Iran Election Guide

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The Latest from Iran (17 June): Sometimes Numbers Speak Better than Words

1740 GMT: Oil Watch. Emad Hosseini, the spokesman of Parliament's Oil Committee, has said that Iran's oil industry is "ten years behind our partners, meaning Qatar". He continued, "Contrary to promises made, producing natural gas from the 15th and 18th phases of the South Pars oil and gas field is not possible [until March 2012]. Unstable management of the Oil Ministry and appointment of non-experts have had negative impact on the joint South Pars [oil and gas] field as well."

1735 GMT: Economy Watch. Earlier this week, President Ahmadinejad assured the Iranian community in Kazakhstan, "No one is in need of his daily bread in Iran."

Shafaf News, seen as supportive of the Supreme Leader, has a sharp reply: "Mr. President, have you seen these pictures?"

1730 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Summary Revisited (see 1315 GMT. Revisiting Ayatollah Khatami's Friday Prayer today:

One of the faces of the soft warfare of the enemies is their expansive satellite networks. There are 200 million Persian speakers in the world for whom 2,000 satellite networks broadcast. Among them, 100 are Iranian and 50 of them are dedicated to anti-cultural and immoral programs... 13 satellite networks produce and broadcast enmity towards the Islamic revolution and their general position is fighting against religion, fighting against the moral values of religion, doing away with the stigma of immoral relations, propagation of Western culture, taking away hope from the Islamic revolution inside Iran and all over the world, giving hope to the counter-revolution, and in short, fight against Islam, the Islamic revolution and the great nation of Iran.

1710 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that Mansoureh Behkish of the Mothers of Mourning was arrested last weekend.

1540 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. MP Ali Motahari, a leading critic of the Ahmadinejad Government, has said that a plan for questioning the President will be submitted to Parliament within the next 10 days.

1425 GMT: All the President's Men. Gholamreza Assadollahi, a member of Parliament's Article 90 Commission overseeing government activity, claims that the commission has reports and accusations about nepotism, corruption, and influence of appointments by Vice President Hamid Baghaei and the President's Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

1325 GMT: Morning Show Humour, Iranian Style. Speaking of Fox and Friends (see 1315 GMT), State broadcaster IRIB's version of the programme has had a bit of fun with the security forces.

Discussing the proclaimed crackdown with more "morality police" on inappropriate fashion and behaviour, a morning-show presenter explained that he had buttoned up hs shirt and even "the moon was in hijab", with the lunar eclipse this week.

He explained that, with a new metro station, "it's easier to get to Kahrizak".

Kahrizak is the site of an infamous detention centre in which post-election detainees were abused and killed before its closure was ordered by the Supreme Leader.

1315 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Summary. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami addressed the faithful today, and he's a bit upset how he spent his Thursday night....

Khatami said that satellite television networks were distributing "malicious combat religious, social, and ethical values" while promoting Western culture in the hopes of inspiring counter-revolution.

What's worse is that the "banality of satellite networks is so enormous that even the Westerners have criticized them".

So what was the Ayatollah watching that got him so riled up about "banality"? Paris Hilton's British Best Friend? The Suite Life of Zack and Cody? Fox and Friends?

1231 GMT: Mohammad Mehdinejad Nouri, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education stated today that Islamising social sciences and humanities may be more difficult than sending a person to space.

The statement comes in the wake of the Ministry making a series of changes to curricula and course content taught at universities. 

1227 GMT: Cyber-War - The opposition website Tahavol-e Sabz has been under cyber attack fro several days. Right now it appears to be broken, displaying a white background with the words "Welcome to nginx!" 

1135 Deviant Current Watch. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has continued his attack on the advisors around President Ahmadinejad, declaring "there is no way of return for those who follow the deviant current".

Fars claims that a book on the President's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, and the "deviant current" will soon be published under the less dramatic title, "Structural Analysis of the Personality at the Head of the Deviant Current".

1130 GMT: Currency Watch. The Iranian rial has slid back, after a mid-week recovery, to 12100-12300 to the US dollar on the open market.

The rial's value is significant lower than that set by the Central Back --- around 11720 to the dollar --- despite an 11% devaluation last week. It has traded as low as 12500 to the dollar this week.

1125 GMT: First-Hand Account. Back from an academic break to find this information from an EA source in Iran, "The gas price has increased ten-fold or even more, and the prices for food are the same as in Western Europe, sometimes even higher. People just don't know how to make ends meet, and the cash handouts promised by the government have stopped coming in."

0745 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Doctors Edition). The physicians Kamiar and Arash Alaei, AIDS specialists who were imprisoned three years ago for allegedly plotting to overthrow the reigme, have been awarded the Global Health Council's Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights.

The Alaeis, honoured for their efforts to treat patients with HIV, were arrested in June 2008. Kamiar was released several months ago and accepted the award in Washington, but his Arash remains in Tehran's Evin prison where he is serving a six-year sentence.

The physicians, known for their efforts to help drug addicts infected with HIV and to improve conditions for sick prisoners, were not allowed to work as doctors while in prison. Instead they became counselors, teaching fellow prisoners about basics such as hand-washing, and holding informal talks with them about HIV, tuberculosis, and infectious diseases.

0540 GMT: The British Foreign Office, which has turned increasingly to human rights in its criticism of the Iranian regime, posts an on-line statement, "Sometimes numbers speak better than words":

0: number of UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights issues permitted to visit Iran in last 2 years.

1: Iran is the first and largest prison of journalists in the world, according to Reporters without Borders.

19: Arash Rahmanipour’s age, when executed in January 2010 after appearing in a show/mass trial.  According to Amnesty International, his sentence was flawed for several reasons including concerns about his motivation for confessing against himself in a public trial.

20: number of years filmmaker Jafar Panahi was banned from making films, on 20 December 2010.  He was also given a 6-year prison sentence, and is currently on bail.
25: number of people executed in public (at least) since the beginning of 2011 in Iran, according to Iran Human Rights (.net) list and an Amnesty International report in April.

27: is the article in the Islamic Republic constitution, referring to freedom of peaceful assembly and gathering; however this right has been severely restricted in Iran throughout the past couple of years.

34.5: is the total number of years of imprisonment that the two bloggers Hossein Ronaghi Maleki and Hossein Derakhshan have been sentenced to (15 yrs and 19.5 yrs respectively).

116: Number of days that the leaders of the opposition, [Mir Hossein] Mousavi and [Mehdi] Karroubi have been placed under house arrest without trial or arrest warrant (up until Sunday 12 June, according to Iran Green Voice counter)

120: Number of days (at least) that Ahmad Zeidabadi, journalist, spent in a solitary confinement.  He later described his solitary confinement to his wife as like a grave (a small room of 1.5x1 meters with no ventilation) according to Radio Free Europe (Farda).

150: the number of Iranian Journalists (at least) who have fled Iran and sought asylum in other countries in the past couple of years according to Reporters without Borders.

158: Iran’s ranking (tied with Libya) in the Index of Democracy, out of 169 countries in 2010.  Iran dropped 11 steps in the ranking since the 2009 election, according to Economist Intelligence Unit (from Wikipedia).

271: Number of Prisoners of Conscience in Iranian prisons (at least) including journalists, human rights defenders, union activists, dissident politicians, women rights activists, poets and authors, religious and ethnic minorities, religious converts, student activists, etc. (According to the list of Free My Family Campaign)

682: number of people executed in 2010 in Iran according to UK Human Rights Report 2010, based on credible reports.  More than all other countries put together in 2010, with the exception of China.

1,000,000: 1,000,000 signatures is the name of the biggest women’s rights movement in Iran, several of whose activists have either been forced to flee Iran or have been imprisoned over the past couple of years; despite all this the movement is still going on.

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