Wednesday July 8 – the daily story

Student uprising leader ‘back in Iran’ — Ruzbeh Farahanipur, one of the leaders of the 1999 student uprising at Tehran University, has secretly slipped back into Iran to help prepare for today’s 10th anniversary (see Tehran waits below), according to an article in frontpagemagazine.com. The report is also carried on the website of Marze Por Gohar, the party he helped to found to promote a secular republic in Iran. The report says Farahanipur entered Iran “with members of his political party to prepare and organise massive protests for the 10th anniversary of the uprisings on July 9.”  It  quotes him as saying a day before he left Los Angeles:  “I cannot just sit back and watch the regime hijack this valiant effort on the part of our people. I have waited 10 years to have such an opportunity. I cannot wait any longer.” Farahanipur, a publisher and journalist, ran the gauntlet of the Islamic authorities with his attempts to practice independent journalism.  The Ministry of Intelligence accused him of being one of the ringleaders of the 1999 unrest and declared Marze Por Gohar illegal. After almost a year of arrest and legal harrassment he opted for exile and fled to Los Angeles. Faryar Nikbakht, a human rights activist and “adviser” to Marze Por Gohar said a key reason for Farahanipur’s return was to give the protesters some leadership that he saw as lacking. “Either I will make a difference, or I will die knowing I tried. At least I will die for my ideals,” Farahanipur is quoted as saying. frontpagemagazine.com, Marze Por Gohar, Wikipedia

Mojtaba Khamenei ‘behind violence’ — The Guardian newspaper today accuses Mojtaba Khamanei, son of Iran’s supreme leader, of being the mastermind behind the consolidation of Ahmadinejad’s power and the crushing of the opposition. Quoting a “politician with strong connections to the security apparatus”,  the paper says Mojtaba had played a vital role in Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory and had subsequently orchestrated the violent crackdown on the opposition by taking control of the basij. “Mojtaba is the commander of this coup d’etat. The basiji are operating on Mojtaba’s orders,”  the paper quotes the source as saying. The source says there is anger at the highest level in Iran over Mojtaba’s actions, including senior clerics and  Revolutionary Guard generals. (There have been some  claims on Twitter and ‘underground’ Iranian websites that up to 30 Revolutionary Guard commanders may have been arrested). But fear of rocking the revolutionary boat has kept them from open confrontation. Instead, the report says, they are plotting to make it as difficult as possible for Khamenei and Ahmadinejad to govern. “The game has only just started,” the source said. The suggestion that Mojtaba Khamenei is playing a key role in events has been widely speculated upon for many days.  Guardian

Tehran waits for Thursday protest — People are waiting with not a small level of trepidation for today’s planned mass demonstration against the regime. The problems with the sandstorms appear to have subsided to the point where several Twitter posts suggest the authorities have lifted the closure notice on buildings,  factories and schools, a hint that they want people to return to work. Morteza Tamaddon today reminded the public that no permit has been issued for any rallies Thursday, the tenth anniversary of the uprising by students at Tehran University and its brutal suppression. There have, perhaps unwisely, been posts on Twitter setting out several rallying points and the key plea to marchers has been to carry a flower  and not make a sound. Some of the advice posted on Twitter: “Try not to take subway, will be guarded heavily. Remember to be calm and do not react to Basij. Chant Islamic slogans and carry a rose or small Koran.” It is understood, however, that the planned protest is not, officially at least, supported by the opposition leaders. Indeed, it would run contrary to Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s insistence on observing the law. The Los Angeles Times said similar silent  demonstrations were planned for as many as 200 other towns and cities in Iran.

Today, meanwhile, Qorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi, Iran’s prosecutor-general, said about 500 protesters would be put on trial in  the coming days. His comment was reported by Mohammad-Reza Tabesh, head of the minority Reformist faction in the Majlis, who met him  to discuss humanitarian issues surrounding the arrests. PressTVPressTV, LAT

G8 shies from sanctions call — The Group of Eight leaders gathered in Italy “deplored” the post-election violence In Iran but , as expected, stopped short of any concrete measures such as sanctions.  Instead, they simply pledged themselves seeking a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear programme.They also attacked the “unjustified” detention of journalists and condemned Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust. French President Sarkozy said the leaders would reassess the situation at a G20 meeting in September. “If there is no progress by then we will have to take decisions.” William Burns, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, said the language of the G8 declaration is “significant in that you have all eight members [ie including Russia] of the group indicating they have serious concern. I think it’s a strong statement and it reflects a real sense of urgency.”

But it rang a bit hollow against the suggestion earlier today from  Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that America wanted tougher sanctions against Iran “to try to change the behaviour of the regime. ” She said in a television interview:  “We would ask the world to join us in imposing even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behaviour of the regime. … We have seen in the last weeks that Iran has not respected its own democracy. It has taken actions against his own citizens for peacefully protesting.”

She mentioned the US concern with Iran’s nuclear programme, something that surfaced in Tuesday’s talks between Presidents Obama and Medvedev.  The Americans offered to scrap their controversial European missile shield if Russia helped to reign in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In Washington todayAdmiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club that Iran was pressing ahead with its nuclear weapons programme and the time was running out for dialogue to prevent it.  APAFP, The Times, Washington TV

In other news

The latest cunning plan to foil the authorities has been described to me by a Tehran resident who obviously shall remain nameless. She says the basij are painting a red mark on the doorways where the cry of “Allah-o Akbar” is heard at night, so that they can go and arrest the occupants at their leisure (or simply add to the air of intimidation). The answer seems to be simple – for everyone to put a red mark on their doors.

Six human rights experts, who report to the UN Human Rights Council, today said they were seeking permission to enter Iran to see how opponents of the regime are being treated. “The situation of human rights defenders is increasingly precarious,” they said in a statement circulated by the UN  in Geneva. Reuters

Several internet users were snatched from internet cafes by security forces in Kermanshah Tuesday and charged with visiting “political websites”, according to a website entitled Stop Fundamentalism. It said similar arrests had been made in Sanandaj and other Kurdish cities. Stop Fundamentalism

Clotilde Reiss, the Frenchwoman arrested at Tehran airport on July 1,  was allowed the make the briefest of phone calls to the French ambassador in Tehran Tuesday.  The Peninsula

A blog on the Weekly Standard website suggestes Tehran propaganda is now targetting  Liz Cheney, the former US vice president’s daughter,  and George Soros, the financier, as the evil masterminds behind the Iranian protests. The story goes, according to the blog, that  Soros and several US think tanks started sending agents to Iran to recruit and train “operatives for regime change”, while Cheney manned a special Iran centre in Dubai to coordinate them. The Weekly Standard

Iran’s women’s football team will take part in a women’s football championship in Pakistan at the end of this month. But apparently, while you’ll surely see a lot of the ball, you won’t see much of the players. “In Iran women play and enjoy football while in full hejab, ” said Robina Irfan, who heads Pakistan’s women’s football federation. APP

Iran has invited Chinese oil companies to invest in refineries and a pipeline worth more than $42.8 bn. upstreamonline.com

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