06/14/2010, 00.00
IRAN

More 900 people arrested in Tehran, Green Wave more mature than a year ago

Activists say 300 women are among the arrested. Uniformed and plainclothes police as well as revolutionary guards patrol the streets, intimidating people against demonstrating. University students engage in silent protest and hunger strike. Some protesters chant “death to the dictator”. Opposition leader Karroubi says, “The Green Movement today is stronger and more mature than last year”.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iranian security forces last Saturday detained more than 900 people in the capital, including 300 women. Still, in spite of increased police presence, and the deployment of plainclothes agents and revolutionary guards (pasdaran), many members of the pro-democracy opposition took to the streets to mark the first anniversary of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s allegedly rigged re-election. Unlike last year, few protesters came out, but their action is a sign that the Green Wave is not completely over. In fact, for opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, “The Green Movement today is stronger and more mature than last year”

Last Saturday, more than 900 people were arrested for marking the first anniversary of Ahmadinejad’s presidential victory with a protest, the Human Right Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported. Detained protesters included 300 women, and their relatives have not yet heard from them.

The authorities refused to authorise protests for the anniversary. They also sent threatening text messages that read: “Dear citizen, you have been deceived by foreign media and are operating for them. If you repeat this action you will be dealt with in accordance with Islamic penal law.”

Similarly, opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi urged people to keep a low profile to avoid further bloodshed.

Nevertheless, small-scale protests did take place in Tehran as well as provincial cities with people voicing their anger by shouting “death to dictator” and “God is great”.

At the University of Sistan and Baluchistan, about 1,000 students took part in a silent protest that included a hunger strike. Some clashes with police were also reported.

A journalist with Rooz online, who followed the demonstration in the capital, said that people used subtle forms of protest. “They would walk and laugh, angering the police, but at the same time not giving them an excuse to attack them,” he wrote. “The officers were extremely angry and frustrated.”

At the same time, activists have complained that the authorities have cracked down on jailed political prisoners, saying that families are no longer allowed to see them face to face or talk to them in private. Hereafter, they will only be able to communicate via telephone. For prison authorities , his will prevent the release of statements and declarations by political prisoners to the outside world.

Overall, Iran’s clerical regime has failed to silence completely the pro-democracy opposition. Speaking to CNN via e-mail, Mehdi Karroubi said, “The Green Movement today is stronger and more mature than last year.”

“From the way things appear, things have not improved because the political situation, the economy and international relations have been damaged,” Karroubi said. Nevertheless, “if we take a deeper look at the situation, Iranian society has made strides in the path of knowing their rights, and this is a great achievement.”

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