Police read riot act in Tehran
Iranian police fired tear gas on Monday as about 1,000 opposition demonstrators gathered in central Tehran in defiance of a ban by the authorities, witnesses said.world Updated: Jun 23, 2009 00:47 IST
Iranian police fired tear gas on Monday as about 1,000 opposition demonstrators gathered in central Tehran in defiance of a ban by the authorities, witnesses said.
One witness said police in helmets and wielding clubs fired at least seven rounds of tear gas to disperse a group of about 200 protesters as they started to chant Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest).
Police also arrested several protesters and at least 10 were rounded up and placed in a police pick-up truck, the witness said.
The protesters were gathering in the capital’s Haft-e Tir square — a popular shopping destination in Tehran and one of the capital’s biggest squares — on the latest day of demonstrations over the disputed presidential election.
Witnesses said around 300 to 400 riot policemen and members of the Islamic volunteer Basij militia fanned out in the area as people began taking to the streets.
“There are about 1,000 people gathering around the square,” one witness told AFP. “Riot police are taking position to charge.”
A call to rally at Haft-e Tir was issued on some social networking sites, including Twitter, to pay tribute to a woman known by her first name Neda, allegedly killed by gunfire on Saturday.
The foreign media is banned from covering demonstrations, effectively keeping their journalists off the streets, but Iranians have been using sites such as Twitter and YouTube to get news and video footage to the outside world.
In the latest crackdown on the media, Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari of Newsweek has been detained without charge and not been heard of since, the magazine said.
The Revolutionary Guards, an elite force set up to protect the Islamic republic in the wake of the 1979 revolution, has vowed to crush protests over the June 12 election.
The opposition led by defeated candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi claims the poll that returned hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second four-year term was rife with irregularities.
The spokesman for the 12-member Guardians Council, which is considering a partial recount after the opposition branded the election a “shameful fraud” and called for a new vote, acknowledged some discrepancies on polling day.
Abbasali Kadkhodai said that in 50 out of the total 366 electoral districts, there were more votes cast than eligible voters. The defeated candidates have complained that this occurred in up to 170 districts, and have listed a total of 646 irregularities.
British think-tank Chatham House said the results showed “irregularities” in the turnout and “highly implausible” swings to Ahmadinejad, according to an analysis published on Sunday.
There would have to have been a radical shift in rural voting patterns and a “highly unlikely” change of heart among former reformist voters for Ahmadinejad to win as he did, the study concluded.