Iran: Mousavi defies threats; regime carries out sweeps

Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi said June 25 that threats and pressure would not stop him from pursuing his campaign to scrap the results of the disputed election. Meanwhile, officials stepped up efforts to crush remaining protests. “I won’t refrain from securing the rights of the Iranian people… because of personal interests and the fear of threats,” he said in a statement on his newspaper website, Kalemeh.

On June 24, security forces overwhelmed a small group of protesters with beatings, tear gas and gunshots in the air. At least 17 people have been killed in the unrest since June 12 by the official count in the state media, with the opposition and rights groups saying the toll could be far higher. The foreign media remain banned from the streets.

In his statement, Mousavi cautioned against playing into the hands of the regime with violence. “The main strategy which will guarantee your objectives will be to continue with the protests within the framework of law and by observing the principles of the Islamic revolution,” he said. Authorities claimed to have arrested several people of charges of planning terrorist attacks. A ban on all street protests remains in place.

Mousavi’s office said it had applied for a permission to hold a mourning ceremony for slain protesters, but has yet to receive approval. Instead, intelligence agents shut down his campaign office, saying it was a “headquarters for a psychological war.” In a sign that crackdown is having its desired effect, another presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezai, a former head of the Revolutionary Guards, withdrew his charges of election fraud, saying that it was in the best interest of the country to drop the matter.

Regime carries out sweeps
In another sign of a split in the regime, Tehran’s mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a former commander of the Iranian police, called on the government to authorize peaceful opposition rallies. And Parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a longtime conservative, accused the Guardian Council, responsible for monitoring the elections, of bias and said most Iranians were suspicious of the election results.

The regime has also escalated its sweep of opposition figures, and extended it to figures within the political establishment. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that some 100 political figures have been detained. The government says it has arrested 627 since the protests broke out.

Those arrested include officials who served from the 1979 Revolution through Ahmadinejad’s 2005 election: Behzad Nabavi, a former deputy speaker of Parliament; Mohsen Aminzadeh, a key figure at the Intelligence Ministry for many years; Mostafa Tajzadeh, a deputy interior minister during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami; Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a vice president under Khatami; and Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, Khatami’s spokesman. (Middle East Online, June 25; NYT, June 24)

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