On June 15, 2009, millions of people in Tehran demonstrated in response to the announcement that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been reelected as president. The peaceful, and largely silent, demonstration was the largest gathering of people in Iran since the 1979 revolution. But the day turned violent when a group of people attacked a military base belonging to the paramilitary Basij, a division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Basij members fired at the demonstrators, and, although there are no reliable statistics available, at least nine people were killed during the attacks. Many more were injured.
It was later revealed that the military base was also an arms depot. The Iranian government claims that the attackers were planning to seize the arms from the military base, and stage an armed fight against the government. But the government has never explained why it endangered the lives of its citizens by placing an arms depot in a residential area.
I was the only professional journalist on the scene, and filmed 40 minutes of the attack. A man was shot in front of me, and died immediately. I filmed the demonstrators carrying away the body of another man. And I documented the anger and frustration of hundreds of young Iranians who felt their votes had been stolen. Later that night I sent the footage to Channel 4 News in the UK, and wrote an article about it in Newsweek. The attack was recreated in Jon Stewart’s directorial debut Rosewater, and a few minutes of my original footage was shown in the film.
For the first time, IranWire presents the footage from that day in its entirety. Read more about my recollection and impressions of these events in my book Rosewater, an extract of which we publish here.