Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose re-election last month spurred massive protests, plans a televised speech Tuesday night to discuss domestic and foreign issues.
Iran’s Fars news agency said the speech will be carried on one of the state-run television networks. The speech will follow a call from Iran’s three top reformist leaders for an end to the “security atmosphere” in the country, referring to what they say is the government’s heavy-handed response to those protesting the results of last month’s presidential election. “The wave of useless arrests must stop immediately, and those arrested previously and who have not committed any crimes must be freed immediately, and security forces must return to their barracks,” said a statement from Mir Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karrubi and Mohammad Khatami after their meeting Monday. The group stressed that continuing the current security atmosphere “would only promote extremism within political movements.” “If a modicum of wisdom had been used, and if lies and disrespect had been avoided, this issue would not have turned into a national crisis,” the statement said. Widespread protests rocked Iran in the days after the June 12 election, which incumbent Ahmadinejad won by a landslide, according to Iran’s election commission.
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The street demonstrations and civil unrest led to the deaths of at least 20 protesters and the arrest of more than 1,000, according to Iranian state-run media. The numbers of casualties and arrests could not be independently verified by CNN because the Iranian government has banned international journalists. The comments of Moussavi, the leading opposition candidate; Karrubi, a former parliament speaker and election candidate; and Khatami, a former Iranian president, were posted on Moussavi’s Web site at GhalamNews.ir. The men have questioned the legitimacy of the vote, and accused the government of fraud in the election results. They agreed that discontented Iranians’ only crime was “their protest against the cheating during the election,” according to the Web site. They blamed security forces and police for the attacks on student dormitories and the “savage behavior of plainclothesmen, with the support of security forces.” The group chose three people — former campaign workers and friends — to act on behalf of Moussavi and Karrubi to follow up on the situations of those arrested and to help families affected by the violence. Moussavi, who was Iran’s prime minister during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, met with a number of recently released protesters and their families after the meeting. Meanwhile, in Moscow, U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the violence against protesters in Iran. Obama was meeting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other leaders. “The events that we have seen over the last several weeks haven’t just disturbed us in America, they have disturbed the world,” Obama told CNN’s Ed Henry.
“Violence, detentions, have been, I think, not only heartbreaking, but really raised issues of where the Iranian leadership wants to take their country. We have to wait and see how the dust settles.” Watch Ed Henry’s interview with President Obama » Obama added: “We have to continue to speak out and bear witness to the fact that that Iranian people need to be treated with justice and fairness.”