At least seven Iranian opposition leaders were reported to have been arrested Monday including three top aides to former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi just a day after his nephew was killed in the largest political protests in Iran in six months, according to media, witnesses and opposition Web sites.
On Monday, the head of Mousavi’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, the head of his office and one of his senior advisers were detained without any official explanation, the Financial Times reported.
In addition, Ibrahim Yazdi, leader of the banned political group Freedom Movement of Iran and some reform-minded clerics in the holy city of Qom, were also detained.
The estimated death toll from Sunday’s anti-government protests, which erupted during a Shi’ite Muslim religious festival, ranged from five to 10. Another 300 people were arrested.
Police fired tear gas and charged protesters in central Tehran with batons. Opposition Web sites said that police fired shots directly into the crowd. “What has happened to this religious system that it orders the killing of innocent people during the holy day of Ashura?” Mehdi Karroubi, another opposition leader, said in a statement, according to the New York Times. Some hospitalized protesters were “forcefully evacuated” by Revolutionary Guard agents, medical personnel in Isfahan told FRONTLINE’s Tehran Bureau collaboration.
> “They brought a few of the injured today to the Al Zahra hospital in Isfahan. One man in his 30s was so severely beaten that he was unconscious and immediately taken to the resuscitation room. Minutes after his arrival, plainclothes agents turned up and ordered hospital officials to immediately transfer the man to the Sadoughi Hospital, which is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” a member of the hospital staff told Tehran Bureau. “As far as I know, there were no reported deaths here,” the hospital staff member said. A relative of Mousavi’s said Monday that the body of the leader’s slain nephew was removed from a Tehran hospital without the family’s permission. Reza Mousavi the body of his brother, Ali Mousavi, was moved, possibly by authorities seeking to deter mourners from organizing more protests around his funeral, according to the Associated Press. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a Paris-based Iranian opposition figure with close ties to the Mousavi family, said the presidential candidate’s nephew appears to have been assassinated, unlike the other protesters who were killed on Sunday, the Times reported: > Mr. Moussavi was first run over by a sport utility vehicle outside his home, Mr. Makhmalbaf wrote on his Web site. Five men then emerged from the car, and one of them shot him. Government officials took the body late Sunday and warned the family not to hold a funeral, Mr. Makhmalbaf wrote.
> As with many of reports out of Iran over the past six months, Web postings cannot be independently verified since foreign media are banned from directly covering protests. In Tehran, Internet access has been severely restricted since Sunday’s unrest, and Iranians have been unable to visit opposition Web sites. Cell phone and text messaging service have also been sporadic, the AP reported.