IRAN: Revolutionary Guards clash with striking taxi drivers in central Tehran

About 1,000 taxi drivers gathered outside the headquarters of the government-run Tehran Taxi Company at 10 a.m. this morning to protest against government policy on their profession, according to reports from Iran. The crowd outside the building in central Tehran's Malek Street chanted slogans against the regime's leading figures.

The drivers said they were infuriated by the government's flat refusal to meet their demand to raise base fares to compensate for the sharp rise in fuel prices introduced in March.

The unprecedented protest took place on the anniversary of June 20, the day of martyrs and political prisoners of the Iranian Resistance. The clerical regime had placed all security and intelligence forces on full alert in anticipation of protests and Resistance activities.

To break up the taxi drivers' gathering, the mullahs' regime ordered units of the State Security Forces and the Revolutionary Guards to the area. The Guards first tried to disperse the demonstrators by force, but the taxi drivers defied them and did not retreat in the face of the Guards' violent assault.

A group of government-organized hooligans, calling themselves "Ansar Hizbollah," were also brought to the scene of the clash. They charged at the drivers while shouting "death to Mojahedin."

Despite the brutal attacks by the Guards and their agents, the protest continued until 1 p.m. While the clashes were going on, a huge crowd of passers-by and local residents gathered and supported the taxi drivers in their confrontation with the Guards. Many drivers were arrested and 10 are currently under interrogation by Intelligence Ministry agents, who accuse them of being behind the protest action.

The taxi drivers' protest, held on the Resistance day, caused such fears among the authorities in Tehran that the state radio announced several times this morning that the drivers must obtain official permission from the Interior Ministry to hold a gathering.

On Thursday another major protest act took place in Tehran when a large crowd of street vendors who sell fruit in the area near Imam Hussein Square clashed for eight hours with special anti-riot Guards units and State Security Forces.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
June 20, 1998

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