Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend roundup - Monday 21 September 2009

A review of the most important Iran news of the weekend.

  • Ebrahim Sharifi, one of the alleged victims of rape in Iranian prisons, remains undaunted. Mehdi Karroubi initially referred to Sharifi without naming him and published a limited account of his experiences on the Etemad Melli web site. The regime's panel which looked into Karroubi's allegations quickly dismissed all evidence and claims of abuse, rape, and murder in Iranian prisons, in particular disparaging a certain 'E. Sh.' Sharifi courageously maintained his position and divulged his identity in video testimony that appeared on the Internet ten days ago. Sharifi has now left Iran and gave a detailed interview of the abuse to which he was subjected in an interview with Radio Farda which was released this weekend. For an English translation of this interview, please come back to this blog later today.

  • In another sign of sharp divisions between senior clerics and the regime, a number of grand ayatollahs rejected Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's announcement that September 20 was the date of Eid Fitr, a key celebration in Islam which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is the first day of Shawwal. Several grand ayatollahs -- 'sources of emulation' whom Shiites choose to follow -- including Hossein Ali Montazeri, Youssef Saanei, Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili, and Asadollah Bayat Zanjani declared erroneous Khamenei's assessment that Eid Fitr was to take place on Sunday and said that the correct date is today, Monday September 21. The Muslim calendar is lunar and senior clerics must declare when months such as Ramadan end according to their observations of the lunar cycle. 'Those who mistakenly broke their fast on Sunday have not sinned because they did not do so deliberately,' observed Grand Ayatollah Saanei.

  • Footage filmed from the pedestrian overpass at 7th Tir Square, Tehran, at 2 PM on Friday September 18 shows Basiji forces escaping as people charge them and burn a dozen of their motorcycles. The person filming the video says, 'Look at the people's rage. It is Iran Day! (NB Protesters are now referring to Ghods Day as Iran Day. This follows the same trend as the slogan employed throughout the country -- 'Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran.' -- during this event which is supposed to show support for Palestinians and opposition to Israel.

  • According to a report released this morning by the Iranian Labor News Agency, disruptions in Internet service which began on Thursday, September 17, the day before the mass protests around the country, have not been resolved yet. 'Such widespead disruption had occurred in the days before and after the election,' notes ILNA. 'But since the authorities have stated that there are no security concerns at this time, the current problems have provoked confusion among the country's Internet users.'

  • On Sunday, it was announced that Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, formerly Defense Minister, would be visiting Kurdistan province with a security delegation following following recent 'terrorist activity' there. Mamosta Borhan Aali, one of Sanandaj's Friday prayer leaders, was gunned down outside his home on September 13. Four days later, Mamosta Mohammad Sheikholeslam, Assembly of Experts representative from Kurdistan province, was shot and killed outside a Sanandaj mosque. Two Kurdish judges were injured in assassination attempts over the past ten days. Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi told Mehr News that his agents were looking into these events which 'showed the abject nature of the enemy.' It is unclear who is behind the series of assassination attempts but some opposition analysts believe that some, if not all, may have been orchestrated as a prelude to a violent crackdown in Kurdistan province.

  • Alireza Beheshti, Mousavi adviser and head of the opposition committee investigating the abuse and deaths of protesters, announced on Sunday that Muslims wishing to offer fitriyeh -- charitable gifts given on Eid Fitr (see above) -- to those who have suffered in the post-election unrest, could transfer donations to a bank account set up for the occasion. Beheshti was recently arrested and released in a weeklong crackdown targeting those looking into the regime's human rights violation. Details of the bank account were published on the web site of the Etemad Melli Party.

  • According to a document released by the Mousavi camp this weekend, hospitals were ordered to keep secret the medical records of those injured in the post-election unrest. The alleged confidential directive issued to the Health Ministry on July 19 by the IRGC's Sarollah Base, a division of the Revolutionary Guards intelligence apparatus under IRGC deputy commander-in-chief General Mohammad Hejazi, orders hospitals to refrain from providing those injured in the post-election unrest with any medical records. The document, stamped 'urgent' and 'confidential,' was signed by General Ali Khalili and was acknowledged by the Health Ministry on July 26.

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