Arrests and killings rise as election protests grip Iran
Demonstrations against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory have spread to all corners of the country. New reports suggest that around 15 protesters have been killed and hundreds more injured or arrested by security forces. Up to two million people, including supporters of opposition leader Hossein Mousavi, took to the streets in Tehran on Monday to protest the outcome of the election. Large numbers massed again on Tuesday afternoon despite government threats that they would clamp down on "illegal protests". Elsewhere in Iran, similar protests against the announcement of President Ahmadinejad's re-election have been met with an excessive force by police and security forces. In addition to seven protesters killed in Tehran, three people are reported to have died in Oroumiye and Shiraz. While the arrest of dozens of political activists in the capital has been widely reported, less attention has been paid to the situation in provincial towns and cities. In Tabriz, north-western Iran, 17 political activists, including doctors and those affiliated to the Nehzat-e Azadi (Iran Freedom Movement) are reported to have been detained and taken to unspecified locations on Monday night after they staged a peaceful protest in the city's Abresan Square. Among those arrested was Doctor Ghaffari Farzadi, a leading member of the Iran Freedom Movement and a lecturer at Tabriz University. Students appear to have been particularly targeted. Security forces entered dormitories at Tabriz University on Monday and detained 10 students who had been involved in demonstrations. On Tuesday, activist and student leader Amir Mardani was among hundreds more people detained. In the city of Oroumiye, also in north-western Iran, local media reported on Tuesday that two people had been killed and hundreds more detained after a crackdown on around 3,000 protesters in Imam Street. In Shiraz, southern Iran, security forces used tear gas as they forced their way into a university library. Reports say that several students were beaten and around 100 were detained. Unconfirmed reports suggest that one person may have been killed. In the northern town of Babol, armed paramilitaries and plain-clothed officials are reported to have surrounded Babol University and targeted students in dormitories. This scenario was repeated in other centres. In Mashhad, in the north-east, there were further reports of security forces attacking students and in Zahedan, in Iran’s southeast, two students are among at least three activists who have been detained Amnesty International has called on the Iranian authorities to exercise restraint in their policing of any further demonstrations in connection with the election result and to end attacks on students. The organisation is looking into the reported deaths.