Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (28 February): The Regime's Escalation

2030 GMT: Not the Same. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has told journalists in Geneva, "There is absolutely no comparison between what is happening in the countries in the region and what has happened in Iran in a few incidents." He declared that Iran had only experienced a few "manipulated protests, while mass movements in the nations in the region are authentic, popular and people's movements".

Salehi said his government was "shocked" by Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi's resort to force against civilians and hoped that "the power is transferred through legal means to the people".

2025 GMT: The Arrests. Zahra Eshraghi, human rights activist and granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, has written on her Facebook page, "If Mousavi and Karroubi and their followers are anti-revolutionary, the Imam Khomeini must be as well."

2010 GMT: The Arrests. The children of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard and of Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi have written an open letter to the regime challenging the detention of their parents: "We believe that our parents did not commit a crime but only applied the divine language in their statement. Are you are so afraid of the facts stated in public view that you must imprison them?"

2000 GMT: The family of Mehdi Karroubi, writing in Saham News had responded quickly to the denial by Fars of the arrests, posting more details of the detentions.

1925 GMT: Voices. Tonight's rooftop chants of "Allahu Akbar (God is Great)" in Tehran:

Iran Analysis: The Regime Arrests Mousavi and Karroubi in the Race Between Fear and Hope
Iran Special: Latest on the Regime's Detention of Opposition Figures Mousavi, Rahnavard, and Karroubi

1910 GMT: The Nuclear Front. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in Geneva for United Nations meetings, said he held fruitful discussions on Monday with his European Union counterpart, Catherine Ashton, and hoped they would lead to further talks on Iran's nuclear programme.

Salehi said, "I hope that the meeting today will facilitate the work for the upcoming meeting with 5+1 [US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia]."

1855 GMT: The Arrests --- the location of Heshmatiyeh Prison in Tehran, where Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi were taken today.

1845 GMT: The Arrests. Fars News has given the first reaction from Iranian media to the detention of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi, claiming the story is untrue.

Quoting an unnamed judiciary official, Fars said Mousavi and Karroubi were still under house arrest and claimed that foreign media such as BBC Persian and the Voice of America were spreading the rumour to cause unrest.

1840 GMT: The Arrests. Opposition advisor Ardeshir Amir Arjomand has made a drawn on current events to compare the arrests of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi with the kidnapping of Musa al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr is an Iranian-born Lebanese philosopher and Shī‘a religious leader who disappeared in Libya in August 1978. Many believe he was executed by the Qaddafi regime, but there have been reports this week that he could be alive in a Libyan prison.

1830 GMT: The Arrests. The reformist Association of Combatant Clerics has called for the release of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi at earliest possible time.

1710 GMT: The Arrest of Mousavi, Rahnavard, and Karroubi. Mir Hossein Mousavi's Kalemeh claims that Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi have been moved to Heshmatiyeh Prison in Tehran.

It should be noted that Heshmatiyeh is a military prison and is not under jurisdiction of the judiciary, which has opposed the arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi.

Meanwhile, this appears to be as close as the regime has come to admitting the detentions. Iran Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei has said that cut-off of communications and house arrest --- not the move to a prison or house controlled by security forces, but restriction to their residences --- is "only the first step".

Even though they have not been officially admitted, the German Government has criticised the Iranian regime over the arrests.

1650 GMT: Human Rights Chat. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the opening of the 16th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, denounces the human rights abuses of the Iranian regime --- James Miller offers context at Dissected News:

British Foreign Minister William Hague has declared, "The UK will support a resolution on the human rights situation on Iran, which would establish a special rapporteur."

The statements by Hague and Clinton come as the European Union considers sanctions on 80 Iranian officials involved in human rights violations. The list includes members of the police and paramilitary forces, prison officials, prosecutors, judges and other officials involved in “violating human rights and allegations of torture and death of dissidents.”

1630 GMT: The Arrest of Mousavi, Rahnavard, and Karroubi. The stakes have been raised over the move of opposition figures to a house of detention, as Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News has accused the Supreme Leader's office of ordering the seizure of Karroubi and his wife Fatemeh, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Zahra Rahnavard.

Saham News also reports that authorities are trying to find Karroubi's son Hossein, who gave details of the detentions last night, and arrest him. Security forces raided Hossein Karroubi's residence two weeks ago, reportedly to detain him, but he was not at home.

a statement of support for Tuesday's marches.

Peyke Iran claims that more than 1400 workers are on strike at a Tabriz petrochemicals plant.

1610 GMT: Back from an academic break to find the website of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is down.

1315 GMT: A Call to Action. Writing from Evin Prison on the eve of Tuesday's planned marches, detained reformist politician Feizollah Arabsorkhi has called on supporters to "be present" to stop the current political leadership of Iran.

1300 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Back from a discussion with an EA correspondent with an important piece of political news....

Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani has said that he will be challenge Hashemi Rafsanjani for the leadership of the Assembly of Experts, denying reports (see Sunday's updates) that he had turned down the contest.

Mahdavi-Kani has been promoted by allies of President Ahmadinejad, who are trying to push Rafsanjani out of his posts in the Iranian system.

1110 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Fereshteh Ghazi reports on Hamid Ghassemi Shall, an Iranian-born Canadian who faces execution over a suspicious e-mail.

Ghasemi Shall was detained in May 2008, just after he returned to Iran to visit his mother. His brother Alborz was seized at the same time; he died in prison in January 2010.

1045 GMT: Cartoon of Day. Khodnevis comments on recent politics around former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, pursuing re-election as head of the Assembly of Experts, and his daughter Faezeh Hashemi, who has been harassed by President Ahmadinejad's supporters (see Saturday and Sunday updates.

Hashemi: "Dad, help me!" Rafsanjani: "No time, I have to bring a silk shawl to the Supreme Leader."

1035 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Mojtaba Shayesteh, a member of the youth branch of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released from Evin Prison.

Student activists Milad Taheri and Danial Zargarian have been arrested in Babol.

1025 GMT: The US Hikers. Masoud Shafii, the Iranian lawyer representing US citizens Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, held in the Islamic Republic on espionage charges, has said he might resign he is not granted access to his clients in jail.

In recent months, Shafii has only seen Fattal and Bauer during the first hearing in their trial on 6 February. He recalls:

There was no evidence. I was waiting to see evidence or documents. There were two charges: espionage and illegal entry (trespassing). My clients were given enough time to defend themselves. I think it took three hours to defend through the court-approved translator and I am happy for my clients as they were given plenty of time to argue for their innocence. But when it was my turn to defend, Judge Abulfazal Salavati did not give me time.

Shafii said that Salavati had told him at the end of the hearing that he would be able to "meet the clients with enough time to converse with them very soon".

Fattal and Bauer were detained in July 2009 as they were hiking with a third American, Sarah Shourd, on the Iran-Iraq border. Shourd was released on a $500,000 guarantee last September and did not return for the hearing.

0745 GMT: 10 Esfand. The Green Movement in Mashhad has announced its participation in tomorrow's marches.

The Democratic Movement of Iranian Azerbaijan has also declared support.

0715 GMT: The Detentions. Banooye Sabz translates this important news from Mehdi Karroubi's Saham News last night:

In a brief discussion with Saham News, one of Mehdi Karroubi's sons confirmed the definitive transfer of Mehdi Karroubi and his wife to an undisclosed location by security forces stating: "A few minutes ago I spoke with one of the neighbors who witnessed the transfer of my parents from their house. The individual informed us that at midnight on Thursday night, eight vans belonging to security forces appeared in front of the building and the main parking lot where Karroubi's house is located. Minutes later they left inside a car that left the parking structure. According to the eye witness, once they left, the building was completely vacated and the lights to the residence were turned off."

It is worth mentioning that this event coincided with a highly secure atmosphere in Tehran on Thursday with the Minister of Intelligence announcing that morning that important new information would be put forth to the nation on national television.

0645 GMT: Clerical Challenges. More volleys from senior clerics opposed to the Government's suppression of the opposition....

Grand Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, who met Grand Ayatollahs Shobeiri and Mousavi Ardebili over the weekend, has said that if the perpetrators of the post-election abuses and killings had been dealt with, "we would not see such insults and slander".

Among those accused of involvement in Kahrizak but so far unpunished is President Ahmadinejad's aide Saeed Mortazavi.

More from Grand Ayatollah Sane'i's statement, which we noted yesterday: the house arrests of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi proves the despair and weakness of officials to meet public opinion.

0545 GMT: Sometimes the analysis is straightforward. 

Last Thursday night, the Iranian regime took its most significant step in the post-election crisis since February 2010, when it supposedly established authority with the rallies on the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution.

Having taken every step short of the arrest of the most prominent of opposition figures to crush any opposition, but having witnessed that opposition re-appear on the streets on not one but two days of protest, the regime made that last jump. Security vans took away Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi to a house of detention. Their whereabouts and situation is unknown.

Yet, in a curious sign of the regime's continuing nerves, it has not yet announced the detentions. The news only came out through a human rights organisation on Saturday and then was confirmed -,-- in a curious break with the official silence --- by a leading MP. Last night, one of Karroubi's sons spoke, giving the approximate time of the transfer of his parents from residence to the "safe house" under the control of the authorities.

So we now know that the nervous regime, just before seizing Mousavi, Rahnavard, and the Karroubis, deployed security forces throughout Tehran, pre-empting an opposition reaction which was never going to come. And that in turn leads us quickly to this time: tomorrow those forces will again have to mobilise as the opposition tries to put up a public sign of defiance with more marches.

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