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Opposition puts election unrest toll at 69

world Updated: Aug 11, 2009 20:04 IST
AP
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Iran's opposition said on Tuesday that at least 69 people have died in two months of post election unrest based on accounts from the victims' families, more than double the official toll released by parliament.

A top aide to Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition leader who claims he was the true winner of the June 12 presidential vote, handed the list over to parliament.

"We submitted names of 69 killed and some 220 detainees to the special committee of parliament during a meeting in parliament on Monday," Ali Reza Beheshti told The Associated Press. He said it included names verified after double-checking with the families, adding the number is still rising. The toll includes deaths in the capital Tehran as well other parts of the country, he said. Iran's deputy police chief, Gen. Ahmad Reza Radan, said police are standing by a toll of 19 given by the Tehran provincial governor in June, even though a parliamentary committee that investigated deaths in unrest more recently put the figure at 30. Radan also lashed out at foreign media, as Iranian authorities have done often during the crisis, saying they were trying to weaken the will of the armed forces.

The higher toll could fan outrage among pro-reform opposition supporters as well as some conservatives over the treatment of protesters, particularly alleged abuses of those who have been detained.

Mahdi Karroubi _ another pro-reform candidate defeated in the election _ said over the weekend that he has received reports from former military commanders and other senior officials that some detained protesters, both men and women, were raped in custody.

That followed acknowledgments by senior police and judiciary officials that some detainees had been abused in prison, an admission that apparently was aimed at cooling the public anger. The new list was presented to parliament on the behalf of Mousavi and Karroubi. Human rights groups have said they suspect the death toll is far higher than the official Iranian count. Hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters took to the streets following the election, claiming it was rigged in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That prompted a violent crackdown led by the powerful Revolutionary Guard and its allied Basij militia. It has been virtually impossible for journalists to independently verify casualty figures or detentions because the government has tightly restricted coverage of the opposition movement and all its activities.

For example, Iranian authorities have pressured the families of slain protesters not to mourn publicly out of fear the gatherings could spark demonstrations, according to the opposition. Also on Tuesday, the spokesman of Iran's judiciary, Ali Reza Jamshidi, told reporters that while some 4,000 people were initially detained, only 300 remain in custody.

Iran is prosecuting about 100 of the detainees, in what US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others have called a "show trial." A number of defendants have made public confessions that the opposition says were coerced.

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