Friday, July 31, 2009

Tehran police attack protester memorial

Morning Star Online, Thursday 30 July 2009

Iranian police have fired tear gas and beat anti-government protesters with batons to disperse thousands of people attending a memorial of a woman whose killing made her an icon of the opposition movement.

The memorial service marked the end of the 40-day mourning period under Islam for 10 people killed in protests and clashes on June 20.

The service took place at the grave of one of the victims Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot to death on that day.

The 27-year-old music student’s dying moments were filmed and circulated widely on the internet and her name became a rallying cry for the opposition.

“Neda is alive, Ahmadinejad is dead,” some of those at the ceremony chanted, referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who the opposition claims won the June 12 election by fraud.

Plain-clothes forces charged at them with batons and tear gas, some of them chanting: “Death to those who are against the supreme leader.”

Police also barred opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi from joining the crowd around her grave.

When Mr Mousavi arrived at the site, hundreds of police surrounded him.

As several hundred supporters chanted his name, police forced him to leave the vast cemetery on Tehran’s southern outskirts where many of those killed in the nearly seven-week-old crackdown have been buried.

Before the clashes, police arrested two prominent Iranian filmmakers when they tried to lay flowers at Ms Soltan’s grave.

One of them was Jafar Panahi, best known for his film The Circle, which was critical of the treatment of women under the Islamist government and was banned in Iran.

Female documentary maker Mahnaz Mohammadi was arrested with him.

Anger over the abuse of opposition supporters has spread even to conservative government supporters.

Some critics have even compared the government crackdown to the torture and oppression under Iran’s former ruler, the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown in the 1979 revolution that led to the creation of the Islamic Republic.

Tags: , , , , ,

Post a Comment