Reporting from Beirut - Defying demands for his execution, Iran's leading opposition figure on Friday issued a scathing denunciation of the government's violent crackdown against his supporters, calling for a restoration of civil liberties as a way of ending what he described as a "serious crisis" that has destabilized the nation.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi's statement, posted to reformist websites, were his first public comments since a violent weekend of protests coinciding with an important religious holiday. Mousavi's 43-year-old nephew, Ali Habibi-Mousavi, was shot to death on Sunday.
Mousavi said threats against his life would not deter him.
"I'm not afraid of being one of the postelection martyrs who lost their lives in their struggle for their rightful demands," he wrote in his first major public statement in weeks. "My blood is not redder than that of other martyrs."
Mousavi ran for president in disputed June elections in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the victor, triggering months of on-and-off protests.
Authorities describe the unrest as a foreign-backed plot meant to weaken the Islamic Republic, which is under international pressure for its drive to master nuclear technology. Opposition news websites report that security forces have arrested at least 1,300 people in Tehran and other cities since the Dec. 19 death of dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri began a fresh wave of demonstrations.
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