Iran marks 40 years since US embassy takeover with flag-burning rally

TEHRAN, Farshid Motahari (dpa)- State-organized rallies were taking place across Iran on Monday to mark the 40th anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran.
Thousands of school pupils and university students attended the anniversary event in the capital Tehran, which took place outside the former US embassy.

Similar demonstrations were organized in other provinces.
Banners were seen emblazoned with the words "Down with the US" and condemning the politics of the "Great Satan," as the United States is frequently referred to in Iranian propaganda.
In November 1979, students seized the embassy in protest at the decision to allow the toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the United States for medical treatment. US embassy employees were held hostage for 444 days.
The crisis at the US mission, which took place soon after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, set the tone for decades of mistrust and poor ties between Washington and Tehran.
The shah was installed in 1953 in a coup partly orchestrated by British secret services and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
In a statement compiled for the 40th anniversary of the embassy occupation, Tehran said it would not stray from its anti-US policy and vowed to remain true to independence, freedom and the Islamic Republic.
A US flag was burned at the end of the Tehran rally, which was broadcast live on various Iranian television stations.
After the occupation and resulting hostage crisis, the embassy became known in Iran as a "nest of spies" and was later turned into a museum. It purports to show that the location had been used by US diplomatic staff purely for espionage purposes.
The US broke off diplomatic relations with Iran over the embassy takeover. They have not been reinstated.
Many of Iran's reformist politicians have criticized the country's conduct in relation to the hostage crisis, and even the former leaders of the student occupation, Mohsen Mirdamadi and Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, would go on to become critical of the regime and its foreign policy. Both have spent brief spells in prison for their activism.
There were signs of a thaw between Iran and the US between 2013 and 2016 when the countries' top diplomats resumed direct contact, ultimately leading to the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers to limit Iran's nuclear capabilities.
However, US-Iranian relations become as tense as ever since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark deal in 2018 as part of Washington's current policy of "maximum pressure" on Tehran.

Monday, November 4th 2019
Farshid Motahari (dpa)

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