REUTERS: Iranian police warn opposition over November 4 rallies

Nov 4, 20090 comments

By Parisa Hafezi TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian police warned the opposition on Tuesday to avoid using the 30th anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover in Tehran to revive protests against the clerical establishment, the official IRNA news agency reported. Opposition leaders Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi have urged their supporters to take to the streets on November 4, when rallies mark the seizure of the U.S. embassy after Iran‘s 1979 Islamic revolution by radical students who took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. To prevent a repeat of the mass street protests that erupted after Iran‘s disputed presidential election in June, officials said security forces would confront any “illegal” gatherings. “We are announcing that only anti-American rallies in front of the former American embassy in Tehran are legal. Other gatherings or rallies on Wednesday are illegal and will be strongly confronted by the police,” Tehran police said in a statement, IRNA reported. Anti-U.S. rallies will take place outside the former embassy, now called the “den of espionage” in Iran. Some reformist websites have called on people to gather outside the Russian embassy instead, in an apparent protest at Moscow’s recognition of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election on June 12. A reformist website said Karoubi would attend the rally outside the former U.S. embassy. The vote, which moderate defeated candidates Mousavi and Karoubi say was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad’s re-election, sparked Iran‘s worst unrest in the past three decades and exposed deep divisions among the ruling elite. Iran‘s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has accused the United States and its European allies of trying to overthrow the clerical establishment by fomenting post-election unrest. “Americans should not lay hope on some post-election events in Iran because our system is more well-rooted than they think it is,” Khamenei told a group of students, state radio reported. “HIDDEN DAGGER” Ultimate authority in Iran lies not with Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, but with Khamenei. He again ruled out a resumption of ties until Washington “abandons its arrogant behavior” toward Iran. “Every time they (U.S.) smile at the Iranian officials it comes with a dagger hidden behind them. They have not stopped intimidating Iran,” said Khamenei. “Tactical smiles and cheerful expressions of Americans would only deceive children and not the officials of the great Iranian nation.” U.S. President Barack Obama has said he is ready to deal directly with Iran, something his predecessor largely rejected. Washington cut diplomatic ties with Tehran shortly after the 1979 revolution. Tehran and Washington are also at odds over Iran‘s nuclear program, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs. Tehran says it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity. The Iranian authorities say the June election was “the healthiest” since 1979 and Khamenei said last week it was a crime to question the outcome. Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards and allied Islamic Basij militia, who suppressed the post-election protests, called on Iranians to “exercise vigilance in regard to the likelihood of mischief and plots by the enemy’s agents,” on November 4, IRNA said. A senior police official said chanting slogans “unrelated to the anti-American rally” was also banned, IRNA reported. Thousands were arrested during the post-election unrest and more than 100, including former senior officials, lawyers and activists are still in jail. The opposition says more than 70 people were killed in the unrest. The official death toll is 36. Mousavi’s wife called on authorities to release women jailed after the election, the reformist Kaleme website reported. “We demand immediate and unconditional release of all (political) prisoners, particularly those women who have been arrested,” Zahra Rahnavard was quoted as saying. Opposition demonstrators clashed with government supporters and police at annual pro-Palestinian rallies in September. (Additional reporting by Hashem Kalantari, Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Janet Lawrence) Source: