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Entries in Neda Agha Soltan (4)


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?"

Iran: Ashura's Message "Iranians Are Not Punching Bags" (Josh Shahryar)

ASHURA6Josh Shahryar offers this assessment of Sunday's events, also posted on his blog:

The Ashura (December 27) protests across Iran are over. Tens of thousands marched across the country as in the past to show their discontent with dictatorship and human rights violations. They yet again proved that the Iranian struggle is far from over. But after following the protests for almost 200 days, I don’t think that it was just another show of force. This was a tipping point in their struggle for one of the most basic of human rights –-- the freedom to speak one’s mind without fear of repression.

Since June, the people of Iran have come out to streets peacefully and have tried to make their voices heard. And what was the government’s response? Bullets, batons, cables… arrests, injuries, deaths… torture, rape, murder. Few people have been so fearless and devout with their resolve to overturn the tide of tyranny as the people of Iran. Their humanity has been written about and well-deservedly praised. However, let us not have unreasonable expectations from them. They are human after all. And like all humans, they are susceptible to frustration and eventually – anger.

The Latest from Iran (28 December): Taking Stock
Iran: A Point of No Return?
Iran: A 5-Minute, 5-Point Reaction to The Events of Ashura
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

For the first time in 200 days, the Iranian people decided that enough was enough.

If the government was going to send goons, then they were going to deal with them the way goons are dealt with. We had seen burning homes, bleeding protesters and protesters being dragged across streets. This time around, we saw burning police cars, bleeding Basijis and riot police being dragged and beaten.

As a human rights activist and an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, I am strictly opposed to violence. What went on in Iran yesterday was anything but peaceful. Protesters fought back and they fought back hard. The level of violence against protesters may have been high, but it was answered. The response may not have been as violent as the assault of the security forces, but it was clearly expressed.

This prompted many of my friends and colleagues to question their support for the Green Movement. After all, we were expecting a non-violent revolution, one spurred by peaceful protests. But let us not forget. There is a difference between unprovoked acts of violence against individuals and self-defense. Did we really expect the Iranian people to just sit back and allow the government to kill, maim and arrest people ad infinitum? What would I or you do if someone used violence against us for six months over and over and over again? Are we going to go out and present ourselves as living targets for shooting practice? Or are we going to hang “Hit Me!” signs on our backs to make it easier for our attackers?

I won’t. The problem is that peaceful protests are great. However, they only really work when the opposing side is human enough to not use violence on such a massive scale. The protests in Iran in my opinion have been far from peaceful. It takes two hands to clap. How can we expect the government to repress people and at the same time not expect the people to fight back? This is what happens with bullies at schools. They only attack those who they think won’t fight back.

Next time the Basij, riot police, IRGC and plainclothesmen are out in Tehran during protests, they’ll know that their actions are going to be met with counter-measures. They’ll know that Iranians aren’t just sacks of wheat that they can pound on endlessly and mercilessly. If they fall into protesters’ hands, they should expect the worst.

Ashura’s protests in my opinion started a new phase in the revolution in Iran. The people are no longer going to sit back and watch as the government continues to not listen to their demands. They will come out and if they are attacked, there will be a crushing answer. The security forces can no longer use violence against protesters and then go back home to their children, enjoy a good meal, and make love to their women. They can no longer do that while bleeding protesters lay dying in hospitals, which will promptly transfer them to prisons where they will be locked in tiny holes for months on end.

The goons should know that in the future when they are out during a protest in Tehran, that if they attacked protesters, they will go home covered in their own blood and know how it feels. Because if they had felt it before, we wouldn’t have had to hear about Sohrab A’rabi’s body locked away in a morgue for weeks or see Neda Agha-Soltan’s dying eyes. I believe the Green Movement is still fully committed to non-violence, but yesterday they illustrated that their commitment extends to self-defense as well.


Iran Video & Transcript: Ahmadinejad Interview with Britain's Channel 4 (23 December)

We have a snap analysis of the interview in Today's LiveBlog. The interview of the Basiji member to which interviewer Jon Snow refers is also on Enduring America:

The Latest from Iran (24 December): Another Day, Another Demonstration

Jon Snow: "Mr President do you accept that this country is at a cross roads? We are one week away from the end of the year and that the deadline when you have to give a response to the nuclear offer made by the P5+1.

"The P5 group that meets with Germany from the security council of the United Nations - apparently representing the security council that has made this proposal about enrichment taking the material outside the country, bringing it back. And they say by the end of this year that is the deadline for a response."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "I think part of this question must be corrected. Actually we have given the proposal for the exchange of the fuel and according to the regulations they have to provide the fuel without any conditions.

"We have offered a proposal in order to provide opportunity for them - in order to have an opportunity for cooperation instead of confrontation. And it is a very simple procedure.

"But they are insisting that to have conditions for giving us the fuel - political conditions I mean - while the exchange of fuel is a technical job. I have not yet heard anybody who has given a deadline for this because it is meaningless.

"We are in a position to produce 20 per cent grade uranium. We have given this offer in order to provide an opportunity for them. If they do not use the opportunity we are in position and we are able to produce that grade of uranium. We have no problem doing it.

"The current regulations in the IAEA[ International Atomic Energy Agency] allow us to do so and we will make it ourselves. From our standpoint there is no problem for that."

JS: "You say there is no problem Mr President but the United States is already taking about sanctions other countries, certainly France and Germany and Britain are also talking about sanctions - that would suggest they don’t see it the same way."

MA: "It is something else the question or issue of revolution or imposing sanctions. We are against the expansionist policies of the United States. We say it frankly and explicitly. We do not accept the policy of intimidation and aggression.

"It will be good for US policy makers to say that Iran is against their policies and the expansions. I think it has become an old issue to talk about the nuclear programme. The story of these claim of US and its allies have turned into a TV series. More our standpoint it has no value."

JS: "It's not just the United States, I mean, the UN inspector you had to tell: you had another facility for enriching uranium at Qom and that was something that you had not declared but you should have declared under the regulations."

MA: "According to the regulations in the IAEA, six months before the beginning of enrichment activities we should have informed them. We did it one year before the activities but unfortunately they have misinterpreted our cooperation. When we cooperate with them they show negative reactions --- what does that mean? They said themselves --- one that is not a member will remain immune from the investigations and verifications. When you cooperate the reactions are negative. What does that mean?

"Does it mean we should not cooperate at all? Or course we do not do not accept this - this is not acceptable for us. But their attitudes are wrong. They want to say that a country which is not a member is free to do everything more than the member. And those countries enjoy more rights and any government who fulfils its obligations would be under pressure. Do they think they can run the world with this logic?"

JS: "But this is the United Nations, this particular group --- and Mr [Mohammad] El Baradei [former head of the IAEA] is supported by both China and Russia on this matter --- you were keeping this particular enrichment facility secret and that has broken confidence and that's really where the new crisis has now developed. A breakdown of confidence between you and the UN inspectorate."

MA: "That's not true. That's not true. They make some claims. They say that the construction of the site started when Iran had accepted certain arrangements but we believe that after we suspended those arrangements we started the construction. And it is very normal for the relations in between countries and the agency.

"Does the US give any reports to agency itself? They have 8,000 nuclear warheads. Who is more dangerous in world and who should be concerned about these things? From what point should they start inspections? The UN has been founded on the basis of veto right can never run the world."

JS: "But Mr El Baradei has said that the friendly relationship that he has enjoyed with Iran had ended. That is a pretty strong statement and it comes from a UN body."

MA: "I have not heard about it. We are keen to have friendly relations with all. But the basis of judgement and cooperation is on a legal basis. We have the official documents from the IAEA and it has endorsed all our activities. We do not regulate our relations based on rhetoric. We do it on the basis of the law and the documents. We cooperate with the agency. And the agency has no right to express political opinions under the pressures of certain governments. The agency has a commitment to inspect the nuclear facilities of the US and other nations too. And the agency should disarm them."

JS: "Mr President, this battle with the IAEA has been going on for years now why do you bother to remain a member of the non-proliferation treaty. Why not just dump it and stay like Pakistan, India and Israel outside the treaty and do what you want to do?"

MA: "We never been fighting against the agency - what should we do?"

JS: "I'm asking you - why do you stay in the treaty?"

MA: "We stay in the treaty and according to entity we have rights and obligations. We have fulfilled our obligations and we should also enjoy rights. And we will never allow political claims to enter into our works and activities."

JS: "This is very difficult for ordinary people to understand. You have the US, you have European powers, you have Russia, you have China, all these countries are very dissatisfied with the answers you have been giving. It's not just the US. You say that it's them that is pulling the strings, if you like, but it's much more than that."

MA: "There are other countries that are unaligned and they have given their votes against them. Shouldn't they adapt themselves with the votes of these 120 countries?"

JS: "Mr President, I'm being warned that our time is very short and I would like to move on. President Obama offered you when he came into power an extended hand…."

MA: "Let me say one more sentence. The number of countries or campaigns of countries do not bring any legal right. That is the law that prevails and it defies your rights. And we are doing everything according to the law. We will never be influenced by the political campaigns. We make the decisions on the basis of our national interests and on the basis of the laws and regulations. The US is against us and we are used to it."

JS: "President Obama did come in and he made this speech in Cairo to you. He offered an extended hand of you would greet it. But you haven’t greeted it. The relationship now, I mean…there is no way that the extended hand is going to stay extended."

MA: "Which hand did he extend? His right hand or left hand?"

JS: "He extended the hand of friendship, let's be honest…"

MA: "What has he done in practice?

"I sent a message to him and we participated in Geneva negotiations. We talked with them and we offered the proposals for a fuel exchange. And we have announced that we stand ready to have a debate in New York. Who has extended his hand in practice? He extended the sanctions against us. What step has he taken?"

JS: "Is the matter of extended hands finished?"

MA: "Extended where? We hope he will succeed in making changes, real changes. And we have helped him. However we are concerned about his avenues - he has failed to meet the expectations of the people in the US and the people of the world."

JS: "But it has been complicated by what has happened here in Iran. There have been disturbances there has been awful scenes of violence on the streets and that has disturbed people inside and outside Iran. That makes it difficult to extend hand doesn't it?"

MA: "We are facing same problems here. While the US has a military build up in Afghanistan and killing our brothers in that country. At same time the US is supporting killing of Palestinians, and they extend the resolutions and sanctions. Worse than that the American police beat people, they arrest people and use batons and tear gas against people… "

JS: "Well, two wrongs don't make righ,t do they Mr President? The Basij here, and we have this firsthand from a member of the Basij, he says they were given the permissions to go in and use no restraint and attack people who disagree with you. Women, men were hit with batons - and some were killed."

MA: "In my opinion you have access to some information which I don’t know."

JS: "Well we have spoken to a Basij who told us what orders they were given."

MA: "With whom did you talk to?"

JS: "We spoke with a member of the Basij who has now run from Iran."

MA: "Clearly this source of information must be very exact. I think it is not correct to judge in this way. In our country the law prevails."

JS: "But you can see videos Mr President. You've scene the pictures of what the Basij were doing and what the Revolutionary Guard were doing. And what he has seen too is the beating and the raping of men and women in detention."

MA: "Did you see all of these things on the pictures?"

JS: "We saw all of the things in the streets - of course we do not get the stories of what happened in the containers where people were being detained."

MA: "There have been clashes amongst some people - how can you find out if he was Basij or another person? Let me repeat that. In my country the law prevails."

JS: "You deny that the Basij beat up these people?"

MA: "No, we are not concerned with these things as you claim. The law prevails. Some people may violate the law in any place anywhere. And maybe they have not observed and respected the law during demonstrations or protests they may have participated in illegal demonstrations. Or they might get involved in clashes whether they are ordinary people or from among the Asians....

"The law will certainly investigate. Iran is a free country. Do you believe that Iran should be like West? We have freedom in Iran - people are free to express their views. They can also cry for their rights…you are making a mistake…."

JS: "But you have sent journalists out of the country…."

MA: "You are making a mistake. And the Western politicians think something happening in Iran and Iran has become weakened. That is a mistake. They do not know Iran. The people of Iran are united and they would certainly defend rights and interests. They would protect their independence. There are different views that exist in this country. There are differences of opinion there are rivals, competitors and they are serious. But the majority of the nation is united and they are determined to protect their independence."

JS: "But, Mr President you contrast today…."

MA: "You can see the scenes on the streets of London where people are being beaten by British police."

JS: "But you can contrast today in Iran with even two years ago: there were many foreign journalists here, there was much for freedom - people could watch what ever they wanted on the Internet or whatever. Now, for example any broadcast or Internet appearance by the BBC is jammed, there are no, or very few foreign correspondents. And it is very difficult now to report on…."

MA: "Who is the BBC owned by? Is it a state owned company or private?"

JS: "It is a state-owned, regulated company which has independence from the government --- we have to pay individually to the BBC to fund it."

MA: "Alright. How can a government institution or state-owned company be independent from the policy of the government? Do you know anywhere in the world where the BBC has acted against the policies of the government? The BBC is the instrument of British government foreign policy and the British government has shown that it is against and hostile to our nation. They have shown that for about 100 years."

JS: "But is that the same for example with Newsweek? Take Maziar Bahari who worked for Newsweek. He gets thrown into jail, he is beaten in jail, he is tortured in jail, he has told me that himself."

MA: "And you have accepted his claims?"

JS: "He is a man I have known for a long time --- I trust him…."

MA: "People say a lot of things. Do you think freedom prevails in US? And do you think the media in the US is free? Why aren't people allowed to have demonstrations against the Zionists? Do you think all the media in the US I against the Palestinians? They are clear facts. We are not going to deceive each other - they are political and media games. And that period is over. It will have not effect in the world. They offer interpretations based on some lies.

"That period is over we should focus on realities and we should talk to each other based on those realities, based on the law. And I think that is a mistake made by the political politicians in the West. They make the media themselves - they create them and they say lies. And based on those lies they take political positions. And at the same time they insist that others should believe them."

JS: "Let's take a story in The Times [of London] this morning. They say that bin Laden's wife lives here in Iran --- is that true? Is that a lie or is that true? That one of Bin Laden's wives lives here in a compound outside Tehran with some family. Is that true or false?"

MA: "Why should it be in London? How did they receive that information? Let me…"

JS: "But you haven’t answered me yes or no, Mr President. However they found out this information, the questions is: is it true or is it false?"

MA: "Let me tell you something else which is more important. Because there are many things like that --- they are producing these things everyday. Because this is the instrument to control the world, they create these things everyday and wise people would never waste time answering all these things."

JS: "How do you change that?"

MA: "Statesmen in the UK and the US must accept the realities in the world. The period of influence in the environment through the media campaigns is over. And we know everything about these tactics and policies. We would never be deceived by media campaigns. It has no value to us. We will never base our time on that.

"For example, about Neda Agha-Soltan. What has the BBC done about her? They created a false scenario based on political campaigns and it has been proven to us. That was a lie…."

JS: "Let's look at a reality. You have 15 per cent inflation. You have real economic difficulties, we have economic difficulties - many countries in the world have economic difficulties. If there is to be more tension between us, more trouble over sanctions, more trouble over who is doing what - wouldn't it be worth just trying a different path? Trying to re-extend a hand of friendship and open up maybe to people coming in and maybe to people going out?"

MA: "I agree with you. We are saying same thing to the Americans and to the British. Why have they been against our people for more than 50 years? There are governments around Iran and they are dictatorships - they are friends with those dictatorships…"

JS: "So what's your offer?"

MA: "Before the revolution we had a dictatorship in Iran. And they had friendly ties with the dictator. But since we have had democracy and freedom in our country they have risen against us."

JS: "Ayatollah Montazeri said this is an Islamic dictatorship."

MA: "One is free to express one's views in Iran. It is not like some European countries where scientists are in prison. Everybody who says anything against the Holocaust goes to prison even if he or she is a university professor."

"This is not the situation in Iran. The government is criticised and people are free to do so. I believe it will be good for the US and British officials to could change attitudes. They should experience friendship."

JS: "What about both changing attitudes - you and them changing attitudes?"

MA: "We would certainly welcome any step in that direction. We have never wanted anything beyond our rights.

"We have never sent our troops to borders of the US or UK. We have never threatened Britain or America with military threats. We have never issued any resolutions against them.

"We want our own rights and of course we are for talks. We are against confrontation. But experiences indicate that those who have chosen to confront us damage their policies."

Iran Video & Text: Montazeri's Son Saeed On His Father's Views, Last Words

Our gratitude to an EA reader for finding the video and providing an English translation:


The Latest from Iran (21 December): The Montazeri Funeral
Latest Iran Video: Montazeri’s Criticism of Supreme Leader Khamenei (1997; redistributed October 2009)
Latest Iran Video: Demonstrations in Memory of Montazeri (20 December)
Iran Special LiveBlog: Ayatollah Montazeri Has Died

Anchorman: Mr. Montazeri, do you expect any obstacles for tomorrow's ceremonies?

Montazeri: We hope not, but because of our past experiences with these gentlemen [the regime] we expect obstacles, since they also had interfered in [other] ceremonies. But maybe these gentlemen have come to their minds by now and will show enough respect to let us carry out [the ceremonies]. Hopefully they won't make our lives harder.

Anchorman: What were your father's last words?

Montazeri: I was in Tehran and returned to my father's house at midnight. He asked if my "mission" was successful [apprently Saeed Montazeri had tried to meet families of political detainees and help them]. But I replied that unfortunately I couldn't help. My father was one of the few Marjas who really cared for these families and generally for the people and gave his heart and soul for them. Now my father passed away and is free from any sorrow.

Anchorman: What were your father's hopes? What was the view on the Green Movement and Iranian youth?

Montazeri [summarised]: His opinion was that people should stick together and solve their problems together.

Anchorman: Was your father under house arrest? And if so, how did the regime treat him? Did the regime's officials respect him and treat him well, compared to the first few years of his house arrest, or did they continue putting pressure on him?

Montazeri: It was a bit easier recently, but from what I know the gentlemen have ordered the press not to mention his death in the news. Only God knows if they will let us wash his dead body[?]. But as I said, I'm still hopeful that they came to their minds and that everything goes well the next few days, so that the society doesn't suffer anymore.

Anchorman: What was the reason for his death? What did the doctors say?

Montazeri: They said he had a heart attack while he was asleep. But I think one of the main reasons was his grief for the post-election events which troubled my father a lot.

Anchorman: Was there an extraordinary disciple [scholar] whom your father had chosen to replace him ?

Montazeri: No. Not officially. The people will chose whom they want to follow.

Anchorman: How was the relationship to [Mehdi] Karroubi, [Mir Hossein] Mousavi, and other leaders of the Green movement?

Montazeri: There was not a direct relationship but exchange of letters. But they also had common friends so they were in contact through messages they sent to each other. All in all, I can say that my father supported the leaders of the Green movement and prayed for them to succeed.

Anchorman: Mr. Montazeri, you father has often talked about the person of [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and it's not a secret that he was very critical to him. Do you know about any speech were he was also critical of the system of velayat-e-faqih [ultimate clerical authority]?

Montazeri: He always had the same view about the system of velayat-e-faqih. Nothing has changed. A vali-e-faqih must be chosen by people's vote. He wanted the people to decide who is vali-e-faqih and who is not. The term of his rule must also be limited and if he doesn't behave in a proper way, he must be removed from office.

So you see that my father's view of the system of velayat-e-faqih is different from these gentlemen's [the regime's] conception. My father strongly opposed the life-long rule of one leader. My father always believed that you might have a republic where everyone lives under massive hardship and oppression, and you might have a monarchy where everyone lives under good conditions and in harmony. The names "republic", "system of velayat-e-faqih" or "monarchy" are only names and have nothing to do with the real circumstances of peoples' lives. People must chose what's good for them. The name of the system is not important as long people decide.

Anchorman: It is said that Ayatollah Montazeri strongly opposed the execution of leftists and MKO members during Imam Khomeini's rule. But it is also said that he cried a lot because of the destiny of these executed men. Did you witness his grief about the post-election events, when people were tortured at Kahrizak [Prison] and when people like Neda Agha Soltan died in the streets? What were your father's reactions?

Montazeri: Yes, my father suffered a lot. He was speechless and couldnT understand why certain people who sacrificed their hearts and souls for the revolution are now jailed. We joked with him and said that at least we are not jailed and wondered why he suffered that much for other peoples tragic destinies.

Anchorman: Did your father see Neda Agha Soltan's tragic death?

Montazeri: Yes, he was very up to date. He was one of the few Marjas who knew the daily news since we showed him satellite broadcasts and also the news in the Worldwide Web. He was very up-to-date and interested in the recent developments.

Anchorman: Mr. Montazeri, thank you for your time and again i want to offer you and your family my deepest condolences.

Montazeri: Thank you and God bless you.