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Defiant Mousavi renews protest calls

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-06-27

Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi says he will resist pressure to end his calls for the cancellation of the disputed June 12 poll that handed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second mandate.

Iran’s defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi said on Thursday he was under pressure to withdraw his complaint over the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June’s disputed presidential election, which Mousavi has branded a ‘shameful fraud’

"I won't refrain from securing the rights of the Iranian people... because of personal interests and the fear of threats," the opposition leader said in a statement on his newspaper website, Kalemeh.

Meanwhile, defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi was forced to cancel Thursday’s ceremony to mourn protestors killed in the post-election violence as authorities continued to flex their muscle against protesting opposition groups.

"Despite all the efforts exerted by the sheikh of reforms (Karoubi) to prepare a site for the mourning ceremony, the ceremony will not take place on Thursday," said a statement on the website of Karoubi’s Etemad Melli party.

“All groups require a license in order to organise rallies and the interior ministry did not issue it to Karoubi,” Farhad Pouladi, an AFP correspondent in Tehran, told FRANCE 24.

Top cleric calls for ‘impartial’ committee

Voicing concern over rising tension, top dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, once considered as a possible successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned the government over its crackdown and called for an "impartial" committee to be set up to resolve the crisis.

"If Iranians cannot talk about their legitimate rights at peaceful gatherings and are instead repressed, complexities will build up which could possibly uproot the foundations of the government, no matter how powerful," he said in a statement faxed to AFP.

On Wednesday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared to toughen his stance and vowed not to "back down" in the face of opposition calls for a re-vote.

Heavy clampdown

According to eyewitness reports, several hundred pro-Mousavi protestors were attacked Wednesday by the Islamist Basiji militiamen as they tried to gather near the parliament building in Tehran for a thirteenth day of protests, the largest since the 1979 revolution.

Mirhossein Mousavi, who lost heavily to President Ahmadinejad despite mounting a high-profile campaign, urged his supporters on Thursday to continue protesting but to show restraint to avoid bloodshed.

Iranian newspaper Etemad has published a list with the names of 71 prominent reformist leaders, journalists and Mousavi’s campaign workers. Mousavi's website Kalemeh said another 70 academics and members of Islamic associations at various universities were arrested after meeting him on Wednesday, though it was impossible to confirm the report due to a severe media ban.

Mousavi supporters said they would release thousands of balloons on Friday imprinted with the message "Neda you will always remain in our hearts" following the death of a young woman who was apparently shot by a sniper on a Tehran street last week, and has since become an icon of the protests.

Meanwhile, according to an online report from the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Neda Agha Soltan’s family were forced out of their Tehran home by Iranian authorities after the harrowing video of her death led to uproar.

The blame game

President Ahmadinejad has reiterated his calls to the US to stop meddling in Iranian affairs. The Iranian leader asked President Barack Obama to “express regret” over American interference and compared him to his predecessor, George W. Bush, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Ahmadinejad’s comments come after Obama strongly condemned the Iranian turmoil saying he was "appalled and outraged" by the situation.

Tehran has repeatedly lambasted Washington and London for stoking trouble in the country. Tehran warned that it may reduce its ties with the UK, days after the two countries expelled diplomats in a tit-for-tat move.

The United States, meanwhile, said Iranian diplomats would not be invited to attend the July 4 Independence Day parties at US embassies.

In another development, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez accused the American CIA intelligence agency of being responsible for the post-election violence on the sidelines of a Latin American summit in Maracay, central Venezuela.

"People are in the streets, some are dead, they have snipers, and behind this is the CIA, the imperial hand of European countries and the United States," he said, "From my point of view that is what is happening in Iran."


Date created : 2009-06-25