Archive for March, 2010

Rafsanjani’s grandson arrested

March 22, 2010

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Tehran on Monday arrested the grandson of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as he arrived at Tehran’s international airport from London, where he is studying.

The arrest of Hassan Lahouti, 23, was seen by many as an attempt by the Iranian regime to increase pressure on the influential former president and fomer Council of Guardians head, who has spoken out against the current regime’s repression of members of the oppoisition following the controversial June 2009 presidential election, in which the incumbant President Ahmadinejad claimed a victory.
According to a New York Times report, another relative of Mr. Rafsanjani, the reformist politician Hussein Marashi, was arrested and sentenced to one year in jail on Thursday.

Lahouti left his native Iran 10 days after the disputed election. He was returning home for the Persian New Year when he was arrested. The Times quoted the opposition website Jaras as reporting that Lahouti had been taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, where political prisoners are held.

A court has also summoned Rafsanjani’s son, Mehdi Hashemi, who supported the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi during the recent presidential election.

Iranians Defy Ban and Turn out to Celebrate the New Year

March 17, 2010

U.S. General David Petraeus announced Tuesday that he believed Iran has slid back in its nuclear work and would not develop a nuclear weapon in the year 2010, though he did say that Iran continued to be one of the greatest threats in the Middle East.

Responding to a question asked by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Petraeus—the head of United States Central Command oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—said, “It has, thankfully, slid to the right a bit, and it is not this calendar year, I don’t think.”
The General’s comments came on the Iranian celebration of Chaharshanbe Souri, which marks the beginning of Iranian celebrations of the New Year celebrated on the Spring Equinox.

The Persian New Year Now Ruz (meaning New Day), a more than 3,000-year-old Zoroastrian tradition, celebrates Persian culture and is seen by the Islamic regime in Iran as a test of their power, as there is a dichotomy between many Iranians between their ancient Persian culture and their newly adopted Islamic faith.

This year, the regime in Iran banned the Chaharshanbe Souri tradition of celebration and jumping over constructed fires to ward off evil spirits. Iranians, however, kept the ancient tradition alive and came out, as they do every year, to celebrate.
The New York Times reported there were unconfirmed reports on Iranian opposition websites of clashes between pro-government forces and celebrants in the streets. The semiofficial news agency ISNA reported that 50 people were arrested for “causing disturbances,” while the Fars news agency reported that 220 people were injured on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi on Sunday named the new Iranian year, which begins Sunday, the year of “perseverance and patience.”

Karroubi Target of Protests

March 15, 2010

A small group of Iranian hardliners surrounded the Tehran home of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi Sunday, chanting death slogans and calling for the two time former parliament speaker to be put on trial.

The Fars news agency identified the crowd as “students and families of martyrs” of the Iran-Iraq war, which began in 1980 and ended in 1988. Photos taken during the protests showed the building had been defaced with red coloring and slogans pronouncing “Death to Karroubi” had been written on the walls. The death threats also extended to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and former president Mohammad Khatami.

The Fars news agency quoted the protesters as chanting: “We want the judiciary to put the leaders of sedition on trial as soon as possible.”

According to an AFP report, some of the protesters held signs that read: “Karroubi is a Mossad agent”—linking the two-time former parliament speaker to Israel’s intelligence service.

This is not the first time Karroubi has been the target of protest following the disputed June 12 presidential elections which the opposition claims was rigged. Karroubi was attacked by hardliners during Iran’s annual revolution day rally on February 11 and his car was shot at earlier in January in the city of Qazvin west of Tehran.

How Will Iranians Celebrate Now Ruz This Year

March 13, 2010

I’m interested in seeing how the Persian New Year will be celebrated in Iran this year. The Islamic regime has been trying to pressure the people to not throw the traditional chaharshanbe souri parties, where people gather together and jump over huge bonfires to ward off illness and bad wishes.

Now Ruz dates back more than 2500 years, and began as a Zoroastrian (the first monotheistic religion) tradition honoring the first day of spring. Now Ruz is a 13 day celebration that is anticipated by Iranians all over the world. Now Ruz, however, dates back to pre-Islamic times and reminds Iranians of a time when Persia was the greatest empire and a time when Iran—then known as Persia—was not yet an Islamic republic.

As reports that the Islamic regime is trying to suppress Now Ruz celebrations, a celebration of ancient Persian culture, it will be interesting to see how Iranians will join together to celebrate this centuries old festival in defiance of the regime.

Iran court upholds death for opposition activist

March 4, 2010

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Iran court upholds death for opposition activist
Wednesday, 03 March 2010
The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian opposition-run Web site says an appeals court has upheld the death sentence for a student who took part in an anti-government rally in December that left eight people dead.

The kaleme site reported late Tuesday that 20-year-old Mohammad Amin Valian had testified he threw stones at security forces and plainclothes pro-government militiamen as they “savagely” beat demonstrators during the rally in Tehran.

Valian was found guilty of Moharebeh — a religious offense that translates as defiance of God, a crime punishable by death under Iranian law.

So far, Iran has executed two people and sentenced 11 others — including Valian — to death for taking part in opposition protests that have challenged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s proclaimed election victory.

Iran Shuts Down Major Opposition Publications

March 2, 2010

Iranian authorities on Monday shut down two major opposition publications linked to opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi.

The closure comes in the midst of a campaign of media closures and Internet censorship, as websites in Iran slowed and cell phone SMS capabilities have been periodically jammed.

The daily newspaper Etemad and the weekly magazine Iran Dokht, both linked to Karroubi—the opposition leader who has recently called for a referendum—were reported closed Monday. The closure comes after a ruling last week by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, that opposition leaders Karroubi and Mir Hossain Moussavi have no place in politics.

The same day, opposition website Jaras reported four journalists and one university professor were released after being held in detention for two months. It also said up to 20,000 people were arrested, some of whom were released shortly after, during the Revolution Day protests February 11. According to The New York Times, the website went on to say the figure had been leaked from internal communications among the three divisions of the security forces: the police, the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Basiji militia.

In an interview with the website Kaleme, Moussavi spoke critically of the regime and said the government’s tactics resembled “the thinking and character from before the revolution.”