« | »

Police Crack Down On Election Protesters

From a disapproving Associated Press:

Clashes erupt in Iran over disputed election

By Ali Akbar Dareini And Anna Johnson, Associated Press Writers

TEHRAN, Iran – Supporters of the main election challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed with police and set up barricades of burning tires Saturday as authorities claimed the hard-line president was re-elected in a landslide. The rival candidate said the vote was tainted by widespread fraud and his followers responded with the most serious unrest in the capital in a decade.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, closed the door on any chance he could use his limitless powers to intervene in the disputes from Friday’s election. In a message on state TV, he urged the nation to unite behind Ahmadinejad, calling the result a "divine assessment."

Several hundred demonstrators — many wearing the trademark green colors of pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s campaign — chanted "the government lied to the people" and gathered near the Interior Ministry as the final count from Friday’s presidential election was announced.

It gave 62.6 percent of the vote to Ahmadinejad and 33.75 to Mousavi — a former prime minister who has become the hero of a youth-driven movement seeking greater liberties and a gentler face for Iran abroad.

Mousavi rejected the result as rigged and urged his supporters to resist a government of "lies and dictatorship."

"I’m warning that I won’t surrender to this manipulation," said a statement on Mousavi’s Web site. "The outcome of what we’ve seen from the performance of officials … is nothing but shaking the pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s sacred system and governance of lies and dictatorship," it added.

Mousavi warned "people won’t respect those who take power through fraud." The headline on one of his Web sites read: "I won’t give in to this dangerous manipulation."

Mousavi appealed directly to Khamenei to intervene and stop what he said were violations of the law. Khamenei, who is not elected, holds ultimate political authority in Iran and controls all major policy decisions…

The demonstrations began Saturday morning shortly before the government announced the final results.

Protesters set fire to tires outside the Interior Ministry and anti-riot police fought back with clubs and smashed cars. Helmeted police on foot and others on buzzing motorcycles chased bands of protesters roaming the streets pumping their fists in the air. Officers beat protesters with swift blows from their truncheons and kicks with their boots. Some of the demonstrators grouped together to charge back at police, hurling stones.

Plumes of dark smoke streaked over the city, as burning barricades of tires and garbage bins glowed orange in the streets. Protesters also torched an empty bus, engulfing it in flames on a Tehran street.

An Associated Press photographer saw a plainclothes security official beating a woman with his truncheon. Italian state TV RAI said one of its crews was caught in the clashes in front Mousavi’s headquarters. Their Iranian interpreter was beaten with clubs by riot police and officers confiscated the cameraman’s tapes, the station said.

In another main street of Tehran, some 300 young people blocked the avenue by forming a human chain and chanted "Ahmadi, shame on you. Leave the government alone." There was no word on any casualties from the unrest.

It was not clear how many Iranians were even aware of Mousavi’s claims of fraud. Communications disruptions began in the later hours of voting Friday — suggesting an information clampdown. State television and radio only broadcast the Interior Ministry’s vote count and not Mousavi’s midnight news conference.

Nationwide, the text messaging system remained down Saturday and several pro-Mousavi Web sites were blocked or difficult to access. Text messaging is frequently used by many Iranians — especially young Mousavi supporters — to spread election news…

Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli, who supervised the elections and heads the nation’s police forces, warned people not to join any "unauthorized gatherings."

The powerful Revolutionary Guard cautioned Wednesday it would crush any "revolution" against the Islamic regime by Mousavi’s "green movement." The Revolutionary Guard is directly under the control of the ruling clerics and has vast influence in every corner of the country through a network of volunteer militias.

Even before the vote counting began, Mousavi declared himself "definitely the winner" based on "all indications from all over Iran." He accused the government of "manipulating the people’s vote" to keep Ahmadinejad in power and suggested the reformist camp would stand up to challenge the results.

"It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back," he said, alleging widespread irregularities…

Turnout was a record 85 percent of the 46.2 million eligible voters…

At Tehran University — the site of the last major anti-regime unrest in Tehran in 1999 — the academic year was winding down and there was no sign of pro-Mousavi crowds…

In the capital, several Ahmadinejad supporters cruised the streets waving Iranian flags out of car windows and shouting "Mousavi is dead!" …

Iran does not allow international election monitors. During the 2005 election, when Ahmadinejad won the presidency, there were some allegations of vote rigging from losers, but the claims were never investigated.

If only we had the nerve to challenge ACORN and our state-run media this way.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, June 13th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Police Crack Down On Election Protesters”

  1. MinnesotaRush says:

    Iran’s Fairness Doctrine …

    “Communications disruptions began in the later hours of voting Friday — suggesting an information clampdown. State television and radio only broadcast the Interior Ministry’s vote count and not Mousavi’s midnight news conference.”

    “Nationwide, the text messaging system remained down Saturday and several pro-Mousavi Web sites were blocked or difficult to access.”

    Visions of things to come.

  2. bronzeprofessor says:

    I have to say, my view on this might be unpopular, but I agree with the final comment in the article posting by S&L. Why didn’t we go out to protest all the shenanigans by ACORN? Why aren’t Americans fighting campaign-finance laws that restrict our free speech? Why aren’t we up in arms about the way pro-Obama coverage eclipsed everything in the press here? If Ahmadinejad is sinful for giving people potatoes in exchange for votes, then why aren’t we screaming when Obama promises a computer in every home if people vote for him (and free college, free health care, and all the rest).

  3. tranquil.night says:

    The article goes on to say – and I’m amazed they even chronicled this openly

    “The majority of Iranians are certain that the fraud is widespread,” said Tehran-based analyst Saeed Leilaz. “It’s like taking 10 million votes away from Mousavi and giving them to Ahmadinejad.”

    Whether this is enough to spawn a sustained opposition movement remains an open question.

    Much depends on how much they are willing to risk. The heartland of Iran’s liberal ranks is the educated and relatively affluent districts of north Tehran. It’s also the showcase for the gains in social freedoms that began with the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997: makeup, Internet cafes, head scarves that barely cover hair and satellite dishes that are technically illegal but common.

    The ruling clerics tolerate all that to a point — part of a tacit arrangement that the liberties stay as long as reformists remain politically meek. A real protest movement could threaten their coveted Western-looking lifestyle and risk a brutal response from groups vowing to defend the Islamic system.

    First, most intellectual reformists left Iran in the late 70’s. They came here. This current opposition was galvanized through the internet and texting amongst Iranian youngsters under 30 that have grown up entirely under a tyrannical regime and want more.

    Mousavi is riling people up out there despite the fact that he came with the stamp of the approval of the clerics which for me begs the question: are they inciting this violence purposely to give them an excuse to squash the little western freedoms that have taken hold there and get ahold of their youth?

    Mousavi as president of Iran would’ve changed nothing in major Iranian policy, especially not the nuclear program that’s draining most of their resources and tanking their economy. That’s entirely controlled by the Mullahs.

    Whether Mousavi is deliberately leading his voters to ruin or is just another ignorant pawn probably doesn’t matter; his supporters were drawn to him because he was the most viable “pro-western” candidate for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did turn up dead either way when this is done, and we end up with an even more toe-in-line Iranian population afterwards.

  4. beautyofreason says:

    Some news reports say that 50 – 100 Iranian protesters have been killed in these protests thus far.

    I suspect if any human rights violation is perpetrated by a Muslim group, Obama will turn a blind eye to all but the worst acts of violence.

    I doubt he is keen to mention any atrocity unless it can be pegged to Western societies or the United States. He won’t mention the apartheid based on religious hate in Saudi Arabia, but he will call the leader of the country “wise and gracious.” Ask him about African Americans and he’ll have loads to say – but ask him about abuses against other peoples (including Muslims) by Islamic governments and he is completely silent.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »