Supporting Democracy by Standing Firm

By Michael Rubin The Futurist

Patrick Tucker, senior editor of the Futurist, interviewed AEI's Michael Rubin about his view of the future. Rubin's thoughts on Iran, China, the United States, and democracy are shared below.

The Futurist: What do you see as the best strategy the U.S. might employ to further the cause of human rights in Iran?
Rubin: First and foremost, the White House should use its bully pulpit. After this past summer's election protests erupted, the Obama administration muted its response, fearing that to throw support to the protestors might taint them. This is a valid concern, but there is no reason why the White House and the State Department can't speak up for broad principles, such as democracy, justice, free speech, and free association.

After the Berlin Wall fell, we discovered that Presidential rhetoric meant more to dissidents than we ever imagined. There's a tendency today to want to address human rights issues silently, but discreet diplomatic inquiries are rarely as effective as public support. Regimes prefer to murder in silence; when a dissident becomes a public symbol, not only does the cost associated with a dissident's imprisonment or murder increase, but the dissident's story can be a driving force in mobilizing public pressure, as it humanizes the abstract. We saw this in 1999, when Ahmad Batebi became a symbol of the student uprising when he appeared on the cover of the Economist holding a bloody shirt, and 16-year-old Neda, shot in the street by the paramilitary Basij, became a symbol of the situation in Iran in 2009.

There is no reason why the White House and the State Department can't speak up for broad principles, such as democracy, justice, free speech, and free association.

The U.S. government should take care against bestowing undue legitimacy upon the regime. When Iranians are taking to the streets in protest against not only the legitimacy of their post-election government, but also their system of government, the White House's reference to the Islamic Republic of Iran implies endorsement of the theocracy, and their efforts to engage a government which the Iranian electorate does not support also implies recognition. Instead, the White House and State Department might direct their comments to the Iranian public in general and, if necessary, simply refer to the 'Iranian government' or the 'regime,' as every president--whether Democrat or Republican--did until President Obama changed the formula.

Most controversially, it is important for the U.S. government to consider aid and assistance to Iranian civil society and independent media. For example, the State Department working through non-governmental intermediaries might assist programs which seek to document Iranian human rights abuses or help independent trade unions organize. Fears that U.S. funding might undercut the opposition and strengthen the regime are real, but misplaced. Opponents of civil society support argue that the presence of funding enables the Iranian government to taint all civil society work. The problem with this perspective, however, is that the Iranian regime always accuses its opponents of foreign connections regardless of U.S. action, so supporting civil society would not appreciably alter Iranian behavior. If fear of Iranian rhetoric toward its own internal opposition were to shape U.S. policy, then we'd also have to rule out dialogue, since Iranian security forces have taken to toward accusing any Iranian who engages with American institutions--Yale University and the Carnegie Endowment, for example--of treason.

The Futurist: What about in China, where the attendant economic risks from the Chinese sale of U.S. Treasuries are much greater?
Michael Rubin: U.S. support for human rights and free speech might antagonize the Chinese government a bit, but the chance that Beijing would respond in this fashion is slight to none. It's simply not in the interest of the Chinese government to sabotage the United States economy to that extent given the level of U.S.-Chinese trade. At the same time, turning a blind eye toward abuses in China also has some inherent, even if indirect, risk. The Chinese government has no incentive to reform and to correct government abuses against its citizenry. Economic disparities run deep from coast into heartland. Absent an outlet for dissent and a system which forces the government to be accountable to the people, there is an inherent risk of wildfire outbreaks of instability in China. Certainly, gentle U.S. prodding for democratization in China is in both our countries long-term interests.

The Futurist: Do you see the Iranian regime persisting in its present state until the year 2020? What might happen when it fades from existence?
Michael Rubin: If we take a snapshot of Iranian demography, it might look like the Islamic Republic is in trouble. The Iranian economy is stagnant, living standards are declining, and the regime can't provide enough work for young people finishing the university.

Time is, unfortunately, working in the regime's favor. In the years immediately after the Islamic Revolution and Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini encouraged large families. The regime put up posters showing 'a good Islamic family' with a mother, a father, and six children. After the Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988, the Iranian government realized that it could not handle such a large population. Suddenly posters appeared depicting 'a good Islamic family' as having a mother, a father, and just two children.

As Patrick Clawson, an economist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy points out, the Iran-Iraq war years' baby boomers are in their 20s, precisely the age of the protestors. In five years, however, the number of 20-somthings is going to decline while the current protestors are going to be in their 30s, and beginning to settle down with young families, their personal priorities elsewhere.

The regime is nervous, though. There is no question that the regime is unpopular across a broad cross-section of society. The evidence for this is not only anecdotal, but also quantitative. Using Persian speakers in Los Angeles, polling companies have surveyed Iranians by taking every telephone exchange in Tehran, and randomizing the last four numbers and conducting what, on the surface is an economic survey but which also provides insight into political altitudes.

In September 2007, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps reorganized and implemented what its new commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, called the mosaic doctrine. Rather than orient the IRGC to defend against foreign armies--as it had been from the days of the Iran-Iraq War--Jafari divided the IRGC into inwardly-oriented units, one for each province and two for Tehran. Jafari argued that internal unrest and the possibility of a velvet revolution posed more of a threat to the regime than foreign armies, a judgment validated by the June 2009 unrest.

The key issue in regime survival therefore lies with the loyalty of the Revolutionary Guards. It matters not if 90% of the Iranian people turn against the regime so long as the IRGC remains loyal to the Supreme Leader. Western politicians can hope for muddle-through reform, but ultimately change will come when the IRGC defects, much like regime change came to Romania after Nikolai Ceausescu's security forces switched sides. The Iranian regime is aware of this, and so IRGC members are seldom stationed in their home provinces minimizing the risk that units will refuse to fire on crowds which might contain family members, friends, or neighbors.

If the Islamic Republic does not fall, then the regime will have made a Faustian bargain. The IRGC will become a predominant force, dominating not only political life, but also economic and religious life. What we are now seeing is a slow, creeping coup d'état. The Islamic Republic is becoming a military dictatorship, albeit one with a religious patina.

The Futurist: Of all the trends playing in terms of human rights at this moment, from China to Iran to the United States, which ones concern you the most? Which make you the most hopeful?
Michael Rubin: What concerns me most is cultural relativism--the willingness of Western states to accept the arguments of oppressive regimes that Eastern cultures simply do not uphold the same values of individual rights and Western demands that they should is simply new age imperialism. We see this primarily with regard to women and women's rights.
Communication offers the most hope. From telegram to radio to television to fax to IM and mobile camera and twitter, technology is empowering citizens and preventing human rights abusers from acting with impunity.

The Futurist: Paint us a picture of democracy in the year 2020? What does the word mean? Has the world come to some agreement on it? Is there, on a whole, more of it than existed 10 years ago or less?
Michael Rubin: I'd define democracy not only as representative government accountable to the people, elections contested by political parties who have abandoned militias, and but also a proven record of peaceful transfers of power between government and opposition. I am an optimist and see the spread of democracy is inevitable. I also believe those who argue that certain cultures--Chinese or Arab, for example--are impervious to democracy are wrong. Here, Korea is instructive. Harry S Truman was lambasted for the Korean War and for attempts to bring democracy to South Korea. Critics said that democracy was alien to Korean culture, and it certainly was a process. But today, when we juxtapose North and South Korea, I doubt there are many people who do not believe the price was worth it. Taiwan, too, showed that democracy can thrive in Chinese culture and, while the Iraq war remains a polarizing debate, it is telling that ahead of the March 7 elections, no Iraqi knows who will lead their new government.
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI.

A new report from the U.S. Government AccountabilityOffice found that 41 foreign companies had commercial activity in Iran's oil,natural gas and petrochemical sectors from 2005 to 2009. These activities included exploration and development of Iran's oil and gas
resources, petroleum refining and construction of pipelines and tankers to move
energy supplies.

The Iran Sanctions Act allows for U.S. sanctions on foreign firms that invest more than $20 million in Iran's energy sector over a 12-month period. Under the law, the president could restrict loans to sanctioned firms and ban them from U.S. government contracts.

However, the U.S. Secretary of State could waive the sanctions if it is determined that it would be in the national interests of the United States to do so. That was the case in 1998 when sanctions were waived against foreign energy firms based in the European Union due to the EU's cooperation in fighting terrorism sponsored by Iran. In an effort to convince Iran to give up its nuclear program, Congress is trying to hammer out a final bill that would punish foreign companies that export gasoline and other petroleum products to Iran. Based on public reports, the GAO said the following 41 foreign firms had big business in Iran's oil, gas or petrochemical sectors:

ABB Lummus :
Refining, petrochemicals
Amona from Malaysia :Oil exploration and production
Belneftekhim from Belarus :Oil exploration and production
China National
Offshore Oil Corporation from China: Natural gas
China National Petroleum
Corporation from China :Oil exploration and production, natural gas
Oil,Gas & Process Ltd. from United Kingdom: Natural gas
Daelim South
from Korea :Natural gas
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering from
South Korea : Oil tankers
Edison Italy Oil exploration and production-ENI
from Italy :Oil exploration and production
Gazprom from Russia : Oil
exploration and production, pipeline
GS from South Korea : Natural gas
Haldor Topsoe from Denmark : Refining
Hinduja from United Kingdom : Oil
exploration and production, natural gas
Hyundai Heavy Industries from South
Korea : Oil tankers
INA from Croatia : Oil exploration and production,
natural gas
Indian Oil Corporation from India : Natural gas
Inpex Japan
Oil exploration and production-JGC Corporation from Japan : Refining
from Russia : Oil exploration and production
LyondelBasell from Netherlands
: Petrochemicals
Oil India Ltd from India : Natural gas
Oil and Natural
Gas Corp from India :Oil exploration and production, natural gas
OMV from
Austria : Natural gas
ONGC Videsh Ltd from India : Natural gas
from Brazil : Oil exploration and production
Petrofield from Malaysia :
Natural gas
Petroleos de Venezuela from Venezuela : Natural gas
LNG from India : Natural gas
PGNiG from Poland : Natural gas
Exploration & Production from Thailand : Natural gas
Repsol from
Spain :Natural gas
Royal Dutch Shell from Netherlands : Natural gas
Sinopec from China : Oil exploration and production, refining
Ventures from Malaysia : Natural gas
Snamprogetti from Italy : Pipeline
StatoilHydro from Norway : Oil exploration and production, natural gas
Tecnimont from Italy : Petrochemicals
Total from France : Natural gas
Turkish Petroleum Company from Turkey : Natural gas
Uhde from Germany :

*ABB Lummus no longer exists as a firm. ABB of Switzerland sold the Lummus Group
in 2007 to Chicago Bridge and Iron Company (CB&I) of the United States. ABB and
CB&I told Reuters they no longer have commercial activity in Iran.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett)

On the brink of International Workers’ Day, protests by oppressed workers spread in various cities across Iran.

In Marvdasht of Shiraz, southern Iran, a group of workers at meat plant staged a protest across from city’s employment office on April 19. This was part of their protest last week to press for their demands and return to work. The plant with 1,400 workers is currently closed.

In Kerman, on April 18 and 19, a group of workers from Bardsir Sugar factory gathered outside the factory and the governorate’s office in the city asking to return to work. Many of the workers from this factory have been laid off which at one time produced 120 tons of sugar per day. Some of them have not been paid for about two years and are going through great hardship.

By importing sugar, the clerical regime has virtually destroyed the sugar industry in Iran.
The Pipe Mill factory workers of Ahwaz, southern Iran, staged a protest on April 19. Zagros Terminal workers and bus drivers went on strike in this city to protest against not getting paid in the past several months. The protesters who enjoyed the support of passengers and local residents were attacked by the suppressive forces.

In Sanandaj, provincial capital of the Iranian Kurdistan, a group of street venders went to the city council on April 12 and 15, in protest against confiscation of their goods by the suppressive forces.

In the holy city of Qom on April 12, more than 50 workers from Hamid China factory, which has been closed down, gathered outside the employment office of the province to protest against non-payment of their wages and bonuses. They had been working in the factory for 20 years. Wages and bonuses of some 300 workers from this factory who were made redundant following the closure of the factory two years ago have not been paid.

On the same day in Abadan, southern Iran, more than 50 workers from district 2 municipality went on strike in protest against three months delay in their payments.

Protests by workers and representatives of 23 freight companies in Shalamcheh port in Khoramshahr, southern Iran, on April 14, and gathering of shopkeepers in Shahroud, northern Iran and farmers in Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, western Iran, on April 17 were among other cases of protest moves in recent days.

In the meantime, Tehran’s youths expressed their support to the workers’ rights and protests against the regime by writing “Workers’ Day – Down with Khamenei” and “workers are awake and hate Khamenei” in public places in Hashem-Abad district, Golchin Park and Afsarieh Highway and inside buses commuting to Toupkhaneh and Saadi in central Tehran.


Workers layoffs in Iran are on the rise in cities across Iran. According to the regime’s officials, the rate of layoffs reaches 49 percent in Tehran and more than 70 percent in the whole country compared to last year (ILNA, April 8, 2010).
After taking control of the state-owned Telecommunications Company in an effort to monitor people’s communications and spread the wave of suppression in Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has resorted to widespread firings of dissident workers. As part of these measures, it has closed down telephone directory service in the provinces.
In Tehran, the number of workers at the Pars Electric factory, one of the largest factories in the city, has shrunk from 3,500 to 150.
In Tabriz, a large number of workers at the most well-known manufacturing units have been laid off. These companies include the giant petrochemical complex, a car assembly plant, tractor manufacturing plant, Motogen, ball bearing plant, piston manufacturing, Tabriz textiles and lift truck manufacturing or Bonyan Diesel.
The tractor manufacturing plant is on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of scarce raw materials and imports of tractors from foreign countries, leaving a large segment of the employees out of work. 3,200 of the workers are now impoverished.
Production at Motogen factory in Tabriz, which manufactures various home and industrial electro motors, with a 35-year history, has also expelled some of its workers.
In Shiraz, the meat plant of Fars, which previously employed over 1,400 workers, has been completely shut down.
The number of workers at the Azmayesh plant in Marvdasht has been reduced from 1,800 to 100
Also in Fars province, 700 employees out of a total of 1,500 at the Fars long distance telecommunications company were expelled. The employees had not been paid for 14 months.
100 workers at the Hafez Tiles plant have been expelled, while the 400 remaining employees are left without being paid or receiving benefits.
In addition to 70 percent of the plants at the industrial township, the Siemens Company, Dadeli Flour Plant, and the Fars Cement Factory are facing serious hurdles and crises.
According to a clerical regime official, in the region of Kheirabad in Varamin alone, 250 manufacturing units have been closed down, rendering their workers without jobs (ILNA, April 19, 2010).
Economic ruin, industrial wreckage and the poverty of millions of workers in Iran are just some of the consequences of the clerical regime’s plunders and unpopular policies, which squander the nation’s vast resources and wealth in the nuclear weapons development project and export of terrorism
Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran

There is no news on the whereabouts and condition of Rasoul Hardani, a young man who was severely beaten and arrested on the Fire Festival (March 16, 2010).

Rasoul Hardani, 27, was arrested on the Fire Festival along with two of his friends and after being taken to the Shapure Detention Center, was tortured with electric clubs and electric shocks.

According to one his cellmates who was recently released, Rasoul, who had severe injuries because security forces had pulled his body on the asphalt, was taken to an unknown location after 24 hours.

His family has no information on his whereabouts since his arrest. Despite their constant appeals to the Revolutionary Court, the Tehran Prosecutor's Office, Evin Prison and other centers, officials refrain from giving them a clear answer.
This has caused serious concerns for the Hardani family. Rasoul Hardani and his family had tried in the year 2000 to divert a plane in order to seek asylum outside of Iran but they were unsuccessful. Rasoul and his family were subsequently arrested.

A number of his family members were sentenced to death which was then lowered to long prison terms. According to his family, Rasoul Hardani was given a medical leave last year after 10 years of prison and received two surgeries at the Golestan Hospital in Ahwaz.
Savalan Sassi Website
Sahand Ali Mohammadi, Bakhali Mohammadi and Abadollah Qasem Zadeh, three Azeri Ahle Haq prisoners in Yazd Prison were sentenced to an additional 30 months of prison each.
According to this sentence, the Revolutionary Court charged them with publishing lies with the intention of instigating public opinion by writing about their condition in Orumieh Prison and insulting the leadership. Those close to the families of these three prisoners have said that they were each sentenced to 30 months of prison after Orumieh Prison made these allegations against them. With these additional prison terms, these prisoners now have 15 years and 6 months of prison each.
Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran

According to reports, two prisoners who had protested the violent and inhumane treatment of Hassan Akharian, the head of cellblock 1 in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, were taken to a torture room which has been recently set up in this prison and were subjected to violent torture for hours. They were then thrown in solitary cells in cellblock 1 known as the doghouse.

On Monday April 19, two prisoners from cellblock 1 by the names of Hamid Kheirkhah and Reza Jalilvand were taken to a torture room set up by Hassan Akharian.
These prisoners were first shackled and them violently beaten with clubs and electric clubs by Akharian, and other prison guards including Amini, Mohammad Mohammadi and Goudarzi.

They were beaten in the face, head and other sensitive parts of their bodies. Two clubs broke as a result of the severity of the blows. After a long time, Akharian stopped the beatings and told the prisoners that they had to insult themselves and their families for the beatings to stop. But the prisoners did not only refuse this demand, they also tried not to cry out from pain while being tortured.
These four torturers then sprayed the prisoners' eyes with pepper spray and tear gas. The tortures were so severe that blood was dripping down the prisoners' faces and their bodies were black and bruised and bloody. These two defenseless prisoners who were bloody and injured were then thrown in solitary without any treatment
Kordaneh Website
Keivan Goudarzi who was a math major at Iranshahr University in Sistan & Baluchistan, was suspiciously killed today. He was from Kermanshah.
The body of this student was found next to the transmission tower behind the university kitchen. He was active in Mir Hossein Moussavi's election staff and the reason behind his death is still not clear.
University officials have tried to introduce him as a worker who died because of electrocution. According to reports, his face was severely damaged.

Iran has hanged two convicted rapists in a prison in the central city of Isfahan, the governmental Iran newspaper reported Tuesday.The report identified the executed men as Ahmad and Solieman and added that they were sent to the gallows on Monday

Save Bita Ghaedi from Deportation, Home Office, London - pictures

The day before her deportation takes place, supporters of Bita Ghaedi gather in London to object to her forced removal to Iran. Bita is an Iranian woman who has been living in the UK and campaigning against chronic human rights abuses committed in Iran during recent Pro-Democracy protests.

Bita a supporter of the PMOI, once again under suppressive measures this time in the UK!!!

Bita Will Be Executed If?

The day before her deportation takes place, supporters of Bita Ghaedi gather in London to object to her forced removal to Iran. Bita is an Iranian woman who has been living in the UK and campaigning against chronic human rights abuses committed in Iran during recent Pro-Democracy protests.

On 15th April, Bita was forcibly removed from her home by UK Border Agency staff and police and was taken to Yarls Wood Detention Centre to await her removal. Bita fled domestic violence in her native Iran and left her country and an abusive marriage in 2007.

She has been peacefully campaigning alongside the PMOI (Peoples Mujahedin Organisation of Iran) in London most notably against the severe human rights abuses committed by proxy agents of Iran operating in Iraq around the Iranian enclave at Camp Ashraf.

In 2009, eleven people were killed by Iraqi security forces after they attacked the camp. The campaign against almost 3000 PMOI at the camp continues.

To date, members of the PMOI continue to be attacked and hunted down by the Mollah regime of Iran and a number have been executed and sentenced to long periods of imprisonment.

The protest takes place outside the British Home Office in London. Bita remains at severe risk not only from the Iranian religious regime, but from male members of her estranged family.

As the day wears on campaigners hear that a British court has refused a fresh claim for asylum stating they are not convinced that her life is in danger, thereby confirming that Government guidance on matters of politics in the Middle East is indeed, hopelessly inadequate.

Bita is scheduled to be deported on Flight BD931 tomorrow 20th April 2010 to Imam Khomeini Airport, Tehran at 7pm. This flight flies out of Heathrow airport terminal 3 every evening.

Carriers are Virgin Atlantic Airways and Air Canada.
London, UK. 19/04/2010

Back ground through Indymedia

At 7am,on 16th April 2010, nine police and UK Border agency officers broke into Bita Ghaedi's home and forcibly arrested her. She has been removed to the infamous Yarls Wood detention centre and has been scheduled to be removed to Iran on 20th April 2010. If this removal is successful, the British Government will have condemned this woman to certain death

She has been removed to the infamous Yarls Wood detention centre and has been scheduled to be removed to Iran on 20th April 2010. If this removal is successful, the British Government will have condemned this woman to certain death. She is a member of the British PMOI (Peoples Mojehadin of Iran) aka the NCRI (National Council for the Resistance of Iran).

She has been campaigning on behalf of the PMOI to bring attention to political prisoners and execution victims in Iran during the recent pro-democracy unrest. The Iranian regime are currently engaged in the violent hunting down of PMOI within the domestic Iran. In just the last week, the NCRI have reported that 15 prisoners have been hanged in four days in two cities in Iran. Three prisoners were hanged in public in Babolsar on Wednesday, another man, Adnan Albuali, 28, was hanged during a public execution in Mahshar on Tuesday.

The General Prosecutor of Mahshahr has been quoted as saying that a prisoner was sentenced to amputation of his arm and leg which was carried out while he languishd in prison. He was accused of taking part in an armed robbery. The man was then executed. On April 8th, eleven other prisoners were hanged in Mashhad, Taybad and Esfahan according to Iranian security services operating as media (Mehr news agency).

A number of these victims have been involved in pro-democracy protests in previous weeks and months. In a statement issued by the NCRI earlier this week, the regime has “resorted to public executions in a bid to intensify the atmosphere of fear and intimidation to prevent [further] people's protests”. It is clear that the Iranian regime are deliberately contriving confusion between domestic law and order and protecting its political interests.

According to Amnesty International: “There was a noticeable surge in the rate of executions at the time of mass protests over last year’s disputed Presidential elections. Although many of the executions were for criminal offences committed before the unrest, they sent a chilling message to those involved in protests.” “One hundred and twelve people were put to death in the eight weeks between the June election and the re-inauguration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in early August- almost a third of the total for the entire year.”

“The continuing surge in executions at a time when Iran has experienced the most widespread popular unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, combined with numerous statements by officials threatening protesters with execution, indicates that the Iranian authorities are again using the death penalty to try and cow the opposition and silence dissent ”

In January the PMOI released a statement linking the current spate of executions in Iran directly to its supporters and the pro-Democracy protests when it ran a report issued by the IRNA security services news agency. It said: “Abbas Jaafari Dowlat Abadi, Tehran’s Prosecutor, announced today that the cases of five individuals accused of Moharebeh [waging war on God] have been referred to the Revolutionary Court. He claimed that these individuals were members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) and accused them of “organizing the crimes committed on the day of Ashura” and “attempting effectively to break the structure [of the regime] on that day”.

While many of us here in the UK may find the prospect of the Iranian regime and the Mojahedin a little distasteful, Bita is a very gentle woman and has always sought a democratic and peaceful form of campaigning more in tune with how we do things in the UK than Iran. She has been in this country for a number of years and has been supported throughout that time by a number of experienced, long term activists in London.

Bita's partner Mohsen said this morning in a telephone conversation that he believes that the Iranian regime will hold Bita hostage for a time in order to put pressure on him to return to Iran as two PMOI members operating in the UK will be highly prized political capital within Iran itself. He said “any contact with the Mojahedin is a sentence of death...there is no hope for us now”. Mohsen has already experienced life at the hands of the Iranian regime. He spent 12 years in prison as a political prisoner.

If he returns, he too will be executed. While Britain goes through the throws of a General Election, it is now clear that the current UK Border Agency feel it has nothing to lose by wrapping up outstanding business before the Labour Government are thrown into opposition. At the moment, it is expected that a number of Yarls Wood detainees may be 'politically removed'. In Iran, the British General Election is being watched closely. Earlier this morning, Camp Ashraf was again attacked by covert Iranian security forces operating inside Iraq.

Five people were injured as the Iranian security services attempted to seize five women from inside the Camp itself. It is certain that the women were to be removed to Iran in order to allow the Iranian regime to announce to the domestic population that further PMOI executions would be following

Further reading on the subject through Indymedia

The PMOI and Iranian Pro-Democracy Movement

Bita and the PMOI (IM interview, circa 5th February 2010)

Bita in Downing Street (IM report circa 4th February 2010)

Petition to the Home Office which has been completely ignored

Committee of Human Rights Reporters

Shabnam Madadzadeh, vice secretary of Tehran’s Tahkim Vahdat (student alumni organization), was arrested by security forces on February 19, 2009. After spending more than 70 days in solitary confinement, she was transferred to the general section of ward 209. Although a bail amount has been set for her release, the intelligence and security services have repeatedly [denied her right to] release.

The following letter has been written by Shabnam Madadzadeh:

“We Have Observed Humanity and Love”

In the name of knowledge, freedom,
and justice

January 25, 2010

9:15am – Women’s ward, Evin prison:
The speaker announces the names of all [the prisoners] scheduled to appear in
court for a trial the next day. Currently, all the televisions are turned off
and everybody is silent. The door of the cell is opened all the way so that
everyone can hear the announcement. It is probably the only time one can feel
the silence in this noisy colony. The names are announced, including mine. In
the course of the five months I have been detained in the general ward, this is
the third time they have called out my name for a court date. However, each
time, the trial session was cancelled due to disorganisation and mismanagement.

I have spent one year behind bars waiting for my trial. The chance to
see my brother Farzad is the first thought that enters my mind when I hear my
name called out. Every time I see him, it re-energizes me and gives me strength
to bear all the unwanted situations I [am forced to] endure day and night. I
pray to God the agent who is [assigned to] accompany the prisoners to the court
tomorrow will be nice and let Farzad and I spend time together.

26, 2010

7:00am - Women’s ward, Evin prison: I am getting ready to go to
the court and my cellmates have delivered their well-wishes, “Inshallah you will
return with good news.” I leave.

8:25am - Temporary detention centre, Evin prison: A female agent assigned as my guard calls out my name and prepares the handcuffs. Unlike other prisoners who show reluctance because they do not want to be seen handcuffed in court, I offer my wrists with ease. In an era where they chain your thoughts and those lost in the darkness [of ignorance] are given lamps to search the backrooms of our minds to ensure we have not dared to think, prisons, chains, and handcuffs are [no longer] insults to a person’s dignity; rather they are measures of our values.”

We walk toward the bus and board it. I browse the prisoners’ eyes full of worry and search for Farzad.
A familiar face meets mine with a smile. His look comforts me. I am able to sit
down calmly until we arrive to the court.

In the court’s hallway, the warm embrace and kind looks of my sister and father welcome us. My father is trying to hide his worry and sorrow behind a smile. His big heart is a saviour, and in his shadow, fear and uncertainty turn into courage. In those brief moments, he tries with all his strength to transfer that courage to us. He gives
me a warm hug and whispers in my ear, “Be strong,” I know very well that his
heart is filled with distress and concern about whether the trial will be held
or not. This is the sixth time he has waited in these corridors for my court

We walk toward the judge’s chamber. The court clerk asks us to
wait until the arrival of the case “expert,” After a long while, I see the
interrogator. At that moment, all the scenes of interrogation and the pressures,
insults, and tortures in solitary confinement are replayed before my eyes; just
like scenes from a movie. I am reminded of the image of Farzad’s sunken look and
choked voice when they brought him to me after he was beaten up. I remember the
day of the visit, after the interrogator screamed at my father, we discovered
that my father had lost sight in one of his eyes as a result of the pressures he
endured in the court. In that moment, the only comfort offered to us was the
words my brother said to the interrogator in the Azerbaijani language:

“If you bully and belittle my nation, one day the sun shall rise, the
page shall turn, and you will be forced to leave.”

Bearing all these injustices and repressions only makes me stronger and [prepares me for the moment] I have to sit before the judge.

The trial is held with the presence of the Prosecutor’s representative and interrogators from the Ministry of the Intelligence. The indictment is read out. The charges are “moharebeh” [enmity against God] and “propaganda against the regime” We are not given the chance to defend ourselves against these charges. In response to Farzad’s defense that he was tortured during the interrogations, the judge asks for signs of torture, even though it has been a full year since the [incident took place].
In the course of one year, any wound is healed, except the ones inflicted on the
soul. But who wants to see or hear about [those wounds]? Faced with our
objection, the judge responds that kicks and punches are not considered torture.
He states, “You lie! All you hypocrites are like this!” [hypocrites is a term
used, among other meanings, to refer to members of the Mujahedin Khalq
Organization (MKO)] The judge then hands down a verdict without actually judging
anything, making it clear that in the conscience of the judge, there is only a
distorted image of justice. The interrogators deny on their behalf and on the
behalf of their colleagues that torture or abuse takes place in the detention
centre. The trial session ends and the judge announces that the verdict will be
issued in one weeks time. We know that everything is pre-determined and
calculated; the curtain falls when they decide. The only satisfaction we receive
is knowing that the trial will finally be held after one year of waiting.

January 10, 2010

Exactly 15 days after the court date, we return for the verdict. We climb the stairs in the court for the fourth and perhaps the last time. In a matter of minutes, we will know the verdict that will cast its shadow over my life. We sit in the clerk’s room and wait for the sentence to be read out. To our utter disbelief, the clerk does not allow us to read the judge’s verdict and asks us to just sign! However, [according to the law] the verdict must be read aloud and a copy must be provided to us. The clerks and
guards began to insult me and Farzad due to our insistence. The clerk [finally]
responds that my brother and I both received five years in prison and the
sentence must be served in Rajai Shahr prison [located in Karaj, a suburb of
Tehran]. He adds, “What else do you want to know?” Upon hearing the sentence, I
thought back to the day after I protested the “moharebeh” charge and the
interrogator replied, “Worse case scenario, you will receive five years in

On our way back to prison, I look out the window of the bus. My
hands are tied so I can’t touch the view [ahead], the spring [season], the
sun-rays, the trees, or the people. If only I was able to capture those scenes
[and locked them in] with my eyes. I thought to the trial scenes and the unjust
sentence. The judge condemned humanity the moment he handed down his ruling.

Mr. Mogheseyi, Chief judge of branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, as I
told you on the day of the trial, you say that you are judging on the basis of
Islamic law, but be aware that there is also a higher judge [making reference to
God]. This judge does not bear your robe; its essence is justice and
tactfulness. Our deeds will be judged for eternity in its court.

The injustice [in the Iranian courts will lead to] a tomorrow filled with love,
hope, and equality. Prisons, chains, and torture will be in the past. The light
in the eyes of the person on death row is called hope. Although my brother and I
will be in chains for the next five years, I shall [one day] read the letter of
victory [written] for our time; no matter if the letter is delivered in the form
of words or silence.

I am [now] addressing the interrogators of the Ministry of Intelligence. I will never forget the first day of the uninterrupted and excruciating interrogations. Do you remember that on the first day you told me to, for once in my life, trust the country’s Ministry of Intelligence? Now, I must ask, what trust were you referring to? The one year in limbo [I endured]?
[My] three months in solitary confinement? The beatings my brother and I
received? The five hours of interrogations my elderly mother endured? The
sentence issued to my brother and I? Although I dislike distrust, I have never
and will never trust any of your words.

Mr. Expert! When you talked about your daughter who is my age, I was not thinking of myself, but rather the daughters and sons of my land who face the cruel swamp of fate and the insults of their worn-out father; those who hold no hope for tomorrow in their hands.
Their only share of life is the onslaught of a storm that carelessly whithers
and wastes the beautiful flower; their lives before it has a chance to blossom.
When you held me in the solitary confinement section of ward 209 for three
consecutive months, hoping the solitude would bring me to my knees, I was living
with the memories of those who were the most fascinating people alive; those who
fell for the sake of their enemies’ children and those who turned their
passionate hearts into harps to compose the melody of life for all.

Mr. Interrogator! You know very well that teeth can be used for smiling, but you
choose to use them to devour.

My old schoolmates, I am talking to you!
You are aware of the tragedies, and you will already know [and understand] the
content of this letter of lament before reading it. My only view of the world
comes from the ruptures in the fence of injustice and oppression. My share of
God’s Earth is experienced through the hills of Evin prison and the sky that is
imprisoned by barbed wires. The heavy wave of time passes over me. I am talking
to you. Despite all this, lest we forget that we have observed humanity and love

Oh, my classmates! We do not have guns or batons. We only have
love and a small heart. We have a love for humanity and the spring. I have now
been imprisoned in Evin prison during the last two springs.

Within me
there is a cry of life. I know this cry will not be left unanswered. Your pure
hearts are the answers to my cry. One day, we will rise in such a way that the
entire city will feel our presence.

One day freedom shall chant a song

more eternal than a melody, longer than any sonnet

One day all
these chains, tortures, and prisons

will give birth to a child from its

a child named Freedom

- Shabnam Madadzadeh

Ward, Evin Prison
Spring 2010

In a letter addressed to Iran’s head of judiciary, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei has outlined what he describes as the unlawful actions of judge Moghiseh, the head of branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Mostafaei, who in the past has represented a number of juvenile offenders and political prisoners, urged the judiciary to investigate judge Moghiseh. Mostafaei has stated that Moghiseh’s [court] decisions are biased and against the basic laws and procedural regulations governing the Iranian courts.

The letter, which is based on Mostafaei’s personal dealings and observations as the attorney in a number of cases assigned to Moghiseh, denounces the Revolutionary Court branch where Moghiseh is the presiding judge.

Some of the infractions listed in Mostafaei’s letter are: Arbitrary detentions, preventing lawyers from meeting with their clients or obtaining power of attorney, preventing the release of prisoners upon the expiry of their detention orders, refusal to notify lawyers of trial or other legal proceeding dates, refusal to hand over evidence, indictments and other court documents to lawyers, and denying the accused of the right to defend or be defended in court hearings.

Mostafaei has urged Ayatollah Larijani to launch a committee comprised of a panel of judges to investigate the breaches committed by branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court and judge Moghiseh. The lawyer has declared he is prepared to present to the investigating committee evidence related to a number of cases that [demonstrate] his clients have been denied the [rightful] legal process.

Majid Tavakoli is a member of the Islamic Students Union at Tehran’s Amirkabir (Polytechnic) University of Technology. He was arrested following a speech he gave on December 7, 2009 for Student Day at the university. He has since been held in solitary confinement and sentenced to eight years and six months in prison; two years are for insulting the Supreme Leader and six months are for insulting the President.

VOA correspondent Negar Mortazavi interviewed Ali Tavkoli on his brother’s conditions in prison and the charges against the student activist.
VOA: Can you describe Majid’s most recent condition?

Ali Tavakoli: He is in excellent spirits, but physically he has really weakened. He has spent the entire four months in solitary confinement. He is the only prisoner in ward 240. The other prisoners are all on temporary release. Majid is not allowed to receive any visits or contact anybody outside the prison. If the Attorney General agrees, we will be able to visit Majid as a one-time deal.

VOA: What is the reason behind the 8.5 years sentence? It is one of the recently harshest punishments issued to a political prisoner.

Ali Tavakoli: As Majid himself points out, his only crime is giving a speech. There are no other charges against him. The interrogation papers are not included in his file, so they cannot judge him based on anything investigated or said during the interrogations. That is probably one of the reasons they are not allowing his lawyer access his file. They also accused Majid of conspiracy [to act against national security] by assembling all the students on Student Day on campus so he can deliver a speech. This shows a certain level of spite that the [regime officials] have toward the Student Movement and the vengeance they have against Majid.

Majid’s public criticisms of the government post-election (June 2009) [is the reason for his imprisonment], because the [ruling establishment] believes that there should be no criticism. Since Majid did not agree to say what they wanted him to say [in court], the trial and sentence proceeded in this manner. Now, we are waiting for the Appeals Court to see how the [situation will pan out]. Since the charges against him are false and there is no evidence to back them up, we are hoping a reduction in sentence or even an acquittal.

In my opinion, Majid has not committed any crime that deserves imprisonment. He has only expressed his opinions within the boundaries of the law. Moreover, criticism is not a crime; it was legal. And December 7th is a day that belongs to students.

Students have the right to express their critical views on this day. Majid’s arrest was completely illegal and he was beaten in the course of the arrest.

VOA: Recently many political prisoners were released for Norooz (Iranian New Year) so they can spend the holidays with their families. Why was Majid not released?

Ali Tavakoli: We were under pressure from the Ministry of Intelligence and the government. They told us if we keep silent [and do not give interviews], Majid will contact the family within the next two to seven days, but it has been three months since the last time he contacted home.

They do not keep their promises, but they expect us to believe what they say. We had to try for an entire week to obtain permission for our last visit. We live in Shiraz (southwest of Iran), and it is a 14 hour bus ride away [to the court]. My mother is very ill and the trips are hard for her. We were hoping they would allow Majid to talk with my mother for only five minutes after four months of no contact. We do not have high expectations and we do not want much. Our situation is really hard [to deal with]. We are in a real hardship.

Translation by: Siavosh J.

A group of five agents of the clerical regime deployed at the entrance gate of Camp Ashraf were taken to Baghdad on Monday, April 19, to present their report directly to the officials of the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the terrorist Quds force. They were to be briefed by the Iraqi committee tasked to close down Ashraf that is controlled by the Prime Minister’s office. The group was comprised of Gholamreza Ramezani and his sister, Soraya Abdullahi, Mah Monir Jalali and Alireza Vadian. Some of these agents have been at the entrance gate of Ashraf since February 8.

The agents who have been camping in front of Ashraf with the help of the Nouri al-Maliki’s government for more than 70 days to torture the residents psychologically are in constant contact with the regime’s embassy in Baghdad by phone and sometimes go to Baghdad to receive briefings and new instructions.

The individuals, who went to the Iranian regime’s embassy on Monday and met with officials, also went to Hotel Mohajer in Baghdad, which is under the embassy’s control. MOIS agents including a man named Hajali briefed them.

Hotel Mohajer is one of the centers in Baghdad that MOIS uses for its covert activities. Many MOIS agents and members of terrorist Quds Force go to this hotel.

Hajali has been stationed at the hotel as a representative from the embassy and MOIS and another man named Ayoub is working with him. A number of Iraqi agents, including a man named Heydar have been working with Hajali at the Hotel.

Some other agents of the Iranian regime who go to Iraq from Iran work with Hajali.

Some back ground information on the subject

Iran regime's agents taking films and photos from inside Ashraf for spying and terrorist operations

The camping of the Iranian regime’s agents, posing as families of Ashraf residents, at the main entrance gate of Camp Ashraf has been going on for over 70 days. This is a joint plot by the Iranian regime and the government of Nouri al-Maliki to create chaos and put the residents under psychological torture. One of the tasks of these agents who are dispatched by the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the terrorist Quds force is espionage and to gather intelligence about Ashraf and its residents to be used in terrorist and criminal operations.

With mobile and fixed cameras, the agents, who are backed by the Iraqi forces, have been filming and taking photos from people and premises inside Ashraf. The films and photos are attached with reports by the agents and sent to Quds force and MOIS via the Iranian regime’s embassy in Baghdad.

On February 20, 2010, the agents installed a camera on the southern part of the entrance zoomed on one of the buildings near the entrance inside Ashraf. It constantly films people going in and out of the building. On the same day, a team of three MOIS agents filmed various parts at the entrance.

In the first week of the Iranian New Year starting March 21, the MOIS agents in conjunction with officers of the Iraqi Army Intelligence, Estekhbarat, installed two cameras behind the gate to take pictures and films. The agents continue taking films and photos during the night using special cameras. Patients going in and out of the clinic inside Ashraf are constantly filmed.

On March 29, seven agents photographed and filmed the area inside the camp. On April 3, they installed two movie cameras behind the gate. On April 6 they installed three more cameras at the same location.

On April 9, when the agents took over a building at the camp’s entrance, they installed a camera on top of the building to enable them to photograph a wider area inside the camp. Since April 11, two cameras are mounted outside the gate and used for filming the area inside the camp and the traffic on the camp’s main road.

At the same time ; Five members of an Ashraf resident family sentenced to death as Mohareb

In an unprecedented and inhumane decision, the Iranian regime has sentenced five members of an Ashraf resident family to death charged with Mohareb. Mr. Mohsen Daneshpour-Moghadam, 67, a bazaar merchant along with his wife Mrs. Motahareh (Simin) Bahrami, 55; their son Ahmad Daneshpour; Mrs. Bahrami's niece Ms. Reyhaneh Haj-Ibrahim; and Mr. Hadi Ghaemi, a family friend, had been arrested and transferred to Evin Prison on Ashura day (December 27, 2009).

The family was arrested for their visit to Camp Ashraf last year to see their son and a relative. Mr. Daneshpour, a political prisoner of the 1960's had already spent five years in Iranian regime's prisons on the charges of sympathizing with the People's Mohjahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

The cruel sentences on the basis of having relatives in Ashraf are handed down while a number of agents of the Iranian regime's Ministry of Intelligence and Security posed as members of families of Ashraf residents are stationed at the entrance of the camp with full support of Nouri al-Maliki's government. For the past 70 days, the agents have been involved in psychological torture of Ashraf residents by using a high powered sound system and threatening them with setting the camp on fire and killing them while chanting "Death to PMOI" and "long live the Islamic Republic."

23-year-old political prisoner in critical condition sentensed for visiting sisiter in Ashraf Camp

A 23 year-old political prisoner, who has spent the last two-and-a-half years in prison, is in critical condition. Misaq Yazdan Nezhad is being held at Ward 4 of Gohardasht prison in the city of Karaj. Due to the severity of tortures imposed on him and the abhorrent prison circumstances, he is suffering from acute illnesses and extreme mental anguish, and in need of urgent medical attention. The contamination of drinking water at Gohardasht prison over the past month and the spread of bloody diarrhea and other severe illnesses have contributed to the deterioration of Misaq’s condition. Despite doctors’ recommendations for an operation, the prison authorities deprive the imprisoned university student from receiving proper medical treatment.

Misaq was arrested on September 9, 2007, for participating at a memorial ceremony for political prisoners who were executed by the mullahs’ regime in 1988 and also for visiting his sister in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. He was transferred to the notorious Ward 209 of Evin prison in Tehran. Last September, during a show trial, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison and time in exile.

Three of Misaq’s uncles, Hassan, Hossein, and Ebrahim Sanjari, all members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), have been executed by the regime in the 1980s. His parents have spent three years in prison along with their then toddler.

Back ground to co-ordination of Iraqi police in recent attack on the Camp with Iranian Intelligence

Text of press release issued today by the office Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament:

Following the attack by the Iraqi forces on the Ashraf camp last night and the injury of five camp residents, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Vice President of the European Parliament wrote an urgent letter to President Obama today to take necessary measures – within the framework of the US international obligations and in accordance with the agreement signed between every single resident of Ashraf and the US forces - to guarantee the protection of Ashraf residents.

Dr Vidal-Quadras wrote: “As you are aware, the majority members of the US House of Representatives have recently submitted a resolution that is “Deploring the ongoing violence by Iraqi security forces against the residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq” and calls upon the President to “take all necessary and appropriate steps to support the commitments of the United States under international law and treaty obligations to ensure the physical security and protection of Camp Ashraf residents.” (111th CONGRESS, 1st Session, H. RES. 704) . For over two months, the Iranian regime, in conjunction with various Iraqi organs, has dispatched number of agents from its Ministry of Intelligence and Security posing as families of Ashraf residents to gather outside the camp to conduct a psychological warfare and pave the way for another massacre in the camp. With full Iraqi support, these agents have been threatening the residents with repatriation to Iran ruled by the clerical dictatorship or massacre in the camp. Regrettably, the US forces and the representatives of UNAMI have not taken any effective steps to end this situation.

In the absence of an appropriate reaction, the regime and the Iraqi forces have been emboldened and increased the pressure. In support of the agents gathered outside the camp, the Iraqi forces carried out an assault on Ashraf residents late last night, Thursday, April 15. At least five camp residents were wounded when the Iraqi forces beat them with truncheons and electric batons. The attackers also tried to take over some installations located at the entrance of the camp. There is no doubt that the incidents in Camp Ashraf are in open violation of international law and conventions and pave the way for a humanitarian catastrophe. These are clear examples of crime against humanity.

We at the European Parliament and the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ), supported by more than 2,000 parliamentarians, in line with majority members of the US Congress call on you to take necessary measures to guarantee the protection of Ashraf residents and urge the United Nations to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe by assuming the protection of Ashraf residents."

Office of Alejo Vidal-Quadras,
Vice President of the European Parliament

Iraqi battalion collaborates with Iranian regime in psychological torture of Camp Ashraf residents

Reports sent by the Iranian regime's embassy in Baghdad to the terrorist Quds Force and the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) reveal that Iraqi Prime Minister’s office and the Iraqi Army battalion stationed at Ashraf are cooperating fully with the MOIS agents camped out at Ashraf’s main gate.

According to these reports, the Commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 37th Brigade of the 9th Division of the Iraqi Army and the battalion's chain of command, supposedly responsible for protection of Ashraf residents, are providing logistical support to the MOIS agents posing as families of Ashraf residents ever since they were brought to the gates of Ashraf on February 8, 2010.

In the past two months, the battalion commander Colonel Latif Abdol-Amir Hashem Al-Enavi, has been assisting the MOIS agents, personally arranging for everything they need. His deputy, two officers of the Iraqi Army's intelligence branch and two other army officers are also helping them. Col. Al-Enavi has assigned two officers to ensure that these agents are fully satisfied and have everything at their disposal.

The battalion provides them with loudspeakers, drums and cymbals among other things. It also arranges the agents' transportation between their residence, the regime's embassy in Baghdad, and Camp Ashraf as well as their trips to and from Iran. Three of the battalion's vehicles and their drivers are allocated to these agents. Under the instructions of the battalion commander, these vehicles are well maintained.

A unit from the battalion consisting of three Humvees, tasked with providing protection, takes position at Ashraf main gate every morning before the MOIS agents arrive. This unit protects the agents throughout the day while they go on shouting and insulting Ashraf residents and threaten them with death.

The battalion prepares special meals for the agents and must comply with their requests or face reprimands. Former chef and his assistant who prepared food for the battalion commander along with another personnel working at the officers’ canteen, have been assigned to prepare food for these agents and respond to their needs.

A contractor has been employed by the battalion to purchase the needs of the agents from Baghdad. The agents receive everything free of charge.

In recent days, on the orders of the committee for the suppression of Ashraf, the battalion has installed a number of new trailers at the camp's entrance to expand the agent’s stay. The battalion commander, intelligence and operations officers, company commanders and personnel in charge of repair and transportation have stopped their daily duties to install the trailers as soon as possible.

The personnel and soldiers have become disgruntled over the fact that so much energy and facilities are allocated to these agents. But the battalion commander and intelligence officers have tried to suppress dissent through fear and intimidation.

For the past 70 days the agents have been threatening the residents of Ashraf with death and setting fire to Camp Ashraf, while shouting “Death to Mojahedin (PMOI/MEK)” and “long live the Islamic Republic” through amplifiers and loudspeakers. They have been receiving support from the office of Iraqi Prime Minister and the Iraqi battalion systematically and comprehensively. They are trying to instigate tension and skirmishes with the camp's residents through their actions and the use of obscene and profane language. They have also disrupted the residents’ peace and tranquility, especially patients in the hospital near the main gate of Ashraf.

These agents openly admit that they have been assigned by Nejat Association (a branch of MOIS) to go to Ashraf and will remain there until Ashraf is destroyed and all its residents are expelled (video clip of their threats are available).

These measures are clear examples of psychological and systematic torture which are preparing the grounds for another assault on Ashraf residents who are protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.
Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.
Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.
"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon Friday. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."
Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future.
Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less seismically active location. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.
In 2003, a powerful earthquake hit the southern city of Bam, killing 31,000 people — about a quarter of that city's population — and destroying its ancient mud-built citadel.
"A divine authority told me to tell the people to make a general repentance. Why? Because calamities threaten us," Sedighi said.
Referring to the violence that followed last June's disputed presidential election, he said, "The political earthquake that occurred was a reaction to some of the actions (that took place). And now, if a natural earthquake hits Tehran, no one will be able to confront such a calamity but God's power, only God's power. ... So let's not disappoint God."
The Iranian government and its security forces have been locked in a bloody battle with a large opposition movement that accuses Ahmadinejad of winning last year's vote by fraud.
Ahmadinejad made his quake prediction two weeks ago but said he could not give an exact date. He acknowledged that he could not order all of Tehran's 12 million people to evacuate. "But provisions have to be made. ... At least 5 million should leave Tehran so it is less crowded," the president said.
Minister of Welfare and Social Security Sadeq Mahsooli said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best "formulas to repel earthquakes."
"We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice," Mahsooli said.

Iran's political watchdog has banned all activities by two leading reformist parties which backed OPPOSITION leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in June's presidential poll, a state-owned daily said Monday.
The watchdog also recommended to the judiciary that both the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organisation be dissolved, the government newspaper Iran said in its online edition.
'Their licenses have been suspended and it has been decided that their cases be referred to the judiciary,' the newspaper quoted the watchdog's secretary, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, as saying.
'You are prohibited from conducting any activities until the cases are dealt by the judiciary,' the newspaper quoted a letter from Meshkini to the two parties as saying.
He said the parties had been accused of 'violating the sovereignty of the country, spreading accusations and lies, undermining national unity and planning the break-up of the country.'The two political groups had strongly supported Mousavi, the main challenger to President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad in the June 2009 presidential election

Three leading Iranian political reformists have been sentenced to six years in jail and barred from involvement in politics or journalism for 10 years, the ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.
Mohsen Mirdamadi, head of the Participation Front, the main reformist party, former deputy interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh and Davoud Soleimani were found guilty of harming national security and propaganda against the regime…According to Iranian media reports, 10 protesters charged with taking part in the post-election unrest have been sentenced to death.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
A representative of the Iranian Parliament cited the statement of Ali Khamenei on Islamizing universities and said, "To produce science on the basis of divine principles, the Ministry of Higher Education should put the issue of expelling secular and dissident professors as a priority". Zohreh Elahian stressed that professors have to abide by the framework of the constitution and the system of the Islamic Republic in the university
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Shole Mansouri, a human rights activist who was arrested on March 8, 2010 in an organized attack against human rights activists is in poor health in prison. According to reports, Shole Mansouri who is former colleague of the Human Rights Activists in Iran is suffering from a blood related illness and severe influenza.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
According to reports, Hajir Kordnejad, a student activist in the Social Sciences School in Tehran University who was arrested on December 3, 2009 was sentenced to two years of prison in a court of first instance.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
According to reports, on Sunday April 11 a Christian man by the name of Daniel Shahri was arrested by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence in Isfahan with an arrest warrant issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Court. He was taken to an unknown location.
Intelligence agents went to his home which is located near the Loqa Church in Isfahan on April 11 and arrested this 19-year-old Christian man. They also confiscated some of his personal belongings. His family's appeals and pursuits of his case have led to nowhere. He was only allowed one short call and said that he had been transferred to cellblock AT in the Dastgerd Central Prison in Isfahan. He also said that he had been accused of publishing lies and sacrilege
Rooz Website
Motahareh Bahrami who was detained in the Ashura protests (December 27, 2009), was sentenced to death. She was arrested with her husband, son a relative and one her husband's friends on Ashura and there are reports that these five people were sentenced to death.
Motahareh (Simin) Bahrami Haqiqi, her husband Mohsen Daneshpour Moqadam, and her son, Ahmad Daneshpour Moqadam were all arrested along with one of their relatives Reihaneh Haj Ibrahim. Hadi Qaemi, a close friend of Mohsen Daneshpour, who was also arrested with them was also sentenced to death on charges of moharebeh (waging war with God).
One of the son's of this family who became a member of the PMOI years ago is in Camp Ashraf in Iraq which is the basis of the charge of moharebeh and the death sentences for this family. Meisam Daneshpour, another son of this family confirmed the death sentences for his family and said, "The case is currently being reviewed and the final sentence has still not been announced to them".

Iranian regime to Islamize uniforms of female university students

Shahrzad News state-run website
After announcements on designing uniforms for students, especially for female students, and the issuing of regulations in this regard for the near future, the Cultural Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education stressed on the execution of this plan.
"Universities have to move in the direction of the Iranian Islamic culture", he said. "We will carry out plans on the issues of the Islamic covering, chastity and the appearance of (university) students", he stressed
Human Rights Activists in Iran
The Payame Nour University in Bojnourd announced in its official website that on March 17, three Baha'i students in this university were banned from education.
Shayan Sanayi, Mona Sharifi Mohebati and Anush Sharifi Mohebati were three Baha'i students who were studying in the Payame Nour University in Bojnourd. These three students went to the university after the Iranian new years break but were prevented from going to class and were subsequently expelled on orders of the head of the university.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Security forces barred the father of Keivan Rafiei, the former Secretary General of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, from continuing his work in an attempt to increase the pressure on human rights activists.
His father worked in a university in the province of Golestan in Northern Iran. This illegal measure was carried out even while they have made no charges against him and he has no history of political or social activities. Keivan Rafiei's sister has also been detained since March 2, 2010 in cellblock 2A in Evin Prison because of her brother's activities despite the expiration of her detention order
Seyed Ali Asghar Beheshti Shirazi and Mohammad Shahri, two Science and Industry University professors were expelled from university after receiving written expulsion orders.These professors were signatories of a letter in protest and in support of students who had received disciplinary sentences (for political reasons).
Human Rights Activists in Iran

According to reports, another 74 students of the Teacher Training Sabsevar University in Mashhad received heavy disciplinary sentences from this university without being summoned. Their only crime was participating in student ceremonies.
The Disciplinary Committee in this university summoned some of the students intending to identify student leaders by threatening and enticing them. Before this, this committee had issued sentences for 160 other university students.
Aftab website
From the beginning of the new academic year in the Polytechnic University in Tehran, the students in this university have witnessed strict disciplinary treatment from university officials.
According to news websites, from October 2009, 170 students in this university were summoned to the Disciplinary Committee. They were mostly charged with participating in the Student's Day ceremonies and boycotting exams.
About 40 of these students received suspension sentences from this university.
Most of these sentences have not been finalized but some of the students whose sentences have been finalized have been banned from entering the university. Five of these students are: Vahid Dolat Abadi, Saman Shah Mohammadi, Lida Mahvadi (F), Farzaneh Sharifi (F) and Mehrdad Farnoush
Human Rights Activists in Iran
More than one month after the arrest of two human rights activists, the judicial and security apparatus in Iran finally confirmed their arrest because of their families' constant pursuits.
Security forces arrested Amir Ehsan Tehrani Sekhavat and Nima Golzari, two students and artists who were active in producing music concerning human rights issues, on March 8 and March 9 without the knowledge of their families. They were taken to an unknown location. Finally on April 17, the families of these two activists were notified by the Tehran Prosecutor that their sons were detained in Evin Prison.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
A number of plainclothes agents stormed the home of human rights activist Hesam-oddin Bahman Abadi last night for the second time.
According to reports, 4 plainclothes agents came with an arrest warrant to the home of this activist at 9:30 pm only to find that he was not home.
Before this, in coordinated attacks against human rights activists on March 2, 2010, security forces searched his home and confiscated his computer, CDs and some of his other personal belongings. A few days later, they started threatening his family to turn over their son. The Revolutionary Guards Corps Intelligence has announced that Bahman Abadi has committed internet crimes and has acted against national security.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Dr. Vahid Ahmad Fakhroddin, lawyer, university professor and human rights activist who was arrested by security forces is in an unknown location. According to reports, 40 days after the arrest of Dr. Vahid Ahmad Fakhroddin, a former colleague of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, there is no information on his where he is kept and his condition and there are increasing concerns regarding his condition
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Two months after the arrest of Shahin Fazli, this student activist is still kept in a state of limbo in prison.
He has been charged with cooperating with groups outside of the country, spreading propaganda against the government, disrupting public order and instigating public opinion. He has not accepted any of the charges in his interrogations. According to those close to him, he has only been able to visit with his family once and twice with his lawyer in this time. This civil rights activist and film critic was arrested in his home in Tabriz in February. Despite the expiration of his temporary detention order, a bail order has still not been issued for him.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Hashem Khastar, a retired teacher from Mashhad who was sentenced to six years of prison by a court of first instance was sentenced to two years of prison by a court of review.
Sediqeh Maleki Far, his wife said, "On June 15, 2009 he was walking in the park when a Bassij came and told my husband to come with him and they arrested him in this way".
"His only crime was being in the park. Later, when they saw that they could not pin any charges on him, they said he was in Mir Hossein Moussavi's election staff", she added. Prison officials did not give Khastar a new year leave despite his unsuitable health in prison.
Mukarian News Agency
Mahi-oddin Azadi, a Kurd activist from Seqez was sentenced to four years of prison by the first branch of the Kurdistan Military Court.
This Kurd activist, who has been jailed for more than a year was condemned on charges of espionage by sending confidential documents to foreigners and gathering news and information from the city and sending it to foreigners. Mahi-oddin Azadi has spent some of his jail time in a detention center in Sanandaj and the rest in Seqez Prison. He is suffering from digestive and neurotic problems in jail
Human Rights Activists in Iran

Eftekhar Barzegarian, a jailed student activist from the Firdosi University in Mashhad who has been detained since September 2009 is suffering from serious illnesses and constantly vomits blood on a daily basis.
Refusing the medical advice of the prison infirmary to put more pressure on this student activist, the Protection Department of the Vakil Abad Prison in Mashhad has barred him from receiving medicine in the past few days and has prevented him from sleeping on a bed.Despite the fact that his interrogations ended last October and a bail for his release was provided by his friends, this student activist is still illegally detained in this prison.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Morad Hassan Lu and Nafiseh Mojtahedi, two human rights activists are still kept in solitary confinement more than 40 days after their arrest. This couple who used to work with the Human Rights Activists in Iran were arrested on March 6, 2010 and taken to solitary cells in cellblock 2A in Evin Prison. They are still kept in these solitary cells. They have a small child.
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
During the post-elections arrests of 2009, tens of those arrested were citizens who did not belong to any groups or political parties, or whose names were never mentioned in a social and political context.

These prisoners remain in detention anonymously and their families’ efforts to learn about their circumstances have rendered fruitless. One of these individuals is a man by the name of Parviz Varmarzyari who was arrested during the Ashura Day Protests (December 27, 2009).
Though he was arrested more than three months ago, he has not been informed of his charges, nor have there been any courts convened for his trial. He is one of the prisoners spending time in Ministry of Intelligence’s Ward 209 at Evin Prison.

A human rights source told International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the 55-year-old man had not had any political activities in the past, but that the Ministry of Intelligence agents have been trying to charge him with “relations with Mojahedeen Khalgh Organization (PMOI).

Apparently his son is at Camp Ashraf in Iraq and Varmarzyari’s continued detention in prison is related to this.

The mentioned source said that Varmazyari’s family and lawyer’s visits to security and judicial organizations to find out the reason for his arrest have been fruitless so far.

Over the past few months, some of the detainees have faced the charge of relations with Mojahedeen Khalgh Organization, even though in most cases they have denied such relations.Even though those in charge of the cases do not have any evidence to support these charges, their efforts to find the detainees guilty for these relations continue.

According to reports and human rights activists, five prisoners in Gohardasht Prison, 17 prisoners in Orumieh Prison and three prisoners in Yazd Prison are in very poor health because of going on hunger strikes for days in prison.

According to this report, a number of prisoners in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj by the names of Es-haq Surani, Hossein Karimi, Reza Jalali, Abas Yusefi and Mohammad Ansari have been on a hunger strike for more than 2 weeks in solitary cells known as the 'doghouse'. They are in a very poor health and their lives are in danger because of horrid prison conditions. This report concludes that prison official have not taken any heed of their condition.

According to other reports, 17 political prisoners in Orumieh Prison have also gone on hunger strike from last week in protest to the condition of prison, and the free and systematic distribution of drugs in prison and human rights sources have expressed concern for their condition. Three Kurd political prisoners who have been sentenced to serving their terms in Yazd Prison identified as Abdollah Qasem Zadeh, Bakhshali Mohammadi and Sahand Ali Mohammadi have gone on hunger strike in protest to the prison conditions and insulting treatment by prison guards and are in very critical condition
Human Rights Activists in Iran
According to reports, political prisoner Mohammad Baqer Erfani who was arrested in an attack to his home in February is in an undetermined state in Evin Prison's cellblock 350.
Mohammad Baqer Erfani, 52, who was a political prisoner in the 80's was arrested by intelligence agents and detained in solitary confinement in cellblock 209 in Evin Prison.

Seven intelligence agents under the command of an agent nicknamed Alavi (known for the brutal torture of political prisoners in cellblock 209 in Evin Prison) attacked Erfani's home on February 7, 2010. They violently searched his home for a few hours and treated his family and children inhumanely. Alavi interrogated and threatened Erfani's wife and children in his home. Erfani was on a trip and was not home when these agents attacked and they were unable to arrest him.

Intelligence agents confiscated some of their personal belongings including their computer, a number of CD's, satellite receiver, telephone book, books and other items.

Alavi summoned his wife and daughter the next day to the intelligence agency and interrogated them for hours. He took them as hostages saying that they would stay at the agency until Erfani turned himself in, even while Erfani was on a business trip.After Erfani turned himself in, he was arrested and taken to cellblock 209. In this time he was interrogated for long periods and psychologically and physically tortured. Alavi repeatedly threatened him that they would execute him and that he was a Mohareb (a term used by the regime against political prisoner meaning enmity with God). The torture and abuse continued for more than one month until he was recently transferred to cellblock 350 where he is kept in an undetermined state.
Savalan Sassi Website
Behrouz Alizadeh and Vadoud Sa'adati, Azeri activists and Azeri journalist Rahim Gholami who started a hunger strike on April 1 in Ardabil Prison are in critical condition.
Informed sources in Ardabil prison say that they are suffering from low blood pressure and Behrouz Alizadeh is also suffering from dizzy spells and abnormal heartbeats. According to this source, prison officials have transferred these three Azeri political prisoners to solitary cells in the quarantine cellblock in Ardabil Prison. The Alizadeh, Sa'adati and Gholami families are extremely concerned about the condition of their loved ones in prison. After these political prisoners announced their hunger strike, prison officials barred them from family visits
Mukarian News Agency
Hossein Khezri, a political prisoner on death row was taken to an unknown location form the public cellblock in Orumieh Prison. He was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court on charges of cooperating with Kurd opposition parties. The transfer of Hossein Khezri has led to concerns among human rights activists. Some believe that this transfer can raise the probability of his death sentence being carried out
Sunni News Website
Security forces in Kermanshah recently arrested a number of Sunni activists and took them to an unknown location.
Abdolhadi, Rostam and Mohammad-Ali Barzegar, Sunni activists in Javanroud were arrested without arrest warrants by intelligence agents. These agents also stormed the home of Khalil Hamidi, another activist, and harassed his family because he was not home.
Kurdnews website
After an attack and assassination attempt against Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, the Mahabad Representative in Iran's parliament, a number of journalists and civil rights activists in this city were summoned and arrested by security forces. According to reports, two civil rights activists were arrested.
Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran

According to reports, student and human rights activists in Yasuj who were arrested are still under constant pressure by interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence despite their release from prison.
These activists were arrested on February 2, 2010 in their homes after violent attacks by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence. They included Ardavan Qera-ati, arrested on February 2 who was released some time later, Hassan Akvanian, released after one week and Reza Akvanian, arrested on February 2 and released on February 11, 2010…
These activists were taken to solitary cells in the Yasuj Cental Prison. They were psychologically and physically tortured during their arrest. These tortures included beatings with electric clubs and kicks and punches in the face and head and other sensitive parts of the body. The tortures were so violent that some of the prisoners passed out under the beatings. They were struck in the nose and back and suffered injuries. The signs of torture are still evident on their noses and backs despite being released weeks before from jail. They were also deprived of sleep and forced to consume pills which made them drowsy and were then tortured to stay awake. One of the activists was mentally tortured and threatened in the interrogations that if he did not accept everything they said, they would bring his wife and rape her.
In the first 3 days of their incarceration, the tortures were very violent and constant. They were charged with instigating Yasuj University students to go on strikes and hold sit-ins, participating in the Tehran post-election protests, being members of the One Million Signature Campaign (advocating women's rights), being in contact with human rights activists, giving interviews to international Farsi radio stations, being in contact with the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, sending reports of human rights violations to outside sources in Iran, spreading propaganda against the government, and insulting government officials and the 'leadership' in their weblogs.
Iran has publicly hanged a man and amputated the limbs of another for armed robbery in the southern town of Mahshahr, the government newspaper Iran reported on Wednesday.
The two along with a third man had resorted to hijacking trucks and stealing their shipments, the report said.
The man executed on Tuesday in a public square in Mahshahr was identified only by his first name, Adnan.'The amputation of a hand and leg of the other member of the group was carried out in prison,' Mahshahr prosecutor Reza Abolhasani told the paper without giving further details.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
The execution of a group of Afghan prisoners in Iran has been met with a serious reaction from members of the Afghanistan parliament.
According to this report, a number of Afghanistan MPs have said in parliament that in the past 3 days, the bodies of 45 executed Afghan prisoners in Iran were returned to Afghanistan via the Islam Qal'eh border region…Despite this, the Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that only three Afghan prisoners were executed in Iran. The disclosure of the hanging of 45 Afghans has led Fada Hossein Maleki, the Afghan Foreign Affairs Minister, to summon the Iranian Ambassador in Kabul for explanations.