US concerned over Iranian police break-up of mourners’ protestJuly 31st, 2009 - 11:14 am ICT by IANS
Tehran/Washington, July 31 (DPA) The US was “disturbed” by reports of Iranian police and security forces breaking up a demonstration by mourners remembering those killed in recent post-election clashes, a State Department official said.
Police Thursday broke up a crowd of several hundred who had gathered around the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, who was shot during last month’s protests against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Witnesses said there were a number of arrests.
“I think it’s particularly disturbing to see security forces use force to break up a graveside demonstration, to break up a group of people who are trying to exercise an important ritual under Islam, the mourning after 40 days,” US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Thursday.
Kelly reiterated that the US stood by “the Iranian people who are seeking to exercise their universal right to self-expression, to demonstrate peacefully”.
Neda Agha-Soltan was shot on an open street in Tehran June 20, and her death became symbolic of the protest movement in Iran and also prompted a wave of international protest after internet images of the 27-year-old’s death were shown around the world.
Witnesses said opposition leader and defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi was prevented from getting out of his car when it arrived at Behesht-e Zahra cemetery for the mourning ceremony, which in the Shiite Muslim tradition went ahead 40 days after Agha-Soltan’s death.
Thousands also gathered at Mosalla square in central Tehran and in the city of Isfahan to mourn and protest against Ahmadinejad’s government.
Official figures have put the number killed in recent demonstrations at 20, although a member of parliament later stated that the number was 30.
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