09 Mar 2010 20:10
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. You can follow our
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Iran puts 12 policemen on trial over Kahrizak prison deaths
AFP | March 9, 2010
Iran put 12 policemen on trial in an army court on Tuesday over last summer's deaths of at least three anti-government protesters at notorious Kahrizak jail, state media reported.
The case has caused major embarrassment to the Islamic republic, which acknowledged, after months of denial, the deaths as a result of injuries inflicted in Kahrizak.
The detention centre was shut down in July at the order of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following reports of abuse.
The first "court session was held with the victims' families, other plaintiffs and their lawyers and the defendants," state news agency IRNA said.
"The indictment against the 12 defendants was read out," it said, without identifying the defendants or specifying the charges.
"Trying some officials should not be interpreted as questioning and ignoring the hard work of police. There might be offending people anywhere," Judge Mohammad Mosaddegh said.
Mosaddegh warned that the details of court sessions were not to be revealed to the public by those present as "the publication of some information in the case harms order in society."
It was not known whether Tehran's feared former prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was also among those on trial Tuesday.
Continuing crackdown on human rights activists
Tehran Bureau | March 9, 2010
Iranian authorities have renewed a crackdown on human rights activists ahead of Iran's New Year. Although a number of political prisoners were released this past week, including Dr. Mohammad Maleki, an officer of Solidarity for Human Rights and Democracy, and Saeed Kalanaki of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, a fresh wave of arrests have targeted human rights advocates. Navid Khanjani, Behzad Mehrani, Hesam Firouzi, Abolfazl Abedini, Mahboubeh Karami, Mojtaba Gahestoni, Nasor Naghipour are among the detainees transferred to Evin prison over the past few days.
At the session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, Iran's representative Mohammad Javad Larijani claimed that there are no human rights activists in prison, despite the widespread arrests made since last year's election fallout.
The student committee for defense of political prisoners, a Tehran-based human rights group, has published a report stating that the recent arrests conducted over two consecutive days took place while a number of human rights advocates are still being held in prison. The report named Emad Baghi, head of the association for defense of prisoners, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, spokesman of Solidarity for Human Rights and Democracy, Ali Bikas, a member of the student committee for defense of political prisoners, Shiva Nazar-Ahari and Kuhyar Godarzi, speakers of the committee of human rights reporters, Kaveh Kermanshahi and Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, members of the organization for defense of human rights in Kurdistan.
The report states that the arrests were groundless. Mahboubeh Karami, a women's rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was detained on charges of participating in the post-election protests. Earlier, recently-released detainee Naseh Faridi, a spokesperson for the student committee for defense of political prisoners, said that his interrogator had accused him of having ties with anti-regime groups. Shiva Nazar Ahari and Kuhyar Goudarzi are facing similar charges.
Behzad Mehran, a blogger for political prisoners rights, was arrested last Wednesday. Several hours after his arrest, another group of security forces showed up at his home to arrest him, apparently unaware that he had already been detained. Intelligence services under the Revolutionary Guard and Intelligence Ministry in Iran work closely together to suppress human rights defenders.
Widespread repression of human rights defenders and groups indicates that the Islamic Republic will not tolerate human rights efforts and will continue arresting human rights defenders and closing their institutions on fabricated charges. International human rights organizations have demanded the release of human rights defenders and called on Iranian authorities to recognize human rights. -- Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir
Mortazavi denies kissing Karroubi
Aftab News | March 8, 2010
Saeed Mortazavi rejected reports by several websites that claimed he and opposition cleric Mehdi Karroubi kissed and warmly exchanged pleasantries.
"Mr. Mortazavi attended a memorial service held for the mother of his colleague in Nour Mosque on Saturday and as [we were able to] confirm, Mr. Mehdi Karroubi was present at the beginning of the ceremony and left approximately half an hour before Mr. Mortazavi arrived. Therefore, Mr. Karroubi and Mortazavi never encountered each other," according to the statement issued by Mortazavi's office.
"It is not clear what the intentions of this website [Jahan News] was in reporting the warm exchange of pleasantries and kisses between these two individuals [Karroubi, Mortazavi]. The intention to disseminate such false news reports is also a matter to reflect upon."
"The son of Mr. Karroubi was one of the suspects the former Tehran prosecutor dealt with and the Etemad-e Melli newspaper owned by Mr. Karroubi was banned by him [Mortazavi] therefore such fabricated stories aimed at influencing public opinion will have no success."
Mortazavi's statement closed by inviting all the involved parties in this case to observe religious values and refrain from spreading lies.
Iran top council to change election law in near future
Mehr | March 6, 2010
In line with an earlier ratification to change the electoral law the Expediency Council voted overwhelmingly on Saturday [March 6] to start deliberation on qualification of voters, candidates, and the quality of election campaigns, a council member said.
Mohammad Hashemi said the council will start deliberations on the details of reforming election law from next session.
Hashemi said in the previous meeting on Feb. 21, the issue of reforming election law was brought to the councils general meeting after the analysis of the issue in a committee in several sessions.
He said in the previous session a large number of council members insisted on the need to reform the election law while a number of others believed that the issue should be delayed due to the country's special condition, however, the council voted for reforming the law.
Iran calls political opponents enemies of Islam
AFP | March 9, 2010
A traditional Islamic concept about protecting the faith and its followers has become a judicial weapon for Iran's rulers: charging opponents as so-called enemies of God with the threat of possible death sentences.
Iran's accusations of "moharebeh" -- literally "waging war" in Arabic -- have opened deep rifts between ruling clerics and Islamic scholars questioning how an idea about safeguarding Muslims can be transformed into a tool to punish political protesters.
The outcry increased last week after an appeals court reportedly upheld the death sentence for Mohammad Amin Valian, a 20-year-old student convicted of moharebeh crimes, which Iran's legal code defines as "defiance of God" -- or the state -- and punishable by hanging.
"Using moharebeh to defend the regime is an extremely cynical ploy," said Abdullahi An-Na'im, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at the Emory Law School in Atlanta. "It's a total manipulation of the concept."
Valian is among a dozen people convicted of moharebeh offenses, said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Iran urges China to resist sanctions pressure
AFP | March 9, 2010
Iran on Tuesday urged China to resist pressure by the United States and its allies for new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.
Washington and other Western powers are seeking a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or a warhead.
China, which has extensive trade ties with Iran, traditionally opposes sanctions but went along with three earlier rounds of limited sanctions.
"We are hopeful that China will not be affected by other's demands and will have its own independent policy. We hope such independent, powerful countries will block bullying powers," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday.
China and Russia have not directly responded on the push for a fourth round of sanctions, but they have emphasized the need for negotiations. Last week, China's deputy U.N. ambassador Liu Zhenmin said Beijing feels the Iranian nuclear issue should be dealth with through "the dual-track strategy" of diplomatic engagement and pressure through sanctions.
Russia may agree to 'smart' UN sanctions against Iran
Nezavisimaya Gazeta | March 4, 2010
The fourth resolution against Tehran is being prepared.
This week, a new draft resolution may be submitted to the UN Security Council, tightening the sanctions against Iran. The document was prepared by the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany. Russia has given signals to the effect that, if it proves impossible to come to agreement with Tehran, Moscow is prepared to review the question of introducing "smart sanctions" together with its partners. According to the appraisals of diplomats, China may abstain if the resolution does not touch upon its economic interests in the oil and gas sector of the Islamic Republic.
Western diplomats and observers have begun to draw a line of demarcation between the positions of Russia and China on Iran. The main hopes of the US, Great Britain, France and Germany to secure Russia's vote on the draft resolution that they have prepared are associated with the statement made earlier this week by President Dmitri Medvedev. On Tuesday, the Russian leader announced in Paris that "if it does not work out (coming to agreement)... Russia is prepared to consider the question of introducing sanctions together with our other partners." In Medvedev's words, which are cited by RIA Novosti, "sanctions must be verified and smart, and these sanctions should not be directed against the civilian population."
Germany says rejected Iran extradition request
Reuters | March 9, 2010
Germany said on Tuesday it had turned down a request from Iran to extradite a Kurdish leader, who was detained but later freed, prompting an angry response from Tehran.
The news came a day after Germany, which is involved in international efforts to curb Iran's nuclear programme, said it would grant political asylum to a number of Iranians, a move which also angered the Islamic Republic.
A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tehran had sought the extradition of Abdul Rahman Haji-Ahmadi last December. Iran says Haji-Ahmadi leads an Iranian Kurdish separatist group from his home in Germany.
"This (extradition) was rejected at the end of January on the grounds that he is a German citizen," he added.
In the city of Cologne, public prosecutor Ulrich Boden told Reuters that Haji-Ahmadi had been detained and later freed, but declined to give any further details of the case.
Media reports suggested that Haji-Ahmadi was detained after the extradition request had been turned down.
"The European countries, despite chanting the slogan of defending human rights, are practically supporting terrorism," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference in Tehran. "There are many clues showing that Europe has become a safe haven for terrorists."
Officials discuss border issues in Iran's northwest
IRINN | March 6, 2010
A gathering entitled Secured Border and Development of the Orumiyeh Border Regiment has been held at the hall of the Army's 64th Division in Orumiyeh. Some border area residents and members of tribes of Orumiyeh attended the meeting.
At the meeting, the caretaker of the West Azerbaijan governor general's office for planning [Ebrahim Haqju] thanked the Law Enforcement Force personnel for maintaining security at West Azerbaijan's border lines.
He spoke about recent agreements between provincial authorities and economic officials and Turkish officials and said that a joint industrial town will be set up on the border in order to ensure stable employment for residents of the region.
Mr Haqju added: The allocation of bank loans to businessmen in border areas, attracting private investors by opening industrial zones and also opening border markets are other measures taken by the authorities to develop the provincial border areas.
At the meeting, the commander of the West Azerbaijan Law enforcement Force [Gen Karami] put an emphasis on the importance of protecting the Islamic country's borders. He said that in order to reach stable development and expansion of border areas we need to control borders and to maintain security in these areas.