Habeus corpus, Iran style: more confessions coming — Physical and psychological pressure is intensifying on Said Hajarian and Abdollah Ramezanzadeh to make confessions, according to the pro-Moussavi mowjcamp website. It says they are being pressed “by any means, no matter how unethical and brutal” to do TV interviews similar to those aired at the opening of the mass trial last Saturday, in which Mohammad-Ali Abtahi and Mohammad Atrianfar “confessed” to being part of a plot against the regime and accepted that the election was free and fair.
Hajarian, a senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and described as the intellectual mastermind of the reformist movement, is by all accounts in serious ill health and was reportedly transferred at the end of last month from prison to a secure house. He requires daily medical attention since being paralysed for life in 2000, when he was shot in the head in an attempted assassination on the steps of Tehran City Council. Earlier this month the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Basirat website dismissed concerns over his health, saying Hajarian was so pleased with his medical treatment that, rather than take bail, he had asked to stay in detention. However the Guardian’s Robert Tait reports things differently, saying Hajarian refused bail in order to humiliate his captors by forcing them to give him his treatment to keep him alive and extract a confession, something they still appear not to have done.
Ramizanzadeh, an assistant professor at Tehran university, is a former government spokesman during the Khatami presidency who made a defiant speech against all the post-election detentions just a day before he was arrested.
In addition, today’s report, carried of the Facebook site of Mir-Hossein Moussavi, identified Mohammad Ghoochani, chief editor of Etemad-e Melli newspaper, as one of those whose confession is likely to feature in Saturday’s resumed trial. At the end of June Javan newspaper reported that Ghoochani had confessed to travelling to an Arab country for training in “soft subversion”, although reformist sources say he has not travelled for two years and does not hold a passport.Facebook, YouTube, PressTV, Guardian
— “They didn’t just detain reformists, but rather they took them hostage so that no one would dare protest against the coup and the election fraud.” Brave words in these troubled times in Iran, but especially so from Hashem Aghajari, a prominent member of the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution famous for having escaped a death sentence in 2002 for apostacy.
Attacking the confessions now being aired as part of the mass trial due to reopen Saturday, Aghajari said their only purpose was to keep the regime’s hardliners motivated. “They will have no effect on the nation,” he said in comments reported by Nowruz News. Even if every person in detention “admitted” there was no fraud in the election,he said, the millions who voted knew better.
In 2002 Aghajari, a history professior at a Tehran teacher-training college who lost a brother and his own right leg in the Iran-Iraq war, made a speech criticising current Islamic practices in Iran and calling for an “Islamic Protestantism”. After a secret trial he was sentenced, among other things (!), to be hanged. Although the sentenced was widely expected to be commuted on appeal, he refused to do so, challenging the authorities that “those who have issued this verdict have to implement it if they think it is right or else the judiciary has to handle it.” After a huge outcry inside Iran and out, big student riots and much political wrangling, the sentence was eventually commuted (twice!) by the Supreme Court and Aghajari was freed on bail in 2004. Nowruz News, Wikipedia
Go easy, says Emami-Kashani –– Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani today urged President Ahmadinejad to adopt a more inclusive agenda and said the Iranian people deserved better treatment, according to PressTV. Emami-Kashani, taking his customary turn as Tehran Friday prayers leader, said: “The Iranian people are kind-hearted and good, it is not right to cause them pain and distress. The government should do everything in its power to be honest and truthful with the public.”
During the week Emami-Kashani , the senior member of the Assembly of Experts, was captured on video bemoaning the fate of the country and declaring that velayat-e faghih, the concept of religious guardianship, could no longer solve its problems. It was not clear from the sparse coverage of today’s sermon by PressTV whether he returned to this theme. But the report did quote him as insisting that the Islamic and Republican natures of Iran’s political system were inseparable. “The term ‘Islamic Republic’ is a consolidated term that cannot be broken into halves.” While some among the opposition are looking to end the control of the clergy over political affairs, thus eliminating the Islamic aspect of the regime, there has also been much talk since the election that its fraudulent nature, and comments by some senior clergy that elections were at best mere window dressing, had effectively ended the republican aspect of the regime.
The ayatollah’s apparent advice to Ahmadinejad was not widely reported in other media, with official agencies like Fars sticking to more conventional comments he apparently made about the futility of “enemy plots” against the regime. “Their plots, conspiracies and moves against the Islamic Republic have all proved futile since the very first day … and they will remain so due to the vigilance of our nation, which knows its enemies,” Fars quoted the ayatollah as saying. The post-election unrest was the latest manifestation of this meddling, he said.
On Kashani’s reference to the indivisibility of the Islamic and Republican aspects of Iran’s government, the Tehran Times quoted him as saying this had been confirmed by Khamenei’s endorsement of Ahmadinejad as President. But he also made the point that the Islamic Republic system had been founded by Imam Khomeini and endorsed by the people in a referendum. Thus, he said, the Imam and the voters had sought to establish a republicanism based on the spirit of Islam, and the “constitution is also based on this”. PressTV, Fars, Tehran Times
Warning for Ahmadinejad — Habibollah Asgharoladi, regarded as a leading backer of President Ahmadinejad, has warned the President not to think that his overwhelming majority at the election means he can govern by himself. In an open letter published today, he said the President’s overconfidence and failure to consult others is what had brought the country to its present position. He advised the president to consult closely with Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, and the Majlis over the new cabinet he must pick the next two weeks
Asgharoladi said: “In the past, there have been those who, even with good intentions, thought that by solely relying on the people’s votes, without including the clergy, the Majlis and other state and civil bodies that uphold the system and the government, they could stand against conspiracies and subterfuge. But, we observed that, given the smallest storm, they could not last for more than a few hours, and the result was what befell the country.”
Asgharoladi, an Expediency Council member, secretary general of the Islamic Coalition Party, and head of the Front for the Followers of the Path of Imam and the Leader, which is Ahmadinejad’s strongest backer in the Majlis, also criticised him over the failed attempt to appoint Esfandiar Rahim Mashai as first vice president. While expressing continued support for the President, the letter suggested the President needed to restore tranquiltiy to the country through his political programmes, and called on MPs to “carefully and precisely and in line with the Leader’s wishes vet” any minister presented for a vote of confidence. PressTV
Quite a rogues gallery — Iranian websites are publishing a series of “wanted” posters showing the faces of people they say are some of the worst perpetrators of violence by security officials during the recent violence. The Iranallday blog says: “It is important for the world to see the faces of these murderers. They are responsible for carrying out the government’s orders and acting savagely against Iranian citizens. A government is designed to protect the people, not hurt them; is this democracy? Please share this amongst friends, put these killers faces and names to shame.” iranallday
Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest (as a teacher once said) — “It is evident that the Iranian people face yet another period of great historical importance. Have no doubt whatsoever that, if the Ahmadinejad-clan gets its way, Iran will be transformed into a complete totalitarian militarised Islamofascist country, way worse than it has been so far. Ahmadinejad’s guru, Mesbah Yazdi, will abolish what little democracy Iran has known the past decades. He wil form Iran into a sectarian loose canon that will not only enslave Iran’s people, but will be a permanent danger to the entire world. If however Iranians understand that they have no choice but to unite with their foes from the past, including clergy, royalists, nationalists and PMOI, chances are that Iran will overcome this difficult period and enable itself to become the leading country in the Middle East and in the Islamic world. Iran can write history by dragging itself ánd Islam into modernity.” Okay, not a news story, but exceedingly wise words (in our honest opinion) extracted from an editorial on the Het Vrije Volk website that is a must read for all those who care about Iran’s future. Het Vrije Volk
In other news:
Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, says the mass trial of regime opponents in Tehran is a sign of weakness and shows that the Islamic republic “is afraid of its own people”. In an interview with CNN to be aired on Sunday, she said: “It is a show trial, there’s no doubt about it. It demonstrates I think better than any of us could ever say that this Iranian leadership is afraid of their own people, and afraid of the truth and the facts coming out.” thaindian.com
The Moussavi Facebook site is promoting a moving video (with English subtitles) in which Mohammed Reza Jalaeipour, who was Moussavi’s chief election strategist, mocks the current confessions being aired by the state media with his own “confession” of why he broke off his studies abroad to join the reformist movement. It is highly recommended viewing. YouTube
The Majlis is to investigate the claim that gold and cash worth $18,5 billion dollars was transferred by an Iranian businessman to Turkey last year. The claim, made by Turkey’s Kanal D television channel quoting a Turkish lawyer who said he represented the businessman, followed a televised boast by the Turkish prime minister about the large “foreign investment”. The claim has since been denied by the Turkish government and customs, and Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said it was all lies. PressTV, (and see ‘An $18.5 billion mystery’ in this blog)
PressTV, in the Spotlight section on its website front page, flags a page where it has published in full the open letter sent to the Guardian newspaper by 31 American and European “university educators and antiwar activists” which, while admonishing western interference in Iran, castigates the Iranian government’s harsh treatment of post-election protests and calls for a truth and reconciliation commission to solve the crisis. PressTV
Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, will send a letter to President Ahmadinejad on the occasion of his second term in office, because he does so upon the inauguration of every head of state or government, the UN said yesterday. There was, though, no indication of what he might say in it. Washington TV
And finally … a new name for our Dear President. Ahmadidn’twin. Courtesy of The Daily Show.