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Entries in Mohammad Rasoulof (3)


The Latest from Iran (17 March): Celebration

2125 GMT: We Persist. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters, many of whose members have been detaineed, has issued a statement:

The Committee of Human Rights Reporters once again by maintaining the path that it has taken and by supporting other human rights organizations, emphasizes that it will continue its decisive activities in reporting human rights conditions on both national and international levels through collaborations with independent and credible international human rights organizations.

NEW Iran Labour Front: Minimum Wage, “Unprecedent Poverty and Hunger”, and Strikes
NEW Iran Analysis: What Does the Fire Festival Mean?
NEW Latest Iran Video: Two Views of the Fire Festival (16 March)
Iran Document: Mousavi Speech on “Patience and Resistance” (15 March)
Latest Iran Video: The Attack on Karroubi’s House (14 March)
Iran Breaking: Ban on Reformist Political Party
The Latest from Iran (16 March): Fire and Politics

2115 GMT: Karroubi's Big Line. Here's the stinger statement from Mehdi Karroubi as he addressed the (banned) Islamic Iran Participation Front: "Why is it that the justifications of the Shah for his actions were wrong but the very logic and content of his words coming from you is to be considered right?"

1945  GMT: Political Prisoner News. Documentary maker Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested in the raid on director Jafar Panahi's house, has been released. Panahi is the only person from the incident who remains in detention.

1915 GMT: Picture of the Day. Mohsen Mirdamadi, the head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, on his release from detention:

1910 GMT: Economy Watch. Iran has cut the cheap petrol ration by 25% to 60 litres per vehicle per month from 21 March. Currently, each vehicle is allowed a quota of 80 litres of fuel at 10 cents a litre, with any amount needed on top of that priced at 40 cents.

Now is the move part of President Ahmadinejad's subsidies reduction plan or a response to tightening fuel supplies with the prospect of reduced imports? Or both?

1900 GMT: Labour News. We've posted an interview with Jafar Azim Zadeh, the head of the Free Assembly of Iranian Workers, about the minimum wage, inflation, and the prospect of "poverty and hunger" for Iran's labourers.

1745 GMT: Reformist Relay. Once again, prominent opposition figures are putting out a series of statements. There is Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech to the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Mehdi Karroubi's "Let Us Rally" statement (see 1600 GMT), and Mohammad Khatami's address to members of the Islamic associations of Tehran universities.

Khatami insisted that the government "does not have the right to defy the constitution" and declare that its opponents are "adversaries of the regime". He asked the Iranian judiciary, "How is it that baseless accusations against some people are pursued fiercely by the judiciary whilst deviant groups are free to insult and slander any Shiite leader they might dislike?"

Khatami emphasized that the establishment can resolve problems by releasing political prisoners and upholding liberties that are the people's legal right.

1600 GMT: Karroubi Watch. The Facebook site that supports Mir Hossein Mousavi is carrying a statement from Mehdi Karroubi, "Let Us Hold a Rally".

1345 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. The reformist Parleman News declares "One Step Forward" for former President Hashemi Rafsanjani in his political manoeuvres.

1245 GMT: I'm Not Sure You Get It, Dude. At a news conference, Minister of Oil Masoud Mir Kazemi has warned that Tehran will blacklist companies which stop their gasoline exports to the country.

With respect, Mr Kazemi, I think the point here is not that you might blacklist them but that they are blacklisting you (since Iran imports 40 percent of its consumption of gasoline). As Khabar Online, which carries the report, notes, "It's not clear how Iranian government is to punish the companies which cut off gasoline delivery to the country."

1235 GMT: Another Death Sentence. Amidst chatter, some of it from the regime, about capital punishments, the International Committee for Human Rights in Iran claims a confirmed case. Abdolreza Ghanbari, accused of "mohareb" (war against God) for participation in Ashura protests, has been sentenced to death.

1230 GMT: We Will Not Be Silent (2). The wife of Mostafa Tajzadeh. former Deputy Minister of Interior and senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has declared that he "will talk to the people on a convenient occasion". Tajzadeh was released without bail for the Iranian New Year.

1210 GMT: We Will Not Be Silent (1). The Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party has issued a statement: Ahmadinejad has erased freedom and taken the bread from people's tables.

1205 GMT: Etemaad To Re-Open (at a Cost)? Aftab News is reporting that the ban on Etemaad will be lifted after payment of a "bail" (we are confirming whether 100 billion or 100 million toman, which corresponds to either $100 million or $100,000), with the newspaper reappearing in the Iranian New Year.

1025 GMT: Happy New Year, "Rioters". Under the heading of not-very-surprising news, Press TV reports:
Sentences have been handed down to 86 detainees of Tehran's Western-led post-election unrests on charges that include taking part in illegal riots and disrupting public order....
According to the statement, the sentences were issued for charges such as "conspiring against national security, spreading propaganda against the establishment, membership in hostile and anti-Revolutionary groups, taking part in illegal gatherings, and disrupting public order."

0848 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. A poor attempt at analysis, simplifying a complex politician, in Foreign Policy. The magazine headlines a piece by Genevieve Abdo, a front-line writer on Iranian politics, "Iran's most independent politician finally casts his lot with the hard-liners."

There's a huge difference between giving support to the Supreme Leader, which Rafsanjani has clearly set out in recent months, and giving support to the Government. Abdo's evidence for the latter consists of this: Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad were both at a celebration on 4 March of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

Hmm.... Might want to set this against the steady sniping at the Government from Rafsanjani allies like Hassan Rohani. And it might be useful to speak with someone in the opposition before telling readers:
The green movement is taking Rafsanjani's return to the fold as a setback. With his independent voice now subsumed into the hard-line camp, there is no doubt this development will lead him to curtail his recent criticism of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

(Normally I wouldn't put such a poor analysis in the updates. But Foreign Policy is a front-line website for the Washington networks, so assertions like these can be read by US officials and journalists as the "hot intelligence" on Iran.)

0844 GMT: Mousavi's New Year. Mir Hossein Mousavi has already set down a marker for "a year of patience and steadfastness" in his speech to the Islamic Iran Participation Front. Now he and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, announce they are putting out a video message, addressed to the people of Iran, for the Nowruz (the Iranian New Year).

0840 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An activist reports that Saeed Nourmohammadi, a leading member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released on bail.

0830 GMT: We begin this morning with a look at last night's Chahrshanbeh Suri (Fire Festival) celebrations. There are two videos with different visions of the evening, and we have an analysis: "Sometimes a celebration should be considered first as a celebration....Sometimes a celebration should then be considered political."

The Latest from Iran (4 March): A Death Penalty Mystery

2200 GMT: The Dilemma. Paused when I read this statement from Trita Parsi: "Here is the central dilemma of Iranian policy: Iran's greens need time, but Washington does not seem to think it can afford to wait."

2150 GMT: Political Prisoner News. Reports that journalist Payman Aref has been released for ten days on a $100,000 bail.

2140 GMT: Today's Super Spy Case. Here is one to watch: Italian authorities have rounded up five Iranians and two Italians (according to Associated Press, the BBC says two Iranians and five Italians), with two more Iranians being sought, on charges of sending arms to Iran in violation of the international embargo. Amongst those detained is the Rome correspondent of Iranian state television, Hamid Masouminejad.

NEW Death, Confusion, and Clerics in Iran: The Case of Mohammad Amin Valian
NEW Iran Film Special: Watching Shrek in Tehran
Iran: Today’s Rafsanjani Watch — Clarity or Confusion?
Iran Interview: The State of Tehran’s Nuclear Programme (Cirincione)
The Latest from Iran (3 March): Love and Hate

2045 GMT: Waging Soft War for the Regime. From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
A controversial reporter with the ultraconservative Kayhan daily has been praised as Iran's first soft-war hero.

Payam Fazlinejad, who was attacked last month by unknown assailants, was described as Iran's first soft-war "janbaz" (someone who sacrifices his or her life) during a conference titled "The Celebration of Eight Months of Cyberwar" held in Tehran earlier this week....

Following the attack on Fazlinejad, the head of the semi-official Fars news agency said that Fazlinejad's writing had shed light on the true nature of the "sedition" movement and that as a writer he's been fighting in the soft-war sphere against those opposed to the Iranian establishment. He suggested that Fazlinejad's attackers are those who have been damaged by his writings.

At the ceremony, Fazlinejad, who appeared with his head bandaged, blasted the Green Movement, which he said has a "Freemason" nature and added that former President Mohammad Khatami is also a Freemason....

Following last year's disputed presidential vote, Fazlinejad has often referred ironically to the opposition press and dissidents as "nato-cultural," in an allusion to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

1800 GMT: Undermining Khamenei (While Backing Him). Abbas Salimi-Naeem, a right-wing politician and Head of the Office for Research and Documenting Iranian Contemporary History, has declared, "Hashemi Rafsanjani has problems with the election engineering that has been drawn up by the Supreme Leader."

On the surface, that is another attack on Rafsanjani and defense of Khamenei. But it is yet another public statement that raises the allegation, denied by the Supreme Leader and his inner circle, that he was involved with rigging of the election.

1410 GMT: Today's Clerics --- What Matters, What Doesn't. The Supreme Leader has used a meeting with Iran's top officials on the occasion of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday to put out some ritual phrases: "the endless oppression by the criminal Zionist regime against the innocent people of Palestine...the fake Zionist regime [is] a dangerous tumor...continuous efforts of the US, Britain, and other enemies of Islam to cause discord among the Islamic Ummah".

Meanwhile, we have a special analysis by Mr Verde of significant clerical moves, which may pose a problem for Ayatollah Khamenei beyond the Zionist tumour and enemies of Islam, over the reported death sentence on post-election protester Mohammad Amin Valian.

1240 GMT: So There. Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has warned, "Iran's proposal for a simultaneous exchange on Iranian soil of our low enriched uranium for fuel enriched to 20 percent is still on the table but it will not stay there forever."

1150 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Amidst the current surge in activity for economic measures against Tehran, Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has spoken out: "We oppose military attack on Iran or economic sanctions because that's to the detriment of the people."
1120 GMT: Economy Watch. Time magazine notes the significance of the economic issue for the Ahmadinejad Government:
Labor unrest and economic anxiety may not be among the headlines coming out of Iran since the controversial presidential election of June 2009, but they could turn out to be critical factors in the fate of the Islamic Republic. Indeed, the regime is so sensitive about the country's well-being that it has been obfuscating economic statistics — or simply not reporting them.

1100 GMT: The Detained Director. Peyke Iran reports the release of almost all those detained in the Monday night raid by Iranian security force on the home of prominent film director Jafar Panahi. However, Panahi, his production manager, and documentary maker Mohammad Rasoulof are still imprisoned.

0900 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Payvand has a useful round-up of recent developments. These include the detention of Hessam Firouzi, human rights activist and physician to several political prisoners, and his neighbour after raids on Firouzi's home. The security forces also went through the home of Firouzi's nephew, who has been missing since January.

As we noted yesterday, Mohboubeh Karami, member of the One Million Signature Campaign, has been charged with "disturbance and participation in gatherings." This is her fifth detention.

Human rights activist and blogger Behzad Mehrani was taken into custody and at least two more activists were arrested in Isfahan.

0645 GMT: The chatter this morning continues to be over the possible death sentence handed down on 20-year-old university student Mohammad Amin Valian, detained after the Ashura demonstrations of 27 December.

Iranian authorities have still offered no confirmation (or denial). However, the office of Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, who was accused of handing down the fatwa that led to Valian's sentence, has issued a denial. An anonymous visitor to Makarem-Shirazi's website wrote, "Many news organizations are reporting that an unjust execution sentence handed down to a student from Damghan is based on a decree by Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi. Please clarify whether this is true."

The reply from the website operators: "We have definitely not issued any fatwa [decrees] with regard to such people and this is the mischief of some sites. God willing, you’ll act according to Islamic criteria and not rush to judgement. May God’s kindness encompass everyone. Also we know that some youth have acted violently under the effects of certain emotions. These people have to be guided and if they have no links to corrupt groups they should be pardoned."

Meanwhile, a much different, if tangled, story plays out on the international front. The US is trying to set up a push for a UN Security Council resolution for tougher sanctions, with a flood of stories yesterday about a firm line from Europe and assurances that China was coming around to the American position.

However, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her Latin American tour, has offered a firm rebuff in their news conference:
We think with our own mind. We want a world without nuclear arms, certainly without proliferation. It is not about simply bending to an opinion that may not be true. We can't simply be taken along. We have to think with our own head.

Brazil holds one of the 10 rotating, non-veto seats on the Council.

The Latest from Iran (3 March): Love and Hate

2015 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch: The family of journalist Emaddedin Baghi have visited him in prison. Baghi's wife Fatemeh Kamali  said, "Although he became weak, his spirit is very strong."

1920 GMT: P.S. Fatemeh Karroubi has said that she will file a lawsuit against the Iranian Press Supervisory Board for shutting down Iran Dokht magazine.

NEW Iran: Today’s Rafsanjani Watch — Clarity or Confusion?
NEW Iran Interview: The State of Tehran’s Nuclear Programme (Cirincione)
Iran Document: Women Activists Write Mousavi & Karroubi

Iran Analysis: The Mousavi Strategy “We Are Still Standing”
The Latest from Iran (2 March): Can The Regime Defuse the Crisis?

1900 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Fatemeh Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi’s wife, has written an open letter to the Iranian nation after the closure of the magazine Iran Dokht and an attack on her home by plainclothesmen who threw eggs and tomatoes: "I should feel sorry for the country when its Government can’t even tolerate the only press that will critique it."

Karroubi declared, "It’s very disappointing that the Government pays a bunch of bullies to insult the family of the revolutionaries and the family of martyrs." She warned that the fundamentalist totalitarian movement, whose infiltration of the Government worried Imam Khomeini, was now trying to use any opportunity to slaughter the progressive principles of the Constitution.

Fatemeh Karroubi singled out Deputy Minister of Culture Mo-Amin Ramin, whom she claims called the Karroubi home and "threatened them with offensive language", including references to the execution of Mehdi Karroubi. She warned Ramin and his "like-minded allies" that they could never slaughter an idea and that their illegal and unusual behaviours are doomed.

1855 GMT: Defending the Journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists and other organisations have started "Our Society will be a Free Society" to campaign for detained reporters.

1820 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (cont.). Journalist Noushin Jafari and student Sina Shokouhi have been released.

1640 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voices of Freedom reports that journalist Morteza Kazemian has been released.

An Iranian activist writes that journalist Reza Nourbakh, arrested on 4 August, has also been released on bail.

1600 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Today's statement of clarification from Hashemi Rafsanjani is so ambiguous that we had to give it a separate entry.

1150 GMT: Economy Watch. Hassan Rohani, a member of the Expediency Council and ally of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has warned that Iran could become an oil importer if its current policies and state of production continue.

1145 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voices for Freedom reports that women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami was arrested at her home last night.

0935 GMT: MP Hajsheikh Alikhani has warned that, if necessary, the Iranian Parlaiment will impeach the Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mo-Amin Ramin, to ensure his removal.

0930 GMT: Today's Top Tip. United Press International hands over space to Roger Gale, a British member of Parliament former vice chairman of the Conservative Party, to offer this suggestion:
Lifting the ban on the MeK (Mujahedin-e-Khalq, designated by the State Department as a "foreign terrorist organization") would allow the United States and its partners to negotiate with the regime from a position of strength if ever an opportunity did arise. And it would be a cost-free opportunity for the Obama administration to show some teeth to a pariah regime that understands only the language of force.

0915 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz posts that a French satellite provider is threatening to cut off Iranian state channels if Iran does not cease its "jamming" of broadcasts such as BBC Persian.

0825 GMT: RAHANA reports that Sharif University student Mehdi Kalari, detained on 7 December, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

0800 GMT: In the 1955 film Night of the Hunter, there is an iconic moment where the villain, played by Robert Mitchum, displays the tattoos on his hands to the camera. On one, "Love". On the other, "Hate".

I am not sure if "Love" and "Hate" are the appropriate words for the regime's efforts, but it is definitely showing two sides to its people. On Tuesday, there was news of more releases of detainees, but there were also the continuing crackdown on the press and the arrest of other activists and public figures. Latest news is of the arrest of another member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Navid Khanjani.

The detention which attracted the most attention outside Iran was that of prominent film director Jafar Panahi after a Monday night raid on his house. It is unclear how many of the other 17 people in the house, including Panahi's daughter and wife and guests such as documentary maker Mohammad Rasoulof are also in custody.

Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi was vague in explaining why Panahi, who was also briefly detained during 30 July demonstrations and has been barred from leaving Iran, is being held apart from declaring, "His arrest is neither related to his profession as an artist nor linked to political motivations." He did indicate,however, that this detention would not be brief, as the director's interrogation "has just begun".

Amongst Iranian activists, however, the display of regime force that is causing the most comment this morning is the alleged death sentence handed down on a post-election detainee, Mohammad Reza Valian. The 20-year-old university student appeared in court on 3 February, accused of crimes such as appearing at the 17 July Friday Prayer service led by Hashemi Rafsanjani, participating in Qods Day protests in September, and throwing stones on Ashura (27 December).

The report is still based on a single Green Movement source and the death sentence has not been announced by Iranian authorities.