GENEVA – Iran's top diplomat on Monday praised the popular uprisings roiling the Arab world, but dismissed protests in his own country as unjustified.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran has only experienced a few "manipulated protests, while mass movements in the nations in the region are authentic, popular and people's movements."
Speaking to several reporters in Geneva, he said: "There is absolutely no comparison between what is happening in the countries in the region and what has happened in Iran in a few incidents."
The protests that swept Iran after its disputed June 2009 presidential election grew into a larger movement opposed to Iran's ruling system. Hundreds of thousands peacefully took to the streets, but a heavy military crackdown crushed the protests.
Salehi, who is in Geneva for a meeting of the Human Rights Council, said his government was "shocked" by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi resorting to extreme force against civilians and hopes that "the power is transferred through legal means to the people."
In Tehran, Iran's state prosecutor said Monday that authorities have cut all outside contact with the country's two senior opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, as part of a campaign to silence dissent.
Salehi said of Karroubi's arrest that it "must come based on provocation of certain rule of law." In the case of Mousavi, Salehi said that "if there is any charge, this charge has to be raised from the side of the judiciary" and not the Foreign Ministry.
Human rights advocates said Sunday the two opposition leaders and their wives were in grave danger after security forces apparently took them from their homes, where they had been under house arrest.
"Two years have already passed since the last presidential election in Iran and they have been living a normal life and they have asked people to come into the streets, which we think are manipulated protests, because there was absolutely no justification for that," Salehi said. "They had to yield and be satisfied with the results."