March 20th, 2010
10:06 PM ET

Former Iranian vice president freed for the holidays

[10:06 p.m.] Authorities in Iran sent in regular police to keep order at a demonstration outside the prison where jailed opposition supporters are held. About 100 family and friends of the prisoners gathered in the street to bring in the Persian new year.

More than 200 uniformed security personnel prevented the crowd from gathering in front of the prison. The demonstrators went to a nearby street, lighted scores of candles, and arranged a Haft Sin, the traditional table that's part of the Iranian new year ritual.

With the arrival of the new year, shortly after 9 p.m. local time, the crowd sang Yare Dabestani, a song made popular by Iran's student movement and often heard during anti-government demonstrations.

Security personnel peacefully dispersed the gathering shortly after the singing began.

[3:36 p.m.] A vice president to former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was released Saturday from Evin Prison so that he can celebrate Norooz, the holiday that marks the first day of spring and the new year, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Hossein Marash, who was arrested Thursday after he was convicted of spreading propaganda against the state, must report back to prison on April 3, IRNA reported.

He is accused of organizing a demonstration outside Evin Prison to protest the jailing of political activists, IRNA reported.

Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the temporary release of prisoners during the holidays was being carried out for humanitarian reasons, IRNA said.

Marash is a relative of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who served as president from 1989 to 1997 and has been critical of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardline president whose re-election last June has been disputed.

Separately, authorities responded Saturday to another demonstration outside the prison by sending in regular police to keep order, sources told CNN. They interpreted the fact that riot police were not dispatched to the scene to mean that the demonstration would be allowed to proceed.

Iran has been wracked by anti-government demonstrations since the disputed presidential vote resulted in Ahmadinejad's re-election.

The government has beefed up security to ensure "order and calm" during the two-week period celebrating Norooz, which began Saturday.

Authorities have stationed 200,000 security personnel across the country, according to Ahmadinejad's official news site.

Post by:
Filed under: Iran • World
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Shawn

    You know you live in a corrupt country when people get jailed for protesting people getting jailed.

    March 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Randy

    I just want to know, where were the parents at when all this was happening?

    March 21, 2010 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lawrence

    apparently there are those in Iran who oppose they same as much of the rest of world, a dictatorship that is set to destroy. Iran, the legendary land of flying carpets, "Arabian Nights," the land of magic is now a land of horror. The people are in opposition to the present government, I hope they continue their fight for freedom and become a free democracy. This isn't about any religious thing, it's about persecution. People of America, don't be too quick to judge all Iranians, they aren't all enemies.

    We have enemies too and our own voices are ignored. We haven't been muzzled–YET, but . . . That rally and protest in front of the white house, will it do any good?

    March 21, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lawrence

    I didn't know of their celebrations, it sounds very intersting. It was apparently a peaceful gathering nut their voices were muzzled for just singing a song, a song created by students that are in opposition to what has become of their nation. These are young people who want to enjoy the life ahead of them not live in fear. So do we. The world has become one where the citizens are living in fear, fear of governments and not being able to voice their opinions and desires. There, got that off my chest/

    March 21, 2010 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |