Arab Unrest Explodes in Iran

Azadi Square Teheran

With the help of the internet and opposition websites such as Saham News and Kaleme, tens of thousands of protesters organized and marched down Revolution Boulevard towards Azadi Square in Teheran on Monday before they were violently dispersed by security forces that used batons and tear gas to do the job over most of the day.

When it was all over on Monday evening dozens of protesters were detained by police while others were chased and beaten according to videos posted on the internet. The semi-official Iran news agency Fars reported one person killed and several others in serious condition due to shooting by the police, while the government blamed “agitators and seditionists” for the violence.

Revolutionary Guard member Commander Hossein Hamedani told the official Islamic Republic News Agency his opinion of the demonstrators. “We definitely see them as enemies of the revolution and spies, and we will confront them with force.”

Uploaded to YouTube are videos of demonstrators marching, burning posters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other actions, violent and otherwise.

Those who had called for rallies in support of the insurgency in Egypt and the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak after almost 30 years rule had their homes blocked by the Iranian government.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the following statement after her meeting with the US House Speaker John Boehner: “There needs to be a commitment to open up the political system.” She added that the crackdown “is an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime” which “hailed” the Egyptian uprising but “once again illustrate their true nature.”

A week before the Iranian rally two opposition leaders were detained by Iranian security forces after they had called for their supporters to come to Azadi Square. One of them, Mir Hossein Moussavi is the force behind the opposition website, Kaleme, which was where the call for the rally was published. Kaleme also reported that cell phone service and phone lines to the area where Moussavi lives had been cut off and also said that Moussavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard was not permitted to leave her home on Monday.

Outside Mehdi Karrubi’s house (the other detained opposition leader) surveillance equipment which had been installed by the government had been destroyed or stolen according to Kaleme.