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Activist Wins Major Award for 'Honesty, Courage,' But Can't Go Pick It Up

13 Mar 2011 11:58Comments

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 Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

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10:30 a.m./March 13 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Shiva Nazar Ahari, the well-known human rights and university student activist, has been awarded the Theodor Haecker Award from Germany for honesty and political courage. She is forbidden from leaving Iran, and therefore the award will be accepted on her behalf by a colleague, Parisa Kakaei.

The Association of Iranian Teachers has issued a statement on the fourth anniversary of the day when teachers staged large-scale demonstrations, protesting their poor conditions. The statement honors the teachers currently in jail, including Abdollah Momeni, Mohammad Davari, Nabiollah Bastan, Sool Bedaghi, and Hashem Khastar, as well as all others who have been part of the struggle to create better conditions for educators, and expresses the hope that the imprisoned teachers will be allowed to spend their Nowruz holidays, which begin on March 21, with their families.

A senior commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps invited expert computer hackers to collaborate with the Guard. Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali said, "We would like to work with those hackers that, with good intentions and revolutionary activity, want to help the Islamic Republic achieve its goals." But he also warned those hackers that want to hurt people. He said that the headquarters of cyberspace war of the Islamic Republic is actively pursuing the war with the "enemies."

Bakeronline, a hardline website that supports Ahmadinejad and Mashaei, has strongly criticized Brigadier General Ali Fazli, deputy
commander of the Basij militia. A few days ago, Fazli, a well-known Revolutionary Guard commander with a reputation for fairness, said, "We declare our displeasure, and that of the Revolutionary Guard commander [Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari] and other commanders and its rank and file about the events of June 4 [2010]. No one supports those bitten events. It was an ungodly act that must be investigated carefully and fully." Fazli was talking about the verbal attacks made against Seyyed Hassan Khomeini in his grandfather mausoleum by Ahmadinejad and his supporters on the anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death.

In response, Bakeronline accused his son of being a supporter of the Green Movement, of having taken part in the movement's demonstrations, and of having been arrested amid the demonstrations in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election. It also questioned Fazli's loyalty to the hardliners by asking why the Western press had talked about him and his alleged unhappiness with the violent crackdown on those peaceful demonstrations and demanded that Fazli explain his position. Bakerionline has also said that Fazli has no right to declare the position of the Revolutionary Guards or any other official.

Dr. Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, the second son of Mehdi Karroubi, said in his blog that, compared with those that have attacked his father, those that verbally assaulted Faezeh Hashemi are "morality teachers."

He said that now that his parents and Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, have "disappeared" and Hashemi Rafsanjani has been removed from the chairmanship of the Assembly of Experts, the mission of those who assaulted Fazeh Hashemi and the leaders of the Green Movement has ended, and the government wants to stop them.

Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the influential Majles deputy from Tehran, said on Saturday that the future "sedition" will be due to the so-called "Iranian school of thought." He was referring to what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been advocating, which is based on Iranian nationalism. He said, "The future sedition is rising. This is the sedition that will come out of principlism [fundamentalism] and present itself as principlism, but does not accept the seminaries and religion [as the basis for its ideology]. This great sedition is now in the formative stage. Talking about Iranian school of thought and liberalism when it comes to cultural issues is [the attempt] in this direction." He also said, "Although by supporting the sedition the reformists greatly hurt themselves and may not any place in the future elections, we believe that the idea of reforms exists in the society." Sedition is the name given by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Green Movement. Bahonar also criticized the ultrareactionary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who had called for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to stand trial. He said that talking about this issue publicly "is not in the interest of the political system." In related news, Hamid Reza Taraghi, a leading member of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party also said, "Unfortunately, sometimes Ahmadinejad does certain things that even his closest supporters cannot defend."

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a senior adviser to Ahmadinejad and head of IRNA, Iran's official news agency, claimed that the government has the right not to implement some of the legislation approved by the Majles -- though this position, if carried out, would be in violation of the constitution. He said that the government is not supposed to be obedient to the Majles all the time -- this claim also has no basis in the Constitution -- because the Majles has considered pieces of legislation that are against religion and the Constitution. This is Javanfekr's strangest claim because the Guardian Council decides whether a legislation is in accordance with religion and the Constitution, and the council is controlled by Ahmadinejad's supporters.

In the current Iranian year, which ends March 20, only 20 percent of all the projects that were supposed to be finished by the government have actually been completed. The government itself has not published any actual statistics on the issue, but the Research Center of the Majles reports that of 975 development projects that were supposed to be completed, only 193 were actually finished.

As reported previously, 1,800 day laborers that work for the petrochemical complex in Tabriz had gone on strike, demanding official work contracts, increases in their wages pegged to inflation, and health insurance coverage. The management of the complex finally agreed to the demands, and the strike has ended.

Dr. Mohammad Reza Malakian, a member of the Mousavi campaign in the northern province of Mazandaran, and Imam Sedighi, former head of the Muslim Student Association of Noshirvani University in Babol and a member of the Karroubi campaign in Mazandaran, have been released from jail. Malakian, who had also been arrested in 1993, had been arrested on February 21, and was released after posting a $50,000 bail. Sedighi was arrested on February 20, and was released after posting a bail of $30,000.

As reported on March 11, Ziaolddin Nabavi, a university student activist was taken from Karoon Prison in Ahvaz to an unknown location. On Saturday, hiis father said today that he is being held by the office of the Ministry of Intelligence in Ahvaz. According to Jaras, Nabavi is being pressured by the intelligence agent to take part in a television interview and deny that there are university students that have been given asterisks by the Ministry of Higher Education. Such students are suspended temporarily, or expelled altogether from their universities, depending on the number of asterisks that they have received. Nabavi himself is one such student.

Jaras website reports that there is still ambiguity about where Mousavi, Karroubi, and their wives are being held. According to Jaras, it appears that Mousavi and Karrobi have been returned to their homes and that the reason that they had been taken away was that the government was afraid that people would try to get into their homes to free them. According to the same report, it is not yet clear whether Karroubi and his wife, Fatemeh, have been returned to their home, even though lights have been on in their apartment building.

Mohammad Taher Haeri Shirazi -- a son of Ayatollah Mohiolddin Haeri Shirazi, who was the "morality teacher" of Ahmadinejad's first cabinet and former Friday Prayer Imam of Shiraz -- was convicted of illegally selling public lands and given a six-year jail sentence. Reports indicate that he is still free on $700,000 bail. It is not clear what will happen to his wife, Kamran Bagheri Lankarani, a former minister in the Ahmadinejad administration, who was a co-conspirator in the illegal scheme.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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