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Protests Continue, More on Manipulation

10:31 AM, Jun 14, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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The New York Times's Robert Worth, whose work from Iran over the last several days has been terrific, has another article today detailing the extent of the resistance inspired by the election results and providing a reminder of past manipulation.

The streets of Iran's capital erupted in the most intense protests in a decade on Saturday, with riot police officers using batons and tear gas against opposition demonstrators who claimed that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had stolen the presidential election.

Dozens of reformist politicians were said to have been arrested at their homes overnight, according to news reports on Sunday and a witness who worked with the politicians. There were also reports of politicians and clerics being placed under house arrest.

Reuters quoted a judiciary spokesman on Sunday as saying that the reformists had not been arrested but had been summoned, "warned not to increase tension" and released.

Meanwhile, some foreign journalists were apparently being told to leave the country.

Witnesses reported that at least one person had been shot dead on Saturday in clashes with the police in Vanak Square in Tehran. Smoke from burning vehicles and tires hung over the city late Saturday.

Reports from other cities included descriptions of similar scenes. Videos (posted below and elsewhere) depict police trying desperately to quell the growing unrest, in some cases resorting to severe beatings.

Worth reminds his readers that voter manipulation is nothing new.

In 2005, when Mr. Karroubi was also a candidate for president, he accused the government of rigging the vote in Mr. Ahmadinejad's favor. In that election, the government announced when polls closed that there would probably be a runoff between two of three candidates, a reform candidate and a former police chief.

But by 7 a.m. the next day, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, a clerical oversight panel that is not supposed to be involved in vote counting, announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad was in first place. Mr. Karroubi's charges were never investigated.

The turmoil on Saturday followed an extraordinary night in which the Iranian state news agency announced that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won by a vast margin just two hours after the polls closed. The timing alone provoked deep suspicion here, because the authorities have never before announced election results until the following morning. Mr. Moussavi also announced Friday night that he believed he had won by a wide margin.

Mr. Moussavi also complained about irregularities and unfairness in the election, saying there had been a lack of ballots in many areas and that some of his campaign offices had been attacked and his Web sites shut down.

The official results prompted further skepticism, in part because Mr. Ahmadinejad was said to have won by large margins even in his opponents' hometowns. Mr. Rezai's hometown, for example, gave him less than a tenth of Mr. Ahmadinejad's total there, the Interior Ministry said.