Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in BBC (6)


Korean Warship Latest: Is This A Crisis? (BBC)

The BBC updates on the latest politics around blame upon North Korea for the torpedoing of a South Korean warship two months ago:

North Korea is facing international condemnation after investigators blamed it for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

Pyongyang rejected the claim as a "fabrication" and threatened war if sanctions were imposed.

The international report found a North Korean submarine's torpedo sank the South Korean navy ship, causing the deaths of 46 sailors.

China urged restraint and did not criticise the North.

The US administration described the sinking as an "act of aggression" that challenged peace.

Britain, Australia and Japan also expressed anger at North Korea. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak pledged to take "stern action".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the report was "deeply troubling".

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said North Korea's actions would deepen the international community's mistrust.

"UN resolution"

The investigation team, which included experts from America, Australia, Britain and Sweden, said it had discovered part of the torpedo on the sea floor and it carried lettering that matched a North Korean design.

Pyongyang said it would send its own inspection team to the South, to "verify material evidence" behind the accusation.

A North Korean defence spokesman said the country would "respond to reckless counter-measure with an all-out war of justice", the state KCNA news agency reported.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Beijing had "noted" the report and would make its own assessment, but called on both sides to exercise restraint.

The Cheonan went down near the disputed inter-Korean maritime border, raising tension between the two nations, which technically remain at war.

The shattered wreck of the 1,200-tonne gunboat was later winched to the surface, in two pieces, for examination.

Investigators examined eyewitness accounts, damage to the vessel, evidence collected from the seabed and the injuries sustained by survivors and those who died.

There had earlier been a number of explanations suggested for the sinking, including an accidental collision with an unexploded sea mine left over from the Korean War.

Mr Lee's presidential office said he had told Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd his government would be taking firm measures against the North, and through international co-operation would make the North admit wrongdoing.

Japan's Prime Minister said in a statement that North Korea's action was "unforgivable".

Yukio Hatoyama said Japan would support South Korea if it sought a UN Security Council resolution against North Korea.

However the BBC's John Sudworth in Seoul says agreeing on an international response will be difficult as the diplomatic options will be limited.


Thailand Latest: Opposition General Dies, Fresh Fighting (BBC)

The BBC provides latest news on the political crisis in Thailand:

Renegade Thai general Khattiya Sawasdipol, who was shot on Thursday as he backed protesters in Bangkok, has died, hospital officials have said.

The announcement came amid fresh fighting between the protesters and soldiers after Thai officials rejected a demand for UN-backed talks.

Thailand Latest: Curfew and Ultimatum (AP and BBC)

The government has called on protesters to leave the camp by mid-afternoon or face the prospect of two years in jail.

Thirty-six people have been killed in the violence since Thursday.

Maj Gen Khattiya, known as Seh Daeng (Commander Red), was shot in the head on Thursday as he spoke to a New York Times journalist within the protesters' rally site.

He had been in a critical condition in hospital and had not been expected to pull through.

His shooting marked the beginning of clashes between soldiers and protesters that have raged on-and-off since then.

It is not clear who shot him, but some among the protesters were quick to blame army snipers.

A minute's silence was held for the general at the protesters' camp in the Ratchaprasong district, with some demonstrators in tears.

'A lot of shooting'

About 5,000 people remain in the encampment in the Ratchaprasong, where food and water are running low amid a blockade on the area.

In a television announcement, the government told protesters - particularly women, children and the elderly - to leave the vast camp by 1500 (0800 GMT), saying they would be given free transport home.

Hundreds of women and children have sought refuge in a nearby temple. But Thai media report that many protesters are refusing to take up the offer of safe passage, fearing it is a ruse by the government to arrest or even kill them.

The fresh fighting overnight along a street of upmarket hotels saw the first death among the soldiers, officials said.

Guests at one of the hotels, the Dusit Thani, were rushed from their rooms into the building's basement after gunfire and explosions shook the area.

"Everybody was evacuated from their room and spent the night in the basement," a photographer for the Reuters news agency said. "There was a lot of shooting."
Besides the deaths, about 200 people have been injured in the clashes. Previous violence since the protests began in March has left more than 60 people dead and at least 1,600 wounded.

The Dusit Thani hotel is across from Lumpini Park in a district of expensive hotels, embassies and shopping malls that has been taken over by the protesters.
Army sharpshooters behind sand-bagged barricades have been firing live rounds at protesters.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said troops were "not using weapons to crack down on civilians". He said armed "terrorists" among the protesters were being targeted.

The protesters, called red-shirts after the colour they have adopted, have been throwing stones, petrol bombs and fireworks at the soldiers and setting barricades of tyres on fire.

There have been reports that some among them are armed.

The latest fighting broke out after the government rejected a call from a red-shirt leader, Nattawut Saikua, to hold UN-moderated talks to end the stand-off, providing the army withdrew from the area around the red-shirt camp.

Panitan Wattanayagorn insisted that no outside help was needed.

"We reject their demands for UN mediation... No Thai government has ever let anyone intervene with our internal affairs," he said.

Protests spread

A state of emergency has now been declared in 22 provinces across the country - mostly in the protesters' northern heartlands - in a bid to stop more demonstrators heading to the capital.

Protests have spread outside the capital with a military bus set afire in the northern city of Chiang Mai and demonstrations in two north-eastern towns in defiance of a government ban.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has declared Monday and Tuesday as public holidays and delayed the start of Bangkok's school term, but a planned curfew was cancelled.

He has already said the army will not back down in its operation to clear the protesters.

Many of the protesters are from poor rural areas in northern Thailand where support is still strong for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

He is living abroad to avoid a jail term on a corruption conviction.

The protesters say the current government is illegitimate, having come to power in a parliamentary vote after a pro-Thaksin government was forced to step down in December 2008 by a Constitutional Court ruling that it had committed electoral fraud.

Thailand Latest: Curfew and Ultimatum (AP and BBC)

The Associated Press updates this morning on the Thai Government's imposition of a curfew in Bangkok. A BBC report, issued at the same time, focuses on a Government "ultimatum" against the main opposition camp and protestors gathering elsewhere in Bangkok:

Associated Press

Thailand will impose a curfew Sunday and send Red Cross workers to evacuate women and children from Bangkok's deadly protest zone where 25 people have been killed in four days of street battles between anti-government demonstrators and troops.

Thailand: The Latest in the Crisis; At Least 16 Dead (Mydans and Szep/Ahuja)

A towering column of black smoke rose over the city Sunday as protesters facing off with troops set fire to tires serving as a barricade. Elsewhere, they doused a police traffic post with gasoline and torched it as sporadic gunfire rang out.

The government said a curfew has become necessary to stop the armed members of the so-called Red Shirt protest movement. Journalists have seen some of them carrying guns, but most have used homemade fire bombs and fireworks.

''We cannot let people with weapons in their hands walk around here and there,'' army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

''Terrorist groups have tried to create a situation where shots are fired at military and police officers to instigate misunderstanding among them that officers are attacking each other,'' he said.

The timing and the exact locations of the curfew will be announced later, he said.

The spiraling violence has raised concerns of sustained, widespread chaos in Thailand -- a key U.S. ally and Southeast Asia's most popular tourist destination that promotes its easygoing culture as the ''Land of Smiles.''

Speaking on his weekly television program, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted he was left with no choice but a military operation to end the country's two-month-old crisis.

''Overall, I insist the best way to prevent losses is to stop the protest. The protest creates conditions for violence to occur. We do realize at the moment that the role of armed groups is increasing each day,'' he said.

The Red Shirts have occupied a 1-square-mile (3-square-kilometer) zone, barricaded by tires and bamboo spikes, in one of the capital's ritziest areas, Rajprasong, since mid-March to push their demands for Abhisit to resign immediately, dissolve Parliament and call new elections.

The Red Shirts, drawn mostly from the rural and urban poor, say Abhisit's coalition government came to power through manipulation of the courts and the backing of the powerful military, and that it symbolizes a national elite indifferent to the poor.

Sansern said the government will send the Red Cross and voluntary organizations into the protest zone to ''invite or persuade people, especially women, children and older people to leave the area.''

About 5,000 people are believed camped in the zone, down from about 10,000 before fighting started Thursday after a sniper shot and seriously wounded a Red Shirt leader, a former army general who was the Red Shirt military strategist. His condition worsened Sunday, doctors said.

After his shooting, fighting quickly spread to nearby areas, which became a no-man's land as the army set up barriers in a wider perimeter around Rajprasong. The area already resembles a curfew zone with no public transport or private vehicles. Most shops, hotels and businesses in the area are shut. The government has shut off power, water and food supplies to the core protest zone. Schools were ordered shut Monday in all of Bangkok.

At least 54 people have been killed and more than 1,600 wounded since the protests began mid-March, according to the government. The dead include 25 killed since Thursday.

''I'm asking Abhisit not to shoot children, women and old people. Come kill us (men) instead,'' said a Red Shirt leader, Jatuporn Prompan. ''Once the authorities stop shooting at protesters, the death toll will stop rising.''

On Saturday, soldiers blocked major roads and pinned up notices of a ''Live Firing Zone'' in one area of Bangkok. Demonstrators dragged away the bodies of three people from sidewalks in that area -- shot by army snipers, they claimed.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch on Saturday called on the Thai government to revoke the fire zones and negotiate an end to the fighting.

''It's a small step for soldiers to think `live fire zone' means `free fire zone,' especially as violence escalates,'' the rights watchdog said in a statement.

The clashes are the most prolonged and deadliest bout of political violence that Thailand has faced in decades despite having a history of coups -- 18 since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

The crisis appeared to be near a resolution last week when Abhisit offered to hold elections in November, a year early. But the hopes were dashed after Red Shirt leaders made more demands.

The political uncertainty has spooked foreign investors and damaged the vital tourism industry, which accounts for 6 percent of the economy, Southeast Asia's second largest.

The Thai Red Cross said its blood supplies are running low and invited people to donate blood.

The Red Shirts especially despise the military, which forced Thaksin Shinawatra, the populist premier favored by the Red Shirts, from office in a 2006 coup. Two subsequent pro-Thaksin governments were disbanded by court rulings before Abhisit became prime minister.


Bangkok since March, calling on women and the elderly to leave the camp by Monday afternoon.
The Red Cross has been asked to help coax people out of the camp, where protesters are calling on PM Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign.

One protest leader said Thailand was close to "civil war" after clashes with soldiers killed at least 25 people.

Several hundred protesters are gathering in another part of the city.

Soldiers have taken up positions beside a road leading to the camp, where witnesses say they are firing live rounds, apparently targeting anyone who comes near them.

Mr Abhisit has postponed the new school term in the city for a week, but a planned curfew has been cancelled.

Thai television has shown footage of women and children leaving the protest site.

Live rounds

The fighting flared on Thursday as the army moved to isolate a fortified protest camp.

Thousands of people who say Mr Abhisit came to power undemocratically remain behind makeshift barricades of rubber tyres, sandbags and bamboo stakes in the Ratchaprasong commercial district.

The protesters are known as red-shirts, after the colour they have adopted.

They want the prime minister to step down to make way for new elections.

Red-shirt leaders have been calling for reinforcements, but protesters coming from elsewhere in the country have been unable to breach the military cordon, and are congregating nearby.
Several hundred red-shirt suppporters have gathered around a mobile stage set up in central Bangkok's Klong Toey area, and protest leaders have called for a rally at another mobile stage in the north of the city.

Army "prepared"

In a televised address on Saturday, Mr Abhisit said the army would not back down in its operation to clear the protesters.

"We cannot leave the country in a situation where people who don't obey the law are holding hostage the people of Bangkok, as well as the centre of the country," he said.

"We can't allow a situation where people set up armed groups and overthrow the government because they don't agree with it."

Mr Abhisit has said that a few armed "terrorists" are among the protesters.

An army spokesman said the military was planning to enter the protesters' camp if they did not disperse, but gave no timetable.

"There is a plan to crack down on Ratchaprasong if the protest does not end," said the spokesman, Col Sunsern Kaewkumnerd.

"But authorities will not set a deadline because without effective planning there will be more loss of life."

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Bangkok says the army's actions are like squeezing a balloon full of water - they are just pushing protesters into a different part of the city.

Black smoke drifted into the air over Bangkok on Sunday morning but the streets were mostly quiet after three days of fierce battles that saw soldiers fire live rounds and rubber bullets at protesters who threw stones, petrol bombs and shot fireworks in return.

The army has declared live fire zones in some areas as it attempted to cut off the camp from supplies and reinforcements.

Around 200 people have been injured since the latest violence broke out on Thursday, and 27 people have been sent to jail, each given six-month sentences. All the fatalities have been civilians.

More than 50 people have been killed and at least 1,500 wounded in total since the protests began in mid-March, Thai officials have said.

Despite claims by the Thai government that the situation was under control and its soldiers had only fired in self-defence, army snipers have been accused of targeting protesters. Footage from Bangkok on Saturday showed red-shirts dragging gunshot victims to safety.

The violence escalated on Thursday after a renegade general who supports the protests was shot in the head by an unknown gunman.

Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, better known as Seh Daeng (Commander Red), is in a critical condition.

National divisions

The latest clashes have raised questions about the stability of Thailand, South-East Asia's second-largest economy.

"The current situation is almost full civil war," said one of the protest leaders, Jatuporn Prompan. "I am not sure how this conflict will end."

Many of the protesters are from poor rural areas in northern Thailand where support is still strong for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

They say Mr Abhisit was put into power in a parliamentary vote by an alliance of the Bangkok elite and the military and want him to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.

He had offered polls in November - but the two sides failed to agree a deal because of divisions over who should be held accountable for a deadly crackdown on protests last month.

Mr Thaksin has called on the government to withdraw troops and restart negotiations. He is living abroad to avoid a jail term on a corruption conviction.

Afghanistan: Revealing the US "Black Site" Prison at Bagram (Fisher)

Max Fisher writes for The Atlantic:

In November, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported the existence of a secret "black site" prison at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. The site, unconfirmed by the military and separate from the main prison at Bagram, was reported based on interviews with human-rights workers and people who claimed to be former detainees.

Afghanistan Analysis: Is the “Kandahar Offensive” Crumbling? (Porter)

Now the BBC reports that the International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed the site's existence with the military. The US official in charge of Afghanistan detention, Vice Admiral Robert Harward has denied that the prison, reportedly called the Tor Jail after the Urdu word for "black," exists. What do we know?

  • Tor Jail Conditions BBC's Hilary Andersson reports, "In recent weeks the BBC has logged the testimonies of nine prisoners who say they had been held in the so-called 'Tor Jail'. They told consistent stories of being held in isolation in cold cells where a light is on all day and night. The men said they had been deprived of sleep by US military personnel there." The cells are filled with a constant noise and guards regularly wake prisoners to prevent them from sleeping.

  • Tor Jail Detainee Speaks: Andersson records an account from one detainee. "Mirwais was watering his plants one night when American soldiers came to get him. He is still missing half a row of teeth from the beating he says he got that night and he says he cannot hear properly in one ear. US troops accused him of making bombs and giving the Taliban money."

  • The Sketchy Timeline: The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman explores, "Months ago, I asked Vice Adm. Robert Harward, the chief U.S. military officer responsible for detentions operations in Afghanistan if all detainees had access to the Red Cross, and he answered, 'All detainees under my command have access to the International [Committee of the] Red Cross.' According to the ICRC, that's been the case since August 2009 (which precedes Harward’s November arrival in Afghanistan). But how long was Tor open before detainees had ICRC access?"

  • Karzai Already Emphasizing Bagram: Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin notes the timing: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in Washington to meet with Obama. "One request that Karzai and friends brought to town is that the Obama team confirm and then speed up their promise to hand over control of the Bagram prison to the Afghan government. Bagram, sometimes called 'Obama's Guantanamo' because of the secretive procedures use to detain and interrogate prisoners there, held 645 prisoners captured on the battlefield as of September 2009."

The President began his administration with a big series of presidential orders that supposedly ended the Bush administration’s policy of torturing prisoners, and shut down the CIA’s black site prisons. But as we know now, not all the black site prisons were shut down. Nor was the torture ended. Whether it’s beatings and forced-feedings at Guantanamo, or the kinds of torture described at Bagram, it’s obvious that torture has not been rooted out of U.S. military-intelligence operations. In fact, by way of the Obama administration’s recent approval of the Bush-era Army Field Manual on interrogations, with its infamous Appendix M, which allows for much of the kind of torture practiced at Bagram, the White House has institutionalized a level of torture that was introduced by the previous administration.

Latest from Iran (10 May): Will the Executions Matter?

1920 GMT: Protest Videos. We've now posted three videos of today's anti-Ahmadinejad protest at Shahid Beheshti University and a video of a student walkout at Elm-o-Sanat University over the speech of a Government official.

1910 GMT: Executions --- A Correction. An Iranian activist puts out an important note: Mehdi Islamian, one of the five Iranians hung on Sunday, was not a Kurd. Islamian's brother and three other people were convicted of a bombing in Shiraz and accused of connections with monarchists. The activist claims that Islamian's "crime" was money given to his brother.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Protest Against Ahmadinejad at Shahid Beheshti University (10 May)
NEW Iran Background Video: Protest in Kurdistan Over Political Prisoners
Iran: Farzad Kamangar’s Last Letter “Is It Possible to Teach and Be Silent?
Iran First-Hand: Assessing Life and Opinions in Tehran (Majd)
Iran, Meet Kafka: The Web of Internet Censorship Catches All (Farokhnia)
The Latest from Iran (9 May): 5 Iranian Kurds Executed

1900 GMT: Mousavi on the Executions. Mir Hossein Mousavi has issued a statement on Sunday's execution of five Iranian Kurds (English translation):

The sudden execution of five of the citizens of this country without giving any clear explanations regarding their charges, prosecution procedure and trials to the people, is just similar to the unjust trend that in the recent months have led to the surprising sentences for a lot of caring women, men and citizens of our country.

When the Judiciary shifts its position from supporting the oppressed toward supporting authorities and those in power, it is hard to stop people from judging that the judiciary sentences are unjust. How is it that today the courts pass on those who ordered and committed the crimes of Kahrizak Prison, [the attacks on Tehran] University dormitories, Sobhan residence [3], the days of 15th and 20th of June, and Bloody Ashura [27 December], and closed the massive corruption cases before opening them and then suddenly on the eve of the month of Khordaad [June], the month of consciousness and seeking justice, hangs these five individuals with so many unanswered questions? Is this the Alavi [those who follow the first Imam of Shi'a, Imam Ali] justice that you were after?

1625 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani has declared that he still believes the solutions he presented in his Friday Prayer address last July --- the last time he spoke from the Tehran podium --- still provide an exit from the current post-election conflict.

Meeting former governors, Rafsanjani said adherence to the Constitution was the most important basis for "moving forces" towards a resolution.

A reminder of Rafsanjani's 17 July speech, which was accompanied by mass protests against the handling of the post-election conflict by the Government:

The most important thing that has happened is that the trust that brought the people
to vote in such large number is not there anymore.
We need to return this trust.

We all need to follow the law. And I’m talking about the government, the parliament, the Islamic Courts and the security forces.
We need to follow the laws.
All problems can be solved if we only follow the framework of the laws.
We need to create an environment where all sides could come together and discuss their issues.
We need to be able to sit down like brothers and sisters and talk about our differences.
The chance that was given to the Guardian Council of five days to get people together and regain their trust was not used.
That is not there anymore.
But we still have time to unite.

We shouldn’t imprison our own people,
We should let these people return to their homes,
We shouldn’t let our enemies laugh at us because we’ve imprisoned our own people.
We should sit together with mourners,
And we should console them,
And bring them back closer to the system.
We should not be impatient now.

Please do not censor media outlets that have legally obtained permits.
Let them do what they want to do legally.
Allow a peaceful and friendly environment to prosper.
We are all together in the Islamic Revolution,
We’ve all spent years in suffering,
We’ve all given martyrs for the cause of the revolution,
This unity needs to fostered.

I’m hopeful that we will be able to achieve this unity in the future,
And I’m hopeful we will get out of this situation,
Based on the wishes of the people,
And consensus among the leaders.

1500 GMT: The Executions. Education International has issued a statement that it is "deeply troubled to hear reports that Iranian teacher trade unionist Farzad Kamangar was among five people who were summarily executed in secret on 9 May". The International Trade Union Confederation has also condemned the hanging.

1430 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Sixty professors from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences have written to the university's president, calling for the release of medical student Maryam Abbasinejad from prison.

Abbasinejad was arrested a day after Ahmadinejad’s sudden appearance at the university on 1 May. There is no information on her physical condition or the reason behind the arrest.

1420 GMT: Getting Rid of Bad Books. The Supreme Leader, meeting officials of the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, has urged authorities to prevent the publication of books which contradict Iran's religious and cultural values: "The country's cultural atmosphere, especially in the field of book publishing, should be protected as there are some who seek to distort history and spread issues which are against our values."

Ayatollah Khamenei's remarks come after reports that the Tehran Book Fair barred works by figures such as Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, a hero of the Islamic Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Sane’i, and Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. (Press TV notes simply, "The meeting [with the IIDO] comes as the Iranian capital of Tehran is hosting an international book fair which runs until May 15.")

1415 GMT: "Hardline" Editor Acquitted. Hossein Shariatmardari, the editor of the "hardline" Kayhanhas been acquitted by a Tehran court of all charges of libel, brought by, amongst others, activists such as Shirin Ebadi and Shadi Sadr and journalist Emaduddin Baghi.

1410 GMT: Maziar Bahari, Master Criminal. An EA correspondent reports that Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari was today, in absentia, has been given a sentence of 13 years imprisonment and 74 lashes by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. This is the longest jail term imposed on a journalist in the post-election conflict.

Bahari was detained in Iran for four months after the election but was released in October. He returned to the United States, although he still has family in Iran.

1345 GMT: Kicking Out the Oil Companies (This Time We Mean It). Iran has issued a new two-week ultimatum to Royal Dutch Shell and the Spanish company Repsol after the expiry of a previous ultimatum last month.

Referring to long-standing contracts for development of natural gas fields, Reza Kasaiezadeh, director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, said, "The oil ministry has now issued an ultimatum to Shell and Repsol, holding them responsible to determine the situation surrounding contracts on South Pars phases 13 and 14 over a period of two weeks."

On Saturday, Minister of Oil Masoud Mirkazemi had threatened that Iran will expel foreign firms for delaying development, but he did not a specific company. Shell, citing the prospect of Western sanctions, suspended operations in South Pars earlier this year.

1210 GMT: What Demonstrations? Islamic Republic News Agency has posted an article on President Ahmadinejad's speech at Shahid Beheshti University praising Iran's "astonishing speed of scientific progress". Nothing, however, on the student demonstration that greeted news of the visit.

1155 GMT: MediaWatch. Non-Iranian media are gradually picking up on the significance of Sunday's executions. The BBC has now posted a short article, and The Guardian of London goes further with references to demonstrations (although the newspaper's story, "Kurds to protest after Iran executions", misses the fundamental point that many Iranians who are not Kurdish may be demonstrating and linking the hangings to wider post-election issues of injustices and abuses).

1150 GMT: Silent Demonstrations at Universities? Rah-e-Sabz writes that silent protests against the executions of the Iranian Kurds are planned for Wednesday and Thursday at Tehran University.

1140 GMT: We've posted two claimed videos of a protest against President Ahmadinejad's visit to Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

1000 GMT: Add Toronto to the list of cities where protests took place against Sunday's executions.

0810 GMT: Mousavi "An Enemy of God". Gholam-Hossein Elham, a member of the Guardian Council, has reportedly said that Mir Hossein Musavi is a "mohareb" (enemy of God).

Elham, quoted by Fars News from a speech at a university, would be the most significant Government official so far to make the allegation --- which carries the death penalty under Iranian law --- against Mousavi.

0800 GMT:  Diversion? Amidst the uproar over the execution of five Iranian Kurds as enemies of the state, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani has tried to hammer home the themes of Iran's defence against foreign-supported "terrorism". Speaking at the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Turkey, Larijani claimed direct US backing and involvement of groups operating out of Pakistan.

Larijani's comments are made in the context of the recent capture of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of the Baluch insurgent group Jundullah.

0700 GMT: MediaWatch. Nazila Fathi writes in both the print and versions of The New York Times this morning about the execution of the five Iranians, taking the line: "Although the authorities announced that the five people executed Sunday had been found guilty of carrying out fatal bomb attacks, the executions were widely seen as intended to discourage people from rallying against the government on June 12 [the anniversary of the Presidential election."

The Washington Post has a shorter, muddled Web-only piece by Thomas Erdbrink. For some reason, the article distinguishes between the hangings of four of the Kurds and the execution of Mahdi Islamian, leading to the distorted headline, "Reported executions of four Kurds could increase tensions in Iran". The report is largely drawn from the account of Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency, so there is no consideration of wider political issues.

0630 GMT: Nuclear Front. In advance of the visit by Brazilian and Turkish leaders to Iran which may signal a brokering of an uranium enrichment deal, Tehran has restated its willingness to reach an arrangement.

The head of Iran'a atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, told reporters, "Some countries have been seeking to impose a series of conditions on Iran, but our condition is receiving concrete assurances."

Salehi continued, "Our stance toward the nuclear fuel swap has not changed. We will give 3.5 percent enriched uranium and receive 20 percent enriched fuel. Our purpose (of continuing negotiations with the West) is to give the Western countries an opportunity to save face and find a way out of the current situation."

0515 GMT: Crackdown on Kurdish Teachers. An Iranian activist reports that four leading members of the Kurdestan Teachers Union were arrested by Iranian intelligence on Sunday.

0500 GMT: It has been a long time since a single story from Iran galvanised reaction outside the country. Iranians and activists throughout the world responded with sadness and fury to the Sunday morning news that five Iranians --- Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alamhouli, and Mehdi Eslamian --- had been executed for alleged bombings and/or membership of the Kurdish organisation PEJAK. Demonstrations took place in London, Berlin, Paris, Milan and Hamburg, with dozens arrested at the French rally.

But what will the response be inside Iran? Will the hangings provoke public anger or will any display be muted? We have posted video of a demonstration in Sanandaj in Kurdistan in July 2008 over detentions, including that of Farzad Kamangar, who was hung on Sunday. Families of the executed reportedly called for a protest in front of Tehran University at 11 a.m. local time (0600 GMT).