Tuesday August 18 – the daily story

The main headlines

Reformist leaders Mehdi Karoubi and Mohammad Khatami have joined the Green Path of Hope movement set up by Mir-Hossein Moussavi. link

— Moussavi, meanwhile, has come off the fence on the issue of  the sexual abuse of detainees and given his full backing to Karoubi. In a letter he wrote that Karoubi’s allegations had “made the coup propaganda machine nervous, which is a sign that there are more horrifying things taking place we don’t yet know about”. link

— The Anonymous Iran website reports that Fayah Azadi, a 23-year-old Tehran University student, died on August 2 after being severely beaten by security agents three days earlier during the protest at the gravesite of Neda Agha-Soltan.  The website initially brought Fayah to prominence by publishing a letter she had written about why she had joined the protest movement. In it she wrote, sadly prophetically: “I have to fight. I have to go back on the streets. I will make them kill me. I will join Neda, with my friends, and then maybe the world will hear us.” letter, report

— Feizollah Arabsorkhi, a prominent reformist, and Ahmad Zeidabadi, a journalist and former student leader, have been transferred from prison to hospital because of concerns for their deteriorating health, AP reports. The report says Arabsorkhi was severely beaten by his jailers at Evin prison for refusing to attend his trial, while Zeidabadi was forced on Monday to break a hunger strike he began on August  8 after his court appearance. The Green Brief on the Anonymous Iran website claims 65 inmates of Evin’s 7th quarantine section are on an indefinite hunger strike. link, link

The Mourning Mothers, an echo of the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina under the junta, have vowed despite growing official harassment to continue meeting every week in parks in Tehran and other cities “to keep alive the memory of children belonging to the Green Movement who have been killed”. link

Iran has postponed the fourth hearing of the mass trials to give lawyers more time to prepare. link

— The Rooz website provides interesting insight into the third mass trial, saying that many of the accused openly denied the charges against them, something the “mainstream” Iranian press obviously did not consider important. link

President Ahmadinejad is expected to introduce his new cabinet to the Majlis on Wednesday. link

— Alaedin Borujerdi, head of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, echoed previous calls on the President to appoint “suitable” ministers. link

The propaganda war shifted to Qom, where the clergy appear to be increasingly restless. Today Fars news agency quotes Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of the hardline Kayhan daily, as telling clerics there the recent unrest was all coordinated by America. He specifically named Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Woodrow Wilson centre’s Middle East programme, who was famously held for nearly four months in solitary confinement in Evin prison before being allowed to leave Iran in 2007, and Kian Tajbakhsh, the Iranian-American social scientist who appeared during the first of the mass trials in Tehran.  link

— A letter by  120 doctors, specialists and university professors published in the Islamic Republic daily has demanded an investigation into the mental health of top officials. “We also ask that from now on, when investigating the competence of those who want to run for high office, their mental well-being and mental health are also evaluated by a group of specialists approved by the medical community.”

— Websites are carrying the speech made by Grand Ayatollah Yussef Sanai to clerics in Gorgan earlier this month in which he declares that the authorities have acted so terribly “that now, even an election annulment will not do them any good”. You can catch the videos here and a good partial translation here

— A bit of a fuss is also being made of an open letter a group of clerics have issued  demanding the removal of Ayatollah Khamenei as supreme leader. It does however detract a little that none of the clergymen involved is brave enough to sign it. link

— Both Tabnak and Islamic Republic newspaper have reported that one of the first acts of the new Head of the Judiciary , Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, will be to dismiss Said Mortazavi as Tehran’s Prosecutor-general. He is believed to be behind the vicious post-election crackdown in the city. On the other hand, it might be he is moving anyway, as he has been tipped as Justice Minister in Ahmadinejad’s new cabinet.

The ISNA news agency, quoted “an informed source in Tehran” as denying allegations in the Sunday Times that Iran was involved in the Lockerbie bombing. The source said “the Sunday Times is under Zionist influence and therefore lacks professional value and credibility”. [I hadn’t realised in all this time … ] The report appears to be a response to an ST report last weekend that, had the appeal of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi been heard, documents would have been presented showing that American intelligence believed Iran was to blame rather than Libya. link, link

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is to make a two-day visit to Iran in the first week of September. link

Iran is threatening to stop people making the Haj pilgrimage unless Saudi officials stop their “contemptuous attitude” towards Iranians. link

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s nuclear envoy, denied saying Tehran was ready for talks with the West on its nuclear programme ‘without preconditions’. link

Not such smart thinking by the Chinese. Etemad-e Melli newspaper reports that Chinese jeans exported to Iran bear the words Allah and In the Name of Allah on the back pockets. The issue has been picked up by Moussavi supporters on his Facebook page to suggest that “after killing Muslims in their own country” the Chinese have chosen to “insult” Muslims yet again. “The shocking part is that there has been no protest on this issue or the killing of the Muslims from the hardliners that claim to be the defenders of Islam.” link

132 directors, producers and documentary film makers have written a letter announcing their refusal to take part in this year’s Truth Film Festival , an annual documentary film festival in Tehran, because of the way film-makers have been prevented from  recording the recent  events in Iran. link

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