Published in German daily “Frankfurter Rundschau” on January 30 2010
Source (German)

Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi. Photo: AFP

Tehran. In Iran, opposition leaders Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi harshly criticized the first executions of two opposition supporters after the protests started last summer. With the executions, the state intends to create an “atmosphere of fear” in order to prevent the people from participating at the rallies on February 11 in commemoration of the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, it said on Karroubi’s website “Saham News”.

Moussavi and Karroubi called on the population to nevertheless join the rallies “en masse”. Apart from that, the current situation of those in detention should be reviewed in accordance with the law.

The opposition in Iran is not allowed to stage demonstrations. Therefore, dissidents join the official rallies in order to continue their public protests. Since after the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June last year, dissidents have been taking to the streets many times, the most recent protest happened on the religious Shia festival of Ashura in the end of December.

The two men who were executed on Thursday were the first supporters of the opposition to be executed after the anti-government protests in Iran began. The had been sentenced to death on charges of being “enemies of God”. (afp)

Published in “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (print edition) on January 29 2010
Source (German): see below

Iran uses executions to terrify opposition
by Rudolph Chimelli

Repression within and tense relations with the West go hand in hand in Iran. For the first time since the protests against the regime started, two opposition supporters were hanged on Thursday, while Germany has joined the ranks of Iran’s traditional enemies USA, Great Britain and Israel. According to chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, the executed persons were members of a monarchistic group that allegedly by acts of terrorism attempted to prevent the people from participating in the presidential elections in June. Nine other convicts who have been sentenced to death, among them members of the leftist Islamistic Organization of the People’s Mojaheddin, are still awaiting the outcome of their appeals procedures.

The two executed men had nothing to do with the bloody unrest during the protests against the elections and in the demonstrations on Ashura in December. Both were arrested two months prior to the elections. One of them, the 19 year old Arash Rahmanipour, during his law suit had confessed in front of recording cameras to have received orders for armed disturbance from a man in Los Angeles. His lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh called the verdict “political, illegal, and unjust”. She had not been allowed to defend her client properly. As for the confession, she claimed it was a result of the pressure imposed on the family – Rahmanipour had been arrested together with his pregnant sister.

According to opposition sources, sympathizers reported that the interrogators had urged the second victim, Reza Ali Zamani, to confess to details in order to receive a more lenient verdict. They also had him rehearse the wording of his testimony in advance. Another convict on death row, the alleged member of the People’s Mojaheddin Nasser Abdul Hosseini, is accused of arranging appointments with dissidents in Iraq. His brother says that the convict does not even have a diploma, nor a computer, nor an e-mail-account.

Since new demonstrations are likely to happen on February 9 [sic], the anniversary of the Revolution, the execution of the death penalties at this point has the purpose of terrifying people. The same goes for the continued attempts of the regime to discredit the opposition as henchmen of foreign countries.

No information is available on the two German citizens who, according to Iranian reports, are affiliated with the embassy in Tehran and were arrested for wearing and distributing green wristbands during the anti-government rallies on Ashura in December. Neither their real names, nor the name of the Iranian deputy intelligence minister who forwarded these claims to journalists, were communicated. Also, it is a state secret whether they are still being detained.

A weighty political factum, however, is that the accusations against Germany coincide with demands raised by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli President Shimon Peres to tighten measures against Iran. Also, the withdrawal of Siemens from business with Iran is likely to have disgruntled Tehran. The partner of the hostile Germans, according to the official picture, is opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi: there is a “German group” associated with him, consisting of graduates of German universities, it says. Even his facebook page is being operated by people in Germany.

Click on picture to view scan of German article

Published in the political roundup of “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on January 29 2010
Source (German):

One of the protesters who was executed in Iran: Arash Rahmanipour (Archive picture, taken in the summer of 2009) is claimed to have been a member of the monarchist resistance group Tondar. Photo: AFP

The US government has strictly condemned the execution of two Iranian opposition supporters, referring to it as “murder”. “We see it as a low point in the Islamic Republic’s unjust and ruthless crackdown of peaceful dissent. Murdering political prisoners who are exercising their universal rights will not bring the respect and legitimacy the Islamic Republic seeks. It will only serve to further isolate Iran’s government in the world and from its people.”, said White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton on Thursday.

The two dissidents had been arrested after the recent mass protests against the controversial re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and together with nine other protesters been sentenced to death. According to reports of Iranian media, both men were members of monarchist groups and the People’s Mojahedin Organization. Tehran considers these groups as terror organizations.


Published in German daily “Die Welt” on January 29 2010
Source (German):
by Dietrich Alexander

They are being referred to as “Mohareb”, enemies of God. In Iran’s theocracy, this equals a death sentence. Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani (36) and Arash Rahmanipour (19), two young Iranian opposition supporters, were hanged in the early morning hours, because an elusive judiciary, assisting a totalitarian power in hurrying obedience, defamed them by calling them “Mohareb”.
These executions were the first enforced death penalties related to the massive protests against the scandal-ridden re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In June of last year, he was confirmed as the Iranian president, and the elections that pretty obviously had been rigged were followed by protests that continue until this day. Nine death penalties are currently being reviewed in an appeals court, and there is hardly any doubt that they will be confirmed.

These are the few cases on which information has emerged. But how many of the more than 4000 detained protesters have died in the dungeons? How many were beaten do death or shot by the notorious thugs of the paramiltary Basiji organization?

The religious dictatorship is kicking and punching, in impotent anger and political helplessness. Show trials, public hangings, death threats against dissidents and their families – the entire spectrum of instruments of totalitarianism in Iran is unfolding right now. Why? Because Ayatollah Khomeini’s heirs are facing the biggest threat since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 brought the mullahs to power.

The mediocre leadership team around Ahmadinejad, even the religious leader Ali Khamenei, have not only drawn the ire of the streets, but have also lost the backing of parts of the Shia clerics. Powerful voices are heard: Ayatollah Dastgheib of Shiraz, for example, or Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei in the holy city of Qom. The oppositionist politician Mehdi Karroubi predicts that the moderate powers will unite and save Iran. And then, it might eventually be clarified who the real enemies of God are.

Published in German daily newspaper “Tageszeitung” (“taz”) on January 28 2010
Source (German):

by Bahman Nirumand
The regime has become weaker, but still keeps a grip on power. Regime opponents argue over the question what might be the right strategy.

Protestor in Tehran. Photo: AP

Is Iran on the brink of a revolution, or about to see a velvet regime change? The question is becoming more and more topical with every day the protests that started in June persist.
What seems certain is that the regime has widely lost its backing in the population. Even larger parts of the state elite have meanwhile sided with the opposition. Even several influential Grand Ayatollahs have distanced themselves from the regime – a great loss for a state that bases itself on Islam.

The rigged elections of June 2009, the brutal crackdown on the opposition, the tortures, show trials and coerced confessions have eventually discredited the state even in the view of pious believers. Apart from that, since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president in 2005, Iran has been stuck in a deep economical crisis, and in terms of foreign politics the country is moving towards escalation to an extent that could even result in war.

Yet for all the euphoria about the achievements, the successes of the opposition can not lead to the conclusion that Iran is on the precipice. The regime is still in command of the entire power apparatus, while the opposition is standing empty-handed. Not only can the regime use the power of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij militias, the army, the police and numerous paramilitary organizations: Although the rulers have lost the support of some parts of the basis, they are still capable of mobilizing millions of people. After all, almost the entire economy is monopolized by the state. As long as there are oil revenues, the regime will be able to survive even deeper crises.

This power is confronted by an opposition that is heterogeneous, and has neither a clear leadership, nor a consistent structure. Although millions participate in countrywide protests, the demonstrations have not yet spread to the factories and the bazaar. Neither did they manage to cause divisions within the military, militias, police and other security organs.

What is also important to note is that the protest movement is based on powers who in parts pursue reforms within the framework of the constitution, in other parts, however, seek to achieve a regime change. Among those of the first group are, above all, the defeated presidential candidates Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, as well as the former presidents Mohammad Khatami and – provided he is considered part of the opposition – Hashemi Rafsanjani. They, and not the radical faction, have so far set the pace for the “movement of green hope”.

What is it that the opposition can demand, given the unbalanced power structure? How far can they dare to go, preventing, on the one hand, further severe losses, or even defeat, while avoiding to cause rifts between reformers and those who seek to establish a new state?

Mir Hossein Moussavi’s latest statement of January 1 has boosted this discussion. Moussavi stresses his commitment to the constitution, accuses the rulers of violating the constitution, and expresses concrete demands: The government must be accountable to the people, the parliament, and the judiciary for the recent events and all homemade problems. The election law needs to be reformed in order to gain the trust of the population, and to eliminate the influence of other organs and institutions. Moussavi calls for the release of the political prisoners, freedom of press, lifting of the bans on newspapers, and independence of television and radio. Finally, Moussavi demands to grant freedom of assembly, and the right to establish political parties, associations, and independent groups.

Moussavi writes that further demands can be added to those expressed in his statement. It is important to tackle reforms in order to solve the crisis, he adds.

The ultra conservative camp has harshly responded to Moussavi’s statement. They refer to his proposals as a new trick of the foreign intelligence services and their collaborators within the country, attempting to realize the plans for a velvet regime change.

Completely different reactions emerged from the camp of the so-called moderate conservatives. Influential voices from within their ranks called his proposals an attempt to re-establish national unity. Surprisingly, the state-run television, having so far almost ignored the protests, has recently begun to broadcast discussions in which even moderate conservatives and critical reformists are allowed to have a say. Those criticized the brutal crackdown on protestors and the arrests, and they blame the government of Ahmadinejad for the crisis. One journalist even declared that there is no freedom of press in Iran. So, while parts of the conservative camp is gravitating towards reconciliation, the ultra conservatives brutally confront the opposition. Is this a sign for a beginning rift within the conservative camp? Is it a done deal? Or rather an attempt to create cleavages within the opposition?

Within the opposition, however, Moussavi’s statement triggered controversial debates, above all, among the opposition abroad. Numerous people and groups supported Moussavi’s demands, among them five prominent reformists residing abroad: Abdolali Bazargan, Abdolkarim Soroush, Akbar Ganji, Mohsen Kadivar, and the former minister of culture, Ataollah Mohajerani.

However, in their response that was released on January 4, the “Five” assume that Moussavi was forced to reduce his demands to a minimum due to existing restrictions, and his proposals should be complemented. Thus, the authors call for the resignation of the government, fresh elections, rehabilitation and compensation for the political prisoners, full lift of censorship, including censorship of internet services, autonomy of universities, independence of the judiciary, and the prosecution of all those who were involved in the crackdown on the protesters and participated in torturing and shooting people.

No more compromise
For those who wish a regime change, however, these demands are not sufficient. This system can not be reformed, they say, adding that the rule of the clerics is not compatible with democratic structures. The almost unlimited power of the Revolutionary Leader, enshrined in the constitution, and the position of the Guardian Council, among others, are contradictory to free elections and civil and individual rights and freedoms. No compromise should be made at this point, the opportunity for moving on towards a democratic state must not be missed.

Others do accept these arguments, adding, however, that in their opinion the issued demands are appropriate for the very reason that they eventually go beyond the framework of the constitution. They believe it is unrealistic to raise more radical demands which, in addition, would cause rifts and drive parts of the opposition towards the regime.

Ezatollah Sahabi, the prominent politician and member of the group “National Religious Iran”, has recently in an open letter warned the opposition abroad not to radicalize the movement. Political demands should not be based on absolute truth alone, they must as well be implementable and have prospects of success.

EXCERPT from an article published on German “FAZ” on January 28 2010
Source (German): (accessible on remuneration only)

Translator’s note: I am posting the following excerpt that quotes a statement of Nasrin Sotoudeh – something that has not been included in the coverage of German media on this event so far. The German media are obviously still struggling to get the facts right, and I wish them a quick success, for the sake of truth.

Ali-Zamani was a member of the banned underground movement of the People’s Mujahedin, Rahmanipour belonged to the “Monarchist Council”. Rahmanipour’s lawyer said that her client had not participated in the protests. He had been arrested two months prior to the disputed presidential elections at the age of 19. She was not allowed to defend him in the “show trials” in June. His confession was violently coerced. The opposition group residing in the United States declared that Rahmanipour had provided the radio station of the “Monarchist Council” with news and information.

Published on German TV news channel “Tagesschau” on January 28 2010
Source (German):

For months, protesters against the government of Ahmadinejad have been taking to the streets. (photo: REUTERS)

Two supporters of the Iranian opposition were executed. This was the first execution of death penalties since the beginning of the protests last summer. The two men were charged with being “enemies of God”. This was reported by the official news agency ISNA.

Quoting a statement released by the Tehran prosecutor’s office, ISNA reported that in October Mohammed Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmani Pour were sentenced to death by hanging. They were also charged with conspiracy to topple the Islamic leadership.

Membership of monarchist group
The human rights organization Amnesty International had taken action in support of Zamani who was accused of being a member of the monarchist group “Assembly of the Kingdom of Iran”.

According to his lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Rahmani Pour had also been accused of being a member of this group. Talking to the news agency AFP she rejected, however, that her client had any part in the protests following the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009. The 19 year old had been arrested prior to the elections in the Iranian month of Farwardin (March/April).

According to Sotoudeh, she was barred from defending her client in a “show trial” held in July. Rahmani Pour had confessed due to threats that were imposed on his family. She was “shocked” hearing about the executions, since she and the family of the convict had still been expecting the verdict of the appeals court, says Sotoudeh.

Nine convicts on death row awaiting judgement
Nine other opposition supporters who were sentenced to death are currently waiting for the decision of an appeals court. Should they be convicted, the judgement will be enforced in accordance with the law, says ISNA.

Again and again after Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election, the opposition in Iran has been taking to the streets. The unrest, during which dozens of people were killed and more than 4000 dissidents were arrested, plunged Iran into one of the severest domestic crises since the founding of the Islamic Republic 30 years ago.

In the crackdown of the protests that took place in late December, according to official reports, eight people were killed. Among them was the nephew of the politican and oppositionist Mir Hossein Moussavi.

Published in “Financial Times Deutschland” on January 28 2010
Source (German):

The leadership in Tehran knows no mercy. Two opposition supporters were hanged for participating in the anti-government protests, nine others are on death row. The next protests are already scheduled.

One month after the latest mass protests against the Iranian government, two participants in the demonstrations were hanged. The two men were charged with enmity against God, attempted overthrow and membership of armed opposition groups. This was reported by the Iranian news agency ISNA. Nine other dissidents have also been sentenced to death.

In December 2009 the protests against the government of Ahmadinejad flared up once more (photo: DPA)

The executions and verdicts show that the leadership in Tehran is attempting control the severe domestic crisis by relentless severity. The protests flared up again in the end of last year. On December 27, several people were killed in violent clashes of security forces and anti-government protesters.

According to ISNA, all 11 convicts had been arrested during the protests. Reportedly, they are affiliated with monarchist groups or the dissident organization of the People’s Mojahedin. The Iranian judiciary claims to distinguish between moderate opposition members who are against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while not questioning the Islamic system in general, and those who seek to overthrow the regime.

Following the protests against the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a wave of arrests started thoughout the country. Hundreds of protesters were arrested. Conservative Ali Larijani, the speaker of parliament, called for maximum penalty for the dissidents. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad held the West responsible for the unrest.

This matches the alleged arrest of two German citizens who are claimed to have participated in the demonstrations. Iran claims that they are diplomats – an allegation that the Federal Government has rejected.

These reports could be related to Germany’s plans to impose sanctions on Tehran. On the backdrop of the Iranian nuclear program, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had announced that Germany, if necessary, will enforce sanctions single-handedly in case the UN Security Council will not agree on tightened sanctions.

The showdown in Iran’s domestic policy might continue on 11. February, when Iran commemorates the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The opposition often uses official government events to take to the streets.

Published in German daily “FAZ” on January 27 2010
Source (German)

Original title: German diplomats allegedly arrested in Iran

Summary Translation

Controlled by foreign countries? An Iranian protester in December 2009 in Tehran. Photo: AFP

Several sources claimed today that two German diplomats were arrested and charged with being involved in the unrest that took place in Tehran last December. News channel Khabar, referring to the deputy intelligence minster, reported that both diplomats by the code names of Yogi and Ingo were arrested on December 27.

ISNA, referring to the same source, reported that an aide of opposition leader Moussavi, who is claimed to have cooperated with an European Intelligence service and exchanged confidential information, had admitted that the German diplomats were involved in the anti government unrest. No further details were provided by ISNA.

In response, the German government rejected this report, saying they had no knowledge about the arrest of German diplomats on that day (December 27). The Foreign Office did not give any further comments on the reports, saying, however, they would “formally reject” them in case such allegations had in fact been raised.

Next, the article highlights some data referring to Germany’s business with Iran in 2009. According to figures provided by the Federal Statistical Office, Germany’s exports to Iran, mainly machinery, chemical products, and metals, amounted to about 3,3 billion dollar, which is 8% less than in the previous year

Germany is one of the major trading partners of Iran, which is often criticized for its nuclear program and the violence applied in confronting the opposition. The nuclear issue has caused the West to pursue tightened sanctions against Iran. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to implement economic sanctions even if no consensus will be reached in the UN Security Council. According to Merkel, German-Iranian business has already significantly decreased, showing that many companies do not engage in business with Iran as before.

The same day, Siemens chief Peter Löscher had announced that Siemens will not take up new business with Iran, claiming that Siemens had begun to reduce business activities with Iran a while ago.
Text: dpa/Reuters
Pictures: AFP

Published in German on, January 26 2010
Translated by Keith Hazelton

By Matthias Karpstein
MÜNCHEN (Dow Jones)– “From the middle of the year we will accept no new business in Iran,” said CEO Peter Löscher on Tuesday at the Annual Meeting of the DAX Group in Munich’s Olympic Hall. (Photo: Siemens).

Summary translation: There were media reports last year that the (German) government was considering initiating legal proceedings against Siemens for violations of the Foreign Trade law banning sales of services to Iran. A Siemens spokesman denied this. Iran business accounts for less than one percent of Siemens sales.

Published on the website of German TV channel ZDF/program “Frontal 21” on January 26 2010
This is a preview of a program to be broadcasted on January 26, 9 p.m.
source (German),1872,8018005,00.html

Nokia Siemens delivered telephone systems with surveillance technology

Picture: imago (M)

by Joachim Bartz and Reinhard Laska

Iranian security organs use German technology to control dissidents. Opposition supporters in Iran more and more often get arrested and find out they were systematically spied upon. According to inquest conducted by of Frontal21, Iranian police during interrogations confronts them with eavesdropped phone conversations and intercepted SMS messages that are used as “evidence”.

The company Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) in the years 2007 and 2008 provided Iran with telephone systems that are equipped with surveillance technology, the so-called Monitoring Center. With this technology, conversations can be recorded, SMS messages can be intercepted and locations of mobile phones identified.

Surveillance of international calls
According to information available to Frontal21, international phone calls can also be eavesdropped by the Nokia Siemens Monotoring Center. Although the Finnish-German Joint Venture had admitted to have exported the technology, it claimed, however, that only domestic calls could be monitored. The company is also responsible for maintenance and further operation of the supplied surveillance technology.

Joe Kaeser, member of the Siemens management board, explained to Frontal21 that this business is legally impeccable: “Today we have no reason to assume that NSN has violated the law or the rules”.

Embargo for surveillance systems
In contrast, the human rights commissioner of the Federal Government, Günter Nooke (CDU(Christian-Democratic Party) demanded to include surveillance systems in embargo lists and not deliver them to Iran anymore. Nooke called on Siemens to not continue the maintenance of the technology delivered to Iran. “The point is” says Nooke “that even private companies like Siemens should demonstrate that they do not side with the oppressors, but with the democratic opposition”.

Published in German weekly “Die Zeit” on January 25 2010

Apparently, the pressure eventually became too much: As the first opposition leader, cleric and politician Mehdi Karroubi acknowledged the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi during a press conference in June 2009 © AFP/Getty images

More than seven months after the presidential elections in Iran, opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi has now acknowledged the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As explained by Mehdi Karroubi’s son Hossein, the reason for this was the fact that the religious leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, endorsed Ahmadinejad’s election, however, Karroubi maintains his stance that the ballot was marked by massive fraud, said Hossein Karroubi referring to his father.

In the past weeks, Mehdi Karroubi was repeatedly attacked. In early January, in the city of Qazvin, shots were fired at Karroubi’s car. And in the end of December unknown persons smashed the wind screen of Karroubi’s car when he was heading for a mourning ceremony in the East of Tehran.

Moreover, currently there are legal investigations being held against Karroubi for his publicly denouncing the torture of detained opposition supporters. Agitators had called Karroubi an “enemy of God” who should be punished by death penalty.

The former speaker of parliament is the chair of the political party Etemad-e Melli (National Trust Party) and is considered the most outspoken critic of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Karroubi along with the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards Mohsen Rezai and the former prime minister Mir Hossein Moussavi campaigned against the incumbent in June, however, according to the official final result were clearly defeated.

Reports on vote rigging had caused the largest mass demonstrations in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. About two weeks after the elections, Karroubi had joined the protesters. The June ballot was “not valid”, he said. “I do not recognize this government as legitimate.”

Source: ZEIT ONLINE, dpa, AFP

Published in Handelsblatt issue of January 22 2010 (German)

While the German government considers sanctions against Iran, the economy bids for orders from Tehran. Due to increasing political pressure many companies do their business with Iran behind the scenes.
by Andreas Rinke and Mathias Brüggman

BERLIN. Again, Germany’s Iran policy causes tensions between the economy and the government.
While Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing the public for new sanctions against Tehran, German companies behind the scenes continue their struggle to get major orders in those fields that are not yet sanctioned. More and more often, however, such deals are targeted and made public by third parties in an attempt to create political pressure in order to motivate those companies to cancel their contacts with Iran.

For example, prior to the visit of Israel’s Prime Minster to Berlin, news emerged that the subsidiary of HHLA, a company owned with a majority stake by the city of Hamburg, was about to receive an order from Iran. Following the political pressure, the company named HPC Hamburg Port Consulting had to cancel the preliminary contract with Iran. Israel had massively criticized this deal with Iranian Tidewater that aimed to upgrade Iran’s major port Bandar-Abbas.

On Wednesday, reports about an order for gas turbines placed with Siemens – though from 2007 – caused a stir. The NGO “Stop the Bomb” that opposes to Iran’s alleged nuclear enarmament, denounces the activities of the Thyssen-Krupp subsidiary Uhde in the field of plant construction.

Although the talk is still about legal business, the German economy has been complaining for years that the Federal Government abandons them as soon as the USA or Israel create pressure.
“It is wrong to use economic sanctions as a tool to solve the problems that politics have failed to solve”, says Daniel Bernbeck, director of the German-Iranian chamber of commerce in Tehran. He adds that the sanctions that are currently being considered against the Iranian gas and oil sector, and an embargo on gasoline would hurt the population, not the leadership. Moreover, every embargo is bypassed anyway, he says.

German exports to Iran in the period between January through October 2009 fell by 9% compared to the previous year, amounting to 2,9 billion Euro. However, such figures become less significant, because companies worldwide due to the increasing political pressure more and more often resort to doing business via third countries such as China. This is said to also apply to US companies.

What most of all alarms German companies now are remarks of chancellor Merkel that she made earlier this week, saying that, if necessary, Germany together with friend countries will impose new sanctions on Iran even without a respective UN resolution. It is not even ensured whether this will be implemented in a joint action of all EU members. In the UN, it is China that delays sanctions, in the EU it is Spain, Italy and the Scandinavian countries.

The industrial sector, however, in times of crisis does not think much of the federal government’s course of “disincentive”, according to which German companies should deliberately withdraw from business with Iran even without existing resolutions about sanctions. “Germany’s economy does adhere to all sanctions issued so far, and will implement possible future stricter sanctions as well”, says Oliver Wieck, expert on foreign trade at BDI [Federation of German Industry]. “In a rule of law state like Germany, however, a tightening of export controls should be achieved through respective laws and regulations.”

Published in German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” on January 20 2010
Source German:

Iran’s judiciary continues to take rigorous action against opposition supporters. Prominent activist Majid Tavakoli was sentenced to 8 years an 6 months in prison.

The well-known student leader Majid Tavakoli was arrested during the protest on 7. December 2009 in Tehran. He now was sentenced to several years in prison.

Majid Tavakoli was accused of acting against Iran’s national security and insulting high-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic. This was reported by Iranian news agency Fars.

The student leader had been arrested on 7. December, the “Student Day”, at a demonstration to protest against the controversial re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Student Day in Iran commemorates three students who were killed in anti-American protests in 1953 by the police of the Shah. Thousands of regime critics used the opportunity of this anniversary to demonstrate. During the protests, clashes took place between anti-government protesters and security forces. Tens of thousands of protesters chanted “Death to the dictator” and “Freedom, freedom”.

According to a report published by the official news agency IRNA, Tavakoli had attempted to escape from the campus dressed in female clothing. In an online campaign of solidarity that followed this incident, several prominent opposition leaders published pictures of themselves wearing headscarves. Tavakoli had already been arrested for similar charges in 2007 and spent 15 months in prison.


Published in Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland) on January 17 2010
Source (German)

Sentenced to six years in prison for participating in protests

(sda/afp) Again, a reformist politician in Iran has received a long prison term. Mohsen Safai Farahani is an aide of opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi. As concordantly reported by opposition websites on Sunday, he was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

The 61 year old politician is an aide to opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi. He is a member of the reformist party IIPF and from 2000 – 2004 was a member of the Iranian parliament. From 1998 – 2002 he headed the Iranian Soccer Association.

Farahani along with other reformist politicians and journalists was arrested after the controversial presidential elections of 12. June. “Last night he was informed that he received a six year prison term”, reported Iranian internet sites. There was no information about his charges.

The protests following the presidential elections of 12. June had plunged Iran into the severest domestic crisis after the founding of the Islamic Republic 30 years ago.

Dozens of people were killed in the unrest, more than 4000 dissidents were arrested. The opposition accuses Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the re-elected president, of electoral fraud.

Published on German public television channel ZDF, news program “Heute”, on January 15 2010
Source (German):,3672,8011824,00.html

Police monitors internet and mobile phones

Photo: AP

Who uses sms or e-mail to rally people for opposition protests in Iran from now on faces rigorous punishment. According to the police, mobile networks and internet will be completely monitored from now on.

“These individuals should not reckon that they can conceal their identity”, police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam is quoted by the semi-official news agency ISNA.

Sister of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate released
Since the controversial re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, almost all reformist newspapers have been closed, opposition-affiliated websites are blocked. Activists therefore use SMS and e-mails for organizing protests. The mobile network is usually down during demonstrations, however, by then it is often too late to actually prevent calls for participation.

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi meanwhile confirmed that her sister, who had been arrested in the end of December, has been released. “This is the result of the pressure imposed by public opinion”, Ebadi said on Friday in a talk with German radio channel Deutschlandradio Kultur. However, “many, many innocent people are still being detained”, she added.

Arrested by security forces
Noushin Ebadi, a professor for medicine, had been arrested in her house on 28. December and transferred to prison. Her arrest was one of many in the aftermath of the massive rallies of the Iranian opposition on occasion of the festival of Ashura on 27. December.

With material of apn

Published in weekly magazine “Spiegel” on January 13 2010
Source (German):,1518,671717,00.html#ref=rss

By Ulrike Putz, Beirut

A physicist was assassinated – now Iran’s regime and the reformist movement are quarreling over the question to which political camp he belonged. Above all, the public doubts circulating about the official version prove one thing: After the disputed presidential election the state has lost the last vestige of its credibility.

Who was Massoud Ali Mohammadi? The violent death of the 50 year old professor in Tehran on Wednesday [sic] morning has triggered a fierce argument about this simple question. The regime and the reformist movement provide different information. Both sides claim that Ali Mohammadi was one of their committed supporters.

* The physicist was specialized on nuclear sciences, his death was probably an act of sabotage by Israel and the USA, directed against the Iranian nuclear program – said Tehran judiciary officials only hours after the deadly attack with a remote-controlled bomb. They added that Ali Mohammadi was a deeply religious man, an advocator of the Islamic Revolution

* No way, objected representatives of the reformist movement through their traditional channels via internet forums and blogs: Ali Mohammadi was not at all involved in Iran’s nuclear program, he did research on quantum mechanics. As a professed supporter of the defied presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, he after the allegedly rigged presidential elections in June had encouraged his students to take to the streets. The regime is responsible for his murder, the state wanted to issue a warning for Iran’s increasingly critical academics.

Despite all contradictions, the case of Ali Mohammadi reveals one thing: The controversial elections of last summer may have brought victory for the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, at very heavy costs. The state has lost all credibility within the population. Whatever was reported by state-run media in the past months was immediately researched and straightened by dissidents, and replaced on the internet by a different – their own – truth. Iranians, who already were well-trained in exposing the two-facedness of their government, now massively resort to reformist websites and blogs in order to get an acceptable picture of the situation.

Official explanations of the murder are being doubted
And indeed, on closer inspection, the official version of the story about the murder of Ali Mohammadi reveals several weaknesses. By a mere look at his website at the Tehran University it becomes clear that the physicist was not at all specialized on applied nuclear sciences, as official sources had suggested. Instead, he regularly published articles on subjects in the field of particle research.

Several bloggers who claimed to have studied under Ali Mohammadi refer to him as a reformist and describe how he initiated political debates, encouraged them to take to the streets. Moreover, Ali Mohammadi’s name can be found in a list of professors who declared to be supporters of Moussavi prior to the elections.

There are allegations that the murder of Ali Mohammadi is supposed to intimidate Iranian professors. Two weeks ago, 88 professors had signed an appeal condemning the violent actions committed against their students by security forces.

Although these facts indicate that the official version of the story is not entirely plausible, it can currently not be fully ruled out that Ali Mohammadi might indeed have fallen victim to foreign intelligence services – he would probably not be the first one. In January of 2007, nuclear expert Ardeshir Hassanpour died under mysterious circumstances at his work place in the nuclear reactor in Isfahan. Rumors that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad was responsible for his death have never quite ceased.

Iran’s nuclear program is indeed a target for acts of sabotage
Israeli intelligence agent Ronen Bergman believes that the nuclear program of Iran in the past four years was indeed targeted by massive and successful acts of sabotage. For example, two airplanes crashed that were carrying freight destined for the nuclear program, and seemingly unexplainable fires broke out in two research laboratories, writes Bergman in his book “The Secret War with Iran”.

Likewise, there were similarly obscure cases of two men who disappeared from Iran and allegedly defected to Western powers: General General Ali Reza Asgari’s trail ran out in March of 2007, that of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri in August of last year.

What is peculiar: In the past, Iran’s security authorities were eager to conceal such embarrassing incidents as long as possible. In Ali Mohammadi’s case, however, the regime only hours after the incident publicly accused the “triangle of wickedness – the Zionist regime, America, and their hired agents” to be at the bottom of the terrorist act. By this rather embarrassing concession, acknowledging that Western intelligence agents can operate in Tehran at will, the regime attempts to substantiate their theory that foreign agents also orchestrated the post-election protests, says Gary Sick, expert on Iran at the Columbia University in the USA, in his blog.

Incident evokes “Chain murders” of the 1990s
Reformists relate the assassination of Ali Mohammadi to the death of Moussavi’s nephew: After Ali Habibi Moussavi had been repeatedly threatened, supposedly because of his prominent uncle, he was shot dead in front of his house in Tehran in the end of December.

From the viewpoint of the opposition, this was a politically motivated crime, and possibly just the start of a series of murders that Iran saw before: the so-called chain murders, killing dozens of intellectuals and non-conformists in the 1990s. At that time, Israeli and American agents were initially named as culprits as well.

Only in 1999 the government admitted that the perpetrators were members of the Iranian security forces. The man who was arrested as the leader of the gang of murderers, that according to official information was influenced by Western agents, was Saeed Emami, who then quickly died in prison, reputedly because he poisoned himself.

Published on German public television channel ARD, news program “Tagesschau” on January 12 2010
Source (German):

Following the assassination of a researcher in Tehran, Iran announced it holds USA and Israel accountable for the attack. According to state-owned television, those countries are now pursuing a strategy to eliminate Iran’s nuclear experts. The USA rejected these allegations as “absurd”.

By Ulrich Pick, ARD radio studio Istanbul

There is differing information about the death of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi. What seems certain is that the professor of nuclear physics was killed in a bombing attack. A bomb was detonated nearby his house in the North of Tehran, killing the 50 year old scientist. It is still not known whether there are other victims, and how many.

Pro-government or pro-opposition?
Conflicting information is being spread about Ali Mohammadi’s political stance: Iran’s prosecutor describes him as loyal and committed to the government. An oppositional website, however, claims that the physicist was a supporter of opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi.

Moreover, it is still unclear whether he was involved in the nuclear program of the Islamic Republic. In his publications he mainly focused on cosmology, high-energy physics, and quantum physics.

“USA and Israel seek to eliminate nuclear experts”
Government representatives in Tehran spoke of a “terrorist attack by anti revolutionary forces” initiated bythe USA or Israel. Accordingly, Iran’s official television announced: “America and the Zionist regime have changed their strategy on Iran’s nuclear program. Both countries are disappointed by the effects of their threats and attractive promises made in the negotiations with Iran about the nuclear program, and now seek to pursue a strategy to eliminate our experts.”

State-run television announced that agents of CIA and Mossad have killed an outstanding professor of nuclear physics: “Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, a renowned nuclear expert, was martyred in Northern Tehran by a bomb that had been placed inside a motorcycle.”

USA rejects Iran’s allegations
Meanwhile, Washington responded to the allegations from Tehran, calling them “absurd.” The Iranian organization of the People’s Mojahedeen are said to also have rejected any accountability for the attack.

The attack happened one day after US-General David Petraeus, who is responsible for the Middle East, announced that Washington had “emergency plans” for starting military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. He did not provide any details.

In response, the leadership in Tehran accused the US government to make attempts to further escalate the conflict about the nuclear program of the Islamic Republic. A spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry said, Washington’s statements are the opposite of a new policy, and a return to former mistakes of the USA.

Published in German weekly magazine “Spiegel” on January 11 2010
Source (German):,1518,671200,00.html#ref=rss

Their children died in clashes with security forces last summer – now 33 mothers were arrested during a public rally, according to a human rights group in Iran.
Tehran – According to reports of a human rights group, 33 women were arrested in Iran when they attempted to hold a rally for their children killed in clashes with security forces. During their weekly gathering the mothers were surrounded by security forces and brought to prison, says the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Nine of those women required medical treatment after their arrest. The human rights group demands the immediate release of the arrested women.

Meanwhile, the Iranian news agency Fars reports that the espionage trial against the indicted French citizen Clotilde Reiss will close on Saturday. The Frenchwoman was put on trial after admitting to have participated in the protests against the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 12. Juni 2009, and to have submitted a report to the French embassy in Tehran. After several weeks of detention, she was released on bail in August and allowed to stay at the embassy of her country, however, she is not allowed to leave Iran.

Published in “Badische Zeitung” (BZ) on January 11 2009
Source (German):

The conflict in Iran is coming to a head: The state confronts demonstrators by brutal force. BZ editor Annemarie Rösch discussed the situation with Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from Tehran.

Shirin Ebadi | photo: AFP

BZ: Ms Ebadi, when will you return to Iran?
Ebadi: Iran is my base. My husband is there, my family. Due to the difficult situation, there is currently more that I can do for my country from abroad. If I return to Iran, everything can happen to me. You see, my sister was arrested just recently. They have taken my sister hostage, because none of my children is in Iran. My husband also is in danger in Iran. However, I will not do what they want me to do, I will not be silent.

BZ: Do you consider yourself a member of the opposition?
Ebadi: I am a human rights activist. I must not side with any one position. I do not belong to any of the opposition groups.

BZ: Currently it looks like protests are growing. What is your opinion on that?
Ebadi: Meanwhile, there are protests even in minor cities. People continue to take to the streets, knowing that they might even be killed during a demonstration. This shows how serious they are about their protest against the regime. On the other hand, much less people followed Ahmadinejad’s invitation to join the pro-government rallies – even though Ahmadinejad’s people rewarded them for their participation.

BZ: Do the protesters want the regime to be reformed from within, or do they prefer to abolish it?
Ebadi: Currently, the slogan is still “Death to the dictator”. This means that the protesters above all want Ahmadinejad to resign. Their peaceful protests show that they want a peaceful reform from within – for now. However, they might eventually start chanting “death to the system”. The regime should listen to the demands of the Iranians. If they don’t, the protests will turn more radical.

BZ: Can the revolutionary leader Ali Khamenei actually still afford to cling to president Ahmadinejad, whom the opposition accuses of electoral fraud?
Ebadi: Right now there is no indication that Khamenei is ready to abandon Ahmadinejad. However, everything is possible in Iran.

BZ: What is your interpretation of the aggressive actions of the regime against the opposition?
Ebadi: Khamenei and Ahmadinejad both know how dangerous the situation is for them. That’s why there is an increasing extent of violence. The more a regime feels threatened, the more it will resort to violence – everywhere in the world.

BZ: Allegedly, Ahmadinejad has expanded his influence on the clergy. What is your view on that?
Ebadi: Ayatollah Khamenei still controls everything. The question is, however, how long this will last.

BZ: What is the role of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards who so brutally confront the protesters?
Ebadi: Well, what is striking is that Ahmadinejad has given the Revolutionary Guards access to many key positions. Today even the Chief Prosecutor has an aide who is a member of the Revolutionary Guards. That the military has such an important position in the judiciary is unprecedented.

BZ: Is it possible that the regime of the clergy will be replaced by a military dictatorship?
Ebadi: As I said, currently everything is possible in Iran – even a military dictatorship.

BZ: Could Iran become the first democratic state in the Near East?
Ebadi: I wish that. I hope that negotiations will take place between the regime and the opposition before violence escalates. Since the Iranians still remember very well how painful the revolution 30 years ago was for them, how many people died, I still hope for a reconciliation of the different political camps.

BZ: What kind of democracy do the protesters have in mind?
Ebadi: Many probably wish for a democratic system where state and religion are separate. This is what I personally would prefer as well. However, this separation is not the most important thing for me. There are secular states that do not deserve to be called democracies. What Iran needs is truly free elections. How exactly this democracy will look like in the end needs to be negotiated.