Iran moving towards martial law, warns Khatami

June 22nd, 2009 - 12:22 am ICT by IANS  

Tehran, June 21 (DPA) Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami Sunday warned that the country was moving towards martial law.
“I am worried that security and military is gradually prevailing over the country’s atmosphere,” Khatami said in statement carried by the website of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi.

Khatami is a top Moussavi aide. The former Iranian president for eight years has, like Moussavi, de facto become part of the opposition to the country’s establishment.

The reformist cleric blamed the government of insulting demonstrators - protesting against alleged election fraud - and linking them to foreign governments.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose re-election is disputed by the opposition, had termed the protesters as “weeds” and compared them with football hooligans whose favourite team has lost a final game.

The president’s government and the state-run television, which is close to Ahmadinejad, have also charged that the demonstrators were linked to foreign elements and governments.

“Banning the people from legal protests means opening way for dangerous measures which god knows would eventually lead to (what),” Khatami warned.

The cleric also criticized the wave of arrest of protesters and of former officials, including his former deputy Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, as causing further problems.

Referring to the interior ministry and the election watchdog Guardian Council, Khatami said that complaints about alleged election fraud are recommended by the government to be referred “to those sources which themselves were subject of criticism and complaints”.

The cleric however expressed hope that “there would still be a way out …(if) opportunities were properly used and not turned into threats.”

To this end, he said, all detainees should be immediately released and the communication means such as mobile, SMS and Internet systems should be opened or normalised.

Since the unrest which started June 13, the SMS system has been cut off, mobile phone transmissions interrupted during demonstration hours and Internet speed has been drastically decreased.

The opposition says that the measures were for cutting off communication and coordination among the demonstrators.

There is also a ban on the local media regarding unauthorised coverage of the demonstrations and international media are banned from attending the protests for direct coverage.

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