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Iran activists, police clash in second day

Feb. 15, 2011 at 1:58 PM   |   Comments

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VIDEO: Iran set for more protests
VIDEO: Iran set for more protests
TEHRAN, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Pro-reform activists and Iranian security forces clashed Tuesday following sporadic violence overnight amid an increased police presence, witnesses said.

The Iranian News Agency reported Iranian lawmakers Tuesday demanded two of the most prominent opposition leaders -- Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Mussein -- be prosecuted and sentenced to death for fomenting the anti-government protests.

IRNA said 233 members of Parliament issued a statement criticizing the call for protests and urging legal action against the two opposition leaders.

"While the lofty message of the Islamic revolution after 32 years is now inspiring people in Tunisia and Egypt undermining the pillars of global hegemony, Mousavi and Karroubi invited people to come to streets in support of people in Egypt but in fact they have served the agenda of the U.S. and Zionist regime," the lawmakers said in a statement.

"You should know that the patience of nation is running out vis-a-vis your wrongdoings and all call for judicial action against you."

As the statement was being read, members of Parliament chanted "Down with Mousavi and Karroubi" and "Mousavi and Karroubi should be executed ...," IRNA said.

Protesters marched and ran through central Tehran for a second day as riot police beat and fired tear gas at them, witnesses said. Security forces patrolling on motorcycles were seen chasing demonstrators through the streets as they did Monday.

The unrest, in sympathy with Egypt's recent popular uprising, followed a night of protests, attempted street blockades, burning of trash and other acts of defiance, including rock-throwing at pro-regime volunteer paramilitary Basij militia, online videos from Tehran indicated.

The overnight videos viewed by United Press International did not show protesters attacking or setting fires to cars or businesses. Foreign journalists and photographers are prohibited by the government from covering street protests.

Iranian Parliament speaker Ari Larikani condemned the anti-government protests and accused Israel and the United States of being involved, the state-supported Press TV reported.

Ghola-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, prosecutor general and Justice Ministry spokesman said those responsible for Monday's protests will be dealt with "firmly and swiftly," the television report said.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Radan, deputy police commander told reporters that nine members of Iran's security forces were injured in Monday's protests and said a number of demonstrators were arrested, the report said.

Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the Iranian authorities' efforts to prevent the protests.

At least one demonstrator was killed and dozens were wounded during daylight hours Monday, when 20,000 to 30,000 demonstrators in at least three major cities defied strong government warnings and took to the streets. Iranian police used electric prods and tear gas to crack down on the country's biggest anti-government protests in a year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency -- linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an Iranian military branch founded after the Iranian revolution to prevent internal dissident and military uprisings -- confirmed the death and said numerous demonstrators had been arrested.

It described the demonstrators as "seditionists," or people deemed by authorities as wanting insurrection against the established order.

"Mubarak! Ben Ali! Now it's time for Sayyid Ali!" videos of protesters chanting in Persian indicated. The chants referred to ousted Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian leaders had described Ben Ali and Mubarak's toppling as triumphs of popular support for Islam over secular leaders in the Arab world.

Cellphone service was shut off in central Tehran, in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, 210 miles south of Tehran, and in the southwestern city of Shiraz, and the Internet was slowed to a crawl, activists said.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and fellow opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi remained under house arrest after they asked the government last week for permission to hold Monday's Tehran rally, supporters said.

Protests also took place in Isfahan and Shiraz before security forces dispersed demonstrators by force, the opposition Web site kaleme.com said.

U.S. President Barack Obama voiced support for the Iranian demonstrators and criticized the country's leaders.

"I find it ironic that you've got the Iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in Egypt, when in fact they have acted in direct contrast to what happened in Egypt by gunning down and beating people who were trying to express themselves peacefully in Iran," the U.S. leader said.

"Real change in these societies is not going to happen because of terrorism. It's not going to happen because you go around killing innocents. It's going to happen because people come together and apply moral force to a situation."

Topics: Basij
© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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