Iranians protest election results, 2009


To remove Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from power and instate a fairly elected leader.

Time period

June 12th, 2009 to August 5th, 2009


Jump to case narrative

Methods in 1st segment

  • Players on the national soccer team wear green wristbands during match to show support for protests

Methods in 5th segment

  • Iranians attempted to overload Tehran's power system by turning on appliances at the same time.

Methods in 6th segment

Segment Length

8 days


Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaee, Mehdi Karroubi, Political opposition leaders, Students

External allies

Professors, General Ali Fazli, National soccer team players

Involvement of social elites

Presidential candidates played a large role in orchestrating the protests


Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

Campaigner violence

Unsanctioned looting, rioting, and clashes with police

Repressive Violence

Fairly frequent beatings and tear gas use from police, occasional use of live bullets. Shooting of protesters from government-militia. Extensive beatings from Basij paramilitary forces





Group characterization

Iranian citizens

Groups in 1st Segment

Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Mohsen Rezaee
Mehdi Karroubi
Political opposition leaders
National soccer team players

Groups in 2nd Segment

General Ali Fazli

Segment Length

8 days

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

0 out of 6 points


0.5 out of 1 points


1 out of 3 points

Total points

1.5 out of 10 points

Database Narrative

Iranians turned out in large numbers to elect their President on 12 June
2009.  The candidates included the incumbent and favorite of the
religious authorities, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as three
challengers: Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaee, and Mehdi Karroubi. 
Authorities announced results just two hours after polls had closed,
with Ahmadinejad receiving 62.63% of the vote, Mousavi 33.75%, Rezaee
1.73%, and Karroubi 0.85%.

After the announcement, Mousavi supporters began to take to the streets
and protest.  Many of his supporters felt the election had been rigged,
citing the extremely quick announcement of the results as well as
lingering suspicions surrounding the 2005 election.  Protesters insisted
on removing Ahmadinejad from power.  Protests grew over the next few
days and spread to multiple cities across Iran.  In Tehran, many
students protested, particularly those from Tehran University.  Police
constructed barricades around key government buildings, embassies, and
the airport.  Protests were mostly nonviolent, but some cases of
looting, rioting, and clashes with police occurred.  Police also used
beatings and tear gas against nonviolent protesters and raided the
dormitories at Tehran University.

On 15 June Mousavi appeared in public for the first time since the
election, despite a warning from the government that a demonstration
would be illegal.  As many as two million people came to Tehran’s
Freedom Square in a peaceful demonstration.  However, a pro-government
militia shot and killed seven demonstrators.

Protests continued for the next few days with tens of thousands of
Iranians demonstrating.  On 16 June, 120 professors at Tehran University
resigned in response to the government’s treatment of students.  The
next day, multiple members of the national soccer team wore green
wristbands in support of Mousavi in their World Cup Qualifier against
South Korea.  On 18 June, protesters gathered at Toopkhaneh Square with
candles after Mousavi called to commemorate those who had been killed. 
Mousavi and his campaign organized some protests, but citizens also used
word of mouth and social media to organize.  The Iranian government
began to block cell phone and internet service on days when they
expected protests.

On 19 June, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave a public speech denouncing
the protests as a foreign plot and called on the opposition leaders to
stop the protests.  All three opposition candidates continued to support
the protests, with Mousavi and Karroubi publicly calling for the
cancellation of election results.  Thousands openly defied Khamenei’s
calls the next day and protested throughout Tehran.  Security forces
killed at least ten protesters, including a young woman whose killing
was captured in a viral video.  Protests slowed on the 21st, but the
Guardian Council did publicly admit that there were some irregularities
with elections.  However, they said they had not yet determined whether
the irregularities affected the result of the elections.

On 22 June, the Guardian Council declared Ahmadinejad the winner, and
the foreign minister repeated the claim that the protests constituted a
Western attempt to bring down Iranian democracy.  The government fired
General Ali Fazli, seemingly for refusing orders to fire on protesters. 
Mousavi called for his supporters to continue demonstrating when their
lives were not at risk.  Later that day, over a thousand protesters
assembled, and police dispersed them with tear gas.

Protests slowed over the next few days, though violence against
demonstrators by Basij forces, a pro-government paramilitary force,
increased.  On 28 June, the government approved Mousavi’s request for a
peaceful prayer gathering for the protesters that had died.  Protests
continued on the 29th with drivers honking their horns to protest the

On the night of the 29th, the Guardian Council announced that it had
recounted 10% of the ballots and reconfirmed that Ahmadinejad had won
the election.  Protests reignited after the announcement, but died down
again after about a day. Thousands marched to commemorate victims of
police violence on 2 July and 4 July.  Organizers expected large
protests  on 9 July, the anniversary of past election protests. 
However, only a few thousand protesters showed up, and protesters were
heavily beaten and tear-gassed.

On 17 July, protests began to reignite, with over a million people
attending the Friday Prayer Sermon in Tehran, which was also attended by
the opposition leaders.  Police arrested some protesters and used tear
gas to disperse the crowds.  Demonstrations again took place on the 19th
and the 21st, but both government security and Basij forces attacked
protests with batons.  Protesters attempted to cause an overload of
Tehran’s power system by turning on appliances using large amounts of
electricity at the same time, but did not succeed.

Opposition leaders began to focus on stopping the abuse of detained
protesters and securing their release.  However, hundreds of thousands
of protesters across Iran demonstrated on July 30th to remember those
who had died in the protests.  On 1 August, trials of the protesters
began, and on 5 August, Ahmadinejad was sworn in for his second term as


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Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Timothy Hirschel-Burns 3/8/2015