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Capture Of U.S. Sailors Reenacted At Celebrations Of Iran’s 1979 Revolution

  • Golnaz Esfandiari

Iranian students reenact the arrest of U.S. sailors by Iran's Revolutionary Gaurds Corps during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran on February 11.

Iranian students reenact the arrest of U.S. sailors by Iran's Revolutionary Gaurds Corps during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran on February 11.

The capture of 10 U.S. sailors by Iranian forces last month was reenacted at rallies in Iran celebrating the anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Images published by Iranian news agencies and shared on social media show actors in fatigue pants walking in the streets, some with their hands tied and with chains around their necks.

In images from a rally on February 11 in the city of Qom, a man wearing red lipstick is apparently posing as the female U.S. sailor who was among those detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on January 12 after mistakenly straying into Iranian territorial waters.

A similar scene played out in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

The sailors were released on January 13 following several phone calls between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Their capture was a moment of glory for Iranian hard-liners who consider Washington their enemy despite an accord reached last year by Tehran and global powers including the United States that places restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The hard-liners, who are worried that their power could be diminished as the result of the deal and the opening up of Iran, have repeatedly used images of the U.S. sailors on their knees with their hands behind their heads for propaganda purposes.

They have also released footage and images that appear to show one of the sailors apologizing and another crying.

They seem clearly aimed to embarrass the United States and project an image of power to an Iranian audience.

Despite the nuclear accord, which has significantly decreased tensions between Tehran and Washington, at some of the rallies in Iran the U.S. flag was set on fire while some of those participating in the carnival-like gatherings held signs with “Death To America” slogans.

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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She can be reached at EsfandiariG@rferl.org

     

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