Protesters cry: 'Death to Khamenei'

Violence in Tehran continues as pro-Mousavi supporters defy heavy-handed security forces

Iranian security forces used water cannon, batons and tear gas in clashes with protesters in Tehran yesterday after crowds demanding fresh presidential elections gathered in defiance of government and police warnings. Eyewitnesses described fierce clashes near Revolution Square in central Tehran after some 3,000 protesters chanted "Death to the dictator!" and "Death to Khamenei".

Running battles erupted in Tehran's streets after security forces sought to prevent demonstrators from gathering in large numbers. One witness said supporters of the defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi set on fire a building in southern Tehran used by backers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The witness also said police fired into the air to disperse rival supporters in Tehran's South Karegar street.

Elsewhere in Tehran, several witnesses reported live ammunition being fired. Last night growing evidence was emerging that scores of demonstrators had been killed or wounded. Eyewitness reports and graphic video and phone camera footage captured killings and carnage on Tehran's streets as protesters and security forces clashed. Reporting restrictions made it difficult to independently confirm many of the claims but the weight and detail of many of the accounts on internet sites such as Twitter or YouTube lent credibility to the claims.

Witnesses said 2,000 to 3,000 people yesterday attempted to gather in Tehran's Revolution Square, far fewer than the hundreds of thousands involved in earlier rallies. It was the culmination of a week of protests that has seen the most widespread expression of anti-government feeling since the 1979 revolution.

Iran's highest legislative body yesterday said it was ready to recount a random 10 per cent of the votes cast in the 12 June poll to meet the complaints of Mr Mousavi and two other candidates who lost to Mr Ahmadinejad. "Although the Guardian Council is not legally obliged we are ready to recount 10 per cent of the boxes randomly in the presence of representatives of the three [defeated] candidates," a council spokesman said.

The recount offer followed the results of the presidential poll which gave President Ahmadinejad 63 per cent of votes, compared with 34 per cent for Mr Mousavi, his nearest rival.

In a letter to the Guardian Council, Mr Mousavi, whose supporters have staged vast unauthorised rallies in the past week, demanded the election be annulled. He claimed planning for the election rigging was arranged months ahead of the vote. "These irritating measures [rigging] were planned months ahead of the vote ... Considering all the violations, the election should be annulled." In the letter, Mr Mousavi lists several allegations of fraud. Speaking at an impromptu rally in southern Tehran last night, Mr Mousavi told a crowd of his supporters that he was "ready for martyrdom". He called on his supporters to stage a national strike if he is arrested.

As reports of clashes in Tehran's streets emerged, the English-language state TV reported a suicide bomb attack at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini. The reports said one person, believed to be the bomber, had been killed and eight others injured. Any attack on the shrine is likely to stir outrage among Iranians who revere the Shia cleric who led the 1979 revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah. Mousavi supporters urged caution over the bombing, claiming state TV reported the blast before the bomb went off.

Iranian state TV later confirmed police had used batons and other non-lethal weapons against what it called unauthorised demonstrations. General Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam said: "We acted with leniency but I think from today on, we should resume law and confront more seriously. The events have become exhausting, bothersome and intolerable. I want them to take police cautions seriously because we will definitely show a serious confrontation against those who violate rules."

Witnesses said between 50 and 60 protesters were seriously beaten by police and pro-government militia and taken to Imam Khomeini hospital in central Tehran. People could be seen dragging away those injured by baton strikes. Later, witnesses reported that police were arresting and removing injured protesters from hospitals. To avoid this the injured were later taken to foreign embassies in the Iranian capital for treatment.

Some protesters appeared to be fighting back, setting fire to militia members' motorcycles in streets near Freedom Square, witnesses said. Helicopters hovered over central Tehran. Several witnesses reported that some of the helicopters sprayed crowds with water which may have contained chemical agents that caused skin irritation and blisters.

Tehran University was cordoned off by police and militia while students inside the university chanted "death to the dictator", witnesses said. Police and militia barred people from entering Freedom Street, which runs from Freedom Square to Revolution Square, to prevent a massive gathering.

The clashes followed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's warning to opposition leaders on Friday to end the protests or be held responsible for any "bloodshed and chaos" to come.

Eyewitnesses said that thousands of police and plainclothes militia members filled the streets to prevent rallies. Fire trucks and riot police took up positions in Revolution Square and Freedom Square and other sites of recent clashes.

Tehran province police chief Ahmad Reza Radan had earlier warned: "Police forces will crack down on any gathering or protest rally being planned by some people." State television said the country's highest national security body had ordered security forces to deal with the situation.

In his speech, Ayatollah Khamenei sided firmly with President Ahmadinejad, saying the result reflected the popular will. Experts said the speech effectively ended Mr Mousavi's demands for a new election.

US President Barack Obama condemned the crackdown: "We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people," he said last night. "The universal rights to free speech and assembly must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights."

In a sign of defiance, Mr Mousavi's backers again took to Tehran rooftops after nightfall to shout Allahu Akbar (God is great), a deliberate echo of tactics used in the 1979 revolution to undermine the Shah's rule.

Iran's presidential election: A week of protest and bloodshed

Friday 12 June Polling day. Iranian polls are kept open for an extra four hours to cope with the huge turnout in the presidential elections, which reaches a record 85 per cent.

Saturday 13 June Iranian state media declare Ahmadinejad the victor with 66 per cent of the vote. Mousavi denounces the result as a "dangerous charade" which could lead to "tyranny". Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says the election result must be respected. Crowds take to the streets of Tehran and thousands of Mousavi supporters clash with police.

Sunday 14 June Protests grow in size and violence as Tehran witnesses its worst unrest in a decade. Protests spread to other major cities. More than 100 leading reformists are arrested and internet sites and mobile phones are blocked. Ahmadinejad says the election was free and cannot be questioned. Mousavi formally appeals.

Monday 15 June Iranian authorities ban a march by Mousavi's supporters, but security forces do not intervene when a crowd of more than a million gathers in Tehran. Seven people are killed when the pro-government Basiji militia fires into the crowd as its barracks come under attack. Supreme Leader announces an investigation into allegations of vote fraud.

Tuesday 16 June Iran's Guardian Council, the highest legislative body, says it will recount part of the vote but rules out an annulment. More protests on the streets of Tehran. Foreign journalists are banned from reporting on Tehran's streets and some must leave the country as their visas expire. Allegations emerge of a raid on dormitories at Tehran University by militia, with four students reportedly killed. Thousands hold a pro-Ahmadinejad rally.

Wednesday 17 June Thousands again take to the streets. The Interior Ministry orders an investigation into the attack on Tehran University. Five members of the Iranian football team wear green armbands to show support for Mousavi during their World Cup qualifier against South Korea. The armbands are removed at half time. International human rights groups claim leading protesters and politicians have been arrested.

Thursday 18 June The Guardian Council says it is examining 646 complaints. Hundreds of thousands again gather in Tehran to mourn those who died on Monday.

Friday 19 June Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei addresses the nation. He warns of a crackdown if street protests continue. He says the 11 million vote victory margin shows there had been no fraud and the election was a "definite victory". Google brings forward release of its Farsi translation tool in response to events.

Twitter revolution

A musician from Tehran told the IoS:

"Near Azadi Square there was a group of almost 1000 people and in front of them were lots of riot police and basijis. We chanted slogans for about 5 minutes suddenly they shot tear gas and ran towards us. We ran away but they caught up and beat us - men nd women - with batons and chains, really badly. I was beaten about 20 times in my foot and arms.

I heard some people have been shot. In Towhid Sq. a friend was hit by batons in the head and he's now in hospital. I don't know if the western governments are going to just sit there and watch us being hit and killed or if they will actually make a difference."

"If this goes on I don't think there will be more demonstrations in coming days. Today they showed a really brutal force and we Iranians know that they will do even worse because the are capable of that. There won't be mass demonstrations unless Mr.Moosavi or Karroobi come into streets themselves. That will make it different. But as for now I think they have silenced people.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Midsummer swimwear season is well and truly upon us – but diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice