Friday, October 07, 2005

Suppression and Freedom

Mehrdad Sheibani, Rooz Online:
This is a day of conflicting news. The leader of the judiciary branch orders that a positive response be given to the letter of the Society for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights and provide the grounds for the release of 34 political prisoners.

Hashemi Shahroodi, the judiciary chief, who was talking to members of the Press Jury also spoke of the need and importance of a jury for political crimes. At the Ministry of Education the news is that a few days after Shahroodi’s order, a list of 15 student prisoners has been prepared to have them freed as soon as possible. In related news, the Minister of Justice of Iran says that he will meet with three “religious-national” prisoners to hear what they have to say. And the wife of imprisoned attorney Abdolfatah Soltani says that the prosecutor of Tehran has promised her that the case against her husband will be clear within the next two weeks and his case will most likely be dismissed. This can be a good day for human rights.

On the other hand there is also news that seems to cloudy the day. ILNA labor news agency announces that the Baseej (para-military volunteers under the command of the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards) will hold military maneuvers in Kuy-Barzan. Reports have it that some 5,000 baseejis will participate in the exercise to deal with possible threats to the town and its property. On the same day, anti-riot police will hold their own exercise. They will practice measures to combat “disruptors.

What is going on and what is supposed to take place that these maneuvers are held? Nobody knows. READ MORE

Last Monday, a group of clerics protested against the recent talk of Abdol Kareem Sorush, a prominent and respected thinker and university professor who researched at Harvard until last year.

This coming Friday too plans are under way to hold demonstrations in support of Iran’s nuclear activities.

This last event will take place despite Mostafa Tajzadeh’s call that any decision regarding the nuclear issue with consultation with the public is an act of treason. (Tajzadeh is a former deputy minister and currently a leading figure in Iran’s reform movement.) He has called on publicizing the debate so that prominent national personalities can come forward and present their views in the media. By editorializing Tajzadeh’s proposal positively, Sharg website which is a pro-hardline site, gave it a meaningful supportive nod. He asks the Iranian officials not to undertake risky steps as they will produce undesirable consequences. He is probably referring to the US initiative to stop other countries from cooperating and working with Iran in the nuclear field.

In the words of ayatollah Khazali the US has spent a few million dollars to mobilize some illiterate preachers. Are these the very preachers who had a hand in bringing Ahmadinejad to power? No one knows. Whatever it is, it shows the influence of the United States. It is as if America’s plots continue and interestingly they are all uncovered [sic] by ayatollah Khazali!! But America’s influence seems to be greater than this as Mohammad Abbaspour, a leading member of the Social Committee of the Majlis (Parliament) says he “smells” America’s presence in the state Plan and Budget Organization, which is primarily responsible for preparing and monitoring the periodic state development plans.

More on the foreign policy issue. Hamid-Reza Asefi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman says that the words of the US deputy Secretary of State [presumably Nichols Burns] are another example of a policy of deceit of the US government. So much for the US.

Now let’s see how the Europeans fare. Asefi announces Iran’s willingness to resume negotiations with them. He also cautions that we “cannot act hastily.” And while Russian officials say they have rejected US requests to end its nuclear cooperation with Iran, they also call on Iran to accept the recent resolution of the board of the IAEA. The chief foreign policy official of the EU too says that the differences between the EU and Russia are “tactical”. He adds that the IAEA resolution shall maintain the pressure on Iran.

Back to Tehran. News reports have it that there are three sites from where electronic blocking against satellite television broadcasts is taking place. This is of course not new stuff. What is new is that Baztab website which belongs to the supporters of hardliners in Iran reveals that the jamming is against political networks while porno and immoral websites have been left to themselves. So it is no accident that Majlis Speaker Haddad Adel calls for a new “realistic” law to control satellite broadcasts into Iran.

From the northern city of Tabriz, the news is that Masoumeh Babapour, a Tabrizi journalist has disappeared. In a related news, Majlis representative from Shahriayar, an industrial town near the capital, is reported to have been attacked by two individuals who wanted to cut off his artery! They failed but were subsequently identified and arrested by the police.