UN secretary-general calls for end to violence in Iran

June 23rd, 2009 - 11:23 am ICT by IANS  

New York/Tehran, June 23 (DPA) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Iranian government to put an end to the violence against opposition supporters protesting the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“The secretary-general has been following with growing concern the situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran and is dismayed by the post-election violence, particularly the use of force against civilians, which has led to the loss of life and injuries,” a statement released Monday said.

Ban urged “an immediate stop to the arrests, threats and use of force”.

About 1,000 opposition supporters protested Monday again against alleged vote rigging in the June 12 elections, despite a ban and stern warnings by the authorities, witnesses said. Reports that security forces used tear gas against the protestors could not be confirmed due to ban on reporting.

Ban called on the Iranian authorities to respect fundamental civil and political rights, especially the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of information, and urged a peaceful solution.

“The secretary-general reiterates his hope that the democratic will of the people of Iran will be fully respected,” the statement said.

Witness reports reaching DPA said that a large security contingent, including the Revolutionary Guards - an elite armed force close to Ahmadinejad - and Basij militia, was present throughout the capital, and was stopping and questioning civilians.

Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi said Sunday night that the people should continue protests but refrain from violence.

On Saturday severe clashes between protestors and security forces rocked Tehran, in which at least ten people died. Among them was 19-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death turned the young woman into an internet resistance icon.

Internet footage, the authenticity of which cannot be confirmed, show the woman being shot by a sniper while watching the protests with her father.

A spokesman of Iran’s Guardian Council Monday rejected reports saying that the council had admitted to some irregularities in the disputed June 12 presidential election.

Council spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei told Iranian news agency IRNA that the violations were reported by the three losing candidates - Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezaei - and had not yet been acknowledged by the Guardian Council.

Meanwhile the European Union rejected Iranian accusations Monday “baseless and unacceptable” that some of the bloc’s biggest members are trying to topple its regime, while Moscow showed its support for Ahmadinejad. A statement by the foreign ministry said the president was re-elected according to official results, and Russia respected the will of the Iranian voters.

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