Opposition leader postpones rally in Iran

Riot police form a line during a protest outside the British embassy in Tehran on June 23.
A Thursday ceremony to mourn the victims of Iran’s post-election protests has been postponed for a week, an opposition party Web site said.

The statement was posted Wednesday evening on the Web site of presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi’s party — some hours after security forces wielding clubs and firing weapons crushed a planned demonstration at a square in the capital, Tehran. More than a half-dozen witnesses said the security forces outnumbered protesters in Baharestan Square and used overwhelming force — clubbing them with batons, beating women and old men, and firing weapons into the air to disperse them. The statement on the Etemad-e-Melli (National Trust) party site said the commemoration of “the martyrs of the republic and freedom” cannot be held Thursday and has instead been pushed back by a week. It did not offer an alternate date.

Exact figures are hard to come by on how many people have died in the protests, which began after the June 12 presidential elections. According to official figures, 17 people have been killed in clashes with government forces. But CNN has received unconfirmed reports of as many as 150 deaths related to the popular uprising on just Saturday alone. Iran’s government has restricted media access in the country.