The Edmond Sun

February 10, 2014

Protesters mark 35th anniversary of Iranian revolution

James Coburn
Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — A group of Iranian Americans waved signs on the southeast corner of Second Street and Broadway Monday in protest of the torturous rule of the Iranian regime.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that ended the reign of the Shah of Iran with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seizing power as the Supreme Leader.

“We think it was stolen from Iranians from a bunch of mullahs and Islamic students,” said Jila Azimi. “And we’re here to tell the people of the world that after 35 years of suffering, torture, war and imprisonment, that we’re here to be the voice of the Iranian prisoners who are being tortured and suppressed.”

Iran’s current Ayatollah Ali Khamenei succeeded Khomeini in 1989 when the founder of the Islamic Revolution died. Hassan Rouhani was elected president in 2013, replacing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Silence and imprisonment has been forced on many of Iran’s university students, professors, feminists and journalists, said Azimi, who fled to the United States 34 years ago and graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in political science.

“Since President Rouhani came, everybody thought he would be a democratic person and free political prisoners,” Azimi said. “Of course he freed a few of them who were internationally known and was making trouble for him.”

Rouhani wanted to ensure the good faith of his government over a nuclear deal Iran made with the United States, she said. However, Ahmed Shaheed, special observer of the United Nations Human Rights Council, announced in November that Iranian executions have increased.

“The rate of execution after Rouhani came got doubled,” Azimi said. “We are here to say please don’t forget all political prisoners in Iran.”

Rouhani brokered a deal with the West because American-led sanctions were breaking Iran’s economic system, she said. More sanctions against Iran are needed, she said, while asking Oklahomans to call their senators and representatives in Congress.

Iraj Rostampour, who arrived in Oklahoma two weeks before Khomeini seized power, said he believes the Iranian government is trying to make a nuclear weapon.

Rostampour worries that his family may be arrested. But freedom has a price, he said. American Iranians are ready to return to Iran to help Iranian youth free their country, he said.

“We want this (Iranian) government to go away. We have to have democracy,” Rostampour said. “We have to have religion away from politics and government. That’s the main thing. And also a freely elected president of Iran.” | 341-2121