Iran opposition leader says reform movement alive

Sun Dec 6, 2009 10:30pm EST
 
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By Parisa Hafezi and Hossein Jaseb

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said on Sunday the reform movement was alive despite pressure from the clerical establishment which he said was suppressing students, his website reported.

Mousavi's remarks, a day before Iran plans to commemorate the killing of three students in 1953 under the former Shah, may encourage his supporters to hijack the state-organized rallies to revive anti-government protests.

"Let's say you suppressed students and silenced them. What will you do with the social realities?" Mousavi's Kaleme website quoted him as saying, in a clear reference to wide arrests of students in Tehran and other cities in the past few days.

"You (the authorities) do not tolerate the student day rallies. What will you do on the following days?" Mousavi said, suggesting that street-protests will continue.

Iran's presidential vote returned hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power with a wide margin. But his reformist opponents cried foul and thousands of people took to the streets in the biggest anti-government protests in 30 years.

Authorities deny vote-rigging and portrayed the post- election unrest as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the state.

Police and elite Revolutionary Guards have warned that any "illegal" rally will be fiercely confronted on Monday.

The opposition, which relies on its websites or mobile phone text messages to reach its supporters, has called on people to gather on Student Day on Monday near Tehran University, where the main state-rally will be held. Internet connections have been slowed or completely down in the past days.   Continued...

 
<p>Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi (L) meets with pro-reform cleric Mehdi Karoubi in Tehran October 12, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer</p>