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Daughters Meet with Mousavis; 'Terrible Conditions' at Rajaei Shahr Jail

14 Mar 2011 01:00Comments

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

Rajaei Shahr prison (Homepage: Female inmate of Rajaei Shahr).

1 a.m./March 14 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

After 22 days, the three daughters of Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, were finally allowed to meet with their parents in a house in the neighborhood where they live. In a letter to the nation, Mousavi's children thanked the people for their support. The meeting took place on March 8, but was not made public until Sunday. The daughters say that security agents imposed strict control on the meeting and that they were prevented from discussing any political issue. They said that the security forces asked them not to publicize the meeting, but they found that demand unacceptable, as the nation has a right to know.

According to Mousavi's daughters, the security forces summoned a maternal aunt and a paternal uncle on March 8. One of Mousavi's three daughters was also summoned on the same day and told that she was the only one who could meet with her parents, which she rejected. Finally, all three daughters were allowed to meet with Mousavi and Rahnavard. They were taken to a house with a single room and tinted windows. While they spoke with their parents, a security agent sat with them in the room and ended any discussion that he did not like. They were also monitored by ten security agents stationed in the adjoining yard. The agents had prepared a lavish dinner that, according to the daughters, was surely meant for propaganda purposes.

The three daughters declared that their meeting with their parents is a great victory for the people of Iran. "We continue to emphasize that the arrest of our parents at home and the restrictions imposed on them are illegal," they declared.

A group of families of female political prisoners has written a letter to judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani that asks, "Are our loved ones condemned to die gradually?"

It begins, "We are writing this letter at a time when, after months of trying to improve the conditions of our imprisoned loves ones, our efforts have not borne any fruit. We are a group of families of woman political prisoners that are held in Rajaei Shahr prison [in Karaj, 30 miles west of Tehran], and considering their terrible conditions, we wish to ask you to send a representative to the prison and improve their conditions."

At least ten female political prisoners are currently held in Rajaei Shahr, while the same ward also has 200 other female inmates who have committed such offenses as murder, narcotics trafficking, and robbery. Despite the large population, there is only one bath in the ward, and even then the water flow is typically cut off for many hours, so it can be used only a few hours a day. The prisoners in Rajaei Shahr have access to warm water only 30 minutes a day and must use cold water to bathe the rest of the time.

Another problem that worries the families of the political prisoners is that there are many restive inmates there that have murdered other prisoners. Immoral acts occur in the prison frequently, and younger prisoners have been raped and then murdered. Currently, there is a prisoner who is being held next to the women's ward who murdered three other inmates after raping them. This has caused such concern among the prisoners that when any wants to take a bath, two others stand by as bodyguards.

The letter concludes, "If there is still an iota of justice and fairness in the judiciary, please address our request and try to improve the conditions of the women's ward of Rajaei Shahr jail."

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose government was toppled two months ago by Lebanese Hezbollah and its allies, spoke to hundreds of thousands of his supporters in Beirut and criticized Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. Hariri said, "We do not allow a person who has been in power 20 years to teach us a lesson about transfer of power under the barrel of a gun." The crowd demanded Hezbollah be disarmed. Hezbollah claims that its weapons are for use only against Israel, but Hariri's group, the March 14 Coalition, says that the guns are used against Hezbollah's internal opponents.

Cleric Gholam-Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, head of the Majles special commission overseeing the elimination of subsidies, said that inflation will rise 10-15 percent in the upcoming Iranian year (to begin on March 21) due to the higher income from the export of oil. But he rejected the suggestion by many economists that the cash handouts that the government distributes among people in lieu of the subsidies will increase the inflation rate.

Hila Sedighi, a young poet and political and civil activist, has been summoned by both the Ministry of Intelligence and the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and her case has been referred to the judiciary. She supported Mir Hossein Mousavi in the 2009 election, and several of her poems were adopted by participants in the Green Movement, including "Breaking the Silence," which commemorated the first anniversary of the election. She used to work for Tehran municipality, but last summer was forced to resign.

Journalist and human rights activist Abdolreza Tajik has been sentenced to six years in jail. He was first arrested in the aftermath of the 2009 election and detained for 44 days before posting bail. He was arrested again on December 27, 2009, the Day of Ashura, and released after two months. His third arrest came on June 12, 2010, but he was released again on $500,000 bail last December. The international journalists' organization Reporters without Borders named him the best journalist of 2010.

Hardline cleric Jafar Shajouni said that the mission of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chief of staff, is to hurt the clerics. To achieve his goal, according to Shajouni, Mashaei has asked a third party to file lawsuits against the the fundamentalist press and people.

Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said today that Iran wants to export nuclear materials and provide nuclear-related services to other countries. He said that to achieve the goal Iran must use the international standards regarding nuclear materials and facilities and their safeguards and security. But the most important condition according to Abbasi is for Iran to be immune to foreign attacks. He was indirectly referring to the computer virus Stuxnet designed by Israel that attacked the computer systems both at Natanz uranium enrichment facility and Bushehr, the site of Iran's light-water nuclear reactor.

Ahmad Ghaleh Bani, a member of the Ministry of Oil's Economic Plans Commission, announced that several Chinese and Russian oil companies have signed agreements to develop Iranian oil fields. In particular, a Chinese firm is simultaneously developing the northern and southern sectors of the Azadegan oil field, the giant reservoir with over 30 billion barrels of oil (25 percent of which is recoverable). The firm has invested $6 billion in the field, which is to be developed in two phases with a peak production of 600,000 barrels/day. The oil field was supposed to be developed by a Japanese firm, but under political pressure it withdrew from the project. The field is currently producing 55,000 barrels/day.

Ghaleh Bani also said that the National Iranian Oil Company has begun to develop the Azar and Changooleh oil fields,and that negotiations are underway with Russian firms to participate in the development. Azar is a joint oil field with Iraq. It contains light oil, with proven reserves of 2.5 billion barrels, of which 400 million are recoverable. The peak production is supposed to be 50,000-65,000 barrels/day.

In related news, Cyrus Sazdar, Majles deputy from Marand in West Azerbaijan province, said that the government has not informed the parliament about any of the oil contracts that have been signed with foreign firms in the current year. This is a violation of Article 77 of the Constitution. In another related statement, Majles Emad Hosseini said that the budget proposed by the Ahmadinejad administration for the upcoming Iranian year "breaks the record for the dependence of the budget on the income from oil exports."

Ayatollah Ahmad Beheshti, a member of the Assembly of Experts, said that many grand ayatollahs have deep concerns about the Ahmadinejad administration, but keep silent in the interest of the political establishment. He said that the government has distanced itself from the grand ayatollahs. He said that many are critical of the government, the Voice and Visage (the national network of television and radio channels), and many other organs of the regime, but out of a fear that their criticism may weaken the political system and the Supreme Leader, the grand ayatollahs say nothing.

A group of students of Mofid University of Qom, the University of Shiraz, Islamic Azad University's campuses in Shiraz and Tehran, Shiraz University of Technology, and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences have written a letter to Sadegh Larijani asking him why Mohammad Saber Abbasian has been arrested. He was a member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the leading (now banned) reformist party, in Fars province and head of Fars Setaad-e 88, a youth group that supported reformist candidates in the 2009 election. He was arrested on March 9, 2010, and after over a year his detention is still listed as "temporary," with no official charges brought against him.

Student activist Zia-olddin Nabavi, who has been sentenced to 10 years incarceration, was returned to Karoon Prison in Ahvaz. He was originally held in Tehran's Evin Prison, before being transferred to Ahvaz. Last month, he disappeared from the Karoon. It eventually became clear that he had been transferred to the headquarters of the Ministry of Intelligence in Ahvaz to be pressured to take part in a TV interview.

Four Iranian Baha'is, Zohreh Tabiyanian, Zohreh Mote'arefi, Pouya Tabiyanian, and Elham Ehsani, have been arrested in the town of Seman, southeast of Tehran. Tabiyanian has already served a sentence of 14 months in jail.

The trial of Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, leader of the Liberation Movement of Iran, was postponed for the third time. Yazdi's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, said that Judge Salavati, the presiding judge, postponed the trial because in his opinion, "The investigation of the case has not been completed." Yazdi was arrested in October 2010 and is currently held in a "safe house" controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence. He is allowed to call his wife, but has not been allowed to meet with her. He is in poor health, suffering from cancer, and Dadkhah has repeatedly asked the court to put him on trial and bring his case to a conclusion, so that he can get medical care.

Iran's Center for Population Statistics announced that the latest census polls indicate that Iran's population is 74.7 million, of which 53.6 million live in urban areas. The annual rate of population growth is currently 1.5 percent. The unemployment rate was announced as 14.6 percent.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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