More Demos in Iran: ‘We’re Here for Our Revolution’

Jun 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)

More Demos in Iran: ‘We’re Here for Our Revolution’

Violence Escalates in Iran, as a Vote Recount Is Announced

By JIM SCIUTTO

TEHRAN, June 16, 2009 —

Iranian protesters unhappy with last weeks presidential elections are planning to hold another rally today in Tehran even after a bloody night of clashes left at least 7 people dead.

Violence escalated overnight following the Monday’s huge rally. Iranian state radio says 7 people were killed in clashes with “thugs attacked a military outpost” after a mass rally.

Protesters are being shot

Protesters are being shot

But we witnessed Mondays protest and it was very peaceful.

Unlike previous protests dominated by young people, Mondays protest mixed young and old, students and professionals.

A male protester told us, “It’s very clear, clear as daylight, you see the crowd. The government has really changed the results.”

A female protestor chimed in, saying, “We’re here for our revolution.” Like many here, she expressed the hope that the demos can bring about a change in the government.

In the midst of these demos, there are some signs of the government ceding ground. In a completely unexpected development, Iran’s Guardian Council announced a recount of the presidential vote, raising the possibility that the outcome may be overturned.

But state television quoted a council spokesman saying the recount would be limited to polling stations where candidates claim irregularities took place.

Iran’s ruling Guardian Council calls the results provisional.

Protesters sent out another round of Twitter messages Tuesday, announcing plans to hold another rally. “Alert: Mousavi march still on 5PM,: one message read, Reuters reported.

Opposition presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi and two other moderate candidates contesting the election results are scheduled to meet members of the Guardian Council today. They have been calling for the election results to be voided and new election held.

Monday, Mousavi supporters flooded through downtown Tehran – numbering hundreds of thousands – making this possibly the largest demonstration here since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The demonstration was officially illegal. The government denied protestors permission but many defied that decision to show support for Mousavi and anger at an election they see as stolen.

Mousavi, making his first public appearance since election day, told the crowd to “stand up to this charade.”

All was peaceful until early in the evening pro-government paramilitary fired into the crowd killing one protester, and injuring at least four others.

The shots came from the roof, an eyewitness told us over the phone, hitting a car with protesters riding on top. One man was hit and flung from the car.

The government blames the violence on the protesters, calling them vandals. But many Iranians don’t accept that explanation, and the government now faces an enormous popular wave of dissent.

Violence is now spreading around the country. Mousavi’s website reports that a protestor has been killed in Shiraz, while the BBC is reporting instances of live fire being used by police in provincial cities.

Fighting Bullets With Twitter & YouTube in Iran

Protesters are fighting bullets with technology. Wherever we go, we’re surrounded by people, like us, filming on their cell-phones, and spreading the word on websites like Facebook and Twitter, which has led government censors to block them.

A Mousavi supporter scoffed at the government, saying “the government thinks that blocking websites can prevent the protests […] but if people want, they can reach their goals anyway.”

And the word still gets out, with amateur videos being posted on YouTube and shown to the world.

And there is another large opposition demonstration planned for today, with supporters of President Ahmadinejad planning their own demo at the same square, setting up the possibility of more clashes.

As unrest grows at home, Ahmadinejad is making his first overseas trip since the hotly contested election, visiting the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. He is attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit as an observer. The president told the summit that “the age of empires” had ended, but he made no mention of the protests, even as the international community raises questions about the validity of the election.

Monday, President Obama said he was “deeply troubled by the violence I have been seeing on television. I think that the, the democratic process, free speech, the ability for people to peacefully dissent, all those are universal values and need to be respected.”

He said the U.S. “will continue to pursue a tough direct dialogue between our two countries and we’ll see where it takes us. But even as we do so, it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days and what I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was.”

But he added, the disputed election would not change his belief in greater diplomatic efforts with Iran.

“I have always felt that, as odious as I feel some of President Ahmadinejad’s statements (are), as deep as the differences that exist between the United States and Iran on core issues, the use of tough hard headed diplomacy, diplomacy without illusions, is critical when it comes to pursuing a core set of national security interests,” the president said. “We will continue to pursue a tough direct dialogue between our two countries.”

ABC’s Clarissa Ward contributed to the reporting of this story from Moscow and ABC’s Jake Tapper contributed from Washington.

Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures

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