LEADING IRANIAN DISSIDENT PRESENTS DRAMATIC EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT FROM LATEST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 21, 2009


LEADING IRANIAN DISSIDENT PRESENTS DRAMATIC EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT FROM LATEST
PROTESTS IN TEHRAN; LABELS IRANIAN REGIME’S OPPRESSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITY
GROUPS,“AN APARTHEID-WORSE THAN SOUTH AFRICA”

Political exile, imprisoned and tortured as leader of July 1999 student
uprising casts first online Iran 'revote'

Roozbeh Farahanipour, Secretary General of Marz-e-porgohar (Iranians for a
Secular Republic), who was imprisoned and tortured as one of the leaders of
the July 1999 student uprisings in Tehran, told a briefing at the Simon
Wiesenthal Center about his recent clandestine trip to Iran to participate
in anti-regime protests on July 9th, the 10th anniversary of the student
uprising in 1999.

Mr. Farahanipour, who has been living in the U.S. as a political refugee for
the last 9 years, re-entered his home country illegally early this month and
managed to escape certain arrest and worse if caught by police. he shared
photos and video of Iranian people marching in numerous protests in Tehran
which he participated in and explained to the hushed audience how citizens
use their cars and other non-violent means to try to thwart the regime's
feared motorcycle paramilitary thugs from attacking peaceful dissenters.

Farahanipour rejected new calls by leading clerics for a referendum on the
recent fraudulent presidential vote—“The Iranian people are beyond anything
less than a free and open democracy,” adding that international attempts to
engage the Iranian regime would prove fruitless. “In today’s Islamic
Republic of Iran there’s a kind of apartheid…we have a racial apartheid, we
have gender apartheid in Iran, we have religious apartheid in Iran….The
situation is worse than in South Africa,” he added. But Farahanipour said
that the international sanctions against apartheid South Africa, is the only
effective non-violent model available to the international community. “The
people want economic sanctions against this regime even if it makes their
economic situation more difficult,” he said. He called for divestment from
companies such as Nokia and Siemens, who do business with the Iranian
regime.

Farahanipour  was invited to cast the first vote in the Wiesenthal Center’s
“Iran Unofficial ReVote Ballot” web campaign (at www.wiesenthal.com) that
polls visitors on their preference for Iranian President—Mir Hossein
Mousavi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or None of the Above. Votes will be tabulated
until September 15—the opening of the 64th Session of the United Nations
General Assembly. The campaign is designed to express grassroots solidarity
with the Iranian people and goad the international community into taking
action. Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, urged
a full walkout by every UN member state if Ahmadinejad is permitted to
address to the General Assembly in September. “That would send a signal to
the Iranian people that their efforts are not in vain,” Rabbi Hier said,
lambasting the world’s double standard.  “We call on the United Nations to
do what they like to do when it happens in Israel—if there’s anything when
Israel is involved, the UN is in business immediately,” said Hier. “The EU
is quiet, the United States is quiet and the General Assembly is quiet. And
as long as that happens, all we’re doing is propping up the crooks who stole
the Iranian election,” he concluded.  

To view video of Farahanipour at SWC detailing the accounts of his trip, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCznHfgXptE

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.