Stoning Must Take Place in Public


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


Larijani or Haddad Adel?


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


Clergy Must Not Accept Posts in Government ‎


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


Norooz behind Prison Walls


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


Reactions to Elections in Iran


Contradictory Numbers

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


Violations In Favor of Ahmadinejad


Unprecedented Elections

‎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