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June 14, 2009
Musavi Calls For Iran Election Result To Be Canceled, As Protests Continue
by Golnaz Esfandiari
Reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Musavi has formally appealed against Iran's election result to the powerful legislative body the Guardians Council, as protests against the disputed vote continued on Tehran's streets for a second day.
"Today, I have submitted my official formal request to the council to cancel the election result," Musavi said in the statement. "I urge you, Iranian nation, to continue your nationwide protests in a peaceful and legal way."
He advised police to stop violence against protesters.
Officials said incumbent President Mahmud Ahmadinejad won 62 percent of the June 12 vote to nearly 34 percent for Musavi, in a record 85-percent turnout, a result that sparked mass protests in Tehran and elsewhere in the country on June 13.
Musavi believes he was the true winner of the vote.
In the face of continuing dismay and public anger over the official tally, Iran's Interior Ministry has declared a planned rally by Musavi supporters illegal, Reuters reported. Backers had passed out leaflets on June 14 inviting the public to turn out the following afternoon.
Unrest And Arrests
As antiriot forces violently clashed with protesters on June 13, dozens of reformists and members of Iran's largest pro-reform party, Mosharekat, were arrested in Tehran and other cities. Some have reportedly been released.
Iranian security officers, on motorcycles and in civilian clothes, fire warning shots to disperse Musavi supporters in Tehran on June 14.
Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of Iran's former president; the leader of Mosharekat, Mohsen Mirdamadi; former Deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh; and religious activist Taghi Rahmani are among those who were arrested at their homes.
Rahmani's wife, Narguess Mohammadi, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that her husband was taken away in a car by security forces from their home at around 12:30 a.m.
"I don't have any news about him and I really don't know where they took him, why they took him, and what the charges against him are," she said. "As far as I know, in the last 10 days he was always coming home late, he was leaving the house early in the morning, he was going to the provinces to encourage public participation in the 10th presidential election.
"It's unbelievable for me and it's very strange to me that we have to witness how in our society these intellectuals and activists are being rewarded," Mohammadi continued.
Iran's official news agency IRNA said those arrested were involved in orchestrating the protests and leading "the rioters and thugs" in Tehran.
A number of journalists have also been arrested.
Despite a painfully slow Internet and the blocking of a variety of websites, Iranians protesting the election results are managing to post a significant number of videos and photographs. In this video from June 14, an angry young woman in Tehran kicks a member of the special police, who respond with force.
Iran's former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said that over 100 reformists have been arrested and that more arrests are expected.
The SMS text-messaging system remains down in Iran since election day, while the social-networking site Facebook as well as YouTube are also blocked.
Police clashed again with demonstrators in the city center on June 14.
Protesters threw stones and burned trash bins and piles of tires to be used as flaming barricades to block police. A woman in Tehran told RFE/RL that police used tear gas and fired several shots into the air to disperse the crowd. (See some raw video of the June 14 protests
Meanwhile, thousands of supporters of the Iranian president have gathered in central Tehran to listen to a speech by Ahmadinejad.
Earlier in the day, Ahmadinejad held a victory news conference and called the vote "clean and healthy." He dismissed protests by defeated candidates and their supporters as sour grapes.
This video is from a neighborhood in northern Tehran on June 14, where people are chanting "Death to the dictator!" and "Allah Akbar" (God is great) from rooftops and open windows. The scenes are reminiscent of the early days of the Islamic Revolution, when people would express their opposition to the rule of Iran's shah.
"How did you find out people don't accept the vote? Were you in touch with 40 million people?" Ahmadinejad challenged one reporter. "You just see the few people you like to see."
Ahamdinejad also accused the Western press of interfering in Iran's internal affairs. A number of foreign journalists have reportedly been asked to leave Iran.
The Paris-based press watchdog Reporters Without Borders has called on European countries not to recognize the election results. The group said that "censorship and a crackdown on journalists" are preventing a democratic electoral process.
Student activist Mahdieh Golru witnessed some of the protests in central Tehran on June 13.
"People were chanting slogans and expressing their demands," Golru said. "They were saying they want their vote back, or that they will never vote again. In some cases, they were targeting the supreme leader. As the chanting was increasing, the security forces crackdown intensified."
'Free And Healthy'
The speed with which the results were announced and finalized, as well as other issues, including how the candidates fared in their hometowns against Ahmadinejad, have increased concerns over possible election fraud and vote manipulation.
Musavi supporters march through the streets of Tehran. Police fired tear gas at protesters to disperse the crowds.
"There are mathematical mistakes in the results. They don't even know how to rig the election properly," said Ebrahim Nabavi, a reformist satirist who lives in exile in Belgium and who has campaigned for Musavi.
"We didn't think that it would be so [extensive] and -- I don't know what word to use -- shameless, impudent," he told Radio Farda. "I don't want to use bad words, but sometimes the actions of [the authorities] are describable only with [harsh] words."
Musavi has called the vote "wizardry" and said that it will have devastating effects on the future of Iran.
Some of Musavi's supporters have called for a national strike on June 16.
World Reaction Cautious
Most world reaction has been cautious.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on June 14 that there are "an awful lot of questions" about the vote.
"It sure looks like the way they're suppressing speech, the way they're suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated, that there's some real doubt," he told U.S. television.
Thousands of supporters of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad wave national flags during a massive rally on June 14 to celebrate his reelection.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Iran's "brutal" repression of opponents is closing the door to dialogue.
"Brutality and never-ending military development will not bring any solutions," Kouchner said in Paris.
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Iran's crackdown on protesters "unacceptable."
"The violent actions of the security forces against demonstrators is not acceptable, nor is preventing peaceful protest," he said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground very carefully."
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said London expects Iranian authorities to address allegations of voter fraud.
The European Union said it is "concerned" over alleged irregularities in the vote, but that it hoped to resume dialogue with Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.
Syrian President Bashar Assad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated their ally Ahmadinejad on his victory.
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