Middle East

A Torrent Of Repression In Iran

Reports of human rights violations by government authorities continue to pour out of Iran.

Peyman Aref, center (file photo), was rearrested recently after he prayed at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan.
Peyman Aref, center (file photo), was rearrested recently after he prayed at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan.

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Reports of human rights violations by government authorities continue to pour out of Iran.  

Dissident student Peyman Aref, who was imprisoned for two years and released after enduring 74 lashes, was rearrested recently after he prayed at the grave of Neda Agha Soltan, the young Iranian woman shot down in the streets of Tehran during the anti-government protests of 2009.

The family of student leader and pro-democracy activist Abdollah Momeni has been prohibited from visiting him in prison, after Mr. Momeni wrote a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader detailing the torture he was subjected to in jail.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani sits in a prison cell in Rasht, pressed – and refusing - to renounce his Christian faith, as he awaits a decision by the Supreme Leader as to whether or not he will be executed for apostasy.

Seven Baha'i educators were sentenced to four or five years in prison for membership in a so-called "deviant sect" and for security crimes. All had taught at an institute for Baha'i students barred from university study because of their religion.

Tehran's Appeals Court has upheld the death sentence for engineer and web designer Saeed Malekpour, charged with cyber crimes and insulting the Supreme Leader. The Appeals Court also confirmed the six-year prison term and 20-year prohibition on professional activities of prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi.

In a recent speech on America's support for the aspirations for freedom displayed so intensely by the people of the Middle East this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that the Iranian people's democratic aspirations have been repressed by their government for more than three decades:

"There is no country in the Middle East where the gulf between rulers and ruled is greater.  When Iran claims to support democracy abroad, then kills peaceful protestors in the streets of Tehran, its hypocrisy is breathtaking and plain to the people of the region."

Secretary Clinton noted that despite their brutal efforts, "leaders trying to hold back the future at the point of a gun should know their days are numbered."  The United States, she said, stands with the people in North Africa and the Middle East, including in Iran, as they attempt to "realize their own God-given potentials and the dreams [for which] they risked so much to make real."

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