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Ex-Political Prisoner Ebrahim Yazdi 'Tells All' to State News Agency

04 Apr 2011 09:00Comments

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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Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi. Mehdi Hashemi (Bahramani) Rafsanjani.

9 a.m., 15 Farvardin/April 4 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

IRNA, Iran's official news agency, has posted an interview with Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, leader of the Liberation Movement of Iran, reportedly held two weeks ago on the day he was released from prison. Yazdi was arrested last October 1 and charged with participating in "illegal" Friday Prayers.

Referring to him as the former head of the "small and illegal Nehzat-e Azadi [Liberation Movement] group," IRNA asked Yazdi why he has now resigned from the position. Yazdi is quoted as responding, "Physically, I am no longer able to carry on as the head of the group. The news that I hear about Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and other countries increases my blood pressure. I cannot do my job." Yazdi is known to suffer from cancer.

According to the IRNA report, Yazdi added, "I believe that a clear line must drawn to separate enemies from the opposition. Not every critic is an enemy who wants to topple the regime. The dominant thinking [of the government} should not be 'you are either with us or against us.' I do not have a problem with the political system, I have problems with violations of the Constitution. Everyone should respect the law, and anyone who breaks the law must be condemned." When asked whether he would want to revise his view of the West, because it supports him, Yazdi reportedly responded, "I am committed to my country and religion. When the Voice of America wanted to interview me, I turned it down. I also wrote a letter about it and distributed it widely [to say that] I will not agree to be interviewed by them in the future. I prefer you, an Iranian reporter, to interview me."

The interviewer asked, "Some people think that it was a mistake for Mousavi to run for the president [in 2009], what do you think?" According to the account, Yazdi responded, "Mousavi is an experienced statesman, but I was opposed to his candidacy. It is not acceptable that the elected president has a problem with the Leader. If Mousavi had been elected, it would have been a catastrophe, because he and the Leader would not have been in harmony." This statement stands in stark contrast to the fact that, in June 2008, Yazdi explicitly advocated the elimination of the doctrine of Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist, as represented by the Supreme Leader) from the Iranian Constitution.

There has recently been considerable speculation regarding the studies of Mehdi Hashemi, son of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, at Britain's Oxford University. Alef, the website run by conservative Majles deputy Ahmad Tavakoli, head of the Majles Research Center, has provided some details about the controversy. According to Alef, Hashemi -- who used to head the National Iranian Gas Company and also worked in the oil industry -- wanted to study for a Ph.D. degree at Oxford in the field of the economy of oil. He was asked to guarantee that he would stay in London until his studies were finished, which he refused to do. He then turned to the school's Department of Oriental Studies to obtain his Ph.D. He submitted a thesis proposal, which was accepted.

However, as the Guardian reported, Kaveh Moussavi, an associate fellow at Oxford's Center for Socio-Legal Studies and head of its public interest law division, complained that the school's customary high standards were undermined with the help of insiders to allow Hashemi to pursue his doctorate. It was alleged both that Hashemi had assistance in writing his thesis proposal and that, despite the departmental approval it received, it is not good enough for an Oxford Ph.D. candidate.

If the charges are proven, Hashemi could be expelled from Oxford. Sir Peter North, a former Oxford vice-chancellor and an internationally renowned legal scholar, is heading the inquiry, which is scheduled to take 10 weeks to complete. "I have no doubt that the normal criteria on submissions have been subverted and that there are far, far more qualified candidates for a DPhil than [Hashemi]," Moussavi said. Dr. Homa Katouzian, whose field is modern Iranian history, said Hashemi's proposal was of good quality and that he was not aware that the application was from Rafsanjani's son because it had been submitted using his other family name, Bahramani.

In a meeting with senior military officers, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said that more political developments will take place in the Middle East. He also repeated his claim that the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have been inspired by Iran's 1979 Revolution and the fact that the Islamic Republic has resisted foreign powers. As an example of this resistance, Khamenei pointed to the Iranian nuclear program: "World powers used all of their political, economic and propaganda power, and tried through making a lot of noise, economic sanctions and pressure to force Iran to discard its nuclear program, but after eight years Iran has overcome all of their efforts."

In an interview, Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Discernment Council, said that the voice of the reactionaries is louder than ever. Recalling the first year of the Revolution, Rafsanjani said, "At that time, some people wanted a republic without Islam. They were not secular, but were saying republic [in the name of the new political system] is enough. But their voice was not very strong because they had not taken part in the Revolution. Today, the voice of the reactionaries is much louder than theirs."

Iran's population has surpassed 75 million. According to the Center for Statistics of Iran, the country's population grew by more than one million during the last Iranian year, which ended on March 20, and is estimated to be 75,160,000.

Iran's Central Bank has announced that the rate of inflation during the last Iranian year was 12.4 percent. The official rate of inflation in the previous year was 10.8 percent.

A comprehensive report has been released on the violations of the rights of university students in Iran. During the last Iranian year, four university students, Mohammad Mokhtari of Islamic Azad University of Shahroud, Saneh Jaleh of the Art University of Tehran, Behnoud Ramezani of Noshirvani University of Technology in Babol, and Hamed Nour-Mohammadi of the University of Shiraz, were killed by the security forces. Three hundred and eighty-eight students were arrested, many of whom are still in jail. Eight hundred and seventy-seven students have either been suspended or expelled from their universities. At least five students committed suicide. At least 15 students were killed in accidents such as those involving certain fires or poorly maintained roads whose roots can be traced to the mismanagement of the country.

Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, sent a message of condolence to Mir Hossein Mousavi on the occasion of his father's death. The Imam's Line faction of the Majles, composed of reformist legislators, also sent a condolence message. But Jahan News, the website run by hardline Majles deputy Alireza Zakani, claimed that many of the reformist deputies were not aware that the message was sent to Mousavi. It has been removed from the official Majles News website. Jahan News also criticized the condolence message sent by Rafsanjani, in which he referred to Mousavi as "the servant of the nation."

Seyyed Nasereddin Eslami Fard, head of the Iranian Women's News Agency, said that feminism and gender equality are not accepted by Islam. He said that the United Nations has recently created a women's news agency that tries to advocate this concept, but that Iran's news agency for women will confront it and rebut the notion.

Parvaneh Osanloo, wife of imprisoned labor leader and activist Mansoor Osanloo, said that Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi has opposed granting her husband a medical furlough. He is suffering from heart ailments and requires surgery. Parvaneh Osanloo said that the prosecutor did not give any reason for his opposition. Mansoor Osanloo has been imprisoned several times, most recently since 2009. He has spent four and a half years in jail.

Ahmad Mousavi, Iran's ambassador to Syria, described the demonstrations in that country as "sedition" planned by the "enemy." Mousavi (no relation to Mir Hossein Mousavi) said that the Syrian sedition is a copy of the sedition that took place in Iran in 2009. The hardliners refer to the Green Movement as "sedition," after Supreme Leader Khamenei introduced the epithet. Mousavi added, "The enemy used the slogan 'No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, I'll die for Iran' in 2009 [on the Day of Ashura], and now it uses 'No to Hezbollah, no to Iran' in Syria. This goes to show that the source of both slogans is one and the same."

Conservative Majles deputy Hamid Reza Katouzian criticized the performance of the Ministry of Oil. He said, "The Arab countries work with foreign companies to develop their joint oil fields [with Iran] and our officials believe that they [the Arab countries] sell out their nations, but in fact they sell out their nations and also our oil reserves. Of course, due to the sanctions, the cooperation of African, Eastern European, and East Asian countries with us regarding oil is increasing." He also said that the Ministry of Oil must prevent the formation of a monopoly in Iran's oil industry.

The public relations department of the Khuzestan province judiciary announced that a person who was convicted of moharebeh (warring against God) has been executed. Referred to as only Abolhassan Z., he was apparently involved in armed robbery.

Mohammad Amin Hadavi, son of Mehdi Hadavi, Iran's first prosecutor-general after the Revolution, was released from detention. He was arrested last October 14. His son, Shafigh, was arrested with him, but released shortly afterward. Hadavi was a close aide to Dr. Mostafa Chamran, the Islamic Republic's first postrevolutionary minister of defense, who initiated the use of irregular warfare tactics in the conflict with Iraq and was killed in 1981.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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