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No let-up in protests against Ahmadinejad, opposition leader says

Iran Materials 19 March 2010 10:54 (UTC +04:00)
An Iranian opposition leader called for protests against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the next Persian year, opposition websites said Friday.
No let-up in protests against Ahmadinejad, opposition leader says

An Iranian opposition leader called for protests against the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the next Persian year, opposition websites said Friday, DPA reported.

"The new year is the year of perseverance and resistance," Mir-Hossein Moussavi, the leader of the opposition Green Movement, said in a statement to mark the Persian New Year, which starts, according to the solar calendar, on Saturday night.

"We have no right to abandon the people's legitimate demands as that would be betrayal," the former premier said in a message on his website.

Moussavi, together with former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, make up the opposition leadership quartet.

All four have accused the government of fraud in June's presidential polls and refused to acknowledge Ahmadinejad's re-election.

Moussavi's Green Movement is widely regarded as the country's main opposition group and its supporters as the main initiators of street protests against the president, which began soon after the election.

"The presidential election could have turned into a festival [of reforms] and the start of a new era of freedom and justice," Moussavi said.

He said he regretted that outrage over alleged electoral fraud led instead to street protests in which scores of demonstrators were killed and thousands arrested.

More than a hundred are still in jail, some of them serving heavy sentences on charges of propaganda against the Islamic establishment.

At least 10 have reportedly been sentenced to death and are currently going through the appeals court.

Those on death row have been convicted of plotting against the establishment and committing "moharebeh," or acting against God.

Two members of monarchist groups were hanged in January for conspiring to topple Iran's Islamic establishment.

"If the problem had been political, then it should have been solved politically," Moussavi said. "The Iranian people did definitely not deserve the reply the government gave to their legitimate demands."

"We should not be afraid of any move leading to more freedom but be indeed afraid of ignoring people's demands in this regard," he said.

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