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“Moderate” Governments Don’t Jail People Over Facebook Postings

Just thought I’d throw that opinion out there:

An Iranian court has sentenced eight people to jail terms ranging from seven to 20 years for crimes including anti-regime propaganda posted on Facebook, an opposition website has said.

Kaleme, which did not cite a source for its report, said the sentences were delivered last week giving the eight Facebook users a combined 123 years in jail.

They were charged with “insulting the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the authorities, anti-regime activities, sacrilege and spreading lies,” Kaleme said.

There was no official confirmation of the court ruling and AFP could not independently verify the report.

Incidentally, are we still under the impression that the current Iranian president–weak though he is in comparison to the supreme leader–is a moderate?

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Behold the “Moderate” Iranian Government

In all of its glory:

An Iranian court convicted on Sunday the editor and a contributor of a banned newspaper over a series of charges, including lying about Islam and spreading anti-regime propaganda, reports said.

The media watchdog banned the reformist Bahar daily in October 2013 after it published an article the authorities deemed as an insult to Shiite Islam for questioning one of its core beliefs. Its editor-in-chief, Saeed Pourazizi, who was detained and released on bail following the closure, was on Sunday convicted of “propaganda against the establishment and spreading lies and rumours,” ISNA news agency reported. The Tehran criminal court found Ali Asghar Gharavi, the article’s author, guilty of writing “against the standards of Islam” and “spreading lies and rumours,” the agency added.

Reform Cannot Come Fast Enough to Iran

I’m sure that Iranians will be the first to tell you as much:

In a rare expression of regret by an Iranian official, President Hassan Rouhani has said that he is sorry for any troubles with the distribution of a food ration to the poor, following reports that three people have died waiting for the goods in subzero weather.

Local media have reported that the three died in recent days while standing in line in freezing temperatures. Authorities were quoted as saying that they had pre-existing heart problems.

Most provinces in Iran have experienced unusually low temperatures in recent days.

Rouhani told state TV late Wednesday that he “as the president expresses regret if people have faced trouble in receiving the commodity basket.”

It’s unusual for an official in Iran to take responsibility for problems in a governmental plan.

That last sentence is as troubling as anything found in the excerpt. Incidentally, maybe Iranians wouldn’t have to freeze to death while waiting for food if they had a government that cared as much about the lives of Iranians as it does about exporting terrorism, developing nuclear weapons technology, and preventing Iranians from enjoying basic civil liberties and political freedoms.

Surprising–and Unsurprising–News from the First Round of Iran’s Presidential Election

First, the surprising news: The leading moderate candidate for the presidency has emerged as the strongest of all of the candidates after the first round of voting

Early results from Iran’s presidential election put the reformist-backed candidate, Hassan Rouhani, in the lead.

With 2.9m ballots counted, the cleric had 1.46m votes, or 49.87%, well ahead of Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, with 488,000 votes, or 16.65%.

If no candidate wins more than 50%, a run-off will be held next Friday.

It remains to be seen if a second round can be avoided. If we end up having a second round, my fear is that at that point, the regime will work to ensure that the deck is stacked against Rohani. Unless the regime is absolutely determined to ensure that no one ever again accuses it of rigging presidential elections, I can’t believe that it will allow a moderate to become president and give Ali Khamene’i yet another round of headaches.

And now, for the unsurprising news: 

Millions of Iranians took to the streets to demand a re-run after the last presidential election in June 2009, when the Supreme Leader dismissed claims by the three defeated candidates of widespread fraud.

Two of them, former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Mousavi and senior cleric Mehdi Karroubi, became leaders of a nationwide opposition known as the Green Movement, after its signature colour.

They were placed under house arrested in February 2011 when they applied to stage a protest in support of the anti-government uprisings which were sweeping the Arab world. They are still being detained.

No foreign observers are monitored this year’s election and there have also been concerns that media coverage in the run-up has been unfair.

Many reformist newspapers have been shut down, access to the internet and foreign broadcasters restricted, and journalists detained.

On Thursday, the BBC accused the Iranian authorities of “unprecedented levels of intimidation” of BBC employees’ families.

It said Iran had warned the families of 15 BBC Persian Service staff that they must stop working for the BBC or their lives in London would be endangered.

Tehran has so far made no comment on the allegation.

Proof positive that no matter who becomes president, the nature of the regime prevents the emergence of democratic discourse and the thriving of basic political/social/media freedoms.

Political Freedom–Or the Lack Thereof–in Iran

I really look forward to the day when I don’t have to read stories like this one.  But I fear that day won’t arrive for a very long time:


A senior Iranian diplomat linked to Iran’s reformists, who has been detained at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison for three months, has been denied access to his attorney for the entire time, sources familiar with the case told Reuters on Monday.

Bagher Asadi, who was previously a senior diplomat at Iran’s U.N. mission in New York and most recently a director at the secretariat of the so-called D8 group of developing nations in Istanbul, was arrested in mid-March in Tehran for unknown reasons, sources said last month.

“He has a lawyer but he has been denied access to him for three months,” a source familiar with the case told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “He (Asadi) has not been given the papers to sign by the authorities so he can see his lawyer. It’s just a way of denying him (the lawyer) access to his client.”

Another source confirmed the remarks. Iran’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What the Chinese People (Shockingly) Don’t Know

June 4th was the 24th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre. NPR reports  that thanks to Chinese government censorship, a lot of people know very little about the history of the massacre:

. . . it’s important to remember that a lot of people here have some familiarity with what happened 24 years ago, but a lot of people aren’t that clear on it. For instance, I’ll just give you an example. Back in 1997 when I first came to Beijing, I met a number of young women – they were in their 20’s – and they were chatting with some American men. And the American men said, you know, we really respected what the Chinese did back in 1989 and that man standing up against those tanks.

And the women said: What man? What tanks? They hadn’t actually ever seen that image. More people now, because the Internet is so big here, have seen it. But by and large, people aren’t that familiar with what actually happened.

In China, Big Brother is winning. 

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