Thursday, September 01, 2016

Fraud Jokes Abound In Iran Parliament

Iranian lawmakers were in a joking mood as they convened this week to vote on President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's cabinet appointments.

Their joviality apparently was too much for state television, which reportedly cut its broadcast of the proceedings because the jokes were getting out of hand.

Recordings of some of the remarks that came before that cutoff have been posted on several websites.

One lawmaker jokes with parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, asking him whether mobile ballot boxes will be sent to arduous regions of the legislature. (Reformists highlighted the potential for vote fraud offered by mobile ballot boxes during the June 12 presidential election.)

Another lawmaker quips that "there has been no fraud, we're saying it right now."

In a reference to a detention center where many postelection detainees were reportedly held and mistreated, another says that "if you mention 'fraud,' we'll take you to Kahrizak." Some Iranians have alleged that they were raped and severely beaten by their captors at Kahrizak. The detention center was ordered closed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following criticism from the opposition.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

Iran's Vice President Blogs From Prison

Abtahi's blog, updated from jail

Iran’s former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who was arrested in the postelection crackdown, has updated his blog from prison.

The move seems to be a clumsy attempt by the authorities to demonstrate that prisoners are being very well treated and that the reports by the families and rights groups about Abtahi and other detainees being under pressure to make false confessions are not true.

With a new photo showing him smiling to the camera, Abtahi writes that he was shocked when his interrogator told him that he could start blogging. He says the interrogator gave him permission after he saw his confiscated laptop and he had told him how much he misses his blog.

In the blog entry, Abtahi writes that the interrogator is the one with whom he’s very friendly (he talked about his “friendly relations" before in a televised interview).

Abtahi’s family and rights activists say he’s been under pressure to make confessions at court and during the televised interview aired last month.

Abtahi also writes that he knows that some of his friends are also jailed and he’s heard “here and there" some names. He says he believes prison has been difficult for all but he adds that he can understand why they were arrested.

He says that since the authorities couldn’t arrest the “main leaders” they arrested him and other reformists to calm the crisis that resulted from the “misgivings” about fraud in the June 12 vote.

Many fellow bloggers have dismissed the blog, saying that it was certainly not written by Abtahi and that he was probably forced to do it under pressure.

One blogger has carefully analyzed the blog entry and highlighted a list of differences in the terms and words that Abtahi used in his prison writing and from before.

Another blogger has reacted to Abtahi’s latest writings by creating an imaginary blog entry by another jailed reformist, Saeed Hajarian, where he describes his friendly relations with his interrogator, Haj Ali and says that they swim together and have kebab for dinner.

In the blog, Hajarian says that he asked his interrogator's permission to prove that there is no torture in Iran’s prisons and that the teeth marks  on his lower lips during his recent court appearance were the result of him carelessly gorging himself on delicious kebabs.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari


Video Reformist Website Says Postelection Dead Buried Secretly

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 25.08.2009 08:05

A reformist website “Norooznews” has reported that on July 12 and 15, 44 unidentified people who lost their lives in the postelection violence were buried in unidentified graves at the Behesht Zahra cemetery.

The website, which is close to Iran’s largest pro-reform party Mosharekat, claims that it will release pictures and videos of the secret burial in the coming days and at an “appropriate time.”

A reformist legislator, Majid Nasirpour, has said that the allegations should be investigated.

A conservative legislator, Hamid Reza Katouzian, has said the evidence about the reported secret burial should be submitted to parliament.

Another conservative legislator, Farhad Tajari, had dismissed the Norooznews report as a lie and said that the postelection arrests and clampdown was transparent.

The director of Behesht Zahra organization, Mahmud Rezaian, has told the semi-official Mehr news agency that the reported secret burial is just a rumor and that no unidentified corpses have been buried at the cemetery in recent days.

But Norooznews says that people can go and visit the graves, which are in the newer part of the cemetery located south of Tehran, and pay their respects to “the martyrs.” According to the website the graves are at section 302 of the cemetery.

Iranian officials have said that about 30 people died in the postelection violence but the opposition believes the number of dead is much higher than the official toll. Some sources claim over 350 people were killed in the postelection crackdown. At least two people reportedly lost their lives as a result of torture in prison.

--Golnaz Esfandiari

Tags:behest, zahra, Iran

Taking Over A 'Ruined Place'

Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani (left) and outgoing judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi at Larijani's induction on August 17

Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani has been appointed by Iran's supreme leader as head of the judiciary to replace Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, whose term ended on August 16.

Shahrudi took over as the head of the judiciary in 1999, when he called it a "ruined place." But what has he left to his successor?

Who Is Sadeq Larijani?

The 48-year-old Larijani was born in Najaf, Iraq, and has served two terms in the Assembly of Experts, a body of clerics with the constitutional authority to appoint, supervise, and even dismiss Iran's supreme leader. He was then a member of the Guardians Council, the 12-member supervisory body tasked with overseeing legislation and supervising elections.

His brother Ali Larijani is the speaker of parliament and another brother, Mohammad Javad Larijani, is an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the leader of the Islamic consultative assembly.

Sadeq Larijani is considered an ultraconservative and is close to the supreme leader.

He will face serious challenges in the ongoing crisis following the disputed presidential election, with the recent mass trials including a number of foreign citizens drawing attention to the efficiency of Iran's legal system.

"No judicial system can consider as valid a confession obtained as a result of harsh interrogations or under torture," Manfred Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, has said about the postelection trials in Iran.

The politicization of Iran's judicial system has been a key concern since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A constant shifting among key positions in the three different branches of power is the biggest threat to the independency of judiciary.

Gholam Hussein Mohseni Ejei, a former intelligence minister, has been nominated as Larijani's deputy, and official reports say Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, the spokesman of the Guardians Council, will be the new spokesman for the judiciary.

It seems as long as the judiciary system is under the constant influence of the other branches of power, it will remain a "ruined place."

-- Mazyar Mokfi

Tags:judiciary, larijani, Iran

Iran's Grim Details Will Emerge Only Slowly

A Tehran University student tries to revive a fellow student who fainted as riot police used heavy barrages of tear gas to combat thousands of protesters in and around Tehran University on July 12.

Like so much of the media since Iran's biggest crisis since the Islamic revolution, this morning Reuters appeared of at least two minds on Iran's recent death toll in a story quoting Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi:

Iran's June 12 election, which secured hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election, plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, exposed deepening divisions in its ruling elite and set off a wave of protests that left 26 people dead.

The certainty of that sentence seemed troublesome, particularly in light of the sentence that came two paragraphs later:

Ebadi contends that more than 100 people have been killed.

We initially added an editor's note to the Reuters item pointing out that opposition and other groups claim the death toll is higher.

And since then, Reuters has emerged with another story quoting an ally of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi saying far more people have died in eight-plus weeks of violence, much of it apparently officially sanctioned. It says:

"The names of 69 people who were killed in post-election unrest ... were submitted to parliament for investigation. The report also included the names of about 220 detainees," said Alireza Hosseini Beheshti.

Iranian officials won the first round of that dissemination battle and the opposition the second, of course.

It's a cautionary example of the enormous obstacles to tracking down a grim figure that can be maddeningly elusive but lies at the very heart of the tragedy unfolding in Iran (and other areas in RFE/RL's broadcast region that are not supposed to be "conflict zones," including Russia -- and Chechnya in particular -- and Uzbekistan to name a couple).

Beyond the anguish of those who simply want to be reunited with friends and loved ones, the uncertainty is essential to the debate over the lengths that the Iranian government is willing to go to in order to quell a popular challenge to its legitimacy and methods.

As Golnaz Esfandiari's story yesterday made abundantly clear, there is no reliable death toll at this point despite the good-faith efforts of many. But as it also made clear, the story will not simply go away or be deflected by televised trials of dubious confessions.

-- Andy Heil

Germany's Merkel Won't Congratulate Ahmadinejad

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

BERLIN (Reuters) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not congratulate Iran's Mahmud Ahmadinejad when he is inaugurated as president, due to the disputed election, a German government spokesman has said.

"In view of the circumstances of the controversial reelection, the chancellor will not, as usual, write the normal letter of congratulation," a government spokesman said.

Ahmadinejad is due to be sworn in by parliament for a second term on August 5.
Iran Election Special
RFE/RL's Full Coverage
Following the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, supporters of Mir Hossein Musavi have taken to the streets to protest. Click here for news, blogs, and analysis of the presidential election and aftermath.

Tehran Protests After Ahmadinejad's Confirmation

Just a few hours after President Mahmud Ahmadinejad was officially endorsed on August 3 by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for a second term, thousands of people protested in Tehran by honking their cars and chanting "death to the dictator."

Here is a video from Vali Asr Street:

Witnesses told RFE/RL people stopped their cars in the middle of some of the streets in central Tehran honking their car horns in protest:

Vali Asr Street at night:

Rooftop "God is great" chants on August 3:

And here is video of Basijis in Tehran:

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

Tags:protests, Iran, election

About This Diary

Controversy continues to swirl around Iran's June 12 presidential election. Three candidates, all current or former senior officials, were looking to unseat incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who was deemed the outright winner within hours of the polls closing. RFE/RL correspondents follow the Iranian public's saga through dispatches of their own, as well as by highlighting some of the viewpoints emerging from Iran through Facebook, Twitter, and other online resources (in orange).

RFE/RL In Persian