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Entries in Guardian Council (29)


Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- Monkey in Space, Journalists in Prison (Arseh Sevom)

Everything has its place in Iran --- such as monkeys in space and journalists in prison.

And, oh what a prison! After detainees complain of their conditions, MPs visit Evin, calling it a “hotel.". Stoning makes a comeback — at least in print. The surveillance of Iran’s public spaces is revealed when Cafe Prague closes its doors in protest.

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Remember Iran Flashback: 20 June 2009 --- The Death of Neda...And Many Others

Protest and a gunshot victim in Tehran, 20 June 2009

1915 GMT: A few hours ago, we posted a video of a woman "badly injured" by a gunshot in today's demonstrations. The footage is so graphic that we have moved to the "jump page" after the More... tag.

I have just read more information on The New York Times blog about the incident. The woman was a bystander watching events; according to a doctor who witnessed the event, a paramilitary Basiji deliberately fired at her chest. She died within moments of the shooting.

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Remember Iran: An EA Special --- Three Years Ago Today, A Moment of Compromise?

Silent protest march, 16 June 2009

Re-reading our coverage from three years ago today, I was surprised. The following months of conflict and repression had eroded any memory of the moment when --- perhaps unsettled by the mass march of the previous day demanding a fair election, perhaps playing for time --- the regime had offered a glimmer of compromise.

At least eight protesters had been slain the previous evening, several students at Tehran University were dead after raids by security forces, and hundreds of people were detained, but the Supreme Leader was ordering the Guardian Council to consider a re-count of the Presidential ballots and was meetings with representatives of all four candidates, asking them to pursue "national unity".

We re-live the moment, re-posting our Live Coverage and the analysis by EA's Chris Emery, "Four Scenarios for a Vote Re-Count". 

There are other surprises as well. On 16 June 2009, I was on Al Jazeera's Inside Story with Professor Anoush Ehteshami and Tehran University's Seyed Mohammad Marandi --- whom I had known for almost a decade --- to discuss the mass protests of the previous day and the Supreme Leader's moves for a possible recount. 

Marandi is now known as one of the most strident defenders, in English-language media, of the regime's legitimacy and its crackdown on opposition. Yet in this episode, he has yet to adopt the position that Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have pursued "sedition" by calling out riotous supporters on the streets. Instead, he notes without criticism the presence of "both sides" --- the Green Movement and Ahmadinejad's supporters --- in making their cases over the election.

And my own position? I don't think I would change a single word of this, three years later: "I don't think we'll ever know if there was fraud committed last Friday....I think the issue is transparency....And I think there's also a power struggle going on within the political and clerical elites."

We re-post the full episode.


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Remember Iran Flashback: Four Scenarios for a Vote Recount (16 June 2009)

Ahmadinejad’s lead would almost certainly be cut, and the election would appear much more competitive, but he would still win outright. This would still ask some tough questions as to why the President’s majority was initially so huge and would probably still require some scapegoats.

This result would obviously not convince many core opposition supporters. Their reaction, however, could swing in one of two different directions.  They could feel that, even with a re-confirmed Ahmadinejad victory, this unprecedented enquiry means the establishment can be pushed further. On the other hand, they could feel that they have reached the limits of what they can achieve. Meanwhile, the political establishment could see this gesture as their final offer and then crack down hard on any further opposition.

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Remember Iran Flashback: 16 June 2009 --- A Compromise by the Regime?

Wounded Protester, 15 June 20092220 GMT: Politically, the evening highlight appears to be the Supreme Leader's meeting with representatives of the four Presidential campaigns, calling for them to join together for "national unity". The move seems to be more of an attempt to buy some more political time while the Guardian Council tries to sort out its options --- all candidates will have been told of the necessity to keep demonstrations non-violent and non-threatening to the regime.

Elsewhere, chatter about gatherings has died down (it is, after all, 3 a.m. in Iran), so the hope is that there will be none of the violence that was feared earlier today.

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Iran Update: Guardian Council Approves New Islamic Penal Code

The "Islamic Penal Bill" flouts Iran's legal obligations under the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]. The legislation endangers free expression and reinforces laws that violate the rights of Iranian citizens. The bill fails to prohibit stoning, lashing, and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishments; redress discriminatory laws; or, raise the age of majority for girls and boys. In a particularly worrisome clause, the bill expands punishment for "actions against national security", a charge that has routinely been used to persecute dissidents.

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The Latest from Iran (22 January): The Currency Slide

The new Iranian banknote: President Ahmadinejad's "Many Thousand Rials"

2115 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Al Arabiya reports that prominent Arab singer, Ghalib Manabi, and his brother Hassan have been arrested in Ahwaz in southern Iran.

Ghalib Manabi and several members of his family are known for their activism challenging regime programmes allegedly designed to reduce ethnic Arabs to a minority in the region. Members were previously arrested in 2005 during an uprising by ethnic Arabs against a programme requisitioning land from Arabs in Ahwaz, with a government-directed migration of non-Arabs into the region.

Local sources told Al Arabiya that about 60 Arab-speaking activists have been arrested since November 2011.

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Iran Feature: The Regime Isolates the Rafsanjani Family (Alem)

Faezeh HashemiLast week women's rights activist Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to six months in prison and a five-year ban on political, cultural, and media activities on charges of "spreading propaganda against the ruling system". The next day, the passports of the family of Mehdi Hashemi, Rafsanjani's son, were seized at Imam Khomeini International Airport outside Tehran.

Analyst Yasmin Alem speaks to The Iran Primer of the US Institute of Peace about the apparent campaign against the Rafsanjani family:

Why was Faezeh Rafsanjani charged?

Hashemi is the most politically active of former President Rafsanjani's children. She is a prominent social activist and leading Islamic feminist. A supporter of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in the 2009, she participated in a number of opposition rallies after the disputed poll. Ms. Rafsanjani was arrested and briefly detained by security forces on two occasions and barred from travelling abroad.

But her conviction on 2 January 2012 stems from an interview with Rooz Online, an opposition online newspaper. The interview was conducted after she was harassed by plainclothes security agents in April 2011. She told the opposition news website that “thugs and hooligans” were running the country.

She was subsequently accused and convicted of “insulting Islamic Republic officials". She was sentenced to six months in jail and banned from membership in any political organization as well as taking part in online and media activities for the next five years. Hashemi is likely to file an appeal. While she may be able to get her jail sentence overturned, the ban on her political activities is unlikely to be lifted.

Her sentence reflects the longstanding rivalry between two of the Islamic Republic’s founding fathers: former President Rafsanjani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The two men have jockeyed for the upper hand—and the country’s political direction—since the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. Hashemi’s conviction is another way for the supreme leader to pressure his political rival at a time when Rafsanjani is already at the nadir of his power.

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Iran Snap Analysis: Ahmadinejad's Men Strike 1st Blow in the Elections

0545 GMT: This will be a long, complex election process up to March's formal ballot for Parliamentary seats, but it looks like Ahmadinejad supporters can claim a victory in the first skirmish.

On Tuesday, news emerged of the first decisions on who would and would not be allowed to stand among the almost 5400 applicants. The regime spin is that more than 80% made it past the scrutiny of officials of the Ministry of Interior, but the significant story lay in the banning of at least 32 of Iran's 290 MPs.

The banned legislators are from across the political spectrum, but at least nine of them are united in their high-profile criticism of the Ahmadinejad Government. Examples include Ali Motahari, who has led the drive to question and possibly impeach the President; Hamidreza Katouzian, the head of the Energy Committee who has challenged the Government over the economy as well as the energy sector; and Dariush Ghanbari, a leading reformist voice.

Ghanbari's exclusion also raises an interesting dimension in the battle. The blocking of other reformists occurred even though the Supreme Leader's offices, as well as other factions within the establishment, have pressed hard for their participation, both through running for election and through voting on 2 March.

That can lead, I think, to only one conclusion. Those who put the black mark on the high-profile candidates were doing so in support of the President and, to some extent, in defiance of the wishes of the Supreme Leader's advisors.

The decision is far from final. The Guardian Council, the highest-level supervisor of the electoral process, will review all the applicants --- it can re-instate those who have been blocked, and it can ban others. Presuming that the Council is more in line with the wishes of Ayatollah Khamenei, and is not so amenable to Ahmadinejad's inner circle, MPs like Motahari and Ghanbari are likely to be approved.

But that is for later. For now, some people within the Iranian system have tried to make clear that the President is no lame duck and the Supreme Leader does not always get his way.


WikiLeaks and Iran Document: Why US Diplomats Suspected Fraud in 2009 Election

Iran analysts, both Iranian and foreign, have reacted with incredulity to the results of the Iranian presidential election and accused the IRIG of grossly rigging the election and falsifying the resuls. The Iran Regional Presence Office's review of Iran's recent presidential elections and the current election indicate the accusations of fraud have merit.

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