Iran Theater

Iran: officials arrest seven alleged US operatives ahead of protests

Iranian authorities have arrested seven for planning to provoke riots on Feb. 11, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, including several in the employ of the US Central Intelligence Agency, according to a statement released Feb. 7 by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The seven detained were said to be linked to the US-funded Radio Farda, a Prague-based Persian language radio station that has been blocked by the Iranian government, and was described in the statement as a counter-revolutionary and Zionist satellite channel. According to Iranian authorities, the seven were trained in Dubai and Istanbul and played a key role in the anti-government protests held in Tehran last December, during the Shi'ite holy day of Ashura. According to authorities, they were to flee the country after Feb. 11. (Jurist, Feb. 7)

Iran executes two for post-election violence, nine others sentenced to death

Two Iranians were executed Jan. 28 and nine others have been sentenced to death for their roles in last summer's post-election protests, according to the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA). The two executed men, identified as Momammed Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, were convicted on charges of mohareb, or enmity against God, and had earlier been appeared in televised show trials. Amnesty International condemned the executions, saying, "[t]hese shocking executions show that the Iranian authorities will stop at nothing to stamp out the peaceful protests that persist since the election." (Jurist, Jan. 28)

Iran: Guardians Council approves austerity bill

Iran's Guardians Council, the body charged with assuring that legislation conforms to Islamic law, on Jan. 13 approved President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's "Economic Reform Plan," which will remove subsidies on oil, electricity, water and basic foods. The Majlis, Iran's parliament, passed the bill last week, following controversy with Ahmadinejad, who sought to distribute a portion of the anticipated $100 billion in annual savings (some 30% of the total government budget) to Iran's poor through government-sponsored savings accounts. Opposition lawmakers wanted all Iranians to benefit from the savings, and sought greater oversight of the funds. Under a compromise, the Supreme Iranian Audit Court will oversee the accounts. (RFE/RL, The Majlis blog, Jan. 14; Zawya, Jan. 6; Press TV, Jan. 5; Tehran Times, Jan. 4; Press TV, Jan. 3)

Iran: "Zionist methods" seen in scientist slaying

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, commenting Jan. 14 on the murder of a leading quantum physicist, said, "The method of bombing was a Zionist one." The scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, died when a bomb strapped to a motorbike was triggered by remote control as he was leaving his home the morning of Jan. 12. Hundreds attended his funeral, shouting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Mohammad Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani, both former presidents who now support the oppsotion, condemned the attack in separate statements. (Indian Express, AlJazeera, Jan. 15)

Iran's chief prosecutor urges sedition trials for protest leaders

Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei on Jan. 11 called for sedition trials against leaders of the protests following last June's contested presidential election. In a statement to Tehran prosecutors, Ejei said that he supported calls by religious and civil authorities to try those who led anti-government protests for "mohareb," or "enmity against God," which is punishable by execution. In a letter addressed to the Iranian people, opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi said that he would not be deterred from continuing to push for reform by threats of prosecution.

Iran: five protesters face "enmity against God" charges, carrying death penalty

At least five protesters arrested in Iran during last week's protests will be tried on charges of "enmity against God," which carries an automatic death sentence if they are convicted. In another sign of an intensified crackdown on dissidents, a Kurdish activist, Fasih Yasamani, 28, was executed Jan. 6 by hanging at Khoy prison in Azarbaijan province, on charges of "enmity against God" and membership in the Kurdish separatist group PJAK, according to the opposition Human Rights Activists News Agency. If true, he was the second Kurdish activist executed in Iran in recent months, following the November execution of Ehsan Fattahian. At least 17 other activists are on death row.

Iran opens new Turkmenistan gas pipeline

On a tour of Central Asia, Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad arrived in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat Jan. 5 to inaugurate a new natural-gas pipeline linking the the two countries. The Dovletabat-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline was formally opened in a ceremony with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. When fully operational, will more than double Turkmen gas exports to Iran—from 8 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually to 20 bcm.

Iran: parliamentary inquiry finds prosecutor responsible for detainee deaths

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.

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