Iranian community starts marathon protest

June 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Bay Area's Iranian community started what may be a marathon protest in San Francisco's Union Square. They are demonstrating against Iran's controversial presidential election, calling it a fraud and an outright sham. In the protests in Iran at least seven people have died in violent demonstrations over the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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The Bay Area protest began early Tuesday evening. A few hundred protesters continue to stand in solidarity. Most of the people who came out Tuesday night were born in Iran and were able to vote in the Iranian presidential election here in the U.S. Most everyone ABC7 talked to voted for opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who they say was robbed of victory through a rigged system that favored the hard-line incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedenijad.

Protesters converged on San Francisco's Union Square wearing green -- the unofficial campaign color of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. They say it's important to show their support for those who are demonstrating on the streets in Iran. They want the U.N. and countries like the U.S. to pressure the Iranian government to hold another election.

"It's not about Mousavi, it's about corruption and the cheating and the election. I voted for Karrubi but I'm wearing green because this is the movement now and somehow Mousavi is taking the lead and I'm supporting him and I'm supporting those who voted for Mousavi," said protester Hadjar Homaei.

"If we as the people of the United States and the world do really mean it when we say we want democracy in Iran, we need to take action through the U.N. and we need to demand a reelection," said protester Sassan Tahri.

Considering Iranians are risking their lives by demonstrating in Tehran, protesters in the Bay Area say coming out to show their support is the least they can do.

"We see them fighting on everyday and it's a matter of showing them that we're back here supporting them as well, so they keep on pursuing their fight for basic freedoms that everyone deserves," said protester Sahar Maali.

And there is optimism that continued protests will make a difference, although Iranian-American and San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said it will likely be gradual.

"They stole our election in the year 2000 and we responded eight years later with the election of Barack Obama. Iran is going to have to work three times harder because of how oppressive the regime is over there," said Mirkarimi.

Protesters plan on sleeping in Union Square overnight and plan to stick around until another rally starts at 6 o'clock Wednesday.

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