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Pleas From Iran

In recent months, the international community has been focused on inducing the Iranian regime to give up technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon. But the threat posed to the world by a nuclear-armed Iran should not deflect attention from abuses the regime is perpetrating against the Iranian people.

Consider the following recent cases: Mohammad Hashemi and Bahareh Hedayat were arrested earlier this month and sent to Evin prison. The two are prominent student leaders who have been active in protesting the imprisonment of three colleagues from Tehran’s Amir Kabir University. Reports are that more than a dozen other students were arrested throughout Iran following protests marking the anniversary of the violent government attacks on Iranian students on July 9, 1999.

Last month, Mahboobeh Karami, a journalist and women’s rights activist, was brutally beaten, arrested, and taken to Evin prison. A member of the One Million Signature Campaign seeking to overturn Iran’s discriminatory gender laws, Ms. Karami told her mother by telephone that she and several other women were starting a hunger strike to protest the appalling conditions in Evin. In an interview with the news website, Rooz On-line, Ms. Karami’s mother pleaded with authorities: "It is a shame that these kids, these women go to jail," she said. "This way of treatment is not right for an Iranian. It is not right for any human being."

The mother of another Iranian human rights activist also spoke out recently on behalf of her child. Farzad Kamangar is a Kurdish Iranian teacher and cultural rights activist who has been sentenced to death for being "an enemy of God." His mother said her son was a man who worked to secure people’s freedom. "I ask all parties ... to help rescue my son from execution," she pleaded. "Farzad is not my son only, he is the son of all Iranians, and I invite everyone to join hands and defend humanity."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it is not acceptable for any human being to live in tyranny. She spoke of people, like these young Iranians persecuted by the state, who peacefully strive to secure their freedom:

"Yet despite every challenge, the courageous champions of human rights persevere. They are an inspiration to their fellow citizens and to all of us."

"We in the United States," says Secretary of State Rice, "continue to believe that it is our duty to support these courageous men and women."