March 7, 2023

Teachers protest in support of students, Mousavi hospitalized, Grossi in Tehran and more

Week of March 6th, 2023 | Iran Unfiltered is a digest tracking Iranian politics & society by the National Iranian American Council 

Teachers gather in Iranian cities to support students, but security forces intervene

On Tuesday, March 16, teachers and protesters marched and gathered in many Iranian cities in protest of the poisonings of female students. The protests were organized by the Coordination Council of Teachers’ Unions of Iran and took place in many cities, including Mashhad, Isfahan, Karaj, Rasht, Sanandaj, Marivan, Lahijan, Ahvaz, Babol and Shiraz. In Tehran the gathering was in front of the parliament and, in the provinces, in front of the general directorate of education.

Security forces were heavily present in some cities, including Tehran, Marivan and Isfahan. According to the Coordinating Council of Trade Unions, uniformed officers arrested Mohammad Ali Zhamtakesh, chief inspector of the Fars Teachers’ Trade Union Association, and Gholamreza Gholami Kendazi during a teachers’ protest rally outside the Directorate of Fars Education. Several newspapers and figures have been charged with crimes by the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, including Ali Portbatabaei, who is well known in the Persian Twitter community as Kheyzaran.

Prosecutor Ali Salehi declared that Sadegh Zibakalam, Reza Kianian, Azar Mansouri, and the directors of Hammihan, Roydad 24, and Shargh media would be charged with crimes “for publishing false information about the incident of poisoning of students.” A reporter and editor at Qom News, Ali Tabatabaei, has also been arrested following his coverage of the chain poisonings in girls’ schools in Iran in the past days. Although no person or group had thus far been identified or arrested as the cause of the poisoning of the students, the prosecutor’s office has filed a lawsuit against those reporting on the poisonings.

In the past, the Iranian government has considered arresting journalists who seek to clarify the truth as the best way to “manage the crisis.” Niloufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, two journalists who reported on the death of Mahsa Amini and her funeral in Saqqez, were arrested shortly after the onset of nationwide protests and remain in prison.

Khamenei calls for “severe punishment” for those poisoning female students

During an Arbor Day ceremony on the morning of Monday, March 6, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said authorities should seriously pursue the issue of student poisoning. A crime of this magnitude is unforgivable. In the case of the poisoning of the students, he said, the perpetrators should be severely punished. These people will not receive amnesty.

Mohseni Ejei, the head of the Judiciary, announced those culpable would be charged with Afsad-i fil Arz, or “Corruption on Earth.” Ejei also announced that they would deal with the cases of the perpetrators in a special manner, promising severe punishments and no complacency.

Mir Hossein Mousavi hospitalized

Mir Hossein Mousavi was transferred to one of Tehran’s medical centers on March 3 after contracting the flu, according to IRNA. However, Insaf News subsequently reported speculation that Mousavi contracted COVID-19 and is not in good health. In recent days, the restrictions of his house arrest have been tightened, including an enhanced presence of security agents, and only his daughters are allowed to see him.

Grossi visits Tehran

In a press conference in Vienna at the beginning of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting and two days after returning from Tehran, Rafael Grossi announced that “certain agreements” had been reached on the agency’s monitoring. According to Iran, the implementation of the agreement will lead to more monitoring of its nuclear program, but it cannot guarantee its success.

After his meetings in Tehran, Mr. Grossi – the Director General of the IAEA – and Mohammad Eslami – the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran – released a joint statement in which Iran agreed to enhanced agency monitoring of nuclear facilities and cooperation with an investigation into three locations that had been contaminated with uranium particles that Iran has yet to fully explain or account for. 

Grossi said that he had a “constructive dialogue” with Iranian officials at the highest levels, but he is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the outcome. According to him, the Iranian authorities have agreed to cooperate properly on the issues raised by the agency, including the recent discovery of particles enriched to 84%.

On his recent trip to Tehran, Grossi met with President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and Atomic Energy Organization head Mohammad Eslami. According to Grossi, the agreement will increase inspections, including at the Fordow nuclear enrichment facility where the particles enriched to 84% were identified. According to Iran, it had no intention of producing uranium enriched above 60%, and that enrichment occurred inadvertently.

Iran also appeared to deny some of the agreements that Mr. Grossi announced after his visit to Tehran and which were reflected in the media before the meeting of the IAEA. Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, denied some “claims” about access and stated: “There has been no discussion or agreement regarding the installation of cameras.” 

Seyyed Javad Tabatabai passes away

Seyyed Javad Tabatabai, an Iranian philosopher and writer, died at the age of 77 in a hospital in Los Angeles. Toraj Daryaee, a history researcher and university professor, confirmed his death by publishing a picture of Tabatabai.

Javad Tabatabai became famous in the Iranian academic community given his work and theorizing on political thought in both the West and Iran. Tabatabai was born in Tabriz on December 14, 1945. At the age of eight, Seyyed Javad lost his father, who was one of the most famous merchants in Tabriz. After receiving his Bachelor of Laws from Tehran University’s Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, he went to France to study at Sorbonne University, where he graduated with a D.E.S. Diploma in Political Philosophy.

Tabatabai was engaged in writing, analyzing and thinking from the very beginning of his academic studies until the last days of his life. Tabatabai’s books include “Introduction to the History of Political Thought in Iran“, “Decline of Political Thought in Iran”, “Nizam al-Mulk and Iranian Political Thought: Essay on the Continuity of the Iranian Thought“, “An Introduction to the Theory of Decline of Iran“, “Tabriz School and Basis of Modernity” and “Government of Law in Iran.”

Tabatabai’s description and analysis of Iranshahri political philosophy, which emphasizes culture as the most influential element in Iran’s political system, is one of his most important works. There is no one ethnicity in Iranian culture, but a combination of different ethnicities, he writes. “The land of Iran is the land of all Iranians. Iranians refer to all of us who have historically settled there, from the most ancient times, and who determined the historical destiny of that land and their own.” 

He traveled to America in 2017 for treatment of his illness and died on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 in a hospital in Los Angeles. Before his death, Tabatabai had called the recent nationwide uprising of Iranians a “national revolution”.

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