18 Tir Updates
09 Jul 2009 14:57
Sign says, "My Green Vote did not bear your Darkened Name." Photo date unknown.
Via blog: Armed militias along with security forces on motorcycles attacked some of the dormitories at Amir Kabir University today.
In an attack that took place in the Golshan dormitory on Behafarin Street, militias entered the dorms, and assaulted both students and the dorm security guards.
According to Amir Kabir News, the militias stormed the building and destroyed building facilities. In this attack, tear gas was used and the prayer room, study room, showers were vandalized on various floors.
There is still no word from a number of students residing in these dorms.
Militias along with other security forces also entered the Yavari dorms and threatened the students.
The militias have announced that they will attack the dormitories again tonight.
Update through one of Tehran Bureau's correspondents (not in Iran): All based on firsthand accounts:
Tehran by Region
Enghelab St. and Amir Abad St. (near the University of Tehran campus)
This was reportedly the most violent site of demonstrations today. Basij militias were scattered, but they were not as widely present as other days. No gunshots were heard, but they were beating demonstrators with batons. Several people were severely injured, and there was bleeding, including women bleeding. Security forces were also using heavy amounts of teargas.
Those taking pictures or shooting film were confronted, if spotted.
My friends who had been to previous demonstrations believed this would rate as a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the worst).
Cellphone reception was good during the day, but around 5 p.m., it was completely disrupted. I called family at home (in Tehran) and they too could not reach people they knew in that area.
Felestin Square (Palestine Square)
In recent demonstrations, security forces have been using anti-riot water cannon vehicles. (Please note: these ARE NOT the ones used to clean the sidewalks, as one police chief claimed!)
One vehicle was moving up Felestin Square and heading to Enghelab when demonstrators crowded the driver and forced him down. He begged with them to let him go as he "had to answer to authority." The demonstrators opened the cannon, emptied the water out on the streets (my friend was wet to his knees) and once the vehicle had been emptied, they put the driver back in the drivers seat and let him go.
This heavily congested boulevard, which leads to the University of Tehran campus, was crowded with peaceful demonstrators and there was little news of clashes.
All the friends I spoke to today have been relatively depressed for the past few days. But today they sounded very different. They said while the security forces were trying their best to separate the demonstrators, the city overall was alive and filled with peaceful protests. Their voice sounded excited, and much more confident and determined than in recent days.
Their are still people out on the streets, so there is still a chance for more violent confrontations.
Via Lara Setrakian of ABC News: A chador-clad woman says [translated]: "I didn't want to take part in protests today. But at around 5 o'clock, I went to Enghelaab [Square] to get a printout of my research, when unfortunately things suddenly got chaotic. Police first struck people, then told them to leave. I was not safe from teargas or batons either. It was very stinging. I took refuge in the place where I had come to conduct business, but police tossed teargas there and ordered them to shut down. If store owners hadn't come to our rescue, I don't know what would have happened. They created a very [???] atmosphere and they were also filming the scene. There was a group of students in front of the university's veterinary building as well.
On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at noon (US Eastern) "I just spoke to my friend who was there. He said on a scale of 1 to 10, (1 being most peaceful) it was a 7 out there.
The other thing he said was that there were a lot of people around the university where he was, there was tear gas everywhere, and two basij militias badly beat the guy right in front of him (blood and everything), but that the guy was helped by those around him. The two militias ran away though before anyone could get to them.
Apparently there were basij militias scattered beating the heck out of people with batons and then running, but there were no gunshots heard.
On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 10:59 AM (US Eastern) Tehran Bureau correspondent wrote: Last word I got was that they were throwing tear gas at the demonstrators, but there is no longer cell phone reception in the area. I have not been able to call anyone. I called a friend's mom at their home (in Tehran) and she said that they weren't able to get their calls to go through either. So apparently cell phone service has been disrupted.
On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 10:22 AM (US Eastern), Tehran Bureau correspondent wrote: I am on the phone, on and off, with my friends near the university. They say it's relatively quiet. The police have been giving them a hard time about filming anything (if they see you filming they make you delete all your pictures/film). But nothing violent. At least not yet.
Introducing the Psst column, on the advice of a journalist friend. Items in Psst mean that it's coming from a good source, but that it has not been independently verified.
PSST: More than any other city, even Tehran, Qom is reportedly under tight military control
[Translated] Since the presidential election of June 12, 2009, Qom has been encircled by police. The government wants to get rid itself of the ayatollahs, such that only 2 or 3 of them remain, that is because the great majority of the ayatollahs are opposed to the government and the Supreme Leader.
There are more military personnel in the city than there are seminary students. The coup ring is squeezing Qom's throat more than it does Tehran's in an attempt to suffocate it and prevent it from protesting.
A public explosion of anger and protest is under Qom's "skin," waiting to happen. Those who have contacts in many parts of the government have confirmed this.
Similar to the entire government bureaucracy in Qom province, more than 90% of all the people who work in the Office of Islamic Guidance of Qom [part of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance] voted for Mir Hossein Mousavi. There have been spirited debates and discussions among them, even after the election, in favor of Mousavi, and, in fact, there has been a 180 degree turn in their behavior and beliefs.
But, suddenly, a decision was made -- and it is not even clear who made it -- to fire most of the people who work in the Office of Islamic Guidance. On Monday June 6, most of them staged a sit-in in front of the Imam Khomeini Educational Institute, which is controlled by [ayatollah Mohammad Taghi] Mesbah Yazdi on Islamic Republic Boulevard, after Amin Boulevard [Mesabah Yazdi is a hard-line reactionary ayatollah and the spiritual guide of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]. Many of them were arrested by police.
All of this to prevent the waves of protest and demonstrations from reaching Qom; if Qom does get involved with the protests, the religious legitimacy of Ayatollah Khamenei and his government will fall [further] into question. It is for this reason that any protest is immediately quashed, at inception. But pressure by people -- both here in Qom and elsewhere -- on the ayatollahs is at present stronger than any other time in memory.
N.B. Mehdi Khalaji, who is with the neoconservative Washington Institute for Near East Policy, suggests otherwise: "Shiite Clerical Establishment Supports Khamenei" http://en.mehdikhalaji.com/archives/99
From Mousavi's official Facebook page
The official Facebook page of Mir Hossein Mousavi, which always acts in accordance and harmony with the main figures in his campaign headquarters, invites all Iranians, both in Iran and around the world, to say the Azaan (call to prayers) for noon on Thusrday Teer 18 (July 9), in memory of all those who have been martyred, and on the day that the university students were bloodied and murdered [in 1999]. The more people say the Azzan and the louder they say it, the more lively our movement will be and the more hopeful people will become. Please, in the little remaining time, let as many people as possible know about this event. Every small step of ours will have an effect on spreading and expanding our movement.
From Hadi Ghaemi at the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
Iran Update: Widespread Arbitrary Arrests and Disappearances Continue
Prominent human rights lawyer among new detainees
Arrests by unidentified agents, detentions in undisclosed locations
(8 July 2009) While Iranian authorities have issued statements about the release of some of the approximately 2,000 citizens that local human rights monitors believe are detained, they have continued to arrest other prominent individuals, in violation of due process standards, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Today, unidentified agents arrested Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer and founding member of the Defenders for Human Rights Center (DHRC), at his law office at 4 pm Tehran local time. Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace laureate, is the director of DHRC. Another DHRC lawyer, Abdolfattah Sotani, has been in detention since 16 June.
The unidentified agents also arrested four of Dadkhah's colleagues working at his office at the time: Malihe Dadkhah (his daughter), Sara Sabaghian, Bahareh Dowaloo, and Amir Raiisian, and took them to an undisclosed location. They also locked up Dadkhah's office without any explanation or providing legal documents for their actions. Daadkhah has been representing many of the recent detainees.
"The Iranian government is trampling over every rule of due process. Not only are hundreds of detainees in incommunicado detention, in solitary confinement, and possibly under torture, but their lawyers are rapidly being added to their ranks," said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign's spokesperson.
"The situation is grave and is resembling some of the most atrocious crackdowns in recent memory such as the aftermath of General Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973, when hundreds were detained, disappeared, or were executed," he added.
The Campaign has learned that the health of another detainee, Bijan Khajehpour Khoei, may be in danger. Khadjehpour, a business and economic consultant as well as an internationally well-known independent political analyst, was arrested on 27 June by unknown persons. He is a diabetic who is required to follow a strict diet. He is the founder of the strategic business consultancy Atieh Bahar Consulting.
Khajehpour was arrested at Tehran's airport following his return from abroad. The authorities have not provided any information to his family regarding the reason for his arrest or whereabouts. Khadjepour was abroad during post-election protests and is not known to have participated in any political activities. His professional activities have been fully transparent to the government.
Fayzolah Arabsorkhi, a member of the central body of the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization and the former deputy minister of commerce, was arrested on 7 July, by unknown persons who detained him without presenting any warrant; his location is unknown.
Jalal Mohammadlou, a member of the youth branch of the Iran Participation Front in Tehran, was arrested on 5 July while he was being taken to the hospital.
As reported widely by international media, Clotilde Reiss, a French national, was arrested on 1 July and charged with espionage. She is reportedly in Evin prison in Tehran.
"At least Ms. Reiss's family knows where she is, and what she is charged with, information that is not provided to hundreds of Iranian families whose members have disappeared," Ghaemi said.
A number of students have also been arrested, including Hesam Salamat, who had been expelled from Tehran University, on 6 July; Ali Taghipour, the former technical secretary of the student association in Mazandaran University, was arrested on 30 June; and Nima Nahvi, a student at Anoushirvan Engineering University in Babol, who was arrested on 1 July while he was leaving the campus and taken away by Intelligence agents.
Almost no information about the legal or physical situations of these individuals or any other detained persons can be confirmed, as officials refuse to divulge information, or allow contacts and legal counsel.
For the latest human rights developments in Iran visit the Campaign's website at www.iranhumanrights.org.
From Human Rights Watch
Iran: Detainees Describe Beatings, Pressure to Confess New Accounts of Mistreatment in Crackdown
(New York, July 8, 2009) -- The Iranian authorities are using prolonged harsh interrogations, beatings, sleep deprivation, and threats of torture to extract false confessions from detainees arrested since the disputed June 12 presidential election, Human Rights Watch said today. The confessions appear designed to support unsubstantiated allegations by senior government officials that Iran's post-election protests, in which at least 20 people were killed, were supported by foreign powers and aimed at overthrowing the government.
"The Iranian government is desperate to justify its vicious attacks on peaceful protesters," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "What better excuse does it need than confessions of foreign plots, beaten out of detainees?"
Human Rights Watch has collected accounts from detainees after their release illustrating how the authorities are mistreating and threatening prisoners in a deliberate effort to obtain false confessions.
A 17-year-old boy who was arrested on June 27 and released on July 1 told Human Rights Watch how his prison interrogator forced him and others to sign a blank statement of confession:
"On the first day, while blindfolded, the interrogator took me to a parking garage. They kept everyone standing for 48 hours with no permission to sleep. On the first night, they tied up our hands and repeatedly beat us and other prisoners with a baton. They kept cursing at the prisoners. The atmosphere was very frightening. Everyone had wet themselves from fear and stress. There were children as young as 15 and men as old as 70; they'd be begging and crying for mercy, but the guards didn't care.
"After two days of interrogation while blindfolded, we were asked about everything: where we had studied, what our parents do, who we voted for, who is educated in the family, if anyone in our family is part of the military. We were forced to give the names of everyone. It was a scary situation because they were threatening us and were very harsh. All we could hear were other people crying and screaming.
"They provided us with a big piece of bread once, but no water. On the last day, they took away the blindfold to force us sign a paper that was blank on top but said at the bottom: 'I agree with all of the above statements.'"
Senior Iranian officials have said that detainees have confessed to their involvement in a foreign-backed plot to overthrow the government with a "velvet" revolution. Mojtaba Zolnour, the representative of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guard Corps, said on July 2 that all the prominent detainees except one had now confessed. During his July 3 Friday prayer sermon, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a high-ranking member of the Guardian Council, said that the government would make public some of the confessions obtained from detainees.
State-backed media already have broadcast the confessions of some detainees. Amir Hossein Mahdavi, editor of reformist newspaper Andishe No, confessed on Iranian TV on June 27 that reformist groups had laid plans to create unrest before the June 12 elections. Friends of Mahdavi who saw his confession told Human Rights Watch that it was clear from his demeanor that he confessed under duress.
Among the detainees who were recently forced to appear on Iranian television is Newsweek's correspondent in Iran, Maziar Bahari. He was detained on June 21 and is believed to be held in Tehran's Evin prison, where Human Rights Watch has documented cases of torture and detainee abuse <http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/iran0604/5.htm> in previous years. He has not been allowed to see a lawyer or his elderly mother, with whom he lives. No charges have been filed against Bahari, who holds dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship.
On June 30, the semi-official Fars news agency reported that Bahari had given a press conference where he denounced efforts of Western media to stage an uprising in Iran similar to the 1989 Czechoslovak "Velvet Revolution," and confessed to a role in covering these "illegal demonstrations." Newsweek has strongly defended Bahari's innocence and called for him to be released immediately.
Vajiheh Marsousi, the wife of dissident intellectual Saeed Hajjarian, whom authorities arrested on June 15 <http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/07/01/iran-release-disabled-reformist> , believes that he is under intense pressure to sign a false confession. After visiting him in Evin prison, she believes that his life is in danger due to his poor health and lack of medical care in prison.
Information about the abuse of Iranian detainees in custody continues to filter in. An eyewitness who visited the Revolutionary Court on July 1 told Human Rights Watch:
"Hundreds of the prisoners' families were gathered in front of the entrance of the court. On the court's wall, a piece of paper listed the names of 1,349 prisoners. This was a list of people that the court would be soon releasing. There was also a separate sheet with another 223 names. It said that the authorities were still investigating the people on this list and that their families should come back in a couple of weeks. In the few hours that I spent before outside the court, I witnessed a number of people being released. Almost all of them had bruised faces and hands. Some of the families, after seeing their sons/daughters in such bad condition, started to cry, while other families claimed their sons or daughters were missing and their names were not listed."
The authorities have arrested thousands of people in a nationwide crackdown aimed at ending mass street protests that started in Tehran and other cities on June 13 after the official results of the June 12 elections gave incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a landslide victory. Although authorities subsequently released many of those detained, they have continued to make new arrests. Human Rights Watch has collected the names of 450 persons whom security forces have arrested since June 13, including more than a hundred political figures, journalists, human rights defenders, academics, and lawyers.
Most of the best-known detainees have now been held incommunicado for up to three weeks without access to lawyers or family members, raising serious concerns about the probability of mistreatment and pressure to make false confessions.
In the past, the Iranian government has frequently subjected political prisoners to various forms of pressure <http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2008/01/06/you-can-detain-anyone-anything -0> , including beatings, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, torture, and threats of torture in an effort to force them to make confessions that they have then publicized in order to criminalize and discredit government critics.
Because of this past record of abuse, relatives, friends, and professional associates of several prominent detainees contacted by Human Rights Watch raised concerns about their probable mistreatment in detention and the likelihood that they would be forced to make false confessions.
International human rights law clearly protects detainees from mistreatment, including forced "confessions." Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights <http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_ccpr.htm> , to which Iran is a party, states that every person charged with a criminal offense has the right "to communicate with counsel of his own choosing," and "not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt." Principle 21 of the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that, "No detained person while being interrogated shall be subject to violence, threats or methods of interrogation which impair his capacity of decision or judgment." A fundamental rule of international human rights law is that all evidence, including confessions, obtained by torture or other ill-treatment must be excluded.
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Iran, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/middle-eastn-africa/iran.