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IRAN: Five charged over Ashura protests as long list of prominent detainees emerges


Five of the hundreds of people who were arrested during the violent protests that erupted in Iran on the Shiite Muslim mourning day Ashura on Dec. 27 are to be tried as moharebeh, or enemies of God, Iranian media reports.

If convicted of the grave offense of warring against God, they risk being executed.

The reports quoted statements issued by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court and the prosecutor’s office. Human rights activists weren't surprised. Iranian officials, including the speaker of the parliament Ali Larijani, have in recent days called for the Ashura protesters to receive harsh punishments.

In the wake of the Ashura violence, Larijani urged officials in the Interior ministry and the judiciary arm to crack down on "offenders of the religion" and "anti-revolutionary figures with no mercy,” according to Iran's official news agency IRNA.

Tehran's Revolutionary Court issued a statement as reformist Iranian websites posted a list of names of more than 180 people arrested during and in the immediate aftermath of the Ashura protests.

They include prominent student activists such as Bahareh Hedayat; Ebrahim Yazdi, the secretary-general of the outlawed but usually tolerated Freedom Movement of Iran; several advisors to the leading reformist politicians Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammed Khatami;  as well as scores of journalists working mainly for reformist publications.

A number of adherents of the outlawed Bahai’i faith and several human rights activists, including the sister of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, were also picked up in recent security sweeps.

Meanwhile, the reformist Iranian website Rahesabz claimed that 94 students in Mashhad were also among those arrested.

An article on the Iranian exile news portal Gooya emphasized that the list is far from complete.

It does not "contain the names of the hundreds of protesters who were arrested on the streets of Tehran” and in other Iranian cities such as Isfahan, Mashhad and Arak, the report said. 

Violence gripped the Iranian capital anew in late December as thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with security forces on the day of Ashura. 

Several people were killed, including the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, and hundreds of people were arrested in the protests which turned Tehran into something resembling a war zone. 

Video footage from the protests showed burning trash cans and police vehicles tipped over and set on fire as demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans.

Three hundred of the those arrested over the Ashura violence are still being held in Tehran, Iranian police say.

The Iranian authorities have accused "foreign elements" of being behind the protests and stirring up recent unrest in the country.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Mosleh said Thursday that "both rioters and anti-revolutionary figures have some links with the enemies of the country and the [Islamic] system," according to Iranian media reports.

Earlier this week, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said several foreigners had been arrested over the Ashura protests.

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: Thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with security forces in Tehran on the Shiite Muslim holiday Ashura on Dec. 27. Five of those arrested have now been charged with being "enemies of God", a grave offense that carries the death penalty. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (3)

The Iranian Gover't once again is playing the classic old trick of 'switch and bait'. The Iranian Gover't has created their own problems and now wish to blame others.

In the day ahead more and more blame for the protest will be tranfered on to the Baha'is. The Baha'is are the governments favorite scapegoat....

Baha'i International Community rejects allegations that arrested Baha'is had weapons in homes
9 January 2010

GENEVA — The Baha'i International Community today categorically rejected new allegations by the Iranian government that arms and ammunition were found in the homes of Baha'is who were arrested in Tehran last Sunday.

"This is nothing less than a blatant lie," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva. "Baha'is are by the most basic principles of their faith committed to absolute nonviolence, and any charge that there might have been weapons or 'live rounds' in their homes is simply and completely unbelievable.

"Without doubt, these are baseless fabrications devised by the government to further create an atmosphere of prejudice and hatred against the Iranian Baha'i community. For more than a century Baha'is have suffered all manner of persecution in Iran and have not resorted to armed violence, and everyone knows this. Unfortunately, the Iranian government is once again resorting to outright falsehoods to justify its nefarious intentions against the Baha'i community. It should know that these lies will have no credibility whatsoever.

"We are particularly concerned by the fact that these accusations come just days before the scheduled trial of seven Baha'i leaders, who have been locked up for nearly two years on equally unfounded charges," she said.

"All of these latest accusations are so far-fetched as to be ludicrous if they were not so obviously aimed at putting innocent lives at risk," she said. "As we have said before, rather than accepting responsibility for the turmoil in the country, the Iranian government seeks to lay the blame on others, including foreign powers, international organizations and media outlets, students, women, and terrorists."

On Friday, several news agencies reported that Tehran's general prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, said the Baha'is who were arrested on Sunday "were arrested because they played a role in organizing the Ashura protests and namely for having sent abroad pictures of the unrest."

"They were not arrested because they are Baha'is," said Mr. Dolatabadi, according to Agence France Presse. "Arms and ammunition were seized in the homes of some of them."

Ms. Ala'i also rejected Mr. Dolatabadi's assertions that Baha'is were involved in the planning of the Ashura demonstrations, or in any violent or subversive activity related to the recent turmoil in Iran.

"For the past 30 years, Iranian Baha'is have been subjected to the worst forms of persecution, ranging from arbitrary execution to the exclusion of their children from school," said Ms. Ala'i. "Yet they have responded only through means that are peaceful and legal."

Seven Baha'is leaders are scheduled to go on trial on Tuesday on trumped-up charges of espionage, "insulting religious sanctities," and "propaganda" against the government. They have been held in Evin prison since mid-2008. The seven are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.

On Sunday, 13 Baha'is were arrested in early morning raids on their homes in Tehran. Three have been released but 10 remain detained at Evin prison.

They are: Leva Khanjani, granddaughter of Jamaloddin Khanjani, and her husband, Babak Mobasher; Jinous Sobhani, former secretary of Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, and her husband Artin Ghazanfari; Mehran Rowhani and Farid Rowhani, who are brothers; Payam Fanaian; Nikav Hoveydaie; and Ebrahim Shadmehr and his son, Zavosh Shadmeh


»In all videos I watched, I found it peculiar that in scenes of people beating the security, it was the uniformed people (many may be duty soldiers) who were beaten by a minority; while a large number of greens are trying to prevent the beating ... How come there are no scenes of (ununiformed) basijis being beaten? From eyewitness accounts, the ones who are SCARY, violent, harassing, and violating are the Basijis ...«
from: "How is Ahmadinejad provoking violence? - The police truck runs over the man, 3 times ... "
December 29, 2009

»On the second video […] one sees that the security forces are flogging and strking down peaceful demonstrators. One also hears gun shots. On the first video one sees, how two police cars even knock down and run over demonstrators. Videos appeared later, in which some supporters of the green movement answered with the throwing of stones. [..] Some furious supporters of the green movement also want to beat up the government agents. […] These security forces having been disarmed [by some of the demonstrators], the majority [of the demonstraters standing close by] protect the security forces of the government. […] The gathered crowd often shouts “Let him go!”, if one of the participants of the rally loses his nerves and wants to beat up the [now disarmed] security agent of the government. That now and then sounded like a new slogan. […] [T]he philosophy of this movement is peaceful as it has been peaceful right from its beginning. One of its idols has been and will be Gandhi, whose most quoted maxim is: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." […] «

2nd January, 2010
(translated from the German language)
(a German language blog)

I bet many Iranians regret the 1979 revolution. Women have fewer rights, girls can be married at 9 years old (Mohammed, by the way, married an 8-year-old.), and men dominate. Iran is regressing into the dark ages, and it will take years for the pendulum to swing back. How sad.


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