Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seven Opposition Leaders Arrested

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Times Online

Iranian security forces today rounded up at least seven prominent activists amid reports that the body of the opposition leader's nephew, killed on Sunday as hundreds of thousands took to the streets, had gone missing. Clashes had been expected at a funeral ceremony for Seyed Ali Mousavi, whose uncle Mir Hossein Mousavi was defeated in hotly disputed elections earlier this year. Instead police fired teargas to disperse Mousavi supporters who had gathered outside the hospital that his body had been taken to, an Iranian opposition website said. Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said that eight people were killed on Sunday in anti-government protests across Iran that erupted during the religious festival of Ashura. Iran’s Health Ministry said that over 60 people had been injured in Tehran, with around 300 people reportedly arrested. A report on the website of state television put the number of dead as high as 15 and quoted the Ministry of Intelligence that more than 10 were members of "anti-revolutionary terrorist" groups. The other five who reportedly died during the bitter clashes in the Iranian capital were killed by "terrorist groups," Iranian TV claimed. State television said unknown assailants killed Mr Mousavi, 35. A Mousavi ally described his death as martyrdom.

“A group of Mousavi supporters have gathered in front of Ebn-e Sina hospital where his nephew’s body was kept ... Police fired teargas to disperse them,” the Norooz website reported. A moderate website said today the body of Mr Mousavi’s nephew was missing from the hospital. “We can not hold a funeral until my brother’s body is found,” said another of Mr Mousavi’s nephews said, according to parlemannews. Clashes were expected at the funeral ceremony. Opposition websites and activists said security forces raided a series of opposition offices today, making at least seven arrests. The parlemannews site said that three of Mr Moussavi’s top aides were rounded up, including his top adviser, Ali Riza Beheshti. Security forces also stormed a foundation run by reformist former President Mohammad Khatami and arrested two people, a foundation official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fears of police reprisal. The Baran Foundation works to promote dialogue between civilisations. In another move, the former Foreign Minister Ebrahim Yazdi and the human rights activist Emad Baghi were arrested, according to the Rah-e-Sabz website. Mr Yazdi, who served as Foreign Minister after the 1979 Islamic revolution, is now leader of the banned but tolerated Freedom Movement of Iran. The arrests could not be independently confirmed. (Read more...)