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Four Iranian MPs launch sit-in

From journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr

protest
Iranian students protest in the hall of parliament on June 22.

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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Four Iranian members of parliament launched a sit-in Saturday, protesting the government's treatment of university students who were arrested during recent demonstrations throughout Iran.

The protests, which began June 10 and lasted nine consecutive nights, called for reforms and increased freedoms in the strict Islamic government. Many turned violent, as government authorities and vigilantes attacked the protesters, who in some cases fought back.

Iran announced that more than 4,000 people were arrested during the protests, including about 800 students.

The four members of parliament taking part in the sit-in were all supported by student organizations in their election campaigns.

They began the sit-in in the parliament lobby at 1p.m. Saturday (5:00a.m.ET), and plan to remain for 48 hours.

The four risk losing their parliamentary seats, and could be prosecuted by the government, which has threatened to punish any members found to be acting in a fashion contradictory to the ruling clerics.

There was no immediate comment on the sit-in from the country's religious leaders or supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Fatemeh Haqiqatjoo, people's representative from Tehran and the only woman in the group of four, is an outspoken reformist who completed a university Ph.D. program last year.

The other three are Reza Yousdefian, representative from Shiraz in southern Iran, and two representatives from Tehran, Ali Akbar Musavi-Khoeini and Maysam Saeedi.

A fifth member of parliament, Ali Tajernia of the holy city of Mashhad, planned to join the four late Saturday, after returning form a trip to Germany.


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