In the wake of the Ayatollah Khamenei's stern warning to reform protesters on June 19, the National Guard, Riot Police, and Basijis began a major crackdown on public demonstrations. According to the Iranian media, 10 people died in violent clashes between security forces and protesters on June 20. In addition, the state media reported that 457 people had been arrested, although foreign sources estimate the number at more than 2,000.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported that security forces have been arresting major reform politicians and clerics, student leaders, journalists, bloggers, human rights lawyers and activists, and reformist party officials in Tehran and other cities.
According to the HRW North Africa and Middle East Director, Sarah Leah Witson, "It is clear that Iran's supreme leader has sent a strong message to the security forces to end the protests, regardless of the level of violence involved."
We have all noticed the absence of persiankiwi since June 24, but we still do not know whether our reliable source has gone underground or been arrested. We pray for the former.
Fear and state-imposed restrictions have silenced many would-be protesters, but have also forced others to find new ways to gather and demonstrate legally. Yesterday, TehranBureau published an account of a protester at the Ghoba Mosque in North Tehran, the site of another demonstration.
June 28 marks the death of the Ayatollah Mohammad Behesti, who was killed in a bombing in 1981. The Islamic Republic commemorates his martyrdom in an annual ceremony that is open to the public. Some 3,000 reformist supporters used this legal venue to stage a protest yesterday. They also chanted "The vote is the measure," a slogan made famous by the Ayatollah Khomeini in reference to the popular vote. Demonstrators borrowed the slogan to protest the disputed June 12 election results. Unfortunately, the demonstration ended with the Basijis descending on protesters in the street and shots being fired.
To read the full account of this woman's experience at the demonstration inside the Ghoba Mosque and on the street, click here.
To hear the chant and view footage from inside the Ghoba Mosque see the video below:
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Human Rights Watch