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Karroubis Hunt New House Arrest Home; Guards Gird to Fight 'Perverted Group'

22 May 2011 04:45Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic 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 Karroubis' apartment building after it was attacked, reportedly by Basij forces, in September 2010. IRGC Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi. IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani. IRGC Brigadier General Yadollah Javani.

4:45 a.m., 1 Khordad/May 22 Mehdi Karroubi and his wife, Fatemeh, have been temporarily released from house arrest to find a new residence where they will once again be detained without charge, according to a BBC report. The Karroubis reportedly asked the government to allow them to relocate so that the other residents of the apartment building where they live can return to their homes. Of the eight apartments in the building, four belong to Karroubi and his family and four belong to others. Mojtaba Vahedi, a former Karroubi spokesman, confirmed the report. Like Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, Karroubi and his wife have been detained virtually incommunicado since the Green Movement leaders called for demonstrations on 25 Bahman/February 14. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians came out to the streets of Tehran and other major cities on that occasion, both in support of the uprisings around the Arab world and in opposition to the Islamic Republic's own regime.

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Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

While attacks by supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the president's circle continue without letup, it appears that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is making preparations for a final confrontation with Ahmadinejad's team.

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, Khamenei's senior military adviser and former top Revolutionary Guard commander, said, "Some of the perverted political groups are connected with foreign intelligence services." The "perverted group" (or "perverted team") is the hardliners' favorite new epithet for Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, and his associates. Rahim Safavi continued, "We obey the Velaayat-e Faghih [guardianship of the Islamic jurist, the doctrine by which Khamenei rules]. But obedience to him is not just through words, but requires action." This has been the main theme of the criticism of Ahmadinejad by Khamenei's supporters. Without mentioning the president by name, he said, "Whoever plays political games with Velaayat-e Faghih will be rejected by the people." As Tehran Bureau reported, Rahim Safavi recently met with a group of senior clerics in Qom.

Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Mohammad Rasoul al-Allah Corps, which is charged with the defense of the greater Tehran area, said that in reaction to the confrontation between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, the Guards held a maneuver code-named Fatemiyoun. Hamadani claimed that the Green Movement is "dead," but that it may return with new tactics. He also said that the Guards have educational programs to educate the Basij about the movement, which supposedly may mix with the "perverted group" and act through them, an accusation repeatedly rejected by participants in the movement. Hamadani claimed, "Twenty-three regional Basij forces [around greater Tehran] are getting ready to take preemptive actions in the coming months." He did not specify why the action would be necessary, but it appears that he was referring to the upcoming Majles elections to be held on March 3, 2012. He observed that Ahmadinejad's supporters have been saying that "a huge event is going to take place over the next several months that will benefit the president."

Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, the ultrahardline head of the Revolutionary Guards' political directorate, described Ahmadinejad's team as "perverted and highly dangerous." Writing in the website Yaa Lassaraat-e Hossein, which is published by the vigilante group Ansar-e Hezbollah, Javani said, "Currently there is a corrupted, deceitful, and perverted group within the government that has created some concerns."

7-e Sobh, the website of Mashaei's daily mouthpiece, reported that there has been tremendous pressure over the past few days for the chief of staff's arrest. According to 7-e Sobh, the hardliners have been arresting people close to Mashaei to provide the basis for his detention. The website said that to reduce tension it stopped publishing news for several days, but because it appears that the hardliners intend to continue ratcheting up their pressure, it has decided to resume its bulletins. It also made a plea for support: "We expect all the free people and the true reformists not to leave alone the vanguard principlists [Mashaei, Ahmadinejad, and their supporters] who are at the forefront of principles and reforms."

Fatemeh Rajabi, author of Ahmadinejad, the Miracle of the Third Millennium, has retracted her praise of Ahmadinejad as a "miracle." Rajabi, who is married to Minister of Justice Gholam-Hossein Elham, an ardent Ahmadinejad supporter, claimed that she had described the president as a "miracle" based on what Khamenei and other clerics said about him in 2005. She said she has repented for her error and asked God to forgive her.

A report has been submitted to the Majles that describes the government's violations of the law that governs the elimination of the subsidies for essential food items and energy and the payment of direct cash compensation to families. In one violation, the cash handouts were not paid from the source specified in the law, but from state-controlled banks and out of the budgets for various state organs.

A plan is circulating in the Majles to take control of the Organization for Cultural Heritage and Tourism (OCHT) away from the office of the president. According to the plan, control of the organization will be transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. At present, the organization is headed by one of the Islamic Republic's eight vice presidents. To date, 83 Majles deputies have sponsored the plan, which appears to be a thinly disguised attempt to reduce Ahmadinejad's power.

In a ceremony publicizing the Encyclopedia of Martyrs of Terrorism, Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said that the problem between him and Ahmadinejad was an internal one and has been resolved. Asked about the members of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO) who live in Iraq's Camp Ashraf, he responded, "The United States and its allies support them, but the hypocrites [the MKO] should know that they have no place to stay [in Iraq] and must leave." Moslehi added, "One task of the Ministry of Intelligence is to confront perverted groups."

Basij militia commander Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi said in a press conference, "The people must learn about the crimes that the criminals [the MKO] have committed, and they must be put on trial." He presented a list of victims of what he claimed to be the MKO's terrorist operations. According to Naghdi, 17,160 people have been killed, including 120 children, 370 teenagers, 972 high school students, 370 university students, 155 women, 196 teachers, 995 small businessmen, and 1,192 workers and day laborers. He also said, "According to what Iraqi parliamentarians have stated, the MKO also killed 25,000 Iraqis during the crackdown [on the Kurdish and Shia] people [in 1991]." Naghdi demanded that members of the MKO who live in Iraq be extradited to Iran to be put on trial. He also declared, "In coming months, we will reveal new information about the perverted group."

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The Society of Iranian Architects has written a letter to Khamenei asking him to help preserve the historical structure of Shiraz. Last week, there was a large sit-in in Shiraz to prevent the destruction of parts of its old city, which was unsuccessful. Four historic homes have been torn down, and the destruction of many more is scheduled. The razing of much of the old city is supposedly being done to expand the shrine of Mir Seyyed Ahmad, known as Shah Cheragh, son of Imam Mousa Kazem, Shiites' Seventh Imam. The society has asked Khamenei not to allow the destruction to take place in the name of religion.

Movie director and dissident Mohammad Rasoulof has been awarded the prize for best director in the Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard section. Although the ban on his traveling abroad was reportedly lifted last week, he was not able to attend the festival. Rasoulof's wife accepted the prize, for Beh Omid e Didar (Goodbye), on his behalf. Mrs. Rasoulof said, "I thank the crew and those who helped this film get here, the festival and the jury." Ironically, the film tells the story of a young Tehran lawyer trying to get a visa to leave Iran. Rasoulof has been sentenced to six years imprisonment and barred from filmmaking for 20 years. The Islamic Republic has accused the Cannes Film Festival of acting on the basis of political motivations in screening movies by Iranians who support the opposition Green Movement. Along with Goodbye, the festival also presented This Is Not a Film, by celebrated director Jafar Panahi, who has been convicted of "propaganda against the system" for planning a film about the unrest after Ahmadinejad's disputed reelection in June 2009.

In its latest report on Iran, Amnesty International provided a long list of the people who have been arbitrarily detained. They include Ashkan Zahabian, a university activist who was a member of Karroubi's 2009 presidential campaign, relatives of MKO members who lives in Camp Ashraf, and Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan province. Zahabian was a former university activist at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad. He was first arrested on June 16, 2009, after he was badly beaten in public. He was rearrested in November 2010 and sentenced to six months imprisonment. He was arrested for the third time 20 days ago. According to the Amnesty International report,

Scores, if not hundreds of members of the Ahwazi Arab minority were reportedly arrested before, during and after demonstrations on 15 April 2011. The demonstrations had been called a "Day of Rage" to protest at the sixth anniversary of the 2005 mass demonstrations. At least three and possibly many more people were killed in the April 2011 demonstrations during clashes with the security forces, including some in the Malashiya neighborhood in Ahvaz. Amnesty International has received the names of 27 individuals allegedly killed. Ahwazi Arab sources have claimed the casualty figures were even higher. Amnesty International has been unable to confirm the reports as the Iranian authorities do not allow the organization to visit the country. The authorities maintain a tight control on the flow of information in and out of the province, including by preventing foreign journalists from visiting Khuzestan.

Amnesty International also reported, "At least four Ahwazi Arab men are said to have died in custody since 23 March 2011, possibly as a result of torture or other ill-treatment; others have been hospitalized, apparently as a result of injuries sustained from torture or other ill-treatment."

Dr. Davood Soleimani, member of the central committee of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the leading reformist party that was outlawed after the 2009 presidential election, has returned to Rajaei Shahr Prison. He was granted a five-day furlough. Arrested immediately after the election, he has been granted only two short furloughs over the past 23 months.

Outspoken reformist journalist Isa Saharkhiz was attacked and injured by a common criminal in Rajaei Shahr. One of his ears was severely wounded. According to his son, Mehdi Saharkhiz, who lives in the United States, Saharkhiz and a group of other political prisoners have gone on hunger strike to protest the attack.

The government of Kuwait has barred any Iranians from entering the country. Even the spouses and children of Iranians already living in Kuwait may not join their next of kin. Citizens of Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have also been barred from entry.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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