Opposition head Mousavi: Iran in ‘serious crisis’

Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said Iran was in “serious crisis” and called for the immediate release of supporters arrested after the June presidential vote, his website reported on Friday.

“Arresting or killing Mousavi, [another opposition leader Mehdi] Karoubi … will not calm the situation,” Mousavi said in a statement published by his Kaleme website.

“I am not afraid to die for people’s demands … Iran is in serious crisis … Harsh remarks … will create internal uprising … the election law should be changed … political prisoners should be freed,” his statement said.

Anti-government protests erupted in Iran after its disputed June 12 presidential election, which secured President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

The continuing protests have plunged Iran into its worst internal crisis in the Islamic Republic’s 30-year history.

Opposition leaders say the presidential vote was rigged. The government denies this.

The hardline authorities have intensified their crackdown on the opposition since Sunday, when eight people — including a nephew of Mousavi — were killed in fiery protests on the day of the Shi’ite Muslim ritual of Ashura.

Hardline leaders have accused opposition leaders of fomenting unrest and called for them to be punished.

A representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that opposition leaders were “enemies of God” who should be executed under the country’s sharia, Islamic law.

Authorities have arrested at least 20 pro-reform figures, including three senior advisers to Mousavi, his brother-in-law and a sister of Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.

Iran’s police chief has warned Mousavi’s supporters they will face harsh treatment unless they halt their “illegal” rallies. – Reuters

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