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June 14, 2011

Two-year election anniversary marked by silent protests, death of Hoda Saber

On the second anniversary of Iran’s fraudulent presidential elections, brave Iranian men and women took to the streets once again in silent and peaceful protests. According to eyewitnesses, “demonstrators numbered in thousands” and were greeted by massive numbers of armed security and military forces at every corner. In a phone interview with the Guardian, one eye witness said, “their numbers were ten times more than an ordinary day in Vali-e-Asr street, I think around 30,000 people were out there in total.” The demonstrators walked the sidewalks of main streets in silence and refused to respond to the Revolutionary Guard’s roaring motorcycles and insulting comments.
Soon after the start of the protests, members of the guard, security and military forces attacked the protestors, beating many and arresting some. According to an eyewitness testimony on Kalameh, “anyone wearing or carrying anything green was arrested. A few young men, in green T-shirts, were quickly arrested. One of the undercover officers angrily smashed the head of one of the boys on the door of the vehicle, shouting ‘Mousavi and the color green are forever dead!’ before forcing the boy into a van filled with protestors.”
The election anniversary was also marked by the sudden death of imprisoned journalist and activist Reza Hoda Saber after an eight-day hunger strike, adding to the heartache and anger of many Iranians. Hoda Saber began his strike on June 2 as a protest to the treatment and death of Haleh Sahabi, who herself was killed when she was temporarily released from prison to pay respects at the funeral of her father, Ezatollah Sahabi.
Hoda Saber was reportedly taken to Modarres hospital due to complaints of chest pain, where the cause of his death was announced to be a heart attack. The sad irony is that it seems, according to the Iranian government at least, that the fate of imprisoned activists in Iran is all the same: death, caused by a heart attack.  According to Tehran Bureau, “doctors have said that if he had been brought to the hospital in a timely fashion, he would not have died.”  Meanwhile, Iranian authorities deny Hoda Saber was on a hunger strike in the first place.
Yesterday, however, sixty-four of his prison mates signed a witness testimony that was published on Kalameh by anonymous ‘green’ allies at the Evin prison. They testify that Hoda Saber was a healthy, active man who worked out everyday and did not have any illness in the year he had spent in the prison.
The testimony states that, Hoda Saber was on a hunger strike but was also brutally beaten by officers of the security force. In their testimony they reveal that at 4 am on Friday morning Hoda Saber was taken to the prison clinic for the first time since he had been transferred to the 350 section of the prison. Two hours later however, he was returned while screaming and shaking from pain. Hoda Saber said, “not only did they not treat me at the clinic, but I was beaten, insulted, and thrown out of the room by officers who had dressed in nurse scrubs.”
After revealing the details of Hoda Saber’s last few hours in the prison, the testimony addresses the Iranian public and state:

“However, now that the regime has answered the protest of a villainy with committing another, we positively state that the current regime is directly responsible for the death of Hoda Saber. This sad tragedy was not the first, and with the continuation of the current situation it will not be the last.”

Stories of gross human rights violations by the Islamic Republic continuously surface, yet the Iranian government insists that they are advocates of these same rights. However, stories of beating, arrests, and other cruelties—similar to the ones we saw on 22 Khordad—often show that not only the Iranian government not support human rights, they are violating them outright.

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