15 Feb 2010 19:49
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.
Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi says Iran opposition still strong despite clampdown
AP | Feb. 14, 2010
Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi says she rejects suggestions that Iran's opposition movement is faltering after a debilitating government clampdown last week.
Ebadi said in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press that the opposition won "a great victory" simply by taking to the streets on the Feb. 11 anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that established clerical rule in Iran.
Government militiamen turned out in force and foiled plans for mass demonstrations, violently dispursing gatherings.
The blitz left opposition protesters reeling, and some say they are now reassessing their tactics.
Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, says the vast deployment of government resources shows that Tehran is nearing the end of its rope.
UN review affirms need for more pressure to improve human rights
Iran Human Rights | Feb. 15, 2010
Iran's initial rejection of recommendations by members of the international community to address grave human rights abuses during the UN's Universal Period Review clearly demonstrates the need for a special session of the Human Rights Council, and a special envoy dealing with these abuses, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
"The Iranian government has turned the 1979 revolution to a revolution against the human rights of its own citizens, and an attempt to turn back progress on human rights on the global scene," said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the campaign.
"The UPR shows that Iran's practices trash the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Iran's legal obligations, and that more needs to be done--beyond the UPR-- to help it understand and implement them."
Iran was urged to end juvenile executions and stonings, the killing of peaceful demonstrators, torture and rape in prisons, unfair trials, the mass detention of peaceful political protesters and journalists, discrimination against women and minorities, the decriminalization of same-sex consensual activity, and the persecution of critical nongovernmental organizations. Numerous delegations urged Iran to cooperate with UN human-rights mechanisms.
The Iranian delegation, led by Mohammed Larijani, Secretary General of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, pushed back against the recommendations, citing articles of the Iranian constitution that should protect human rights, and stating, inter alia, that "No Baha'i is prosecuted because he is a Baha'i" and that jailed and prosecuted demonstrators were guilty of "terrorist activities." Larijani noted the "biting language" by "Western delegations."
The Iranian delegation also claimed that "no one in Iran is detained or prosecuted as a human rights defender. Such cases involve charges of terrorism and espionage." The campaign strongly condemns this inaccurate statement and notes that several human rights defenders are currently imprisoned solely because of their human rights work.
Emad Baghi, prominent human rights defender and winner of 2009 Martin Annals Award is in incommunicado detention. Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand is serving an eleven years prison sentence solely for his human right activism and the evidence against him included submissions to the human rights mechanism of the United Nations. Seven members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Shiva Nazarahari, Parisa Kakaie, Mehrdad Rahimi, Saeed Kalanaki, Saeed Jalalifar, Kouhyar Goudarzi and Saeed Hayeri are currently in detention. Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi and Rashid Esmaeli are two other human rights defenders currently in detention.
Wife of Mehdi Karroubi addresses ayatollah khamenei about torture of her son
Iran Human Rights | Feb. 14, 2010
The wife of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi has published an open letter to Iran's Supreme Leader detailing her son Ali Karroubi's torture following his detention on 11 February, as the authorities stifled opposition demonstrations and appealed for an end to such abuses.
Fatemeh Karroubi described how her son was arrested as he attempted to protect his father from violence by unidentified agents.
"They took him to the Amiral Momenin Mosque and he was beaten along with other detainees. He was recognized when they were registering the detainees by name. Then, after ten minutes, after the agents got the order from higher officials, he was separated from the other detainees and beaten severely. They used the Mosque as a place of torturing the children of the country. Along with physical torture, Ali was subjected to verbal assaults against his parents and was under severe psychological duress. When Ali protested the insult against his parents, the physical and psychological tortures were increased."
The letter implied that Ali Karroubi had been threatened with sexual assault, saying that, "Those actions in a Mosque, according to the Islamic penal code, should be punished with death."
She continued, "They filmed him while he was tortured. When the order for his release was issued, the agent torturing him regretted that if they could keep him for only for 24 hours, his family would have received his body."
Fatemeh Karroubi ended her letter with a passionate appeal to the Supreme Leader to save the many young Iranians who have been arbitrarily detailed for their peaceful political activities, and who, like her son, faced torture and death in detentions centers.
Suburban Philadelphia mother of hiker arrested in Iran working "24/7" to free him
AP | Feb. 14, 2010
More than six months after her son and two other hikers were arrested in Iran after reportedly straying over the border from Iraq, a suburban Philadelphia woman says she and other relatives of the three have been working "24/7" to win their release.
Laura Fattal of Elkins Park, Pa., told The Philadelphia Inquirer that in between efforts to end the crisis, she writes three letters every day, one each to her son Josh and to his two companions. Feeling powerless sometimes, she said, she writes simply: "Josh, I'm sorry it's taking so long."
Relatives of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, both 27, and Sarah Shourd, 31, say they were hiking in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region in July when they accidentally crossed the border. Iran's foreign minister said in late December that the three University of California-Berkeley graduates would be tried, but he did not say when or what the charges would be other than to say they had "suspicious aims." The country's chief prosecutor has said they are accused of spying.
Bauer's mother, Cindy Hickey, of Pine City, Minn., has also been working to secure their release.
Laura Fattal says she has a recurring daydream in which a guard outside her son's Tehran prison cell hands him a copy of the retainer agreement she and the other mothers signed in December when they hired an Iranian lawyer to represent the prisoners.
"He sees my signature and he knows we are working 24/7" for his release, she told the paper.
Relatives of the three have coordinated petition drives and letter-writing campaigns involving celebrities such as Mia Farrow and leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In October, Laura Fattal donned a head scarf as a sign of respect when she presented the first petitions to Iran's United Nations mission in New York.
Iran electricity syndicate chief says 900,000 workers about to lose jobs
ILNA | Feb. 15, 2010
The Iranian electricity syndicate chief, Mohammad Parsa, has said that more than 900,000 of workers employed in the electricity industry are about to lose their jobs, the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported on February 15.
"The amount of government debt to the electricity syndicate members has risen to the worrying level of five billion dollars," he was quoted as saying. According to ILNA, Parsa added, "Various problems are threatening the electricity component producing units. At the moment, many manufacturers are either closed down or functioning with a small part of their capacity."
He said, "Unfortunately, the amount of government's debt has become so heavy that production units will have to close down unless some solutions are found. More than 900,000 workers who are directly or indirectly working in this industry are about to lose their jobs."
Parsa added, "More than 99 per cent of our output is sold to the government. The Oil and Energy Ministries are our main customers. However, when they purchase our output without paying any money, this disturbs our balance."
He said that Chinese and Indian companies are taking control of our electricity market. The electricity syndicate chief also predicted that Iran would face an electricity blackout crisis if the problems are not resolved soon.
Israel general doubts power to hit Iran atomic sites
Reuters | Feb. 13, 2010
Israel may lack the military means for successful preemptive strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, its former top general said on Saturday.
While endorsing international efforts to pressure Tehran into curbing sensitive nuclear technologies, Israel has hinted it could resort to force. But some analysts say Israeli jets would be stymied by the distance to Iran and by its defenses. Asked in a television interview about Israeli leaders' vows to "take care" of the perceived threat, ex-general Dan Halutz, who stepped down as armed forces chief in 2007, said, "We are taking upon ourselves a task that is bigger than us."
"I think that the State of Israel should not take it upon itself to be the flag-bearer of the entire Western world in the face of the Iranian threat," Halutz, whose previous military post was as air force commander, told Channel Two.
"I'm not some passer-by ... I've filled a few positions that give me a different level of information to the average person," he said, without elaborating.
The United States and European nations are trying to enlist other world powers in stepping up sanctions against Iran for its uranium enrichment, a process with bomb-making potential. Tehran denies having hostile designs, but its anti-Israel rhetoric has stirred war fears. Some analysts believe Israel, which is assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal but neither confirms nor denies this capability, is boosting its defenses to deter a nuclear-armed Iran from future confrontations.
The United States, publicly circumspect about the prospect of another regional war, has stationed a strategic radar in Israel and last year held anti-missile drills with its ally. Asked what Israel should do if its foreign allies failed to prevent Iran going nuclear, Halutz said, "Then we will have to think about how to handle it, and I won't say anything more."
No new uranium enrichment proposal to Iran - Russian Foreign Ministry
Interfax | Feb. 15, 2010
Russia and its partners have not made Iran any new proposals on the issue of nuclear fuel enrichment, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry's press service told Interfax on Monday.
"Russia, the USA and France did nothing but confirm their support for the proposals coordinated earlier with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) on the enrichment of Iran's reduced-enrichment nuclear fuel to 20 percent abroad," the source said.
Iran receives new nuclear fuel swap proposal
Al-Alam | Feb. 15, 2010
The chairman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, revealed that the major powers had presented a new proposal to swap Iranian uranium with nuclear fuel.
Salehi told Al-Alam TV that Russia, the USA and France had presented the new offer after Iran's decision to enrich uranium at 20 percent.
He added that Tehran was now studying the offer in addition to other proposals from other countries, adding that the production of enriched uranium at 20 percent is continuing.
He said that the first capsule of enriched uranium at 5.3 per cent (as heard) is ready for shipment at Natanz plant.
Vice-president says more good news under way for Iranian nation
ILNA | Feb. 14, 2010
Ahmadinejad's chief of staff Esfandiyar Rahim Mashai has said that more good news is under way for the Iranian nation.
According to a report by Mehr News Agency, talking to Iranians in Qatar, Mashai said, "In addition to news on Iranian scientists' achievements in nuclear, laser and stem cell research, we will give more good news to the great Iranian nation soon."
Mashai, who is currently heading a delegation in Doha, after his meeting with the Kuwaiti Emir met with hundreds of Iranians residing in Qatar and said, "The great Iranian nation will never give up its resistance by military threats, attacks or any other issue. Today our nation is celebrating the victory of the Revolution across the world even within America, which is leading all animosities against Iran."
Elham: Ahmadinejad paying price of fighting corruption; Mashai still trusted
Asr Iran | Feb. 15, 2010
Member of the Guardian Council Gholam-Hossein Elham said the government is not paying the price of vote rigging but that of fighting corruption.
At a Shahed University Student Basij camp gathering on Sunday, Elham said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had managed to prepare the grounds for creating jobs, adding that the 9th government was serious in its fight against corruption and had managed to block the path of those seeking to exploit the Iranian treasury.
When asked why the government was not decisively fighting financial corruption, Elham said, "We have not been paying the price for vote rigging after the election but this situation is the outcome of cutting the hands of these [corrupt] powers."
"The government can fight economic corruption with the support of the people of course only of the elite do not pressure the government," Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying.
When asked why the government was helping Latin American countries instead of resolving the country's own problems, Elham said, "The national interests of no country lie within its own borders. International relations help maintain our security and serve our interests. If we do not make use of our international opportunities we will be forced to fight the enemy at home."
When asked his opinion about Esfandyar Rahim Mashai and Ahmadinejad's relationship, Elham said, "We must categorize the problems in these circumstances. The government has many points of strength and of course some weaknesses and there is valid criticism directed at it."
"Mr. Ahmadinejad's trust in Mashai has not been broken. We must forget the individual and consider the performances."
Radiofarda: Karoubi will launch TV channel
Asriran | Feb. 15, 2010
The American Radio Farda predicted that opposition cleric Mehdi Karroubi would establish a television channel.
According to khabaronline, Karroubi in a recent interview with the Sunday Telegraph said that in a bid to raise public awareness he would pursue the objectives of the Green Movement "through other means."
RadioFarda wrote, "While Mr. Karroubi has not made clear what he intends by "other means," in recent days Green Movement activists have been requesting on Internet websites that, given the restrictions imposed on the activities of the opposition, the secretary-general of the Etemad-e Melli Party implement his plan to launch a satellite television channel."
After the 9th presidential election in 2005, Karroubi showed interest in establishing a satellite television channel. He, however, had to abandon the idea following the opposition of officials.
Rahimi appoints Hosseini as new economy spokesman
Asriran | Feb. 15, 2010
First Vice president Mohammad Reza Rahimi appointed Shamseldin Hosseini as the government's economy spokesman.
According to Mehr News Agency, the cabinet appointed Finance Minister Shamseldin Hosseini as the government's economic spokesman based on the recommendation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and article 138 of the constitution.
Prosecutor: Karroubi must offer proof of arrest
Khabaronline | Feb. 15, 2010
Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said there was no arrest warrant issued for Ali Karroubi and he should come forth if he has evidence to the contrary.
"Since he [Ali Karroubi] claims that he was arrested, he must state the reasons for his arrest and the location where he was held."
"On the afternoon of 22 Bahman I found out through a number of media outlets that Mr. [Mehdi] Karroubi's son had been arrested and I immediately investigated the issue."
"After making inquiries, it became clear that such a person had not been arrested by the police, IRGC or the intelligence ministry."
Regarding the remarks made by a police commander that the 22 Bahman (Feb.11) detainees would be held in custody until April 9, Dolatabadi said, "Such a decision has not been made and the it is not the policy of the Judiciary."
Regarding the release of the 22 Bahman detainees, Dolatabadi said, "Considering the huge victory the people won in the 22 Bahman demonstrations, the majority of individuals arrested by the police [on that day] were released."
Saffayi-Farahani appeals revolutionary court verdict
Tabnak | Feb. 15, 2010
Mohsen Saffai-Farahani's lawyer said his client had lodged an appeal after Revolutionary Court branch 15's verdict.
"After receiving the initial court's verdict which sentenced my client to six years in prison, we lodged an appeal within the legal deadline," Houshang Pourbabayi told ISNA.
"My client had been charged with acting against national security, propagating against the establishment, slandering officials and propagating lies. My client was sentenced to six years in prison for acting against national security, propagating against the establishment but was exonerated of slandering officials and propagating lies."
Pourbabayi, who is also defending Mohsen Mirdamadi, said, "His [Mirdamadi's] court hearing was held on Feb. 10 in branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court and due to the shortage of time the court hearing was postponed to a later date."
Regarding Mostafa Tajzadeh's case, Pourbabayi said, "My client's court hearing was held on Feb. 8 in branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court and we are now waiting for the verdict."
Keyhan Court session set for Feb. 21
Fararu | Feb. 15, 2010
Keyhan editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari's court session will be held in branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court on Feb. 21, 2010.
The hearing will be presided by Judge Siamak Modir-Khorasani and the case will be heard in front of the media jury, Fars News Agency reported.
Shariatmadari has been charged with slandering, making wrongful accusations and propagating lies and content contrary to the truth by the prosecutor and has private complainants as well.
Many reformist figures were of the opinion that the Leader's representative in Keyhan, Shariatmadari, enjoys unconditional immunity and will not be prosecuted no matter how many lawsuits are filed against him.
Rahbar: British Embassy is a den of espionage
Fararu | Feb. 15, 2010
The head of the Majlis clerical faction, Mohammad Taqi Rahbar, said the Iranian parliament would reconsider downgrading ties with Britain if London officially apologizes to the country and changes its anti-Iran positions.
Regarding the letter sent by British Ambassador Simon Gass to the head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, Rahbar said, " This letter was a reactionary move on behalf of England following increasing objections to their meddling in the recent incidents [in Iran] because they know they made a mistake in their dealings with Iran."
He went on to point to the negative role played by the United Kingdom, the British embassy and BBC Persian in the post-vote incidents in Tehran and said, "In any case if London apologizes and guarantees that it will not repeat such actions in future, we will reconsider, although a leopard cannot change its spots. "
The Isfahan representative in Parliament went on to call the British embassy in Tehran a den of espionage and stressed that Majlis wanted legal and diplomatic action to deal with this situation.