Wednesday July 29 – the daily story

Big mourning ceremony tomorrow — There was confusion over plans by Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karoubi to hold mourning ceremonies in Tehran Thursday after Moussavi’s Facebook site suggested there would still be gathering at the Mosalla prayer site in north Tehran. On Tuesday the Interior Ministry said it had turned down a request by the reformist leaders to hold a mourning ceremony at the site because it had political overtones. The entry on Moussavi’s website Facebook page did not make it absolutely clear that the two leaders would themselves be at the gathering  – although the entry is under Moussavi’s name, the site has made clear in the past that entries are also made by supporters. The message reads: “URGENT: Program tommorow (Thursday) fixed: 6:00 p.m. “Mosalla” in Tehran (+4:30 GMT). Before: Burial site of the Martyrs. After: Martyrs home visit. You are the Media!”

What does seem certain is that Moussavi and Karroubi will be at the graves of “martyrs”, ie victims of the post-election crackdown, at the giant Behesht Zahra cemetery south of Tehran, and will visit some of the victims’ homes afterwards. “The offices of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi announce that the two will go to the graves of those killed in the recent incidents along with their families and pay their respects,” the website said. It is understood they will congregate at the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose death became a an icon of the effect of the post-election violence.

Notes on Twitter, however, are urging everyone also to go to Mosalla, emphadsising that they should read the Qoran there and stand in silence. Mosalla is a large area in the north of the city set aside for religious observance. It was in fact originally intended to be used as a new site for the city’s weekly Friday prayers ceremony, but that role has been quietly set aside, it is believed because dwindling numbers of worshippers would have been cruelly exposed by the television cameras. Tehran University’s compact site makes it easier to give an impression of a solid attendance.

— The evidence of Arash Hejazi, the doctor who tried to save Neda after she was shot, has been strongly contested by the music teacher who was with her at the time, according to  PressTV. Hejazi, studying in England after leaving Iran shortly after the shooting and now effectively resigned to a life of exile, told the BBC he saw Neda being shot by a member of the basij, who was subsequently apprehended by people in the vicinity. But the teacher, Hamid Panahi, is quoted as saying there were no basij members in the area at the time. “In his interviews with foreign media outlets, Mr Hejazi said the culprit behind Neda’s death was arrested on the spot. I saw nothing of the sort. There were only about a dozen people present. No one was arrested.” he said. According to the report Panahi also revealed that Neda was shot in the back, not the chest as has been said up to now. PressTV said Panahi’s account matched that of the man who drove Neda to hospital.

What is slightly odd is that Panahi has said nothing of this before, although he has previously spoken to the press. What seemed clear from his previous comments was that they had gone to a side street to escape the violence but he did not actually see what happened. “We were laughing and talking. But then there was violence and teargas, and we fled to a side street in search of safety. It was exactly 6:10 pm when I heard a shot fired and then Neda was on the ground.” . Facebook, PressTV,

Habeus corpus, Iran style: 20 ‘to face trial’ — Twenty people arrested in the post-election disturbances will be put on trial from Saturday,  according to official Iranian websites. The announcement follows the call by Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the head of the judiciary, to speed up processing of the cases of those in  prison. The charges include having contact with the outlawed Mujahedin Khalq group,  carrying out bombings, carrying firearms and grenades, and attacking Basij and security forces. “They are also charged with attacking military centres and universities, sending pictures to the enemy media, organising thugs and rioters, vandalising public and state property including destroying banks and houses,” according to IRNA.

But Qorban-ali Dorri-Najafabadi, Iran’s Prosecutor General, said today a “considerable number” of’ those arrested after the election would be released by Friday. “God willing, another considerable number of the prisoners will be freed by the end of the week.” Evin prison announced that 90 of the 140 detainees whose release was announced Tuesday were freed on  Tuesday night, with the rest due out today.

According to one PressTV report, this leaves 250 still in custody of which 50 regarded as political prisoners have been transferred to Evin from the Kahrizak detention centre ordered closed this week by Ayatollah Khamenei. They are due to be questioned by the parliamentary committee investigating the detentions. Kazem Jalili, the committee spokesman, said enough evidence had been amassed to prove the 50 played a central role in the disturbances. They included political figures “who either belong to certain groups or are listed in a report issued by security authorities as individuals who played a leading role in the post-vote unrest”. He  said the committee had held a five-hour meeting with the other 200  “non-political” prisoners.

— Ismail Ahmadi-Moqaddam, Iran’s police chief, now admits that some of his officers “went to extremes” during the protests “and caused damage while pursuing protestors”. This may be a reference in part to the habit of smashing car windows with gay abandon that was one notable aspect of the crackdown. He said the police would “deal firmly” with the officers responsible.

— Among those due to be freed today was Said Hajarian, a prominent reformist. Hajarian, a leading light in the Islamic Iran Participation Front and advisor to former president Mohammad Khatami who escaped an assassination attempt in 2000, was taken from his home to Evin on June 16 . After visiting him in prison on Saturday his wife said his life was in danger: “He looked pale… very weak and seriously depressed… He had a foul body odour and said he had been kept in the sun as a pressure tactic. His lungs are infected and he has become very thin.”  PressTV, PressTV, PressTV, PressTV,

In other news:

The Iranian authorities now seem intent on hunting down the “citizen media” that has done so much to continue getting news and pictures out of Iran. In the latest variation on the “journalist=spy” theme that underpins hardline thinking security forces now say they have uncovered an “underground network” sending photographs and video of the unrest to the foreign media. Re The report by PressTV does not name anyone, but says the network involves “pro-reform extremists”, at least two of whom “have confessed to providing media sources in the West with visual imagery depicting the post-election street violence, all in a bid to provoke anti-government sentiments and stage a regime change in Iran.” PressTV

And now, the curious case of the judo players who rose from the dead. According to Mehr news agency three of the Iranian junior judo squad believed killed in the Caspian Air jet crash near Qazvin are in fact alive. The crash appears to have exposed some underhand work by the Iranian Judo Federation, which has reportedly admitted to sending three adult judo experts with fake IDs bearing the named of the registered juniors. The team was on its way to a training camp in Armenia to prepare for the upcoming junior world championships. PressTV

Seven Iranians have been reported killed and up to 50 arrested after Iraqi riot police stormed Camp Ashraf, the  base of the outlawed Iranian Mujahedin Khalq group north of Baghdad today. The Iraqis have made no secret of their desire to see an end to the camp, first set up in the 1980s,  in an effort to improve ties with Iran, but until now the American forces have given it some protection. Iraqi officials said they were merely trying to establish a police post in the camp, but  residents say they fear the real aim is to close it down and repatriate its inhabitants to Iran. BBC

President Ahmadinejad will receive his new presidential order from Ayatollah Khamenei on August 3 and be sworn in two days later, the INLA news agency confirmed.  INLA

The US and  China are united against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State,  said after high-level talks with a Chinese delegation. AFP

The US Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington  has kept alive a wrongful death lawsuit brought against Iran over Hezbollah’s assassination of General Gholam Oveissi, the former chief of the Iran’s armed forces in Paris 25 years ago. AP

Iran Khodro, the Middle East’s biggest car manufacturer, has revealed it is to receive $1 billion in a government-backed rescue package. AFP

And finally … One Majid Karimian Ghannad of Yazd has been instructed by the UN to return the domain name to Facebook because he had no right to own the URL. Showing considerable face, the Yazdi said he wanted the name to sell books. LAT


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