By NAZILA FATHI
February 2, 2010
, the Iranian opposition leader, made some of his harshest remarks against ’s rulers on Tuesday in an interview published on his Web site, calling their behavior dictatorial and terrifying.
The remarks by Mr. Moussavi, whom supporters regard as the real winner of Iran’s contested presidential elections last June, appeared to be part of a broader opposition effort to counter an intensified crackdown by the government ahead of the Feb. 11 anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when many expect new street protests to erupt.
Mr. Moussavi’s remarks came as the government in Tehran announced that nine imprisoned antigovernment protesters would soon be hanged. Two were hanged last week.
In the interview, Mr. Moussavi said the executions were aimed at “terrifying people” into submission.
“The majority of people believed in the beginning of the revolution that the roots of dictatorship and despotism were abolished,” he said. “I was one of them but now I don’t have the same beliefs. You can still find the elements and roots that lead to dictatorship.”
Mr. Moussavi served as a prime minister in the first eight years after the revolution. He and another opposition leader, , ran against President in June. The government abruptly declared Mr. Ahmadinejad the winner by a lopsided margin even in areas that had voted heavily for the other candidates, leading to widespread accusations of fraud.
Those accusations led to widespread antigovernment protests, a brutal repression and the worst political crisis in Iran since the revolution.
Mr. Moussavi said that he did not believe the revolution had achieved its goals. “People want justice and freedom today.”
“We have given up our hope in the judiciary,” he said.
Still, Mr. Moussavi tempered his remarks by saying that the Constitution written after the 1979 revolution should remain the centerpiece of the opposition movement. “We need to move within an order to avoid violations that could impose further costs on people,” he said.
A former senior official close to the opposition said Mr. Moussavi “has taken his attacks against the regime one step further up.”
“People’s demands on the streets were definitely much more than what the opposition leaders were calling for. Now, with his new remarks Mr. Moussavi is reflecting what is closer to what people want,” said the former official in a telephone interview. He spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution inside Iran.
In his previous statement issued after a bloody confrontation on Dec. 27, Mr. Moussavi had outlined five demands to defuse the crisis, including the release of political prisoners and freedom of the press. However, he did not point explicitly to the flaws of the June 12 election and renew his demand for new elections, raising speculation that he was seeking a compromise with the establishment. With his latest remarks, Mr. Moussavi appears to have hardened.
“He stated the minimum demands of the movement a month ago but because he got no response he is taking the struggle to a new stage,” said the former official.
The official announcement of pending executions involved the on Dec. 27, during which at least 10 other protesters were killed.
The two men hanged last week had been linked by prosecutors to an opposition royalist group in exile and to the recent protests. Both men were arrested in April, two months before the elections.
“The two men executed and another 9, who will soon be executed, were definitely arrested in recent riots and each was linked with counter-revolutionary movements,” deputy judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi told a meeting in the holy city of Qum, ISNA news agency reported.
“They had participated in riots with the aim of creating disunity and toppling the system.”