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Opposition leader slams Iran govt over deadly Ashura

Karroubi message marks anniversary of deadly demonstrations

Opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi lashed out at the Iranian government on Tuesday in a message marking the first anniversary of deadly anti-government demonstrations on the Shiite mourning day of Ashura.

Ashura, which fell on December 27 last year, marked one of the bloodiest showdowns between protesters against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and security forces, with eight people killed and hundreds arrested.

"We have not done anything to be ashamed of. You call us seditionists (but) those who committed crimes and shamed the Islamic republic were disgraced," Karroubi said in a video message posted on his Sahamnews website and YouTube.

"God will disgrace those who killed people on the streets on Ashura, violated people's rights, executed people's kids and jailed the ones who testified how they had thrown people off a bridge and run over them."

"Our entire argument is over engineering the election," he said, referring to Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election, which Karroubi and other opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi charged was the result of massive fraud.

A young woman, Layla Tavasoli, has been jailed for two years over giving the BBC an eyewitness account of a police car running over a protester on Ashura after videos of the incident appeared on YouTube, opposition websites said.

The opposition has not called for fresh protests this year and unlike last year there is no visible police deployment in the streets and no official warning against demonstrations.

The authorities used the Ashura incidents to step up their crackdown on the opposition, with hardliners accusing the protesters of seeking to topple the Islamic regime and desecrating the Shiite mourning festival.

Several anti-government protesters have been sentenced to death on charges of "Moharebeh," or waging war against God.

Scores of government critics, including human rights activists and journalists, as well as protesters, have also been sentenced to heavy jail terms.

On January 28, Iran executed Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani and Arash Rahmani-Pour, two members of a monarchist group, whose exact timing of arrest is unclear but who were put on trial along with several other post-election protesters.

God will disgrace those who killed people on the streets on Ashura, violated people's rights, executed people's kids and jailed the ones who testified how they had thrown people off a bridge and run over them

Mehdi Karroubi