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Entries in Kazem Jalali (2)


The Latest from Iran (6 March): Justice

2130 GMT: Jailing the Workers. Radio Farda reports the arrests of a number of labour activists in northwestern Iran in recent days.

2120 GMT: Mystery of Day. Iranian Labor News Agency reports that Ayatollahs Safi Golpaygani and Javadi-Amoli have met recently.

Given that these meetings between senior clerics are rare, what were the issues that brought the two ayatollahs together? And was there any connection to the clerical disquiet over the Mohammad Amin Valian death sentence?

UPDATED Death, Confusion, and Clerics in Iran: The Case of Mohammad Amin Valian
NEW An Open Letter to the Editors of Iran’s “Principled” Newspapers
University Special: Iran & Conservapedia Ally Against Dangerous Professors
The Latest from Iran (5 March): Re-aligning

2045 GMT: Mohareb Trial for Dr Maleki? Iranian Labor News Agency reports that Dr Mohammad Maleki, the first post-1979 Chancellor of Tehran University is being charged with "mohareb" (war against God). Maleki's lawyer, Mohammad Sharifi said that his client, who is 76 and suffers from prostate cancer, is also charged with links to an outlawed organisation.

2040 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Banafsheh Darolshafaei, the sister of blogger Agh Bahman, has been released from detention.

1955 GMT: The Khomeini Challenge. Seyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, has again criticised Iranian authorities. He claimed some people refuse to see the truth, and even when they are told about it, try to “accuse you of an offence”
1945 GMT: A Little Change? The Expediency Council voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to consider changes in Iran's electoral law, starting deliberations on qualification of voters, candidates, and the quality of election campaigns, according to Council member Mohammad Hashemi, the brother of Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Hashemi said a large number of council members insisted on the need to reform the election law, prevailing over others who believed that the issue should be delayed due to the country’s "special condition".

1930 GMT: Nothing to See Here, Move Along. "Conservatives" in the Parliament have decided not to press the Ahmadinejad Government on the issue of last June's attack on Tehran University dormitories.

The spokesman for the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, MP Kazem Jalali, said the committee found nothing new in an 18-minute graphic film --- an abridged version of which was broadcast by Persian and found nothing new --- of the attack.

Jalali claimed that the emergence of the film, which was shot by a member of the attacking force, was because Iran's "enemies" were "disappointed" by massive pro-regime rallies on 11 February, Iran's nuclear, aerospace, and scientific achievements, and the capture of Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi.

1620 GMT: The Rigi-US-Capitalism-Zionism-"9-11 Was a Lie" Conspiracy. Western news media have picked up on President Ahmadinejad's statement, in a meeting with Ministry of Intelligence personnel, that the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001 was a "complicated intelligence scenario and act": "The September 11 incident was a big fabrication as a pretext for the campaign against terrorism and a prelude for staging an invasion against Afghanistan."

That, however, is only the top of Mahmoud's West-Did-It-All Iceberg. The full speech, reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency, announces that the arrest of Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi exposes the core of the campaign by US and Israeli intelligence services against Iran. This in turn is part of a struggle of "good" human nature against the devils of capitalism, liberal democracy, and US global leadership.

1515 GMT: Women's Solidarity. Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, has posted a message for International Women's Day on Monday.

Rahnavard noted that discrimination and oppression of Iranian women has increased and invited the Iranian people and ruling powers to return to compassionate and humane values honouring the dignity of Iranian women.

Rahnavard added that today the leading women of the Green Movement are unjustly in prison only because they demand justice in the political, social and cultural affairs of the country. She stressed that the Green Movement is the manifestation of the ideals of any noble and justice-seeking human and that it honours women because of these humane and moral principles.

1415 GMT: Mohareb Watch. We've published two updates on the case of Mohammad Amin Valian, reportedly sentenced to death this week.

1045 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Human Rights Watch has issued a statement calling on the Iranian judiciary to release six women, connected with Mothers of Mourning, arrested in January and early February 2010.

0945 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Reporters Sans Frontieres offers this summary of recent developments:
Journalist Abolfazl Abedini Nasr was arrested at his home in the city of Ahvaz on 2 March by several men in plain clothes. The men, who all wore hoods, broke down the door of his house and brutally beat him. He had been earlier arrested on 30 June 2009 and freed on 26 October after putting up bail of 300 million tomans (270,000 euros).

Several human rights activists were arrested on the same day, among them the blogger and activist Naghipour Nasour. The director of the website was arrested at home in Qazvin by agents in plain-clothes. The reasons for his arrest and the place in which he is being detained are still unknown.

Reporters Without Borders learned on 3 March of the release of three journalists:

Noushin Jafari, journalist for Etemad, arrested on 3 February. Reza Norbakhsh, editor of the daily Farhikhteghan, arrested at his workplace in Tehran on 4 August, and who had been sentenced to six years in prison for “taking part in illegal demonstrations” and for articles posted on the news website Jomhoryat. Mortaza Kazemian, journalist for several reformist newspapers, arrested on 28 December 2009, was released after spending 34 days in solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin prison.

Journalist Said Laylaz had his sentence of nine years in jail reduced to three years by the Tehran appeal court. Kambiz Norrozi, head of the Association of Iranian Journalists, sentenced on 17 November to two years in jail and 76 strokes of the whip for making “publicity against the regime and disturbing public order”, had his sentence reduced on appeal to one year in prison.

0850 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. HRA News Agency publishes reports, which we have heard for days, of "the widespread arrests of human rights activists, particularly members and affiliates of Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA)". Among those detained in "at least 27 incidents of arrests" is Milad Abrahamian.

0845 GMT: Iran Down Under. Our partner, Arshama3's Blog, offers an interesting account of a meeting of activists in New Zealand supporting democratic change in Iran.

0835 GMT: We begin this morning with two specials, one putting a wry smile on a regime threat, the other offering a response to a story which has no smile.

Our "black comedy" moment comes out of a speech by Iran's Minister of Science and Higher Education, Kamran Daneshjoo, in which he threatens to dismiss deviant professors. And our more serious reflections are in an open letter responding to the editors of Iran's "principlist" newspapers, who have criticised "Western" media for unfair coverage of Iranian events.

The Latest from Iran (1 March): In Like a Lion?

2135 GMT: Rumour of Day. Kalameh alleges that prisoners held in cellblock 209 of Evin Prison have been commanded to fill in forms about their views on election fraud and whether the protest leaders are connected to foreign countries.

2100 GMT: Dr Mohammad Maleki, the former head of Tehran University, has reportedly been released after 191  days in detention. Maleki, 76, suffers from prostate cancer.

Iran: Understanding the Assembly of Experts Statement “Crisis Continues”
Iran Document: Mousavi’s Interview “Reform Within the Current Framework” (27 February)
The Latest from Iran (28 February): What Do The Statements Mean?

2055 GMT: United4Iran has a profile of Jahanbakhsh Khanjani, former advisor to Iran’s Minister of Interior in the Khatami Presidency, who was released on 24 February after spending more than eight months in prison. According to another released prisoner, Khanjani was under pressure to confess and was constantly moved from general confinement to solidarity confinement.

2030 GMT: 2nd Picture of the Day (see 1540 GMT). The staff of Etemaad newspaper just after its suspension (1455 GMT) by Iranian authorities: "Victory".

1935 GMT: Faoud Sadeghi, the managing director of Ayande News, has reportedly been released.

Journalist Mahsa Jazini has been freed on $100,000 bail in Isfehan.

1930 GMT: Khatami Stands Firm. Back from an academic break to find a statement from former President Mohammad Khatami, responding to the Supreme Leader's declaration that opposition figures had put themselves beyond the Iranian system with their post-election challenge. He said in a meeting with students:
It is easy to create tensions in the world, but difficult to eliminate them. Detente requires courage and finesse, and the system has to take steps to that effect. We should not embark on adventurism in the world under pretext of having won so many enemies. We should hold back from speaking in a manner to inflict heavy costs....

Everyone may have had his own interpretation of reforms, but we mean reforms within the framework of criteria born out of Islam, the revolution and the nation's will. In the face of any possible deviation from Islam and Imam Khomeini's line, we have to give warning....

Go and ask the former revolutionary militants if the ongoing conditions reflect what they were after. Ask them if these arrests, blame games, vendettas and the imposition of costs on the nation were what the revolutionary forces sought. If not, our conscience necessitates that we close ranks in order to improve conditions....

We should not retreat from our demands, and we should keep fighting even if certain groups beat us on the head. Unfortunately, certain hard-line groups in the society are opposed to any compromise within the society.

1615 GMT: Really. Not-Very-Much-News. Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has denied, amidst the fuss over the International Atomic Energy Agency report on Tehran's nuclear programme, that there is any problem:
The new chief and the new managers of the agency should look at the record of Iran's cooperation. We have fully cooperated with the agency. This cooperation will continue. We have always welcomed and encouraged negotiations and talks.

1555 GMT: Rigi Mystery. This story isn't over....

Kyrgyzstan’s foreign ministry has issued a statement saying that Iran has officially apologised for forcing a Kyrgyz plane to land in Iran. More significantly, the foreign ministry has denied that any passengers were taken off the plane, including Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, by the Iranians: “According to information available to this ministry, media reports that s two foreigners were arrested in this fight are untrue."

Now, is Kyrgyzstan making the denial to save face and cover up that Rigi was lifted from one of its flights? Or is it the case that the Jundullah leader was never on that plane?

1540 GMT: Picture of the Day. Abdolreza Tajik after his release from prison (see 0945 GMT):

1520 GMT: A Most Symbolic Visit. Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, has visited Ali Karroubi, the son of Mehdi Karroubi who was beaten on 22 Bahman.

1515 GMT: Cutting off Business. Caterpillar, the US building equipment group, has announced steps to sever trading links with Iran. The company is barring its non-US subsidiaries from accepting orders for products that they know are destined for delivery to Iran.

1510 GMT: Not-Very-Much-News (from the Other Side). Press TV gives the Iran version:
Iran has called on the UN nuclear watchdog to bear in mind the West's past breaches of atomic fuel exchange deals with Tehran while reviewing Iran's nuclear program.

In a letter to the UN body, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), cited three instances on which Western countries failed to meet their commitments and provide Iran with nuclear fuel.

In other words, Tehran will hold out against a "3rd-party enrichment" deal involving Germany, US, or French authorities because they cannot be trusted.

But (and excuse me for being repetitive) mention of Japan as unreliable.

1505 GMT: Stopping the Protests. Rah-e-Sabz claims that 20,000 people were detained during the rallies of 22 Bahman (11 February).

1455 GMT: Back to the (Banned) News. Fars reports that Iranian authorities have banned the weekly magazine Iran Dokht, linked with Mehdi Karroubi. Etemaad has also been suspended.

1445 GMT: Not-Very-Much-News (cont.). Nothing --- yes, nothing --- new in the Amano report to the IAEA. It merely restates the long-standing finding, "[The IAEA] verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but we cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."

This, however, will not stop many in the media from declaring that something dramatic has occurred. The lead from the Associated Press: "The chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says he cannot confirm that all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful."

Nor will it deflect some from overblown declarations and calls to global conflict. Jamsheed Choksy (apologies that you'll have to pay to get the full polemic) in The Wall Street Journal: "Iran's New World Order --- Its nuclear program is part of a larger plan to radically reduce U.S. power."

1430 GMT: Today's Not-Very-Much-News. Back from an academic break to find the media buzzing over the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting, with a report from new Secretary-General Yukiya Amano. The section on Iran:
I would like to inform you about the current situation concerning Iran’s request to the Agency for assistance in providing fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, as I receive many questions in this regard.

In June 2009, the Agency received a request from Iran for assistance in obtaining fuel for the research reactor in Tehran, which produces isotopes for medical purposes. In October 2009, at a meeting with the Governments of Iran, France, the Russian Federation and the United States, the Agency made a proposal under which Iranian low enriched uranium (LEU) would be shipped to Russia for further enrichment and then to France for fabrication into fuel. Three of the four countries gave their consent to this proposal.

In a letter to the Agency dated 18 February, 2010, Iran said it continued to wish to buy the necessary nuclear fuel or, if this was not possible, to exchange some of its LEU for reactor fuel from abroad. Iran requested the IAEA to relay its request to potential suppliers and to facilitate the provision of the fuel. The Agency circulated Iran’s letter to Member States as requested.

The arrangement proposed by the Agency in October 2009 remains on the table. I believe it would ensure continued operation of the Tehran Research Reactor and serve as a confidence-building measure. At the same time, I am following up on Iran’s February 18 request, in accordance with the IAEA Statute, and have been in contact with the relevant countries....

Implementation of Safeguards in the Islamic Republic of Iran

You have received my report on Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is longer than previous reports because I wanted my first report to be a stand-alone document. I tried to make it factual, without overdoing the detail.

The Agency continues, under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with Iran, to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but we cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the Agency with the necessary cooperation.

The necessary cooperation includes, among other things, implementation of relevant resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council, implementation of the Additional Protocol and of modified Code 3.1, as well as clarification of issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.

I request Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations as a matter of high priority.

1200 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has declared that her father accepts no bargaining on people's rights and that the only way out of the crisis is to follow the suggestions in his Friday Prayer of 17 July. Replying to the question of why Rafsanjani has not taken the podium at Friday Prayers since then, Hashemi said, “His main reason is not to cause harm to innocent people. In his last sermon, security and intelligence forces attacked protesters and arrested some of them.”

Hashemi, indirectly commenting on last week's Assembly of Experts meeting that Rafsanjani chaired, warned that extremists were trying to unseat Rafsanjani to achieve their goals.

1100 GMT: Claim of the Day. Rah-e Sabz asserts that the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, has said that the Supreme Leader asked him to execute more protestors.

Larijani was reportedly confronted by his relatives and associates, including Mostafa Mohaghegh-Damad, the former head of the National Audit Office, who were unhappy with the  executions of Arash Rahmanipour and Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani in late January. Larijani replied, “Go and thank God that I have lowered the number of executions.”

Larijani allegedly said that he had attended a meeting at the time  including Khamenei. Ahmad Jannati (head of the Guardian Council), Mohammad Yazdi, and Mohammad Momen Qomi all invoked of the Sharia law demanding that the protesters and the "leaders of sedition" be executed.

Khamenei responded that, although this was their religious opinion, a large number of executions would cause political problems for the regime. He then turned to Larijani saying, “In all honesty we expected more than this [two executions].” Larijani later told associates, “I have tried very hard to keep the number of executions low, as my superiors had asked for more”.

1045 GMT: Following Up the Assembly. The political moves from last week's Assembly of Experts meeting continue, even beyond Mr Verde's Sunday analysis. While the official statement --- once it finally appeared --- pledged loyalty to the Supreme Leader, there has been an overlooked postscript.

The Secretariat of the Assembly has published the report by the Assembly’s Investigation Committee into the circumstances of the Supreme Leader and his fitness to remain in the post, under Article 111 of the Iranian Constitution). The report, dated 27 February, is signed by Mohsen Mojtahed-Shabestari (Assembly member, Khamenei's representative to East Azerbaijan, and Tabriz's Friday Prayer leader.

Although the report is similar to the Assembly's closing statement, the Green website Rah-e-Sabz is celebrating the publication of this report as a victory for public pressure on the Assembly. For the first time, the Supreme Leader's fitness for his post is now a matter of public discussion.

1000 GMT: But You Could Just Watch the Nukes Instead. On the nuclear programme front, it looks like another day of media focus on the rhetorical battle between Iran and members of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA, with a new Director-General, begins a four-day discussion of the draft report on Iran's current uranium enrichment efforts, and the occasion has been preceded by a series of Iranian verbals attacks, including the Supreme Leader's denunciation of a US-controlled IAEA.

The Los Angeles Times, for example, devotes a lengthy article to the political theatre: "[Iran has] dramatically shifted its public tone toward the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, dropping its previous deference while harshly criticizing the agency's latest report and its new director-general as an incompetent and biased lackey of the West."

Amidst the furour, few take any notice of Iran's more conciliatory position accepting Japan as a country for "third-party enrichment", signalled by Ali Larijani during his trip to Tokyo. And none, to my knowledge, consider the ripples of Larijani's changed position across the Iranian political waters.

0915 GMT: And so unfolds another week in a crisis which, according to the regime, was over. Mir Hossein Mousavi's interview continues to command attention and more than a few questions about strategy and prospects for the Green Movement. After initial doubts, I'm tilting towards a more optimistic reading. Because of the importance of the issue, the analysis is still being developed: we're hoping to have it out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the regime --- which, again, has supposedly won this conflict --- continues to bluster. Basij Commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi, continuing the Government's propaganda drive on the capture of Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, declared that President Obama would confess as quickly if he came to Iran:
This pure form of Islam [practiced in Iran] is such that it will even break our staunchest enemies. This thug [Rigi] was nothing, even if Obama himself, who Rigi has confessed to cooperating with, comes to Iran he will also confess to all his sins under the influence of this [pure form of] Islam.

The U.S. and other Western countries have reached a cultural, military, political and economic dead-end and the only weapon in their hands to bully other countries is technology and if we succeed in prying this tool away from them they will be finished.

Far more significant is the news of the regime's freeing of high-profile figures from detention. Saturday and Sunday releases included editors and journalists Ali Hekmat, Abdolreza Tajik (Farheekhtegan), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (formerly of Kayhan, Jame'eh, Neshat, and Asr-e Azadegan), Behrang Tonkaboni (Farhang va Ahang), and Mohammad Javad Mozafar (publishing house Kavir and vice president of the Committee for the Defense of Prisoners' Rights), and retired science professor Mohammad Sadeq Rabani.

An Iranian activist adds that journalist Rozbeh Karimi was released today and 20 protesters arrested on Ashura were freed from Rejaie Shahr prison in Karaj last night.

It is too early to tell if this is an orchestrated strategy of mass releases by the regime --- an effective "amnesty" if those freed will just shut up, stop writing, and stay off the streets --- but it follows Sunday's carrot-and-stick statement by Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi (see yesterday's updates). Doulatabadi promises detainee releases on the eve of Iranian New Year but added that those who did not recent would be treated harshly.

The "stick" part of the strategy also has come out in a Rah-e-Sabz report:
Many of those arrested and released over the past few months have been contacted and told to be prepared for interviews, which are subsequently conducted inside Evin Prison....

Interrogators contacted these former prisoners, who have either received their initial verdict or are waiting to receive their verdict, and force them to participate in these interviews. A transcript of the interview is given to the prisoners by their interrogators and they are told to memorize the content and say it in their own words. These former prisoners have been threatened that if they refuse to participate in the interviews they will have to spend the [Iranian] New Year holiday in prison or receive a heavier sentence.

The Jaras [Rah-e-Sabz] reporter said, "Transcripts of these interviews are given to news agencies close to the Reformists and they are forced to publish them. In the recent scenario, aside from the Islamic Student News Agency (ISNA), where prisoners were escorted to upon their release to conduct interviews, Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) has been forced on board [as well]. For the news scenario, the date of the interview is sometimes days or months from the time of the prisoner's release and secondly the exact transcription has been forced on news agencies."

Still, even if the Green Movement could be quelled, the Government faces the trouble within. The latest sign of unhappiness is over the recent 18-minute video, shown on BBC Persian and then spread on YouTube, of the 15 June attack on Tehran University's dormitories. Kazem Jalali, a member of Parliament's "truth-finding committee", has hinted that some colleagues are holding out against an acknowledgement of possible wrongdoing:
It would be better if the members of the truth-finding committee all watch this film....I have followed up on the issue a few time via Mr. [Mohammad-Hassan] Abutorabi who heads the committee. I think you should also ask him this question.

However, the head of the National Security Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, has tried to pre-empt any consideration of the evidence of damage, beatings, and even killings by the attackers, whose exact affiliation with the regime is still unclear: "Since the narrator of the film is the BBC, we must look at the matter with doubt because we do not consider the BBC a reliable source."