Monday, December 28, 2009

Canada Condemns Renewed Violence in Iran

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Agence France Presse (AFP) &

Canada joined the growing chorus of voices Sunday condemning the violent suppression of antigovernment protesters in Iran that reports say has left at least five people dead. In a statement issued by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, the government expressed its concern over the “violent crackdown against Iranian citizens who were exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly on the occasion of Ashura.” On Sunday, Muslims across the world observed Ashura, a Shiite holiday commemorating the death of Husayn ibn Ali — the grandson of Muhammad — at the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D. More than 300 protesters were also believed to have been arrested. Cannon called the actions of the Iranian regime “deplorable,” and urged the Middle Eastern state to “meet its human rights obligations.” “Iranian security forces once again used intimidation and violence against citizens of Iran. . . . The people of Iran deserve to have their voices heard and to enjoy the rights to which they are entitled without fear of violence and intimidation,” the statement read. The outbreak of violence is the worst since last June’s contested presidential election, which sparked political turmoil across the Mideast country.

Opponents of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s June 12 re-election have used a series of government-backed public events to mount protests, many of which have ended in clashes with police. The last known deaths during street protests in Tehran were on June 20. The opposition says that at least 72 people were killed in June’s protests while the authorities put the figure at 36. Reports suggested that the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was one of the people killed during Sunday’s crackdown on antigovernment rallies in Tehran. According to a website run by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an opposition leader based in Paris, Mousavi’s nephew, Seyed Ali, was shot at point blank range in front of his house after witnessing several people being run over by an SUV. Meanwhile, the White House on Sunday also strongly denounced the “violent and unjust suppression” of civilians in Iran, a contrast to the careful responses presented by the Obama administration after the June protests. U.S. President Barack Obama has been spearheading global efforts to resolve a nuclear showdown with Iran through diplomacy. He has given Iran until the end of this year to respond to a UN-backed international offer to defuse its nuclear program, or face tough new sanctions.