Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iran police clash with 3,000 protesters in Tehran

Last update - 21:02 28/06/2009       
Witnesses: Iran police clash with 3,000 protesters
By The Associated Press
Riot police clashed with up to 3,000 protesters near a mosque in north Tehran on Sunday, using tear gas and truncheons to break up Iran's first post-election demonstration in five days, witnesses said.
Witnesses told The Associated Press that some protesters fought back, chanting: Where is my vote? They said others described scenes of brutality - including the alleged police beating of an elderly woman - in the clashes around the Ghoba Mosque.
The reports could not immediately be independently verified because of tight restrictions imposed on journalists in Iran.
North Tehran is a base of support for opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has alleged massive fraud in Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election and insists he - not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - is the rightful winner.
Sunday's clashes broke out at a rally that had been planned to coincide with a memorial held each year for Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, who came to be considered a martyr in the Islamic Republic after he was killed in a 1981 anti-regime bombing.
It was Iran's first election-related unrest since Wednesday, when a small group of rock-throwing protesters who had gathered near parliament was quickly overwhelmed by police forces using tear gas and clubs.
Iran's standoff with the West over its crackdown on opposition protesters escalated Sunday after authorities detained several local employees of the British Embassy in Tehran - a move that Britain's foreign secretary called harassment and intimidation. The European Union condemned the arrests.
Iranian media said eight local embassy staff were detained for an alleged role in post-election protests, but gave no further details. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said about nine employees were detained Saturday and that four had been released.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Corfu, Greece, issued a statement Sunday condemning the arrests and calling for the immediate release of all those still detained. The 27-nation bloc also denounced Iran's continuing restrictions on journalists.
# They make clear to the Iranian authorities that harassment or intimidation of foreign or Iranian staff working in embassies will be met with a strong and collective EU response, the statement said.

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