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Sunday
Nov142010

The Latest from Iran (14 November): "Green Movement is Alive"

2120 GMT: CyberWatch. The website of the Feminist School has been filtered for the 19th time by Iranian authorities.

2100 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRANA reports that Commander Moghaddam, head of Mir Hossein Mousavi's Isargaran Committee, has been arrested after he and other veterans had a meeting with Mousavi this week.

2055 GMT: Economy Watch. While Iran waits for the implementation of subsidy cuts, Rah-e-Sabz reports that prices for 29 essential foods have risen weekly, with the highest increases for fresh vegetables (10.3%) and legumes (5.6%).

2045 GMT: Free Thinking, Khatami Style. Former President Mohammad Khatami, meeting former academics, has said that criticism of the regime is "due to sympathy". Speaking directly about the suspension of "Western-style" humanities instruction in universities, Khatami declared, "You cannot change the world or humanities with official orders".

The former President added, "If politics is based on free elections, many problems will be solved."

main issues in tonight's meeting between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Majlis were implementation of subsidy cuts and the 5th Budget Plan. No other details were given.

Other battle reports are more interesting. Leading MP Mohammad Reza Bahonar said the Majlis has changed the composition of General Assembly of the Central Bank of Iran, so the President is no longer a member and has no right to appoint the CBI head.

In contrast, Khabar Online says the 5th Budget Plan returns the right of setting exchange rates to the government.

2005 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Zaynab Bahraini, a postgraduate student at Shiraz University student, was arrested Saturday at her home.

Bahraini is a member of the youth branch of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front and and the former head of the Fars Province campaign of Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1735 GMT: Economy Watch. The Entekhab Industrial Group has acquired South Korea's Daewoo Electronics for $518 million.

The buyout by the privately-owned Iranian company comes despite South Korean unilateral sanctions on Iran following American pressure.

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Daewoo Electronics has been under debt rescheduling programme since 1999 when its parent company, the Daewoo Group, collapsed.

1655 GMT: Shutting Down the Lawyers (cont.). Is this now a coordinated escalation of the campaign to silence any significant defence attorney? As the regime claims five more lawyers have been detained, the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, tells the Bar Association, "Some of the declarations of Iranian lawyers regarding our judicial procedures and in particular their interviews with foreign media outlets are an insult to the judicial and legal community at large."

1540 GMT: Shutting Down the Lawyers. A curious statement from Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi,as reported by Fars: five defence attorneys have been detained in just over 24 hours.

We reported yesterday of the arrest of three lawyers --- Sara Sabaghian, Maryam Kian-Ersi and Maryam Karbasi --- early Saturday morning as they arrived from Turkey at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport. The names of the other two attorneys have not been revealed, although Doulatabadi said they were "related to the three". The five were arrested "for committing security-related offences and violating the Islamic Republic's moral standards outside Iran".

1505 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Elements of the regime may be putting pressure on former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, threatening to arrest his son Mehdi Hashemi, but that is not deterring his daughter Faezeh Hashemi. She has told a Spanish newspaper that the Iranian government can be likened to "dictatorial and authoritarian rule".

1500 GMT: (Hiding the) Economy Watch. The conservative Aftab News has picked up the story, which we noted yesterday, that the Central Bank --- for the 2nd consecutive year --- has withheld Iran's rate of growth in its annual report.

1455 GMT: Karroubi Strikes Back. In Saham News, Mehdi Karroubi has issued a sharp response to Ayatollah Jannati's labelling, in his Friday Prayer in Tehran, of post-election protest as "sedition".

1440 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Keyvan Mehregan, the political director of the Etemade Melli newspaper, has been sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for four years.

1305 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mehdi Khazali, blogger, head of the Medical Data Bank, and son of the prominent Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali, has been released on $200,000 bail after a month in detention.

1215 GMT: Headline of Day. Press TV, with no apparent tongue in cheek: "Iran Seeks International Human Rights Co-operation".

1010 GMT: Claim of Day. Press TV cites figures from the US Census Bureau that Washington imported $92.7 million worth of goods from Iran from January to September 2010, compared to $45.1 million in the same period in 2009. The US exported $158.4 million worth of goods to Iran during the first nine months of 2010.

Press TV gloats, "Experts say the figures ironically indicate that in the first months of implementing its own engineered sanctions against Iran --- while simultaneously engaged in a rigorous global campaign to push allies to follow suit --- Washington actually failed to follow through itself, proving once again that it regards itself as an exception."

1000 GMT: Larijani Watch. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has maintained his tough national image in an address to the Majlis, declaring, "The US follows a misleading approach towards the issue of terrorism and regards it as an excuse to establish dominance in the region....Why should the nations of our region have to pay for your filthy desires?”

Larijani, in line with others such as President Ahmadinejad, also praised the recent formation of the Iraqi government (even if that formation is far from conclusive).

0930 GMT: Labour Front. Amnesty International summarises recent repression of trade unionists in Iran.

0925 GMT: A Question. Reformist politician Ali Shakouri Rad, recently released from detention, asks the Government: how can you object to the veto in the United Nations Security Council but uphold the veto of the Guardian Council over Iran's political process?

0920 GMT: Rumour of the Day. Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News claims that Deputy Minister of Culture Mohammad Ali Ramin --- controversial not only for the opposition but among Government supporters --- will soon be replaced.

0820 GMT: "The Green Movement is Alive". Writing in Rooz, Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah offers "a few simple reasons" why "the Green Movement is alive and an active presence, unmatched in its political and social actions and effects in Iran today".

0755 GMT: We're watching for political developments, as President Ahmadinejad has invited legislators to a meeting tonight. No details on the agenda, but I would bet the main topic will be subsidy cuts and whether they are soon to be implemented. 

Meanwhile, this morning's opening stories are on the cultural front....

The concert of Homayoun Shajarian, the son of the legendary singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian, was suddenly cancelled by authorities, as the rent for the Hafezyeh concert hall in Shiraz mysteriously increased by 200%.

Writer and women's rights activist Mansoureh Shojaee has been granted a one-year stay in Nuremberg, Germany in a Writers in Exile programme.

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    Response: Jeff Halevy
    EA WorldView - Home - The Latest from Iran (14 November): "Green Movement is Alive"

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