Crackdown on Dissent Is Under Way in Iran

Crackdown on Dissent Is Under Way in Iran
June 24th, 2007  

Topic: Crackdown on Dissent Is Under Way in Iran

Crackdown on Dissent Is Under Way in Iran
Crackdown on Dissent Under Way in Iran

June 23, 2007
The New York Times
Neil MacFarqhuhar

Iran is in the throes of one of its most ferocious crackdowns on dissent in years, with the government focusing on labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates, a former nuclear negotiator and Iranian-Americans, three of whom have been in prison for more than six weeks.

Ebrahim Noroozi/Fars News Agency
A police officer forced a young man whose clothes were deemed un-Islamic to suck on a plastic container Iranians use to wash their bottoms.


link to original article
June 24th, 2007  

June 22, 2007, 11:39PM
Dissenters jailed in Iran's 'total freedom'
Ahmadinejad's Web site doesn't mention numerous reformists arrested in last six months

TEHRAN, IRAN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was delighted when reformist students disrupted his visit to their university in December, burning his portrait and shouting "Death to the dictator!"

It showed the world that Iranians can protest "with an absolute, total freedom," the hard-line president wrote on his Web site.

But at least eight of Amir Kabir University's leading reformists have been arrested since May, according to their lawyers and activists.

They are among hundreds rounded up in recent months in a nationwide crackdown on those accused of threatening the Iranian system.

Two years after Ahmadinejad's election, the "Tehran Spring" of his moderate predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, is a fading memory. A deep chill has settled over those pushing for change.

Some dissenters blame the crackdown on the regime's fear of a U.S. effort to undermine it as tensions over Iran's nuclear program intensify. Others say the intent is simply to contain discontent fueled by a faltering economy.

Teachers, feminists, union leaders, journalists, students and at least four Iranian-Americans have been arrested over the last six months.

Most have been freed after spending days, week or months behind bars. But many of their cases remain open in Iran's revolutionary courts, a parallel justice system that operates with few of the protections available in civilian courts, lawyers and activists said.

"The new government has increased pressures on the nation students, laborers, intellectuals," said Ebrahim Yazdi, foreign minister after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 revolution and now leader of the banned but tolerated Freedom Movement of Iran.

"When laborers stage protest 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," he said.

Restrictions in Iran are far from absolute. Iranians criticize the government in public, and ignore a wide array of social regulations at home.

Defenders of the system point out that is more open than many nations in the region, including some of America's allies. And some restrictions have loosened in recent months: two reformist newspapers have been allowed to publish again.
Iranian officials say the judiciary is simply prosecuting crimes.

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