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Police sweeps, disappearances, and mass trials followed the huge street protests (pictured) after the June 2009 vote. More recently, security forces have outnumbered the few protesters who have dared to come out.
An Iranian opposition group has called for silent rallies to be held in Tehran and other Iranian cities on February 14, accusing the government of wasting the country’s interests and resources.

The Coordination Council of Green Path of Hope issued the call on the anniversary of a protest last year that attracted tens of thousands of people and led to the house arrest of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Musavi and Mehdi Karrubi.

The council has called for demonstrations in the intervening 12 months, but those calls have triggered tight security measures by the Iranian establishment and failed to draw opposition activists out into the streets.

Musavi adviser and Coordination Council of Green Path of Hope spokesman Ardeshir Amir Arjomand told Radio Farda that the Iranian establishment, which has heaped praise on the so-called Arab Spring demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia, should grant Iranians the right to protest.

We're in a very difficult and dangerous situation, we have to do all we can to change the situation," Arjomand said. "The economy is mismanaged, there’s growing poverty, [and] economic structures are collapsing."

He described Iran’s international status as "shrinking significantly" and said his country is "facing major threats."

"Because of all these issues, we need to change the situation and bring people to the scene so that their voices of protest can be heard by the establishment," Arjomand said.

The Green Movement is an initiative led by Musavi that emerged after the disputed reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 and massive street protests challenging the result.

But the ensuing crackdown -- which included disappearances and allegations of torture, police sweeps, and televised mass trials -- has led opposition supporters to engage mostly in online protests rather than street demonstrations. More recently, security forces have outnumbered the few protesters who have dared to come out.

The Green Movement -- hobbled by the house arrest of founder Musavi -- has not been present as an organized force but its sympathizers have maintained their demands.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Farda and RFE/RL
Young Iranians' online activities are being subjected to closer scrutiny by the authorities.
Iran’s cyberpolice say they have arrested four administrators of a Facebook group called “Daaf and Paaf,” which had launched an online beauty competition.

The chief of the cyberpolice, Kamal Hadian, made the announcement on January 30 in a press conference in Tehran.

He said the force had “destroyed” the group, which he accused of spreading corruption and immorality.

The cyberpolice also posted a note on the group's Facebook wall in which it said that the two women and two men who administered the page have confessed to their crimes.

“In the name of God, we inform you that the page 'Daaf and Paaf' is now under the control of [the cyberpolice]," the note said. "The four main managers of this group have been identified and arrested on the charge of inciting and encouraging individuals to access vulgar content through the Internet.”

Under the note by the cyberpolice, many users have left comments condemning the move, sometimes using pejorative language.

“You...took away the right of the youth to be happy in the streets; they are all sitting at home spending their days and nights having online fun. Now you have an issue with this too?" wrote one user.

Others targeted Iran’s supreme leader with comments such as “Down with Khamenei! Down with the dictator!”

Fears Of A Clampdown

The Facebook group had called on its 27,000 fans to send in pictures to take part in a competition for choosing “hot” Iranian men and women.

The wall of the group is filled with the pictures of young Iranians of both sexes who are identified only by their first names.

It is feared that any Iranian residents in these photos could now be identified and prosecuted by the authorities, who are intent on cracking down on such "immoral" use of social media.

Iran has in recent months increased its scrutiny of its citizens' online activities.

Earlier this month, new restrictions for Internet cafes were announced, which included installing security cameras and collecting the personal data of their customers, who are usually young people.

Last year at least two individuals were sentenced to prison because of their postings on Facebook.

Facebook is one of the most popular social-networking sites among Iranians, which they access using antifiltering tools.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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