Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Conservative filmmaker condemns Iranian leaders

AP , TEHRAN

A prominent Iranian conservative respected by supporters of the country’s Islamic regime issued a blistering condemnation of the ruling establishment and its supreme leader on Monday, adding an unexpected voice to a growing chorus of criticism over the bloody aftermath of Iran’s disputed election.

The apparent change of heart on the part of Mohammad Nourizad, a filmmaker and activist praised until recently by hardliners, was a surprising sign that the lethal force used by the government against pro-reform protesters has infuriated even some of the government’s supporters and turned them into critics.

His letter, published on several Web sites, was exceptional for its harsh language and for taking the risky step of explicitly targeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“As commander in chief of the armed forces, you didn’t treat people well after the election. Your agents opened fire, killed the people, beat them and destroyed and burnt their property. Your role in this can’t be ignored,” the letter reads. “Your apology can cool down the wrath of the people.”

If once he saw Khamenei as a political savior, Nourizad wrote, he now sees that Iran lags behind its neighbors and shows no sign of allowing freedom of speech.

“As the country’s most powerful figure, not a single time have you admitted a fault,” he writes.

Nourizad called on Khamenei to apologize for ordering the crackdown against protesters who took to the streets in June after an election returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. The pro-reform camp says the government faked the election and denied victory to the rightful winner, pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The opposition says at least 72 protesters were killed in the violence that followed the election, while government officials maintain that only 36 died in the unrest. Thousands were arrested.

On Monday, reformer Mahdi Karroubi, who also ran in the presidential election, refused to retract charges that protesters were tortured and raped, even though a government panel exonerated the regime and recommended that Karroubi himself be charged for making the allegations.

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