Official Iran death toll reaches 20

At least 100 hurt; Police nab Rafsanjani's daughter; witnesses: Protestors chanted "Death to Khamenei."

By AP, JPOST.COM STAFF
June 21, 2009 13:20
4 minute read.
Official Iran death toll reaches 20

Iran protest woman shouts 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

There were conflicting reports Sunday on the number of people killed by gunfire from government forces during the demonstrations by supporters of Iranian Reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi in Teheran, Shiraz and Isfehan over the weekend. Iranian state media reported on Sunday 13 more deaths in confrontations between protesters and security forces, bringing the officials death toll to at least 20, and the government condemned key European powers for expressing concern about the disputed presidential election.

  • Watch an Iranian cop being attacked by pro-reform protesters
  • Watch the latest from youtube: CNN reported that at least 19 people were killed on Saturday based on eyewitness accounts of medical officials in Teheran's hospitals. CNN also quoted unconfirmed reports that put the actual death toll at 150. English-language Press TV, which is broadcast only outside the country, said 13 people it called "terrorists" died Saturday in clashes between demonstrators contesting the result of the June 12 election and black-clad police wielding truncheons, tear gas and water cannons. State television inside Iran also reported 100 injured in Saturday's violence. But it quoted the deputy police chief claiming officers did not use live ammunition to dispel the crowds. Sunday's reports also said rioters set two gas stations on fire and attacked a military post. According to Sunday's report, Iranina authorities have arrested the daughter and four other relatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of Iran's most powerful men. Press TV reported Rafsanjani's eldest daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, and four other family members were arrested late Saturday. It did not identify the other four. Last week, state television showed images of Hashemi speaking to hundreds of Mousavi supporters. Rafsanjani's daughter, a former lawmaker, was shown on state TV last week speaking to hundreds of opposition supporters. And Rafsanjani, 75, who has made no secret of his distaste for Ahmadinejad, was conspicuously absent from an address by the country's supreme leader calling for national unity and siding with the president. Ahmadinejad has accused Rafsanjani and his family of corruption. Rafsanjani now heads two very powerful groups. The most important one is the Assembly of Experts, made up of senior clerics who can elect and dismiss the supreme leader. The second is the Expediency Council, a body that arbitrates disputes between parliament and the unelected Guardian Council, which can block legislation. Amnesty International cautioned that it was "perilously hard" to verify the casualty tolls. "The climate of fear has cast a shadow over the whole situation," Amnesty's chief Iran researcher, Drewery Dyke, told The Associated Press. (story continues after clips below). On Sunday, the streets of Teheran were eerily quiet. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki held a news conference where he rebuked Britain, France and Germany for raising questions about reports of voting irregularities in hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election - a proclaimed victory which has touched off Iran's most serious internal conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A week of massive street protests over the results of Iran's presidential elections escalated into open defiance of the entire regime on Saturday, when thousands took to the streets of Teheran chanting "Death to the Dictatorship." Underscoring how the protesters have become emboldened despite the regime's repeated and ominous warnings, witnesses said some shouted "Death to Khamenei!" at Saturday's demonstrations - another sign of once unthinkable challenges to the virtually limitless authority of the country's most powerful figure. Iran has also acknowledged the deaths of seven protesters in clashes on Monday. On Saturday, state media also reported a suicide bombing at the shrine of the Islamic Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini killed at least two people and wounded eight. Another state channel broadcast images of broken glass, but no other damage or casualties, and showed a witness saying three people had been wounded. But there was no independent verification of the shrine attack or the deaths. State TV quoted an unidentified witness as saying a man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up at the mausoleum's main gate. Iran has imposed strict controls on foreign media covering the unrest, saying correspondents cannot go out into the streets to report. Mottaki criticized Britain, France and Germany for raising questions about Ahmadinejad's victory. Mottaki accused France of taking "treacherous and unjust approaches" and said Britain "has always created problems" in relations. The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Sunday that scores of injured protesters who had sought medical treatment after Saturday's clashes were arrested by security forces at hospitals in the capital. It said doctors had been ordered to report protest-related injuries to the authorities, and that some seriously injured protesters had sought refuge at foreign embassies in a bid to evade arrest. "The arrest of citizens seeking care for wounds suffered at the hands of security forces when they attempted to exercise rights guaranteed under their own constitution and international law is deplorable," said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the campaign, denouncing the alleged arrests as "a sign of profound disrespect by the state for the well-being of its own people." "The government of Iran should be ashamed of itself. Right now, in front of the whole world, it is showing its violent actions," he said.


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