Iran's riot police stand guard as demonstrators gather on the streets to protest the results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran on June 20, 2009. (UPI Photo) | License Photo
TEHRAN, June 22 (UPI) -- Protesters, defying Iranian government warnings, converged on Tehran's Haft-e Tir Square, greeted by hundreds of Basij militia and riot police, witnesses said.
At least six people were arrested at the square, CNN reported, saying it was unable to confirm the account independently because of strict restrictions placed on foreign media coverage of the backlash against the disputed June 12 election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the landslide winner over his nearest challenger, moderate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Internet postings on social network sites Twitter and Facebook said the gathering was a vigil for a female protester identified as Neda, whose death was caught on camera during violence Saturday and has become a rallying point for protesters.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Monday warned protesters who "disturb the peace and stand up to security forces" will be considered a threat to the regime," Iran's state-run news agency Islamic Republic News Agency reported. "The guardians of the Islamic revolution and the courageous Basiji ... are determined to act strongly to return peace and tranquility to society ... and to clean the country of these plotters and hooligans."
Protests have occurred daily since the election and there have been violent clashes between protesters and riot police for the past several days. Iranian news sources reported 13 people died Saturday. CNN quoted hospital sources as putting the number of dead at 19 while other unconfirmed sources indicated the toll was as high as 150.
Tehran's prosecutor general's office said it has begun an investigation into Saturday's deaths, Iran's government-funded Press TV reported. Iranian police blamed the deaths on armed terrorists who infiltrated the rallies.
Tehran Police Chief Azizallah Rajabzadeh said Monday his officers played no role in the deadly violence Saturday because they weren't authorized to use weapons against people, the Iranian broadcaster reported.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared the election legitimate, but the country's top elections officials acknowledged Monday that there were flaws. Officials said the number of votes counted in 50 cities exceeded the number of voters, The New York Times reported, citing a state media report.
The officials said the flaws did not violate the law and would not alter the official election result.