I hope you are enjoying the summer. I am back with more updates on Iran. A significant development in the political scene is that the fight between the supporters of Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to have reached a critical stage. Still, I would like to start by celebrating Iranian women activists.
Sotoudeh Makes History Again!
A few weeks ago, I told you about the Iranian woman lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. She has been imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. In January 2011, Iranian authorities sentenced Sotoudeh to 11 years in prison in addition to barring her from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years. I posted the images of Sotoudeh appearing in court handcuffed but serene and confident. The publication of those images cause the Iranian authorities embarrassment in the country. Today, for the first time, the letter that Sotoudeh wrote from Evin Prison after hearing her sentence was publicly released. It is addressed to the Head of the Iranian Judiciary and is being circulated widely by her activist friends. First I’d like you to see the poster prepared for the distribution of the letter with her hand writing in blue on right hand side. Then I will translated her letter.
The Full Letter:
“Your Excellency — Thank you for reminding us of the danger of those objecting to the results of the 2009 Elections, we had forgotten how badly they had betrayed the nation! Thank you for your timely action to arrest some in the first few hours after the election even before they had a chance to express their objections. The forces who arrested them explained to many that their arrest is to preempt problems. Only after the horrendous sentences you issued for us we realized how dangerous text messaging and e-mailing are! When the world watched in amazement how peacefully the protesters had expressed their protests, when they were not given any opportunity to express their views, when they were sent to prison to endure heavy sentences silently, we admired their perseverance. I thank you for showing the world what a big rift exists between the decisions of those in charge and the wishes of the people. I am particularly thankful to you for my own sentence and the fact that your judge did not take any account of my two young children in issuing the sentence. Your judge showed that Iranian women cannot under any circumstances be underestimated! I won’t change my sentence with anything. I was showered with love from the people of my country and freedom lovers all over the world. Thank you for giving me a sentence longer than those of my clients. It would be painful to be released before them. Thank you for always bringing me to court in a special vehicle accompanied by two armed guards and one woman. I felt special. I specially thank you for your fair judgment. Your Excellency, you did not take my defense seriously but we do take the sentences of your revolutionary court very seriously!” Sotoudeh explains that the inspiration for the letter comes from the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. Read the Persian original here.
Ahmadinejad Threatens to “Take Action”
Back to Mr. Ahmadinejad, after three of his close confidants were arrested last week, he warned that if members of his cabinet were subjected to any threats, he will take action.
The clashes between supporters of the Supreme Leader, Mr. Khamenei, and Ahmadinejad’s circle (described in the official media as “the deviant current,”) has entered a new and critical phase with the arrest of three more of the President’s close confidants. This led to his threat to “take action” if this situation continues. The Parliament, which was preparing to question Ahmadinejad on a range of issues (for which it needs 75 signatures in support of the action) decided against that yesterday. This was despite the fact that 100 signatures had been collected. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s threat to take action may have been a response to the threat of questioning and possible impeachment, among other things. How much of the ongoing posturing, on either side, will lead to serious confrontation is unclear. Neither side appears confident enough for big risks.
Who Purchased Ahmadinejad’s Vehicle
Regardless of the outcome, the current skirmishes between the above two factions has its benefits for the Iranian public. Mishaps, fraudulent actions, and lies which would have been carefully covered up now find their way into the headlines run by official newspapers and the state run TV. The story of auctioning Ahmadinejad’s personal vehicle for charity purposes is a case in point. In this highly publicized auction, which took place last year, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s car was supposedly purchased for two and a half billion tomans (one dollar is about 1000 tomans). Fars News revealed last week that there was no real buyer and the auction had been staged by Hamid Baqai Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff!
Newly “Found” Documents on World War II
Similarly, last summer the Iranian intelligence sources revealed the discovery of a briefcase filled with documents in the late Shah’s car. According to these sources, the documents shed new lights on the gruesome events of World War II. According to a report published last week in the Iranian official News Agency Fars, no such briefcase was ever found. The news of the discovery had been fabricated in order to distract the Iranian public from a controversial statement made by one of Ahmadinejad’s official envoys.
The Looming Threat of Gender Segregation in Iranian Universities
The hardline conservative in Iran have always dreamed of creating full gender segregation in Iranian Universities. They have – so far – failed to gather enough support for the project which will be extremely costly and controversial. Some in the conservative camp, see the current political crisis in Iran as a perfect opportunity for finally realizing their dream. It is certain that the students will not take the threat of segregation lightly and will protest. At this time, when all civil disobedience and dissent is considered treason, student protests could be put down in the name of national security. I have just published a piece in the Iranian electronic news site JARAS here about the ramifications of such a segregation. It is in Persian. Please circulate among interested Persian speaking readers. I hope to write and to report on this very important topic in the future windows.
An Architectural Jewel in the City of Yazd
How about a break from politics with a visual delight from Iran? Payvand News just published a piece on the 17th Century garden of Dowlatabad in the historic city of Yazd in Central Iran. Take a look at the trees reflected in the pool:
And the exquisite glass windows:
The view from the outside:
You can see more images and read about this breathtaking garden here.at Payvand Iran News.
Have a great week,