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My personal account of police brutality on the eve of the Iran's elections

By Shahrad Sharif

I was looking forward to cast my vote at the polls. This is the first time that I am here in Tehran on the eve of a presidential election. The only other time that I have voted for an Iranian president was more than a decade ago in California.

Last night my wife and I took a stroll to Park-e Mellat. As we were getting closer to the park, we saw many trucks and vans filled with soldiers and special force police in clubs rushing toward the park. As we got to the corner of the park, I noticed that the Vali-Asr street going toward Tajrish was closed to the traffic. Some police authority was yelling in a rude language at the pedestrians to go back. We didn't yet know what was going on. As we went to the other side by the park, we saw many people, specially families rushing out of the park. I saw with my own eyes the police attacking pedestrians of younger age for no apparent reason! I heard from the people leaving the park, that hundreds of soldiers and special force policemen under the direction of a higher ranking officer started attacking everyone present at the park, families and women included. I have not seen such a scene before except at the time of the Shah where police were beating students routinely at the Polytechnic University right behind our high school, Alborz.

I am astounded with what I witnessed last night. This was a total contradiction to what I saw on the joyeful night last week that Iran won Bahrain in soccer. On that night thousands of young people, girls and boys took to streets to celebrate a major national sport's victory. The fans of some candidates, namely Mr. Hashemi, Mr. Ghaleebaf, and Dr. Moin were sharing the joy with the other young people by passing out posters and cards of their candidates and inviting them to vote. There were absolutely no policemen to be seen around that night. People were free to celebrate anyway they pleased.

I am astounded with the intensity of these two past events, one very liberating and the other one so brutal. What a double standard? Whose decision was it to attack the people at Park-e Mellat on the eve of the elections? What is accomplished?

While the leader, the president, and all presidential candidates talk about the importance of the young people and their voting rights, how can any of them allow such a brutality happen under their nose and on their watch on the eve of the elections?

Yesterday, I read in Shargh newspaper about President Khatami's concern and warning on recent attacks on candidates and group assemblies. I had no idea that such attacks could be carried out by an official police force. What I saw was not pleasant. I am wondering if the position of the Chief of Police (i.e., Farmandeh-e Neeroye Entezami) were an elected office, would we still be witnessing police brutality on the eve of the elections? I have a second thought this early Friday morning about participating in the process of electing a president who by law has no control over the manner and the behavior of the country's police force.

... Payvand News - 6/18/05 ... --

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