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'Iranian Nation Alive Despite Severe Repression'

We reported news of sporadic clashes in Tehran on the June 12 anniversary of last year's disputed vote that led to the reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Blogger Mehdi Khazali, who is the son of a conservative ayatollah and a critic of Ahmadinejad, had made some interesting observations about Tehran's atmosphere on the anniversary of the vote.

He said that on June 12 Tehran looked as if it was under marshal law because of the very heavy presence of security forces.

"The guards of the Islamic Republic are much more modern and better equipped than the Shah's commandoes. They look like robots in their uniforms. They don't get involved in clashes, first the plainclothes agents start shouting and attacking and behind them come the guards."

He added that "Tehran's marshal law" had a message for the world: "The Iranian nation is alive despite the severe repression."

"I believe there is no need for the opposition members to come [out into] to the streets anymore. The presence of repressive forces has the same message! In my view the number of riot forces has increased many folds since the time of the Shah. Thirty-six million people were opposed to the Shah [three decades ago]. Now how about that..."

A student in the Iranian capital who has been attending some of the protests over the reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad had similar observations. He told me in an e-mail from Tehran was in a state of siege. "It was so bad that I couldn't take any pictures; there were Basij members and riots forces everywhere."

Iran says 91 people were arrested as "suspects "on the first anniversary of the disputed vote.

The "Kaleme" website, which is close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, reported that several students were summoned to university's security organs on June 12 and arrested, including two in Kermanshah and several in Tehran.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.