Monday, July 27, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Line Has Shattered: Revisiting Vancouver’s Landmark 1963 Poetry Conference

Bernice Lever * Maria Hindmarch * George Bowering * Daphne Marlatt * Robert Hogg * Michael Palmer * Jamie Reid * Judith Copithorne * Fred Wah * Clark Coolidge * Pauline Butling * Lionel Kearns

Friday August 14th
SFU Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings Street


Panel discussion: 1:00 - 3:00 pm
Readings: 7:00 - 10:00 pm

The Line Has Shattered brings together 12 original participants of the 1963 Vancouver poetry conference 46 years later for a day of discussion and readings.

Moderated and Hosted by Stephen Collis

for more information click here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Iran update: July 16th

* Continued protests: As I mentioned in my update last week, the opposition’s plan to have a 3-day national strike, coinciding with a national religious holiday, culminated on the 10th anniversary of the 18th of Tir. Unfortunately I didn’t see very much about the strike and whether it was successful, but there was a fair amount of news about protests on the 18th of Tir. Reports said that there were around 3 or 4 thousand people out in the streets protesting, the first time in over a week street protests had resumed. Security forces were out in large numbers, and the protestors anticipated this and planned out 9 different routes for people to march to Enqelab (Revolution) Square. Ultimately the people were not successful in gathering en masse in the square, but they did show that the protests were still not going to die down, and importantly, were able to get a lot of pictures and videos of the day out to the media. From what I’ve seen and read the protests were filled with the usual death to the dictator, pro-freedom and allah-u akbar chants, but interestingly there were a few that were specifically aimed at Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of the Supreme Leader who, as I’ll discuss below, is rumored to be behind the crackdown. The protestors also encouraged people to show their support by driving around and honking their horns, as well as flashing the V-sign with their hands out of the car windows. Two other important facts about these protests: 1) they took place not just in Tehran but in other parts of the country, and 2) they were planned independently of Musavi. Musavi did support them but was not involved in the planning stages, and from what I saw, wasn’t actively promoting them on his website or facebook page. I’m nor whether he was unwilling or unable to do so, but this just goes to show yet again how these protests have become larger than just one person
* Arrests and detentions update: Earlier, Iran’s Prosecutor General said that since the election 2,500 people had been arrested, and 500 of these remained in jail to be tried in court. I don’t believe he specified the court these people would be tried in, but it will likely be the special court set up for those arrested in the post-election aftermath. In a speech one fairly high-ranking ayatollah, Ayatollah Ardabili, said many of the detainees would be released next week, but I haven’t seen any confirmation or updates on this. There are still many prominent opposition leaders and activists in jail, but the one I’d mentioned in previous emails that is still there is Saeed Hajjarian. He remains in Evin prison, and the other day his son was arrested (though subsequently released), reportedly after Hajjarian’s family refused the conditions of Saeed’s release. Additionally, there is another martyr figure, similar to Neda, that has emerged in recent weeks. His name is Sohrab Arabi, and he was only 19 and was killed from gunshot wounds to his chest, although the exact details of his death are still unclear. He disappeared after a protest on July 15th, when he was apparently shot, but was pronounced dead on July 19th by prison authorities. It’s still not known what happened to him during this four day period—whether his injuries were left untreated, causing him to die, or whether he was tortured during this time—but his mother spent weeks asking prisons and hospitals for news of her son. She finally learned that he had died 26 days after he initially disappeared, despite the fact he was pronounced dead after 4 days in custody. This story has been causing a furor in the Farsi-language media, and Musavi and his wife actually met with Sohrab Arabi’s family the other day. Similar to Neda’s story, authorities made sure Sohrab’s funeral did not turn into a cause for protest and prevented a large gathering from occurring. Finally, last week 20 people were reported to have been hanged in Evin prison. These weren’t protestors but were people in jail on capital offenses such as drug trafficking, but their hangings were likely done to send a message to those still in detention.
* Opposition Leaders update: last Friday Rafsanjani again declined to lead Friday prayers, but he will do so this week (more below). Last Monday Karrubi, Musavi, and Khatami all met together for the first time and they apparently met to talk about a coalition to deal with election complaints and arrests. The idea of forming a political party and a coalition to deal with these detentions has gained steam since then. Musavi has appointed some veteran opposition leaders to take charge of the committee dealing with arrests, and he remains committed to the idea of forming a new political party. I’m not sure exactly what this means for Khatami’s National Front, but the new one would likely absorb this, since Khatami’s party never really grew into a nation-wide organization that kept his reform movement alive. They did of course succeed in gaining seats in Parliament, but possibly due to the problems and recriminations that emerged at the end of his 2nd term as President, this was never an all-encompassing reformist party. If Musavi and others can succeed in forming such a broad coalition this will be hugely important. Reformists have been harmed by their division and factionalism—the regime thrives on divide-and-conquer tactics—so this is integral to the future of their movement. One hardline paper, Kayhan, has already started attacking the possibility of such a party, quoting a prominent member of the Principalist (pro-ahmadinejad) faction saying that such a party would not be allowed to form. However, Rafsanjani is allegedly supportive of this, and if they could attract moderate support from important power-brokers they would have a good chance of having a legal one approved (I should note, though, that they likely won’t have permission to hold mass rallies like other parties).
* Regime update: Last Tuesday Ahmadinejad gave a televised speech on IRIB where he blamed the post-election unrest on foreign powers, but took a fairly conciliatory tone (for himself) and asked for ‘unity and solidarity’. As a quick humorous aside, during the speech there was a large moth flying around him that he unsuccessfully tried to swat away. The clip was all over youtube within minutes, and a joke made the rounds that the moth had been arrested and is being held in Evin prison on charges of espionage. On a more serious note, there’s been a few stories in the past week about the Supreme Leader’s son, Mojtaba. There’s very little known about him—he’s barely ever been photographed—but he was very much a driving force in Ahmadinejad’s first election in 2005. In the first round of the 2005 election Ahmadinejad was not the preferred choice of the Supreme Leader, but according to some reports Mojtaba was able to eventually convince his father to throw his support behind Ahmadinejad, and the rest is history. Mojtaba has very strong ties to the Revolutionary Guards and is rumored to have taken control of the basij forces after the election. Some people worry that he is being groomed to be the successor to his father as Supreme Leader, but whether this is true or not I sincerely doubt this would actually happen. Mojtaba has even less religious credentials than his father, and importantly, there is no unifying, charismatic leader like Khomeini to push through a weakly qualified nominee for Supreme Leader.
* Clerical politics: one of the most fascinating but opaque area of Iranian politics is clerical politics. I’ve been trying to get information about what’s going on in Qom for several weeks now, but it seems like there’s very little written about this topic in English, and only a handful of people who specialize in this area. There have been some contrasting reports over whether the clerical establishment supports Khamenei or not. One article I saw posted on a normally very reliable website said that Qom has been on lock-down for several weeks, and that there was a sit-in by members of the Office of Islamic Guidance after they were fired for supporting Musavi. On the other hand, another person who is probably the leading expert on Shia religious politics recently wrote an article saying that the majority of the clerical establishment support Khamenei, and that the only ones that have come out in favor of the opposition are those with very little ties to the state, and whom were insiders during Khomeini’s time but have since drifted away from the state. Personally, I think it’s more likely that the clerical establishment does support Khamenei, or at least doesn’t support Musavi, if for nothing else than their quietist nature and aversion to any widespread changes. On top of this, in two decades as Supreme Leader Khamenei has done much to bring what were once independent organizations and seminaries into the state’s realm, so with these bodies now firmly entrenched within the state it’s unlikely they’re jumping at the chance to bite the hand that feeds them. With that said, there have been a few noteworthy updates with regards to clerical politics. Ayatollah Ostaadi, a conservative cleric from the Association of Seminary Teachers, gave a Friday sermon last week where he criticized another cleric (not by name) for using the state’s resources to campaign for Ahmadinejad, and also said he would stop delivering Friday sermons, allegedly for health reasons. Ostaadi is a conservative member of the clergy with ties to the state so this is noteworthy, but he’s not a Grand Ayatollah (there are about 15 in Iran, and around 1,000 ‘regular’ ayatollahs) or marja (‘source of emulation’, of which there are only around a dozen in Iran. Lastly, Ayatollah Montazeri issued a series of fatwas where he called the current Supreme Leader illegitimate. In contrast to Ostaadi, Montazeri is a Grand Ayatollah and marja, but he has been under house arrest since 1997 and out of favor with the regime for even longer, so I’m not sure how much of a following he now enjoys within Iran given that he’s been unable to give sermons or communicate much with his supporters.
* Legal updates: there are a few legal updates from the past week that are worth mentioning. First, Tehran’s interim Friday prayers leader said the majils should revise the current presidential elections law so that the events of recent weeks don’t repeat themselves. This idea first came from the current mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Qalibaf, who is a conservative rival of Ahmadinejad. We’ll see if this idea gets any traction in the majlis, but I think the problems with the election stemmed more from the spirit rather than the letter of the law. Secondly, on Sunday the Expediency Council—a body that resolves disputes between the majlis and Guardian Council—upheld a law that banned people from serving on the Guardian Council while being employed as a government official. This would mean that two hardline members of the GC would need to either resign from the GC or from their other governmental positions. Those angered by this decision said that it should apply to Rafsanjani as well, since he is the head of both the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, but under current law this does not apply to the Expediency Council so Rafsanjani can keep his two positions. Finally, yesterday it was reported that Ahmadinejad will be sworn in on August 2nd, and will propose a new cabinet on August 6th. Ahmadinejad had significant problems getting his first cabinet approved by parliament—he had to settle on his 3rd choice for oil minister after the others were voted down—and during his term either 9 or 10 ministers resigned or were fired. I’d expect a lengthy battle in parliament over his new cabinet choices. (NB: some of the more important cabinet positions, like Minister of Justice and Minister of Interior are made by the Supreme Leader, not Ahmadinejad).
* What next: this Friday should be a very interesting day in Iran. Rafsanjani has finally agreed to lead Friday prayers, and both Khatami and Musavi will be in attendance. I’m unclear as to whether this is coming from Khatami and Musavi themselves or not, but the opposition is planning on attending the Friday prayers as well, so this could be the largest showing of the opposition since Khamenei’s crackdown a week after the election. I haven’t seen anything reporting on what Rafsanjani will say, but given his cautious nature I wouldn’t expect any sweeping indictments of the regime. It’s more likely he’ll call for unity, perhaps offer support of the people’s right to protest, and maybe even offer veiled criticism of a few hardliners. More than what he says, I think just having Rafsanjani giving the Friday sermon in the presence of Khatami and Musavi will show his support, however tacitly, for the opposition, and could help to solidify their support from more moderate elements within Iran.
* Just for fun: This is too good not to include. Iranian state media ran a picture this week with two pictures of Ahmadinejad next to each other where one was from when he began his first term and the other a current one. Next to each other you could see that his beard had turned white over the course of his first term, and below the picture there was a caption saying that his beard had turned white because he “worked so hard for justice.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Iran update: Tuesday, July 7th

* Opposition update: late last week three of the major opposition leaders, Musavi, Karrubi, and Khatami, issued long and strongly-worded statements saying they would still not accept the results of the election. Musavi’s and Karrubi’s were fairly similar to their previous ones—reiterating their disavowal of the election results, calling cautiously to continue opposition—but Khatami’s was uncharacteristically strong for the former president. As I’ve said before, the knock against him was that he lacked the political will to confront regime hardliners during his presidency. Compared to his usual demeanor he was somewhat outspoken during the post-election unrest, but his most recent statement was a notable departure from his usual mild manner. He even used a bit of rhetorical jujitsu against the regime and its constant labeling of the opposition as a Western-backed attempt at ‘velvet revolution’, stating that the electoral fraud "has been a velvet revolution against the people and against the republicanism of the system." Musavi also released on his website a 24-page opus detailing evidence of electoral fraud, which ran the gamut of members of the Guardian Council campaigning for Ahmadinejad, millions of extra ballots being printed, campaign workers being harassed, and incidents of money and other services services being exchanged for votes, among other complaints. Yesterday Musavi appeared in public for the first time in almost three weeks, though not at any political rally or gathering. There was a small gathering, about 200 people, at an art gallery of the Iranian Academy of Iran (which Musavi heads), and according to a few journalists present he again reiterated that he did not accept the results of the election. He didn’t, though, call for further protests and said that the opposition should work within the confines of the law.
* Rafsanjani and regime insiders: first, some bad news for the opposition. Larijani, who as I’ve detailed in previous emails, has been a rival of Ahmadinejad during the past 4 years and earlier didn’t show up at an Ahmadinejad victory part (along with dozens of other MPs), officially congratulated Ahmadinejad on his electoral victory. I’m not sure what the status is of the parliamentary committee Larijani had called to investigate the attacks on the Tehran University dormitories immediately after the election, but even if these are still ongoing Larijani recognizing Ahmadinejad is a symbolic blow to the opposition. On the other hand, Rafsanjani is moving closer to the opposition. Last Friday he again declined to give Friday prayers—the second time in a row he had declined this—and met with families of those detained during protests. During these meetings he made slightly less moderate, but still cautious, statements, basically saying that the Iranian people are not satisfied with the election, and this must be remedied for the sake of stability and security. Interestingly, just over a day after this Rafsanjani’s political party spoke out directly against the election, calling it ‘unacceptable.’ One portion of the statement they issued said: "We declare that the result is unacceptable due to the unhealthy voting process, massive electoral fraud and the siding of the majority of the Guardian Council with a specific candidate." For the opposition this is coming a week or two too late, but is still huge news given that this party is firmly in the center of the Iranian political spectrum.
* Another clerical group for the opposition? Many of you may have seen a front-page article in the NYT on Sunday about ‘the most important clerical group in Iran’ issuing a statement criticizing the election. There is some confusion about this article, though, mainly stemming from the difficulty in translating the names of these clerical groups. The NYT article cites a statement made by the “Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qom,” which if translated this way, is very close to the name of one of the most prominent, and by no means reformist, clerical groups. A few people whose Persian is infinitely better than mine, though, read the original statement and said that translation is not correct. Most likely it comes from another clerical group with a similar name “The Society of Scholars and Teacher’s of Qom’s Hawza”, which is in fact reformist-leaning and is not ‘the most important clerical group in Qom.’ (As a side note, the problems with these groups and translating their names are completely understandable. Many of the names don’t translate well into English, and their names after overlap. For example, there are two with the phrase “combative clerics” in them, one of which is moderate and the other reformist). Regardless, even this clerical group had remained silent until now, and the few clerics and clerical groups that are speaking out have been doing so in favor of the opposition. As a note of caution, though, I’d be careful when reading any stories talking about clerical groups. There are over 200,000 clerics in Iran that are known for their quarreling and factionalism, so some clerical groups are bound to deviate from the official line. There are certainly some that are more prominent than others and whose possible criticism of the election would be significant given their close proximity to the state, but keep in mind the heterogeneity of the religious establishment when reading about clerical politics.
* Regime update: on the regime side of things, various people and groups have been calling for harsher treatment of Musavi and other opposition leaders. The student wing of the basij said that Musavi should be charged with acting against national security (an offense that would warrant 10 years in prison). An important aid to Khamenei, Hossein Shariatmadari, said that Musavi and Khatami should be tried, and the hardline Kayhan newspaper, of which Shariatmadari is editor, said that Musavi’s actions were ‘treasonous.’ Although the groundwork for arresting Musavi and others is being laid by hardline clerics, newspapers and MPs, Khamenei has stopped short of acting on this. In a recent speech where he blasted Western interference in Iran, he urged patience and caution in dealing with Musavi, saying something along the lines of ‘our friends should not be treated like our enemies just because they make a mistake’. With Musavi’s recent statement emphasizing opposition ‘within the legal mandate’ Khamenei will likely not risk provoking more protests by arresting or trying Musavi. This could all change if Musavi escalates the opposition again and calls for protests, or perhaps takes bold steps such as trying to join a gathering or protest, but he seems to be planning for the long run, as evidenced by desire made last week in one of his statements to form a political party to continue the opposition.
* Arrests and detentions: news is now starting to seep out about harsh treatment and torture of people inside Iran’s prisons. For the most part people have unable to contact their families—groups of mothers and wives have been assembling outside the infamous Evin prison to ask about their sons and husbands—but the reports that have come out are quite gruesome. People have been subjected to psychological pressure like sleep deprivation, sensory techniques and mock executions, and physical torture like being hung upside down and whipped, having nails pulled out, and other tactics that have unfortunately become commonplace inside Iran’s prison facilities. I read a few stories reporting that six people had been executed several days ago, but I haven’t seen that confirmed yet in any Western or state-run press. There are still some prominent opposition leaders in prison, such as Saeed Hajarian, who as I said in an earlier emails, was left partially paralyzed after a failed assassination attempt against him in the 90s. Iran’s national police chief said 1032 people had been arrested, but a human rights NGOs thinks the number of current detainees is around 2,000. There have also been further televised ‘confessions’ where people say they were influenced by Western media like the BBC or Radio Farda, or were agents of the exile group MeK. I should also note that in the face of mounting eyewitness accounts and picture/video proof of violence on the part of Iranian security forces, the regime blamed this on vigilantes who stole uniforms and disguised themselves as members of the basij. In other words, the basiji in those pictures and videos weren’t real basij. Lastly, one regime member (I forget who) said that they were working with Interpol for a warrant to arrest the doctor who tried to help save Neda. (He has since fled to England and spoke out against what he saw there, including the circumstances around Neda’s shooting). A spokesman with Interpol, though, said they had received no such request from Iran and were not at all involved in arresting the doctor.
* What’s next? The next three days are an official religious holiday, and the opposition, similar to what it did last Sunday with the gathering at the mosque in northern Tehran, is trying to piggy-back on top of this holiday and turn legally permitted gatherings into their own. The opposition, Musavi included, also asked people to go on strike during these three days to show their support for the opposition. This is a rather clever move on their part, since the way this holiday is observed is mainly by people staying home and using the time for silent prayer or meditation. This way people can ‘strike’ without subjecting themselves to the response of the regime. On top of this, the regime has for years (with limited success) urged people to honor this holiday through silent prayer and other such actions, so in emphasizing this the opposition can further claim it is not anti-Islam or anti-regime. On the other hand, the choice of the strike on a day when everything is supposed to be closed raises the question “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around…..?” For their part, the opposition also said people can take more visible part in the strike by shunning commercial centers and even withdrawing money from banks. Given the nature of the holiday it would be difficult for the opposition to claim victory if everyone is at home, but this is a good way to continue to get people involved through ways other than street protests, especially given wave of repression the regime unleashed on the protestors after Khamenei’s Friday sermon.
* Two final notes about the three day holiday. State media announced the closure of government offices and other such services because of high levels of ‘air pollution’ in Iran. This sounded extremely suspect at first, but right now in Tehran the air is filled with dust from extremely strong winds coming from the West of the country. Somehow the sand from the deserts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia have made it over the mountains that surround most of Iran and is now blowing around the plateau on which most of Iran sits. Given the odd weather conditions in Tehran, it will be even harder for the opposition to claim a successful strike. Lastly, the final day of this three day holiday is the 18th of the month of Tir. I’ve mentioned this in previous emails, but this day marks the anniversary of the regime’s brutal repression of the student movement back in 1999. At the time the five-day protests leading up to the 19th of tir (July 9th) were the largest in Iran since the revolution, and hundreds, if not thousands, of students were arrested after security forces raided and attacked students in their dormitories. This Thursday will be the 10 year anniversary of these protests, and the security forces will be present in even greater numbers than other years. In fact, the regime seems to already be gearing up for them. After several days of SMS service being restored, it’s back down again, and I suspect will be—as well as internet service—in the coming few days.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

New Author pages for Lang, Szymaszek, Darragh, & Elrick at Penn Sound.

Iran Update: Wednesday, July 1st

As always, feel free to send or post this, but please omit my name and email.

> By now you’ve probably all seen the two most important developments since last Friday—Rafsanjani finally speaking in public and the Guardian Council officially endorsing the election results—but I still want to include some other, less-reported updates from the past few days, and of course to talk about the major two events.
> * Rafsanjani speaks: after close to two weeks of silence and endless speculation and rumors about what he was doing in Qom, Rafsanjani finally appeared and made his first public remarks. Speaking to parliament Rafsanjani gave muted praise for Khamenei’s decision to grant the Guardian Council a five day extension, and also stated that he hoped the GC would carefully study the complaints of irregularities brought to them. On the other hand, he repeated the usual regime canard that the events after the election were the work of foreign conspiracies aimed at dividing the people. Specifically, he said “The recent events were a complex plot by suspicious elements that wanted to create a gap between people and the establishment and was aimed at people to lose their confidence in the establishment,” and somewhat cryptically, “whenever people have entered the scene such plots have been neutralized.” I’ve read a few pieces saying that he caved to Khamenei, but I don’t believe this to be the case. He praised a decision by the Supreme Leader and not the Supreme Leader himself, and the decision of course was one of (limited) concession to the opposition. Those that were hoping for a full-blown critique of Khamenei were surely disappointed, but this was never going to happen in the first case. Rafsanjani has been one of the most powerful men in the Islamic Republic for its three decades of existence, and he has maintained his stature through careful and calculating alliances, not by publicly confronting people in such positions as the Supreme Leader. He’s been charged as being an opportunist—indeed, he is only recently an ally, and barely one at that, to reformists—and it would be naïve to think he would make such a bold and risky move as to come out publicly against Khamenei. We may never know what he was doing in Qom—or if he was even there—but if he was in fact trying to rally clerical support to get the Assembly of Experts to replace Khamenei as Supreme Leader, his speech to parliament shows that he clearly failed in this. He would only have come down on the side of the opposition if he was sure that would be the winning side. I hope my previous emails didn’t give the sense that an impending clerical coup was on the horizon, but until we know more about what happened in Qom during these two weeks it’s hard to tell how close, if at all, such an event may have been.
> * Guardian Council approves election: in a much less surprising move, the other day the Guardian council officially approved the results of the election. I’m not sure what the purpose of that five day extension was other than to bide time and hope to outlast popular momentum, as even on Sunday spokesman said to state tv “We have had no fraud in any presidential election and this one was the cleanest election we have had.” On Friday they proposed establishing a special commission of six people of their choosing, plus representatives from the losing candidates, for a recount of 10% of the ballots, possibly to be broadcast live on TV, but Karrubi and Musavi both rejected this. In the end the GC went ahead with without the opposition participating and conducted a recount of 10% of votes coming from all of Tehran’s 22 electoral districts, as well as other outlying provinces. The one surprise that did come from this was that the recount found that Ahmadinejad’s vote was actually slightly higher that Musavi’s. Finally, I can’t vouch for the veracity of this since my Persian is not very good, but people are now pointing to pictures of ballots—taken during the recount—published on Iranian state media showing “Ahmadinejad” written with the same handwriting on various ballots. Rezaiis spokesman actually complained about this as well, but I’m skeptical that the election rigging took place at this level of voting rather than at the counting and reporting level. Perhaps these ballots were created afterwards for the 10% ‘random’ recount, but again, my Persian isn’t good enough to match handwriting.
> * Small Protests: in the past several days protests continued to wane, but there were a few notable ones that are worth mentioning. Voice of America reported that on Friday around 13,000 people met at Behesht-e Zahra cemetery (the largest cemetery in Iran) to grieve, but they were quickly dispersed. As I said before, many of the large protests that led up to the revolution of 1979 started off as mournings or funeral processions, so the regime is determined not to let these repeat themselves. Sunday was a holiday in Iran, commemorating the deaths of around 72 (I believe) people who died in a bombing in the early days of the revolution (among those killed was a very high-ranking cleric, Ayatollah Beheshti). Ceremonies and events were planned to remember this day, and protestors cleverly tried to take advantage of pre-existing legal rallies and turn them into their own. They planned on meeting at a mosque in the north of Tehran where a ceremony was being legally held, and according to the reports I saw there were about 3,000 people there, many of them in green and holding their fingers in a “V.” Musavi was prevented from attending but spoke to the crowd through a cell phone held up to a loudspeaker, but his wife, Karrubi, and both Rafsanjani’s daughter and wife were there, as well as several other prominent reformists. They succeeded in marching for 10 minutes down a large street in Tehran but were eventually dispersed by riot police and basijis. If you’d like to see a video from inside the mosque when people were gathering before starting their march you can see it here: Finally, people planned to form a human chain on Tuesday but this was quickly broken up. I’m sure there were other gatherings and incidents with security forces, but these are some of the major ones I read about. Security forces were out in droves once the GC made their announcement to prevent any sort of gathering from taking places, and I expect this type of tactic to continue whenever the regime makes a decision that might spark a protest. Also, I should say that that the Iranian calendar is filled with holidays like the one this past Sunday, and I expect the opposition to continue to use these to try to hold further events. It’s clear permits for demonstrations will not be approved, so the opposition will have to use and try to co-opt pre-existing ones.
> * The arrested: with much of the media basically writing off Iran’s protests and putting them below issues such as the nuclear program, it’s worrying that the fate of all those arrested will now go unnoticed. I suspect it will take even longer to figure out just how many people have been arrested in these two weeks, but one French human rights NGO is reporting that the number could be as high as 3,000. Thankfully all but one of those arrested a few days ago from Musavi’s campaign headquarters/newspaper have been arrested, but many more remain in prison. I’d written before that members of parliament and the security forces had made public statements that Musavi should be found criminally liable for the violence, that those arrested should be punished severely, and other such sentiments, and it looks like the regime is planning to deal with those it has or will arrest brutally. For example, on Friday the hardline cleric Ahmed Khatami (not to be confused with the reformist president Khatami) gave the Friday sermon at Tehran University and said "I want the judiciary to punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson." Khatami isn’t a particularly high-profile cleric—in fact, in the past several days more high-ranking clerics like Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, Grand Ayatollah Zanjani, and Ayatollah Ardebili urged leniency with protestors—but Khatami is a member of the Assembly of Experts, and went as far as to say that some of the protestors could be tried for mohareb crimes, or crimes against God, which is punishable by execution. The intelligence minister said that those who have been arrested are divided into three camps: 1) those caught up in the atmosphere of protests who have already been released, 2) those who took part in and organized these protests, who will be released in due time, and 3) anti-revolutionary forces, who they have no plans yet to release. I’m still trying to find out more information on the special court they have established to deal with such detainees, but apparently they have appointed Saeed Mortazavi to be the lead prosecutor for these. Mortazavi is known as the ‘butcher of the press’ for the dozens of newspapers he shut down in the 90s when Khatami first came to power. More worrying is the treatment and threats imprisoned journalists underwent during that time, which some people say came from Mortazavi himself.

> I know I usually have more bullet points and themes in my updates, but news, and even reliable twitter updates, have been lacking in the past few days. What I’ve said above is mostly what happened in the last few days, but I’d like to write out separately what I think the implications of all of this is. Not just the implications of the last 4 days, but the last two weeks. I’ve tried to include these in each email, but with Rafsanjani’s public remarks, the GC’s decision, and the regime’s brutal quashing of protests, it now seems apparent Ahmadinejad will serve a second term as president. As I’ll write tomorrow I do not see this as the end but rather the beginning of a longer and more gradual process. Something like Musavi’s arrest could yet spark a huge event, but with most of the major questions decided it’s more important to focus on “what now?” rather than “what happened?” With that said, if you have any questions about anything feel free to shoot me an email.