Protesters dispute Iran election

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Hundreds of demonstrators, many with friends and family hunkered down in the aftermath of Iran’s controversial June 12 presidential election, spilled onto Glenoaks Boulevard and Pacific Avenue on Monday evening chanting pro-democracy slogans amid the incessant blare of car horns.

Wearing green T-shirts and wristbands, demonstrators packed all four corners of the busy intersection Monday as part of an ad hoc gathering of mostly Persian, Iranian and Armenian-Iranian residents who have increasingly harnessed the organizing power of online sites Facebook and Twitter to, as 20-year-old Artin Sukiassian said, “show the world that we back them, no matter what.”

He and nearly 200 others were out to protest the June 12 reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the developments that have ensued, particularly the military crackdown on protesters who say the voting was rigged.

Their chants — including “Death to dictatorship” and “Death to the Islamic regime” — could hardly pierce the steady honks in support of Ahmadinejad’s main challenger, Mir-Hossein Mousavi who along with his supporters has called on the Iranian government to nullify the disputed election results.

But for some, demonstrations that spanned the globe over the disputed election have grown to be more than any one politician or party.

“All of this you see is to support the people of Iran, democracy, no matter what religion they are,” said Karar Hovsepian.

Born in Iran, he left for the U.S. in 1979 “because I knew it was going to be like this,” he said.

Hovsepian, 59, still has cousins and friends living in Iran and, like many who had gathered for the demonstration, knew little of their condition due to limited phone contact.

Many at the demonstration said they were scared to contact relatives in Iran out of fear that the government there was monitoring calls.

Since last week’s bloody street violence, Iranian authorities have sought to cut off the supply of information by blocking online social networking websites, jamming satellite TV channels and banning foreign journalists.

The lack of communication with loved ones in Iran, while leaving some here with a sense of helplessness, inspired many to show their support Monday night.

“This is all we can do . . . because right now, [Iran authorities] are controlling everything,” said one Tujunga resident who did not want to be named because she feared for her family’s safety in Iran.

As dusk turned to night, Glendale police officers managed pedestrian flow from the crowded street corners as cars continued to honk in response to demonstrators who ranged from silent bystanders to Iranian flag-wavers and people chanting over hand-held loud speakers.

“People in Iran don’t know that people in America are supporting them,” Sukiassian said as he held a green, red and white sign above his head. “They never felt freedom like this before.”


 JASON WELLS is the city editor. He may be reached at (818) 637-3220 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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