Opposition leader Moussavi calls for protests
Published in “Die Welt” on November 2, 2009
Iranian opposition leader Moussavi has called on his supporters to take to the streets once again. This happens in the context of a significant event: This week marks the 30th anniversary of the occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran. The police wants to prevent unwanted demonstrations on this day by all means.
On Wednesday, on the 30th anniversary of the occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran risks to face new clashes between the police and oppositional protesters. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi last weekend indirectly urged his supporters to use the occasion of 4th November for protests by calling on them to take to the streets. In 1979, radical students occupied the US Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. The hostages were held 444 days; the USA broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980.
On his website kaleme.com, Moussavi announced that he will continue his struggle for a political change. Usually on 4th November, anti-Western demonstrators gather outside the former US Embassy in the Iranian capital.
Some reformist webistes instead had called for a gathering in front of the Russian Embassy, since Russia had speedily recognized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial victory in the presidential elections.
Security forces have in advance barred the opposition from holding demonstrations on this day. After Moussavi’s appeal had been released, the police immediately announced to confront any “illegal” gatherings. As reported by news agency Mehr, deputy police chief Ahmadreza Radan declared that his authority was obligated by law to prevent new offences of public order.
The threats by the police were confirmed by a statement of a member of the parliament who implied that protesters would commit a crime that in Iran can be punished by death penalty. “On this day, political groupings should behave in accordance with the national interests of the country”, warned Hasan Malek-Mohammadi, according to the official news agency IRNA.
As a gesture of detente, however, last weekend two prominent supporters of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi were released on bail. Journalist Hengameh Shahidi according to reformist websites had gone on hunger strike last week after being in detention for several months. She had to deposit a 90.000 dollar bail. Morteza Alviri, advisor to Mehdi Karroubi, according to newspaper reports was released eight weeks after his arrest.
After the reelection of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, Iran had seen the severest unrests after the Islamic Revolution three decades ago. Militias and the Revolutionary Guards put down the protests, thousands of people were arrested. Mousavi accuses the Government of electoral fraud. He was one of the candidates in the presidential election.