Tehran tense after violent clashes

13 people die in street clashes, family members of former prez Rafsanjani held

Tehran tense after violent clashes

Supporters of Iran’s defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi throw stones at riot police during a demonstration in Tehran on Saturday.  AFP

It was unclear how the confrontation would play out now that the government has abandoned its restraint and large numbers of protesters have demonstrated their willingness to risk injury and even death as they continue to dispute the results of Iran’s presidential election nine days ago.

Iranian state television reported that 13 people were killed in the clashes on Saturday.
State television also reported that the government had arrested five members of the family of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who heads two influential councils in Iran, a move that escalates the government’s crackdown against the reform movement.

Rafsanjani, one of the fathers of the revolution, has been locked in a power struggle with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and worked closely with the reform movement during the presidential election.

The televison report identified two of those arrested as Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, as well as her own daughter.

There was no sign on the streets early on Sunday of the heavy security forces from the night before, but there were reports that protestors planned to demonstrate again later.
Since the crisis broke open with massive streets protests —posing the greatest challenge to the Islamic theocracy since the 1979 revolution — the government has declared its refusal to compromise, instead turning loose its security forces and militia to crush opposition voices.

Policy of repression

The government has pressed its policy of repression and intimidation the last several days, arresting reformers, intellectuals and others who promoted reform ideas or challenged the leadership’s version of events.

But now as the numbers of dead and injured begin to mount, it is unclear how, even if the protests can be stopped, the leadership can patch over the deep divisions in the Iranian society and rebuild legitimacy with Iranians who believe the election was rigged.
The relative calm on Sunday morning followed a day of violent clashes and extraordinary tension across Iran. Opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, appeared at a demonstration in southern Tehran and called for a general strike if he were to be arrested.

Moussavi again called for nullifying the election’s results, and opposition protesters swore to continue pressing their claims of a stolen election against Iran’s embattled and increasingly impatient clerical leadership.

The New York Times

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