Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, June 25, 2007

Iranian reformers speak out against crackdown

As tensions increase in reformist circles, the Iranian government continues its policy against dissent and peaceful protest, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

During a December visit to Amir Kabir University by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reformers protested the conservative policies currently in place in Iran. While the president cited the protests as proof of Iranians’ ability to protest “with an absolute, total freedom,” the reality is that Ahmadinejad is authorizing a harsh crackdown to preserve the power of his regime.

Since May, eight Amir Kabir reform-minded students have been arrested as part of Iran’s ongoing efforts to jail dissidents and those who partake in so-called un-Islamic acts. Since 2005, Ahmadinejad has cut away at the reforms implemented by his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami.

“The new government has increased pressures on the nation - students, laborers, intellectuals,” said Ebrahim Yazdi, a former Iranian foreign minister and the current leader of the Freedom Movement of Iran. “When laborers stage protests rallies, the government, instead of talking to them, takes them to jail. Women are jailed just for collecting signatures in support of women's rights.”

This spring witnessed the harshest enforcement of the Islamic dress code, as well as the banning of various traditions such as the smoking of water-pipes in teashops. The government seems to be intensifying its crackdown with the recent imprisonment of four Iranian-Americans for allegedly seeking to destabilize the current regime.

One result of this crackdown is the diminished number of books published in Iran each year. The number has dropped by half in the past five years. Moreover, bans on meetings and a rise in government-sanctioned executions all seem to paint a picture of an Iranian regime intent on tightening its grip on society as a way of maintaining power.

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