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« Today on EA (28 December 2009) | Main | Palestine: Abbas "I Promise, No Third Intifada" »
Monday
Dec282009

The Latest from Iran (28 December): The Regime's Arresting Strategy

ASHURA52115 GMT: Battling with Statements. The Assembly of Combatant Clergymen has condemned those it says are responsible for violence on Ashura, namely the security forces and plainclothes militia: "The Almighty God will cut off the hands of these deceived fools." The Assembly added:
Today we should cry blood that on the day of Hossein’s Aashura and after all sorts of insults to Imam Khomeini’s family and his legacy by the phony defenders of the revolution, there was an attack on the prayer hall [in Jamaran, where former President Khatami was speaking] that is a reminder of the name and memory of the Imam. The peaceful ritual of commemorating Aashura was attacked by clubs, batons and chains and by insulting slogans. Those who [did this] made the utmost insults to both Ashura and Imam Khomeini and then beat and bashed innocent people.

Daftar-Tahkim-Vahdat, the main reformist Student Alumni Organisation, also issued a statement:
What a regret that a government that considers itself to be risen from religious teachings and a national revolution, on the noon of Ashura opens fire on innocents and does what even the most notorious rulers of this country throughout the history [e.g. the Shah deposed in 1979] had not dared to do.

2055 GMT: Taking Sides? We've posted the video of President Obama's statement (see 2020 GMT) and it's even harder-hitting than we thought:"History will be on the side of those who seek justice"

2035 GMT: How Many Detained Yesterday? Rah-e-Sabz reports that 400 to 500 protesters were arrested Sunday in Isfahan, including the brother and two nephews of former Minister of Interior Abdollah Nouri. Human Rights Activists News Agency are now saying 1100 people have been transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran.

2025 GMT: Dastghaib Calls for A Movement. Ayatollah Dastgheib has issued a statement for fellow marja (high-ranking clerics) to join him in calling on the Government to adhere to the Constitution.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Obama Condemns “Violent & Unjust Suppression” (28 December)
NEW Iran: Ashura’s Message “Iranians Are Not Punching Bags” (Josh Shahryar)
NEW Iran: A Point of No Return?
Iran: A 5-Minute, 5-Point Reaction to The Events of Ashura
Iran: The False US Friends of the “Iranian People” (An Open Letter to Charles Krauthammer)
Latest Iran Video: The Ashura Protests (27 December — 3rd Set)
Latest Iran Video: The Ashura Protests (27 December — 2nd Set)
Latest Iran Video: The Ashura Protests (27 December)
The Latest from Iran (27 December): The Day of Ashura

2020 GMT: Obama Speaks. The US Government has definitely decided to throw rhetorical support behind the Iranian opposition. The President, in a press conference which will focus on the foiled attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound jet, has taken the time to comment on events in Iran.

Obama hailed the "courage and conviction" of Iran's people and said the Government must respect their rights:

We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained....The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens. What is talking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country. It is about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice.

1900 GMT: They Burned 18 Garbage Bins?! Sometimes you have to admire the Iranian regime. It is walking a fine line between showing that Sunday's protests were serious enough that the demonstrators must be punished but not so serious enough that they pose a threat to the regime. This is tonight's magical public-relations solution:
Head of the Public Relations office of Tehran's Safety Services and Firefighting Organization Behrouz Tashakkor said 838 firefighters were dispatched to various locations in Tehran on Ashura. "Nine residential buildings, 9 vehicles, 7 shops, 2 banks and 3 power stations were set on fire [by anti-government protestors]," Tashakkor said.

The Iranian official added that "18 garbage bins" were also set on fire.

1855 GMT: Karroubi Targeted? Saham News reports that Mehdi Karoubi, attending an Ashura mourning ceremony with his family, was attacked by plainclothes militia as he left the mosque. Karoubi’s car was attacked and vandalised, breaking the front windscreen, before onlookers intervened.

1840 GMT: More on Emad Baghi's Arrest (see 1140 GMT). An EA contact has given us the following information:

This morning plainclothes officers entered Baghi's home, with others standing at the door. They insulted his wife and daughters and turned him home into a garrison and badly beat his brother-in-law. As Baghi was taken away, he read a verse of the Qu'ran calling for tolerance and patience in difficulties. One of his captors said, "His life is short enough that he can see the future."

One of the accusations against Baghi is his interview with the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri in a movie recently broadcast by BBC Persian.

Baghi's whereabouts tonight are unknown.

1740 GMT: The BBC has published a comprehensive list of Western countries which have strongly criticised the Iranian Government's bloody crackdown and called for Tehran's restraint.

1555 GMT: Where is Mousavi's Body? According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the body of Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew Seyed Ali is being held by Government authorities while investigations are carried out on a death "under suspicious circumstances".

1530 GMT: Javan Farda reports that the son of Ayatollah Jaleleddin Taheri has been arrested in Isfahan. Taheri has been under pressure in recent days after his attempt to lead a memorial service for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

1444 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz is reporting that metro stations in central Tehran have been closed. The likelihood is that this is because of Government fears of escalation of protests at 7 Tir Square.

1440 GMT: Arresting the Martyr's Mother. One of "the others" arrested at the house of activist Mahin Fahimi (see 1335 GMT) was the mother of Sohrab
Arabi
, who came to prominence when it emerged in July that he died from Basiji gunfire on 15 June.

1435 GMT: First Clashes of Today? We are getting reports of a crowd gathering in Tehran's 7 Tir Square and clashes with security forces.

1405 GMT: Keeping Rafsanjani in a Box. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani did not make an appearance yesterday, but that does not mean that the regime pressure on relented --- indeed, since that pressure might have muted Rafsanjani on Ashura, why not maintain it?

Fars News keeps up the campaign this morning, claiming that Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hashemi joined "rioters" on Ashura after spending her holidays in the north of Iran (in other words, she partied during the first days of Moharram and joined the protests just for fun).

1400 GMT: The Arrests. Another vital list, this one from Neo-Resistance, which posts these details of arrests:

Ebrahim Yazdi (former Foreign Minister)
Emad-e'Din Baghi (Human Rights Activist)
Morteza Hadji (Minister of educaion during Khatami era)
Leila Tavassoli, daughter of Mohammad Tavassoli
Seyed Hosein Mousavi Tabrizi (Head of the clerical Association of Teachers and Researchers of Qom)
Alireza Beheshti Shirazi (Editor in Chief of Mousavi's online journal Kalameh Sabz)
Ghorban Behzadian Nejad (Mousavi consultant)
Mohamad Bagherian (Mousavi consultant)
Rasouli (deputy of President Khatami's Baran Foundation)
Forouzandeh (Manager of Mousavi's office)
Mohammad Sadegh Rabbani (retired university professor who used to be the general prosecutor 20 years ago, arrested yesterday 27 December)
Mohammad Moin (son of former Presidential candidate Mostafa Moin, the former Minister of Science and higher education, arrested 27 December)
Heshmatollah Tabarzadi (Student Activist)
Haleh Sahabi (Women's Rights activist)

1355 GMT: Reports that journalist Mostafa Izadi arrested.

1350 GMT: We Break for This Official Announcement. Press TV: "Brigadier-General Masoud Jazayeri, the deputy commander of Iran's armed forces, on Monday defined the 'actions of a group of hooligans on such days of mourning' as another 'low act' incomparable to anything seen before. He described the 'small group of vandals' as marginal compared to 'millions of real Ashura mourners'."

Now back to regular programming....

1342 GMT: Essential Information. HomyLafayette has posted a summary with information on those swept up in the Government's wave of arrests. Josh Shahryar has compiled information, complete with map, on the locations across Iran of protests yesterday. And an EA reader points us to an excellent collection of photographs from the Ashura protests.

1335 GMT: Claims coming in that Government forces entered the home of peace activist Mahin Fahimi, arresting her, her son, and others.

1303 GMT: Mousavi's Body. We continue follow conflicting reports over the fate of the body of Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew Seyed Ali with reports that it was taken from the Ebn -e-Sina Hospital by Government authorities.

1258 GMT: Deaths and Arrests. One of those killed yesterday was the son of Shahin Mahinfar, the prominent IRIB journalist.

An Iranian source reports that Abolfazl Ghadyani of the Mojahedin has been arrested.

1236 GMT: There are unconfirmed reports that the head of the Iranian Embassy in Norway has resigned citing his support of the green movement.

1205 GMT: The Human Rights Activists News Agency claims that 550 people arrested on Sunday have been transferred to Evin Prison.

1200 GMT: Answering Our Question. Masoud at The Newest Deal has a lengthy analysis which responds to our interim assessment this morning, "Point of No Return?". His reply? "One thing that is certain is that there is no turning back."

1140 GMT: The Regime Strikes Back (Cont.). The strategy of the Government is to "break" the movement --- much as it appeared to do in June, in July, in August, in September --- with arrests and disruption of communications.

EA sources confirm that Emad Baghi, the founder of the Association for Defense of Prisoners Rights, has been arrested. (Parleman News has now reported this.) A reliable source writes that Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, leader of the banned Democratic Front of Iranian People, has been taken from his home.

The site Rah-e-Sabz is under sustained cyber-attack and, of course, Kalemeh has been hindered by the arrest of its editor (see 1040 GMT). It is also reported that Etemaad newspaper has been closed.

1040 GMT: The Regime Strikes Back. A pattern is emerging of the Iranian Government trying to regain the initiative through arrests last night and this morning. Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, the editor of Mir Hossein Mousavi's Kalemeh, has been detained.

1010 GMT: The Mousavi "Assassination" Story (The Official Iran Version). Fars News tries to put both the Ashura demonstrations and the death of Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew into "proper" perspective. As with the death of Neda Agha Soltan in June, the killing of Seyed Ali Mousavi was carried out by specially-trained teams, linked to the 10 "terrorists" slain by Iranian forces. The story will then be taken up by foreign media as proof of the evil of Iran's regime.

0955 GMT: The Mousavi "Assassination" Story. The New York Times has a lengthy and very useful article, written by Robert Worth and Nazila Fathi. In the review of Sunday's events, one passage is striking, especially if the line is taken up by other US media (who have in past have been fond of filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf as a "spokesman" for the Green movement):
Unlike the other protesters reported killed on Sunday, Ali Moussavi [the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi] appears to have been assassinated in a political gesture aimed at his uncle, according to Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an opposition figure based in Paris with close ties to the Moussavi family.

Mr. Moussavi was first run over by a sport utility vehicle outside his home, Mr. Makhmalbaf wrote on his Web site. Five men then emerged from the car, and one of them shot Mr. Moussavi.

0950 GMT: Correct us if we're wrong, but it appears that the reformist site Rah-e-Sabz, an important source for news, has not updated since 0120 GMT (4:50 a.m. in Tehran).

0935 GMT: Non-Violence and Self-Defense. We've posted a provocative analysis by Josh Shahryar of the events of Ashura, "Iranians Are Not Punching Bags".

0930 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz has more on what appears to be a Government raid on the offices of the Assembly of Teachers and Researchers of Qom. Earlier it was reported that Hossein Mousavi Tabrizi, the head of the Assembly, was arrested.

0845 GMT: The Regime (Tries to) Strike Back. Unconfirmed reports that, in addition to the arrest of prominent reformist Ebrahim Yazdi, Iranian authorities have detained Mir Hossein Mousavi's advisors Mohammad Baghriyan and Ghorban Behzadian-Nejad.

0755 GMT: We're still getting amazing video from yesterday. The latest clip --- of heavily-armed security forces pinned back against a wall by protesters --- will go up in two minutes.

0745 GMT: A day to catch up with news, to stand back and assess.

My own impression --- and this is personal, not an "official" EA line --- is that the protests of Ashura were an important marker that the Iranian Government will not stand, at least with its current President and its current political approach. How much farther this goes --- is this now an indication that only sweeping changes in the Iranian system, extending to the authority of the Supreme Leader, will avert even more dramatic showdowns? --- is what I cannot quite grasp.

We've posted two "thinkpieces" setting out the possibilities: late last night, I wrote a "5-Minute, 5-Point Reaction" and this morning we've set out some thoughts in "A Point of No Return?"

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Reader Comments (58)

Scott,

Yep! Morteza Haji, CEO of Baran Foundation, founded by Khatami, was arrested as well: http://www.peykeiran.com/Content.aspx?ID=11378
Thanks for continuous reporting after this long Sunday, khasteh nabashid.

Mansur

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Well it seems the formula is being prepared for another big escalation...
Offcourse we have to wait for Mousavi, Karoubi and Khatami's response first.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

@ 12:36 Mr Adel Assadinia, former ambassador at Dubai, interviewed by Alireza Nourizadeh, revealing in detail corruption of SL, Rafsanjani, Vaez Tabassi, Shahcheraghi in Dubai and other places, killing of the Forouhars etc.: http://www.divshare.com/download/9947450-717 (from twitter, source unknown, ca. 40 min.)

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

rahe-sabz is updating ... latest news: Hale Sahabi arrested. (I am maintaining the growing list)

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternaj

Reformist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi arrested according to Radio Farda:
http://www.radiofarda.com/archive/news/20091228/143/143.html?id=1915661
Unbelievable: Students, who attended Sham-e Ghariban ceremony in Iranian Embassy in Berlin, were badly beaten until German police arrived: http://www.autnews.de/node/5556
And twitter says people are waiting for the exact dates of the funerals for Ashura victims. khoda be Iran rahm konad...

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Naj,

Very grateful for this. Have taken liberty of putting this in our updates.

S.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

Sure Scott; I am adding to it as the day unfolds.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternaj

Scott,

I'm sure you've noticed this but the shutdown of the Tehran Metro appears to be a panicked reaction to the 7 Tir protests going on tonight. You might want to confirm and link the 2 stories together. Oh what I would do for some video of Central Tehran right now.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

faezeh Hashemi in Ashura Protest:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqZ21EXHUI4

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteronlymeandmyideas

Actually, the BBC's list of countries condemning the crackdown on Iranian protesters is far from comprehensive, as it happens to leave out France, the first country to issue a strong statement in reaction to yesterday's events, as well as Italy and Sweden, the latter country currently holding the rotating EU Presidency.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnusche N

Ayatollah Dastegheyb has issued a statement, expressing his condolences for all killed protesters, demanding conviction of their murderers and immediate release of all political prisoners, being held under the sole pretext of safeguarding the system. He asks righteous clerics in all cities to break their silence, to apply "amre be maaruf va nahj az monker" and to call on the government to obey the constitutional law: http://www.rahesabz.net/story/6560/

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArshama

Anuche

right, and tonight the main news that I'm watching, had as first main subject the events in Iran, showing videos and saying who was killed and arrested today etc.. with several minutes of an 'expert's' analysis, giving different possible political outcomes, and also showing demonstrators in Paris with an interview.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpessimist

Scott
CNN has once again brought Trita Parsi as an advisor and analysts on Iran to
talk about the Iran uprisings last night. He was also interviewed this
morning in CNN Newsroom.

Please email / call CNN and protest their use of regime's lobbyist as an Iran expert.

Note: Washington Times on Trita Parsi / regime lobby :

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/13/exclusive-did-iranian-advocacy-group-violate-laws/?page=3

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

Kevina

It is time like this that I wish I was religious - I would pray. Can somebody who is, do it for me on my behalf please?

Barry

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Mikverbrugge is also Twitting this

Movement at Mehrabad Airport (military section). SL's Airbus&couple of Boeings on standby.

??????????

Barry

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

where were they when our people fell down in the streets ?? as we say , it's only blablabla !!
Only in the mouth without any acts !!!

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

angie - since when do you regurgitate neo-con talking points? The Wash-Times hit-piece you quote about Parsi is from Eli Lake who was one of the biggest cheerleaders of the Iraq war over at the NY Post (another neo-con rag much like the Wash Times).

and did you even watch what Parsi said on CNN? was any of it 'wrong' in your viewpoint? which sentences or ideas were pro-regime?

give me a break - the rigidity of so many of your posts are worst than what a close-minded basiji might write from the other side of the spectrum.

do you even know what regime-lobbyist means? sheesh.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAn activist Green Lurker

Ange Paris

There is a saying that "the pen is mightier than the sword"

I don't know if that is true - so probably we should have both! I believe that if you want Regime change in Iran, you will also need both.

Barry

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Is it merely my imagination - or have AN and KH gone "missing". There is all kinds of stuff coming out of the Regime - but nothing from AN or KH.

Maybe I am wrong??

Barry

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Barry

I'll pray on your behalf:-) But more than that I will continue to pray for the brave people of Iran, as I have been every day now for many years.

Roe

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoe Lassie

Ange Pairs

It looks to me like I misinterpreted your latest post here - I thought you were referring to KevinA and my posts - looks like you were referring to something else.

Barry

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Activist
We have always read all the articles sent here ,on this blog ,about NIAC; there were a lot of comments about Parsi who is known as a pro regime iranian ; even Scott were angry with them; where were you at those time " ma belle " ! everybody knows that Parsi & co are paid by iranian governement to speak in their favour; everybody knows me here I hate néo-con and I am very happy that it's only the first time that I meet you !!

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

Barry
I was referring to the statement of our "Artesh" ; it's the second time that we have this kind of statement, and yesterday there was a lot of killed, without any help !! my comment is to say that I don't believe what they announce !

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

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