Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned the opposition on Monday not to use anti-US rallies this week to stage new demonstrations.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who helped to quell protests after last June’s election, warned the opposition on Monday not to use anti-United States rallies this week to stage new demonstrations.
Two days ago moderate opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi appeared to urge his supporters to take to the streets on November 4, the 30th anniversary of the US embassy takeover in Tehran.
The authorities, seeking to avoid any repeat of the huge demonstrations that erupted after the disputed election, won by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, say security forces will confront any illegal gatherings.
The Guards called on the Iranian people to “exercise vigilance in regard to the likelihood of mischief and plots by the enemy’s agents and some unaware and misguided people on November 4”, the official Irna news agency reported.
“The Iranian nation will not allow any group to impose itself and use diversionary and false slogans on Wednesday,” it quoted a Guards’ statement as saying.
Anti-Western rallies usually take place outside the old US embassy to mark the day in 1979 when radical students scaled its walls and took 52 Americans hostage.
Some reformist websites have called on people to gather outside the Russian embassy instead, in an apparent protest at Moscow’s swift recognition of Ahmadinejad’s election victory.
One website, Mowjcamp, said boxes of sweets were being distributed in Tehran and the holy Shi’ite Muslim city of Qom with a message referring to Wednesday’s Iranian date: “We will see each other on 13th of Aban.”
“A crime to question the election”
Deputy police chief Ahmadreza Radan said: “Those who intend to hold illegal gatherings as well as those who encourage people ... to stage gatherings will have to answer for their actions.”
In September, opposition demonstrators clashed with government backers and police at annual pro-Palestinian rallies.
The June 12 election sparked Iran’s worst unrest since the Islamic revolution three decades ago and exposed deep divisions in the establishment.
But the Guards and an allied Islamic militia suppressed the protests and thousands were arrested. Many of them, including a number of former government figures, have been put on trial.
The authorities deny vote rigging, and have portrayed the unrest as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic state.
The opposition says more than 70 people were killed in the post-election violence. Officials say the death toll was half that and members of the security forces were among the victims.
Ahmadinejad has consolidated his position, winning Parliament’s backing for his government and economic reform plan. But Mousavi and his allies continue to voice defiance.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority who swiftly endorsed Ahmadinejad’s vote victory, last week said it was a crime to question the election.
A senior adviser to Khamenei said on Monday that people standing against the revolution and its leadership had “no status” before the nation and urged them to return to the embrace of the Islamic establishment, Isna news agency reported.
“Otherwise our nation ... will isolate them. So it would be be better for them to stop making plots,” said Yahya Rahim-Safavi, a former Guards commander-in-chief.
Washington cut diplomatic ties with Tehran during the hostage crisis in 1980. They are now at odds over Iran’s disputed nuclear work, which Tehran says is for peaceful power generation but the West suspects is aimed at developing weapons.—Reuters