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Two Iranian activists in hospital, one from beating, the other from hunger strike

TEHRAN, Iran - Two prominent Iranian opposition activists have been hospitalized, one after being beaten by his jailers for refusing to attend trial, the other from a nine-day hunger strike, a reformist Web site reported Tuesday.

TEHRAN, Iran - Two prominent Iranian opposition activists have been hospitalized, one after being beaten by his jailers for refusing to attend trial, the other from a nine-day hunger strike, a reformist Web site reported Tuesday.

Iran's top opposition leaders, meanwhile, announced they were joining a new grassroots reformist movement to present a united front against the government.

The "Green Path of Hope," a political movement created by opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi seeks to be a rallying point for the opposition to continue its campaign against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ali Reza Beheshti, a top aide to Mousavi, said Tuesday that former president Mohammad Khatami and defeated reformist candidate Mahdi Karroubi were joining the movement to invigorate the opposition after a government crackdown crushed protests over the disputed June 12 presidential election.

Hundreds have been arrested since the election and the opposition says some of them died in prison from beatings and other abuse.

Feizollah Arabsorkhi, a prominent member of a reformist political party, was severely beaten by his jailers at Evin prison when he wouldn't attend his trial, the Iran Green Wave Camp Web site said Tuesday.

He was sent to Tehran's Baghiatollah-al-Azam military hospital, which is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, an elite military unit that led the crackdown against protesters.

Ahmad Zeidabadi, a journalist and former student leader, is also in poor health after being forced to break his hunger strike on Monday, added the site. He stopped eating after his Aug. 8 court appearance.

Zeidabadi leads a group of reformists who were once members of Iran's largest student organization, the Office for Fostering Unity.

The two activists are among more than 100 prominent opposition supporters on trial since Aug. 1 in Iran on accusations of plotting to overthrow the clerical leadership through the protests.

The defendants at the mass trial include a former Iranian vice-president and other former senior government officials linked to the country's pro-reform movement, French and Iranian-American academics, employees of the British and French embassies, and an Iranian-Canadian reporter for Newsweek magazine.

They are charged with plotting a "soft revolution" against the Islamic theocracy. The opposition denies the accusations and dismisses what it calls a "show trial."

Some of the defendants have given televised confessions during their court appearances, though rights groups say such admissions are likely coerced.

The opposition says the crackdown on the demonstrations killed at least 69 people. The government has confirmed 30 people have died in the country's worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Senior police and judiciary officials have tried to calm public outrage by acknowledging that some detainees were beaten by their jailers.

In a statement on his Web site Tuesday, Mousavi echoed claims that prisoners have been raped and tortured by "establishment agents."

"Those who committed the crimes were establishment agents," Mousavi said.

Mousavi said use of force and money won't make people silent.

"It is not possible to appease (detainees and their families) by the use of force and money but by quick, open and precise investigation of complaints by detained protesters and their families," he said.

Mousavi has said the "Green Path of Hope" seeks to regain people's constitutional rights against a ruling system that has denied them their basic rights. Green is the signature colour of the opposition movement, adopted from Mousavi's youth-driven election campaign.

 
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