Iran General NewsEmbassies in Tehran urged to offer protesters refuge: diplomats

Embassies in Tehran urged to offer protesters refuge: diplomats

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ImageAFP: European embassies in Tehran addressed Sunday what officials said were concerted email calls for them to offer refuge to Iranian democracy protesters, diplomats said.

ImageSTOCKHOLM (AFP) — European embassies in Tehran addressed Sunday what officials said were concerted email calls for them to offer refuge to Iranian democracy protesters, diplomats said.

Talks amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Western nations over post-election violence followed a string of messages sent to embassies and an Internet circular listing overseas missions willing to accept "wounded refugees."

No request for asylum at a European embassy has yet been confirmed, the diplomats added.

While world leaders have voiced alarm over the worst unrest since the Islamic revolution of 1979, the oil-rich Shiite Muslim powerhouse has accused key international rivals of "meddling".

"Several emails calling for the opening of embassy doors to protesters were sent Saturday to our embassy in Iran from Sweden, but not an avalanche," said Cecilia Julin, communications chief for the Swedish Foreign Office.

The Austrian foreign ministry also said it had been contacted by non-governmental organisations and that anyone injured would receive first aid at its embassy in the Iranian capital, but stressed no-one had yet sought assistance.

France however said such emails are regularly received from social activists but "do not correspond to concrete demands on the ground."

In Denmark, a foreign ministry spokesman said the question remained purely "theoretical", while Finnish officials echoed French calls for establishing a common EU position.

Julin said any decision to grant asylum in such circumstances would have "political" ramifications.

As things stand, Sweden — which assumes the European Union's rotating presidency on July 1 — "cannot grant asylum on embassy territory," she said.

"If that decision was to be taken, it would mark a very strong gesture with regard to the Iranian government," she added.

A spokesman for Norway, which is not an EU member but has long occupied a special position as an international mediator, said its embassy in Tehran had "not accepted any refugees."

Belgium said Sunday it will not allow opposition protesters to seek refuge in its embassy in the Iranian capital.

"Contacted in Tehran, Belgium's ambassador denied that the Belgian chancellery would welcome Iranian protesters," a Belgian foreign ministry spokesman said.

Austrian Green deputy Peter Pilz called on his country's embassy in Tehran to give sanctuary, telling the Austria Press Agency he had received calls from "Kurdish friends" who said that "many people are in danger."

Pilz this week implicated Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the 1989 murder of a Kurdish opposition leader in Vienna, claims Austrian police later said they would investigate.

Iranian state television said Sunday 10 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in Tehran the previous day in a bloody crackdown on protesters, bringing the overall toll reported by state media in a week of violence to at least 17.

Struggling to contain massive street protests unleashed since the disputed June 12 election that returned Ahmadinejad to power, Iranian leaders have also lashed out at foreign media and the exiled opposition.

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