An Iranian parliamentary inquiry has found that Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was responsible for the deaths of at least three detainees involved in protests that followed the June 12 presidential election, the conservative Alef website reported Jan. 6. The report alleges that Mortazavi, the prosecutor responsible for overseeing the Kahrizak prison, ordered that the prisoners be transferred to Kahrizak, where they were tortured and beaten to death.
Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar on Jan. 5 warned opposition activists that they could face execution if they continue anti-government protests. Najjar's statement came one day after the Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi announced that "Several foreigners are among those who were arrested on the day of Ashura," when Tehran was rocked by street clashes that left at least four dead and some 300 arrested. Najjar said that the foreigners would also face punishment if found guilty of crimes. (Jurist, Tehran Times, Jan. 5)
Eleven Iranian police agents were killed when a highway patrol intercepted what officials called an "illicit drug convoy" in Southern Khorasan Province near the Afghan border Jan. 1. Four traffickers were also reported wounded in the clash, and one wounded. Reports said police "attempted to confiscate" around two tons of drugs—but did not indicate what type of drugs, or if the confiscation was successful. Reports also indicate the convoy was headed north, which is not the most logical route if it was leaving Afghanistan, as accounts implied.
In a fourth consecutive day of protests during the Ashura holy period in Iran, police fired teargas Dec. 28 to disperse supporters of reformist leader Mirhossein Mousavi who gathered in Tehran to express their condolences over his nephew's death in an anti-government rally. Iranian authorities say the death toll in the past 48 hours stands at eight, with some 60 injured. (Reuters, Dec. 28)
In a heart-warming display of holiday spirit, the New York Times runs a Christmas Eve op-ed, "There's Only One Way to Stop Iran" by one Alan J. Kuperman, making the case for pre-emptive military strikes. The writer is named as "the director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin"—but this entity apparently isn't important enough to rate its own web page. It appears to be a project of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. Pretty ironic, given that pre-emptive strikes on Iran without UN authorization would be clearly illegal. Maybe they should call it the Robert S. Strauss Center Against International Security and Law.
The funeral of Ayatollah Montazeri Dec. 21 saw hundreds of thousands of mourners take to the streets in Qom, despite harassment and attacks from the Basij militia. Some 2,000 government supporters also attacked Montazeri's commemoration ceremony at Azam Mosque. To avoid any harm coming to mourners, the family has cancelled the customary third day commemoration events. Afterwards, Basij forces in plainclothes swarmed Montazeri's residence, breaking windows and tearing his pictures and the black mourning banners that had been placed there. They also attacked the nearby home of Montazeri's son. Pro-government forces have pledged to mobilize a counter-demonstration against the mourners in Qom.
Iran's government charged Dec. 9 that a newly built United Nations station to detect nuclear detonations near its border was established to allow world powers to spy on the country. Construction was completed last week on the seismic monitoring station in neighboring Turkmenistan, a few miles from the Iranian border. It is one of about 275 such facilities operating around the world to detect seismic activity set off by nuclear tests. Abolfazl Zohrehvand, an adviser to Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, said the international treaty that allows for setting up such observatories is an "espionage treaty."
Iranian human rights violations following the disputed presidential election in June were among the worst in the past 20 years, according to a report published Dec. 12 by Amnesty International. The report, "Iran: Election contested, repression compounded," contains testimony from individuals detained during the protests that ensued after the election. According to AI, individuals were unlawfully detained, beaten, tortured, and raped, resulting in numerous deaths in detention.