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Authorities slam West as crackdown on opposition continues

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-12-30

Iranian authorities continued arresting opposition members on Tuesday, as hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed Western governments for supporting anti-government protests since Sunday in which at least eight people have died.

Iranian authorities continued arresting opposition members on Tuesday, as hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed Western governments for supporting anti-government protests since Sunday in which at least eight people died.

"Americans and Zionists are the sole audience of a play they have commissioned and sold out. A nauseating play is performed,” the president was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying.

Ahmadinejad also denounced comments made by US President Barack Obama and the British government, who have condemned Iran's crackdown on protesters.

"We have advised them repeatedly, but if looks as if they insist on being humiliated, we are sure they will be humiliated more than their predecessors," Ahmadinejad said.

Lashing out at ‘enemies’ both inside and out

Meanwhile, Iran's parliament called for opposition demonstrators to receive maximum punishment and slammed Western governments for their “disgusting comments.”

The ISNA news agency quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as singling out Great Britain, saying: "If they do not stop their absurd comments, they will be slapped in the mouth."

His comment came as Tehran on Tuesday summoned British envoy Simon Gass and as a pro-government website reported that a Briton was among those arrested at the demonstrations.

The latest flare-up in the ongoing political tensions that have rocked Iran since Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election in June occurred on Sunday, when people took to the street on the holy day of Ashura, which commemorates the seventh century murder of Shiite Islam's holiest martyr.

Eight people were killed as security forces used teargas and batons and eventually fired shots to push back thousands.

After Sunday's protests, Iran rounded up scores of opposition figures and dissidents. On Tuesday, several reformist journalists and activists were also arrested, reports said.

Hardliners have also staged counter-demonstrations calling for tough action against protesters, state media reported.

A representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called opposition leaders "enemies of God" who should be executed under the country's Sharia law, state television reported.

On another front, Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said intelligence agents had arrested her medical professor sister, Dr. Nooshin Ebadi, on Monday.

“She is not an activist and her arrest is in fact new pressure to stop my human rights work," Ebadi said in a statement on the Rahesabz opposition website.

Ebadi’s arrest prompted a sharp reaction from French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who called the move a form of "unacceptable pressure on this courageous activist.”

"I am asking Iranian authorities to respect the democratic right of its citizens and Iranian political parties to express themselves, to respect the freedom of the press and to release all those who have been unjustly detained," he said in a statement.

‘Choosing a camp’

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s former crown prince and the son of the last Shah of Iran, noted that Western powers have arrived at a sort of crossroads in their dealings with Iran. He said it was now “very critical to see where the world stands when it comes to choosing a camp. You either have to support the people of Iran in their quest for freedom, or yet again be indifferent toward them, which will only contribute to the prolonging of the clerical regime.”

Pahlavi suggested that countries could back up their rhetoric with “visible action", such as recalling ambassadors from Iran, “to show the regime that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”

He also said that the contentious relationship between Iran and the West would be resolved by a regime change: “Once Iran achieves a different form of government which is democratic, all threats, including anything the world is focusing on such as the nuclear threat, will also dissipate,” he said.






Date created : 2009-12-29

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