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31 Jan 2010 02:35No Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press, and excerpts where the source is in English. The link to the news organization or blog is provided at the top of each item. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the story in perspective.

Shadow of Extra-Judicial Executions Looms Large over Dissidents

IHR | Jan. 31, 2010

Sixteen defendants currently facing a "show trial" in Tehran have been selected to intimidate specific groups of dissidents and pave the way for applying the charge of Mohareb, or "enemy of God," to large numbers of dissidents and protestors, charges that can lead to their execution, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. Five of the sixteen defendants prosecuted in the post-Ashura trials of 30 January face the death penalty, having been charged with that crime.

"After the extra-judicial massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, large scale executions of dissidents again loom before Iranians and the world community, this time after transparently political show trials. These trials do not adhere to the most basic standards if justice and rely on the charge of Mohareb to justify sending peaceful dissidents to the gallows," said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign's spokesperson.

According to the ISNA news agency, the prosecutor read the charges against the 16 defendants individually (see below). While five of the defendants were charged as Mohareb, the charges against others included assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and propaganda against the state, charges the Campaign believes are arbitrarily applied to convict critics of the government.

On 29 January, one day after two political prisoners (Arash Rahmani Pour and Mohammad Ali Zamani) were hanged, the hardline cleric and member of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ali Jonati welcomed these executions. Given his prominent position amongst the ruling elite's "hardliner" faction, his statement is interpreted as a green light for further political executions. He explicitly stated that if widespread executions had taken place following the post- election unrest, the protests would not have been prolonged. Addressing the head of the Judiciary, Jonati said at Friday prayers in Tehran: "For God's sake, just as you expedited these two executions, continue on like a man and bravo for these actions."

The authorities did not release the names of the 16 defendants. However, Shekoofeh Montazeri told the Campaign that her brother, Omid Montazeri was amongst those prosecuted in court on 30 January. Shekoofeh's mother, Mahin Fahimi, and her brother Omid Montazeri have been in detention for over a month. Mahin Fahimi is a member of the group Mothers for Peace.

Regarding the statements made in court today, Shekoofeh said that Omid Montazeri 's so-called confession, as reported by Iranian news agencies that identified him only by his initials and as "defendant number three," was not consistent with her brother's usual way of speaking and suggested he had been under physical and psychological pressures. Omid is a journalist and a poet who was detained along with his mother on 28 December 2009. His father was a political prisoner who was executed during the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.

Shekoofeh Montazeri told the Campaign that her brother has been in incommunicado detention, except for two extremely brief phone calls lasting no more than a minute. She rejected the charges against Omid and said that since the execution of their father in 1988, the family has had no relations with any political groups.

According to reports published in Iranian media, no evidence has been presented against the first three defendants except their admissions that they participated in peaceful protests, and they clearly stated they had no role in violent actions or destruction of property. The only evidence presented against them was one's membership in a student group and their internet communications.

Defendant number two was quoted as telling the court: "Mr. Prosecutor told me to speak here such that it would influence the thinking of those people who are outside."

The Campaign believes that the latest "show trials" are intended to intimidate any citizens who are planning to demonstrate on the anniversary of the Iranian revolution on 11 February. The selection of the 16 defendants appears to address a representative range of political tendencies present in the society at large.

These prosecutions take place as four members of the student association Daftar-e Tahkim (Office to Foster Unity) and seven members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, as well as many ordinary detained protestors, are facing the charge of Mohareb for allegedly having relations with the opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq. None of these detainees have access to lawyers, and according to brief calls they have made to their families, they are under heavy pressure to make false confessions.

"Members of the international community were surprised at how the Islamic Republic moved ahead with the two executions of last week to intimidate the protest movement. Both those men were detained well before the elections and were promised if they made false confessions they would be released. Now the international community should know that the Iranian authorities are determined to keep executing innocent people to silence the protest movement," Ghaemi said.

"If we are silent in the face of these show trials based on no evidence whatsoever, we could be facing large scale killings of the young detainees," he added.

The Campaign once more calls on the Iranian government to respect the internationally recognized rights of the Iranian people to freedom of assembly, expression, and press. The Campaign calls for the immediate halt of the trials of protesters that are underway, and the release of all political prisoners.

The detailed charges against each of the 16 defendants, as read by the prosecutor in the court on 30 January, are as following:

-Defendant number one charged with assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security, insulting top government officials, and propaganda against the state through extensive soft war activities against the state;

-Defendant number two charged with assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and propaganda against the state through membership in the counter revolutionary branch of the student organization Office to Foster Unity (Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat);

-Defendant number three has neo-communist sympathies and is charged with assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and propaganda against the state by participating in protests on Ashura and interviewing with foreign media;

-Defendant number four charged with propaganda against the state through membership in the Baha'i sect and assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against the state through participation in the riots following the orders of Baha'i leaders;

-Defendant number five charged as Mohareb through communications with the terrorist hypocrites' organization (Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization);

-Defendant number six charged as Mohareb and Corruptor of the Earth (Mofsed fel-Arz), assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and propaganda against the state;

-Defendant number seven charged as Mohareb through communicating, sympathizing, and cooperating with the terrorist hypocrites group (Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization) and propaganda against the state;

-Defendants number eight and nine charged as Mohareb and Corruptor of the Earth (Mofsed fel-Arz);

-Defendant number ten charged with assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security, propaganda against the state, insulting top government officials, and disobeying government agents;

-Defendant number eleven charged with assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security, committing arson against public property, and propaganda against the state;

-Defendants number twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen charged with assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and propaganda against the state by participating in Ashura protests;

- Defendant number sixteen charged with assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security, propaganda against the state, insulting top government officials, participating in the destruction of public property, and disobeying government agents.

Prayers Leader urges displaying executed bodies to stop riots

Khabar Online | Jan. 30, 2010

Orumieh Friday Prayers leader Hojjatoleslam Gholam-Reza Hassani said the bodies of executed dissidents must be displayed in public to prevent further riots.

"In order to prevent further unrest, the bodies of the executed [protesters] must be put on public display in the streets of Tehran," Hassani said. "The tongues of those saying 'Iranian Republic' instead of 'Islamic Republic' must be pulled out, and the hearts of the families of martyrs and those devoted to the establishment will only feel relief when those insulting Ashura are executed."

"Iran is no place for seditionists; they must leave because if they stay they will defile the scared Friday prayers. They are the same people who danced at Tehran's Friday prayers; they have no place in Iran."

"It is hard to bear the fact that the leaders of sedition are being kept safe while they are thinking about overthrowing the rule of the worthy (pious). Why is it that the people's tax money must be spent on the safety of the leaders of the sedition?"

Framed?

Khabar Online | Tabnak | Jan. 31, 2010

A large arms cache was discovered in a Tehran Mosque.

Prayers leader Hadi Ghaffari said he was unaware of how the mosque's storage room was being used. "The mosque's caretaker is in charge of the storage room and in order to pay the mosque's expenses, it was rented out to a certain individual and therefore we had no idea for what purpose it was being used," Ghaffari told Fars News Agency. Ghaffari went on to say that the mosque's caretaker was innocent.

On Thursday, the Red Hosseini Movement Web site reported that trade ministry officials had inspected the Alhadi Mosque in Tehran and found that Hadi Ghaffari had illegally stored rice in the mosque. Upon further inspection, a suspicious storage facility was discovered containing 57 small firearms, 98 Kalashnikov and a large stash of ammunition.

The next day, a search warrant was issued for the residence of the mosque caretaker. One Uzi, a G3, a Kalashnikov, two small firearms and seven magazines were discovered.

Security and judicial officials were investigating the matter.

MP: Why isn't Faezeh Hashemi summoned

Fararu | Jan. 31, 2010

A Tehran representative in Majlis accused the daughter of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani of participating in the Ashura protests and demanded to know why she had not been prosecuted.

"Why is it that ordinary citizens who were under the Kalej Bridge [on Ashura] subjected to punishment, while Ms. Faezeh Hashemi, who returned [early] from vacation to participate in the riots, escaping prosecution?" Hamid Resaie asked on Sunday. "Just recently a lawmaker was summoned over criticizing [Ayatollah Ali Akbar] Hashemi [Rafsanjani]. But those who compiled a list of hooligans' phone numbers and attacked the foundation of the establishment are not summoned."

Mohammad Moein's condition dire in prison: lawyer

Parleman News | Jan. 30, 2010

Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, a lawyer who represents Mohammad Moein, the son of a leading reformist, said that his client was not in good health.

According to Etemad, Alizadeh Tabatabaei said that the Moein family was extremely concerned about their son's condition.

Alizadeh Tabatabaei will be representing six Ashura detainees in total: Dr. Ali Arab Mazar, Mohammad Moein, Khaliji (Ali-Reza Beheshti's son-in-law), Mohammad Firouzandehpour (Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief of staff), Mohammad-Javad Mozaffar and Mohsen Mohagheghi (Mehdi Bazargan's son-in-law).

"Despite having legal documents appointing me as their counsel," the lawyer added, "they [authorities] will not accept them."

Khatami meets with Mozaffar Family

Parleman News | Jan. 29, 2010

Former Iranian president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami met with the family of Mohammad-Javad Mozaffar, who was detained following the Ashura protests.

According to the Norouz news Web site, in the meeting that took place, Khatami expressed gratitude for Mozaffar's past cultural and political services.

"In his last contact [with us], Mr. Mozaffar said that his blood pressure was too high, but he does not have a past history of it," Mrs. Mozaffar said.

Mrs. Mozaffar added that her husband had not had any contact with his family in the past two weeks.

Mozaffar was a member of the Center for the Defense of Press Freedom and the founder of Kavir Publications.

Assailants raid Principlist daily's office in Tehran

Tabnak | Jan. 30, 2010

Unidentified assailants have raided the office of the Rahe Mardom (path of the people) daily in Tehran today.

The assailants raided the newspaper's office located on Satari Street, breaking all its windows. The motive for the attack was unknown.

Naser Qadiri is the editor-in-chief of Rah-e Mardom

Grand Ayatollah Mousavi-Ardebili visits Leader

Tabnak Parleman News | Jan. 30, 2010

Shia Source of Emulation Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi-Ardebili came to Tehran on Thursday to reportedly meet and confer with Iran's Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

According to the Jomhouri Eslami daily, Ayatollah Mousavi-Ardebili will also meet with current and former government officials.

Informed sources say Ayatollah Mousavi-Ardebili is in Tehran to discuss the recent developments in the country and to help resolve outstanding political issues.

Some of the meetings were held on Thursday.

Ayatollah Mousavi-Ardebili served in the judiciary during the life of the late Imam, Rouhollah Khomeini. He is believed to be a Source of Emulation close to the Reformists.

Rafsanjani invites all to attend 22 Bahman demos

Fararu | Jan. 30, 2010

In the lead up to the 22 Bahman ceremonies, head of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani invited all political parties to participate in the Revolution Day demonstrations.

"Those devoted to the establishment, from whichever party or front, must try to participate in this year's national celebration of 22 Bahman with calm ... as any conflict or violence will be in line with the desires of the enemy," said Rafsanjani before starting the meeting of the Expediency Council on Saturday.

The head of the Assembly of experts also urged the nation to participate in the 22 Bahman demonstrations in a show of national unity aimed at safeguarding the establishment and in support of the Islamic Republic.

"22 Bahman is the central point of safeguarding, strengthening and uniting [the Islamic establishment] and symbolizes the loyalty of the nation to the Islamic establishment and we [Rafsanjani] hope that it [the celebrations, demonstrations] will be held with special grandeur."

Trial of 16 Ashura riot detainees begins in Iran

Press TV | Jan. 30, 2010

The trial of 16 individuals involved in last month's unrest in Iran has started with the prosecutor laying out the charges brought out against the defendants.

The hearing, presided by Judge Abul Qasim Salavati, began with a general indictment against 14 men and two women on Saturday morning at Tehran's Revolution Court.

The prosecutor explained that five of the defendants were facing charges of Moharebeh (enmity towards God), while the others were being tried for taking part in "illegal protests, threatening national security, and spreading propaganda against the establishment."

The indictment said that the latter individuals had targeted the country's security "by encouraging others to rebel."

According to the prosecutor, all the suspects were working in line with the interests of the US and other foreign states that "were seeking regime change in the Islamic Republic of Iran."

The Week in Green with Hamid Dabashi: Episode 15

In the fifteenth episode of The Week in Green, Dr. Moshen Kadivar, visiting professor at Duke University, discusses the role of Islam in the course of the Iranian people's quest towards a democratic society.

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