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On Election Anniversary, Iran Opposition Hints At Change Of Tactics

Source: RFE/RL

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi today hinted at a change of tactics and vowed to continue the fight against the country's hard-line government on the anniversary of last year's bitterly disputed presidential election.

over a million rallied in central Tehran in June 2009 to protest the election results

He said Iran's opposition Green Movement would be kept alive despite a huge security clampdown that squashed the possibility of mass demonstrations that had been planned to mark the occasion.

Tehran and other Iranian cities were reported quiet amid a heavy security presence aimed at deterring demonstrators from gathering.

Tehran's governor general, Morteza Tamadon, earlier issued the latest in a series of official warnings against any attempted gatherings. "Any illegal move to disrupt public order and trouble people will not be tolerated and will be dealt with," the state news agency, IRNA, quoted him as saying on June 11.

The warning came a day after Musavi and his fellow opposition leader, Mehdi Karrubi, had withdrawn their calls for mass demonstrations today, saying they did not want to put their supporters' lives at risk.

A massive security operation to prevent a mass gathering had been predicted in advance, with security forces reported to be present on the streets in intimidating numbers for the past several weeks. Political activists had also reported receiving threatening phone calls from state security agents warning against fresh protests on the anniversary.

Despite the intimidation, opposition supporters were reported to have chanted "Allah-u Akbar" from rooftops in several areas of Tehran on the evening of June 11. The chant was adopted as an opposition slogan since last June's poll, which reformists' say was stolen by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad through mass ballot fraud.

'Peaceful Methods'

Iran's Islamic regime launched a brutal crackdown involving mass arrests, show trials, lengthy prison sentences, and executions to suppress mass demonstrations that followed the election. At least 80 people were killed in the country's worst unrest since the 1979 revolution. 

However, in a fresh statement issued late on June 11 night, Musavi suggested a change of opposition tactics to enable dissent to continue. Vowing to "continue our peaceful methods," he said that while the opposition "may put off its presence in one arena," it would pursue other avenues.

Speaking to Karrubi's website, Sahamnews, Musavi said Iran's rulers had turned away from the goals of the revolution and the constitution and accused them of "shutting peoples' mouths, banning the media, holding elections as we saw last year, and filling the prisons" with their opponents. But he said the opposition movement must stay "alive as [the rulers] will be afraid of this very thing."

Rather than demonstrations, he said the opposition must use different methods to spread its message, including "real and virtual social networks." "We expand films shot on cell phones...are our best instruments. They act like an army," he said.

In a separate statement, Karrubi renewed his call for free elections, saying "what counts is the vote of the people."

He said election results were currently being decided by the electoral watchdog, the Guardians Council, which is loyal to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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