People's revolt left to defiant hundreds

Revolutionary Guards disperse remaining protesters with threats, tear gas and bullets

Several hundred Iranians defied chilling warnings of a crackdown from the Revolutionary Guards to gather in a central Tehran square yesterday and continue their demonstrations against what they say was a stolen election. They did not last long, quickly dispersed by an overwhelming show of force from the security forces, who moved in, firing tear gas and live bullets into the air.

Yesterday morning, the hardline Revolutionary Guards had served notice that the gloves were coming off and they would mete out punishment to anyone continuing to protest the election results. "Be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basij and other security forces and disciplinary forces," they said in a statement on their website. "The Guards will firmly confront in a revolutionary way rioters and those who violate the law."

It seemed to be a direct ripost to Sunday's appeal by Mirhossein Mousavi, who believes he was cheated out of the presidency, for his supporters to keep up the momentum. "Protesting against lies and fraud [in the election] is your right," he had said. "In your protests continue to show restraint".

At first, it seemed the harsh warning from the Revolutionary Guards might have persuaded Mousavi supporters into more muted action. Early morning calls urged people to display black candles decked in green ribbons, and suggested motorists turn on their headlights at a designated time in protest. But a small crowd – reports put the number between 200 and 1,000 – shrugged off the threats and congregated in Haft-e Tir Square, where they were swiftly met by riot police and the Basiji militamen being used as street-level enforcers.

One witness described to Reuters how, from his balcony, he had seen the Basiji attack protesters chanting slogans and drag others out of a house where they had sought refuge. "The Basiji were really aggressive and swearing at me to go inside," the witness said. "I was scared they were going to break into my house too."

In a sign of heightened tensions in the capital, the British Foreign Office last night began evacuating the families of its diplomats, citing the increase in violence over the weekend which saw at least 10 people killed.

One of those was Neda Agha-Soltan, a woman in her 20s whose horrifying death from a gunshot wound was captured on film, swiftly turning her into the human face of what is being dubbed the Green Revolution.

Her fiancé, Caspian Makan, told BBC Persian TV how her grieving family had been banned from holding a memorial service at their local mosque yesterday.

"The authorities are aware that everybody in Iran and throughout the whole world knows about her story. So that's why they didn't want a memorial service. They were afraid that lots people could turn up at the event," Mr Makan said.

Official results for the 12 June election gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 63 per cent of the votes, almost double that of Mr Mousavi, but there have been widespread allegations of vote rigging.

The Guardian Council, Iran's top legislative body looking into the complaints, has conceded that the number of votes surpassed the number of eligible voters in some constituencies but not in as many as the 170 that the defeated candidates had claimed.

"Based on initial information, 50 towns had this problem," spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai was quoted by the state broadcaster IRIB as saying on Sunday. "However, the total votes in these constituencies do not exceed three million and consequently will not have any impact on the election."

Mehdi Karroubi, the cleric who officially came third in the race for the Presidency, dismissed the purported investigation into electoral fraud. "Instead of wasting time on recounting some ballot boxes ... cancel the vote," he wrote in a letter to the Guardian Council.

It is a plea that will fall on deaf ears. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, was standing firmly by Mr Ahmadinejad at last Friday's prayers. Yesterday's bellicose language from the Revolutionary Guards, who are effectively under the Ayatollah's control, only served to spell out the strategy.

Meanwhile, the head of the Iranian parliament's judiciary committee hinted that while the security forces went after the protesters in the street, there might be an attempt to go after Mr Mousavi in the courts.

"Mousavi's calling for illegal protests and issuing provocative statements have been a source of recent unrests in Iran ... Such criminal acts should be confronted firmly," said Ali Shahrokhi, according to the Fars news agency. "The ground is paved to legally chase Mousavi."

Guards against change

*The Revolutionary Guards may need a new name as they have been staunchly on the side of the establishment. The 200,000-strong elite paramilitary force, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a former member, was once charged with defending the leaders of the 1979 revolution; today, it is controlled by the Supreme Leader.

*The Basiji are subordinate to the Revolutionary Guard, but no less feared. A mix of very young men and those past the age of military service, they are said to be responsible for most of the violence against the opposition. They are the everyday "morality police", enforcing the wearing of the hijab, but are perhaps best known for their role in putting down student protests.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick