03/01/2011, 00.00
IRAN
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Tehran cracks down on protests against the arrests of Mousavi and Kharroubi

Basij militias attack demonstrators with batons, firearms and tear gas. Dozens of arrests. Demonstrations in the streets of Tehran and other major cities of Iran. The Green Wave demands the release of all leaders. Another demonstration is scheduled for March 15. Parliamentarians demand Mousavi and Kharroubi be tried and hanged.

Teheran (AsiaNews) – Wielding sticks, guns and tear gas, police and Basij militia in riot gear swooped down on thousands of Iranian demonstrators who gathered today to challenge the illegal arrest of their leaders, and especially against the arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Kharroubi, opponents of Ahmadinejad.

Clashes have been reported in different squares across Tehran (Ferdousi, Vali Asr, Enghelab, Azadi ...) and main streets (Jamalzadeh, Behboudi, Navab, Karga Shomali, and in front of Tehran University).

The young people of the Green Wave – who shook the regime of the ayatollahs in the aftermath of sham elections in June 2009 - had gathered in the capital today at 5pm to march from the Imam Hossein square to Azadi Square, shouting slogans such as "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein "and" Ya Mehdi Sheikh Medi ". The organizers also called for protests in the squares of other major Iranian cities.

Local sources confirm that there are ongoing demonstrations and clashes in Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz and Karaj (see video). In Mashhad there have been at least 10 arrests, and several also in Tehran.

The Green Wave is already planning another protest on a national level, set for March 15, the Iranian holiday of ChaharShanbe Souri.

In the wake of the jasmine revolution that is transforming North Africa, on 14 February thousands of Mousavi and Kharroubi supporters marched through the streets of Tehran, clashing with security forces. According to the opposition, the police arrested at least 1,500 people, according to the government only 10.

Today’s demonstrations and those yet to take place are demanding that the regime release all those arrested.

Yesterday Kaleme, an opposition website, broke the news that Mousavi and Kharroubi had been transferred to the prison of Heshmatieh in Tehran, under the control of the army. The wives of the two leaders were also arrested, Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi.

The government has not confirmed the news but the semi-official Fars news agency reported the statements of the prosecutor general Mohseni Eje'i, that the two leaders are under house arrest and not in prison, but in complete isolation.

According Kaleme, Mousavi’s daughters have tried several times to contact their parents, but without success. In addition, in recent days the lights have been permanently off in their apartment.

The son of Mehdi Kharroubi has instead cited a neighbor who confirmed he had seen in recent days, eight security trucks that led his parents away to an unknown destination.

Until now, the regime in Tehran, on the advice of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, had never arrested the two opponents of Ahmadinejad, but in recent weeks various fundamentalists had called for their arrest.

After the riots of February 14, in an attempt to quell any further protests, several Iranian lawmakers called for Mousavi and Kharroubi to be tried and sentenced to hang.
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