Friday, January 15, 2010

Iranian diplomat in Norway resigns in protest

A veteran Iranian diplomat has resigned in protest of his government's brutal suppression of dissent in that country.  From Fox News:
A veteran Iranian diplomat based in Norway has resigned from his post, denounced his government and urged colleagues around the world to do the same after the regime’s brutal suppression of huge opposition demonstrations last month.

Mohammed-Reza Heydari, Iran’s consul in Oslo, is the first Iranian diplomat to publicly quit and condemn the regime. He revealed that it sought to lure him back to Tehran after rumors of his defection surfaced last week. At the time, the Iranian Foreign Ministry insisted that the rumors were baseless.

In an interview with the Norwegian television channel NRK, Heydari said that he decided to resign after Iranian security forces killed a dozen demonstrators on Dec. 27.

“I hope my friends and colleagues in other parts of the world who see and hear me now and know me will move in the same direction as their people. I hope they will manage to sacrifice some personal interests and rather think of what is in the interest of their people and their nation,” he said.

Heydari said that he did not fear for his life, but in the past the regime has arrested the relatives of those, such as Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel peace laureate, who criticize it from abroad. Opposition Web sites said that Heydari’s brother was a well-known Iranian television presenter.
According to the Washington Post, Iran's foreign minister denied reports of Heydari's resignation:
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Reuters: "The report is baseless. A diplomat returns to the country when his mission is finished in another country."

"Sometimes they stay longer in the country where they served as diplomats for various reasons, including waiting for the end of school semesters of their children," Mehmanparast added.
This is reminiscent of Iraq's then information minister, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, who claimed that there were no American troops in Baghdad in April, 2003 even as American tanks were patrolling the streets only a few hundred meters from where he was speaking.

I applaud the courage of Mr. Heydari and pray for the safety and liberty of his family.

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