'I'll die for the cause,' Mousavi tells Iran

Iran's opposition leader today declared he was ready to die in defence of the right to hold peaceful protests against the government.

Mir Hossein Mousavi's spoke out after the fresh unrest in the aftermath of the disputed June presidential election. At least eight people died during anti-government protests on Sunday, including his nephew.

Iran's state prosecutor yesterday warned opposition leaders could be put on trial for disobeying god if they do not denounce this week's anti-government protests.

Iranian hard-liners have called for the execution of Mr Mousavi and other opposition figures, while a previously unknown group claimed in an online posting that suicide squads were ready to assassinate opposition leaders if the judiciary fails to punish them within a week.

In one of his strongest statements to date, Mr Mousavi today said he was "ready for martyrdom" and lashed out at the violent crackdown the authorities are waging against the opposition.

He said the government was making more mistakes by resorting to violence and killings, and that it must accept the people's rights to hold peaceful demonstrations.

"I explicitly and clearly state that an order to execute, murder and imprison (opposition leaders) ... won't resolve the problem," Mr Mousavi said. "I'm not afraid to be one of the martyrs people have offered in the struggle for their just demands."

Mr Mousavi also denounced hard-liners who he said preached violence from state-funded podiums in the name of Islam.

"Encouraging the killing of people ... is a tragedy carried out by specific individuals and the state TV," he said, adding that efforts to silence the opposition "through arrests, violence and threats," would not succeed.

Iran's internal turmoil has grown increasingly bitter. The confrontation between clerical rulers and their opponents returned to the streets in recent weeks, after a harsh crackdown immediately following the June 12 balloting all but crushed the opposition movement.

One of those killed in clashes between security forces and opposition protesters on Sunday, when Shiite Muslims marked the sacred day of Ashoura, was Mr Mousavi's nephew, Ali Mousavi.

He was buried on Wednesday in a hastily organised ceremony that was attended by the opposition leader and other family members. Authorities had taken the body from the hospital earlier in the week in what was seen as an attempt to prevent the funeral from turning into another pro-opposition protest.

Sunday's unrest was followed by two days of pro-government protests on Wednesday and Thursday in which crowds chanted calls for the execution of Mr Mousavi, and another opposition figure, Mahdi Karroubi.

Both were losing candidates in the June election, in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. The opposition argues the election was rigged and that Ahmadinejad won by fraud.

Some government supporters at the two days of rallies wore white funeral shrouds to symbolise a willingness to die in defense of Iran's clerical rulers. Several hundred turned out for a demonstration yesterday in southern Tehran outside the offices of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there