Reports: Police savagely beat protesters

A senior cleric calls for the government to support protesters, while one woman recounts the bloody scene in Tehran

By Vincent Rossmeier

Published June 24, 2009 1:25PM (EDT)

UPDATE 1:30 p.m. E.S.T.:

  • Reports continue to appear about the gruesome government reaction to protesters today in Tehran.
  • Mehdi Karroubi, one of the defeated presidential candidates, has directly challenged those in power in Iran, calling the government illegitimate.
  • Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a senior Iranian cleric, wrote on his website in support of the protesters, telling the Iranian government that "Resisting the people's demand is religiously prohibited."
  • Tehran's mayor has asked the government to legalize peaceful demonstrations.
  • Iran's official Press TV reaffirms that Mousavi has denied taking any part in the organization of today's protests outside Iran's parliament in Tehran. However, the report also quotes Ali Shahrokhi, the head of the Iranian parliament's judiciary commission, who said that Mousavi should be prosecuted for disrupting the nation and undermining the government in the wake of the contested presidential election.
  • CNN conducted this truly horrifying interview with a woman purpotedly at today's protests in Baharestan Square. At one point she says of the police's reaction to protesters, "They beat a woman so savagely that she was drenched in blood and her husband, he fainted. They were beating people like hell. It was a massacre." At the end, she pleads for help for the Iranian people.


UPDATE 11:00 a.m. E.S.T.:

  • Reports and Twitters coming out of Iran suggest that an attempted rally by anti-government demonstrators in Tehran today has ended in bloodshed. Unconfirmed accounts indicate authorities broke up a rally of about 5,000 people in Baharestan Square outside of the Iranian parliament and that shots were fired at protesters. Mousavi has distanced himself from the protest. Persiankiwi, a reliable Twitterer throughout the unrest, writes of today's protests:

I see many ppl with broken arms/legs/heads - blood everywhere - pepper gas like war

saw 7/8 militia beating one woman with baton on ground - she had no defense nothing -  sure that she is dead

ppl run into alleys and militia standing there waiting - from 2 sides they attack ppl in middle of alleys

all shops was closed - nowhere to go - they follow ppls with helicopters - smoke and fire is everywhere

  • The relationship between Britain and Iran continues to deteriorate. Today, Iranian authorities announced that they had arrested several foreign nationals, including some that hold British passports. Iran's Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ezhei said that those arrested had planned bombings prior to Iran's June 12 presidential election. Mohseni-Ezhei commented on the arrests, adding, "England is among the countries that fan the flames with their heavy propaganda, which is against all diplomatic norms ... And the BBC Farsi has also played a major role. Also, a number of people carrying British passports have played a role in the recent disturbances."
  • Mousavi's campaign office has been raided by Iranian police. The New York Times identified that it was Mousavi's office that had been taken over by police after Iran's official Press TV alleged:

The Tehran Police say a building has been identified in the city which has been used as a 'headquarters' to promote post-election unrest.

The Intelligence and Security Department of the Tehran Police has declared that the building -- located on Tehran's Haft-e-Tir Square -- was investigated on Monday night after a search warrant was obtained, IRNA reported.

The plotters have been arrested and are currently under investigation.

Documents found in the building indicate an ongoing plot against Iran's security was being implemented, the police said in a statement.

  • Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated today that the government will not give in to those who are contesting the results of the presidential election. Khamenei said, "I had insisted and will insist on implementing the law on the election issue ... Neither the establishment nor the nation will yield to pressure at any cost."
  • According to the AFP, police have arrested 25 journalists who worked at a newspaper created by Mousavi's campaign.
  • CNN reports that clerics have begun to join the anti-government protesters on the streets, a possible sign that some of the nation's conservative religious Mullahs could be turning against Supreme Leader Khamenei.
  • Iran's Interior Minister blames "Britain, America and the Zionist regime" for the protests in Tehran.
  • Mousavi's wife said Iran is now under "martial law."
  • The Iranian government is claiming Neda was killed either by militants hostile to the government or the BBC.
  • The doctor who tried to save Neda's life has fled Iran and arrived safely in the U.K.


Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

MORE FROM Vincent Rossmeier

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Iran Middle East War Room