Saturday marks one year since the disputed re-election of Iran's hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday, whose return to power sparked widespread protests followed by a brutal crackdown that seems to have surpressed the opposition.
AFP - Opposition leaders issued fresh calls for freedom on Saturday, accusing Iran's rulers of robbing liberty, jailing people and banning the media, as the nation marked the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election.
Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi called off plans to stage new demonstrations against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over safety concerns, but vowed that their agitation against his re-election will continue.
Late on Friday, Mousavi said Iran's rulers had distanced themselves from the goals of the 1979 Islamic revolution and the constitution and were "shutting peoples' mouths, banning the media, holding elections as we saw last year and filling the prisons" with those who opposed them.
The security forces used deadly force to quell the massive demonstrations that erupted after Ahmadinejad returned to power in what the opposition had charged was a massively rigged poll.
Protests have not now been held for months, but Tehran's governor general warned against any attempts to demonstrate on Saturday.
"Any illegal move to disrupt public order and trouble people will not be tolerated and will be dealt with," Morteza Tamaddon was quoted as saying on Friday by the state news agency IRNA.
By noon (0730 GMT), there were no reports of protests, but late Friday people were shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) -- an opposition mantra -- from rooftops in several areas of Tehran.
The election bitterly divided Iran's political elite and dragged supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who openly backs the president, into the crisis.
A look back at the post-election protests of 2009
But former premier Mousavi and ex-parliament speaker Karroubi, who were close to Iran's revolutionary father Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, brush aside such allegations.
For them, the opposition "Green Movement" is a grassroots initiative pursuing the aspirations of the revolution, including free elections, freedom of expression and respect for human rights.
Mousavi urged that the opposition movement be kept "alive as they (rulers) will be afraid of this very thing."
Timeline of the post-election crackdown
June 12, 2009: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is re-elected with more than 62% of the vote, while his opponent, reformist Mirhossein Mousavi, gets 34%. The results are quickly contested. (AFP)
June 13 – 30: Demonstrators swarm the streets of Tehran to protest against suspected electoral fraud, with violent clashes breaking out between Mousavi supporters and law enforcement officials. (AFP)
June 19: Ayatollah Khamenei defends Ahmadinejad as the rightful winner of the presidential election. On June 20, young Iranian woman Neda Agha-Soltan is shot at a demonstration. Footage of Neda bleeding to death turns her into a symbol of the opposition. (AFP)
July 1: Young Frenchwoman Clotilde Reiss is arrested for “gathering information and encouraging rioters”. Her trial begins on August 8. She is released on bail on August 16 but required to stay at the French embassy of Tehran while awaiting a final verdict. (AFP)
July 9: With the opposition still contesting President Ahmadinejad’s re-election, more than 3,000 protesters defy the ban on public demonstrations to commemorate the anniversary of the 1999 student protests. (AFP)
August 1: Trials of protesters begin, with Mousavi denouncing the proceedings as a judicial masquerade. On his website, he says the “confessions” obtained are “reminiscent of medieval torture”. (AFP)
August 5: Ahmadinejad is sworn in for his second presidential term. The next day, the opposition denounces the “illegitimate president” and organises a protest in front of the parliament building. An estimated 1,000 demonstrators are scattered by the police. (AFP)
August 16: Mousavi announces the formation of the "Green Path of Hope", a grass-roots movement dedicated to contesting Ahmadinejad’s presidency. (AFP)
November 4: Iranian police break up opposition protests near an official ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the storming of the US embassy in Tehran.
December 21: Clashes break out in the holy city of Qom at the funeral of top Iranian dissident cleric Hossein Ali Montazeri. Mousavi’s car is attacked, and other clashes between opposition protesters and police are reported in Isfahan and Najafabad.
December 27: Widespread protests mark the Shiite holiday of Ashura. A police crackdown results in at least 8 dead and hundreds injured, triggering sharp rebukes from several Western countries. Mousavi’s nephew is among those killed during the clashes. (AFP)
December 30: Ahmadinejad calls for his supporters to demonstrate in order to save the regime. New arrests include that of Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi's sister, while Mehdi Karoubi, one of Ahmadinejad’s election opponents, is placed under house arrest. (AFP)
January 28, 2010: Two opposition protesters are hung for "plotting assassination attempts" of Iranian authorities. In total, 12 people are sentenced to death for their involvement in opposition demonstrations. (AFP)
"We should... help expand websites... as films shot on cellphones... are our best instruments. They act like an army," he said on Sahamnews, Karroubi's website.
Last year's uprising was symbolised by a mobile phone video of 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan bleeding to death on a Tehran street during a protest posted on the Internet.
US President Barack Obama, whose country has had no diplomatic ties with the Islamic republic for three decades, noted her death on Thursday as he urged the world to support the Iranian people in their fight for "freedom."
Karroubi said "what counts is the vote of the people and that there are free elections."
He said currently the outcome of polls was being decided by the electoral watchdog the Guardians Council. "Is this a republic?", he questioned.
Dozens of people were reportedly killed in in running street battles between security forces and protesters in Tehran and other cities after the election.
The regime crushed the protests, rounding up politicians and journalists close to Mousavi and Karroubi and unleashing the feared Basij Islamic militia on those who dared to demonstrate.
In its 2099 annual report, Amnesty International charged that "compelling evidence emerged that a number of detainees, both women and men, had been raped and otherwise tortured in detention."
The authorities reacted furiously to the accusations of rape first made by Karroubi. But they were forced to admit abuses at Tehran's notorious Kahrizak detention centre, which was closed after at least three protesters died of injuries there.
Iran has also sentenced 10 protesters to death and hanged seven people on security charges unrelated to the election -- but seen as a warning to opposition groups.
Date created : 2010-06-12