Intimidation in Iran Keeps Protesters From Rally

A planned demonstration in which Iranian workers were to join reformists in an antigovernment protest failed to materialize on Saturday, apparently the result of intimidation and a large police presence.

Two Iranian opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, had called Thursday for workers and teachers to join the reformists in a broad-based coalition.

The call went unheeded on Saturday, analysts said, largely because of government intimidation.

But the lack of action may also reflect a failure of the opposition leaders to win over workers and teachers, who have their own grievances, to the antigovernment cause. And it raised questions about the ability of the opposition to mobilize a mass protest planned for June 12, the anniversary of Iran’s disputed presidential election.

“This was a strategic mistake for opposition leaders,” said Mehdi Jalali, an Iran analyst in New York. “They must first address the workers’ demands and then expect them to join the movement. The leaders had not offered a plan, and people don’t know why they should come to the streets and face brutality.”

Across Tehran on Saturday, major intersections that had been filled with protesters last summer were filled instead with police officers in riot gear, witnesses said. Helicopters hovered over Azadi Square and Azadi Street, where the Ministry of Labor is located and workers had been expected to gather.

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