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Amanpour Reports from the Streets of Iran

Aired June 21, 2009 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Christiane Amanpour followed the Iranian election from campaigning through the vote through the protest. And straight ahead she shares her insight on a CNN special "AMANPOUR REPORTS FROM THE STREETS OF IRAN." That's coming up just a few minutes away.

Hello everyone, I'm Don Lemon. We start this hour with a warning to you. Some of what you're going -- we're going to show you this hour is unedited. It is raw and it is disturbing.

First, I want to give you a quick update before we get to those pictures about the bloodshed on the streets of Iran. No one knows for sure how many people are wounded or dead. Protests are continuing today even in the face of an increasingly brutal government crackdown. And tonight one woman slain in front of the world has become the face of an entire movement.

We can't say her name enough. This is Neda at a protest rally in Tehran yesterday just before something horrible happened. And as you know social networking sites have helped spread images and video of the protests in Iran.

But the story of Neda in particular has deeply shocked the country and the world.

Our Octavia Nasr has our story, but first, a warning for you. Her report contains extremely graphic video that is disturbing. In addition, parents may decide it is inappropriate for their children.


OCTAVIA NASR, CNN'S SENIOR EDITOR, MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS: Her name is Neda, the facts surrounding her life and her death, difficult to verify. She appears to have been a young student who joined thousands of her countrymen to voice her disapproval of Iran's election results.

Eyewitnesses say Basij militia-men hiding on a building rooftop shot Neda in her chest silencing her forever.

A man, who appears to be her father, desperately calling on her to open her eyes. A stranger begging her to stay awake. "Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, Neda," the man says.

But Neda doesn't respond. She dies right there on the streets, another protester capturing her last moments on a cell phone camera.

And just like that Neda, who came to the Square thinking she's one voice among thousands, turned into the voice of an entire opposition movement.

Neda, which means "the calling," is now on millions of clips across the globe, on the Internet in specially designed avatars. A young life cut-down in its prime. One woman's gripping story speaking volumes, a grim reminder of the price Iranians could pay for freedom.

Octavia Nasr, CNN, reporting.


LEMON: Well, those pictures are hard to look at.

Badi Badiozamani joins us, he is an Iran expert and scholar. And -- I've seen this story once before on our air, but it's still just as emotional each time you see it. And you understand just from this the plight of the protesters out there, many of them with the possibility of sacrificing their lives.

BADI BADIOZAMANI, IRAN EXPERT, SCHOLAR: Yes, absolutely. But again, the biggest metaphor is her name, the meaning of her name, Neda -- Neda Alahi "The divine calling." She got that calling. She got that call, went to the streets like thousands of her sisters and brothers, the younger generation as we have seen on the street, willing, willing to sacrifice their lives for freedom.

The youngsters have been telling us, "We don't care. One million of us gets killed, this 70 to 71 more million people will have democracy. We are willing to pay that ultimate price."

LEMON: The interesting thing is with the forces who are trying to crackdown on the protesters, might this have backfired in a way because of Neda? Might this have backfired and even fueled people to protest longer and stronger here?

BADIOZAMANI: Absolutely, because the entire world is seeing, Iran is seeing that an innocent young girl, unarmed, in casual dress is being gunned down. What for? Did she have anything in her hand? Was she doing anything? No. So that outrages people.

LEMON: You said two words, that young and girl. And we know in the Middle East the role of women in the society and then all you see this new youth rising up, so this has double meaning, maybe triple meaning, or more than that because of the death of this young woman.

BADIOZAMANI: Absolutely. It's basically a call for everybody else in the Middle East, and in that area of the world, and maybe in other countries. "Women, girls, get up; ask for your rights. Ask for equal rights. You can do it."

Not necessarily taking to the streets, but to get empowered. And then you see all these people, all of them are young, mostly are young; the younger generation cares.

LEMON: I want to ask you this about -- we had several guests to come on and talk about the response of the international community and the last guest said if everyone in the international community if they were above one voice, that it wouldn't be detrimental to the people who are protesting here. Do you agree with that?

BADIOZAMANI: That's nice, wishful thinking. How could the entire community, world community, have one voice? It has never happened and if you are thinking pragmatically, practically, it's never going to happen.

But, on the other hand, there's always in any community, including the international community, a number of leaders that have more responsibility on their shoulders, the United States, European community, China, Russia...

LEMON: And that's what I mean by that question, yes.

Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. Badi Badiozamani, an Iran expert who has been joining us here to help us out with this story.

Neda's story came to us last night when we were on the air, really through Twitter I got it. I talked to our Josh Levs about it. Josh did some checking on it and Josh, we found out her story and that's how it led to getting on the air.

So all of this stuff, a lot of this coming from social media, especially Twitter. What's the minute-by-minute now?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Neda -- her story took-off, you're right, throughout the afternoon and into the evening especially yesterday on Twitter. We indeed were the first to talk about it right here based on what we saw there.

I'll tell you, Don, you and I have talked a lot about people sharing information via Twitter. I realize it's been a while since I said this so I want to emphasize one of the big points here.

The world is seeing people in Iran desperately wanting to have their voice heard. What's happening is some people in Iran are managing to get these little tweets out, right? 140 characters, that's all you get. People all over the world are then taking those and re-tweeting those so that they're echoing around the world so people are helping these people in Iran in that sense get their tweets out. In one sense get their voice heard.

Now, we can't authenticate every single one that we see is from Iran, but we know for a fact that some are. And we're not using any Twitter names because we want to protect identities.

Let's get to it. We got a graphic here, the first one. "Brave girl" -- this is a reference to another young woman we were talking about earlier today. "Said Basij" -- this is the paramilitary forces that answers to the government --"beat her in knees with clubs yesterday, injured her foot. So she will let it heal so she can run and go back in a few days."

Let's go to the next one, "Khamenei should know killing one innocent is like killing the whole country."

Next one, "you can beat us, you can arrest us, you can even kill us but now, all the world knows you're evil. Your end is near."

And we got time for one here about Neda. Right here, "Neda was 27" is what they're saying. They we're banned from having a funeral and any wake for her at mosques.

We are hearing that she was younger but the kinds of things are going on, this is a good example, different pieces of information going on out there.

Let's end with this one. This is interesting because I want to point that some people are weighing in stateside and how President Obama is handling it. This is one that just came up in a matter of seconds ago, saying Obama is playing this correctly.

Let's go to the graphic quickly. I want you to see how you can all weigh-in tonight. You've got my page there, We're also having a discussion right now at Facebook; lots of people are weighing in there, plus, in our NEWSROOM blog.

If you something important on Twitter and you want to bring it to our attention, go ahead and send me a tweet right now. Don, I'll be back with you in a bit, we'll take a look.

LEMON: Josh, similar to what you have on It's a -- one person says, "People today in front of the White House were shouting here name more than anything saying, 'Neda we heard you. We heard your Neda.'"

And then also under that it says the world needs to united, that's perhaps be united, not just Obama. Where are the French, the Russians, the Australians. We need virtual alliance.

So Josh, I can attest to what you're saying they are coming in fast. Just as soon as we put a story on the air, they come in.

LEVS: Yes and now let me point out I think someone had a typo in their tweet. She was 17 as far as we understand. But people are talking about her. She's one of the top topics on Twitter right now...


LEVS: ...along with Iran and Tehran.

LEMON: Thank you sir, we appreciate it.

LEVS: Ok Don thanks.

LEMON: I want to go over now to our Iran desk Ralitsa Vassileva, she is joining us with the very latest on the (INAUDIBLA) that she's getting out of Iran -- Ralitsa.

RALITSA VASSILEVA, ANCHOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Don, we just got some very disturbing pictures from the Isfahan which is third largest city of Iran, a historic city, a world heritage site, showing that the protests yesterday were not confined just to the capital, showing the brutality.

I'd like to caution you, we're just about to roll this video. I'd like you to listen a little bit just to get a sense of the chaos and the terror of this moment.

Basically you're hearing people trying to revive a man who is on the ground lying listless, the horror in their voices. You can feel it. What they're screaming is "God, God." One of them saying, "Make him breathe" and they're frantically trying to make him breathe.

We do not know the fate of this person, but wanted to show you this disturbing video from Isfahan in central Iran, south of the capital.

Also I wanted to read to you a statement coming from opposition leader Mousavi. We heard from him today on his Facebook page. He was protecting the protesters' rights to protest, however urging caution.

Here is what he said, "Protesting against lies and cheating is your right. Be hopeful about regaining your rights. Do not allow anyone who tries to make you lose hope and frighten you make you lose your temper." End of quote from opposition leader Mousavi, a very disturbing message from him yesterday you might remember, saying that he's ready for martyrdom, that if he is arrested that his supporters should go on a national strike.

This is the middle of the night now in Tehran and in Iran. Another day of uncertainty, we don't know if there will be more strikes or any kinds of demonstrations. But quite an ominous message from Mousavi himself who doesn't know if he won't be arrested.

Back to you, Don.

LEMON: All right Ralitsa, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

You saw the disturbing video that Ralitsa had there. And we warned you at the beginning of this newscast at 6:00 that there was going to be some video and some stories that were graphic and we brought it to you, but we feel that you have to see this.

So we thank you for joining us.

We're going to be back in a little bit. But I want to tell you that my colleague Christiane Amanpour, her story it's called "CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR REPORTS FROM THE STREETS OF IRAN." It begins right now.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. It's been an extraordinary weekend in Iran. After the Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned protesters to get off the streets, they instead defied him and came out anyway.

The crowds were smaller, but the battles with police and hard-line militia were fiercer. At least a dozen people are confirmed dead, but the real figure could be much higher. The death of this one woman whose been given the nom de guerre "Neda" is becoming the symbol of this weekend's struggle.

Where did this powerful wave of resistance to hard-line policies come from?

I covered the election which started out as a robust, mostly friendly political debate between reformers and hardliners. Astoundingly, it was a series of live television debates two weeks ago that set the scene.

It started chipping away at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's front- runner status and it injected a sense of real competition into the race.

MAJMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): I am not fighting against one candidate. I'm standing against a combination led by Rafsanjani and with the cooperation of Mousavi and Khatami.

AMANPOUR: Mousavi went on to complain that Ahmadinejad was pushing Iran towards dictatorship.

MIR HOSSEIN MOUSAVI, OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): He says, "Why do you call me a dictator." Well, I did not say that you are a dictator, but your method definitely leads to dictatorship.

AMANPOUR: Mohammad Marandi, from Tehran University believes that both candidates made some key mistakes in those heated debates.

SEYYED MOHAMMAD MARANDI, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: Most people that I know at least among colleagues and friends, they believe that the two sides really became too emotional in the debates and made the campaign -- both campaigns very personal and a lot of personal attacks were made by both sides.

AMANPOUR: The stage is now set to inflame passions and action.

(voice-over): With just days to go before Iran's presidential election, Tehran seems to be in the midst of a giant "get out the vote" street party. Bidding a wishful farewell to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, organized a human chain from the north of town all the way down to the south.

While antagonizing the West, at home President Ahmadinejad has traveled the country wooing the poor and the pious, handing out money, promising them a share in the nation's oil wealth. And as incumbent, he gets the full backing of the state, including the media.

This is democracy Tehran-style, as the people take to the public square. On opposite street corners, supporters of the fundamentalist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad face-off against those of his main rival, reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi, and the traffic runs through them. Boys and girls throw caution to the wind. In this country this is daring.

I asked these young people holding a sidewalk debate what makes this election different? "This is like a revolution," says Pega. "People are excited about rescuing our country from the calamity it's in."

Even this Ahmadinejad supporter says the people are out in protest.

"Most of the people voting for Mousavi are doing it just to get rid of Ahmadinejad," she says.

But the president still has staunch support, especially among the poor in the provinces, to whom he's doled out money, benefits, and favors.

"Honestly, we've never seen anyone as courageous as Ahmadinejad," says this supporter. "He's a true son of the revolution," adds another.

On the president's side of the street, many are bussed in to counter the growing Mousavi crowds. Another day of street politics, another day of gridlock before the country casts its vote.


AMANPOUR: But something was stirring. A powerful undercurrent of dissatisfaction was coalescing around Mousavi; protesting Ahmadinejad's hard-line fundamentalist policies.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Two days before the polls opened, this election is turning out to be a referendum on the president's four years in office which have seen higher prices and less freedoms.

"30 years of frustration is exploding," says Mohammed, a mechanical engineering student. "Even if Ahmadinejad wins, we're just here to express our opposition."

Observing from his perch at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C., Kareem Sadjadpour believes that Mousavi is an almost an accidental leader of this renewed reform movement.

KAREEM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Mousavi's strategists did a brilliant job of transforming this fairly uncharismatic, soft-spoken, 67-year-old guy with impeccable revolutionary credentials into the voice of a new Iran, into the voice of reform.

AMANPOUR (on camera): As night fell, the rains also started to come down and yet people still came to this square. People here who are old enough to remember and to have marched in the Islamic revolution 30 years ago, say this is the biggest turnout they've seen since then.

(voice-over): Earlier in the day president Ahmadinejad brought out a large crowd at his rally and told them he was convinced he would win Friday.

Cars honking, flags waving, President Ahmadinejad's supporters as well as Mousavi's jammed the streets for one last night of official rallies and campaigns. With the same happening in major cities across Iran, many are saying this is an early indication of what's expected to be a record turnout at the polls on Friday.

For the first time ever in Iran, a candidate has campaigned with his wife and Rahnavard has drawn huge crowds to her husband's rallies, especially women.

"I'm here to say that men and women are equal," she tells us.

More women than men have voted in the past few elections and Rahnavard promises them it will count this time if Mousavi wins.

"We've made this promise to the women, and we'll stand by it," she says.

Women remain legal second-class citizens in criminal, divorce, child custody, and inheritance cases despite making up 65 percent of university students. Ahmadinejad's fundamentalist government has even tried to make polygamy easier for men and public sector careers harder for women.

"No cheating," they chant, as they prepare for the polls to open.


AMANPOUR: President Ahmadinejad has powerful support after courting his constituency with cash and favors over the last four years. But the scale of his victory surprised so many, and so did his opponent's reaction.

We'll be back with more after a break.




AMANPOUR: When Iran's Guardian Council quickly announced the 62 percent win for President Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei blessed the, quote, "divine result," the streets of Tehran exploded, filling with protests unseen since the Islamic revolution swept the country 30 years ago.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Frustration boiled over and ran through the streets of this Tehran neighborhood after official election results delivered reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi a crushing defeat in Friday's election.

"Mousavi, Mousavi, get my vote back for me," they shout.

MARANDI: Mr. Mousavi lost control over his people and Mr. Ahmadinejad, I think, lost control over some of his people. Extremists on both sides came into play, and both sides seem to be losing control. AMANPOUR: Hundreds of riot police were deployed and for an hour here, there were running battles with angry street protesters as each side charged the other. The protesters threw rocks and set garbage cans on fire and many were beaten with batons.

After a while the growing crowd surged towards the main square. There were more security forces and police, but here they did not intervene.

(on camera): You said that you thought the state would overwhelmingly crush this movement. It hasn't. In fact, it's allowed them to continue in the streets and conciliatory noises are being made to accommodate their complaints. Are you surprised?

SADJADPOUR: Well, I think we have to get inside the head of Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader. Khamenei has the hindsight of himself having been a revolutionary and revolted against the Shah in the late '70s.

I think what they learned from the 1979 revolution was that when the Shah cracked down, when he clamped down, it didn't curtail the protests. In fact, it enhanced the scale of the protests.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): and then the protesters set off down Tehran's main North-South Avenue.

"We're here to protect our votes," says this man, "because we feel we've been insulted. Our vote has been insulted. " But soon the streets echoed with dueling rallies: pro-reformists and pro- Ahmadinejad.

Sunday the streets of Tehran belonged to the supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hundreds of thousands of them filled one of the capital city's main squares and surged into the surrounding street for a rally that was organized to celebrate Friday's election and the results that gave him a controversial landslide victory.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT, IRAN (through translator): Today we should appreciate -- we should appreciate the great triumph of the people of Iran against the united front of all the world arrogance.

AMANPOUR: At his defiant first press conference, I asked the president how he would respond to those challenging his rule.

(voice-over): You said that you were the president of all Iranians no matter who they voted for. I would like to ask you what is the situation with your challenger Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi and will you guarantee his safety? And why have opposition reform individuals, officials been arrested?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): The situation in the country is in a very good condition. Iran is the most stable country in the world, and there's the rule of law in this country, and all the people are equal.

SADJADPOUR: When you asked Ahmadinejad in his press conference the day after his so-called victory about the state of Iran and he said Iran is the most stable country in the world, people take this as an insult to their intelligence. And I think people are taking tremendous risks every day going out into the streets, hundreds of thousands of people. This just gives you a sense of the depth of the sense of injustice, of the depth of the sense of rage.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Rage that president Ahmadinejad dismissively compared to sore soccer losers and errant drivers.

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): This is something natural a person coming out of stadium and they violate the traffic regulations. He will be fined by the police no matter who he is -- an ordinary person or even a minister.

AMANPOUR (on camera): I may have missed the translation. I was asking whether you were going to guarantee the safety...

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Yes. I did respond to your question. All people are respected and all people are equal before the law. And I like all the people, all members of this nation. And, of course, I'm not happy with at person violating the traffic rules.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): But Ahmadinejad's opponents accused him and the governing elite of a much bigger crime, stealing the election. They kept up the pressure, and the next day Mousavi appeared in public for the first time since the election.

Supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi took to the streets again Monday in a march that tens of thousands ended up joining. They chanted and cheered as they wound their way around Freedom Square. Although the police had said such rallies would be banned and no protest permits would be issued, the government ended up allowing this one to take place.

Hundreds of riot police were deployed along the route of the march, but they did not intervene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are protesting against a leader who is not actually the real leader of Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want Mir Hossein Mousavi. I want freedom.

AMANPOUR (on camera): This is the same place where the Mousavi supporters held their big free election rally. And this time they have come and stayed for two hours or more waiting to hear from him.

(voice-over): finally clearing up the mystery of his whereabouts and his safety, Mousavi arrived, and from the top of a vehicle addressed the throng in his first public appearance since Friday's election.

MIR HOSSEIN MOUSAVI, IRAN OPPOSITION LEADER: Our people are after respect; their votes and their rights.

AMANPOUR: Allowing this rally to proceed peacefully appears to be a deliberate decision by the government to change the tone of the past few days and try to show that it's dealing with this election dispute within the country's own Democratic parameters. (on camera): I was there and I was at the rallies and I was reporting what was going on. And I was struck by what I viewed as democracy in the streets; that they allowed the protest, they allowed the people on both sides obviously, and this is a totally novel situation for Iran. Does that -- did that strike you that way as well?

KARIM SADJAPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INT'L PEACE: It's incredible how much Iranian political culture has matured and how mature Iranian political culture is compared to elsewhere in the Middle East. People no longer have utopianist ideas. They're not talking about a pure Islamic society. They have very practical demands, a greater political voice, greater social freedoms, more economic opportunities.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): But democracy here has its limits. As the rally ended, gunfire was heard. This disturbing image of at least one reported death.

(on camera): What happens after this, this genie cannot be put back into the bottle, so what does this mean for Iranian domestic politics?

SADJAPOUR: Well, it's difficult to see how we could go back to the status quo ante. Sacred red lines have been crossed, previously sacred red lines have been crossed. People are beginning to openly challenge the legitimacy of Ayatollah Khamenei as Supreme Leader. People are, in fact, openly challenging the institution of supreme leadership itself.

AMANPOUR: Is the position of the supreme leader weakened?

SAYYED MOHAMMAD MARANDI, UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN: I think it's the opposite. I think that many people are now turning to him more than ever before to resolve this issue. And to bring the different candidates together and to calm down the situation and the emotions that have been created as a result of this very hotly-contested electoral campaign.


AMANPOUR: Next, as the week ended with Iran locked in an internal power struggle, everyone waited for the nation's supreme leader to speak out. Friday press when we come back.


AMANPOUR: Finally, Friday arrived. One week after the elections. The nation's supreme religious leader addressed the people. He said there was no way there could have been a rigged election, and he called the demonstrators to stop the protests.

He said that there was no way there could have been a rigged election, and he called on the demonstrators to stop.


AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, SUPREME LEADER OF IRAN (through translator): 11 million votes, difference. Sometimes there is a margin of 100,000, 200,000. But where one million maximum and then one can doubt maybe there has been some vote rigging or manipulation or irregularities but there is a difference of 11 million votes. How can vote rigging happen?

I want everyone to put an end to this. This is not the right thing to do. If they don't stop this, then the consequences and the rioting and everything, they will be held accountable for all of this. It's also wrong to assume that some may assume that through their street riots they can have a pressure lever against the establishment and try to force the officials to actually listen to them. This is also wrong to think that way.


AMANPOUR: But this weekend, the protesters did not listen, battling police and risking their lives. Will the Ayatollahs, the government, crack down harder or will they be forced to listen to the people? Does reform have any hope in Iran? And what will four more years of President Ahmadinejad mean for Iran, for the United States, for the world? We'll be following all of that, too. Stay with CNN. I'm Christiane Amanpour, thank you for watching.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Back to our continuing coverage of the protests in Iran a week after a highly disputed presidential election, chaos and turmoil fill the streets of Tehran. Rock throwing and fires were seen in many places today. Police and security forces were out in force trying to break up any demonstrations and gatherings. One large crowd marched through a street chanting death to dictator.

Also this disturbing video to tell you about. We're told this was outside the building belonging to the government linked militia known as the basij. A young man goes down apparently shot by gunmen on the roof. And this video shot yesterday shows the confusion and the mayhem that now seems more the rule than the exception there. The protests began when a landslide win was handed to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad more than a week ago. The situation has grown more violent since the government ordered the protesters to stop. CNN has been receiving new material from Iran around the clock, much of it posted on social networking sites and also on Our Ralitsa Vassileva is at the Iran desk where this new video is vetted. What do you have for us, Ralitsa?

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, I have video to show you how an actual arrest is being made inside a home of what appears to be a middle class home. Let's take a look at the video that we received just moments ago. You see there various security forces wearing various uniforms, not clear. Farsi speakers are saying they don't know exactly what these uniforms stand for. They're tying the hands of the man they are arresting. You can hear a woman screaming. You hear gunshot. It doesn't appear to injure the man being arrested. His arms are being tied behind his back. He's about to start walking. He's going to be put in an unmarked car. The people who are arresting him have various kinds of uniforms. Not clear what they are. They're going to put him in an unmarked car.

Today there have been other high-profile detentions. This is video from yesterday. But today there were some other high-profile detentions including an NBC correspondent who has been covering the protests. He was arrested and also a high-profile political arrest. The daughter of former President Rafsanjani was arrested. She was tied to the reformist camp and she was in a protest when she was arrested. So lots of detentions. We just wanted to show you this video of how it's done.

LEMON: Ralitsa, stand by because I want to play this a little bit and I want to get you to talk about what's going on. Let's play it. I want to listen without us talking. And then, OK.

OK. So I'm not sure where that gunshot was coming from. It's disturbing to watch, but when you hear the gunshot or what sounds like a gunshot, that's the disturbing part. This is in a courtyard.

VASSILEVA: This is in a courtyard in a house in what appears to be a middle class house. And you know what, Don, I noticed as I was watching this, nobody winced. None of these security forces even winced. I winced when I heard it on the video just watching it.


VASSILEVA: And he's going to be put in an unmarked car. It's a regular white car.

LEMON: We're going to analyze this with some of our experts here, Ralitsa in just a little bit. We appreciate you bringing that to us. Boy, that is very disturbing. Thank you so much for bringing it to us.

You know, a lot of this, as we said, is coming from social networking sites. We are getting a lot from our i-reporters at, and of course, we're getting material coming into the CNN Iran desk and international desk, but boy, you can't deny the role of the social networking sites and twitter, Josh Levs.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, you're absolutely right. It's playing a major role here. A lot of people are actually tweeting that video that we showed. The same one we showed there. I've been seeing it all day. It's very interesting there.

Let me just show you, we're grabbing some of the latest tweets. We're pulling them together. We're throwing them up for you. Let's go to this first one here which is about Neda, you have this here. This says the images of Neda are shocking and horrible. How many faces of death will never be seen and screams of agony silenced and never heard? While we're on this. I want to correct something I said before the break. Someone tweeted that she may be 27 years old. That may be true. There are places online suggesting she may have been born in 1982. We don't know. We can't be definitive at this point. Let me go through a couple more here. To brave Iranian, please don't give in to violence, it says. Please don't be one of them. And I want to end on this one. This is a sign of the way that some people in Iran are using Twitter.

On Saturday they were waiting for us. From now on location and time of protest has to be given at the last moment. I also want to emphasize we cannot authenticate that all of them come from inside Iran. But we know for a fact that some do. We have been in touch with some twitterers inside Iran. And we're not using any names to protect all identities. Quickly, let's show the standards, any tweets that you think are particularly significant, go ahead and point them out to us. You can join the discussion there at Also got it going at the NEWSROOM blog, just click on Don's face and you'll see where you weigh in there. Don, we're going to keep an eye on these tweets. We'll keep bringing them to you right here.

LEMON: Yes, you know, I have to say it. I got to put mine out there, too because I'm getting lots of information. I want to get it. I want Josh to get it. I want all of us - what is it? Cnnbrk? Is that what it is for breaking news.

LEVS: CNN BRK is a good one to sign up for to receive breaking news.


LEVS: If you want to interact with us, to use our pages. Donlemoncnn, joshlevscnn.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. We appreciate it. You know, it's just part of the story because, check this out.

So twitter is just 140 characters. People giving information from our i-reporters we're getting video. And they're taking us to the ground. Our i-reporters in Iran. Eyewitnesses to history and they have been sharing their stories with us. You'll hear them.


LEMON: All right. We're following continuing coverage here of the situation happening in Iran. And I want you to pay close attention to this next story because it is going to move you. With Iran's government clamping down on professional journalists, we're relying more and more on video, on photos, and information from our i- reporters who are out on the scene. They're taking huge risks to tell the story of what is happening in Iran and to the rest of the world.

So we're going to use the rest of this hour that we have here with a special look at their work. We call it "I-report from Iran, eyewitness to history." We're going to begin with the images from a 19-year-old i-reporter. We're not revealing her name for safety reasons. She says the election absolutely was not fair and that, "the votes did not represent our votes at all." That was a quote. She talked to CNN's Ivan Watson about how she became a victim of the violence. Listen.


VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED IREPORTER: Yesterday was such a bad day. The streets were full of guards and policemen and they were hitting everyone. I was just watching and because the streets were so crowded and they said run. I said I can't run. How can I run? It's so crowded in here. And he hit me and he was twice as me. He was so big. And I said you want to hit me? And he said, yes. And then he hit me with a glock(ph).


LEMON: Our second i-report is from a couple, an Iranian woman who lives in Toronto, shared photos taken by her fiance, a professional photographer in Tehran. Now these dramatic photos from Basij militia forces lining the streets of Tehran using tear gas on the massive crowds. Protesters brandished rocks, carried signs and thrust peace signs in the air. Their hands wrapped in a green ribbons of the opposition. The pictures seemed to show the solidarity of the protesters and the sheer determination of the regime.

Let's talk live to that i-reporter now and again for safety reasons, we're not revealing her name. She joins us now on the phone from Toronto. Thank you for joining us.


LEMON: Tell us about these pictures that we're looking at. We're going to put them up and then I'll ask you some questions. Let's roll the first one that we're seeing here. What are we seeing out of this window?

CNN I-REPORTER: OK. This one, he was actually in the middle of the crowd. This is Enghelab Street. And as you can see, photos are telling -

LEMON: Can I ask you something real quick? We're going to stop this. Let's get the first photograph, roll it back. We'll get the first photograph, Roger, and then we'll pause. We'll pause it if we can pause it on the air.

CNN I-REPORTER: OK. All right.

LEMON: And I just want to make sure everyone knows. These are from - tell us how are these pictures are getting to you, how you became an i-reporter?

CNN I-REPORTER: What happened was my fiance, he send me all these pictures like about three hours ago. And he was actually so scared with the situation there. The internet speed is so slow. There are so many limitations on these. And I just got these photos. And he told me just go in there and try to show it to everyone like to CNN or to whole world to see what's happening inside Iran. So there are no reporters covering these.

LEMON: OK. Roger, roll it. Then pause it on the next one. The first one we saw looking through the window, apparently he was in an apartment or in a building and then looking out at the protesters. And then this one that we see here this is the massive crowds. We heard from one person whose dad is a journalist there. He said his dad believes there are up to three million people. What is your fiance reporting back as we look at these pictures about the size of the crowds?

CNN I-REPORTER: Yes, what he told me, he said definitely more than two million people who are on the streets. And there are so many people. And as can you see, like, there are some other groups that are old, young, related or all people as can you see. Like pictures are telling the whole story itself.

LEMON: And as we look at the one now, you can see there is a young man who may be up - being held up by people or standing on top of something and he's wearing a green scarf. Many of these people have the green arm bands on. What is he telling you about these protesters who were out on the street and why they're doing this?

CNN I-REPORTER: You know, this man is actually standing over that sign which is the (inaudible) Square which is one of the major squares in Iran. And that sign is the sign of Mousavi. It's saying about victory.

LEMON: What is this sign saying now, this one?

CNN I-REPORTER: This is saying that I'm so upset that I'm living in a country that deprives - they're paying more to the people who are killing and to kill us and it's really hard to get freedom.


And you know, as I spoke to you before, you said that your fiance could attest to some of the home invasions that were happening.


LEMON: And said that he was afraid and it was hard to get information out. We really appreciate you joining us here on CNN.

CNN I-REPORTER: No problem.

LEMON: We wish your fiance his safety and the best as we look at these pictures, these amazing pictures from our i-reporters.

CNN I-REPORTER: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Thank you so much. Yes, we appreciate it. So we look at these pictures from our i-reporters. They're going to take us to break. We will continue to roll them. We appreciate all of our i- reporters. Because they actually get us information on the ground many times before we can get there and when we can't at all.


LEMON: If you'd like to check out some of our I-reports, go to i- or even become an I-reporter yourself. Go to All the pictures and videos are there. And at the top right of your screen, it tells you how to register and sign up. It's very easy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. I'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Now "Money & Main Street."