Sunday, February 14, 2010

‘Stop Iran Becoming Another Zimbabwe’

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Times Online /

The only Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner begged the world to stop her country becoming “another Zimbabwe” yesterday as the regime gloated at foiling the opposition’s plans for another massive demonstration. “Tomorrow will be too late. Tomorrow we will face tragedy. Please help us,” Shirin Ebadi said in a speech in Geneva. Referring to the increasingly brutal crackdown on the so-called Green Movement, she added: “Before Iran becomes another Zimbabwe, please think of a solution.” Dr Ebadi, a human rights lawyer who has lived in de facto exile in the West since President Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, was speaking before the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Iran on Monday. The review is unlikely to worry a regime that cares only about survival. On Thursday it thwarted an opposition attempt to hijack the anniversary of the 1979 revolution by bussing tens of thousands of supporters into Tehran for the main rally, and flooding the city with security forces to crush opposition demonstrations. It also imposed what the Obama Administration called a “near-total information blockade” which prevented the world from seeing what happened. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, thanked the “tens of millions” of Iranians who turned out to celebrate the anniversary and mocked “domestic enemies and deceived groups who claim to represent the people”.

It was time for “foreign enemies to abandon their futile efforts to subjugate” Iran. The Revolutionary Guard, which led the drive to suppress the opposition, said that the turnout showed the national will was “strong as steel”. Kazem Sedighi, a hardline cleric who led Friday prayers in Tehran, said: “The bombardment of propaganda by enemies through their websites and networks had no impact, but created more solidarity.” He mocked opposition activists who “thought the revolution had been defeated”. Most analysts agreed that the opposition had suffered a setback but that the struggle would continue. “Yesterday may prove a pyrrhic victory for the regime,” said Nader Mousavizadeh of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “All the challenges it faces — its loss of legitimacy, increasing international unity around sanctions and Iran’s growing economic crisis, are as significant today as they were before.” Three broadcasters — the BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle — accused the regime of breaking international law by jamming their Farsi-language broadcasts to Iran.