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News | Cost of Household Goods Soars; Rights Advocates Ordered to Jail

23 Apr 2012 16:00Comments

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. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

SeniorShopper.jpg4 p.m. IRDT, 4 Ordibehesht/April 23 After announcing two weeks ago that the official inflation rate in the final month of the past Iranian year (ending March 19) was 21.5 percent, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), which had stopped reporting commodity prices last spring, released a report on the prices of 33 essential household goods. Average prices for the surveyed items have risen from 18 to 146 percent in the past year.

Vegetables headed the list, with a price index increase of 146 percent during the past 12 months. Dairy products were next, with an increase of 59 percent. The price of beef at retail jumped 50 percent on average since spring 2011, while chicken prices rose 39 percent over the same period. The cost of rice and wheat products climbed by 28 and 45 percent respectively.

In its coverage of the CBI report, the state-controlled Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN) did not directly examine the effects of this level of inflation on families around the country. However, according to IRINN, "The extent of the price increases has forced the authorities to shift their official line from accusing the media of creating inflation to promising the public that they will combat any increase in prices." The network's story concluded that Iranian families are frustrated by the soaring cost of essential goods and by the lack of government action in response.

RahmaniMohammadi.jpgNarges Mohammadi, a well-known human rights advocate and deputy head of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, was arrested and brought to the Ministry of Intelligence over the weekend. The Fars News Agency and Bultan News, both closely linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported that Mohammadi was summoned to begin serving the six-year jail sentence she was handed last year. Her husband is the distinguished nationalist-religious journalist and political activist Taghi Rahmani. After spending almost 15 years in the Islamic Republic's prisons, he recently left the country. Under pressure from the Intelligence Ministry, Mohammadi moved to Zanjan, more than 160 miles northwest of Tehran. The couple have twin boys, Ali and Kiana.

Recounting the information he had gathered about what took place to the reformist website Kaleme, Rahmani said,

We are currently facing two challenges. Firstly, Narges's...alarming condition. She suffers from episodes of paralysis. The doctors had recommended that she be transferred to a comfortable location, minimizing pressure and stress. Unfortunately, this recent arrest is only going to further exacerbate her condition. Secondly, there is of course the issue of our young, dependent twins.

According to Kaleme's description, "with a bitter smile" Rahmani added,

We should of course be grateful this time. In the past they repeatedly raided our residence in the middle of the night and the children were pretty much used to saying, "The bad guys came and took mommy and daddy" or "They took mommy..." This time, they were kind enough not to attack the house. That in itself is a step in the right direction.
EbrahimYazdi11Mar.jpgMeanwhile, Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, 80, the second foreign minister of Iran following the 1979 Revolution and leader of the Liberation Movement of Iran (LMI), has been informed that he must go to Evin Prison within the next 30 days to begin serving his eight-year jail sentence for "activities against national security and publishing falsehoods." The LMI was founded in 1961 by political and religious figures associated with former Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, including Mehdi Bazargan and Ayatollah Mahmood Taleghani. It was a leading source of resistance to the regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. After it was banned by the Shah, Yazdi was among the founders of a Paris-based incarnation of the LMI in 1963. The group's members subsequently played crucial roles in the revolutionary movement led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. After Khomeini came to power, the LMI was increasingly marginalized due to its opposition to the growing political influence of the conservative clerical establishment. It was banned again -- this time by the Islamic Republic it had helped establish -- in 2000.

Yazdi, who has advocated the elimination of the doctrine of Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist) by which the Supreme Leader exercises ultimate authority over the state, was convicted in December. Offering no defense at his trial, Yazdi declared the court was unqualified to hear his case and that the closed hearing was unconstitutional -- under the Iranian Constitution, all political cases must be tried by jury in open court.

ElhamWhiteSuit.jpgA few days ago, Gholam Hossein Elham, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's senior adviser for legal affairs, said in an interview that the Expediency Discernment Council is no longer effective. He claimed that the reason several political figures were recently appointed to the body is that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "did not want them to be doing nothing, especially those who could not be elected to the Majles and might create problems for the political system. The Supreme Leader prefers to keep [former President Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani in his post." Rafsanjani has chaired the Expediency Discernment Council, which advises the Supreme Leader and resolves conflicts between other branches of the Iranian government, since 1988. Elham added that "selecting the members of the council is itself a [political] expediency." Most of the new members appointed by Khamenei oppose Ahmadinejad.

Elham, who is a senior member of Jebheh Paaydaari-ye Elghelab-e Eslami (JPEE, or Durable Front of the Islamic Revolution), a group led be the reactionary cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, believes that the Islamic Republic's ruling right wing should now be divided into two groups: the arman garaayaan (idealists) and osoolgaraayaan (principlists), the latter including the JPEE.

Kayhan, the leading hardline newspaper, swiftly reacted to Elham's interview, declaring that what he had said was already being exploited by "counterrevolutionary" websites and other media channels and demanding he apologize. Deputy Majles Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar stated, "If what Elham said were true, he himself would be a member of the Council now" -- suggesting that in his post as the president's legal adviser, Elham is effectively "doing nothing." Mostafa Pourmohammadi, head of the National Organization for Inspection, which monitors the state bureaucracy, called Elham's remarks "weak and insulting."

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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