Two killed in Iran protests

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TEHRAN - Iran has confirmed the deaths of two people in the anti-government protests even as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dubbed the organisers of the demonstration as the “enemies” of the country, a media report said Wednesday.

So far two of the protesters have been confirmed dead by government sources who claimed that the men — Sana Jaleh, 26, and Mohamad Mokhtari, 22 — were killed by members of an outlawed group, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, Al Jazeera reported.

The group denied the allegations Tuesday, saying that government security forces had “crushed the demonstrators, firing live rounds and tear gas at them”.

The Monday’s demonstration was called by opposition leaders Mir-Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, in support of the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings. Both Karroubi and Mousavi are under house arrest and were unable to participate in the protests, for which Ali Larijani, speaker of the parliament, blames the US.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the “enemies” who planned the anti-government protests in Tehran will fail to achieve their goals.

“It is evident and clear that the Iranian nation has enemies because it is a country which wants to shine and achieve its peak and wants to change relations (between countries) in the world,” Ahmadinejad said in a live interview on state television Tuesday.

“Of course there is a lot of animosity, even against the government. But they (protest planners) will not achieve their goals,” he added.

Jaleh and Mokhtari are described as “martyrs” by the government.

In the aftermath of protests, several members of the country’s parliament called for reprisals against the opposition leaders who called for the marches.

Meanwhile, there is a chatter on a Facebook page, where the demonstrations were organised, about a plan to hold a memorial for Jaleh at the arts university in Tehran Wednesday morning.

There is a video posted on YouTube, purporting to be from Tuesday night, in which shouts of “Death to the dictator” can be heard being shouted from rooftops, the report said.

Amnesty International, the London-based rights group, has called for an investigation into the deaths and injuries reported in Monday’s protests.

A statement released on its website Tuesday said that “the Iranian authorities have singularly failed to allow a largely peaceful demonstration to proceed”, and that plainclothes security personnel “repeatedly beat the demonstrators with batons after surrounding them”.

There are reports of dozens of injuries in Tehran, although it is unclear if there were any fatalities in other cities, such as Isfahan and Shiraz, where protests and clashes also took place Monday.

The Committee of Human Rights Reporters, an Iran-based rights group, published an article on its website Tuesday, saying that Iranian officials “declared a list of 1500 detainees”.

Iranian authorities had told state media that 150 people were arrested, and that nine security personnel were injured in the protests.

Members of parliament urged Sadeq Larijani, the head of the judiciary, to bring opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi before a court to “answer for their parts in Monday’s events”.

The members chanted “Death to Karroubi, death to Mousavi” during a session Tuesday, and calling for both to be executed.

In a statement Tuesday, US President Barack Obama announced his support for the protesters.

“My hope and expectation is that we are going to continue to see the people of Iran have the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedom and a more representative government,” he said.

He also insisted that the US “cannot ultimately dictate what happens inside of Iran”.

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