Sunday June 21 – the daily story

— And finally, one of the slogans that caught my attention from the demonstrations is also one of the simplest: Death to the Taleban, in Kabul or in Tehran. (it rhymes in Persian too folks!)

— If anyone had any doubts about the mental state of George Galloway, particularly after his antics a while back on Big Brother, then this YouTube clip (which I am assuming is genuine) should help you come to a firm conclusion. I didn’t realise he did work for IranianTV.

— Nokia and Siemens might need to work on their PR a little bit after the Washington Times reported that a joint company of theirs  last year “installed an electronic surveillance system for Iran that human rights advocates and intelligence experts say can help Iran target dissidents.” You can read all about it here.

— A nation cowed? Not according to this BBC Persian Service clip I spotted courtesy of Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish. As he advises, watch it right to the end.

— Iran’s religious leaders are now considering an alternative to Khamenei after Saturday’s violence, according to the Al Arabiya website. It says the Assembly of Experts is considering scrapping the model set up by Ayatollah Khomeini and “mulling the formation of an alternative collective leadership to replace that of the supreme leader”, quoting “sources in Qom” speaking on condition  of  anonymity. Al Arabiya says the discussions have been taking place in a series of secret meetings in Qom “and included Jawad al-Shahristani, the supreme representative of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the foremost Shiite leader in Iraq. ” The report adds that an option being considered is the resignation of Ahmadinejad, without elaborating on how that might be effected.

This flies in the face of an earlier Tehran Times report that the Assembly, the body that chooses the supreme leader and supposedly monitors his activity, has fully supported Khamenei’s Friday Prayers address. Such a move would have dealt  a body blow to the opposition cause, signalling a virtual united clerical front behind Khamenei.  But two readers have pointed out to The Huffington Post that it is  in fact only a statement by the deputy leader of the assembly, Mohammad Yazdi, reportedly a staunch suppoeter of Ahmadinejad. Just another example of the propaganda war and mind games being played in Tehran at the moment.

— I am receiving reports that a number of basij may have been killed in disturbances in Tabriz and that the city is now virtually sealed off. Tabriz of course is Moussavi’s home turf, yet swung firmly behind Ahmadinejad in the election according to the official figures. Old hands will remember that the original revolution effectively kicked off in the Azerbaijani capital. What has surprised me is that so little has come out of provincial cities, with hardly a tweet on Twitter.

— Ayatollah Montazeri, in a statement posted today on his website, has declared putting down public protests as haram, or religiously forbidden, and called for three days of mourning from Wednesday. A translation is given on the tehranbureau website, where it is suggested that, because of Montazeri’s public standing “this declaration is bound to have a great effect, and should provide the impetus for continuing peaceful protests against the rigged presidential election.”

— A survey of Iran’s election results published today by Chatham House and St Andrews University “raises serious questions about the plausibility of the claimed victory and demonstrates irregularities in the official results”, according to the Chatham House website. It said the official statistics suggested the votes cast exceeded the number of eligible voters in two provinces, while claims that Ahmadinejad swept the board in rural provinces “flies in the face of previous results”.  Thomas Rintoul, from the university’s Institute of Iranian Studies, said:  ‘The claimed results in minority provinces are particularity extreme; the numbers from Ilam, Lorestan and Hormozegan almost defy belief.”  You can download the research paper from here.

— Five members of Rafsanjani’s family were arrested during Saturday rioting, according to the state media. They included Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh – who had already received a ticking off for addressing Moussavi supporters on Tuesday. The four other members, who were not named, were quickly freed while PressTV later reported Faezeh’s release as well.

— Former president and now Moussavi aide Mohammad Khatami has warned that Iran is sliding towards martial law.  He also proposed an impartial committee to investigate complaints about the election. “A fair, professional, impartial and brave team, which is also trusted by the protesters and whose judgment can be accepted, will be the resolution to the current unrest,”  the state news agency quoted him as saying Sunday, according to PressTV.
“It will also be a positive step toward strengthening the Islamic establishment and restoring public confidence. It will also manifest vital decision-making in the interests of the Iranian nation and ideals of the Islamic Revolution in a sensitive juncture.”

— The propaganda war gathers pace, with a good example being this YouTube clip, taken from Press TV of demonstrators revealing the “true perpetrators” of the violence on Saturday. Press TV’s website also carries more evidence that the regime is seeking to lay much of the blame for the disturbances at the feet on the banned Mujahedin Khalq organisation.  Under the heading “Iran finds US-backed MKO fingermarks in riots” it says the Mujahedin “played a major role in intensifying the recent wave of street violence” and security officials had identified and arrested a large number of members who were involved.

— The crackdown on foreign  news organisations is also in full swing with the expulsion of the BBC corespondent John Leyne, who has been told to leave in 24 hours.  Al Arabiya quoted Fars agency later as saying: “Jon Leyne will have to leave Iran within the course of the next 24 hours under the charges of dispatching fabricated news and reports, ignoring neutrality in news, supporting rioters and trampling the Iranian nation’s rights.” According to Al Arabiya, the Iranian foreign minister today accused Britain of seeking to sabotage the disputed presidential election.  “Great Britain has plotted against the presidential election for more than two years,” declared  Manouchehr Mottaki.  “We witnessed an influx of people (from Britain) before the election. Elements linked to the British secret service were flying in droves.” Press TV also quoted foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavia accusing the state-funded BBC and Voice of America of stirring the unrest to cause the disintegration of Iran.

— Ali Larijani, the parliament speaker, has weighed in on the side of those objecting to the election result and has strongly criticised the Guardian Council. He accused some of its members of siding “with a certain presidential candidate”, taken as a reference to Ahmadinejad.  PressTV reports that, interviewed on the state TV  Channel 2 on Saturday, Larijani said  “a majority of people are of the opinion that the actual election results are different than what was officially announced. The opinion of this majority should be respected and a line should be drawn between them and rioters and miscreants.”

He also said the Iranian people have lost their trust in the country’s legal system. “Although the Guardian Council is made up of religious individuals I wish certain members would not side with a certain presidential candidate. The Guardian Council should use every possible means to build trust and convince the protesters that their complaints will be thoroughly looked into.”

Larijani, a former head of the state broadcaster IRIB,  also criticised itfor acting “in a way that  provokes people”.

This is the second intriguing utterance by Larijani since the revolution. Earlier he objected to Sunday’s attack on Tehran University.

— Iran’s state broadcaster reports 13 deaths in Tehran during Saturday’s disturbances by what it described as terrorists armed with firearms and explosives.

— There are signs of emerging industrial unrest. The Field website posts what it says is a declaration by the Autobus Workers Union of Iran declaring industrial action for June 26. The translation is a bit confusing however as it seems to be suggesting there will be some kind of interanation industrial labour action in support of Iran on that day. “To recognise labour-union and social rights in Iran, the international labor organisations have declared June 26 the international day of support for imprisoned Iranian workers as well as for the institution of unions in Iran. We want that this day be viewed as more than a day for the demands of labour unions to make it a day for human rights in Iran and to ask all our fellow workers to struggle for the trampled rights of the majority of the people of Iran.”

— An Austrian website alleges that Ahmadinejad was part of a hit squad that assassinated three Kurds in Austria in 1989, including KDP leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou. The report says a new eyewitness has come forward to confirm Ahmadinejad was involved, and may even have shot one of the victims himself. Iranian President allegedly involved in Vienna murders

— There is a blog called simply Iran Rigged Election that carries this poignant entry by a young Iranian.

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