Iranian group calls for world protests as arrests mount

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Ibrahim Yazdi, the leader of the nationalist Iran's Freedom Movement and the first Iranian foreign minister after the 1979 revolution, was arrested early Dec. 28. The arrest followed those of Mehdi Arabshahi, a leader of the Tahkim Vahdat, the powerful national student movement, and Mohammad Moein, the son of Mostafa Moein, a former minister of higher education and reformist candidate in the 2005 presidential election. Many others have also been arrested. The authorities have confirmed the arrests of 300 opposition activists Dec. 27.

There are widespread fears that the regime will attempt to arrest more leaders and activists of the protest movement in the coming days. Pressure is mounting upon the regime, following recent protests on the festival of Ashura on Dec. 27.

Reacting to this, Jamshid Ahmadi, assistant general secretary of CODIR (Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights), said in a statement Monday:

"The theocratic regime, caught by surprise by the numerical strength and radical slogans of the protest demonstrations in recent days, is resorting to extremely suppressive measures. The regime has ordered the disabling of the mobile phone networks and today the Internet system is malfunctioning."

CODIR is calling on people across the world to protest the killing of demonstrators in Iran. Ahmadi said, "We call for the release of all those arrested and an end to all attempts to intimidate protesters demanding democracy and human rights. We also call for an immediate reinstatement of the communication network."

Ahmadi further called on the labor and trade union movement across the world to protest to the Iranian regime over its brutal policies.

"We should remind the theocratic regime in Iran about its obligations under the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Iran is a signatory," Ahmadi said.

CODIR, established in 1981 and based in London, has campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It works closely with the trade union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining developments in Iran and the most effective ways for world public opinion to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Iran.

In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Britain's Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Iran.

Among CODIR's supporters are former left Labour Party MP Tony Benn, and leaders of the UNISON and FBU unions.

More information is available at its web site or via e-mail to codir_info@btinternet.com.

Photo: (AP) This photo, taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran shows Iranian protestors flashing the victory sign, as they cover their faces to avoid to be identified by government security agents, during an anti-government protest in Tehran, Dec. 27. As a result of an official Iranian government ban on foreign media covering some events in Iran, the AP was prevented from independent access to this event.