Last Friday marked a long-anticipated Election Day in Iran to choose the next Iranian president. While the voting process itself ran smoothly, widespread violence has since broken out in protest of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim to a decisive victory over challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi supporters, who believe Ahmadinejad rigged the election results, refuse to accept the verdict and have been openly protesting since Saturday.

Video clips that capture the chaos and rioting in the streets of Iran's capital, Tehran, have been streaming into YouTube for the past four days. Even though YouTube appears to be blocked in Iran -- the site is experiencing a small fraction of the traffic levels it normally receives from Iran (around 10%) -- we continue to see videos being uploaded to the site that document city streets crowded with angry demonstrators, violent clashes between protesters and state police, and visceral scenes of mass unrest.

In essence, YouTube has become a citizen-fueled news bureau of video reports filed straight from the streets of Tehran, unfiltered. Because the Iranian government is cracking down on local and international media coverage, these citizen-generated videos are providing an exclusive look at the developing violence. Here's a collection of some of those videos. (Please use your discretion before viewing, as some of them contain disturbing images.)




We've noticed some claims going around that YouTube has been engaging in acts of censorship and removing some of these videos from the site. Unless a video clearly violates our Community Guidelines, we will not take it down. In general, we do not allow graphic or gratuitous violence on YouTube. However, we make exceptions for videos that have educational, documentary, or scientific value. The limitations being placed on mainstream media reporting from within Iran make it even more important that citizens in Iran be able to use YouTube to capture their experiences for the world to see. Given the critical role these videos are playing in reporting this story to the world, we are doing our best to leave as many of them up as we can. YouTube is, at its core, a global forum for free expression.

Take note that if you see a video that is unavailable on the site, it may be because the user decided to remove the video him or herself.

We're following what's happening in Iran on the Citizentube blog (www.citizentube.com), so stay tuned for the latest.


Yours,
Olivia Ma
YouTube News & Politics