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Entries in Mir Hossein Mousavi (10)


Iran Exclusive: The Escalating Battle With Ahmadinejad

Last month two leaders of the Motalefeh (Islamic Coalition) Party, Habibollah Asgarowladi and Mohammad Nabi Habibi, requested a meeting with President Ahmadinejad. The discussion soon went beyond polite regards: Asgrowladi and Nabi Habibi told Ahmadinejad that he was "the biggest cause" of the improved position of the Green Movement in Iranian society.

The leaders of Motalefeh --- which has been a conservative mainstay of the Islamic Republic since its formation --- went further. They asked Ahmadinejad, "Who was the first person to chant, 'Marg bar Velayat-e-Faqih' (Death to Clerical Supremacy)?"

The President said nothing. Asgarowladi and Nabi Habibi continued, "You." In Ahmadinejad's televised debate with Mir Hossein Mousavi in the 2009 campaign, they explained, the President had equated the fate of the Revolution with his own. Ahmadinejad had put himself above everyone, even the Supreme Leader, and the Islamic Republic.

The meeting might seem extraordinary, but it is only one more incident in the battle against the President --- a battle that, at the moment, is not being led by the Greens or the reformists but by conservatives who are disillusioned with the state of Iran and with Ahmadinejad's personal approach to politics.

Since January, we have documented the escalation of that battle, to the point where key conservatives such as Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and 2009 Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei have been involved in discussions of how to limit or even replace Ahmadinejad, on a daily basis. Defenders of the President, inside and outside Iran, will argue that this is only the normal rough-and-tumble of politics and that the Government as well as the regime is secure.

We're not so sure. From sources inside Iran, we get the picture of rising rather than falling difficulties.

Prices are now increasing, in some cases soaring, across a range of essentials. This week it was reported that electricity bills have risen for some consumers in Tehran by five times. Water has become more expensive. Lamb, which sells for about £10 per kilogramme ($7 per pound) in Britain, is £15 per kilogramme ($10.50 per pound) in Iran, with its lower level of wages.

Sources report that the cultural atmosphere is increasing turning against the "Islamic Revolution". The disappointment and anger is not translating into open political activity. Instead, amidst the repression and sense of crisis, there is a lethargy. Young people are looking to emigrate, and university students are seeking visas to study abroad.

This summer, the rift had opened not only between the President and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani but also between Ahmadinejad and the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani. In separate meetings with the Supreme Leader, Ali and Sadegh each said that the President was not popular and continued, "Please believe it. Don't support him."

Ayatollah Khamenei insisted, "No, this is not the situation." He told the Larijanis that there must be co-operation and said that he would hold a meeting at the start of Ramadan.

Ali Larijani replied, "My heart is not in it." Khamenei responded, "This is a religious duty."

As we noted in detail at the time, the Supreme Leader did chair that discussion with Ahmadinejad and the two Larijanis, following this with a public speech invoking "unity". A few days later, Ali Larijani and Ahmadinejad gave a public show of reconciliation.

Soon, however, that display broke down. Ahmadinejad's appointment of special envoys for international affairs led to dispute with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who had previously kept quiet over the political tensions, and opened up the space for renewed criticism by the President's opponents in Parliament and the conservative media. The fragile economic situation offered the platform for a gradual renewal of criticism by Ahmadinejad's foes.

And so it was that, only a few weeks after his dramatic intervention and loud proclamation of "unity", the Supreme Leader was once more --- at the behest of his officials and politicians --- having to rebuke Ahmadinejad. This was not only over foreign policy but over the President's economic management, including privatisation and handling of imports.

Is that enough to hold the Government together for some more months? Another story....

Last month Mohsen Rezaei --- former commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Secretary of the Expediency Council, 2009 Presidential candidate --- met the Supreme Leader. Rezaei requested, "Please let us carry out the unity plan," by which he meant support of a combination of leading politicians and officials that would curb and possibly put aside Ahmadinejad.

The Supreme Leader asked, "Will this include [opposition figures Mir Hossein] Mousavi and [Mehdi] Karroubi?"

Rezaei paused for a very long moment and then said, "Maybe."

Khamenei was quicker in his response, "No."

So, as our sources summarise, "Iran is in a cul-de-sac." Most of the population is dispirited and apathetic about politics; they see no care for them from the Government, no benefit in the Republic, no use in pursuit of "reform".

Meanwhile, the establishment is increasingly fragmented. Ahmadinejad is in political difficulties, facing heavyweight challenges from the Parliament and possibly from Iran's judiciary, but he can still rely upon the security services and his allies still dominate the Ministry of Intelligence.

Perhaps most importantly, the Supreme Leader still has not pulled the trigger on his President. There have been times when it appeared Ayatollah Khamenei might do so. for example, last summer in the dispute over Ahmadinejad's power play for Iran's ministries and his insistence on keeping Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, now Chief of Staff, by his side. It appears, however, that Khamenei is still acceptingalbeit without satisfaction and with a great deal of concern --- "the devil he knows" rather than the devil he doesn't. He cannot accept a political coalition which --- without Ahmadinejad --- might have to reach out to reformists and the opposition to bring a semblance of stability.

I suspect Ahmadinejad and his allies not only know that but are playing upon that. For the Supreme Leader's rebukes of his President have not brought the downfall of the controversial Rahim-Mashai. They have not brought a retraction of the President's foreign policy move with his appointment of special envoys, including the same Rahim-Mashai. They have not even brought a shift in Ahmadinejad's economic approach.

This is turning into quite a contest. For at the end of the day --- assuming that the conservatives who dislike the President do not put the white flag --- both the President and the Supreme Leader cannot emerged unbloodied. Either Ahmadinejad must be publicly limited or the weakness of Khamenei's claim of a "velayat-e-faqih", as the Motalefeh leaders foretold in their meeting with the President), will have been exposed.

On to the next round....

Iran Special: Abdollah Momeni Writes Supreme Leader About His Detention & Torture

Abdollah Momeni is a student activist who was detained and taken to Evin Prison within days of the June 2009 Presidential election. Last November, he was sentenced to eight years in prison; the term was reduced on appeal to 4 years and 11 months.

Momeni is currently in Ward 350 of Evin, maintained for political prisoners. This letter to Ayatollah Khamenei was written in August and smuggled out of the prison. It has been published in Persian and in English by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

In the Name of God

Ayatollah Khamenei

The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

During one of my days in detention at Evin Prison, I had the opportunity to hear a televised speech by you.  You spoke of the importance of opposing injustice and the need to observe fairness and justice (23 June 2010). That day, I decided to write a letter addressed to you, thinking that perhaps the news about detention centers does not reach you.  So you may not know that besides Kahrizak [the site of abuses and killings just after the 2009 elections], at Evin Prison too  prisoners are not given even minimal rights, and are subjected to the severest forms of physical and psychological abuses, which are exerted with the aim of character assassination and coercing false confessions.

Further, given that I heard that during the time when I and others like myself were facing the worst kinds of torture intent on forcing us to confess to crimes we had not committed, you took the opportunity at the Prayers on the occasion of Eid al Fitr [September 2009] to say, “Whatever accused persons say about themselves in court is credible.” This is why I decided to write a letter and describe the torture, illegal, and un-Islamic treatment which I have received in prison, so that perhaps I can receive an answer to this question: “Are confessions extracted through the use of such inhumane and unethical methods valid in your view or not?” And so, in the hopes of establishing a truth commission to investigate what I have faced during my incarceration, interrogation, and court hearings, and as a person accused and imprisoned by the Islamic Republic of Iran during your rule, I will recount my experiences.  At the same time, I hope that the recounting of these experiences will not end in increased pressures and difficulties during my stay in prison.

Supreme Leader

Today I am in Evin Prison, because I have been identified as someone who is critical of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  As such, it is not irrelevant for me to recount my political views and activities over the last decade. I entered university in 1996 and in the same year joined the Islamic Student Organization and then was elected to Office to Foster Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat) and was a member of the Central Council and served as the Secretary of Tahkim until 2005 when I completed my Masters studies in Sociology at Allameh Tabataie University.  From 2005 to the present I have served as a member of the Central Council of the Alumni Organization of University Students of the Islamic Republic (Sazeman-e Danesh Amookhtegan-e Iran-e Islami—Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat).  I was the spokesperson for this legal organization, which works toward the advancement of democracy and human rights.

During my time as a university student, my colleagues and I were most concerned with the independence of the institution of higher education from the centers of power and political parties and  groups, as well as providing criticism of the state in an effort to support the people.  My friends and I at the Office to Foster Unity believed that the mandate of the student movement was to facilitate the development of an environment where the historic demands for freedom of the people could be articulated  and civil rights defended, despite one’s political and ideological beliefs and leanings.   As such, we believed and continue to believe that the student movement should not sing the praises of the power structures and those in power, rather it must offer criticism of those who take advantage of their power, no matter what their background, and it must defend the rights of the people, including women’s rights and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.

For this reason over the past decade, I have been targeted by those in power and security forces and as a result have experienced prison and solitary confinement on several occasions.  Taking into account this arrest, I have spent nearly 200 days in solitary confinement.  While my previous incarcerations were not free of pressure and torture, this recent arrest was a different experience, I believe that informing the public and officials about the atrocities of this latest experience is of greatest importance.

Supreme Leader

Beatings, verbal abuse, and degradation and illegal treatments started at the very moment of my arrest.  During my arrest, tear gas was used, which prior to this had only been used in the streets and open air.  Breathing tear gas in a confined space made me feel as if I were choking and rendered me unable to move. Still, the security officials did not stop at that. With great spite and hostility they began to beat me, punching and kicking me, so that they could turn me over to their superiors at Evin Prison with a bloody nose,  mouth and bleeding teeth and shackled arms and legs. Interestingly enough when I objected to the treatment I received by vowing to launch a complaint against the approximately 20 security officials [who had come to arrest me], they responded with profanity and vile curses against myself and the judge.

Of course this was just a warm-up for the start of my interrogations, where interrogators targeted my body and spirit.  From the very beginning, I was faced with this constant proclamation that “the regime has suffered a crack” and the constant promise that “you will all be executed”.  The anticipation of the realisation of this promise haunted me for some time and kept me wondering when and if my life would come to an end,   especially on the many occasions either during the day or in the middle of the night when, without any explanation, I would be taken from one cell to another or from one ward to another. During the 86 days I spent in solitary confinement I never saw the color of the sky. During the 7 months of my  detention in the security wards of 209 and 240 I was only allowed to go into the courtyard on 6 occasions. After my time in solitary confinement and the end of my interrogations and my court hearing, I was only allowed to contact my family every two weeks—calls that lasted only a few moments and during which my interrogator was present.

Allow me to describe the first days of my detention.  After being arrested in the manner described above, I was transferred to solitary confinement–cell 101 in Section 209 of Evin prison. Upon entry into the cell I noticed that there were feces under the carpet in the room, so I objected.  I was told,  “You are not worthy of anything better than this.”

After two days in Section 209, I was taken to Section 240 and transferred to the charge of the Ministry of Intelligence .  After this, the conditions of prison became even more difficult and increasingly inhumane. Contrary to the regulations adopted by the Sixth Parliament, and the orders of Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, which required that two solitary confinement cells be combined into one to allow for extra space for prisoners, it seemed that in this Section each cell was divided into two cells reducing space and measuring 1.6 meters by 2.2. The width of the cell was shorter than my height and I could only lay down in one position. There was a metal bucket placed over a sewage hole, to make a makeshift toilet where we could relieve ourselves.  A water faucet was placed over this makeshift toilet so that the prisoner would not have to be brought out of his cell for basic needs.  Unfortunately, the positioning of this tomb-like cell, which benefited from the deathly silence of the ward, was such that the Qiblih [the direction of prayer] was in the same direction as the makeshift toilet and the distance between this toilet and my prayer position was only a few inches. There was also a light projector which was on 24 hours a day, so as to prevent prisoners from even imagining a good night’s rest. Enduring solitary confinement and difficult and lengthy interrogation sessions was something I had to become accustomed to. But along with solitary confinement, repeated sleepless nights resulting from lengthy interrogation sessions, being forced to stand on one foot for lengthy periods, enduring beatings and being slapped repeatedly were the preferred options in our Section during those days. The pressure and being taunted by interrogators for having refused their demands was so great that at times I would pass out during interrogation sessions.

The iron fist of interrogators would also result in my passing out.  On several occasions the interrogator in charge of my case strangled me to the point of me loosing consciousness and falling to the ground. For days following these strangulations, I suffered such severe pain in the neck and throat area, that eating and drinking became unbearable. Of course, the negative impact of torture is not something which prisoners such as I have to contend with alone. At times, the interrogator himself suffers as a result of inflicting torture.  I remember during one of my interrogations, after receiving repeated blows to the mouth, the interrogator, who would hit me with the back of his hand, noticed that his fingers had suffered cuts as well.

Interrogators even used my screams and cries which resulted from the beatings I was receiving to taunt other prisoners. Later I heard from some prisoners that during their interrogations, which were purposefully scheduled at the same time as mine [in a different room], they could hear my squealing. It seems that my screams were used to inflict emotional pressure on others.

Based on this account, it is inevitable that the interrogations had only one aim: to break the prisoner and force him to confess to what it was the interrogator wished.  When we asked why it was that they used such methods to extract such confessions, we were told, “According to the founder of the Islamic Republic the preservation of the Regime is the foremost obligation".

In the first month my interrogators would constantly say that “blood has been shed, the regime has suffered a crack, and many of you will be executed” and “ the regime is the plaintiff against you”. During interrogations, whenever I did not respond in accordance with the “ will of the interrogator”, or as he put it “in line with the interests of the regime”, I was told that either I had “to respond as we want you to, or you have to eat and swallow your interrogation form”.

This was not a threat. After refusing these demands, they would force feed the interrogation forms into my mouth. Interestingly enough, once during the month of Ramadan I was forced to eat the interrogation form while I was fasting. Well, when beatings and cursing are routine during the holy nights of Qadr and these nights are not honoured, then it is no wonder that all other behavior is to also be expected.

Ayatollah Khamenei

From the start of the interrogations, I was forced to write against my friends and those close to me and when I resisted, besides being beaten and slapped repeatedly, I was given this response by the interrogator, “You have to write against others so that your own notorious personality is demoralised. ” Perhaps this logic, which was intent on demoralising and breaking me, justified their insistence that I confess to sexual relations and indiscretions which I had not had. When I objected that these accusations were not true, and insisted that I could not implicate myself in a false confession, I would receive beatings and insults and would be told, “We will bring a prostitute to your court hearing to confess against you and say that she had illegitimate sexual relations with you.”

Witnessing the expertise of the interrogators of the Islamic Republic, who are referred to as the unnamed soldiers of the Mahdi (the Messiah), in their use of vulgarities which I could never bring myself to repeat within this letter and some of which I had never heard before, was indeed a painful experience for me. In the continuation of these same interrogation sessions, the interrogator would say, “We will do something to you so severe, that when you hear the name of Section 240 outside of prison, your body will begin to convulse.” I would ask myself, how can a security agency utilize such strategies intent on inflicting fear and such threats to ensure the security of a nation, and what will be the end result of such strategies and tactics? How can you reach justice, by relying on the tactics intent on character assassinations of prisoners as a link in a cycle of torture and repression? How do the standards of forcing false confessions through any means possible in the behavior of law enforcers, correspond with religious, human rights or ethical standards?

In the entire process of interrogation, my interrogators took several opportunities to use derogatory terms and vile language in addressing my late mother, who was a believer and the mother of a martyr.  They  addressed my wife as a – - – - -, despite the fact that she has sacrificed much, is devoutly religious and was formerly married to  my brother who was martyred in the War [and whom I married in line with tradition and custom]. They addressed my sisters and other female relatives in the most vile of manners, by calling them – - – - – -, and insulted them on numerous occasions.  The constant use of these derogatory terms and foul language by those who present themselves as the defenders of the Islamic Regime also targeted my martyred brother --- our families sacrifice for our nation– whom they addressed as a hypocrite and enemy.

Not only are interrogators disrespectful toward ordinary prisoners, they disrespect former and current government officials. On many occasions I witnessed how they used insulting and derogatory terms to address officials such as Hojatoleslam Seyed Hassan Khomeini (as a cheeky child, with morality issues) Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani (as corrupt), Mir Hossein Mousavi (as the imposter and Islamic Anti-christ), Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi (immoral and corrupt) and Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami (immoral and, by naming some pious women, they would claim that he was involved in relations with  them), and Ayatollah Mousavi Khoiniha (seditious).  Despite the fact that I had not even met some of these officials, they wanted me to speak against them in court.  With respect to Mr. Karoubi and Mr. Abullah Nouri, they wanted me to use foul language against them in court. With respect to Ayatollah Mousavi Khoiniha, they told me to mention in my court hearing by name and say that he had played a central role in the recent unrest and had served as the main coordinator and director of these developments.

It should be noted that in the most polite of references to these individuals and figures, the interrogators would still address them disrespectfully. For example, they referred to Mr. Hashemi (Rafsanjani) as “Akbar Shah” and vowed to imprison these former and current officials as well. It seems as if the desire of the interrogator pre-empts the wishes and will of the judiciary as well and is more powerful than the law. Interrogators claimed that they were in fact the ones who issued court rulings. Perhaps it is important to note that the judge in charge of my case (Judge Salavati) had explained to me that “if the interrogators are satisfied with you, we will free you”.  This statement in and of itself reflects the level of independence enjoyed by judges and court officials.

I pointed to pressures intent on forcing me to confess to sexual relations and crimes implicating myself. In order to be precise, I will describe one of my interrogation sessions focused on such issues, which was conducted in a cell. Perhaps this vile example of the pressures I faced can be measured and compared to ethical standards, standards of fairness, and standards of religious piety and the path of Islam. On one occasion interrogators came to me in a small cell and asked, “Have you decided to confess?”

“In relation to what issue?” I asked.

“Your sexual indiscretions,” they replied. “Tell us about all of these indiscretions, and take the pressures off yourself, and also tell us about all the indiscretions of others you know about.” They told me untruths about the sexual indiscretions of some of the other prisoners, including former government officials, and claimed that some political activists had confessed to having illegal sexual relations. Later I found that this was a dirty tactic which the interrogators greatly relied on.  These tactics were especially used after the election and, in particular, in efforts to pressure the better known figures they had arrested. For example, they claimed that one the leading reformist figures repeatedly had relations with married women.

Under those conditions, where there was intense pressure on me to confess to having illegitimate relations, so that I could help myself, I kept insisting that I had been faithful to my wife.  I explained that I had told the head interrogator that these tactics would not resolve any problems and that you should not enter into these types of allegations in interrogations. They replied by claiming that they wanted me to confess so that I could demonstrate my honesty and willingness to be cooperative. If I write these confessions down on paper, they claimed, I would receive a reduced sentence in court. Otherwise, they insisted “we will intensify pressures.” They further claimed that my confession in this respect was of no use to them because “we know everything already and this confession will only help your own case”.

They said that they would leave me be for a while, but that they would return, and advised me to use the time to give their demand some thought while keeping in mind the consequences of not complying and to therefore write what is being requested of me. I explained that my response was clear and so they slapped me forcefully several times. They left the cell, and during my time alone, I vowed to God that I would not succumb to these pressures and would not write anything  in contradiction but the truth.  I wrote, “I have not had any sexual indiscretions” on the interrogation form they had left behind.

With great anxiety I waited for their return.  After a while they returned and asked if I had written what I was asked to write. I explained that I had written what I had previously told them I would write. They took the interrogation form and read it.  They stormed toward me and began kicking, punching, and repeatedly slapping me. They cursed at me and my family and after a good beating, while cursing at me and belittling me, they said, “We will prove to you that you are a bastard child and that you are the result of illegitimate relations.”

These words made me angry and I responded by fighting.  They forced my head down the toilet. They shoved my head so far down the toilet that I swallowed feces and began to choke. They pulled my head out of the toilet and said that they would leave and come back at night and that I had been provided this time to confess to my sexual indiscretions. They claimed that I had to “explain fully who I had had sexual relations with, when, how and where”. They even demanded that I falsely confess to being raped as a child.  On many occasions I was threatened with the prospects of being raped with a bottle or a stick.  This was so extreme that, for example, the interrogator of the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic would vow that he “we will shove a stick in your rear so far that even 100 carpenters won’t be able to extract it”. He would also claim that: “we have informed some web-based sites about your sexual indiscretions and these details will be widely distributed via Bluetooth and CDs”.

In this description of what I have endured lies a regretful truth, which demonstrates that the officers and law enforcers of a regime that claims to be based on religious principles, have indeed lost their moral compass. Remembering the details of all of this is indeed a tormenting exercise for me in and of itself and I will not delve further into these details. I only want to demonstrate what kind of pressures a prisoner in Evin must face before he agrees to confess to crimes that he has never committed. I only want to ask, given these tactics and treatments, haven’t the law enforcement officials and the rulers of the current government of the Islamic Republic failed the test of justice, morality, and humanity?

This is not the first time such things have happened, and public opinion had understood these realities when the tactics used in the interrogation of Saeed Emami’s wife were revealed. [Saeed Emami was a Deputy Minister of Intelligence who was charged with the murders of dissidents in 1999 and supposed committed suicide in prison.] These latest incidents, however,  and the methods used in the interrogation of political prisoners following the elections in 2009, demonstrate that what Saeed Emami’s wife endured in interrogation was not an isolated event [by the security system], rather they demonstrate the lack of intent in stopping and ending these illegal actions in our nation. My interrogators would constantly insist, “With the support of the Supreme Leader we are intent on using any means for achieving our goals and we recognize no limits in reaching our aims. We will use all strategies to force critics to accept what we tell them, and we are doing this toward the aim of defending the regime. Not only are these tactics legitimate, they are obligatory.”

Supreme Leader

....It is clear for me that these interrogators do not adhere to any ideology or religion, and it is only their own presence in the power structure and the benefits derived from this presence that motivates them, as well as the hatred they harbuor within, which justifies their commitment to carrying out such inhumane assignments.

Leader of the Islamic Republic

Lies have become customary in our society and they are in service to the rulers.  In prison too they are used as tools by the interrogators.  Lies and deception serve as the basis for all strategies employed by interrogators. For example, with respect to the situation and atmosphere in society [following election unrest], the interrogators would feed lies and false analysis to prisoners intent on demoralizing them and their spirits.  For example, after the Qods Day demonstrations [September 2009] they came to us and claimed, “Only 50 people had come to the demonstrations and that Mr. Khatami had been beaten up by the public only to be rescued by security officials.” Or they would claim that the public was so angry with Mousavi that his security detail had to be expanded that the public would not take to murdering him. In my own court hearing for example, it was mentioned that I had traveled to Germany to take part in a training on how to bring about a velvet revolution designed to overthrow the state. This claim was made despite the fact that my passport had been confiscated by the Ministry of Intelligence several years ago and I have never travelled to any countries in the West.

The interrogators worked hard to claim that the solitary confinement cell was indeed Paradise and their courts  were the court of divine justice, and they would insist that we should confess to our crimes like we would on Judgement Day and in the presence of God.  The difference is that on Judgment Day others speak against the person, but in solitary confinement and under the pressure of interrogation and under physical and emotional pressure it is the prisoner who is forced to falsely confess against themselves so that perhaps they could free themselves of the iron fists of the interrogators.  To recreate such a paradise, the interrogators would on many occasions beat prisoners in adjoining cells, so that besides our own pressures and beatings and tortures, we would have suffer through the painful screams of those being assaulted—and in this way they wanted to remind of divine suffering in this paradise of theirs.

These are the treatments that are doled out to those who are critical or opposed to the regime.  All this treatment is carried out in the framework of a religious regime, justified by claims of protecting the state. And such a regime, with this type of religious interpretation, does indeed not leave any space for the expression of objection or opposition --- even opposition or criticism expressed within the limits of what the law allows. This is happening despite the fact that the rule of the Prophet Mohammad was based on tolerance and kindness toward the public.

Ayatollah Khamenei

As I have described, I was under great pressure to confess in court against myself, my friends and colleagues within various groups and political institutions with which I was involved or with which I had relations.  In particular, I was pressured to provide false testimony in court against Mr. Mehdi Karroubi, whom I had supported during the tenth presidential election.

Following these abuses, 86 days in solitary confinement and 50 days of being completely out of touch with the outside world, lack of access to my family, lack of phone privileges or visits (which resulted in everyone outside of prison wondering whether I was actually still alive), and after practicing my lines with the interrogator to ensure I made statements implicating myself, I appeared for my court hearing.  I appeared in court despite the fact that I was not allowed to have a lawyer of my own choosing representing me.  I was not interested in giving the impression that the court hearing was indeed legitimate by accepting the services of a public defender --- a defender who would have to be fully approved by interrogators and who I would be required to fully cooperate with. This was a court after all, where my testimony was dictated to me by my interrogators beforehand.  The interrogators had falsely promised me that if I read the testimony they had prepared during my court hearing, they would release me by the end of September 2009.

But freedom was not my motivation for reading their statement in court and implicating myself in confessions. I was only looking for a way to free myself of the constant physical and emotional torture that was being inflicted upon me in prison. I was seeking to free myself from the iron fists of the interrogators. I was hoping that in this way I could avoid starting each day with the vilest insults launched at me and my family. I was hoping that I would not have my head jammed into the toilet bowl in order to extract a false confession. I was hoping to free myself of the constant beatings, punches, kicks, and slaps of the interrogator. I was looking to free myself of the constant threats of execution and other promised acts of violence against me. I was hoping to put an end to the dirty tactics used to force me to confess to sexual indiscretions I had not committed.

It was such that I went to court and read the statement that the interrogators had prepared for me. In court, I tried to read the statement, so it would be readily apparent that it had been dictated to me. I had to confess against myself and read a prepared statement as my defense, a defense which was more like an indictment against me. I did this without believing in what I was saying. Believe me, even those who are guilty do not enjoy confessing in court and in front of the public.

But the experience in Evin and the eventful interrogations orchestrated by the Ministry of Intelligence pushes a person to the breaking point, so that he agrees finally to confess against himself, even a false confession.  It is a fact that these false confessions are then used by the court system and judges, as a basis for the issuance of verdicts and sentences.  This cooperation between the court and interrogators takes place despite the fact that on many occasions I personally witnessed how interrogators insulted and cursed the judges and prosecutors. The interrogators believe that the judge and prosecutors play no roles in the issuance of sentences and their opinions do not count.  Interrogators believe that they are the ones who decide for the judicial system and for the regime as a whole.

With respect to the lack of independence of the judiciary and the judges, I will only point to the first meeting I had with the Head Prosecutor Mr. Doulatabadi.  It should be noted that the crux of pressure and torture I endured occurred during the period of the former prosecutor [Saeed Mortazavi], and my meeting with Mr. Jafari Dolatabadi took place five months after my arrest and after my court hearing. As such, I did not expect much to come of the meeting.  But still, the interrogator in our interrogation session prior to the meeting with Mr. Dolatabadi insisted that I need not mention the circumstances of my time in detention and interrogation. The interrogator said, “The prosecutor is a nobody and that I am the one who decides.” The interrogator told me that in my meeting with the prosecutor I should not demand the services of a lawyer. In the end and to my disbelief, my interrogator was present during my meeting with the prosecutor --- the same interrogator who had tortured me, and the experience of this torture over several months was more tangible than all other possibilities.  So it was only natural that under these circumstances I did not have much to say to the prosecutor.

Supreme Leader

Isn’t the show of power by the security apparatus in opposing the will of the people, and their elevated position in the decision making process in related to policies of repression and control of political and social developments, a testament to the declining legitimacy of the state? And doesn’t it bring to mind the increased dependence of the government on the machinery of apparatus of tyranny?

Haven’t our rulers yet reached the belief that the use of force for ensuring their rule is an obsolete strategy? Do they still view repression as the appropriate response to objection, protest, opposition and the demand of rights by the public?

More than 400 days have passed since my arrest.   Despite having been released on a heavy bail order for a short period prior to the New Year’s holidays in March, I was returned to prison for refusing to succumb to the demands of my interrogators to continue confessing to crimes against myself and others while on furlough. I just want to inform all that I continue to hold the same beliefs that I had prior to my arrest and I remain true to those beliefs.  As explained earlier, the statement I read in court and under pressure does not represent my beliefs.

Our crime has been and continues to be the fact that we believe reform and democracy to be the most appropriate strategies for improving the conditions of our nation. Our crime is that we advocated limits on the boundless powers of undemocratic institutions.  My question is this: is the act of supporting the demands of the Iranian nation for democracy deserving of such inhumane and unjust treatment? Have we not reached the point of accepting that the expression of beliefs of individuals or groups should not be subjected to persecution?

In cases where torture has been proven to have taken place, is the expectation that the torturer be brought to trial, an unrealistic expectation? If we are to rid ourselves of injustice and those who carry out injustices, then bringing torturers to trial can be an important step in promoting effective strategies for implementing justice.  Reducing injustice and despotism can facilitate the implementation of justice and the rule of law.

In the end, I do not know what the aim and logic of the torture inflicted upon me and my family was. I do not even expect a response to this question, because the “elders can discern that which is in the best interest of their nation”. What I do know and believe is that these behaviours do not correspond with the concepts of justice and fairness nor are they justifiable by law or through religious teachings. I continue to hope that with the establishment of a truth commission we will be freed from these clear examples of injustice and move closer to justice.

Adullah Momeni
August 2010
Evin Prison

Iran Feature: Re-visiting the 2009 Election (Keshavarz)

Writing in CounterPunch, Fatemeh Keshavarz re-examines what may have happened in the 2009 Presidential election, bringing in analysis of a recently-leaked audio in which a Revolutionary Guard commander describes interference by the Iranian military before, during, and after the vote.

Keshavarz applies her analysis to the tension in Iran today, 15 months after the election: "The leak of the tape, whether by the IRGC [Islamic Revolution Guards Corps] intelligence [bureau] or unhappy elements among them, makes another point clear. The battle of Ahmadinejad’s government for establishing its legitimacy is not over --- not even among the members of the Guard. The intelligence chiefs therefore deem it necessary to convince their own members that they are in control of the situation --- better still, they themselves have masterminded the current situation in the first place.

More than a year has passed since millions of Iranians marched on the streets calling the 2009 election a military coup carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG), their militia the Basij, and their armed plainclothes hired hands "lebaseshakhsis". The goals of the coup: keeping Ahmadinejad in power and completing the military and economic control of the IRG in the country. After beating up, arresting, and sometimes killing the protesters, the government put a record number of Iranian journalists behind bars (most now serving long sentences) and banned the foreign press from entering the country except to report on officially-orchestrated occasions.

Subsequently, Mir Housein Mousavi, the main opponent of Ahmadinejad and many members of the reformist opposition --- known as the Green Movement --- were put effectively under house arrest curbing their ability to reach the public in Iran. Moving the scenes of its brutality from the streets to jails and interrogation rooms, the regime dropped out of headlines thereby reducing the pressure on the Iranian authorities to answer for their brutal treatment of the opposition.

In the meantime, using its full control over the media, the Iranian government began to promote an alternative account of the 2009 election, an account which has not been without impact on the western left. It goes like this: the Iranian upper and upper middle classes, fooled by the western supporters of the reformists, had assumed that they had the majority while, in fact, in small towns and villages widespread support for Ahmadinejad gave him his 63% victory in the elections. Frustrated with their own miscalculations, the defeated reformists resorted to street violence, and therefore the government had no choice but to use harsher measures to calm things down.

This scenario has many big holes including the fact that, even if Ahmadinejad had the support of the rural areas, the Iranian population is about 65% urban and in fact the large cities are more than able to give any candidate a victory. Furthermore, hundreds of video clips document the peacefulness of the early protest marches in large cities as well as small towns. They also document the unprovoked violence of the security forces against the marchers.

All of this has become relevant again. Less than a month ago, an audio file of a speech by a chief intelligence officer and interrogator from the top ranks of the Revolutionary Guards came to light describing the behind-the-scenes [manoeuvres] of Ahmadinejad’s 2009 victory. The speech was leaked to the opposition websites, and spread fast despite the heavy censorship imposed in Iran. Besides the fascinating details revealed in it, there are other things that make the document important including the fact that no one (not even the government) has disputed its authenticity.

It is, in fact, very likely that the speech was leaked intentionally by the government itself. These facts lead to important questions. Who is the speaker? What does the tape reveal? What is the reformist opposition doing about it? And, why would the Iranian government leak a document that confirms its complicity in a fraudulent election, if indeed the leak has been intentional?

First a quick update on the current conditions in Iran. The country still has the highest number of jailed reporters in the world and only the official news and views are reported on the national media. Expressing political opposition in a blog can lead to five years in jail where the prisoners go on frequent hunger strikes to protest torture, unsanitary living conditions, and insult. Female prisoners will receive reduced sentences if they confess to illicit sexual relations with prominent members of the reform movement. Families of the prisoners who resist making confessions are threatened with more arrests.

And, despite Mr. Ahmadinejad’s claim quoted in The New Yorker’s recent piece “After the Crackdown”, his critics are not free to speak their minds. A standard charge for jailed journalists is “insulting (read criticizing) the president.” To get a sense of the problem, imagine you are an Iranian blogger citing Mr. Ahmadinejad’s claim in his New Yorker interview in your blog and asking, “If it is ok to criticize our president, why are some journalists in jail for 'insulting' him?” You will likely receive a brief phone call from a security agent within days. He will tell you to introduce yourself to one of the intelligence headquarters (or even directly to the main office of Evin Prison). If you are smart, you will do so immediately and quietly.

Side by side with these “security” measures, the National Iranian Radio and Television works to uphold its conspiratorial master narrative: the discovery of a “foreign” plot to end the supremacy of Islam in Iran. Those who would criticize the government are agents of this foreign “enemy.” One does not even need a blog to be considered a foreign agent. It is enough to mention an anti-government protest to a friend in an e-mail, or, worse still, attach a picture of the protest to the e-mail. Last week, in anticipation of the official Quds Day celebration, the day the Iranian government reiterates its support for the Palestinians, the e-mail use was reduced to three hours a day.

The universities (particularly the schools of humanities and social sciences) are perceived as infested with sympathy for the foreign enemy. In the past ten months, Ali Khamenei the Supreme Leader, major cleric Mesbah Yazdi, and Sadeq Larijani, the head of the Iranian judiciary, have all spoken about the unsuitability of the humanities for Iranian universities. Mr. Larijani targeted sociology, psychology, and the branch of philosophy that addresses human existential issues as the most unsuitable ones.

Against this sustained discourse of a foreign threat --- versus the dutiful, legitimate, and honest efforts of the government to offset the treat –-- there is now the newly leaked audio-file of a speech in which, a major Revolutionary Guard intelligence officer and interrogator brags about saving the Supreme Leader’s glory via keeping Mr. Ahmadinejad in the presidential office. This has, according to him, been done single-handedly by members of the Revolutionary Guard through sensible planning and timely action: that is identifying the enemy (the reformists), and using all means (obstruction, violence, spying, threats, and arrests) to stop them from winning the election.

Read full article....

The Latest from Iran (6 September): Stresses on Authority

2030 GMT: The Attacks on the Clerics. Rah-e-Sabz posts new details about the Qods Day attack on the Qoba Mosque in Shiraz (see 1655 GMT), claiming that parts were set on fire with gasoline and some Qur'ans were burnt

2005 GMT: Parliament v. President. Speaking of the economy, the Majlis may be drawing the line with Ahmadinejad in the battle over the 5th Development Plan.

Hossein Sobhani-Nia the Deputy Head of the National Security Commission, said that if the administration insisted on its request to withdraw the 5th Plan --- made because of dissatisfaction with Majlis amendments --- the Parliament will extend the 4th Plan of 2005-2010.

NEW Iran Exclusive: FM Mottaki Attempted to Resign over Ahmadinejad Foreign Policy
NEW Iran Witness: Political Prisoner Arjang Davoudi From Evin on Human Rights (2008)
NEW Iran Feature: Inside Rajai Shahr Prison (Bijnen)
Iran Feature: An Open Letter to Detained Activist Shiva Nazar Ahari (Vahidmanesh)

Iran Breaking: Uncertainty if Lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh Arrested
Iran Special: How Do You Analyse a Non-Event? (Lucas)
The Latest from Iran (5 September): Cracking Down after the Disappointment

1955 GMT: Economy Watch. And in the non-nuclear world, the chairman of the Supreme Audit Court, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, has taken apart the Ahmadinejad Government over its development plans, privatisation, imports, and subsidy reform.

Fazli said in areas such as economic growth and control of inflation the administration had failed to achieve the goals set in its Fourth Plan (2005-2010), and the Fifth Plan (2010-15) is not completely based on the goals set out in plans and major policies endorsed by the Supreme Leader.

Fazli said the handover of the state companies to the private sector has not been carried out according to the requirements set in the Article 44 of the Constitution and that most of the firms have been handed over to semi-official companies, coding for entities such as the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. “The private sector has been involved in at most 15% of the transactions and handovers,” he stated.

The SAC chairman said that Iranian companies could not compete with foreign rivals even in the production of simple products, and he warned that the Ahmadinejad subsidy reform plan "will lead to a rise in prices”.

1939 GMT: Non-Story, Real Story. Prediction: tomorrow's press in the "West" will be full of over-the-top headlines on Iran's nuclear programme, pegged on today's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even though the IAEA's latest findings are pretty much the status quo --- there is no verifiable diversion of nuclear material by Iran to a military programme, but the Agency would like wider access to Tehran's facilities --- the nature of the game over Iran's uranium means there will be ominous headlines restating Nothing New as Very Dangerous.

(Five minutes after I typed the above paragraph, this in from David Sanger and William Broad of The New York Times: "Three months after the United Nations Security Council enacted its harshest sanctions yet against Iran, global nuclear inspectors reported Monday that the country has dug in its heels, refusing to provide inspectors with information and access they need to determine whether the real purpose of Tehran’s program is to produce weapons."

Eight minutes after I typed the paragraph, The Daily Telegraph headlines, "Iran on Brink of Nuclear Weapon, Warns Watchdog".)

Meanwhile, we think we have a far more important story. Through sources in Iran, EA has learned that Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki tried to resign over the President's appointment of four special envoys for international affairs. We put that within the context of new tensions between the Foreign Ministry and Presidency today.

1750 GMT: The Supreme Leader Takes the Podium. The head of the Friday Prayers Committee has said that Ayatollah Khamenei will lead prayers in Tehran this week on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

1740 GMT: Karroubi Watch. A group of prominent political prisoners have reportedly written Mehdi Karroubi to praise his defense of rights and his courage in the face of pressure such as last week's siege of his home.

Those signing the letter included Mehdi Mahmoudian, Isa Saharkhiz, David Soleimani, Ahmad Zeidabadi, Masoud Bastani, and Majid Tavakoli.

The reformist Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution have also written Karroubi to condemn the attack on his home.

1719 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said he is willing to "do anything" to save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned to execution for adultery conviction.

Kouchner said the initial sentence for death by stoning was "the height of barbarism": "I'm ready to do anything to save her. If I must go to Tehran to save her, I'll go to Tehran."

1715 GMT: Political Prisoner Special. Alongside our feature today on conditions in Rajai Shahr Prison, we have posted a 2008 video message, filmed secretly and smuggled out of jail, from political prisoner Arjang Davoudi.

1710 GMT: Academic Corner. We noted on Sunday that it appeared students were amongst the primary targets of the regime's post-Qods Day crackdown. Advar News, noting the context of threats by Minister of Higher Education Kamran Daneshjoo against universities, offers more on the story.

1655 GMT: The Attack on the Clerics. RAHANA reports that, following last Friday's attack by a pro-regime crowd on the Qoba Mosque of Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib in Shiraz, there have been widespread arrests of those connected with the mosque.

1415 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The wife of Mohammad Nourizad, detained journalist and filmmaker, claims she is being kept in a complete blackout regarding over news on her husband.

Fatemeh Maleki said, "It is 20 days since my husband has retuned to Evin Prison but we have not been even told where he is being kept.”

1410 GMT: Academic Corner. Alireza Salimi, a member of Parliament's Committee of Education and Research, has expressed concern over the rush of "retirements" of heads of Universities and professors.

About 20 University heads have been replaced by the Government in recent months.

1400 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The death sentence on teacher Abdolreza Ghanbari has reportedly been commuted to a prison term.

Reformist politician Mohsen Safaei Farahani, who suffered a heart attack last week, has been returned to Evin Prison from Tehran's Cardiac Clinic.

1355 GMT: Transport News. Peyke Iran reports that bus ticket prices from Azadi Square to Tehran Pars have quadrupled, resulting in protests and clashes.

1350 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. President Ahmadinejad has told a Dutch television station that while dual nationality is recognised by Tehran, it has little significance in the case of Zahra Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian woman detained since last December. "If the person is originally from the Netherlands, the Dutch Embassy obviously represent his or her interests, but an Iranian-born person is excluded."

Dutch officials have not been able to visit Bahrami.

1345 GMT: Propaganda of the Day. Keyhan reveals the truth: the person who masterminded the siege and attack on Mehdi Karroubi's home last week was...

Mehdi Karroubi.

1340 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Azeri civil activist Hassan Balaei was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents at his place of business on Saturday.

0945 GMT: We have posted a guest feature from Loes Bijnen, "Inside Rajai Shahr Prison".

0840 GMT: Execution (Sakineh) Watch. Houtan Kian, a lawyer for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, has said that his client is receiving 99 lashes for a photograph of a woman without a headscarf --- mistakenly identified as Ashtiani --- published in The Times of London.

Ashtiani's son, Sajad Ghaderzadeh, has said that he learned from other detainees that his mother --- who is sentenced to death for adultery --- had received the sentence. The claim, however, was disputed by a former lawyer for Ashtiani, Mohammadi Mostafaei, who is now in Norway.

Kian has not seen Ashtiani since 11 August but said a woman who had been held with her brought out the news that Ashtiani was being punished for "indecency".
0650 GMT: What Happened to Mousavi on Qods Day? Regular EA readers know why Mehdi Karroubi could not join Qods Day rallies on Friday, but there was silence on why Mir Hossein Mousavi did not make an appearance.

Tahavole Sabz offers an answer: all the roads around the residence of Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, were blocked.

0615 GMT: The Jannati Rumour (see 0510 GMT). The spokesman of the Guardian Council, Abbasali Kadkhodai, denied that the Council's head, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, has suffered a stroke, blaming the rumour on "counter-revolutionary elements".

0605 GMT: The Regime Line. In this video, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting criticises five detainees, including student activist Majid Tavakoli, journalist Heshmat Tabarzadi, and labour activist Mansur Osanloo, for writing to Carla Bruni, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the letter, the political prisoners expressed gratitude for Bruni's words on behalf of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death for adultery.

0524 GMT: My Favourite Website. Good news that, with its special news and analysis, is catching on: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty posts a profile.

A bit more respect would be nice, however. The article snaps, "Dig a little deeper and the new website, which says it attracted some 100,000 visitors in its first week, begins to sound more like the news parody site than it does a serious forum for discussion."

After all, we like The Onion, too.

0520 GMT: Reviewing the Crackdown. Deutsche Welle features an interview with student activist Said Razavi Faqih on matters from the Karroubi siege to to the attack on Qoba Mosque in Shirzaz to the failure of Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai to appear on Qods Day.

Headline-grabbing claim? "Plainclothes thugs are Khamenei's private army."

0510 GMT: Sunday's Top Rumour. Late Sunday, the website of former President Abolhassan Banisadr claimed that the head of the Guardian Council and long-time mainstay of the regime, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, had had a stroke and was in a coma.

We'll be looking for any confirmation or refutation of the claim.

0455 GMT: Amidst Sunday's continuing and sometimes accelerating intimidations by the regime, there were two interesting signs of a Government struggling for authority.

As the head of the Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, was trying to pass off the siege of Mehdi Karroubi's home to Iran's enemies --- the US, Britain, and Zionists --- the Revolutionary Guard was effectively admitting that the criminals were home-grown. Of course, this was a "rogue element" not connected to the Guard or any other regime agency, but the admission still raised the question: given that the siege lasted five nights before culminating in gunfire, Molotov cocktails, injuries, and a direct assault on the Karroubi apartment, what exactly were the Guard and other security forces doing all that time?

On a more mundane but equally important front, the show of "unity" was exposed once more when President Ahmadinejad's representatives boycotted a Parliamentary commission discussing the 5th Budget Plan. The continuing dispute --- Ahmadinejad does not like Majlis amendments to the Plan and would rather withdraw the measures than implement them --- effectively means that, six months into the Iranian year, the Government does not have policies, let alone a strategy, for Iran's building economic problems.

One of the immediate issues is whether Ahmadinejad's subsidy cuts, an important feature of his economic stance, will be put into effect in October --- the latest declared timetable --- and, if so, whether they are related in any way to wider policies.

The Latest from Iran (4 September): A Qods Day Failure?

2045 GMT: Academic Corner. The Deputy Treasurer of Tehran University, Mohammad Hossein Moqimi, has announced that about 40 faculty members have "retired" since March.

Moqimi that all the academics had retired according to regulations and legal provisions and that this must not be seen as a political issue.

In recent months, Iranian authorities have replaced the heads of more than 20 universities and education centres.

NEW Iran Breaking: Uncertainty if Lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh Arrested
NEW Iran Special: How Do You Analyse a Non-Event? (Lucas)
NEW Iran Overview: “A Small Rally to Make More Enemies” (Shahryar)
NEW Iran Propaganda Special: The Green Sedition Festival
UPDATED Iran Video: The Claimed Attack on Karroubi’s House (2/3 September)
Iran Video and English Summary: Mehdi Karroubi after 5th Night of Pro-Regime Siege (3 September)
Iran Urgent: Breaking News with Video on Day 5 of Karroubi “Siege”
The Latest from Iran (3 September): Qods Day and the Karroubi Siege

2010 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. The reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front has written to Mehdi Karroubi, regretting the poor performance of the police in protecting the Karroubi home from pro-regime attackers.

2005 GMT: Economy Watch. Several hundred people have protested at Sari in Mazandaran province in northern Iran over alleged discrimination in allocation of jobs.

The demonstrators claimed that, rather than employing based on ability, authorities show favouritism towards under-qualified candidates. Some protesters claimed that those who were supporters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were given preference.

1935 GMT: We have posted a separate feature on emerging news about the possibility that lawyer and women's right activist Nasrine Sotoudeh, summoned to court today, has been arrested.

1925 GMT: The Attack on the Clerics. Radio Zamaneh reports that Grand Ayatollah Dastgheib returned to Qoba Mosque in Shiraz, a day after it was attacked and closed by a pro-regime crowd.

After iron fences set up after the assault were taken down, Ayatollah Dastgheib gave a speech condemning the assault, insisting that even the Supreme Leader could not have supported the attack.

The website adds more details about Friday's events. They followed announcement signed by “the pious followers of the Supreme Leader in Fars Province and the holy city of Shiraz”, distributed in mosques on Thursday night, calling for the prosecution of Ayatollah Dastgheib. The statement accused the cleric of being the “perpetrator of satanic plans” and “speaking the language of the enemy” as well as “threatening the religious beliefs of the people” by sitting at the head of Qoba Mosque.

The statement demanded that Ayatollah Dastgheib be removed and warned the provincial and city authorities that if they do not comply with their demands, they would have to take matters into their own hands.

The Governor of Shiraz, Hossein Ghasemi, reportedly appeared at Qoba Mosque on Friday, but he was forced to leave when the crowd hurled rocks at his car.

1915 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. A group from the Association of Combatant Clerics visited Mehdi Karroubi at his house today.

1910 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kalameh claims that officials at Evin Prison have told the political detainees of Ward 350 that they have to write letters of repentance if they want phone lines restored. The telephone privileges were reportedly revoked more than seven weeks ago.

1825 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. Mehdi Karroubi's son Hossein has talked to Deutsche Welle about the attacks on his family's house and messages of support from politicians, clerics, and activists.

Hossein Karroubi said some of the attackers were from a local detention centre, indicating regime complicity in the siege.

An Iranian activist adds to our report yesterday that a man and woman were beaten, with the woman's headscarf removed, by the pro-regime crowd. They were Karroubi supporters Hadi Shirpour and his wife, who were watching the attack. The activist claims that police, rather than stopping the assault, joined in.

Shirpour and his wife were then put into a police van and taken away.

1815 GMT: Execution (Ashtiani) Watch. Sajad Ghaderzadeh, the son of condemned detainee Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, says his mother has been sentenced to 99 lashes for a photograph published of a woman --- falsely claimed to be Ashtiani --- without a headscarf.

Ghaderzadeh said he learned of the punishment from released inmates. Ashtiani has been given the death penalty for adultery.

On 28 August, The Times of London published a photograph that it said was Ashtiani without hijab. Six days later, it said the attribution of the photo was incorrect.

The Guardian of London adds more details about the episode, including the confusion over the mistaken photograph.

1655 GMT: All the President's Men. Omid Memarian writes about the ruthless rise and possible fall of former Tehran Prosecutor General and Presidential aide Saeed Mortazavi, who was recently suspended by the judiciary from his post because of complicity in the post-election abuses and killings at Kahrizak Prison.

In 2004, as one of 20 journalists, bloggers, and website managers detained in a regime crackdown, Memarian had first-hand experience of Mortazavi:
In my case, he warned me what would happen if I ever talked about what had gone on in the prison. “Anyone can be in a car accident, from members of parliament to taxi drivers to plumbers. You journalists are no exception,” he said.

1645 GMT: Sanctions Claim of the Day. This has to be one of the most creative economic analyses I have ever encountered....

First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has declared that sanctions will bring 200,000 new jobs to Iran. His reasoning is that "the West" will lose 150,000 to 200,000 employees because of the downturn in trade with Tehran and Iran will naturally fill that gap.

1625 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. Former President Mohammad Khatami has called Mehdi Karroubi to condemn the attacks on the Karroubi home.

We have posted new claimed video of Thursday night's attack.

1620 GMT: Secure Regime? Tehran Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam has criticised counterparts in Iran's security agencies for ordering the mobilisation of forces on Thursday, the day before Qods Day.

1229 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An Iranian activist reports that, as expected (see 0855 GMT), journalist and activist Shiva Nazar Ahari has been brought to court to face charges including "mohareb" (war against God). She was brought to the courtroom in handcuffs.

It is also reported that Saeed Haeri, a member of Committee of Human Rights Reporters, went on trial today.

Leading reformist politician Mohsen Safaei Farahani, who suffered a heart attack this week in detention, has called home. He says he is better but he is not allowed to say in which hospital he is being treated.

1224 GMT: It's All in the Terminology. Today's post-Qods Day hot topic on the Iranian news portal Balatarin? Using the model of "occupied Palestine" to present an "occupied Iran".

1220 GMT: The US and the Battle Within. Writing in OpenDemocracy, Omid Memarian offers a useful overview of Iran's internal situation and this challenging conclusion:
By removing the threat of a military attack, Washington would make the job of Tehran’s hardliners more difficult, and encourage fragmentation among the top layers of the political elite. In the present circumstances, the end of the military option would create space for those in Iran seeking to hold the hardliners in check, and offer an opening to Iranian democracy and the Iranian people.

1215 GMT: Worried Regime? Daneshjoo News reviews the heavy security presence in Babol and Mashhad as well as Tehran on Qods Day.

0855 GMT: Kamran Asa, brother of the slain protester Kianoush Asa, and Bijan Rezaie are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

And if earlier reports are correct, activist Shiva Nazar Ahari, detained since last July and facing a charge of "mohareb" (war against God), will be in court today.

0655 GMT: We have three specials this morning: Scott Lucas tries to figure out the significance of the "non-event" of Qods Day, Josh Shahryar looks at a "small rally that made more enemies", and Pedestrian notes the regime's exhibition of the "Green Sedition Festival".

0600 GMT: The Karroubi Siege. Mir Hossein Mousavi has put out a message condemning the attacks on the home of Mehdi Karroubi: "These black and odious measures will not block the freedom of the people."

0530 GMT: Here's the curious thing: for some in the Iranian system, Qods (Palestine) Day is already gone. Hours after the President's speech, the Friday Prayer sermon by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, the wall-to-wall declarations on Iranian media of Tehran's leadership of the movement against Israeli oppression, and the Government's rally, the occasion is nowhere to be found on Press TV's website this morning.

It has almost disappeared from the homepage of the Islamic Republic News Agency, which has moved to a rather dry statement by key Presidential advisor Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh on Iran as the "guiding harbinger of monotheism...and resistance against the oppressors and the hegemonic powers in the world".

Fars News does have the event as its Number 3 item on its pages, but the story seems a bit desperate to prove significance: "A United Arab Emirates newspaper...announced that a big march in Tehran and other Iranian cities, along with some other countries such as Turkey and India, and Indonesia was held."

And Khabar Online, leading site of the challenge within the establishment to the President, has already --- in its top feature --- returned to the issue of how to achieve "conservative unity", including reaching out to "reformers".

There's more, but I think you know where I'm going with this. Full analysis later today....