Smothering Any Semblance Of Freedom

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 30, 2009

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Just when one thinks that it cannot get any more oppressive in Iran . . .

Iranian security forces intensified their crackdown on anti-government supporters Tuesday, arresting relatives of the country’s Nobel laureate and the main opposition leader, and limiting the movement of another top opposition leader.

Iran also accused the U.S. and Britain of fomenting the recent violence, threatening to “slap” Britain in the face as it summoned the British ambassador to an urgent meeting. Clashes on Sunday left at least eight people dead in a confrontation that has become an increasingly bitter and violent.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shrugged off Sunday’s protests as “a play ordered by Zionists and Americans” and criticized Barack Obama and Britain for allegedly supporting the protesters.

“The Iranian nation has witnessed this sort of play many times,” Ahmadinejad said, according to the state IRNA news agency.

Government supporters held rallies in at least three cities on Tuesday, many protesting against the opposition and its leaders.

Opposition Web sites reported about 10 new arrests, and those taken into custody included the sister of Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights efforts in Iran.

The new arrests, along with the tough criticism of the U.S. and Britain, added to rising tensions with the West, which is threatening to impose tough new sanctions over Iran’s suspect nuclear program and has criticized the violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Noushin Ebadi, a medical professor in Tehran, was arrested at her home by four intelligence agents late Monday and sent to prison, according to a statement issued by the Nobel laureate. It said authorities had “repeatedly summoned” Noushin to get her to persuade Shirin to drop her civil rights campaign.

It says something about the regime that it feels it has to go after family members in order to stifle dissent. This is all so very obscene.

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