Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran June 16 in rival demonstrations over the country’s disputed presidential election, pushing the crisis into its fourth day despite a government offer to recount a limited number of ballots. With a harsh media crackdown in place, word has been slow to get out of protests outside Tehran—but at least two are reported dead in Tabriz, capital of Azerbaijan province.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made an extraordinary appeal in response to Iran’s largest wave of protest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “In the elections, voters had different tendencies, but they equally believe in the ruling system and support the Islamic Republic,” Khamenei said at a meeting with representatives of the four presidential candidates. “Nobody should take any action that would create tension, and all have to explicitly say they are against tension and riots.”
The call for a limited recount was met with refusal from reformist politicians, who said they would accept only a new election. On the streets of Tehran, opposition supporters marched in a line more than a mile long—mostly in silence, some carrying signs in English asking, “Where is my vote?”
The New York Times noted that the numbers of opposition protesters June 16 did not match those of the previous day, when hundreds of thousands of joined in the largest public demonstration since the 1979 Revolution. But harsh restrictions on the media may be masking the true dimension of the movement.
Reporters working for international news outlets are allowed talk about the rallies in their live reports—but not to leave their hotel rooms and offices. The decision was an apparent reaction to video showing violence at recent protests.
But a contact in Tabriz told Global Post by telephone that two people were killed June 15 in front of the city’s Abrasan Square, close to Tabriz University. She said police were everywhere in the city the following day. As in Tehran, residents in Tabriz go up to their rooftops every night and shout “Allah-Akbar” (God is great)—an explicit invocation of a tactic from the 1979 Revolution. (NYT, CNN, June 17; AP, Global Post, June 16)
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