Saturday, March 29, 2003

USWAR/Iranian police fire in air to disperse anti-war demonstrators

Tehran, March 28, IRNA -- Iranian police here Friday fired in air to
disperse about 1,000 protestors, calling themselves Hizbullah, who
smashed windows of the British Embassy by stones in the first
anti-war rage.
The demonstrators gathered outside the embassy building on the
Ferdowsi Avenue, chanting "British ambassador must be expelled" and
"British embassy must be closed".
They threw stones and eggs at the building and splashed its walls
with red colors. Police arrested several stone throwers.
Those inside the premises filmed the demonstration scene as
special police guards deployed around the building and plainclothes
personnel asked the demonstrators to disperse.

At one point, in front of the British Embassy, demonstrators lobbed rocks and eggs at the compound, shattering 35 windows and damaging a Danish diplomat's car parked outside. (Tallahasee Democrat)

Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Tehran yesterday for the first time since the US and Britain launched their invasion of Iraq, in an officially sanctioned rally that saw some protesters break windows in the British embassy. ... After the main protest a few hundred demonstrators marched toward the British embassy, where a dozen men threw stones at the compound, breaking windows and calling for the embassy of "old arrogance" to be closed down. (Financial Times)

My commentary: it sounds like some Iranians (perhaps a very small number) are doing their best to try to scare all foreigners away from the country. To me, it sounds like the Iranian police effort was rather half-hearted (no barricades?); to others, it may sound like the police did all they could ("special police guards", firing in the air). I wasn't there (thank God) so I can't be certain. Foreigners will inevitably be reminded of the US embassy takeover in 1979; the distinction between protesting against the government policy of a certain country and being against the people of that country has obviously broken down for some Iranians.

The surprising thing is the UK travel advice hasn't changed; the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand government advice advises against all travel.

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