11 February 2010
Ahead of the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution on Thursday, Iranian security forces have been put on high alert as opposition groups were preparing for more anti-government protests. According to the first reports by opposition-run websites in Iran, shots and tear gas were being fired at protesters.
The regime also announced it would permanently shut down Google Inc.’s email service in Iran, in addition to slowing down internet access and restricting text messaging services ahead of the celebrations. Foreign journalists were banned from covering the opposition protests.
On Tuesday, the former industry minister Behzad Nabavi, an ally of opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, was given a five-year sentence by a court in Tehran for his involvement in the protests.
The British, French, German, Italian and Dutch ambassadors in Iran are expected to boycott official celebrations of the Islamic revolution, following recent attacks against their embassies, the British newspaper ‘The Times’ reports. In his speech to a huge crowd of supporters, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on Thursday that Iran was now "a nuclear state."
In Geneva, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has pressed the UN Human Rights Council to take a stand on the violent crackdown in Iran. The council is due to publicly debate Iran's human rights record next Monday. Ebadi, who has called on Iranians to take to the streets during the anniversary celebrations, said in an open letter to the council and to UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay that Iranians would continue to resort to peaceful protests in defense of their fundamental rights. In the letter published by CNN on Monday, Ebadi accused authorities in Tehran of carrying out violent and sometimes deadly repression of activists and warned that it could lead to a "catastrophe."
"The defenseless people of Iran are continuing to resist and insist on the realization of their just demands for democracy and human rights... through peaceful protests," wrote Ebadi, a human rights lawyer who went into exile last year. "My question to you in your capacity as representatives of UN Human Rights Council member states is this: for how much longer do you believe that you could urge young people to remain calm? The patience and tolerance of Iranian people, however high, is not infinite."
Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department announced that it had frozen assets held in the US by Iranian companies and an Iranian general, which are linked to the Revolutionary Guard. The assets of four affiliates of a construction conglomerate owned by the Revolutionary Guard, as well as those of General Rostam Qasemi, who oversees the companies, had been frozen because of their suspected involvement in Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
The president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, called for a robust UN resolution and new sanctions against Iran. “Never has the Iranian regime taken such aggressive and obvious steps to obtain nuclear weapons,” Kantor said in a statement.
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