News Round Up: Arrests!

Dec 29, 20090 comments

Rober Tait writes in The Guardian about the recent arrests of activists and their family members including Shirin Ebadi’s sister:

Shirin Ebadi in Amsterdam

Shirin Ebadi in Amsterdam

Ebadi – winner of the 2003 Nobel peace prize – said her sister, Dr Noushin Ebadi, a lecturer in medicine at Tehran Azad university, was arrested at her home last night by four intelligence agents. She was taken to an unknown location. Shirin Ebadi, who is currently in London, said the arrest was intended to pressure her into giving up her human rights work. “During the past two months, [my sister] has been summoned by the intelligence ministry several times and ordered to persuade me to stop my human rights activities,” Ebadi said in a statement posted on the reformist website Rah-e Sabz. “She was also ordered to vacate her home, which adjoins my apartment. She was threatened that if she failed to comply with these two demands, she would be arrested.”

Borzou Daragahi also reports on the arrests and the disappearance of Ali Mousavi’s body from the hospital. As the mood on the streets becomes more desperate and angry, a Reformist cleric asks others to speak out:

The crisis sparked by Iran’s disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the subsequent violent crackdown on his opponents continues to dominate the country’s social and political life, contributing to the sense of a spiraling crisis. One leading reformist cleric on Monday called on fellow clergy to speak out against the government’s actions. “I call on all true clerics, and all men of God in all cities, to break their silence … and to demand that the government act in line with the constitution in order for this revolution … to be delivered from the grasp of reactionaries,” Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Dastgheib Shirazi said.

Thomas Erdrink and William Branigan add to the story of the arrests and crackdown with a reaction from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards:

A top general of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accused the United States and Britain of organizing the protests and demanded a review of Iran’s relations with European countries. “We must counter some European countries, especially the government and rulers of England who stand beside America,” said Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency. The Revolutionary Guard joined other hard-liners in also urging Iran’s courts to take action against the opposition for violating Islamic principles and insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in some of the protests. Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a political science professor at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabaei University, said: “I believe we are moving toward a more militarized and repressive confrontation.”

The LA Times reports on the debate over increasing sanctions on Iran. The US administration, Paul Richter reports, is trying to find ways to make the sanctions hurt the regime more than the people.

Ray Takeyh, who was an administration advisor on Iran earlier this year, agreed that it was now desirable to make the sanctions as “discriminating and selective as possible.” But Takeyh said that doing so would be difficult because the world has so little information on the inner workings of the Iranian economy that it is difficult to calculate the social effects of any economic sanction. Targeting “surgically . . . may just not be possible,” he said. “And if it isn’t, you might want to rethink how you do it and whether you want to do it at all.” Takeyh, now an Iran specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that although the rise of the Iranian opposition movement had boosted the administration’s hopes for change in Iran, in the short term it had created an awkward situation. He noted that the U.S., which has no diplomatic ties or embassy in Iran, “is probably operating with a lack of information that’s reliable.” “They’re trying to follow a series of unpredictable events in a faraway place. And often what they say is going to be reactive,” Takeyh said.

Taking Orders from Ahmadinejad is like taking orders from God

Taking Orders from Ahmadinejad is like taking orders from God

In The Independent, Robert Fisk speculates about why Ahmadinejad’s mentor, Mesbah-Yazdi, has remained silent and his quest for power.

For him [Yazdi], the death last weekend of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri was a relief, as it was for many of the conservative clerics who long feared the man’s influence over the reformist opposition in Iran. Montazeri’s passing – far from being an eternal torch for future reformers – is a tragedy for those who wanted to create a more humane, civil society in the country.Yet not even on this death would Mesbah-Yazdi speak. The two biggest men left in Montazeri’s shadow – Mir Hossein Mousavi and ex-president Mohammad Khatami – are now in greater danger than ever.

Al Jazeera reports on Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s response to the UK’s condemnation of the crackdown in Iran: “If Britain does not stop talking nonsense it will get a slap in the mouth,” he said. In the New York Times, Robert Worth writes about the international response to Sunday’s crackdown on protesters:

“For months, the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “Each time they have done so, they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days.”

On another note, Selig S. Harrison writes about the threat from ethnic minorities to the regime in Tehran, stating that their demands continue to be ignored by the “Persian elite.” He writes of the Bush era debate about supporting minority separatist movements in Iran and how that resulted in proxy actions.

For the present, the Obama administration should tread with the utmost care in dealing with this sensitive issue, guided by a recognition that support for separatism and engagement with the present regime are 
completely incompatible.

Finally, CNN has organized its coverage of Iran into one special section: