AFP: Opposition leaders called on Iran's top clerics on Saturday to intervene to prevent "oppression" by the authorities, as a detained protester was reportedly killed in custody.
TEHRAN (AFP) — Opposition leaders called on Iran's top clerics on Saturday to intervene to prevent "oppression" by the authorities, as a detained protester was reportedly killed in custody.
One opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi, said the beatings suffered by women protesters in the aftermath of Iran's disputed election was worse than what the "Zionist aggressors did while confronting (Palestinian) women."
"We want you, the top clerics, to remind the authorities of the harmful outcome of not abiding by the law and prevent them from spreading oppression in the Islamic republic," said a joint statement by Mir Hossein Mousavi, Karroubi and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami.
The three repeated their call for the release of those detained in a crackdown on protests against the results of the June 12 presidential vote, which Mousavi says was rigged to ensure the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The statement was posted on Mousavi's Ghalamnews website and also on the website of Karroubi's political party, Etemad Melli.
They accused the regime of "savagery" and said its "interrogation methods are a reminder of the dark era of the Shah" Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"What can justify repeated torture of those who live under the flag of Islam? How can one claim the system to be forgiving and follow Mohammed's religion when there is silence in the face of all this violence and savagery?"
Mousavi and Karroubi, who ran against Ahmadinejad in the June poll, have rejected the legitimacy of his new government and called for a re-run of the election.
Ahmadinejad's re-election saw mass street protests in Tehran that shook the pillars of the Islamic republic.
Iranian official reports say at least 20 people died and more than 1,000 were arrested in protests. Dozens of reformist leaders, journalists and human rights activists have also been jailed in the wake of the disputed election.
On Saturday, one of those detained, 25-year-old Mohsen Ruholamini, was reported to have died in custody.
"Mohsen Ruholamini, arrested in July 9 gatherings … was killed," reformist Etemad newspaper said without elaborating on the cause of death.
The Etemad Melli newspaper meanwhile said Ruholamini's family "was informed of their son's martyrdom three nights ago and was asked to turn up for the body to be handed over."
Reports said the young man's father Abdolhossein Ruholamini was a top advisor to the campaign of another defeated candidate, Mohsen Rezai, the conservative former head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into Tehran streets to protest their "stolen votes" before a crackdown by security forces following an order by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who on June 19 called for an end to rallies and expressed his backing for Ahmadinejad.
Protests thereafter continued on a much smaller scale, although thousands took to the streets on July 9 on the anniversary of a bloody student uprising in 1999.
In an open letter to Iran's intelligence minister on Saturday, Karroubi accused officials of "hiding the real number of those killed in recent events" and of mistreating the detainees.
"You can at least hand their bodies over to their families," said the former parliament speaker in the letter carried by Etemad Melli.
He also said the fate of women protestors was worse. "We have all witnessed how women were attacked with clubs and beaten and thrown in the gutters," Karroubi wrote.
"This is more painful in comparison to crimes committed by the Zionists against the oppressed people of Palestine because based on what we see on television, the Zionist aggressors have some reservations when it comes to confronting women."