Iran Focus: Tehran, Jun. 22 – Up to 70,000 angry Tehranis on Monday rallied in central Tehran despite a massive government clampdown on protests and a warning by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that it would unleash its wrath on anyone breaking a government ban on demonstrations.
Tehran, Jun. 22 – Up to 70,000 angry Tehranis on Monday rallied in central Tehran despite a massive government clampdown on protests and a warning by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that it would unleash its wrath on anyone breaking a government ban on demonstrations.
Helicopters were flying overhead and sharp shooters with binocular were stationed on rooftops overlooking the square.
Tehran residents protested near Haft-Tir (Rezai-ha) Square, but hundreds of state security force, the paramilitary Bassij and IRGC personnel moved in to disperse the protestors. At about 5pm local time, protestors began chanting “Allah-o Akbar”. An hour later, thousands of people had gathered in the square. Iran Focus has learnt that security forces fired live rounds and tear gas to force an end to the protest. They also ordered people in the vicinity to keep moving and not stop even for brief periods.
The IRGC earlier on Monday ordered demonstrators to "end the sabotage and rioting activities" and said their resistance is a "conspiracy" against Iran.
In a statement it warned demonstrators to "be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the IRGC, Bassij and other security forces". The hard-line Bassij militia is a paramilitary force that acts as the clerical regime’s storm troopers to put down anti-government demonstrations.
Up to a million people took part in anti-government rallies in Tehran and other major cities last week, protesting the re-appointment of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following the 12 June presidential election contest which they believe was rigged. Iran does not allow UN staff to monitor its elections.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday rallied behind Ahmadinejad and demanded protestors stop their action. “You will be responsible for your own actions”, he said.
Despite the stern warning, protests erupted in Tehran and other major cities, including Shiraz in the south and Mashhad in the north-east on Saturday, leading to hit and run clashes between protestors and security forces. Since Khamenei’s remarks on Friday, demonstrators have markedly directed their protests at him, with chants of “death to Khamenei”. Venting their anger at the clerical establishment on Saturday, many young protestors in Tehran chanted “death to the dictator” and some held up banners calling for ‘democracy’.
The opposition group People’s Mujahedin says that 150 people were killed by security forces in Iran during the violence on Saturday. Official figures say 17 people have died in the week of unrest, and state television says the Mujahedin have had a hand in the street violence.
Protests and clashes were also reported in northern Tehran on Sunday despite the ban.
The country's highest electoral authority, the Guardian Council, on Monday acknowledged that there were voting irregularities in 50 electoral districts, the most serious official admission so far of problems in the election. But the council insisted the problems do not affect the outcome of the vote. Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei was quoted on the state broadcaster as saying that its probe showed more votes were cast in these constituencies than there were registered voters.
But this "has no effect on the result of the elections," he said.
Based in part on wire reports