Tehran fears protests, bans media
Published in “Die Zeit” on December 6 2009
Source (German) http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2009-12/studentag-iran
By Martin Gehlen
Standstill on internet and mobile phone networks, no press: The regime is anticipating new protests on Monday. The protesters expect to be violently confronted by the police.
The internet in Iran was already slowed down last weekend. On Monday, according to information of the state telecommunication company, the mobile network will be cut as well. All remaining foreign media were informed via SMS that their licences will be suspended from Monday through Wednesday.
The regime does not want to have any witnesses in case there will again be protests throughout the country against the disputed president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the “Student Day” on Monday. The Revolutionary Guards have learned their lesson from the 30th anniversary of the occupation of the American embassy on November 4. Tens of thousands of green supporters then had been protesting in the streets. Hundreds of mobile phone videoclips afterwards had been spread on the internet, showing not only repulsive scenes of Guards clubbing peaceful protesters, but also enraged people calling the Supreme Spiritual Leader Ali Khamenei a murderer.
Annually on the “Students’ Day”, the universities commemorate three fellow students who were shot by the Shah’s secret police in 1953, only a few months after the coup against Mohammad Mossadegh, the first president of Iran who was democratically elected. Several opposition websites invited people to gather around the Tehran University on Monday. The former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi have not yet confirmed to be attending the events.
“Street protests on 7. December will not have the safeguarding and the protection that demonstrations on occasion of an official anniversary have. We both expect a very violent crack down”, both warned on the website Mowjcamp. Before that, Iran’s head of the police Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam had announced they would fiercely confront any kind of illegal gathering. In the past days, 15 women were arrested who were members of the group of the “Mourning Mothers”.
According to information provided by the “International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran” in New York, family members and friends of victims killed in the protests following the presidential elections in June gather in Tehran’s Laleh Park once a week. The “Mourning Mothers” demand that the perpetrators be finally put on trial and punished. One of the members is the mother of Neda Agha-Soltan, the student who bled to death in the middle of the street after being shot, and whose face has become an icon of the Iranian opposition.
Meanwhile, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sharply attacked the USA and Great Britain in the nuclear conflict, and called them “enemies of Iran”. According to him, Americans, Zionists, and other oppressive forces already in the past 30 years tried to isolate Iran, but failed. “They will fail again this time”, said the Supreme Religious Leader in view of possible stricter UN sanctions. The Iranian nuclear program has strictly peaceful goals, he said.
The tensions between Iran and the West had been increasing again during the past two weeks, after Tehran had canceled the compromise that had been negotiated with the Atomic Energy Agency IAEO in Vienna, and instead announced to be pursuing a drastic expansion of its nuclear enrichment.
Thus, Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Saturday that Tehran requires 20 sites to enrich enough uranium to meet its future energy needs through nuclear power. However, Western nuclear experts are doubtful that Iran has or is able to gain from its two mines enough uranium reserves to even start a single standard reactor and regularly provide it with fuel rods.