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UNRESTS AND VIOLENCE CONTINUE IN SEVERAL IRANIAN CITIES

By Safa Haeri
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004

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TEHRAN, 15 Mar. (IPS) Violence and unrest continued in the small Caspian Sea resort town of Fereydoon Kenar for the third strait day with the local population fighting against Law Enforcement Forces and Basij volunteers backed by plainclothes men of Islamic vigilantes.

The unrest began on Saturday after angry voters protested to the leader-controlled Council of the Guardians that had invalidated the Parliament seat won by Mr. Meqdad Najaf Nezhad, a reformist candidate from the city in favour of Mr. Hojatollah Roohi, a pro-conservative runner in the rival constituency of neighbouring Babolsar.

As soon as the Guardians annulled the results obtained at three polling stations giving Mr. Najaf Nezhad the lead, people took to the streets, shouting slogans against the regime and some of its most senior leaders, set fire on the house of the Friday Preacher and buses and ransacked some government buildings, eyewitnesses reported.

Eyewitness reports suggest that as many as 5 people, including one Police officer have so far lost their lives and 100 to 200 were wounded in clashes with the security forces, with some of the injured refusing hospital care in order to avoid identification by the authorities.

"People blocked the entrance to Fereydoon-Kenar as security forces prepared to assault the town and suppress the demonstrations", one local journalist reported on condition of anonymity.

According to some unconfirmed reports, the Guardians wanted to revise their decision by proclaiming Mr. Najaf Nezhad as the winner, but people from Babolsar, backing their own candidate, namely Mr. Roohi, opposed them, refusing a suggestion from local dignitaries to take a new vote.

T"he protesters are not anti-regime. They think their rights have been violated and are asking the Guardian Council why that has happened", Mr. Mohammad-Ali Panjeh-Fouladgaran, the provincial governor, told the semi-official Iranian students news agency ISNA.

The last Iranian Legislative elections sparked controversy after the Guardians barred more than 2.000 candidates, most of them reformists and including one hundred lawmakers from running in the race held on 20 February.

As the unrest continued unabated in Fereydoon Kenar, Kurdish deputies at the outgoing Majles wrote a letter to the lamed President Mohammad Khatami protesting to the violence used by Revolutionary Guards and local basij forces against people celebrating the approval of a new interim Constitution for Iraq by the country’s Provisory Government.

"It was a very natural celebration by Iranian Kurds expressing solidarity with their Iraqi brothers", the letter said, referring to the interim Constitution that guarantees the Iraqi Kurds federal powers.

Inhabitants at Kurdish-dominated cities of Bookan, Mahabad, Baneh, Piranshahr and Paveh, all situated near the Iraqi borders were celebrating the new Iraqi Constitution when security forces and Revolutionary Guards attacked them, Kurdish lawmakers reported.

According to local sources, at least 34 people were rounded up after demonstrators, angry of being attacked, set fire on police stations and Guards garrisons. ENDS FEREYDOON KENAR UNRESTS 15304

 


 
UNRESTS AND VIOLENCE CONTINUE IN SEVERAL IRANIAN CITIES
 


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