The Minnesota Committee in Support of a Democratic Iran (MCSDI), a newly formed organization of local Iranian Americans, were joined by the Advocates for Human Rights and the Jewish Community Relations Council at the Capitol on Wednesday, July 15 for a rally and march to show their support for the protesters in Iran.
The MCSDI organizers also organized the June 24 rally at the Government Center in Minneapolis, but at that time they had not chosen an official name for their group. Parham Alaei, one of the MCSDI organizers, said he felt good about how much more support they were getting this time from government officials and other organizations.
About 80 protesters held up signs such as “I love Iran,” “Torture enough, pain enough, We had enough, enough is enough,” and “Support Iranian Youth.” They first chanted and sang on the steps around the Capitol, and then listened to speakers from the sponsoring organizations and representatives from the offices of Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congress members Keith Ellison, Michele Bachmann, and Betty McCollum. Following the rally, the protesters marched along the sidewalk around the Capitol lawn.
The goals of the rally, according to the MCSD press release were:
Support for Iranian people’s quest for human rights, freedom, and democracy
Protection of innocent civilians from killing, torture and arbitrary execution
Release of political prisoners
Democratic elections under international supervision
Protection of freedom of the press and access to information
Respect for the rights of women and religious and ethnic minorities
Coverage of the Iran news, especially human rights violations, by the media
Robin Phillips, from the Advocates for Human Rights, said she hoped the rally and march would “bring some attention to the human rights violations that are happening in Iran.” She said she hoped that people could separate the politics from the human rights violations, which everyone around the world should condemn.
For some protesters, separating politics from the human rights violations is impossible. One member of MCSD stated that the politics and violence in Iran are joined. “If they would be able to tolerate the opposition’s voice,” the man said, “that basically means more freedom for the people.” He said that none of the candidates in the Iranian election were his favorite, but he hoped that dissenters would not suffer violence. “If we came up with the resolution around the world to stop violence in my country,” he said, “that would be a major step toward democracy.”
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis theater artist and freelance writer. Email email@example.com
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