U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hailed the "courage" and
"aspirations" of antigovernment protesters in Iran, after thousands of them took
to the streets of several Iranian cities.
WATCH: In an interview with U.S.-funded television network Alhurra,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the changes in Egypt are in
the best interests of the region and urged demonstrators in other
Arab countries to remain peaceful in their own drives for reform. (Transcript)
In Tehran, opposition supporters rallying in solidarity with
uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia clashed with security forces. One death was
reported and dozens of people detained.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Congress, Clinton wished the opposition
and "the brave people in the streets across cities in Iran the same opportunity
that they saw their Egyptian counterparts seize in the last week."
She also pressed Tehran to follow Egypt's example and "open up"
its political system.
"We support the universal human rights of the Iranian people," she said. "They
deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and that
are part of their own birthright."
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, rejected the remarks on
"We think that the shared desire of all the nations in the region is for the
oppressive countries not to meddle -- especially in the face of the violations
and encroachment of the Zionist regime -- and to cut off dependence from the
U.S. and the Zionist regimes and their supporters," Mehmanparast said.
Shots In The Air, Tear Gas
Eyewitnesses told RFE/RL that thousands of protesters on February 14 answered
calls from the opposition to turn out for a banned rally in Tehran in support of
the recent uprisings that ousted long-serving rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.
Protests were also reported in several other cities, including Shiraz and
Tehran demonstrators chanting slogans against Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei were met with opposition by security forces, who fired into the air
and used tear gas to disperse the crowd in the streets leading to Azadi Square
-- the announced site of the main rally.
Opposition websites reported "dozens" of arrests at the rally -- the most
significant since the December 2009 street protests that shook the Islamic
republic and in which eight people were reported killed.
The hard-line Fars news agency quoted Iran's deputy police chief as saying one
person was killed and a number of other people were wounded, including nine
security force members, in shootings.
Blaming the outlawed Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) for the shootings,
Ahmad Reza Radan said the gatherings were directed by the United States,
Britain, and Israel.
Members of the Iranian parliament shout slogans calling for the execution of
in Tehran on February 15.
In a statement on February 15, EU foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton called on the Iranian authorities to "fully respect and protect" the
fundamental rights of their citizens, including freedom of expression and the
right to assemble peacefully.
While Iran backed the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, authorities banned
the February 14 rally planned by opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi
Ahead of the protest, Musavi and Karrubi were reportedly prevented from leaving
their houses. Karrubi was put under house arrest last week, while on February 14
Musavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, were prevented by security forces from
joining the demonstration.
Their telephone lines were reportedly cut to prevent them from communicating
with opposition members.
State news agency IRNA reported that lawmakers on February 15 called for the
execution of Musavi , Karrubi, and former President Mohammad Khatami, who has
aligned himself with the opposition.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said the opposition leaders had been "misled" by
Iran's arch foes and called for a committee to be formed to probe and "confront"
the opposition movement.
Washington has noted the inconsistency in Iran's position on the Egyptian
uprising -- praising Egyptian protesters on the one hand while clamping down on
dissent at home.
Clinton elaborated on that point in a February 14 interview with Michel Ghandour
of Alhurra television.
"Well, I find it very ironic that Iran is trying to give lessons in democracy to
anybody," she said. "Talk about a revolution that was hijacked -- Iran is
Exhibit A. What Iran is doing to its people, even as we speak, where there are
protesters trying to have their voices heard in Iran who are being brutally
suppressed by the Iranian security forces, I don't think anyone in the Middle
East - or frankly, anyone in the world - would look to Iran as an example for
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague made a similar comment on February 14,
saying the Iranian people had the right to express their views about their
country - just like the Egyptians.
On a visit to Iran, Turkish President Abdullah Gul warned that "when leaders and
heads of countries do not pay attention to the demands of their nations, the
people themselves take action to achieve their demands."
written by Antoine Blua, with contributions from
Alhurra and agency reports Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org