Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend roundup - Monday 9 November 2009

  • Former Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi was once again heckled at a university event, this time in Gilan University, northern Iran, on Sunday. Saffar Harandi's speech was interrupted loudly with chants of 'Death to the Leader's dictatorship' and 'Our shame, our shame, our Culture Minister.'

  • Makarem Shirazi (left), Gorgani (center)
  • Conservative Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, one of the most senior clerics in the country, urged the judiciary to put those responsible for some of the regime's post-election abuses on trial as soon as possible. He made the comments at a meeting with the president of the High Court, Ayatollah Ahmad Mohseni Gorgani, aka Mohseni Araki, on Sunday. According to a report on Makarem Shirazi's personal web site, 'At the conclusion of the meeting, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi told the honorable High Court president, "Convey my greetings to Ayatollah Larijani (NB judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani) and tell him that the people await the trials of those responsible for University Street, Kahrizak prison, and the Sobhan complex. (NB Referring respectively to the attack by Basijis and plainclothesmen on a Tehran University dormitory on June 15, 2009, which allegedly left at least 5 students dead; Kahrizak detention center where prisoners were killed, tortured, and raped; and the attack on the Sobhan residential complex by Basijis and plainclothesmen on June 16, 2009). It is necessary to take action as soon as possible to prevent a weakening of the people's trust in the judicial system. Such trials undoubtedly require courage, which I know that you and he possess."'

    Aftermath of the Tehran University dormitory attack

    Attack on Sobhan residential complex

  • Saeed Mortazavi, former Revolutionary Prosecutor for Greater Tehran, may be moving to greener pastures once again. As a loyal soldier of Leader Ali Khamenei, Mortzavi was not only instrumental in jailing and harassing dissidents, journalists, and opposition newspapers, but was actively involved in the torture and abuse of prisoners during interrogations. He is one of the officials held responsible for the death in custody of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi in 2003 and the atrocities which took place at Kahrizak detention center. He was recently rewarded for his services by being 'kicked upstairs' to the post of Deputy Prosecutor General under former Intelligence Minister Mohseni Ejei. There is now talk of another 'promotion' to get him out of the limelight even more as the new head of the economic crimes division of the Justice Ministry.

  • Jailed dissident Behzad Nabavi, a senior member of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution (not to be mistaken for the MKO), rejected all charges against him during a trial which was held behind closed doors on Sunday, according to his lawyer Mohammad Saleh Nikbakht. Nabavi famously refused to make any derogatory comments against opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi during the first sessions of the Revolutionary kangaroo court, saying that he 'could not betray Mousavi.' Nabavi read from 12 pages of notes he had prepared while in the hospital as he defended himself against a series of accusations which include 'disrupting traffic on June 13 and 15.' Massive protests against the results of the presidential election (June 12) took place on those days.

  • Queens College, Oxford University, has established a scholarship in memory of Neda Agha Soltan for students working towards a graduate degree in philosophy. Neda Agha Soltan, who obtained a degree in philosophy from Azad University, was killed by the regime's security forces on the streets of Tehran on June 20, 2009. Queens College announced on its web site that the Neda Agha Soltan scholarship was made possible by 'two generous gifts' and that although it was open to all graduate students in the field of philosophy, students of Iranian descent or nationality would have preference. The first student to benefit from this scholarship is Arianne Shahvisi who is studying for a masters degree in the philosophy of physics. Shahvisi said on the Oxford University web site, 'It is a great honor to be the first student to receive the scholarship in the memory of Neda Agha Soltan, which is particularly meaningful to me, being a young woman of Iranian descent, also studying philosophy. In accepting the scholarship, I extend my sincere condolences to the Agha Soltan family, and hope that in succeeding in my studies at Oxford, I can do justice to the name of their brave and gifted daughter.'