Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend roundup

A review of the most important news of the weekend.

  • Alireza Beheshti, senior member of the opposition committee looking into the abuse and deaths of protesters, was released from prison late Saturday. Beheshti was arrested at home on Tuesday after the search and closure of his offices on Monday. He is the son of iconic revolutionary figure Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, the first judiciary chief of the Islamic Republic who was assassinated in 1981. Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, visited Beheshti shortly after he was freed. The release, said to be the result of heavy backroom pressure from senior leaders, is considered a setback for the regime hard-liners. (Previous report on his arrest)
  • Supporters began assembling outside Ayatollah Youssef Saanei's office in the holy city of Ghom on Saturday evening after he delivered a fiery speech against the regime. Congregants, gathered in a mosque on the occasion of Ghadr Night, the night of the revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammed, began chanting even before leaving the premises:

    They subsequently demonstrated outside Saanei's office, chanting 'With God's help we will reach victory, death to this deceitful government!' 'Political prisoners must be freed!' 'Long live Mir Hossein [Mousavi], May Karroubi stand long!' and 'Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life only for Iran!'

    Ayatollah Saanei had already delivered a highly critical speech in Gorgan on August 12, in which he implied that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a 'lying bastard.' Ahmadinejad has filed a lawsuit against Saanei.

  • Human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was released from prison on Sunday after posting 500 million toumans ($500,000) in bail. He had been arrested in his law office on July 8. Dadkhah is a member of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi's Center for the Defense of Human Rights, and has often defended political prisoners in court.

  • Five months after arriving in Tehran, British Ambassador Simon Gass finally presented his letter of appointment to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday, in a ceremony that Raja News and Fars News termed 'a humiliation for Britain.' Gass presented his letter in a joint ceremony attended by other newly-appointed ambassadors from Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand. Ahmadinejad reportedly did not smile when addressing Gass and in response to the British ambassador's assurances that Britain did not want to interfere in the affairs of Iran, said that the Iranian people would not allow anyone to interfere anyway.

  • Mamousta Borhan Aali, a Friday prayer leader in Sanandaj, Kurdistan province, was shot and killed at his home. Borhan Aali was a supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and had campaigned for him during the presidential election.

  • The archives of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, have filed a lawsuit against arch-conservative Keyhan daily for alleging that the archives had been infiltrated by traitors. The full text of the complaint in Farsi can be read here. Keyhan daily is run by Hossein Shariatmadari, close adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his representative at the Keyhan Institute. 

  • Candlelight vigils were held at Behesht Zahra cemetery for dead protesters, including Neda Agha Soltan and Sohrab Aarabi. The woman weeping at Neda's grave (the YouTube user incorrectly uses the word 'thumb' instead of tomb) is allegedly her mother and can be heard saying, 'You had so much left to say. Your eyes say so much. What were you seeking, my dear Neda?'

    And at Sohrab Aarabi's grave:

  • Rooftop chanting was allegedly stronger than usual after Ayatollah Khamenei's bellicose Friday Prayer sermon,  according to several videos posted over the weekend:

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