iran protest 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
As the Iranian authorities warned the opposition on Tuesday that they would tolerate no further protests over the disputed June 12 presidential elections, a report emerged of the hangings of six supporters of defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Speaking after Iran's top legislative body upheld the election victory of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sources in Iran told this reporter in a telephone interview that the hangings took place in the holy city of Mashhad on Monday. There was no independent confirmation of the report.
Underlining the climate of fear among direct and even indirect supporters of Mousavi's campaign for the election to be annulled, the sources also reported that a prominent cleric gave a speech to opposition protesters in Teheran earlier this week in which he publicly acknowledged that the very act of speaking at the gathering would likely cost him his life.
"Ayatollah Hadi Gafouri said that the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] never wanted [current supreme Leader] Ali Khamenei to succeed him. He even went to say that the Islamic republic died the day the Imam did," one source said.
Other criticisms from senior clerics over the regime's handling of the elections and subsequent protests included a report from a Persian news agency, which on Tuesday quoted a senior cleric from the city of Esfahan, Ayatollah Seyyed Jalaleddin Taheri-Esfahani, defending Mousavi against the regime's criticisms.
The ayatollah was quoted as saying: "Is it a case of justice to see that an honorable and modest Seyyed [a descendant of the household of the prophet Muhammad], who until the last moments of Khomeini's life was a dear and close companion of that grand leader, is now considered to be a rioter and an agent of arrogance who must be punished?"
On Monday, witnesses said thousands of policemen and Basij militiamen carrying batons were deployed in Teheran's main squares to prevent any recurrence of the opposition protests. Drivers who so much as shouted "Allahu Akbar" or beeped their horns had their windows smashed by the Basiji and riot police.
Women police, better known as the Sisters of Zeynab, are also now out in force, the witnesses said.
"Some people are still going out into the streets, but there is despair and sadness," said one source. "Now we are told that [pro-Mousavi] green bands are illegal, which is ironic because it symbolizes the color of Islam."
On Monday, the daughter of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, spoke a gathering of opposition protesters in Teheran's Enqelab Square, sources said. "Mrs. Faezeh Hashemi arrived and tried to give the people some words of encouragement," said one, "but the police broke up the rally within minutes."
He added, "My nephew saw one of these Sisters of Zeynab beat down an elderly woman with no mercy. When he tried to intervene, saying to her, 'Miss, she is like your grandmother,' the woman turned around to get a Basiji to deal with him."
Mousavi's Facebook page is still carrying messages aimed at quashing the notion that he is caving in. "He did not give in to the Guardians Council," runs one new message. "Mir Hossein Mousavi is not under house arrest, he is not about to leave the country, he is under strong pressure to end this, but he always said he will stand up for the people's will to the end! He is from and with the people."
Amid the talk of despair and quashed protests, one defiant reformist supporter told this reporter: "The regime wants the world to think they have won. Don't believe it... Even if this regime is about to collapse, they would not let anybody know until their final hour."