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Entries in Rah-e-Sabz (21)


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 (29 April): Preparations

2020 GMT: A Cleric's May Day Message. Grand Ayatollah Mousavi-Ardebili, meeting workers in advance of May Day, has said: “Today the problems are many and to solve them either no actions are taken or [the government] is incapable of taking any actions. The main issue is that solving these problems has been assigned to those who are not experts in these topics.”

Mousavi-Ardebili also touched on the charges of impropriety against the Government: “Our expectations from Parliament is to show more resistance against the unlawful actions [of the administration] because if, in the Parliament that is the house of the people and is where the laws are passed, these issues are ignored the situation would be worse in other places.”

NEW Iran Video and Summary: The Mousavi Statement for May Day/Teachers Day (29 April)
NEW Iran: The Establishment Frets Over the Supreme Leader
Iran Document: English Text of Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (26 April)Iran: President Ahmadinejad’s Joke of the Day
The Latest from Iran (28 April): Making a Date

Mousavi-Ardebili added, “These days to solve the problems there is nothing left for us to do but praying, since when we give our inputs about an issue it is being ignored.”

1940 GMT: Political Prisoner News. Days before National Teachers Day and planned demonstrations, it is being reported that Alireza Hashemi, the Secretary General of the Teachers Organization, has been arrested.

1500 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. It's no longer fresh news that Italy's largest oil and gas company, Eni, is pulling out of Iran projects because of the prospect of tougher US sanctions on any firm dealing with Tehran (see Tuesday's updates). It is significant that the news is now being carried by Press TV.

1455 GMT: We've posted today's Mir Hossein Mousavi video, accompanied by a summary from Radio Zamaneh, as a separate entry.

1330 GMT: Writing About the Crisis. Our German Bureau reports that prominent Iranian poets and writers, including Simin Behbahani, Yadollah Royai, Esmail Khoi and Majid Naficy, have contributed to a new anthology,  "Protest of the Pen", published in Persian.

0945 GMT: Investigation or Cover-Up? Shadi Sadr offers her views on the enquiry into the Kahrizak Prison abuses, leading to the death penalty for two police officers and a prisoner:
Gentlemen! Enough magic! We know and you know that the story cannot vanish with the execution of three individuals; indeed, no injury can be cured by more death and execution. The only thing that can satisfy us is knowing the truth about all victims of Kahrizak; the truth about the death of Ramin Pourandarjani, the assigned physician at the facility; and the description of what transpired from the perpetrators of the crimes, on national television.

0940 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi has released a video statement for May Day and Iran's Teachers Day (2 May).

0935 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voice of Freedom has a summary of recent arrests of students and the poor health of some detainees.

0925 GMT: Economy Watch. Voice of America claims that, of an estimated 8200 Iranian companies in Dubai, 400 have closed because of sanctions.

0920 GMT: Clerical Matters. Rah-e-Sabz offers an analysis of the President's relationship with senior clerics in Qom, claiming that there were tensions in Ahmadinejad's first term and that only a few marja are offering greetings for his second term.

0915 GMT: Labour/Political Prisoner Watch. Homayoun Jaberi, a member of the Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, has been sentenced by the Revolutionary Court to a year in prison, suspended for three years (effectively a probation).

0835 GMT: Mr Verde is back, offering an analysis of the worries of the Iranian "establishment" over the position of the Supreme Leader.

0820 GMT: Corruption Watch (cont.). Elyas Naderan, the conservative member of Parliament who has been leading the campaign against the Government, has criticised the President for not waging a fight against corruption and for appointing questionable officials (for example, at Iran's Oil Commission), and (at NIOC etc.) because of political motivations.

0745 GMT: Corruption Watch. The drumbeat of criticism from conservative members of Parliament continues. Yesterday we noted Ali Motahari challenging underhanded dealings and nepotism in the judiciary; today we find Ahmad Tavakoli launching an even wider attack:
We have reached a state where political corruption is rampant, with some even trying to influence decision makers through bribes. This kind of corruption is much worse than economic corruption, because in economic corruption individuals pursue base and materialistic interest, but in political corruption it is possible that legal decisions would be made to facilitate certain people’s corrupt pursuits and lead to the interference of some in distributing the enormous oil proceeds.”

Political corruption is the involvement of politicians in economic corruption, whereby they buy and sell laws and regulations. This is a much more important disease that some are afflicted with now by trying to infiltrate the Majlis using bribes, threats or promises. Unfortunately we don’t have comprehensive laws dealing with political corruption.

If this problem is not dealt with today, tomorrow would be very late.

Tavakoli then gets specific, targeting the First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, accused of involvement in a major insurance fraud:"The judiciary is now facing a difficult test, because it has moved forward to investigate two important cases. One deals with an administration official and the other with a relative of a senior regime official. If the judiciary falls short of dealing with either case, in my opinion it would flunk the public opinion test and won’t have any standing left for combating corruption.”

0715 GMT: May Day. Rah-e-Sabz has now published the 15-demand declaration of the coalition of Iranian labour groups.

0645 GMT: So, after a flurry of statements from opposition figures (Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi) and groups (reformist parties, teachers, workers), we see if declaration will lead to action.

My interest is not in President Ahmadinejad's next move. Once more he is trying the foreign distraction, applying for and receiving a visa to attend the United Nations conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty next Monday. That is matched by a roll-call of statements from Government officials and supportive members of Parliament that it is the US who is the nuclear culprit --- see, for example, the assertion of Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alathat Washington should apologize for its failure to abide by its obligations under international law and the NPT.

No, time will be better spent looking for ripples, as in public gatherings of workers, teachers, and other activist groups for the week around May Day. And then the question is whether there will indeed be another wave for 12 June, the anniversary of the election.

An opening teaser question: will Mousavi, who has repeatedly been kept away by Iranian authorities from mass demonstrations since last June, finally move from statement to open defiance by joining the marchers six weeks from now?

The Latest from Iran (28 April): Making a Date

2130 GMT: Controlling the Teachers. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty summarises the pressure by Iranian authorities on teachers ahead of Teachers Day on 2 May.

This includes the arrest of two senior members of Iran's teachers union, Ali Akbar Baghani, and spokesman Mohammad Beheshti Langarudi, warnings to activists in several cities, including Tehran and Tabriz, not to take part in any protests, and fines and arrests for demonstrating. It is reported that several blogs and websites on teachers' issues have been blocked.

NEW Iran Document: English Text of Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (26 April)
NEW Iran: President Ahmadinejad’s Joke of the Day
Iran’s Detained Journalists: EA’s (Vicarious) Confrontation with Foreign Minister Mottaki
Latest Iran Video: Mousavi & Karroubi Meet (26 April)

Earlier this week, the Coordinating Council of the Teachers Trade Unions called for a hunger strike on Teachers' Week (May 2-8) to protest prison sentences and death penalties handed out to teachers. Four teachers are reported to have been jailed in recent months and at least one, Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, is facing the death penalty.

2045 GMT: Corruption Watch. Conservative member of Parliament Ali Motahari has criticized Iran's judiciary for lack of independence and nepotism.

Motahari told the Iranian Students News Agency that, in corruption cases involving relatives of top officials, prosecutors are seeking permission from the officials themselves before even investigating.

1600 GMT: Oil Squeeze Posturing. In an interview with Khabar Online, Ali Vakili, the managing director of Iran's Pars Oil and Gas Company, has warned Royal Dutch Shell and Spain's Repsol that they must declare if they plan to pursue a project, agreed in 2007, to develop liquefied natural gas in the South Pars field.

Shell recently announced that it is suspending all involvement in the project.

Vakili insisted that Iran can develop the South Pars, having overcome financial obstacles, and that it has the necessary technology.

1530 GMT: We've posted a special separate entry: the English translation of Monday's discussion between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

1245 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The lawyer for reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh has said that Tajzadeh has not yet reported to prison to begin his six-year sentence: “My client was admitted into a hospital in Tehran because of his disc problem (in his back)....During the past 2 days, my client was expected to introduce himself to the prison to continue serving his prison term; however, this has not happened....As soon as his physical condition improves, he will present himself to the authorities.”

0845 GMT: Corruption Watch. Mardomsalari newspaper frets that corruption has become a political issue and warns that "justice" should end it once and for all before foreign ennemies can take advantage of the situation.

0830 GMT: The Subsidy Battle. While there has been a general between Parliament and President over the subsidy cut and spending plans, the fight over implementation continues.

Maintaining that Iran's political, social and economic situation cannot cope with a shock, MP Ahmad Tavakoli has written Ahmadinejad with three propositions: 1) no across-the-board rise in prices, 2) provision of reliable data on familiy's income, and 3) gradual implementation of the plan. ()

0810 GMT: Culture Wars. Rah-e-Sabz claims there will be increased pressure from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance upon people, especially women, to "satisfy the Supreme Leader" on the eve of the election's anniversary on 12 June. The website alleges there are "serious plans" for reeducation from kindergarten to university.

As if to prove the point, Kayhan proclaims that "bad hijab" has to be fought everywhere, from schools to offices.

0755 GMT: Does the Regime Need Legitimacy? An interesting debate, as reported by Rah-e-Sabz: the Supreme Leader's deputy to the Revolutionary Guard denies it is necessary to rely on people's votes, while Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi insists that the Government does precisely that.

0750 GMT: (More) Persistence. Reformist MP Rasul Montajabnia declares that hardliners cannot become an alternative to reformers and replace them: "We are alive."

0745 GMT: Continuing the Labour Theme. Rah-e-Sabz, anticipating May Day, reports that workers' incomes have suffered in the Iranian New Year. There are widespread dismissals and threats to dismiss those who "do not work enough". Meanwhile, protests have increased over the lack of accepted unions and organisations.

Reformist member of Parliament Hajsheikh Alikhani has insisted the government "doesn't give a damn about workers' problems".

0740 GMT: Awards. Hassan Karimzadeh from the banned newspaper Etemade Melli has won 1st prize in the World Press Cartoon competition.

Mahdi Razavi has been given an award by an Italian panel for his No War photograph.

0735 GMT: Labour Watch. Iran Labor Report offers a full summary of preparation for a "Labor Week" around May Day: "The experience of last May Day’s brutal clampdown...has prompted most independent labor organizations to call off May Day gatherings. Instead, they are encouraging workers to celebrate the occasion in small numbers at factories and shop-floors.

0730 GMT: Mahmoud Visits New York? A blog on the Foreign Policy website claims, from "senior UN officials and diplomats", that President Ahmadinejad has requested a visa to attend a high-level conference next week at United Nations headquarters to review progress on the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

0725 GMT: Not Worried (Really). The "hard-line" newspaper Kayhan has asserted that any Iranian using Haystack, the software developed by Austin Heap to allow access to the Internet while avoiding surveillance, will be tracked down by Iranian authorities. Kayhan claimed that the Green Movement is advising followers not to use the software.

0720 GMT: Persisting. The two major Iranian reformist organizations, Islamic Iran Participation Front and Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution, announced that they will continue their activities despite the recommendation of Parliament's Article 10 Commission for the dissolution of the parties. Both factions called for a public hearing in order to defend all their activities.

Leaders of the two organizations have written to the Commission maintaining that the dissolution lacks “legal justification.”

0420 GMT: Time will tell, but Tuesday appeared to be a day to mark in this lengthening crisis. The building series of statements from opposition figures, notably Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, culminating in the emergence that, yes, the two men had met on Monday and, yes, they had called for a demonstration on 12 June, the anniversary of the election.

We'll wait a day or two for follow-up before attempting an analysis, but the obvious issue is whether --- after 2 1/2 months of relative passivity since the 22 Bahman (11 February) moment --- those challenging the regime can seize the initiative.

That follow-up has already begun. Mehdi Karroubi, in comments posted on Mihan News, has set out and defended his political approach, working with a cross-section of opposition groups: "I have talked to a lot of leftists. They did not become Muslim, and I didn't become a Communist." The message is not only for the regime, but for the Green Movement: secular and religious can co-exist in the demand for justice and rights in the Islamic Republic.

The Karroubi-Mousavi accompanies other signs of a renewed challenge to the Government. A Street Journalist has published an English translation of the joint resolution, with 15 demands, issued by a coalition of Iranian labour groups.

Elsewhere, reformist MP Jamshid Ansari has declared that, contrary to its claims, Parliament has not initiated an investigation into the attack on the dormitories of Tehran University on the night of 14/15 June.

In a debate with fellow MP Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghaddam at Tehran University, Ansari said, “You should not expect any report from the Parliament regarding this matter because no committee has been assigned to this task, neither by the Speaker nor by the Parliament.”

The raids by security forces killed several people and caused extensive damage, two days after the elections and hours before the mass march on 15 June.

The Latest from Iran (26 April): Points of View

2030 GMT: Economy Watch. Mohammad Nabi-Habibi, the Secretary General of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, has said that the government has not had any major achievement in the privatization process: “Over the recent years, some works have been done to privatize the state-run organizations and strengthen the private sector, but the steps have not yielded any notable result so far."

NEW Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi “We Will Make The Nation Victorious”
NEW Iran: The Mousavi 4-Point Message "Who Defends the Islamic Republic?"
NEW Iran Exclusive: A Birthday Message to Detained Journalist Baghi from His Daughter
Iran Special: Tehran, Defender of Women’s Rights (P.S. Don’t Mention Boobquake
Iran: The Green Movement and the Labour Movement (Assadi)
Iran: Hyping the Threat from Tehran (Walt)
The Latest from Iran (25 April): Build-Up

2025 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Sama Nourani of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters has reportedly been released on bail.

2015 GMT: Our colleague Josh Shahryar has a new opinion piece at The Huffington Post, "Iranian Diaspora Needs to Act": "What the Green Movement urgently needs from the Iranian Diaspora, especially in the United States, is to come together and form a strong voice of political support for the cause of Iran's democratization - if not outright liberalization."

1525 GMT: Ahmadinejad "Look Over There!" Speaking to Iran's police officers, the President today denounced "satanic tools" of oppression.

This may have initially shocked his audience, but eventually it became clear that Ahmadinejad was not referring to them. Instead, his target was nuclear weapons, military invasions, and the veto power granted to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The President continued, "America belittles nations, and questions human values, whereas valuing humanity requires culture. Belittling nations only reaps inflexibility, distance, and malice."

1515 GMT: The Der Spiegel Profile of Karroubi (With a Bonus Surprise). The German magazine's piece on Mehdi Karroubi is now out --- it's more a portrayal than an interview --- and features the cleric's defiance, "The people are just waiting for a spark....I am prepared to accept all consequences."

The surprise,however, is not in the Karroubi material: to be honest, we've heard it before from the resolute opposition figure. Instead, the twist comes in an insert on another Presidential candidate, the "conservative" Mohsen Rezaei:
Does he see himself as an alternative to Ahmadinejad? The corners of Rezaei's mouth turn up in a slight smile: "I will serve my people where I can."

The retired general prefers to avoid critical questions, and seems intent on stirring his tea, as if the sugar could somehow solve his loyalty problems. Like Karroubi, Rezaei refers to "Dr. Ahmadinejad" and avoids using the word president. And like Karroubi the reformer, Rezaei the conservative says: "It can't go on like this."

1450 GMT: Over to You, Dr Rahnavard. And now it's Zahra Rahnavard putting out a declaration. She calls on the Government to free all imprisoned workers and teachers and to hold free and democratic elections.

1445 GMT: We have now posted a full English-translated version of Mehdi Karroubi's statement to former reformist members of Parliament, "We Will Make The Nation Victorious”.

1345 GMT: Karroubi Fights Back. Mehdi Karroubi's website Saham News carries a summary of his latest discussion with former reformist members of Parliament. The cleric, who had to deal with false rumours of his ill health last week, denounced the "new wave of psychological warfare" of the regime. He has promised that, despite this campaign, the opposition's resistance will only increase.
1245 GMT: Photo of the Day. Reformist leader and former Minister of the Interior Mostafa Tajzadeh is surrounded by supporters and well-wishers before his return to prison. Tajzadeh, who was on temporary release, was formally given a six-year sentence last week.

1000 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. The chief executive of the French oil company Total, Christophe de Margerie, said today that it will cease gasoline sales to Iran if the United States passes legislation to penalise fuel suppliers exporting to Tehran.

0925 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz's latest list of detainees has 2560 names. The website estimates that the total arrested since the June election is probably 18,000.

One of those detainees, journalist Mohammad Reza Yazdan-Panah has been indicted for "acting against national security".

0920 GMT: Stop Blogging. Now. RAHANA reports that Google-owned Blogger has been filtered in Iran.

0915 GMT: Economy Watch. Khabar Online posts some troubling figures for the Government, with a 4:1 imbalance between Iran's imports and its exports.

0855 GMT: Is the Government Rattled? There is a notable sharpness today in the attacks on opposition figures by pro-regime newspapers. Kayhan announces that even if former President Mohammad Khatami repents, people will not forgive him for his "sedition".

Resalat asserts that staff from the reformist sites Rah-e-Sabz and Balatarin, with former Minister Ataollah Mohajerani as intermediary, received money from British intelligence officials. The newspaper also "reports" that "the dumb Sheikh [Mehdi Karroubi] met with organisers of fitna [sedition], who proposed to restart this on the election anniversary" but that Mir Hossein Mousavi does not want a call for demonstrations.[

0845 GMT: Interpreting Human Rights. Leading reformist Nasrullah Torabi has drawn a lesson from Iran's withdrawal of its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, with its negative effects on Tehran's standing: the step confirms the news of Iran's human rights violations.

0843 GMT: Larijani Watch. Just because he is manoeuvring against the President does not mean Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has to go easy on the US --- indeed, because he is criticising Ahmadinejad, there is even more cause to take the tough line on Washington. In his latest speech, Larijani declared that "people will stand against the US with their lives". (sorry, misunderstanding, your IRGC has to do that ;-)

0838 GMT: Removing Mousavi. The new Constitution of the private group of Iranian universities, Islamic Azad University, has removed Mir Hossein Mousavi from the Board.

0835 GMT: Thanks for That, Ayatollah Khamenei. In his speech to Iran's police forces on Sunday, the Supreme Leader said that respect for people is necessary.

0830 GMT: Karroubi Watch. And while we're summarising Mir Hossein Mousavi's latest steps, Rah-e-Sabz offers Mehdi Karroubi's interview with Der Spiegel, in which he declared that he would be pursuing a demonstration "to protect our Constitution" on the anniversary of the election, 12 June, and called the Ahmadinejad Government a "disaster" for Iran. We're still waiting for the German version.

0825 GMT: Whipping the NGOs Into Shape. Mohammad Reza Alipour, the Deputy Tehran Police Commander, said on Saturday that the police intend to organize non-governmental organizations in a “centralized” way. Alipour explained, “The police’s concern is that there is insufficient supervision over citizen organization and in some of them there is administrative chaos….There is no oversight for issuing licenses for these organizations.”

0815 GMT: The Chinese Angle. Amidst the tangle of signals of Beijing on sanctions, oil imports from Iran, and trade, Mehr News Agency is upbeat:
Iranian and Chinese finance ministers met in the U.S. on Sunday and underlined plans to enhance economic ties and increase the mutual trade level to $20 billion. The Mehr News Agency reported that on the sidelines of the World Bank summit in Washington, Shamseddin Hosseni met Xie Xuren.

Hosseini pointed to Iran's immediate privatization policy and said that foreign companies, especially Chinese firms, can cooperate in the country's lucrative investment projects such as oil refineries and petrochemical plants.

Most of the cheerleading for the trade boost comes from the Iranian side, with the Chinese representative "expressing his satisfaction with the Iranian official's suggestions and noted that the two countries were in a reconstructing phase of their economies meant to benefit their nations".

So is Beijing really boosting its economic stake in Iran, just throwing up reassuring noises, or keeping all its economic and political options open?
0800 GMT: Interpreting Mousavi. With Mir Hossein Mousavi making a flurry of speeches this week, we've offered a quick analysis of his four key points, "Who Defends the Islamic Republic?"

0500 GMT: No significant shifts on the news front this morning. The Ahmadinejad Government has been relatively quiet. Speaker of Parliament Larijani continues his sniping at the President and his inner circle, but without making a significant move. Opposition figures such as Mousavi and Karroubi, with their statements, are signalling a build-up in activity, but plans have yet to emerge. And on the international front, the discussions on the nuclear front --- notably yesterday's encounter between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano --- still offer more the style of engagement rather than the substance of breakthrough.

A moment, therefore, to look at some points of view. There's an interchange on Press TV on the latest US Government steps on nuclear weapons which offers an opportunity to hear the thoughts of Tehran University students. There's a readers' discussion, sparked by a Tehran Bureau article on "Azeris and the Green Movement", on issues amongst Iran's ethnic groups and the dynamic with the national challenge to the Government. And there's our own readers' dialogue on the legitimacy of the 2009 election and the politics and "justice" beyond it.

And, for a personal point of view, there are the thoughts of Maryam, expressed in a letter to her father, journalist  Emad Baghi, as he celebrated his 48th birthday in Evin Prison on Sunday.

The Latest from Iran (25 April): Build-Up

2020 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that detainees in the women’s ward of Evin Prison staged a sit-in and asked the head of the ward to respect the Regulations Law which requires the separation of prisoners.

According to RAHANA, the head of the ward threatened the prisoners and claimed she needs prosecutor’s orders before separating the inmates. The political prisoners have stated that they will continue their sit-in until they achieve their goal.

NEW Iran Special: Tehran, Defender of Women’s Rights (P.S. Don’t Mention Boobquake
NEW Iran: The Green Movement and the Labour Movement (Assadi)
NEW Iran: Hyping the Threat from Tehran (Walt)
Iran: The List of 101 Journalists Who Have Been Jailed
Iran Document: Mousavi on the Green Movement’s Strategy and Goals (22 April)
The Latest from Iran (24 April): Speaking of Rights

1555 GMT:Corruption Watch. Reihaneh Mazaheri, writing for Tehran Bureau, sets out a detailed summary of the corruption allegations against the Ahmadinejad Government.

1550 GMT: Morality Will Be Observed. Tehran Police Chief Ahmad Reza Radan has assured that the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance's moral police will soon restart controls for better security.

1535 GMT: Media Corner. Journalist Zaynab Kazemkhah, arrested on 7 February, was fired by Iranian Students News Agency upon her release from Evin Prison. Her boss allegedly told her that she was "a traitor to the country".

1525 GMT: Mousavi Speaks Again. No doubt about it: both Mehdi Karroubi (see 0600 GMT) and Mir Hossein Mousavi are making a renewed push against the Government. Mousavi told a group of war veterans today, "The only way for Iran to get out of the crisis would be for you (the rulers) to change your approach. May God end the crisis in favor of the nation."

Mousavi again declared that the Government is working against the values of the Islamic Republic, "Islam would not beat anyone, would not take anyone into incarceration ... and would not keep anyone in prison....We can not accept closure of newspapers and jailing those who talk of freedom and people's right. This is against Islam."

The Presidential candidate assured the audience that the opposition has not been vanquished despite the Government crackdown on dissent, "Do not think that the reform movement does not exist anymore. Such measures can not block the reform path."

1520 GMT: Rumour of Day (2). Rah-e-Sabz claims that staged television confessions of reformist prisoners are planned for the eve of the anniversary of the election, 12 June.

1310 GMT: Culture and Political Prisoners. Ten prominent Iranian writers and poets, including Simin Behbahani, Ali Ashraf Darvishian, Shams Langroodi, and Moniro Ravanipour, have published an open letter demanding the release of journalist Masoud Bastani and other political prisoners.

1230 GMT: Boobquake Watch. Protecting Iran from earthquakes by pursuing immorality, Tehran police have reportedly banned tanning salons.

1210 GMT: Another Larijani Warning. Speaker of ParliamentAli Larijani has told President Ahmadinejad that the Majlis' laws should be implemented. The Khabar Online article supplements the warning has lots of detail on the government's alleged mismanagement, especially missing reports on the budget and on state broadcaster IRIB.

1205 GMT: Rumour of Day. The Sunday Telegraph of London claims, "Iran has struck a secret deal with Zimbabwe to mine its untapped uranium reserves in a move to secure raw material for its steadily expanding nuclear programme."

It was this agreement that underlay President Ahmadinejad's visit to Harare this week.

Caution is needed here: the Sunday Telegraph has been known to peddle exclusives based on suspect sources and/or speculation. This story rests on a "government source" and, rather unusually, "a senior official in the Iranian embassy" in Zimbabwe.

1200 GMT: All is Well Update. Minister of Interior Mustafa Mohammad Najar has declared, ''During nine months' efforts (since the 12 June Presidential election), police forces across the country slapped the enemy's conspiracy."
He said, ''Due to proper instruction, police forces used proper contact with people and the forces used less amount of shooting (than in the past).''

1035 GMT: Nuclear Breakthrough? Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has met the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, to discuss the uranium swap proposal. Mottaki told Iranian state television that he expected the discussions to be "decisive and detailed".

1030 GMT: We have posted a very special analysis linking Iran's suddenly-announced candidacy for the International Commission for Protection of Women’s Rights to the "Boobquake" episode.

(Just a thought, however. The Supreme Leader has his own Facebook page and has recently pronounced on Iran's defense of women's rights, so shouldn't he be informed of the Boobquake movement?)

0740 GMT: We have posted two features: an analysis of the Green Movement and labour movement by Jamshid Assadi and an assessment of the international "threat" from Iran by Stephen Walt.

0735 GMT: The Parliament Front. Another intervention by the Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani in the contest with the Ahmadinejad Government: he has criticized administration officials who have reacted angrily to reports released by the Supreme Audit Court (SAC).

The Supreme Audit Court, overseen by Parliament, is mandated to control the financial operations and activities of all ministries, institutions, state companies, and other organizations which receive Government funding.

0650 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Student activist Milad Fadayi has been sentenced to a year in prison for “propaganda against the system”. Fadayi was detained on 2 December in his home by plainclothes agents.

Mohammad Hossein Agassi, the lawyer for Amir Reza Arefi, has said that Arefi's death sentence for "mohareb" (war against God) has been reduced to a 15-year prison term. Arefi was condemned to death in February.

However, RAHANA reports that Habibollah Golparipour has been sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court in Iranian Kurdistan.

0600 GMT: We are watching the signs that the opposition, inside and outside Iran, is seeking a renewed challenge leading up to the anniversary of the Presidential election. According to his website, Mehdi Karroubi has told the German magazine Der Spiegel, "Although tranquillity has been restored, society is awaiting a spark....People should know that we will continue the campaign. The campaign is not against the [Islamic] republic. On the contrary, it is aimed at observing the constitution in which freedom of conscience and democracy has been clarified."

Some other bits and pieces to start the day....

Clerical Downgrade

A second cleric in Qom has been stripped of his status by a court. Hojatoleslam Mir Ahmadi was sentenced to forced exile from the city for ten years and banned from clerical activities.

Ahmadi was arrested by security forces days after a memorial service in February for the 40th day of the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Ahmadi had debated a student who criticised Montazeri and post-election turmoil in the country. The next day, he was arrested and later released.

Seyed Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour, who recently began a one-year prison sentence, also faces a ban on wearing the traditional clerical robe.

No Foreign Talk, Please

The Islamic Republic News Agency claims that the Deputy Minister for Cinema Affairs has directed that no foreign words be used in Iranian movie titles. According to the agency, a letter to officials declared, “Based on an approval by the cabinet to ban foreign words in banners, advertisements, etc…from now on, Iranian movies are not permitted to use foreign words in titles. This ban applies to films currently in production as well.”

International Rumour of Day

Ayoub Kara, Israel's deputy minister for development in the Negev and Galilee, has told a public meeting that an academic with ties to Iran's nuclear programme recently asked for asylum in Israel after it helped him to defect.

"It is too soon to provide further details," Kara said, adding only that the unidentified academic was "now in a friendly country."

The claim follows the resettlement of Iranian physicist Shahram Amiri in the US in March.