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Entries in Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (8)


The Latest from Iran (30 May): Pressure, Counter-Pressure, & a Letter from Majid Tavakoli

1800 GMT: Academic Corner. HRANA reports that 15 students at Shahid Beheshti University have been suspended for criticism of the Supreme Leader.

1755 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The sentence of Zia Nabavi, a member of the Right to Education Council, has been reduced to 10 years from 15 years on appeal.

1750 GMT: Economy Watch. Reformist member of Parliament Darius Ghanbari has warned that if disinvestment, excessive imports and loss of domestic production continue, Iran will have 60 million (out of a population of 75+ million) below the poverty line. MP Nasrullah Torabi has called on the Government to be "accountable" to the 40 million he says are already below that line.

NEW Iran Report: The Fight on the Cultural Front (Erdbrink)
Iran Document: Mousavi “Greens Will Not be Stopped by Arrests, Prisons, or Killing”
Iran: A Poem for Executed Teacher Farzad Kamangar
The Latest from Iran (29 May): Statements for 22 Khordad/12 June

1745 GMT: A Clerical Slapdown. Ayatollah Amini, the leader of Friday Prayers in Qom, asked yesterday, "How is it possible to administer for the underprivileged with temporary relief?"

Amini leveled the allegation at the Government that Ayatollah Khomeini's ideas were not considered by persons in charge. Noting that other underdeveloped countries have managed to overcome their difficulties within 30 years. he said an adequate plan should have been established to create work, to develop the cities, and to support universities.

1735 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch --- Inside Version (cont.). Human Rights Activists News Agency carries a story on the alleged aftermath of two videos, released by the agency earlier this week, with accounts of torture and rape by detainees who were in Rajaiee Shahr Prison.

On Saturday, two agents from the Intelligence Ministry transferred twenty prisoners to the Security Office in Rajaiee Shahr prison where they were interrogated and threatened. They also moved Mohsen Beikvand, the victim in one of the videos, to solitary confinement. Unknown men reportedly contacted Bahram Tasviri, the other victim from the videos, and told him that his image and reputation have been shattered outside of prison with the publication of these videos.

(Note: we have not posted the video, which is available in the HRANA story, because we feel it is vital to confirm the authenticity of the story given the serious allegations. Feedback from those who view the video is welcomed.)

1730 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch --- Inside Version. We return from a break to find a purported account of conditions at Evin Prison from detained journalist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad. The account includes Nourizad's meeting last week with Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, who allegedly promised Nourizad's release if the political prisoner and his family gave no statements to the media.

Nourizad, in the letter to the Supreme Leader, calls Evin "the second Kahrizak", a reference to the notorious facility that was closed by Ayatollah Khamenei after revelations of abuses and killings of detainees.

0855 GMT: Earthquake Alarm! Khabar Online reports that women have been seen taking off their hijab, allegedly for sporting activities, in several parks and public spaces in Tehran.

0850 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Bahram Chagini, a university student and a member of the Mousavi presidential campaign, was reportedly arrested by intelligence agents in Arak in mid-May.

0840 GMT: Another Political Prisoner List. Rah-e-Sabz has published another set of names and details of 100 political prisoners in Block 350 of Evin Prison. About 70% are students.

There is one additional name of a journalist, Khashayar Jahanzad Farrokhi, to add to our running total. We estimate that 93 journalists remain in detention or are under threat of heavy bails.

0835 GMT: And Another Cleric is Summoned. Rah-e-Sabz reports that Ahmad Montazeri, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, has been summoned to and interrogated in a special clerical court.

0830 GMT: Cleric Responds to "Lies". Ayatollah Sane'i has expressed his regret, "Five years ago I said lies were spreading, but I didn't know they were to become a culture."

0820 GMT: Reformist Responds to "Lies". We reported on Friday about  Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's distortion of the words of reformist activist Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, turning her into a traitor declaring, "Do not accept Iran."

Haghighatjoo has now threatened to file a lawsuit against IRIB and the Supreme Leader, as the head of the broadcaster. She explained that the Green Movement, with its initial slogan "Where is My Vote?", did not want regime change; however, after killings and imprisonments, many doubted that reforms could occur within the system. Haghighatjoo concluded, "I believe that the Constitution must be replaced by a secular system."

0815 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Hashemi Rafsanjani's daughter Faezeh Hasemi has responded to the attack on her office with an unsubtle swipe at the Government. This was not carried by common thieves; it was like a "Mongols attack" to incite terror.

0805 GMT: Parliamentary Moves. Following this week's election of leaders in Parliament, with one Deputy Speaker (Sadr) seen as pro-Ahmadinejad and another (Bahonar) criticised by "hardliners" --- Speaker Ali Larijani and his allies are pushing the line of "Parliamentary unity".

Larijani, quoted by his supporting website Khabar Online, declared that political divisions are not compatible with the Supreme Leader's ideas. Elyas Naderan, a leading critic of the Ahmadinejad Government, predicted that the "political alignment" of pro-goverment and anti-government factions will not persist.

Not all proceeded smoothly for Larijani's move, however: his press conference started 20 minutes late, suffered a blackout, and was suddenly cut off.

0800 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The scholars of the Middle East Studies Association have written to the Supreme Leader, calling for the release of Majid Tavakoli (see 0645 GMT) and other political prisoners.

0700 GMT: The Cultural Front. We have posted, in a separate entry, a report from  Thomas Erdbrink, the Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, on cultural resistance to the Iranian regime.

0645 GMT: A Letter from Tavakoli? There was a lot of chatter yesterday about a purported message from Majid Tavakoli, the detained student leader.

The letter has not been translated into English, but an EA reader wanted to get a sense of Tavakoli's analysis and objectives. So, over to EA correspondent Ms Zahra:
Tavakoli's statement reads like a mix of [prominent Iranian expatriate opposition figure] Mohsen Sazegara's daily lessons about non-violent struggle, parts of Mousavi's statements (esteqamat, perseverance), and expatriate demands for an end to the Islamic Republic.

As I never heard more than short statements by him, no idea if he is the author. If it is not by him, it could be a collective text, written by a reformist theoretician in prison --- I doubt this, however, because in my opinion reformists would never give up the Islamic Republic. It could also be the result of discussions in prison about future strategies for the Green Movement. In any case the phrasing is coherent, i.e., written by a single person.

An excellent text, insisting on the positiveness of the leaders, necessity of positive criticism, unity, fundamental demands like individual freedom and pluralism (to prevent a new dictatorship), clearly defined goals, and strategies of non-violence, along the lines of those set out by the scholar Gene Sharp.

It could also be an implicit reminder to Mousavi and Karroubi to be more definitive in their demands, but it is only advice and does not condemn them.

0630 GMT: We return from a Saturday night break to assess this morning's political situation, five days before the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini and less than two weeks before the birthday of the 2009 election.

The regime made a big political move with the announcement that the Supreme Leader, introduced by President Ahmadinejad, will lead Tehran Friday Prayers from Khomeini's mausoleum. Can't be much clearer than this in a bid for legitimacy.

It's the first major regime rally since 22 Bahman (11 February), with Ayatollah Khamenei speaking at Friday Prayers for the first time since 19 June, when he reaffirmed Ahmadinejad's victory, warned the opposition not to challenge, and tried to keep Hashemi Rafsanjani in the fold.

So what were those various actors doing yesterday? Well, opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi had made another challenge with his statement to former political prisoners (again, can't get much more pointed in the symbolism than talking with those who had been unjustly detained under the Shah), and reformist groups and activists --- despite the Government's attempt to silence them --- continued to put out declarations of intent before 12 June.

Even more interesting,  however, were the manoeuvres around Rafsanjani. The former President's website issued its own response to the Government by re-issuing Rafsanjani's criticisms of President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian system, both in a letter to the Supreme Leader before the election and in Rafsanjani's 17 July Friday Prayer address (the last time he took the podium).

But the regime was putting out its own message for Rafsanjani this weekend: the office of his daughter Faezeh Hashemi was raided, soon after security forces moved upon the campus of Islamic Azad University --- established by the Rafsanjani Government and led until recently by Rafsanjani's son Mehdi Hashemi --- and seized computers and documents.

What does it all mean? Well, at this point I'll take the easy way out: too soon to tell....

The Latest from Iran (29 May): Statements for 22 Khordad/12 June

1655 GMT: Visiting Panahi. Mehdi Karroubi has met with Jafar Panahi, the prominent filmmaker who was detained for almost three months before being released this week.

1650 GMT: CyberPolice? Lots of chatter today that Google was filtered in Iran, at least for a short time.

1635 GMT: To Russia, With Criticism. All is still not well in Tehran over Moscow's position on the nuclear issue.

After President Ahmadinejad's public telling-off of Russia earlier in the week, senior Iranian lawmakers have taken up the criticism. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani went after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev by exalting his predecessor,
If the approach agreed on with the former Russian president (Vladimir Putin) had been pursued, it could have served the interests of both sides. Concerning nuclear issues, Russia has always sought to fit things within the frame of its own interests, and efforts must be made to return this approach to its precise path.

Kazem Jalali of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said said Moscow was under the same "analytical misconception" as the US but offered a way back, "Russia can be effective in rejecting the [sanctions] resolution, and can save face internationally through a positive response to Iran's letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency."

NEW Iran Document: Mousavi “Greens Will Not be Stopped by Arrests, Prisons, or Killing”
NEW Iran: A Poem for Executed Teacher Farzad Kamangar
Friends or Obstacles?: Iran, Human Rights, & US “Concern”
Iran Analysis: When Allies Co-ordinate (Mousavi & Karroubi)
NEW Iran Analysis: When Allies Fight (Tehran and Moscow
The Latest from Iran (28 May): A Pause in Discussion?

1435 GMT: Political Prisoners Watch. Maziar Khosravi, editor of the Hammihan website, has been released from detention. Khosravi had been detained after his reports on last June's attacks on Tehran University's dormitories.

Activists are reporting that student activist Majid Tavakoli, who is on hunger strike, has been moved out of solitary confinement.

1410 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. As news emerges of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani reasserting his critical statements from last year (see 1350 GMT), we also get a report that assailants have raided the office of Rafsanjani's daughter, Faezeh Hashemi.

1405 GMT: The Students' Declaration. Student activists have released a statement calling for innovation in civil disobedience and asserting "perseverance on the way to democracy".

1350 GMT: And More Statements. I don't we think we quite expected, selecting the title for this morning's updates, how appropriate it would be.

We have posted in a separate entry the English translation of Mir Hossein Mousavi's latest lengthy critique of the Government and statement of the Green Movement's defiance.

And another prominent politician is making mischief: Agence France Presse reports that the website of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has posted the 2009 letter he sent to the Supreme Leader, criticising the regime:
Even if I keep quiet, part of the people, groups and parties will undoubtedly not bear this situation any more and set off social upheavals, examples of which can be seen in street rallies and universities....

The website also posts extracts from Rafsanjani's Friday Prayer sermon of 17 July --- the last one he has given:
What should we do? Our key issue is to return the trust which the people had and now to some extent is broken....

It is not necessary that in this situation people be jailed. Let them join their families. We should not allow enemies to rebuke and ridicule us because of detentions. We should tolerate each other.

1245 GMT: Monitoring the Cleric. Back from a break to find the report that banners supporting Ayatollah Yusuf Sane'i for 4 June --- the anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's death --- have been removed from Khomeini's mausoleum because of "deceitful phrases".

Posters for Sane'i, a critic of the current Government, were also removed from the recent Tehran Book Fair.

0810 GMT: Corruption vs. Corruption at Highest Levels. The political battle within the establishment over corruption allegations continues.

More details on the Fatemi Street insurance fraud, with which 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi is allegedly involved, have emerged.Two companies were established in 2005/2006, and Rahimi reportedly used his influence to arrange large loans (eventually more than $1 billion) for them, receiving 10-15%.

Ahmadinejad supporters have countered that Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior official in Iran's judiciary, has seized 300,000 hectares of land. Emrooz claims that the President, in his speech this week in Kerman, implied that Larijani's brothers, Speaker of Parliament Ali and head of judiciary Sadegh, blocked the Government from taking back the property.

0805 GMT: Raising the Stakes (cont.). More on this week's Friday Prayer, on the anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's death, from the Supreme Leader (see 0650 GMT)....

The warm-up act for Ayatollah Khamenei will be President Ahmadinejad.

And Ayatollah Khamenei's title, at least according to his office? “The Leader of All Muslims in World Affairs”.

0800 GMT: Another Statement. Visiting the family of political prisoner Mohsen Armin, a senior member of the Mojahedin of Islamic Speaker and former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mehdi Karroubi declared that the "imprisonment of the Revolution's children is a shame".

0755 GMT: Film Corner. Concern is growing over filmmaker Dariush Shokouf, an Iranian expatriate in Germany, who has disappeared. Shokouf, a vocal critic of Iran's regime, was last seen in Cologne, boarding a train for Paris.

0750 GMT: The Executions. We have posted a poem by Fatemeh Shams in memory of teacher Farzad Kamanager, executed on 9 May.

0650 GMT: Raising the Stakes. Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Liberty reports that the Supreme Leader will lead Tehran Friday Prayers this week, presiding at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Friday will be the anniversary of Khomeini's death in 1989.

This will be the first time that Ayatollah Khamenei has led Friday Prayers since his appearance one week after last year's Presidential election.

0555 GMT: Two weeks before the anniversary of the 2009 election, and we awake to a flurry of opposition statements.

Mir Hossein Mousavi, in his latest meeting, asserts that Iran should be "run by freedom and justice not by imprisonment". He argues, "We do not want the Government to give up rule in the name of Islam, but the content [of its rule] is empty and it does not address our desires."

Mousavi adds that this Government "monologue", meeting the wishes of the people with repression rather than discussion, leads to "tyranny" and "dictatorship".

The Assembly of Combatant Clergymen, like Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi earlier this week, use the "historical importance" of the month of Khordad (May/June) to invoke the legacy of Ayatollah Khomeini, remember the Presidency of Mohammad Khatami, and cite "the great participation" of the Iranian people in last year’s election.

The clergymen say this participation could have led to a better future for Iran; instead, it ws met by the brutal confrontation of the Government, which continues today with "heavy and unfair" prison sentences. They call for the release of all political prisoners and free elections.

The banned Islamic Iran Participation Front declares that the reform movement is an attempt to fix errant behaviour arising from narcissism, despotism, and fundamentalism that had shaped. The continuation of that effort of that effort led to a bitter showdown, with Government attacks on people’s freedom, security, and dignity in the name of religion.

The party calls for adherence to the Constitution and recognition of people’s demands for their rights, free assembly, political parties, a free press, and free elections.

The Latest from Iran (26 May): Panahi Out But 100s Still Imprisoned

1503 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Peyke Iran reports that detainees in Evin Prison have joined student leader Majid Tavakoli (see 1425 GMT) on hunger strike.

An EA reader notifies us that a Facebook campaign for a three-day hunger strike, starting today, in sympathy with Tavakoli has been launched.

1459 GMT: Ahmadinejad "Something's Not Right with Russia". Radio Zamaneh has extracts from the President's speech today in Kerman (see 0940 GMT), and he is sounding more than worried about Moscow's position on nuclear issues: "“Today, explaining the actions of the Russian President [Dmitry Medvedev] to the Iranian people has become difficult. The people wonder whether they are our friends, whether they are beside us and with us or if they have other objectives.”

1455 GMT: M0usavi on Political Parties. We've posted, in a separate entry, Mir Hossein Mousavi's comments made today to youth and student activists in Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli party.

NEW Iran Document: Mousavi “On the Importance of Political Parties” (26 May)
NEW Iran Document: Karroubi “Aligning the Green Movement Inside and Outside Country”
Middle East/Iran (& Beyond) Revealed: US to Expand Covert Activities (Mazzetti)
NEW Turkey’s Diplomatic Dance: The Nuclear Two-Step Between Iran & the US (Yenidunya)
Iran Analysis: Towards the Final Battle? (Zahra)
The Latest from Iran (25 May): Panahi Freed; Will There Be a 12 June Protest?

1425 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Lots of internet chatter about an interview with the mother of detained student leader Majid Tavakoli, as she calls on all Iranians abroad to help him. 

Ali Tavakoli has spoken with Human Rights Activists News Agency about his brother's condition and hunger strike and revealed that his mother is also refusing food.

1400 GMT: Mousavi, Rahnavard, and the Students. Back from an academic break to find news Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard met student activists from Tehran's Amir Kabir University this morning to share "views and concerns". We are keeping eyes open for more details.
0940 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? (Nuclear Special Edition). President Ahmadinejad has delivered his speech in Kerman.

Press TV's article features standard rhetoric on the uranium enrichment deal, such as "[President Obama] should bear in mind that if he does not use this opportunity, Iranians are unlikely to give him a new chance....Arrogant and tyrant powers should either give up or be obliterated."

There are interesting revelations, however. Ahmadinejad tipped off his worry over Russia's position on sanctions, urging President Dmitry Medvedev to support the Iranian nuclear programme.

And Ahmadinejad actually pointed to Tehran's weakness rather than strength in the manoeuvres over uranium:
We have a reactor in Tehran which produces radio medicines. Around 800,000 people annually use radio medicines. Twenty five years ago Iran bought nuclear fuel enriched up to the level of 20 percent from Argentina for use in Tehran Research Reactor. It is currently running out of fuel.

No clue in the story whether Ahmadinejad mentioned unemployment, which is what his crowd in Khorramshahr wanted to address on Monday, or indeed any internal issue apart from uranium.
0840 GMT: We have posted an extract, in a separate entry, from Mehdi Karroubi's interview with Rah-e-Sabz (see 0715 GMT), “Aligning the Green Movement Inside and Outside Country”.

And our colleague James Miller has written for The Huffington Post, "A Year of Blood and Promise in Iran", using the review of events to conclude with a look forward:
It's been a long, interesting, and tumultuous year in Iran, but the Green Movement is far from dead, or even asleep. Rather, it has been waiting for June 2010 to pounce. We'll have to wait to see who is the Caspian Tiger in Iran, the government or the people. If I were a betting man, I'd say that the next year may give us the answer.

0815 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports on female detainees facing charges of "mohareb" (war against God), with its death sentence, including Maryam Akbari-Monfared, the mother of three children, and the youngest female prisoner, 22-year-old Parvin Javanzadeh.

0810 GMT: Economy Watch. Fararu claims that growth in 2009 was about 0.5 % --- that compares with a Government projection of 8% in its 5th Plan.

Not that this will necesarily trouble the Revolutionary Guard. Rah-e-Sabz has another article on the millions (billions?) of dollars in oil and gas projects being picked up by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (see 0710 GMT).

0800 GMT: The Challenge to Ahmadinejad. Fatemeh Badaghi, the President''s legal advisor, has said that if necessary, lawsuits will be filed against members of Parliament for criticising the Government.

Badeghi might be quite busy. Ali Larijani has easily retained his seat as Speaker by a 214-44 vote with 32 abstentions; the suggestion of some Ahmadinejad supporters that Larijani could and should be challenged soon fizzled out.

And as the Iranian judiciary claims that it is investigating the corruption allegations against First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, MP Gholamreza  Mesbahi Moghaddam has criticised the Guardian Council blocking a law on  money laundering.

0730 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? After his appearance in Khorramshahr on Monday, distinguished by heckling from the crowd over unemployment, President Ahmadinejad is on his way to Kerman Province in central Iran.

0715 GMT: Karroubi and the Green Movement, One Year Later. Rah-e-Sabz features an interview with Mehdi Karroubi, with the cleric's responses to questions such as "Entering the second year of the Green Movement, where do you think you were wrong and what do you think are the strengths and successes of the movement?"

0710 GMT: Revealing the Revolutionary Guard. Peyke Iran features an article by Jaleh Vafa claiming the devleopment of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps into a military and financial "mafia" over the past 30 years

0640 GMT: News of One Still Detained. Speaking of imprisoned journalists....

Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi has said that Emaduddin Baghi will be relocated in a general ward. Baghi's family have claimed that the journalist has been held in solitary confinement and in poor conditions during his 5 months behind bars.

0630 GMT: Those Who Are Not Free. Arshama3's blog, which has maintained a list of journalists in prison (reposted on Enduring America last month), adds two more names:

Ramin Jabbari, Blogger and Journalist, Bayram, Nedaye Moghan, Yashil Moghan, Detained 17 May 2010

Mostafa Jamshidi, Journalist, Redaktion Yashil Moghan, Nedaye Moghan, Detained 18 May 2010

Up to 102 journalists are still imprisoned or restricted by bail conditions.

0555 GMT: A Call for Reflection. An EA correspondent sends us the translation of an open letter from Saeedeh Montazeri, the daughter of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, to Mir Hossein Mousavi. An extract....
After your reaction to recent political executions, [Tehran Prosecutor General] Jafari Doulatabadi [said]: "How could those who claim to follow the line of Imam forget his teaching of standing up to dissident groups?....In the same years that the executions were carried out against the hypocrites by the order of Imam Khomeini (RA), Mousavi] was Prime Minister. If we consider his present claim, how did he serve then?"

Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi! I do not intend to confirm what he [Mr. Jaafari Dowlatabadi] said, but it is fair to conclude from his words that we need to be critical according to society’s needs. Why do we all virtually have history safeguard our deeds, so that the future generation can criticize us?! This is our collective duty, to criticize our past; and if we have made any mistakes, we should attempt to compensate for it. This is especially important for politicians. Before the future generation criticizes them, politicians should attempt to criticise their deeds themselves. You must know well how this criticism can be helpful to the Green Movement.

This point must be made that the critical principle is that no one is immune from error, and our affairs should be based on this hadith that the Prophet said: "All of Adam’s children are fallible, and the best would recant."

0545 GMT: Ironic Headline of Day. Press TV writes with a straight face, "Protesters Silenced before Queen's Speech".

0500 GMT: Tuesday's late news outside Iran was dominated by the emerging information of the release of film director Jafar Panahi on $200,000 bail. Panahi, gaunt after almost three months in detention and a reported hunger strike, was freed after a meeting last week with Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi. (A question to consider: was Panahi's silence on political issues and abandonment of plans to film about the post-election situation a condition for his release?)

Because of Panahi's high profile --- and because a photograph was released to the international media --- the news was picked up by international media. Some noted that another director, Mohammad Nourizad, had been freed a day earlier --- in fact, that news on state media has still not been confirmed (t0 our knowledge) by Nourizad's family.

The essential context was provided, however, by those who circulate news on social media. One activist reminded, "Let's not forget the other filmmakers who was jailed with Jafar Panahi. Mohammad Ali Shirzadi is still detained at Even prison." Others put out the information that blogger Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki (Babak Khoramdin) has been placed in solitary confinement and is the third day of a hunger strike.

And, of course, it's not directors and journalists who languish, sometimes without formal charges, sometimes in isolation, sometimes with lengthy sentences from closed trials and little known evidence, in Iran's prisons during the post-election crisis. There are doctors, lawyers, politicians, students, human rights activists, woman's rights activists, housewives....

So another day begins....

Iran Document: The Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (23 May)

Translation from the Facebook page supporting Mir Hossein Mousavi:

On Sunday, 23 May 2010, and on the eve of the first anniversary of the rigged presidential election, Mehdi Karroubi met with Mir Hossein Mousavi and they discussed the important issues of the country.

The Latest from Iran (24 May): Rahnavard’s Statement, Ahmadinejad Heckled

In this meeting these two Green leaders, pointing out the arrival of the month of Khordaad (May-June), emphasized the importance of the significant days of this month including 2 Khordaad (23 May: the day Seyed Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997), 3 Khordaad (24 May: the day the city of Khoramshahr in southwest Iran was liberated from occupying Iraqi forces in 1982), 14 Khordaad (4 June: the anniversary of Imam Khomeini's death in 1989) , 15 Khordaad (5 June: the anniversary of Imam Khomeini's speech in 1963 criticizing the Shah, leading to his arrest and major protests), as well as 22 Khordaad (12 June: the anniversary of the rigged presidential election) and the post-election events of 25 and 30 Khordaad (15 and 20 June: the days of mass  protests).

In this meeting Mousavi and Karroubi stressed the necessity of reports that precisely document the post-election events: “Clarifying what has happened since 22 Khordaad is very important for the progress of the Green Movement and showing the justice-seeking path of the people.”

In this meeting the Green leaders decided to invite people to participate in a national rally on the anniversary of the rigged presidential election on 22 Khordaad if permission for holding a rally is issued by the Interior Ministry, but if this constitutional right is denied by Ahmadinejad’s administration, they proposed to peacefully continue promoting awareness through the various and numerous social networks.

Karroubi and Mousavi, while emphasizing the ineffectiveness of the violent confrontations against the Green Movement and the expansion of the Green waves of awareness despite all limitations, said that the events of the past week in universities are signs of the ineffectiveness of the violent confrontations against the rightful demands of the people. They asserted that the people are demanding their human rights, which have been stipulated in the Constitution, and free and non-selective elections as well as free media and the release of all the political prisoners.

Referring to the attacks of plainclothes militia...on some figures and some offices, Mousavi and Karroubi stressed, “These actions are organized crimes and are the continuation of the crimes committed in Kahrizak prison and student dormitories which have re-emerged in a different form today.”

Expressing deep sorrow for the brutal beating of Mohammad Nourizad (imprisoned journalist and filmmaker) in prison, Mousavi and Karroubi said that beating and use of violence against an artist with the aim to intimidate him is a cruel and pre-meditated method which pains the heart of anyone who is compassionate about the system.”

Karroubi and Mousavi in this meeting asserted: “All these events are the results of silence in front of oppression. To prevent and end these illegal methods against religion, the rights of the individuals and groups should be defended regardless of their views and the charges they face, because the Islamic approach is to defend the oppressed regardless of their views and opinions.”

Mousavi and Karroubi expressed concern about the widespread expansion of lies in remarks [of government officials] and manipulation of [official] statistics and information. They warned that the expansion of lies, in addition to destroying the economic, political and cultural aspects [of society], will also damage the intellectual foundations. Everyone should be informed that Islam is against lies and corruption and we should tell people that corruption and other inhuman and illegal actions have nothing to do with Islam.

Mousavi and Karroubi exchanged views about the critical economic situation of the country with the decline of national industries, rise in unemployment, and the poor quality of life of tbhe working class and teachers. They emphasised that the efforts to divert the public mind from the actual reasons behind the problems is a tactic to escape from them, and they said the government, instead of making excuses must control the inflation and unemployment rates and support the national economy. Then they will see that many crimes will be reduced.

It was also emphasized that if state-run television and radio stopped their partisan and totalitarian policies, there will be more understanding and unity in the society. Mousavi and Karroubi asked, "What kind of organization is this, which is called the national media but in which  there is no sign of news and views of the nation?"

At the end, Mousavi and Karroubi, pointing out the imminent anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s passing, referred to the damaging consequences of the government, IRIB [state broadcasting],and foreign media distorting his political beliefs, manner, and approach....

The Latest from Iran (22 May): Karroubi's Letter, University Protests

1810 GMT: University Protest. Video has emerged claiming to be of a protest on Thursday at Bani Akram University in Tabriz.


1530 GMT: University Protest. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, from an unnamed student source, "Basij forces at the university attacked protesting students and injured several of them....Students were chanting 'Death to the Dictator' and 'Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein'."

NEW Iran Nuke Analysis: Reading the US-Turkey Discussions
Iran Analysis: Four Perspectives on the Uranium-Sanctions Dance
The Latest from Iran (21 May): Friday Rest?

1515 GMT: University Protest. Reports are coming through of a demonstration at Azad University in Tehran today, with "several hundred" chanting against the continued detention of fellow students. Human Rights Activists News Agency claims there was a heavy security presence, with possible arrests. The claimed video:


1110 GMT: Karroubi's Letter. The Associated Press has picked up on Mehdi Karroubi's latest intervention, in a letter to Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili (see 0645 GMT):

The judiciary, required under the constitution to defend constitutional freedoms of the citizens, has become an instrument in the hands of the ruling system and security and military agencies. Instead of providing security to the people, the judiciary has turned to intimidation and imprisonment....

The present head of government [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad], with his strange behavior, has humiliated the Iranian nation.

0855 GMT: Sanctions Deals? In a separate entry, Ali Yenidunya looks at the tension in US-Turkish relations around this week's Iran-Turkey-Brazil agreement on the process for uranium enrichment talks.

Looks like Washington may have avoided such tensions with Moscow, however, over the path to sanctions on Tehran: on Friday, the US Government lifted any punishment of three Russian entities implicated in efforts to aid Iran's nuclear weapons and missile programmes.

0845 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch (cont.). The "hardline" journalist Fatemeh Rajabi has pronounced that Hashemi Rafsanjani's interpretation of Islamic rule is like "the time of the Shah".

0810 GMT: Economy Watch. This may be the most revealing statement in some time on the challenges to Iran's government. General Hassan Firouzabadi, who is a well-known economic expert as the head of Iran's armed forces, issued this declaration when he introduced Tehran Friday Prayers: "Reformists are responsible for the people's economic problems."

0750 GMT: Noticing. A burst of attention in the US media to internal affairs in Iran. William Yon and Michael Slackman write in The New York Times, "As Iran approaches the first anniversary of a contested presidential election that touched off a deep political crisis, opposition supporters remain under intense pressure, with student leaders [Bahareh Hedayat and  Milan Asadi] receiving long prison terms and a prominent opposition politician [Mohammad Ali Abtahi] and a filmmaker being attacked."

(I leave it for readers to consider whether the recent attack by the authors of Race for Iran on Nazila Fathi of the Times has actually spurred the newspaper to maintain its focus on the Government pressure before the 12 June anniversary.)

The Los Angeles Times picks up on the "bad hijab" campaign. It adds to our review of Ayatollah Jannati's Friday Prayer sermon in Tehran and then turns to Ayatollah Ahmad Alam-al-Hoda in Mashhad:
Badly veiled women and girls are like foot soldiers of the United States. Our enemies intend to pull the rug of religion from under the feet of our youth by spreading bad veil in the society. Anytime badly veiled women and girls sport strong makeup to deviate a young man from the right path, the enemy will be pleased with victory.

0745 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist and filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has been relocated to Evin Prison's general ward, but he says he will continue his hunger strike until a verdict is issued and he is freed.

0740 GMT: The Students Fast. Azad University students, despite pressure from intelligence agents, observed a one-day political fast on Wednesday to mark the 100th day of student Ali Malihi’s detention. The fast was broken on Thursday in an Iftar ceremony outside Evin Prison.

0735 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Mohammad Hashemi, a member of the Expediency Council and brother of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has again declared --- citing Ayatollah Khomeini --- "If people are not satisfied by a Government, the nezam [Iranian system] lacks acceptance."

0725 GMT: Rahnavard Speaks. Le Monde publishes an interview with Zahra Rahnavard, activist and wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who declares, "Victory will come one day to the Iranian people," and links the Green and women's movements:
[This] is a movement that has echoes claims of the Iranian people that actually date back to over a hundred years, the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. And the presidential election was an opportunity to remember: freedom, rule of law, democracy. The Green Movement does not want the regime to fall; what it wants is reform. It comes from civil society and peaceful means. I repeat, peaceful, even if the regime has no shortage of weapons and uses violence.

This movement is expressed in various ways through meetings, rallies, civil society, and  literary and artistic expressions. All components of society are represented: teachers, workers, athletes, artists, representatives of ethnic minorities....Women, who represent half of the population, and students have played a special role and have an important place within the movement.

My message to Iranian women is, "Move on, raise your level of knowledge and studies to be eventually accepted as full citizens." I campaign for it and against polygamy, violence, and decades of discrimination. Iranian women have no choice; they must continue the fight.

0645 GMT: Karroubi Intervenes. The morning starts with news of a long letter from Mehdi Karroubi to Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili.

Much of the letter is Karroubi's well-known call for justice and responsibilty. He harshly condemns the violation of the Islamic Republic's Constitution and wonders who will defend it: the Parliament is not serving as a representative of the public and the judiciary is not defending people's rights. Karroubi also complains about the "destruction of revolutionary personalities", economic decline, and the President's lack of diplomacy, "which has led to the humiliation of the Iranian people".

There is a twist, however. Karroubi defends the late Ayatollah Khomeini and Mir Hossein Mousavi against recent accusations that they accepted executions in the 1980s.

An EA correspondent evaluates, "."With Mousavi and Khomeini being accused of accepting executions during their rule, criticism has reached the core of this Iranian system. Although Karroubi defends him and Khomeini, he also complains that those incidents were never investigated. Clever tactics, declaring himself as the most acceptable Green candidate. In any case the genie is out of the bottle."