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12/6/04 - IRAN BANS COMMEMORATION  - 2004-12-06

Iran is now a country whose rulers say yes to suicide bombers and no to freedom of expression. The Iranian people deserve better.

Officials in Tehran recently banned any public ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the deaths of Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar. These Iranian democracy activists were brutally killed six years ago, in a wave of murders of dissident intellectuals and journalists. According to the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, "none of the instigators of the 1998 murders has ever been questioned or detained."

The ban on publicly commemorating the 1998 murders of Iranian dissidents comes as Iran's extremist Muslim clerical rulers are cracking down hard again on debate and dissent. Journalists and student activists are being arrested, and dissident web sites and opposition newspapers are being closed down.

State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says the U.S. supports basic democratic rights for all Iranians:

"That includes freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom for participation in the political process. When there are cases of shutting down newspapers, or prosecuting journalists or prosecuting other activists, we speak out against that. . . . People hold their governments accountable and we think that's the basis of democracy, and should be encouraged and respected, wherever it takes place, in Iran as in the United States."

Meanwhile, the Iranian government has allowed a monument to be erected in Tehran in honor of the suicide bombers who killed two-hundred forty-one U.S. Marines on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1983. The group sponsoring the monument is the same one that announced a recruiting campaign for suicide bombers in Iraq.