While much of the media’s coverage of Iran in recent weeks has focused on the pros and cons of its nuclear energy program, a recent public statement by 40 left, Communist and workers’ parties about “a new wave of suppression in Iran” has received less attention.

The Sept. 30 statement notes that “since February 2004, when the reactionary forces regained control of the Iranian parliament through anti-democratic measures, including the disqualification of thousands of reform-minded and independent candidates, human rights violations have become widespread.”

The statement continues: “Scores of non-governmental and non-conformist publications … have been closed down and their editors and contributors arrested and imprisoned. Leaders and activists of the student movement have been arrested and imprisoned. Leading lawyers, intellectuals and writers have been attacked.”

The aim of these attacks, the statement argues, is to facilitate the election of the ultra-conservatives’ candidate in the presidential election in May 2005.

The statement calls for the Iranian authorities “to respect basic human and democratic rights as defined in international conventions,” and to immediately release all political prisoners; immediate release all journalists and writers jailed for adhering to the principles of freedom of expression; end the censorship of all progressive newspapers and Internet sites closed down in recent months; and declare the Iranian government’s adherence to the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The statement is careful to note, “Simultaneously, we also categorically reject all external provocations and threats of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the country.”

The Bush administration and Israel, in particular, have been speaking menacingly about Iran and its nuclear energy program.

Signers of the statement include the Tudeh Party of Iran, Communist Party of Chile, AKEL Cyprus, Communist Party of Greece, Lebanese Communist Party, African Party for Democracy and Socialism – Senegal, Communist Party of India, and the Communist Party USA.