Anti-riot forces deploy in Tehran against fresh protests Sunday

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi raised the stakes in his confrontation with the regime, Saturday, June 20, as Tehran police and Basijj paramilitaries beat up protesters and fired shots and tear gas into the crowds who attempted to rally in defiance of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Friday and police threats of harsh reprisals. Tehran hospitals report 19 dead and scores injured. Other sources claim larger numbers.
Mousavi said he is willing to lay down his life and determined to continue his path. He demanded the annulment of the presidential election of June 12, which he said was rigged months in advance to prepare for President Ahmadinejad’s victory. He called on his supporters to call a national strike if he is arrested.
In his most forceful comment yet, US president Barack Obama urged the Iranian government to stop “violent and unjust actions against its own people.” He said: The US stands with all who seek to exercise rights of assembly and free speech.
Saturday afternoon, demonstrators making their way to Tehran’s Enghelab Square and Tehran University on the eighth day after Iran’s disputed presidential election were prevented from forming into a procession by military police, anti-riot police and Basijj militia wielding water cannon, night sticks and tear gas and later live bullets. This was reported by witnesses using e-mail and other means of communication.
Their numbers could not be independently confirmed but the huge security presence appears to have outnumbered the protesters.
Groups set fire to the campaign headquarters of Ahmadinejad. Heavy police forces fired in the air to break up a clash between the two groups.
Two Iranian news agencies reported that a suicide bomber blew himself up near the tomb of the Islamic Revolution’s founder Khomeini, injuring two people. This was not confirmed as independent news organizations are strictly controlled.
Web sites run by supporters of the opposition candidates Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were reported to have called for street protests Saturday, but neither appeared.
They also boycotted the Guardian Council’s offer to recount a randomly selected 10 percent of ballot boxes following hundreds of complaints that the poll which re-elected Ahmadinejad was rigged.

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