TEHERAN, 26 Mar. (IPS) At least six people were killed Friday 25 March 2005 and more than 40 others wounded, some of them critically at the end of a decisive soccer match between Iran and Japan, making it the worst after-soccer incidents in Iran.
Though the Iranian clerical ruled authorities said they were killed in “stampede” at one of the smaller gates of the huge Tehran Azadi (freedom) stadium, but eye witnesses said police had fired on happy young boys and girls signing national songs and shouting slogans against the Islamic Republic and some of the most senior clerical leaders.
“Because of the intensity of the match -- that ended with a 2 to 1 goal in favour of Iran --, almost all the spectators had stayed until the last minute, leaving the place all together, some of them from a small gate, where the stampede happened”, one official explained, adding that usually, people start to leave in small group before the end of the game.
Football match is usually a god occasion for young and middle aged Iranians to show their dissatisfaction with the theocratic regime
Football match is usually a god occasion for young and middle aged Iranians to show their dissatisfaction with the theocratic regime by organising on the spot demonstrations that leads to clashes with Law Enforcement Forces, but analysts said this was the first time that so many people had been killed ands wounded.
“The stampede started after riot police fired in the air, trying to disperse the happy and enthusiastic people who had just got out the stadium from principal entry gates and joined the group outside, singing national song, dancing and shouting”, one source reported.
In the absence of print newspapers due to the official New Year holiday, Iranian wire agencies said angry mobs attacked public buildings and damaged more than 90 buses of the Tehran public transport that put the damages at “more than thousands” of US Dollars.
“There were debris and broken glasses all over the streets and even the highway leading to Karaj, a medium size town 40 kilometres west of the capital”, eyewitnesses told foreign-based Iranian radio and television stations, speaking on mobile phones from the scene.
IRNA, the official Iranian news agency said it took municipal sweepers almost a full 24 hours to clean up the streets from broken glasses and stones that were used by demonstrators to smash windows of the buses but also administrative buildings and banks.
According to IRNA, the injured people, including one Japanese woman who suffered slight facial wounds from a firecracker, have been admitted to three hospitals, where doctors said some of the wounded are in a “very critical situation”.
“The revolutionary guards attacked thousands of youngsters who were singing the Iranian nationalist song, "Ey Iran" (a song forbidden by the Mullahs). So far dozens have been arrested”, the Los Angeles-based Iran Press News reported, though there were no words of arrest from the authorities.
A significant number of women's groups gathered in order to protest the on-going forbiddance of women to attend the football matches. Many women and girls were arrested and removed to detention centres as other demonstrators were severely beaten with chains, nightsticks and attacked with tear gas.
“Today hundreds of Japanese women flew over from Japan and arrived in Tehran to in watch the match in our stadium to cheer on their national team. Why are we, Iranian women barred from such options and disallowed to stand next to our fellow Japanese women in doing the very same?! What is the difference between us and them? We Iranian women want to tell all those who have imposed such laws, that today, we have gathered here to show our solidarity against this misogynist and sexist regime", the same agency quoted Maryam, a young Iranian girl as having said.
This is a very bad news for the Iranian leadership that tries to prove the world that the regime is popular and stable.
“This is a very bad news for the Iranian authorities, particularly the leadership that, with unabated propaganda, tries to encourage people to take part into the next presidential elections in order to prove the world that the regime is popular and stable”, one Iranian analyst said on condition of anonymity.
“What is worse is that the incident happens at a time that inside, the project of referendum is getting momentum and outside, more despotic systems are falling, the Askar Akayev’s one in Kyrgyzstan being one of them”, he added, referring to the “purple revolution” in the former Soviet Union’s Republic situated at the Chinese border.
In a recent message to the Iranian people on the occasion of No Rouz, or the Iranian New Year that started on 21c March, Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam, Iran’s and probably one of the world’s longest political prisoners, called on his countrymen to not only boycott the “parody of elections” but also transform the occasion into the referendum.
Floated some four months ago by a group of Iranian political dissidents, some of them based in Iran itself, the proposal for holding a referendum on the nation’s present Islam-based Constitution is getting momentum both at home and abroad and has even received the support of the United States and some other democratic countries.
“What happened in Bishkek gives shivers to Iranian clerics, as, more and more unpopular at home and isolated in the international community, they fear the same scenario repeated in Tehran on the occasion of presidential elections”, one dissident told Iran Press Service asking not be named. ENDS SAD SOCCER 26305