Thursday August 6 – the daily story

Habeus corpus Iran style: prisoners’ families defy threats — A group of families of people detained in the post-election unrest have vowed to defy official threats to keep quiet and continue to publicise the plight of their loved ones. Overshadowed by Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony at the Majlis, the families held a press conference at the Tehran office of the Centre for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights to complain that their imprisoned relatives still had no visiting rights. They included the families of Mostafa Tajzadeh, the former adviser to President Khatami, and Behzad Nabavi, the former deputy Majlis speaker, who were among the defendants at the mass trial that began last Saturday.

According to the Rooz website the families announced that “despite all the threats and pressures, they want their voices to be heard by all”. Rooz said threats against the families of detainees have intensified since the mass trial opened. The family of Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the former vice president who made a  “confession”  at  the trial, said it had been warned that he would be forced to publicly deny anything they said about him. Other families said they had been threatened with arrest if they spoke.

Rooz said Abdollah Momeni , a prominent student activist, had been forced to contact his family and tell them to stay silent. His wife said that when she spoke to him by telephone on Monday “his voice was so weak and choppy I didn’t recognize him at first. … He said he is in solitary confinement and under extreme pressure from interrogation.”

The wife of Isa Saharkhiz, the journalist, said she had heard nothing from her husband.  “That …  shows he is still resisting.  That’s why they don’t give me an appointment to visit him.” The wife of another top journalist, Said Laylaz, now detained for more than 50 days, said she too had not been allowed to visit him in that time. She told Rooz that when she talked to him on Monday he was totally unaware of the mass trial. “He is so isolated that he does not communicate with anyone other than his interrogators. … We are intensely worried and wondering what kinds of confessions they have been wanting to take out of him during these 50 days.” Rooz

—  Norway on Wednesday summoned Iran’s chargé d’affaires in Oslo and “expressed its concern for the situation of the demonstrators, politicians, journalists and human rights defenders imprisoned in Iran”. In a statement Gahra Stoere, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, demanded  the release of  political prisoners and said reports of the use of torture were particularly serious. He also said the arrest of employees of The Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, which is headed by Iran’s Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, were “totally unacceptable”. Washington TV

Police punished for Kahrizak violations — The Iranian police have confirmed “serious violations” at the Kahrizak detention centre in south Tehran ordered closed by Ayatollah Khamenei. A statement issued today says two officers have been disciplined and two others sacked pending “further action”.

The statement says that because Kahrizak had been intended as a temporary detention centre , living conditions were “harsh” and unsuitable for longer-term detainees.  “Following investigations and interviewing detainees, the dereliction of duty and breaches by a number of the centre’s managers, officers and staff has become manifest. The limited capacity of the detention centre and the addition of the July 9 detainees made the wings overcrowded and led to unsuitable living and hygiene conditions and caused much suffering.”

The statement says two duty officers were “disciplined for acting autonomously and subjecting detainees to corporal punishment” and two other officers have been sacked and face further punishment for failing to act. The officers are not named. It has been announced that Kahrizak will be rebuilt as a conventional prison. PressTV

In other news:

Clashes flared in Tehran last night as hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets, with Vanak Square being one key centre of protest. Videos posted on the Facebook site of Mir-Hossein Moussavi  showed  a large fire burning in the middle of a road and demonstrators chanting anti-regime slogans.  YouTube, YouTube. And this is video again posted on Moussavi’s facebook site of a memorial protest in Kermanshah today. Youtube

Judiciary officials Wednesday night sealed off the office of the Association of Iranian Journalists. ILNA news agency quoted Badr al-Sadat Mofidi, the association secretary, as saying no reason was given. Members had been due to meet today to discuss changes to their rules. PressTV

Two Iranian television journalists have returned home after being freed by Azerbaijan police, who had held them for 15 days for alleged visa violations. PressTV

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