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01 Dec 2009 20:05No Comments
Meir+Javedanfar.jpgYachtsmen and Iran's anger with UK

Guardian | Dec. 1, 2009

The UK has one organ that scares Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's regime greatly, and that is BBC's Persian language service.

BBC's Persian language radio service dates back to 1940, while its newly inaugurated TV service is now almost one year old. In this short space of time, the TV service has attracted large audiences in Iran, and the reason is simple: it is the most impartial Persian language broadcast available.

This has not been an easy endeavour as it has meant being subject to heavy criticism from both sides. For example, many anti-regime elements, especially monarchists, have at times accused it of being pro-Khamenei, because of its refusal to toe their line of attacking the regime at every opportunity. The fact that the service also looks at the positive aspects of the regime, and portrays the views of both sides has given it much credibility, as well as audience. So when it does broadcast about developments in Iran, especially those that cast the regime in a negative light, many more people are willing to accept its findings, thanks to its credibility and reputation for airing both sides of the story.

And this is what angers Iran's supreme leader and his hardline allies. They would have loved this news service to have taken a jingoistic one-sided approach against the Iranian government. That way, it would have been much easier to portray it as a tool applied by the "old colonialist" British government, in order to support regime change in Iran.

A one-sided news service would have been a turn-off for many ordinary Iranians too -- after 30 years of hearing propaganda-style news in their country, many are tired of such one-sided coverage, regardless of whether the source is inside Iran or abroad.

The current Iranian leadership is far more scared of a velvet-style revolution than an attack by the US or Israel. The logic is simple. It's much easier to fire at hostile planes that have invaded your sovereignty than to kill thousands of your own citizens who are peacefully protesting on the streets. The international and domestic backlash prompted by the latter is infinitely higher and more damaging.

To Iran's leadership, what could increase the possibility of such a development is young Iranians having access to credible news about what is happening inside their country. Such knowledge could then empower not only the opposition, but also those who have been sitting on the fence until now, due to their lack of faith in the credibility of sources of analysis and news about what is happening inside their own country. BBC's Persian language service provides just this kind of knowledge, and this is why Khamenei's government has decided to view the British government as one of its principal enemies.

Russia says will join any sanctions consensus vs Iran

Reuters | Dec. 1, 2009

Russia will join any consensus on more sanctions against Iran, a senior Russian diplomatic source said on Tuesday after Tehran declared it would expand nuclear activity in defiance of a U.N. rebuke.

It was a thinly veiled Russian warning to Iran of waning patience with its failure to allay fears it aims to develop atom bombs in secret, and hinted that Iran could no longer rely on Russia to stop tougher world action against it.

Governors of the U.N. nuclear agency passed a resolution on Friday censuring Iran for covertly constructing a second enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom, in addition to its IAEA-monitored one at Natanz, and demanding a construction halt.

Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more uranium enrichment sites in retaliation for the 25-3 vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors, which sailed through with unusual Russian and Chinese support.

Mashai: 'Ambassadorships do not come in kilos'

Tabnak │ Dec. 1, 2009

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and close confidant Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai denied having any knowledge about the administration's 'Chastity and Hijab' projects or their subsequent cancellation.

The Chastity Project was intended for removing prostitutes from streets across the country and giving them a place to live. The Hijab Project was enforced by the Morality Police in the form a strict crackdown on any violations of the Islamic dress code.

When asked whether Ahmadinejad had ordered the cancellation of the two projects, Mashai said, "I know nothing about this and what on earth are the Chastity and Hijab projects?"

Reporters also asked Mashai whether sources close to the government had compiled a list of candidates for ambassadorship in order to lobby for specific parties to be posted as envoys.

"If someone is to become an ambassador, it is the foreign ministry that appoints them ... no list has been compiled by anyone; ambassadorships do not come in kilos" [are not for sale].

Fars: Two Iranian Reformists granted asylum

Press TV │ Dec. 2, 2009

Two high-profile members of a Reformist political front, the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization, have reportedly left the country to seek asylum in Sweden and the United States, Fars News Agency reported on Tuesday.

According to the Fars report, Mohammad Ali Tofiqi -- a member of the central committee of this Reformist organization --has been granted asylum alongside his family in Sweden.

The report added that another member of the political front, Ebrahim Mehtari, has also moved to seek political asylum in the US.

The public relation liaison of the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization issued a statement Tuesday stating that these individuals were no longer connected with the political front.

Fars News Agency described Mehtari, 27, as the person responsible for making public details about claims of rape and torture against protesters detained during the post-vote demonstrations.

Citing examples of illegal activities carried out by the political front in the country's post-vote frenzy, the Revolution Court called for the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization to be dissolved.

IRMO rejects Fars report that its members defected

Parleman News │ Dec. 1, 2009

The reformist Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization (IRMO) rejected a report by Fars News Agency on Tuesday, claiming two of its members left Iran to seek asylum in Sweden and the United States.

The IRMO statement said that Mohammad Ali Tofiqi, who according to Fars had sought asylum with his family in Sweden, had resigned from the organization in August and is no longer affiliated with the organization.

Regarding the second alleged member of the political front, Ebrahim Mehtari, who was said to have applied for political asylum in the US, the IRMO statement read, "We reiterate that this individual has never been affiliated to the IRMO nor has he ever been in contact with any of its members."

The statement closed by saying that the IRMO maintains the right to take legal action against Fars News Agency for fabricating lies about the organization.

Tehran governor: no permits issues for security at universities, none requested

Tabnak | Nov. 30, 2009

Tehran governor Morteza Tamadon said no security measures had been planned for 16 Azar (Dec. 7) because his office had not received any requests for student gatherings outside universities.

According to the Islamic Student News Agency, Tamadon said on the sidelines of Ali Kordan's funeral that maintaining order in all gatherings on university campuses was the responsibility of deans and higher education officials.

"For gatherings outside universities, an official request must be submitted to the governor's office but we have received no such requests as of yet."

Tamadon said that security measures are only adopted when it is sensed that public calm and order is in jeopardy and that perpetrators will be dealt with according to the law.

He went on to urge "opportunist movements shunned by the people" to "bring themselves in line with the Revolution, nation and the Leadership and allow society to move toward unity, cohesion, initiative and labor and to not allow unfruitful arguments and the words of those individuals who do not have the interests of the Revolution and our country in mind to damage the country."

"16 Azar is an anti-global arrogance day and a day of uprising against the criminal United States and we see today that America has not stopped its bestial and bullying behavior and we must close our ranks and stand behind the Leadership and the people and join the ranks of revolutionary and justice-seeking students who only want the glory of the Islamic establishment and in all unity shout at America and other gluttonous powers and [the day should] not become, God forbid, [an occasion for] the repeaters of the enemy's words in the country."

He went on to urge "those planning a motion separately from revolutionary students to reconsider their actions."

Aghaei's immediately-effective jail term rejected

Tabnak | Dec. 1, 2009

The public relations office of the Tehran Justice Department rejected reports of Hedayat Aghaei's prison sentence.

According to the ISNA report, the Justice Department press release said that a number of websites had carried reports suggesting that Aghaei had been handed a five-year prison term, effective immediately.

"Investigation into the matter found the report baseless," the statement read. "As the initial sentences are, according to law, not immediately effective, and subject to appeal... therefore Aghaei's verdict is subject to the same rule."

Basij commander: Neda's killer was an American

Radio Farda | Dec. 1, 2009

Contrary to the claim of the commander of the Basij forces that Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman shot down in post-election violence, was killed by an American, Neda's father told Radio Farda that Iranian authorities had not yet indicted a suspect in his daughter's murder.

Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naghdi in a speech on Monday said of Neda's death: "An individual from the United States killed a woman in the recent riots in Tehran, and the western media scream murder at the Iranian government."

Meanwhile, Neda's father told Radio Farda in an interview Tuesday that although eyewitnesses have pointed to a man named "Abbas Kargar-Javid" as Neda's killer, the Iranian Judiciary has failed to investigate the case.

Abbas Kargar-Javid, a member of the Basij, is believed by eyewitnesses to have shot Neda with a bullet to the heart during a protest in June.

Clip of the Day: Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf on the election, IRGC, the economy and other issues.

Kahrizak doctor died of drug overdose

Ayande News │ Dec. 1, 2009

The Tehran Prosecutor General said the resident doctor at Kahrizak detention center died of drug poisoning.

Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said on Tuesday that the coroner had declared the cause of Ramin Pourandarjani's death as overdose on prescription medication found in the salad on his desk.

"We are still investigating to determine whether it was murder or suicide," Jafari-Dolatabadi added.

"We are currently going over his [Pourandarjani's] phone records and emails as well as that of his family members."

Shahidi sentenced to 6 years in prison

Parleman News │ Nov. 30, 2009

Hengameh Shahidi's lawyer said his client has received a prison sentence of six years, three months, and one day in prison, with 91 days of the term meted out for insulting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mohammad Mostafaei told ILNA he had received the verdict on Monday at the Revolution Court on Monday.

According to Mostafaei, Shahidi was found guilty of breaching national security through colluding to disrupt the security of the country and participating in protests from June 13 through June 17.

Her charges included "propagating against the establishment by conducting interviews with the counterrevolutionary BBC news network on June 13 and reporting about the events unfolding in the country; signing anti-establishment petitions including the One Million Signatures petition; campaigning to remove the stoning law; signing petitions to the UN to report human rights violations in Iran; and propagating lies against the establishment in the form of blogging."

Her lawyer added that Shahidi had been sentenced to an additional 91 days in prison for insulting the Iranian president.

Mostafaei said he will lodge an appeal within the 20-day deadline set by the court.

Joke of the Day: Hacoupian: We won't trade quality for speed

[blog watch] │ Dec. 1, 2009

Following mounting pressure on Hacoupian, a men's clothing brand, to immediately prepare suits for the detained British marines, the company spokesman said Hacoupian would not comply with the order.

Hacoupian was told by authorities to consider the sensitivity of the present historical juncture and to prepare the outfits immediately.

The company spokesman reportedly told members of the press, "We won't trade quality for speed."

"If you want, you can give them the China-made Ahmadinejad jackets," the spokesman added.

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