IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Iran forces curb opposition rallies

Thousands of Iranian security personnel are deployed on the streets of Tehran and other cities to prevent opposition protesters rallying in spite of a ban, opposition websites report.
/ Source: Reuters

Thousands of Iranian security personnel were deployed on the streets of Tehran and other cities on Sunday to prevent opposition protesters rallying in spite of a ban, opposition websites reported.

The websites of opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi had issued calls for nationwide rallies to commemorate two people killed in protests last week and show "decisive support to the pro-reform movement and its leaders."

Mousavi's website Kaleme reported that there had been gatherings of opposition supporters in various parts of Tehran.

Opposition reports that one person had been killed in clashes in central Tehran were denied by a senior government official, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The official IRNA news agency said Iran's police chief had confirmed that security forces were out in numbers in Tehran but denied that there had been any significant incidents.

The daughter of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was briefly detained for "chanting provocative slogans" while taking part in a rally, IRNA reported.

The semi-official Fars news agency later said Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani had been released after saying that she was "out shopping for clothes."

The former president, who remains a powerful figure as head of Iran's Expediency Council, supported Mousavi in the disputed 2009 presidential election, won by Ahmadinejad.

The authorities, seeking to avoid a revival of the mass anti-government rallies that erupted after the 2009 vote, had warned on Saturday that any illegal gatherings by the opposition would be confronted.

Two people were killed and dozens arrested on Monday when thousands of opposition supporters in Tehran and other cities took to the streets in sympathy with uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

On Sunday, the Kaleme website said that "a large number of riot police, security forces, members of the Basij militia and plainclothes forces can be seen in Tehran's streets."

Karoubi's website Sahamnews said security forces were out in large numbers in other cities including Isfahan and Shiraz.

The Fars agency said "seditionists" had unsuccessfully tried to gather in the holy Shiite city of Mashhad in northeast Iran.

Foreign media were not provided with the required permits to cover protests from the streets.

The accreditations of text and visual journalists working for foreign media including Agence France-Presse, Al Jazeera and the New York Times were revoked after they covered Monday's anti-government protests without permits.

Iran's police chief was quoted by IRNA as saying there had been no significant incidents on Sunday. "Despite the efforts of enemies who wanted to foment tension in Iran, nothing happened in the country," Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam said.

But Mousavi's website said there had been "sporadic gatherings," "Generally they are silent but sometimes the crowd chants 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great) and 'Death to the Dictator,'" it said.

Mousavi and Karoubi, who both ran against Ahmadinejad in 2009, have been placed under house arrest since calling for Monday's rally. Hardliners have urged the judiciary to hand down death penalties to opposition leaders.

In response, Karoubi urged the judiciary to put him on public trial, Sahamnews reported on Saturday.

The opposition leaders said Monday's rally, the first big show of opposition on the streets since December 2009, showed Iran's pro-democracy movement was still alive.

Iran's hardline rulers have repeatedly accused opposition leaders of being part of a Western plot to overthrow the Islamic system. Mousavi and Karoubi deny the claim.