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Iran: ‘The Marathon Continues’ « The Washington Independent

I just got back from a panel on the Hill sponsored by the National Iranian-American Council, one of the premier organizations within the Iranian diaspora, about next steps in U.S.-Iranian nuclear negotiations. But as an organization that helped lead the drumbeat in the U.S. to support the Iranian dissident movement after the stolen June election, the crackdown in Iran today loomed over NIAC’s discussion.

“The demonstrations and the reaction of the government shows the aspirations of the Iranian people for fairness, human rights and democracy has not been crushed,” Trita Parsi, NIAC’s leader, told me after the panel. “It shows the opposition’s timeline is correct: this is not a hundred-meter sprint, but a marathon” to achieve Iranian democracy. “The western media may have lost interest, but the marathon continues.”

Similarly, one of NIAC’s kindred organizations, the International Committee for Human Rights in Iran, put out this statement:

Security forces and militia used brutal force to disperse thousands of protesters on the streets of Tehran and other cities today, resulting in a number of injuries and arrests, in violation of international standards regarding the proportionate use of force against peaceful demonstrations, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The protests occurred parallel to officially sanctioned demonstrations on the 30th anniversary of the takeover of the United States Embassy in 1979.

Protests also took place in other cities, including Shiraz, Rasht, and Tabriz. Many protesters were reportedly arrested in Tabriz after security forces attacked demonstrators using pepper spray and tear gas.

Eyewitnesses have told the Campaign that, despite an intense intimidation program aimed at stifling the demonstrations by SMS threats promising prosecutions for taking part, and the closure of metro stops to discourage gatherings, thousands of protesters appeared at Hafte-e-Tir Square, Kargar Shomali, and other locations, and were met by vast numbers of riot police backed up by quasi-official militiamen. The presence of huge numbers of security and anti-riot forces and brutal attacks were common in all reports by eyewitnesses.

Numerous demonstrators were arrested, including Ali Mashmouli, Vahideh Movahed and other prominent persons. According to a report by his son, security forces shot tear gas canisters directly at opposition politician Mehdi Karoubi, seriously injuring his bodyguard who was taken to a hospital. According to reports received by the Campaign, live ammunition was used in shots fired over the heads of demonstrators.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed its deep concern about the continuing and excessive use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, and called for the immediate release of detainees.

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