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Iranian Riot Police Try to Disperse Mourners at Cemetery

By VOA News

Witnesses in Iran say riot police have forced reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi to leave a Tehran cemetery, where hundreds of mourners have gathered to pay respects to those killed in the unrest that followed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Stage was being set for another confrontation in central Tehran as 3,000 people gathered at the Grand Mosalla, a major prayer venue, flashing victory signs and burning bins as police on motorbikes tried to disperse them, witnesses said.  Mousavi and Karroubi, who have waged a defiant campaign since losing to Ahmadinejad, had decided to visit the cemetery after the authorities banned the memorial ceremony at the Grand Mosalla.- (read AFP story)

Witnesses say police surrounded the defeated candidate at Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery Thursday and forced him back into his car. Mourners there chanted in support of Mr. Mousavi and clung to his vehicle.

Witnesses also say police have detained several mourners who attended the memorial in defiance of a government ban preventing the gathering.

The mother of slain Iranian Neda Agha-Soltan was due to visit the cemetery to mark the 40th day since her daughter's death. She became a symbol for reformist demonstrators after a graphic Internet video showed her die after being shot during a post-election protest in Tehran.

Neda Agha-Soltan's grave

Iranian state-run media have reported that 20 people were killed in the unrest and protests that followed Iran's June 12 election.

Earlier this week, Iranian media quoted Iranian lawmaker Farhad Tajari as saying the death toll was higher (at least 30).

Mehdi Karroubi, another defeated reformist candidate, also had planned to attend Thursday's memorial ceremony.

Reports say 20 protesters will go on trial in the coming days on charges that include carrying weapons and grenades. Political activists, journalists and others were arrested as part of a crackdown on protests that stemmed from the election.

The political opposition alleges fraud, but Iranian authorities say Mr. Ahmadinejad's re-election was fair.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 07/30/09 ... --

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