Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (4 October): More of the Same

2100 GMT: Execution Watch. The death sentence of Kurdish activist Habibollah Golparipour, on charges of waging war through propaganda and membership in an illegal group, has been upheld.

2025 GMT: Musical Moment. US National Public Radio posts a profile of famous Iranian singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian, whose renditions of classical Persian songs have become the music of post-election protest.

2005 GMT: Come Together Right Now. Mehr has picked up on the "unity" theme in Ali Larijani's remarks at Mazandaran University (see 0725 GMT): "Given the current circumstances, the country will stand to lose from any dispute over unimportant issues, and thus officials should try to avoid making statements that would create discord."

I'm not sure about the meaning of the website's English translation of the Speaker of Parliament's remarks on sanctions: "The economic sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program should be viewed as an opportunity to make up for shortcomings in the country."

2000 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates has frozen some Iranian bank accounts in line with UN resolutions, according to Abdul Rahim Al Awadi, the head of the Central Bank's anti-money laundering unit.

Al Awadi announced, "The UAE, with its commitment towards the UN, implemented all UN resolutions against Iranians."

1910 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Persian2English has published the translation of the appeal from jailed dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi to the President and Members of the UN Human Rights Council “to investigate the abuses taking place in Iran and the Middle East as a consequence of intervention of religion into politics thus paving the way for the passage of a resolution supporting the separation of state from religion”.

The appeal, read at the Council headquarters in Geneva on 23 September, called on the international community “to ensure that the regime in Tehran accepts a free and fair referendum carried out under the supervision of international monitors so that the people of Iran can once again become masters of their own destiny".

Boroujerdi has been detained in Evin Prison since 2006.

1900 GMT: The Bazaar Strikes. Claimed footage of a strike by gold vendors today in Hamedan in northwest Iran:

1325 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran summarises this weekend's arrests of seven members of the Freedom Movement of Iran, including regional directors, a Central Council member, and the head, Ebrahim Yazdi.

1300 GMT: Targeting the Critics. According to Saham News, Tehran Friday Prayer leader Kazem Seddiqi has launched harsh attacks on former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ayatollah Dastgheib, adding that the children of many clerics --- Rafsanjani is also an Ayatollah --- are "haram (that which is forbidden) eaters". 

1250 GMT: Parliament v. Government. The impeachment of Minister of Education Haji Babaie has been cancelled.  

1245 GMT: A Free Press. The World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom has been awarded to Iranian journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi, who was arrested just after the June 2009 Presidential elections and who was sentenced in December to six years in prison.

Exiled activist Akbar Ganji will accept the award on Zeidabadi's behalf.

1235 GMT: A Presidential Retreat? Rah-e-Sabz claims that, in a Sunday night meeting with MPs, President Ahmadinejad backed away from his recent "I Rule" declaration and confirmed the importance of the Majlis.

Iranian state media have Ahmadinejad declaring, "We shouldn't care for minor matters," presumably a reference to the internal disputes, but instead join the huge international wave against American hegemony. He claimed that the US had been unable to respond to his challenge for an enquiry into who caused 9-11.

1225 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The espionage conviction against Hossein Rassam, an Iranian national who worked for the British Embassy in Tehran, has been overturned by an appeals court.

Rassam had been sentenced to four years in prison over the allegation. His lawyer, Babak Farahi, said that instead "he was sentenced to one year in jail, suspended for five years, for propaganda against the establishment... as he had no previous record and held no managerial posts". Rassam was also banned from working for foreign embassies for five years. 

Rassam, the embassy's chief political analyst, was arrested in June 2009 with eight other local employees. All were released on bail within weeks, but Rassam was amongst the defendants in a televised mass trial in August.

1015 GMT: Nuclear Claim of the Day. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, says that the delay in start-up of Iran's first nuclear power plant was due to a small leak in a pool near the reactor.

Salehi said, "The leak has been fixed and the core of the reactor is working properly."

The official denied that the delay was in any way related to the Stuxnet computer worm, which Iranian media said had affected 30,000 computers in the country.

1010 GMT: CyberWatch. Follow-up on the "Wikipedia Filtered" story from yesterday....

It was the Persian version of the site that was blocked for a few hours. The English version was unaffected.

However, if Wikipedia is "in the clear" for the moment, reports are coming in that Mehdi Karroubi's Tagheer has now been blocked.

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Sane'i's office has vowed to continue in its on-line efforts despite the filtering of the site.

0729 GMT: Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, the former Friday Prayers leader in the city of Isfahan, has told a meeting, "Don't let hopeless control us."

Taheri continued with support for an acknowledgement not only of political issues in the present but in Iran's recent past: "Silence on the distorted history of Rev and war is a crime to future generations." The cleric claimed that the Supreme Leader and Revolutionary Guard and Basij commanders "have spread a lot of lies about the Iran-Iraq War" in recent weeks.

Taheri added that clerics should take a stand against laws, which destroy the foundations of the family.

0725 GMT: Tough Talk. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, at least in public, is maintaining his opposition to President Ahmadinejad's move towards a resumption of talks on uranium enrichment with any group including Washington. He said at Mazanderan University that the proposal was "a diversion", because Washington fears the political presence of Muslims".

Larijani, in a possible jab at domestic opponents, maintained that the Supreme Leader was "the symbol of unity" in Iran.

0600 GMT: A slow start to the day, with repetition rather than new developments.

Repetition of arrests and sentences, with confirmation of the detention of the leaders of the Freedom Movement of Iran, the return of reformists to prison, and news of a 9 1/2-year sentence for journalist and activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi.

Repetition of President Ahmadinejad's efforts to big himself up by focusing on the international rather than the domestic front. After his Saturday meeting with Syria's Bashar al-Assad, he used a visit from a Lebanese minister to showcase his intended trip on 13 October to Beirut: “The Islamic Republic likes Lebanon and the Lebanese nation and seeks to boost its relations with the country.” 

Indeed, it looks like Ahmadinejad's plan may whip up a mini-scuffle. Press TV is highlighting a report from Israeli newspaper Haaretz that West Jerusalem has sent messages to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Suleiman, through the US and French governments and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, that "it wouldn't be wise to facilitate Ahmadinejad's visit to the border".

Still, "more of the same" can be deceiving. The apparent pause in the domestic contest against Ahmadinejad appears to be linked to an economic "pause". With the Government's hesitation over the subsidy cuts, delaying them until November, no one can be sure what they will bring on the political and social fronts. That suspension is compounded because of the failure between Parliament and Government to agree on a budget and possibly because of uncertainties over the Iranian currency.

Far easier then to slap a few more reformists behind bars, far easier to pose as a world leader with provocative statements --- note Ahmadinejad's use of the launch of a housing project to throw out his latest "Who Caused 9-11?" challenge with the headline "the US buried the world in mud" --- than to bring internal matters to a head.

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