Gathering of Gonabadi Dervishes ended in violent clashes

[A report by BBC Persian about violent clashes between Gonabadi dervishes and law enforcement forces in Tehran. 3 policemen are reported dead.]

Reporter: This is the gathering of Gonabadi dervishes, in front of Police Precinct 102 in Pasdaran Avenue, northern Tehran. They are protesting the arrest of Nematollah Riyahi, one of the members of this group. He had been arrested by Namjoo Police Precinct on Sunday and was later transferred to public prosecutor’s office. Gonabadi dervishes said their gathering was peaceful and their only demand was unconditional release of Mr. Riyahi, who is 70 years old and is suffering from heart disease.

But a while later, these images were released on social networks. Gonabadi dervishes say security forces fired tear gas.

It can be seen in some videos that protesters, some of whom have sticks or clubs in their hands, were dispersed after shootings of security forces.

–Unfortunately, despite the fact that head of police station himself had promised us to resolve the issue and release him, as we were waiting for the release of Mr. Riyahi, unfortunately, forces of law enforcement and special guards attacked us.

Well, many of their motorcyclists attacked us, and their attacks continued with tear gas and shootings.

Reporter: According to reports, several protesters in this gathering were wounded in these shootings. After a while, these conflicts moved from surroundings of the police station and reached the house of Noorali Tabandeh, leader of Gonabadi dervishes, who lives in that neighborhood.

Mohsen Hamedani, security deputy of Tehran Province, confirmed the news of shootings in the gathering of dervishes. Mr. Hamedani said this gathering was illegal, and Security Council of Tehran Province held an urgent session in this regard. As it grew dark, this video clip reached BBC. It shows that a bus moving towards law enforcement forces and running over a number of them.

Some images of this video cannot be broadcast. At the same time, spokesperson of law enforcement announced the death of 3 officers in Golestan 7 Street. Mr. Montazer al-Mahdi said the attacker and 8 other people have been detained. 2 weeks ago, some clashes took place between Gonabadi dervishes and law enforcement on the same street. But after 2 days and without escalation of clashes, the protests came to an end.

Naeemeh Namjoo, BBC