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Entries in Bahareh Hedayat (3)


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."

The Latest from Iran (19 May): Fallout

2035 GMT: The Uranium Sideshow. President Obama issued a boiler-plate, stay-the-course statement at a press conference alongside President Felipe Calderon of Mexico (which happens to have a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council):

"[We agree] on the need for Iran to uphold its international obligations or face increased sanctions and pressure, including UN sanctions. And I'm pleased that we've reached an agreement with our P5-plus-1 partners on a strong resolution that we now have shared with our Security Council partners.

Obama did not mention, for he was not asked, why he had encouraged Turkey to pursue talks with Iran leading to the uranium swap agreement in Tehran on Monday.

1845 GMT:Political Prisoner Watch. Housewife Masoumeh Yavari has been given a seven-year jail term at Rajai-Shahr Prison in Karaj. Yavari had been accused of "mohareb" (war against God), and the prosecutor had asked for the death penalty.

Zahra Jabbari, married and the mother of one child, has been sentenced to 4 years in prison. Jabbari was arrested during Qods Day protests on 18 September.

Student Activist Mohammad Yousef Rashidi has been handed a one-year jail term.

NEW Iran’s Uranium: Why Can’t the US Take Yes for an Answer? (Parsi)
NEW Iran’s Uranium: Washington “Can’t Afford to Look Ridiculous”, Makes Ridiculous Move (Emery)
NEW Iran’s Uranium: US Shows a Middle Finger to Tehran…and Turkey and Brazil and… (Gary Sick)
NEW Iran Document: Iranian Labour Unions “This is Not 1979″
Iran Analysis: Washington and the Tehran Nuclear Deal (Parsi)
Iran Alert: Filmmaker Firouz Faces Deportation From UK
Iran Analysis: The Contest at Home Over (and Beyond) the Uranium Agreement (Zahra)
Iran Analysis: Assessing the Tehran Nuclear Deal (Gary Sick)
The Latest from Iran (18 May): Getting Beyond the Uranium Agreement

1700 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced student and women's rights activist Bahareh Hedayat to 9 ½ years in prison: six months for insulting the president, two years for insulting the Leader, five years for anti-state and anti-national security actions, and two years, previously suspended, for organizing a gathering in June 2006.

Milad Asadi, another senior member of the alumni organisation Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat, has been sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Bahareh Hedayat's statement for Iran's National Student Day in December 2009:


1200 GMT: The Uranium Battle. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency, has issued the highest-level reaction to the US pursuit of a sanctions resolution at the United Nations, "They won't prevail and by pursuing the passing of a new resolution they are discrediting themselves in public opinion."

0940 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Masoud Heidari, the former head of the Iranian Labour News Agency,was released from prison on Tuesday. On Sunday, Heidari had begun serving a three-month prison sentence.

0840 GMT: Alice-in-Wonderland Media Statement of Day. I guess the editors of The New York Times have not paid any attention to the events of the last 72 hours:
Brazil and Turkey should join the other major players and vote for the Security Council resolution. Even before that, they should go back to Tehran and press the mullahs to make a credible compromise and begin serious negotiations.

0830 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Tahereh Saeedi, the wife of detained film director Jafar Panahi, has told Rah-e-Sabz that her husband has been on hunger strike since Sunday.

Panahi has demanded access to his lawyer, visits by his family, and an unconditional release until a court hearing is held.

Six journalists and cultural activists --- Mahnaz Karimi, Hafez Sardarpour, Mehdi Zeynali, Nader Azizi, Mustafa Jamshidi, and Ramin Jabbari --- were arrested on Monday in Iranian Azerbaijan.

0820 GMT: Shutting Down the Inquiry. Parleman News writes that a reformist proposal to investigate Iran's prisons has been rejected by the Parliament. Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani insists that the Majlis continues to observe prisons and has forwarded a report to the National Security Council.

0815 GMT: Claim of Day (No, It's Not about Uranium). Rah-e-Sabz claims new accusations of impropriety against Mohammad Javad Larijani, a high-ranking official in the judiciary. The website asserts that a deal has been struck: Ahmadinejad will not press a corruption case against Larijani, while the official and his powerful brothers will drop charges against First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi.

0810 GMT: And There's Always a "Terrorism" Story. Press TV features a summary of its interview with Abdolmalek Rigi, the captured leader of the Baluch insurgent group Jundullah: "While in Morocco, suspected Israeli or US agents had given him a list of people to assassinate in Tehran."

0755 GMT: Evaluating the Uranium/Sanctions Story. We have three analyses of the US response to the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement: Trita Parsi asks why Washington cannot take Yes for an answer, Chris Emery suggests it is because the US feels it "cannot afford to look  ridiculous", and Gary Sick thinks Washington just showed the middle finger not only to Tehran but to Turkey, Brazil, and a lot of other countries.

The Washington Post has posted a copy of the sanctions resolution introduced by the US into the United Nations Security Council.

0635 GMT: Nuclear Spin of Day. Peyke Iran tries an different angle to attack the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement. The website claims that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip is angry about his reception in Tehran: he and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were offered an Iranian breakfast of sangak bread, Bulgarian white cheese, walnuts, and inferior dried fruit.

0630 GMT: Mousavi's Bodyguard. More manoeuvring over Monday's arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi's head of security, Ahmad Yazdanfar. Khabar Online claims that Yazdanfar "withdrew" from his position, and the story that he was detained is a fiction of the "leaders of sedition" and foreign media.

Opposition outlets have responded that Yazdanfar is not "political" at all but a simple security officer. Through his arrest and the kidnapping, terror, and torture of others, the Government is slowly becoming a terrorist group.

0615 GMT: Iran's Debate on the Tehran Deal. The Government is still facing some opposition to the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement. From the conservative wing, Ahmad Tavakoli (and possibly, through indirect means, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani) made challenges on Tuesday. On the reformist side, Darius Ghanbari asked why Iran had waited seven months and expended so much capital in its foreign policy, only to move towards an agreement it could have had in October.

The response of pro-Government politicians is that this is only a "declaration", not a "treaty", so Tehran has not entered any binding commitments. Or, as Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, "If the Vienna Group (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China) accepts Iran’s terms and conditions...both parties commit themselves to the implementation” of the deal."

(Which means that Washington's response --- throwing out any consideration of the agreement in favour of a sanctions-first approach --- has sheltered the Ahmadinejad Government against its internal opponents.)

0530 GMT: For many observers, the nuclear sideshow will remain the main event today. The Obama Administration pretty much guaranteed that when, despite the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement on a procedure for a uranium enrichment deal (and despite the small fact that President Obama appears to have encouraged the Turks to pursue the deal --- more on that later), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton loudly and not very politely announced that the US was proceeding with a sanctions resolution in the United Nations.

The resolution was submitted in the late afternoon, so now we will be treated to a lot of posturing on all sides, possibly obscuring this bottom-line assessment, courtesy of the National Iranian American Council: "This is an unbelievably stupid move on the part of the Obama administration. Not only are we rejecting our own terms of the agreement, but we are doing so in as tactless and diplomatically insulting way possible."

Meanwhile, on the centre stage of Iranian politics....

Containing Mousavi

Muhammad Sahimi offers a concise summary of the latest steps by the Government to intimidate Mir Hossein Mousavi ahead of the election anniversary on 12 June, including the arrest of Mousavi's top bodyguard.

The Labour Front

We have posted, in a separate entry, the statement of the Network of Iranian Labor Unions setting out its view of opposition to the Government, "This is Not 1979".

Iran Labor Report posts an overview of recent workers' protests.

UPDATED Iran: Tehran, Defender of Rights (Don't Mention Boobquake), Joins UN Commission on Status of Women

UPDATED 1 MAY: There have been numerous public statements denouncing the vote for Iran's membership of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Two examples:

Mission Free Iran
: "While hundreds of our sisters suffer in prison because they stood up for their own rights, the UN Commission on the Status of Women dares to stand against them by allowing the Islamic regime a seat at the table."

How Iran News is Made: Adultery, Earthquakes, and the BBC
The Latest from Iran (30 April): The Heaviness of the Atmosphere

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center: "The women of Iran and the rest of the world deserve better. The United Nations and the
world must not let Mr. Ahmadinejad and the government he leads continue to violate the human rights of Iranians.

UPDATED 30 APRIL: The incomparable Tom Lehrer said that, when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, "It was the day satire died."

Well, satire may have been slain again. From Wednesday's report of the United Nations Economic and Social Council:

The Council elected 11 new members to fill an equal number of vacancies on the Commission on the Status of Women for four-year terms beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s fifty-sixth session in 2011 and expiring at the close of its fifty-ninth session in 2015. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe were elected from the Group of African States; Iran and Thailand were elected from the Group of Asian States; Estonia and Georgia were elected from the Group of Eastern European States; Jamaica was elected from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; and Belgium, Netherlands and Spain were elected from the Group of Western European and Other States.

In the category of You Really Couldn't Make This Up:

Iranian authorities have confirmed reports of their withdrawal from membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council and announced their candidacy for the International Commission for Protection of Women's Rights. [This is probably a reference to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.]

Beyond the implication of "Well, if we're not allowed to represent humans, we'll take the second-best of representing women", Iranian officials might ponder the juxtaposition of applying for the ICPWR when dozens of women's rights activists are being protected through detention in Iran's prisons.

In making their application, they might consult Shirin Ebadi (living in exile, threatened with confiscation of her Nobel Peace Prize and closure of her Centre for the Defence of Human Rights), Shadi Sadr (defense lawyer of Shiva Nazar Ahari, human rights activists and member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters,who has been detained since 14 June), or Zahra Rahnavard (surrounded and attacked by plainclothes forces on 11 February), or Bahareh Hedayat (nominated for the 2010 Students Peace Prize but sitting in Evin Prison).

Still, this is far from the first proclamation of the Iranian regime that it is the true protector of women. When Tehran realised that activists and groups inside and outside Iran were making statements for International Women's Day (8 March) that inconveniently mentioned not only equality but also justice and rights, the Supreme Leader belatedly brought out a Valentine card, recycling his statement of 14 February on "women's rights and role in society".

So perhaps Iran can offer bona fides for its new campaign with an endorsement of Boobquake. The humourous Facebook response to the messages by Hojatoleslam Seddiqi and Ayatollah Jannati at Tehran Friday Prayers --- immorality causes earthquakes; what immorality? why, wearing inappropriate dresses, leading on young men, encouraging sinful thoughts --- has now escalated into rallies on Monday from New York City to Washington DC to West Lafayette, Indiana.

That's a long way for the Supreme Leader to travel, and I've heard it's a bit difficult getting a permit to march in Tehran these days. But perhaps Ayatollah Khamenei might put on a fetching "Boobquake 2010: Who Says Science Has to Be Boring?" T-shirt (50% of profits to the International Red Cross; 50% to the James Randi Educational Foundation). Or maybe noted wordsmith President Ahmadinejad can offer a quip about "weapons of mass destruction".

But at least, the Iranian officials who are sharpening up that application for the UN might add this to their dossier: how many "immoral" women do you think will be detained and held without charge on Monday?