25 Bahman / 1 Esfand Protests in Iran

Feb 19, 20110 comments

On 25 Bahman (February 14), Iranian activists held a day of protest in several cities across the country. This new round of demonstrations was not immune from clashes between demonstrators and security forces. According to reports, tens of thousands of protesters marched as a show of solidarity with the Egyptian people, who recently toppled Mubarak’s regime. Opposition leaders applied for a permit earlier this month to rally, but the Ministry denied the permits. Despite this, tens of thousands of Iranians gathered and took part in peaceful demonstrations that were only met with brutality by security forces. Special forces reportedly used electric batons, tear gas, and paintball pellets to disperse protesters. An eyewitness account further details the attacks by special security during the February 14 protests. According to reports by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), at least two protesters were killed and 150 arrested during Iran’s 25 Bahman protests. The first protester killed was Sane Jaleh, a 26-year-old drama student at the Tehran Arts University, who was shot at directly while trying to escape from plainclothes forces. The second protester killed was 22-year-old Mohammad Mokhtari, whose last Facebook post was reported to be “God, let me die standing, because I’m tired of this life of degradation.” The IRI attempted to spread false claims that Sane Jaleh, a Kurdish student, was a Basij and that that he and Mohammad Mokhtari were both murdered by the MEK. The government media went so far as to doctor and publish a Basiji membership card supposedly belonging to Sane Jaleh. In an interview with the ICHRI, one activist explained that the state media to falsely depicts such scenarios “because they want to make a fake announcement through which to hijack this to their advantage.” Friends and family of the murdered protesters vehemently deny these false claims of Basiji membership. Sane Jaleh’s brother has since been detained for speaking to the media and denying the IRI’s claim that Sane was a Basiji. Basij and security forces disrupted a funeral procession on February 16, which had originally been planned by university students to honor Sane Jaleh. Members of the semi-official militia Basij Organization overtook the ceremony and prevented the students from gathering together to honor the deceased art student. Reports indicate that the students will hold the ceremony again on Saturday, February 19. Memorial Facebook pages have sprung up for both Sane Jaleh and Mohammad Mokhtari. The IRI called for a Friday “Day of Hate” against the opposition, and what it labels “Seditionists.” The opposition has, in turn, put out a call to march on Sunday, 1 Esfand (February 20) to mourn the two demonstrators killed during Monday’s march. Opposition figures are facing increased pressures, with reports of 2009 presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi having gone ‘missing.’ Take Action Many human rights activists around the world are organizing rallies and demonstrations to coincide with Iran’s upcoming 1 Esfand rally. To find an event near you, check the U4I Google Calendar. If there’s not one near you, considering organizing one yourself!