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February 10, 2010

Bearing Witness

By all accounts, tomorrow should be another crucial day for Iran’s Green movement. 22 Bahman marks the anniversary of the fall of the Shah in 1979, and the three main opposition leaders – Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami – are all calling on their supporters to come out en mass.
The Iranian government has been stepping up its crackdown against dissidents in an effort to deter anti-government demonstrations, and the Guardian is reporting that Iranian security forces are “deploying in strength in Tehran.”
NIAC will be live-blogging tomorrow’s events. The world must continue bearing witness to what’s happening in Iran. As NIAC’s Trita Parsi wrote for tomorrow’s Financial Times, Iran cares about its international image because it aspires to be a regional leader. Iran appreciates the value of “soft power,” and it understands it loses prestige every time another protester is beaten on the streets for demanding democratic rights. That is why the government of Iran must never be allowed to carry out crimes against its own people  under the cover of international indifference.
Both Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari and WINEP’s Mehdi Khalaji have made this point. Bahari and Khalaji’s father were imprisoned in Iran, only to be released some time later. Both credit international attention and pressure for helping to secure their freedom.
With up to 1,500 Iranians imprisoned since the election unrest began, some prisoners now being executed, and countless more brave Iranians prepared to demand their human rights tomorrow, the world must continue to bear witness.

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