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Iran Protests Continue, State Media Confirm Deaths

By Arjang Hemmati
Epoch Times Staff
Created: June 17, 2009 Last Updated: June 22, 2009
Related articles: World » Middle East
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Iranian supporters of defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate June 16, 2009 in Tehran, Iran.  (Getty Images)

Iranian supporters of defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate June 16, 2009 in Tehran, Iran. (Getty Images)

Despite warnings by defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi to not hold protests on Tuesday due to safety reasons, rallies continued in Tehran for a fourth day to protest alleged presidential election fraud.

According to witnesses, Tuesday’s protest was quieter compared to previous days, in an apparent attempt to create an impression of a more peaceful protest. The protesters gathered in Northern Tehran and in front of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting building.

Supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was announced as the landslide winner of Friday’s presidential election, also mobilized thousands of people to demonstrate in Central Tehran.

Iran’s state media have confirmed that seven people died in clashes during Monday’s pro-Mousavi protests, the first official confirmation of deaths related to the protests.

Hamed, a protestor who attended Monday’s rally among hundreds of thousand others around the Azadi Square, said he heard shots coming from the rooftop of a building and saw a man in the row in front of him fatally shot.

“When I came home at night and watched TV I realized that the shooting was from a Basij [voluntary militia] compound.”

“There are great numbers of people and they are all upset. It doesn’t seem like they’re going to back down if the regime doesn’t recognize Mousavi as the president,” he said.

The protests have also spread to other major cities in Iran including Isfahan, Tabriz, and Mashhad.

In an amateur video posted on Youtube (the source is unconfirmed), young people who are said to be Isfahan University students are seen injured after being hit with what seems to be airsoft gun pellets. Students in other universities have also been reportedly attacked, including Tehran University.

Isfahan resident Shaheen says he was stopped by police early Tuesday morning as he was walking home and was sprayed with pepper spray.

He said the street leading to his home was blocked off and he asked the security force personnel if he could go home and they said that he should come with them. When he asked for the reason, he was beaten to the ground and sprayed with pepper spray. Being allergic, he was in critical condition and so was allowed to be taken to the hospital.

Iran’s Guardian Council, an influential 12-member council that also oversees elections, has agreed to carry out a probe into the election fraud allegations following the mass protests but has ruled out a re-election.

The fact that Mousavi and the other reformist candidate Mehdi Karoubi, who has criticized the current administration more sharply than Mousavi, lost in their stronghold areas and the unusual high speed of counting the votes have raised suspicion of election irregularities.

The head of Mousavi’s vote-monitoring committee Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour explained the irregularity allegations further in a press conference on Tuesday.

He mentioned that the opposition candidate aides were not allowed to verify that the ballot boxes were empty before the elections and that some electoral districts had more votes than the number of eligible voters.

The authorities also clamped down further on foreign media on Tuesday, effectively forbidding foreign journalists from leaving their offices and reporting on the protests.

In an apparent attempt to prevent circulation of messages about protests, access to cell phones and SMS have also been limited in Iran. Iran’s youth have in turn turned to social networking services such as Twitter to send out messages and communicate with the outside world.

After being asked by the U.S. State Department, Twitter has delayed a planned upgrade that required a service shutdown to avoid disruption to the communication in Iran.

U.S. president Barack Obama has expressed that he is concerned about Iran’s presidential election but said that the U.S. must not be seen as “meddling” in Iran’s internal affairs.




   

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