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Opposition leaders call for protest on anniversary of Islamic revolution

Video by Siobhán SILKE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-09

Opposition leaders have called for demonstrations on the February 11 anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution, and the Revolutionary Guards warned that any protest would be crushed. Iran, meanwhile, put on trial 16 anti-government protesters.

AFP - Opposition heads on Saturday implicitly called for demonstrations on the February 11 anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution, as the elite Revolutionary Guards warned that any such protest will be crushed.
  
Iran, meanwhile, put on trial 16 anti-government protesters, two of them women, who were arrested in late December on the Shiite mourning day of Ashura, the official IRNA news agency reported.
  

Protesters and police on alert

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have spearheaded protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met and invited supporters to demonstrate on the anniversary day, Karroubi's website Sahamnews.org said.
  
The two opposition leaders said Thursday's hangings of two dissidents, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmani Pour, for allegedly plotting to topple the Islamic regime after Iran's election dispute broke out in June was a bid to keep people away from the February 11 demonstration.
  
"It seems that such a move is to scare people so they do not take part in the demonstration of 22nd of Bahman (February 11)," the website quoted the two as saying, an indication of possible anti-government protests during regime-sponsored annual marches.
  
The website said Mousavi and Karroubi agreed that the executed pair appeared to have been arrested months before the June 12 presidential election and had nothing to do with the post-poll violence.
  
The two dissidents belonged to the banned monarchist group Tondar (the Kingdom Assembly of Iran), according to Iranian media reports.
  
Their hangings were the first reported executions of people tried since the wave of protests that erupted following the re-election of hardliner Ahmadinejad to a second four-year term.
  
The executions drew strong condemnation from the United States, the European Union and human rights group Amnesty International.
  
Sahamnews said the two leaders also invited people to turn out in "massive numbers" on February 11 for the 31st anniversary.
  
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians march each year to mark the revolution which toppled the pro-Western shah but next month's event is expected to turn into another stage for anti-government protests.
  
On Saturday, a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards paramilitary force warned that any attempt by opposition groups to protest against the government on February 11 will be crushed.
  
"We will by no means allow anything known as the 'green movement' to make an appearance" on the anniversary, Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani was quoted as saying on ISNA news agency.
  
Protesters would be considered as "foreign agents."
  
"Any voice, colour and gesture which is different from that of the Islamic revolution and from Iranians' voice should be driven out of people's marches ... and if there a few people who want to do something, they will be severely dealt with," he said.
  
Opposition supporter and ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani urged people to maintain calm on the anniversary day.
  
"Those who love the regime ... should try that this year's march be held calmly ... because any conflict and violence will serve the interests of enemies," Rafsanjani said, quoted on state television's website.
  
The most recent protests were held on December 27, the Shiite mourning day of Ashura.
  
The Ashura demonstrations turned into the bloodiest showdown in months between protesters and security forces. About 1,000 people were arrested and eight killed, including a nephew of Mousavi.
  
The state's IRNA agency reported that 16 of those arrested on Ashura were put on trial on Saturday.
  
Five of the defendants are accused of being mohareb (enemies of God) and corrupt on earth, both crimes punishable by death under the Iranian legal system, which is based on Islamic sharia law, IRNA said.
  
The anti-Ahmadinejad protests which erupted after his re-election have shaken the pillars of Iran's Islamic regime and divided the clergy.
  
Meanwhile, German news weekly Der Spiegel reports in its latest edition due to appear on Monday that two German policemen working at Berlin's embassy in Tehran have been brought home after being targeted by Iranian intelligence.
  
A top Iranian official said on Wednesday that two German diplomats were detained on December 27 for involvement in the Ashura riots, an accusation later denied by Berlin.

Date created : 2010-01-31

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