Iran blames West for provoking unrest

Updated: 2011-02-16 07:36


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TEHRAN - Iranian officials blamed the West Tuesday for provoking unrest inside the country, local media reported.

Sporadic clashes were reported to have taken place Monday in the capital Tehran between security forces and opposition protesters. The demonstration, called by the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, was initially meant to show support for the uprising in Egypt and Tunisia, but it later turned into protests against the Iranian government.

"A number of popular and revolutionary forces were wounded by gunshots and two persons were martyred" in Monday's incidents, Kazem Jalali, member of Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy commission, said Tuesday as he quoted Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar's words at the commission's session.

The European Union urged the Iranian authorities Tuesday to refrain from use of force against peaceful demonstrators.

The EU is "closely following the events taking place in Iran" and the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has called on the Iranian authorities to "fully respect and protect the rights of their citizens, including freedom of expression and the right to assemble peacefully," a spokesperson of Ashton said in a statement.

The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday hailed the "courage of Iranian people," saying the U.S. clearly and directly supports the Iranian protesters' human rights and urged Iran to open up its political system.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani condemned Monday's protests and blamed the United States and Israel for being behind the move, the local satellite Press TV reported.

Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Iranian prosecutor general and judiciary spokesman, said the anti-government protests were sponsored by the United States and "anti-revolution currents."

Ahmad Reza Radan, Iran's deputy police chief, also slammed the West for provoking the protests and blamed the United States, Britain and Israel for unrest inside Iran.

However, he said the West failed to achieve its goals since Iranians did not heed their call to participate in the protests.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the regional developments have made the U.S. officials confused these days.

Recent changes in the region have given a sharp blow to domineering powers and the Zionist regime of Israel, Mehmanparast said at his weekly press briefing.

Investigations show that the gunshots were from the outlawed elements, Jalali was quoted as saying by local Mehr news agency.

Radan said a bystander was shot dead in Monday's clashes by " Monafeghin", referring to the dissident outlawed Paris-based People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI).

On Tuesday, majority of Iranian lawmakers urged the country's judicial system to seriously punish the opposition leaders who called for the demonstration, the official IRNA news agency reported.

A statement issued by some 223 lawmakers said the opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, and the former reformist President Mohammad Khatami should be held responsible for the unrest.

Iranian people have lost their patience and demand the opposition leaders to be put on trial and punished, said the statement.


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