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Seventh Iranian Journalist Arrested This Week; Politicos Excoriate UK

13 Dec 2010 21:05No Comments

Press Roundup provides selected excerpts of news and opinion pieces from the Iranian and international media. Click on the link to the story to read it in full. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. The inclusion of various opinions in no way implies their endorsement by Tehran Bureau. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow other news items through our Twitter feed.

THE LEAD

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Journalist Mehran Faraji Arrested

RAHANA | Dec 12

Faraji has been a social issues reporter for Hamshahri, Etemadeh Melli, and Kargozaran newspapers. He has been a member of the youth section of the National Trust Party.

He is the 7th journalist arrested this week.

Reyhaneh Tabatabei, Keyvan Mehregan, Ahmad Gholami, Farzaneh Roustaei, Ali Khodabaskh, and Amir Hadi Anvari are several other journalists who worked for the Shargh newspaper and have been arrested in the past week.

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Journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabei Arrested

RAHANA | Dec 12

The security forces raided the house of reporter and journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaei and arrested her.

Tabatabaei has worked for the Sina News Agency, Chelcheragh magazine, and Shargh newspaper.

During the disputed presidential elections, she was out of the country pursuing her education.

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Another Shargh Newspaper Reporter Detained

RAHANA | Dec 12

Amir Hadi Anvari, another reporter who worked for the Shargh newspaper [was] detained on Thursday.

Anvari is a reporter for the economics section who has previously worked for Etemad and [several other] reformist newspapers.

On December 7th, the security forces arrested a number of other Shargh reporters. Farzaneh Roustaei, Keyvan Mehregan, Ahmad Gholami and Ali Khodabakhsh were detained after [a] raid on the newspaper's office.

There has been [no] information as to the reason for his arrest but the prosecutor has stated that security reasons were why the newspaper has been banned. The newspaper had previously been banned several times.

See also: "The Iran 34: Journalists in Jail" (Tehran Bureau)

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Iranian Politicians Call for UK Ambassador Recall

BBC News | Dec 13

Iranian politicians have called for Britain's ambassador to Tehran to be expelled after comments he made about the country's human rights record.

Ambassador Simon Gass had highlighted concerns about the risks posed to journalists, lawyers and activists in Iran in a statement on his website.

The lawmakers also called for ties between Iran and the UK to be downgraded.

They said Mr Gass' actions had breached diplomatic protocol.

"Gass is a clear example of a persona non grata that must be expelled from Iran," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted hardline lawmaker Hossein Sobhaninia as saying on Sunday.

Iranian Parliament Set to Downgrade Ties with Britain

Fars | Dec 13

"(The parliament's) National Security (and Foreign Policy) Commission is considering lowering ties with Britain although we believe in complete severance of relations," Deputy Head of the Commission Esmaeyeel Kosari told FNA on Monday.

"Britain has had a pivotal role in the conspiracies and plots after the (Islamic) Revolution (in Iran), thus the National Security Commission will take a decisive decision with regard to Tehran's ties with this country," Kosari added.

He called on the British envoy to Tehran to pay attention to the violation of human rights in his own country, specially in recent days.

Following a British government plan for tripling university tuition fees, thousands of university students took to the streets to voice their protest against the plan, but the British police resorted to every means to suppress the protestors.

"England is displaying the conditions of human rights in London today, because it is suppressing the students whose only protest is against the tuition fees, an issue which could be resolved," Kosari said.

"They always ignore human rights when it comes to their own crimes. Massacre of the people of Gaza, Palestine and Afghanistan is not important to them, but when the smallest actions are naturally taken to confront overthrow plans in a given country, they call it violation of human rights," he reminded.

The remarks by the Iranian lawmaker came days after Simon Gass criticized human rights situations in Iran in a recent memo published by the British Embassy in Tehran, and said, "The British Government will continue to draw attentions to cases where people are deprived of their fundamental freedoms."

"Today, International Human Rights Day is highlighting the cases of those people around the world who stand up for the rights of others -- the lawyers, journalists and NGO workers who place themselves at risk to defend their countrymen," Gass wrote on December 9.

"Nowhere are they under greater threat than in Iran. Since last year human rights defenders have been harassed and imprisoned."

Following Britain's support for a group of wild demonstrators who disrespected Islamic sanctities and damaged private and public amenities and properties on December 27, 2009 members of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission drafted [a] bill of a law requiring the country's Foreign Ministry to cut relations with Britain.

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UK Urged to Scrap Interfering Behavior

Press TV | Dec 13

A top Iranian human rights official has urged Britain to deal with its own domestic problems rather than meddling in other countries' internal affairs.

"You'd better take care of your own domestic affairs," Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the secretary of the Iranian Judiciary's Human Rights Headquarters, told IRNA on Monday.

"They want to cover up their own problems and failures in their country by passing judgment and making allegations about the situation of human rights in other countries," he said.

The senior official underlined Britain is using the rights issue as a pretext to support terrorists.

He urged British statesmen to pay attention to the situation in their country as their approval ratings are plummeting in the court of the world public opinion and their strategies have proven to be a failure.

Like Washington, he said, the British government is a trailblazer in violating human rights across the globe.

"American and British statesmen have the blood of tens of thousands of innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world on their hands," said Larijani.

"They are accomplices in the Zionist regime's crimes in Gaza and other areas," said the senior Iranian rights official.

In the name of war on terror, he said, Britain enforces laws which run counter to international conventions.

"Unorthodox interrogation methods and very brutal torture techniques are also common in their country."

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Top Legislator Hits Out at British Ambassador

Tehran Times | Dec 13

"The British ambassador should learn the courtesy needed for being an ambassador," [Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaeddin] Boroujerdi said on Sunday.

"It seems that Simon Gass's mission is undermining (Iran-Britain) bilateral relations," Boroujerdi, a former diplomat, said.

"The British ambassador should open his eyes to see that in Iran the dissidents, even the leaders of sedition (reformist leaders),... can take stances against the system and administration," he asserted.

He went on to say that the Iranian nation is fully aware of Britain's plots in the region, its "destructive" role in the recent talks between Iran the 5+1 group in Geneva, and also London's push for the imposition of illegal sanctions against Iran.

"The representatives (MPs) of the great Iranian nation will give a timely response to these presumptuous actions," Boroujerdi noted

Iran MPs to Review Downgrading Ties with Britain

Reuters | Dec 13

"Iran will lose nothing from downgrading relations with Britain...this is the minimum cost that London should pay for confronting the Iranian nation," lawmaker Kazem Jalali told state television.

Jalili, who is spokesman for parliament's National Security and Foreign Affairs committee, said it would review ties with Britain on Sunday. However, the committee's decision would depend on the outcome of voting in parliament.

Jalili also criticised the "impudent" behaviour of the British Ambassador to Iran, Simon Gass.

"Gass wrote about violation of human rights in Iran...ignoring the killing of students in Britain in recent protests," said Jalili. Some MPs have demanded that Gass be thrown out of the country.

While some students were injured in sometimes violent demonstrations in London and other British cities over the past month in protest against higher tuition fees, none has been killed.

Another lawmaker, Hamid Rasai, called the British embassy "a nest of spies," a term usually used to refer to the former U.S. embassy in Tehran seized by hardline students shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"There is no difference between America and Britain and their policies...we will take necessary measures to close down the embassy and to cut ties with Britain," Rasai told a group of about one hundred hardline students outside the embassy, where they were protesting against Britain's meddling in Iran.

The British ambassador made light of the gathering.

"Protest by a few Basiji students...Burnt the Union Jack but at least got it the right way up this time," Gass tweeted on Monday.

OTHER NEWS

Hezbollah Strays from Iranian Line on WikiLeaks, Praises its Disclosures

Los Angeles Times | Dec 12

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah appears to have acknowledged the credibility of WikiLeaks, breaking with the official stance of the group's patron, Iran, that the leaked diplomatic cables are part of some American and Israeli-backed conspiracy.

By supporting WikiLeaks, Nasrallah now finds himself in the same camp as an unlikely figure: Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who said in comments published Saturday that the documents expose Iran's "vulnerability."

In a speech late Friday night, the Hezbollah leader said the resistance would be targeted by conspiracies even greater than those already revealed in the leaked United States diplomatic cables, hinting mysteriously at more to come.

During the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the party and its supporters "faced serious threats and conspiracies" from many sides, Nasrallah said, adding: "This is what we see in WikiLeaks day after day, and which we will see on a greater [scale]."

Wikileaks Exposed Iran's 'Vulnerability': Mousavi

AFP | Dec 12

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said Wikileaks has exposed the Islamic regime's "vulnerability" due to its government's policies which have left Tehran without allies in the Gulf.

US diplomatic memos released by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks have unveiled calls by Arab leaders in the Gulf for the destruction of Tehran's nuclear programme as well as fear that a regional conflict is inevitable.

"Some of these documents clearly show our vulnerable situation in the region, a situation fuelled by adventurism," Mousavi said in comments published on opposition website Qalamsabz on Saturday.

Mousavi accused the government of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of "inciting fear, of an extremely weak diplomacy and excessive displays of military power" in the region.

"They have ignored forming constructive ties with regional countries, and with these policies we do not have a real ally among our neighbours," Mousavi said.

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Hollywood Stars and Nobel Laureates Call for Sakineh's Release

Indian Express | Dec 13

Hollywood stars Robert Redford, Robert de Niro, famed rock guitarist Pete Townshend and Nobel laureate V S Naipaul are among 80 celebrities who have petitioned Iran to release a woman sentenced to die by stoning for alleged adultery.

"Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has suffered enough," they said in an open letter addressed to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a rare humanitarian intervention in a case that has attracted global ire.

In an open letter in the Times, they said, "Forced by international pressure to suspend her execution by stoning for alleged adultery, the Iranian government is now attempting to resurrect the charge that she murdered her husband -- a charge for which she has already been tried.

"She has already spent five years in prison, and suffered 99 lashes, while the man who was convicted of her husband's murder, and with whom she allegedly had an affair, is now free, having been pardoned by Ms Ashtiani's children.

"We, the undersigned, call on the government of Iran to release immediately Ms Ashtiani, her son Sajad Ghaderzade, and her lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian, from incarceration."

Other signatories include actors Colin Firth and Juliette Binoche, Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka and artist Damien Hirst.

Former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and British opposition leader Ed Miliband also joined the appeal.

Celebrities and Academics Call for Release of Ashtiani

The Times (via The Australian) | Dec 13

[T]he letter follows the regime's broadcast on Friday night of a "documentary" for which she was taken home from her prison cell to participate in a "reconstruction" of her husband's murder in 2005. Her supporters insist her appearance, like her previous televised "confessions", was coerced.

Friday's "documentary" was broadcast on Press TV, the regime's English-language overseas mouthpiece, and accused the Western media of peddling myths about Ms Ashiani.

In a deadpan voice Ms Ashtiani, or a woman identified as her, told a bizarre story of how she was contacted out of the blue by a relative named Isa Taheri, agreed to meet him in a park, began an affair with him, and then agreed to help him when he telephoned one day to say that he intended to kill her husband.

She showed how she allegedly injected her husband while he was asleep with flu to make him unconscious so Taheri could electrocute him.

The programme claimed Ms Ashtiani was later charged with prostitution as well as murder and adultery. It insisted that the stoning sentence was merely "symbolic" and would not have been carried out.

It ended with a judiciary official accusing Iran's enemies of exploiting Ms Ashtiani's case for political ends, and insisting: "We don't pay any attention to them and we will continue our work in line with the laws of our country."

The programme tacitly acknowledged that Taheri was a free man even though he had killed her husband. It showed pictures of him in the town of Osku, where Ms Ashtiani lived, but claimed he refused to speak to Press TV -- unlikely in a country where citizens pay a heavy price if they do not do what the regime tells them to.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office condemned Iran for "parading Ms Ashtiani on television for propaganda purposes". William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said: "Sakineh Ashtiani has become a symbol of the suffering of those who are denied their human rights in Iran. We deplore this latest apparent manipulation of her case and call again for her release."

Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, told The Times: "This process of TV confessions and barbaric punishments is a matter of disgust to the world. These sham televised processes are not the actions of a government that wants to be taken seriously. They are adding to Iran's self-imposed isolation."

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Reza Shahabi Transferred to Hospital

RAHANA | Dec 13

Reza Shahabi has been transferred to the hospital due to his deteriorating physical condition following the seventh day of his hunger strike.

According to Radio Farda, Hossein Shahabi, Reza's brother said that this labor activist and board member of the bus driver's union of Greater Tehran was taken to the hospital following the decline in his physical condition, on Saturday.

Shahabi who was arrested in June in Tehran, has been on a hunger strike for over a week in protest to his uncertain standing in Evin.

This union activist's brother said that on his last visit on Thursday, Reza told him that he will remain on hunger strike and will continue abstaining from food until his status is clarified and his prison condition made clear.

VOA Reports on Reza Shahabi, Jailed Labor Activist

VOA (via Persian2English) | Dec 12

In an interview with Voice of America, Reza Shahabi's brother [...] said, "Yes, he is on hunger strike since December 4, 2010 [...] He is objecting to the uncertainty surrounding his case. Two months ago, his bail was set to 60 million toman (approximately $60 thousand USD) which we posted with the court, but he wasn't released. The day after we posted the bail, we went to the court in Evin prison but were told that for some reason he will not be freed. Right now, I hold the government responsible for my brother's health. His condition is very critical."

Mehi Kouhestaninejad, a consultant to the World Confederation of Labour, believes that there is a connection between increased pressure on labor activists and the new economic policies of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government. Mehi Kouhestaninejad explains, "During the last year, the discussion to eliminate subsidiaries has taken place. In all practicality, such policies have made people's financial situation much worse. While wages have stayed the same, the prices have gone up. When government subsidiaries are eliminated, goods can be sold at high prices. It is expected that the labor movement objects to these policies, but the government wishes to suppress any type of opposition."

In addition to Reza Shahabi, other labor activists including Ebrahim Madadi, Mansour Osanloo, Ali Akbar Nazari, and Gholamreza Gholam-Hosseini are amongst those imprisoned.

Dr. Morteza Fallah Is Expelled from the University of Yazd

RAHANA | Dec 13

Following the ongoing pressure imposed on universities and the threats on professors and teachers, Dr. Morteza Fallah, former director of Eghbal newspaper, who was the dean of the school of Language and Literature at the university, was expelled following a ruling by the university chancellor, Sayyed Ali Mohammad Mir Mohammadi.

According to Jaras, he first lost his lessons at the beginning of the semester and then was officially expelled by the chancellor.

According to the report, no charges, written or verbal, were ever given to Dr Fallah during his entire service at the university. He who is one of the reformist professors of this university, has published a number of books in the literary field and has contributed many articles published in credible scientific journals. His dismissal was orchestrated by Hojat'olIslam Motevasel, a representative of the Supreme Leader and was handed down by the University Chancellor, both of whom are non-reputable persons amongst university faculty and students.

Yazd University has for a long time been under the supervision of the Hojjateyeh, influenced by Mesbah Yazdi and is controlled by the Military and Security Forces.

13 Student Activists of Shahr Kord Are Summoned to the Disciplinary Committee

RAHANA | Dec 13

On Saturday, a number of students of the University of Shahr Kord were summoned to the disciplinary committee and Mohammad Haydarzadeh seems to have been one of them.

According to Daneshjoo (Student) News, these students have been charged with welcoming home recently released imprisoned student activist Mohammad Haydarzadeh, this charge is in spite of the fact that the University security forces had in fact prevented Haydarzadeh from entering the University and attending.

Haydarzadeh had been arrested in November alongside three other members of the office of Fostering Unity (Tahkim Vahdat), and following his arrest, a number of student activist of the University of Shahr Kord had, by putting out a press release, announced that they intended to name Azar 16, Student Day in Iran , 'Mohammad Haydarzadeh Day' in his honor.

After Haydarzadeh's release from prison, the students had planned a home coming welcome for him which was prevented by the heavy presence of the Security Forces.

Following the National Student Day observance across the nation, many student activists have been under extreme pressure and some have been arrested and incarcerated.

Tehran University College of Arts Students Arrested

RAHANA | Dec 12

There is no information as to the condition of the students arrested in Tehran University School of Art after the student day.

Vahid Nosrati, Hooman Jafari, Savin Shiva, Majid Sadeghi, Hojjat Sahraei and Saeidi are the students detained by the security forces on December 7th.

Vahid Nosrati's brother stated that his brother has contacted home and has said that he is held in Evin Prison.

There is also no information as to the condition of the Amir Kabir and Razi University students who were detained on December 6th and 7th.

Nuclear War: Our Fear of Iran

The Age | Dec 13

Australian intelligence agencies fear that Israel may launch military strikes against Iran and Tehran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities could draw the US and Australia into a potential nuclear war in the Middle East.

Australia's peak intelligence agency [the Office of National Assessments (ONA)] has also privately undercut the hardline stance towards Tehran of the US, Israeli and Australian governments, saying its nuclear program is intended to deter attack and it is a mistake to regard Iran as a rogue state.

The warnings about the dangers of nuclear conflict in the Middle East are given in a secret US embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks and provided exclusively to The Age.

''The AIC's [Australian intelligence community's] leading concerns with respect to Iran's nuclear ambitions centre on understanding the time frame of a possible weapons capability, and working with the United States to prevent Israel from independently launching unco-ordinated military strikes against Iran,'' the US embassy in Canberra reported to Washington in March last year.

''They are immediately concerned that Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities would lead to a conventional war -- or even nuclear exchange -- in the Middle East involving the United States that would draw Australia into a conflict.''

An earlier cable, sent in July 2008, records that former prime minister Kevin Rudd was ''deeply worried'' that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's intransigence concerning Tehran's nuclear program meant that the window for a diplomatic solution was closing and that ''Israel may feel forced to use 'non-diplomatic' means''.

[Per the December 2008 cable,] ''ONA viewed Tehran's nuclear program within the paradigm of 'the laws of deterrence,' noting that Iran's ability to produce a weapon may be 'enough' to meet its security objectives,'' the US embassy reported.

''Nevertheless, Australian intelligence viewed Tehran's pursuit of full self-sufficiency in the nuclear fuel cycle, long-standing covert weapons program, and continued work on delivery systems as strong indicators that Tehran's preferred end state included a nuclear arsenal.''

ONA analysts told their US counterparts they were not alone in this assessment, asserting that ''while China and Russia remain opposed to it, they view Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons as inevitable''.

However, ONA urged a balanced view of Tehran as a sophisticated diplomatic player rather than a ''rogue state'' liable to behave impulsively or irrationally.

The embassy cable reported: ''ONA analysts assessed that Tehran 'knows' about its lack of certain capabilities, but plays 'beyond its hand' very skilfully.... ONA judged that Iran's activities in Iraq -- both overt and covert -- represented an extreme manifestation of Iranian strategic calculus, designed to 'outflank' the US in the region.''

Rudd Derided 'Loathsome' Ahmadinejad

Sydney Morning Herald | Dec 13

A highly experienced Israeli diplomat, ambassador [to Australia Yuval] Rotem told US officials in July 2008 that during his first meeting with Mr Rudd after Australia's 2007 federal election, the newly elected prime minister had described Iranian President Ahmadinejad as a ''loathsome individual on every level'' and said that the Iranian leader's anti-Semitism ''turns my stomach''.

The US embassy noted that while opposition leader, Mr Rudd had taken a ''very strong stance'' on Iran, including calling for Mr Ahmadinejad to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for his calls for the destruction of Israel.

''The Israeli ambassador believes PM Rudd is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear program and firm in his desire to do whatever possible to signal Australia's opposition to Tehran's nuclear ambitions,'' the embassy reported. ''The Israelis believe Rudd is very firm in his overall support for Israel.''

Asked by the US embassy about whether Mr Rudd's views on Iran had elicited any response, Mr Rotem said the Iranian government had reacted to the prime minister's statements by taking ''retaliatory measures'' against the Australian embassy in Tehran.

''These measures make it harder for the embassy to conduct its day-to-day business,'' Mr Rotem observed.

The Israeli ambassador added that the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Michael l'Estrange, and Office of National Assessments director-general Peter Varghese had ''met several times to convince the PM to think through the consequences of his rhetoric on Iran''.

The Australian government has never acknowledged publicly any Iranian response to Mr Rudd's public criticism of Iran and its president.

Hossein Derakhshan Returns to Evin Prison

ICHRI | Dec 12

According to an entry made by Hossein Derakhshan's sister on "Justice for Hossein Derakhshan: The Official Blog of Hossein Derakhshan's Family and Friends For Dissemination of Information and Pursuit of His Situation," he has returned to prison at the end of his two-day prison leave. A source close to Derakhshan confirmed the news for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

"It was unexpected, but finally, after months of efforts and patience, they accepted for Hossein to spend two days outside of the prison and next to us....He returned to prison early this morning. It was short. But sweet," the entry says. The said source told the Campaign that the authorities who released Derakhshan for a short leave on an unprecedented bail of $1.5 million "tested Hossein to see what he would do if he was released." The blog entry refers to the family's having gone to the cemetery to visit deceased family members' grave sites, and to have spent the entire two days together.

[A] source close to his family told the Campaign that after his 2008 arrest, Derakhshan spent nearly ten months in solitary confinement, completely isolated from the outside world, and was subjected to beatings to coerce him to make false confessions about having ties to the CIA and Israeli intelligence services. His family was only able to visit him twice during the first year of his detention. Derakhshan's family was not allowed to attend his trial sessions, though the above-mentioned blog entry reflects that his family "have been able to visit with him once a week for the past 1.5 years."

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Separating Fact from Fiction in Sakineh's Case

Marina Nemat (Huffington Post) | Dec 12

If there was a rule of law in Iran, Sakineh's first and second lawyers would not have been persecuted: her first lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai, had to escape Iran after his wife was arrested and kept hostage by the Iranian authorities so that he would give himself up. However, he escaped the country and is in Norway now. Her second lawyer, Houtan Kian, is in prison in Iran right now. He was arrested a few weeks ago for having dared to defend her.

If there was a rule of law in Iran, Sakineh's son Sajjad, would not have been arrested for simply asking the world to save his mother.

If there was a rule of law in Iran, Press TV would not have been allowed to take Sakineh out of the prison and force her to make a public confession in a terrible, humiliating, and inhumane way.

If there was a rule of law in Iran, the man who actually killed Sakineh's husband would have been in prison. Also, if Sakineh committed adultery with him, then I think it's safe to say that he committed adultery with her. Yet he walked away and she was the one sentenced to being stoned to death.

The recent televised confession of Sakineh, which was filmed in her home and in the presence of her son, has, very unfortunately, made some people believe that she is guilty and deserves to die, but they are terribly wrong. Her confession is meaningless. I was imprisoned in Evin prison at the age of 16 for 2 years, 2 months, and 12 days. During this time, I was tortured, raped, and threatened that if I didn't cooperate, my family would be harmed. I signed every piece of paper they gave me without even reading it. I would have confessed to anything under torture to stop the pain. I cooperated, so my family was safe, and if they had arrested one of my loved ones, I would have done anything to save him/her. Sakineh's son is now in prison. Put yourself in her shoes. Wouldn't you have confessed to murder if it would save your son? I know I would.

A Government in Disarray over Subsidy Reforms

Nader Uskowi (Uskowi on Iran) | Dec 12

The removal of government subsidies was the focal point of Ahmadinejad's economic reforms for his second term that began in August 2009. After heated debates in Majlis over the effect of the subsidy removals on the country's inflation rate, the government's plan passed the parliament in early January and became law after the Guardian Council approved it on 15 January 2010. Ahmadinejad announced at the time that the implementation of the first phase of the plan would start in "a few months."

The government finally announced that the first phase of subsidy reforms would start no later than 21 September (the beginning of Iranian calendar month of Mehr). The government also announced that its subsidies are costing the treasury $100 billion a year, and their removals were key to country's future economic growth.

In October, after the 21 September target date had come and gone, a number of government officials said the first phase of the reforms would start shortly and would include the energy sector, including gasoline. They also suggested that the price of new "subsidized" gasoline would be set at $1.44 per gallon with a limit of 16 gallons a month per vehicle, with consumers able to purchase extra gasoline at $2.40 a gallon.

On 12 October, government officials suggested that the first phase of the reforms would start in "ten days." On 19 October, the government started depositing 40,500 toumans (about $40) as monthly cash payout in the accounts of 60 million Iranians, or 80% of the population. The monthly cash payout amounted to some $2.4 billion.

On the eve of the planned announcement of the start of the subsidy removals, the country's minister of commerce raised some fundamental objections to the plan, questioning the government's assertion that the reforms were in planning stages for months and even years. The minister said on 20 October that replacing the old subsidies with the new ones (i.e. $2.4 billion cash handout) and postponing simultaneous reductions in government expenditures would create an "avalanche" that would "destroy" everyone.

Ten days passed, still no reforms.

DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS

Human Rights Day Demonstration Attendees Attacked and Arrested in Berlin

Statement by the Committee of Iranian Political Refugees in Greece and the Color of Democratic Election in Germany (Color of Democratic Election via Persian2English) | Dec 11

We inform all the defenders of freedom around the world that:

On December 10, 2010, a group of Iranian political activists gathered in Berlin to mark the International Human Rights Day. The demonstration, sponsored by the Committee to Defend Iranian Political Prisoners in Germany, the Association of Iranian Political Refugees in Berlin, and Color of Democratic Election in Germany, ended in violence when German security forces and police intervened and attacked the crowd.

The sponsors of this demonstration have reported that although they had a legal license to gather and protest, German security forces objected to the placard with the words "Down with the Islamic Republic" written on it. Using physical violence, the German police confiscated the aforementioned cloth placard and attempted to disperse the protestors.

During the clash with the German police, an Iranian woman was beaten severely resulting in her fifth cervical vertebrae dislocated and broken. She was admitted to a hospital in central Berlin while a number of other injured protestors were detained by the police for several hours.

The Committee of Iranian Political Refugees in Greece together with Color of Democratic Election in Germany (CODE e.V.) strongly condemns this violent and brutal attack by the German police on the International Human Rights Day. We also consider such aggression displayed by a European government to be a blatant violation of human rights. Additionally, we believe that these shameful acts have happened in total disregard towards the pain and suffering of Iranian people who are fighting against an authoritarian regime.

We hereby request that all political activists and those seeking and defending freedom around the world to raise their voices against this violation of human rights committed by the German government and to protest in front of German embassies worldwide.

The Committee of Iranian Political Refugees in Greece
Color of Democratic Election in Germany

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