Fresh Violence Reported In Iran
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
From Tehran there is word of new clashes between protestors and riot police. Today, Iran's supreme leader again criticized the protesters who are challenging the results of the presidential election. He spoke as the Guardian Council confirmed the official vote count. NPR's Mike Shuster is following developments from Dubai.
MIKE SHUSTER: The continued large police presence on the streets of Tehran has effectively prevented protestors from mounting large marches. And the police have been very aggressive in dispersing even small groups of people who intend to protest. Nevertheless, today several hundred people did manage to gather outside the parliament building, prompting a severe response from the police. They dispersed the crowd using teargas and truncheons. And some witnesses say they fired over the crowd and perhaps into it. Earlier in the day, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared in parliament with a firm message the sate will not yield to pressure.
Ayatollah ALI KHAMENEI (Supreme Leader, Iran): (Foreign language spoken)
SHUSTER: Everyone should respect the law, Khamenei said. We will not step one inch beyond the law, our law, our country's law, Islamic Republic's law. He added, neither the system nor the people will yield to pressure under any circumstances. At this point, though, it's fair to say that all of the pressure is coming from the state and being applied heavily on the opposition. Iran's police have also been sweeping up protest organizers, local journalists, and others deemed insufficiently loyal to the Islamic Republic. There are believed to be more than 600 now detained, including two foreign journalists.
The judiciary considers many of them rioters and it has set up a special court to deal with them. We will teach them a lesson, one official has been quoted as saying. Many protestors have accused the street militia known as the Basij of carrying out much of last week's nighttime violence. But the government is mounting a concerted campaign to convince the nation it was outside powers, using the CIA and British and Israeli covert operatives, that have been responsible for the violence in the streets. State controlled television has been broadcasting what it calls confessions of people who participated in violence. Like this woman who said her son took part in the riots.
Unidentified Woman: (Through Translator) My son wanted to have power and show that he could take power and use it against his own country and his fellow countrymen. This is all because of an atmosphere created by the BBC in Iran. He was influenced by this channel.
SHUSTER: In another confession, a young woman said she was influenced by the Voice of America and the BBC. But when she went to the demonstration, she saw many of the protestors doing the rioting and sabotage. Despite this pressure on the opposition, some prominent Iranian figures continue to speak out. Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, called on the government to release the detained protestors. In a statement issued on a local Web site, she compared the situation in Tehran to martial law. Mousavi himself has not been seen in public in nearly a week. And he has not communicated extensively with his followers. The well-known human rights advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi told the Al Jazeera English satellite TV channel that she wants a new election.
Ms. SHIRIN EBADI (Human Rights Activist; Nobel Peace Prize winner, Iran): (Through Translator) People have been enjoying their legitimate right to rally peacefully and quietly. And that is their right, according to the Iranian constitution. And no one can block the people from their rights. The results of the election should be annulled. A new election should be held under the supervision of international institutions. The United Nations should be part of this in order that the situation becomes calm.
SHUSTER: Although the police have succeeded in blocking protest marches and rallies, many people continue to participate each night in a kind of housebound demonstration.
(Soundbite of protests)
SHUSTER: From 10 o'clock on, people in many neighborhoods of the city gather on their roofs to shout, God is Greater, as well as political slogans in a collective display of continuing dissent. Mike Shuster, NPR News, Dubai.