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'Sufficient to Be Arrested': Female Filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi

30 Jun 2011 11:45Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic 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

Mahnaz Mohammadi. Maryam Majd.

11:45 a.m., 9 Tir/June 30 Our columnist Muhammad Sahimi compiled the following news items and commentary:

Iranian filmmaker and women's rights activist Mahnaz Mohammadi has been arrested. Reports indicated that she was detained by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and is being held in one of its secret prisons. In a message to the Cannes Film Festival before her arrest, Mohammadi said, "I am both a woman and a filmmaker -- sufficient to be arrested."

Mohammadi, together with distinguished director Jafar Panahi, Rokhsareh Ghemmaghami, and other documentary filmmakers, was also arrested in August 2009 in the aftermath of the presidential election for laying a wreath on the grave of Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman who was killed during the peaceful demonstrations. She directed the short documentary Women without Shadows and contributed to Rakhshan Bani-Etemad's documentary We Are Half of Iran's Population, about women's demands of the presidential candidates in 2009. Mohammadi said recently that she was working on a new documentary about Iranian women. In May, her passport was seized to prevent her from attending a screening of Marriage Ephemeral, a movie by Reza Serkanian in which she plays a lead role.

Mohammadi's arrest comes in the wake of the June 17 arrest of Maryam Majd, Iran's only female sports photographer. She was arrested the night before departing for Germany to report on the women's soccer World Cup. The security agents went to her father's home, confiscated some of her personal belongings, and arrested her. The German government has demanded Majd's immediate release.

Various reports from Tehran indicate that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threat -- that if a member of his cabinet is arrested he will resist according to his "legal, moral, and national power" -- is due to concerns in his inner circle that the arrest of Vice President for Administrative Affairs Hamid Baghaei is imminent. Ahmadinejad's critics have repeatedly accused Baghaei of involvement in economic corruption.

Hassan Noroozi, Majles Islamic Revolution Bloc member, said that he and two other deputies, Mohammad Dehghani and Mohammad Karami Fad, have filed a hundred-page long complaint against Baghaei and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's chief of staff and closest political confidant. The complaint, concerning "involvement in investment and illegal biddings," was filed with the Majles Article 90 Commission, which investigates citizens' complaints against government officials. The trio used to be ardent supporters of Ahmadinejad.

Hardline website Asr-e Iran opined in an editorial that Ahmadinejad is sure that, regardless of what he does, he will never be impeached by the Majles, and thus he does as he pleases. The editorial said, "Although Ahmadinejad has done certain positive things that cannot be denied, but some of his unusual actions, such as absurd appointments and firings, accusing others of economic corruption while defending his inner circle, refusing to issue executive orders for implementation of the laws approved by the Majles, and even staying home for 11 days have created strains in the country. This has been going on while, except for his inner circle, almost everyone else is a critic and protests...but he continues in his ways and there is no prospect for change.... The question, then, is Why is he doing this? The answer is that Ahmadinejad's domestic policy has the same roots as his foreign policy, which is based on the principle that the enemy will never attack Iran militarily to topple the Islamic Republic. Thus, in his view, short of military attacks, any price that Iran must pay for his foreign policy is acceptable. Ahmadinejad follows the same principle in domestic policy. That is, he believes that the pressure and criticisms that have targeted him do not threaten his presidency, and that he will be able to finish his second term."

Farda News, a website close to Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, claimed that a poll it conducted indicates that 59 percent of "Hezbollah people" have distanced themselves from Ahmadinejad because "his thinking and Mashaei's are identical"; another 14 percent have reportedly disowned the president because of the "success of Ahmadinejad's inner circle."

Reports indicate that Mohsen Memari, chief executive of Ghadir Investment Firm and a cousin of Ahmadinejad's, has been arrested and charged with financial irregularities. He was appointed to the post after Ahmadinejad reportedly pressured the board of directors.

The traditional mourning on the 40th day after the death of Iran's soccer legend Naser Hejazi will be held on Friday in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery on the southern edge of Tehran. Another memorial will be held at his home in the evening of that day. Hejazi, who was immensely popular, criticized the government in the last months of his life, and during his funeral many people shouted slogans against Ahmadinejad and the regime.

Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi said that the fire in the building of the Expediency Discernment Council, headed by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is "ridiculous and suspicious" and under investigation, but no definitive conclusion as to its cause has yet been reached.

The popular weekly Shahrvand-e Emrooz, which was banned for two months, has begun publishing again. Apparently, the condition for its reopening was that its editor, well-known journalist Mohammad Ghoochani, could no longer be associated with it. Reza Khojasteh Rahimi has been appointed as his replacement. Ghoochani, son-in-law of well-known human rights and investigative journalist Emadeddin Baghi, has been arrested and jailed in the past.

On the evening of June 14, 2009, just two days after the presidential elections, uniformed and plainclothes agents attacked the dormitory of the University of Tehran and arrested 100 students. Up to seven students may have been killed in the attacks. The government, and even Khamenei himself, promised repeatedly that the culprits would be tried and punished. A court in Tehran has just issued its verdict about the accused -- however, they are not the security agents, but rather the students themselves. The court has sentenced 14 students to various terms, raging from fines to lashes and incarceration.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the commander of Iran's national police, and Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Radan, his deputy, for assisting Syrian security forces in their crackdown on demonstrators there.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague claimed that Iran has carried out secret tests of ballistic missiles that may be capable of delivering nuclear payloads. If true, the tests would represent a breach of the United Nations Security Council's resolutions that have barred such tests. The claim was made a day after the Revolutionary Guards said they had fired 14 missiles on the second day of the Great Prophet Six maneuver -- nine Zelzal, two Shahab-1, two Shahab-2, and a single medium-range Ghadr missile capable of striking Israel and U.S. targets in the Persian Gulf. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denied the claim and told Reuters that none of the missiles used in the exercise was nuclear-capable. He also said that the sanctions imposed on Iranian officials for aiding Syria's government rely on "tampering with facts."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declared that Iran's actions "do not give anybody any confidence that they are moving in the direction of coming back into compliance with the demands of the international community. Iran, rather than getting itself back in the good graces of the international community...seems to be bragging about its capabilities, conducting secret programs, parading new missiles in front of the press. So that's not taking us in the direction that we want to go with Iran."

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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