1900 GMT: From Washington With... ? We've posted the video of yesterday's "Iran at A Crossroads" conference.
NEW Video: “Iran at a Crossroads” Conference (10 March)
NEW Iran: Gender Issues and the Green Movement
Iran Document: The Hardliners’ Project (Bahavar)
Iran Interview: Habibollah Peyman “Change Through Social Awareness
The Latest from Iran (10 March): The View from Washington
1855 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Readers have rightly noted an apparent lapse in our coverage of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The reformist daily Bahar claimed on Wednesday that, in a clear sign of reconciliation with the regime, Rafsanjani would soon lead Friday Prayers in Tehran. (He has not done so since his 17 July address, which was a catalysts for demonstrations against the Government.)
I saw the story, which was picked up by the Babylon and Beyond blog of the Los Angeles Times, but decided to pass on it. It felt much more like rumour than a confirmed development.
That said, even the rumour deserves noting. Elements within the Government seem keen on establishing that Rafsanjani no longer has any issues with the leadership, so all is now politically well. So far, however, Rafsanjani has been his usual coy self, not confirming any return to the Friday Prayer slot.
1840 GMT: Rahnavard, Women's Rights, and the Green Movement. Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, has given an interview to Kalemeh talking about the relationship between campaigns for women's rights and the initiatives of the Green Movement. (See our separate entry on this subject, which was posted before we read the Rahnavard interview.)
1805 GMT: From Czechoslovakia to Iran. Vaclav Havel, the playwright and activist who was instrumental in the movement that challenged the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and then became the country's first post-Communist President, has sent a message to Iran's protesters. The occasion was the award of the Homo Homini Award by a Czech NGO to Iranian student activists Majid Tavakoli and Abdollah Momeni:
Of course all of us are interested in Iran's nuclear program and the nature of the current regime, just as we are interested in the abuses committed under the flag of Islam and whether or not the 2009 election was rigged. However, what I am most interested in are the brutal violations of human rights. I found myself in high political position thanks to peaceful public demonstrations and thanks to the students, who led them and made them happen. As a result, I have an elevated sensitivity for certain things and am deeply outraged and shocked that for participating in similar demonstrations in Iran, people are not only being sentenced to several years in prison, but are even being executed. It seems to me like an endless barbarity and I firmly believe this savagery is about to come to an end.
1745 GMT: Escape. It is being reported that student activist Ali Kantouri, recently sentenced to 15yrs in prison, has fled to Turkey.
1525 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. I think former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has taken another swipe at President Ahmadinejad but any impact may be ruled out by Rafsanjani's vagueness in expression. From Radio Zamaneh:
Akabar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council stressed the role of people in governance and maintained that with the growth and spread of media, governments that do not have popular bases can not last long....
Speaking in a meeting of members of municipal councils of Tehran Province, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani said that Islam holds a special place for the role of people in the government.
He added that in democracies, parties that are triumphant in the elections act as buffers and when the elected candidates take a wrong turn, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the parties and this way the system does not suffer.
He also criticized the policy of limiting the legal powers of city councils saying such policies only weaken the councils and reduce their ability to respond to people’s demands.
1445 GMT: Ain't Nothing Gonna Change. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reviews the Supreme Leader's pronouncement on possible electoral reform, which we noted yesterday), and sees this is a clear rejection rather than an ambiguous response.
1345 GMT: Fist-Shaking. Yet another Iranian military advance which has nothing to do whatsoever with Tehran's power politics vs. the US: Iran has started production of a surface-to-air missile.
President Ahmadinejad added rhetorical colour with the promise that people in the region "would cut (American) hands off of Persian Gulf oil".
However, in a sign that the US still wants to avoid conflict, and possibly establish co-operation, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Iranian support for the Taliban in Afghanistan is "pretty limited".
1230 GMT: Catching Up.
I've posted a follow-up to the Washington hearing, considering the failure to answer adequately a question on gender issues and the Green Movement.
There is also an important correction: we reported yesterday, from Iranian human rights websites, that Saeed Nourmohammadi of the Islamic Iran Participation Front had been released on bail. His family say, however, that Nourmohammadi has not been freed.
Reports indicate more freeing of political prisoners. Mostafa Tajzadeh, a senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released without bail for Iranian New Year.