Tehran police use force to disperse opposition rally
TEHRAN, Jan 21 (AFP) - Tehran police forcibly dispersed thousands of
people commemorating the anniversary Thursday of the death of former prime
minister and Islamic liberal opposition leader Mehdi Bazargan.
Police intervened at the end of a ceremony at Hosseinieh-Ershad mosque
in northern Tehran after 10,000 people poured into the streets and shouted
slogans in support of President Mohammad Khatami and against his conservative
"Death to despotism ... freedom, security, these are our slogans
... Khatami, we support you," shouted the crowd, made up mostly of
Several demonstrators fell into open streams running along Shariati
street, where the mosque is located, in scuffles between demonstrators
and plain-clothed securitymen.
The protesters condemned the recent spate of murders of dissidents and
intellectuals, in which the country's intelligence service was implicated,
and called on conservative Intelligence Minister Qorban-Ali Dorrie Najafabadi
to step down.
Bazargan, who died in 1995, led the interim government which came to
power after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
His government collapsed after eight months under pressure from the
Shiite Moslem clergy opposed to his liberal domestic and foreign policies,
notably his condemnation of the seizure of the US embassy in November 1979.
Bazargan then joined the opposition and led Iran's Freedom Movement
(IFM), which is banned but tolerated.
Since Bazargan's death the IFM has been led by former foreign minister