July 26, 2009 in Nation/World

Worldwide protests held against Iran rights abuses

Jill Lawless Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Saarar Azadi is comforted by a fellow demonstrator during a rally in New York against the Iranian government.
(Full-size photo)

LONDON – Protesters across the world called on Iran on Saturday to end its clampdown on opposition activists, demanding the release of hundreds rounded up during demonstrations against the country’s disputed election.

Groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International backed a global day of action, with protests planned in more than 80 cities.

The protesters want Iranian authorities to release what they say are hundreds, or even thousands, of people detained during protests that followed the presidential election last month that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Inside Iran, as well, Iranian police and pro-government militia attacked and scattered hundreds of protesters who had gathered in Tehran in response to the global demonstrations of solidarity, witnesses said.

Demonstrators in Vanak and Mirdamad districts chanted “Death to the dictator” and “We want our vote back” before they were attacked and beaten by police Saturday. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared Ahmadinejad’s victory valid.

Police said about 600 protesters joined a “noisy but peaceful” demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in London, one of a series of events in cities across Europe. In Brussels, Belgium, protesters held placards carrying images of the detained or dead, including Neda Agha Soltan, the 27-year-old whose death – beamed around the world on the Internet – became a rallying cry for opponents of the regime.

In Amsterdam, several hundred people watched Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi urge the international community to reject the outcome of the Iranian election and called for a new vote monitored by the United Nations.

Several hundred protesters gathered behind police barricades just off Times Square in New York City. One man hoisted a green placard, splattered with red, that read, “Where is my vote?” The crowd chanted, “Stop the killing. Stop the torture.”

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