Key Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi said today that Iran is in "serious crisis" and called for the immediate release of supporters arrested after the June presidential vote.
In a statement appearing on his website, Kaleme, he also said that "harsh remarks" by the government risk creating an "internal uprising."
He cited words of the founder of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: "Kill us, we will become stronger."
Authorities have arrested at least 20 pro-reform figures, including three senior advisers to Musavi, his brother-in-law, and a sister of Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.
An order to execute, murder, and imprison [opposition leaders]...won't resolve the problem.
Musavi's statement comes after a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on December 29 that opposition leaders were "enemies of God" who should be executed.
Musavi said he is not afraid to die in defense of the "people's demands" and that "arresting or killing Musavi, [another opposition leader Mehdi] Karrubi...will not calm the situation."
"I explicitly and clearly state that an order to execute, murder, and imprison [opposition leaders]...won't resolve the problem," Musavi said. "I'm not afraid to be one of the martyrs people have offered in the struggle for their just demands."
He said the government was making more mistakes by resorting to violence and killings, and that it must accept the people's rights to hold peaceful demonstrations.
The opposition leader condemned the violence used by police and security forces against protesters, which led to the death of at least eight demonstrators, including one of Musavi's nephews, Ali Musavi, on December 27.
Reports say the nephew was buried December 30 in a hastily organized ceremony that was attended by the opposition leader and other family members. Authorities had taken the body from the hospital earlier in the week in what was seen as an attempt to prevent the funeral from turning into another pro-opposition protest.
Today's statement is the first from Musavi since the latest clashes in Iran's continuing struggle over President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's election to a second term. The opposition accuses the government of massively rigging the poll.compiled from agency reports