16 June 2009

Iran: Rally and Counter-Rally

Shortly after the massive Mousavi rally in Tehran on Monday, people protesting the Iran election results arranged for a second rally on Tuesday. In response, the government arranged its own rally against the "revolutionaries"--a counter-protest--to begin in the same location and just shortly before the Mousavi rally was scheduled to begin. Many Twitterers wondered if the government hoped for clashes to occur between the two groups. Scenes from the pro-government rally were televised by Iran's State TV.

I haven't heard anything about clashes between the pro-and anti-government marchers, but according to eyewitnesses who Tweet, "The people are gathering around in front of Radio and TV HQ in Vali Asr St The situation is calm and everyone is silent," "nearly 4000 of mosavi's supporters are sitting silently in Azadi st."[updated: this source now estimates the crowd at 12,000]; and marchers are slowly making their way to the UN building in Tehran.

Added: BBC reports that eyewitnesses claim Tuesday's pro-Mousavi rally "was even bigger than Monday's - though this cannot be independently confirmed. "

Security forces are on the street, of course, and several human rights activists have been arrested. There are rumors that the army has turned on the pro-Mousavi protesters: while some report witnessing this, others respond that it's not confirmed and may be intended to frighten people away from the streets. Certainly there is a good deal of misinformation on Twitter, and some of it does seem designed to scare rather than inform.

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