EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: 12 Iranians Killed In Mass Demonstrations That Drew More Than One Million

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iranchange.thumbnail.pngFLICKR: A man lies the back of a truck after being seriously injured by gunfire in an area where militia were firing shots at a rally supporting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s top opponent on Monday, June 15, 2009. Hundreds of thousands gathered in central Tehran to support Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims there was voting fraud in Friday’s election. The gunfire came from a compound for volunteer militia linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard. (AP Photo) MORE

UPDATE: Iran’s powerful Guardian Council says it is ready to hold a recount of disputed votes in Friday’s presidential election.

GUARDIAN: At least 12 people may have died in violent clashes with Iran‘s security forces following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, ­according to reports from the country. The reported fatalities have come amid a brutal crackdown on students, apparently aimed at quelling a wave of campus rebellions that iranchange.thumbnail.pngauthorities fear could spill over to the wider population. A Farsi website, Balatarin, carried an unconfirmed report that seven people had been killed in the southern city of Shiraz following confrontations with riot police at the local university. Five busloads of plainclothes officers had been sent to confront the demonstrators during Sunday’s protests, but were said to have been unable to prevent them from being joined by members of the public and marching to one of the city’s main squares. It is unclear whether all those said to have died were students. The Guardian understands that five students may also have died in clashes at Tehran University early on Sunday. The students – named as Fatemeh Barati, Kasra Sharafi, Mobina Ehterami, Kambiz Shoaee and Mohsen Imani – are believed to have been buried today in Behesht-e-Zahra, a famous cemetery in Tehran, reportedly without their families being informed. Autnews, a student website, claimed that plain clothes officers used firearms against students after forcing their way onto the campus. Students were said to have sought refuge in toilets after police raided halls of residence, where rooms were ransacked and beds set on fire. MORE

Barack_ObamaCROPPED.1_1.jpgOBAMA: Obviously all of us have been watching the news from Iran.  And I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran’s leaders will be; that we respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran…Having said all that, I am deeply troubled by the violence that I’ve been seeing on television.  I think that the democratic process — free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent — all those are universal values and need to be respected.  And whenever I see violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they’re, rightfully, troubled. MORE

iranchange.thumbnail.pngLOS ANGELES TIMES: His call for patience came as gunfire from a pro-government militia base adjacent to the demonstration killed one and injured others, news agencies reported. The protesters, with crowd estimates ranging from 100,000 to more than 1 million, defied Interior Ministry warnings broadcast on state television and radio that anyone showing up would be beaten or worse, and even ignored Mousavi’s last-minute call to cancel the event. They found out about the rally despite a media clampdown that brought the shuttering of numerous opposition websites, including those linked to Mousavi, the jamming of satellite news channels and the shutdown of text messaging systems. In an attempt to help keep information flowing, a Twitter co-founder wrote in a blog Monday that the company had delayed an important maintenance operation. MORE

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[via THE BIG PICTURE]

iranchange.thumbnail.pngANDREW SULLIVAN: What’s going on in Iran is very hard to understand from the distance we are at. And interpretations of the dizzying events of the last few weeks have varied widely – and still do. In fact, it’s hard to remember an event like this on which there is still such a debate. Some today have argued that Ahmadinejad won and that what we are seeing is some sore losers. Others have seen this as a turning point in the history of Iran. Others still think it may be somewhere in between. And the truth is: we do not know. At this point in time, I do not know. We may be misjudging this, over-reading it, misunderstanding it. All we can do is assemble as many facts and test as many theses as possible in real time. MORE

iranchange.thumbnail.pngNEW YORK TIMES: But Mr. Ahmadinejad’s decision to leave the country on a previously scheduled visit to Russia and carry on as head of state, threatened to inflame voters, who already had grown incensed when the president compared them to angry soccer fans whose team had lost and called them “dust.” One demonstrator fired off a Twitter message, one of thousands of brief electronic dispatches that kept the outside world up-to-the-minute on the protests, proclaiming: “Ahmadinejad called us dust, we showed him a sandstorm.” MORE

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PREVIOUSLY: COUNTER REVOLUTION: 100,000 Flood The Streets Of Tehran To Protest Stolen Election, Demand Change

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