Shortly after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, authorities renamed a large public square in Tehran Meidan-e Azadi, or Azadi Square. This square was the site of large demonstrations in the wake of the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential elections; thousands of peaceful protesters were arrested, beaten and tortured for exercising their right to freedom of expression while dozens were killed by security forces.
And at the same time that the Iranian government publicly declared their support for the democracy activists in Egypt and Tunisia, they denied a permit for a peaceful solidarity demonstration in February, and have only intensified their brutal crackdown on civil society activists. The irony is not lost on most Iranians, who deplore the glaring disparity between the Iranian government’s high-flown rhetoric and its appalling treatment of its citizens.
Amnesty International’s new Azadi Square action will bring attention on the incongruity between the rhetoric and the reality, and to call upon the government to end their repression and fulfill the promise of freedom implied by the name of the most prominent public place in Iran’s capital.