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Iran: Election clashes mount as West escalates pressure
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 : Over 100,000 people demonstrated Monday in the streets of Tehran against the results of last week’s presidential election as the US and the major Western European powers intensified their own demands for an investigation into the opposition’s charges of vote-rigging.
The protest was the largest in a series of actions including sporadic rioting by supporters of presidential challenger Mirhossein Mousavi since the June 12 poll. The government had earlier banned all demonstrations, but there was no attempt by security forces to break up the gathering. While it was largely peaceful, the protest was marred by a clash outside a compound used by Basijis, a volunteer militia loyal to the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One demonstrator was reportedly killed and several others wounded by gunfire. A photographer who was at the scene told news agencies that shooting broke out after the crowd attacked the compound. Footage of the clash broadcast Monday night showed the crowd stoning the building and the militiamen guarding it, who answered with gunfire. In retaliation, the crowd set the structure on fire. The night before, thousands of students at Tehran University staged a demonstration, chanting “Death to the dictator”—referring to Ahmadinejad—and clashing with riot police. The students threw bricks and paving stones at the police, who responded with tear gas and plastic bullets. Also on Sunday, Ahmadinejad held a huge victory rally in the center of the capital. It received little coverage in the Western media, but a reporter for the Irish Times recounted, “In some districts, the mood was jubilant, as tens of thousands of supporters of newly re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made their way home from a victory rally in central Tehran.” The Iranian capital, he said, “felt like two cities instead of one,” divided between the celebrations in the poorer neighborhoods of southern Tehran and the protests centered in the city’s more affluent northern suburbs. Read More