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Double Talk And Repression In Iran

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Iran's government has been actively helping Bashar al-Assad's regime to crack down on peaceful protestors.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said that regional nations -- presumably his own -- could help Syria with "essential reforms," reportedly adding, "A military solution is never the right solution." In reality, Iran's government has been actively helping Bashar al-Assad's regime to crack down on peaceful protestors, which is exactly the type of repression it practices against all forms of personal freedoms and dissent at home.

Over the last weeks, Iranian security forces descended upon peaceful demonstrators protesting the devastating drying up of Lake Orumieh, located in north-west Iran, an area with a large ethnic Azeri population. The demonstrators believe that a network of dams is diverting water from the lake, one of the largest salt-water lakes in the world, and that the government in Tehran is failing to take necessary measures to protect it. Security forces confronted the protestors with tear gas, batons and rubber bullets; reports are that live ammunition was also used. Hundreds of protesters were arrested.

Force was also used against Gonabadi dervishes recently in the city of Kavar, where dervishes were attacked by members of the Basij militia with guns and tear gas. There are reports of several injuries and one death, as well as the setting on fire of Sufi shops and houses.

Meanwhile, as the Committee to Protect Journalists reports, the Iranian government's crackdown on critical journalists continues, with authorities extending the prison term of veteran journalist Isa Saharkhiz, re-arresting Committee of Human Rights Reporters writer Kouhyar Goudarzi and his mother, and summoning Ali Kalaee, a former member of the Committee, to serve a seven-year prison sentence. In addition, the regime recently closed down two more media outlets: a weekly reformist news magazine and a daily newspaper.

The fundamental freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion are the birthright of people all over the world. The Syrians and Iranians, like people everywhere, deserve governments where their rights are protected, not trampled, and where true reform takes the place of empty rhetoric and violent repression.