Iranian lawmakers are calling for the execution of two leading figures behind the mass anti-government protests that have rocked Tehran and other cities in the Islamic Republic.
Members of the Iranian parliament said on Tuesday that opposition leaders and former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and
Mehdi Karroubi should be tried for sedition, an offense punishable by death.
The two had called for Monday's demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere to show solidarity with recent Arab uprisings against authoritarian governments.
Press TV aired video on Tuesday showing lawmakers chanting “Mousavi, Karroubi, execute them.”
They also named former President Mohammad Khatami in some of the death chants.
Iranian security forces prevented Mousavi and Karroubi from joining the rallies by surrounding their homes in Tehran.
Mousavi's website says it has "unconfirmed reports" that security forces arrested hundreds of people during the demonstrations.
Witnesses say Iranian security forces fired tear gas and paintball guns to disperse the demonstrators, some of whom chanted "death to the dictator" — a slogan used by reformists who protested the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a disputed 2009 vote, according to Voice of America.
Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency said one person was shot and killed during the protests and several others were severely injured. The Guardian in Britain reported that two people were killed on Monday.
“The hands of sedition leaders are drenched in blood and they should answer for these actions,” said Ahmad Reza Radan, Tehran’s chief of police.
The calls for the leaders’ execution come after a deadly month in Iran — at least 66 people were executed in January, CNN reported. Most were killed for drug offenses, but at least three involved political prisoners, according to a statement from the United Nations. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has expressed alarm over the number of executions.
Anti-government protesters also reportedly took to the streets in other cities on Monday, including Isfahan, Shiraz and Kermanshah, and demonstrations have erupted elsewhere in the Middle East following the ousting of regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.
In Bahrain, two demonstrators have been killed in clashes with police. One was shot dead on Tuesday outside a hospital where mourners gathered for the funeral of a protester killed on Monday.
The main Shiite opposition bloc in the Persian Gulf nation walked out of parliament on Tuesday to protest the “brutal way in which [authorities] dealt with the protesters.”
Shiites in Bahrain have complained about discrimination from the Sunnis who rule the island nation, home to the United States Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Anti-government demonstrations have also broken out in Yemen. Stone-throwing Yemini protesters clashed with police on Tuesday as they marched toward the presidential palace in Sanaa, the capital, in the fifth day of demonstrations calling for an end to Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule after 32 years in power.
Thousands of protesters have also demonstrated in the city of Taiz.
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