Iran: 30 Years After the Revolution

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Iran: 30 Years After the Revolution


On On April 1, 2009, Iran will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution marking the homecoming of Iran’s revolutionary father Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after almost 15 years of exile. [1] At the same time the Islamic Republic is commemorating the overthrow of the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who ruled Iran for almost forty years and died 18 months after he fled Iran.

Europe’s relations with Iran

Since 2007, the „stalemate over Iran’s nuclear file has put all other EU policies with Tehran on hold. EU-Iranian relations remain dependent on the development of Iran’s nuclear file, and thus are likely to deteriorate.“ [2] German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not shy away from „using additional, tougher sanctions to convince Iran to stop its nuclear program,“ [3]  French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a nuclear Iran is „unacceptable“ and has warned French companies against doing business in the Islamic Republic. [4]

The remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the Holocaust (he questioned the Holocaust, saying he did not believe six million Jews has died at the hands of the Nazis [5]) „shocked the EU deeply, scarred Iran’s image in Europe and destroyed the fine web of cultural and university relations between the EU and Iran that had been carefully built up during the Khatami years before.“ [6]

US-Iran relations

The Islamic Revolution „changed Iran from a monarchy into a theocracy and made political Islam a force to be reckoned with around much of the globe.“ [7]  By April, the Islamic Republic was officially established. In November 1979 a group of students took over the US Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

President Ahmadinejad has been accused of being involved in the „hostage crisis“ [8] Ahmadinejad was a member of the „Office for Strengthening of Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries“ (OSU), the main student group behind the takeover. [9] The United States then broke ties with Iran, banned American exports to the country and expelled Iranian diplomats. [10] Relations between Iran and the US have yet to recover, however talks between Washington and Tehran are considered more likely under US President Barack Obama. [11]

Recently the United States invited Iran to an international conference on Afghanistan planned for March 31, 2009. [12] In response to Obama’s „extended diplomatic hand“, Ahmadinejad said the United States must apologize for its „crimes“ against Iran. [13] On January 31, 2009, Ahmadinejad declared: „The revolution is lively and alive after 30 years. We are still at the beginning of the path and greater changes are ahead. This thunderous revolution will continue until justice is implemented.“ [14]

Human rights violations and torture in Iran

  • Since Ahmadinejad was elected President of Iran in 2005, the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic has deteriorated dramatically. [15] Iran has the highest number of executions worldwide after China. Crimes such as murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and adultery are being punished by execution. [16]
  • In February 2008, the EU has called on Iran to drop provisions in a draft penal code implementing death penalty for apostasy (rejection of religion), heresy and witchcraft. Iran routinely dismisses Western criticism, justifying its decisions through the rules of Sharia, the Islamic religious law. [17]
  • Iran is in the distinction of having the world’s highest record of public hangings and executions. [18]

Freedom of expression and speech

  • In 2008, there has been a „dramatic rise of arrests of political activists, academics and others for peacefully exercising their rights of free expression and association “ in Iran. Iranian authorities systematically suppress freedom of expression and opinion by imprisoning journalists and editors and strictly controlling publishing and academic activity. In 2008, the authorities continued to target student and internet-journalists. The government systematically blocks Iranian and foreign websites that carry political news and analysis. [19]
  • Iranian authorities are especially restrictive on coverage of women’s right issues, anti-government demonstrations, the ailing economy and the development of nuclear technology. Numerous laws restrict press freedom, such as the 2000 Press Law, which forbids the publication of ideas that are contrary to Islamic principles. Under article 513 of the penal code, offenses deemed to be „an insult of religion“ can be punished by death or by prison. [20]

Freedom of religion

  • Ethnic and religious minorities are subject to discrimination and, sometimes, persecution. Iran’s ethnic minorities, such as Arabs, Azerbijanis, Baluchis and Kurds, who are campaigning for recognition of their cultural and political rights, are being repressed. Religious minorities, such as the Baha’is, continue to face persecutions due to their religion. [21]
  • Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Iran has ratified, says: „Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief.“  [22]




[1] „Iran celebrates 30 years of Islamic revolution,“, January 31, 2009,

[2] Posch, Walter: „The European Union and Iran,“ The Middle East Institute, February 11, 2009,

[3] Küntzel, Matthias: „The Tehran-Berlin Axis,“ The Wall Street Journal, May 15, 2008,
[4] Hosseinian, Weiss, Stanley A.: „Wielding a small stick,“ International Herald Tribune, June 6, 2008,

[5]„Holocaust comments spark outrage,“ BBC Online, December 14, 2005,

[6] Posch, Walter: „The European Union and Iran,“ The Middle East Institute, February 11, 2009,
[7] Pace, Sonja. „Iran’s Islamic Revolution Resonates 30 Years Later,“ Voice of America, February 6, 2009,

[8] Hostage Roeder: „Ahmadinejad Threatened to Kidnap My Son,“ Der Spiegel Online, June 30, 2005,,1518,363072,00.html

[9] Knight, Sam: „Photo ‚shows Iran President with US hostage‘,“ Times Online, June 25, 2005,

[10] „Iran-U.S. Relations: A chronology,“ The New York Times,

[11] Pace, Sonja. „Iran’s Islamic Revolution Resonates 30 Years Later,“ Voice of America, February 6, 2009,

[12] „Clinton invites Iran to Afghanistan conference,“ Reuters, March 5, 2009,

[13] „Iran marks 30 years of Islamic revolution,“ AlArabiya Online/Agence France Presse, January 31, 2009,

[14] Ibid.

[15] „UN: Hold Ahmadinejad Accountable for Iran Rights Crisis,“ Human Rights Watch, September 17, 2008,

[16] „Iran Hangs 22 in Executions This Week,“ The New York Times, January 22, 2009,

[17] „EU urges Iran to drop draft on witchcraft and heresy,“ Reuters, February 26, 2008,

[18] „Iran: Amnesty International Condemns New Wave of Executions,“ Iran Press Service, October 19, 2007,

[19] „World Report 2009 – Iran,“ Human Rights Watch, January 14, 2009,,,HRW,,IRN,,49705f9d5f,0.html

[20] „Freedom of the Press 2008 – Iran,“ Freedom House, April 29, 2008,,,FREEHOU,,IRN,,4871f60c18,0.html

[21] „Amnesty International Report 2008,“

[22] „The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,“ United Nations,

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