Mothers Arrested Before Opposition Rally in Iran

The New York Times
December 6, 2009

Ahead of a planned opposition rally on Monday, Iran tightened security and arrested over 20 mothers who were mourning children killed in the unrest that has broken out since the disputed June 12 elections.

The mothers took part in an anti-government protest in Leleh Park in central Tehran every Saturday since the death in June of Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, whose shooting became a symbol of the government’s violent repression. The rally had been attacked by the police before, but Saturday was the first time the mothers were arrested.

An opposition Web site reported that the protest was broken up by the police and many demonstrators were taken away. The BBC Persian service quoted a witness who said 29 women were arrested, some of whom were later released. But at least 21 remained in jail, the BBC said.

Ms. Agha-Soltan’s mother regularly attended the rally, but it was not clear whether she was there on Saturday or was among those arrested.

The arrests appear to be part of the government’s increasing efforts to suppress a large rally planned for Monday on National Student Day.

The authorities have ordered foreign news media not to cover the event and Internet service was reduced to a trickle on Saturday, so slow that it was impossible to “open e-mails or any Web pages,” a journalist in Tehran said.

The measure appeared to be aimed at preventing information about the crackdown or the protest to get outside the country and also to deprive the opposition from its key means, the Internet and Facebook, to mobilize their supporters. Videos posted online have played a critical role in showing the world what has been happening inside Iran.

The government has also arrested dozens of student leaders in Tehran and across the country in the past weeks. However, students continued to say they would hold demonstrations at universities around the country on Monday. In Tehran, the nightly rooftop chants of “Allahu akbar,” meaning “God is great,” an opposition ritual since June, were louder than usual Sunday night.

“The chants rocked Tehran,” said the journalist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, out of fear for his safety. “People will also go out tomorrow but only to stop the traffic. It won’t be as large as previous protests.”

The article continues at NYT.

Michelle Malkin gives a brief history of Students Day and instruction how to follow today’s events in Iran via Twitter:

Students Day observes the 1953 killing of three students by the shah’s forces, just months after popular Iranian premier Mohammad Mossadeq was toppled with US backing.

” The event this year is expected to be used by supporters of Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to stage demonstrations against Ahmadinejad.

” Opposition groups reject Ahmadinejad’s re-election in the June 12 poll, saying it was massively rigged to ensure his return.

” Iranian authorities have banned the foreign media from covering the expected protests on Monday and also reportedly cut Internet access in central Tehran.

“Once again, Twitter is a vital means of Iranian protesters’ communications with each other and to the world. #iranelections is trending again.

“Another key Twitter hashtag of the day: #16Azar. That’s the address of the entrance to Tehran University.

“Here’s a link to four liveblogging protest sources.”

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