Saturday, January 22nd | 20 Shevat 5782

June 13, 2011 5:02 pm

Government, Community Forces Stand in Unity Against Iran

avatar by Maxine Dovere

Ahmad Batebi received the Iran 180 Heroes Award form Congressman Charles Rangel. NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is pictured behind. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

The 2011 “Iran 180 Hero Awards” were presented to Ahmad Batebi and Shabnan Adssadollahi on the steps of New York’s City Hall, June 10, 2011.  Iran 180 is a movement of people and organizations who say Yes to Human Rights, No to Nuclear Rights.  Michael Miller, Executive Director of the JCRCNY, headed a contingent of Congressional, state, city and community leaders gathered to honor those engaged in the courageous work of raising awareness” in the face of the tyrannical Iranian regime. “It is a justice thing” said the Reverend Jacques DeGraff.”

The event marked the two year anniversary of Ahmadinejad’s “Stolen Election.” Recalling Neda, the young Iranian woman who “in death exposed the radical extremism of the Iranian regime” Miller called on Iran to “do a 180” on human rights. Dean of the New York congressional delegation Charles Rangel presented the Hero Award to Ahmad Betebi, who, under sentence of death, was imprisoned and tortured for eight years before escaping  from the infamous Evin prison, where Josh Fattel and Shane Bauer, the two American hikers captured near the border of Iran, have been incarcerated for more than two years. Batebi dedicated his award to the mothers of Shane and Joshua, recognizing “the extreme pain and agony of the mothers and their heavy sorrow”.   The actions of the Iranian government, he said “are entirely different from what the Iranian people desire – peace, friendship, and democracy.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney presented the Hero Award to Shabnam Assadollahi who at age 16, was imprisoned for 18 months. She now lives in Canada where she hosts and produces “Hamseda,” Ottawa’s Persian radio program, and is an active voice for human rights in Iran. “The Islamic Republic does not represent the people of Iran,” said Assadollahi.  “We must be the voice of those who have been silenced.” New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, called every sacrifice a “seed of democracy.” Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio characterizing  Iran as “a criminal on the world stage” reminded that it was the “biggest security threat to Israel.” Christine Quinn, City Council President calling the Hero Award recipients “inspiring, people who literally put their lives on the line.” She assured that the “world stands with the people of Iran.

Less than twenty four hours earlier, it was reported that the United States had increased sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij militia for being “complicit in ongoing brutal repression.” The new sanctions, separate and in addition to existing US sanctions issued against Iran’s nuclear activities, freeze all assets of the targeted organizations and deny visas to their members. Declared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “The United States stands with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights, their dignity and their freedom, and we call on the Iranian government to end its systematic human rights abuses and political hypocrisy.” IRF Chief Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam was specifically named in the sanctions.

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Clinton’s announcement coincided with the confirmation hearing testimony of Secretary of Defense nominee Leon Panetta, who spoke about the threat posed by Iran. Panetta noted the continued development of the capability to deliver nuclear or other weapons. Panetta said “In line with the President’s statement that we should keep all options on the table, that would obviously require appropriate planning.” He indicated the continued threat to the United States from Hamas and Hezbollah and stated “We have to continue to maintain a strong relationship with Israel,” particularly in light of the turmoil sweeping the region.”

As if in confirmation of Panetta’s warning of the potential for “turmoil,” unrest is again brewing throughout Iran. Iranians conducted a “nationwide silent march against the government on Sunday,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In Tehran, some 15,000 people “quietly” marched along the sidewalk.  As with earlier protests, internet and mobile networks were interrupted and journalists were unable to cover the event. Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are under house arrest and unable to communicate, however analysts believe the opposition is still alive and waiting for momentum and opportunity. “The people’s anger and resentment against the government is bottling up, and it will erupt without a doubt,” said Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a political analyst and former parliament member.”

Christine Quinn, City Council President, with JCRC Executive Director Michael Miller, thanked the Hero Award recipients for their bravery and sacrifice. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Representative Carolyn Malony presented the 2011 Hero Award to human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi on the steps fo New York City Hall. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

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