Iran General NewsPowerful Iran cleric boosts pressure on regime

Powerful Iran cleric boosts pressure on regime

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AFP: Opposition sympathiser and powerful cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has ratcheted up the pressure on the Iranian regime ahead of the first anniversary of the disputed presidential election.

TEHRAN (AFP) — Opposition sympathiser and powerful cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has ratcheted up the pressure on the Iranian regime ahead of the first anniversary of the disputed presidential election.

The former president’s website has again posted scathing pro-opposition remarks he made last year that criticised both the regime and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.

The reappearance of Rafsanjani’s comments comes just days before the June 12 anniversary of the presidential poll that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power and sparked one of the worst internal crises in the Islamic republic’s history.

Iran was rocked by widespread and deadly street unrest immediately after Ahmadinejad’s re-election — a result his opponents said had been rigged.

Thousands of people were jailed amid a crackdown aimed at stifling the opposition protests. The authorities said 36 people were killed in the weeks after the vote, but the opposition said that at least 72 died.

Now Rafsanjani’s website has again reproduced the text of his year-old letter to Khamenei in which he warned of social upheaval if the leader remained silent about a remark Ahmadinejad made before the election.

In a television debate just days before the poll, Ahmadinejad accused Rafsanjani’s family of corruption, prompting the cleric to send his letter of complaint to the supreme leader.

“Even if I keep quiet, part of the people, groups and parties will undoubtedly not bear this situation any more and set off social upheavals, examples of which can be seen in street rallies and universities,” Rafsanjani wrote.

Addressing Khamenei in such a manner is unheard of in Iran where the supreme leader is the ultimate authority and has the final say on all strategic issues.

Reposting the letter is seen as an indication ahead of the anniversary that Rafsanjani’s stance remains as critical as ever of the regime’s handling of the post-election unrest last year.

The Rafsanjani website also repeated remarks he made during a Friday prayer sermon last July 17 as the post-election unrest raged, when he openly said that the election result had broken the trust of Iranians.

“What should we do?” Rafsanjani asked rhetorically in the sermon. “Our key issue is to return the trust which the people had and now to some extent is broken.

“It is not necessary that in this situation people be jailed. Let them join their families. We should not allow enemies to rebuke and ridicule us because of detentions. We should tolerate each other,” he said.

Rafsanjani is a sympathiser of the opposition, especially Mir Hossein Mousavi who was runner-up in the presidential election.

In recent days opposition leaders Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and another former president, Mohammad Khatami, have reiterated calls for a free election and demonstrations on June 12 to mark the poll’s first anniversary.

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