Obama and Rouhani; A Call to Action

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    At London’s Southbank Centre, the exhibition History is Now: 7 Artists Take on B…

Zanan TV

25 September 2013

New York—September 24, 2013

While dozens of cameras and reporters covered Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech from within the United Nations General Assembly room, ZananTV’s cameras focused on an activist who stood outside the UN Headquarters. The activist was there to represent Havaar—an Iranian initiative against war, sanctions, and state repression. When ZananTV interviewed the activist, she had some surprising and challenging words for both United States President Barack Obama and President Rouhani. Her statement was as follows:

“We have two messages here today. One is for President Obama. We are, as we have for many years now, asking him to unilaterally lift the sanctions that are causing collective punishment and suffering for the Iranian people. We are asking him to stop threatening Iran with war. We are asking him to lead nuclear disarmament by disarming America’s nuclear weapons first. That would be a wonderful way to lead the world toward nuclear disarmament. We have these messages and these demands for President Obama.

“At the same time, we have some questions and demands for President Rouhani. We’re very excited that there’s so much hope now among activists and our friends and people we know. Young people and people of all ages in Iran who voted for Rouhani are very hopeful that things could actually change. We’ve seen the release of some political prisoners. That’s a good sign, but we really want to keep the pressure on. Rouhani has raised expectations, but there’s so much that needs to be done. So we’re here demanding that all political prisoners be released. We’re here demanding that the attacks on women’s rights to education be rescinded, that women be allowed equal access to all fields of higher education. We’re here to demand that all the students who were kicked out of school for political reasons be allowed to return, and really to demand a serious economic program in Iran—job creation, which would have to start with discontinuing the persecution of trade union activists who are protesting for back wages and against factory closure. So there’s a huge array of economic, political, and social demands that people in Iran have, and we’re here to amplify those demands and put pressure on Rouhani to do what he was elected to do.”