Canada says Iranian "brute force" unacceptable

Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:19pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, adopting one of the toughest lines on Iran of any Western leader, condemned on Monday what he said was Tehran's totally unacceptable use of "brute force and intimidation" to deal with protests.

Iranian state television said 10 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in demonstrations on Saturday in Tehran over a disputed June 12 presidential election.

"The regime has chosen to use brute force and intimidation in responding to peaceful opposition regarding legitimate and serious allegations of electoral fraud," Harper said in a statement.

"Canada calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately cease the use of violence against their own people, to release all political prisoners and journalists ... and to conduct a full and transparent investigation into allegations of fraud in the presidential election."

Canada's relations with Iran have been strained since 2003, when Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi died in custody in Tehran after being arrested.

In February, Harper said the Iranian regime had "an ideology that is obviously evil".

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway