Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Red Pepper (1)


The Latest from Iran (4 February): The Relay of Opposition

2200 GMT: To close the day, a video --- courtesy of The Flying Carpet Institute --- of a workers' demonstration in Arak on Wednesday:


2155 GMT: The Amir Kabir student website, a valuable source of information throughout the post-election crisis, has been attacked by the Iranian Cyber Army.

2135 GMT: Brother, Where Art Thou (cont.)? Davoud Ahmadinejad, the brother of the President, has declared that he is ready to prove that the beliefs of Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, clash with Islam. Once again, the attack appears in Khabar Online, the publication close to Ali Larijani.

2125 GMT: Journalists and press managers have requested the freedom of Ali Ashraf Fathi, clergyman and writer of the Tourjaan weblog (named after the location where Fathi's father was killed during the Iran-Iraq War), who was arrested last week during the "40th Day" memorial for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

NEW Latest Iran Video: What Does the Iranian Public Really Think? (4 February)
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NEW Iran Spam, Spam, Lovely Spam: Mass E-mails, Old Polls, and “Analysis”
Iran Special: Full Text of Mousavi Answers for 22 Bahman (2 February)
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The Latest From Iran (3 February): Picking Up the Pace

2110 GMT: Crackdown and Blackout. So the regime's strategy of breaking up any mass movement on 22 Bahman continues. Iranian activists and websites such as Reporters and Humanrights Activists in Iran continue to document arrests, and there is even a claim that three members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters --- Mehrdad Rahimi, Saeed Haeri, and Shiva Nazar-Ahari --- have been charged with "mohareb" (war against God).

Reports continue to circulate that Internet service has slowed significantly and even been halted in parts of Iran. Official explanations have included disruptions because of the loss of a major cable and "developments and expansions in the Tehran-Mashad corridor".

1930 GMT: We started the day with a sceptical post about a set of old polls being pushed to argue for the legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad Government. We've now posted full video of Wednesday's two-panel seminar at the New America Foundation which featured those polls, "What Does the Iranian Public Really Think?"

1730 GMT: We've posted an analysis from Persian2English, of the latest numbers (and missing numbers) on the Iranian economy.

1700 GMT: Domestic Case of the Day. Ayande News claims that Mahdi Kalhour, the President's Media Advisor, was called into a police station after beating up his ex-wife, Masumah Taheri, last night. Taheri, claiming an injured neck, has decided to sue Kalhour; the court hearing will begin on Sunday.

A few months ago, Kalhour's daughter sought asylum in Germany.

1500 GMT: Greetings from Beirut. 90 Lebanese intellectuals have issued a statement of support for the Green Movement.

1420 GMT: Kalemeh is reporting that the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, which is led by Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib, a critic of the Government, was attacked again last night. Last month, Dastgheib's offices were temporarily closed after pro-Government groups took over the mosque. There is also an English-language summary on the Facebook page supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1400 GMT: The Ashura Trial. An Iranian activist has posted a translation of Wednesday's proceedings for the "first defendant", student at Damghan University:

1st defendant was charged with Moharebeh (war against God), being a corrupting agent & collusive acts against national security, propagandizing against the Islamic Republic & insulting high ranking officials.

1st defendant admitted to chanting "Death to Dictator", saying it was aimed at the President. He testified that he participated in four different protests. The 1st protest was the 40th (Day) memorial ceremony of the martyrs (30 July?). He went to 7 Tir Square, stayed for about 20 minutes, chanted "Death to Dictator", "Death to the Deceptive Government", & Allahu Akhbar. He was surprised to hear the more radical chants.

1st defendant said, at the Friday Prayers presided [over] by Ayatollah Rafsanjani, he along with his father & younger brother went to Qods street & video taped & took pictures of the crowd. 1st defendant also testified that he participated in Qods Day (18 September) protests, chanted pro-Ayatollah Sane'i slogans. He also said he chanted the slogan, "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran I will sacrifice."

He also participated in Ashura protest & video taped the crowd. After police used teargas, the crowd scattered at first & than gathered again & set a trash bin on fire. PPL were throwing stones at the police . He said at that time he was only video taping the scene. He then participated in throwing stones at the police who were standing far from the crowd. Once the crowd started to dissipate he went inside a home, stayed there for 20 minutes then left. On his way back home he saw a few injured people. Along with others he helped the injured & took them to the hospital. He than proceeded to go home.

On the way home he saw scenes that looked like war scenes. He video taped the war scenes. He did not send the videos to anyone, only showed them to friends. He testified that in 2008 he joined the Islamic Society, he & his family had reformist tendencies. He continued explaining that the elites claimed there was cheating in the election, he emphasized the point that many of the elites were absent from the President's confirmation ceremonies, then they announced there is a political coup. They asked us to come to the streets to protest & take our rights back.

The judge asked him about throwing stones on Ashura. The defendant explained because he had believed there was cheating in the elections, he went to the streets to protest the results. The judge than asked him about the flyers he distributed at Damghan University. He said he signed two petitions that demanded Ahmadinejad to resign.

At this point the defense attorney gave his short defense & asked the court for leniency for his client.

Judge than asked the 1st defendant to give his last defense. 1st defendant said he was capable of making decisions admitting that he made two mistakes, the first one leading to the second mistake. He said his first mistake was not to have researched the news sources & some groups. Second mistake was that even though he believed in Imam's path but, as the interrogator reminded him, he had forgotten Imam said "Support Velayat-e-Faqih (the Supreme Leader) so no harm can come to the country".

1st defendant continued to apologize to the Leader & asked for forgivness.

1210 GMT: Arrests and Sentences (cont.). Rah-e-Sabz has a round-up, including the detention of journalist Noushin Jafari, who covers cultural affairs for Etemaad newspaper.

1205 GMT: The Regional Diversion. Meanwhile, the US-Iran game of power-posing plays out. Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, has responded to the US declaration that it is providing anti-missile capability to four states on the Arabian peninsula:
They don't want to see good and growing relations between Iran and its neighbors in the Persian Gulf and thus started a psychological war....It is not new for us ... we were informed when they were installed, including about their exact locations ... Patriot missile could be easily deactivated by using simple tactics.

1200 GMT: Breaking Activism. AUT News summarises part of the regime's strategy to "win" on 22 Bahman (11 February), the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution: in recent days, 15 former and current student activists have been arrested throughout Iran.

1030 GMT: Ahmadi's Nuke Gambit. Finally, some white smoke from the Islamic Republic News Agency, which runs a supportive article for the President's proposal to swap Iran's uranium abroad. An "unnamed senior diplomat" explains that the initiative shows Iran's "flexibility" in negotiations on the issue.

0945 GMT: An EA source from Iran reports that Omid Mehregan, a translator and intellectual in Tehran, was arrested last night. Soon after the election, Mehregan and Morad Fardhadpour wrote for the British periodical Red Pepper: "Misguided western leftists may have their doubts about the Iranian mass movement against President Ahmadinejad’s disputed election ‘victory’. They should put them aside in the face of the new politics of revolt."

0905 GMT: Student activist Maziar Samiee has been arrested.

0900 GMT: On the International Front. We've posted an analysis, from colleagues at, of how Turkey might be able to break the deadlock in nuclear talks between the "West" and Iran.

0800 GMT: Arrests and Sentences. Reporters and Humanrights Activists in Iran is providing regular updates, such as the four-year prison term for author and literary journalist Javad Maherzadeh.

0735 GMT: We've posted an article --- half in fun, half in academic horror --- at a mass e-mail and five-month-old (dubious) poll passing itself off as confirmation of the current legitimacy of the Iran Government.

(I might have let this go without comment --- why give more publicity to poor analysis? However, I noticed last night that Joshua Holland of AlterNet, a blogger whom I respect very much, subsequently wrote, "Polls Suggest Everything You Think You Know About Iran’s 'Tainted' Election Is Wrong".

I should add that Holland was on an advance press list, rather than a generic list of recipients, for the material on the polls and that he has interviewed the polling group on several occasions, for example, over their work in Iraq. Still, my worry was that a very shaky exercise would be refreshed as confirmation that the Ahmadinejad Government is on solid ground and faces little resistance.)

0600 GMT: It did not bring as much attention outside Iran as Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement on Tuesday or President Ahmadinejad's declaration of a shift in Tehran's position on its nuclear programme. Mehdi Karroubi certainly did not prompt the fevered reactions to his comments of the previous week, but make no mistake: his proclamation on Wednesday on the protest of 22 Bahman as a necessary if calm response to the abuses of the Government was the event of the day. It consolidated the latest rhetoric from leading opposition politicians and clerics, as The Los Angeles Times --- which, to its credit, was the US newspaper that recognised the declaration's importance --- signalled in this lengthy extract:
We are approaching the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at a time when both the Islamism and republicanism of the regime have been seriously questioned. The 10th presidential election was tainted with fraud. Peaceful protests were met with violence and suppression, and finally the walls of trust between people and the establishment collapsed.

People's demands have to be taken seriously into account. Repression, mass detention of political activists, journalists and students, show trials, execution and heavy punishments and security crackdowns cannot contain the prevailing crisis.

Those in power should reconsider their methods, and keep in mind that neither silence nor retreat on our part, nor threats, intimidation and violence on their part, can resolve the problems.

The authorities take no step in favor of the people and give childish and bizarre images of the current bitter realities.

State corruption and discrimination are rife in the country. The leaders are incapable of dealing with simple domestic affairs, but they claim to be able to run the world.

Rigid-minded hard-liners continue to utter baseless accusations against the pillars of the regime and the faithful confidants of the late imam [Ayatollah Khomeini].

All articles of the constitution have to be fully implemented. All political prisoners have to be released unconditionally. Press restrictions have to be scrapped and criticism should be tolerated. The current climate of intimidation and fear has to change. These are the demands of the opposition movement.

In contrast, the regime --- while noting that it still has the far-from-minor weapon of sweeping up activists and putting them in prison, as it continued to do on Wednesday --- was caught up in another spate of indecision. After the posturing of the rocket launch yesterday morning, officials had to figure out what to do next with President Ahmadinejad's announcement, backed up by his Foreign Minister, that Iran would allow a "swap" of uranium stock outside the country to ensure 20% uranium for its civilian reactors.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, tried to hold the line, "The discussions are still being conducted, and we will inform the nation of any final agreements," in the face of questions. Pressed who might host the "third-party enrichment", "he cited an Asian country, but would not specify which one". (Answer: it's Turkey.)

Further evidence that Ahmadinejad had spoken loudly but now had to back up the words by getting agreement from those within the regime came from Press TV, which could merely report last night, "The West has urged Iran to submit a formal offer to the UN nuclear watchdog after the Iranian president said his government was ready to negotiate over a fuel swap deal."