Thursday, June 25, 2009

Iran Early Bird

Protest Update

1. Karroubi urges public to participate in memorial ceremony for the victims of the unrest – In a statement addressed to the Iranian people, Karroubi expresses regret at the fact that the nation’s protest against the widespread election fraud was met with harsh violence.. He calls on the public to participate in a memorial ceremony for the victims of the ongoing unrest, and stresses that the date and time of the ceremony will be made known at a later stage. Meanwhile, Iranian citizens continue to go up onto the roofs of their residences and call out “Allah Akbar.” Basij forces on motorbikes that are patrolling the streets are raiding these residences and trying to keep the people quiet. Mousavi and his wife have also called on the public to participate in quiet protest rallies – the first, today at 16:00, outside the Majlis. Mousavi will address the rally at 17:00.

2. IRGC deploys forces in Tehran's Azadi Square, have been ordered to shoot to kill – IRGC commanders and one of the corps' special units have been stationed at a base near Tehran's Azadi Square. According to reports, several hundred unmarked motorbikes and a number of helicopters have also been sent to the base. Rumors have it that the IRGC has assumed full responsibility for quelling the unrest and that its forces have been instructed to shoot to kill. One IRGC member said from within the base that Sardar Rouyanyan himself was directing the operations.

3. More reports on the events of “Bloody Saturday” in Tehran – A nurse at Milad Hospital in the capital relates that on Saturday evening, a large group of severely injured people were admitted to the facility. She says they appeared to have been involved in a serious accident. Some of them were dying. One of the injured whispered to her: “They tied our hands and hit us with a truck. They beat us with the intention of killing us.” The nurse says the injured were accompanied to the hospital by Intelligence Ministry personnel who took photographs of all of them.

4. Strike at Tehran bazaar – Reports from Tehran on Tuesday say that Iran's jewelry bazaar, which is part of the capital's main bazaar, went on strike for a number of hours in solidarity with the demonstrators. Security forces threatened the store owners and forced them to open again for business.

5. Martial law in Kermanshah – A political activist from Kermanshah reports that the city is under military curfew and that residents have been instructed not to be on the streets in groups of more than three people after 16:00. According to the activist, the security and Basij forces in the city are being supported by a Border Guard division that has been sent in to quell any possible unrest. In Kermanshah, too, residents are going up onto the roofs of their residences after 22:00 to call out “Allah Akbar.”

6. General strike in Kordestan – Following a call by political and human rights activists, residents of the Kordestan Province began a general strike on Tuesday in solidarity with protestors in other parts of the country. Reports from the province’s big cities note that despite unofficial warnings against the strike, more than 90 percent of the business and public sites in these cities have joined the strike.

7. Sistan ve-Balouchestan University students still on strike – The protest strike launched by students at the Sistan ve-Balouchestan University has entered its 10th day. The students and their families have received numerous threats from security authorities as well as the university’s disciplinary committee, but have decided to continue their strike.

8. Iranian footballers who wore green ribbons ousted from team, stripped of passports and slapped with gag order – Four of the six Iranian footballers who appeared for their match against Korea wearing green ribbons on their wrists have been kicked off the team. The four – Ali Karimi, Mahdi Mahdavi Kia, Hosseyn Kabi and Vahid Haeshmian – have also had their passports confiscated and have been banned from giving interviews to the media.

9. Video clips:

a. Demonstrations in Kerman on Tuesday

b. Student shot during a raid on Tehran University

c. Shiraz residents protesting at night

d. Man killed following blow to head

10. Attack on offices of Kalame Sabz newspaper – staff defy gag order – Security forces conducted a raid on the offices of the Kalame Sabz newspaper and arrested all employees on the premises, including the paper’s editor-in-chief, Ali Reza Beheshti Shirazi. The newspaper belongs to Mousavi. Despite the arrests and the gag order that was slapped on the paper, Kalame Sabz continues to appear after some of its reporters decided not to bow to the censorship and pressure and keep the publication's Internet site up.

11. FM warns Iranians against sending messages and emails to the foreign media concerning unrests; Keyhan: foreign media have found new ways of connecting with domestic opposition groups. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman warns Iranians against sending messages and emails to the foreign media about the unrest in the country (“Quds, June 23). Keyhan claims that foreign media have found new ways of connecting with domestic opposition groups. They employ Iranian reporters with foreign citizenship and use middle-man websites such as Rooz online website and Radio Zamaneh (Keyhan, 23 June).

12. Tribunal for unrest detainees to be formed Iran's Judiciary has declared that it will establish a tribunal to look into the charges of those arrested in the recent unrest. Ebrahim Raeissi, Iran's first deputy Judiciary chief, has declared that the tribunal will attempt to deal with the cases precisely and thoroughly.

13. Police claim discovery of Mousavi’s “unrest HQ” in Tehran - The Tehran Police claim that a building has been identified in the city which has been used as a 'headquarters' to promote post-election unrest. The Intelligence and Security Department of the Tehran Police has declared that the building -- located on Tehran's Haft-e-Tir Square -- was investigated on Monday night after a search warrant was obtained. The plotters" have been arrested and are currently under investigation Documents found in the building indicate an ongoing plot against Iran's security was being implemented, “After scrutinizing the building, which was the campaign office of a presidential candidate, it was discovered that the organization of illegal gatherings, the promotion of unrest, and efforts to undermine the country's security were carried out from the building,” Evidence has been found in the building that reveals the role of foreign elements in planning post-election unrest. The building has in fact been a “headquarters for a psychological war against the country's security,” The building, sources told Press TV, was used by a Mir-Hossein Mousavi election campaign

14. More arrests:

a. Tehran student disappears – Sejad Bazvand, a political science masters student from Tehran, disappeared Saturday morning and hasn’t been heard of since. According to his dorm mates, he went out in the morning to participate in a demonstration in Azadi Square and failed to return.

b. Medical student in coma – Ashkan Zohabian, a medical student and member of the Fardousi University Students Union, was severely beaten by security forces while attending a demonstration at Maznadaran University, where he is completing a semester. He was removed unconscious from the campus. His friends do not know where he is being treated, but have learned that he has been in a coma since the incident some five days ago.

c. Two Mazandaran University students arrested – Marjan Fiazi and Sogand Alikhah, two students from Mazandaran University, were arrested over the past 24 hours. Another 11 students from the university were detained a few days ago, and officials have provided no information on their condition or status. Forty more students have been banned from entering the university.

d. 100 detainees in Gilan – The Gilan general prosecutor has announced that security forces have arrested around 100 people involved in the recent unrest in the city.

The Political Scene

15. Interior Ministry responds to “each and every query” filed by Mousavi – The Interior Ministry has published a statement answering "each and every" query field by defeated presidential candidate Mousavi regarding the election. (Fars News Agency, June 23)

16. Interior ministry answers Mousavi ; deadline for election complaints extended - Interior ministry has provided a detailed response to the series of ambiguities raised by Mousaviin his letter to the Guardian Council which was also sent to a number of media. Fars News Agency cites the interior ministry website and reports the full text of the interior ministry response to Mousavi's claims: “His letters had obvious contradictory comments and mainly included general issues without providing any legal and objective evidence” (for the full and detailed reply please contact Terrogence). Fars News Agency, June 23. Meanwhile Iran's supreme leader has extended for five days the deadline for election complaints.

17. Larijani trying to set up television interview for Mousavi – Iranian newspapers are reporting that Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani is trying to set a television interview for Mousavi so that he can voice his protests and complaints regarding the election results and get answers from Ahmadinejad or one of the election officials.

18. Association of Combatant Clerics slams violence against protestors – A harsh statement released by the Association of Combatant Clerics and defined by Principlist websites as anti-revolutionary slams the violence used against protestors, asking: “Are the rifle bullets that are slicing the hearts of the sons of the revolution and massacring the young, the elderly, women and men the answer to the just cries of the nation?” The association also criticizes the Council of Guardians, and asks: “Is it logical for the public to demand its rights from a body that itself is coming under criticism and accusations?” The association expresses its support for Mousavi and notes that many senior sources of emulation from Qom are under pressure to take a stand against the millions of Iranians who are not happy with the election results.

19. Abdollah Noori open letter in response to the June 12 election a cry for freedom and faith. Abdallah Noori, a well-known reformist cleric who has spent months in prison and served as minister of the Interior during Khatami's first term of office, has issued an open letter in response to the June 12 election results. Highlights:

a. Votes have been ignored by the government "The Iranian people have accepted those candidates who went through the Guardians Council's filter, demonstrated their support for the election and for securing their country from greater damage. It is pitiful when people feel that even those votes have been ignored by the government."

b. The faith of the Iranian people is gone, and if that faith does not return, the entire political system will be the main loser… how else people can air their grievances about election results when the country's presses are subject to strict censorship….even public forms of communication are under tight restriction -- people are unable to send text messages, and state television, which is public property, has supported one side in the dispute.

c. People have an inherent right to freedom, and Article 27 of Iran's constitution grants the right to peaceful assembly without official approval. "Why do you take this right from your people? Why do you grant such permission to your supporters but not to your opposition? I personally feel deep sympathy for those who lost family members and for those who have been wounded, and once again remind those who are encouraging this violence that the Islamic government will be the main loser”.

20. Iranian Nobel Peace winner condemns human rights abuses after elections and crackdown on protesters - Iranian Nobel Peace winner Shirin Ebadi condemns human rights abuses by the Iranian government after elections and condemns government’s crackdown on protesters.

21. Majlis deputy Speaker: the legal voice of protesters should be heard; parliament would vote for only the most competent ministers presented by Ahmadinejad; Ahmadinejad’s oath of office set for July 26 Majlis deputy Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar said on national TV that the saboteurs should be differentiated from the protestors Bahonar added in an interview to ILNA that the parliament would only vote for the most competent ministers presented by Ahmadinejad in response to the President's earlier assertion that he would pick his own ministers and accept no 'recommendations.' Ahmadinejad’s oath of office set for July 26

22. E’temad-e Melli: clergy should play a decisive role in the current dispute over the results of the tenth presidential elections. E’temad-e Melli Viewpoint column (June 23) headlined: "Awaiting a useful action by the clergy referrers to the arbitration role of the clergy and says the clergy have always been independent from the ruling powers and should play a decisive role in the current dispute over the results of the tenth presidential elections. Editorial in E'temad-e Melli headlined: "Don't change the opportunities into threats" argues that the vast participation of the people in Iran's tenth presidential elections was a unique opportunity which the authorities could use in favor of the country but was unfortunately missed and turned into a threat against the society.

The Diplomatic Scene

23. Iran Says UN Chiefs Remarks Are Examples Of Open Interference Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi has reacted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his recent remarks about Irans post-election unrest, calling them an example of open interference.

24. Iranian ambassadors summoned – Various European states, including German, France, Britain and Sweden, have summoned the Iranian ambassadors in their capitals to criticize the Iranian authorities' violence against demonstrators. Meanwhile, Iran has expelled the first and second secretaries at the British Embassy in Tehran.

25. Members of Majles call on FM to reprimand UK for freezing assets - Eight lawmakers have asked Mottaki to seriously warn Britain for freezing Iranian assets. The MPs explained that the move by the British government was contrary to international regulations. The British government said on Thursday that Iranian assets of nearly one billion pounds ($1.64 billion) had been frozen in Britain under international sanctions imposed over Tehran’s nuclear program. "The total assets frozen in the UK under the EU (European Union) and UN sanctions against Iran are approximately 976,110,000 pounds," Ian Pearson, economic secretary to the Treasury, said in a written statement to the British parliament.

26. Iranian TV: Arrested rioters say they were influenced by BBC and VOA – Iranian TV airs footage of rioters’ “significant statements” regarding their objectives and motivation: Woman with pixilated face: “This was all because of an atmosphere created by the BBC in Iran. I was influenced by this channel.” Young woman: “I was influenced by VOA Persian and the BBC. They were reporting that the [police] forces were the ones who were beating up people. I wanted to know what was happening and whether or not this was true. But when I went there, I realized that most of us protesters were attacking government property, the [police] forces and other people… I think I was influenced by some networks like the BBC and the VOA to do this unethical action.”

27. Iran confirms arrest of Washington Times correspondent – The head of the foreign media department at the Ministry of Guidance has confirmed the arrest of the Greek-born journalist of the Washington Times. According to the ministry official: “The journalist has travelled to Iran many times before for journalistic work, but I know nothing about his offense. We want all foreign journalists to work in the framework of the law when they travel to Iran for reporting news, and we expect them to stick to their professional work. If they act against the national security of our country and are involved in espionage work, they will be arrested by the intelligence agents and will be handed over to the judiciary authorities.” Meanwhile, Iran’s deputy minister of culture has announced that foreign media outlets and news agencies that have aided demonstrators and published false reports that have undermined the country’s image will not be invited to participate in the international journalism seminar and exhibition that is scheduled to take place in Iran in the autumn.

28. Iranian lawmakers protest Israeli President’s planned visit to Baku; FM to seriously warn Britain for freezing Iranian assets – Some 20 lawmakers have asked Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to file a protest with the Baku government against Israeli President Shimon Peres’ upcoming visit to Azerbaijan. The lawmakers, mostly from the ethnic Azeri regions, said the visit would run counter to the interests of the Islamic world. Peres is due to visit Baku in late June.

29. Majlis speaker meets Belarusian counterpart – Speaking during a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart, Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani referred to Iran's progress in the field of civilian nuclear technology, and reiterated that the Islamic Republic of Iran would continue its peaceful nuclear activities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Fars News Agency, June 23). Belarus is building up its efforts to gain energy independence, with Iran and Venezuela the first countries that are helping Minsk to achieve this goal.

Security Affairs

30. Second stage of air drill – The second stage of the Iranian Army’s air force drill took place on Tuesday and involved the use of Saeqe, Sokhoi 24, F4, F5 and Azerakhsh fighter planes. The drill’s spokesman, Hosseyn Chitforoosh, said the stage had been completed successfully, and had included long-range flights of more than 3,000 kilometers. The planes, he added, had also conducted low-altitude flights over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, practiced mid-flight refueling and carried out other exercises. According toAir Force Commander Brigadier General Shah-Safi: “The most important objective behind the Milad-e Nur-e Velayat maneuver is firstly to conduct long-haul flights. This way, we will be able reach targets at distances of over 1,000 kilometers. Our jets will, God-willing, fly a distance of over 3,600 kilometers and will drop their bombs on the predefined targets. Our second objective is to wage electronic warfare, conduct electronic wire tapping and analyze the signals received by our equipment.” (Iranian TV, June 23)

31. Aerospace Research Institute of Iran affiliated to missile researched used US made microprocessors - An Iranian research institute claims that it used AMD Opteron microprocessors to build a high-performance computing system, one more sign that the U.S. trade embargo on Iran isn't hindering that country's ability to import high-tech equipment. The Aerospace Research Institute of Iran (ARI) posted a document on its Web site that describes a high-performance computer using dual-core chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. The ARI, a government ministry, was founded in 1999 to conduct "aerospace science and technology" research, according to its Web site. The site says that the SUSE Linux-based HPC system was launched with 32 cores and now runs 96 cores. Its performance was pegged at 192 GFLOPS. It's unclear exactly when the Iranians started building the system. High technology from U.S. companies appears to be widely available in Iran. Various Iranian firms advertise servers, networking products and components from a variety of U.S. vendors on their Web sites.

Economic Affairs

32. Iran Investment Opportunities website launched, provides users with information about foreign companies that have been authorized to invest in Iran – The Iran Investment Opportunities website has been launched, with the aim of familiarizing domestic and foreign entities with potential investment opportunities in Iran. According to the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran, the website provides users with information about newly developed projects, ongoing projects, data on investments made, as well as a list of foreign companies that have been authorized by the organization to invest in Iran. Rules and regulations for investment in Iran have also been posted on the website in different languages.

33. Iran has oil reserves for at least another 86 years – Iranian Oil Minister Qolam Hosseyn Nozari says that the country’s gas and oil reserves will last for another 143 and 86 years respectively, adding that Iran’s current oil production capacity stands at 4,335,000 barrels a day.

34. Iran in intense talks with Gulf states on gas exports – The marketing director of the Iranian National Gas Export Company, Qasemi Javid, has announced that Iran is currently involved in intense talks with various Gulf states, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, on the issue of gas exports. The talks, he said, were going well, and the Gulf states had received a fair and good price quote.

35. New petrochemical complex – The Mehr Petrochemical Complex in Assaluyeh will be officially inaugurated on Thursday.

36. Government violated budget law by selling imported petrol at the price of rationed petrol - Member of energy committee Jahan Bakhsh Amini: "Government violated the budget law of 2009: the Government has sold imported petrol at the price of rationed petrol". (Mardom Salari, June 23)

37. No funds are allocated to fuel imports in this year's budget. Khorasan interviews Majlis Energy Commission member, Ali Adyani-Rad, who says the meeting addressed petrol supply problems, given that no funds are allocated to fuel imports in this year's budget. He adds that the government's budget is sufficient for 45 million litres of petrol consumption per day, whereas the actual figure is close to 65 million litres. He predicts problems for the government to meet fuel demands during coming autumn and winter (“Khorasan, June 23).

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