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Entries in Mohammad Nourizad (6)


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 (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....

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

1910 GMT: Panahi to be Freed? Iranian Students News Agency is reporting a statement from Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi that the decree ordering the release of film director Jafar Panahi from Evin Prison has been signed.

Panahi has not been freed yet, however. Dowlatabadi said he met Panahi last Thursday in jail and agreed to the director's request of freedom before his trial, subject to payment of bail. According to Dowlatabadi, "bureaucratic procedures are now proceeding".

1745 GMT: No Permit, No 12 June March? Readers have picked up on this passage from the English translation of Sunday's meeting between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi:

[They] decided to invite people to participate in a national rally on theanniversary 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.

I asked an EA correspondent, "Does that mean that, if no permit is given, neither will take to the streets and call out the Green Movement to demonstrate?"

The correspondent's reply:
I take it to read that while they may not march, they will not stand idle if, as expected, the permission is not granted.

We should emphasise that the 12 June rally, if it takes place, is something relatively new, as it is the very first "homegrown" event for the Green wave, i.e., one that does not "piggyback" on an existing regime commemoration event. This is potentially a vulnerability, as it leaves the Green people exposed (everyone out on the streets that day is Green). It is worth nothing that Kalemeh indicates that Mousavi and Karroubi have also discussed events pertaining to the June 15 anniversary of the mass rally and the June 20 commemoration too. All this means that these days shall be an important litmus test for everyone, the regime and the Greens.

NEW Iran Document: The Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (23 May)
NEW Latest Iran Video: Ahmadinejad Heckled During Speech (24 May)
Iran Document: Khatami “Khordaad is the Month of the People”(22 May)
The Latest from Iran (23 May): Is This The People’s Month?

1650 GMT: The Iran Uranium Letter. Reuters has posted the text of Iran's formal note, based on the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement on a uranium fuel swap, to the International Atomic Energy Agency. An extract:

The nuclear fuel exchange is a starting point to begin cooperation and a positive constructive move forward among nations. Such a move should lead to positive interaction and cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, replacing and avoiding all kinds of confrontation through refraining from measures, actions and rhetorical statements that would jeopardize Iran's rights and obligations under the NPT.

Based on the above, in order to facilitate the nuclear cooperation mentioned above, the Islamic Republic of Iran agrees to deposit 1200 kg LEU in Turkey. While in Turkey the LEU will continue to be the property of Iran. Iran and the IAEA may station observers to monitor the safekeeping of the LEU in Turkey.

In return, we expect the Agency, also in accordance with paragraph 6 of this declaration, to notify the Vienna Group (USA, Russia, France and the IAEA) of its content, and consequently inform us of the Group's positive response. Such action, according to this declaration, will pave the way to commence negotiation for elaboration on further details of the exchange leading to conclusion of a written agreement and as well as making proper arrangements between Iran and the Vienna Group.

1425 GMT: We have posted the English translation of the summary of the Mir Hossein Mousavi-Mehdi Karroubi meeting on Sunday.

1330 GMT: The Crackdown (and a Video Game). Writing for The National, Michael Theodoulou opens his story with the tale of the video game, "Fighting the Leaders of Sedition", where players can use fighter jets to kill Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami. He then moves to the real-life stories of jail sentences, alleged beatings, e.g., of former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, and the detention of film director Jafar Panahi.

1310 GMT: What the Crowd Said to Ahmadinejad. HomyLafayette interprets the video, from Iranian state television, of an audience shouting at the President in Khorramshahr today:
Ahmadinejad attempted to shout over the cries of the population, but even his promises to stem unemployment in the southwestern province failed to trigger applause or to calm the people's loud refrain of "bikari, bikari!" (unemployment, unemployment!).

"The government is at your service," said the beleaguered Ahmadinejad. "With broad projects, with the efforts of the dear youth of Khorramshahr and Khuzestan province, it will uproot unemployment from Khuzestan, god willing."

1300 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. According to an Iranian activist, Azad University student Sina Golchin has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison by an appeals court for participating in the protest on Ashura (27 December).

1135 GMT: Sunday's Karroubi-Mousavi Meeting. Saham News, the website connected with Mehdi Karroubi, has posted a summary of the discussion between Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi. The two men agreed to call for a march on 12 June, the anniversary of the election, and to seek ways to expand the awareness of the Green Movement despite Government restrictions.

1040 GMT: Ahmadinejad Heckled. An EA correspondent, who watched the President's television speech this morning, sends us two audio clips of crowd noise. He comments:
You can clearly hear people shouting 'Azadi' (freedom) in the second clip. In the first clip, near the beginning, the TV obviously tried to remove something, but it's not clear what that was.

(We've now posted a video of the incident.)

1025 GMT: Still Keeping Score on Uranium? After Sunday's confusion, Tehran has submitted a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, outlining last week's Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement on procedure for talks on a uranium swap outside Iran.

1020 GMT: Tough Crowd for Ahmadinejad? Nasser Karimi of the Associated Press reports:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech in a southern port town has been marred by shouts from disenchanted Iranians demanding jobs.

Ahmadinejad on Monday addressed hundreds gathered in Khorramshahr — about 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Tehran — when scores from the crowd interrupted his speech with shouts: "We are unemployed!"

The President was speaking on the 28th anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr from Iraqi forces in the Persian Gulf War.
0945 GMT: Rahnavard's Green Movement Warriors. An English translation of the remarks of Zahra Rahnavard, activist and wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, speaking to Iranian war veterans on the 28th anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr from Iraq, has been posted:
Today the Green movement is seeking the same great values and is continuing the [real] goals of the revolution and the holy defence [against Iraq]; and the martyrs of the Green movement and the warriors and woundees of this movement are the followers of the martyrs of the holly defence era [against the Iraqi occupying forces] especially in the liberation of Abadan and Khorramshar.

Today, the martyrs of the Green movement are carrying the same flag of the martyrs of the holy defence era and revive the memories of the devoted mothers that sang lullaby for the children of martyrs, soldiers and veterans. Today those children have risen from their cradles and each has become a warrior and a devotee. This is why the role of women, daughters and wives in the houses of martyrs as the flag bearers for purity, justice and freedom is truly unforgettable and will be our guide.

I would like to say to you that each has been the witness of the values of your martyrs that if this regime does not try to fulfill the demands and the transcendental and value-based expectations of the Green movement, then it will definitely fall by its own hands. The government should know that the nature of reform is to reform and not to overthrow. But it is possible that this regime with the path that it has chosen, overthrow itself. The government today has not turned 90 degrees but rather 180 degrees from the transcendental values of Islam, revolution and the holy defence era....

Our great Islamic Revolution put an end to 2500 years of monarchy and joined to the movement of prophets. These demands will never fail but if the current government does not reform itself and does not respond to the people’s demands, the Green movement will not overthrow it but rather the very own government will overthrow itself. We hope this will not happen. We would like everything to be reformed in the best way. We hope the regime itself becomes the pioneer for these demands and fulfill them but if it remains ignorant to people’s demands, then it is destroying itself.

0740 GMT: MediaWatch. Since we've chided CNN for its nuclear obsession, it's only fair to give a shout-out to Scherezade Faramarzi of the Associated Press, who posted on Sunday, "With Death Sentences, Iran Seeks to Cow Opposition".

0545 GMT: Execution. Islamic Republic News Agency reports that Abdul Hameed Rigi was hung this morning. He is the brother of Abdul Malek Rigi, the detained leader of the Baluch insurgent group Jundullah.

0525 GMT: Slowly but steadily, the opposition is building up to 12 June. In the last 72 hours, there have been statements from Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami. Mousavi and Karroubi met on Sunday, although there are still no details of the discussion.
Seven opposition websites issued a statement declaring their goals as “resistance, defending the rights of the citizens, unity and avoidance of all forms of violence” and urging the public to “resist and persist in their legal demands to restore the lost principles of the constitution”.

How and even whether these signals will translate into a challenge to the regime on the anniversary of the Presidential election is the big, unanswered question. But at least that question is being posed.

Not that this matter much, so far, to CNN. It is preoccupied with the state of play on the Iran-Brazil-Turkey proposal for talks on uranium enrichment. Iran has said --- amidst some confusion amongst its state media --- that it will formally present the proposal to the International Atomic Energy Agency today, and CNN International is already pursing it lips: ""But can the Iranians be taken at their word?"


Political Prisoner Watch

We are still chasing confirmation of the status of filmmakers Mohammad Nourizad and Jafar Panahi. There were reports, amidst meetings by Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi with prisoners and their families, that the two would be freed --- pro-Government media were saying that Nourizad had been released, a report denied by Nourizad's daughter.

Student leader Majid Tavakoli has reportedly been taken back to solitary confinement and has threatened that he will go on hunger strike.

Amnesty International has posted a statement requesting "urgent action" over detainees Shiva Nazar Ahari and Kouhyar Goudarzi of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR).

Sanctions Dance

In the continued manoeuvring over the Iran-Brazil-Turkey proposal and the US-led push for more sanctions, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday, "If I was in the place of Russian officials, I would adopt a more careful stance."

Russia has been on a non-stop balancing act since last week's moves, with Washington insisting that it has Russian support for a UN Security Council resolution punishing Tehran but Moscow also declaring that it will open Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant by August.

The Latest from Iran (23 May): Is This The People's Month?

1820 GMT: Joined-Up Government? Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Sunday that Iran had not yet delivered a letter outlining the procedure for the uranium swap agreed last week with Brazil and Turkey.

Islamic Republic News Agency reported earlier Sunday that the letter had been delivered (see 1515 GMT). Iranian officials now say it will be submitted on Monday.

1815 GMT: Claimed video of a clashes between protesters and government forces today at Elm-o-Sanat University:


NEW Iran Document: Khatami “Khordaad is the Month of the People”(22 May)
Iran Nuke Analysis: Reading the US-Turkey Discussions
The Latest from Iran (22 May): Karroubi’s Letter, University Protests

1810 GMT: Resistance. Seven opposition websites have issued a joint statement that they will “resist and persevere” in their mission of informing the public until the fall of “despotism” and the moment of “victory”.

Emrooz (Today), Tahavole Sabz (Green Evolution), Jaras/Rah-e-Sabz (Path of the Green Movement), Neday-e Sabz-e Azadi (The Green Voice of Freedom), Raymankojast (Where’s My Vote?), Mizan, and Saham News declared that that “resistance, defending the rights of the citizens, unity and avoidance of all forms of violence” are the pillars of their media activities. They urged the public to contact them with suggestions about “disseminating information” and to “resist and persist in their legal demands to restore the lost principles of the constitution.”

1800 GMT: Nourizad Still Imprisoned? An Iranian activist notifies us that Mohammad Nourizad's daughter has denied the report that he has been released from prison (see 1520 GMT). Pro-Government websites are still carrying the news.

1520 GMT:  Political Prisoner News. Tabnak is reporting from Khabar Online that filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has been released from prison. The article also denied Nourizad's claim that he was beaten by guards last week.

1515 GMT: The Uranium Dispute. The Islamic Republic News Agency reports that Iran has officially handed a letter to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, setting out the terms for a swap of uranium, based on last week's joint declaration by Iran, Brazil and Turkey.

1510 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rah-e-Sabz is reporting, from "sources", that film director Jafar Panahi will be freed this evening from Evin Prison.

Iranian activists are writing that student leader Majid Tavakoli has been moved back to solitary confinement.

1230 GMT: Election Manipulation? Further information on the claim (0740 GMT) that entire villages were "resurrected" --- 60 around Tabriz alone --- to provide votes for President Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election: context and details can be found in Ayande News, Tabnak, and other citations in the Green Voice of Freedom article.

1220 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Press TV, drawing from Iranian Students News Agency, writes:
The Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, described the Islamic Republic as "determined" to defend its rights and in particular its nuclear rights on the international stage: "Iran will not give up its rights in the face of such psychological warfare, threats, and intimidation."...

According to the senior Iranian official, the region and the world will pay a heavy price if "hostile and unethical ways" are adopted to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

ISNA highlights Rafsanjani's remarks about the 28th anniversary of the Iranian defence of Khorramshahr against Iraqi attack. No word, however, about his views on internal matters.

1010 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Iranian Azeri activist Behboud Gholizade, the head of the NGO Yashil, has been arrested.

1000 GMT: Mousavi and Karroubi Meet. Kalemeh, the website of Mir Hossein Mousavi, reports that Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have had a new discussion today. "Further news" is promised later.

0830 GMT: Corruption Corner. Fazel Mousavi of Parliament's Article 90 Commission, has asserted that files  alleging corruption against senior government figures are being investigated.

0825 GMT: Economy Watch. Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a leading member of Parliament's Economy Committee, has again urged the Goverernment to declare details of its subsidy cut plans, warning that otherwise there will be negative economic effects.

0815 GMT: Labour Front. Iran Labor Report sets out the regime crackdown on the Tehran and Municipality Bus Workers Labor Syndicate, with detentions, firings, and disciplinary action.

0810 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Writing for Tehran Bureau, "Hana H." has a lengthy profile of Mehdi Hashemi, Hashemi Rafsanjani's son, and the pressure upon him and his family.

Hashemi is living in Britain and has been threatened with criminal prosecution if he returns to Iran.

0745 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kurdish activist Mohieddin Azadi, detained since March 2008, is reportedly on hunger strike.

85 Iranian filmmakers have urged the judiciary to release detained director Jafar Panahi.

0740 GMT: Remembering the Election (Manipulation)? Green Voice of Freedom claims a new fact from the 2009 Presidential vote for consideraiton: dozens of villages which were recorded in 1976 but had ceased to exist by 2007 suddenly appeared for last year's ballot. The website cites the example of 60 "resurrected" villages around Tabriz.

0735 GMT: Show of Force. Rah-e-Sabz reports heavy security in Khorramshahr in southwestern Iran on the eve of a visit by President Ahmadinejad.

Rooz Online claims two million Basiji militia have been mobilised for 22 Khordaad (12 June).

0715 GMT: Yesterday we began with a defiant statement from Mehdi Karroubi. Today we start with a gentler but pointed call by former President Mohammad Khatami for the Iranian people, leading up to the 12 June anniversary of the 2009 Presidential election, to claim their rights and for the Government to respect that claim. The text is in a separate entry.


Government Spin: Look Away. Far Away....

More emphasis by President Ahmadinejad and his men on events beyond Iran. On Saturday Ahmadinejad spoke with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, who helped broker last week's agreement on a procedure for Tehran's uranium enrichment. Press TV gives the public line:
Iran's nuclear declaration is the beginning of a new era in the international political arena and offers a great opportunity for interaction and dialogue. Tehran is to create a new atmosphere in international relations based on fair and constructive cooperation with its friend and brother countries.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, meeting UN special representative Staffan de Mistura, settled for calling the US the main perpetrator of radicalism in Afghanistan.

New Green Website

Sabzlink, a new "portal" offering readers the latest in Iran news, has gone on-line.

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."