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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
, 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?"

References (10)

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Reader Comments (58)

Re: Trita Parsi - I have read his work and watched his interviews and I simply don't understand why anyone would think he's a regime sympathizer. The most cited reason seems to be that he opposes sanctions because they would hurt the Iranian people more than the leaders. Hardly grounds for casting aspersions on the man.

Re: MikVerbrugge - In a previous comment thread I said that I've found his tweets to be quasi-reliable, particularly his stuff about goings-on in the judiciary during the summer and early autumn. Although he only vaguely described his contacts as "inside sources," he did at least seem somewhat concerned with verifying his info.

However, he's taken a very cavalier attitude to the info he's tweeted in the last few days. A few tweeters have raised concerns with him, but he's dismissed them.

Circulating rumours nad unreliable information is a disservice to the movement. He's a very prominent node in the growing network of tweeters, so he should be more careful and judicious with what he presents.

As for Oxfordgirl, she's made a lot of remarks about Rafsanjani and the military over the months, but they've usually been speculative. However, to her credit, she is very fastidious with verifying information and using reliable sources.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBozorg

The alleged military communique that MikVerbrugge linked to a few days ago reported that "Operation Azadi" would commence at noon on December 27th. Nothin'.

So we can conclude it was either fake or the mobilization was impeded. Alternatively, the documents may be feelers, that is, ways for Artesh elements to gauge the potential response to such a plan. Or non-Artesh elements to goad the Artesh into action.

I'm actually puzzled by the lack of information about the Artesh's intentions given that its forces are predominantly young conscripts, so plenty of potential reformist sympathizers.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBozorg

angie - "known" by who? the same neo-con crowd whose goal is the bombing of iran? you should check your 'sources'.

who is this 'everybody' that knows Parsi's funding is from the Iranian government? your credibility is shot to hell writing unsubstantiated crap like that... all I know is, I'd prefer to be on the side of Andrew Sullivan, Laura Rozen, Nico Pitney, Joe Klein, Hadi Ghaeni, Mehrangiz Kar, Amb. Lambert, and the dozens of other journalists, congressmen, Human Rights activists, and bloggers who 'get' Iran and have defended Parsi versus being on the side of Jonnah Goldberg, Eli Lake, Kenneth Timmerman, or the MEK's Hassan Dai (all neo-cons) who need to 'get' a clue first.

as for Scott's writing about them, all I've seen from him has been positive, maybe I missed a thing or two, and I'd love to correct any misconceptions Scott might have, in fact, NIAC is the only IA group to post its income tax statements online.

but whatever, we read this blog because we all want the Green movement to succeed and we want to be informed so that we can do our part in helping that success become a reality... the fact is that NIAC has been one of the most effective Iranian-American organizations pushing the administration to engage the Human Rights issue and it has been one of the organizations most responsible for informing the American media of the proper context of the Green movement.

It has been at the forefront of the anti-war effort before it was kosher to be anti-war with iran (2006), and it has been a clarion call on the counterproductive nature of 'crippling' oil sanctions while supporting sanctions targeting IRGC businesses... it was also a driving force behind the recently enacted VOICE act to remove technological barriers imposed by rigid interpretations of the treasury sanctions.

so long story short - I invite you to substantiate your hallucinations regarding Parsi or to read more sources beyond Hassan Dai and Eli Lake.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAn activist Green Lurker

look at this before insulting people :

it's said that NIAC's stance is not really clear !! especially at the begining of the post election's tumoil !
Perhaps wind's direction has change now !!

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

It is easy to see why the Green movement is doomed - it would be doomed even if AN and KH were to fly to Venezuela, the IRG and Basiji were to take up growing flowers and the clerics become Buddhists.

Why do I say this? - just read this Blog thread (and others)


December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBarry


Mik Verbrugge is and has not been a reliable source. If one has followed him from the start one will have noticed that his info is very one sided.

The whole Artesh story was hard to believe from the start, all the facts and the signs looked highly questionable.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin


I also was frustrated with his cavalier attitude towards verifying the Artesh story. However, the fact that the Artesh didn't come charging into Khamenei's residence on a white horse yet doesn't mean that it isn't fracturing, or even that Mikverbrugge's source is accurate. In the 1979 revolution against the Shah and the 1989 revolution against Caucescu, the fracturing and turning was more gradual and confusing than people seem to realize today. I share your frustration though, as things will just keep getting worse for everybody (including regime loyalists) until the Artesh finally steps in or IRGC units turn on Khamenei. Their waiting is futile.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Note: I agree w/ the skepticism on Verbrugge's info here. Just thought it worthwhile to mention.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkevina

Look at the statement of Makhmalbaf about him ! and he is a true "Green" !

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

@ Adam

"...or IRGC units turn on Khamenei"

I dont think it is so much the Guards turning on Khamenei but the S.L turning on the Guards.

The main player in this battle is the Guards vs People/Reform and not the S.L vs the People/Reform

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

I think your view toward the S.L. is naive. Who do you think appointed the sycophants who are at the head of the Sepah now? The rank and file of the Sepah is much more conflicted about this than Khamenei I guarantee you.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdam" rel="nofollow">Rosemary's Thoughts says:

Today the fight continues. Most countries have stepped forward and condemned the violent repression by the Iranian government. There are many photos, videos, and articles about this atrocity. I shall provide a list of articles written by others at the end of this post. I will also be updating, so remember to come back...

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary

Oops! That should say "by the govt".

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary

Someone says: everybody knows that Parsi & co are paid by iranian governement to speak in their favour;

WHO is this everybody? Just because NIAC's anti-war doesn't make them a pro-regime!!! If anything NICA's been voicing out concern about human rights abuses in Iran! NIAC has quite a sizable Iranian supporters in the US, none of whom are pro-regime!

Bozorg: re MikVerbrugge; I had to protest to some of her outlandish tweets today as well!

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternaj

[...] Mousavi’s nephew, was killed by the regime yesterday, on the day of Ashura, many others were arrested. The protesters refuse to give up, however. In fact, they seem to be more determined than ever to [...]

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPoliGazette » Protests C

[...] flight bomb detonation by terrorist Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. Obama also made a statement on the ongoing unrest in Iran, again a full two days after the events began. President Obama reads his statement from [...]

The hardliners wanted the bloody confrontation on Ashura (was intended by the cup leaders) for getting justification to put hundreds of political key figures into jail.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergunni


I am anti war too ! I am even against the economic sanctions ! Two days ago, I congratulated you for what you had said about this subject ! saying "I agree with you, bravo!"
It's only after the elections in Iran, that I discovered NIAC,( after coming on this blog) ! It was just at the begining of the post election turmoil ; look at the link above before debating ! NIAC has not a clear position, hence this heated debate in the article, where Makhmalbaf has said "I think Trita Parsi does not belong to the Green Movement. I feel his lobbying has secretly been more for the Islamic Republic.’”
He is a true "Green" and what's more an" iranian" and I believe in him more than :Andrew Sullivan, Laura Rozen, Nico Pitney, Joe Klein, Hadi Ghaeni, Mehrangiz Kar, Amb. Lambert, etc, etc .......
Once again , it's only my " thoughts " and I apologize humbly if they are not compatible with yours or Activist's, and frankly I don't care if my credibility is shot to hell . :-) lol, et voilà c'est tout !!

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

As usual (thanks gunni), Dr. Sahimi pens an interesting piece.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkevina

I fear Dr. Sahimi is too far from the country and too pessimistic to write anything of much depth or validity.
In my opinion Tehran Bureau was much better when it wasn't on the PBS site.

The regime is toast. Pass the kareh and stay positive!

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPB

The more they murder, rape and take hostage the more family members of those people (lots of family Iranian style with cousins and uncles and aunts and people you call uncle) will seek vengeance and the destruction of this regime. Shock waves of anger will flow through the families, friends, neighbors, shopkeepers, bus drivers and people you call Uncle and Aunt as they tell the stories of injustice. (no internet needed for old fashioned Iranian gossip but videos and photos help)
Hence, regime will stop NOTHING with these arrests and more trials and murder will only prolong their downfall.

The regime broke the golden two rules when dealing with an Iranian.
Rule number 1 don't piss off an Iranian. Rule number 2, see rule 1.
The story of Mossadegh and Kermet Roosevelt has dominated conspiracy theories in Iranian chai rooms, but now people have a new story of injustice. In this version the way parallels of the powerful story of Mossadegh overthrow.

Khamenei has become the US/ Britain/shah
Moussavi is Mossadegh(more credit then he deserves)
Khomenei is the Internet, yes Khomenei dissemented ideas via boot legtapes (the latest technology at the time) these speeches were esentially speeches about things people were not permitted to speak about or strongly discouraged from talking about in public, steam gathered and revolution (oversimplified obviously)
The internet and technology have already enabled this generation to think for themselves and discuss online things they could not speak about in present society
And finally the angry mob, well they are still the angry mob (see rule 1 and 2)
Oh i forgot ahmadi well he is still the village idiot!

just a little bit of poetic justice/history repeating
Khamenei has dug his own grave as with most dictators he pushed too far and there is no turning back. .

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPB


Our coverage of the Washington Times attack on NIAC is at and Beyond those pieces, my approach is to treat NIAC's statements and analyses as those of any other activist organisation, assessing the merits of their evidence and arguments.


December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

Naj & Angie Paris,

The fact is the NIAC did put out a favorable article about the reform movement. However if you dig in their past they clearly supported policies borrowed from the current Iranian regime. In addtion the NIAC has been caught with several lies. They at one time stated they were not a lobby group(then backtracked) and also that they did not receive government funds(they got funds from the US government and now links are being investigated of funds tied to the Iranian regime.) I read through a number of their articles over the years and I did find a consistent topic often posted "you get your direction and funding from the regime." While no sources or proof was provided the number of times I saw this seems to indicate many Iranian Americans believe they are a front for the regime to some degree. While some of their articles are pro reform today I have my doubts about them considering their prior activities and obvious attempts to cover up lies. The jury is still out so we should give them the benefit of the doubt--who knows they may have finally realized the regime is corrupt and its time to join the reform movement. After all Gorbachev was a communist and he was the leader that usherd in the fall of the Soviet Union. People can change.


December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Thank you for sending us all the links and I have forgotten why I don't like this" NIAC" and anyhow I have this negatif approach ; it was for this : article titled " the end of the beginning " :

and I said to me , how an organisation alleging supportting all positif things, like human rights , is able to shatter and belittle a " renaissant " movement in Iran against the dictatorship of the current leaders !! a movement who has lost a lot of supporters , being killed, raped tortured and imprisonned !!
Mr Parsi wanted to shatter this wave instead of trying to support it, to cherish it !!!

I never swap one " Makhmalbaf " for 200 of those so called intellectuals cited on the post of "Activist"!!
Anyhow, I see NIAC has a lot of attorneys, but so agressif to be able to charm anyone to believe on what they believe.
"Activist", you are so" meprisante" and your name fit very well with your mind !

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris


You are entiteled to your opinion, however I feel that it is as far from the reality as is happening in Iran. Would advise you to read posts of people like "Whereismyvote" who have a very good understanding of the situation in Iran. S.L is a puppet with little to say at the moment. This is a proces that has started over a decade ago and has reached its peak now.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAfshin

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