Iranian human rights websites report that hundreds of demonstrators were arrested yesterday when street protests broke out across the country.
The student organization for the defence of political prisoners' rights reports that: "In some streets leading to Enghelab Square and Azadi Street, security forces arrested more than 200 people."
Human Rights House of Iran reports that 30 people were arrested at Felestine Avenue and "taken into custody under severe beatings."
"Masked officers arrested men and women and put them into black vans and continued beating them even after they were put in the van," RAHANA adds.
Eyewitnesses told the BBC about widespread protests in Shiraz, Esfahan, Mashhad, Karaj, Semnan, Tabriz and Kermanshah.
Yesterday Iranian protesters rallied in the streets of Tehran and other major cities to demand the release of opposition leaders MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroub,i who were put under house arrest for calling the February 14 rally in support of the recent Arab uprisings.
The two opposition leaders and their wives have been incommunicado for over two weeks, and opposition websites maintain that they are no longer under house arrest as the authorities claim. The two couples are reportedly being held at Heshmatieh Prison in Tehran.
Opposition websites report that protesters were confronted with batons, electric shock guns and tear gas bombs all across Tehran.
Iranian protesters have opted for decentralized gathering since Tehran and major cities have been swarmed by anti-riot police, Special Guards, security forces and pro-government plainclothes agents on the days of protest.
While international media have been banned from covering the protests in Tehran, Iranian state media has completely ignored them, and Iranian officials deny that any demonstrations occurred.
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi announced there were no “special arrests” yesterday, despite numerous reports on opposition websites about the widespread arrest of protester.
Jafari Dowlatabadi told reporters: “There are no reports of anti-Revolutionary or rioting activities from yesterday. Of course some people intended to disturb public peace but were scattered by the dense presence of people and the prompt actions of the police.”
On the subject of the February 14 protests, Dowlatabadi maintained that security and intelligence forces do not have to publicly state how many people were detained. He said their only responsibility is to inform the families of detainees.
Announcing the number of detainees, he explained, might be exploited by the opposition, he said, which would use it as evidence of its success.
Abbas Jafari Dowlatabdi was recently put on the US blacklist for human rigths violations and involvement in oppression of dissidents.
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