Friday, June 4, 2010

Free goodies: It must be another regime event

Arch-concervative newspaper Keyhan wrote yesterday that two million people would attend. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps announced that it could have brought in five million people, but that housing issues precluded busing in so many.

Whatever the number of participants at the ceremony for the 21st anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's death held at his mausoleum on June 4, 2010 -- and we can almost be certain that Keyhan's figure of 2 million will be presented as fact in tomorrow's newspapers -- it wouldn't be a proper regime-organized, yet somehow 'spontaneous' show of popular support, if there were no handouts for the masses, particularly the ever-popular Sundis fruit juice. The term Sundis-khor (Sundis drinker) has entered the Iranian political lexicon as a term for those who support the regime out of interest.

Already yesterday, as a part of preparations for the event, Basij trucks loaded with crates of juice, fruit, and other goods could be seen around Tehran and the suburbs. The photo to the right shows a vehicle with the emblem of the Karaj chapter of the Basij.

Well today's event did not disappoint as videos posted to the Internet show.

The beginning of the first video shows what are referred to as istgaheh salavati or praise booths where gifts are handed out to participants. The second part shows people carrying away crates of fruit or other gifts. Incidentally, the voice heard over the loudspeakers is Leader Ali Khamenei delivering his long-awaited sermon:

The second video shows youngsters carrying away as many crates as they can, with whatever means at their disposal. Notice another mainstay of such events -- the buses in the background:

In the following videos, the masses converge on the handout booths with extreme vigor:

When abuse becomes ingrained in security forces: video shows police mistreating illegal Afghan immigrants

Footage released by the Reporters and Human Rights Activists News Agency (RAHANA) on Thursday, June 3, 2010, shows the security forces of the Islamic Republic abusing captured illegal Afghan immigrants.

The Afghans were captured around Rafsanjan, Kerman province, and taken by truck to a police base outside the town about two weeks ago, according to RAHANA.

View Rafsanjan, Kerman province - Afghans are abused by islamic Republic security forces - 20 May 2010 in a larger map

The film shows a police officer ordering the captured Afghans to beat themselves, beat the person in front of them, or stand and sit repeatedly. 'One, two, three. One, two, three. Harder. Harder,' the police officer shouts, setting the pace for the prisoners to beat themselves on the head. A fellow security officer can be clearly heard laughing and snickering in the background.

'We won't come to Iran again,' says an Afghan. The sadistic police officer is inspired by this remark and asks everyone to repeat it in unison.

Khamenei delivers dire threat to opposition leaders

Leader Ali Khamenei radically hardened his stance against opposition leaders during his sermon at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's mausoleum in a ceremony marking the 21st anniversary of the death of the Islamic Republic's founder.

Referring to Islamic history, Khamenei recounted how Imam Ali, the first imam of Shiites and Muhammed's son-in-law, led his forces from Medina against former allies who had strayed from the true path in the 7th century AD.

The two main opposition figures, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were close companions of Khomeini and held important positions in the Islamic Republic. Mousavi was Khomeini's prime minister during the crucial war years in the 1980s. Karroubi was placed at the head of the powerful and extremely well-funded Martyrs Foundation at Khomeini's personal order in the same period. Karroubi later served as the Speaker of the Majlis.

In an allusion to the two men in particular, and dozens of senior leaders from opposition parties who also held important functions within the apparatus but have been imprisoned or otherwise silenced since the presidential election, Khamenei said that the true criteria for judging individuals is their current positions towards the regime, not their pasts.

Then Khamenei made a thinly-veiled and extraordinary threat. 'There were individuals who accompanied the Imam [Khomeini] on the plane to Tehran who were later executed [for treason],' he said. Khomeini, who had been residing in the french village of Neauphle le Ch√Ęteau, flew triumphantly from Paris to Tehran on February 1, 1979. Only his closest aides accompanied him on that trip. Many were later arrested, exiled, or executed, including Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, who sat next to Khomeini on the flight to Tehran. Ghotbzadeh served as the head of state radio-television and foreign minister before being arrested and executed in 1982. He was allegedly severely tortured to obtain his confession of plotting against the regime.

Mousavi and Karroubi ran in the disputed June 12 election of last year after the Guardian Council validated their candidacies. Mohsen Rezai, the former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps during the Iran-Iraq War, was the fourth candidate. All three men initially made accusations of fraud after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner, although Rezai subsequently retracted his charges and tempered his critique of the government.

Rezai was present in the audience at today's sermon. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Expediency Council chief and Assembly of Experts president, was also there, sitting in the front row, a few places away from Ahmadinejad who has famously accused him and his family of corruption.

Ahmadinejad employed the same bellicose tone and themes in his speech which preceded Khamenei's. Stressing that the Islamic Republic has the most democratic government in the world and that he had really garnered 25 million votes, Ahmadinejad said it was strange that the opposition leaders claimed they were followers of Khomeini's path, when they were actually moving in line with 'monarchists [...] and world arrogance (NB The US or Western powers) who were the worst enemies of the Imam.'

'According to the Imam, preserving the regime is of the highest importance,' Ahmadinejad said. 'I am sorry to say that those who are tarnishing the reputation of the Islamic Republic cannot claim to be followers of the Imam.'