Iranian opposition says if the Islamic Republic refuses to issue them a permit for a pro-Arab rally, it will only be proving its fear of popular movements.
Ardeshir Amirarjmand, an aide to MirHosein Mousavi, told Jaras website that the request for demonstrations “is a test for those who keep saying the Green Movement is dead.”
Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, Iran’s two main opposition leaders, have requested a government permit to stage demonstrations on February 14 in support of the recent Arab uprisings.
The request has put the Islamic Republic authorities in a bind. While they have declared their support for the people’s movements in Egypt and Tunisia, they have repeatedly denied the Iranian opposition the right to stage demonstrations in the past year.
On June 15, 2009, many Iranians took to the street to challenge the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Several accounts put the number of demonstrators at more than a million people. Iran’s security forces reacted violently, with the bloodiest attacks coming on Ashura Day in December of 2009. At that point, the opposition stopped rallying people in order to prevent more bloodshed.
Despite a continued crackdown on protesters over the past year, through arrests and harsh sentencing, the Islamic Republic establishment has repeatedly maintained that the Green Movement (as the protest movement has come to be known) is dead.
Article 27 of the Islamic Republic constitution gives people the right to hold gatherings and stage peaceful demonstrations so long as they are not “in violation Islamic principles.”
Amirarjmand told Jaras that if the Islamic Republic refuses to grant its own opposition the right to demonstrate, then it is in no position to express support for popular protests in other countries.
“Tyrants of our country need to realize that the right to determine one’s fate is a universal right and there is no difference between Iran, Egypt and Tunisia,” Mousavi’s advisor added.
The Iranian government has so far made no response to Mousavi and Karroubi’s request for a rally permit; however, today the state-backed daily Keyhan described the opposition’s request as a “move to alleviate the misfortunes of Israel and the U.S.”