Iran: Filmmaker claims 'many' killed in protests

Rome, 23 June (AKI) - An internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker has claimed many people have been killed and hundreds of others injured in the protests against the presidential elections in Iran. Speaking at a media conference in Rome on Tuesday, Mohsen Makhmalbaf also said that many of the injured had been "abducted" by police after they had been taken to hospital.

"Many people have been killed, hundreds of others have been injured, many of them have been abducted (by police) in the hospital," said Makhmalbaf.

"Others have lost limbs after being beaten with batons," he claimed. "The parents of those killed have also been prevented from holding funerals for their children."

Makhmalbaf said the what was taking place in Iran was an attempt to overthrow the government and criticised the crackdown by authorities which had killed at least 19 people.

"What happened is not an electoral fraud, but a coup d'etat," said Makhmalbaf.

Makhmalbaf reiterated what he said when he appeared with Iranian filmmaker and author Marjane Satrapi in Brussels last week.

The pair presented a document to Green Party MPs in the European parliament claiming to show that defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi had received over 19 million votes in the election on 12 June.

The document said liberal cleric and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi came second in the election with a total of 13.3 million votes, while president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came third with only 5.49 million votes.

However, there is no certainty about the legitimacy of the document.

Makhmalbaf, who calls himself "ambassador abroad of Mousavi's political movement," drew a parallel between the current situation and that of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

He also called the declaration of victory by incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's a "coup d'etat" and appealed to the international community not to recognise it and to hold a new election with the monitoring of the United Nations.

"The images that we have seen in Iran are very similar to those that we saw 30 years ago during the Islamic revolution," said Makhmalbaf. "The generation of the (1979) revolution hides in silence, however, those that are now protesting in the squares represent the post-revolution generation."

The filmmaker also criticised recent comparisons between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad, saying comparing both would be like comparing United States president Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Makhmalbaf said his movement would continue to resist the Iranian authorities in a peaceful way modelled on former Indian prime minister Mahatma Gandhi and former South African leader Nelson Mandela.

According to official Iranian media, Ahmadinejad received 62.3 percent of the vote, or 24.5 million votes, compared to Mousavi's 33.7 percent or 13.2 million votes.


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