tehranbureau An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora

Tehran Resident: 'Everyone Is Mad But We Don't Have the Courage'

05 Mar 2011 09:15Comments

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

Videos of demonstrations purportedly shot on Tuesday, 10 Esfand/March 1, continue to emerge. This one was avowedly shot around 6 p.m. near Tehran's Enghelab Square -- there were, indeed, many reports of sizable gatherings in that area at the time.

11:30 p.m./March 5 A Tehran resident tells us the following about the demonstrations of 10 Esfand/March 1 and the situation in the capital since then:

Last Tuesday, it was more of an army on the street. I was returning home in the late afternoon and these huge soldier types with riot equipment were suddenly on the street in Mirdamad shoving people who were waiting for cabs to move. But in Enghelab, where my friend was, people were out and there were a lot of them, but suddenly a battalion came out of nowhere and started arresting people. There weren't many people left after a few arrests and the remaining people went home.

Also last Thursday, riot police and all sorts of other military people came out near Amir Kabir and flexed their muscles, shouting "Mashallah Hezbollah" [Well done, Hezbollah -- referring to the Islamic Republic's hardliners].

They have been taunting people a lot recently. This Thursday they openly started attacking Ahmadinejad on TV over the Senegal situation.

And then they brought [former Foreign Minister Minister Manouchehr] Mottaki on for an interview. He said "some" (Mousavi and Karroubi) were affiliated with foreigners and "some" (Ahmadinejad) proved they did not deserve the people's votes.

This was Mottaki's first interview since he was dismissed. If I hadn't seen it myself I wouldn't have believed it. It was on Channel Two on a program called Goftegooye Khabari, around 10:30.

I think they are ready to sacrifice Ahmadinejad, who is making it easier by starting to mimic everything [his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim] Mashaei said about Iranian Islam, which is not to the clerics' liking. [If I were the Supreme Leader] I would do the same thing if the people stopped focusing on Ahmadinejad and started demanding that I leave.

The timing for the arrests of Karroubi and Mousavi was interesting too. But, see, they proved it again that no one will do anything to help Mousavi, Karroubi. Sure, some people are upset but I don't see anyone out turning Tehran upside down as the Greens promised.

Granted, they arrested a lot of people. I pass Evin [Prison] everyday on my way to work and on my way home and there are about 400 people standing at the bottom of the Evin hill waiting in silence and there are plainclothes agents wearing ski masks on bikes in front of the prison.

If [the families waiting] make the slightest sound, they come down and beat the people waiting outside the prison.

Generally, everyone is mad but we don't have the courage to do anything, and on some level I believe people know that to get rid of the Islamic Republic they must stop pinning their hopes on Mousavi and Karroubi who are former members of IRI. Unless they are willing to do that, no form of change will ever come this way.

Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Ramazan Sharif.

9:40 p.m./March 5 More news items and commentary from our columnist Muhammad Sahimi:

Brigadier General Ramazan Sharif, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' public relations and publications, said today that what has been reported about Brigadier General Salar Abnoush's statement about next year's Majles elections was incomplete. He claimed that what Abnoush had said represented the views of analysts, not those of the corps itself, and that the official views of the Guards are expressed only by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his Guard representative (Ali Saeedi), and the Guard public relations department.

As reported by Tehran Bureau, Abnoush was quoted by Fars, the news agency controlled by the intelligence unit of the Guards, as saying that if next year's elections results are not compatible with what he called "our values," there will be bloodshed in the country. Fars also posted a correction to what Abnoush said. Fars claimed that Abnoush had said that it was the analysis of the hypocrites [Mojahedin-e Khalgh] that if the elections results are not compatible with their values, there will be bloodshed.

A group comprising veterans of the Iran-Iraq War has written a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking for his help with the situation in Iran.

They say, "We inform you that in Iran the laws are controlled by lawless people, and Iran's parliament has been transformed to a bazaar in which everything is important but [defending] the fundamental rights of the Iranian people. Our Green leaders, Mousavi, Karroubi, and their wives, have been kidnapped. The judiciary cares only about executing or handing down long prison sentences to the political prisoners according to the orders of the Supreme Leader.... Since the 2009 election the government has killed more than 100 people, made more than 100,000 arrests, hanged more than 300 people, and kidnapped the leaders of the Green Movement. You, as the secretary-general of the United Nations, can tell the Iranian government that it must abide by the international agreements regarding human rights, particularly articles 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 19, and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights."

Hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Assembly of Experts, said that Saeed Jalili, secretary-general of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator, and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi will speak at the upcoming meeting of the assembly. He said that Salehi will speak about recent developments in the Middle East, while Jalili will talk about the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election and the "sedition" (the Green Movement). A new chairman is to be elected for a term of two years on the first day of the meeting, Wednesday, March 9.

In a joint statement issued today, the Islamic Association of University Professors and Iran Islamic Medical Society expressed deep concerns about what is going on in the country. It continued, "The wave of attacks, insults, and baseless accusations against the critics and protesters has become so broad that it includes even some of the greatest servants of the nation and defenders of the Revolution. With deep regret, we are witnessing the fact that the official media, such as the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic [the national network of TV and radio channels], the Majles, and Friday Prayers are being used to stage some of the ugliest attacks on such people as Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Khatami. And people who hold leading positions in the Guardian Council who [are supposed to] defend the Constitution use the Friday Prayer sermons to convict the excellent Mousavi and Karroubi and issue sentences of house arrest and imprisonment for them, and deny their most fundamental rights, and consequently, without being put on trial in any official court to prove their guilt, they and their dear wives are attacked by the security forces, but no official is willing to take the responsibility for it.... We declare that they are some of the best servants of the nation and are considered a national honor."

The impeachment of Minister of Energy Majid Namjou is to be debated tomorrow in the Majles. He would be the second minister to be impeached in the current Iranian year. Hamid Behbahani, Minister of Transportation, was impeached last month.

Sayyed Reza Akrami, a conservative Majles deputy from Tehran and a member of the parliament's Commission on Culture, criticized the verbal assault on Faizeh Hashemi. He said that even memorials for the dead have been transformed into places for scoring political points. Insulting others in speeches, sermons, and articles has become widespread. Hashemi was assaulted after taking part in a memorial for a relative in Ray, a town south of Tehran. Akrami also said, "Some people are not willing to hear that we have two million people who are addicted to narcotics, and millions who are unemployed.... If a flight is delayed, the pilot apologizes to the passengers, but the president who is late 75 days in submitting next year's budget to the Majles, not only does not apologize to the Majles, but also jokingly threatens the deputies that if they do not approve the budget before the beginning of the new Iranian year [on March 21], their spouses will not let them into the house."

IRNA, the official government news agency, quoted what it called an "informed source," saying that two people who had already been accused of planting bombs in a mosque in Shiraz in March 2008, but had escaped, were arrested during the February 14 demonstrations. Using the regime's standard epithet for supporters of the Green Movement, he claimed, "The seditionists were ready to celebrate their victory on February 14."

He also claimed that the "seditionists" had planned to murder people in several locations, and set 50 banks on fire. IRNA failed to explain how security agents uncovered the alleged plots or to report any arrests for such an extensive operation, which would obviously have required many operatives.

Karroubi's Saham News reports that hundreds of workers at the Kian tire plant near Tehran have staged a sit-in since February 28. Some have even brought their families.

The sit-in was prompted by the fact that the workers' wages have not been paid for months. Special Forces of the Revolutionary Guards have surrounded the workers. Slogans, such as "Death to the oppressor," "Ya Hojat ibn el-Hassan [Imam Mahdi], uproot the oppression," and "Death to the liar" have been shouted by the workers. According to Saham News, since Thursday, 1,800 workers of the petrochemical complex in Tabriz in northwest Iran have been protesting that they have not been offered official contracts.

The Association of Green Activists of Qom issued a statement declaring its support for gatherings on Tuesday, March 8.

The statement quotes the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri: "I suggest to my brothers and sisters that if they considered an action carefully and recognized taking it as a duty, do it and do not be afraid of anything." It goes on to declare that the group will actively participate in the marches on March 8 to "support the arrested leaders of the Green Movement and all other political prisoners." Similarly, Kurdistan's Mothers of Peace, a group of mothers of political prisoners and those who have been executed, issued a statement supporting marches and gatherings on March 8.

Twenty days ago, Saman Soleimani Marand and Farshad Jamali, two students at the Varamin-Pishva campus of Islamic Azad University in southeast Tehran, were arrested. No information on their whereabouts has been released. Today, a group of students at the school issued a statement condemning their arrest and demanding their release. Abdolmahdi Afzali, a student at the Kerman campus of Islamic Azad, has also been arrested.

Saam Mahmoudi Saraei, editor of the book section of the reformist daily Shargh, was arrested on February 28 by the Ministry of Intelligence and is being held in ward 209 of Evin Prison. He is the sixth Shargh journalist to be arrested. Mahmoudi Saraei was previously arrested in January 2010, but released after posting a bail of about $300,000.

Fakhr ol-Sadat Mohtashamipour.

9:15 a.m./March 5 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

The Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), the largest -- and currently outlawed -- reformist political group, has issued a statement regarding the arrest of Fakhr ol-Sadat Mohtashamipour, member of the group's central committee. Mohtashamipour is the wife of outspoken reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh, also a member of the committee, who has been imprisoned for the past 18 months.

The statement says, "The strange and unwise actions of the coup leaders, more than being the indication of a popular, strong government, resemble that of one on the verge of bankruptcy. Not only can they not run the country, but they are also unable to understand the demands of the nation. The arrest of hundreds of the most honorable people on the streets and the house arrest and imprisonment of the Green Movement's leaders and their wives have not only not discouraged the people, they have caused larger segments of the society to join the movement who, up until now, had avoided doing so for whatever reason. The arrest of the courageous, honorable, and Green lady of Iran, Fakhr ol-Sadat Mohtashamipour, is another indicator of the inability of the coup leaders. Did Mohtashamipour want anything other than justice? Did she do anything other than cry out for the rights of her imprisoned husband, Mostafa Tajzadeh, and other innocent prisoners? Did she do anything other than complain about the injustice done to her and others?" The statement ends by declaring, "The IIPF, which is proud to have such a courageous lady [as its member], declares that thousands of courageous people will continue the path of all Green political prisoners, including Mrs. Mohtashamipour."

Former president Mohammad Khatami met with Fatemeh Tajzadeh, the youngest child of Tajzadeh and Mohtashamipour. He expressed his deep regrets over the arrest of Mohtashamipour and said, "I believe that such tactics have no effect other than hurting the Islamic Republic. We expected that on the eve of the new Iranian year [which begins March 21] all the political prisoners would be released, including the dear Tajzadeh, but instead, they have arrested his wife as well." He called Mohtashamipour a "lioness" who has always helped the families of political prisoners.

The leading reformist groups' youth divisions issued their second statement to protest the arrest of the Green Movement's leaders and the violence that was used against the people in the recent demonstrations. It called on the grand ayatollahs and other religious leaders to break their silence and come forward to help the people. It declared that the reformist youth will never abandon Mousavi, Karroubi, their wives, and their families, will continue along the path set by the leaders, and will soon celebrate their freedom.

One hundred and eighty-one Iranians who live in the diaspora have issued a statement in support of the Green Movement. They say that their minimum demand is the immediate and unconditional release of the movement's leaders, their wives, and the large number of highly educated and accomplished Iranians who have been imprisoned without justification.

In an interview with the Jaras website, which supports the Green Movement, Mousavi's father, who is in his 80s, asked where his son is. Mousavi's sister, whose son Ali Mousavi was assassinated last year, also said she has no information about the whereabouts of her brother. Her husband, Mir Hassan Habibi Mousavi, said, "We still do not know what is going on and where Mr. Mousavi and his wife are. There has been no communication between them and their daughters, which is painful.... Even when Mr. Mousavi was the prime minister, he was not interested in power -- his most important concern was the nation and he wanted only to serve the people, because he is from the same people. He loves the people and it is very difficult for him to see that people are in pain." He also pointed out the advanced age of Mousavi's father. "His son would visit him once a week, but nowadays he constantly asks us about Mir Hossein. We still have not told him [that Mousavi has been arrested]."

France is "very concerned" about the fate of Mousavi and Karroubi, who are "held in an undisclosed location," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said on Friday. Valero also said, "France condemns the unacceptable pressure of the leaders of the Islamic Republic on the representatives of the opposition, and demands that the Iranian government release Mousavi and Karroubi."

Ayatollah Masoudi Khomeini; Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini.
Jaras reports that security officials and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Qom have been pressuring close to 100 religious leaders to agree to interviews in which they would condemn the Green Movement's leaders, but that the clerics have resisted thus far. It mentions two of the ayatollahs on whom great pressure has been exerted. One is Ayatollah Masoudi Khomeini, who used to be in charge of running the Masoumeh shrine in the holy city. He has refused to take part in the interview. The other is Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini, who is popular in Qom as a fair and pious religious leader. In 2009, in the aftermath of the presidential election, Amini did not lead the Qom Friday Prayers in quiet protest of what was going on in the country. Reports indicate that he has told others to resist the pressure.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

SHAREtwitterfacebookSTUMBLEUPONbalatarin reddit digg del.icio.us
blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.