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Iranian Opposition Groups: Police Arrest 5 Prominent Activists

Source: VOA

Iranian opposition groups say authorities have arrested at least five prominent reformists as part of a new crackdown on anti-government protests. Opposition Web sites say three advisers to Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi were detained Monday, including his top aide, Alireza Beheshti. They say authorities also arrested human rights campaigner Emad Baghi and opposition activist Ebrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister in Iran's first post-Islamic Revolution government.

Alireza Beheshti

Emad Baghi

Ebrahim Yazdi

Iran's state-run Press TV says eight people were killed in Sunday's protests, which coincided with the climax of Ashura, a solemn Shi'ite festival.

There was no independent confirmation of the arrests or the violence.  Iran's government has barred foreign media from covering the protests.

Protesters erect barricade in Tehran - December 27

Photos: War In Tehran Streets on Ashura Day

Monday, senior Iranian opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi criticized the government's use of force against the tens of thousands people who joined anti-government protests across Iran.

In a statement, Karroubi asked how Iran's clerical establishment could order the killing of its own people on the holy day. He said Iran's former ruler, the Shah, respected Ashura by avoiding killings or arrests of opposition activists during the festival.

Witnesses say Iranian protesters fought back against security forces Sunday in several locations, throwing stones, beating up policemen and setting their vehicles on fire.

Women Fought Back (photo

U.S. National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer said the White House strongly condemns what it calls "the violent and unjust suppression" of Iranian civilians.

The violence was the most serious in Iran since the weeks after a disputed presidential election in June.  Iranian reformists accuse conservative President Ahmadinejad of rigging the election to win a second term, a charge the government denies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

... Payvand News - 12/28/09 ... --

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