Monday, June 22, 2009

Iran Guards vow "Revolutionary Crackdown" on protestors

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have threatened to crack down on any new street protests against the results of the country's presidential election. In a statement, the guards vowed to react in a "revolutionary" way to suppress unauthorised demonstrations. Reports are coming in that at least 1,000 demonstrators have gathered in a square in the centre of Tehran. On Friday Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banned protests, prompting street violence in which at least 10 people died. The capital has seen rallies both against and in support of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 'Revolutionary confrontation' The Revolutionary Guards, Iran's elite security force, have close ties to the country's supreme leader. “ We know that some of them are tracking us on our phone ” Behrooz, student in Tehran, speaking to the BBC News website In a statement posted on their website, they said their troops would break up street protests and force protesters from the streets. "Be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basij [pro-government militia] and other security forces and disciplinary forces," they said. "The Guards will firmly confront in a revolutionary way rioters and those who violate the law," they added. The plain-clothed Basij militia was involved in quelling earlier protests during more than a week of demonstrations against the re-election of President Ahmadinejad. The streets of Tehran were quieter on Sunday, with the earlier weekend violence leading many Iranians to abandon protest plans. One regular protester, a 20-year-old student called Behrooz contacted by the BBC several times in recent days, said he was concerned he would be attacked if he took part. "My mother went to the demonstration on Saturday," he said. "She wasn't hurt, but she saw guards attacking people and hitting them with batons." Protesters were aware their electronic communications were being monitored, Behrooz added. "We know that some of them are tracking us on our phone," he said. "When we say certain words... such as 'supreme leader' or 'demonstration' our lines are cut." Mobile calls were being blocked in the evenings and phones would not work in areas where people were demonstrating, he said. Some online messages said opposition supporters planned to carry candles at a rally in Tehran on Monday evening in memory of those killed. Media 'vandalism' Results showed Mr Ahmadinejad won the 12 June election by a landslide, taking 63% of the vote, almost double that of Mir Hossein Mousavi, his nearest rival. Following complaints, the powerful Guardian Council, which oversees the electoral process, now says it has found evidence that more votes were cast in some constituencies than there were registered voters. But the number had "no effect on the result of the elections", a council spokesman said on Monday. Speaking at a news conference, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi accused Western governments of explicitly backing violent protests aimed at undermining the stability of Iran's Islamic Republic. "Spreading anarchy and vandalism by Western powers and also Western media... these are not at all accepted," he said. The BBC and other foreign media have been reporting from Iran under severe restrictions for the past week. The BBC's permanent correspondent in Iran, Jon Leyne, was asked to leave the country on Sunday.

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