UPDATED: Iran Lashes Out at West Over Protests – NYTimes.com

Dec 29, 20090 comments

Published: December 29, 2009

Iran continued to arrest opposition members on Tuesday in what seemed to be an effort to curb further protests after Sunday’s defiant demonstrations against the government, according to opposition Web sites. The authorities arrested dozens of journalists, students and activists on Monday and Tuesday, the Web sites said. Among those arrested was the sister of the Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, who has been critical of the government. The crackdown appears to be the largest since June, when antigovernment protests exploded after the country’s widely disputed presidential election. Sunday’s protests were the bloodiest since the summer, and on Tuesday an opposition Web site, Jaras, said the death toll was likely to be significantly higher than previously thought. The site quoted what it said was a leaked confidential report by the official news agency IRNA, saying that 37 people had been killed. The security forces had earlier said that eight people had been killed in Tehran, and Jaras itself had earlier reported that 13 people were killed in Tehran and elsewhere. IRNA sometimes issues reports only to a limited number of subscribers, but it was impossible to immediately verify either the existence of the report or its contents. Opposition figures had said earlier that they expected the number of dead to rise because government forces had shot into crowds, and videos have surfaced on the Web in recent days that are said to show protesters being run over by cars. Ali Moussavi, a nephew of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, was one of those run over by a vehicle, according to a family friend who said earlier this week that the assault was an assassination that took place outside the nephew’s home. Because foreign reporters were barred from the demonstration, it was impossible to confirm the breadth of the violence on Sunday. The authorities have claimed that the West has been behind the protests and that the killings were carried out by “suspicious elements.” The semiofficial Fars news agency reported Tuesday that the British ambassador, Simon Gass, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry over Britain’s “interference into Iran’s internal affairs.” The British government said its envoy would respond “robustly” to any criticism, Reuters reported. After the election in June, Iran sought to cast Britain as a major instigator of the unrest that followed. Also on Tuesday, the speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, who had voiced more moderate views in the past, called for the “arrest of offenders of the religion and the harshest punishment for antirevolutionary figures,” ISNA, a semiofficial news agency, reported. He refrained from naming those he wanted punished, but other government officials have called for Mr. Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, another leader of the opposition, to be held accountable for the continuing defiance of the government. Meanwhile, some Iranians living abroad — many of whom fled the country after the Islamic Revolution — appeared to be making a more concerted effort to discredit the government. A group called United4Iran, a network of Iranians around the world who came together after the June protests, posted a postcard on its Web site titled “Wanted,” with the pictures of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the winner of the disputed election; and the leader of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari. “The diaspora wants to play a role in bringing the violence to an end,” said Hadi Ghaemi, one the organizers for United4Iran. “We are highlighting the human rights situation in Iran and the three figures that are behind it.” United4Iran also posted a statement from Ms. Ebadi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, saying that her sister, who had been arrested, was not a political person. Ms. Ebadi, who left Iran right before the election, said the authorities have been threatening to arrest her sister unless she handed over what they hoped would be damaging information about Ms. Ebadi. “I initially did not take this seriously,” Ms. Ebadi wrote, “but I am sad and upset to see that this was not an empty threat.”

Nazila Fathi contributed reporting from Toronto, and Peter Baker from Honolulu. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/30/world/middleeast/30iran.html?_r=1

Accusing Western countries of supporting protesters, the Iranian government summoned the British ambassador.

Accusing Western countries of supporting protesters, the Iranian government summoned the British ambassador.