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Protests Continue in Iran; Government Cracks Down on Foreign Media
Wednesday, June 17, 2009 :Thousands of Iranians took to the streets Tuesday as reformist politicians including defeated Presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi rejected the Guardian Council's offer of a limited recount of the disputed votes in Friday's election. Both critics and supporters of President Ahmadinejad staged competing rallies in Tehran Tuesday while Iranian security forces arrested at least 3 prominent reformists including former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi and Saeed Hajjarian as well as leading human rights lawyer Abdolfottah Soltani.
The Iranian government has also revoked press credentials for foreign journalists and banned coverage of rallies from the streets. But information about the protests and the crackdown continues to travel out of Iran through videos posted on the web showing unauthorized demonstrations in cities across Iran, confrontations between students and pro-government militias, moments of camaraderie between demonstrators and police, and some very graphic images of demonstrators and students who were beaten and killed. At least 12 demonstrators and students have reportedly been killed and the Los Angeles Times reports that upward of 1500 people were arrested and released with warnings since Friday.
President Obama said Monday that he was “deeply troubled” by the violence since the election. On Tuesday the President urged against the repression of Iranians who want to see more openness, debate, and democracy.
Over 100 university professors have reportedly resigned in protest over the deaths of students and Iran"s leading dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossain Ali Montazeri also called for three days of mourning for the dead. His public letter on the election reads “No one in his sane mind can accept these results.”
Meanwhile the Supreme Leader met with representatives of all four Presidential candidates and called for national unity but did not address the question of a new election.
As Western European leaders continued to voice concern over the election and the ensuing violence, conservative parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani rejected international concern over the elections.
Arang Keshavarzian, Associate Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He has just returned from Iran, where he spent the last 3 weeks, following the election campaign and its immediate aftermath. He serves on the Editorial Committee of MERIP, the Middle East Research and Information Project, where he helped edit the Spring 2009 special issue on “the Iranian Revolution at 30.” He is the author of “Bazaar and State in Iran: the Politics of the Tehran Marketplace.”