At least 10 leaders of two Iranian reformist groups who backed defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi have been arrested after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in a deeply-disputed vote sparked riots across Tehran.
The official IRNA news agency reported that two of those arrested were involved in orchestrating mass protests across the Iranian capital on Saturday that was unleashed after the results of the disputed election were known.
The demonstrations over incumbent hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in a vote his opponents say was rigged led to rioting on a scale unseen in Iran for nearly a decade.
“At least 10 members of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organisation were arrested yesterday,” said Rajab Ali Mazroei, a member of the front.The groups had given their staunch backing to Mr Mousavi in Friday’s disputed poll which saw the former prime minister win just 34 per cent of the vote to 63 per cent for Mr Ahmadinejad.
Several of those arrested held senior government positions under two-time former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, who served from 1997 to 2005.
Among them were Behzad Nabavi, a former deputy parliament speaker, Mohsen Mirdamadi who headed the IIPF and parliament’s foreign policy commission under Khatami, and Khatami’s government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh.
Other officials arrested were Mostafa Tajzadeh, Mohsen Aminzadeh, Zoherh Aghajari, Saeed Shariati and Zahra Mojaradi.
IRNA said Mr Tajzadeh and Mr Aminzadeh were involved in orchestrating Saturday’s protests.
Mr Mazroei said that Mr Khatami’s younger brother Mohammad Reza Khatami was also possibly among those arrested.
“I had a meeting with Khatami this morning but he did not show up and I can not reach him on the phone. He is probably among the arrested,” Mazroei said.
The Islamic Iran Participation Front was founded in 1998, a year after Khatami was elected. It won more than 100 seats in the 290-member parliament in the 2000 election.
Whether the elections were rigged or not at this stage is arguably a moot point – the damage to Ahmadinejad has been done anyway, because it is clear that a very large and vocal swathe of the Iranian electorate despise both him and the Mullahs.
The key to the liberation of Iran is its younger citizens – they must be enabled. But they can’t act alone against this brutal dual regime – The US and the West has a perfect opportunity to support them after witnessing this public litmus test of sentiment against the powers that be. However, with Obama breathlessly cosying up with Muslim regimes everywhere, this is an opportunity that will almost certainly be squandered.
Even so, something has changed in Iran that will today be sending a slight shiver down the spine of the Police State apparatchiks and the Mullahcracy.
[Main story: The Times]
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