Violent clashes erupted today in downtown Tehran between more than a thousand determined young men and women chanting, “Death to the dictator” and “God is great” and security forces wielding truncheons.
The screams of a woman being beaten could be heard from nearby buildings, a witness said. Business owners could be seen hustling protesters into their buildings to shield them from plainclothes officers and anti-riot police who fired tear gas canisters.
Passing drivers and motorcyclists honked their horns and flashed the “V” sign in support of the clumps of demonstrators. At least one trash bin was set afire, a witness said, sending a plume of black smoke rising as dusk approached.
Many of the demonstrators wore surgical masks to protect their identities from cameras stationed at adjacent buildings. They could be seen escaping into side streets and regrouping as shops quickly were shuttered.
Some witnesses said pro-government Basiji militiamen also could be seen wearing masks to hide their faces from digital cameras.
Protesters chanted in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was defeated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in disputed elections last month, and urged the security forces to join them.
Despite the brutal crackdown by Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and their fascist thugs, the reform movement is united in opposition to the Iranian government.
Iran’s reformist opposition on Wednesday delivered a co-ordinated message to Iranians, declaring the government of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad illegitimate and encouraging supporters to challenge it.
A statement by Mir Hossein Moussavi, the opposition leader who says the June 12 election was rigged in favour of the hardline Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, followed similarly defiant calls by Mosharekat, Iran’s largest reformist party, and Mehdi Karroubi, the second reformist candidate.
Mohammad Khatami, the former reformist president and a strong supporter of Mr Moussavi, also joined the chorus warning that the regime, with its “poisonous propaganda” against protesters and its security crackdown, was waging a “velvet revolution” against the “people and the system’s republicanism”.
The concerted effort came two days after the Guardian Council, the constitutional watchdog dominated by hardliners, confirmed the election result. It underlines the determination of the opposition to undermine Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s presidency.
A huge security crackdown has restricted the opposition’s ability to organise protests, but the refusal of reformist leaders to accept the election result could discourage western governments from dealing with Mr Ahmadi-Nejad.
“From now on we have a government which will be in the worst conditions in terms of its relations with people because the majority of society – and I am one of them – will not accept its political legitimacy,” Mr Moussavi said.
Hopefully their courage and determination will be rewarded.
The thugs who stole this election didn’t count on the Iranian people rising up against this farce.
It’s stunning to see young and old people in Iran saying “Enough!” Many people there realize that Ahmadinejad is a disgrace to their country, and his bigoted, divisive and incompetent leadership must come to an end.
Whatever happens with the green revolution, nothing will ever be the same in Iran.
Andrew Sullivan has some of the best coverage of this unfolding story. He’s also reporting how most of the mainstream media has been AWOL for most of the weekend as this story developed. No wonder more people are turning to blogs and the Internet for their news.