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News | Cold Weather Imperils Quake Victims; MPs Take Aim at Ahmadinejad


12 Oct 2012 03:32Comments

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.

EastAzeriTentsIRNA.jpgEast Azerbaijanis displaced by quakes at risk from lack of winter shelter

Deutsche Welle Persian reports that relief efforts in East Azerbaijan province have gained new urgency for the people still displaced by the August earthquakes as the temperature drops and heavy rains have begun to flood valleys. With winter approaching, a shortage of blankets, medical care, and shelter for villagers' livestock were cited as looming problems. According to Earthquake Report, the Iranian Red Crescent began requesting donations of portable sanitary facilities and family-sized tents plus heating and cooking equipment at the end of August.

Some 30,000 housing units have yet to be replaced, the report quotes sources from Varzagan County as saying; by their accounts, only a few hundred have been rebuilt. Sahar 1 TV, in contrast, recently declared that "1,600 provincial residents suffering from an earthquake have been provided with new houses," though this figure is still well short of the total number of displaced persons (according to official sources, at least 50,000 people were forced into tents or shelters in the days after the quake). The Badakhshan Islamic welfare agency has reportedly committed itself to building additional temporary housing ahead of winter.

Tavakoli accuses Ahmadinejad of manipulating currency; more lawmakers rebuke president

Ahmad Tavakoli, the prominent principlist Majles deputy from Tehran, has accused the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of deliberately undermining the rial to help pay for the monthly cash disbursements many Iranians receive to offset subsidy cuts. Tavakoli, reports Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi on Al-Monitor,

said the subsidy law approved by the Majles required the government to meet its budgetary shortfall by means of increasing the price of fuel, thereby closing the gap with global prices. Instead, he claims [t]hat the government has sought to weaken the rial and play on disparities in currency in order to pay the cash payments, which are meant to alleviate the brunt of prices increases on basic goods and services such as gas, water, and electricity. [He] alleged that such policies will exacerbate inflation and unemployment and result in people rejecting the second phase of subsidy reform altogether. [...]

Asr-e Iran reports that in addition to 102 MPs signing a petition summoning President Ahmadinejad for questioning, 170 MPs have signed a statement protesting the comments Ahmadinejad made during a controversial press conference last week in which he was perceived to be attacking several powerful organs of the regime.

11 planned Evin executions to proceed; Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour on new hunger strike

Amnesty International warns that the brother of an accused drug dealer has been arrested in Iran after granting BBC Persian an interview concerning the charges against his brother, who may be executed on Saturday:

On Wednesday, Saeed Sedeghi was transferred along with 10 other men from Ghezel Hesar prison to Evin Prison to be executed.

It was thought this would take place on Thursday morning but is now understood to be scheduled for Saturday.

"Granting a two-day reprieve from death when what is needed is a fair retrial which cannot end in execution is not justice. The Iranian authorities know full well that executing people for drugs crimes violates international human rights standards and must end this practice immediately," said Harrison.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency reports that reformist cleric and blogger Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour has resumed a hunger strike in response to his transfer to Yazd Prison. As described on the Meli Mazhabi website (translation via Iranian.com):

In May 2012, Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour started a hunger strike to protest the lack of attention to his various illnesses, and wrote a letter to the Head Warden of Ahvaz Prison. The Ahvaz Special Clerics Court reacted to Ahmadpour's hunger strike, and authorized his medical furlough to be hospitalized in order to have an angiogram. Despite orders from his attending physicians to remain released on furlough or to be transferred to a prison facility in an area with better climate, Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour was transferred to Yazd Prison in Central Iran this week.

Ahmadpour was arrested in 2011 over his postings at the blog Silent Echo; he had previously been arrested in 2009 on charges of spreading disinformation, and sentenced to a year. After his second arrest last year, he was sentenced to his current term of three to five years after again being charged with spreading disinformation, as well as associating with the MKO. He suffers from recurrent heart problems and asthma.

Iran clamping down on Web video production and dissemination

In the wake of the temporary blockade of Google services by the regime last month, the British nonprofit Small Media reports that the regime's online content "filtering committee" is now making it harder for people in the country to distribute video files:

Then, on October 4, 2012, the IFC began preventing files hosted on servers outside Iran from entering the country by blocking specific file extensions. At the time of writing, this policy applies to all MP3, MP4, AVI and SWF files. This kind of filtering was used after the controversial presidential elections of 2009, amidst harsh crackdowns on freedom of information, and coincides with Iran's current economic crisis and the ensuing protests.

Small Media states that the move is likely in response to the domestic circulation of videos of last week's bazaari protests last week. It describes the Iranian online environment as having ever more parallels to North Korea's heavily-censored IT infrastructure:

Most Iranian websites are hosted outside of Iran in order to evade the strict regulations set in place by the IFC and the Cyber Crimes Law. Buying a server inside Iran is also cost prohibitive, which is why most web startups host their work on servers outside Iran. Another reason Iranians are reluctant to host websites inside Iran is because the IFC, if it detects 'inappropriate' content, can shut down a website and delete all of its content and data without warning.

The reformist outlet Kalame recently noted that Internet censorship has increased sixfold this past year in the country under the guise of censoring pornography.



Cartoonist Yaser Ahmad's bitter comment on the limits of the "social media" discourse on the Arab Spring in Syria.

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