Iran General NewsIranian opposition leaders vow defiance

Iranian opposition leaders vow defiance

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ImageAP: Iran's opposition leaders vowed Saturday to continue challenging the ruling system despite a harsh crackdown by security forces that killed dozens of protesters in post-election turmoil. The Associated Press

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

ImageTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's opposition leaders vowed Saturday to continue challenging the ruling system despite a harsh crackdown by security forces that killed dozens of protesters in post-election turmoil.

The statements Saturday from opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and former President Mohammad Khatami were seen as attempts to reinvigorate the anti-government Green Path of Hope movement just days ahead of an annual state-sponsored Iranian rally against the United States.

Mousavi suggested that his supporters may take to the streets on Wednesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by militant students. Hard-liners have already called on security forces to take tough action against any opposition rally that day.

Thousands of people were arrested in the heavy crackdown this summer that crushed mass protests in support of Mousavi, who claims the June 12 disputed presidential election was stolen through massive vote fraud. It was the country's worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The opposition says at least 72 protesters were killed, while the government puts the number of confirmed dead at 30.

On Saturday, a semi-official news agency reported that Morteza Alviri, a top aide to another opposition leader, Mahdi Karroubi, had been released from jail.

The semi-official Mehr news agency did not provide further details. Alviri, a former vice president, had been detained in early September after security forces raided his home in Tehran.

In the statement posted on his Web site Saturday, a defiant Mousavi promised his supporters that hard-liners in the ruling system will be defeated, but did not say how.

"The Green Path is a rational direction … because it shows that we will remain focused steadfastly on our demands until the end," Mousavi said.

"Sooner or later — and hopefully very soon — opponents of the people will leave the scene," Mousavi said.

Former popular president Mohammad Khatami, in a separate appearance before students on Saturday, vowed that reformists will continue to challenge hard-liners.

"A crisis has taken place … if we, who believe the basis of the ruling system, can't speak, others who don't believe in it will take action," Khatami told the group of students.

"We believe there are deviations (in the ruling system) that need to be reformed … we will remain critics of the current power," Khatami said.

The post-election bloody crackdown and a mass trial of pro-reform figures, which has so far produced three death sentences, quelled the weeks of street protests that followed the vote.

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