Four American hostages who were taken hostage when the U.S. embassy in Tehran was taken over by the Islamic Republic’s radical militants in 1979 were in attendance at the ceremony. Also present was George Clooney, who is a citizen of both the U.S. and Iran. A man, dressed in fatigues, dressed in black yelled, “Death to America!” as he railed against the U.S. He was swiftly tackled by security.
Hostages William Buckley, Susan Doff, and Juan Garzon gave a recorded message, in which they recounted the events of the takeover that ended with the American diplomats being held hostage for 444 days.
“I’ve never forgotten what it felt like to have your back to the wall,” Buckley said in the video released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, according to The New York Times. “We could have been bludgeoned or beaten … and your government could have done nothing to help us.”
Paul Hamra (@paulhamra1) delivers message of the embassy survivors. ‘Thanks to the people of Iran, we are free!’ pic.twitter.com/wC4F09IGhU — Bahman Kalbasi (@bhkahparast) October 25, 2016
To mark the anniversary, Iranians took to the streets in various cities in the country. Some of the videos uploaded to social media showed crowds shouting, “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and “Death to Britain.” The footage was accompanied by scenes from the former American embassy, including doors, the portraits of former U.S. presidents, and a security guard who noted, “This is for America,” as he pointed to the broken windows.
The footage reflected the mood at a ceremony held at Tehran University, which was attended by Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani, and a host of senior Iranian officials.
“In 1979 the U.S. walked away from a relationship that it had held for over 200 years,” Rouhani said at the gathering. “The result of this unfortunate decision is that Iran today stands alone among countries that enjoy normal diplomatic relations with us.”
The Tehran University ceremony was held in a venue which resembled the old embassy: It had chains on the walls, plaques on the floor, and security guards patrolling the area. It also had an old swimming pool, with red lines of tape from the U.S. military on the wall. The swim pool also featured a statue of an eagle, which railed, “Vengeance is ours.”
Iranian military personnel pose during a ceremony on the anniversary of the U.S. embassy seizure, outside Tehran University, on October 25, 2016. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani attended the ceremony at the venue that served as the former U.S. embassy in Tehran on October 25. (Photo by Vahid Salemi/AFP/Getty Images)
At a separate event in the northwestern city of Tabriz, an announcer read a letter from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, to President Obama asking for his continued assistance.
“Today Iran faces a powerful adversary with superior military technology, hardened animosity, a global network of terror and, most importantly, American acquiescence,” she wrote. “This small country has been left with a systematic nuclear program and the ability to expand its influence.”
In a separate event in the northeastern city of Mashhad, the secretary general of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned of another “great and bitter battle” against America, following the nuclear deal Obama and Rouhani have brokered this year. The nuclear deal, which provides Iran with relief from economic sanctions, is being challenged in courts by some of the country’s most powerful conservative politicians. Jafari warned that this would continue to be a “time of reality.”
To mark the anniversary, some of the Americans who were held hostage at the U.S. embassy were given new security passes that allowed them to attend events abroad. The Times reported that, during the ceremony for the newly awarded passes, the four survivors were allowed to stand behind a wall and watch a slide show of the day they were taken hostage.
A ceremony held at Tehran University (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Iranians in major cities celebrate U.S. embassy takeover anniversary