On February 12, a statement appeared on various Iranian websites, including Balatarin which is one of the largest Persian-speaking community websites in the world, in the form of a poster. The poster called for solidarity with the imprisoned leader of Tehran’s bus drivers union, Mansoor Osanloo, through acts of civil disobedience beginning on March 4 around Tehran’s Valiasr square. The statement purported to be an offcial statement of the union (formally known as the Syndicate of Vahed Company Workers of Tehran and Environs). Subsequently, in an article for the popular web journal Tehran Bureau, a staff member at Iran Labor Report wrote an analysis of the union statement as it had appeared on the various websites.
It now appears that the poster-statement was not authentic and that the union’s leadership had not issued the statement. Moreover, the provenance of the statement is still not clear. The union had apparently not published an official disclaimer earlier on due to the recent disuptions with internet use in Iran. Subsequent to this, the union requested that the inauthenticity of the statement be made public and that henceforth no reference would be made of it.
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2145 GMT: Labour Rights. The joint statement of three Iranian unions --- the Syndicate of Tehran Bus Workers, the Syndicate of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company, and The Free Union of Workers in Iran --- to the United Nations Human Rights Council has been posted:
[Workers'] most urgent and most basic demands at the present time are:
- Abolishment of executions, immediate and unconditional release of labour activists and all other social movements activists from jails;
- Rescinding all charges against labour movement arrestees;
- Immediate and unconditional freedom in formation of labour unions, without the need to have permission from managements, compliance with all labour related international conventions, eradication of all non-labour establishments from working environments, and to prosecute the suppressors and deniers of workers’ human rights;
- Unconditional rights to strike, protest, and freedom of speech;
- Complete equality between men and women at work and in all other aspects of social, economical and family lives;
- Total abolishment of child labour and providing educational and medical environment for all children.
2050 GMT: Miss-the-Point Story of the Day. A lot of trees are dying for battling news items on the Iran nuclear front: "Iran Says Studying New Nuclear Fuel Deal" v. "U.S. denies Iran given new fuel swap proposal".
Let's save the trees. Turkish Foreign Ahmet Davutoglu will be in Iran tomorrow to discuss a "swap" of 20 percent uranium, outside Iran, for Tehran's 3.5 percent stock (see 1225 GMT). "New" or "not new" makes no difference to that central discussion.
2008 GMT: On the Economic Front. Mohammad Parsa, a member of the electricity syndicate, has declared that 900,000 workers of electricity companies are on the verge of dismissal as the Government 5 billion toman ($5.06 million) to the electricity industry. Parsa says the industry is operating on an emergency basis with managers fleeing their posts.
2005 GMT: Another Ashura Death. Peyke Iran has identified Mehdi Farhadi Rad from south Tehran as the victim of an attack by police and plainclothes officers, shot in the head and chest.
2000 GMT: The Radio Farda "Spy Ring". Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi has declared that, of eight people arrested as agents for the US Government-sponsored Radio Farda, only one is a journalist, who has confessed his "relationship to foreign elements". The other detainees are his relatives.
1940 GMT: Another Battle for Ahmadinejad. Back from an academic break to find a series of challenges to the President over his budget. Mostafa Kavakebian of the Democracy Party has declared that he will not accept a proposal that needs "fundamental changes": government spending is too high, but there are no funds for unemployed youth and the payment of civil servants is not considered.
Abbas Ali Noura has complained that the financial relationship between Iran's national oil company and the Government is not clear and last year's budget was not fully spent on development of oil industry (a hint at misplaced funds?). Abbas Rajayi adds that Ahmadinejad has not kept promises on funding for modernisation of water supply for agriculture. Ali Akbar Oulia has denounced "one of the weakest and most debatable budgets", with over-optimistic projections on Government income and inflation.
1600 GMT: Tehran Bureau reports that the Tehran Bus Workers Union, in a statement on 12 February, has aligned itself with the Green Movement. The Union also declared, "Starting March 6, We the Workers of Vahed Company Will Wage Acts of Civil Disobedience (or white strike) to Protest the Condition of (labour activist) Mansoor Osanloo in Prison. We Appeal to the Iranian People and to the Democratic Green Movement--of which we consider ourselves a small part--to join us by creating a deliberate traffic jam in all directions leading to Vali-e Asr Square."
1550 GMT: Iranian media is reporting that President Ahmadinejad is going to fire his Minister of Oil for reporting reducing production.
1545 GMT: The Iranian Students News Agency reports that Mohsen Aminzadeh, the reformist leader sentenced to six years in prison, has been released on $700,000 bail during his appeal.
1335 GMT: We've posted video of contrasting analyses from the US, with Gary Sick's thorough consideration of the Iranian political situation offset by generalisation and overreaction from Richard Haass and Bret Stephens.
1230 GMT: Children's rights activist Mohsen Amrolalayi, arrested on 23 January, is still in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.
1225 GMT: One to Watch. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will hold talks with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on Tuesday over uranium enrichment issue.
What is not noted in the Agence France Presse article is that Davutoglu may have already met President Ahmadinejad's advisor Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai: both have been in Qatar over the weekend.
1215 GMT: The UN Human Rights Meeting on Iran. A few hours of diplomatic theatre in the UN Human Rights Council this morning, as Britain, France, and the US put forward a co-ordinated attack on Iran's treatment of post-election protest. French Ambassador Jean Baptiste Mattei asserted:
The authorities are waging bloody repression against their own people, who are peacefully claiming their rights. France recommends that Iran accept the creation of a credible and independent international inquiry mechanism to shed light on these violations.
The US and British Ambassador made similar statements and called on Iran to allows visits by the United Nations investigator on torture and other human rights experts.
Supported by Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela, Iran judiciary official Mohammad Javad Larijani declared,"With the victory of the Islamic revolution, the situation of human rights has consistently been used as a political tool to apply pressure against us and to advance certain ulterior political motives by some specific Western countries."
Larijani claims steps to improve women's access to education, health, and social status, to protect children and religious minorities, and to combat the tradition of forced marriages: "The Iranian society is a successful model of brotherly and amicable coexistence."
1200 GMT: Not-So-Subtle Propaganda of the Day. Our inset photograph is a reproduction of the lead image --- an altered picture of Mehdi Karroubi --- in today's Javan, which is close to the Revolutionary Guard.
1025 GMT: Nothing to Do With Us. Tehran's Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has denied that Mehdi Karroubi's son Ali was arrested on 22 Bahman.
Which begs the follow-up question, "So did Ali Karroubi beat himself up?"
0940 GMT: Detaining the Writers: "Arshama3's Blog" updates our list of journalists held in Iran's prisons, covering 66 cases. A 67th named can be added: Na’imeh Doostdar of Jam-e-Jam and Hamshahri was arrested on 6 February.
One piece of good news: writer Alireza Saghafi was released yesterday.
0925 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that there is still no number of those detained on 22 Bahman. Some detainees have been allowed to have short phone calls with families.
0910 GMT: Who is the Foe? That is the question asked by Ebrahim Nabavi, who argues that the true opposition to the Green movement is not Ahmadinejad, the Supreme Leader, the Revolutionary Guard, the Basiji, the plainclothes men, Western imperialism, or British-directed mullahs. The enemies are ignorance, poverty, tyranny, and injustice are the Green's real foes.
Nabavi refers to Mohsen Rouholamini, who died at Kahrizak Prison last summer, in predicting that there are many more like him within the regime who long for freedom. He emphasises that the Green movement wants freedom for the soldier who opposes it as well as for people who are forced to comply with the regime for financial reasons.
0905 GMT: The German-based Akhbar-e-Rooz has taken aim at the Green Movement. Two articles are notable: an opinion piece takes aim at the Green website Rah-e-Sabz for attacking those "who did not vote for Mousavi". This follows an editorial complaining about the Green movement's indifference to trade unions, including the failure to challenge the transfer of the labour activist Mansur Osanloo to solitary confinement.
(Apologies that, in processing information this morning, I confused this with the latest from Khabar Online, mistakenly attributing the attack on the Greens to the pro-Larijani website.)
0900 GMT: The Spirit of 22 Bahman. The reformist Association of Combatant Clergy has issued a statement thanking Greens for their involvement in last Thursday's rallies and condemning Iranian authorities for "hijacking" their efforts.
0850 GMT: Well, This Will Break the Silence. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pronounced this morning in a speech to students in Qatar, "Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship. That is our view."
Really? No President with authority? No Supreme Leader? I suspect Clinton may have put this line not only as part of the tactic of united Arab countries against the Iran "threat" but to justify the sanctions against the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. Still (and I haven't seen the context of the full speech, only the reports), the declaration seems a bit simplistic, even for public spin.
0720 GMT: A slowish day on the political front, as Iran moves towards the end of its holidays for the anniversary of the Revolution. The only ripple is Iranian state media's promotion of President Ahmadinejad's declaration, in an interview with a Russian magazine:
Iran can defend itself without nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are of no use anymore and have no place in current international equations. Could the Soviet Union's stockpile of nuclear weapons prevent its collapse? Have they been of any assistance to the US military in its wars against Afghanistan and Iraq? Atomic bombs couldn't secure a victory for the Zionist regime in the Lebanon and Gaza wars.
The statement might be read in the context of an Ahmadinejad reassurance to the "West" that Iran will not pursue a military nuclear programme and thus as a signal that he wants to maintain discussions on uranium enrichment.
In the meantime, however, we are focusing on human rights this morning with two reports: the Human Rights Watch findings on detentions, abuse, and torture and a study by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center of post-election suppression of dissent.