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Mousavi's Father Dies; Iran, Egypt Move Closer to Resuming Relations

31 Mar 2011 01:40Comments

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 Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

Mir Esmail Mousavi and Mir Hossein Mousavi.

1:30 a.m., 11 Farvardin/March 31 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Mir Esmail Mousavi (born in 1908), father of Mir Hossein Mousavi, has passed away. His three granddaughters -- the children of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Dr. Zahra Rahnavard -- have issued a statement announcing the death and describing his last days, waiting to see his son. They say that their father always visited with the elder Mousavi once a week, and called him several times every week to see how he was doing. But over the last 45 days he was not permitted to do so. As a result, their grandfather was always asking about their father, as if he wanted to see his son one more time before passing away. They say that their father was allowed to see their grandfather only once over this period and that was in the presence of a large number of security agents.

Mir Esmail Mousavi and Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei are second cousins. Before the 1979 Revolution, when Khamenei was under pressure by the security forces, he took refuge in the elder Mousavi's home for a while, the same house in which Mousavi passed away.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran is ready to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt. This was in response to Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby's declaration that his country wanted to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran. Salehi said that there has always been a strong connection between the two nations, and despite some problems in the recent past, the connection has been maintained, and that diplomatic relations between the two countries will help the stability, security, and development of the region.

Major General Rashed ibn Abdullah al-Khalifa, Bahrain's interior minister, accused Iran of interfering in his country's internal affairs. He said that this was not the first time that Iran has tried to intervene in Bahrain. According to al-Khalifa, in 1981 there was a coup attempt staged with Iran's support, and in the 1990s Iran tried to set up a Bahraini Hezbollah.

Mohsen Dokmehchi, 53, a political prisoner since September 7, 2009, has passed away in Rajaei Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran. He had been ill for a long time with heart and kidney problems, but did not receive the medical attention that he needed. After he was finally transferred to a hospital, the doctors discovered that he had pancreatic cancer, but it took the authorities a long time to allow him to receive chemotherapy. He asked not to be chained while in hospital and said that he did not want any treatment if he was going to remain shackled. The authorities then transferred him back to prison, and he passed away. Dokmehchi, who worked in the Tehran bazaar, was arrested because he provided financial assistance to the families of political prisoners. He was serving a ten-year jail sentence. His funeral was held in the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery and attended by hundreds of people. There was a heavy presence of security agents, who attacked some of the mourners.

Imprisoned university activists Bahareh Hedayat and Mahdieh Golroo have been barred once again from meeting with their families. They had been denied visits for three months, but were allowed to see their families in early March for a few minutes. Hedayat and Golroo are serving jail sentences of nine and a half years and two years and four months, respectively. Another jailed university activist, Majid Tavakoli, has also been barred from seeing his family and was not even allowed to call them for the Iranian New Year. Tavakoli has been imprisoned since December 2009. He was sentenced to eight years in jail and a five-year ban on political activity and travel abroad.

Veteran journalist Sam Mahmoudi has been transferred from Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which is controlled by the Intelligence Ministry, to Ward 350, where common criminals are held. Mahmoudi, a university activist, was arrested in the student uprising of July 1999 and jailed for four months. He has worked with the dailies Shargh, Etemad, Etelaa't, Hamshahri, Hayat-e No, and other newspapers. He was rearrested on December 27, 2009, released after nearly two months, and then arrested for a third time.

Another veteran journalist, Reza Alijani, has been summoned by the Intelligence Ministry. Like fellow nationalist-religious journalists Hoda Saber and Taghi Rahmani, Alijani has been repeatedly arrested and jailed. Saber and Rahmani are currently imprisoned. Alijani is under a suspended six-year jail sentence, and it is likely that he will be arrested and imprisoned as well.

Hamid Mohseni, Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief of staff, has been given a five-year suspended jail sentence. He was arrested last September 13 and spent two months in Evin's Ward 209.

A group of families of political prisoners who are being held in Rajaei Shahr Prison has written a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking his help in improving conditions for their family members. In the letter, copies of which have been sent to the U.N. Human Rights Council and Amnesty International, the families talk about the pressure on the prisoners that continues even after conviction. The prison rules change constantly, they say. One week the families are allowed to bring their loved ones clothes, books, and food, and the next week they are barred. While common prisoners are allowed to call their families every day, according to their description, the political prisoners are not.

Former President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has backed the U.N. Human Rights Council's resolution to send a special human rights envoy to Iran. In an interview with the BBC, he said, "I support the appointment of a special envoy. I believe Brazil did the right thing by voting for the resolution. The envoy does not have to agree with the accusations that are made, but one cannot prevent investigating the issue to see whether there have been crimes against human rights there."

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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