Archive for the ‘Iranian opposition’ Category

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.”

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.

Interview with Karrubi

February 26, 2010

Here’s a partial transcript of an interview in Italy’s Corriere della Sera with Mehdi Karroubi,first published in Italian in 22 February:

Q: The events of these months have often been compared to the Revolution of 1979. You compared the violence of the repression to that of the Shah’s time, but you said that his army had shown more restraint. Do you see other similarities between our times and those?

Karrubi: The Shah’s regime was corrupt at its core, but he didn’t behave like this with the people. What do the armed forces have to do with the election’s results? Why did they treat the people like this on the 22nd of Bahman (11 February)? During the reign of the Shah there were rules; they did not take the people arrested to the mosque to beat them to death even before they appeared in front of the judiciary. These people make arrests without a warrant, beat them and keep them in detention. Not to mention the rest (such as the alleged rape of detainees).

Q: Under what conditions would you be ready to find a compromise with Ahmadinejad and recognise him as the legitimate president of Iran? Do you consider yourself to be a leader of this Green Movement?

Karrubi: I don’t consider myself the leader of the popular Green Movement. I consider myself a member of this movement and of the reformist movement. My actions aim to a return to the will and the ideals of the people, that is to say to the people’s sovereignty. I don’t have a personal conflict, nor a reason to reach an agreement or make peace with Ahmadinejad. We consider Ahmadinejad’s government an established government that has to answer for its actions, but not a lawful or legitimate government. I am nobody: it’s not up to me to find an agreement or a compromise. It is the people who have to decide whether or not they want a compromise with the government. It is the people who are in conflict with the government, and who do not accept its management of the country. The people don’t agree with the strategy that puts us in conflict with the world taken on by Ahmadinejad, and we are a part of this same people.

Q: Before the election could you imagine that the Iranian people would go so far in asking for their rights and that their anger would grow so much?

Karrubi: I did not imagine or foresee that the Iranian regime would go as far as rigging the popular vote as it did. On the other hand, the regime has adopted an obstinate and non conciliatory attitude with the people, which is the cause of the current problems. In the first days, the people said, “Where is my vote?” The people are still the same. So what happened that lead them to adopt the current slogans? The people want healthy elections and to see their votes counted.

Q:What is the worst thing that has been done in the name of the revolution? What were the most joyful moments of the revolution? Why do you still believe in the Islamic Republic?

Karrubi: The Islamic Republic consists of two concepts: republicanism and Islam. The worst thing is the damage done to both those concepts and principles. I’m not saying that nothing is left anymore, but the damage done is very serious, both to Islam and to the concept of “republicanism” which means “the opinion and the vote of the people”.

The Imam said that the final decision is up to the people. He always considered the public opinion and never allowed, even under the worse conditions, ambiguity and lack of clarity during the elections. What was damaged were the promises that we made to the people. The issue is not to make the regime fall, but to reform it.
I still believe in the Islamic Republic, but not in this kind of Islamic Republic! The Islamic Republic that we promised the people had the support and the vote of 98% of the population: it was the Islamic Republic of free elections and not of rigged elections. I believe in modern Islam, an Islam full of kindness and affection, not a violent or fanatic Islam.

Iran to Execute Nine Opposition Protesters

February 2, 2010

The same day that two Iranian opposition protesters were executed last month, Ebrahim Raisi, the deputy head of Iran’s judiciary, announced that nine more opposition protesters are set to be executed. He said those handed sentences were reportedly linked to counterrevolutionary groups and planned to overthrow the Islamic regime.
The announcement of the new sentences was issued on January 28, but the defendants’ lawyers have appealed the initial verdict. The same day, Iran hanged two opposition protesters, reportedly linked to monarchist groups.
Many believe the regime carried out the two executions and announced the execution of nine others to deter opposition protesters from coming out to stage mass demonstrations February 11, during the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The two who were executed were Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani, 37 and Arash Rahmanipour, 19. They were with part of a group of 11 people who were all sentenced to execution on charges including “waging war against God” and being members of armed groups.
Some hardliner Iranian clerics, like Ayatollah Jannati, have supported the executions and even called for more executions as a way of stifling the opposition. But on Monday, Judiciary Chairman Sadeq Larijani, said such demands were “political in nature and are against the law and Shari’a.”
The Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Hojjatoleslam Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as saying, “The enemy and the pagans should be treated harshly and mercilessly, and the system’s anatomist bandits need to be executed, and we won’t hesitate in doing so, since this is a rational security rule. When the Supreme Leader says something, obeying is obligatory,” said Pour-Mohammadi, a former Interior Minister.
So much for the 1979 revolution, which was supposedly waged to get rid of such authoritarian rule.

Iran’s Pragmatic Opposition: Take Caution When Your Enemy is Your Friend

December 10, 2009

As international attention has turned from the disputed June 12 Iranian presidential election and that regime’s brutal crackdown to the negotiations surrounding Tehran’s nuclear program, hardline neoconservatives in the United States, Iranian opposition leaders and some within the Iranian Diaspora have begun employing the same tactics to achieve contradicting outcomes for Iran.
Neocons are among many groups in the United States who have sat by quietly—at best—through decades of human rights abuses in Iran. Now, however, after Tehran’s unprecedented move in coming to the negotiating table in October, the neocons have emerged as supposed advocates of Iranians in their domestic fight for human and civil rights.
The actions and claimed motivations of the neocons, however, remain suspicious; but they are not unique to this group. The leadership of the Iranian opposition has begun employing the same tactics as the neocons in their own effort to stall negotiations between Washington and Tehran, while some within the Iranian Diaspora wrongly see themselves as sharing with the neocons a similar goal for Iran—not realizing their desired outcomes are in stark contrast.
The history of relations between Iran and the U.S. has been mired by interference from Washington in Iranian affairs—intervention that was generally in contrast to the Iranian struggle for human rights and democracy.
Events such as the CIA overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh regime, the sending of chemical weapons to the Saddam Hussein regime to use against the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war, and the Iran Contra Affair, in which the Reagan Administration sold weapons to the Khomenei regime when it was killing en masse the Iranian opposition, are just a few examples of events when hardline conservatives in the U.S. remained silent—at best—even when the most atrocious human rights abuses were being committed against the Iranians.
If history is any guide, behind the neocons’ newfound concern for human rights and democracy promotion in Iran lies an agenda not of behavior or even regime change, but system change in the Islamic Republic—a change that could potentially allow the West increased control over a strategically located and oil-rich country. Their supposed calls for Iranian human rights stem from no known basis or historical lineage. Instead, human rights are becoming an instrument with which one can push for military action or other confrontation under the guise of moral outrage. Preferring system change to regime change in Tehran, the neocons are calling on an issue close to the heart of the liberals—human rights—in a final attempt to persuade the Obama administration to increase pressure on Tehran.
Neocons in the U.S. are not the only ones guilty of this game, however; Iranian opposition leaders are employing the same tactics. Seeing the hardline Ahmadinejad regime now open to negotiations with Washington, the Iranian opposition’s leadership fears further talks will give legitimacy to and solidify control of a regime many Iranians see as illegitimate.
In an attempt to draw support for their leadership from other groups in Iran, and for their goal of regime—not system—change, Iranian opposition leaders have taken up a cause dear to the conservatives in Iran—Iran’s nuclear rights—in a similar attempt to stall negotiations between Tehran and Washington. As such, opposition factions in both the U.S. and Iran are working to thwart negotiations.
When Iran’s Chief Nuclear Negotiator Saeed Jalali initially agreed on October 1 to send up to 80 percent of Iran’s LEU to Russia for reprocessing and then to France to convert the 20 percent enriched uranium into fuel rods for medical use, the regime in Tehran did not come out and say Jalili had no authority to do so. Nor was Iran using this as a delaying tactic, as the U.S. had set a short deadline for Iran to respond by October 23.
Continued pressure from neoconservatives, however, compelled the Obama Administration to hold strong to the original draft deal without compromise, while opposition leaders in Iran pressured Tehran to hold strong to its nuclear rights. With these two groups pressuring their corresponding regimes, there was no room for either Washington or Tehran to show any sign of giving in, ultimately leading to the current situation in which Ahmadinejad announced Iran would enrich its own uranium up to the 20 percent level.
Despite having completely different desired outcomes for Iran, neocons and Iranian opposition leaders are using the same tactics to pursue their goals at the expense of Americans, Iranians and any potential peace between the two countries.
While it may seem logical that two groups currently out of power would use the same tactics to consolidate power for themselves, it is surprising to see two groups with starkly different desired outcomes for Iran push for the same goal and the same confrontational method for achieving that goal.
Many within the Iranian Diaspora community seem to have the same goal as the neocons—system change—but for starkly opposing reasons. While the neocons’ agenda ends in system change for the desired outcome of the removal of the perceived threat to Israel and the U.S. with the potential of control and exploitation, the Iranian Diaspora seeks system change in the hopes that a new system will usher in human rights, democracy and freedom. Some within the Iranian Diaspora, however, have become convinced that the means of achieving these desired outcomes are the same confrontational means the neocons are advocating to achieve their agenda.
In their search for these ideals, however, Iranians of all walks of life should remember the lessons of the 1979 Islamic Revolution—achieving a goal does not necessarily bring about the desired outcome. System change in and of itself does not necessarily bring about more freedom or democracy, as the 1979 revolution has shown. The Iranian Diaspora community should take care not to follow the neocons in their push for confrontation without knowing what will come in the place of the current regime. As for the Iranian opposition leaders, playing the same game as the neocons may slightly increase their support from the conservatives within Iran, but will greatly decrease their legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian opposition who desperately need honest leaders after having gone for decades without one.