8 Killed in Tehran Clashes; Reformists Reject Recount Offer; Obama Weighs In

President Barack Obama has weighed in on the Iranian presidential campaign, saying that Iranian voters, who were so hopeful should be heard. He also expressed regret about the violence that has broken out between reformists and hard liners. He also underlined that whatever the outcome of the current crisis, his administration will pursue tough, direct talks with Iran.

AP has video:

European nations joined in the protest about the apparently manipulated character of the vote, though putative US allies President Jalal Talabani of Iraq and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan praised the alledged election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Police intervention and clashes with the pro-regime Basij popular militia left 8 protesters dead on Monday amid charges and counter-charges about who started the violence. At night on Monday into Tuesday, gunfire could be heard in three districts of the capital. The Interior Ministry is alleged to have authorized the use of live ammunition against protesters.

Martin Fletcher of the Times of London reports,

‘ In one incident a witness told The Times how she watched from her car as riot police on six motorbikes opened fire on youths walking under a bridge after the rally. “The riot police started shooting them with big guns,” she said. “It wasn’t like the films where there is just a small hole — the shooting was blowing off hands, limbs. It was terrible, terrible.” ‘

More rallies are expected Tuesday.

Iran’s clerical senate or “Guardian Council” is offering to recount the ballots from Friday’s election. The reform faction, however, rejects this offer as inadequate and wants a whole new presidential campaign. The head of the Guardian Council, Ahmad Jannati, is a hard line supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The USG Open Source is reporting that Iranian television actually showed the massive demonstrations on Monday in Tehran. The state tv is tightly controlled, so this was either insubordination on the part of the producers or a sign that the elite is annoyed with Ahmadinejad for trying to steal the election.

AP has video on the popular rallies in the Iranian presidential campaign.

AP points to the importance of Twitter to the reformists’ getting the word out of what has been happening in Iran. Iran’s major social movements have always depended on cutting edge communications because of the size of the country (nearly 4 times the size of France) and the way its population is separated by mountains and deserts. The telegraph was important to the 1890-92 revolt against a tobacco monopoly granted by Nasir al-Din Shah to a British freebooter, which harmed Iranian merchants and farmers. The 1979 revolution was fueled by cassette tapes of the sermons and speeches of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini. And now we have twitter.

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