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Archive for August, 2009

Although life has not returned to normal yet in Iran, Iranian artists are still busy producing great works. Above is a poster about a new film by Samira Makhmalbaf, called "Green Movement." See the end of this Window for more on the Iranian art scene.

Although life has not yet returned to normal in Iran, Iranian artists are still busy producing great works. Above is a poster about a new film by Samira Makhmalbaf, called "Green Movement." See the end of this Window for more on the Iranian art scene.

Dear All,

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There has been a long pause between window 89 and window 90 which you are reading. This is not because there have not been important new developments in Iran but rather because of the new academic year. Here at Washington University in St. Louis, we are starting another busy and full year. I have been focusing on that. I wish those of you who will start your academic year a happy and successful one wherever you are.

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Speaking of opening of the universities, there are indications that Tehran University, and some other universities across Iran, may remain closed this coming fall semester. The excuse given, in unconfirmed rumors, is the swine flue. But everyone knows better. If indeed these the universities do not open, this is another indication of the lack of confidence among the Iranian authorities about keeping the discontent under control.

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Demonstrations Continue

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* Despite heavy and brutal crack downs, arrests, and talk of torture in prisons, street protests have not ceased completely. Here is the video of one today. The crowd had gathered to break their fast with Mr. Mousavi, Karrubi, and Khatami at a mosque in Tehran. While the event was canceled by the security forces, the people did not leave. They chanted in support of Mr. Mousavi and for Mr. Ahmadinejad to resign:

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* On Friday, the chants in a football match turned into “Mousavi, Mousavi” as well:

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Mr. Ahmadinejad Surrounds Himself with Young Loyalist

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* Mr. Ahmadinejad has proposed a cabinet made of young loyal ministers unlikely to oppose him in any way. According to an academic in Tehran: “He’s in defensive mode, there’s no question about that. He doesn’t have the strength, tenacity and confidence he had before. For him it’s imperative to surround himself with cronies and people who don’t disagree with him if he’s to have any chance of pushing through his programs.” Three of his proposed ministers have already got a vote of no confidence from the parliament.

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In Front of Evin Prison

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* Since Ramadan, the month of fasting for the Muslims, has begun, families of the those arrested in relation to their protests to the election gather outside the Evin prison to break their fasts in memory of the loved ones who are spending their Ramadan in captivity:

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Deposing the Supreme Leader — A New and Important Topic

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* According to the Iranian constitution “The Assembly of the Experts” has the legal authority to remove Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei the Iranian supreme leader if the two conditions of “prudence and justice” are not met by the leader.

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* In the past two weeks, various groups, including Associations of the Iranian Ex-members of the Congress, have written open letters to the Assembly suggesting it was time for them to discuss this matter. Since the Iranian media claimed that letter to be fake, the association confirmed its content a few days after its initial release.

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* Sunday, August 16, a group of clergy (who did not reveal their names for security reasons) sent another letter to the Assembly. This letter is bolder in tone and demands the removal of the leader.

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* Over the past weeks, four influential Ayatollahs: Montazeri, Taheri, Barat Zanjani, and Dastghayb have already issued decrees to the effect that the leader is automatically deposed because he has not met the above conditions by taking sides with Mr. Ahmadinejad and not the people.

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* The very fact that this debate has started is extremely important.

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Removal of the Tehran Prosecutor General

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* The supreme leader has made a number of concessions in the past few days including the appointment of Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani as the new Head of the Iranian Judiciary. Mr. Larijani has in turn removed Mr. Saeed Mortazavi, the Tehran Prosecutor General who has a reputation for hostility with reformist media and is said to have closed over a 100 of them over the past eight years. It remains to be seen if the removal of Mr. Mortazavi is a gesture to appease the protesters or if it will lead to real change.

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Families of Prisoners under Pressure

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* Ms. Mohtashamipour, the wife of a reformist ex-minister who is now in jail, wrote in her personal blog that Mr. Abtahi’s family, particularly his young daughter, were under enormous pressure to deny their earlier assertion that their father told them in brief phone conversation that he is given pills that make him comfortable and “oblivious to the world.” Mr. Abtahi was the first reformist put on television to make a confession.

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* In the meantime, one of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s advisers seems to have come across a new and effective weight loss strategy. Concerning Mr. Abtahi’s confused and frail look during his appearance in court, Mr. Janvanfiker has observed: “Maybe Mr. Abtahi has seized this opportunity and made an effort to lose weight.” See if you find him in a health conscious mood: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=104230&sectionid=351020101.I

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Former Vice President and Reformist leader Abtahi pictured before his arrest (left) and after spending several months in jail (right).

Former Vice President and Reformist leader Mohammad Ali Abtahi pictured before his arrest (left) and after spending several months in jail (right).

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Amnesty International asked the Iranian Supreme Leader to Appoint a Committee on Allegations of Rape

* For the first time since the Iranian Supreme Leader came to office, Amnesty International addressed a letter directly to him asking the leader to personally appoint a committee to look into allegations of rape in Iranian prisons: http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2009/08/090815_amnesty_iran_torture.shtml.

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Artists Still Busy Creating their Art Work

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A very interesting work by Iranian artist Yacob Amamehpich. To see more of his work, click the link to your left, entitled "Yacob Amamehpich Art Show."

A very interesting piece by Iranian artist Yacob Amamehpich. To see more of his work, click the link in the text to your left, entitled "Yacob Amamehpich Art Show."

* While life in Iran has not returned to normal, artistic creation continues. It has been a tradition in these windows to introduce Iranian artists to you. Let me close this window by doing exactly that. The first art work I want to show you is the poster at the top of this Window, which is for a film about the Green Movement by Samira Makhmalbaf.

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* Also, if you click here (Yacob Amamehpich Art Show) you will see a brief and colorful show of the August exhibit in Elaheh Gallery in Tehran. The paintings are by Yacob Amamehpich, the artist from Tabriz picked by the gallery judges as the artist of the month. An example of his beautiful work is to the right.

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Good Night,

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Fatemeh

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Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
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"We are Countless"—a design by Mir Housein Mousavi.

"We are Countless"—a design by Mir Housein Mousavi.

Dear All,

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Thank you all so much for your kind and encouraging messages. As you see, I have slowed the pace of these updates. This is not because the opposition to the election in Iran has dissipated. Rather it has moved to a new stage by expanding its horizons beyond the election results and to a more general demand for democratization of the country. While the opposition is diverse, I believe the Green Movement formed around Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Khatami continues to be the focal point of the activities.

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As I write to you, reports are coming in concerning demonstrations in the Bazaar of Tehran. That Bazaars are the heartbeat of the traditional economy of the country makes this a significant development. There have been eyewitness reports of at least three serious injuries and a number of arrests. I dedicate the fimage of this window, a personal design by Mr. Mousavi called “we are countless” (above), to these protesters.

Back to our updates. A week ago, on Wednesday August 5, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s inauguration ceremony took place in the Iranian parliament. But it was no ordinary ceremony — certainly not one fit for a president who claims 24 million votes. Here is a selection of events:

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Inauguration Ceremony

Mr. Ahmadinejad delivering his inauguration speech after the swearing in ceremony. Many prominent politicians and high ranking clerics refused to attend the ceremony.

Mr. Ahmadinejad delivering his inauguration speech after the swearing in ceremony. Many prominent politicians and high ranking clerics refused to attend the ceremony.

* There were more than 5,000 security forces present around the houses of the Parliament in Baharistan Square where Mr. Ahmadinejad was sworn in.

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* Train operators for the Tehran Metro system were reportedly ordered not to stop at Baharestan and Melat stations, citing security concerns.

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* Still, people gathered and chanted anti government slogans. Mr. Ahmadinejad arrived in a helicopter (another first in the history of presidential inaugurations). His camp has since denied this claim suggesting he traveled by car to be “among his people.” Interestingly, no photos of him “among his people” have appeared in the Iranian press so far.

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* Many members of the parliament were absent. Some left as soon as Ahmadinejad began to speak. In fact, many seats were empty and had to be filled with guests invited by Ahmadinejad’s party.

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* Among those absent were prominent clerics and political leaders such as Hashemi Rafsanjani, Khatami, Mousavi, Karroubi, Nateq Nouri, Mohsen Rezai, Ghalibaf, while many international guests and ambassadors also avoided the inauguration. Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson did not attend the ceremony either.

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* In his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad mocked the world opinion by suggesting he does not care about the approval or disapproval of the governments that do not congratulate him on his victory.

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* He compared the opposition in Iran to gard o khak (“dust and dirt”) usually raised by a passing wind.

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* Among the arrested was Haleh Sahabi, an activist and daughter of Ezatollah Sahabi who is the manager and editor of the banned newspaper Iran-e Farda. Hale Sahabi is a women’s right activist and reports indicate that she was assaulted by plain-clothed individuals and arrested.

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Forming the Cabinet May Not be as Easy as Attending Inauguration in a Helicopter

Mr. Ali Larijani

Mr. Ali Larijani

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* Mr. Ahmadinejad is now embroiled in a huge fight with Mr. Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament, who criticizes his choice of ministers. More importantly, according to information published on an insider web site http://rajanews.com/, Larijani had congratulated Mousavi on the eve of the election. He has access to the highest levels of power in the regime. What did he know about the election that made him do that?

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Link: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/08/iran-wellinformed-larijani-congratulated-mousavi-on-election-day-report-says.html.

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Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has not Congratulated Ahmadinejad!

Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi

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* Following rumors spread by state-run media that the influential Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi had congratulated Mr. Ahmadinejad, the office of the Ayatollah issued a statement clarifying hat he has not congratulated him and “will not do so”: http://mowjcamp.com/article/id/12060.

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Further Rifts within the System

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* In a effort to tighten his grips on the Intelligence Ministry, on August 10, Mr. Ahmadinejad fired four of the senior officers in this ministry. Reportedly, they did not support his “velvet revolution” theory with enough zeal.

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More On Confessions

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* There is a fascinating short documentary about a young Iranian journalist Mohamad Reza Jalaiepour, called “I Confess.” It has English subtitles too. I highly recommend it to all:

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Link here too: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=126649937392.

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* Apparently one tactic to get the prisoners to confess is distribute fake newspapers in the prison with headlines that suggest the crisis is over, the protests are finished, Mousavi and Karroubi regret their actions, and the world is accepting Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government. Below is a photo of one such fake news paper.

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Photo of one of the fake newspapers being circulated in the prisons to encourage false confessions. The one above includes headlines such as "Mousavi and Karroubi Express Regret and Admit the Election was Fair" and "Obama congratulates Ahmadinejad."

Photo of one of the fake newspapers being circulated in the prisons to encourage false confessions. The one above includes headlines such as "Mousavi and Karroubi Express Regret and Admit the Election was Fair" and "Obama congratulates Ahmadinejad."III

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* The trials and forced confessions seem to be hurting no one more than the government itself. While open surveys cannot be done under the circumstances, general views expressed by the public indicate the majority do not believe the authenticity of the trials.

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* Amy Goodman’s interesting conversation with the leading Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji on the latest events, including the trails in Iran: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/10/iranian_dissident_journalist_akbar_ganji_blasts.

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* Iranian artists on all levels and backgrounds are producing artwork highly critical of the sham trials and forced confessions. Here is one by a group of young musicians called “I confess”:

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Don’t forget to share the address of the blog http://www.windowsoniran.wordpress.com with friends.

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Good Night,

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Fatemeh

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===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Protest in Baharistan Square tomorrow! See the link on the left for more information and directions.

Protest in Baharistan Square tomorrow! See the link on the left for more information and directions.

Dear All,

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Much has been happening in Iran in the recent days. Let us open window 88 without further ado.

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Tomorrow’s Demonstrations in Baharistan Square

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* The Green movement has planed a peaceful protest rally tomorrow, August 5 at 9:00 a.m., in Baharistan Square where the Iranian Parliament is located and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s new term in office will be inaugurated. For the flyer with directions in Persian, click here: http://www.mowjcamp.com/article/id/9018. On Monday, August 3, Mr. Ahmadinejad was appointed to office by the Supreme Leader who traditionally performs this ceremony for the winner of presidential elections.

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Protests As The Supreme Leader Appointed Ahmadinejad

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* The ceremony was carried out quietly with little celebration. The two previous presidents, Rafsanjani and Khatami, many top clerics including Khamenei’s close ally Mr. Nateq Nouri, the candidates Mousavi and Karrubi, and, most importantly, Hasan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the revolution, were all absent. While the actual ceremony was held at 10:00 am the first news of it was broadcast at 1:00 pm.  There were many demonstrations in various parts of Tehran that were timed to coincide with the event. Here is a very short clip from the main street Vali Asr:

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* There are at least half a dozen demonstrations clips but I don’t want you to miss this one posted on line hours after the ceremony. The old lady says, I am 85 years old, I have come to this rally to take my vote back: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=102538009756701&oid=45061919453.

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* And the rooftop chants were particularly loud and clear on Monday night:

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Fun News about Green Wristbands

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* Italians have been expressing their support for the Green Movement in Iran since the election. Last week in fashion show in Rome Gattinoni models wore green wristbands to show their solidarity (see photo below).

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Last week Gattinoni models in Rome's fashion show wore green wrist bands to show their support for the Green Movement.

Last week Gattinoni models in Rome's fashion show wore green wrist bands to show their support for the Green Movement.

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* In the meantime, the Iranian rowing champion Mohsen Shadi, who won the gold medal in an international competition in Czechoslovakia, also wore a green wristband. But the Iranian-run Press TV did not like that and cut off his wrist (see the photo below for yourself).

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Mohsen Shadi's green wrist band is conveniently cut out of Iranian-run Press TV's photo about his recent gold medal win at the international rowing championship. See the original picture on the left and the Press TV picture on the right.

Mohsen Shadi's green wrist band is conveniently cut out of Iranian-run Press TV's photo from his recent gold medal win at the international rowing championship. See the original picture on the left and the Press TV picture on the right.

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On the Important Matter of Confessions

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Mehdi Bazargan, the first Prime Minister of Iran after the 1979 Revolution.

Mehdi Bazargan, the first Prime Minister of Iran after the 1979 Revolution.

* Here in the U.S. we have had our share of debate on torture and the validity of what people might say under pressure. With the staged confessions on the national Iranian television, this is now the topic of the day in the country. There a few pieces that people circulate. One is a famous quote be Mr. Mehdi Bazargan, the first Iranian prime minister after the 1979 revolution. Though not alive, Mr. Bazargan continues to be most respected. Here is what Mr. Bazargan said about staged confessions:

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“In two days, my term as member of the Parliment will be over. I will loose my diplomatic immunity. It is possible that, like many of my supporters, I will be arrested. If you are told that I will appear on TV to ‘clarify matters and reveal untold secrets,’ then hear me say things that are very different from what I have so far been saying, Beware, that person is not me!

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(Jomhuri Islami, Ordibehesh 1363)

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* Here is a cartoon (on the issue of confessions) which is circulating widely these days in Iran:

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iran velvet revolution cartoon

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Let’s Go Iranian on Him!

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* An American high school teacher at a NYC reports a very interesting incident:

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“…recently one student stood up to our very intimidating principal, (something that almost never happens). When he did not get permission for what he wanted, another student said “Let’s go Iranian on him.” By that he meant organize a protest. And so now they ‘IRAN’ anything they want to change…”

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This is a cool piece of news I am sure Iranians would very much enjoy.

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Protesters Continue to be Attacked

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* Attacking and arresting a protester during the Monday mourning ceremony in Tehran:

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More Arrests

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* While a number of prisoners had been released in hope of a calmer atmosphere for Mr. Ahmadinejad’s  inauguration, fifty more protesters were arrested on Monday. While the official figure of arrests after the election has been around 2,500, and dead in the 30s, some fear the actual death toll could turn out to be  in the

hundreds: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2009/jun/29/iran-election-dead-detained.

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Another Issue of Kalame Sabz

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* A new issue of the Newsletter “The Green Word.” For Iranians who might not be able to open the link, here is the pdf file: Kalame Sabz-July PDF File.

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Music Festival in Shiraz

* Just as political protests continue, important matters such as art festivals are not necessarily cancelled. Here is a link to beautiful performance in the Music Festival in my hometown Shiraz. You might have to paste the link onto your browser to hear this beautiful Shirazi tune arranged for a group performance:

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Please remember to share the link https://windowsoniran.wordpress.com/, particularly with those who are in touch with Iranians.

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Good Night,

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Fatemeh

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===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Mohammad Ali Abtahi (above) is the former Vice President of Iran as well as a leading reformist politician who has dedicated much of his time recently to interfaith and intercultural activities. He visited Washington University in St. Louis last year and even appeared on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart this year. Click on the link below to read more about him and see what he looks like now after forty days in jail.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi (above) is the former Vice President of Iran as well as a leading reformist politician who has dedicated much of his time recently to interfaith and intercultural activities. He visited Washington University in St. Louis last year and even appeared on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart this year. Click on the link below to read more about him and see what he looks like now after more than forty days in jail.

Dear All,

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The Iranian authorities have started a series of staged confessions to accuse those arrested after the election as supporting foreign sponsored plots to overthrow the government and create a “velvet revolution.” One of the main targets of these trails are reformist politicians.

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Mohammad Ali Abtahi

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* One of the first victims of this sinister move is a pro-democracy, interfaith activist, and a high ranking official in the government of Mr. Mohammad Khatami the reformist ex-president of Iran. Mr. Abtahi visited Washington University over a year ago. I attended the breakfast given in his honor and developed a deep respect for him. He was arrested soon after the election and kept in solitary confinement for over 40 days.  His trial took place today.

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* I will not publicize what the court wants people to hear. However, with a heavy heart, I have put together a short power point slide show so you get to meet Mr. Abtahi for yourself and also see him in court. Please click here: Mohammad Ali Abtahi Slide Show. Also please visit his blog (in English) http://www.webneveshteha.com/en/ and/or (in Persian) http://www.webneveshteha.com/.

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Bella Ciao

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* Now watch this beautiful video clip and remember, these are the people who are supposed to be fooled by these staged confessions unlikely:

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Please share this window with others particularly if you have friends in Iran — and don’t forget the blog: https://windowsoniran.wordpress.com/.

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Good Night,

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Fatemeh

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===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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