Pixels per head

– How can you capture 3 million heads in a single shot with few mega-pixels?

This is what I’ve been asking myself nowadays.

After the Iranian disputed election and while Ahmadinejad was trying to compete with Mousavi to bring as many people as he can to celebrate his “victory”, millions of Mousavi’s supporters covered streets of Tehran. Before foreign journalists were kicked out of the land, they could cover both rallies and mentioned tens of thousands of supporters for each. That was a great job, however bringing a wrong impression abroad: There are two equally strong crowds in Iran, each claiming its side as the winner and both are “many”.

The point is that while based on some street capacity calculations Tehran’s mayor estimated hugest Mousavi’s rally as having 3 million attendants, Ahmadinejad was able to gather dozens of thousands around Vali-Asr square, including all bribed folk brought from the countryside.

I believe that the traditional shoe leather photojournalistic methods of capturing the crowd have shown their intrinsic inability to reflect a sound comparison. It’s impossible to cover millions of heads distributed over dozens of kilometers just in few digital shots or some high definition video-reports taken from the surface of the town.

While govermental militia is the only one who has access to helicopters over Tehran, for us the satellite photos are the only way to resolve this problem: We are much more and we should be able to prove that! Now given such an introduction does anyone have access to almost-live satellite photos taken of the earth. I remember that NASA had a public service which was used by fire extinguishers and was able to provide shots of the globe every – let’s say – second hour. I can’t find that service anymore.

Update: Marius F.’s email in this regard:

Hey dude!

I’ve been looking around and speaking to my #1 computer wizard about finding real time satelite photos from Iran where you get to see the rally, but i don’t seem to find anything like that. Probobly some of the pay-services got something like that, so I post some links for you that looks interesting.


I think that it would be easiest to get in touch with someone inside NASA that has interest in the Iranian government and the election, and that is willing to get hold of satellite photos from Iran on that date and time where it all took place. Maybe you know someone, who knows someone, who know an Iranian guy who works there? 😉

Here’s some interesting sites for getting in touch with different satelite holding companies around the world and the people on top in NASA: Org.map of NASA, Other agencies around Europe and so on. It’s not as much as you would hope for, but its a start. Taking a couple of phone calls and start pulling strings would probobly get you somewhere.. Hopefully 🙂

p.s. Later update (18th of September): Finally Google maps updated Iran and now it at least shows the different locations that green supporters were stationed with the videos. 🙂

Planlegger Demonstrasjon i Trondheim

Intervjuet mitt med adressa av Mia Kristin Midtbø:

Iranere over hele verden samler seg under mottoet «Where is my vote?» Alireza Ashrafian (t.v.) og Nima Darabi ønsker å arrangere en egen demonstrasjon i Trondheim. Foto: LENA KNUTLI

De mener at valget i Iran ikke har gått riktig for seg. Nå ønsker iranere i Trondheim å protestere mot valgresultatet.

Nima Darabi, Mohammad Tavakoli og Alireza Ashrafian har samlet seg på en hybel for å planlegge en markering. Darabi og Tavakoli er doktorgradsstudenter ved NTNU, mens Ashrafian har gjort ferdig sin doktorgrad.

De siste dagene har de sett bilder av opptøyer og vold, og protester mot valgresultatet som førte til at president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fikk beholde makten. Flere av tilhengerne til opposisjonens hovedkandidat, Mir Hossein Mousavi, har blitt arrestert. De er urolige og spente over opptøyene i hjemlandet.
– Tror det er valgfusk

– Vi er sikre på at stemmene er endret. Derfor ønsker vi å samle folk til en markering. Dette er ikke en Mousavi-kampanje. Vi er imot det vi opplever som et fabrikkert valgresultat, sier Alireza.

Dette er også grunnen til opptøyene i Iran. Iranere over hele verden samler seg under mottoet «Where is my vote?»

De mener at stemmene ikke har blitt talt opp skikkelig. Det har heller ikke vært nøytrale valgobservatører til stede ved valget.

– Jeg og mange med meg tror at valgjukset var forberedt på forhånd. Noen aviser som støtter Ahmadinejad kunngjorde til og med valgresultatet før valget var gjennomført, sier Nima Darabi.

– Vi ønsker en markering fordi vi er imot valgfusk. Ikke fordi vi er skuffet for at vår kandidat ikke vant – det hadde vi ikke hatt noen problemer med. Det vi synes er farlig, er om valgresultatet blir manipulert og feilaktig presentert til regjeringens fordel, sier Alireza Ashrafian.

De har alle stemt i valget via forhåndsstemming her i Trondheim.

– 92 iranere avga stemme i Trondheim. Av dem var 86 stemmer for Mousavi, to for Ahmadinejad, og de resterende sju for andre kandidater, forteller Alireza Ashrafian.

Ønsker fredelig demonstrasjon

Nå ønsker iranerne i Trondheim å gjennomføre en demonstrasjon i Trondheim.

– Vi ønsker en rolig og fredelig demonstrasjon, sier Alireza til adressa.no.

De planlegger å samles foran realfagsbygget på NTNU Gløshaugen, der de vil gå rolig ned til sentrum. På Torvet vil de samles til en kort appell. De holder på å samle folk, og vet ennå ikke hvor mange som kommer til å stille opp.

Avhengig av når de får tillatelse fra politiet, kommer de til å ha markeringen i løpet av denne uken.

Nima sitter ved macen og sender ut informasjon og invitasjoner via Facebook og epost.

De har så langt ikke hatt kontakt med andre iranere i andre norske byer, men i løpet av intervjuet får de kontakt med kjente som planlegger lignende fredelige markeringer i Oslo og Bergen.

Vold og opptøyer

De har hyppig kontakt med familie og venner i Iran, som har vært vitner til demonstrasjoner, bruk av vold og tåregass fra politiet.

De forteller historier. Om internetthastighet som plutselig minker så det blir vanskelig å få kontakt med omverdenen, om folk som får kameraene sine ødelagt på gaten.

– Myndighetene har kontroll på alt.

– Det er demonstrasjoner i flere iranske byer. I dag snakket jeg med en venn. Det hadde vært en feiring for Ahmadinejad, og etterpå kom opposisjonen for å protestere. Politiet spredde mengden ved hjelp av tåregass, og brukte vold, sier Nima Darabi.

Nima snakker med en venninne på telefonen. Hun forteller om hvordan hun var ute på hovedgaten i Teheran under en valgappell dagen før valget, og noen i mengden tok fra henne kameraet og kastet det i bakken slik at det ble knust.

Litt senere får Nima enda verre nyheter. Venninnen Behnaz som er student i Teheran har sett en person bli drept på gaten.

Studentene er opprørte over volden og kaoset.

– Ahmadinejad har tusenvis av tilhengere, og de fleste er fredelige. Dessverre er det er et mindretall som står for det vi nå ser, sier studentene.

Senere NRK-1 sendt en rapport om protest vår (+):

The sad legend of Kharanoo

Kharanoo, the best pet ever, was found once lonely passing an overcrowded street in Tehran metropolitan.

It was a 7th of July, right before my departure to Norway, when I received a phone call: “Nima! I found a lovely creature! You have no idea how cute!” My sister excitedly said: “We don’t know how to feed it. What does a hedgehog eat?”. She was really worried and I should have taken care of the emergency situation: “- How on earth should I know what hedgehogs eat?!”. I answered wisely and hanged up!

At night we had already started to call societies of animal protection in the capital and some related NGOs but no useful information. I even called an NGO that we had tried recently when Mishoolak, a found kitten, died due to drinking fat cow milk according to their advice. The lady over the phone said: “- Sorry, We know nothing about hedgehogs. We’re cat professionals!”.

Some others were more informative: “- You might find a local zoo!”. A zoo? Good idea. The closest one was Darabad museum of Iranian natural history, full of snakes. We discussed and finally suspected that if they can’t manage to find room for Kharanoo, their disgusting reptiles will have a dinner party over Kharanoo. Never!

Thankful of everyone’s hospitality, he survived. Kharanoo made it finally, being treated to dead insects, cat food, and water. He became a part of the family, sleeping in daylight and clattering at nights. He was a hunter, or at least was pretending to be harmful to cockroaches. He was really polite but too shy. Whenever we entered the room, by turning on lights on he would run away and hide himself for hours! But despite all the cultural differences, he was happy and we were happy with his happiness.

Kharanoo was really fast in response to auditory stimuli. You could make him dance with any rhythm, just if simplified to a bunch of click sounds:

One week before I left Iran, We made a farewell trip with my parents and my sister. To the green lands in the north of the Alborz mountains. We had concluded that Kharanoo is an Erinaceus Concolor (known as “European hedgehog” in Iran). Google had informed us that they are widely spread in the southern woods of the Caspian sea, where we were heading to. We took Kharanoo with us to set him free.

We loved each other but he had to continue his natural life with creatures of his own type. We offered him food, shelter and security but no nature, friends or relationship. Though he was not very social, we knew he will take care of the rest if we leave him were he belongs.

Honestly, I was mostly thinking of myself. He was not the only migrant in the scene. Becoming dramatically nostalgic I was more in love with my homeland than ever before and really didn’t want to leave it to elsewhere. Eventually under the moonlight, He became a symbol of immigration for me. Each time I missed home after that night Kharanoo was present in the back of my mind!

Let’s get back to Kharanoo. We went deep in to the forests and set him free. He left us to find friends and start a new life…

Every thing was fine! At least for us. But sadly, this was not the end of the story.

Last week I was back home again, forgetting all about symbolic aspects of Kharanoo: migration. I was flipping pages of a reference book, “Mamals of Iran”, something laying there that I had missed out. And suddenly the bitter truth revealed itself…

Kharanoo was not an Erinaceus Concolor. He was a Paraechinus Hypomelas (known as Brandt’s hedgehog). The crazy thing is that the geographic range of those two look-alikes in the map was just partitioned with no intersection! Two completely opposite climates. One species lives exactly where the other does not, as if they have divided the country to their territories! Those who have been to Iran know how different climates these two regions have…

We had confidently taken the poor thing from the dry ecosyatem he belonged to, leaving him in the foggy forests of the north.

Kharanoo, you have my guilt… and my love, forever!

Happy “Yalda”

Tonight is the longest night in the northern hemisphere, where most of humanity inhabits. Tomorrow, Earth axis is the most oriented away from the Sun which marks the “winter solstice”.

Called “Chelleh“ or “Yalda”, tonight, has been celebrated by Iranians since more than five millenniums ago. It was first as the birth of the Indo-Iranian goddess “Mitra” in the ancient Persia (which was later associated with Sun), and then as a Zoroastrian religious fest. Nowadays, it’s a social occasion where families and friends gather around and stay together, keeping the fire (or candles) burning through the longest night until the sun rises again, reading poems and eating nuts, watermelon and pomegranate.

p.s. Persian Calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, is solar. Moreover its important dates are inspired by nature rather than  human made historical events. For us, today was the last day of autumn and winter started tomorrow, not because one out of billions of humans had birthday or another took over a dynasty and took power. Only astronomy.

p.s. Many thanks to Negin Ehtesabian for that two years ago she made this copyrighted illustration for this blog and I finally use it now. 🙂

Shit happens

Mr Sarkozy said:

How is it that a people such as the Iranian people – one of the world’s greatest peoples, one of the world’s oldest civilisations, sophisticated, cultured, open – have the misfortune of being represented as they are today by some of their leaders?

Well, that’s kind of you monsieur :). If you eventually discovered “how is it that”, let us know! Meanwhile we work on it…

December 6, “Student Day” in Iran

Back to 55 years ago and during the Shah era, when Iranian police agents fired and killed three students (two marxists and one nationalist) inside the campus of University of Tehran, the day 6th of December has been recognized as an official day in Iranian calendar called Student Day. Since then, before and after the revolution, Iranian students, both seculars and religious, celebrate this anniversary, protesting against the dictatorship and policies of the government.

This year the student organizers preferred the day after, December 7, to hold the protests. Therefore, today and yesterday, students at University of Tehran synchronized with other universities in the capital and other cities have held gatherings, calling in particular for the release of the imprisoned and re-admittance of the suspended students and the fired faculty. The students of other universities who were not allowed to pass into the university broke the western entrance gate to join the crowd and some are arrested. In spite of that all of the campus universities were fully surrounded by police, the state security forces, and intelligence and security agents, many of the students succeeded to attend. According to some attendants’ observations, the atmosphere has been violated more and the slogans have become fairly more anti-governmental being compared to the previous years.