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Iranian Government Increases Pressure on Opposition

Iran's government continues to crack down on the country's election-protest movement, reportedly making further arrests among the ranks of university professors, journalists, and ordinary citizens.

Defeated reformist Iranian presidential candidate Hossein Mousavi is insisting he will not back down on his demand the country's disputed June 12 election be annulled.

According to his website, Kelameh, he says he will, "insist on the nation's constitutional right to protest against the election result and its aftermath". The website said later he told a group of sociologists that he is coming under government pressure to abandon his position.

He also criticized Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for siding with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad during the political crisis.

A government crackdown on Iranian opposition supporters also appears to be continuing unabated, with 70 university professors being detained after meeting Wednesday with Mr. Mousavi, according to his Kelameh website.

On Wednesday, eyewitnesses told VOA's Persian News Network Iranian riot police had forcibly dispersed hundreds of protesters after they began gathering near parliament.

Iran's official Press TV mocked an eyewitness account on CNN that complained of police brutality, asking if it had not been faked. The TV claimed the situation in Tehran had "returned to normal" and foreign media were distorting the situation.

Iran's Fars News Agency also reports Mr. Mousavi and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani met with members of parliament to discuss the current crisis and both had "shown a willingness to help resolve it."

Meanwhile, al Arabiya TV continues to talk of a split within Iran's leadership, pitting former president Rafsanjani against Ayatollah Khamenei.

Former Iranian president Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who was overthrown by a coup in 1981, says he thinks Iran's ruling military clique is difficult to dislodge.

He says the Guardians of the Revolution, a powerful economic and military clique now controls the reins of power in Iran, including much of the Iranian economy, the executive branch, the parliament, and much of the judiciary branch, too. He also argues that he doubts former president Rafsanjani has the power to go against the Guardians to unseat Ayatollah Khamenei.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bani Sadr thinks the government crackdown on opposition rallies is unlikely to stop demonstrators.

He says that during the 1979 revolution the demonstrations took place every 40 days. Now, he notes, they are taking place every day. They begin at night, he says, because the police cannot do much to stop them. During the day, he says, the police cannot really control them, either, because demonstrators are spreading out all over Tehran.

Meanwhile, according to Iranian state TV Mr. Ahmedinejad, the winner of the disputed June 12 election, has slammed U.S. President Barack Obama for criticizing the violence being used against Iranian protesters. He said Mr. Obama "has been trapped into following the same path as former president George W. Bush," despite the fact that he "advocates change."

Video of the protests obtained by VOA's Persian News Network can be found on YouTube.
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