Continued Political Unrest in Iran; More Activists Sentenced For Execution
February 16, 2010
By: Randi Zung | Printer Friendly
On February 11, “hundreds of thousands” of pro-Iranian government supporters took to the streets of Tehran to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, the Washington Post reports. It was reported that there was an unusually high number of security forces blocking off streets in order to prevent rioters from disrupting the anniversary celebration. In addition to uniformed security forces, it was reported that plainclothes agents physically beat individuals linked with opposition groups. Opposition supporters marched towards the rally chanting “Death to the dictator” and waving a green flag. According to witness accounts, fights broke out between opposition supporters and security forces when opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi attempted to access the massive rally.
It also appears that the Iranian government is working to prevent the spread of opposition viewpoints by creating a media lockdown. P.J. Crowley, a spokesperson from the State Department, said the Iranian government prevented the international news media from freely covering the event. It was further reported that the country’s internet was out during the rally. On the night prior to the demonstrations, it was announced that Iran will permanently suspend Google’s Gmail email service. Opposition leaders state that the internet restrictions are a violation of constitutionally backed civil rights. In addition to the rally coverage, it was reported that ten more activists have been sentenced to death for their alleged involvement in the opposition movements that erupted following the controversial June 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Western community has grown increasingly wary of Ahmadinejad after he announced that Iran was proactively working to strengthen its nuclear program. In an address at the rally, Ahmadinejad stated that US President Barack Obama’s approach to Iran was “disappointing.” On February 16, BBC News reported that in a televised press conference Ahmadinejad stated: “If anyone does anything against Iran, then our response won't be the same as in the past. No, we will definitely react and make them regretful.” The article also mentions that Iran has began to develop an even higher grade of uranium, now up to 20 percent – sufficient for use in a nuclear weapon. While the international community sees this move as Iran’s intent to further develop their nuclear weapons program, Ahmadinejad has claimed the 20 percent enriched uranium is for hospital use.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that opposition supporters were seen as an affront to the Iranian government: “Today, it is clear that those who stand against the great job done by the Iranian nation in the election, are not a part of the people.”
AP - Iran's leader vows to thwart protests this week
BBC News - Iran says the world 'will regret' sanctions
Washington Post - Pro-government rally, protests on anniversary of Iran revolution