Thank you for coming out today. As you all know, after the Tasoa and Ashoura protests on December 26 & 27, the Islamic Republic increased the rate of arrest and detention of protesters and of student, labor, women’s rights, and other political activists.
At the same time, there was an outpouring of rhetoric from the Islamic regime about what should be done with protesters and dissidents, people who dared to exercise their universal right to free speech. And the solution that was suggested over and over again by the regime was: execution. There were statements declaring that after Ashoura, all protesters would be charged as Mohareb, or “enemy of God” – a charge that carries the death sentence. To quote:
Ayatollah Janati, addressing the Judiciary, said, “Detain those who should be arrested, don’t release them after several days in order to continue chaos. These people won’t be led to the right path…. The Intelligence and Information institutions should do their task and if these people dare again to disrespect and insult [sacred] values in the street: they should not be secure and should be arrested and tried immediately. Also, for their trial, judges should proceed as rapidly as” those in the 1980s.
Ayatollah Sayed Yousef Tabataienejad, during Friday Prayers in Isfahan, also addressed the Judiciary and stated: “The disruptive group fought with God by coming onto the streets…they are Mofsed felarz and the Judiciary should know that their actions are obvious debauchery and according to God and the Koran the punishment is execution.”
And there are others.
In conjunction with this rhetoric that was designed to terrorize the population – and specifically scare them into not coming out on the anniversary of the Revolution – there has been a flurry of death sentences handed down to political dissidents, there have been sudden rearrests of activists who had been out on bail, and there have been inexplicable conversions of long prison sentences to death sentences in the cases of several political activists.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has called for the release of over 1500 people who had been arrested around the time of Ashoura.
It is under these grave circumstances that we come together here today to demand the release of ALL political prisoners – to erase the concept of political prisoner from both thought and practice in Iran, and throughout the world. We are here today to stand with those prisoners in Gohardasht who fought back inside that prison’s torture chamber, who took control of that place of despair back from those who intended to break their bodies, minds and spirits – we DEMAND an end to torture in Iran, and throughout the world. And we are here today to tell the Islamic Republic of Iran, the United Nations, and our own governments that we will not accept even ONE more execution in Iran. Not one more.
January 24 2010