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Entries in Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution (3)


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?"

The Latest from Iran (5 November): Fun with the Regime

ahmadinejad61910 GMT: Top Reformist Back in Jail. Behzad Nabavi, a senior member of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party, has gone back to Evin Prison after a 10-day temporary release. Nabavi, who is appealing a six-year jail sentence, refused to renounce political activity and was thus denied freedom until his case was resolved. He has been seriously ill and was in hospital during his release.

1740 GMT: Confirming the Disruption. It's not surprising that the regime has moving to choke off Monday's demonstrations by cutting off Internet services today. It does take me aback that "sources" in the regime have confirmed "the decision of the authorities" (to expose the activities of the Government? to intimidate the opposition?).

1710 GMT: Arresting the Mothers of Martyrs. Regular EA readers may recall that each Saturday mothers of those killed and detained in post-election conflict, joined by sympathisers, march in Tehran's Laleh Park. We've been watching reports of clashes at today's demonstration but have not waited for confirmation before posting. This is the latest from a reliable Iranian activist:
Before 5 p.m. today unmarked vans parked along side all streets around Laleh Park with 3-4 agents inside. Around Abnama Square there were police cars...and unmarked vans with tinted windows. Five or six younger women were arrested and taken by the unmarked vans to an undisclosed location. Fifteen or sixteen other women were arrested. Also three men were arrested & taken away.

1405 GMT: Josh Shahryar's Green Brief 74, covering the last 24 hours of developments in Iran, is now out.

NEW Iran: Will Israel Get An International Embargo?
NEW Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi on The Response to Extremism
Iran: Routes and Information for 16 Azar (7 December)
Iran’s Critical Moment: Two Days to Go
The Latest from Iran (4 December): The Weekend Before

1400 GMT: Disrupting 16 Azar. Activists report that the Internet, and services like Google Mail, are running very slowly inside Iran.

1120 GMT: Pick a Number, Any Number. Maybe the Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akhbar Salehi, looked at the statements from other Iranian and US officials (see 0940 GMT) and thought that he should raise his game. So he has declared that even the 10 new enrichment plants declared by the Cabinet last week aren't enough: "To provide fuel for our nuclear power plants, we need to have 20 uranium enrichment plants."

0940 GMT: Nuclear Postures. Meanwhile, both Iran and the US are talking tough in the suspended nuclear engagement. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani continues to use the issue to boost his profile, telling reporters Friday night: "Why does the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) continue to make such a fuss over Iran's enrichment activities despite knowing its peaceful purposes? The answer is quite simple really; all they want and seek to do is to deceive Iran and force it to readily accept whatever offer they put forward."

In Washington, the faction of the Obama Administration that favours a move towards sanctions found their own willing reporters, saying that they would move in early January for a new round of United Nations sanctions. Significantly, the leaking official said that the package might not only consist of "smart" sanctions aimed at the Revolutionary Guard, but also restrictions on Iran's petroleum industry. At the same time, the official betrayed an Administration caught between those in Congress pressing for sweeping sanctions and the difficulties of getting other countries to agree: "We are looking to find what everyone can agree will be most effective and have the least impact on the Iranian people."

0855 GMT: We've posted the latest statement of Mehdi Karroubi, issued yesterday, calling for a response to extremism.

0645 GMT: A distinct feeling of lull before "How Big a Storm?". Preparations for the demonstrations of  16 Azar (7 December) continue to circulate, but there is little open movement coming out of the Iranian weekend.

For now the space is filled by tales of President Ahmadinejad and other regime actors, tales meant to be very, very serious but somehow prompting a smile. There was Ayatollah Jannati on Friday effectively admitting, even as the Tehran Revolutionary Guard commander was saying "Nothing to worry about here", that the Government was fretting about the numbers who might hit the streets on Monday. Make no mistake, Jannati warned, you are betraying Islam and working for the Americans --- even as only a few Americans inside and outside the Government were figuring out that something might be happening on Monday.

Then there was the President laying it down to the West/Israel:

Despite pressure, sanctions and threats, Iran is…quiet, victorious and dear. All thought that pressure of bullying powers will lead to the defeat of the Iranian nation. During the post-election events, certain powers unanimously claimed that they can extract concessions from Iranians.

However, the Iranian nation proved that, in reality, enemies can do nothing....If the Zionist regime and its masters join forces, still they cannot do a damn thing....Even if bullying powers stay in the region for another 50 years, they will have no option but to leave the region with humiliation and in vain.

It is obvious that Ahmadinejad is going out of his way to make no reference whatsoever to the opposition within, as opposed to outside, his country. Still the temptation grows, just like when you're watching a horror film or a British pantomime, to shout out, "Mr President, Look Behind You".

Maybe the best tale moving around the Internet, however, concerns Ahmadinejad's speech earlier this week in Isfahan. Even though the crowd was smaller than expected, the President apparently laid it on thick about his valiant defense against the enemy of Washington. He even revealed the true intention of US foreign policy for the last 30 years.

Let it be known that, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, the US Government has been dedicated to preventing the return of the 12th Imam of Shi'a Islam.

Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi on The Response to Extremism

KARROUBI3On Friday afternoon, Mehdi Karroubi visited the home of Seyed Feizallah Arab-Sorkhi , a member of the central committee of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party, who has been detained since June's election. Karoubi comforted his family and made the following statement:

What the country is today suffering from is the extremism of a few that have targeted the Islamic Republic establishment. Without a doubt all of us and you who are the survivors of the martyrs of the revolution and the imposed war will not let the blood of martyrs get confiscated....
We should all return peace and security to the political and social atmospheres of the country by going back to the constitution and focus on people’s vote and decision. It is the responsibility of all intellectuals that we work to extend law and democracy and do our best to prevent division and separation in the path of Imam Khomeini’s ideas....

My familiarity [with Imam Khomeini] from the years that I was closely accompanying that greatness is different from some of the claims that are being made these days. The Imam was always abiding to people’s votes and opinions and if he had received news about dissatisfaction of [even] a small group of people, he would strongly react to it....

We should have witnessed better treatment of the martyrs’ families who some of them were arrested in the recent events....