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Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Tehran Accusing Ahmadinejad Of Stealing Election; Guardian Council Orders Partial Recount
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 :In Iran protests against Friday's election results continue for the fourth day and the powerful Guardian Council says it is ready to hold a recount of disputed votes. The announcement follows a mass rally Monday in Tehran of several hundred thousand people who defied an official ban on a public rally to protest the election results. Iranian state radio reports that seven people were killed at the rally.
The radio report said the shootings were a response to “several thugs [who] wanted to attack a military post and vandalize public property.” The first confirmed fatality took place when shots were fired late Monday evening at what had been a largely peaceful rally. Photographs from the scene show one man dead and others injured. Iran"s paramilitary group known as the “Basij” are reportedly responsible for the shootings.
Unconfirmed reports of widespread repression and additional fatalities suggest that more people might have been killed in the days since the election, including 5 students at a Tehran university dormitory and 7 demonstrators in the southern city of Shiraz.
President Obama said Monday that he was “deeply troubled” by the violence but would continue to pursue “tough direct diplomacy” with Iran.
Monday’s demonstration has been described as the largest since the 1979 revolution. It stretched for 5 and a half miles and crowds thronged Tehran’s central Azaadi or Freedom square for over 5 hours. Defeated Presidential candidate Mir Hussain Mousavi briefly addressed his supporters, calling for new elections. According to the official results Mousavi won 34 percent of the vote but President Ahmadinejad won 63 percent.
On Monday Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei ordered the Guardian Council to investigate allegations of fraud.
Nahid Siamdoust, TIME magazine correspondent in Tehran