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Iran Uprising Blogging (Wednesday July 8)

First Posted: 08/08/09 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 02:35 PM ET

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.

Thursday's updates are here.

Top story -- The brave women of Iran. An incredible dispatch from a woman in Tehran, published by the Jerusalem Post:

"Just yesterday, I saw four plainclothes [members of the security forces] harassing two young men. The two young men had their hands tied behind their backs and were crying. I went to up the security forces and told then to let the boys ago, even though my two daughters were trying to hold me back. The security men grabbed us by the arms and started calling for reinforcements.


"I screamed at them: 'How dare you grab my two daughters, who have never been touched by any man, and how dare you touch me? I have never been touched by any man except my husband.' They let go of our arms and I told them again: Let the boys go."

She said the security men were preparing to drag the two young men away, nonetheless, so "I took out a picture of the Imam from my purse and the Koran. At that point five more of the riot police came... I said to them, 'Do you think this is what the Imam wanted?' I waved the Koran and told them to be afraid of God's wrath in the next life, because Khamenei's jurisdiction ends there."

Read here to see how her story ends (it's worth it).

11:15 PM ET -- I am Neda. Produced by VoiceOfTheVoiceless.net.


10:54 PM ET -- "Bearing witness in Iran weighs heavily on Cohen." A 30-minute NPR interview with New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.

10:41 PM ET -- Some protesters freed, but arrests still being made. This New York Times story notes that some 2,000 Iran demonstrators were reportedly freed today. But it adds:

The announcement was made against a backdrop of rising anxiety and continued arrests. According to Press TV, a reformist member of Parliament, Mohammad Reza Tabesh, said the government's approach -- holding prisoners incommunicado -- had left families of the accused frightened. And the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based group, said the government was continuing to make arrests.


The group said a prominent human rights lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, was arrested in his office in Tehran around 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

"The Iranian government is trampling over every rule of due process," Hadi Ghaemi, the group's spokesman, said in a statement from New York. "Not only are hundreds of detainees in incommunicado detention, in solitary confinement and possibly under torture, but their lawyers are rapidly being added to their ranks."

10:10 PM ET -- G8's statement on Iran. There was widespread agreement on several issues:

Group of Eight leaders say they deplore the violence in the aftermath of Iran's disputed election last month and remain "seriously concerned" about the situation.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the statement by G-8 leaders "shows the unity of the G-8 against the situation in Iran."

The G-8 statement, seen by The Associated Press, said G-8 leaders "deplore post-electoral violence, which led to the loss of lives of Iranian civilians." The leaders also "condemn the declarations of President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust."

The statement also criticizes restrictions on the media.

Two other important points: there was no agreement on increased sanctions on Iran (it's unclear if any countries were actually pushing for new sanctions).

However, the G8 did agree on a deadline for nuclear negotiations to make progress before additional sanctions would be sought.

Group of Eight major powers will give Iran until September to accept negotiations over its nuclear ambitions or else face tougher sanctions, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday.


Upping the stakes in a dispute with Tehran, Sarkozy said the powers would review the situation at a G20 meeting of developed and developing countries in Pittsburgh on September 24 and 25.

"If there is no progress by then we will have to take decisions," said Sarkozy after discussions with G8 partners that wrapped up the first day of their annual summit.

UK Guardian: Supreme Leader's son takes control of Basij. As a reader notes, this news is probably not much of a surprise. On the other hand, it could also be a sign of a there a lack of trust in the loyalty of the basiji ranks.

The son of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has taken control of the militia being used to crush the protest movement, according to a senior Iranian source.


The source, a politician with strong connections to the security apparatus, said that the leading role being played by Mojtaba Khamenei had dismayed many of the country's senior clerics, conservative politicians and Revolutionary Guard generals. [...]

He said Mojtaba had played a leading role in orchestrating Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory on 12 June and had led the backlash against protests through direct control of street militias, known as basiji.

10:02 PM ET -- Shirin Ebadi writes open letter to Ahmadinejad. Ebadi, the renowned Iranian human rights activist and Nobel laureate, published an open letter to Ahmadinejad on Sunday which I only saw today, thanks to reader Larry.

The letter doesn't touch on the election unrest. Rather, it details the extent of abuse and harassment that Ebadi's human rights center has faced from Iran's government in recent months. Here are a few points taken at random, representative of what Ebadi and other rights advocates are struggling against:

2) On December 22 and December 29, 2008 my offices were searched by individuals claiming to be from the office of taxation and all my client's case files, computers and CDs in the office as well as my personal writings and documents which were unrelated to my taxes were illegally seized by these officials. While much of the property seized has since been returned, it remains unclear which documents have yet to be returned and which documents still remain in the possession of these security officials.


3) The former secretary of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, Jinous Sobhani, was arrested on January 14, 2009, for no reason. She was released on bail after enduring 55 days in detention.

4) On January 1, 2009, under the pretense of defending the people of Gaza, a mob of basiji students attacked my building where my home and offices are both located. The mob shouted violent slogans against me and wrote similar slogans on the walls outside. Despite the fact that the police were present on the scene, they did nothing to stop the mob, and only watched as the violence unfolded. This occurred despite the fact that the Palestinian Human Rights Organization, which is supported by all Palestinian political groups, had condemned the closure of the offices of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and had invited me to travel to Palestine and the Gaza Strip.

9:56 PM ET -- Just finished up a talk with Middle East analyst Juan Cole, sponsored by Brave New Studio. I'll post video tomorrow.

2:40 PM ET -- Netanyahu aide: Obama "distinguishing" U.S. from Israel on Iran.

Comments by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden about a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities were directed at Iran and meant to "distinguish" the U.S. from Israel, the Israeli premier's national security adviser said Wednesday.


Also, American leaders are signaling Iran that the U.S. is still interested in diplomatic engagement, the adviser, Uzi Arad, told The Associated Press.

1:43 PM ET -- Iran: 2,500 election demonstrators arrested, 500 will stand trial. From Press TV:

Iran's Prosecutor General says some 500 individuals arrested in the course of the post-vote unrest will be subject to court action.


Mohammad-Reza Tabesh, head of the minority Reformist faction in the Iranian parliament, Majlis, met with prosecutor general Qorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi to address issues surrounding the post-election situation in the country.

Tabesh pointed to the acute distress of the families of the detainees and urged a 'legal approach' to the situation. [...]

While authorities had previously announced that more than 1,000 people had been arrested over the course of the unrest, Tabesh said that according to Iran's prosecutor general the number of arrests stands at 2,500. [...]

The Majlis official also revealed a decision to release those facing fewer charges 'on bail.'

He added that some cases might be referred from the judiciary to the Supreme National Security Council for further investigation.

1:38 PM ET -- An online demonstration targeted at Biden. From a reader:

WHEN - Thursday, July 9th @ 8pm PST or 11pm EST


WHO - everyone who wants to help give Iran a voice against their aggressors

WHERE - at your house - so no excuses, it is the least you can do for all those giving their lives

http://www.facebook.com/joebiden

Please watch the video for instructions on the July 9th Onlne Protest


"As Iran Calms, a Struggle for Political Power Intensifies." The New York Times places the ongoing clerical struggles in Iran in some historical context, finding that the "competing poles of Iran's system have produced a fight-to-the-death ethos. Compromise is not just elusive but a sign of weakness."

The streets of Iran have been largely silenced, but a power struggle grinds on behind the scenes, this time over the very nature of the state itself. It is a battle that transcends the immediate conflict over the presidential election, one that began 30 years ago as the Islamic Revolution established a new form of government that sought to blend theocracy and a measure of democracy.


From the beginning, both have vied for an upper hand, and today both are tarnished. In postelection Iran, there is growing unease among many of the nation's political and clerical elite that the very system of governance they rely on for power and privilege has been stripped of its religious and electoral legitimacy, creating a virtual dictatorship enforced by an emboldened security apparatus, analysts said.

12:32 PM ET -- Detainees describe beatings, pressure to confess. A new report out from Human Rights Watch:

The Iranian authorities are using prolonged harsh interrogations, beatings, sleep deprivation, and threats of torture to extract false confessions from detainees arrested since the disputed June 12 presidential election, Human Rights Watch said today. The confessions appear designed to support unsubstantiated allegations by senior government officials that Iran's post-election protests, in which at least 20 people were killed, were supported by foreign powers and aimed at overthrowing the government.


"The Iranian government is desperate to justify its vicious attacks on peaceful protesters," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "What better excuse does it need than confessions of foreign plots, beaten out of detainees?"

Human Rights Watch has collected accounts from detainees after their release illustrating how the authorities are mistreating and threatening prisoners in a deliberate effort to obtain false confessions.

The new accounts are here.

12:28 PM ET -- Solidarity. Photos from Iran demonstrations around the world, to the music of U2...


10:25 AM ET -- Big day tomorrow. Patrick Disney of the National Iranian American Council emails:

I wanted to give you and your team a heads-up that we're hearing from a lot of sources that Thursday will likely see a lot of unrest and potential violence in Iran. It marks the 10th anniversary of the "18th of Tir", which is a monumental day in Iran.


On that day in 1999, students protesting the closing of the reformist newspaper "Salaam" were attacked in their dormitories in Tehran and Tabriz. Six days of protests ensued, which began with several hundred students and blossomed into thousands of people from all walks of life supporting the demonstrations. They were the biggest display of [protest] sentiment in the regime's then twenty-year history, and they were put down by the regime with a mandate by the threatened leadership to stop the unrest at any cost.

The parallels to today's events are uncanny, and while the date has been marked with numerous protests since 1999, this anniversary takes on a special significance. We know that authorities are already trying to lock the cities down ahead of time. Demonstrations are planned all over the U.S. in solidarity with the protesters letting them know the world is watching what the regime is doing.

10:03 AM ET -- Clinton warns Iran of tougher sanctions. There were reports last week that the Obama administration was pushing against efforts from other G8 nations to impose new sanctions on Iran. If Clinton's new comments reflect administration policy (and there's no reason to believe they do not), the U.S. position seems to be that sanctions should be used only if diplomacy fails.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington would call for more sanctions against Iran if the White House policy of engagement with Tehran failed.


Clinton said U.S. outreach to Iran may not work given the country's recent repression of protests after a disputed election.

"It may not be possible, in which case we would ask the world to join us in imposing even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behavior of the regime," Clinton said in an interview with Venezuelan television station Globovision, broadcast late on Tuesday.

"We have seen in the last weeks that Iran has not respected its own democracy," she said.

An informed reader writes, "Honestly, if the shut gasoline imports to Iran for 2 weeks - regime will fall. What outsiders tend not to fully understand is that people in Iran do not view gasoline as outside forces. It is government's duty to provide, simple as that. Your most hardcore Ahmadinejad supporter could care less [about supporting the president] if there's no gasoline. Last time big riots - 2007 - due to increase in gasoline prices. The country would come to standstill. About 7-8m people in country's income are directly dependant on having gasoline. Secondary effects - god knows."

10:00 AM ET -- Protesters urged to carry roses as weapons. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Keep quiet under all circumstances, the circular advises those planning to march in Thursday's unauthorized demonstrations in Iran cities.


"The heaviest weapon to carry is one rose in the hand," it says.

As Iranians prepare for what could be another violent day of confrontations Thursday between demonstrators and security forces, including pro-government plainclothes Basiji militias, supporters of opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi have distributed instructions to try to keep any anticipated violence to a minimum.

Iran-rose One video making its way around the internet (above) shows demonstrators how to make devices to disable the motorcycles used by truncheon-wielding Basiji and Ansar-e-Hezbollah militiamen.

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100 6047

9:55 AM ET -- Mousavi aide reportedly leaves for UK. Iran's state media has been closely following the case of Mousavi aide Abolfazl Fateh, apparently because his desire to leave the country gave them the opportunity to link Mousavi's operation with a foreign government. Here's the latest:

A top aide to defeated presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has reportedly left for the UK after previously being banned from leaving the country.


Tabnak reported on Wednesday that Abolfazl Fateh, who had been banned from leaving Iran to "clarify certain issues", had left the country.

According to authorities, the ban had been enforced due to Fateh's "role in recent developments and his efforts to arrange for the illegal gathering of Mousavi supporters."

9:54 AM ET -- Iran says no post-election protesters hanged. From Iran's state-backed Press TV: "Amid speculations that the 20 drug traffickers recently hanged in Iran were in fact individuals arrested in the country's post-vote unrest, deputy Tehran prosecutor moves to dismiss the claim. ... 'Among those hanged there were no individual who had been arrested during the recent unrest in Tehran,' Salarkia explained."

9:41 AM ET -- Newsweek reporter still languishing in Evin prison. Newsweek sends over an update on its reporter Maziar Bahari. "He is still being held in Evin Prison for more than two weeks now and hasn't been formally charged or been allowed access to lawyers."

Also of note -- Bahari has dual Iranian-Canadian citizenship. An editorial in Canada's Globe & Mail today urges the Canadian government to become more aggressive in the push for Sahari's release:

Iran's jailing of Maziar Bahari, a journalist and filmmaker who lived in Canada for 10 years and became a Canadian citizen, carries echoes of a traumatic incident in Canadian-Iranian relations, the arrest and beating death in 2003 of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-born photojournalist from Montreal. There is little concrete that Canada can do that will actually have an impact, short of Prime Minister Stephen Harper making the case to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. He should do so.


Nothing in the 42-year-old Mr. Bahari's background suggests a plotter or conspirator against the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has distinguished himself as a journalist and a filmmaker, first in Canada, directing and co-writing (with the respected journalist Terence McKenna) a 1995 film for the National Film Board called The Voyage of the St. Louis, about the ship of Jewish refugees from Europe who were turned away from Canada in 1939. He returned to his homeland of Iran in 1998 and has since been a correspondent for Newsweek, and made several more documentaries. [...]

Canada has had no ambassador in Iran since 2007, so whatever diplomatic voice it has is easily ignored. Because Mr. Bahari is an Iranian citizen, Iran considers him one of its own; it does not even have to grant consular access, and it hasn't. Mr. Harper should let Iran know the seriousness with which Canada views Mr. Bahari's plight.

8:13 AM ET -- Questions for Juan Cole? Brave New Studio is hosting an event tonight on Iran featuring Middle East historian and analyst Juan Cole which I'm lucky enough to be moderating. Any questions you'd like me to ask Cole? Email me. I'll post video of the event in tomorrow's blog.

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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

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