Iran opposition leader says he is ready to die for people's rights (UPDATE)
Iranian opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi said he was ready to die for the rights of the people, opposition websites reported Friday.
"I have no hesitation about becoming one of the martyrs for realizing the religious and national rights of the people," Moussavi said in a statement, his first reaction to the latest clashes between his supporters and security forces, dpa reported.
After unrest last week and renewed clashes this week, supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded the arrest of Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, another opposition leader. Some even demanded their executions.
"My blood is the same colour as that of my [killed] supporters, but imprisoning and killing the Moussavis and Karroubis would definitely not solve the problems as the people's protests have in the meantime developed their own momentum," said Moussavi, who lost to Ahmadinejad in June's election, which the opposition still disputes.
The opposition leader also condemned the violence used by police and security forces against protestors last week, which led to the deaths of at least eight demonstrators.
"We have several times been told [by the establishment] that if you issue no statements, the people would not come to the streets, but neither me nor Mr Karroubi had issued any statement, but the people still came into the streets," Moussavi said.
He termed the violence used against the protestors, such as shooting and hitting them with cars, as "unprecedented and not easily to be erased from the political scene."
The Green Movement leader also condemned state television for provoking the people rather than cooling down tensions.
He further deplored statements by a leading cleric - Ayatollah Aalamol Hoda, the Friday prayer leader in the north-eastern city of Mashad - that "de facto invited people to a war against each other by terming one side the party of God and the other side the party of Satan."
"They [the establishment] think that with killing demonstrators and arresting intellectuals and academics and blocking the media, they could remove the roots of the crisis, but they just deceive themselves as with such superficial methods, the opposition would just become stronger," Moussavi asserted.
He rejected accusations by the government that linked the opposition to foreign countries and exiled opposition groups and said that the Green Movement was an Islamic and national movement, faithful to the constitution.
Moussavi added that the opposition would be ready for negotiations with the establishment but under certain conditions.
"It is not yet too late, and our establishment has the potential to overcome the crisis," he said.
He said the first important step toward national reconciliation would be acknowledging the serious crisis in the country, realizing the need for supervising the government's performance "and acting accordingly in case of failures."
Moussavi added that the establishment should also work on a new election law that would guarantee the participation of people of all political stripes.
According to the current election law, the senate-like Guardian Council acts as the election watchdog for presidential and parliamentary elections.
The council, consisting of six conservative clerics and six jurists, is authorized to disqualify any candidates for ideological reasons or if they consider them critics of the system.
Moussavi also called for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of the press and media, removal of bans on newspapers and a halt to the manipulation of the internet.
The foreign media have been banned for five months from directly covering the opposition and its protests, and the local press is also restricted in reporting about the opposition. Internet sites are also being blocked on demonstration days.
Moussavi also demanded implementation of the constitutional right of the people to hold peaceful political gatherings.
The Interior Ministry has so far denied all requests by the opposition for political gatherings and demonstrations.