Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Lara Setrakian (6)


The Latest from Iran (31 July): And Now....?

The Latest from Iran (1 August): The Regime Gets Tough

Iran: How Big is the Green Wave?
Iran's "40th Day" Memorial: An Eyewitness Account
Beyond the Wave: Why the US Still Engages with Iran

The Latest from Iran (30 July): Memorial Day
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July)
Latest Iran Video: The “40th Day” Memorial (30 July – Part 2)

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IRAN 40 DAY 31650 GMT: Release the Prisoners! I am just going to re-print this from Fars News Agency and await confirmation that 25 percent of Iran's prison population will soon be freed:
17,000 prisoners were freed after amnesty and commutation of punishment term of a number of prisoners by the Supreme Leader," State Prisons Organization's Deputy Director for Management and Resource Development Mohammad Ali Zanjirehi told FNA on Friday.

"40 percent of the country's inmates, who account for around 68,000 people, were liable to the amnesty," Zanjirei said, adding that 17,000 out of the 68,000 inmates have been freed and the rest have enjoyed commutation of their terms or will be granted leaves in final months of their incarceration.

The decree, originally proposed by Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, was issued by the Leader on the occasion of the feast of Mab'ath, marking assignment of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to prophethood.

1555 GMT: Don't Forget That Foreign Threat. Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who has been gone unnoticed since the 12 June election, popped up today to appear at Friday prayers in Tehran and then try his hand with the "foreign agents" speech:
Western and European countries, with their overt and covert capabilities, interfered in Iran's election... the worst among them being Britain. The countries who interfered through their television networks by telling how to instigate riots, build explosives and other tension creating activities are accomplices in all the committed crimes, murders and are held responsible.

1540 GMT: Some, However, Are Not Ready for Compromise. Defying calls for concilation, the Ministry of Intelligence has threatened the Freedom Movement of Iran (the party of nationalist Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in the 1950s) with dire consequences if they do not stop holding political meetings inside their headquarters. The Party has lodged an official complaint with the head of Iran's judiciary.

1535 GMT: Look Past Jannati. The trend in clerical statements in the last 24 hours, apart from Friday prayers in Tehran, has been a call for compromise and action on detainees (see 1510 and 1520 GMT). That fits a report from Salaam News that Grand Ayatollahs have been discussing vital "issues", and most except Ayatollah Noori-Hamedani (an ardent Ahmadinejad supporter) "have taken a similar stance against the attacks of fundamentalism".

1520 GMT: A Different Prayer Address. If Ayatollah Jannati played the hard-liner in Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini played the liberal in Qom. Amini stated:
The young have sensitive souls and do not tolerate injustice, and we must not label the young as being anti-revolutionaries and try to distance them from the revolution....The words of the young must be heard, and if they are correct, [what they say] must be accepted. If it is not right they must be advised correctly with gentle tones and respect. The young must be advised to value this revolution that was achieved at great cost to society....We must keep the young by our side not be words but by deeds and by showing them the real face of Islam.

Amini addressed specific issues such as detention, saying , the directive of Iran's head of  judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, clarifying the situation of the prisoners, "must be attended to... to alleviate the anxiety of their families....I wish Mr Sharoudi would have stated that the detainees and the arrested will be treated with Islamic kindness." At the same time, he supported Ayatollah Khamenei's authority, "The principle of supreme leadership is an important foundation of the establ0ishment and we all have the duty to protect this principle."

1515 GMT: Shajarian Wins! We have reported on the case of the Iranian classical singer Mohamad Reza Shajarian, who demanded that Iranian state media stop playing his music after President Ahmadinejad called his opponents "dust". The Deputy Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has declared, "From now on, no more Shajarian will be broadcast from IRIB, even during Ramadan."

1510 GMT: Looking for Compromise. Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, addressing pilgrims at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashad yesterday, said different political factions should stop fighting and meet with each other to reach an agreement, moving away from the "literature of conflict that exists in the media". The ayatollah said the issues of the prisoners must be resolved quickly; those who are innocent or whose misdemeanors are forgivable by Islamic kindness should be freed immediately, and hthose who have broken the law significantly must have their cases resolved quickly.

1315 GMT: Ahh, There He Is. Having cleared out of Tehran before yesterday's events, President Ahmadinejad has used a speech in Mashaad today to assure everyone that, despite portrayals by his political rivals, there is no rift between him and the Supreme Leader:
This is not a political relationship ... our relationship is based on kindness. It is like a relationship between a father and his son. Your efforts will bear no fruit. This road is closed for those devils who dream about harming our relationship. Their dream will be buried along with them.

The summary from Reuters gives no indication whether Ahmadinejad referred to the dispute with Ayatollah Khamenei over the appointment of the 1st Vice President, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. At Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Jannati, while defending Ahmadnejad against "plotters", did bring up the matter: ""Such appointments hurt your supporters ... A key position should not be given to a person who is not respected."

In light of that criticism, is Ahmadinejad's speech a gesture of apology to the Supreme Leader, ahead of his inauguration on 5 August, or will he try to restore some political authority and independence?

1300 GMT: Tehran Police Commander Azizollah Rajabzadeh has said 50 people were arrested in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery and the Grand Mosala yesterday.

1205 GMT: More on Jannati's Address (see 1130 GMT). The Ayatollah highlighted the statement of 205 Members of Parliament in support of the Supreme Leader (which, of course, does not mean that they support Ahmadinejad). He carried out the confrontation with Hashemi Rafsanjani by returning to the disputed letter from the Assembly of Experts. Even though this was signed by only 16 of 86 members, it was still valid; most of those who could not sign, because they were scattered throughout the country for the summer, supported the initiative.

1145 GMT: An intriguing comment from a participant in Lara Setrakian's summary of yesterday's memorial: "Police were sympathetic with the people [and] told us in which row we could find Neda's grave."

1130 GMT: Getting Tough. Unfortunately, the live tweet of Ayatollah Jannati's address broke down halfway through; however, Fars News has now posted a report, and it's clear that Jannati is ready for a fight.

The Ayatollah claimed that there were those who plotted four years ago to keep President Ahmadinejad out of power, despite his 7-million vote majority and that these people were now trying "to take revenge". In the face of this threat, there should be no question of legimitacy: "If the election is invalid, then all elections of the last 30 years should be declared invalid because the process has always been the same."

Nor was Jannati subtle in his religious context for this political assertion, highlighting Prophet Mohammad's facing of his enemies and his resolve to maintain unity.

It doesn't take a genius to do the rhetorical and political mathematics. In 2005 President Ahmadinejad's second-round opponent was Hashemi Rafsanjani, the man whom Jannati is trying to depose as head of the Assembly of Experts. Welcome to the next round of this heavyweight battle.

1125 GMT: We're trying to track down an English-language summary of Ayatollah Jannati's address. Press TV English's website is silent.

0900 GMT: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a key member of the regime as Secretary of the Guardian Council, is giving the address at Friday prayers in Tehran today. (Jannati was one of the pro-Government members of the Assembly of Experts who tried to curb Hashemi Rafsanjani last week, putting out a statement signed by only 16 of the 86 representatives on the Assembly.)

So far the address is focusing on the need for unity, citing a petition from the Prophet Mohammad, the Yasrab, and calling on people to follow the regime. It is being "live tweeted" at the moment.

0700 GMT: Two items of note from The Huffington Post. First, Kevin Sullivan asserts, "Western Hubris Won't Reform Iran". While I differ from Sullivan's reading of developments inside Iran, his conclusion is valuable:
All of this is terribly exciting. It's also out of our control, and that's a good thing. History often needs the proper room to breathe, not the breathless instigation of a hubristic few.

Let these "greens" grow on their own.

Which makes it just a bit ironic that, in the same paper, Melody Moezzi is proclaiming, "Iran's Red Tulip Revolution".

Humble suggestion: don't impose a label on this movement. Not a plant like "Cedar". Not a colour like "Orange" or "Rose". And certainly not "Velvet".

0650 GMT: The Wall Street Journal, relying on a leaked document, reports:
A privately owned German company, Knauf Gips KG, warned its Iranian employees working in Iran that they would be immediately dismissed if caught in antigovernment protests....

Iran's government pressured Knauf to issue the order after a senior executive was arrested during Friday prayer demonstrations two weeks ago, according to people familiar with the case. The company, which has 22,000 employees around the world, was told that such a letter would be a condition for the executive's release.

An executive of Knauf, which makes drywall, warned in the letter:
We would like to remind all of our employees to remember that they are not only representing their private opinion when being politically active, but their actions could fall back negatively on our Knauf companies in Iran. Therefore, from now on, if anybody from our company gets caught demonstrating against the current government, he or she will be immediately dismissed.

0630 GMT: A quieter start today, so we've taken the opportunity to write a special analysis of what may be next both for the Iranian Government and for the opposition, "How Big is the Green Wave?".

0505 GMT: Press TV English's latest report is one of cautious understatement, both of the events and of numbers: "Police have dispersed hundreds of Iranians who sought to gather in a cemetery south of the capital of Tehran to commemorate those killed in the post-election unrest." The brief item, however, did refer to police use of tear gas, to the appearance of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi (before he was turned back by security forces), and to the mourners' attempts to gather at the Grand Mosala.

While there was no reference to demonstrations elsewhere in Tehran and outside the capital, Press TV is also refraining from language criticising the protestors and their challenge to the 12 June election.

0500 GMT: News of a death that was lost amidst yesterday's memorial: "On Wednesday, the Paris-based monitoring group Reporters Without Borders urged authorities to explain the death of journalist Alireza Eftekhari on June 15. His body was handed over to relatives on July 13. A news release said Eftekhari died from a severe beating."

The Latest from Iran (11 July): Drawing Breath

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IRAN GREEN1800 GMT: Mehdi Karroubi's letter to the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, has been published on a Facebook page of Mohammad Khatami: "All protesting the election results agree with the original system, but its defenders have confiscated the electoral process."

1455 GMT: The mysterious of the "Basiji" audio tape (0825 and 1130 GMT): A very helpful reader has listened to four hours of the tapes and offers the following: "Each [of the four] segments is about an hour and on different aspect of protests and how to understand and neutralize it. The audio seems to be from the Revolutionary Guard who criticize the Basiji for ineffectiveness and lack of training. The 4th segment in the audio is creepy and openly talks about why ppeople are talking about a coup, psychological operations, ideology, etc."

Another reader adds, "This seems leaked audio from immediately after 1999 raids [on the 18 Tir] demonstrations. Still, given ranking figures supposedly in recordings, worth examining." The first reader, however, points us to a document, "Mechanisms for Suppression of Mobilization", which seems to correspond to aspect of the audio discussion.

(Again, our gratitude to both sources for assistance above and beyond the call of duty.)

1445 GMT: Citing a "security source", Lara Setrakian of ABC News (US) says that President Ahmadinejad's national broadcast on Tuesday was hindered by blackouts, caused by deliberate power surges from protestors' use of electrical appliances.

1430 GMT: Ayatollah Montazeri, the one-time successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, has issued another fatwa condemning the violence used against protestors. Any Government sanctioning such violence is "un-Islamic".

1230 GMT: Al Arabiya is reporting that Tehran's police chief has declared half of the city a "crisis zone".

1130 GMT: Correction. Our latest information is that the leaked audio of Basiji conversation (0825 GMT) is analysis and training in security methods.

1025 GMT: Election Past, Engagement Present. In the first clear sign that the post-election conflict is pushing the regime towards discussions with the "West" on Iran's nuclear programme and other matters of concern, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has told a news conference that Iran will present a package of "political, security, and international issues" for consideration: ""The package can be a good basis for talks with the West. The package will contain Iran's stances on political, security and international issues."

0935 GMT: The Silence is Broken. Mehdi Karroubi has issued a strong statement this morning, calling on the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, to release detained protesters: "Constitutionalism and sovereignty of the people are opposed to tyranny."

0825 GMT: A lot of chatter this morning about a leaked audio, allegedly of Basiji discussing plans to raid university dormitories.

0800 GMT: More on the arrest of Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh (see yesterday's updates). The important link: Tajbakhsh was one of four US citizens detained in 2007 by the Iranian Government, the most prominent of whom was Haleh Esfiandiari. He was released after four months.

So the Iranian regime is still pursuing --- for public consumption, from their suspicions, or both --- the idea of a "velvet revolution" backed by US groups and possibly the American government.

0715 GMT: A reader tips us off to a development which we missed yesterday: according to the German news service Deutsche Welle, the 27-nation European Union has suspended all visas or visa extensions for Iranian diplomats and their families.

0630 GMT: A very quiet start to the day, with no breaking news.

The question we raised yesterday, "What next?", after the 18 Tir protests on Thursday, still hangs in the air. The only visible protests were small gatherings of the families of detainees in several locations in Tehran. Not a public word from figures such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani maintaining a mysterious silence. And the regime took a breather as well: beyond Ayatollah Kashani's relatively low-key address at Tehran prayers, the headline pronouncement was "a 50,000-strong special constable-like force called 'honorary police officers' to provide assistance to police support units".

There was one statement of note. Ayatollah Hashim Hashim-Zadeh Hareesi, a member of the Assembly of Experts, declared that people had started to distrust the system because of the election process. The government needed to restore people’s trust to prevent more serious problems. In itself, that statement could complement, rather than challenge, Ayatollah Kashani's request to the Iranian Parliament to review the electoral law and the Guardian Council's promise of a report on the election.

Press TV takes a look outside, "Obama ends G8 with warning to Iran". BBC English, whose coverage of Iran has almost collapsed, also devotes its limited attention to the G8 summit. CNN briefly refers to the arrest of academic Kian Tajbakhsh, primarily because he has American citizenship.

The Latest from Iran (3 July): The Long Haul?

The Latest from Iran (4 July): Breaking the Reformists? Not So Fast….

Iran: The Statement of "The Mourning Mothers of Iran"
A Song for Iran? “Free My Land”
LATEST Video: “Keeping the Peace” (30 June-2 July)
The Latest from Iran (2 July): The “Gradual” Opposition

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IRAN DEMO 9 JULY1825 GMT: BBC English has posted a video report on the Iranian Government's "public service" campaign on a telephone hotline for people to inform on family and friends participating in demonstrations.

1645 GMT: BBC Persian reports that Ayatollah Yusef Sane'i, a fervent critic of the Government, has condemned televised confessions, saying they have no value as the obvious product of torture. Sane'i emphasized that "endurance is the key to success".

1515 GMT: The demonstration for 9 July is on. Andrew Sullivan has posted a copy of a leaflet (left) for the rally.

1445 GMT: Etemade Melli, the pro-"reformist" newspaper, reports today on the censorship imposed on Thursday by prosecutors and Ministry of Culture officials. The paper claims that its account of how it was closed on Wednesday by authorities was removed. Political stories were replaced by a "social page" and an item on the National University entrance examination.

1435 GMT: Reports that Sara Sabbaghian, lawyers and women's rights activist, was freed from Evin Prison on Thursday. In contrast, the regime's pressure on those present at the death of Neda Agha Soltan continues; in addition to pursuit of the doctor who tried to help her, Arash Hejazi, an eyewitness to the killing claims his family is being harassed.

There are also claims that three people have been killed, more than 200 injured, and many detained in the eastern city of Mashaad.

1315 GMT: Was Ayatollah Jannati's "foreign enemies" claim, with the threat of espionage trials, too embarrassing for Iranian state media? Press TV's website makes no reference to the allegations against Britain, saying cryptically that Jannati "warn[ed] that powers in the West would derive great benefits if the internal dispute continued to drag on". Instead, Press TV headlines, "Cleric urges end to election dispute in Iran". The Islamic Republic News Agency takes the same path, "Ayatollah Jannati: Presidential Elections Were Accurate".

An alternative explanation is that, whereas foreign media jumped on the Jannati reference to a possible trial, the focus of his speech was indeed on providing reassurances about the election process and warning that it was now over. The broader interpretation is unchanged, however; the regime is not yet secure that it has overcome the challenge on the streets and behind the scenes.

1250 GMT: We're keeping our eyes open for a text of Ayatollah Jannati's address at Friday prayers but my initial sense is that it indicates some continuing regime concern about protests: they have risked a heightened  invocation of the foreign threat, which may damage relations with Britain, Europe, and the US, to ensure public support for their maintenance of "order".

1245 GMT: More on the report below that Iranian staff of the British Embassy may be tried on espionage charges. The warning was issued by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the chairman of the Guardian Council, as he led Friday prayers in Tehran: "British foreign office had said last March that there may be riots during the elections in Iran and they said that they should warn their citizens to be careful. What do these predictions mean? And then some people in the U.K. embassy, who had a hand in the disturbances, were arrested and will surely be put on trial."

The context of the warning being issued in Friday prayers, rather than by a security or judiciary official, is significant --- it may even be good news for the detainees. This seems more of a political posture, reinforcing the regime's continued excuse of "foreign intervention" for its crackdown on internal dissent (see our prediction this morning in "What To Watch For Today", than a specific move towards formal prosecution.

1000 GMT: Watch Out. Both the BBC Persian service and Agence France Presse are reporting the statement of a Guardian Council member that local "staffers" of the British Embassy will be tried on espionage charges.

The plural should be noted, as earlier in the week Iranian authorities said all but one of the nine people detained had been released. And, if true, the report marks a significant escalation of tensions by Iran with Britain (though not directly with the US).

0930 GMT: Lara Setrakian of ABC News (US) posts a firsthand report from Tehran:
It's kind of changed from the first week, but it's definitely not over over. it's just going to be more drawn out, I think.

It's become a lot more localized in a way. People just do what they can on their own with their circle of people. Demonstrations are smaller but in different places now. I don't know how widely circulated the information going around is but there's a pretty large amount. You can feel it with strangers even like taxi drivers.

It's not that they're less pissed. If anything, they're more pissed. Because of the state and how blatantly they're lying.

0700 GMT: More on the claim that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani declined to lead Friday prayers in Tehran last week. The original story is on a pro-Khatami, pro-Mousavi website. It is supported, according to Josh Shahryar, by one of his reliable sources.

0610 GMT: Josh Shahryar's daily "Green Brief", which we highlighted yesterday, again offers an essential overview of developments. Almost all of the items match up with information in our updates and other reliable sources. However, this item (which we will try to confirm) is both new and significant:
It has been reported that Rafsanjani, who is one of the Imams that lead Friday Prayers in Tehran's largest mosque, has declined to lead prayers there again. Last week, his spot was first filled by Khamenei, but Khamenei pulled out at the last minute leaving Ahmad Khatami to lead the prayers. Rafsanjani is not planning to attend this Friday's Prayers either.

0555 GMT: The challenge in Iran is now close to a non-story for major international outlets. There is nothing on CNN International's website and no appearance in the headlines of the BBC or Al Jazeera English. The BBC website only has a limited article on the removal of the block on SMS messaging, while Al Jazeera is still running the news from Wednesday that Mir Hossein Mousavi may face criminal charges.

Press TV English, meanwhile, is featuring the story of Israel's detention of former US Senator (and Press TV presenter) Cynthia McKinney and other activists, who were trying to break the Israeli sea blockade to get humanitarian aid to Gaza. (Ironically but significantly, the incident has been a non-story for US media.)

Iran: The Statement of "The Mourning Mothers of Iran"

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Last Saturday a gathering of women at Laleh Park in Tehran was broken up by security forces; a number of them were taken away and are allegedly still detained. The women, including mothers of "martyrs" in the post-election violence, have declared that they will gather every Saturday. Today they sent this statement to Lara Setrakian of ABC News (US):

We continue to mourn…

The silent mourning of mothers on Saturday June 27th 2009 in Laleh Park in Tehran was violently suppressed by security forces. A number of mothers and young women attending this peaceful gathering/sit-in were detained by the security forces. Despite the violent crackdown by the security forces and their attempt to disperses the attendees, more than 500 women and mothers were able to continue with the sit-in and gatherings in the central spot of the park. These mothers were peacefully gathering to commemorate the young men and women who had participated in the non-violent post-election demonstrations and had been martyred.

Following our first announcement, we - the mourning mothers of the martyrs - will continue with our peaceful sit-in in Laleh Park and other parks in Tehran. We will do so till we see the end of violence on the streets, freeing of all those arrested for participating in the peaceful protests after the June 12th election specially our fellow mothers who had been arrested last Saturday and the prosecution of those responsible for our children’s death. Our sit-ins will be in Laleh park and the following parks every Saturday from 7-8 p.m.

Laleh Park
Andishe Park
Mellat Park
Gofegoo Park

Dear Mothers! Our mother instinct has forced us to demand justice for our children and freeing those who are unlawfully detained in prisons. We invite you to join our grassroots peaceful gatherings in the above-mentioned parks on Saturdays of each week.

To our boys and brothers in the security forces! We are your mothers. We treat you with respect as mothers. Respect us and our wishes and refrain from inflicting harm onto your mothers. Our sighs will follow you if you treat us with violence.

The Mourning Mothers of Iran

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IRAN GREEN2105 GMT: Reports that more than 15,000 people gathered to lay flowers at the graves of more than 80 "martyrs" in Behesh Zahra cemetery (see 1745 GMT).

2100 GMT: Lara Setrakian of ABC News (US) writes, "Rooftop Allahu Akbars [God is Greats] still on, despite Basij raids. [There was] one case where all residents of a five-floor apartment building were bused to Evin [Prison]."

Setrakian adds, "Rally was set for 6 p.m. today in front of Evin Prison to ask for release of detainees. The next two weeks of protests are planned."

1815 GMT: Press TV, as we reported in a separate entry earlier today, continues to feature the stories of Britain's Channel 4 TV showing 15 June footage of Basiji shooting from the rooftop of their base but not airing the footage of demonstrators attacking the building with Molotov cocktails. It is briefly repeating the "Neda" claim that the doctor who tried to save her is wanted by Interpol (which is false --- see 1730 GMT) and the strained analogy with Venezuela 2002 to imply that Neda was killed by foreign services.

1810 GMT: Reports that Maryam Ameri of Mehdi Karroubi's campaign has been released from detention.

1745 GMT: One event, however, which should be noted. Thousands of people in Tehran visited the graves of "martyrs" in Behesh Zahra cemetery to honour them with flowers. They were watched by "a large number" of plain-clothes security personnel.

1730 GMT: A quiet, almost stand-still, afternoon. Unlike previous days, where there has been an up-turn in political activity around this time, there has been nothing of notice out of Iran. Chatter is around yesterday's news of a threat to prosecute Mir Hossein Mousavi and the lie of Iranian police chief Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam, spread by Press TV, that Interpol is pursuing the doctor, Arash Hejazi, who tried to save Neda Agha Soltan's life.

1435 GMT: The Bushman Returneth. John Bolton, Assistant Secretary of State and then US Ambassador to the United Nations from 2001 to 2006, reminds everybody why we're fortunate to have an Obama rather than Bush Administration:
Iran's nuclear threat was never in doubt during its presidential campaign, but the post-election resistance raised the possibility of some sort of regime change. That prospect seems lost for the near future or for at least as long as it will take Iran to finalize a deliverable nuclear weapons capability. Accordingly, with no other timely option, the already compelling logic for an Israeli strike is nearly inexorable.

No doubt those campaign for meaningful reform (and not necessarily "regime change") in Iran will thank Mr Bolton for his concern.

1405 GMT: Al Jazeera English, after a forced two-week confinement to its office, was allowed to film briefly in Tehran yesterday. We've posted the video. (Not sure which is braver: reporter Alireza Ronaghi's stand against the authorities or his stand in the middle of a busy Tehran road.)

1310 GMT: How to Turn a Scandal into a Museum Exhibit. The Governor of Shiraz has explained that four unopened ballot boxes, found by chance yesterday in a library, are from past elections for Assembly of Experts, Parliament, and local councils. The boxes will now be "stored as national documents".

1300 GMT: From Lara Setrakian of ABC News (US), "Tehrani source close to those detained says some have been beaten heavily and waterboarded with hot water."

1255 GMT: Human Rights Watch's report on the life-threatening conditions of detained politician Saeed Hajjarian (see 1100 GMT) is now available on the Internet.

1250 GMT: A reliable Iranian activist on Twitter adds to Mousavi's claim of Government restrictions on the websites of "the Imam's List" members of Parliament, "Managers of Parliament News were also threatened by security forces and prosecutor to change their methods."

1245 GMT: Mir Hossein Mousavi's Facebook page has said a "human chain" across Tehran will be formed from 5 p.m. local time on Sunday. The entry declares that the "more people", the "more safety".

Mousavi's page also claims that the websites of "the Imam's List" group of members of Parliament, which were raising the cases of detainees, are now being "filtered" by the Government. The page advises, "A lot of information has to flow to Iran, create a Mailinglist and spend some time to sort and send the news. If you believe it or not, Your Mailinglist is the main media."

1100 GMT: Extract from a report on detained politician Saeed Hajjarian: "Ms. Sarah Leah Whitson, the Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, mentioned that given  Hajarian's physical condition, his arrest is not acceptable in the first place; however, terrible jail conditions together with the pressure on him to confess put his life in danger." Hajjarian was severely disabled by an assassination attempt in March 2000.

0900 GMT: Jim Sciutto of ABC News (US), who has done very good work during the crisis, parallels our analysis: "Former President Khatami & Pres candidates Karoubi and Mousavi call government illegitimate; bold challenge after Supreme Leader again tries to declare race over. Opposition plan now is ad hoc protests: strikes, withdrawing money from state banks, starve state charities, 'lightning' demos. Watch Iran's many memorial ceremonies, where crowds are legal, giving opposition chance to take advantage."

0610 GMT: Perhaps the most striking description of the Islamic Republic offered to me by Iranians is "Gradual Revolution", the idea that the promise of the ideals behind its creation in 1979 --- despite all the intervening difficulties of war, economic challenges, political arguments, and social conflict --- will be fulfilled.

There may now be a new version of that concept. While supporters of the Government and the Supreme Leader will no doubt argue that they are still the defenders of the Revolution, those who have challenged the system in the last three weeks may now be considering their own "gradual" approach.

Mass demonstrations have not been possible for two weeks, and the more limited gatherings struggle against the possibility of violence from security forces and the reality that there can be almost no media coverage. Campaigns have been disrupted by detentions, and the regime is using the "foreign intervention" theme, repeated almost non-stop by state media and now bolstered by forced confessions, to try and neutralise any thought of legitimate protest.

So the opposition has had to adjust its strategy. While ad hoc demonstrations are still occurring (though we cannot be sure of their size), the focus is on keeping the message of resistance alive. Statements from all three symbolic leaders (Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami) were issued yesterday. The claim that "it's not over" could also draw from the debate amongst the clerics; this is now being punctuated by dramatic statements such as Ayatollah Ghaffari's speech and now Ayatollah Taheri's "fatwa" calling the election illegitimate and fraudulent.

On the surface, the Government is showing confidence, following up the Guardian Council's Monday verdict with public declarations of triumph and some relaxation of restrictions (SMS service was unblocked yesterday). Yet it still faces a difficult question over detentions. Public protest is now coalescing around the fate of those taken away by the authorities, with relatives gathering in front of Evin Prison, and those proclaiming the illegitimacy of the regime can highlight the lack of legal process (and, for the clerics, religious justification) for the measures.

So the Government has to release the detainees (some have been bailed or freed, but a significant number of high-profile prisoners remain) or commit to the long-term imprisonment of those who challenge it. The former step risks a strengthening of the opposition; the latter may build up the gradual questioning, not only of individual politicians, but of the structures of the Islamic Republic.

The opposition campaign, therefore, is relying on symbolic pronouncements. Latest proposals have included the call for a general strike, possible action on the "days of religious seclusion" (6-8 July), and the weekly gathering in Laleh Park of the mothers of the killed and arrested. The idea that the movement is still alive is to be maintained through symbolic action such as graffiti in public places and the nightly calls of "Allahu Akhbar".