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MPs Demand Rahnavard Stand Trial; IRGC General: Western Drones Downed

03 Jan 2011 13:231 Comment

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THE LEAD

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Iranian Women MPs Attack Rahnavard

Radio Zamaneh | Jan 2

Women MPs of the Iranian parliament have called on the judiciary to prosecute Zahra Rahnavard, one of Iran's opposition leaders.

Tayebeh Safai, head of this faction says that Zahra Rahnavard has insulted "the sanctities of the regime and the ideals of the Islamic Republic" and should stand trial as "one of the leaders of sedition."

Iranian establishment refers to MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the opposition leaders who have challenged the presidential elections of 2009, as "leaders of sedition."

Tayebeh Safai, Tehran representative in the parliament, claimed that Rahnavard's actions are similar to those of Maryam Rajavi, leader of the dissident group, People's Mojahedin Organization.

She contended that Rahnavard's "anti-regime stance has isolated her from the Islamic society and in particular women and planted her support only amongst anti-Revolutionaries."

Zahra Rahnavard in Recent Statement: 'Our People Do Not Fear Oppression'

Kalame (via Persian2English) | Jan 1

In an interview with RASA, Zahra Rahnavard, university professor and [wife of Mir Hossein Mousavi] [discussed] the various aspects of Iran's democratic Green Movement and the oppressive tactics of the current Iranian regime. She said, "[Iran is ruled by] one of the most oppressive and violent regimes in its history. Our people do not fear oppression. Despite the continuous arrests and prison sentences our people [have] never hesitated and [even] bravely embrace incarceration."

Rahnavard added, "Based on our experiences from the time of the Islamic Revolution, we realize that street protests alone do not suffice. Theoretical, organizational, and intellectual dimensions must be added to our street presence."

Rahnavard reiterated that Iran's democratic Green Movement is anything but passive and said that the Greens will continue to fight through "fearlessness, the refusal to be silenced, underground resistance, and smiling at one another." She added, "We are all together and we will use every symbol and tool at our disposal to demonstrate and preserve our unity."

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Iran Brought Down Two Spy Planes over Persian Gulf: General

Tehran Times | Jan 3

IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh has announced that the Iranian military forces have brought down two foreign spy planes over the Persian Gulf, not mentioning the exact date and location of the events.

"They (Westerners) have made limited aggressions against the country and we have shot down a number of their highly advanced spy planes so far. For example, we have brought down two spy planes over the Persian Gulf," Hajizadeh, an IRGC Aerospace Force commander, told the Payam-e Enqelab publication, a periodical owned by the IRGC.

"We have constant clashes with the enemy's surveillance and reconnaissance aircrafts," Hajizadeh said in the interview published on Sunday.

The commander also said the Iranian experts have reverse engineered and manufactured some of the planes that have been shot down.

OTHER NEWS

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Children's Rights and Labor Rights Activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

RAHANA | Jan 2

The 15th branch of the Revolutionary Court has sentenced Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a children's rights and labor rights activist, to 20 years in prison.

In a phone call from the Evin Prison, Behanm Ebrahimzadeh informed his family of the sentence. He has to serve 10 years of it at Rajaei Shahr Prison and 10 years at Evin Prison.

Reports do not indicate the specific charges that he has been convicted of. Judge Salavati has been the presiding judge in the case.

He had been detained on June 12th and was beaten during his arrest which resulted in him suffering severe injuries.

He is a plumber for the Shourabad Polytechnic Company in Shahr Ray. On the National Labor Day, he was also arrested during ceremony in Laleh Park. The case from his previous arrest is pending.

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Seven Years of Imprisonment for Ehsan Abdoh Tabrizi

RAHANA | Jan 2

A close source to Ehsan Abdoh Tabrizi stated that he has received a 2 year prison term for insulting the president, 3 years for assembly and conspiracy against the regime and 2 years for collaborating with foreign agents.

Ehsan was studying in Britain and 10 months ago in his return to Iran was arrested in Emam Khomeini's International Airport and taken to Evin prison. In all this time he has been in Evin without any conviction and interrogators of Intelligent Service opposed his freedom.

Ehsan is pursuing a PhD in politics in Durham University. Hossein Tabrizi, Ehsan's father, is a critic of the government's economic policies and is the former secretary of Tehran' Exchange Organization.

He has repeatedly written comprehensive critical economic articles against the government in Sarmayeh Newspaper to which the government has overreacted.

He is one of the 70 economists who criticized the government's economic operation through open letters.

Ehsan Abdoh Tabrizi along with a number of other political prisoners are in Ward 350 of Evin Prison.

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Ali Mousavi Sentenced to 6.5 Years in Prison and 74 Lashes

RAHANA | Jan 2

The 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court presided [over] by Judge Pirabbas has sentenced Dr. Ali Mousavi, a young member of the Pan-Iranist Party, to 6 years in prison and 74 lashes.

The verdict has not been served properly and he has only seen it in person.

Being informed of the court's verdict orally, is a violation of a prisoner's rights which consistently occurs in Iran's Judiciary.

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Mansour Osanloo Sent to Solitary Confinement for Honoring Ali Saremi

HRANA (via Persian2English) | Jan 1

According to HRANA, Mansour Osanloo, the imprisoned head of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, was transferred to solitary confinement in Rajai Shahr [Gohardasht] prison today.

Prison officials said the reason for the transfer was Osanloo's participation in a memorial ceremony held in ward 3 of Rajai Shahr prison in honor of Ali Saremi, the political prisoner executed on the morning of December 28, 2010.

Hossein Shahriyari, Isa Saharkhiz, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Mashallah Haeri, Abbas Esfandiari, Keyvan Samimi, Rasoul Badaghi, Ahmad Zeidabadi, Masoud Bastani, Saleh Kohandel, Behrouz Javid Tehrani, Hovad Yazerlou, Majid Tavakoli, Misagh Yazdan Nejad, Farzad Madadzad and other [political prisoners] also participated in the memorial ceremony to honor Ali Sameri.

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Verdict Against ICPI Chief

Iran Daily (via Tabnak) | Dec 3

A court has handed a suspended jail sentence to Kaveh Eshtehardi, the head of Iran Cultural-Press Institute (ICPI), on charges of defaming Mehdi Hashemi, the son of State Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

After the last hearing on December 4, 2010, the court sentenced Eshtehardi to six months in jail for defamation and 10 lashes for publishing lies, IRNA reported on Saturday.

This is while the Press Jury had earlier acquitted Eshtehardi of all charges leveled against him in the same case.
"The court ignored the jury's opinion (verdict) and my defense," he said.

Mehdi Hashemi, who is currently residing in Britain and has been accused by a number of government and judiciary officials of financial corruption and acting against national security during the post-vote unrests that occurred in Tehran and some other Iranian cities following the June 12, 2009, presidential elections, has lawsuits filed against him in Tehran's court.

Hashemi had filed the lawsuit against Eshtehardi over an article published in the Iran newspaper.

Despite Sanctions, Iran Exports Surge

Press TV | Jan 2

Iran's non-oil exports have surged in the in the second half of 2010, passing the USD 22 billion mark, figures from the country's customs office says.

Non-oil exports grew by 21 percent between March and December 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, the office said on Saturday.

"The figures are sound and correct, this shows that sanctions have not effected Iran seriously and instead its non oil exports have surged and given the rise in oil prices, the revenues from oil have increased," lawmaker Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghaddam told Press TV on Sunday.

"I don't think that sanctions have no effect at all but in practice these effects are next to nothing," Majlis member Mostafa Kavakebian said.

Iran Ranks 6th in Attracting Foreign Investments

Tehran Times | Jan 3

An official at the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran said that the country ranked sixth globally in 2010 in attracting foreign investments.

""The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reported that despite the global economic meltdown foreign investment in Iran had increased by 86 percent,"" the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network quoted Vaqef Behrouzi as saying on Sunday.

In December 2010, Iran announced a 95-percent leap in foreign investments, attributing the rise to overall security and many investment opportunities, IRNA quoted Economy Minister Seyyed Shamseddin Hosseini as saying.

"Iran's economic appeal and its overall security creates a suitable opportunity for a rise in investments," he added.

More Praise of the Leader?

Rooz | Jan 2

The presiding board of Iran's Assembly of Experts on Leadership met last week to determine a specific date for the next formal gathering of the council that meets twice a year to -- in theory -- review the work of the leader. At the conclusion of the three earlier gatherings of the 86-member clerical assembly, the official statement praised ayatollah Khamenei for "wearing the mantle of leadership of the Islamic nation."

Members of the presiding board comprising of seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Mohammad Yazdi, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, and Ibrahim Reisi met at the current chairman Hashemi Rafasanjani's office and agreed to convene the ninth gathering of the assembly on March 15 and 16 this year. It was also agreed that prior to the official opening of the assembly, a joint session would be held to include the members of the presiding board and 5 selected members from the assembly plus the heads of the various committees of the council. This preliminary meeting is scheduled to meet in January.

The announcement that a special preliminary meeting of the Assembly of Experts will be held comes at a time when verbal attacks on Rafsanjani, Dastgheib and other critics are on the rise by the hardline press affiliated to the current administration and ruling circles.

But criticism of the leader continues as well. On Monday last week ayatollah Dastgheib once again reiterated his complaint and said, "All we are calling for is for the fulfillment of the very constitution that people have approved, which will make people happy and the Islamic republic will become stronger, as will the power of Shiism in the world." He went on to say that no senior ayatollah or mujtahid today was happy with the state of affairs in the country because they are against the Quran, tradition and the constitution. In an earlier letter Dastgheib had supported the demands of the public and questioned whether the assembly had carried out its duties and said the three branches of government had been violating the constitution. At the sixth meeting of the assembly, Dastgheib had openly criticized the performance of his peers at the assembly and the leader.

Ahmadinejad Removes 14 Advisors

Press TV | Jan 3

Former advisor to the Iranian president on culture and media affairs Mehdi Kalhor has confirmed the termination of his cooperation with the president along with 13 other advisors.

"Yesterday in a decree 13 presidential advisors and I were appreciated for our services and were notified that our cooperation with President Ahmadinejad has ended," Mehr news agency quoted Kalhor as saying.

"I had personally presented my retirement request to the president three months ago and the decree of termination of my cooperation with the Presidential Office was issued yesterday," Kalhor noted.

"Of course in the decree, President Ahmadinejad had warmly hailed the services of his fellow friends," the former presidential advisor continued.

Kalhor, however, stressed that the decree only included the advisory role of the individuals and not their other positions.

He further explained that he really did not know the reason behind President Ahmadinejad's decision.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani May Not Face Death by Stoning, Says Prosecutor

Guardian | Jan 2

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning, may not face her original punishment, the judicial authorities have signalled.

In the latest twist in the saga, the prosecutor of East Azerbaijan province said today it was "possible" the original sentence could be dropped.

But Malek Ajdar Sharifi did not comment on whether Mohammadi Ashtiani might instead be hanged.

Not for the first time, it was difficult to distinguish between truth and propaganda by a regime anxious to deflect international anger over the case, which has highlighted the wider issue of human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic. Unusually, the authorities allowed Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, to leave prison to speak to foreign media in Tabriz yesterday.

She said she intended to sue two German journalists who were arrested two months ago and charged with espionage. Reporters were not allowed to ask questions.

Iran Denies Altercation between Ahmadinejad and Guards Chief

Radio Zamaneh | Jan 1

Iranian authorities have denied WikiLeaks reports that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was slapped by the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

According to a leaked US cable, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards slapped Ahmadinejad in early 2010 while the country was dealing with the aftermath of disputes over the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Brigadier General Ramazan Sharif, spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards described the report as "ridiculous" adding that those behind WikiLeaks "are using the fame they have gained through their insider information to invent false stories."

He went on to say that "while some of the WikiLeaks disclosures about the United States might be true but there are also several fabricated pieces of information."

First Meeting of Iran's High Council for Cinema Held

Tehran Times | Jan 1

The first meeting of the High Council for Cinema was held on Thursday with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad overseeing the council.

The council was established during a government cabinet meeting on July 21, 2010, to be Iran's highest state body for making policy in cinematic affairs.

Reviewing technical equipment, construction of new movie theaters, providing life insurance for cineastes, and establishment of a cinematic organization for pursuing these issues were discussed during the meeting.

The council is composed of the minister of culture and Islamic guidance who acts as its president, deputy culture minister for cinematic affairs, the IRIB director, the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization director, five cineastes and a number of other officials.

The office of the deputy culture minister for cinematic affairs was previously Iran's highest state body for making policy in cinematic affairs.

Filmmakers have to get a permit from this office to produce their films, which after filming must also be approved by it for public screening.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Car 'Gets $1m Bid'

BBC News | Jan 2

A 33-year-old car owned by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that has been put up for auction has reportedly attracted an offer of $1m (£640,000).

Ahmad Esfandiari, head of Iran's welfare agency, was quoted by Iran's Irna news agency as saying that the bid had come from an Arab country.

Proceeds from the sale of the Peugeot 504 will go to a fund for homes for disabled people and to needy women.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Grand Ayatollahs: Are They Really the Pillars of Islam?

Akbar Ganji (Rooz) | Dec 31

The Problem: It is said from time immemorial that the sources of emulation in Islam (known in Islam as the marjae taghlid, or senior clerics, also known as the grand ayatollahs who become mentors and leaders in religious matters for people to follow) are the pillars of Islam and that the protection of the core of Islam (i.e., beyze Islam) is obligatory for all. This means there is a duty to defend the core of Islam should it be under threat. But what constitutes this core, i.e., beyze Islam? Mirzae Qomi, the author of Ghavanin al-Osool has presented various interpretations of the term in his book Jame al-Shetat and two of them are relevant to the topic in this article. This is what he writes:

The meaning of the term beyze Islam is the sultan or the chief of the Muslim community, be he a just or a despotic imam, whose elimination will result in the harm and fall of Islam. The rationale for this duty, coming out of fear for the destruction of the core of Islam, is to uproot the threat and the environment in which it exists. In other words, they are warning against a source and an environment that can exist to threaten Islam. This is similar to what Shahid says in Doroos, which is that the just imam is constrained in calling for jihad except for fear of danger to the core of Islam.

But what is the meaning of the faith/Islam/Shiism/the ruler being under threat?

1 -- Religious texts. If by this they mean a threat to the book (i.e., the Quran) and credible traditional texts, then one must say that books and credible traditions can actually no longer under threat to be destroyed. Perhaps in the past one could destroy the book and the traditional texts, but in the modern world, where modern technology abounds, these texts can be protected better than anything else.

In the past a cleric could pride himself by claiming to know the names of all the Kerbala martyrs by heart. Today, the Internet provides this to anyone who can get the list of the Kerbala martyrs with the click of a button.

DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS

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Gholam Hossein Arshi's Narration of His Torture in Prison

Letter to Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi (RAHANA) | Jan 3

His Excellency Prosecutor of Tehran,

I, Gholam Hossein Arshi, was arrested after the 2009 Ashura events by the security police, and sentenced to 4 years in prison by the lower court which was later reduced to a year in prison by the appeals court. I have been serving my sentence in Ward 350 of Evin Prison for the past 9 months. The events that have occurred during the preliminary investigation by the security police, interrogations, and court sessions have persuaded me to write this letter to you. In my opinion, the incidents have been unjust and unlawful and in general torture and harassment of a defendant for making confessions is against the law.

Similar to hundreds of thousands of other citizens, I was in the streets on last year's Ashura to participate in the ceremonies on this holy day. I witnessed the violence used by the riot police against other citizens and in particular girls and women which would cause anyone with the slightest amount of dignity to react. Consequently, a confrontation between the citizens and the riot police took place.

His Excellency Prosecutor of Tehran,

On February 6th, I was identified through the photos from the confrontations on Ashura published in Naja and Gerdab websites and 8 officers of the Tehran security police arrested me and transferred me to their headquarter. Two plainclothes agents began interrogating me after one night. They asked me to confess to being the person in the photo published on Gerdab and to confess to setting fire on several anti-riot police cars. I informed them that even though I am the person in the photos, I was not involved in setting fire on public property and based on the published photos and videos, I was assisting the police forces who were surrounded by angry citizens.

The interrogators began beating me and cursed me and my family and threatened that there will be serious consequences if I fail to confess to setting the cars on fire. During the second interrogation session, I was exhausted of the degrading treatment of the interrogators. I even denied that I was the person in the photos. I asked them to stop cursing me and beating me for God's sake and asked them not to force me into making false confessions. I told them that I take responsibility for my own deeds and I never escaped even though my photo had been published. The interrogators talked to me in an offensive manner and told me that "we would have found you even if you were in your mother's womb and we are the ones who decide for you here, not God." They handcuffed me to the chair and started beating me with cable and wire to the extent that the injuries from the beatings were evident on my arms and legs for months and those injuries can be confirmed by my cellmates. In order to force me to confess to something I had never done, setting fire on the police cars, they spread my legs while my hands were tied, and hit me in my testicles, inflicting severe pressures on them. I was screaming out of pain and they responded to my cries for help by using degrading words to insult my honor.

His Excellency Prosecutor of Tehran,

I was transferred to the court in Evin Prison for interrogation. Judge Asadi of the 5th branch of the Tehran Court ignored my objections to the tortures I had endured and stated that
"you have been charged with being a Mohareb (waging war against God) and you are aware what the punishment for the crime of Moharebeh is; however, we will only fine you if you agree to confess to setting fire on the police cars."

After 10 days of enduring pressure and harassment by the security police, I was first transferred to Ward 240 and later transferred to Ward 350 where I was able to contact my family and inform them of my condition.

His Excellency Mr. Jafar Dolatabadi,

I have been deprived of my right to have a lawyer in the lower court. The presiding Judge of the 15th branch of the Revolutionary Court, Judge Salavati, sentenced me to 4 years in prison for assembly and conspiracy. He ignored my complaints stating that my body still had the marks from the injuries caused by cable and wire and that there were black marks on my testicles from the beatings. During my time in prison, I have been deprived of prison visits which are the natural rights of every detainee. I am suffering from kidney problems since my hunger strike in August and my transfer to solitary confinement but other than prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication, I have been deprived of medical attention. In the past 9 months, my requests for prison visits have been denied and the authorities have refused to grant me prison visit, temporary prison leave or conditional release due to my participation in the hunger strike.

By writing this letter to you, I intend nothing but to inform the citizens of this country of the mistreatments of the post-election protesters by the so called security authorities and the unjust decisions made by the Judiciary with respect to the Ashura detainees and the events that followed the disputed presidential elections. Other detainees and I know that no one in the Judiciary is going to care about what has happened to us. This has been proved to us by your behavior and the behavior of the other officials.

At the end of my letter, I emphasize that my only crime was that I was trying to prevent the IRI authorities from getting hurt. They were facing the consequences of their brutal actions at the hands of the angry mob. Yet, they survived with my help and the assistance of people like me, and were later forgiven by the kind citizens of this country. I was most likely sentenced to 4 years in prison for helping the Islamic Republic of Iran authorities.

Gholam Hosssein Arshi
Ward 350 of Evin Prison

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1 Comment

This is an interesting interview with Mrs. Rahnavard. If you pay attention to her body language you can see she is worried. I do not blame her. Any normal human being dealing with these barbarians would be worried too. However, freedom is at hand and only a question of time. She knows it. We all do. God bless our country.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ud8NUbEDw&feature

Niloofar / January 3, 2011 11:51 PM