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Entries in RAHANA (6)


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 (25 May): Panahi Freed; Will There Be a 12 June Protest?

1645 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Claimed photographs of Jafar Panahi after his release from Evin Prison today:

1435 GMT: A Government of Fake Doctors? According to Tabnak, Kamran Daneshjoo, the Minister of Science and Higher Education, has said that 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi's claim of a Ph.D. is false.

Ironically, Daneshjoo has also been accused of presenting incorrect information that he has a doctorate from a British university.

NEW Iran Analysis: Towards the Final Battle? (Zahra)
Iran Document: The Mousavi-Karroubi Meeting (23 May)
Latest Iran Video: Ahmadinejad Heckled During Speech (24 Ma
The Latest from Iran (24 May): Rahnavard’s Statement, Ahmadinejad Heckled

1420 GMT: Panahi is Free. Tahareh Saeedi has told Agence France Presse that her husband, film director Jafar Panahi, is out of Evin Prison (see 1145 GMT): "Yes, he has been freed. He is fine. We are taking him to the doctor...[who will] prescribe a diet [for him]."

1335 GMT: Rahnavard on Resistance. Zahra Rahnavard, activist and wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi, has posted another statement on her Facebook site: "Women Will Resist Until Their Demands Are Fulfilled".

1145 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. After 24 hours of uncertainty (see 0735 GMT), film director Jafar Panahi has been released from Evin Prison on $200,000 bail.

0945 GMT: Government Not Worried at All. Really. Which is why Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedi has declared that  security forces will put down any protests on 12 June, the anniversary of the 2009 election: "Police will confront any illegal gatherings ... police are vigilant and in charge of public order and security."

0815 GMT: A Promise to March? Peyke Iran claims that youths leaving a football match in Tehran's Azadi Stadium shouted a message for President Ahmadinejad: "Football is a pretence/Khordaad will be an uproar".

0810 GMT: Assault. Rah-e-Sabz claims that reformist politician Ali Shakouri-Rad was attacked and insulted by Basiji students after his lecture at Elm-o-Sanat University in Tehran.

0800 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Daneshjoo News has posted a list of more than 80 imprisoned students.

Journalist and human rights activist Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi, released on Sunday on bail after more than 100 days in detention, has spoken to Rooz Online about prison conditions and his hunger strike.

RAHANA reports that Kurdish artist Mokhtar Houshmand was arrested at his home on Sunday.

0745 GMT: The Revolutionary Guard and Oil. Peyke Iran claims that the sell-off of Iranian resources to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps continues. The IRGC has allegedly acquired several large projects in the South Pars oil and gas fields, pipelines, and the Ilam refinery.

Meanwhile Rahmani Fazli, chief of Iran's audit office, says that daily oil production must rise to 7 million barrels per day for the Government's 5th Plan to be feasible. Current production is 3,9 million barrel per day.

0735 GMT: Waiting For/Protesting About Panahi. Still no confirmation that film director Jafar Panahi has been freed from Evin Prison, despite the assurance of the Tehran Prosecutor General that the Iranian bureaucracy is processing the release on bail.

Meanwhile Juliette Binoche, winning Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in Abbas Kiarostami's A Certified Copy, makes a simple statement:

0655 GMT: Culture Wars. In her analysis this morning, Ms Zahra notes sharply, "Even a “cultural” step such as using hijab as a new cause for oppression attests to the weakness of this regime."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a complementary article, "Iran has launched a new drive to enforce the obligatory Islamic hijab. Hijab and women who are considered as being badly or improperly veiled and their alleged threat to society is again among the main themes of speeches and comments by Friday Prayer leaders and other state officials."

Most striking, however, is not the summary of the state's intimidation but the snapshot of reaction from Iranian women. While most in a recent report on Iranian television supported the hijab, the video also had this vignette:
At the beginning the reporter interviews two women considered "badly veiled" who seem to be opposed to the enforcement of the dress code. Such women are usually never given a platform on state television.

The first woman says she dresses the way she wants. "I think that's more important than what others might think about how I dress," she says.

The second woman, whose face is blurred like the first (apparently because they didn't want to be identified), makes similar comments. "I wear what I want and I don't listen to what others say," she says.

0645 GMT: Power and Resistance. Looking at but going beyond 22 Khordaad (12 June), we have a special analysis from Ms Zahra, assessing the political situation and asking if a "final battle" is looming for the Government.

Meanwhile, a single incident has sparked attention from the global media to internal developments in Iran: the video of workers heckling President Ahmadinejad, during his speech in Khorramshahr yesterday, has been picked up by most international broadcasters and websites.

0630 GMT: We open this morning with continued discussion of the significance and even the exact wording of the statement from the meeting between Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi on Sunday. My initial reading of their declaration, as translated and posted by the Facebook page supporting Mousavi, was that the two men had set down a limit: they were calling on the Green Movement to march if a permit was granted but, if it was denied they would not take to the streets but would seek to extend awareness and present demands in other ways.

An EA correspondent put the emphasis on those "other ways": "[Mousavi and Karroubi] will not stand idle if, as expected, the permission is not granted." Then a reader brought out this information:
A friend in Tehran...tells me that what the original article in Farsi, on, says is that if the permit is not given, then instructions for the march will be disseminated via Twitter, Facebooks, SMS, etc., not that the rally/march/demo will not be held. On the contrary...both Mousavi and Karroubi state that the demonstration will be held regardless.

So more watching and listening for signals today. What may be significant, while we're looking for resolution, is that there is even a discussion of how far the opposition will go on 12 June.

That is not a discussion that you have if the Green Movement is dead or dying....

The Latest from Iran (18 May): Getting Beyond the Uranium Agreement

2000 GMT: Bring the Kids Home. More than 200 children of Iranian diplomats have returned home to pursue education at local universities, Ministry of Science official Hassan Moslehi announced on Tuesday.

Moslehi said that all Iranian diplomats should transfer their children's education to Iran once they have fulfilled their mission abroad.

Last week member of Parliament Mohammad Shahryari had complained that around 400 children of senior Iranian officials were studying at universities in Britain.

NEW Iran Analysis: Washington and the Tehran Nuclear Deal (Parsi)
NEW Iran Alert: Filmmaker Firouz Faces Deportation From UK
NEW Iran Analysis: The Contest at Home Over (and Beyond) the Uranium Agreement (Zahra)
NEW Iran Analysis: Assessing the Tehran Nuclear Deal (Gary Sick)
Iran Document: Text of Iran-Brazil-Turkey Agreement on Uranium Enrichment
Iran Document: Mehdi Karroubi “The Islamic Republic Depends Upon the People”
Iran Document: The Prosecutor on the Executions, “Leaders of Sedition” (15 May)
Iran Urgent: The Deal on Uranium Enrichment
The Latest from Iran (17 May): Let’s Make a Deal (But Not with You, Mousavi)

1905 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Amir Khosro Dalirsani of the National Religious Front has been sentenced to four years in prison.

1855 GMT: Hmm, You Might Want to Think About This One. Saber Feizi, the head of the Telecommunications Company of Iran, has said, “The reason for the low internet speed in the country is that users mainly consult websites outside the country for obtaining information."

Launching 115 telecommunications projects in the holy city of Qom on Tuesday, Feizi said that issues with infrastructure were not to blame for slow internet access. He admitted that “lack of content” on Iranian pages pushed users to visit foreign websites.

1845 GMT: A Far-from-Academic Protest. Daneshjoo News claims that students at Khaje Nasir University of Technology in Tehran staged a spontaneous protest against the presence of the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

Green Movement supporters distributed leaflets and reportedly spilled paint over the car of the IRGC commander. The protest occurred despite the presence of armed security and military forces and at least four cameramen from university security.

1335 GMT: Defending His Judiciary. The head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, under pressure on several fronts, has issued a "hold the line" (and don't blame me) statement.

To the 175 members of Parliament who submitted a public letter calling for prosecution of opposition figures like Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, Larijani said the judiciary “is always in step with the greater policies of the Islamic Republic” and has not delayed in its confrontiation of “seditious elements”: “We are very good at our job and are not prone to procrastination as these gentlemen would like to believe. We have no fear of confronting the heads of sedition.”

As for claims that the judiciary has not pursued corruption allegations against public officials, including First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Larijani claimed, “The Supreme Leader has repeatedly stressed on direct confrontation of corruption cases provided that they do not weaken the system.”

1145 GMT: We've added another analysis on the Iran-Brazil-Turkey uranium deal: Trita Parsi assesses its signficance and Washington's possible reaction.

1030 GMT: Cracking Down on Mousavi. More on the arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi's lead bodyguard, Ahmad Yazdanfar (see final updates yesterday)....

There is still no official reason for the detention of Yazdanfar, who has accompanied Mousavi for the past seven years. Following the arrest, Mousavi has asked his office staff not to appear at work until further notice.

0739 GMT: Rights and Repression. Rooz Online features a lengthy interview with Kurdish activist Mahmud Saeedzadeh, "The Judiciary is a Repressive Tool".

0735 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA has published a list --- still incomplete --- of 472 political prisoners, their prisons, and their professions in both Persian and English.

0725 GMT: Subsidy Front. Subsidies: Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a vocal Parliamentary critic of the Government on economic issues, has charged that the delay in implementation of subsidy cuts to September means the Government is obtaining $20 million of revenue illegally.

0720 GMT: Sacrificing Iran. An interesting statement from Dr Alireza Marandi, former Minister of Health and prominent medical professor: he says that the "development of the country has been sacrificed for politics".

Marandi is the father of the academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a high-profile post-election defender of Iran's Government.

0650 GMT: Domestic Politics and the Uranium Agreement. EA's newest correspondent, Ms Zahra, offers a sharp analysis of the internal manoeuvres over yesterday's nuclear news, noting the possibilities and pitfalls for both President Ahmadinejad and the opposition.

What is clear this morning is that Ahmadinejad's "opposition" is not limited to the Green Movement and reformists. The most striking comment in Rah-e-Sabz's overview of the deal and reactions is that of "conservative" member of Parliament Ahmad Tavakoli, who complains that "Iran has lost its most important ace" in high-stakes international card games. Tavakoli added to Fars News that the Tehran agreement is not an "treaty" but an "obligation" upon Iran.

There's more: Tavakoli is a firm ally of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. And Khabar Online, also linked to Larijani, features Tavakoli's remarks that "Ahmadinejad must come to the Majlis [Parliament] and explain this strange statement".

Jomhouri Eslami piles on, asserting that the treaty is "a complete drawback".

0600 GMT: Monday's Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement on procedure over uranium enrichment resonates through politics and the media this morning. Our key question remains unanswered: did the US quietly support the Brazilian-Turkish initiative or was it taken by surprise?

So far Washington has limited itself to a "hold the line" statement, which sets out a further lines for Tehran to cross: let's see the agreement when it has been presented to the International Atomic Energy Agency and let's see Tehran pull back from its unilateral attempt at 20-percent enriched uranium. (The latter, I think, is a red herring; more important will be the response to the former.)

We've posted an analysis by top US-based analyst Gary Sick, and the newest EA correspondent will be offering thoughts later this morning.

As always, however, we will be ensuring that the nuclear news does not wipe Iran's internal situation from sight. An agreement on uranium enrichment does not stop the advance towards 12 June, the anniversary of the election, or the Government's arrests and intimidations. In what may be a most pointed signal, the head of Mir Hossein Mousavi's security detail was arrested yesterday.

And we have a special post this morning on Iranian filmmaker  and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights activist Kiana Firouz, who faces deportation from Britain.

The Latest from Iran (14 May): The Meaning of the Strike?

2035 GMT: Film Corner (cont.). Earlier we reported on the unclaimed chair for the Grand Jury at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival (see 0615 GMT)

The seat was to be filled by Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who had to send this message:
I salute you from my narrow and dark cell in Evin Prison. Unfortunately it is only today that I heard of your valuable efforts [to release me] during the Festival of Cannes....I greet you from here and would like to express my gratitude to all festival organisers for their humanity and decency.

NEW Iran Analysis: The Economic Squeeze and the Real Sanctions Story (Colvin)
UPDATED Iran Video: Strike in Kurdistan (13 May)
Iran Special: Executions, Politics, and the Attack on Nazila Fathi and The New York Times
Iran Transcript: Mousavi “Do Iranian Mothers Have Rights?” (12 May)
Iran Document: A Letter from Majid Tavakoli About the Executed (11 May)
The Latest from Iran (13 May): Justice, Legitimacy, and a Strike in Kurdistan

2030 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that Bahman Khodadadi has been missing since Saturday, when he was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan. The website also claims Azeri civil rights activists Reza Abdi and Alireza Hosseinzadeh were arrested Tuesday in Tabriz.

1945 GMT: The Executions and After. RAHANA offers a useful summary of "The Week in Kurdistan".

1820 GMT: The Oil Squeeze. Rah-e-Sabz reports that because of sanctions, lack of investment, and government mismanagement, oil production dropped by 750,000 barrels (almost 20%) to less than 35. million barrels per day. Sales fell by 450,000 barrels daily, as Saudi Arabia took up more of China's demand for imports.

1812 GMT: The Writing on the Wall. EA's German Bureau brings me this picture of graffiti in Iran. It is from January, but it has a current resonance, I think.

"Execution = End of Islamic Rule".

1750 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. RAHANA reports that Arash Saboonchi, a student activist and member of Mehdi Karroubi’s presidential campaign in Arak in northwest Iran, has been arrested and taken to an unknown location by plainclothes agents.

1725 GMT: Larijani, Nuclear Dealmaker? A whiff of a most important story in Khabar Online, the website connected with Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani. It uses purported remarks from Kazem Jalali of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission to play up Larijani's role as broker in talks on Iran's nuclear programme:
According to Khabar Online correspondent, [in] the hallway of the Majlis, Kazem Jalali commented on diplomatic positions expressed by Larijani and f negotiations at international summits: "A collective body monitored by the Supreme Council of National Security decides and authorizes the Parliament Speaker to take such measures, given that as a body corporate and senior member of the council, he has a mastery of the standards of the Islamic Republic's diplomacy....

In many instances the international negotiations conducted by the Parliament Speaker are more productive in breaking the impasses

Jalali supposedly added, "We have never excluded the issue of nuclear fuel exchange from our agenda. We are ready to receive fair proposals on the issue and it has been underlined by Iranian officials several times. But I believe that through their mediations Brazil and Turkey can play an important role to resolve the problem. Obviously we will welcome their contribution."

The significance, however, is not just the international dimension, with the further signal that a deal mediated by Brazil or Turkey is a possibility for Tehran. It is also internal: last October the uranium enrichment talks broke down in part because of opposition within Iran.

Larijani, speaking on his behalf or representing the Supreme Leader, was part of that opposition to the President's aspirations. If he is now portraying himself as a factor for a deal, it not only shifts the international equation but also the power equation vs. Ahmadinejad.

1500 GMT: Keep the Children at Home? Khabar Online claims that the children of administration officials are being stopped from studying abroad.

1450 GMT: The Executions and Pressure on Kurdish Teachers. RAHANA reports that Heydar Zaman, Mostafa Sarbazan and Ramin Zandnia, three activists of the Teachers Trade Union in Kurdistan, were summoned to Intelligence Headquarters in Sanandaj. The questioning took place a day after the execution of teacher Farzad Kamangar.

Four other activists of the union were arrested on Sunday and released after long interrogations.

1440 GMT: Friday Prayers Amended (No Sinful Earthquakes But Lots of Bad Hijab). Seems I judged today's Friday Prayer Speaker, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, too quickly (1300 GMT).

He did have a whip-'em-up line, much better than the G-15 summit and the Tehran Book Fair, for the audience. Apparently a "soft war" against hijab has started in the name of "freedom". Western officials of Satan, who once Reza Shah to get rid of the hijab, are carrying out their subversion by bringing women with "bad hijab" to Qom.

Seddiqi did have to backtrack on his previous big hit of breasts=earthquakes, announcing that sin is not the only reason for natural disasters in the West.

No matter. Looks like Seddiqi's "bad hijab" routine is going down well with the critics: Ayatollah Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, has given it a round of applause.

1430 GMT: Where's Mahmoud? President Ahmadinejad has delivered a speech in which he announced that God has chosen the Iranian people to promote justice and monotheism on Earth.

1300 GMT: Your Friday Prayer Summary. Last time Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi took the podium for Tehran Friday Prayers, he became a global religious star with his warning that women's breasts can cause earthquakes.

He didn't shake things up as much today. His hook-line of Iran's prominence at the G-15 summit of non-aligned countries just didn't have the same appeal, and he had to fall back on a shout-out for five million people at the Tehran Book Fair showing the culture, civilization and ideals of Iran and its youth.

1155 GMT: The Executions. Nine expatriate and domestic parties and political organisations have called for rallies abroad this Sunday to protest recent executions. Those involved in the call are Republicans, Democratic Party of Kurdistan, Komeleh, Democratic Party of Iran's People, National Front Europe, Feddayin-e Khalq (majority and minority), Provisional Council of Leftist Socialists, and Movement of Democratic and Secular Republicans.

1145 GMT: Cultural Vaccination. Mahmoud Salari, the director of the Tehran Book Fair, has declared that books by famous authors such as Forugh Farrokhzad, Hushang Golshiri, and Sadegh Hedayat are like palm-reading (faal va kafbini). He declared that all books published before 2005 will be removed as a vaccination against "cultural disease", and he said that only religious thinking should be promoted to maintain the honour of the Iranian system (nezam).

It looks like Salari and the Book Fair organisers may have more serious worries than palm-reading, however. Khabar Online publishes a photograph of the state of the booths as the Fair formally opened.

1130 GMT: Interrogation. Kalemeh reports that reformists in Tabriz in East Azerbaijan have been summoned by authorities and questioned for up to four hours on subjects such as the alleged involvement of the "terrorist" Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) in the opposition movement.

1005 GMT: Cultural Jeremiad. Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has pronounced that, with satellites, the vice of the Internet and its websites swashes from west to east and back. He declared that those moral vices have become political and social, and politicians of the world promote them for their goals.

1000 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Speaking with student activists and the family of the detained Majid Tavakoli, Mehdi Karroubi has declared, "Rest assured that the situation won't remain like this.

0950 GMT: The Executions and the Strike. Nazila Fathi reports in The New York Times:
Iranian Kurds staged one of their largest strikes in recent years, closing shops and bazaars in nearly all Sunni Kurdish cities and towns in eastern Iran to protest the executions of five people, including four Kurdish activists, on Sunday, according to opposition Web sites and witnesses....

Many analysts and opposition figures interpreted the executions on Sunday as a warning that the government would not tolerate protests next month on the election’s first anniversary.

Rah-e-Sabz has a lengthy account of the day in Kurdistan, with a heavy security presence and Kurdistan's largest city Sanandaj and many other towns mostly deserted.

0940 GMT: The Executions and the Opposition. Reporting from Tehran, Thomas Erdbrink of The Washington Post picks up on the political context of last Sunday's execution of five Iranians. He quotes Ali Shakorirad, a leader of the reformist Islamic Participation Front, "The government is trying to create a security atmosphere as a crucial month approaches," and gives the pro-Government counterpoint from "Amir Mohebbian, "Their [opposition] movement has lost steam, and its leaders are disillusioned and hopeless. Those executed were terrorists. They who sympathize with terrorists are terrorists themselves."

Erdbrink also quotes an office clerk, "Fahrzad", who says, "We have all tried to return to normal, but there are killings and arrests. Maybe some are smiling on the outside, but inside we are all still upset."

0745 GMT: Economy Watch. We've posted an analysis from Ross Colvin, "The Economic Squeeze and the Real Sanctions Story".

0625 GMT: The Executions and the Opposition. EA readers may have noted the recent attempt by to deride coverage of Sunday's executions, with the claim that The New York Times showed "pro-Green" bias with the analysis that the hangings might have occurred to deter the opposition from protests on 12 June, the anniversary of the election.

A follow-up to the executions from Kayhan, the "hardline" Iranian newspaper (hat-tip to an EA reader):
The leaders of the recent plots have supported the five terrorists whose hands were stained with the blood of innocent people, and who were executed in Evin prison on May 10th. This shows that these people cannot be expected to retreat, and it would be very naive to believe that they would repent. It is all over now, and no phrase can better describe the plotters’ situation than "some people have joined the anti-Revolution and terrorists camp".

0620 GMT: Subsidy Cuts. President Ahmadinejad has said that his subsidy reduction plan will begin in the second half of the Iranian year, i.e., from late September 2010.

Previous reports said some reductions would be implemented from 21 May.

0615 GMT: Film News. As the 63rd Cannes Film Festival opened, one of the nine chairs for jury members was unclaimed.

Iranian director Jafar Panahi, detained in March, remains in Evin Prison.

0600 GMT: Kurdistan Funeral. A copy of a flyer has been posted which indicates that the service for Farzad Kamangar, executed on Sunday, will be in Mohammad Rasoolollah Mosque tomorrow from 9 to 11 a.m.

0555 GMT: Thursday's Top Comment. "Dissected News" on Twitter: "Only the ghosts of Iran's martyrs seem to be on the (Kurdish) streets."

0545 GMT: The Executions...Aftermath. RAHANA reports that the house of Shirin Alamhouli is surrounded by security forces, who are denying entry to relatives. Iranian authorities reportedly are refusing to let the family bury Alamhouli n a Muslim cemetery because she was a "mohareb" (warrior against God).

0530 GMT: Beyond a doubt, the major story yesterday was the stoppage in Kurdistan, a response to Sunday's execution  of five Iranians, four of them Kurdish. The logistics meant that confirmed news was slow to come out, but the reports, the pictures, and even the videos emerged.

We had asked earlier this week whether the anger and  dismay expressed outside Iran over the executions would be matched by public reactions within the country. We now have an answer --- we will watch how far that answer extends with responses beyond Kurdistan.

Persian2English features a further report, with photos, on yesterday's events.

The Latest from Iran (9 May): 5 Iranian Kurds Executed

1830 GMT: The Execution Protests. There have been demonstrations this afternoon in front of the Iranian Embassies in France and Britain, with reports of 25 protesters arrested in Paris. This footage is from the rally in London.


1610 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. A court of appeal has upheld a sentence of 4 years and 11 months for student activist Abdollah Momeni.

1600 GMT: Khatami's Concern. Speaking to student and cultural activists, former President Mohammad Khatami maintained that the ruling class cannot resolve difficult issues through mere “slogans”. He called for the release of all political prisoners and compensation for those who have been harmed in post-election events. He also demanded the end of "the security-laden atmosphere", no more restrictions on political organization,s and steps for "appropriate elections in the future”.

Khatami warned the authorities that “ignoring the protests and making false accusations against protesters will not make them disappear”.

NEW Iran: Farzad Kamangar’s Last Letter “Is It Possible to Teach and Be Silent?
NEW Iran First-Hand: Assessing Life and Opinions in Tehran (Majd)
NEW Iran, Meet Kafka: The Web of Internet Censorship Catches All (Farokhnia)
Iran: The Green Movement and “Moral Capital” (Jahanbegloo)
The Latest from Iran (8 May): Back to the Politics

1540 GMT: The Executions. Back from an afternoon's break to find that the dominant, almost the exclusive story, is the execution of five Iranian Kurds.

*EA readers remind us about the story of teacher Farzad Kamangar's trial, with his lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, claiming, “[It lasted] no more than five minutes, with the judge issuing his sentence without any explanation and then promptly leaving the room....I have seen absolutely zero evidence presented against Kamangar. In my forty years of legal profession, I have never witnessed such a prosecution.”

*Press TV carries a story about the hangings but does not even gives the names of those executed. The article has disappeared off the website's front page; the lead story is "Iran Tests New Anti-Submarine Torpedo".

*Masih Alinejad has written a passionate opinion piece about the case.

*Speaking to Rah-e-Sabz, the brother of Kamangar said he "hoped that [his] brother’s execution is...a lie.....The family...has had no contact with Farzad since yesterday. Only today through Fars News and other news sites have we found out that they had executed Farzad."

1145 GMT: United4Iran has posted biographies of the five Iranian Kurds executed this morning.

0825 GMT: We have posted, in a separate entry, the last letter of teacher Farzad Kamangar, who was executed this morning. The last letter of Shirin Alamhouli, also put to death, is posted on Persian2English.

0745 GMT: Executions. RAHANA claims that Iranian Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, human rights activist Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alamhouli, and Mehdi Eslamian, accused in 2008 of "mohareb" (war against God), were executed this morning.

Islamic Republic News Agency is featuring the news. Iranian authorities claims that the five detainees were responsible for bombings and were members of the Kurdish separatist group PEJAK.

0710 GMT: Nuclear Signal? Mehr News Agency is claiming that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be in Tehran in mid-May, implying that there will be a major initiative for a deal on uranium enrichment.

Lula will be in Iran for a summit of the Group of 15 (G-15) non-aligned nations, while Erdogan is coming for direct talks with Iranian officials. Mehr claims from sources that the Turkish and Brazilian leaders will present a "joint proposal" for a swap of uranium stocks.

0700 GMT: Remembering the Journalists. In a sign, however, that the coverage of Iran just won't go away, the Henri-Nannen Prize, awarded in Germany for outstanding achievements in journalism, has been given to detained Iranian reporters, editors, and bloggers. Maziar Bahari, the Iranian-Canadian journalist detained for four months after the June election, accepted the award on their behalf.

0645 GMT: We start this morning with signs of regime frustration that the opposition just won't go away. In a separate entry, we feature Hamid Farokhnia's article on Iran's censorship of the Internet, which has become so pervasive and so tangled that even "hardliner" sites are being filtered.

Then there's the reported cry of Resalat, which declares that launching "some new attractive newspapers committed to revolution" is absolutely necessary. The writers complain that the defenders of the regime have failed to compete with foreign media and more cyber-sites are needed.