Envoys shocked by state of UK compounds

2011-12-01 22:08

Tehran - Ambassadors and diplomats in Tehran were shocked by the extent of damage wreaked inside Britain's two diplomatic compounds by Iranian protesters, several of them told AFP after visiting the premises on Thursday.

"Everybody was shaken. People were pale, shocked by what they saw," one Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Britain's embassy, in the centre of Tehran, had been turned "upside down", with paintings ripped apart and windows smashed, while "everything was broken" in residences in the diplomatic compound in the north of the city, another said.

In both places, slogans such as "Down with the British" were scrawled on walls and diplomatic papers were strewn about.

Around 40 ambassadors and diplomats, most of them from European and Western nations, on Thursday filed into both compounds to inspect the outcome of Tuesday's storming of the properties by hundreds of Iranian protesters.

Foreign journalists were refused entry by Iranian police, who confiscated the camera of one news crew, and ordered to leave the vicinity.

Tuesday's rampage by the Iranian protesters occurred during pro-regime demonstrations organised to show official anger at Britain's decision last week to halt all transactions with Iran's financial sector as part of new Western sanctions over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

Lights still on

"It was tough seeing the residences. There were personal belongings everywhere. Peoples' privacy was violated," said one diplomat on Thursday.

Clothes were trampled underfoot, first-aid kits had been ripped open and their contents thrown across the lawn. "People obviously left in a hurry: lights were still on. A coat was still draped over a chair - that was very odd to see."

At the embassy, in the once-elegant reception hall, "all the paintings were torn, with holes ripped into them. Food was emptied on to the floor, bottles of Coca-Cola were emptied".

"The place was trashed, very, very dirty," said a diplomat.

The guardhouse had all its monitors smashed with a hammer that had been left behind.

Britain responded to the storming of its compounds by evacuating all its diplomats on Wednesday for their safety. It then closed its Tehran embassy and ordered all Iran's diplomats to leave Britain.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday's assaults on the diplomatic compounds could only have taken place with the approval of Iranian authorities.

Iranian officials, though, have been presenting them as spontaneous protests fuelled by historic anger at Britain's meddling in the country's affairs.

  • Adam - 2011-12-02 00:22

    and people still think the west are the bad guys... amazing

      Dirk - 2011-12-02 05:54

      Ironically, they behaved like pigs, because that is what they are. And I apologize to the pig species for that comparison.

      Fidel - 2011-12-02 09:19

      Since the Second World War, those bastions of Democracy, the U.S. and Britain, have bombed, invaded and destroyed dozens of countries and killed millions of civilians, yet they are supposedly the 'good' guys and the people they have so wantonly slaughtered are the 'evil' ones.

      Fidel - 2011-12-02 09:21

      @Dirk I am shocked at your choice of term: 'pigs'. How very imperialistic of you. And I assume, by such a comment, that you consider yourself to be wholly 'civilised?' I think the west needs to take a long look at what they consider to be 'civilised' behaviour. I do not believe that their current government is behaving in a civilised manner towards people in the developing world. I will also remind you of the shadows of 'torture' and 'rendition' that still hang over the UK/US; do you know what was and what was not sanctioned? Did the west behave in a 'civilised' manner? Are the west's foreign policies totally 'civilised?' I think not.

      Dirk - 2011-12-02 10:13

      Shocked? What a laugh? Direct that advice to yourself

  • Barry - 2011-12-02 06:47

    It is time the west shut their mouths and try to work with the rest of the world rather than exporting western economic terrorism.

      Fred - 2011-12-02 08:29

      HaHaH a! Living in a complete world of self-delusion, are you?

      Fidel - 2011-12-02 09:13

      The West just doesn't want any competition to threaten its self-perceived dominance of the world. Too late.

      Warwick - 2011-12-02 09:42

      Then tell me Barry, why does the "rest" of the world including SA always run to the west for help. Why does the rest of hte world not run to Cuba, the middle east, North Korea, Myanmar or Venezuela for help food and trade. These are all bastions of human rights.

      Fidel - 2011-12-02 10:06

      This is so because the West has established a dependent economic and political structure on the developing world which was imposed through slavery and colonialism, and any restistance to this arrangement is/has been met with usuall array of sanctions and invasions. The administrative structures are maintained as well as the economic structures to preserve the flow of wealth from the developing world to the West which began in the colonial time. This is called neo-colonialism.

      Dirk - 2011-12-02 10:17

      Fred- You need to add an astrix or something to your name to separate you from a name sake, who holds views totally opposite to those of yours. Unless you have a "split personality" of course.

      Dirk - 2011-12-02 10:21

      Fidel- You are clearly propagating the old and outdated "underdevelopement" theory which was the favourite of the Marxist. If the West did not get involved in these countries, they would still be walking around in loin skins. Wake up!

      Fidel - 2011-12-02 10:38

      Public baths, were common in the cities of Maghreb at a time when in Oxford the doctrine was still being propounded that the washing of the body was dangerous act. German explorer, Leo Frobenius, in ?African Civilisation, 1936, says: ?When they (European navigators in the Middle Ages) arrived in the Gulf of Guinea and landed at Vaida, the captains were astonished to find streets well cared for, bordered for several leagues in length by two rows of trees; for many days inhabited by men clad in brilliant costumes, the stuff of which they had woven themselves! More to the South in the kingdom of Congo, a swarming crowd dressed in silk and velvet; great sovereigns, rich industries, civilized to the marrow of their bones. What was revealed by the navigators of the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries furnishes an absolute proof that Negro Africa, which extended south of the desert zone of the Sahara, was in full efflorescence, in all the splendour of harmonious and well-formed civilizations, an efflorescence which the European conquistadors annihilated as far as they progressed? The idea of the barbarous Negro is a European invention which has consequently prevailed in Europe and currently in your brain until the beginning of this century.

      Fidel - 2011-12-02 10:39

      When the Dutch visited the city of Benin they described it thus: The town seems to be very great. When you enter into it, you go into a great broad street, not paved, which seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes street in Amsterdam.... The king’s palace is a collection of buildings which occupy as much space as the town of Harlem, and which is enclosed with walls. There are numerous apartments for the Prince’s ministers and fine galleries, most of which are as big as those on the Exchange at Amsterdam. They are supported by wooden pillars encased with copper, where their victories are depicted, and which are carefully kept very clean. The town is composed of thirty main streets, very straight and 120 feet wide, apart from an infinity of small intersecting streets. The houses are close to one another, arranged in good order. These people are in no way inferior to the Dutch as regards cleanliness; they wash and scrub their houses so well that they are polished and shining like a looking-glass. Offcourse Europe has always killed any civilisation that they find incompatible with their democracy.

  • Martin - 2011-12-02 08:56


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