Iran opposition says Monday anti-government rally will go ahead

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Tehran, Feb.14 (ANI): Iran's opposition leaders have said that their planned anti-government march on Monday will go ahead, as they see it as an expression of their solidarity with the Egyptian people.

"There are no plans to cancel it," Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, senior political adviser to the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, said in a statement published Sunday on opposition Web sites.

The opposition is hoping to capitalize on the contradiction between Iran's embrace of democracy movements abroad.

"If they are not going to allow their own people to protest, it goes against everything they are saying, and all they are doing to welcome the protests in Egypt is fake," the New York Times quoted another opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi, as saying in an interview last week.

Iran's interior ministry said that the opposition is fully aware of the illegal nature of their request to hold the anti-government march.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps was more blunt.

Its senior commander Hossein Hamadani said: "The conspirators are nothing but corpses.Any incitement will be dealt with severely."

The United States has called on the Government of Iran to allow the Iranian people the universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate.

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has welcomed the emergence of a "new Middle East", but has vowed to quash planned opposition protests in his country.

Tehran has already imposed restrictions on the communications and movements of Karroubi and detained at least 30 journalists, student activists and family members of figures close to the opposition leadership, according to opposition web sites.

There was also a vigilante attack on a senior reformist figure.

Iran's democracy movement has been shaped and battered by recent experiences. After the disputed election of June 2009, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets in protest, deploying their own social networks in what was then called "the Twitter revolution." By the end of the year, a government crackdown characterized by killings and mass arrests had largely curtailed the movement's public actions.

With those memories still fresh, opposition supporters are caught between fear and hopelessness on one hand, and the urge to seize what feels like a historic opportunity on the other. (ANI)

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