Iran: West to blame for protester deaths

Mottaki: "Interventionist" nations were accomplices in "all the committed crimes and murders."

iran protests dallas 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
iran protests dallas 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iranian demonstrators killed in riots following the controversial June presidential elections were the victims of Western "interventionist countries," not of abusive riot police or militiamen, the Iranian foreign minister declared on Friday. Following the June 12 election, hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Teheran in support of defeated reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Their claims of election fraud and their demands that a recount be held in order to verify the claim that incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election fairly were met by thousands of policemen and Basij militiamen, who exerted violence to subdue the demonstrations. Hundreds of people were arrested, and over twenty were killed, according to official Iranian authorities, although Western countries and the dissidents believe the death toll is much higher. The Iranian government has since claimed that foreign nations, through the use of propaganda, and perhaps even covertly, were to blame for the popular uprisings. This sentiment was expressed by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Friday, who said that "interventionist countries are accomplices in all the committed crimes and murders." In a speech broadcast on Iranian state radio Friday morning, Mottaki did not offer evidence to back up his explanation, but singled out Britain, saying that the UK's meddling in Iranian affairs was the "worst." On Thursday, Iranian police prevented hundreds of people who gathered at a Teheran cemetery from holding an event to commemorate those killed in the clashes last month. Witnesses said officers dispersed the crowds, and opposition leader Mousavi was prevented from approaching the graveside of Neda Agha-Soltan, who has become a symbol of the protests against the country's election results. Agha-Soltan was a young woman who was at one of the protests when she was shot in the chest. Her death, which was documented by a cellphone camera and loaded onto the video-sharing Website YouTube, roused harsh international criticism against the Islamic regime.