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Iran Opposition Leader Says Reform Movement Alive

Mir Hossein Musavi's remarks come one day before Iran plans to commemorate the deaths of three students in 1953 under the former Shah.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi has said the reform movement is alive in the Islamic Republic despite pressure from the clerical establishment to end it, his website reported.

Musavi's remarks, a day before Iran plans to commemorate the killing of three students in 1953 under the former Shah, may encourage his supporters to hijack the state-organized rallies to revive antigovernment protests.

"Let's say you suppressed students and silenced them. What will you do with the social realities?" Musavi's "Kaleme" website quoted him as saying, in a clear reference to wide arrests of students in Tehran and other cities in the past few days.

"You authorities] do not tolerate the student day rallies. What will you do on the following days?" Musavi said, suggesting that street-protests will continue.

"It is very bitter to see the same mistakes are repeated by the authorities who insist that reforms have ended.... After all these pressures, the movement has not ended," Musavi said.

Iran's June 12 presidential election returned hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to power with a wide margin. But his reformist opponents cried foul and thousands of Iranians took to the streets in the biggest antigovernment protests since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran on December 5 banned foreign media from reporting on the planned rallies on December 7 that authorities fear could turn into a new round of protests against the election.

Police and elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards have warned that any "illegal" rally will be fiercely confronted.

Authorities deny vote-rigging and portrayed the post- election unrest as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the state.

Several moderate websites have called on people to gather on Student Day near Tehran University, where the main state rally will be held.

Reformist website "Mowjcamp" has warned of the possibility of clashes between security forces and demonstrators.

In September, opposition demonstrators clashed with government backers and police at annual pro-Palestinian rallies.

Security forces also clashed with supporters of Musavi in Tehran on November 4 during an anti-U.S. rally, used by the opposition to protest against the clerical establishment.