Iran General NewsNo more leniency, Iran’s chief prosecutor warns protestors

No more leniency, Iran’s chief prosecutor warns protestors

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ImageThe Times: As government agents besieged the offices of the leader of the opposition movement, Iran’s chief prosecutor gave warning yesterday that no more anti-Government protests would be tolerated. The Times

Martin Fletcher

ImageAs government agents besieged the offices of the leader of the opposition movement, Iran’s chief prosecutor gave warning yesterday that no more anti-Government protests would be tolerated.

“So far, we have shown restraint. From today no leniency will be applied,” Gholam Hossein Mohsen Ejeie told journalists, the day after tens of thousands of students staged nationwide protests. “Intelligence and security forces have been ordered not to give any leeway to those who break the law, act against national security and disturb public order.”

As he spoke, about 30 motorcyclists — in civilian clothing, but almost certainly members of the hardline Basij militia — surrounded the Academy of Fine Arts in Tehran, where Mir Hossein Mousavi, the de facto leader of the so-called Green Movement, works. They shouted slogans and refused to let the former Prime Minister leave, according to his website.

Since President Ahmadinejad defeated Mr Mousavi in June’s disputed election the Government has sought to crush the opposition by detaining and beating activists and flooding the streets with security forces.

However, Monday’s demonstrations were not only the biggest in weeks but more radical in tone, with students openly denouncing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

There were violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces bearing batons, tear gas and stun guns. More than 200 “rioters”, including 39 women, were arrested, according to Tehran’s police chief.

Mr Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, another opposition leader, were reportedly prevented from joining the demonstrations. Mr Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, joined demonstrators at the University of Tehran but was attacked with pepper spray.

The clashes at the university spilled into a second day yesterday, against a backdrop of international condemnation. France called the violent suppression of the protests “unacceptable”. The US denounced what it described as the “continued harassment, arbitrary detention, and conviction of individuals”.

With even bigger demonstrations planned for the festival of Ashura this month, the regime is searching for news ways of ending them.

Last week Ayatollah Khamenei asked Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president with one foot in the opposition camp, to persuade its leaders to end the protests. He refused.

Some hardliners have been pressing for Mr Mousavi and Mr Karoubi to be arrested but the regime has hesitated, for fear of bringing millions of their supporters out on to the streets.

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