TEHRAN, March 2 (UPI) -- The leaders of the reform movement in Iran will not retreat in the face of slander and repression, said opposition leader Mohammed Khatami.
Khatami, who served as president of Iran from 1997-2005, emerged as a supporter of the opposition movement that grew out of frustration with the outcome of presidential elections in June.
Khatami blasted government suppression of the opposition movement, describing it as contrary to the principles of the Islamic republic, reports Radio Zamaneh, a Persian news service in the Netherlands.
Tehran cracked down on opposition supporters, saying they were attempting to wage a soft coup on the government. Several dissidents were given death sentences for their role in opposition riots in 2009.
Khatami said it was "our religious duty to find out what was has gone wrong" in a political system that lacks clear support from the people.
Chants contesting the June victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turned into slogans blasting the clerical regime in Tehran.
Khatami went on to take a shot at Iranian authorities for their legacy of banning reformist newspapers.
"It is vital to speak about the people and not on their behalf; and then speak out our own minds," he said.