Mousavi Reportedly Under House Arrest

Opposition leader on Facebook: 'All my communication ... has been cut off.'

June 27, 2009, 5:32 PM

LONDON, June 27, 2009 — -- The government crackdown in Iran has moved so quickly and brutally the protests have been forced into near silence.

The Web site reports that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is under house arrest, although that claim could not be verified.

The well-known Iranian filmmaker Moshen Makhmalbaf, who has become an unofficial spokesman for Mousavi outside of Iran, told ABC News that Mousavi is being highly controlled and is limited in whom he can meet with and where he can go.

On his Facebook page Mousavi, who analysts say is under intense pressure, posted a message in Farsi, English and French telling his followers: "All my communication with the people and you has been cut off, and people's peaceful objections are being crushed."

He also urged his supporters to protest using only "legal channels" and to remain "faithful to the sacred system of the Islamic Republic."

He also had a message for those who seek the downfall of Iran's Islamic regime: "It is up to you," he wrote, "to distance yourself from them, and do not allow them to misuse the current situation."

Another graphic undated video shows what appears to be a crowd surging on government Basij militia men. The video shows one man falling after gunshots; it appears the man is shot in the head.

The government is now trying to put an end to nightly demonstrations as people shout "God is great" from their rooftops, a tactic that has been used since the 1979 revolution.

Video was posted to YouTube showing a home that was ransacked after its residents claimed that Basij militia roaming the streets at night forced their way in after suspecting that shouts were coming from the roof. Residents say the militiamen are also destroying satellite dishes in an effort to cut off news from foreign broadcasts.

Despite the harsh crackdown, an opposition that appears to be reeling with its leadership in disarray, long-time Iran watchers say the government may only be making the forces of reform stronger than ever.

Robin Wright, a former Washington Post journalist and now a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, says, "The opposition may have been forced off the roof tops and out of the streets, but it has not been silenced. There is still a lot of energy and perhaps more energy today behind the opposition movement because they have been so alienated by the brutal crackdown."

The challenge for the opposition is how to direct that energy with no clear leader.

Today, Mousavi appeared to cave in to government saying no more protests with official authorization.

Wright, the author of "Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam," says Iran's government may, in the long term, have the tougher job with so much frustration over the extreme measures exhibited by the government. Even if completely successful in quelling the opposition, Iran's religious and political leaders now face the daunting task of restoring order and trust both at home and abroad.

"There has never been a fissure so deep in Iranian society," said Wright. "Trying to pull some state of unity back together is going to be nearly impossible."

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