September 24, 2013, New York—Within hours of speeches by the presidents of the United States and Iran before the United Nations General Assembly, the New York City-based organization Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression brought its message against war and sanctions and for the rights of the Iranian people to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Manhattan.
Hassan Rouhani’s first visit to the UN as president of Iran comes on the heels of his recent electoral victory—a victory which would not have been possible without the votes of millions of people. Many Iranians view Rouhani’s election and the recent release of roughly a dozen political prisoners as hopeful signs, but have yet to see the broader changes Iranian society urgently needs.
When Iranian voters chose Rouhani, a moderate candidate, to be president, they likely forced a toning down of rhetoric from the Obama administration. While that is encouraging, military action against Iran is still “on the table,” and the devastating US-led sanctions against Iranians—which are really a form of war—unfortunately continue.
Havaar said, “We stand here today to demand an end to the cruel and unjust sanctions regime imposed on the Iranian people by the United States, and an end to threats of war from both the United States and Israel. At the same time, we echo the demands of millions of Iranians—many of whom voted for Mr. Rouhani—for the continued release of political prisoners, social justice for women, and an end to the repression of trade unions and freedom of the press in Iran.”
Havaar was joined by allies from other anti-war and social justice organizations as members carried large signs bearing slogans in English and Farsi such as “Lift The Sanctions,” “Bombing My Family Is Not An Option,” and “Free All Political Prisoners.”