December 15, 2009 VOLUME 67


To our readers,

In every video clip, news reports and photos of the on-going anti-government protests, women are present and much more noticeable than ever. Iranian women are increasingly radicalizing the movement for change calling for the end of Islamic fundamentalist ruling in Iran. Increasingly the slogans targeting Iran’s supreme leader, such as “Khameinie is a murder, we reject his leadership” are heard in every protest and rally. Over the last few weeks his picture along with Khomeini’s are burned, torn, and trampled upon. Regime’s desperate attempt to “humiliate” protesters, led to a web-posting of mocked up image of an arrested student leader in women’s clothing. In response, other male protesters dressed up in women’s clothing and posted their image on-line. One protester posted, “I am proud to follow women’s lead and even dress like them. If regime thinks this is humiliating, they are gravely mistaking.” Another protester said “women are the bravest in our movement, they have suffered enough unfer this regime…this act will give me a chance to feel their pain of forced veiling.” After an outpour of support by male protesters on-line with their images in women’s clothing, a female protester cleverly altered the supreme leader’s image, Khamenie, in women’s clothing with a message “looks like you’re the only one insulted by this image!”

Iranian people are defeating regime’s suppressive forces in the streets, schools, mosques, and online. In the face of popular uprising and clever tactics, the regime is virtually disarmed. A regime, whose means of control has been through suppression, humiliation and daemonization of the opposition, is now facing its final days.

Some opposition leaders are predicting that this regime will be gone in one year, others are speculating much less time. Let us hope the world community takes the realities in the streets of Iran to heart and listen to the message coming from the Iranian people.

E-Zan Featured Headlines

The Baptist Press – November 18, 2009

Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, and Maryam Rostampour, 27, were released without bail after 256 days in jail, but they still face charges of apostasy (conversion from Islam to Christianity), the human rights organization International Christian Concern reported within hours after their release. No court date has been set by Iranian authorities. While at Evin Prison, Amirizadeh and Rostampour were kept in solitary confinement and endured extended interrogations, all the while suffering from poor health, ICC stated in a news release.


The LA Times Blog – November 20, 2009

The flickering images of Neda Agha-Soltan’s last moments in a Tehran street on June 20 before she died from gunshot wounds gripped the world, galvanized the nation and made the 26-year-old music student the face of Iran’s recent protest movement. Each year, the U.S.-based magazine grants the title to one or several persons who "most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year." Administrators of the more than 1,000-member strong Facebook group "Nominate Neda Agha-Soltan as the Time Woman of the Year" say she deserves the title because she has become “the symbol of the recent Iranian movement towards democracy and freedom" through her tragic death that shocked the world.


The Brazil Magazine – November 20, 2009

The Brazilian Congress is scheduled to receive the official visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, this Monday, November 23. The presidents of the Lower House, Michel Temer and of the Senate, José Sarney, will welcome the Iranian leader at 3:45 pm in the Senate's Noble Hall, in Brazilian capital Brasília. Target of street protests in Brazil in recent weeks, the Iranian leader's visit has also sparked controversy in the National Congress. House representative Rodrigo Rocha Loures, from the PMDB, a party allied to the Lula administration, vows to request the Chamber to deny Ahmadinejad entrance to the floor. For Rocha Loures, due to the aggressions against minorities, such as women and Jews, and due to the dictatorial character of the Iranian government, charged with electoral fraud, Brazil should not allow Ahmadinejad to visit the country.


Bloomberg News – November 21, 2009

The Iranian government’s treatment of protesters following the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, including torture and arbitrary imprisonment, was censured today by the United Nations General Assembly.  The General Assembly, consisting of all 192 member governments of the world body, voted 74 to 48 to adopt a resolution sponsored by the U.S. and most European Union nations that details human rights abuses in Iran. There were 59 abstentions from the vote. The measure expresses concern about “harassment, intimidation and persecution, including by arbitrary arrest, detention or disappearance, of opposition members.” It also cites “violence and intimidation by government-directed militias,” torture, rape and forced confessions. “This resolution demonstrates that the international community is deeply concerned over the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and the government’s failure to uphold its obligations under its own constitution and international human rights law,” U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement.


The UK Guardian – November 27, 2009

Iran is embroiled in a game of tit for tat with Yemen after Tehran thoroughfares were renamed in honour of anti-government rebels in the Arabian peninsular country. Iranians reportedly designated a street in their capital The Martyrs of Sa'ada, after the remote and mountainous Yemeni province where Shia insurgents are battling government troops and artillery. To the anger of Yemeni officials, another road in Tehran was recently named after Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, a rebel leader killed in the fighting, according to Saudi-owned al-Arabiyya TV. Iran Street in Yemen's capital Sana'a, meanwhile, has been renamed after Neda Agha Soltan, the young protester who was shot dead in June at the start of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's post-election crackdown in Iran – and whose dying moments were broadcast across the world.


The National – November 27, 2009

Iran has now set an inglorious precedent by confiscating the Nobel Peace medal of Shirin Ebadi, who in 2003 became the first Muslim woman and first Iranian to receive the prestigious award. The human rights lawyer said her gold medal and accompanying diploma were taken from a bank safety box in Tehran about three weeks ago on the orders of Iran’s Revolutionary Court and that her bank account had been frozen. “They seized my bank account and stopped my retirement pension and also my husband’s bank account and pension,” Dr Ebadi told BBC World Service radio in an interview in London.“My husband also had a deposit box in the bank and in that was my Nobel Prize and the medal of the Legion d’Honneur,” she said, referring to France’s top honour.


The Canadian Press – November 20, 2009

A legal showdown is set to take place in a Quebec courtroom this week pitting the government of Iran against the estate of slain photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. Kazemi's estate and son Stephan Hashemi are suing the Iranian government for $17 million for her arrest, detention and killing. But Iran will argue that they have immunity from Canadian courts under the State Immunity Act, which restricts the conditions under which a foreign government can be sued here. Hashemi says the dollar figure isn't as important as achieving justice in his mother's death. The Montreal photographer was arrested in 2003 outside an Iranian prison but never charged, then was beaten to death in jail. Human-rights and legal experts say this case is important because if it's wiped out under the State Immunity Act, that will send a message that Canadians don't have anywhere to seek justice for crimes committed against them abroad. A Liberal MP from Montreal, Irwin Cotler, is sponsoring a private member's bill that would amend the State Immunity Act and make it easier to sue foreign governments.


Toronto Star – December 7, 2009

Monday's protests were held on National Students Day, an annual occasion when student rallies are traditionally held. The supreme leader, who has final say on all state matters, accused the opposition Sunday of causing divisions in the country and creating opportunities for Iran's enemies.Authorities have arrested well over 100 student leaders in past weeks, looking to blunt Monday's protests. On Saturday, police detained 15 women from the Committee of Mourning Mothers, which groups relatives of protesters who have been killed in Iran's postelection crackdown. The women were arrested at a Tehran park where they have held weekly protests for months, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.


BBC News – December 4, 2009

The family of a young woman shot dead at a protest following Iran's disputed presidential election has accused the security forces of killing her.  It is the most strongly-worded statement the family of Neda Agha Soltan have made since her death.  The family's accusation follows the spread of an Iranian government-proposed theory blaming a conspiracy of western governments for the killing. "I openly declare that no one, apart from the government, killed Neda. Her killer can only be from the government," Ali Agha Soltan told the BBC's Persian service by telephone from Iran. On Wednesday government supporters held a demonstration outside the British embassy in Tehran, calling for the a young medical student who tried to treat Ms Soltan as she lay dying in the street to be returned to Iran and even accused him of killing her. But Mr Soltan dismissed accusations by the authorities that foreign powers and the opposition were involved. "They've been avoiding responsibility from the very beginning. They want to put the responsibility on other people... This is how the Islamic Republic behaves," he said. He said that he and his wife were beaten up and detained by the security forces last month when they tried to take part in an opposition demonstration. Mr Soltan also denied recent reports in an Iranian newspaper that the couple were paid by an American television network, which wanted to make a film about their daughter.


NCRI Website – December 5, 2009

Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the Iranian Resistance, met Marit Nybakk, Vice President of the Norwegian Parliament, and Kari Gun Gjul Chair of the Cultural and Family Affairs Committee at the Stortinget (Norwegian Parliament) in Oslo.  While recalling her longstanding friendship with the Iranian Resistance, Ms. Nybakk praised Iranian people and their resistance for their quest for democracy, especially the courage of Iranian women facing mullahs' misogyny. She said that the resistance’s tenacity on its positions for a democratic change in Iran has won a lot of support. Ms. Gjul expressed her support for the popular uprising in Iran. She said that it was time for the international community to hear the voice of the Iranian people for change. On her part, Mrs. Rajavi said that the events in Iran showed how much the regime is loathed by people. It showed that to remain in power, the regime needs to step up suppression, accelerate its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and continue exporting terrorism and fundamentalism, especially to Iraq. She stressed that failure in nuclear negotiations and the arrogance of Ali Khamenei, the regime’s Supreme Leader, and his appointed president Ahmadinejad show that those that rejected the policy of appeasement were right from the outset. You advocated a firm policy against suppression and violations of human rights, as well as support for the resistance movement and aspiration of Iranians for democracy.


The Associated Press – December 8, 2009

Tens of thousands of students, many shouting "Death to the Dictator!" and burning pictures of Iran's supreme leader, took to the streets on more than a dozen campuses Monday in the biggest anti-government protests in months.  Riot police and pro-government Basij militiamen on fleets of motorcycles flooded Tehran's main thoroughfares, beating men and women with clubs as crowds of demonstrators hurled bricks and stones. Some protesters set tires and garbage ablaze.  "Death to the oppressor, whether it's the shah or the leader!" the students chanted, according to witnesses - making a daring comparison between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the pro- U.S. shah, despised in Iran since his overthrow in the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The protests reflected how university students - the driving force of the 1979 Islamic Revolution - have revitalized the anti- government movement even as mainstream opposition politicians struggle to dent the power of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran's clerical leadership. Inside the walled campus of Tehran University, fistfights broke out between protesters and hard-line students loyal to the government. In one photo obtained by The Associated Press, a student wearing a green headband - the opposition's signature color - had blood streaming down his face after a beating. In another, a young woman, overcome by tear gas, slumped to the ground, as two other students tried to help her.



The Earth Times –  December 9, 2009

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was Wednesday selected as winner of "dictator of the year prize," students at Oslo University said. The Iranian leader was chosen from 11 candidates - selected by human rights experts - including North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Myanmar General Tan Schwe. The new annual prize was to be awarded to "an individual who, during the preceding year, shall have the done the most to inspire hostility among his people and between nations, significantly increased the level of human suffering, ruined human livelihoods and created war and mayhem." Students voted via the social networking website Facebook and at university institutions. "The idea behind the prize is to remind the world about the ongoing genocide and torture that affects millions of people whose souls are broken on a daily basis in places that are living hell," said Professor Nina Witoszek, who was one of the prize's founders.


Voice of America – December 11, 2009

Women are no longer allowed to wear make-up on Iranian television.  “It’s illegal and against Shari’a law,” the head of Iranian state television, Ezatollah Zarghami, was quoted in the Iranian media last week.  Although the issue of make-up is surely trivial, it does reveal how the Iranian establishment treats a woman’s right to make her own decisions.  In fact, the legal rights of women in Iran have been eroded since the Islamic Revolution there 30 years ago. However, Iranian women are fighting back against what they see as unjust laws that make them second-class citizens. Journalist Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani is one of many activists trying to eliminate discrimination against women in Iran.   She is under threat of imprisonment in Iran for her role as a founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign – which not only wants to change those laws, but also seeks to increase awareness of the needs and priorities of women in Iranian society.


NCRI Website – December 12, 2009

A statue of “Neda,” the young woman who was killed by the Iranian regime during nationwide protests in Iran, has been presented as a gift by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, to Gianfranco Fini, the Speaker of Italy’s Lower House of Parliament. Neda Agha Soltan became an iconic figure for the nationwide uprising of the Iranian people after she was slain on June 20 at the hands of henchmen of Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader and the world’s most hated dictator.The sculpture was presented to Mr. Fini by Reza Olia, a sculptor and NCRI member who created the statue, as well as Mr. Abolgassem Rezai, Deputy Secretary of the NCRI and the NCRI’s representative in Italy. Meeting with Mr. Fini on December 7, a day marking Student Day in Iran, NCRI representatives presented Neda’s statue as a gift to the Italian Parliament on behalf of Mrs. Rajavi as a gesture of gratitude for the parliamentarians’ support for the Iranian people’s uprising. Mr. Fini thanked Mrs. Rajavi for her gift and described Neda’s martyrdom as a sad and heartbreaking event that shook the world.

E-Zan Featured Reports

Mullahs' terror regime will be gone in one year

Aftenposten Norwegian daily

December 3, 2009

(Translated from original Norwegian text to English)

The Iranian Resistance movement is optimistic about the future: The revolt in Iran last summer made a regime change achievable and not just a matter for political visionaries. After the movement was driven out of the country in the wake of the Islamic revolution in 1979-80, it has lived in exile. Now it can see the possibility of returning home.

“I hope that the next time I give an interview to Aftenposten, will be in Tehran,” said Maryam Rajavi smiling to Aftenposten's reporter and photographer. The charismatic female leader of the movement People's Mujahedin of Iran and National Council of Resistance of Iran is in Norway to talk with Norwegian politicians about the situation of several thousand supporters who are in a camp in Iraq, near Iranian border. Today she was received by the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, and tomorrow she will meet a number of parliamentary representatives who are interested in the situation in Iran.


Like a Queen

A meeting with Maryam Rajavi is always special: The movement she leads has for decades been pursued either by the Shah's secret police or the mullahs’ regime aggressive troops. Thousands of the movement's followers have been jailed and killed. To keep Western countries away from the group has been for years a priority target for Iranian foreign policy.

Today, it is difficult to say how much support the movement has inside Iran. But outside the country, the group has appeared as a competing state apparatus to the mullah regime, with Maryam Rajavi as the movement's leader and public face.

That Maryam Rajavi is a special leader, is something that you can realize when you meet her, she speaks with tremendous enthusiasm about the situation in her country. In the great circle of accompanying supporters, she stands at the center point. There is no queen like her, both in the way she acts and the way the fans associate with her.



Not least, it is especially that she is a female leader in a political movement that aims to take power in a Muslim country. When we get into the role of women in society, she becomes even more involved:

“Women play an important role at all levels of our movement. Women have been at the forefront of opposition to the mullah regime," she says. In the new Iran there must be an end to discrimination against women, once and for all. Therefore, it is inspiring to come to you in Scandinavia, she said.

But it is the situation in the Ashraf camp in Iraq that is closest to her heart.

“This summer, the regime caused a bloodbath in Iraq in Ashraf. The regime has set the 15th December as a deadline to clear the camp. We fear for the massacre and an endless variety of human tragedies against the 3,500 who live there.

Norway is a country with a strong voice in the world. I appeal to you Norwegians, as strongly as I can, to take up this issue in all international forums as far as you can. One must not turn away from what is happening, "she says.



Time and again she talks about the mullah regime in Tehran, and the threat she believes it poses to world peace.

“What is happening is that a fanatical, fundamentalist Islamic regime is on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. The West has proved to be naive and seeking appeasement. Under the guise of negotiations mullahs have only continued the process to produce nuclear weapons. Mullahs have reason to smile. The tactic has so far been successful,” she says.

But the uprising in Iran in summer and autumn is about to overturn the game, believes Maryam Rajavi: “Fear of mullahs’ suppression has disappeared. The countdown has begun. I do not think the regime has more than one year left to live,” she says.


Iranian Students Clash With Police

The New York Times

By Robert Worth and Nazila Fathi

December 8, 2009

Thousands of people rallied against the government on Monday at universities across Iran, defying a wide-ranging effort to suppress the protests and bringing a new ferocity to the opposition movement’s confrontation with the state.

The protests, taking place on National Student Day, set off battles in and around campuses, witnesses said. Protesters hurled rocks and set fires amid clouds of tear gas, while a vast deployment of police officers and plainclothes Basij militia members used chains, truncheons and stun guns to beat back chanting protesters.

There were reports of dozens of arrests and injuries. Many witnesses said the day’s confrontations were the most violent since the rallies after last June’s disputed presidential election.

The protests — the opposition’s first major street showing in more than a month — also included the most aggressive gestures aimed at the Islamic republic yet, witnesses said, with some protesters burning posters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.

Other marchers carried an Iranian flag from which the signature emblem of Allah — added after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution — had been removed. At Sharif University in Tehran, protesters could be seen on a video clip posted on YouTube chanting “death to the oppressor, whether shah or supreme leader.”

The authorities had barricaded and surrounded universities in an effort to forestall dissent on an official holiday commemorating the killing of three students by the shah’s forces in 1953. They arrested dozens of student leaders, ordered foreign news outlets to stay away and reduced the Internet to a trickle to limit the opposition’s main link to its supporters.

Nevertheless, large crowds of university students gathered on campuses across Iran on Monday morning, many holding banners or wearing armbands in the opposition’s trademark bright-green, to chant “God is great!” and “Death to the dictator!” Twitter and opposition Web sites featured video clips of rallies in Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Tabriz and other cities.

One video showed hundreds of students at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran waving bank notes in the air to ridicule the Basij members, who are officially volunteers but who are widely said to receive money for cracking down on protesters. Another video showed students breaking down the university’s front gates, which the authorities had locked to prevent the protests from spreading.

Another group of protesters near Tehran University waved a Russian flag at the police and then set it on fire, in a gesture mocking the Iranian government’s ritual anti-Americanism. Russia was quick to recognize Mr. Ahmadinejad as president after the election, prompting protests from opposition supporters, who believe the election was stolen through extensive fraud.

The renewed protests come at a delicate time for Iran’s government, which recently rejected an international proposal to transport the country’s uranium abroad for processing. On Sunday, Ayatollah Khamenei lashed out angrily at the United States and Britain, warning that they “will launch propaganda to say there is division” inside Iran.

Web sites reported that the opposition leaders Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi had been blocked from attending the protests. When Mr. Moussavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, arrived at Tehran University’s art school, where she is a professor, female Basij members harassed her and attacked her and her entourage with pepper spray as they left, opposition Web sites reported, citing witnesses.

Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, could be seen at the protests in Tehran on one video clip. She was later detained, opposition Web sites said.

Mr. Rafsanjani and Mr. Moussavi issued strong criticisms of the government over the weekend. Mr. Moussavi, the leading challenger to Mr. Ahmadinejad in the June elections, issued a statement on Sunday saying that the opposition movement was “still alive” and that the authorities would not be able to stop the protests by arresting students.

Mr. Rafsanjani, a pragmatic figure who provided crucial support to the opposition over the summer but has been silent lately, criticized the government on Sunday for using the Basij militia and the Revolutionary Guards against crowds, and complained that “constructive criticism is not tolerated in the country.”

Iran’s official IRNA news agency, which had played down protests during two national holidays in September and November, took a different tack on Monday, broadcasting images of street fires and angry youths that suggested that the protests were nothing more than riots by hooligans. That message was in keeping with the government’s new emphasis on fighting the opposition through the news media.

But the government itself relied on large numbers of Basij militia members who often seemed to get out of control, hurling rocks at protesters and attacking passers-by. According to one report widely circulated on Iranian Web sites, a group of militia members with chains and truncheons attacked a bus full of riot police officers. It was not clear why they would have done so.

On Monday morning, police officers were deployed in huge numbers around universities across the country to forestall the expected protests. At the gate of Tehran University, temporary fencing blocked off much of the main square, and hundreds of officers stood guard. A banner at least 150 feet long had been placed on scaffolding over the university gate. The gate was emblazoned with large festive letters with a message about an Islamic holiday, but its purpose was clear: to block passers-by from seeing anything inside the university grounds.

By midmorning the crowds near Tehran University had swelled to the thousands, and the police could no longer easily control them. As the protesters began chanting “death to the dictator,” the police periodically beat them back with batons.

Not far away, a middle-aged woman turned furiously on a young Basij militia member who was filming the protesters — a common intimidation tactic during protests. As the woman beat him with her pocketbook and screamed curses, a second Basij member tried to restrain her, but a male protester grappled with him in turn, and a fistfight broke out between the two men.

The protests lasted through the afternoon, and after nightfall, groups of students on a number of campuses began holding candlelight vigils for those who had been arrested during the day.


In Iran, protests gaining a radical tinge      

December 11, 2009 

The New York Times

By Robert Worth

BEIRUT, Lebanon — In the video, one of hundreds filmed during Iran’s nationwide demonstrations on Monday, an enraged woman’s voice can be heard as a paramilitary truck runs a motorbike off the road amid a crowd of fleeing protesters.

“This is the Islamic Republic!” she shouts, gesturing at the vehicle.

That message has grown increasingly common in recent protests, as demonstrators have made it clear that their target is not just President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or the disputed election that returned him to power in June, but the entire foundation of Iran’s theocracy.

During Monday’s demonstrations, the civil tone of many earlier rallies was noticeably absent. There was no sign of the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, a moderate figure who supports change within the system, and few were wearing the signature bright green of his campaign.

Instead, the protesters, most of them young people, took direct aim at Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chanting, “Khamenei knows his time is up!” They held up flags from which the “Allah” symbol — added after Iran’s 1979 revolution — had been removed. Most shocking of all, some burned an image of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the revolution.

That creeping radicalization has underscored the rift within Iran’s opposition movement, analysts say, and poses a problem for its leaders, including Mr. Moussavi and the reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi.

“The longer this goes on, the more difficult will it be for the likes of Moussavi and Karroubi to sustain their current position,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who has worked for the State Department. “They have to at some point opt for regime survival or become the leaders of an opposition movement calling for more than reform.”

Some in Iran have even speculated that Mr. Moussavi and Mr. Karroubi were uncomfortable with the most recent round of protests, which were timed to coincide with a holiday commemorating the killing of three students by the shah’s forces in 1953. While they were involved with earlier protests, the opposition leaders did not organize the most recent ones. They do not appear to have attended any of them and have been silent since. It is not clear how much influence they have over the movement, which often seems to be built more around semi-spontaneous mobilizations over Facebook and Web networks than with the aid of any clear leadership.

The aggressive tone of Monday’s protests may partly reflect the fact that they took place on and around university campuses, where radical sentiment is more common.

But students have long been central to social movements in Iran, where the population is now overwhelmingly young; as Mr. Moussavi himself pointed out last weekend, 1 in 20 Iranians is a student. And this week’s protests, in at least a dozen cities and towns across Iran, were much broader than the ones that shook Iran in 1999, said Rasool Nafisi, an academic and Iran expert at Strayer University in Virginia.

Even before the latest round of protests, a number of high-ranking figures in Iran had taken note of the opposition’s trend toward radicalism. Over the weekend, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an influential former president, warned in a speech that “the young and the elite have been estranged from the regime” and criticized the government for using the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia against protesters.

Mr. Rafsanjani, a founder of the Islamic Republic who has provided crucial support for the opposition since the election, added pointedly that “there are some conservatives who think the people’s vote is just a decoration.” He admonished this group, saying, “If they want us to rule, we will; if they don’t, we will go.”

Other leaders have also called for a greater spirit of compromise from the government. Among them is a prominent conservative cleric, Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, who noted last week in remarks to I.S.N.A., a semiofficial news agency, that a “large number” of people had voted against Mr. Ahmadinejad and that “we should sit together and negotiate.”

But the government’s response to Monday’s demonstrations was anything but conciliatory. Many witnesses said the police and Basij militia members were more aggressive than at any time since last summer, beating protesters with chains and truncheons and arresting hundreds of them in cities across Iran.

In the days after the protests, hard-liners stepped up their warnings. On Thursday, the intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi, lashed out at Mr. Rafsanjani and accused him of siding with those who oppose the Islamic system, in comments reported by Fars, another semiofficial news agency.

“Shockingly, Rafsanjani expresses the same ideas as the leaders of the conspiracy,” Mr. Moslehi said.

The intelligence minister also seemed to throw down the gauntlet to moderates, accusing them of joining the assault on Ayatollah Khamenei.

“A lot of forces that were expected to support the supreme leader instead went with those who rose against the supreme leader,” he said.

One prominent conservative who has been critical of Mr. Ahmadinejad, Habibollah Asgaroladi, said the opposition had grown more “antirevolutionary,” the Khabar Online Web site reported.

Many in the opposition have echoed those warnings, from the other side.

“The regime is on a path which threatens its own survival,” declared the Iranian Writers’ Society, in a statement released Tuesday and posted on opposition Web sites. “Those who sow the wind will harvest a typhoon.” 


Iran Cracks Down on Women's Rights Activists

MS Magazine

December 14, 2009

Somayeh Rashidi, an Iranian women's rights activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign, was targeted this morning with a search of her home and a summons to court. She told Change for Equality, that she "asked the security officials to provide me with identification, but they refused, claiming instead that [she] will find out in the future what intelligence agency they are working with. [She] also objected to the search and seizure of property belonging to [her] roommates, but the security officials did not pay any attention to [her] protests." Rashidi was also arrested in November in connection to public protests and spent two days in prison. Today's search is just the latest in a series of arrests of or attacks/threats towards Iranian women's rights activists.

The One Million Signatures Campaign, which seeks to collect one million signatures against the legal discrimination women face under Iranian law, has been particularly targeted. A number of activists associated with the campaign have been arrested and imprisoned in recent years, including American graduate student and feminist activist Esha Momeni.

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate and one of Iran's leading human rights defenders, is also being harassed and her family is being targeted. Iranian authorities not only froze her bank account, but also broke into Ebadi's safe deposit box and stole her Nobel medal, which has since been returned, according to the LA Times.

Omid Memarian, an exiled Iranian journalist, told the Daily Beast, "I talked to Shirin Ebadi just a few days ago. The authorities have summoned her husband, brother, and sister...Her organization in Iran cannot operate freely. She has been the most significant voice for human rights in Iran over the last five months. Harassing her is a very intimidating signal to others."

According to the Daily Beast, in addition to the continued harassment of women's rights activists, last month "Iranian state television ran a documentary attacking the nation's women's rights movement." Airing of the documentary preceded an announcement earlier this month from the head of Iran's state television, Ezatollah Zarghami, who declared that state-sponsored television programs will henceforth prohibit women who appear on air from using make-up. Zarghami told the newspaper Eternad that "make-up by women during television programs is illegal and against Islamic Sharia law. There should not be a single case of a woman wearing make-up during a program."


Backers of Iranian student say authorities forced him into women's clothing to humiliate him

By Jason Keyser

The Canadian Press

December 14, 2009

Supporters of Iran's opposition have posted hundreds of photos online of men in women's clothing to mock what they say was a government attempt to discredit a student leader by photographing him in a head scraf and woman's robe.

Majid Tavakoli was arrested in last week's large student-led protests after he gave a speech urging students to reject "tyranny," a call greeted by chants of "Death to the dictator." Pro-government media said he put on women's clothing in an attempt to escape authorities around his campus but was caught.

The Fars news agency, which is close to the elite Revolutionary Guard military force, published photos of Tavakoli wearing a black chador, the all-covering dress worn by devout Muslim women, and a blue head scarf around his unshaven, downcast face.

Iran's opposition fired back over the past week by inundating Web sites such as Facebook with pictures of men wearing head scarves and chadors.

Tavakoli's supporters accused authorities of forcing him into women's clothing and photographing him in an attempt to humiliate the activist and discredit the opposition.

Tavakoli is a member of the largest student organization advocating greater social and political freedoms in Iran and is a student at Tehran's Amir Kabir University, the site of one of the Dec. 7 protests the drew tens of thousand out on campuses and city squares around the country.

Students have been at the core of the pro-reform movement, which has accused authorities of rigging hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's June re-election, and last week's protests were the first significant show of force in about a month.

In the Web campaigns calling for Tavakoli's release, male supporters donned Islamic-style women's dress in hundreds of whimsical self-portraits. Many of them were bearded and smirking. Others held up V-for-victory signs and wore the green colour that has become the opposition's emblem.

Some of the photos were clumsily altered to underscore opposition claims that the pictures of Tavakoli might have been digitally manipulated.

The Fars report quoted a pro-government student activist as saying that Tavakoli tried to flee in women's clothing and that his actions were a "permanent stain on the illegal student movement."

"He was always introduced as a brave guy, but this move proved his lack of power to resist and avoid paying the price for his own ideas," the activist, Abbas Ensani, was quoted as saying.

Fars is linked to the Revolutionary Guard, which played the lead role in putting down post-election demonstrations.

Tavakoli has been arrested on two previous occasions. After one of them, he was jailed for 15 months in 2007-2008 on a conviction of insulting Islam in a student newsletter.

He and two other students put on trial in that case told the court that the newsletter containing insults against an Islamic saint had been fabricated by hard-line students and attributed to reformist students in effort to defame them.

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Volume 67, December 15, 2009

The E-Zan © 2009