Europeans held for filming protest — Two people carrying European passports have been arrested filming protests in north Tehran, Fars news agency reported today. It quoted tha Vatan-e Emruz daily newspaper as saying: “The two, who are nationals of two West European countries, were recording an illegal gathering in Vanak square using a hi-tech camera.” The report gave no further details about the two except to say that it was then discovered from the pair’s passports that they had juist spent 10 days in Israel; before coming to Iran. The report said that, while while checking the camera, the security forces found video footage of Israeli towns and footages of ither recent unrest in Iran. Fars
Put reformist leaders on trial, say Revolutionary Guards – The Revolutionary Guards Corps today called for the prosecution of reformist leaders Mir-Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami, the former president, for inciting unrest after the election. The call came as Mohammad Karami-Rad, a member of parliament’s National Security Commission, revealed that Majlis officials are working on a legal complaint against Moussavi which will soon be presented to the judiciary for prosecution. Yadollah Javan, a senior giuards commander, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying: “If Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami are the main suspects behind the soft revolution in Iran, which they are, we expect the judiciary … to go after them, arrest them, put them on trial and punish them.” Not to be outdone, a senior army commander, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, an Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff, said the prosecution of the ringleaders of the recent unrest would play a decisive role in deterring future threats.
The move would be not entirely unexpected in the wake of the mass trials that appear clearly set on establishing the case that the reformist leaders were at the centre of a plot to overthrow the regime. There have already been several murmurings in the Majlis about the need to take action against the reformists and today Karami-Rad, speaking to members of the National Journalists Club, said Majlis officials had been working on a complaint against Moussavi after what PressTV described as the “influential clerics’ bloc and a number of other Majlis representatives” had implicated Moussavi as the driving force behind the recent turmoil. While a formal complaint had not yet gone to the judiciary, he added, the MPs were determined to pursue the case. “We are pursuing the complaint against Moussavi and soon this letter of complaint will be handed to the judiciary so that legal proceedings are conducted and the rioters are brought to justice.”
Until now, reformist commentators have dismissed such talk as scaremongering but the intervention of the Revolutionary Guards might force them to change their tune.
Adding to the siege atmosphere the regime is clearly building up to quell the opposition, Brigadier General Jazayeri called for more control to be exerted on foreign embassies and warned against new Western psychological plots against Iran. “After the failure of the ‘green coup’ in Iran, leading foreign elements inside the country began planning for the next phases of the coup. The new coup scenario is based on the use of intelligence, security and espionage via the media. We must give this plan close attention [and] expect new schemes of psychological warfare which aim to divide the government and the nation.” Reuters, PressTV, PressTV, Fars
Habeus Corpus, Iran style: ‘Scores’ killed in Tehran prison says MP — A leading conservative MP has stated that “scores of young people” died inside Tehran’s notorious Kahrizak detention centre before it was closed on the orders of Ayatollah Khamenei. Hamid-Reza Katuzian, a member of the powerful Principlist faction in the Majlis, said he held Iran’s Police Chief, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghadam, responsible for the deaths and abuse of detained opposition demonstrators in Kahrizak. It is the first time that deaths on this scale have been claimed for the prison –or any state prison for that matter – by anyone other than the opposition. Ahmadi-Moghadam had earlier spoken of “at least three people” dying there.
“Unfortunately, the gross misconduct of Kahrizak officials has resulted in the murder of scores of young people. The Iranian Police Chief is duty bound to provide a clear explanation in this regard,” Katuzian said. He specifically referred to the death of Mohsen Ruholamini , the son of the head of the Pasteur Institute in Tehran whose death in detention propelled the issue to the forefront of Iranian politics. He rejected the police chief’s statement that Ruholamini was not murdered but died of “a deadly virus infection”. Katuzian said there was indisputable evidence the 25-year-old had been beaten to death. “Mr Ruholamini would like to see the murderer of his son face justice. Whoever killed Mohsen has committed first-degree murder and should be punished accordingly.”
Earlier Ahmadi Moghadam announced that the head of the Kahrizak detention centre had been dismissed and jailed along with three policemen responsible for the beatings. He also confirmed that torture had taken place there but denied that any deaths were the result of beatings, insisting they were the result of a virus. However, he also accepted that he had been negligent. “I am to be blamed for what has happened in this detention centre and I don’t want to shrug off the responsibility for this issue.” PressTV, Fars
— Prosecutor-General admits torture. Ayatollah Qorban-Ali Dori-Najafabadi, the Prosecutor-General, has admitted that torture has taken place in Iranian prisons and acknowledged that “grave mistakes” have been made over the treatment of prisoners. “In some prisons, interrogation techniques went too far and grave mistakes were committed that can never be defended, nor justified,” he said. He apologised for the mistreatment of some opposition demonstrators in custody.
Speaking specifically about Kahrizak detention centre in south Tehran, which was ordered closed by Ayatollah Khamenei, Dori-Najafabadi referred to “painful accidents” – interpreted as deaths of prisoners – and said officials there who had authorised the “harsh interrogation techniques” would be prosecuted and punished. The New York Times, quoting INLA, added that Dori-Najafabadi said his team had tried to change the situation after taking control of arrests last month. Previously, the report suggested, most arrests were made by the Revolutionary Guards and basij. The prosecutor also encouraged people to make complaints. “Maybe there were cases of torture in the early days after the election, but we are willing to follow up any complaints or irregularities that have taken place.” He added that there are currently less than 200 people in police custody, a figure the opposition is likely to dispute.
The prosecutor also said that Said Hajarian, a senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front reportedly in worsening health, would soon be released on bail. Hajarian, an adviser to former President Khatami who was paralysed by an assassination attempt in 2000, needs daily medication and his doctor is said to be seriously concerned about his health. Dori-Najafabadi said: “Hajarian is in pretty good shape at the moment. He is receiving all the medical care and attention that he needs. However, his doctor has asked us to consider his physical disabilities and secure his release, so we have decided that it is better that he is freed from prison and placed under house arrest.”
However, the question apparently still remains as to whether Hajarian will agree to bail. A report in the Guardian said he refused a previous offer to transfer him to a safe house where he could be visited by his family, challenging his accusers instead to set him free or continue administering his medicine to keep him alive while they tried to extract a confession. PressTV, NYT, Guardian
— When chickens come home to roost? The issue of Said Hajarian and the involvement in the drama of Dori-Najafabadi achieve far greater interest when one is reminded of their history, as we have now been by Ali Motahari, another Principlist MP who has been at the forefront of the campaign to unearth the truth about the killing of detainees. Today he issued a fresh demand for those responsible for the crimes in Kahrizak to be fully exposed and punished. This is not the first time he has made the call, and recently he claimed there were moves in the Majlis to impeach the subsequently sacked Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, and the Interior Minister over the affair.
But in his latest pronouncement, Motahari raised the spectre of previous high-profile unsolved murders, insisting that the killings at Kahrizak should not end up with the same fate. He mentioned specifically the deaths of Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian-Iranian journalist who died in detention (while in the hands of the Intelligence Ministry, which you will see becomes a recurring theme in Iran) in Tehran in 2003, and Zahra Bani Yaghoub, a doctor who died in detention in Hamedan in 2007 after being arrested by the morality police. After initially insisting Kazemi died of a stroke, then that she fell and hit her head, the regime was forced to admit she had been killed by a blow to the head. Two intelligence agents were tried but acquitted. Officials said Yaghoub’s death was suicide and, despite the protestations of her family, that is where it appears to have rested.
But the principle example Motaheri quoted was the notorious “chain murders” of the 1990s, the apparently coordinated elimination of more than 80 leading dissidents inside and out of Iran that were eventually traced back to “rogue elements“ in the Intelligence Ministry. At the time Hajarian was editor of the daily Sobh Emrouz and the investigative articles he published played a key role in uncovering the scandal. It is widely suspected that the assassination attempt against him in 2000 which left him paralysed was an act of revenge by hardliners, maybe even some of those involved in the murders.
According to Wikipedia, Said Asghar, his assailant and a young basiji, was jailed for 15 years but released after short term in prison. As for the chain murders, one Said (what is it with all the Saids?) Emami was arrested and accused of leading rogue elements inside the Intelligence Ministry who organised the killings. But he then “committed suicide” in prison. Again according to Wikipedia, in a “sham trial” in 2001 three ministry agents were sentenced to death for their parts in the murders , later commuted to life, and 12 others to prison terms.
As it happens, Said Emami’s boss at the time of his suicide, who had presided over the ministry during the period of the chain murders, was none other than Dori-Najafabadi, who resigned as Intelligence minister over the scandal even though Emami had stated he had acted independently. After a suitable period of seclusion, Dor-Najafadbadi became Attorney General before moving to his current post as Prosecutor General.
Just to dot the i’s and cross the t’s of this particular tale, it is interesting to reflect that Hajarian was himself a former Intelligence Ministry agent who is credited with playing a key role in setting it up after the revolution. One unconfirmed report suggests that at its onset he rejected one particular job application – from Said Emami. Wikipedia on the chain murders and Zahra Kazemi, Rooz on Zahra Bani Yaghoub
Just don’t mention the coup – Sunday was not a good day to be British in Tehran. Newspaper headlines screamed out the regime’s claim that Her Majesty’s Government was behind all of Iran’s post-election turmoil. “The British embassy: headquarters for the coup command,” was the main headline of the government newspaper Iran. “London, command room of street riots in Tehran, with the co-operation of Washington and Tel Aviv,” declared the main hardline newspaper Kayhan. The newspaper repeated the claim made in court Saturday by the British embassy staffer Hossein Rassam during his “confession” that British diplomats were in regular contact with Moussavi’s campaign headquarters.
The claim was strongly denied by the Moussavi camp. “Following the false accusations made at Saturday’s show trial, MouSsavi’s campaign manager strongly denied any connection between Moussavi’s campaign and foreign embassies and emphasised that absolutely no members of Moussavi’s election campaign have had any connections with foreign embassies. From the very beginning establishing any relationship with foreigners was banned by Moussavi’s campaign,” read a statement carried by Ghalam News and reperated in English on Moussavi’s Facebook site.
The Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission has now said it is to examine relations between Iran and Britain and present a set of proposals to the National Security Council, MP Hojatoleslam Ali Banayi told Fars news agency. Fars
In other news:
Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi has issued a statement making clear that he has not congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his inauguration for a second term and has no intentions of doing so. The statement follows reports in the state media that he had sent his felicitations. “These are all lies spread by those who were pressing him to do so before and, since they were unsuccessful, had to resort to lies” mowjcamp