Iran’s Parliament Orders Arrests of ‘Main Instigators,’ Journalists Also Rounded Up
December 31, 2009
(ChattahBox)— Like any oppressive regime, Iran is taking steps to suppress the voices of opposition, by arresting reform leaders and rounding up journalists in the dead of night. After a weekend of bloody clashes with reform protesters and government security forces that left at least seven dead, including Mir Hossein Moussavi’s nephew, Iranian officials staged a counter demonstration of pro-government crowds on Wednesday that drew hundreds of thousands to the streets of Tehran.
On the same day as the massive pro-government rallies, the Iranian parliament also issued orders for the arrests of opposition leaders, specifically naming three people who “must be arrested,” Mehdi Karoubi, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Fa’ezeh Hashemi. Karoubi and Moussavi challenged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June’s controversial elections, which spurred bloody street protests. And Hashemi is the daughter of the former president, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Iran’s parliament ordered sweeping arrests of “the main instigators and directors” of Sunday’s violent anti-government protests. Hassan Noroozi, a lawmaker who issued the arrest orders, released a fiery statement: “They must not remain on the sidelines and be safe. Those who issue statements and invite people to create chaos in the streets and attack one another must be dealt with according to Islamic laws,” said Noroozi.
The state-controlled media reported that at least 500 people, involved in the protests had already been arrested. And according to NoroozNews, a reformist website, at least six journalists and political activists were arrested early Wednesday morning. The anti-government site also reported that a prosecutor has signed arrest warrants for 200 additional journalists and human rights activists.
The pro-government rallies took place throughout Iran on Wednesdy, including Tehran, Tabriz, Shiraz, Arak, Gilan and Sistan-Baluchestan province. The crowds condemned the anti-government demonstrations on Ashura, a holy day for Shiite Muslims, shouting slogans against reformists. The massive crowds also shouted: “Death to America,” “Death to Israel,” and “Death to Moussavi.”
President Ahmadinejad and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed Sunday’s anti-government protests on the United States, Britain, other European nations and “the Zionist media.” Khamenei said that international leaders “want to malevolently change the facts and realities and are also influenced by the Zionist media.”
Ahmadinejad pointed to Wednesday’s pro-government rallies, as proof that foreign influence on Iran is futile. “The officials of these countries should understand that their attempts will not affect the Iranian nations’ equations, stances and idealistic and perfectionist move,” said Ahmadinejad. He also took a swipe at President Obama adding, “Officials of the U.S. and certain European states showed again that they have embarked on wrong plans, stances and attitude.”
Britain was not spared from Iran’s blaming of foreign nations for the strong anti-government street protests. The state-run ILNA reported on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, summoned Britain’s ambassador Simon Gass to Tehran. During the meeting, Mottaki reportedly threatened Britain with a “slap in the mouth.”