Solidarity Rallies Call For End to Abuses in Iran

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on July 27, 2009 with 5 Comments

As many as 4,000 protesters convened in San Francisco Saturday
to protest a brutal post-election crackdown by Iranian authorities.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By Luke Thomas

July 27, 2009

Rallies were held around the world and in San Francisco Saturday to condemn a brutal post-presidential election crackdown by Iranian authorities, an election tainted by widespread allegations of corruption, fraud, and vote rigging.

“People are being executed and tortured in prison simply because people are exercising their right to peaceful dissent,” said event sponsor Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the first Iranian-American to be elected to public office, “and we stand in solidarity with them.”

Several elected officials including California Attorney General Jerry Brown, California Senator Mark Leno, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, Mayor of Brisbane Sepi Richardson and DCCC Chair Aaron Peskin, joined in unity with an estimated 4,000 protesters in front of San Francisco City Hall.

“I have no confidence in the current president, vice-president, and all the Islamic Republic in Iran,” Richardson, the first Iranian-American woman to be elected to public office, said. “I’m giving a vote of no confidence.”

Attorney General Brown encouraged the protests to continue to force the collapse of the hard-line regime.

“The people who run the show in Iran, they know that the people are fed up.  They don’t believe their games and their manipulation of the election,” Brown said. “It’s only a matter of time before that tyrannical, theological superstructure collapses – and it will collapse.”

Following the announcement President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been re-elected, massive demonstrations erupted into violent clashes with Basijs, a paramilitary volunteer force loyal to Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The violent crackdown resulted in several murders of protesters by Basij forces. Neda, a young woman killed by a sniper, has become a potent symbol of the Iranian rebellion.

The crackdown resulted in the arrests of as many as 5,000 protesters, dissidents and journalists. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran lists 242 dissidents and journalists forcibly detained without due process.

Turaj Zaim said his father, Karoosh Zaim, is an outspoken critic of the theocratic regime and a member of Iran National Front Party, Jebhe Melli. He was arrested without warrant at his home by Basij forces June 21.

“They came into his home and arrested him,” Turaj said. “He could be anywhere and they can hold him however long they want to.”

The Basijs “are horribly brutal,” Turaj added. “They beat children, they beat women, they beat old people, they rape many of the detainees – sometimes to death – and then they burn the bodies of these women to cover what they’ve done.”

“My message to my father is that I’m letting it be known what is happening to you and I’m speaking out for Democracy over here, just like he’s done over there. I know you’re not afraid. I know you’ve waited for this moment your whole life. My message to the Iranian people is the world is watching, that your government knows the world is watching.”

The protests are continuing. In New York City today, a coalition of 30 intellectuals, human rights and pro-democracy activists began a 3-day hunger strike outside the United Nations to help garner international support for the release of the detainees.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  1. Democracy in 2000 was not stolen; it was given away by people who didn’t bother to exercise their only real political right – the right to vote. It is embarrassing to witness low turnouts in American elections, while truly couragious people in Iraq and Iran risk their lives to exercise their right to vote. Don’t blame Democrats, Republicans, or Greens, for poor election results. People who don’t vote get what they deserve. A government chosen by the few.

  2. Richmondman, Al Gore thought the world of Michela Alioti-Pier, and it is that kind of impaired judgment which prevented Gore from doing what it took to keep the election from being stolen from him.

    Elections are to be contested, deal with it, play to win or quit yer whining. Whether or not the Greens “spoiled” the 2000 election, the Democrats have successfully framed it as such and that’s really all that counts now.

    And unlike Iran, America’s conservative couch potatoes and armchair liberals were little more than potted plants, street furniture all of us in 2000, as our democracy was stolen out from under us.


  3. Great to see our next Govenor (Jerry Brown) at the rally. marc – Still crying about 2000? Was the 2000 election stolen by Bush, or handed to Bush by the Greens and Nader, as well as an incompetent campaign run by Gore? In 2004, John Kerry was a wimp who deserved to get his ass handed to him for being a sellout. No theft there…I don’t like Bush, either, but get over it.

  4. It was an impressive event, but was too Farsi for me to understand much.

    My only wonder was where were all of these folks, so concerned with votes getting counted and the legitimacy of elections in Iran, in 2000 and 2004 when our own domestic elections were being stolen?


  5. Luke: You did an outstanding job of covering the rally/protest and the photos are fabulous. Absolutely excellent.