Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more



Latest from Iran (27 February): The Power of Nonviolent Movements?

Because of the significance of the news that the regime has detained opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi, putting them under the control of the Islamic Revolutoinary Guards Corps, we are now covering developments in that case in a separate LiveBlog.

2150 GMT: Pressing on Rights. The White House has issued a statement, "The United States strongly condemns the Iranian government's organized intimidation campaign and arrests of political figures, human rights defenders, political activists, student leaders, journalists and bloggers....The Iranian government should allow active dialogue among its citizens, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly without fear. Iranians deserve the same justice and rights that their government extols the virtue of abroad."

The statement did not refer to specific cases, including this weekend's detention of opposition figures Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi.

On Wednesday, the US imposed financial sanctions on Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi and the head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, for alleged human rights abuses.

2030 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist Siamak Ghaderi, sentenced in January to four years in prison for “propaganda against the regime”, “disturbing public opinion”, and “spreading lies", has been dismissed by the Islamic Republic News Agency on the orders of President Ahmadinejad's media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr.

2020 GMT: Yesterday we posted this video of men harassing Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, calling her a "slut":

Arrests have been made in the case --- not of the men insulting Hashemi, but those filming the incident. They face flogging if convicted.

SabzLink claims the man caught on film harassing Hashemi is Amir Hossein Anbardaran, a journalist with a prize 4 Holy Defense of the regime.

1930 GMT: Condemning the Repression. Grand Ayatollah Sane'i has posted a statement condemning the "un-Islamic" and "inhumane" attacks by the regime on political prisoners, including the house arrests and harassment of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

1810 GMT: Campus Watch. Kalemeh reports that more than 200 Shiraz University students have been suspended after participating in a memorial for Hamed Nourmohammadi, their classmate killed during the protests of 20 February.

1745 GMT: Pressing On. In a series of media interviews (see 1135 GMT), opposition advisor Mojtaba Vahedi has said that marches called for Tuesday will proceed, regardless of the regime's latest moves including the detention of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Karroubi.

Vahedi, in an audio discussion with Deutsche Welle, said that he did not know if Mousavi and Karroubi were still under house arrest or had been moved to a house of detention, as reported this weekend, but that either situation was one of imprisonment.

1645 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Khabar Online assesses those who are for and against Hashemi Rafsanjani's re-election as head of the Assembly of Experts.

1640 GMT: Clerical Discussions. Grand Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, a vocal critic of the Government, held private meetings wtith Grand Ayatollahs Shobeiri and Mousavi Ardebili on Saturday on "current issues". No details were given.

1625 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. We noted yesterday that a bloc including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani was manoeuvring between the Government and opposition.

More evidence of this today, as Rafsanjani, campaigning to retain his leadership of the Assembly of Experts, warns of imperialism and NATO in the Middle East and North Africa and says that "mo'aned" Ipeople with enmity) came out for the opposition marches on 14 February. He said that all should beware of radicalism and maintain unity.

Rasoul Montajabnia of the Assembly of Combatant Clerics takes the same line, denouncing the West and declaring that, "by avoiding provocation and division, we can keep real unity", the system, and Revolution.

And former Presidential candidate Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri has met Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, and Ayatollahs Mesbah Yazdi & Mohammad Yazdi. The group declared that clerics must be present in politics and save the youth of Iran.

1520 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. After a slow period in big pronouncements, the President is back today. He used the opening of 37 grain depots to announce, “Our country is close to taking huge leaps" with a tripling of agricultural production and intiatives to being "a gasoline exporter and [having] a multi-billion-liter reserve of the product as well”.

All of this, Ahmadinejad indicated, is due to his economic programmes and subsidy cuts.

1455 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. It looks like the campaign by President Ahmadinejad's supporters to remove Hashemi Rafsanjani as head of the Assembly of Experts may be stalling. MP Asadollah Badamchian, an Ahmadinejad supporter, has said that Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani --- proposed as a replacement for Rafsanjani --- will not stand for election.

1450 GMT: Assessing the Regime. A former Iranian member of Parliament --- who remains anonymous because of security concerns --- assesses the latest crackdown and declarations by Iranian authorities:

The regime has thus shifted to an all-or-nothing, "death or victory" stance that smacks of desperation. To stiffen resolve in its serried ranks and bring the "short-sighted elite" into line, it is now signaling that their survival depends on backing the regime and the Supreme Leader, and on condemning the opposition publicly, at least until the immediate threat is over.

1440 GMT: Currency Watch. The Iranian toman has weakened to between 1100 and 1115 to the US dollar.

The Government's target rate for the toman is 1050 to the dollar. Last autumn, when the value of the currency dropped sharply to above 1200 to the dollar, the Government intervened with injections of foreign reserves to maintain its value.

1435 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist/filmmaker Mohammad Reza Nourizad has been returned to prison after a short furlough following hospitalisation for diabetes and kidney stones.

1430 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. The Government has shut down the Information Centre advising people about subsidy cuts.

1415 GMT: A mother screams as her son is taken away by security forces:

1135 GMT: The Opposition Speaks. Mehdi Karroubi's advisor Mojtaba Vahedi, in a lengthy interview with Voice of America, has called for free elections under international supervision.

Vahedi pointed to the expansion of the opposition under a "Coordination Council", saying that Mir Hossein Mousavi's Green Path of Hope was only of several organisations involved.

1125 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's nephew has reportedly been accosted and beaten while visiting his mother's grave.

1115 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, the former Governor of Kurdistan Province and spokesman for President Khatami, has been summoned back to prison to serve a six-year sentence.

Ramezanzadeh, arrested soon after the 2009 elections, reportedly would not denounces statements by the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front --- of which he is a member --- and the new opposition "Coordination Council" calling for a march on Tuesday.

0840 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. The President's office announces that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chatted on the telephone with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Ahmadinejad said, "Iran and Venezuela should boost interaction, be aware of Imperialism's plots and make efforts to seal recent developments in favour of regional countries," while Chavez had "no doubt that further consultations can influence management of the developments".

0815 GMT: The Arrest of Mousavi, Karroubis, & Rahnavard. The confirmation of the move of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi to a Revolutionary Guards "safe house" is now coming into focus....

The regime source who told CNN of the move (see 0710 GMT) may be Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Commission. According to Al Jazeera English, Boroujerdi said that the four opposition figures were "escorted" by security forces. Boroujerdi repeated the denial that they were under house arrest, although he had earlier told the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto that Mousavi and Karroubi "committed certain illegal acts such as organising protests without a permit, and for this they may become subject to prosecution".

0755 GMT: Passing the Buck? Commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have referred questions about their handling of opposition protests to "velayat-e faqih", i.e., the Supreme Leader's office.

0745 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. Qasem Ravanbakhsh, a student of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi and the editor of Parto Sokhan has warned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about his confidante and Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai: "Things will get worse."

0740 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Ehsan Abdoh-Tabrizi, a Ph.D. student at Britain's Durham University, has been given a 5-year sentence by an appeals court. Two years are for insulting the Supreme Leader and three years are for conspiracy because Abdoh-Tabrizi was at protests in front of the Iranian Embassy in London.

Abdoh-Tabrizi, who was detained when he returned to Iran in December 2009 to visit his family, was originally given a 7-year sentence, but the appeals court removed the two years for links with foreign elements.

0710 GMT: The House Arrests. EA will now move this development from "unconfirmed" to "established"....


"Iranian government sources" have told CNN  --- to be specific, the reliable CNN reporter Reza Sayah --- that the four were placed in a safe house for their own welfare, although they have not been arrested.

One source rather bizarrely suggested the move occurred because the opposition might have been planning to injure or kill the Mousavi, Karroubi, and their wives: "The opposition movement is very much looking for martyrs so if this is true it's for their own safety...[The opposition] is always looking for an excuse to create something, so this may be done to keep someone from doing something to them."

0645 GMT: There was only one major topic in play on Saturday in Iran. The morning opened with the unconfirmed story, from an "informed source", that Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi had been moved to a Revolutionary Guard "safe house" outside Tehran. 

There was no further development on the claim, but throughout the day, political and religious figures put out statements denouncing the house arrests. Former President Mohammad Khatami, Ayatollah Dastgheib, the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, and Ahmed Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, were amongst those making the calls.

The regime again had a quiet day, with no apparent idea beyond sustaining the crackdown to try and prevent another opposition march. State media was limited to the proclamation, "The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force has launched a project to design and build the country's most advanced fighter jet."

In this environment, an exchange with an EA source starts the day's analysis: a rattled regime is "worried about visible deaths in the media". The Iranian leadership does have a strength beyond that of President Mubarak in Egypt and the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia: it is a  "high-capacity state with deeper institutionalization of its security apparatus" v. Egypt, where state capacity simply collapsed as the police stepped aside after being challenged, and Tunisia, riddled with divisions and weak ties between the leadership and the population.

At the same time, our correspondent notes, there is also "the power of nonviolent movements to undermine institutions rapidly if they have worthiness, unity, numbers and commitment: " If Libya goes down, then the power of nonviolence over semi-organized violence will become even more apparent."

At an immediate and practical level, the source answers my question about whether more opposition calls for marches will have an effect:

Egypt's organizational networks were far more underground than Iran's --- it was basically little cells of students.  Then an opportunity arose and they began outreach to various poorer neighborhoods and strategically planned protests that were unexpected by the government.  So Greens can still have more successes --- weekly protests are fine --- but they have to change, or at least expand their repertoire of actions beyond this stage.  

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Iran Witness: Tehran Churns Towards "Long-Awaited Tide of Transition" | Main | Latest Libya (and Beyond) Video: Fighting the Mercenaries »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>