Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran Early Bird

Full Report

1. Undeclared martial law in capital – Tehran residents are reporting that undeclared martial law has been in effect in the capital over the past 24 hours. According to the reports, security forces are not allowing people to stop on the streets, on the sidewalk or at bus stops, for even a moment, stores and businesses around the main streets are closed, and gatherings of two or more people are drawing swift and violent responses from the authorities. Bloggers and Mousavi-affiliated websites have also announced a new way to voice quiet protest, and are urging drivers to keep their headlights on throughout the day. In Mashhad and Esfahan, meanwhile, reports also tell of unofficial martial law in the cities’ main streets. Iranian citizens are also saying that during demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday, security forces deployed snipers who fired on protestors from the roofs of government and public buildings.

2. Despite everything, demonstrations in Tehran continue – Reports coming out of Tehran yesterday evening told of demonstrations in Haft Tir Square that were harshly dealt with by security forces using clubs and tear gas. Nevertheless, the reports said, citizens continued to stream to the square carrying candles or in cars with their headlights on. Picture on right shows woman holding a sign that reads: “I didn’t vote, so I haven’t come to demand my vote back; I’ve come to demand my homeland back.”

3. Video clips posted on Monday, Tuesday:

a. Riot police use gunfire against demonstrators at & Tir Square, Tehran, June 22. (see here and here for more clips)

b. Basij forces entering homes and carrying out arrests. The clip was secretly filmed by two youths. In the background, one can hear the Baij forces cursing the detainees.

c. Basij forces attacking a woman in Rasht.

4. Physicians tell their story - Physicians and nurses at Rasool Akram hospital in Tehran coming out with placards in their hands releasing the number of dead and injured that were taken to their hospital on Saturday 20 June. In their hospital alone, 10 had died as the result of bullet wounds and 28 were critically wounded. (see photos here and here)

5. More arrests

a. :Political activists – Ali Ziynollabedini, chairman of the Islamic Revolution Fighters Organization in the Ardebil Province, was arrested Saturday morning by Intelligence Ministry officials in the city. His current whereabouts and condition remain unknown. Ziynollabedini served as an Interior Ministry department director under Khatami’s government, and was also a political advisor to the Zanjan Province administration. Aisa, Saharkhiz, another political activist, from the Freedom Movement, has also been arrested.

b. Lecturers and students – Over the past few days, security forces have arrested five lecturers from Imam Khomeini University in Qazvin. The five worked for the Mousavi election campaign headquarters. Meanwhile, five students from the university who were arrested during demonstrations in the city have been released. Elsewhere, Majid Dari, a student activist at Alama University who has been suspended from his studies, was arrested Monday morning at his home in Tehran. He has been taken by security forces to an unknown location. And in Hormozgan, the head of the Students Council at Karroubi’s headquarters in the city has disappeared. His family’s inquiries have turned up no information on his whereabouts or status.

c. Gooya News reports arrest of journalists Zhila Bani-Yaghoub and Bahman Ahmadi Amouyi.

d. Mohsen Mirdamadi arrested.

e. Security forces arrest activist students in Shiraz – According to reports from Shiraz, security forces have begun clamping down on students in the city, and have carried out a number of arrests. Among those arrested are Esmaeil Jalilvand, Hamdollah Namjou and Kave Mousavi – three Shiraz University students. Their families have been unable to obtain any information on them. Other students have received phone threats from Intelligence Ministry personnel.

f. Arrest of activist in Lahijan – Intelligence Ministry officials have arrested Ebrahim Khosh Sirat, a known religious-nationalist activist in the city. He was arrested at his home along with his son.

6. Rumors that chemical agents were used against protestors – A rumor on numerous blogs claims that security forces have fired a chemical substance at demonstrators that causes an immediate heart attack on contact with the body. According to the rumor, one of the reasons behind the protests staged by medical teams at hospitals was the demand by the authorities to alter the cause of death with regard to some of the fatalities from the recent events around the country. The rumor says unofficial reports from hospitals tell of heart attacks among numerous young Iranians who were treated in the past few days. According to the rumor, medical examinations revealed traces of a chemical substance that causes cardiac arrest on contact with the body.

7. Student killed in Bandar Abbas – It has been confirmed, after five days, that the student who was beaten and then disappeared during a demonstration in Bandar Abbas was killed. Security forces secretly buried her body to prevent further unrest and incitement.

8. Mourning ceremony for Neda Aka Saltan cancelled – After numerous bloggers and other Iranians urged the public to attend the mourning ceremony for Neda Aka Saltan, the young girl who was shot and killed in Iran on Saturday and has become a symbol of the current unrest and protest, the mosque at which the ceremony was to have taken place announced its cancellation. Organizers then decided to move the ceremony to Haft Tir Square, but when mourners began streaming to the site, security forces and plain-clothed authorities began arresting them in large numbers. Around 180 people were taken into custody.

9. Demonstrations in Sari – Around 200 youths from Sari have demonstrated against the killing of civilians in Tehran. The demonstration began with just a handful of people who were soon joined by many others. Security forces dispersed the demonstrators and arrested four of them.

10. Attack on offices of Reformist daily Etemad Meli – The offices of the Reformist daily, Etemad Meli, which belongs to the party of Mehdi Karroubi, was attacked Monday by two unknown individuals. At the time of the attack, just one security guard was on the premises.

11. Unconfirmed report: IRGC division commander ousted for refusing to take part in quelling unrest – According to unconfirmed reports, Sardar Ali Fazli, the commander of the IRGC’s Sayed Alshahadah Division in the Tehran Province, has been removed from his position after refusing to play a part in the quelling of the unrest and the killing of civilians. The reports also claim that official IRGC forces are also refusing to participate in the violence against demonstrators, thus forcing IRGC commanders to use other personnel and unofficial forces to quell the unrest.

12. Deputy head of the Judiciary: Any move that might provoke or encourage people to create insecurity will be considered a crime – According to the deputy head of the Judiciary, Hojjat ol-Eslam Ebrahim Ra'isi: “Those who aim to plot sedition look for an opportunity, and no opportunity should be given to them to create unrest in society. At this juncture, any comment, any writing or any move that might provoke or encourage people to create insecurity will be considered a crime.” (Iranian TV, June 22)

13. Exams at Orouyime University postponed – The president of Orouyime University has announced that all exams scheduled for the coming weeks have been postponed. According to the university president, the exams are being postponed because of the university acceptance tests that will be taking place around the country, including on the Orouyime campus.

The Political Scene

14. Ahmadinejad: Election is “new season” in nation's life – During a meeting with a group of culture workers, Ahmadinejad defined the June 12 election as “a cry against the cruel states commanding the world.” He added that the election was “the will of each member of the Iranian nation one by one, and its conversion into the whole nation's will that yields power and national trust for the Iranian nation.” (Iranian TV, June 22)

15. Council of Guardians spokesman: No election fraud took place – Referring to 50 ballot boxes that included more votes than the number of eligible voters, the spokesman for the Council of Guardians, Kadkhodaii, said: “Some media outlets have published false reports. I contacted some of them and made necessary explanations. As I said last night, the difference that we have [with some candidates] regards a claim made by some candidates that we are investigating. However, our preliminary investigations show that no major violations have taken place. Maybe it is best to say that no violations have taken place. Of course, as I said last night, there might be certain discrepancies in registering the data. Today, our colleagues have been dispatched to the Statistics Organization and it has announced that they are prepared to help us clarify the matter.” In another reference to the complaints that the number of votes in some provinces exceeded the number of eligible voters, Kadkhodaii explained that this occurred because there is no law requiring people to vote in their place of residence and people can vote anywhere in the country. Kadkhodaii added that the GC will announce its final position on the complaints about the presidential election results on Wednesday. He said the GC has received different reports and complaints from three presidential candidates and examined all of the complaints. On the complaints about the distribution of ballot papers, Kadkhodaii explained, It was found that there have been no special problems, except one or two cases of a 40-minute delay in provinces such as Yazd and Isfahan. Commenting on the complaints that some of the representatives of the candidates were expelled from polling stations, Kadkhodaii stated that the GC determined that they were expelled for interfering in administrative affairs or because they arrived at polling stations too late Kadkhodaii stated that Rezaii asked the GC to recount some of the ballot boxes in a number of provinces and said, It was decided that some of the boxes be randomly recounted and if the discrepancy turns out to be significant, we are ready to recount the rest of the boxes. The GC spokesman also urged the candidates to pursue their protests through legal channels. (Iranian TV, June 22)

16. Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah television: Hashemi Rafsanjani working hard behind the scenes to help resolve Iran's post-election crisis, possibly with an eye to a radical long-term solution that will include formation of an alternative collective leadership to replace that of the supreme leader and the resignation of Ahmadinejad – Dubai-based Al-Arabiyah television, which has been doing some provocative reporting and whose Tehran bureau has been ordered shut by Iranian authorities, has reported that Hashemi Rafsanjani met very recently with representatives of the Shia world's highest authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who lives in neighboring Iraq: "Iran's religious clerics in Qom and members of the Assembly of Experts, headed by Ayatollah Rafsanjani, are mulling the formation of an alternative collective leadership to replace that of the supreme leader, sources in Qom told Al Arabiya on condition of anonymity… Members of the Assembly [of Experts] are reportedly considering forming a collective ruling body and scrapping the model of Ayatollah Khomeini as a way out of the civil crisis that has engulfed Tehran in a series of protests… The discussions have taken place in a series of secret meetings convened in the holy city of Qom and included Jawad al-Shahristani, the supreme representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the foremost Shiite leader in Iraq… An option being considered is the resignation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president following condemnation by the United States and other European nations for violence and human rights violations against unarmed protestors."

17. Regime preparing the ground for Mousavi’s house arrest – The Ayande website, which is affiliated with the Rafsanjani family, claims that the Iranian broadcasting authority and pro-government news agency are laying the ground for the arrest or house arrest of Mousavi. According to the site, the numerous reports on the alleged crimes of Mousavi are designed to prepare the ground for his arrest. Alef News claims Mousavi is considering quitting all of his official positions in the Islamic Republic.

18. Chairman of the Majlis Judicial Committee: Mousavi’s prosecution prepared – According to Ali Shahrokhi, then chairman of the Majlis Judicial Committee, illegal rallies and provocative statements by Mousavi are the source of the recent unrests and riots. He said that the recent unrests caused financial damage and casualties “This criminal activity, which harms security, and which infringes religious laws, should be dealt with firmly… Mousavi's viewpoints and his illegal statements, which encouraged and provoked public opinion, are considered a crime… They harm national and public interests, and questioned the [legitimacy of the] system… The necessary ground for the legal prosecution of Mousavi has been prepared… Unfortunately, Mousavi, contrary to legal procedures, is trying to bully and pressure the system through illegal rallies and provocative statements… The system will not submit to any [pressure by any] group… If the Islamic Republic were to succumb to bullies, it would have already succumbed to the global arrogance [of the West] and the United States. However, Mr. Mousavi believes that he can impose his illogical demands by bullying the system.” (Fars News Agency, June 22)

19. Chairman of Majlis' Research Center urges Mousavi "to stop this suicide" – Dr. Ahmad Tokali, the chairman of the Majlis' Research Center and seen as a government opponent before the elections, has crossed the lines. Commenting on the recent events, he said: "I thought that after it turned out that external enemies are trying to benefit from the protest actions of Mousavi and some of the public, the engineer would… make do with a path of legal protest; but in light of his repeated statements, and particularly after the supreme leader's sermon on Friday, it appears that he intends to cross over the boundaries of self-harm and even suicide."

The Diplomatic Scene

20. Majlis Speaker: Iran may review ties with Britain – Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has called on the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee to carefully review the issue of Tehran-London relations. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry officials and members of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee met Monday to “study the Western countries’ position on Iran’s presidential election.”Committee member Hossein Sobhaninia said: “In regard to the soft and even physical interference of agents connected to Britain in the recent events, the committee is seeking a serious revision [in relations] with interventionist countries, especially Britain.”

21. Iran arrests five “European spies” during unrest – Iranian security forces identified and arrested five European spies during the unrest in Tehran on Saturday. According to reports, two German, one British and two French spies were arrested, the Persian-language daily, Javan, reported on Monday, without mentioning specific details. Meanwhile, Iranian-Canadian Maziyar Bahari, a Newsweek reporter in Tehran, has also been arrested. Newsweek has confirmed the arrest and has demanded his immediate release.

22. Foreign Ministry spokesman: BBC Persian and VOA leaders are the children of those who serve Abdolbaha's mausoleum in Haifa (reference to the Baha’i center in Haifa – TG); they are officially the children of Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman – Speaking at his weekly news briefing, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi criticized leaders ofEuropean countries and the United States, saying that instead of inviting people to opt for democratic and legal procedures in their comments, they were supporting certain group of rioters and opportunists. Qashqavi: “It is interesting, for example, that they criticize us for not extending the visa of a journalist. As you know, there are 117 permanent correspondents in Tehran. But some of their media interference is truly unacceptable… Well, we all remember the level of violence in Paris and other French cities two years ago, after the killing of two teenagers of African origin in France… The violence there was hundreds of times worse than the violence they claim there is in Tehran… But did the BBC call it a French crisis, as it has done in the case of Iran? Did CNN stop its usual programs and allocate 20 hours out of 24 to the French crisis? There are those who claim to support free media. This is CNN, which officially trains people to hack into the websites of the government and the Foreign Ministry. This is because they want to cut the connection of the government and the Foreign Ministry with the people… Is this not interference? CNN and the BBC set up a psychological war room… As for BBC Persian and the VOA, their case is obvious. Their leaders are the children of those who serve Abdolbaha's mausoleum in Haifa [a reference to the Baha’i center in Haifa – TG]. Their names are known, and they are officially the children of Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman. They are their spiritual children, and their objectives are to weaken Iran's national solidarity, to threaten Iran's territorial integrity and to divide Iran. This is the approved agenda that was promulgated to the VOA and BBC Persian after their budgets were approved by the British Parliament and the U.S. Congress. (Iran Radio, June 22)

23. IRGC condemns United States, Britain and Israel for their “blatant audacity” and warns them against interfering in Iran's domestic affairs, also issues harsh warning to rioters – According to an IRGC statement, the June 12 presidential election “was a glorious and astonishing event, which defeated the leaders of the Global Arrogance and the centres of conspiracy, and disappointed the sworn enemies of the Iranian nation... The global arrogance decided to take revenge… and design their evil and divisive scenarios… It blatantly put supporting and guiding destruction, disturbance and interference in the domestic affairs [of Iran] on its agenda.” The statement also refers to the remarks of “the eminent leader on the efforts and plans of the heads of arrogant powers and the Zionist and imperialist media to spread unrest and chaos, and to commit criminal and terrorist acts.” The IRGC refers to the examples of direct confrontation by rioters and conspirators with the country's guardians of order and security and describes them as “the prime examples of actions against national security and threats against the Revolution and the interests of the Islamic Iran.” According to the statement: “The IRGC severely condemns any acts that would be illegal and against the path of the imam and the great leadership [Ayatollah Khamenei] and warns the main elements [responsible for the riots] and those deceived by them to move in the direction of reason and in line with the country's interest, and put an end to their sabotaging and disturbing activities… Otherwise, they should be ready for the decisive and revolutionary confrontation of the children of Iran in the IRGC, Basij, and other security and disciplinary forces, who will destroy all sedition and riots within the framework of their legal duties… The security and disciplinary forces and people's Basij will not hesitate to confront rioters.” In another part of the statement, the IRGC addresses the leaders of the Global Arrogance, especially America, Britain, and the Zionist regime, explicitly condemning their “blatant audacity,” and warning them against interfering in Iran's domestic affairs and supporting law-breakers.

“The high-handed superpowers should worry about their own domestic issues and their vulnerable situation in the occupied and invaded countries, especially in the Middle East,” the statement says, and then concludes by noting that “different classes of people, especially the political elites, have been advised to carefully re-read the eminent leader's guidelines, and it is stressed that they should focus on having a lawful discourse to protect the social security and calm under the present circumstances. The IRGC forces, the brave Basij. as well as the security and disciplinary forces, are all inspired by the commands of the eminent commander-in-chief [Ayatollah Khamenei]. With total allegiance to His Excellency, they are strongly determined to remove the dirty rioters from the scene of public life and to restore security and order in society, so that the heroic and noble people of Iran will no longer experience bitterness and frustration.”

24. Majlis speaker: Recent movements of Zionists designed to destroy buildings around the holy Qods, calls on Muslims to increase support – Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has urged Muslim states to stand against Israel's ethnic cleansing efforts in Qods. Speaking at a meeting with the Tunisian ambassador in Tehran, Hatam al Sanem, Larijani reiterated that all Islamic countries should cooperate on issues related to the world of Islam. "Recent movements of the Zionist regime in order to destroy buildings around the holy Qods are one of these issues that require deliberations and cooperation among Muslim countries more than ever,” he said.

25. Jomhouri Eslami slams U.S.-Egypt efforts to establish Palestinian state, charging that it would be "a Zionist puppet" – A Jomhouri Eslami editorial comments on statements by the Egyptian president regarding U.S. efforts to establish peace between the Palestinians and Israel. Mubarak defined the U.S. efforts as a "rare opportunity" that should be taken advantage of for the good of the Palestinian people. The paper, however, determines that the Palestinian state in question would lack all identity, desire or ability to defend itself, and would never enjoy security alongside the Zionist regime, which is armed with the most sophisticated weaponry in the world. The paper, known for its anti-Egypt viewpoint, charges that Mubarak and Netanyahu's common objective is to resolve the Palestinian problem by establishing a "make-believe" state that would be "a puppet in the hands of the Zionists." According to the paper, "The Palestinians realize this and have therefore rejected the intiative. Following its failures in recent wars, the Zionist state is in a situation in which it can no longer hold out against the Palestinian resistance. The Palestinian people's struggle has reached a sensitive point, and they should not make do with anything less than the destruction of the Zionist regime – an objective that is more within reach than ever before.

26. Anti-Iranian sentiment in Azerbaijan intensifies – The Sedaye Shia website is reporting that the Azerbaijani National Security Ministry has tightened its watch over Iranian institutions and bodies in the country, citing Tehran’s intentions plans to boost its religious and ideological influence in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, Baku has, for the first time, invited “the president of the Zionist regime to visit Azerbaijan.” Commenting on the upcoming visit, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said that Tehran would closely monitor visits of this kind that would undoubtedly have an effect on Iran’s ties with its neighbors.

Security Affairs

27. Nokia confirms sale of tapping equipment – Nokia-Siemens has confirmed reports that it has sold cellular telephone tapping equipment to the Iranian government.

28. First stage of air drill “a success” – An Iranian military spokesman has announced that the first stage of the air drill that started yesterday in the Persian Gulf area was a success. The first stage of the exercise, he said, had involved the transfer of equipment, the location of sites, setting up a presence in the area and more. Meanwhile, the commander of the Iranian Army’s air force said that the drill was designed to practice long-distance flights and electronic warfare.

29. Explosion at IRGC ammunitions dump – According to unofficial reports, two loud explosions, followed by ambulance and police sirens, were heard Sunday evening on Piroozi Street in Tehran. Civilians say that the explosions occurred at an IRGC naval forces ammunition dump.

Economic Affairs

30. Deputy oil minister ousted – Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Akbar Torkan has been ousted from his post in keeping with an order from the oil minister. He has been replaced by Ebrahim Rado Afzan. During the elections, Torkan harshly criticized Ahmadinejad on a number of occasions.

31. Iran's OPEC governor: Iranian oil production unaffected by post-election protests – Iran’s OPEC governor, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, says that the recent post-election unrest has had no impact on the country's oil industry or crude exports. "The recent developments in the country have had no impact on the oil industry or crude exports… The unrest has not even affected gas stations, let alone the country's production and export of crude,” he said.

32. Iran seeks investment in Armenian copper mines – Deputy Director for Planning and Development at Iran’s Copper Industries Company, Ahmad Faridi, said Iran was in talks with Armenia on investments in copper mines in the country.

33. Gas exporters to meet in Doha next week – Gas exporters will meet in Doha next week to elect a secretary-general for the group and to discuss financial and other matters. Iran has named a candidate for the secretary-general position.

34. Electricity imports from Armenia – Iran will import some $250 million worth of electricity from Armenia. In return, Iran will lay a 470-kilometer long rail line in Armenia. The rail line between the two countries is expected to cost $1.2 billion to build, and Iran is expected to finance a large part of it.

35. Next-generation communications networks on the way to Iran – The director general of the National Iranian Communications Company has announced that Iran will soon be enjoying the next generation of communications networks. The director general said he also intended to introduce other services, such as NGN, to facilitate better Internet access in the country.

36. Plant for production of oil, gas and petrochemical industry equipment opens – The Gachsaran plant for the production of oil, gas and petrochemical industry equipment was opened on Tuesday. The plant, set up at a cost of some $16 million, will produce warehouses and equipment for the oil and gas industry.

37. Iranian exports to Afghanistan increase twofold – The Iranian Trade Development Organization has announced that exports of non-petroleum products to Afghanistan have doubled in recent years. The main goods exported to Afghanistan included medicines, cooking oil, washing powder and sweets.

Other Human Rights & Minorities Issues

38. Women’s rights campaigners sign declaration against oppression of women and men – Despite the current media restrictions, some 250 women’s rights activists have signed a declaration calling for an end to the oppression of both women and men in Iran and the release of detainees. Zila Bnei-Yakoub, the journalist who was arrested recently along with her partner, also signed the declaration before she was taken into custody.

39. Death by stoning and amputation of arms to be dropped – The chairman of the Majlis Law and Justice Committee, Ali Shahrokhi, has announced that under a new bill, the punishments of death by stoning and the amputation of arms will be abolished.

40. Bloggers from Bandar Abbas: Two people were executed Monday morning – According to a blogger from Bandar Abbas, two people were executed at the Bandar Abbas prison on Monday morning. The blogger claims that the Iranian Supreme Court has approved the death sentences handed down against 30 people in the jail, and that a decision has been made to carry out two executions a day.

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