World

Iranian police, protesters clash

Iranian police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters holding a memorial Thursday in a Tehran cemetery for victims of post-election violence, according to witnesses and state television.
This photo, taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained outside Iran, shows anti-government protesters setting a public trash dumpster on fire in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Thursday. ((Associated Press))

Iranian police reportedly fired tear gas and used batons to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters holding a memorial Thursday in a Tehran cemetery for victims of post-election violence, including a woman known to many as Neda.

Some mourners chanted, "Neda is alive, Ahmadinejad is dead," referring to Neda Agha Soltan, who was shot during protests on June 20, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom electoral authorities declared the winner by a landslide in the June 12 elections.

Thursday marked the end of the 40-day mourning period for the woman who came to be known in the press simply as Neda. Her dying moments were caught on video and became some of the iconic images of the upheaval, focusing worldwide attention on the unrest.

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi speaks during an election campaign gathering in downtown Tehran on June 8, 2009, four days before the elections. ((Vahid Salemi/Associated Press))

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi claimed the elections results were fraudulent and he was the true winner. The disputed results sparked massive protests and deadly clashes between Mousavi's supporters and police. 

Earlier Thursday, hundreds of police surrounded Mousavi, preventing him from reaching Soltan's graveside and forcing him to leave Behesht-e Zahra cemetery on Tehran's southern outskirts, according to witnesses and state television. 

The crowd swelled to several thousand people as Mousavi's supporters remained at the grave, chanting, "Death to the dictator," referring to Ahmadinejad.

The police had charged with tear gas and batons when an ally of Mousavi, Mahdi Karroubi, who was also a candidate in the election, tried to give a speech.

However, thousands of supporters continued to visit Soltan's grave even after the clash. Police arrested two prominent Iranian filmmakers when they tried to lay flowers at her grave.

About 20 protesters were killed in the crackdown following the election, according to official figures, though activists believe the number is much higher.

With files from The Associated Press

now