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In-Law: Yazdi Interview Part 'Fabricated'; Ahmadinejad Presser: All's Good

05 Apr 2011 11:30Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Iranian press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

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The late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri and Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi (file photo). President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at April 4 press conference.

11:30 a.m., 16 Farvardin/April 5 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Mehdi Nourbakhsh, son-in-law of Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, who heads the Liberation Movement of Iran, told BBC that the interview that IRNA, the official Islamic Republic News Agency, reportedly had with Yazdi is partly old and partly fabricated. Nourbakhsah, a U.S. resident and member of the Liberation Movement, said that the interview took place when Yazdi was in prison, and the statements attributed to him concerning how the potential election of Mir Hossein Mousavi as president in 2009 would have been a catastrophe are entirely fictional. According to Nourbakhsah, Yazdi never said a word about Mousavi, and in fact many members of his group actively participated in Mousavi's campaign.

Since the 2009 election, Yazdi has been arrested three times and, according to Nourbakhsh, interrogated no less than 55 times, The state interrogators, however, have never been able to uncover anything illegal among Yazdi's activities. Abdolali Bazargan, noted Islamic scholar, son of the late Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan, and also a member of the Liberation Movement, said in an interview that he believes that the interview is partly fake, as well.

In a press conference on Monday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that he had never invited King Abdullah II of Jordan to travel to Iran for Nowruz, the celebration of the Iranian New Year. He said that the king himself expressed an interest in visiting Iran, but postponed his trip. He also said, "We have not retreated." Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, were under huge pressure to cancel the Nowruz celebration they had planned for Persepolis, in which Jordan's king was supposed to take part. Ultimately, the event was moved to Tehran and the presidents of five neighboring nations participated in the celebrations.

In the press conference, Ahmadinejad also said that the economic reform program, in which subsidies for many commodities are being cut or eliminated entirely and partially replaced by cash handouts, will be extended in the new year. He denied that he had promised to publicize the names of the most important corrupt people in the nation and claimed that this pledge had been made by the press on his supposed behalf. Concerning the allegations of the Kuwaiti government that Iran has been operating a spy network in their country, he said, "What does Kuwait have that we should want to spy on?" He noted that Japan's nuclear reactors were damaged by a tsunami, of which there is no threat in the Persian Gulf. He claimed, "All the business people of the world want to have economic relations with Iran." He also said that U.S. policies have not changed between the Bush and Obama administrations, and the extreme popular disapproval that George W. Bush experienced when he left office awaits Obama, as well. In his view, Obama employs slogans different from those used by Bush, but in practice they follow the same policies. He concluded, "The government that suppresses its own people does not have any chance for survival."

Twenty-three political prisoners who were jailed in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election have issued a statement analyzing the current conditions in Iran. They describe how the security and intelligence forces attacked Mousavi's campain headquarters on the eve of the election, then arrested a large number of people, some of whom were not even active in Mousavi's campaign, and created a crisis for the country by violently attacking people who were protesting peacefully. Dozens of young people have been killed, they observe, and hundreds have been arrested, imprisoned on fake and fabricated charges, or exiled, citizens' rights have been denied, and baseless accusations linking the Green Movement with terrorist groups have been made. The statement also points out that Mohammad Khatami's statement setting forth basic conditions for the holding of free elections was savagely attacked and the advice of other people who truly care about the nation has been ignored. According to the statement, the arrests of Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives represents one of the most outrageous actions by the radical military-security forces that control the nation, and that if the true history of the Revolution is written, it will demonstrate beyond any doubt that the two men have done far more for their nation than those who currently rule it. The statement asks, "Based on what criteria can one justify their arrest? It is only in a dictatorship that the former prime minister and speaker of the parliament are arrested simply because they have criticized what is happening in the nation."

In another statement from Bushehr province by a group of veterans of the war with Iraq and family members of those who were killed in the conflict, the government was warned to learn from what is happening in the Arab nations. It demands that the government "immediately release" Mousavi, Karroubi, and all the political prisoners, end the state of siege in the nation, and respect the people and their votes by holding truly democratic elections. It warns that if Mousavi and Karroubi are hurt, they will not remain silent.

Dr. Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, former deputy in the Third and Fourth Majles and professor of international relations at the University of Tehran, was arrested at Tehran's Mehrabad airport and taken to the Evin Prison. He was also arrested nine years ago and detained for 26 days, after he wrote highly critical letters to Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

The leftist Association of Combatant Clerics, which supports the Green Movement, issued a statement of condolence to Mir Hossein Mousavi. The statement praised Mousavi for his service to the nation that is appreciated by the people and "will not be forgotten."

Azam Taleghani, daughter of the progressive, popular Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Taleghani (1911-1979), said in an interview that executing all the articles of the Constitution is not enough because "we also need to revise the Constitution." Taleghani said that the government can be Islamic only if it is based on respect for people views, and if any idea is to be pursued, the people's support must first be sought. She said that many of the people's rights are recognized by the Constitution, but illegal acts are so widespread that even if the parts of the Constitution that respects people's rights are implemented, it may not be enough. She suggested that the Green Movement not only demand implementation of the Constitution, but also its revision. She also said that the movement's charter should not merely be about what people do not want, but also about what they do. A nationalist-religious political figure, Taleghani was jailed during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. She founded the League of Women of the Islamic Revolution and published the monthly Payam-e Hajar for 20 years, before it was shut down by the hardliners.

Two nongovernmental organizations -- Amnesty International and Rah-e Sevom (Third Path) -- issued a joint statement calling on the Iranian Parliament to scrap a draft law that would effectively deregister all NGOs currently operating in Iran. The bill before the Majles requires all NGOs that wish to continue, or to commence, work to register with a new supervisory structure that will allow bodies affiliated with the Intelligence Ministry and the Basij to make key decisions on the operation of all NGOs. The statement said that the bill, "Establishment and Supervision of NGOs," was a setback that would be yet one more nail in the coffin of the right to freedom of association in Iran. A wide range of civil society organizations in Iran -- ranging from environmental and women's groups, to charities for the disabled, to employers' and professional associations -- are opposed to the bill and have been actively calling on parliamentarians not to approve it in its current form. Nonetheless, its broader elements have been passed following two debate sessions in the Majles.

Khamenei has granted clemency or reduction in the punishment of 601 people convicted by the civil, revolutionary, and military courts. This was done in response to a request by judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani on the anniversary of the April 1, 1979, referendum that officially replaced the Pahlavi monarchy with the Islamic Republic.

Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' ground forces, announced that two people who took part in the attacks on the Kurdistan province police headquarters that killed two people and injured three have been killed by the Guards. The two were Sirvan Momeni and Arman Zand-Karimi.

Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Sistani, the most important Marja taghlid (source of emulation for the masses) in Shia Islam, has severely criticized the movie The Appearance Is Imminent. The movie claims that the appearance of Imam Mahdi, whom the Shiites believe disappeared over 1,000 years ago but will return someday to save the world, is imminent. It also presents Ahmadinejad as masoum (sinless) and destined to be one of the Mahdi's most important military commanders once the Imama returns. In Shia mythology this warrior is called Shoayb ibn Saleh, and the movie tries to prove that Ahmadinejad fits his description. Ayatollah Sistani has said that these are superstitions and deviations from Islamic teachings, because Shiites are not supposed to set a definite date for the return of the Imam. The movie has been distributed widely in Iran for free.

The attacks on Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for the condolence message that he sent to Mir Hossein Mousavi on the occasion of the death of his father, Mir Esmail Mousavi, have continued. Kayhan, the mouthpiece of a faction of the security and intelligence forces, criticized Rafsanjani for referring to Mousavi as the "servant of the nation" in his message. Kayhan said that Mousavi has definitely served, but his service has been to Israel and the United States, because he (together with Mehdi Karroubi) called for the counterrevolutionary demonstrations of February 14, even though the Ministry of Interior did not grant a permit for the demonstrations. Kayhan observed that at that time Rafsanjani had condemned the demonstrations, but less than two months later he sent a condolence message to Mousavi. Kayhan thus criticized him for not drawing clear lines separating him from what it called the "sedition," meaning the Green Movement. Raja News, the hardline website run by Fatemeh Rajabi who has referred to Ahmadinejad as the "miracle of the third millennium" also threatened Rafsanjani with house arrest, if he continues on his current path.

Conservative Majles deputy Hamid Reza Katouzian, who heads the legislature's energy commission, said that the operation of Bushehr nuclear reactor will probably be postponed for one more year. The cause for the delay, in his explanation, is that the reactor's fuel has been removed so that some pipes can be repaired.

The Saudi Arabian cabinet has denounced what it calls Iran's interference in the affairs of the member states of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Arabia's official news agency reports that the government "condemns the transparent interference by Iran in the domestic affairs of the GCC countries by conspiring against their territorial integrity, creating divisions [between their people], creating sedition in their populations, violating their sovereignty, international laws, and the charters of the United Nations and the Islamic Countries Conference." Iran has rejected the accusations.

Majles Speaker Ali Larijani said that President Obama's message to the Iranian people on the occasion of the new Iranian year was "ridiculous and regrettable." Referring to Obama, he continued, "It appears that he has given up his job as the president of a great nation and has become the head of the branch of the Green Movement in a remote city in that country."

Dr. Mohammad Sharif, distinguished attorney and professor in the Department of Law and Political Science at Allameh University in Tehran, has been fired. He said that on the first day of classes after the Nowruz holiday he was given a letter that stated that his qualifications for teaching have been rejected and, therefore, he has been fired. In February, the university canceled his classes. Sharif, who has represented many political prisoners, said that he will appeal his case and will not give up his job easily. He has been with the university for 25 years.

In a statement by the diaspora branch of the Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin, one of the leading reformist groups banned by the government, the outspoken reformist Rajab Ali Mazrouei, deputy in the Sixth Majles between 2000 and 2004 and former head of the League of Writers, was introduced as the organization's spokesman.Read Mazrouei's interview with Jaras here.

The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, the temporary leadership council while Mousavi and Karroubi are under house arrest, has issued a statement of solidarity with the uprising of the people in the Middle East. The statement questions the government's dual position: "The claim of the Iranian government for supporting the oppressed people of Bahrain could have been convincing to the international public opinion only if it had not suppressed the protests of its own people, had not arrested the leaders of the Green Movement without any trial, and had allowed the Guardian Council to make decisions for 70 million Iranians. The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope emphasizes, in the seventh week of the illegal detention of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi and Fatemeh Karroubi, people's right to decide their own fate as a worldwide right regardless of their religious beliefs, ethnic background, and race, declares and renews its support for all the democratic movements of the region and its solidarity with them."

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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