Iranian Protest in Westwood

Allan Beglarian

Southern California’s Iranian community protest at the Federal Building in Westwood. . .

The Iranian government has tightened its stranglehold on the opposition this week by aggressively clubbing, shooting and arresting disidents in Tehran, its capital, and other major cities of Iran.

Green clad demonstrators armed with signs and shouting passionate slogans gather at the Federal building in Westwood on June 13, to voice their support of the Iranian opposition against the June 12 presidential elections held in Iran.

Slideshow Media Credit: Allan Beglarian

“This election is a sham. Iranians don’t want another four years of Ahmadinejad and his brand of oppressive Islamic rule of our country. We want freedom . . .” said Afshin, 22, a UCLA student who asked to be identified by his first name only, because of possible reprisals against his family, still in Iran.

The protest, which took place at 10 a.m. involved 500 participants at its peak, jamming the sidewalks on Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue, and continued for six hours.

“It is insulting the intelligence of every Iranian, and the world, when a leader claims that the country is stable when there are tens of thousands of people in the streets shouting against the oppression of the regime,” said Seema, 31, a Glendale resident, among shouts of “Bye bye Ahamadinejad.”

The protests are a result of claims by the opposition party of voter fraud in Iran’s recent presidential elections. “There are all sorts of inconsistencies in the results [votes] but for us it is no longer just the question of rigged elections. It is an accumulation of all broken promises and the stifling of freedom and democracy by the Islamic republic and its mullahs. Enough is enough. We want our freedom back,” said Ali Taheri, 46, an Iranian merchant.

Los Angeles and Glendale are home to one of the largest Persian communities in United States and the protesters are an amalgam of students, merchants and housewives. Although most participants are citizens and live in the Southern California region, the majority have relatives who still live in Iran. “My older brother and his family live in Tehran and I’m really worried for them, but my main concern is all our brothers and sisters who are there facing the wrath of the Islamic regime,” said Reza, 23. “I’m just afraid of what the government will do to them after this is all over,” he continued.

Iran is at a historic moment in its long existence. Reports of opposition marches and violence against the protestors in Iran have filtered out of the country through Twitter and the Internet and the peaceful opposition of the Iranian public continues for now. “We are just supporting and waiting . . . and hoping for the best. We are at a critical and important point in our history,” said Bijan Emami, 38, of Westwood.