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  • 26 March 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 2 Comments
  • About

A New Look

As of today, niacINsight has a new look.  We hope you like it!

This is just the beginning, though.  In a couple of days, NIAC will unveil a new and improved website over at niacouncil.org.  It’s taken months to get everything ready, but soon you will be able to access brand new resources, news and commentary, information about events and even a special section with added content for NIAC members.  Not a NIAC member yet?  Sign up quick to get all the benefits of our new website!

  • 13 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – July 13

 7:02 pm: NIAC Calls for the Release of Kian Tajbakhsh, an End to Political Detentions and Abuse – NIAC issued this press release earlier today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the arrest and imprisonment of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American intellectual who was taken from his home in Iran and jailed late last Thursday. NIAC calls for his release and the immediate release of all those who have been arrested and detained for demonstrating in the weeks following Iran’s disputed presidential election.

“Tajbakhsh’s recent arrest is part of an ongoing effort by the government of Iran to silence dissent,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi, “and it shows the Iranian government’s continued disregard for the basic rights of its people in the wake of last month’s election.” NIAC has condemned the use of violence and political detentions against demonstrators in Iran, and called for a new election as the only plausible way to end the turmoil. 

Tajbakhsh was not involved in the current demonstrations, but had been arrested in 2007 along with four other dual citizens on charges of trying to foment a ‘velvet revolution’ against the Islamic Republic. He spent four months in Tehran’s Evin Prison before his was released. Following his release in 2007, he remained in Iran and deliberately avoided politics, his friends and family members say. Tajbakhsh, a Columbia University graduate, taught urban policy at the New School for Social Research in New York City from 1994 until 2001.

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, over 240 other prominent Iranian lawyers, activists, journalists, professors, human rights defenders and students have been arrested without charge, and have been taken to undisclosed locations since the demonstrations began.  NIAC has also received many reports of detainees in Iran’s prisons being mistreated, including prisoners being tortured and raped. 

NIAC calls on the Iranian government to restore basic human and legal rights to its prisoners, including a halt to torture and guaranteed access to legal representation in accordance with the Iranian constitution

5:10 pm: Association of Iranian Journalists suing Kayhan editor for defamation – The editor in chief of the state run newspaper, Kayhan, will be put on trial next month for charges of defamation. “This case…was formed by multiple complaints [which accuses Kayhan of] publishing lies with the purpose of creating anxiety among the public and accusations.”

5:09 pm: The official state news agency IRNA praises Ahmadinejad, says his hair turned white prematurely because he “worked so hard for justice”

Ahmadi_aging

4:15 pm: Tehran’s minister of justice: I don’t have data on the detainees – According to Amir Kabir newsletter, the head of Tehran’s Justice Department claimed that he does not have written and formal information regarding the number of detainees.  “So far, I have not been invited to attend the meetings of special committee formed by the head of the judicial branch to investigate the situation of recent detainees and I have not received any communications regarding this matter and I have no information about their work.”

Alireza Avayee has reportedly visited Evin prison twice and said “many of the detainees have been freed and several more are about to be released.”

3:57 pm: According to Kodoom, Iranian Americans have scheduled demonstrations from July 22-24 in front of the United Nations building in New York.

The aim of the demonstrations are to declare support for the green movement in Iran, to denounce the Iranian government’s use of violence arbitrary arrest and torture against the demonstrators, and to bring into light the lack of accountability of the Ahmadinejad government.

Reportedly, these rallies will be attended by many of the popular Iranian personalities living in the United States, such as pop singer Gogosh, Akbar Ganji and many others.

3:12 pm: Raja News claims Ayatollah Montazeri suffering from memory loss – Raja News, which is a strong supporter of Ahmadinejad, claims that Ayatollah Montazeri has been “sick for several months,” suffering from “imbalance and severe memory loss.” Montazeri has been supportive of the demonstrators and has condemned the government’s post-election behavior as contrary to Islam.

According to their reports, statements that are supposedly from Montazeri are in fact being written by other people.  “Mohsen Kadivar, who is outside Iran, along with one of Montazeri’s sons are primarily responsible for creating these fatwas and statements, using Montazeri’s stamp and publishing them through anti-revolutionary media and have probably downgraded Montazeri’s role to a low level political element.”

His son, Ahmad Montazeri, denied the claim and said in an interview with Parleman News that his father is perfectly healthy.

2:59 pm: UANI Calls On New York Area Hotels To Refuse To Host Ahmadinejad – The organization United Against Nuclear Iran issued a statement today calling on New York area hotels to refuse service to the Iranian delegation when they come to the UN General Assembly in September.

“These hotels must join the international community in condemnation of Iran’s illicit nuclear program and for its brutal repression of the Iranian people.  If President Ahmadinejad comes to the UNGA he should stay in the Iranian Mission to the UN as a testament to his international isolation and responsible entities should decline to host the Iranian delegation.”

The group advocates divestment from all companies that do business in Iran until the Iranian government gives up its nuclear program.

2:39 pm: Mousavi legally prohibited from forming a political party, says Kayhan – According to the state run newspaper Kayhan, Mohammad Reza Mir Taj al-Dini, member of the principalist faction has said “in the Islamic Republic system, a person who does not accept the guardianship of the jurist and the Guardian Council is not qualified to form a party.”

The Deputy of the Council for Coordination of the Forces of the Revolution said, “Mousavi must first prove that he does not have enmity and hostility towards the regime and accepts the existing laws and then think about forming a party.”

“I believe that given current circumstances Mousavi wants to impose his illegal words by using partisan force and this in not acceptable and he should not be given a permit.”

Kayhan also quoted the speaker of the Society Loyal to Islamic Revolution who said “creating a party by people like Mousavi whose loyalty to the regime has not been proven is against the constitution.”  Mohammad Azimi added “Mousavi’s behavior after the announcement of election results has risen doubts about his loyalty to the constitution…therefore he is not qualified to form a party.”

1:51 pm: Mahmoud Mirlohi: “Mousavi’s party will be definitely created” – Deputy interior minister for legal and parliamentary affairs of the reform movement, Mahmoud Mirlohi, announced that “Mousavi’s party will definitely be created and he more capable than just retreating against word from a few unauthorized individuals.”

“The opponents (of Mousavi) only accept certain laws and according to their own interpretation and do not recognize laws regarding freedom of assembly, speech … which are the explicit wording of the law.   Therefore, it is natural that they are anxious about the creation of a party by Mousavi.”

“They are trying to close legal channels to the people and now the law has really turned into an instrument in their service.”

12:41 pm: July 17 – Rafsanjani to lead Friday Prayers

July 17th Friday Prayer

Mousavi’s facebook page has released the following statement along with the attached poster: “The Friday prayer will be held by Ayatollah Rafsanjani and will also be attended by Mousavi and Khatami.”

Rafsanjani has not delivered the Friday prayers since the disputed presidential elections.

11:35 am: More on Kian Tajbakhsh’s detention – Time Magazine: U.S. Citizen Living in Tehran Said to Be Arrested

11:24 am: Two of Iran’s Top Clerics Criticize Ahmadinejad for Silence on China’s Muslims – Karroubi’s official newspaper [Persian] reports that two of Iran’s top clerics, Grand Ayatollahs Shirazi and Golpayegani, have criticized Ahmadinejad’s government for its failure to condemn the Chinese government for its violent crackdown of its Muslim population (uighurs).

The grand ayatollahs are “sources of emulation,” a top distinction in Shia Islam.

According to Shirazi, “the political and economical co-operation between Iran and China should not be taken into consideration when our Muslim brothers and sisters are getting killed.”

Hossein-Ali Montazeri and Yousef Saanei are the only Grand Ayatollahs in Iran who have criticized the Iranian government’s crackdown on post-election demonstrations.

Analysis: Iran criticized Italy’s handling of G-8 protesters, but has said little about China. The reason is very clear. China and Iran have deep economic ties, and China has veto power on any possible new sanctions in the UN Security Council. Neoconservatives (and some liberals) often claim that Iran is a deranged, irrational state actor that poses an existential threat to Israel (and thus needs to be bombed). While there is no doubt that Iran poses at least a limited threat to Israel, particularly through its support of Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s silence on China’s actions provides yet another example of how Iran is willing to ignore ideology in pursuit of its national and security interests.

10:36 am: Pro-Ahmadinejad MPs: “Representatives who do not believe in the legitimacy of this government are not qualified to be in Majlis” – According to Amir Kabir newsletter, a member of the principalist (hardline) faction in Majlis said “those representatives who deem the government as illegitimate, are not qualified to be in the 8th Majlis.”  Satar Hedayatkhah, a pro-Ahmadinejad MP, added:

“when this group of representatives entered the Majlis they pledged to defend the constitution, and when they stand up against the guardianship of the jurist (the Supreme Leader) and the constitution, they lose their qualification as representatives and in terms of religious law, any rights and benefits they get from the Majlis will be illegal.”

This member of the parliament said that the real legitimacy of the Islamic government comes from god and “people’s votes do not have legitimacy; they only give the Islamic government acceptability.”

10:10 am: AP:  Iran readies package for P5+1 talks – Providing more details on Foreign Minister Mottaki’s statement that we reported on yesterday:

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran is preparing a new package of “political, security and international” issues to put to the West, its foreign minister said Saturday.

“The package can be a good basis for talks with the West. The package will contain Iran‘s stances on political, security and international issues,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference.

This seems to be Iran’s response to President Obama’s message from the G8 summit last week that the invitation for Iran to join another round of talks will expire in September, after which he will push for more sanctions.

Unfortunately, from Mottaki’s comments, it seems less than certain that Iran is willing to accept the invitation as it was presented to them, and instead would prefer to develop its own package to discuss.  This happened in previous rounds of negotiations, in which both sides presented their own version of a plan to the other, and ignored the other’s requests for a response.  The result was that both sides waited for the other to respond to their proposal, and talks stalled for nearly two years.

9:59 am: According to Tabnak, Mohsen Namjoo an Iranian artist and folk singer was sentenced to 5 years in prison for singing lyrics of the Koran in a modern popular style of Music.

Mohsen Namjoo is very popular in Iran and has made a few concerts around the world including in North American cities.

This is further evidence of the government’s ongoing effort to clamp down on artists and musicians.

12:12 AM: Mohsen Rezaie calls for the opposition’s concerns to be resolved

BBC Persian reports the statement released by former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaie on his website. This message calls for the resolution of the opposition’s concerns soon — warning that if they remain unresolved, the Islamic Republic may disintegrate.

Further, he indirectly criticizes Hassan Firouzabadi, the current commander of Iran’s Armed Forces. Firouzabadi, an Ahmadinejad supporter, recently published a message calling the opposition “the new Monafeqin” (Monafeqin means hypocrites — the government’s epithet for the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization). Rezaie appears to be warning him not to push his claims further, even invoking the specter of a possible civil war.

Today, Iranian society and the armed forces loyal to the Islamic Republic are at odds. The household of the Revolution has fallen under a rain torrent of slander. A minority calls some members of this household “new Monafeqin.” Another minority has given some members of this household the title of Kharijites (the sect that murdered the Shia saint Ali). Don’t you think this is a conspiracy to make Iran’s armed forces start fighting each other and foment civil unrest?

The continuation of the methods that some political actors (presumably the opposition) are using takes us backward and will bring us to defeat — and it has already brought some damage upon us — while if the other faction of political actors (presumably Ahmadinejad supporters) continues their methods of action, they will bring us to a mountain slope of damage.

He lends legitimacy to both sides of the debate in his appeal:

I am convinced that an Islamic Republic without both freedom and religious principles has no significance

Finally, he warns of the possible downfall of the Islamic Republic and mentions:

These questions and discussions regarding the Presidential election’s results affected the entire Nezam [the system].

  • 10 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – July 10

5:16 pm: Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili: Many of the detainees will be freed next week – According to Parleman news, in a meeting with the wives of two of the detainees, Tajzadeh and Mirdamadi, Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili announced on Friday that “many of the detainees will be released next week.”  The wives, who have no news about their arrested husbands, went to Qom on Friday to speak to Mousavi Ardebili about their concerns.

Ayatollah Mousavi Ardebili “expressed his deep concerns about the current situation” and said that he has news indicating that many of attendees will be release by next week.  “He also expressed his concerns regarding the condition of female prisoners and requested immediate investigation of this matter.”

5:15 pm: Recent unrests to be investigated after MPs come back from their summer vacation – Sarmayeh newspaper: Parviz Sarvari, an Iranian MP, said that the representatives did not have the chance to investigate the recent events and “will investigate the post-election issues after the vacation.”

5:13 pm: Washington Times’ coverage of Obama’s statement at G8 – As we reported earlier, President Obama spoke at the G-8 meeting today in L’Aquila and addressed the issue of just how long he’s willing to wait to hear back from Iran about the P5+1 invitation for another round of talks on the nuclear issue.

The story in today’s Washington Times, however, paints a slightly different picture:

AQUILA, Italy — President Obama said Friday that Iran faces a September deadline to show good-faith efforts to halt its nuclear weapons program, and said the statement issued by the world’s leading industrial nations meeting here this week means the international community is ready to act.

The Washington Times editorial board has made no secret of its desire for President Obama to set a firm deadline on talks with Iran, after which he should pursue harsher measures.  This article’s take on Obama’s statement seems a bit like wishful editorial thinking, rather than strictly accurate reporting.

Admittedly, Obama’s remarks today were difficult to comprehend, but much of the other news coverage interpreted his message as saying that Iran has until September to accept the invitation to sit down for talks — not “show good-faith efforts to halt its nuclear weapons program.”  That, after all, would be the ideal conclusion of the talks.

Here is the video and a transcript; you decide:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlvNSHbZsDA]

I think the real story here was consensus in that statement, including Russia, which doesn’t make statements like that lightly.  Now the other story there was the agreement that we will reevaluate Iran’s posture towards negotiating the cessation of a nuclear weapons policy at the G20 meeting in September.

3:15 pm: Prominent Iranian-American intellectual arrested in Iran – From the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:

(10 July 2009) Agents of the Security Police arrested Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh at his home in Tehran on the evening of 9 July, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The agents did not provide any legal justification for the arrest and took him to an undisclosed location.

Tajbakhsh joins more than 240 other prominent Iranian lawyers, activists, journalists, professors, human rights defenders, and students who have been arrested without warrants at their homes or places of work by unidentified agents and taken to undisclosed locations. These detainees are being held in incommunicado detention and the authorities have refused to provide any information regarding charges against them or their condition to their families.

Dr. Tajbakhsh previously has taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City and at institutions within Iran.  He was imprisoned in Iran for four months in 2007, around the same time that Woodrow Wilson scholar Haleh Esfandiari was also detained.

2:48 pm: “No one is scared anymore, they are goners” [Translated from a Persian blog] – From a colleague, we received an email with this personal account of yesterday’s events, which paints a hopeful and enthusiastic picture of the renewed public demonstrations.

What an honorable day the 18th of Tir is.  All have come.  Young and old and middle aged.  Not only in one street; they have learned from previous days.  There are mass protests in 7-8 parts of Tehran.  There is no silence.  Everyone is chanting.  Some say Allah-o Akbar replaced immediately by Death to Dictator and Coup d’état Government, Resign, Resign! The center of clashes is the Valiasr-Enghelab intersection, Daneshju Park.  The population is concentrated and condensed and anti-riot guards attack with tear gas and batons.  Faces are bloody.  The people constantly move around from the streets to sidewalks and from sidewalks to streets.  All cars are honking like two weeks ago.  Continuous beeps.  Fists and two-finger signs of victory and solidarity are in the sky again.  Waves of people come from main streets toward Enghelab Square and the University.  This time everyone is chanting a long slogan in the 1979 style: Traitor Mahmoud, get out/you ruined the soil of the nation/you killed the nation’s young…Death to you! Death to you…Death to you!

Tear gas is raining on people but it’s unbelievable; like everyone has got used to it.  No one is getting sick.  They just make a fire immediately.  Some send cigarette smoke towards the person next to them.  We are at the intersection Keshavarz Blvd. and Kargar Street.  Special forces are coming from down the street.  We run up the street while chanting.  A condensed group joins us from Fatemi St., and we go back down the street chanting: Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, we are all together.

There are no shots being fired here.  There’s also no news of shots in other places.  So many girls! So many mothers! In the front row.  Angry and cheerful and inspiring! They attack us again.  This time they brought the plainclothes [security forces] too, but their numbers are less compared to previous days, and it is clear that it is because of recent revelations about the crimes of the Basij.  They have dressed some of them in Revolutionary Guards (Sepah) uniform so they seem more orderly.  Now they attack the crowd with large numbers and motorcycles.  Several hundred enter the market next to Laleh Park, which is a dead-end, and they get stuck there.  Along with a few others, we jump over the barbed wire and fence and enter the park.  The destination is Amir Abad Street.  They are closing the street from the corner of Fatemi so the crowd in Amir Abad doesn’t join the crowd around the park.  Amir Abad is packed.  A crowd is standing at the corner of the street where Neda died and is chanting Death to Dictator.  An old man who says he is 80 years old happily says no one is scared anymore.  They [the government] are goners.  Look at the crowd – unlike 1979, no one is wearing a turban! The people will get revenge for Neda’s blood! They are right.

People understand the situation well.  They understand the weakness and fragility of the regime.  No one is scared anymore.  Young and old are chanting.  Harder and more determined than three weeks ago.  A family’s car is continuously honking and moving north on Amir Abad St.  The son sticks his head out and tells people: “You still want to fight peacefully! Don’t you see they have guns!” His sister joins him by chanting “Death to Dictator!”  My only response is to repeat the slogan with them and raise my fist.

I get on the internet quickly and write this report.  Tonight will be very hot.  Chants on the roofs will create uproar! Injured and arrested are not few.  It’s not dark yet.  They have set up checkpoints staffed with uniformed Basijis here and there.  They are supposedly intimidating people and showing them this is a state of emergency! What idiocy! It’s the thousands and thousands of people who showed the regime the situation is extraordinary with their powerful presence in the streets.  We haven’t heard of other cities yet.  But without a doubt Tir 18th of this year will be very influential on the current developments.  Without a doubt.

1:56 pm: The economist profiles how the student movement is going underground.

Above all, a sense of paranoia has taken hold. Large numbers of students enter university as a reward for joining the baseej, a vigilante militia that answers to the Revolutionary Guard, so the campuses are heaving with informers. Students are afraid to talk to foreigners. Some refuse even to glance at them.

12:43 pm: Police attack cameraman

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q03lMQBM9co]

Credit to Nico for finding this video too.

12:40 pm: Students arrested at Golshan dorm freed, Amir Kabir Newsletter

The plainclothes [security forces] who attacked the Golshan dorm at night had taken four of the student residents.  These students were freed after several hours.  One of the students, Navid Gorgin, was released with his eyes covered at 3am in one of the streets near the dorm.  Two of the released students have bruises from being hit by batons.  Despite this, Roozbahani, the dean of cultural affairs at the Amir Kabir University “deceitfully claimed that students did not suffer any injuries.”  Roozbani also did not mention the use of tear gas, damages to property and the temporary arrest of the four students.

12:26 pm: Stephen Walt, over at Foreign Policy, is discussing Iran’s recently tarnished imaged in the region, and why that’s a good thing:

The ability of Iran’s current rulers to suppress the current challenge to their rule is both disheartening and unsurprising, but there is a silver lining. By forcing them to reveal their true colors, recent events have further diminished whatever regional appeal the Islamic Republic might once have possessed. If Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran does not succeed and we are forced to rely on some combination of containment and deterrence, Iran’s tarnished image will make that task much easier.

Interestingly, these are the sorts of statements that we would have criticized on this blog prior to the election as contributing negatively to the negotiating atmosphere between the US and Iran (by focusing on what to do if talks fail rather than how to make diplomacy succeed).  Only now, the situation is much less certain, our diplomacy will be delayed for the time being, and Walt’s analysis may prove to be helpful for understanding the situation.

We’re still in the process of formulating a new direction (with your help, through our survey…hint, hint) for the the coming months and years, but it’s a testament to just how monumental the events of the last few weeks really are that no one–including policymakers in Washington–is sure how things will play out on the ground in Iran.

11:03 am: French President Sarkozy says an Israeli attack on Iran would be “an absolute catastrophe.”

10:45 am:  Ayatollah says presidential election law reform needed

From the state-funded Press TV:

A senior Iranian cleric says a parliamentary revision of the presidential election law is needed to prevent post-vote unrest in the future.

Tehran’s Interim Fridays Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani urged the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) to take necessary measures and address the current shortcomings in the Iranian election code.

“The Parliament should rectify the election code of conduct in whatever way it deems necessary,” said Emami-Kashani.

10:40 am: The nightly chants continue

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LumNtGTi_W0]

This video is said to be from last night. It’s part of a compilation attempting to collect videos from every night in Tehran. You can find it here (h/t again to Nico)

10:22 am: Obama on the future of U.S.-Iran diplomacy

President Obama is clear that he wants talks to begin soon on the nuclear issue with Iran. He said that if Iran does not come to the table before the end of September, “we need to take further steps.” He added, “We’re not going to just wait indefinitely.”

This engagement would most likely take place within the existing P5+1 framework, with the United States finally becoming an active participant at the table with its European allies. The future of bilateral diplomacy, however, is less clear.

10:08 am: Iran criticizes Italy for “violent suppression of anti-G8 protesters” (h/t Nico)

Iran summoned the Italian Ambassador to Tehran to “protest against the violent suppression of anti-G8 protesters,” according to Press TV.

9:56 am: “The ethics of the people is better than their government” – Mousavi’s facebook page

pic 1

9:40 am: NIAC President Trita Parsi and Carnegie’s Karim Shadjadpour provided excellent analysis of the situation in Iran at the Newshour with Jim Lehrer last night. (Click on the image below to open the video player.)

newshour


  • 9 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 3 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran updates – July 9

7:13 pm: NIAC President Trita Parsi and Carnegie’s Karim Shadjadpour are on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer right now.

6:43 pm: Roxana Saberi Calls for Release of Iranian Baha’is

Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist who spent almost four months in an Iranian prison earlier this year, today called for the release of seven Iranian Baha’i prisoners of conscience who are set to go on trial Saturday and could face the death penalty.

“In addition to the hundreds of Iranians who have been detained in the context of Iran’s disputed presidential poll, many other ‘security detainees’ arrested long before the June election remain behind bars,” wrote Miss Saberi in a letter to USCIRF requesting U.S. government intervention in the Baha’i case. “These Iranians and the authorities who have detained them need to know that the Iranian people’s human rights are a matter of international concern.”

4:39 pm: Large Demonstrations

We are seeing higher quality videos come out of Tehran, which appear to be from today. The first video shows a very large crowd, apparently at the intersection of Taleghani and Valiasr avenues. We can’t confirm the video is from today, but given the size of the crowd and the notable absence of green, it seems likely that it is.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2adQe1CBmSc]
Here is the full description posted to youtube:

This video shows the time when protestors arrived at the intersection of Taleghani and Valiasr ave, heading toward Valiasr Square. The duration of this rally was about 25 minutes and before arriving at Taleghani intersection, riot forces were not interfering but closed behind the crowd to block the accumulation of people. After arriving at the intersection of Taleghani and Valiasr ave, people continued toward Valiasr Square, as shown in this video. At this time, the anti riot forces shot teargas and followed people on motorcycles forcing the crowd to Taleghani ave. I continued toward Chahar-rah Valiasr where people were blocked from going to Enghelab Square. The revolutionary guards on motorbikes hit pedestrians with batons. On my way to the subway station I saw a lot of military cars full of anti riot guard heading west, apparently to help their forces stationed at Enghelab square

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I015R00dHQ]

4:28 pm: Pictures from Gooya news:

3704373705_037b2a1753

3705181566_996dcb0d8c

4:22 pm: Challenging the official death toll

Tucked away in their story about Mojtaba Khamenei taking over the Basij militia, the Guardian says this:

The official death toll from that backlash is less than 20 but, according to a Tehran doctor who has given his account to the Guardian, the actual number is much higher – 38 in the first week at his hospital alone. He said the basiji covered up the deaths and pressured doctors not to talk.

3:08 pm: EU putting entry visas for Iranian diplomats on hold –

  • 8 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran updates – July 8

7:41 pm: Open Letter by Shirin Ebadi to Ahmadinejad – Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi sent an open letter to President Ahmadinejad on Sunday requesting the removal of a ban placed on the operation of her human rights organization, and an end to pressures on civil, political and human rights activists by governmental officials in his administration.

The honorable President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,

With a brief examination of the pressures and limitations placed on myself and the members of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, any objective onlooker will understand the level of pressure your government has placed on the defenders of human rights in Iran and the illegal and inhumane treatment you have imposed on them. These extreme pressures have taken place despite the fact that our government in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, voted and adopted by the UN members including Iran in 1999, has committed to cooperate with human rights defenders, and to provide them with immunity from prosecution with respect to their human rights activities.

I would like to only address a portion of the pressures which we as human rights defenders have faced in the past 6 months:

Read the full letter here (English).

7:37 pm: Tweets:

“Important: Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, lawyer and member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center has been arrested.”

“Mohammad Reza Yazdan Panah member of the Participation Front has been arrested.”

7:34 pm: Mothers protesting the arrest of their loved ones in front of Evin Prison

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cx8rqHRp3A]

7:32 pm: People boycott SMS – According to Etemademeli, SMS customers in Tehran are discussing the boycott of SMS “for a long time” in order to protest its disconnection for several weeks.  “83% of the phone company’s shareholders believe stopping SMS service increases risk and lowers revenues of the company…SMS is one of the most important sources of revenue for this company.”  After the SMS was back in service, one message was sent which said “God freed SMS” but after that no messages were sent.  “Even the time passing and father’s day coming did not change the decision of the protesting people” and unlike last year, no one used this service to send greeting messages on Imam Ali’s birthday anniversary.

7:09 pm: Key points of Ahmadinejad’s speech:

The following summary was posted by an Iranian-American professor to an Iran-centric list-serve. For those who speak Persian and are interested in watching the complete speech, watch it here:

  • 7 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran updates – July 7

5:59 pm: Ahmadinejad says his reelection gave him a mandate – LA Times

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today declared his disputed reelection gave him a mandate to continue his domestic and international policies and spoke out defiantly against the West in a televised speech meant to shore up his legitimacy amid continued political turmoil.

But he softened his rhetoric toward opponents at home from the days after the June 12 election, when he dismissed his rivals as sore losers.

“We have entered a new era in both the domestic sphere and at the international level,” he said. “Inside the country the path people are taking is clearer than before. And we will tread on that path more powerfully than before.”

During and after his speech, Iranians in various neighborhoods climbed to their rooftops and stepped out into their rooftops to chant “God is great,” and “Death to the dictator” in what has become a nightly protest against Ahmadinejad and in support of former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, his chief rival. Mousavi posted a statement on his website today calling on the government to free prisoners swept up in a crackdown against those disputing the election.

“…”

Ahmadinejad described the election as a “momentous” event which “was the freest and the healthiest election the world has ever seen,” setting a new start for Iran.

“People put their seal of approval to [my] four years in office,” he said.

He said those who alleged that the vote was rigged “failed to offer even a single piece of evidence,” though Mousavi recently released a 24-page document detailing accusations of fraud and official photos of a partial recount effort showed hundreds of unfolded ballots, despite the requirement that voters are to fold their ballots.

Ahmadinejad blamed “arrogant” foreign enemies for doing “everything at their disposal to insinuate into the minds that the vote was tainted,” alleging some Iranians collaborated with them.

5:40 pm: ISIS clarifies Biden’s supposed “green light” of Israeli attack – ISIS, the Institute for Science and International Security, takes a look at the media coverage of Biden’s remarks about an Israeli strike on Iran:

Vice President Biden has been widely quoted (here and here are but two examples) from his Sunday appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos as saying that the United States will not stand in Israel’s way should it decide to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.  The Los Angeles Times piece’s headline bluntly states “Biden says Israel has the right to attack Iran.”

Unfortunately, this reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what Biden actually said.  Yes, the Vice President plainly stated that Israel, as a sovereign nation, can determine “what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.” But he also plainly stated that U.S. and Israeli interests are currently aligned:  “What we believe is in the national interest of the United States, which we, coincidentally, believe is also in the interest of Israel and the whole world” and that these interests are currently best served by engagement.  More important, Biden was saying that the United States would not be pushed into a course of action by Israel:  “If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.” Fine distinctions?  Perhaps, but worth being sensitive to.

5:23 pm: Ousted soccer captain speaks out

MahdavikiaThe captain of Iran’s soccer team, Mehdi Mahdavikia, said farewell to the nation following his “retirement” in a letter today.

While Mahdavikia expresses his deepest gratitude for the fans and all those who have supported him and the Iranian soccer team ‘team meli’, he expresses his frustration with the political backlash that several prominent members of the team have met in the face of the presidential elections that were recently held in Iran.

Mahdavikia was one of the 6 players who wore green arm bands during Iran’s last world cup qualifying against South Korea.

He said:

“My last word is to those who have called national soccer players traitors. How dare you speak without any proof or any documents calling players who over the years have sacrificed everything including their bodies, their souls and their families in order to make Iran proud, and to bring titles and joy to the people of Iran.”

“I suggest you show your track record and give us the honor to learn loyalty from you…though I am sure people will judge between us the traitors and you loyalists well.”

“Every night, before you sleep, think about respect and be conscious of those who you are about to disparage. The members of the national team are proud individuals who at every instance have given their utmost to make Iran proud.”

“National players did not work so hard for you to insult them with these words.”

4:07 pm: Closing down the Tehran and other cities: air pollution or scheduled strikes?

Multiple sources in Iran are skeptical about air pollution being the real reason behind closing down Tehran and other cities.  Some believe that recent shut downs are meant to coincide with scheduled strikes and the anniversary of the 1999 dorm incident at Tehran University this week.  On July 1st, Mousavi’s Facebook featured a flyer calling for national strikes from July 6-8th where Mousavi’s supporters asked the people “anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world” to take off work during those days.  The pollution is a real problem in Tehran, but many people have lost trust in the government and are questioning its true motives.

Qom and Ilam also closing down – Fars News Agency

In addition to Tehran, all government institutions in Qom and Ilam will be closed tomorrow because of “air pollution.”

4:06 pm: Ayatollah: Election approved by God and Hidden Imam

According to Amir Kabir Newsletter, the Ayatollah Morteza Moqtadayee, Dean of Qom’s Elmiyyeh Theological Seminary, has claimed that the June 12 presidential election “is approved by God and the Hidden Imam and there are no problems with it.”  Moqtadayee said “after the Guardian Council’s approval, the case of the elections must be closed.”  Moqtadayee believes that “believing in Velayat-e Faqih (the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) means believing in the person whose word is the Hidden Imam’s word and speaks for the interest of Islam, the country and the society.”

  • 6 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran updates – July 6

4:16 pm: IRIB uninvited from EBU’s annual meeting –According to PeykeIran, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has removed the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) from the list of attendees at its annual gathering “in response to Iran’s policies regarding foreign journalists during the recent events.”  IRIB responded by calling EBU’s act “unprofessional” saying “the purpose of regional radio and TV unions is using the full capacity of media, collecting and publishing information and providing freedom and advancement of the media in the world.”  IRIB is an associate member of EBU.

4:13 pm: PeykeIran released a report based on Mousavi’s meeting with friends and relatives today.

On the anniversary of Imam Ali’s birthday (which is also father’s day) Mr. Mousavi meet with friends and supporters at his residence and stated: there are two kinds of accountability: accountability that is driven from popularity and political accountability. When a government is formed outside the norms and laws that it creates it loses accountability in the eyes of the people. This weakens the government and forces it to take coercive measures. All governments try to have higher levels of accountability, however this government has lost its trust and accountability of the people and this has caused it to be substantially weaker.

If this government does not change its behavior it will not gain the accountability that it has lost and will face a strong opposition from the people, something which will not be beneficial to the government and the nation. My aim is to oppose this government within the realm of the law.

4:09 pm: SMS out of service again – Amir Kabir newsletter reports that shortly after it was reactivated, text messaging service in Iran is once again out of service.  The officials have never given an explanation to the public about why service has been cut.

  • 2 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran updates – July 2

Happy Fourth of July Weekend – We’ll be taking a little break from posting this weekend,though will still be following events in Iran as they happen. As always, check back here for major developments, and have a great weekend.

4:39 pm: Mowj confirmed that Rafsanjani will not lead the Friday prayers

Mowj announced that Hashemi Rafsanjani has “declined” to lead the Friday prayers for a second time.  “Temporary Friday prayer Imams” are scheduled to lead the sermons by taking turns.  No official reason has been announced on why Rafsanjani has not been present for his last two turns.  “The rumors regarding resignation from his position as a temporary Imam have not been confirmed.”

3:31 pm: Twitter feeds confirm that  Hashemi Rafsanjani will still not attend the Friday Prayer that will be held tomorrow.

2:53 pm: Parleman News filtered – Parleman News, the formal news portal of the Followers of Imam’s Line, reports that it has been filtered since Wednesday.  “This site was one of the only few unfiltered news sites which was trying to deliver the news relating to the reformists within the legal framework.”

2:32 pm: Over at BloggingHeads, Ellen Laipson and Paul Salem discuss the recent events in Iran, noting particularly how the Arab world is responding as things develop.  Ms. Laipson is the President and CEO of the Stimson Center, a security and non-proliferation think tank in Washington DC, and Mr. Salem is the Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center.

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2:24 pm: Thousands pay respects to “martyrs” in Tehran – According to Peyke Iran, thousands of Tehranis paid their respects to those who were killed during the recent unrest at the Behesht Zahra cemetery, reportedly filling the cemetery with flowers.

“The painful scene of mothers and fathers mourning the loss of their loved ones made others feel like they are all one family and that was everyone’s pain.”

Plainclothes police were also reportedly present at the cemetery, patrolling and carefully monitoring the people.

11:58 am: Twitter feeds are reporting that the mothers of the dead demonstrators are organizing a silent demonstration in the 4 major parks of Tehran on Saturday, July 4.  This is interesting, as the 4 major parks in Tehran are very large, so they must be expecting a large crowd.

11:26 am – Tell Russia, China, and the EU to stop the violence in Iran – The United States has no diplomatic relations and very modest commercial ties to Iran; therefore there just isn’t a whole lot that our government can do to stop the brutal crackdown against the Iranian people.  But others do have leverage and can put pressure on the government to end the violence.

Russia, China, and the EU all have the ability to put intense pressure on the government of Iran.  These countries have not done enough to put a stop to the bloodshed.

Please take a moment to send a letter to the Embassies of Russia, China, and the EU, telling them to use their influence with Iran to stop the crackdown.

  • 1 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 3 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – July 1

4:35 pm: Khatami’s Statment

BBC Persian released a statement from former president Khatami (these statements are from today):

Statements were made a day after Ahmadinejad made the statement that the ‘velvet revolution has lost’, while Khatami was visiting the families of those individuals who were arrested.

“I have to say that a velvet revolution has been used against the people and the Republic nature of the regime”.

“The voice of the people has been suffocated, those who should protect the rights of the people are instead degrading the people and this is all done under a poisonous atmosphere of state controlled media ”.

The regime should be passionate and accountable for spilling even one drop of blood, instead they have systemically labeled the movement as hooligans”.

“The philosophy of the elections is that candidates who are most represented through ballots is selected, however once the people have contested the results, the electoral philosophy goes under the question and here is where the regime looses.”

“It is very strange that a marvel such as Mr. Mousavi who was one of the founders of the revolution is barred from making public speeches or seeking legal action. His image has been tarnished through the poison that is the state media.”

4:30 pm: Sarmayeh News: “Continuous cancellation of diplomatic trips”

According to Sarmayeh news, following the cancelation of Ahmadinejad’s trip to Egypt and Lybia, the trip of Sultan Qaboos of Oman to Iran has also been canceled.  “Iran’s foreign policy…has been affected by the post-election environment…and has gone through changes which have led to the cancellation of Ahmadinejad’s trips to foreign countries and trips by foreign leaders to Iran.”  According to Sarmayeh, “the reason for the deferment of a trip by Oman’s king to Iran [for an unknown period of time] has been announced to be the unrest and turmoil after the presidential elections.”

Karroubi: “I will stand by the people and the [Islamic] revolution till the day I die”

(Karroubi’s statement was 4 pages long. Here are key excerpts.)

First I would like to apologize to the people of Iran for accepting my burden in the past few months before the election and in its aftermath. I would like to sincerely thank all of the supporters.

I don’t regret my efforts, and I would like to say to the supporter that their efforts have been fruitful.

My re-emergence into politics was to rekindle the memories and love of the Ayatollah [Khomeini]. It was to reminisce the days of sacrifice and selflessness, not for selfishness and certainly not for degrading others. I came back to elevate the social and political climax, to fix our ailing social and political system. I came to talk about independence and bravery, to protect our youth and [students].

They have attacked people with boots and batons and sent thousands to the hospitals. They have attacked student dorms and pierced the hearts of an innocent girl with a bullet. They have fired on innocent people from the roofs of mosques and have arrested hundreds from the streets and their residence. They have beaten and jailed people and dragged confessions of velvet revolutions from them.

What kind of velvet revolution is this; that two of its leaders (Mousavi and Karroubi) were the most experienced friends of the Ayatollah [Khomeini] and were recognized by the office of the Leader and the Guardian Council as legitimate candidates and had 15 millions supporters.

The velvet revolution was in the minds of those who dreamed about beating and killing people, clubbing young and old, men and women, and cars and stores.

This election was the most loud, political and impressive moment in the past 30 years.  Unfortunately, it had a lot of incidents as well and has placed the role of the leadership under question. Instead of addressing these questions, they have come up with new threats. Instead of consulting with the people, they are using propaganda, force, batons, guns, bullets, prison and torture, and at the end, they claim that it’s our fault.

I have a few points that I would like to deliver to you faithful people:

1)      The book that was the 10th presidential election will not be forgotten and will go down as the period that [the government] engaged the people of Iran as enemies and raised negative international attention. Nevertheless, this is the time that our courageous people demanded accountability and recognition.

2)      For the martyrs that lost their lives in this period, I pray and wish them to be recognized as genuine martyrs. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones. I also wish for a fast recovery for those who have been wounded.

3)      The security atmosphere that has been created following the elections is biased and promoted through a state controlled media (Seda o Sima). This bias is wrong, on the count that our non-violent demonstrations have only been questioning the accountability of the elections; people are asking where their votes are.

4)      I do not accept the results of the election and the seal of approval that the Guardian Council has given to it. I also do not recognize the victor of the elections and will not attend any of his programs.

5)      As a student and servant of the Imam (Khomeini) I would like to express my appreciation for all the support that we have gotten before and after the elections.

6)      We must pay close attention to issues of politics, society, rights for civilians, rights for those of other religions. We must protect our cultural traditions and pay attention to rights for women and equality. The judiciary and central legal system must also be changed to complement these rights as well.

7)      I have done all I could in order to rebuttal the shocking results of this election.

8)      The most important thing in this situation is to maintain the spirit of the revolution and politics and must not give into their demands of forgetting about the results of the elections. I extend my hand to those who are willing to keep our Republic and its Islamic values intact.

I will stand for the people and the revolution till I die and will take all the issues of the nation to my heart and will continue to fight to stir the nation in the path that the Imam (Khomeini) set.


12:26 pm: Iran commander: Police Behavior Legal; Neda’s death blown out of proportion

According to Jame Jam Online news, the commander of the armed forces announced today that “during recent turmoil in Tehran no police officers were killed but 20 of the rioters have been killed.”  Commander Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam also added “1032 people were arrested by the police and many of them have been freed.”  Moghaddam said “the police were able to control the riots with minimal violence.  The behavior of the police regarding the illegal gatherings was completely legal.”  Mghaddam also claimed that Neda Agha Sultan’s death was “staged” and Arash Hejazi, the physician who tried to save Neda, “is now being pursued by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and the International Police” for “blowing the story out of proportion.”

12:00 pm: Key Excerpts from Mousavi’s 9th Statement:

  • 30 June 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran Updates – June 30

11:00 pm: 18-year old victim identified: His name was Ashkan
Neda Soltan has become the face of those killed during the post-election protests, however other victims include 18 year-old Ashkan Sohrabi. Rooz online interviewed his sister, Elham, who remembered Ashkan’s last words, “Don’t worry, I’ll come back.” According to Elham, he was shot 3 times in the chest.

5:22 pm: Mowj – Association of Journalists meeting cancelled because of intimidation

Association of Journalists had planned a gathering on Friday, June 2nd, to protest the restrictions placed on media.  However, according to Mousavi’s website, this meeting was cancelled upon an order from security forces.  The Association of Journalists believes that having this meeting is their right and asked the judicial system to immediately reconsider their treatment of members of this union (some of whom are still imprisoned) and remove the recent limitations put on freedom of media.

5:08 pm: (State Run) Kayhan Newspaper: Israel behind the twitter messages!

According to (the state-run newspaper) Kayhan, Israel sent 18 thousand twitter messages just two days before the elections in its “internet war against Iran.”

4:11 pm: Iran’s poet laureate speaks out – Iran’s national poet Simin Behbahani went on NPR and recited two poems inspired by the protests in Iran.  Listen to them here or watch on Youtube.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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