Published in German daily “Tageszeitung” (TAZ) on December 23 2009
Source (German): http://www.taz.de/1/politik/asien/artikel/1/traenengas-und-knueppel-in-isfahan/
Several people were injured and arrested in violent clashes of opposition supporters with security forces. BY BAHMAN NIRUMAND

Khaju bridge in Esfahan. Photo: Hamed Saber – Licence: CC-BY

BERLIN taz | In the central Iranian city of Esfahan, severe clashes of opposition supporters and security forces took place on Wednesday on occasion of a ban imposed on a mourning ceremony for Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who had died on Sunday. The ceremony had been announced by Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, who, like Montazeri, is one of the prominent clerical critics of the rulers in Iran.

Law enforcement forces and basij-militias had sealed the entrances of the mosque and blocked the surrounding streets in the early morning hours. When thousands of believers attempted to break through the barriers, violent clashes with the security forces started. “Down with dictatorship”, “Montazeri is alive” were slogans chanted by supporters of the opposition “Green movement of hope”. The police used tear gas and batons, several people were injured and arrested.

Several opposition websites reported that the residence of Ayatollah Youssef Sane’i, who is also a critic of the regime and is regarded as Montazeri’s successor, had been attacked by militias on Tuesday. The cleric was insulted and affronted, his employees were beaten. Windows were broken, and the house was devastated. As reported by Montazeri’s eldest son Ahmad, his father’s residence was also attacked.

The way the regime confronts Grand Ayatollahs, the ban of mourning ceremonies, and the closure of the Mosque in Esfahan cast even more doubts on the leadership’s legitimacy claim. In addition, the regime is obviously no longer capable of controling the countywide unrest.

As reported from pro-government circles, security forces have gone on alert. Soldiers of the Revolutionary Guards and militias of the basij organization are under curfew. Apparently, the regime is preparing for serious clashes on 26. and 27. December. Ashura und Tassoa are primary days of mourning in the Shiite Islam.

Published on German public TV channel ZDF, news broadcast “Heute”, on December 23 2009
Source (German): http://www.heute.de/ZDFheute/inhalt/5/0,3672,7965413,00.html

Reports: Police uses tear gas

New clashes in Iran: According to information of the reformist movement, the police in the city of Esfahan used tear gas on demonstrators. Many people are said to have been injured. In addition, at least 50 supporters of the opposition are said to have been arrested.

In the city of Esfahan, situated in central Iran, people had gathered to commemorate the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. This was reported by the website Jaras on Wednesday. During the gathering, demonstrators clashed with the police, many people were injured. The website parlemannews.com reported at least 50 arrests, among them four Iranian journalists.

Tense situation in Najaf Abad
The opposition also reported clashes from Montazeri’s home town Najaf Abad. There, the sporadic incidents have been going on since Tuesday night. The situation in Najaf Abad is tense. Jaras reported that people are chanting slogans against the government. Since foreign journalists are not allowed to directly report about the events, it was not possible to verify the reports through independent sources.

According to reports from the opposition camp, on Monday hundreds of thousands of people in a funeral procession in the pilgrimage city of Qom had paid their last respect to Montazeri, who had died on Saturday. Websites of the reformist movement reported that the residence of reformist cleric Yousef Sane’i had been attacked by pro-government scholars on Tuesday.

With material of reuters

Published on “Deutschlandradio” on December 23 2009
Source (German): (http://www.dradio.de/kulturnachrichten/2009122309/1/

“Repression is not the way that could lead to the well-being of the people”. This is a quotation from a letter of the German PEN Center to the Iranian leadership. With this letter, the writer’s association protests against the arrest of journalists and authors in the Islamic Republic. Available information indicates that after the disputed presidential election in June detainees were tortured and forced to make false confessions, it says in the letter. It continues saying that the credibility of the government in Tehran will be damaged as long as the country detains “prisoners of conscience”.

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The German daily “Süddeutsche” has a short news item about this letter today:
http://www.sueddeutsche.de/w5x38N/3201753/PEN-protestiert.html

P.E.N. protests:
Letter to the Iranian ambassador

The German P.E.N. Center seized the occasion of the approaching New Year to address the Iranian ambassador in Berlin in a letter, protesting against detention, conditions of imprisonment, and trials against Iranian writers and journalists. [here a reference is made to an unspecified newspaper]. As to the knowledge of P.E.N., currently 25 Iranian writers and journalists are being detained, 22 of them are awaiting their verdict. Most of the detainees were brought to Tehran’s Evin prison, of which the internal state of things have been adequately described in Iranian literature.
SZ

Published on Germany’s public TV channel “ARD”, news broadcast “Tagesschau”, December 23 2009
Source (German): http://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/montaseri122.html

After the mourning ceremony for Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, hundreds of supporters of president Ahmadinejad attacked the residence of reformist cleric Sane’i. He is considered as Montazeri’s possible successor. The excesses reveal a widening rift between the government and the theologians.
By Ulrich Pick, ARD radio studio, Istanbul

The windows of his office were broken, some of his employees were injured. Sane’i had repeatedly taken a critical stance against the ultra conservative president, and, together with three other Grand Ayatollahs, one of them Montazeri, bashed the disputed presidential elections in June. There are currently about ten acknowledged Grand Ayatollahs in Iran. They rank highest in the hierarchy of Shiite clerics.

Poster of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, who is a symbol of resistance against Ahmadinejad's government in in Iran (Photo: AP)

The gap between the government and theologians is widening
Sane’i, who was born in Esfahan in 1937, is perceived as Montazeri’s possible successor, who was considered Iran’s most renowned theologian. Montazeri had been an ally of revolutionary leader Khomeini for years, however, was disempowered by him after he criticized the regime’s mass executions in the late 1980s. Since the late 1990s, Montazeri has been one of the most vehement critics of the system. The excesses against Grand Ayatollah Sane’i confirm the political development of the past months, which indicated that the government of Ahmadinejad is obtaining militaristic traits, and distancing itself from large parts of the clergy.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi was released from his duties as the head of the Iranian Academy of Arts. He had been holding this office for 11 years. As reported by news agency Fars, Moussavi was sacked by a supervisory board headed by Ahmadinejad.