Pro, anti-government supporters clash in Tehran
TEHRAN, Feb 16 — Iranian government supporters clashed with their opponents today during a ceremony to mark the death of a student shot during an opposition rally two days ago, state broadcaster IRIB reported.
Sanee Zhaleh was shot dead on Monday during the first opposition rally for more than a year and immediately became a martyr to both the supporters and opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardline government.
Each side blamed the other for Zhaleh’s death.
Wednesday’s clash occurred during a funeral procession which started from Tehran University’s arts faculty, in the centre of the capital, where Zhaleh was a student, IRIB reported on its website.
“Students and the people attending the funeral ceremony of the martyred student Sanee Zhaleh have clashed with a limited number of people apparently linked to the sedition movement and forced them out by chanting slogans of death to hypocrites,” the report read.
Monday’s rally was the first to be staged by the Green movement since its huge protests in the weeks and months after Ahmadinejad’s disputed 2009 re-election were stamped out by a government which blamed foreign enemies for stirring “sedition.”
Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi hailed the rally as a “glorious” event by a “magnificent movement” while Tehran’s deputy police chief Ahmadreza Radan official said only around 150 people turned up.
Radan said a second person had died of gunshot wounds yesterday and a further eight people had been shot and were being treated in hospital. Authorities blamed “terrorist” elements for the violence at the unauthorised rally.
The semi-official Fars news agency said Zhaleh was a member of the Basij militia, Iran’s vast volunteer movement, connected to the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, which played an important role in suppressing protests in 2009.
Opposition websites did not deny that Zhaleh was a member of the Basij, which has millions of members throughout Iran, but said he was an active opposition supporter.
Student Basijis organised today’s funeral procession, Fars reported.
State TV showed hundreds of people surrounding the coffin, draped in the Iranian flag. Opposition website Kaleme quoted a student as saying large numbers of unknown people posing as students had turned up to the university from early morning.
Parliamentarians and some prominent clerics have called for Mousavi and fellow Green leader Mehdi Karroubi to be arrested and tried. — Reuters