Iran's pro-reform movement has been dealt a serious blow since the June 12 presidential elections. Hundreds of people have been arrested and detained in a government crackdown to suppress the opposition. There have been few demonstrations since the June uprising.
But as Bahman Kalbasi of the BBC's Persian Service tells NPR's Robert Siegel, the movement perseveres. Thousands of demonstrators gathered Monday in Tehran and dozens of other Iranian cities to show their opposition to the government. Chants of "death to the dictator" were reportedly heard as protesters clashed with riot police. Monday's demonstrations were the largest in months.
The government continues its hard-line stance on dissident activities. In October, 47-year old Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American academic, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for his role in the June post-election protests; 100 other people were also sentenced at that time.
Kalbasi also cited the suspicious death of whistleblower Ramin Pourandarjani, which has been a warning for agitators. The 26-year-old doctor witnessed and publicly exposed the torture of opposition detainees. He was found dead on Nov. 10. Iranian authorities initially said he was in a car crash, had a heart attack or had committed suicide. A Tehran prosecutor later said that he died of poisoning from an overdose of a blood pressure drug placed in a salad. Official Iranian media said investigators are now trying to determine whether Pourandarjani's death was a suicide or murder.