TEHRAN (AFP) – The Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday warned opposition leaders not to stage a rally after the anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a top official said the planned event aimed to sow division.
Iran’s judiciary chief said opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were walking free only because their arrest after the disputed June 2009 presidential poll would have made them appear to be “saints.”
Their plan to stage a rally next Monday was a ploy by Iran’s “enemy,” as happens each at around the time of the revolution’s anniversary, which falls on February 11, said Guards commander Hossein Hamedani.
“The seditionists (opposition leaders) are nothing but a dead corpse and we will strongly confront any of their movements,” Hamedani told the state news agency IRNA.
“We definitely consider them as anti-revolutionary and spies, and we will strongly confront them,” he said of protesters against the election results.
The warning from Hamedani, whose division was in charge of Tehran’s security during the unrest after the election, comes after Mousavi and Karroubi sought permission to hold a rally in support of Arab uprisings.
But critics have termed the rally a ploy to stage fresh protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, of the kind unseen on Tehran streets since last year’s Islamic revolution anniversary.
Apart from planning the rally, Mousavi and Karroubi, once seen as pillars of Iran’s Islamic regime, also launched a scathing attack on the regime, saying the nation was being ruled by “hooligans”.
In a joint statement posted on their respective websites on Tuesday, they said the Islamic republic has been “most hurt” by the “anti-religion and oppressive behaviour of the regime itself.”
They called for “an end to the rule of hooligans and to instil meritocracy.”
But the country’s prosecutor general, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, said the aim of the two leaders in trying to organise such a rally was to divide the Iranian people.
“This is a political act. These people have separated their path from that of the people and they want to divide the people of Iran,” Mohseni Ejeie said, quoted by ILNA news agency.
Mohseni Ejeie said if the two leaders want to support the Arab uprisings they should join a government-endorsed rally on Friday marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution.
“If anybody wants to side with the wishes of the peoples of Egypt and Tunisia, they should come along with the establishment and people on 22 Bahman (February 11) and take part in the rally,” Mohseni Ejeie said.
Iranian officials have expressed support for Egyptian protesters, with the nation’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for the establishment of an Islamic regime in the Arab world’s most populous nation.
Iran’s judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, meanwhile, said the fate of the two opposition leaders was in the hands of Khamenei.
“In the case of sedition leaders … taking a decision is not only up to me, but … on the vali e-faqhi (supreme leader) and it is beyond the judiciary’s decisions,” he said.
“If we had confronted the heads of sedition, they would have become saints. The arrest of sedition leaders is not a special case but we follow the expediency of the system and we will take action at the right time.”
Khamenei, who has the final say on all national issues, has regularly attacked Mousavi and Karroubi and even accused them of being supported by Iran’s Western foes.
Most of the top aides of Mousavi and Karroubi have been arrested in the aftermath of the election, with many sentenced to harsh jail terms. The two themselves have reportedly been intimidated by hardliners on several occasions.
The election unrest which erupted in 2009 sparked one of the worst crises in the Islamic republic’s history, with dozens killed in clashes between protesters and security forces, hundreds wounded and thousands detained.
Mousavi and Karroubi, who contested the poll against Ahmadinejad, maintain the hardliner was re-elected by massive fraud.