Iran behaves increasingly like a 'police state': US

WASHINGTON, Dec 23, 2009 (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday accused Iran of increasingly behaving like a "police state" after Iranian security forces clashed anew with protesters.

"Iran is increasingly showing itself to be a police state," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

"It is using all of its levers, all of its various security elements to try to stamp out clearly the aspirations of the Iranian people for a different relationship with their government," Crowley said.

"And yet the people keep on finding a way to exercise their universal rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech," said the assistant secretary of state for public affairs.

"Iran keeps on trying to find ways to prevent them... access to the modern tools of communication," Crowley said.

"Iran has to take note of what its people are saying. They want a government that's working on their behalf, that's serving their interests, that leads to a different kind of relationship with the rest of the world," he added.

The clashes erupted in Isfahan after security forces surrounded a mosque where a memorial service for a dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, was to be held and prevented mourners from entering, opposition websites said.

The mourners were shouting slogans in support of Iran's opposition Green Movement and police fired tear gas to disperse them, website Rahesabz.net said.

Many hardliners have called for the arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who ran for president in June 12 polls which he lost to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid claims the election was rigged, triggering sporadic protests ever since.

Montazeri, who died aged 87 on Saturday, had been a bold supporter of the opposition, branding the government "illegitimate" and issuing blistering statements condemning violence by security forces against demonstrators.

Source: AFP

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