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StarBulletin.com

Isle rally draws protests of Iran crackdown


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POSTED: Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dressed in a green T-shirt, Ali waved a sign saying, “;Iranians, we stand with you,”; and “;Stop the killings.”;

He was among 50 people wearing green, the color of the opposition movement in Iran, who rallied at the state Capitol yesterday.

The rally coincided with worldwide demonstrations on the “;Global Day of Action”; to stop Iran's ruling regime's violent crackdown on opponents who call the election a fraud.

At least 20 people in Iran were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters after the elections. Hundreds, if not thousands, have been placed in prison, according to the Associated Press.

“;It's not safe,”; said Ali, an Iranian citizen who declined to give his last name for fear of retaliation.

From a town in northern Iran, Ali came to Honolulu to study engineering at the University of Hawaii. He said he wanted the world to know that Iranians didn't vote for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June election.

United4Iran, a group that aims to restore human and civil rights in Iran, organized yesterday's demonstrations and said protests were planned in more than 100 cities.

Ali said he changed his profile on Facebook because Iranian officials detained his friends for hours at the airport, asking them about their online activity.

He said he is afraid to talk about the opposition movement with his family in Iran over the phone.

“;They said they (the government) are listening all the time,”; he said. “;They can do anything they want.”;

He hoped to send a message to the people of Iran through the rally.

“;We think about you; we worry about you,”; he said. “;We want the world to know that Ahmadinejad is not our president. It's definitely a fraud.”;

Moana Rumi Nikou, an Iranian-American, brought his wife and 4-year-old son.

“;This is a global day of unity with the Iranian people,”; he said. “;This is to support democracy and human rights around the world.”;

Nikou, who lived in Iran during the Islamic revolution in 1979, said this new revolution will take time to change the country.

“;It's just beginning,”; he said. “;It's easy to hold guns and point at people. It's hard to do it peacefully.”;

“;You have to keep the protest alive,”; he added.

Iranian national Saloome Asghari, 28, joined the demonstration with her husband, a UH graduate student.

She carried a sign saying “;Our Neda, Our Voice”; with a photo of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose shooting death was captured on video and transmitted worldwide via the Internet.