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News | 'The People Themselves': Group Urges Silent Protests on Feb 14

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

01 Feb 2012 09:20Comments

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. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

RifleRoseFull.jpg9:20 a.m., 12 Bahman/February 1 Quoting a Qur'anic verse, "God will not change the fate of any nation, unless the people themselves change it," the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope, the temporary opposition leadership council while Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are under house arrest, has called on people in Tehran and other major cities to protest silently on February 14 -- 25 Bahman, the first anniversary of pro-democracy demonstrations around Iran for which the Green Movement leaders called. At least one million people marched in the capital and, soon afterward, the two men were detained in extralegal house arrests that continue to this day. The council's statement declared,
Iran and Iranians are being challenged in one of the most difficult eras of their history. The government's incompetence has led to the devastation of the country's interests and resources. Despite the fact that Iran's oil revenues in recent years [under President Ahmadinejad] have surpassed $600 billion (more than the revenues of all the [previous] postrevolutionary governments combined), the conduct of those who rose to power promising justice, the delivery of the oil income to the people's tables, and the stamping out of poverty, corruption, and discrimination has yielded nothing but economic decline, vanishing investments, and the rise of inflation and unemployment to their highest level in the past 20 years, while the scope of poverty, corruption, and discrimination has widened at a disastrous rate.

Noting the recent statement by 39 prominent political prisoners that called on the people to pursue their rights and for the release of Mousavi, his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, and Karroubi, the council urged Iranians to come out to the streets on the evening of February 14 to protest and demonstrate their solidarity. The statement emphasized that the regime, instead of

making up for its errors, is still insistent on pursuing a policy of suppression, as hundreds of activists remain illegally behind bars, more than two and a half years after the 2009 [presidential] election. It is the human, legal and legitimate right of Iranians to protest against the state of their lives and their country. Protesting is the right of all Iranians.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Mohammad Dastgheib, the popular cleric and supporter of the Green Movement, has again called on the government to release Mousavi and Karroubi from house arrest.

Iran and IAEA agree to continue negotiations

A six-member delegation led by Herman Nackaerts, deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency for safeguards, ended its three-day trip to Tehran and returned to Vienna on Tuesday. ISNA, the Iranian Students News Agency, reported that the Islamic Republic and the IAEA have agreed to continue the negotiations that began while the delegation, which did not visit Iran's nuclear sites, was in Tehran. Earlier, during a visit to Ethiopia, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran was willing to extend the delegation's stay in Tehran.

Iran supports "any type of reform" in Syria

In a meeting with Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, "The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding the developments in Syria is support for any type of reform that benefits the people of that nation, and opposition to the intervention by the United States and its followers in Syria's internal affairs." Khamenei made the statement after a relatively long period of silence about the Syrian civil war.

Ahmadinejad to be questioned by Majles on March 5

Abdoljabbar Karami, a Majles deputy and critic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that the president will be questioned by the Majles on March 5. The questions will be sent to Ahmadinejad, and he will have one month to respond. The date was chosen for its symbolic significance: March 5, 1981, the anniversary of the death of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, was also the day in which Abolhassan Bani Sadr, the Islamic Republic's first president, gave a speech at the University of Tehran in which he accused his political adversaries of torturing people in jail. That was the beginning of the public confrontation between Bani Sadr and the clerics opposed to him that led to his impeachment by the Majles two months later. Ahmadinejad's critics have repeatedly referred to him as the "second Bani Sadr."

Principlists support Rafsanjani

An article in Iran, the state-owned newspaper that supports Ahmadinejad, claimed that a group of principlists have written a letter, presumably to Khamenei, asking that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani be reappointed as chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, when his current terms expires next month. As reported by Tehran Bureau, there are persistent rumors in Tehran that Rafsanjani will lose the chairmanship, his last official base of power. Other reports suggest that he may not want to be reappointed.

More attacks on Khamenei imminent

Cleric Ghasem Ravanbakhsh, a disciple of the reactionary Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, said that Hossein Alaei, former commander of the Revolutionary Guards' naval forces and one of the most important military leaders during the war with Iraq, and conservative academic Emad Afrough have both insulted Khamenei, and that more letters insulting Khamenei are on the way. As noted here, in an article published in Ettelaat, Alaei drew a close analogy between the rule sof Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and Khamenei, which provoked fierce attacks on him. In a nationally televised program, Afrough said that any citizen can question Khamenei, and if he does not respond, he should automatically be sacked, which created a storm of protests by Khamenei's supporters. Ravanbakhsh also criticized Majles deputies Ahmad Tavakoli and Ali Motahari, both Ahmadinejad critics, for supporting Afrough and Alaei.

Large number of earthquakes in and around Arak

Over the past few days, 54 small to moderate earthquakes have occurred in and around Arak, a town with a population of about 480,000, 160 miles southwest of Tehran. It is not yet clear why so many earthquakes have occurred in such a short period of time, all concentrated in a relatively small area.

Human rights news

Several reports indicate that the health of Abdollah Momeni, a leading political dissident, spokesman for the Organization of the University Graduates, and major figure in Mehdi Karroubi's 2009 presidential campaign, has deteriorated badly while he has been incarcerated. It is not clear where Momeni is currently being held.

Ali Ajami, a secular leftist university activist, who was sentenced to two years of imprisonment, has been released after completing his sentence.

Eighan Shahidi, a Baha'i student who was expelled from his university, has been sentenced to five years of incarceration. The Baha'i religion is not recognized by Islam. Shahidi was arrested in March 2010 and held until April 2011, when he was released on bail. While in detention he was interrogated in an Evin Prison ward that is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.

Hadi Khamenei, a step-brother of the Supreme Leader and a supporter of the reformists, met with the three daughters of Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard. He said that Mousavi's positions will be remembered by history, and that "this bitter era" will end in "sweetness" when Mousavi, Karroubi, and Rahnavard are released from house arrest.

The death sentence of Saeed Malakpour has been reaffirmed by a higher court. Malakpour, a cyberspace activist, is accused of running an anti-Islamic website. The Revolutionary Guards issued a statement supporting the death sentence.

Hassan Naeimipour, a son of Mohammad Naeimipour, the reformist journalist and member of the central committee of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been arrested. This is the second time that the younger Naeimipour is being arrested. His father served as a deputy in the Sixth Majles (2000-4), when it was controlled by the IIPF, Iran's largest reformist party, which was outlawed after the June 2009 presidential election.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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