With the whole Mark Sanford thing going down today it was not hard to lose sight of other, more important things going on in the world, like, oh yeah, Iran! And that situation just gets more and more depressing.
Today Iranian forces evicted the family of Neda Agha-Soltan from their home. They also canceled Neda's scheduled funeral and refused to turn her body over to her family. Further, she was buried in an undisclosed location without the family's knowledge and the government instituted a ban on all mourning on her behalf. It's been also rumored that the Iranian government told Neda's family that she was murdered by a hitman hired by a journalist from the BBC so that he could make a documentary about her. Some of her family's neighbors spoke to the press.
"We are trembling," one neighbour said. "We are still afraid. We haven't had a peaceful time in the last days, let alone her family. Nobody was allowed to console her family, they were alone, they were under arrest and their daughter was just killed. I can't imagine how painful it was for them. Her friends came to console her family but the police didn't let them in and forced them to disperse and arrested some of them. Neda's family were not even given a quite moment to grieve."
The Iranian government stepped up their efforts to crack down on protesters, using guns, tear gas, clubs and, according to some reports on Twitter, axes, to snuff the opposition. The nation's leadership went so far as to cast anyone in disagreement with the results of the recent election as an enemy of the state.
Reports the New York Times:
Witnesses reported scenes of chaos and fear where riot police officers outnumbered demonstrators by about four to one. Many wore masks to conceal their identities. The Basijis stopped people to check their cellphones for video or pictures of the unrest.
"I saw one group of about 100 people who began chanting ‘Death to the dictator' on one of the side streets," said another witness who insisted on not being identified for fear of arrest. "The Basijis attacked them and beat them really bad." Unconfirmed reports of bloodshed and at least one death flooded the Internet.
Instead of heeding calls for moderation, the government has conducted one of the harshest crackdowns in its history. Dozens of former high-ranking officials have been jailed. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported Wednesday that about 240 people, including 102 political figures, were in jail. The government has said that it arrested 627 more people since the protests broke out.
Also under close guard are the foreign media in Iran. Arrested today was a freelance reporter for the Washington Times, and all remaining foreign press credentials were revoked by the government. Meanwhile, many other journalists were still being held captive, while others have been forced to leave the country.
It appears as though the momentum for the protests has been curbed greatly by the iron fist of the Iranian government, while any pretense that Iran is a democracy has all but evaporated.
Here's a report from Rachel Maddow's show tonight filled with even more heartbreaking news, but also a slight glimmer of pride in knowing that American hacker geeks have been fighting a successful cyberwar with the Iranian government, shutting down many government websites.
Neda Soltan's Family Forced Out of Home By Iranian Authorities [Guardian]
Iran Stepping Up Efforts to Quell Election Protests [New York Times]