Protesters target Iranian Embassy
June 22, 2009
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Iranian Embassy in Oslo through the weekend, demanding an end to the violence in Teheran. They also want Norwegian authorities to react with more than words against the Iranian government.
The Norwegian government already has summoned Iran’s top diplomatic representative in Norway to the Foreign Ministry, to file an official protest against the violence used against demonstrators in Teheran. Those demonstrations have continued as millions of Iranians reject the results of national elections on June 12 that left the current administration in power.
Iranians living in Norway aren’t satisfied with the Norwegian government’s response, and want Norwegian authorities to make their objections stronger. A demand to “boycott the Iranian regime” was among the slogans adorning banners at the weekend demonstrations in Oslo.
“HEY PREACHER, LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE” was another, a clear message to Iran’s strict religious authorities, while some want the Norwegian government to demand a new election in Iran.
“We’re demanding that the Norwegian authorities in turn demand that the election in Iran be nullified,” Saki Rahman, one of the Iranian-Norwegians organizing the weekend demonstrations, told newspaper Aftenposten . Some Iranians living in exile in Iran also want Norway to initiate sanctions against Iran and end Norwegian involvement in Iran.
“We believe, for example, that (state-controlled oil company) StatoilHydro should pull out of Iran,” says Elham Binai, a blogger who also lives in Norway. StatoilHydro has around 100 employees in Iran and has said it is monitoring the situation in the country closely. Last week StatoilHydro offered to fly families of employees home to Norway if they wanted to leave the country.
Demonstrations set to spread
Organizers said the demonstrations that started late last week outside the Iranian Embassy will spread this week to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Demonstrators also plan to set up a tent outside the Norwegian Parliament, so that the protests can continue around the clock.
The protest will be mostly symbolic, since Norway’s Parliament adjourned for the summer on Friday. The location, however, is in the heart of downtown Oslo, where demonstrations traditionally are held to attract maximum attention.
Around 15,000 people with Iranian background live in Norway, so the hundreds of protesters represent a small percentage of the local community. “We hope that we can gather all Iranians in Norway, and stand together with our goals,” student Maryam Moezzi told Aftenposten . Another 13 persons were reported killed in the violence in Teheran on Sunday, while reports were emerging Monday that some official state agencies were confirming voting irregularities in Iran. That raised the hopes of those refusing to accept election results.