Iranian Authorities Suppress Dissenting Voices on Victory of the Revolution Day

February 11 is Victory of the Revolution Day in Iran. Equivalent to the American Fourth of July, it commemorates the downfall of the monarchy in 1979, shortly after Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in France. Iranians generally celebrate the day by thronging to public places. This year, the Iranian government made sure that people who disagreed with it were not able to exercise their rights to peaceful assembly.

Those who support the government were welcome to congregate, but those who planned on protesting the authorities’ actions since the disputed June 12, 2009 presidential elections were met with violence and arrest. Of course it is difficult to assess exactly what has been occurring in Iran today as there is a veritable news blackout in Iran; foreign journalists were reportedly bused to the government-approved rally and were refused permission to talk to anyone or to cover any other actions. The government blocked most internet services and even Google reported that its gmail account users in Iran were unable to send and receive messages.

In the weeks preceding today’s holiday, Iranian authorities did their best to discourage any opposition protests. They arrested hundreds of people, including large numbers of journalists and women’s rights activists. Over eighty people—most convicted in disgraceful “show trials” have been sentenced to harsh prison sentences for their alleged involvement in stirring up the post-election unrest. Meanwhile, the government executed two men for the crime of “Moharebeh” or “Enmity against God” in late January. They had been accused of fomenting the post-June 12 protests even though they had been arrested before that date. Nine other people were also sentenced to death for “Moharebeh” and could be executed at any time.

Reports indicate that security forces today attacked two of the opposition presidential candidates, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi as they attempted to participate in protest rallies. The brother and sister-in-law of another opposition politician, former President Mohammad Khatami, were also briefly arrested. Mr. Khatami’s sister-in-law happens to be a granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini.

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Unite for Human Rights in Iran on February 11th

Unite 4 human rights in Iran

Help share the message of February 11th by adding this solidarity image to your blog, website or social networking profile.

Iranian authorities have committed horrific abuses in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections last June. Several months later, human rights in Iran remain under attack and the level of repression reaches a breaking point.

Several important events in the Iranian political calendar from the end of January through late March make this threat imminent, most notably the “Victory of the Revolution” day on February 11, 2010, marking the 31st anniversary of the fall of the Iranian monarchy and the return of Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in France in 1979.

Given the importance of February 11th for Iranians, we are calling on our members and the public to unite in the blogosphere to show support and solidarity for those suppressed voices in Iran. During our “Unite for Human Rights in Iran” bloggers day, we are encouraging everyone to publicize the ongoing dire human rights situation in Iran and call for the protection of those arrested or detained from torture or other ill-treatment. Moreover, we urge you to highlight the need to release prisoners of conscience and those convicted after unfair trials.

Opposition leaders are calling for supporters to peacefully demonstrate on February 11th. The Iranian authorities attempt to thwart protests has already led to the expedited executions of Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, convicted of moharebeh or “enmity against God” and for being members of a banned anti-revolutionary political group last week.   It is also expected that nine other protesters sentenced to death for their participation in the post-presidential election protests will be swiftly executed prior to February 11th day in order to further intimidate and silence the opposition.

The executions are clearly a sign of the government’s frustration to end the protests. There are fears that the government might engage in the kind of cleansing that it did between 1980 and 1988, when it executed more than 3,000 political prisoners.

- Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

AI activists protest against the post-election violence in Iran. July 25, 2009 ©Amnesty International

AI activists protest against the post-election violence in Iran. July 25, 2009 ©Amnesty International

We are calling for strong international condemnation of human rights violations in Iran. As the United Nation’s prepares for its Universal Periodic Review in mid-February, focusing attention on the need for a strong report condemning human rights abuses in Iran by the Human Rights Council is also critical.

Help us raise the voices of those calling for freedom and justice inside Iran. Stand with the people of Iran on February 11th!

Stand with us to ensure that Victory of the Revolution Day signifies an end to these abuses!