Neda death video steps up pressure on Iran

A video of a bloodstained young woman, which is being portrayed as a woman killed in the Tehran protests, has been shown around the world and become an internet symbol of the demonstrations.

The video showing blood pouring from the nose and mouth of the young woman was put online on Saturday and has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times around the world. International media have taken pictures from the film.

The film reportedly shows a woman named Neda—which means “voice” or “calling” in Persian—moments after she is hit by a shot while protesting with her father and thousands of others in Tehran.

Photos of the young woman have been used during demonstrations around the world, from Istanbul to Los Angeles.

Neither the identity nor the fate of the young woman have been independently confirmed.

Iranian state television said 10 people were killed and more than 100 others wounded in protests held in Tehran on Saturday in defiance of a warning from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Neda shot in Tehran

Foreign media have been banned from covering demonstrations and other public events and rely on witness accounts for their reports. Iran has accused Western media of unfair interference and seeking to manipulate the protests.

Defiant Mousavi urges more protests
Meanwhile, Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi urged supporters to stage more protests against the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a direct challenge to the Islamic Republic’s leadership.

Iranian authorities meanwhile accused the West of supporting “rioters” in the widespread street unrest over the June 12 election, and did not rule out the expulsion of some European ambassadors.

Mousavi made a veiled appeal to the security forces to show restraint in handling demonstrations—a move likely to be viewed with deep suspicion by a conservative leadership that has vowed to use force wherever necessary to quell opposition.

Helicopters clattered through the evening sky over Tehran on Sunday and gunfire was heard in the north of the city, a bastion of support for the reformist former prime minister.

The office of Tehran’s prosecutor general said “unknown vandals” had opened fire and killed people on Saturday, Press TV, Iran’s English-language television channel, said.
Justice officials were not immediately available for comment.

But state radio said on Monday that the capital had been peaceful overnight for the first time since the June 12 election.

Young supporters of Mousavi urged people to carry black candles with green ribbons on Monday to demonstrate solidarity with victims of unrest, their website said.

It also encouraged motorists to turn on their headlights for two hours from 12.30pm GMT to “show their solidarity with families of martyrs killed in recent events”.

“Protesting against lies and fraud [in the election] is your right,” Mousavi, who officially came second to Ahmadinejad in the poll, said in a statement on his website late on Sunday.

“In your protests, continue to show restraint. I am expecting armed forces to avoid irreversible damage,” he said.

The unrest in Iran, a major oil and gas producer, is the most widespread since the 1979 Islamic Revolution which ousted the United States-backed shah. The authorities, who reject charges of election fraud, have branded protesters “terrorists” and rioters. Tehran’s police chief has warned that police will use all the force at their disposal to deal with unrest.

A spokesperson for Iran’s top legislative council, which is looking into complaints by the defeated election candidates, did concede that in some constituencies the number of votes had surpassed eligible voters.

“Based on initial information, 50 towns had this problem,” Guardian Council spokesperson Abbasali Kadkhodai was quoted by state broadcaster IRIB as saying on Sunday evening.

He said this may be due to Iranians being able to vote wherever they want, as well as other factors. He said inspectors would look into the issue.

“However, the total votes in these constituencies do not exceed three million and consequently will not have any impact on the election,” he said.

West accused
Iran accused the West of supporting “rioters”.

“The promotion of anarchy and vandalism by Western powers and media is by no means acceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hassan Qashqavi told a news conference.

He also said Iranian diplomatic missions had been damaged in protests in other countries, including Germany. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said foreign countries have played no part in supporting the violent post-election street protests.

US President Barack Obama, at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to halt an Iranian nuclear programme the West fears could yield atomic weapons, has urged Iran to stop violence against protesters.

Germany has called for an election recount.

In pro-Mousavi districts of northern Tehran, supporters took to the rooftops after dusk on Sunday to chant their defiance, witnesses said, an echo of tactics used in the 1979 revolution. “I heard repeated shootings while people were chanting Allahu Akbar [God is greatest] in Niavaran area,” said a witness, who asked not to be named.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and the shooting appeared an attempt to break up unsanctioned protests.

Government restrictions prevent correspondents working for foreign media from attending protests to report. Iran ordered BBC correspondent, Jon Leyne, out of the country.

Pro-reform clerics have increased pressure on Iran’s conservative leadership.

Mohammad Khatami, a Mousavi ally and a moderate former president, warned of “dangerous consequences” if the people were prevented from expressing their demands in peaceful ways.

His comments, carried by the semi-official Mehr news agency, were implicit criticism of Khamenei, who has backed a ban on protests and defended the outcome of the election.

State television said a daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rival of Ahmadinejad, had been released after being detained together with four other relatives during the Saturday rally in Tehran. - Reuters