Middle East

Iran unrest: MPs call for death of Mousavi and Karroubi

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Media captionInside Iranian Parliament as a group of conservative MPs called for the execution of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi

Members of Iran's parliament have called for opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to be tried and executed.

State TV showed some 50 conservative MPs marching through parliament's main hall on Tuesday, chanting "Death to Mousavi, death to Karroubi".

An MP said two people were killed in violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Tehran on Monday.

US President Barack Obama sharply criticised the authorities' response.

He said that while the Iranian government had celebrated the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, it had attacked and beaten its own citizens holding peaceful demonstrations.

Mr Obama added that the US could not dictate what went on inside Iran, but hoped people would have the courage to continue expressing their yearning for freedom.

Later, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told state TV: "It is clear that the Iranian nation has enemies."

"You may see hostilities against the government. [The opposition supporters] knew that they would get nowhere. They just wanted to tarnish the Iranian nation's brilliance."

"It is a shining sun. They threw some dust towards the sun," he added. "It is funny. By throwing dust at the sun, the dust will return to their eyes."

During Monday's clashes in Tehran, dozens of protests were detained, and opposition leaders including Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi were placed under house arrest.

Police blocked access to Mr Mousavi's home in what the former prime minister's website said was intended to prevent him attending the rally.

Both he and Mr Karroubi - a former speaker of parliament and a senior cleric - disputed the re-election of President Ahmadinejad in June 2009, which triggered protests that drew the largest crowds in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

'Corrupt on earth'?

In a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency on Tuesday, conservative parliamentarians said: "Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi are corrupts on earth and should be tried."

The charge "corrupt on earth" has been levelled at political dissidents in the past and carries the death penalty in Iran.

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Media captionFootage of the protests in Tehran was captured on mobile phones

Earlier, thousands of opposition supporters had gathered at Tehran's Azadi Square in solidarity with the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, in their first major show of dissent December 2009, when eight people were killed.

They chanted: "Death to dictators."

But the BBC's Mohsen Asgari, who was at the rally, says it was not long before riot police fired tear gas, while men on motorbikes charged the crowd with batons.

At least three protesters were wounded by bullets, with dozens of others taken to hospital as a result of the beatings, witnesses said.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported that one person was shot dead by protesters and several others wounded.

A conservative MP later said two people had been killed.

Tehran's police chief, Ahmad Reza Radan, blamed the opposition leaders for instigating the protests.

"In one spot of the town in the western part of Tehran, about 150 people rallied and set some rubbish bins on fire," he said. "They were confronted by police and security forces and some of them were arrested.

"Unfortunately, some police and security personnel were shot by them, and nine security forces men and some other people were wounded in this incident."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US "very clearly and directly" supported the protesters.

She said they deserved to have "the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt" and that Iran had to "open up" its political system.

Mrs Clinton said the US had the same message for the Iranian authorities as it did for those in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after 29 years in power by nationwide mass protests.

On a visit to London, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov appeared to take issue with Mrs Clinton's remarks when he said that Moscow was convinced that revolutions were counter-productive.

"We have had more than one revolution in Russia, and we believe that we don't need to impose revolutions on others," he said.

At a news conference with Mr Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary William Hague accused Iran of a "shameful hyprocrisy" in backing the protests in Egypt but denying the same right to Iranians themselves.

The opposition says more than 80 of its supporters were killed in the six months after December 2009, a figure the government disputes. Several have been sentenced to death, and dozens jailed.

Although Iran's establishment supported the Egyptian and Tunisian protests, describing them as an "Islamic awakening" inspired by the Islamic Revolution, it said the opposition rallies were a "political move".

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