Thousands gather in Europe to support Iranian opposition | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 25.07.2009
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Thousands gather in Europe to support Iranian opposition

Hundreds of people gathered in Berlin, thousands in cities around the world to support opposition protestors in Iran. The demonstrations coincided with reports that a protester had died in custody in Iran.

Hands wrapped in green clothe give peace sign

Demonstrators at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin went "green" for Iran

In Berlin, former political prisoners and other Iranians in exile joined locals in the center of the German capital to support the opposition protestors in Iran. Alongside political speeches, Persian poems were read out, and white roses were laid on the ground to remember those killed during the Iranian government's crackdown.

Juergen Schilling, a resident of Berlin, was one of those who went to the protest on Saturday – the first time he had attended a demonstration since the fall of the Berlin wall. He sent updates and photos of the protest via the internet website Twitter - the same site used by Iranians to tell the world about the violence in their country.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Schilling said he was impressed by the vast array of people at the protest in Berlin: from young to old, from all sides of the political spectrum.

Crowd carrying white roses for Iran protestors

Schilling sent this picture around the world on his twitter account

"This goes beyond the political," he told Deutsche Welle afterwards. "This is really about letting humanity - compassion for your fellow citizens - be felt and lived."

Day of action

Protests were also held in more than half a dozen locations in Germany. They were part of a worldwide day of activities which took place in more than 80 cities across the globe. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch backed the day and sent representatives along to the protests.

Ruth Juettner, from the German chapter of Amnesty International, told Deutsche Welle that the goal was to show support for the protection of human rights in Iran.

"It's about showing that…the fundamental right to freedom of opinion, the right to assemble, and freedom of the press are valued."

Several Iranians in Berlin had begun a hunger strike on Friday, which they intend to continue until Sunday. The hunger strikers called on world governments not to recognize the re-election of Ahmadinejad and to put "human rights ahead of economics."

Protestors hold banners saying Stop Violence in Iran and Prague is with you

Protests took place across Europe, like here in Prague

Death in custody in Iran

The worldwide demonstrations coincided with reports from Iran that a protestor had died while in detention. The young man was reportedly the son of an advisor to Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

On Saturday, Mousavi and other opposition leaders called on Iran's top clerics to stop the "oppression" carried out by Iranian authorities, and help secure the release of detained protesters.

In a statement, the opposition leaders accused Iranian authorities of "savagery," and also expressed concern for the mental wellbeing of those detained.

Human rights groups believe hundreds of people have been arrested since the presidential election was held on June 12.

Author: Clare Atkinson /AFP/dpa/Reuters
Editor: Kateri Jochum

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