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Wednesday
Jun012011

The Latest from Iran (1 June): A Silent Protest for the Election Anniversary?

Video of Haleh Sahabi with the body of her father, shortly before she died after a scuffle with security forces disrupting the funeral procession

2020 GMT: A Death at the Funeral. The interview of the opposition channel RASA TV with Haleh Sahabi, broadcast the night before her death, has been posted on YouTube.

2010 GMT: Arrests at the Funeral. Habibollah Peyman, a leader of the National-Religous Coalition, Hamid Ahrari, and Hamed Montazeri, grandson of the late Grand Ayatollah, were arrested at the funeral of opposition figure Ezzatollah Sahabi.

1950 GMT: A Death at the Funeral. The BBC Persian report on the death of Haleh Sahabi quotes witneses who say Sahabi fainted when security agents tried to abduct her father's body during the funeral procession. Haleh's corpse was not handed over to her family, as she was buried quickly.

Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah, speaks about an attack on Haleh by "brutal" security agents, tearing down the photograph she held in her hands and beating her in the side before she fainted.

1942 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? Today the President told a group of Egyptian intellectuals, religious figures, and activists, "We must see to it that Iran and Egypt are two developed, powerful countries, anti-arrogance and anti-Zionist."

Ahmadinejad added, "One of my dreams is to go to Egypt....As soon as I receive an invitation from Egyptian officials I will go immediately and with pride to Egypt."

On Monday, Egypt briefly detained and then expelled an Iranian diplomat on suspicion of spying.

1940 GMT: Cyber-War. Kalemeh, the website linked to opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi, reports that it has been under sustained attack today.

1930 GMT: Khamenei v. Ahmadinejad. It looks like Ayatollah Abdolnabl Namazi is being punished for making his claims about the level of conflict between the Supreme Leader and the President (see 1045 GMT). His website has been suspended.

1420 GMT: Khamenei v. Ahmadinejad. The Supreme Leader's office has distanced itself from the provocative remarks of his representative in Kashan, Ayatollah Abdolnabl Namazi, including the declaration that the arrest of President Ahmadinejad's advisors came on the orders of Ayatollah Khamenei.

Khamenei's website put out a statement that the only reliable news about the Supreme Leader is that put out by his office.

1410 GMT: A Death at the Funeral. More on the death of Haleh Sahabi....

Sahabi had been in prison since the end of 2009, reportedly because she called BBC Persian on the day of the Ashura protest, 27 December, and described the scene of a police car running over protesters.

Her uncle, Fereydoon Sahabi, has said Haleh was struck by security forces in the stomach and chest before she collapsed from cardiac arrest. Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah, has testified to the "brutality" of the security forces.

This poster, circulating on the Internet, carries the tale:

Purposeful killing of mourning daughter at her father's burial! This morning, Wednesday, at the beginning of Ezzatollah Sahabi's funeral, his daughter Haleh Sahabi died by heart attack due to the excruciation, beatings, and abduction of the corpse by security agents.

Ms Sahabi was on furlough & under pressure of agents to hold a quiet funeral for her father.....And now Haleh's lifeless body is in the hospital's mortuary!

Should we keep silent?

(hat tip to Arshama3's Blog)

See also Iran Cartoon of the Day: RIP, Haleh and Ezzatollah Sahabi (Neyestani)

1330 GMT: A Death at the Funeral. Mardomak reports that Haleh Sahabi is being buried tonight at Lavasan Cemetery, only hours after she died at the funeral of her father. Authorities are allowing a few family members to attend.

The British Embassy in Iran has sent the message via Twitter, "Disturbed by death of Haleh Sahabi after being assaulted at her father's funeral; hoping for a proper and transparent investigation."

1220 GMT: Parliament Watch. A breakthrough for the Ahmadinejad Government today, as Parliament approved the creation of the Ministry of Infrastructure from the merger of three ministries: Road, Housing, and Communications.

1045 GMT: Khamenei v. Ahmadinejad. An extraordinary intervention on Tuesday by Ayatollah Abdolnabi Namazi,the Supreme Leader’s representative in Kashan and the Friday prayer leader in the city....

Namazi told his seminary students that recent arrests of President Ahmadinejad’s advisors were on orders of Ayatollah Khamenei.

Namazi claimed that the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, had asked Khamenei for permission to arrest others, including Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, but the Supreme Leader did not grant this, saying only "operational forces" should be detained and interrogated.

Namazi said that Ahmadinejad's attempt to remove Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi, which sparked the current political crisis, was prompted when Moslehi prepared a long report about Ahmadinejad’s associates and presented it to the Supreme Leader.

Namazi continued that Rahim-Mashai, Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff, was warned that he was not going to be allowed to run for the Presidency in 2013, as the Guardian Council was never going to approve his campaign. Rahim-Mashai allegedly responded: “Ayatollah Jannati [the chairman of the Guardian Council] will not be here for more than two years; and the Great Leader won’t be here either to deny my candidacy.”

1000 GMT: A Death at the Funeral. Kalemeh summarises latest reports on the death of activist Haleh Sahabi at the funeral of her father, opposition figure Ezzatollah Sahabi (see 0650 and 0730 GMT).

The website reports that Haleh Sahebi was holding a picture of her father close to her chest. When security forces tried to pull it off her, she resisted, leading to a scuffle. Haleh Sahabi fell and did not get up again, as security forces took the coffin of her father away.

0850 GMT: The Battle Within. Masoud Shafaee summarises recent events in an article for The Huffington Post, "In Iran, Disunity at a Time of Instability".

0825 GMT: Oil and Politics. Iran's Parliament has approved a report by its Energy Committee dclaring that President Ahmadinejad committed an "obvious violation of the law" when he named himself caretaker Minister of Oil.

Parliament has referred the matter to Iran's judiciary for further action.

0820 GMT: An Arrest at the Funeral. Hamid Montazeri, the grandson of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, has reportedly been arrested at the funeral of Ezzatolah Sahabi.

0730 GMT: A Death at the Funeral. A photograph of Haleh Sahabi, who died after resisting security forces trying to disperse the funeral procession for her father, Ezzatollah Sahabi (see 0650 GMT):

0700 GMT: Diplomatic Red Card. Bolivia has expelled Iran's Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi over Vahidi's alleged role in a bombing in Argentina in 1994.

'As a result of this lamentable occurrence, I must inform you that the government of Bolivia has taken the corresponding measures to have Ahmad Vahidi immediately leave Bolivian territory,' Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said in a letter to his Argentine counterpart.

Bolivia's Ministry of Defence ministry had invited Vahidi to attend a military ceremony, but La Paz later said it was unaware of an Interpol arrest warrant for the Iranian official.

The bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and injured more than 300. The international warrant against Vahidi was issued in 2007.

0650 GMT: A Death at the Funeral. Haleh Sahabi, the daughter of long-time opposition activist Ezzatollah Sahabi, has reportedly died at her father's funeral on Tuesday. 

Reports claim Haleh Sahabi, a women's rights activist, was resisting security forces who were trying to disperse the funeral procession. She collapsed, apparently from a heart attack, and later passed away.

Ezzatollah Sahabi, the head of the National-Religious Coalition of Iran, died on Monday at the age of 81.

0620 GMT: The first indication of plans for protest on the second anniversary of the disputed Presidential election has emerged. The Coordinating Council of the Green Path of Hope has invited people to join a silent march in central Tehran from 6 to 8 p.m. on the evening of 12 June, demonstrating their commitment to freedom for political prisoners, free elections, and effective action to deal with inflation and unemployment.

Meanwhile, discussion continues over the opposition strategy, notably former President Mohammad Khatami's call for "reconciliation" between regime and the people. Cartoonist Nikahang Kowsar puts in a sharp comment: as Khatami washes himself for his sins, the voice of the Supreme Leader rises from Hell, "I won't forgive you. I won't even let God forgive you."

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