Protesters across the world on Saturday called on Iran to end its clampdown on opposition activists, demanding the release of hundreds rounded up during demonstrations against the country's disputed election.
Groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are backing a global day of action, with protests planned in more than 80 cities.
London rally (Photo: AP)
The protesters want Iranian authorities to release what they say are hundreds, or even thousands, of people detained during protests that followed the presidential election last month that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
Police said about 600 protesters joined a "noisy but peaceful" demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London, one of a series of events in cities across Europe. In Brussels, Belgium, protesters held placards carrying images of the detained or dead, including Neda Agha Soltan, the 27-year-old whose death -beamed around the world on the Internet - became a rallying cry for opponents of the regime.
In Amsterdam, Iranian Nobel Peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi urged the international community to reject the outcome of the Iranian election and called for a new vote monitored by the United Nations.
Addressing several hundred people, she said Iran should not be allowed to become another Zimbabwe, apparently referring to the violence surrounding that African country's disputed presidential election.
Hecklers in the crowd, some of them supporters of the monarchy ousted in 1979, shouted slogans of "Death to the Islamic regime." But the Iranian lawyer and human rights activist urged restraint, saying the protesters should be chanting for life and democracy rather than death to their opponents.
In Tehran, Iranian police and pro-government militia attacked and scattered hundreds of protesters who had gathered in Iran's capital in response to the global demonstrations of solidarity, witnesses said.
Demonstrators in Vanak and Mirdamad districts chanted "death to the dictator" and "we want our vote back" before they were attacked and beaten by police Saturday. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.