Post-election crackdown

Stephanie Jenzer on the aftermath of the presidential vote

Sunday, midday, Tehran

An extraordinary frustration, irritation and fatigue have set in.

My international cellphone hasn't worked for days. Now it's going on 24 hours that my local mobile phone has been practically useless.

Supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi come to the aid of a fellow protestor who was being beaten by government security members on Sunday, June 14, 2009. (Associated Press)

Many internet websites crucial to journalists gathering information are blocked and even basic internet service that allows us to send emails, voice and video reports is wildly erratic.

And we have less than a day more on the ground here in Iran's largest city to get the story out. Our visas expire Monday and we've been told there will be no permission to extend them.

Clearly, somebody doesn't want our accounts of what's happening here to be seen or heard. If there is any solace, it's the fact that we are not alone.

Countless journalists who have made the journey to Iran to report on the country's presidential elections — and the aftermath — are facing the same challenges.

In fact, some of our international media colleagues have endured far worse: detention by the authorities, arrest, some bruised from their efforts to cover the clashes that have broken out all over Tehran and now, reportedly, in other major cities across the country.


Election blog

CBC reporters Nahlah Ayed and Margaret Evans, along with producer Stephanie Jenzer, were in Iran all last week to cover the presidential election on Friday. Throughout the week, they filed their impressions of the country and the people they met.

Day one blog can be read here.

Day two is here.

Day three is here.

Day four, the view from Qom and Voting Day

Yet, we will leave this chaos, this confusion. My thoughts now are for the people of Iran who are stuck with a result of a vote that barely anyone appears able to confirm is true or just.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the world is being told, has won another four-year term as president. He went on television last night to thank Iranians for choosing the future, over the past.

For many, though, that future looks grim.

Fear in the streets

Earlier, as my colleagues from CBC and Radio-Canada and I drove through the streets of Tehran, we too came face to face with the harsh reality of what can only be called a post-election crackdown.

We saw authorities in riot gear combing major arteries and alleys, crowds of people running in panic in the opposite direction, garbage and motorcycles burning in the roads, and the frightened faces of average citizens.

At one point, three women leapt to safety in our van, their hands shaking and their eyes speaking the terror their language could not communicate. Another man spoke to us through a window and then dared to enter the vehicle to speak his mind.

He had simply been on his way home when he witnessed fellow citizens pounced upon in the street.

He spoke of the women he'd witnessed being hit by batons, and the children. "I saw a little girl, 13 years old. The police beat her. What's going on with her? Is she political?" he asked, "She's just a little girl."

He said he is bewildered by the turn of events in Iran.

Just days ago, thousands of people were exercising a rare freedom — rallying in the streets, even dancing, and chanting the name Mir Hossein Mousavi, the popular reformist who had seemed to enjoy the support of so many Iranians in the run-up to Friday's vote.

"My friends, my family, my people, everybody voted to Mousavi. What happened?" the young man wondered.

My colleague, correspondent Nahlah Ayed asked, "What do you think happened?"

"A lie, a big lie," the man answered. "If this is democracy why do they beat the people? I love my country," he added, "But yes, I want to leave."