Image: Mourners stand around the flag draped body of Ezatollah Sahabi
HO  /  Reuters
Mourners stand around the flag draped body of Ezatollah Sahabi at his burial ceremony in Lavasan, about 12.4 miles northeast of Tehran June 1, 2011. news services
updated 6/1/2011 11:38:43 AM ET 2011-06-01T15:38:43

The daughter of a prominent veteran Iranian dissident died while attending her father's funeral Wednesday after security forces scuffled with mourners, opposition websites said.

Haleh Sahabi, 54, herself an opposition activist and women's rights campaigner, had been allowed out of prison to attend the funeral of her father Ezatollah Sahabi. She fell in the scuffle and died of a cardiac arrest, the Kaleme website said.

The semi-official Mehr news agency reported sporadic clashes at the funeral but said Sahabi had died of a pre-existing heart condition and not because of rough handling.

"Security forces tried to interfere in the carrying of the body, she objected and security forces confronted her and other people present," Kaleme said, adding that Sahabi was pushed to the ground. Another opposition site, Sahamnews, said a member of the security forces punched her in the stomach.

Kaleme said she was holding a picture of her father to her chest and fell when security forces tried to take it from her. "She fell and did not get up," it said.

The official IRNA news agency said Haleh Sahabi was already suffering from high blood pressure and blood sugar.

IRNA said five persons "who intended to disrupt order" were arrested. It didn't elaborate.

Arrested for criticizing regime
Haleh was imprisoned after the disputed 2009 presidential elections for supporting allegations that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election was rigged but was temporarily released to attend her father's funeral.

The elder Sahabi, 81, died after being hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage.

Image: Haleh Sahabi, R
Haleh Sahabi (R), daughter of Iranian dissident Ezatollah Shabi, and Nargess Mohammadi (L), wife of jailed dissident Tahmani and talking during a legislators' sit-in at Iran's parliament in Tehran, Iran.

Before his death the highly respected Sahabi, once an ally of the 1979 Islamic revolution and a member of the Revolutionary Council, strongly criticized the government for mistreatment of political prisoners.

Sahabi, a former lawmaker, was imprisoned for 15 years for criticizing the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and later the hardline clerics who toppled him and seized power in 1979.

In 2003 a court sentenced Sahabi to 11 years after he was detained on the charge of trying to topple the government.

Sahabi was a senior leader of Iran's a loose nationalist-religious political alliance that promoted tolerance and personal freedoms. The alliance rejected violence but opposed the rule of hardline clerics and sought to bring changes through peaceful protest.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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