Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (12 December): Messages, "Confessions", and Those Behind Bars

2035 GMT: Economy (Oversight) Watch. Kalemeh reports that the Central Bank has not published data on economic growth for 28 months.

Economist Mohsen Renani, in comments published in the conservative Aftab, has alleged that academic studies on effects of subsidy cuts are censored and media are not allowed to publish data. He asserts that subsidy cuts will stop development for several generations and cause social crisis.

MP Hassan Ghafourifard chimes in, warning the Govt does not know how to implement subsidy cuts.

2030 GMT: The Battle Within. Meanwhile, even as Ayatollahs Mahdavi Kani and Mesbah Yazdi declare that unity will emerge amongst principlists, the feuding within the establishment continues. Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has lashed out at former Minister of Justice Gholam-Hossein Elham, who criticised the prosecutor for supporting sedition. Doulatabadi responded that "obviously a new fitna movement is taking shape" within the system.

1820 GMT: Political Prisoner Alert. The wife of detained journalist/filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has issued a plea for help on her husband's website after Nourizad began a hunger strike.

Nourizad, who was detained in March, announced this week that he would begin refusing food and water, until death if necessary.

1730 GMT: Political Prisoner Alert. Radio Zamaneh reports that journalist Isa Saharkhiz, detained since summer 2009, is in critical condition after surgery to stop internal bleeding.

Rah-e-Sabz adds that prosecutors have refused permission for Saharkhiz's transfer to a hospital.

Meanwhile a letter from Saharkhiz to Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has been released. In it, Saharkhiz says he will not acquiesce to a “cruel and impious leader” like Ayatollah Khamenei. He claims that “whoever criticizes the leader is presented as a subversive element.”

Commenting on why he and fellow journalists Masoud Bastani and Ahmad Zeidabadi are being denied furloughs, Saharkhiz asserted, "The political and security forces have the last say rather than the judiciary and they are holding us hostage. They fear that when we get out, we might reveal that in various stages of our arrest and interrogation and trial, we were subjected to psychological pressure as well as being beaten and tortured."

1650 GMT: Un-Free Press. Thanks to Arshama3's Blog, we were just updating our entry today on journalists detained in Iran, with a list of 111 behind bars.

Minutes after we hit the Enter key, Arshama3 sent us Name 112: Mehran Faraji, who has worked Hamshahri, Etemad-e Melli, and Kargozaran, was arrested on Saturday.

1430 GMT: Anger with the "Little Satan". The regime has mobilised criticism of Britain after the UK Ambassador in Tehran, Simon Gass, challenged Iran's human rights record on the Embassy website and called for the release of detained attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh.

Media featured the anger of several prominent MPs. "Simon Gass must learn the ethics of an ambassador," said Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Commission. "It seems that Simon Gass is on a mission in Tehran to demolish relations between the two countries rather than establishing them."

Another senior MP, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, accused Gass of interfering in Iran's internal affairs and urged the foreign ministry to "seriously consider expelling the British ambassador". MP Kazem Jalali of the National Security Commission said it would examine a downgrading of ties with Britain.

Basiji were mobilised to demonstrated outside the UK Embassy, burning British flags.

Gass wrote, "Since last year human rights defenders have been harassed and imprisoned." He pointed to Sotoudeh, detained since early September, "Her real crime is doing her job courageously and highlighting injustices that the Iranian regime would prefer stayed hidden."

1400 GMT: More Mousavi. In a separate entry today, we post Mir Hossein Mousavi's statement for the religious month of Moharram. The opposition figure has also given an interview to Ghalam Sabz. Highlights:

On the portrayal of the Green Movement by Ayatollah Jannati --- head of the Guardian Counciland for Mousavi, a "rather complete example of the tyrannical totalitarian --- as “fire beneath the ashes": "In my opinion [he] has a very strong sense of prediction....The continuation of suppression, ignoring the truth alongside the rule of lies, escaping from the law, corruption, and lack of competence in domestic and foreign policies will intensify this fire that he said is beneath the ash."

On social networks: "I agree with [the creation] of a new organisation on the conditions that it has a coalition-front framework and from the very beginning considers itself as a companion of Green Movement and other movements such as labor, women, student and teacher movements and does not go after destroying or weakening the other existing parties and movements."

On the WikiLeaks revelations:

The documents regarding Israel’s intensifying the ethnic groups’ differences should be a warning for all of our nation including ethnic groups...This document and the recent terrorism against our nuclear scientists show how much our support for Palestinian and Lebanese nations, besides its moral aspects, is in favor of our national interests.

The documents regarding the election frauds were also interesting, especially where it was pointed that the votes were not counted at all – i.e. the coup d'état election.

1350 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Leading reformist Feizollah Arabsorkhi has reportedly been summoned to Evin Prison to start serving his six-year sentence.

1125 GMT: Scared of the Dead. Following pressure by Iranian authorities to prevent the family of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri from holding a memorial service for the 1st anniversary of the cleric's death, Montazeri's eldest son Ahmad Montazeri has said, "They are even terrified of the dead Ayatollah Montazeri and his grave."

1050 GMT: Economy Watch. Peyke Iran claims that unemployment has reached 30% in some parts of the country.

Nader Uskowi offers a useful overview of the continued delay in the introduction of subsidy cuts, "A Government in Disarray Over Subsidy Reforms".

1045 GMT: Un-Free Press. Journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabai has been arrested.

Tabatabai is the sixth staffer of the reformist Shargh daily to be detained after Tuesday's raids on the newspaper.

1040 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Blogger Hossein Derakhshan has returned to prison after a two-day leave.

Derakhshan, Iran's "Blogfather", was sentenced to 19 1/2 years in prison this summer. He was allowed out on a $1.5 million bail.

Derakhshan’s sister wrote, “It was unexpected, but finally, after months of efforts and patience, they accepted for Hossein to spend two days outside of the prison and next to us....He returned to prison early this morning. It was short. But sweet.”

Parleman News reports that reformist leader Mostafa Tajzadeh and journalist/filmmaker Mohammad Reza Nourizad are being denied visitors in prison.

0855 GMT: We begin today with a triple feature moving between politics, media, and punishment.

We post the text of Mir Hossein Mousavi's message for the holy month of Moharram, linking the post-election crisis to the martyrdom of Imam Hossein and calling for a show of resistance on Ashura (16 December), the day marking Hossein's death.

Thanks to our partner Arshama3's Blog, we reveal the full extent of Iran's imprisonment of journalists, with more than 100 possibly behind bars.

And in the headline case of the week, we have the documentary from Press TV with the latest "confession" of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned to death --- initially by stoning --- for adultery and complicity in the murder of her husband.

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