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Iran Uprising Blogging (Monday July 6)

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I'm liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout. Email me with any news or thoughts, or follow me on Twitter. Send me instant messages at nico.pitney@gmail.com or njpitney on AIM. Scroll down for news related to the front-page headlines. Local Iran time is 8 1/2 hours ahead of Eastern time. Support this post on Digg here.

Tuesday's updates are here.11:59 PM ET -- The brave women of Iran. Mothers gather in front of the notorious Evin prison -- where beatings and torture have been reported by countless prisoners over years -- to protest the detention of their children.

These videos are reportedly from today:



11:55 PM ET -- Major demonstration in D.C. on Thursday. I'll be posting more on this tomorrow, but a reader writes, "Please Note that on Thursday July 9th at 6pm there will be a large rally for 18 Tir (Iran Student Day) in Washington DC 14th Street and Pennsylvania North West." Here's the Facebook page with more details.

11:01 PM ET -- No change in Iran policy, White House insists. "As White House and Office of the Vice President aides formed a united front against widespread media speculation about a change in policy signaled by Vice President Joseph Biden's statement on a Sunday news show that Israel is a 'sovereign nation' that could 'determine for itself' how to deal with threats from Iran, analysts said that Israel may be wary of any such green light in any case."

That's the lede of Laura Rozen's latest for Foreign Policy. It's the most comprehensive piece written thus far on Biden's remarks and the wide range of reactions. There's way too much to excerpt -- you should just read the complete piece.

Meanwhile...

Israel's hard-line foreign minister on Monday welcomed Vice President Joe Biden's statement that Israel can make its own decision about whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, calling it "logical."

But other Israeli leaders avoided comment, a low-key reaction that suggested Israel did not see Biden's comments as a green light to strike against its biggest Mideast rival. President Barack Obama underlined that diplomacy with Iran remains an option.

10:53 PM ET -- Rafsanjani's party dismisses election results. After weeks of working behind-the-scenes, Rafsanjani has apparently given the okay for his party to publicly reject the results of last month's election. My question: why now?

A day after commanders of the Revolutionary Guard warned there was no middle ground in the dispute over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the political party of one of Iran's most powerful clerics Monday defiantly issued a statement dismissing the vote.

The statement by the Kargozaran Sazandegi, or Executives of Construction Party, all but cleared away weeks of ambiguity about the stance of the powerful cleric Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.ce trial

The cleric, who heads two government councils that oversee the supreme leader and mediate disputes between branches, openly backed Mir-Hossein Mousavi. But he has not spoken definitively about the election since the June 12 vote, which was validated after a partial recount by the powerful Guardian Council.

"We declare that the result is unacceptable due to the unhealthy voting process, massive electoral fraud and the siding of the majority of the Guardian Council with a specific candidate," said the statement issued by the party.


10:51 PM ET -- Mousavi appears in public for first time in 3 weeks. Washington Post:

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, appearing in public for the first time in nearly three weeks, vowed Monday that protests against the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "will not end" and predicted that the new government would encounter problems because it lacks legitimacy.

But the former presidential candidate, who maintains he was denied victory in the June 12 election by massive vote-rigging on behalf of Ahmadinejad, stopped short of calling for new street demonstrations, which the government has declared illegal and largely crushed in a massive crackdown. Instead, Mousavi indicated that the opposition would adopt new tactics, pursuing protest "within the framework of the law."

10:35 PM ET -- SMS down again. Via Cyrus Farivar, Radio Farda is reporting that SMS service is down again (just in time for the anniversary of the 18th Tir student protests).

9:45 PM ET -- Will G8 Condemn Iran? Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth is calling on leaders of the G8 industrialized nations to condemn Iran's crackdown on protesters:

The Iranian authorities are trying to blame 'foreign powers' for their violent and abusive campaign against peaceful protesters. The G8 needs to make it clear to Tehran that it cannot shift the blame and that human rights concerns will be at the forefront of future G8 engagement with Iran.

5:11 PM ET -- Tehran Bureau gets another well-deserved write-up, this one by the Associated Press.

4:58 PM ET -- Biden's Iran comments. Via reader Heather, Middle East analyst Juan Cole disagrees that Biden's remarks yesterday gave Israel the green light for a military strike on Iran:

I think Biden's remarks on Israel and Iran were aimed at underlining the independence of US policy-making toward Iran. He underlined twice that the US would not alter its own posture toward Iran, regardless of what others did. That he also said that the Israelis are sovereign and that the US could not stop them from launching a missile strike on Iran, is just the United Nations Charter. I.e. it is boilerplate. In my view the significant bit is this:

BIDEN: Look, Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whether we agree or not?

BIDEN: Whether we agree or not. They're entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that's going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed.

What we believe is in the national interest of the United States, which we, coincidentally, believe is also in the interest of Israel and the whole world. And so there are separate issues.

So what Biden was really saying is that the Obama administration intends to engage Iran diplomatically, and that if anyone wants Iran attacked they will have to do it themselves. This is not a green light to the Israelis, who hardly need one. It is a tough message to the right wing of the Israel lobbies that the Obama administration is not going to launch any hostilities with Iran, even after the hard line power grab of three weeks ago.

4:14 PM ET -- French woman held in Iran as spy. "France has demanded the release of a French academic who it says has been detained in Iran since 1 July, accused of spying. The French foreign ministry condemned the arrest of the unnamed woman and said the allegations of spying did not stand up to examination. The French news agency AFP says the woman is an academic in Isfahan. She had been in Iran for five months, and was arrested at Tehran airport as she was about to depart for Beirut."

3:02 PM ET -- Iran goes on strike. Via reader Ken, the latest from Reza Aslan.

2:46 PM ET -- Pregnant journalist believed to be languishing in Iranian prison. For those looking for a place to send donations, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has been doing fantastic work. Their new release is particularly distressing:

With as many as two thousand individuals, including more than two-hundred prominent personalities, under incommunicado detention in Iran, serious concerns for their health and safety are growing. There are increasing reports of extensive use of solitary confinement and torture against the detainees.

While the Iranian Judiciary has announced a directive to criminalize cooperation with satellite television programs and "opposition" internet communication, authorities have continued to detain individual journalists, including Masoud Bastani, who was arrested on 5 July as he inquired about the whereabouts of his wife, Mahsa Amrabadi, a pregnant journalist arrested on 14 June, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

The life of another detainee, Saeed Hajarian, a prominent politician and journalist who is paralyzed, is in danger. For the past ten days, his family have not been able to verify his condition. He may be in critical condition and hospitalized. Since his detention on 15 June, his wife has been able to see him only once for ten minutes.

2:40 PM ET -- Doctors denounce terror in the hospitals. Via readers Sara and Paul, WhyWeProtest has a translated version of a story published today in the French paper La Figaro.

Update: Journalist Fintan Dunne sends over his much improved translation:

One of a pair of Iranian doctors, who fled the capital to France, says an unofficial tally by medical staff at Tehran area hospitals counted 92 violent deaths related to conflicts with security forces. The death toll is considerably at variance with an official figure of 17 deaths.

The account of events in Tehran by the doctors, who declined to be identified for reasons of personal safety has been published today in the online edition of the French newspaper Le Figaro. They say that intimidation prevented them revealing the scale of casualties but motivated them to flee to France to reveal the details.

Among the dead were an eight months pregnant woman and six young males found dead in Shahriar, on the outskirts of the capital. "They all died from wounds in the neck, " said the second unidentified doctor, quoting information from a trusted medical colleague. "Their skulls had been smashed and their brains had been opened, presumably to retrieve the bullet and destroy evidence of the crime."

1:29 PM ET -- Still trying to spin Neda's death. These officials are shameless.

Iranian Police Chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam says his comments on a witness in the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during post-election unrest were distorted.

Iranian media on Wednesday carried reports quoting the brigadier general as saying that the International Police force known as Interpol is on the hunt for Arash Hejazi, who was pictured while trying to help Neda.

A day after Ahmadi-Moqaddam's reported comments Interpol spokesperson Rachel Billington rejected involvement in any investigation into the death of Neda.

Ahmadi-Moqaddam, however, moved to reject the published report.

"Although I tend to choose my words with utmost care, a certain website has carried a story saying that I have said the Intelligence Ministry and Interpol are after Mr. Hejazi," Iran's police chief said on Monday.

"This is while I had said Iran's Intelligence Ministry and criminal police are on the case," he told reporters in Tehran.

12:38 PM ET -- Dubai police stop Iran petition. "Iranian protesters who gathered in Dubai last night were prevented by police from signing a petition against their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Officers told the 100-strong crowd they were forbidden from sending official petitions from UAE soil."

11:30 AM ET -- Tehran shut-down. Iran's state media outlets (also here) are reporting that after an emergency meeting, Tehran's pollution committee has decided to close all government agencies, schools, and factories for the next two days due to heavy pollution.

The timing of the closures seem very suspicious, coinciding with the major 10-year anniversary of the 18th Tir student protests. Several readers have noted that a national day of strike was called for the anniversary, and these pollution closures would take that action off the table.

Update: Here's state-backed Press TV's account of the closings, which it blames on dust pollution.

11:21 AM ET -- A new poem for the rooftops of Iran. Reader Chas Danner, with help from several Farsi-speaking readers, has published a new video of the "Allah-o Akbar" chants accompanied by some beautiful, poetic commentary by an Iranian woman.

It's so very touching.


11:17 AM ET -- Mousavi holds planning meeting? The news site Baztab reports claims that Mousavi met recently with Hassan Khomeini (grandson of Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini) and reformist former president Rafsanjani to discuss further actions against the election result.

11:09 AM ET -- Ayatollah Beheshti's son warns against arresting Mousavi. In the midst of calls for prosecution of Mousavi, Ali-Reza Beheshti, son of the late Ayatollah Beheshti, says there must be "clever individuals in Iran who know what cost such a prosecution would entail."

10:17 AM ET -- Iran's parliament speaker congratulates Ahmadinejad. Via a reader, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has visited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and officially congratulated him on his reelection.

This is unfortunate news for the reformists. Larijani is a conservative, but he has a long, negative history with Ahmadinejad and had been a consistent thorn in his side after the election, arguing at one point that the majority of the country did not trust the election results.


10:04 AM ET -- Revolutionary Guard takes command. The Los Angeles Times reports:

The top leaders of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard publicly acknowledged they had taken over the nation's security and warned late Sunday that there was no middle ground in the ongoing dispute over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a threat against a reformist wave led by Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the elite military branch, said the Guard's takeover of the country had led to "a revival of the revolution and clarification of the value positions of the establishment at home and abroad."

"These events put us in a new stage of the revolution and political struggles, and all of us must fully comprehend its dimensions," he said at a Sunday press conference, according to reports that surfaced today.

9:58 AM ET -- Khamenei warns "meddling" West. The Supreme Leader remains on-message:

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Western leaders on Monday of a "firm fist" in response to their "meddling" in Iran's domestic affairs.

"The leaders of arrogant countries, the nosy meddlers in the affairs of the Islamic republic, must know that no matter if the Iranian people have their own differences, when you enemies get involved, the people... will become a firm fist against you," he said in a televised speech.

"The Iranian nation warns the leaders of those countries trying to take advantage of the situation, beware! The Iranian nation will react."

Iranian leaders have accused the West, particularly Britain and the United States of seeking to destabilise the country in the aftermath of its disputed presidential election.

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Useful Resources

Translations: Google Translate | TehranBroadcast.com | Translate4Iran
Helping Iranians use the web: Haystack | Tor Project (English & Farsi) | IranHelp.org (Farsi)
Demonstrations: Facebook | Sharearchy | WhyWeProtest
Activism: Avaaz.org | National Iranian American Council