TEHRAN 26 Apr. (IPS) Hundreds of Iranians, families of jailed journalists, intellectuals, scholars and political activists demonstrated Sunday in front of the office of the United Nations in Tehran, with slogans such as "free all political prisoners" or "referendum, referendum, this is the demand of the people".
Chanting and playing nationalist songs and music, the demonstrators called on the authorities to free "immediately and unconditionally" all political prisoners, including jailed students and journalists and allow newspapers that have been closed to reappear.
Addressing the crowd with loudspeakers, organisers from the Iranian Democratic Front led by Mr. Heshmatoolah Tabarzadi, a former leader of students now a political activist, the Students United Front, the Students Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners reminded the public that as a result of the Judiciary’s decisions, dozens of politicians, journalists, scholars and intellectuals have been detained without legal basis and more than a hundred publications shut down.
Iranian associations and groups outside the country followed the move with demonstrations in fronts of the UN representative offices handing to them the message of their colleagues in Tehran.
Security and Law Enforcement Forces intervened in dispersing the demonstrators without using violence. However, at least two members of the IDF, one of them Mr. Ali Amiri, were arrested and taken to an unknown destination, eyewitnesses reported.
The Sunday peaceful demonstrations was followed the day after by families of some jailed journalists like Mr. Hoda Saber, Reza Alijani and Taqi Rahmani, all close to the Nationalist-religious movement.
In a new letter to the heads of the three powers, the wives of the journalists expressed concern on the situation of their husbands, detained more than a year ago on charges that have not been proved.
In the letter, they remind that the authorities, particularly the Judiciary system that is directly controlled by Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic have not dare to answer previous letters, explain why their husbands are still in prison, why they have difficulties meeting lawyer and families and above all, what are the charges.
The Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres has declared the Iranian leader as the "world’s most dangerous predator of press freedom" and the Islamic Republic as one of the world’s "largest prison of journalists".
In an earlier letter, the families of the journalists had warned the authorities that if they fail to answer them, they would turn to international organisations to get justice.
For its part, the Association of Iranian Professional Journalists also send a letter to the responsible authorities, urging them to free all the newspapers shut on order of the Judiciary.
The letter coincides with the anniversary of the closure of the first group of newspapers four years ago, on the explicit order of Mr. Khameneh'i to the Judiciary.
Since then, more than a hundred publications have been closed down and score of journalists, among them some of the most influential, have been placed behind bars, silenced or forced to exile, most of then on fabricated charges of propaganda against the regime or offending the leader.
Authors of the letter points to the "insults, injustice, humiliation, physical and psychological pressures" the jailed journalists suffers and adds that as a result of the massive crack down, the families of thousands of people working in the press are deprived of necessary finances.
"Of importance is the definition of the term suspension, which, in the language of the Judiciary, is equivalent of closure", the signatories noted, adding that so far, the authorities have not been able to explain the real reasons of the mass closure of independent and reform seeking publications.ENDS IDF PROTEST 26404