Iran: authorities supress protests, confirm Ahmadinejad victory
Iran's Guardian Council June 29 confirmed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in the disputed June 12 election as police and Basij militiamen wielding batons and cables prevented more than a thousand demonstrators from gathering to protest the results at various points around Tehran. "The Guardian Council, after studying the issues in numerous sessions, dismisses all the complaints received and approves the accuracy of the 10th presidential election," the chairman, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, was quoted as saying. A Council spokesman added: "The dossier of the...election has been closed today."
Despite the intimidating police and paramilitary presence, more than 1,000 protesters tried to form a human chain by silently linking hands along Vali Asr Street, the capital's longest thoroughfare. They were dispersed by riot police flailing batons and heavy electrical cables. (McClatchy, Reuters, June 29)
British embassy personnel released
Iran also said June 29 it had freed five British embassy staff arrested on accusations of fueling post-election unrest. "Out of nine people arrested, five have been released," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said at a press conference.
The Fars news agency, announcing the arrests the previous day, said the embassy staff had played a "considerable role" in the unrest that swept Iran after the disputed elections. Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie accused the embassy of sending local staff "undercover among rioters in order to push its own agenda," the official IRNA news agency reported.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said London had officially protested the arrests, which he described as "harassment and intimidation." He dismissed as baseless claims the embassy was behind the unrest. (Middle East Online, June 29)
Propaganda war escalates
Iran's official TV network is reporting "new revelations" in the slaying of Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old music student whose death helped spur the protest movement. According to the report by Press TV, Neda was killed "in an ally away from the scene of clashes." The network quoted the man who allegedly drove her to hospital as saying her death appeared to be "highly suspicious," as there were no police, Basij militia, or any other security forces nearby.
"People were standing, there was traffic and people were walking by," the alleged driver said, according to Press TV. "Suddenly I saw a girl put her hand on her chest and fall down, and blood was coming out of her mouth and nose."
The report said that the driver's claims add to the "confusion already surrounding the shooting, which has been blamed upon Iranian security forces by the Western media hype."
Press TV claimed the first indication that her death was suspicious was the discovery that she was killed by a small caliber handgun, "a weapon that is not used by Iranian security forces." After several days of verbal threats of a deadly crackdown from Iran's rulers, Press TV disingenuously quoted Tehran Police Chief Azizallah Rajabzadeh saying: "Policemen are not authorized to use weapons against people." (CBS, June 29)
See our last post on Iran.