Appeal to UN Secretary General in support of the Iranian people

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Wednesday 18th June 2003

His Excellency Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, New York,

CC: Heads of the worlds democratic states, the European Parliament, UN Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch

In the last few days widespread demonstrations by students and other freedom loving Iranians have been taking place in protest against the policy of suppression by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The continuation and intensification of the violent and despotic policies of the Islamic Republics regime have frustrated the overwhelming majority of Iranian people and this public discontent has now been manifested in the spontaneous demonstrations of the young and students. The demonstrators have specifically stressed humanitarian and democratic demands in their slogans and have requested the freedom of political prisoners and holding of a referendum and free elections.

These demonstrations have been ruthlessly suppressed by the forces of the Islamic Republic. Hundreds have been injured, hundreds more have been arrested and a large number of demonstrators have gone missing. This suppression has intensified after the speech by Ayatollah Khamenei on Thursday 12 June in which he threatened that the demonstrators would receive the same treatment as they did on 14 July 1999. The police forces have occupied student halls, the entrance by reporters to the university campuses and student halls has been restricted or banned and government backed armed vigilantes have viciously attacked students and demonstrators.

Four years ago on 9 July 1999 a similar vicious attack by government backed forces took place against students. On that day armed police and government backed vigilantes attacked students with firearms and other weapons, leaving at least one dead and tens of students injured. This savage attack prompted widespread protests by students. Four days later and in response to these protests the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khamenei, ordered a crackdown on the students and labelled them Mohareb. This term is defined in the penal code of the Islamic Republic as a capital crime punishable by death and has been used repeatedly to issue death sentences against opponents of the regime.

After this edict was issued more than one thousand students were arrested, many of them were tortured, several of them sentenced to death and tens of others to life-term imprisonment. The death sentences were commuted after worldwide protests but those who were convicted together with a number of other students are still in jail after suffering severe torture.

Now Ayatollah Khamenei has threatened the student demonstrators with the same fate and this time because of the extent of the demonstrations his threats may have more grave consequences. The effect of this threat has already become apparent and the armed thugs under his command have attacked the youth and the demonstrators. If the world community does not take an urgent and timely action it is feared that the Iranian regime may observe no limits in its suppression of the demonstrators.

With regard to the above, we the undersigned request your urgent help so that another human tragedy can be prevented before the Islamic Republics regime causes a bloodbath in Iran. Protests and demonstrations are a democratic right of the Iranian people and it is a duty of the world democrats to defend this right. We ask you as a responsible authority to respond to this appeal:

1) Condemn the inhumane crimes of the Islamic Republic of Iran and demand that it stops the suppression and use of violence against the demonstrators.
2) Send immediately an international team to observe the situation in Iran.
3) Support the general demand of the Iranian people for a referendum and free elections observed by international organisations.

Please act urgently so that another human tragedy can be prevented in time.

Yours sincerely,

[This petition has already been signed by 860 persons whose signatures are kept and are available from [email protected]]