Obama, Merkel condemn crackdown on Iranian protests

CNN) — U.S. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday condemned this week’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Iran.

In separate statements, the two Western leaders called on Iran to abide by international obligations to respect the rights of the Iranian people to demonstrate for political change.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said eight people were killed in the latest series of clashes over the weekend, making the unrest the deadliest since June.

“The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in detentions, injuries, and even death,” Obama told journalists in a break from his Christmas holiday in Hawaii.

The latest fighting came on the anniversary of Ashura, a major Shiite Muslim holy day marking the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed, as a martyr. Large crowds pour into streets each year for the observance.

“For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights,” Obama said. “Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days.”

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