Iran police, protesters clash at US Embassy rally
Iranian security forces beat anti-government protesters with batons Wednesday on the sidelines of state-sanctioned rallies to mark the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover. The counter-demonstrations were the opposition's first major show of force on Tehran's streets in nearly two months.
The opposition sought to display unity and resolve after relentless crackdowns on their protests following the disputed June presidential election. Though the crowds were far smaller than during last summer's outrage, authorities were ready with the same sweeping measures: dispatching paramilitary units to key locations and disrupting mobile phones, text messaging and Internet access to frustrate protest organizers.
The contrasts in the latest protest wave were stark: people chanting "Death to America" outside the former U.S. Embassy while hundreds of opposition marchers in central Haft-e-Tir Square denounced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with cries of "Death to the Dictator."
Other opposition protesters marched silently and flashed the V-for-victory sign. Many wore green scarves or wristbands that symbolized the campaign of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims Ahmadinejad stole the election from him through fraud. Mousavi and his allies, including former President Mohammad Khatami, appeared to encourage opposition protesters to return to the streets.
Witnesses told The Associated Press that security forces — mainly paramilitary units and militiamen from the elite Revolutionary Guard — swept through the hundreds of demonstrators at Haft-e-Tir Square, clubbing, kicking and slapping protesters. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from authorities.