Archive for March, 2008
Friday, March 28th, 2008
Qom Friday Prayer Leader
While less than two months have passed since the head of Iran’s judiciary issued orders for the suspension of “public executions”, the Friday prayer leader of religious town of Qom, ayatollah Amini, said at a public prayer on Friday, “Stoning must take place in public.”
In Iran stoning is used as a method of execution on singles who engage in sex with another person other than their own spouse. This form of punishment is executed in Iran following the testimony of four witnesses in a court of law which must rule on the fairness of the individuals. If a suspect himself confesses to the act four times, the court too may consider the confession to constitute testimony.
Ayatollah Amini also said that some judgments were in line with implementing God’s orders and whose implementation should not be hesitated. “A woman who has committed fornication has to be punished in public,” he said, adding “Just because our enemies may view Islam to be violent should not be a reason not to implement Sharia punishment. Foreigners do not desire Islam and we cannot execute divine laws according to their wishes. If Islamic laws are implemented accurately we will not have the fornication problems we face today.”
Observers have interpreted the words of this cleric in a town that is recognized as the center that trains clerics in their religious beliefs and matters to be a response to the recent release of a woman who had been sentenced to be stoned eleven years ago. This woman, Mokarameh Ebrahimi, was charged with having inappropriate relations and was sentenced to stoning and spent the last eleven years in prison was released last week.
The issue of stoning and its codification into Iranian criminal law is a controversial subject in the country. On November 21st 2006 the spokesperson for the Iranian judiciary publicly announced that “while stoning was part of the Iranian penal code, it would not be implemented any more.” But despite that announcement, stoning was implemented after the date. The best known case involved Jaafar Kiani in Takistan. He was sentenced to stoning along with Mokarameh Ebrahimi with who he had been charged to have engaged in sexual activity. When the court sentenced these two individuals, Mokarameh had left her family and husband 10 years earlier and had lived with Jaafar for a few years with whom she had given birth to a child.
In this regard, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary of Human Rights in the Iranian judiciary had earlier said that the stoning of a man in Takistan was due to a “mistake by the judge” while adding that “we are not ashamed to implement this form of punishment.” In an interview with ISNA student news agency, Larijani has said, “Some think that we are ashamed to implement these judgments because the West curses us for them. This is not the case because the principles of Shiite jurisprudence and law, and those following Mohammad, are not things to be ashamed of.”
Source : Roozonline
Friday, March 28th, 2008
New Groupings in the Eighth Majlis
With the completion of the elections for the eight Majlis (Iranian Parliament), and with the results of many precincts yet to be determined in run-off races, the groups affiliated with the Principalist camp, who have achieved a numerical majority in the Majlis, are reportedly divided over various issues.
The Broad Principalist Coalition, in Persian known as the Etelaafe Faragire Osoolgarayan (composed of candidates critical of the administration), has already begun opposing the United Principalist Front, known as the Jebhe Motahed Osoolgaran (composed of candidates supporting the administration). The former group has begun speaking of a different choice to head the Majlis, one other than Haddad Adel (United Principalist Front’s leading candidate).
Amir Ali Amiri, the campaign manager of the Broad Principalist Coalition noted in his first press conference following the eight Majlis elections that 45 percent of the Coalition’s candidates had been elected to the Majlis, warning the administration, “The eight Majlis is going to be one in which those critical of the administration will have a majority. However, these critical principalists are united and if the administration continues to implement policies opposed to by principalists, the majority in the eights Majlis will be opposed to it.”
Amiri’s remarks are a response to the remarks of Ali Asghar Zarei, the spokesperson for the rival United Principalist Front. Earlier, Zarei had told ISNA student news agency, ”The results that have been finalized are in fact considered a victory,” adding, “We hope that the eight Majlis will be supportive and cooperative with the administration.”
The Broad Principalist Coalition’s campaign manager also commented on the position of the speaker of the Majlis: “Our candidate to preside over the Majlis is Ali Larijani, and just as we were opposed to the presence of Mohammad Reza Bahonar [a staunch supporter of administration] as deputy speaker in seventh Majlis, we will be opposed to his service as such in the eight Majlis as well.”
Amiri commented on the empowerment of the faction critical of the administration: “The Broad Coalition has sent 45 percent of its candidates across the country to the Majlis. We have announced in our coalition that we support Rezaei, Ghalibad, and Larijani, and the candidates that were listed on our slates were people who, while being principlists, were critical of the administration.”
The spokesperson for the Broad Coalition concluded that “The results of this election do not constitute a victory for the administration” and added, “Not even all of the candidates listed on the United Front’s slate are completely supportive of the administration, and we were frankly amazed by the presence of some of them on the United Front’s slate.”
Amiri also referred to election violations by supporters of the administration: “We ask the Guardian Council to confront possible violations. A sad development that took place during these elections was violations committed by the United Front, including illegal campaigning by some of their candidates on election day, which was against the law.”
Source : Roozonline
Thursday, March 27th, 2008
Another Warning from Ayatollah Montazeri
Ayatollah Montazeri, a dissident grand ayatollah residing in holy Shia city of Qom, has once again warned that the clergy must not accept posts in the government and not become involved in the day to day affairs of governance if they want to preserve their privileged role as the public’s spiritual guides.
Ahmad Rafat from the Italian AKI news agency conducted a written interview with ayatollah Montazeri in which he asked the grand ayatollah about issues ranging from Iran’s nuclear case and people’s economic problems to the role of clergy in governance and the eight Majlis elections.
Responding to a question about the disagreement of ayatollah Sistani with the participation of clergy in governance, ayatollah Montazeri said, “My own opinion is the same; the clergy must not accept, as much as possible, any posts in the government and become involved in the day to day affairs of governance if they want to preserve their privileged position as the public’s spiritual guides. I gave ayatollah Khomeini my opinion on this matter as well.”
Ayatollah Montazeri responded to a question about Iran’s nuclear case: “In that having access to nuclear technology should not be monopolized by any government and all governments and peoples must have the right to this energy and technology, there is no doubt. The problem is that our government has voiced controversial and uncalculated rhetoric, which have made a lot of governments suspicious of Iran and brought about an international cohesion that has been manifested in sanctions against Iran with worrying consequences for the nation. This is very worrisome and I hope that the relevant officials can manage the situation by controlling their emotions and being more reasonable, and not isolate the country more than this and subject the public to more economic and political pressures.”
Ayatollah Montazeri also commented on the people’s economic woes and the eight Majlis elections: “Radical measures and unnecessary hardships that were imposed on students, journalists and other activities, coupled with the disqualification of a lot of experienced and expert individuals, have no consequence other than increasing the distance between people and the government. At a time when the country is facing international pressure, I don’t know why officials refuse to think twice about the consequences of their actions, and create new problems for the people, in addition to rampant inflation and countless other economic problems.”
The grand ayatollah also had a word to say about the disqualifications of candidates in the eight Majlis elections: “With the disqualification of many experienced and expert individuals, there is no room for true competition and we expect to have a one-voiced Majlis. Such a Majlis cannot represent the majority of the people and will be obedient to the wishes of a minority. As a result, it will not be able to fulfill its main important duties.”
Source : Roozonline
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
Students Remain Behind Bars
As the Islamic Republic of Iran refrained from releasing several political prisoners to spend time with their families for Norooz [the annual Persian New Year that falls on the fist day of Spring], the families of detained students spent their new year near the walls of the Evin prison, and began the new year “at the place closest to their children.”
Several political and student activists joined in with the families of imprisoned students I solidarity for their detained peers.
Previously, the website of Amir Kabir University had reported that mothers of eight detained students by the names of Ehsan Mansouri, Ahmad Ghassaban, Majid Tavakkoli, Sabah Nasri, Hedayat Ghazali, Saeed Feizollah, Abolfazl Jahandar, and Saeed Derakhshandi, published an open letter announcing their intention to “celebrate the advent of the new year near the walls of the Evin prison.”
During the last few days of the calendar year, the families of three detained Amir Kabir University students sent an open letter to the head of the country’s judiciary asking for the observance of law and release of their sons. The families of Majid Tavakkoli, Ehsan Mansouri, and Ahmad Ghassaban wrote in their letter to Ayatollah Shahroudi, “While you do release drug traffickers and dangerous criminals on bail from prisons for the Norooz, we find it difficult to come to terms with your decision not to release our student sons even after they posted their bails.”
Meanwhile, the Committee of Student Reporters of Human Rights warned of the “worrisome” condition of a political activist. According to the Committee’s report, a Kurdish political activist, Farhad Haj Mirzaei, is still held in Evin’s notorious Ward 209, even though more than two months have passed since his arrest. Haj Mirzaei was arrested on 22 Esfand [March 12] in the Kurdish town of Sanandaj during the crackdown on leftist student activists. After spending a night at the Ministry of Intelligence’s detention facility in Sanandaj, he was transferred to Evin’s Ward 209 and was subjected to severe physical and psychological torture.
The protests over the arrests in the country have continued and last week, a number of political, cultural, student and labor activists and journalists sent an open letter to the head of the judiciary, ayatollah Shahroudi, protesting the “rogue arrests” of political and ideological prisoners.
Source : Roozonline
Thursday, March 20th, 2008
In the process of counting ballots from last Friday’s parliamentary elections and while results of many pecincts are still not determined, the Interior Ministry, in an unprecedented move, announced, “More than seventy percent of candidates elected to the eight Majlis of the Islamic Republic belong to the Principalist camp.” [Principalists or Osoolagarans are the government loyal forces.]
Until that the final hours of last night, only Majid Ansari, from the reformist E’temad Melli party, was among the top thirty candidates, at number thirty; an event that has been regarded with amazement and bewilderment by reformists and analysts alike. Adding to worries are contradictory numbers announced by different election officials.
The figures released in the last 24 hours point to conflicting results in Tehran’s race. In the final hours of yesterday, Shahab News reported, “Obvious contradictory figures from the district of Tehran and the absolute silence of the Interior Ministry has bewildered the people of Tehran and analysts.”
Meanwhile, while news agencies sympathetic to moderates reported that “close competition is taking place between prominent conservative and reformist candidates in Tehran,” according to a state Fars News Agency report at 7:07pm, “Based on results from 1100 ballot boxes, mostly located in Northern Tehran, 30 candidates from the various conservative groups are leading in votes.”
Fars News Agency, which is close to military and security organizations, announced these results while the Reformist Coalition’s official website quoted the Coalition’s president, Hossein Marashi, as having said, “Based on reports that we have received so far, 17 reformist candidates are leading in Tehran and 17 reformist candidates from Tehran will win seats in the Majlis.”
The confusion over who is winning seats reached its climax when the Interior Ministry, in an unprecedented move, announced that it will refrain from publishing any figures in Tehran until after all the votes were counted.
Baharestan website, a reformist website to which access was denied this week, reported, “Reformist candidates are fighting with election officials to preserve the integrity of people’s votes. Reports indicate that in large cities efforts are under way to deprive reformist candidates of spots in the Majlis. Due to such efforts, reformist candidates in Shiraz and Mashhad were not able to win seats in the first round.”
The Interior Ministry’s disregard for the reformists’ protests enticed the latter to demonstrate at the ministry’s main building in Tehran. According to Norooz website, “In light of the Interior Ministry’s hesitance to announce Tehran’s results and allegations of fraud and vote rigging in favor of one particular faction, dozens of reformist candidates gathered at the Ministry’s main building and asked to be informed of the true election results.”
Raja News, a website close to the Ahmadinejad camp, reacted to this gathering and accused reformists of “politicking for more than their share.”
A reformist candidate, Javad Eta’at, noted yesterday, “Our representatives, who were present when votes were being counted in 400 ballot centers, reported that 17 to 18 reformists have received enough votes to win seats. We are amazed to see conservative news agencies publish Tehran’s results when the Interior Ministry claims not to have released such results.”
Source : Roozonline
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Last Friday’s Majlis elections were, according to unofficial sources, the most controversial and rigged elections in the Islamic Republic’s history.
Prior to Friday’s elections, some political figures had warned about the election’s integrity due to ideological affiliations between election administrators and oversight committees. The earliest news reports on Friday morning indicated that soldiers stationed in garrisons in Northern Tehran were “forced to vote for hardliner candidates.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who shortened his trip to Africa to return for the elections appeared at the “Lorzadeh” mosque in Tehran and cast his vote. Reporting from the same mosque, the reformist news website Baharestan-e Hashtom wrote, “In a move that clearly violated election rules, administrative and oversight voting officers handed out flyers belonging to the United Front [the hardliner group associated with President Ahmadinejad].”
At the headquarters of the Reformist Coalition group news broke out that administration supporters were setting up campaign placards belonging to hardliners candidates across Tehran in a move to tempt voters to vote for candidates affiliated with the administration. Electioneering must legally stop 24 hours prior to election day.
But in a blatant violation of election rules, officers from the Guardian Council barred representatives appointed by the Reformist Coalition group from overseeing the counting of ballots in several of Tehran’s precincts.
A news source in Tehran told Rooz that last Friday, workers working at state-owned factories were forced to vote for candidates affiliated with the administration. According to this source, laborers working at Saipa, Iran Khodro, and Pars Khodro auto assembly plants, who were for the first time, working three shifts last Friday, were given campaign material belonging to United Front candidates and asked to vote for them. More than 40 thousand laborers were allegedly involved in the event.
Other than Tehran, reports of rampant violations came from across the country as well. Rooz received a report indicating that in some villages, members of the Basij were recruited to brief the public regarding the “supreme leader’s wishes.” This report added that among the supreme leader’s wishes was a “religious order” to vote for candidates affiliated with the administration.
Hardliners Complain Against Hardliners
Aftab website published a letter authored by several candidates from the Broad Coalition group (Etelafe Faragire Osoolgaran), a hardliner group rivaling the administration-backed United Front (Jebhe Motahed). The letter revealed that the scope of vote-riggings and violations were not limited to reformist candidates. In their letter, which was addressed to the Guardian Council, the Broad Coalition candidates lamented frequent violations and voter fraud. In the words of one analyst, in this election, “Ahamdinejad’s supporters targeted not just the reformists, but also critical hardliners.”
The Broad Coalition candidates complained in their letter, “In light of frequent violations perpetrated by the ‘United Front’ [affiliated with the president], including placement of campaign placards and display of names of candidates in the three non-campaign days, and given eye-witness accounts and reports from the public regarding frequent violations in ballot centers in favor of United Front’s candidates in Tehran, Rey, Islamshahr and Shemiranat, while condemning such actions and calling for their immediate investiagation, we warn of the consequences of such violations.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday evening, the minister of interior, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, announced that “Of those elected to the Majlis, 71 percent are principlists and support the country’s current policies.” The minister’s announcement angered the reformists.
In connection with the minister’s announcement, the spokesperson for the reformist coalition, Abdollah Naseri, said, “We did not expect the interior minister to reduce the position of himself and his office to the level of the hardliner camp’s spokesperson.”
Source : Roozonline