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02/15/12

Iran: Widespread arrests reported on day of protest

Source: Radio Zamaneh

Tehran saw some sparks of protest on February 14, and accounts of scattered demonstrations in other large cities, like Shiraz and Esfahan, were relayed through eyewitness reports, since all independent and international coverage of the protests was prohibited by the authorities.

     

The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, an Iranian opposition group, had issued a call to rally Green Movement supporters to mark the anniversary of last year's February 14 protest with a march of silence in the streets of Tehran and major cities.

State measures against the rally appear to have begun days earlier, as internet speeds slowed to a crawl and some personal email accounts were reportedly inaccessible over the past week.

On February 14, several parts of Tehran experienced a serious disruption in mobile services.

The day began with the heavy deployment of security forces, police and plainclothes forces all across Tehran.

The sidewalks of major city thoroughfares were reported to be unusually crowded, but security forces continuously stopped people from coalescing into a group. Clashes with security forces were reported in some areas, as was the use of teargas bombs.

Businesses were forced to close down at Haft Tir Square and all around Tehran University.

After nightfall, the Melli Mazhabi website reported "extensive" arrests in Tehran and passed along eyewitness accounts of buses full of detainees.

Other reports indicate that security forces were stopping people where crowds had gathered and checking their mobile phones to see if they were sending protest-related pictures or messages.

The state media has basically blacked out any report on the events of the day. However, Iranian Prosecutor General Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei once again used last year's explanation for the crowds, saying they were shopping for the Iranian New Year, even though it is still more than a month away.

One year ago, after Iranians responded to the rally call by opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the authorities put the leaders and their wives under house arrest, cutting them off from the outside world. Activists inside Iran and internationally have denounced their house arrest, maintaining that such treatment breaks both Islamic Republic and international laws.

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