go out empty-handed.

Right now we are practicing, to see what our limits are.




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