Iran Analysis: The Scattering of Protest is Still Protest
Iran Eyewitness: “The Movement Is Still Strong and Vibrant”
UPDATED Iran Video and Translation: The Mousavi Statement for May Day/Teachers Day (29 April)
The Latest from Iran (2 May): Persistence
1830 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Navid Khanjani, a founder of the Population of Combat Against Educational Discrimination (PCED) and a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), has been released on bail after two months in detention.
1740 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Poorya Ghorbani, detained on Ashura (27 December), has been sentenced to six years in prison: four years for acting against national security, one year for propagating against the regime, and one year for insulting the Supreme Leader.
1700 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Gambit. The President's strategy at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation conference at the United Nations was simply, "Go Big".
The speech was dressed up as a declaration of 11 measures to lead to a nuclear-free world, but it effectively tried to block Western pressure on Iran's nuclear programme by proposing an entirely new system for international supervision. There would be a review of the Non-Profileration Treaty, a new independent agency to interpret the NPT, and states using or threatening to use nuclear weapons (effectively, the US) being expelled from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Nuclear states would promise not to pursue research and development of new weapons, while non-nuclear states would be given security guarantees.
This large proposal can be reduced to a dual gambit. On the international front, it is meant to check the pressure on Iran's nuclear programme from the US and other states. And on the domestic front, well, it's meant to take attention away from the domestic front.
1620 GMT: Meanwhile in Iran. Mir Hossein Mousavi met today with Iranian Azeri activists to discuss how to cope with the regime's restrictions on media, finding new ways to remain connected and to promote further interaction between reformist parties and the people.
Mousavi said, “We are moving within a moral framework, and for this reason during any event, the Green Movement has recognised the good and the bad for what they were. For this reason, the Green Movement will acknowledge any positive move on the part of certain segmants of the state which have until now stood against the vote and opinion of the people.”
Mousavi added that, while Iranian authorities have become captives of their own claims about the alleged links between the post-election protesters and foreign powers, the opposition will win out:
This approach [by the regime] may unite them for the time being, but it cannot prevent the truth from showing itself ... One cannot stop spring from arriving. Spring will come and greenness will prevail everywhere. This movement should not only be seen in the context of the street protests. The roots of this movement are undeniable. This movement eliminates ignorance. When people come together on different occasions, this is the greatest accomplishment [for the movement] and what is important is that this idea has been born.
In the specific context of Iranian Azeris and ethnic minorities, Mousavi maintained that the authorities' attitude and policies towards cultural diversity had not been appropriate. He made clear that he was against any form of separatism and stated that, on a national level, there was no place for those with separatist agendas.
1615 GMT: Al Jazeera is now reporting that the French delegation also left the conference hall.
1610 GMT: Walking Out on Ahmadinejad. Nothing surprising in the President's speech at the UN conference on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: it's a harsh denunciation of the US and Israel as nuclear powers with double standards discriminating against non-nuclear states and threatening the world.
The twist in the show's script, however, is that the British and US delegations (and possibly others unseen by Al Jazeera's cameras) have just walked out.
1420 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Maziar Khosravi, the editor of the Hammihan website, has been arrested and taken to Evin Prison. Khazravi had recently written an article about the attacks on Tehran University's dormitories days after the Presidential election.
1415 GMT: Helping Hands. From Press TV's website:
The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) has offered to assist the US in efforts to prevent an ecological disaster from the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico....NIDC managing director Heidar Bahmani announced the firm's readiness to use its decades-long expertise to fight the oil slick, the company's public relations office told Press TV. "Our oil industry experts in the field of drilling can contain the rig leakage in the Gulf of Mexico and prevent an ecological disaster in that part of the world," Bahmani said.
1410 GMT: The Stabbing of the Minister. Amir Kabir University students are staging a sit-in protest over this morning's knife attack on professor and former Minister Ahmad Motamedi (see 1100 GMT).
1400 GMT: Top May Day Quote. Leaving the memorial service for the father of the Minister of Culture, Mohammad Hosseini, Mehdi Karroubi was heckled by a group of men he believed were plainclothes security officers. Karroubi approached the group and pondered why they might be present at a May Day demonstration: "It looks like your unemployment problem has been solved!"
1100 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz reports that Ahmad Motamedi, a minister in the Khatami Government, was stabbed in his office at Amir Kabir University this morning and is now hospitalized.
1055 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist Ehsan Mehrabi has been released on bail.
Students at Allameh Tabatabei University have remembered their imprisoned professor Arab Mazar by sticking flowers to the door of his office and leaving messages of support.
1050 GMT: Detaining Teachers. Human Rights Activists News Agency has confirmed the names of 11 teachers arrested yesterday on National Teachers Day.
1035 GMT: Unity Does Not Mean Repression. Massoud Pezeshkian, Minister of Health from 2001 to 2005, has declared that "unity" is not possible by arresting, beating and issuing files, but requires cooperation and a desire not to create division in society.
1025 GMT: Clerical Challenge. Ayatollah Mousavi Tabrizi has renewed his criticism of the Government, saying that the judiciary does not follow justice in acting against law-breakers: those are poor or who do not have links to power or influence have no guarantees that they will be treated justly. Mousavi Tabrizi added that the Parliament does have not power to make laws, and those that they do pass are not implemented due to ineptitude.
1000 GMT: The Naderan Allegations. Yesterday we reported on the sweeping allegations of member of Parliament Elyas Naderan, linking charges of corruption to mismanagement and manipulation of power by the Ahmadinejad Government.
Khabar Online (gentle reminder: linked to Ali Larijani) has driven home the point with a lengthy English translation of Naderan's assertions:
Based on the experiences of the ninth government and his chanted slogans [2005-2009] on fighting with corrupt economy figures, Mr. Ahmadinejad was expected to revise the appointment of some government managers. He was supposed to make up for the shortcomings of the ninth administration and remove the concerns of his defenders including members of Hezbollah (Party of God) but actually the opposite happened....
On the one hand Mr. Ahmadinejad removed a number of ministers who were mostly dedicated to serve the Islamic Republic including Lankarani, Mohseni Ejei, Saffar Harandi, Fattah, and Jahromi [former Health, Interior, Culture and Islamic Guidance, Energy, and Labor and Social Affairs Ministers] and made new appointments of some whose unpleasant and negative characters are known to the majority of people and elites.
Naderan then focused on changes Iran's oil industry:
A few days ago, the Minister of Oil Mas'oud Mir Kazemi assigned Mr. Qal'eh Bani as the new managing director of National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC). Earlier when Mr. Qal'eh Bani was to be appointed as the head of Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO), his suspicious financial activities was revealed through some documents published by Alef website [which belongs to the Principlist MP and Government critic Ahmad Tavakoli].
Later Qal'eh Bani filed a lawsuit against the website but to no avail, since the managing editor of Alef was acquitted of charges. At the time I think that the Minister of industry, Ali Akbar Mehrabian had made such a decision himself [to bring the lawsuit] to perpetuate his position, but now it's clear that the decisions are made at a higher rank. We must bear in mind that the financial authority of the NIORDC managing director is much more than any other in both governmental and nongovernmental organizations of the country.
Naderan concluded, "Such removals and assignments enhance the suspicion that these are intended to put an impact on the forthcoming elections," arguing that Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai (who was blocked by Parliament from serving as 1st Vice President) has intervened in the next elections for city and village councils.
0755 GMT: As for Rafsanjani.... More on Hashemi Rafsanjani's statement yesterday to academics who are members of Parliament. The former President again played his balancing act, saying "illegal actions from each group cause serious public misbelief".
0750 GMT: Larijani Watch. Looks like Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani is bolstering his political position through another call of allegiance to the Supreme Leader. In an article in Khabar Online, he has said that "hardliners must unite", be pious, and accept velayat-e-faqih (ultimate clerical authority). ht
0615 GMT: Remembering the Teachers. Sunday's National Teachers Day passed with little fanfare, despite some talk about protest and hunger strikes amidst detentions and firings that have taken teachers out of the classroom. Photos from Shiraz are among the few markers we have noted of the day:
0605 GMT: Corruption Watch. The sky over alleged mismanagement and fraud involving members of the Ahmadinejad Government is getting darker.
Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary, complained to his officials:
In our fight against economic corruption, there are rumours of opposition from certain individuals which unfortunately have also gotten into the media with amateur coverage....The judiciary will never allow people to take possession of public property and the treasury for themselves and their children through cheating and falsifying documents.
It remains to be seen whehter Larijani's defensive remarks --- yes, we really are going to pursue the corruption allegations, even if high-ranking officials are involved --- are more than public protest.
Meanwhile, Elyas Naderan, the member of Parliament who has accused 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi of running a corruption ring, told a group of university students, “In government meetings it has been announced that whoever speaks out against Mr. Rahimi will be dealt with.” He repeated that, as Rahimi is a liar and his credentials are fabricated, the Vice President is unfit for his position in the government.
0555 GMT: For most media, inside and outside Iran, today will almost certainly be taken up by the sideshow of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trip to New York. The Iranian President, at relatively short notice, asked to attend the United Nations conference reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the US Government, after some speculation that it might balk at the request, granted a visa. So Ahmadinejad took off from Tehran yesterday, with the conference and Mahmoud's moment in the cameras taking place today.
There is a chance that, behind the scenes, there may be some meaningful manoeuvring over the "third-party enrichment" proposal for Iran's uranium stock, given the presence at an international gathering of brokers (Turkey, Brazil), the "5+1" powers taking up the issue (Britain, France, China, Russia, Germany, and, most significantly, the US), and Iranian officials.
Publicly, however, the headline is Diversion. Just as Ahmadinejad used a trip to New York last autumn, with the guaranteed pantomime coverage of "Western" vilification and Iranian state media's glorification, so we are likely to get an outcome bigging up the President's international presence and belittling (if noting at all) the internal dynamics in Iran.