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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?"

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Reader Comments (58)


Being pro-Iranian was never a crime.

It may have taken some people time to realize standing with and supporting this current movement is the ultimate pro-Iranian stance to take. It may take others more time, but they will find their way too and the movement will grow.

I'm not talking about any one in particular at this point in my missive.

And what woke them up was seeing. Not just hearing rumors, but actually seeing the truth about Shah Khameini, himself. Before, to most, it was all political posturing between prominent politicians. Who threw around against each other rumors of plots and interventions like any old political campaign.

When the people of world rallied to the Iranian people and helped them get THEIR voice out, a lot of things changed.

When the people of the world rallied, it wasn't about political posturing between governments or politicians. It was about the murder, rape and dehumanizing of people who only wanted justice and compassion. Who wanted their culture back from people like Shah Khameini From those who would kill them and destroy this proud culture, rather than give up their lust for gold and power.

I think those images moved many to rethink how they viewed the crying out of the people of Iran.

I spoke with Trita Parsi in June and I know what his thoughts and concerns were then. He sounded like an intelligent man. I haven't spoken with him since, but the only intelligent position is right next to the people of Iran - who cry out every night, and are dying on the streets of Iran at the hand of murderous & greedy thugs. As long as that is their stance today & remains their stance tomorrow, then let them wear Green (just not on St. Paddy's Day - that's still our Green Day, ok?)

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Barea

angie you clearly are easily persuaded by sophistic logic...

NIAC has held strong HR positions since 2007 when it conducted a conference ON capital hill in conjunction with Amnesty international and Human rights watch... i guess those are also pro-regime sources in your mind.

from 2002 to 2006 NIAC was purely a non-lobby civil society organization that aimed to educate the IA public in how to engage in the democratic process... in 2006, it took a vote of its members and became a 'advocacy' organization (different from lobbying semantically and legally, but the same concept). so yes, it changed course based on a vote of its members and based on the fact that the US administration at the time was actively seeking pursuing a war policy. it was the ONLY Iranian organization in the US to step forward, take the risk, and take a position... and that is exactly when Mr. Dai (the ONLY source of this 'pro-regime' crap) started writing articles against Parsi and NIAC... in fact, this person (this is his pen name) never wrote an article before his 2007 article under that name.

As for Makhmalbaf - you can trust him all you want, but he has no clue about NIAC - and he was quoted in Eli Lake's piece only - since then, i have personally spoken with 2 people who talk to Makhmalbaf on a weekly basis (both london based) who tell me that Makhmalbaf was clear that 1) he 'thinks' has no basis of fact and 2) he was asked a leading question and 3) he claims he was misquoted

The fact of the matter is you can disagree with NIAC's postions: No war - No Sanctions that hurt the Iranian people (because they dont WORK) - Human Rights should be front and center - and The US Iranian population should be involved in politics and democracy...

you can disagree with these on policy grounds... but just because you, Mr. Makhmalbaf, or some other joe shmoe or Hassan Dai disagrees does not make them a pro-regime lobby.

As for money and Lawyers - all of that is on NIAC's website - NIAC's budget is under $1 million - which a VERY low amount... and it was around 500k in 2006. the law firm representing NIAC is a small IA law firm with 2 lawyers and its representing NIAC pro-bono while the one representing Hassan Dai is a multi-national with 14 story offices in Chicago and DC (Sidley Austin) and they have assigned a partner and 4 associates to the case

I've done my research on this group - have you?

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAn activist Green Lurker


I wanted to stay quite on Parsi debate. But I have to ask you please do not turn this forum into a ping pong match on Parsi. You obviously are a member of NIAC. I read that blog in June and July and decided Parsi and NIAC were not speaking for Iranians in the U.S. nor did they speak for Iranians in Iran. I am sure he speaks for all of its (100? to 500?) members as it is evident by your stanch support for him.

I hope Mr. Parsi stays out of halls of US congress, he is not an electorate and I am. Those representatives are working for people like me. We do not want another Ahmed Chalabi.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan


I am sure he is a smart man. All I care if he uses his smarts to see and live realities of daily life in Iran. I have read his views, I have heard his interviews and I concluded he did not. I have specific examples but again I prefer we focus our debates on events in Iran and those who did not eat last night and those who are injured and do not dare to go to a hospital, and those who are sitting in jails with injuries, and those who have lost loved ones. Parsi is very insignificant in the overall picture.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

I think he has changed ; look at the video posted by Scott; perhaps his shift is due to Obama support of Green Movement; anyhow, welcome to him !
As has said Bill, people can change ! wait and see !

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

what is that saying? "you are entitled to your opinion even if you are wrong" ;P that is the beauty of Democracy.

I dont mind someone like Megan saying they disagree with him, or even saying he or NIAC is insignificant - that is a genuine discussion ... but what I do mind is someone saying "NIAC is a regime lobby" or Parsi is an agent... that is not an opinion that is 'barchasb' zadan which is exactly what IRI does.

and angie - i'm glad you are convinced by evidence (the new video) but if you go back, you'll see he's been CONSISTENT... its nothing new. and its not hard to find, he's been on PBS, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CSPAN etc for years and you can find the you tubes on teh google...

in fact, if anything - he personally has been one of the reasons that the Obama administration is now talking about HR. i know for a fact that Obama's first msg about HR back in July was his handiwork too... but i cant prove it, since thats all based on inside info.

but i'm glad we all agree, that this is the proper thing for the US admin to do... talk about HR more forcefully without 'taking sides' etc.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAn activist Green Lurker

Green Activist
You see when you discover this kind of article :

and you are lost and shattered with what you watch in TV and in the video, you say to yourself, my god, which kind of organisation is this NIAC when it's supposed to defend HR and why it wants to kill a movement from the beginning instead of cherishing it and launching it !! why it has said that the end of the beginning when not true !!
OK I hope that what you say is correct and I really desire it for the sake of our movement and don't be so agressif when you defend your ideas, the outcome is almost always negatif; we have all the same purpose and the same obssessions !

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterange paris

как говориться, Без пользы жить – безвременная смерть.

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWreflyclelp

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