Iran Opposition Not Dead, Mousavi Says Before Vote Anniversary

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said the country’s opposition movement is not dead and will continue its “fight for freedom and justice,” as Iran nears the one-year anniversary of the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“The Green Movement is a current that will neither be stopped by jailing and threatening nor by killing people,” Mousavi said in a statement late yesterday on his website, Kaleme, referring to the broad coalition born out of the protests that followed the June 12 election, which it claims was rigged.

“This movement takes over the four seasons, it renews and expresses itself in various ways,” said Mousavi, a former prime minister who ran against Ahmadinejad. Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, another former presidential candidate and opposition leader, have called on supporters to attend a protest rally on the anniversary should the government grant permission for it.

Iranian authorities have dubbed anti-government demonstrations “illegal” and have arrested about 5,000 people in the past year, which has seen the biggest protests in Tehran and major cities since the 1979 revolution that brought Shiite Muslim clerics to power. Some 44 people have been killed in the unrest, according to official figures. Amnesty International says it is at least double that number.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, will oversee Friday prayers in Tehran on June 4, almost a year after a June 19 sermon in which he backed Ahmadinejad’s victory amid mass street protests. In his address last year, Khamenei said the re-election was a “celebration” and warned of a crackdown on Iran’s “political elites.”

Khomeini Anniversary

Khamenei’s next Friday sermon will mark another anniversary, that of the death of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini died in 1989 and a commemorative ceremony is held each year at his shrine near the Iranian capital. Hassan Khomeini, his grandson, and Ahmadinejad are also scheduled to deliver speeches on that day, the state-run Mehr news agency said in a report late yesterday.

Protests, which began last June with calls for an election recount, have gone on to include calls for an end to the governmental crackdown against opposition supporters and for the liberation of political prisoners.

“It is not temporary or linked to a particular individual,” Mousavi said of the Green Movement in his statement. “Rather it is born from our people’s needs and in line with their long-term fight for freedom and justice.”