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The Latest from Iran (24 February): The Mousavi-Karroubi Question

2130 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. The debate over Hashemi Rafsanjani's future as head of the Assembly of Experts continues. MP Hojatoleslam Seyed Reza Akrami has jumped in on Khabar Online, declaring that criticism of Rafsanjani is "against law and morality".

2120 GMT: Assessing Crackdowns. Majid Mohammadi, writing for Gooya, offers a sharp analysis of regimes "managing street protests" and setting limits on the killing of dissenters, comparing Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Iran.

2110 GMT: Tonight's Regime Show. The Internet chatter this evening is not about the opposition but about the performance of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi on national television.

Amidst rumours that the regime might be formally arresting leading opposition figures, Moslehi settled for the headline that one person connected with the CIA and a member of the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq were arrested during the 14 February marches.

That is a bit of a let-down. After all, the Tehran Prosecutor General, Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi, has been making regular announcements of Israeli agents and terrorist supporters being arrested by vigilant security services.

And activists are having a laugh over Moslehi's presentation. The Minister of Intelligence could not announce any dramatic arrests on 20 February, the most recent opposition marches, because the official regime line is that those marches never took place. Thus, the high-profile detention of Hashemi Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hashemi for "leading protests" had to be abandoned; State media declared that it had been determined she was "out shopping".

So activists have re-labelled this photograph from 15 June 2009 as "One Million Green Shoppers":

2100 GMT: Be-Alert Alert. Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, an advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi, has issued a statement asking people to "stay vigilant", given the "unannounced police state enforced on the streets of Tehran" on Thursday and the increase in regime propaganda machine against figures such as Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

With Mousavi cut off by house arrest, Arjomand has stepped up to make statements about opposition plans. His statement may be an expectation --- amidst the increase police presence at key points in the capital --- that the regime will move to formal arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi.

1650 GMT: CyberWatch. After the latest attack by the regime, Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News has moved to

1455 GMT: Remembering the Fallen. Mardomak has posted video of Shiraz University students remembering Hamed Nourmohammadi, their classmate who was killed in Sunday's opposition marches.

1350 GMT: High-Visibility Policing. There is a lot of Internet chatter about a bolstered security presence in key points in Tehran. The reason is unknown, but a video claiming to be from today has been posted:

Tehran Bureau posts this account:

Mariam inadvertently became one of about 30 Art University students exemplarily detained by the Revolutionary Guards on February 16 as a warning to other opposition activists. On the day of her arrest, Mariam made an innocent transgression: She showed up for class on the same day that her university peers planned a demonstrative funeral for their classmate Sanee Zhaleh, who was shot dead during the protests. Three days later, Mariam is working on an art project at a friend's apartment, struggling to accept her return to life as usual. She is paler and thinner than ever, but seems determined to tell her story.

"I was not doing anything wrong," Mariam says. "When the Basijis came, I just stood and hid in the corner." But even with her slight, five-foot frame, Mariam was not small enough to escape their gaze. "All of a sudden, one of them tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for my identity card." From there on, Mariam's movements became a blur to her. The man confiscated her cell phone and asked her to follow him. He did not answer her questions about where he was taking her or what she had done wrong.

Meanwhile, a swarm of Basijis rounded up her friends and classmates. Mariam recalls that one of the Basij superiors tried to restrain the rest, but the majority ignored the order and rushed at the students. "I remember being taken aback by their anger. Some of them looked like they were only about 17 years old," Mariam says. "It seemed as though they were really out to kill us."

Mariam still doesn't know the exact location of the prison cell where she was held incommunicado for 30 hours. She and two of her friends were simply blindfolded, handcuffed, and pushed into a police car. "They kept shouting insults, trying to show us that we were cheap, that our lives did not matter. We did not cry or plea with them, which I think made it worse."

She and her companions spent the night in a sleepless trance, surrounded by drug addicts and stifled by the stink of an open toilet. In the middle of the night, they were roused by a shouting guard. "He said we were going to be interrogated, and to be ready. From that point on, none of us spoke. I just kept thinking about what they were going to ask me, and what I should say."

But nothing ever happened. After what to Mariam seemed like three days, they simply released her. "The point, I think, was just to scare us," she says.

1325 GMT: More Protests? Mehdi Karroubi's advisor Mojtaba Vahedi has said that the idea of marches every Tuesday is a good one, if people have time to prepare.

Next Tuesday is the birthday of Mir Hossein Mousavi, currently under house arrest and cut off from contact. Soon after that, there will be a Tuesday celebration of the eve of the Fire Festival, Chaharshanbeh Souri.

1305 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalemeh reports that detained lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been denied her weekly visit with her family.

Sotoudeh, an attorney in prominent human rights cases, was detained last September for actions against national security and failure to wear a hijab during an interview with foreign media. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December.

1230 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution members Mehdi Tahaghoghi and Ahmad Hashemi have been arrested.

1005 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Law student and photojournalist Mohammad Hussein Mahinami, detained in Gorgan, is continuing his hunger strike.

0850 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. On Wednesday former President Hashemi Rafsanjani declared he would stand for re-election as head of the Assembly of Experts, despite a vigourous campaign by Ahmadinejad supporters to remove him from office.

In an interview with the Iranian Labor News Agency, Nouri Shahroudi, an advisor to the Assembly, denounces the efforts against Rafsanjani as "blind and biased" and equivalent to "pounding water".

0840 GMT: Remembering the 25 Bahman Death. An English translation has been posted of the interview of Majid Mokhtari, the brother of Mohammad Mokhtari, the protester killed in opposition marches on 14 February.

In the midst of recollections --- "He wanted freedom ...He was tired of this country.... everybody was tired...." --- Majid Mokhtari recalls how the regime could not claim his brother as a supporter, as it tried to do with Sanee Zhaleh, also slain on 25 Bahman:

Mohammad was very active on the internet. He had even changed his Facebook profile picture to the poster for February 14th demonstration. And anyone searching for his name on Facebook, would find him with a green wristband and therefore the regime was not able to issue him a fake "Basijs Membership Card".

That, however, is small consolation. Majid Mokhtari continues:

It's painful. It is the highest level of cruelty to try to change someone's life story! To try to change the identity of the murderer and to try to show things in your own favor...."hen I see them do these things and how they quickly pick up the coffin and gather around it and wrap it with the Islamic Republic flag, it's nauseating. I cannot believe that they do these things. I really don't know how they are going to justify their actions later....

What can I say? Mohammad loved life. He didn't deserve to be killed.

0830 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Mojtaba Vahedi, a senior advisor to Mehdi Karroubi, has warned the regime about the "dishonourable" house arrests of Karroubi and Mousavi.

Vahedi said that, in Tuesday's raid on the Karroubi residence, even personal decrees by Ayatollah Khomeini were taken away by security forces.

0630 GMT: The US Speaks on Human Rights. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued a lengthy statement that the US "remains deeply concerned by the persecution of Iranian citizens at the hand of their government".

Clinton recognised "the bravery of thousands of Iranians who once again took to the streets to exercise their fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and expression", citing the beating, detention, and killing of at least three protesters (Sanee Zhaleh, Mohammad Mokhtari, and Hamed Nourmohammadi). She also noted the "round-up" of activists, students, "ex-government officials and their families", "former members of Parliament", and "clerics and their children", although she did not mention Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

The Secretary of State then pointed to a specific measure with the addition of Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Doulatabadi and the head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, to the list of individuals sanctioned by the US Government.

0625 GMT: Parliament v. Cabinet. The Parliament has collected enough signatures to summon Minister of Energy Majid Namjoo for questioning. The signatories claim that Namjoo is unable to organise proper management and cope with his responsibilities.

On 1 February, the Parliament forced the departure of Minister of Transport Hamid Behbahani. He was summoned but failed to appear; Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani said the failure to appear was a flagrant violation of the law.

0605 GMT: Two stories, both involving opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, dominated Wednesday.

On any other day, the lead story would have been the promotion of a new Green Charter --- formally titled Statement No. 18 by Mousavi --- in the names of the two men. The declaration pointed to a shift in opposition strategy, with more attention on links and interaction with women's rights groups, labour movements, minorities, and the underprivileged.

There is still no English translation of the statement, which has provoked much discussion and some division amongst activists. Some have called the Charter vague in its aims, but the prominent political scientist Ramin Jahanbegloo, speaking on Voice of America, endorsed it as the vision of a non-violent Green Movement.

Yet Statement No. 18 was eclipsed by another development yesterday. Concern is rising, as the cut-off of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard in their house seems complete. Mousavi has spoken only briefly, on two occasions, to advisors in the last 10 days. After the Tuesday raid on the Karroubi residence, with the arrest of his son Ali, there was no further word on the fate of the cleric and his wife Fatemeh.

Karroubi's children could only issue the warning  "against carrying out any plans designed to physically eliminate" their parents, declaring that "the consequences of such actions will only further damage this regime". However, the outlet for that warning, Karroubi's Saham News, was knocked off-line in another sign of the regime's attempt to quash the cleric. (This morning, it is up with a new domain, summarising the pressure on the two opposition figures and their families.)

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