Cablegate: Major Iranian Protest Expected Next Wednesday
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAK #1560 3001418
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271418Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1088
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 6429
UNCLAS ANKARA 001560
TAGS: CVIS PREL PGOV PHUM SOCI SCUL TU IR
SUBJECT: Major Iranian Protest Expected Next Wednesday
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: This week a variety of immigrant (IV) and
non-immigrant visa (NIV) applicants told CONOFF that major national
student-led protests are planned for Wednesday, November 4. It is
unclear who the leaders of the protests are, but participants plan
to use "student's day" as a cover to stage a significant
demonstration against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the results of last
summer's presidential election. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Organizers are exploiting November 4th because the
government sanctions gatherings on that day to commemorate the
taking of the U.S. Embassy. Applicants noted the protests are well
advertised on the internet such as on sites like Facebook. A young
pharmaceutical marketer from Tehran said that despite the high
visibility of the planned protest on the web it appears to be
unlikely the government can stop the events. She added that there
is no apparent guidance from Mir-Hossein Mousavi in relation to the
protests. A young diversity visa (DV) couple from Tehran said that
the protests are originating from "the people" but Mehdi Karoubi and
Mousavi would attend. Another DV winner believes that behind the
scenes the protests are likely organized by the various political
factions that remain dissatisfied with the election results. Tehran
will be the epicenter of the protests, but some said that smaller
protests are expected all around Iran.
3. (SBU) Most applicants appeared excited about the demonstrations,
however, not one applicant said they would themselves participate.
One software engineer going for his Masters in New Mexico noted that
he is not involved, but many of his college friends are planning to
protest. He added that his friends plan to chant "where is my
vote?" and denounce Ahmadinejad. A middle-aged couple from Tehran
acknowledged that students are planning a large protest, but due to
fear of beatings and arrests, plan to avoid the demonstrations.
They added that although the protest is student-driven, they have
heard Iranians of all ages will participate due to the widespread
dissatisfaction with Ahmadinejad. Another Tehran University
graduate insisted that he is apolitical and will not participate.
4. (SBU) COMMENT: Based on NIV and IV interviews conducted over the
past several months, optimism for change in Iran's political system
in the near future appears to be nonexistent. Although not one
applicant believes that the current regime will survive, no one is
holding their breath. Applicants have noted an absence of
leadership on the part of Mousavi and other opposition leaders.
Although overall leadership is lacking, some applicants now look to
Karoubi rather than Mousavi. Apparent interest of applicants
themselves participating in demonstrations has gradually decreased
over the months since the initial demonstrations. END COMMENT.