Opposition reports security clampdown in Tehran

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 14, 2012 11:09 AM
Opposition reports security clampdown in Tehran

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian security forces deployed in parts of Tehran on Tuesday after opposition figures called on supporters to hit the streets in protest against the year-long house arrest of their leaders, the opposition website Kaleme reported.

"Azadi (Freedom) Square is surrounded by security forces and their number, as well as the number of citizens, is increasing by the minute," Kaleme reported, adding that police forces were also conspicuously present in other parts of the capital.

"There was a minor clash between security forces and people in Enqelab (Revolution) street," the website said, without giving further details. Kaleme's report could not be independently verified by Reuters.

Iranian authorities had warned in recent days they would crack down on any public protest to mark the anniversary of the curbs imposed on opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.

Iran is at loggerheads with the West and facing increasingly crippling international sanctions, now targeting its lifeblood oil industry, over its disputed uranium enrichment program.

Tehran will hold a parliamentary election in early March, its first national vote since Mousavi and Karoubi were beaten by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a 2009 vote they said was rigged.

The government has repeatedly denied any fraud in the election, which ignited eight months of street protests, prompting a violent state crackdown and causing deep splits in the ruling establishment.

The Iranian authorities accuse opposition leaders of being part of a Western plot to overthrow the Islamic system. They deny such allegations.

Last year thousands of Iranian opposition activists rallied in support of popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Dozens of people were killed and thousands arrested during the post-election unrest that engulfed major towns and cities in the worst political upheaval in the Islamic Republic's history.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)