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New UN, EU Action on Iran Rights Violations; State Media Mum on Syria

25 Mar 2011 09:55Comments

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

File photo from the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) of an execution. Cranes are often employed by the Islamic Republic to facilitate the staging of executions at sites associated with capital charges.

10:00 a.m., 5 Farvardin/March 25 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Twenty-two members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which met in Geneva, Switzerland, voted for a resolution against Iran. The council approved the appointment of a special human rights rapporteur for the Islamic Republic. Seven countries voted against the resolution, and 14 abstained.

During the debate over the resolution, the Iranian delegation spent most of its time raising violations of human rights in the United States and accusing the council of being used by the Western powers, while distancing itself from the main topics of the resolution. The delegation's relative isolation became glaring when even Brazil, which has close diplomatic relations with Iran and had been lobbied by it for months, voted for the resolution.

Argentina, Belgium, Chile, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, the Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Senegal, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zambia also voted in favor of the resolution. Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Mauritania, Pakistan, and Russia voted against it. Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uganda, and Uruguay abstained. The delegates from Angola, Kyrgyzstan, and Qatar left the hall before the voting process began. An Ecuadorian diplomat said that the head of his delegation was personally embarrassed to vote against the resolution, but the order to do so came from Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa after he spoke directly with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Politico has reported on the list of the Iranian officials who will be sanctioned by the European Union for violating the human rights of Iranians and their roles in the events since the presidential election of 2009.

The list includes chief of staff of the armed forces Major General Hassan Firoozabadi; officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' high command; Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, chief of the national police, and several other high-ranking police commanders; officials in charge of the notorious Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran; top cabinet officials in the Ahmadinejad administration; officials in the Ministry of Information and Communications; judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani, his principal deputy Ebrahim Raisi, and many other judges and judiciary offficials; Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, head of Iran's Prison Organization, and his deputies; Kayhan Managing Editor Hossein Shariatmadari; hardline clerics Ahmad Jannati, Mohammad Yazdi, Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmad Khatami, and Ghorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi; and Behrouz Kamalian, head of the Revolutionary Guard cyber group Ashiyaneh. The complete list is here.

Although in the latest demonstrations in Syria at least 15 people have been killed, bringing the total number of deaths there to around 100, a survey of the Iranian websites and other mass media that support the Ahmadinejad administration and the hardliners by the author indicate that they have mostly avoided covering what is going on in Syria. Fars, the news agency controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' intelligence unit; IRIB News and the Jam-e Jam website, both controlled by the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic (the national network of television and radio channels); ISNA, the official student news agency; Khabar, a website close to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani; and Raja News, the website controlled by Fatemeh Rajabi who, like her husband Gholam-Hossein Elham, is a hardline supporter of Ahmadinejad, have all been completely silent about Syria.

Those that have provided some coverage of the Syrian demonstrations have posted articles advancing the theory that foreign powers are behind the protests. IRNA, the official Iranian news agency, posted news only about the sacking of the provincial governor of Daraa, where most of the demonstrations in Syria have taken place. Jahan News, the website run by Ali-Reza Zakani, a hardline Majles deputy, ran an article which claimed that unknown armed people had attacked Syrian people and killed them. Mehr News, the website controlled by the Organization for Islamic Propaganda, posted an article claiming that Israel has a role in what is happening in Syria. Tabnak, the website close to former top Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei, also posted an article claiming that "unknown" people have killed Syrian demonstrators in Daraa.

As of the time of this posting, most of the same websites and news outlets had yet to report that Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, spokesperson for President Bashar Assad, has announced that the government will cancel the state of emergency that has been in force since 1962, a main demand of the demonstrators. Shaaban has also said that Assad has formed a committee to look into what has happened in Syria.

On the other hand, all of these websites have prominently displayed what Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has said about the developments in Bahrain. He has strongly condemned the government crackdown on the demonstrators there, as well as the intervention by forces of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Seyyed Yaser Khomeini, a grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has strongly condemned the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and their wives, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi. He and his wife visited Ali Karroubi after the younger Karroubi was released from detention. Khomeini declared that the arrest of two people who have spent their lives serving the country and were respected by his grandfather is unacceptable. He has been quietly supporting the Green Movement by visiting many of the political prisoners who have been released.

The judiciary has summoned several leading members of the reformist Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin. They include Mohammad Salamati, secretary-general of the organization and deputy minister of agriculture in the administration of Mohammad Khatami; Mohsen Armin, the group's spokesman and deputy Majles speaker from 2000 to 2004; and Sadegh Nowruzi, a member of the organization's central committee. Also summoned are Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, younger brother of the former president and former secretary-general of the outlawed Islamic Iranian Participation Front, and Drs. Ali Shakouri-Rad and Hamid Reza Jalaei Pour, both members of the Front's central committee. Shakouri Rad had been arrested twice previously. Apparently, the judiciary wants to press them not to issue any statements on behalf of their outlawed groups. Both groups have said that they have been illegally banned and will continue their activities to the extent possible.

Subhi al-Tufayli, former secretary-general of the Lebanese Hezbollah and a follower of Ayatollah Khomeini, said in an interview that "some people in Iran provoked the demonstrations in Bahrain in order to calm down those in Tehran's strets." He also criticized Hezbollah's interference in Bahrain and its siding with the Shiites there. He said that such actions lead to conflict between Sunnis and Shiites and hurt the Islamic world.

Ali Jamali, head of the political committee of Organization of the Graduates of Iran (Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat), who had been granted a three-day furlough for the beginning of the new Iranian year, was returned to prison, after his request for an extension was denied. He is serving a two-year jail sentence.

After nearly one month, there is still no news about Amir Gol, a student of mechanical engineering at Sharif University of Technology, who was summoned by the Ministry of Intelligence in late February and arrested. His family has been told by the ministry that he has been detained and is in Evin Prison. There was some hope that he would be released for the beginning of the new Iranian year, but that did not happen. A large number of students at Sharif, one of the top schools in Iran, have been arrested over the past two years.

Emruz News, the website close to the oulawed Organization of Islamic Revolution Mojahedin, reported that the Ministry of Intelligence may have succeeded in having its server intercept Google and Yahoo transmissions in Iran, hence giving it access to emails sent via those sites. It has posted instructions about how to check this.

The father of Saneh Jaleh, the art student who was murdered during the demonstrations on February 14, said that he was offered $75,000 by the Basij, which he turned down. He said that after he rejected the offer, he was threatened and told that his older son might meet the same fate, to which he responded, "My son was killed for doing what he believed was right. My other son also does what he believes in, and is willing to pay any price for it."

Relatives of Kianoush Asa, the university student murdered during the demonstrations on June 15, 2009, making him one of the first martyrs of the Green Movement, have been told by the judiciary that they should not pursue his case, because it will not go anywhere. Asa, a Kurd, was an outstanding graduate student in chemical engineering at Iran University of Science and Technology in Tehran. Nearly two years after his death, no charges have been brought against anyone for the murder. His family and friends recently celebrated his birthday, both at the university and at his grave site.

A group of political prisoners held in Ward 350 of Evin Prison alongside common criminals issued a statement declaring, "We do not make a deal with the jail warden in order to see the spring," meaning that they are not willing to cut a deal in order to receive furlough for the beginning of the Iranian year. They also praised Mousavi, Karroubi, and their wives, and declared that they hold the government responsible for their safety and well-being.

Political prisoner Zahra Jabbari fell into a coma and was taken to a hospital. She was arrested in September 2009 and sentenced to four years in prison. Some reports indicate that she may have suffered a stroke and might have been brain dead when moved for medical treatment. She had been granted a furlough for the beginning of the new Iranian year.

A new website, Sorkh-e Sabz (Red Green), has launched. It describes itself as dedicated to the martyrs of the Green Movement, of which it lists the names of 153.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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