(Thanks to Ali Alfoneh for his assistance compiling)
Politics: March 2008 Parliamentary Elections
- Ali Jamali, member of the Presidium of Iran’s largest student organization, Advar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat: “Our organization has not reached any conclusion with regard to what grouping or candidates to support.”
- Committee of Defense of Free Elections asks all candidates to provide it with the materials used in the Council of Guardians’ screening process.
- Abdullah Naseri of the reformist camp reports the “deep concern of Mohammad Khatami at the screening process of candidates for the coming parliamentary elections.”
- Rafsanjani uses his position as the leader of Friday Prayers at Tehran University to attack the government’s crisis management in the face of extreme weather and a shortage of natural gas: “Look at Turkey! Our export of natural gas to Turkey has stopped, but they do not experience what we live through in Iran. In other words we need natural gas reserves…This is not such a complicated matter. It simply needs some vigilance, and management skills… Foreigners are to be blamed for some of the misery. As a Muslim country, Turkmenistan could have waited until the end of winter before making price demands….”
- The town of Bam-pour in Zahedan floods, and Peyman Forouzesh, representative of the city in the parliament says, “No authority wants to deal with the problem. We are left to our own devices.”
- Ahmadinejad interview aired on Al-Jazeera:
Question: “The Iranian people who elected you are today suffering of economic problems. During your term of presidency, unemployment has increased, so has inflation and costs of living for ordinary Iranian citizens. Before your trip to Mecca, you said that Iran faces grave economic problems. Have you not forgotten domestic matters, while attending to international questions?”
Answer: “Thank you for the attention you pay to the Iranian nation. There were 8 candidates in the presidential elections, and I said the least about economic matters…What I talked most about was the self-respect, dignity and general advancement of the Iranian nation, the national strength, fulfillment of justice and defense of the rights of the nation not only in the international field, but also in defense of divine and human fundamentals…The rate of unemployment is decreasing very fast… A just distribution of wealth and individual levels of income, as well as investments in the fields of industry, oil, agriculture and construction is increasing.”
Economics and Trade
- Despite the Oil Minister’s promise that the natural gas situation would normalize, Mehdi Hashemi, head of the Iran Emergency Organization, says the country needs natural gas rationing as the situation deteriorates.
- Rafsanjani: Bush’s visit to the Middle East was a fiasco for the United States.
Religion, Culture, Society
- Moslem Ibn-e Aghil, a group using machetes to self-mutilate during ‘Ashura in Isfahan, gets into brawl with police, who had prohibited self-mutilation during mourning ceremonies.
- Hajj Mansour Arzi, a famous maddah [religious praise singer], barred from a mourning ceremony attended by the Supreme Leader because of Arzi’s attacks against Tehran mayor Qalibaf.
Human Rights and Labor
- Ali Reza Hashemi, general secretary of the School Teachers Association of Iran, sentenced to three years imprisonment, due to his organization of teachers’ strikes.
- Kurdish student activist, Ebrahim Lotf-Allahi from the Payam-e Nour University of Sanandaj, alleged killed under torture. The fifth term law student was arrested after leaving the exam and transferred to the Intelligence Office in Sanandaj. His family visited him last Wednesday, but there has been no further news in subsequent days. The police informed Lotf-Allahi’s family that their son committed suicide, and they sent the family to Sanandaj cemetery; upon the family’s arrival, they were told that the body had already been buried.
- Several student activists freed on heavy bail: Anoushe Azad (300 million rials = $32,500), Ilnaz Jamshidi (1 billion rials), Nasim Soltan-Beygi (500 million rials), Mohsen Ghamin (800 million rials), Milad Omrani (1 billion rials), Amir Mehr-Zad (800 million rials).
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