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Entries in Mujahedin-e-Khalq (3)


The Latest from Iran (30 April): The Heaviness of the Atmosphere

2200 GMT: Political Prisoner (Death) Watch. Back from a media break for the British election to find confirmation that death sentences have been handed down to Mohammad Ali Haj-Aghayi and Jafar Kazemi for mohareb (war against God), ties to the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq, and propagating against the regime.

Both men were arrested during the Qods Day demonstrations on 18 September.

NEW Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi “The Green Movement is Growing in Society”
UPDATED Iran: Tehran, Defender of Rights (Don’t Mention Boobquake), Joins UN Commission on Status of Women
NEW Latest Iran Video: Shirin Ebadi on the Human Rights Situation (23 April)
Iran Video and Summary: The Mousavi Statement for May Day/Teachers Day (29 April)
Iran: The Establishment Frets Over the Supreme Leader
The Latest from Iran (29 April): Preparations

1825 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Student Abolfazl Ghassemi has been sentenced to three years in prison.

1815 GMT: Karroubi's High Profile. Mehdi Karroubi continues the push of opposition initiatives with a declaration to student activists, which we have posted in a separate entry, that the Green Movement is on the rise in Iranian society.

Karroubi has also issued a statement, on the eve of May Day and National Teachers Day, congratulating Iran's workers and teachers.

1450 GMT: Cyber-News (or Lack of It). Khabar Online reports that filtering is now affecting the blogs of "hardliners" and popular writers.

1440 GMT: Your Friday Prayer Summary. Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani wowing the faithful in Tehran today and it's all USA, USA, USA.

Emami Kashani downplayed "the enemy's plots" and said it "will not succeed in its attempt to halt Iran's peaceful nuclear activities through deception and trickery".

The cleric reiterated the remarks of the Supreme Leader that nuclear weapons as "illegal and haram (forbidden)" under Islam. "Despite this," he added, "We are witnessing that the enemy is leveling countless accusations against the country and is threatening us with sanctions....[These] will be rendered useless in the face of the Iranian nation's vigilance."

Despite the firm words against Western immorality, Emami Kashani made no reported reference to women's breasts and earthquakes.

1435 GMT: Labour Watch. After workers of a Bandar Abbas shipbuilder were dismissed, 300 employees protested against assignment to temporary employment agencies.

1400 GMT: Taking Notice. Another sign that the recent Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi initiatives are reviving the interest of "Western" media in the opposition: The New York Times posts an article on yesterday's Mousavi video, "Iran Reformist Tries to Enlist Labor and Teachers".

1355 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Amnesty International publishes its report, "Iran: Journalists Under Siege". The study, which says more than 70 journalists are detained (see our separate entry for 101 who have been held during the post-election crisis), asserts: "Iranian journalists and bloggers are increasingly under siege in one of the biggest crackdowns on independent voices and dissent in Iran's modern history."

1345 GMT: Back from a lengthy academic break to find a flurry of news. Rah-e-Sabz has summarised Mehdi Karroubi's phone conversations with two prominent detainees, student leader Abdollah Momeni and reformist politician Feizollah Arabsorkhi.

0910 GMT: Teachers' Corner. Following our reports of a crackdown on teachers in advance of National Teachers Day, including the arrest of the head of the Teachers Organization, Alireza Hashemi, RAHANA has an overview of the attacks on the headquarters of the teachers' unions and the homes of the members and the hacking and hijacking of websites.

0905 GMT:Economy Watch. Rah-e-Sabz posts a summary of the position of women workers, claiming that they face discrimination, insults, and dismissals and have no social security under the Ahmadinejad Government.

0800 GMT: Get-Tough Alert. I am wondering if we need to launch a "Mesbah Yazdi Watch". The cleric, as Mr Verde noted yesterday, has been quite vocal in recent days, and it seems he is going moving to the front of the "hardliners": "If we had treated post-election protest mildly like earlier governments, no one knows which catastrophe would have come about the country."

0750 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Saeed Soudmelli, arrested 31 December as he filmed traffic on his cellphone in Tehran, has been sentenced to a year in prison for "acting against national security".

Soudmelli’s relatives said he was interrogated through multiple-choice questions such as, “Which of the following people do you hold responsible for the recent events and your own arrest: A – Mousavi, B – Ahmadinejad, C – Yourself, or D – The Government?”

0745 GMT. Beyond Satire. In the week of Boobquake and Tehran's campaign to ban tanning salons, we've got an update in a separate entry: Iran has been voted onto the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

0705 GMT: What's Mahmoud Doing? Well, yesterday President Ahmadinejad opened a cement factory in Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchistan.

0700 GMT: Economy Watch. Credit to Patrick Barry in Foreign Policy who, picking up on news and signals we've been following for weeks, assesses the fragile state of Iran's economy. He has a stinger of a conclusion:
Based on the regime's track record of incompetence and the consequences of that incompetence for the Iranian economy, the U.S. would be wise to take a step back, allowing Iran to continue on its present course....Congress is searching for the most effective means to weaken the Iranian economy; the best approach may be for it to do nothing at all.

0620 GMT: Influence and Time Magazine. Last December, Time took the controversial decision of striking "the Iranian people",  despite their overwhelming victory in a poll of readers, from their finalists for Person of the Year.

Not sure if this is sufficient consolation, but Mir Hossein Mousavi has been named the most influential person in the world for 2010 in Time's online ballot, with almost twice as many votes as the runner-up, Chinese novelist Han Han.

0615 GMT: The Isolation of Ahmadinejad. Muhammad Sahimi offers his analysis of internal tensions, offering detail on the corruption scandals that challenge the President and looking at Iran's international position and the manoeuvres over its nuclear programme to conclude:
If Ahmadinejad's isolation held no potential for a lasting effect on the nation as a whole, it would not be so important. But the fact is that his isolation -- the consequence of electoral theft, violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters, rampant corruption, and the pursuit of a foreign policy simultaneously aimless and aggressive -- directly threatens Iran's national security and territorial integrity.

0600 GMT: We begin this morning with two features looking at repression and the discussion (or lack of it) inside Iran. With the help of Dave Siavashi of Iran News Now, we have the videos of last week's talk by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi on the human rights situation. And we post the reportage of Katherine Butler of The Independent of London, who was allowed into Iran to cover the Tehran conference on nuclear disarmament but seized the opportunity to do a few interviews with Iranians about the state of fear and tension.

The Latest from Iran (22 April): This Isn't Over

1230 GMT: EA On the Move. Hopefully, we'll be relocating from the US to the UK today, so updates will be restricted until tomorrow afternoon. My thanks to all for their patience, and for keeping up going through news and comments while I'm heading home.

1215 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (If You Know Someone in MKO, You're a Criminal). There seems to be a pattern in a number of recent sentences, including death penalties. As we reported yesterday, six people have been handed down orders for execution because they are related to or acquainted with members of the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran, the political wing of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq "terrorist" movement.

An Iranian activist now reports that Monireh Rabaei has received a five-year sentence, upheld on appeal, on the basis that she has an uncle in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, home to many PMOI members. The following sentences have also been passed on the basis of "connections with MKO": Zia Nabavi 15 years, Ozra Ghazi-Mirsaied three years, and Mahdiyeh Golro 28 months.

NEW Iran Document: Detained Nourizad’s Letter to Khamenei “We Have Lost Our People”
NEW Iran Document: Ayatollah Sane’i “Some Want Islam For Their Own Agendas”
Iran: The Latest Post-Election Death Sentences
NEW How Iran News is Made: Adultery, Earthquakes, and the BBC
The Latest from Iran (21 April): Waiting for News

1115 GMT: Economy Watch. Rooz Online's claims of layoffs are not quite as dramatic as those in the Human Rights Activists report (see 1100 GMT), but they are still striking:

Labor news sources report the laying off of at least 2,500 industrial and leather workers in Ilam and Mashad. Counting other laid-off workers in industrial and large cities such as Abadan, Ahwaz, Khorramshahr and Shiraz, during the last two weeks, more than 4,000 workers have lost their jobs just in the recent past.

...The crisis in Iran’s industrial sector has reached such a level that, in an interview yesterday, the head of Iran’s House of Labor predicted the closure of hundreds of large and medium industrial firms per year and the subsequent laying off of 200,000 workers every year after that.

1100 GMT: Firings and Abuses. Human Rights Activists in Iran has released a report claimed more than 38,000 cases of firings and human rights abuses in Iran in the past month.

Of the cases, more than 90% (37,519) are the layoffs of workers in Iran, as 166 production lines in the country have been shut down every month, according to a labour official. At least 11 protests and gatherings have been staged by workers in the country in the last month alone.

The group cites 537 cases of abuse of students’ rights, 255 cases of abuse against political and civil activists, 34 cases of capital punishment, 259 cases of torture and prisoner abuse, at least seven cases of citizens killed in frontier provinces, 124 arrests and abuse of national minority rights, and 68 cases of arrest and abuses against religious minorities.

Human Rights Activists says that, because of the scale of the abuses and the difficulties in documenting them in a rigid security atmosphere, the cases are only a fraction of the abuses that are occurring.

1055 GMT: Is Google A Regime Enemy? The Iranian Labor News Agency reports that a ban on Google Images has been lifted by Iranian authorities, 24 hours after it was imposed.

1045 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Women’s rights activist Dorsa Sobhani has been released after a detention of more than six weeks. Sobhani spent 25 days in solitary confinement.

The brother of Majid Tavakoli says that the student leader, detained on 7 December after a speech at a National Student Day rally, remains in solitary confinement.

Student activist Nader Ahsani has been re-arrested and taken to Evin Prison.

1040 GMT: "We Had to Save the System". A potentially explosive admission....

Aftab, from the weekly Panjareh, quotes an unnamed high-ranking intelligence official, who admits that post-election arrests, especially those of the first round of senior reformists, were planned ahead of the 12 June vote.

The detentions were a preventive measure because Iranian intelligence agencies anticipated major unrest which could get out of control. The official said, "Our law is not appropriate to fight against 'soft war', so we had to take these measures [to save the system]. The fifth statement of Mosharekat party [Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution] clearly speaks of establishing a secular system."

1030 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. On another front, Mehdi Hashemi, the son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, has warned the regime to "stop spreading lies" and to "beware of the time, when I speak out". Hashemi, who is currently in London, has been threatened by the Iranian authorities with prosecution for alleged corruption and misuse of funds during the Presidential election.

0945 GMT: After an extended break, we return today to a series of powerful responses to the regime, all of which make clear that the challenge to legitimacy will not be crushed.

In a separate entry, we have posted the latest statement of Grand Ayatollah Sane'i, criticising the Government for its misuse of Islam in its lies and detentions.

We also have a second feature: from inside Evin Prison, the detained journalist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has written a letter to the Supreme Leader requesting that he "declare this year the year of national reconciliation and do not fear the reproach". In itself, that is not a direct challenge to the regime --- it acknowledges Khamenei's authority, after all --- however, the letter has special potency because Nourizad's detention was prompted by a previous appeal to the Supreme Leader to recognise the illegitimacies of the election.

Mohsen Armin, member of Parliament and former Vice Speaker, has also launched a spirited criticism of the Government. A senior member of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party, which is now under threat of suspension, Armin denounced lies and threats of prosecution and demanded that the regime address the basic issues of rights and equality.

MP Mohammad Reza Khabbaz has asserted that the inability of the Ahmadinejad Government to make appropriate use of $370 billion oil income is a "catastrophe".

Iran: The Latest Post-Election Death Sentences 

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports:

....Motahareh Bahrami and Mohsen Daneshpour Moghaddam (husband and wife) and their son, Ahmad Daneshpour, together with two of their close friends, Rayhaneh Haj Ebrahim and Hadi Ghaemi (not related to the Campaign’s executive director of the same name) have been sentenced to death.

The family’s other son, Meysam Daneshpour, told the news-website Roozonline that his family members were arrested at their home following Ashura protests. In an interview with the Campaign, Meysam Daneshpour confirmed the execution sentences and said that his family did not have any recourse to an independent lawyer during the lower court’s prosecution. He also said family members had no access to detainees during the prosecution. “We did not have access to them [detainees] for two months, but now we can meet them on a regular weekly basis,” Meysam Daneshpour told the Campaign.

The Latest from Iran (21 April): Waiting for News

All five had court-appointed lawyers during the prosecution, who failed to inform the family of the execution sentence. Maysam Daneshpour told the Campaign that he had not received an official notification of the court hearing or death sentence.

During the appeals process, Mohammad Sharif, a prominent human rights lawyer, was able to represent the defendants and launch an appeal for Motahareh Bahrami, Rayhaneh Haj Ebrahim, and Hadi Ghaemi, and is under review at Branch 36. However, the appeals case for Mohsen and Ahmad Daneshpour had been sent to Branch 36 and already confirmed before Sharif could lodge a defense.

According to Meysam Daneshpour, intelligence agents arrested his parents, brother and their friend, Hajebrahimi, at the family’s home following Ashura protests on 27 December 2009, and not during a protest. Their lawyer Mohammad Sharif told the Campaign the defendants are charged with “deliberate cooperation with MKO” [Mujahedin-e-Khalq], “gathering and colluding against national security,” and “propaganda against the regime and in the interest of enemies.” The evidence supporting these charges included a trip by the parents to Iraq to visit another son, who is a member of MKO, sending videos and pictures to MKO, and participating in demonstrations....

In a similar post-Ashura case, 47-year-old teacher Abdolreza Ghanbari was charged with Moharebeh (enmity against God) and sentenced to death because of alleged emails and phone calls he had with MKO’s television broadcast abroad....

A lawyer who presents political prisoners told the Campaign that when authorities accuse political prisoners of being members of opposition groups such as MKO, it becomes impossible for Iranian media, human rights lawyers and defendants’ families to publicize these cases. “The Iranian media cannot touch on these cases, and lawyers like me will face severe difficulties to pursue our work if we advocate on behalf of such defendants regarding the nature of such affiliation,” the lawyer said. “This gives the authorities a free hand to use such punishments to terrify government critics and dissidents.”