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Iran: Reformist cleric Montazeri aviods Shiite celebration in support of political detainees

Report by Radio Zamaneh

Ayatollah Montazeri

The office of reformist cleric, Ayatollah Montazeri announced that the senior Shiite cleric, in sympathy with the families of the post-election detainees, will not celebrate the "Eid" for the birthday of the 8th Imam of Shiites this year.

Over four thousand people were arrested in the post-election protests against the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, many of which are university students, human rights and political activists as well as journalists.

In the graduation ceremony of eight seminarians today, Ayatolllah Montazeri said: "Although this is a great day and it is the birthday of Imam Reza, but because many of our learned who are also pious and have suffered for the sake of this Revolution, are now in prison for baseless accusations, in order to express our sympathies for the families of these loved ones, we will not celebrate this day."

He added: "At the time of the Shah (Iran's last monarch) because many were under oppression, Imam Khomeini declared that the Eid for mid-Shaaban will not be celebrated."

Ayatollah Montazeri was one of the closest clerics to Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 Revolution which toppled the regime of Mohammad Reza Shah. Although he was set to succeed Ayatollah Khomeini as the supreme leader, Ayatollah Montazeri was sidelined for his criticism of the adopted policies of the Islamic Republic. Since then he has become the most vocal critic of the regime and even apologized to the Iranian people for his input in the constitution of the Islamic Republic.

In the post-election events, Ayatollah Montazeri has repeatedly spoken out for the detained election protesters.

According to evidence represented by Mehdi Karroubi and other reformists, a number of post-election detainees have been tortured and abused while in custody. Iran's national television network also confirmed in September that detainees in Kahrizak detention centre were tortured.

Some of the families of the detainees and young supporters of opposition leaders MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have announced that in protest to the continued arrest of recent protesters, they will go on a hunger strike starting today.

... Payvand News - 10/31/09 ... --

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