Merkel condemns violence against Iranian protesters

2009/12/28

Published in “Spiegel” on December 28 2009
Source (German): http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,669239,00.html

German federal chancellor Merkel has criticized the brutal actions of Iranian security forces, calling them “unacceptable”. She called on the government in Tehran to seek dialogue instead of further escalating the conflict. In violent clashes, at least eight people were killed.

Tehran/Berlin – The federal government has bashed the actions of Iran’s security forces. Federal chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) called on Iran to not restrict nor violently suppress people’s right of free expression in peaceful demonstrations. The leadership in Tehran is called to prevent further escalation and to seek political dialogue. She denounced the violent actions of the security forces against demonstrators as “unacceptable”.

Several people were killed, many were injured in street fights in Tehran and other Iranian cities. “I extend my sympathy to the families of the victims”, said Merkel in Berlin. Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle (FDP) joined the chancellor in her criticism. On Monday he condemned the “brutal actions” of the Iranian authorities. Tehran must comply with its obligations to protect the civil and political rights of its citizens. “The international community will be watching, and will not look away,” said Westerwelle.

Tehran arrests prominent oppositionists
Dissidents on the internet had called attention to the brutal actions of the security forces, and already on Sunday they spoke of several deaths. However, this information was initially not officially confirmed. The Iranian state TV only on Monday announced that eight people were killed in the protests. Other, unconfirmed reports mentioned 15 deaths.

Moreover, Tehran has arrested several prominent opposition members, among them a former foreign minister and several confidants of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami and opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi. Two of the arrested were heads of Khatami’s NGO Baran. Three others are Moussavi’s advisors. This was reported by the website of the oppositional members of parliament, Parleman News.

Also, the dissident internet site Rahe Sabz reported the arrest of opposition member Ebrahim Yazdi on Monday. The report says that Yazdi was transferred to an undisclosed location after he was summoned to the Intelligence Ministry last week, but did not show up. Yazdi had been a Minister of Foreign Affairs shortly after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. He is known as a an acrimonious opponent to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The award winning human rights activist and journalist Emadeddin Baghi has also been arrested.

Corpse of Moussavi’s nephew has disappeared
Thousands of dissidents had taken to the streets on Sunday, using the Shiite Ashoura festival for their protests against Ahmadinejad. The security forces of the government initially fired warning shots into the air, later they used tear gas and batons against the crowds. Eventually, they shot directly at the protesters, according to eyewitnesses and the oppositional web site Rahe Sabz.
Opposition politician Mahdi Karroubi on his website critiziced the actions of the police on Sunday and declared, even the Shah had respected the holy festival of Ashoura. Already in early December, the government of Ahmadinejad had warned the demonstrators that it would resort to “merciless force”.

One of the victims is the nephew of opposition leader Moussavi. According to an advisor of Moussavi, Ali Moussavi died in hospital of his gunshot wounds. However, according to his family, his body has disappeared from the hospital, said Seyyed Reza Moussavi, the brother of the victim, on the website Parleman News. “Nobody takes the responsibility for the disappearance of the body. We can not hold a funeral until we find him.”

kgp/dpa/AFP/Reuters

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