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Iranian Opposition Leaders Reported to Call for More Protests on February 11


Iran's top opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi met Saturday, calling for more protests on the Feb. 11th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and condemning the execution Thursday of two young opponents of the regime. Meanwhile, Iran's judiciary says that 16 more opposition protesters have been put on trial, and 37 others are set to be tried.

Opposition websites showed photos of Mousavi and Karoubi meeting Saturday, saying both men condemned the Thursday execution of two young opponents of the government. They also urged the Iranian people to attend protest rallies on February 11.

Both leaders noted that the executed men "were arrested months before the June 12 election and their cases had nothing to do with post-election events." "Such actions," they said, "appear meant only to scare people and discourage them from attending the February 11 rally."

Meanwhile, Iran's official Press TV reported that the judiciary put 16 more opposition protesters on trial, saying that five have been accused of being "enemies of God," a charge which carries the death penalty. It said 37 others, some of whom it claims were trained abroad, will be put on trial soon.

Iranian state TV also showed Judge Abul Qasim Salavati looking stern, seated behind the magistrate's podium in Tehran's revolutionary court as a young man, accused of being a "rioter," faced him, back to the camera.

The young man admits to the judge that he participated in the December 27 Ashoura protests.

Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook website noted that Mousavi and Karoubi stressed that the "majority of the Iranian people want to regain their rights," and that the only way to resolve the current crisis is to "release all political prisoners, guarantee freedom of the press, allow political parties to operate freely and hold free elections."

Iran analyst Ali Nourizadeh of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London says that recent media reports that Mehdi Karoubi had recognized the government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were dispelled by his latest meeting with Mr. Mousavi.

"There were some doubts after Mr. Karroubi was misquoted by the Fars News Agency and comments on Karoubi changing his position," he said. "But, [Saturday's] meeting between Karoubi and Mousavi and their statement showed that they remain loyal to the Green Movement and they have called upon the people to participate in the Feb. 11th demonstration…."

Nourizadeh also thinks that the executions Thursday of Arash Rahmanipour and Mohammed Reza Ali Zamani for being "enemies of God," will not scare opposition protesters from taking to the streets again on February 11 to demonstrate.

"[Friday], the father of Arash, one of the boys who was executed, talked to Radio Farda, showing that the people are stubborn and they are not going to change," said Naourzadeh. "Executing more people will bring the relation between the people and the regime to an end. There may be still some hopes that the regime may take reconciliatory measures, but if they continue executing people there won't be any reconciliation at all."

Meanwhile, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was shown on state TV visiting the graves of martyrs of Iran's 1979 Revolution, as well as the tomb of Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The government has called for celebrations to mark the 31st anniversary of the revolution from Feb. 1 to 11.

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