Iran activist dies in funeral scuffle: report
Tehran, June 1, 2011
The daughter of a prominent veteran Iranian dissident died on Wednesday after a scuffle broke out with security forces at his funeral, opposition website Kaleme reported.
Haleh Sahabi, 54, herself an opposition activist and women's rights campaigner, had been allowed out of prison to attend the funeral of her father Ezatollah Sahabi. She fell to the ground in the scuffle and died of a cardiac arrest, Kaleme said.
The semi-official Fars news agency confirmed Sahabi's death but denied there had been a clash with police and accused the opposition movement of seeking to politicise the incident.
"Fars reporters present at the funeral service said there was no clash between the mourners and security forces," it said. Reuters was unable to verify the events independently.
Sahabi's death is likely to anger women's rights campaigners and supporters of Iran's opposition movement whose massive street protests after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 were crushed by the government and whose leaders have been put under house arrest.
She was arrested during the post-election crackdown and was given a 2-year jail sentence.
"Security forces tried to interfere in the carrying of the body, she objected and security forces confronted her and other people present," Kaleme said, adding that Sahabi was pushed to the ground. Another opposition site, Sahamnews, said security forces punched her in the stomach.
Kaleme said she was holding a picture of her father to her chest and fell when security forces tried to take it from her.
"She fell and did not get up," it said.
Prominent opposition figures and former moderate officials attended the ceremony in the northeastern Tehran suburb of Lavasan for Ezatollah Sahabi, who was jailed both before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and spent a total of 15 years in prison.- Reuters