Sunday, February 13, 2011

Iran: Protest Movement, Regime Prepare for February 14 Demonstrations

On February 12, 2011, the Iranian regime rejected the protest movement's request for permission to stage demonstrations in support of the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, planned by movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi for February 14, 2011. Ignoring the ban, the movement's coordination committee has called on its supporters to take to the streets anyway.

In anticipation of the demonstrations, the regime has arrested associates of the protest movement leaders, issued public announcements warning Iranians not to participate in the protests, increased media oversight, and blocked Internet access.[

The regime's concern is that the mass demonstrations in support of the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings will turn into demonstrations against the Iranian regime itself. This fear was reflected in a statement by Iranian Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi, who at a ceremony at Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) headquarters claimed that Western intelligence agencies were looking for a disabled person to set himself on fire in Tehran, in order to spark a popular uprising there – following the model of events in Tunisia and Egypt.