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 7:02 pm: NIAC Calls for the Release of Kian Tajbakhsh, an End to Political Detentions and Abuse – NIAC issued this press release earlier today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the arrest and imprisonment of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American intellectual who was taken from his home in Iran and jailed late last Thursday. NIAC calls for his release and the immediate release of all those who have been arrested and detained for demonstrating in the weeks following Iran’s disputed presidential election.

“Tajbakhsh’s recent arrest is part of an ongoing effort by the government of Iran to silence dissent,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi, “and it shows the Iranian government’s continued disregard for the basic rights of its people in the wake of last month’s election.” NIAC has condemned the use of violence and political detentions against demonstrators in Iran, and called for a new election as the only plausible way to end the turmoil. 

Tajbakhsh was not involved in the current demonstrations, but had been arrested in 2007 along with four other dual citizens on charges of trying to foment a ‘velvet revolution’ against the Islamic Republic. He spent four months in Tehran’s Evin Prison before his was released. Following his release in 2007, he remained in Iran and deliberately avoided politics, his friends and family members say. Tajbakhsh, a Columbia University graduate, taught urban policy at the New School for Social Research in New York City from 1994 until 2001.

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, over 240 other prominent Iranian lawyers, activists, journalists, professors, human rights defenders and students have been arrested without charge, and have been taken to undisclosed locations since the demonstrations began.  NIAC has also received many reports of detainees in Iran’s prisons being mistreated, including prisoners being tortured and raped. 

NIAC calls on the Iranian government to restore basic human and legal rights to its prisoners, including a halt to torture and guaranteed access to legal representation in accordance with the Iranian constitution

5:10 pm: Association of Iranian Journalists suing Kayhan editor for defamation – The editor in chief of the state run newspaper, Kayhan, will be put on trial next month for charges of defamation. “This case…was formed by multiple complaints [which accuses Kayhan of] publishing lies with the purpose of creating anxiety among the public and accusations.”
5:09 pm: The official state news agency IRNA praises Ahmadinejad, says his hair turned white prematurely because he “worked so hard for justice”
Ahmadi_aging
4:15 pm: Tehran’s minister of justice: I don’t have data on the detainees – According to Amir Kabir newsletter, the head of Tehran’s Justice Department claimed that he does not have written and formal information regarding the number of detainees.  “So far, I have not been invited to attend the meetings of special committee formed by the head of the judicial branch to investigate the situation of recent detainees and I have not received any communications regarding this matter and I have no information about their work.”
Alireza Avayee has reportedly visited Evin prison twice and said “many of the detainees have been freed and several more are about to be released.”
3:57 pm: According to Kodoom, Iranian Americans have scheduled demonstrations from July 22-24 in front of the United Nations building in New York.
The aim of the demonstrations are to declare support for the green movement in Iran, to denounce the Iranian government’s use of violence arbitrary arrest and torture against the demonstrators, and to bring into light the lack of accountability of the Ahmadinejad government.
Reportedly, these rallies will be attended by many of the popular Iranian personalities living in the United States, such as pop singer Gogosh, Akbar Ganji and many others.
3:12 pm: Raja News claims Ayatollah Montazeri suffering from memory loss – Raja News, which is a strong supporter of Ahmadinejad, claims that Ayatollah Montazeri has been “sick for several months,” suffering from “imbalance and severe memory loss.” Montazeri has been supportive of the demonstrators and has condemned the government’s post-election behavior as contrary to Islam.
According to their reports, statements that are supposedly from Montazeri are in fact being written by other people.  “Mohsen Kadivar, who is outside Iran, along with one of Montazeri’s sons are primarily responsible for creating these fatwas and statements, using Montazeri’s stamp and publishing them through anti-revolutionary media and have probably downgraded Montazeri’s role to a low level political element.”
His son, Ahmad Montazeri, denied the claim and said in an interview with Parleman News that his father is perfectly healthy.
2:59 pm: UANI Calls On New York Area Hotels To Refuse To Host Ahmadinejad – The organization United Against Nuclear Iran issued a statement today calling on New York area hotels to refuse service to the Iranian delegation when they come to the UN General Assembly in September.

“These hotels must join the international community in condemnation of Iran’s illicit nuclear program and for its brutal repression of the Iranian people.  If President Ahmadinejad comes to the UNGA he should stay in the Iranian Mission to the UN as a testament to his international isolation and responsible entities should decline to host the Iranian delegation.”

The group advocates divestment from all companies that do business in Iran until the Iranian government gives up its nuclear program.
2:39 pm: Mousavi legally prohibited from forming a political party, says Kayhan – According to the state run newspaper Kayhan, Mohammad Reza Mir Taj al-Dini, member of the principalist faction has said “in the Islamic Republic system, a person who does not accept the guardianship of the jurist and the Guardian Council is not qualified to form a party.”
The Deputy of the Council for Coordination of the Forces of the Revolution said, “Mousavi must first prove that he does not have enmity and hostility towards the regime and accepts the existing laws and then think about forming a party.”
“I believe that given current circumstances Mousavi wants to impose his illegal words by using partisan force and this in not acceptable and he should not be given a permit.”
Kayhan also quoted the speaker of the Society Loyal to Islamic Revolution who said “creating a party by people like Mousavi whose loyalty to the regime has not been proven is against the constitution.”  Mohammad Azimi added “Mousavi’s behavior after the announcement of election results has risen doubts about his loyalty to the constitution…therefore he is not qualified to form a party.”
1:51 pm: Mahmoud Mirlohi: “Mousavi’s party will be definitely created” – Deputy interior minister for legal and parliamentary affairs of the reform movement, Mahmoud Mirlohi, announced that “Mousavi’s party will definitely be created and he more capable than just retreating against word from a few unauthorized individuals.”
“The opponents (of Mousavi) only accept certain laws and according to their own interpretation and do not recognize laws regarding freedom of assembly, speech … which are the explicit wording of the law.   Therefore, it is natural that they are anxious about the creation of a party by Mousavi.”
“They are trying to close legal channels to the people and now the law has really turned into an instrument in their service.”
12:41 pm: July 17 – Rafsanjani to lead Friday Prayers
July 17th Friday Prayer
Mousavi’s facebook page has released the following statement along with the attached poster: “The Friday prayer will be held by Ayatollah Rafsanjani and will also be attended by Mousavi and Khatami.”
Rafsanjani has not delivered the Friday prayers since the disputed presidential elections.
11:35 am: More on Kian Tajbakhsh’s detention – Time Magazine: U.S. Citizen Living in Tehran Said to Be Arrested
11:24 am: Two of Iran’s Top Clerics Criticize Ahmadinejad for Silence on China’s Muslims – Karroubi’s official newspaper [Persian] reports that two of Iran’s top clerics, Grand Ayatollahs Shirazi and Golpayegani, have criticized Ahmadinejad’s government for its failure to condemn the Chinese government for its violent crackdown of its Muslim population (uighurs).
The grand ayatollahs are “sources of emulation,” a top distinction in Shia Islam.
According to Shirazi, “the political and economical co-operation between Iran and China should not be taken into consideration when our Muslim brothers and sisters are getting killed.”
Hossein-Ali Montazeri and Yousef Saanei are the only Grand Ayatollahs in Iran who have criticized the Iranian government’s crackdown on post-election demonstrations.
Analysis: Iran criticized Italy’s handling of G-8 protesters, but has said little about China. The reason is very clear. China and Iran have deep economic ties, and China has veto power on any possible new sanctions in the UN Security Council. Neoconservatives (and some liberals) often claim that Iran is a deranged, irrational state actor that poses an existential threat to Israel (and thus needs to be bombed). While there is no doubt that Iran poses at least a limited threat to Israel, particularly through its support of Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s silence on China’s actions provides yet another example of how Iran is willing to ignore ideology in pursuit of its national and security interests.
10:36 am: Pro-Ahmadinejad MPs: “Representatives who do not believe in the legitimacy of this government are not qualified to be in Majlis” – According to Amir Kabir newsletter, a member of the principalist (hardline) faction in Majlis said “those representatives who deem the government as illegitimate, are not qualified to be in the 8th Majlis.”  Satar Hedayatkhah, a pro-Ahmadinejad MP, added:

“when this group of representatives entered the Majlis they pledged to defend the constitution, and when they stand up against the guardianship of the jurist (the Supreme Leader) and the constitution, they lose their qualification as representatives and in terms of religious law, any rights and benefits they get from the Majlis will be illegal.”

This member of the parliament said that the real legitimacy of the Islamic government comes from god and “people’s votes do not have legitimacy; they only give the Islamic government acceptability.”
10:10 am: AP:  Iran readies package for P5+1 talks – Providing more details on Foreign Minister Mottaki’s statement that we reported on yesterday:

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran is preparing a new package of “political, security and international” issues to put to the West, its foreign minister said Saturday.
“The package can be a good basis for talks with the West. The package will contain Iran‘s stances on political, security and international issues,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference.

This seems to be Iran’s response to President Obama’s message from the G8 summit last week that the invitation for Iran to join another round of talks will expire in September, after which he will push for more sanctions.
Unfortunately, from Mottaki’s comments, it seems less than certain that Iran is willing to accept the invitation as it was presented to them, and instead would prefer to develop its own package to discuss.  This happened in previous rounds of negotiations, in which both sides presented their own version of a plan to the other, and ignored the other’s requests for a response.  The result was that both sides waited for the other to respond to their proposal, and talks stalled for nearly two years.
9:59 am: According to Tabnak, Mohsen Namjoo an Iranian artist and folk singer was sentenced to 5 years in prison for singing lyrics of the Koran in a modern popular style of Music.
Mohsen Namjoo is very popular in Iran and has made a few concerts around the world including in North American cities.
This is further evidence of the government’s ongoing effort to clamp down on artists and musicians.
12:12 AM: Mohsen Rezaie calls for the opposition’s concerns to be resolved
BBC Persian reports the statement released by former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaie on his website. This message calls for the resolution of the opposition’s concerns soon — warning that if they remain unresolved, the Islamic Republic may disintegrate.
Further, he indirectly criticizes Hassan Firouzabadi, the current commander of Iran’s Armed Forces. Firouzabadi, an Ahmadinejad supporter, recently published a message calling the opposition “the new Monafeqin” (Monafeqin means hypocrites — the government’s epithet for the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization). Rezaie appears to be warning him not to push his claims further, even invoking the specter of a possible civil war.

Today, Iranian society and the armed forces loyal to the Islamic Republic are at odds. The household of the Revolution has fallen under a rain torrent of slander. A minority calls some members of this household “new Monafeqin.” Another minority has given some members of this household the title of Kharijites (the sect that murdered the Shia saint Ali). Don’t you think this is a conspiracy to make Iran’s armed forces start fighting each other and foment civil unrest?

The continuation of the methods that some political actors (presumably the opposition) are using takes us backward and will bring us to defeat — and it has already brought some damage upon us — while if the other faction of political actors (presumably Ahmadinejad supporters) continues their methods of action, they will bring us to a mountain slope of damage.

He lends legitimacy to both sides of the debate in his appeal:

I am convinced that an Islamic Republic without both freedom and religious principles has no significance

Finally, he warns of the possible downfall of the Islamic Republic and mentions:

These questions and discussions regarding the Presidential election’s results affected the entire Nezam [the system].

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