Iran Update: More Rallies And A Shooting

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 15, 2009

Germany Iran Election ReaxFirst, the good news: Protesters in Iran are not letting up in their efforts to call the government to account. Despite the very real dangers they face, they are planning more rallies in defiance of the regime’s efforts to steal the presidential election:

Iranian demonstrators called for more mass protests on Tuesday, a day after hardline Islamic militiamen killed a man during a march by tens of thousands against a presidential election they say was rigged.

The Iranian capital has already seen three days of the biggest and most violent anti-government protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution after hardline incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner of last Friday’s vote.

“Tomorrow at 5 p.m. (8:30 a.m. EDT) at Vali-ye Asr Square,” some of the crowd chanted at Monday’s march, referring to a major road junction in the sprawling city of some 12 million.

Further protests, especially if they are maintained on the same scale, would be a direct challenge to authorities who have kept a tight grip on dissent since the overthrow of the U.S.-backed shah after months of demonstrations 30 years ago.

The excerpt mentioned a shooting. About that:

In a massive outpouring reminiscent of the Islamic Revolution three decades ago, hundreds of thousands of Iranians streamed through the capital Monday, and the fist-waving protesters denounced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim to victory in a disputed election.

Standing on a roof, gunmen opened fire on a group of protesters who had tried to storm a pro-government militia’s compound. One man was killed and several others were wounded in the worst violence since the disputed election Friday.

Angry men showed their bloody palms after cradling the dead and wounded who had been part of a crowd that stretched more than five miles (nearly 10 kilometers) supporting reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

That the regime is capable of murder should surprise precisely no one. But murder is shocking nonetheless. One can only hope that it will galvanize the protesters further to realize that they are not fighting–and must not fight–for an election, anymore. Rather, they are fighting for the future of their country, a future that remains in doubt so long as the Islamic regime–whose institutions worked to try to validate the electoral fraud visited on the Iranian people–continues to exist.

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