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Tehran Overnight

The protests in Iran are continuing despite the increasingly repressive actions by the security forces.

From the BBC: ‘Ten killed’ in Iran clashes – state TV

At least 10 people were killed when police clashed with “terrorists” in Tehran on Saturday, state TV says.

The official reports, which cannot be confirmed, accuse “rioters” of setting two petrol stations and a mosque ablaze in protest at a disputed poll result.

State media also said family members of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani – a powerful opponent of the re-elected president – were arrested during the protests.

Meanwhile Iran has ordered the BBC’s Jon Leyne out of the country.

“With regret, we can confirm that Jon Leyne, the BBC’s permanent correspondent in Tehran has been asked to leave by the Iranian authorities. The BBC office remains open,” a BBC statement said.

Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV said on Sunday its Tehran office, which was closed by the Iranian authorities a week ago, had been ordered to stay shut indefinitely for “unfair reporting” of the 19 [sic] June election.

In other developments:

  • Iran’s most senior dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri calls for three days of national mourning for those killed in street protests, Reuters news agency reports
  • Former pro-reform President Mohammad Khatami calls for the release of detained activists
  • Iran police chief Gen Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam warns any further unrest will be confronted “decisively”
  • Iranian officials again attack the UK for “interfering”.

Well, there is nothing worse than having foreign media in your country when you are beating up and occasionally killing your own citizens.

CNN is still reporting but staying with official media where possible

Police have not been given permission to use firearms in confronting protesters, Tehran Police Chief Azizollah Rajabpour told Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency. Police have not used firearms on the public, he said.

Allegations to the contrary are false and “spread by those who want to muddy the waters,” the agency reported.

… Iran’s influential parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani implicated the same people — the Guardian Council — of siding with one candidate.

“Although the Guardian Council is made up of religious individuals, I wish certain members would not side with a certain presidential candidate,” Larijani told the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) on Saturday, without naming whom he meant.

Larijani’s statement was in direct contrast to that of Khamenei.

Khamenei, in a sermon Friday, declared the elections a “definitive victory” for Ahmadinejad and rejected charges of vote rigging.

“A majority of people are of an opinion separate” from that of a minority, Larijani said.

While Larijani and Ahmadinejad have had a tense relationship in the past, Larijani is seen as being aligned with Khamenei. For him to directly contradict the leader’s statement amounts to another example of the growing disagreement among ruling conservatives.

Meanwhile, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, in an open letter posted on his Web site, said, “the presence of the people is one of the achievements of the revolution and must be respected.”

“Sensational and insulting propaganda against the people, who have always acted independently, and insinuating that their healthy movement is directed by foreigners is itself a sign of the implementation of faulty policies which will widen the gap between the people and the government,” Khatami wrote.

The Tehran police chief apparently believes in the “bullet fairy”, because people who have been under fire can tell the difference between gunfire and fire crackers, and there has been gunfire in the background of the audio of reports from the scene by media outlets. While it may be that he is actually pointing at the Basij as the source for the gunfire, they are part of the “security operation” and he shouldn’t be hiding behind weasel words.

Khamenei totally misread the populous and thought that he could just give them a pronouncement from his office and that would be end of it. Grand Ayatollah Khomeini could do that and have it accepted because he had the respect of everyone. Khamenei was given the job of Supreme Leader and then give the promotion to Grand Ayatollah without having the necessary qualifications. He lacks the personal following that a true Grand Ayatollah must have. He also lacks the personal charisma that is also part of the job description. The majority of the Iranian population isn’t following his lead, and he should have known they wouldn’t and not tied himself and his office to Ahmadinejad. He has escalated the issue from the manner of an election, to the structure of the government of Iran. He has weakened the office of Supreme Leader, perhaps fatally.


1 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 06.21.09 at 10:39 pm }

…what I find interesting from the recent reports is the fact of somebody messing around with Rafsanjani’s family. Although to the rest of the world he is mostly a name from the past as a former president (and one for whom things didn’t go all that well), he wields a certain under-reported amount of power and influence in both society and theocracy in Iran. To call him “a powerful opponent” of Ahmadinejad doesn’t do justice to their mutual emnity, and the arrest of his family members suggests a degree of political crisis that is far deeper than what is being suggested by street protests or even by Larijani’s statement…
.-= ´s last blog ..Today’s "Why Am I Not Surprised" Moment =-.

2 Bryan { 06.21.09 at 11:17 pm }

Rafsanjani is the chairman of the Assembly of Experts that monitors and selects Supreme Leaders, and the chair of the Expediency Council that works out compromises between the President and the parliament. He is a billionaire, a leader in the Iranian business community, and a cleric. He is no one to mess around with if you can possibly avoid it.

They seem to pushing him, and that is a very stupid thing to do.

3 Badtux { 06.22.09 at 10:50 am }

From the reports on the ground it does appear the police are not shooting at the protesters, haven’t seen any reports of it happening from Iranians anyhow, they always say “Basij”. The cops are really in a bad place here, they don’t have any stomach at all for killing their fellow Iranians but of course fear for their jobs so have to don the riot gear and go out there and half-heartedly whack a few heads from time to time and then get “overwhelmed” by the protesters. The Basij, on the other hand… they remind me of the poor white trash kids I grew up with and that I taught. Vicious, love to fight, hate anybody who is above them on the social scale (which is just about everybody), hate anybody who is *below* them on the social scale (i.e., black people and Mexicans, since this is deep South), and a perfect militia for anybody who wants to recruit them to kick ass and take names, with *no* compunctions about using any force they’ve been given authorization, either explicit or implicit, to use… and there is a LOT of them. And they love ole’ Ahmadinejad. No problem with motivation there…

4 Bryan { 06.22.09 at 12:27 pm }

If you replaced the white “purity” shirts of the Basij uniform with white robes, everyone would see what they are. They also put agent provocateurs in the crowds to start trouble.

The Basijs are the “terrorists” in the mix, the bullies who do all of the illegal searches and random arrests. Most of the reports are gunfire from plainclothes agents. No one really controls them after they are unleashed, and they have no self-control.

The Basij are on a “mission from G-d”, with all of the excuses implied by that phrase in full force. They are the Iranian version of the Klan.