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Iran election

July 18, 2009

Following the mass protests in Iran, international NGOs, including Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders, have called for July 25 to be a global day of action for human rights and press freedom.

The logos of Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders with the Iranian flag as a background
NGOs are calling for solidarity with Iranian protestorsImage: DW-Montage

Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders, International PEN and other organizations have set aside July 25 as a day for people all over the world to come together and show their solidarity with the Iranian protest movement. The call, made public in Berlin, also has the support of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Iranian Shirin Ebadi.

The organizations are demanding, among other things, that Iran respect human rights, a UN investigation into the more serious and systematic human rights violations, the release of all non-violent political prisoners and an end to state-supported violence.

Opposition answers back

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Rafsanjani is considered the main rival of President AhmadinejadImage: AP

Following Friday prayers given by influential cleric and government critic Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, up to one hundred thousand people took to the streets in Iran in the first mass demonstration against the government in weeks, clashing with police. Eyewitnesses reported countless arrests and instances where police used tear gas.

Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran, has often criticized the government and has warned the current situation could turn into a real crisis.

"Our main task is to regain the trust of the people," said Rafsanjani, who is often considered the main rival of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That would only happen if the government released those taken into custody while protesting the presidential election on June 12.

"We have to learn to tolerate each other," added the 75 year old cleric, who is a supporter of the opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mussavi.

Rafsanjani is the head of two of the most powerful bodies in the Islamic Republic. He is the chairman of both the Assembly of Experts, which elects and removes the Supreme Leader of Iran, and the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran, an unelected administrative assembly that resolves legislative conflicts between the Majlis and the Council of Guardians.

Protesters of the Iranian election march along the street holding a poster of Mir-Hossain Mousavi
Since the elections on June 12, hundreds of people have been arrested and at least 20 killedImage: AP

Merkel demands freedoms

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also sent an appeal to the leadership in Tehran, calling on those that have the power in Iran to give people their human rights and their civil rights and the possibility to freely express their opinions through peaceful demonstrations.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, added Merkel, Germany has the task to speak out for people in other parts of the world who are demanding their freedom.

Editor: Andreas Illmer