Iran General NewsIran summons French envoy over "oppression"

Iran summons French envoy over “oppression”

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ImageReuters: Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned France's ambassador to Tehran to condemn "widespread oppression" of people protesting against President Nicolas Sarkozy, official media reported on Thursday.

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned France's ambassador to Tehran to condemn "widespread oppression" of people protesting against President Nicolas Sarkozy, official media reported on Thursday.

Tensions between Iran and France have been high after unrest in the Islamic Republic following its disputed presidential election last month, when security forces quelled mass opposition demonstrations.

Sarkozy has strongly criticized Tehran, saying Iranians "deserve better than the leaders they have today."

The IRNA news agency said the Foreign Ministry conveyed to France's envoy, Bernard Poletti, its objections to what it said were beatings and arrests of a "considerable number" of demonstrators on the eve of France's July 14 national holiday.

France's poor suburbs are regularly hit by youth violence before July 14 and police said they arrested 240 protesters on the eve of this year's festivities, twice as many as in 2008. A dozen policemen were hurt, a police spokesman said in Paris.

Locals said police fired tear gas and beat the crowd with batons during the demonstration. Police said they were attacked by youths and were trying to restore order.

"The widespread oppression of protesters against Sarkozy's policies has created an unacceptable human rights situation… and the Islamic Republic of Iran condemns that," a senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official told the French ambassador.

"French officials better hear the objecting voice of their own people rather than interfere in other countries' affairs," the official said, according to IRNA.

Last month's disputed election in Iran sparked days of protests by supporters of defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, who says it was rigged in favor of the hardline incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

State media say at least 20 people were killed, as protesters clashed with riot police and members of the Basij militia. Some rights activists believe the figure is higher.

Iran has accused Western powers, which have criticized the crackdown on protests, of interfering in its internal affairs.

France is among six powers seeking to convince Iran to give up nuclear work they suspect is aimed at making bombs. Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity.

(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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