More Street Protests Called in Iran in Defiance of Regime Warnings

By Patrick Goodenough | June 24, 2009 | 2:24 AM EDT

Iranians supportive of the regime burn representations of flags of the U.S., Britain, Israel and others in front of the British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 to protest what they call Western meddling in Iran’s domestic affairs. (AP Photo/Fars News Agency)

( – Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, in continued defiance against the government, has reportedly called on supporters to demonstrate yet again on Wednesday, despite warnings by senior officials that those who have been arrested in post-election protests will be taught a lesson.

Mousavi, who claims to have won the June 12 presidential election, urged supporters to gather outside the parliament building in Tehran on Wednesday afternoon (around 7.30 AM eastern U.S. time), according to Internet postings.

The government says incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won with 63 percent of the vote, almost twice that won by Mousavi.

The Guardian Council, an unelected religious-judiciary body, has conceded some irregularities but rejected calls for an annulment and rerun, although state television said Tuesday the council had extended by five days its consideration of vote-rigging complaints.

Since protests ended in bloodshed and at least 10 deaths last weekend, reports coming out of Iran appear to have lost impetus, although a protest of around 1,000 people was disrupted on Monday by riot police and members of the notorious Basij militia. Foreign media coverage is severely restricted.

A senior judiciary official, Ibrahim Raisi, was quoted by the IRNA state news agency as saying that a special court would deal with detained protestors.

“Those arrested in recent events will be dealt with in a way that will teach them a lesson,” he said. “The rioters should be dealt with in an exemplary way and the judiciary will do that.”

Also, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned this week that protestors should be prepared for a “revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basij and other security forces and disciplinary forces.”

The IRGC, established in 1979 to “defend the Islamic revolution,” operates alongside Iran’s regular military. The Bush administration in 2007 imposed sanctions against it for support of terrorism and proliferation activities.

Supporters of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi listen to him speak during a demonstration in Tehran on Thursday June, 18, 2009, called to mourn the deaths of demonstrators killed in earlier clashes. (AP Photo/Ghalam News)

 Other developments

-- IRNA reported that parliament would swear in Ahmadinejad for a second term “between July 26 and August 19.”

-- Four members of Iran’s national soccer team, who wore green wristbands in support of the street protests during a World Cup qualifying game in South Korea last week, have reportedly been “retired” from the sport as punishment for the gesture.

-- Britain expelled two Iranian diplomats in retaliation for Iran’s decision to order two British diplomats to leave to protest London’s “interfering” remarks on the post-election unrest. Prime Minister Gordon Brown last Friday described recent actions by Iranian authorities as “repression” and “brutality.”

-- At least five European Union countries – France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland – have summoned Iranian envoys to condemn the violent suppression of protests, while rejecting the charge that the criticism constituted illegitimate interference in Iran’s domestic affairs.

“The E.U. has the right to express its questions on whether the objective criteria of a transparent and democratic electoral process have been upheld in any country,” said the Czech government, which holds the rotating E.U. presidency. It expressed “deep revulsion at the documented police violence against peaceful protesters in Iran after the elections.”

-- Russia Today, a pro-Kremlin television network, examined Iranian claims that the street protests were part of a Western plot. It interviewed Paul Craig Roberts, a columnist and former U.S. Treasury official – and 9/11 conspiracy theorist – who said the CIA had been carrying out a “destabilization plan” in Iran for the past two years.

“We are seeing the fruits of an orchestrated protest that takes advantage of the youth in Tehran,” Roberts told the Russian station. In a sermon last Friday, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the street protests were the work of “ill-wishers, mercenaries and elements working for Western and Zionist secret services.”

-- Iran’s foreign ministry accused U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of interfering in Tehran's affairs “under the influence of some domineering powers,” after Ban called for “an immediate stop to the arrests, threats and use of force” and a peaceful resolution of the dispute through dialogue.

-- In a show of muscle-flexing, the Iranian air force began a four-day military exercise in the Persian Gulf. The IRNA-produced newspaper Iran Daily linked the maneuvers directly to Israeli threats to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“For years senior Israeli political, military and intelligence figures have threatened to bomb Iran’s nuclear infrastructure out of existence, but the prospect of go-it-alone Israeli air strikes has significantly risen since the hawkish and controversial Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minister in April,” the paper said.
Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow