Calm in Tehran; Authorities Confirm Hundreds of Arrests

Tehran, Iran (RPRN) 6/22/2009–Iran’s capital appears tense but calm Monday, with no reports of the large-scale demonstrations and street violence that have gripped the city since the disputed June 12 presidential election. Supporters of defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi are urging people to turn on their car headlights in the early evening as a sign of protest and a show of solidarity.

Iranian state radio reported Monday that at least 457 people were arrested Saturday – a day marked by clashes between security forces and demonstrators that resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people.

Tehran’s police chief says those detained had provoked civil unrest.

Iran’s official death toll from post-election violence now stands at 17. Other reports say the toll is considerably higher. None of the reports has been confirmed.

Meanwhile, Iranian media are reporting that Iran’s Guardian Council has said voter irregularities have been documented in dozens of cities.

Iran’s Press TV says the Council’s spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei made the comment Sunday on Iranian television – Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Channel 2. The spokesman said the total number of votes in 50 cities surpasses the number of people eligible to cast ballots there, and more than three million votes could be in question.

But the spokesman also said the Guardian Council has not yet determined whether the election’s outcome was actually affected. And he denied defeated candidates’ allegations that such an irregularity occurred in more than 80 cities.

The disputed vote has triggered Iran’s greatest unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Mr. Mousavi has issued a statement supporting further protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory.

In a statement posted on the Internet Sunday, Mr. Mousavi – a former prime minister – said Iranians have the right to protest what he called lies and fraud. But he pleaded with his supporters to show restraint and refrain from violence.

Witnesses in Tehran said Mousavi supporters took to their rooftops Sunday after sunset to exchange chants of defiance against the government.

Iranian media say the daughter of one of Iran’s most powerful figures, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, and four family members were detained during the protests but later released.

Video of the protests obtained by VOA’s Persian News Network can be found YouTube.

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Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

Photo Credit: VOA