IranWatch: June 25

For highlights of previous coverage, see IranWatch: June 24 | June 23 | June 22 | June 21 | June 20 | June 19 | June 18 | June 17

Updated 4:05 p.m. Eastern: Doctor: Neda Soltan Was Shot By Iran Government's Militia

The Associated Press reports:

LONDON (AP) An Iranian doctor who claims he tried to save Neda Agha Soltan as the young Iranian protester bled to death on the streets of Tehran said Thursday that she was shot by a member of Iran's pro-government Basij militia.
Video images of 26-year-old Soltan, with blood pouring from her mouth and nose as a few Iranian men struggled to save her, have became a powerful symbol of the protests taking place over Iran's disputed presidential election.

Updated 3:30 p.m. Eastern: Update On Arrested Professors

We've updated our story from earlier today to note that most of the detained professors appear to have been released:

In the latest sign of government attempts to silence dissent, 70 professors were detained late Wednesday after meeting with Mousavi, who has alleged massive fraud in the balloting. They were among a group pushing for a more liberal form of government, and all but four were released, his Web site said later. The four still in custody included Qorban Behzadiannejad, Mousavi's former campaign manager.

Updated 2:40 p.m. Eastern: Trying To Make Sense of Arab Politics, Tehran Quiet And The Supreme Leader

Here's a sampling of some of the most recent coverage and analysis floating around on the Web:

Mona Eltahawy, a commentator on Arab and Muslim issues, writes in the Washington Post about the Arab world's deafening silence on Iran's unrest – a silence she says is mostly driven by concern that the political game in the region is changing:

That silence is the sound of hearts breaking over the dream of political Islam. When the 1979 revolution swept away the U.S.-backed shah and his injustices, Iran held out the tantalizing mirage of rule by Islam, even for countries that were not majority Shiite. Thirty years later, Iranians are protesting not a secular, U.S.-backed dictator but a system run by clerics who claim to uphold democracy as long as its candidates are given the regime's stamp of approval.

The Washington Times' Eli Lake writes that the largely quiet Tehran streets today may signal a shift in opposition strategy, rather than its defeat.

And Time Magazine's Robin Wright examines the role of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an "enigmatic cleric who is little understood at home, let alone by the outside world."

Updated 2:06 p.m. Eastern: Neda Mourners Reportedly Turned Away

Thursday continues to be the quietest day in the nearly two weeks of election unrest in Tehran as Wednesday's reportedly bloody crackdown (and Iran's university exam day) has kept people from gathering.

The Guardian did mention a report from Twitter sources that mourners attempting to visit the grave of Neda Aghan-Soltan were turned away by Iranian security forces

Updated 1:06 p.m. Eastern: France Joins Ranks Of Western Meddlers

Courtesy of BBC's Persian service, Iran is adding France to the list of countries fomenting unrest.

"Iran's ambassador to Paris has advised French officials to dedicate their time and efforts to managing their country's economic and political problems instead of interfering in matters that do not concern them," said a statement issued by the Iranian embassy.

Iranian envoy Seyyed Mehdi Mirabutalebj met Tuesday with the director for North Africa and the Middle East at the French Foreign Office, the report states.

"By recounting the ruthless crackdown on public protests against the outcome of the 2007 French presidential elections... [Mirabutalebj] stressed that neither France nor any other country is in a position to judge Iran's elections," said the statement.

Iran's criticism of Western nations, epecially the U.S. and Britain, has become a familiar theme as the regime's crackdown on protests intensified this week.

The statement urged France not to emulate "certain interfering and notorious states and by doing this earn a bad reputation in Iran and the Middle East".

Updated 12:32 p.m. Eastern: Complete Mousavi Statements

Here are Mir Hossein Mousavi's most recent statements on his Web site, Kalemeh, in completion.

He expressed criticism of shutting down Kalameh Sabz newspaper:

"Despite repeated threats and creating obstacles, which literally stopped the publication of Kalameh Sabz newspaper after the presidential election, they [unknown] did not were not satisfied and at the night of Monday 01.04.88 [June 22, 2009], the office was attacked by security forces and its staff were arrested and sent to jail.

"While officials of the country continuously insist on the implementation of the law and while those who complain against the wide-scale vote-rigging are accused of breaking the law, such actions against a newspaper that holds legal permits, its officials, editors, reporters, technicians and administrators, are not understandable unless we accept that lawfulness can go only far enough to restrict the complaints of protesters and nothing else."

He later criticized the state's media manipulation:

"Over the past few days, the Voice and Vision Organization [state TV and radio], state news agencies, some governmental dailies, government-affiliated internet websites and Keyhan newspaper, have allocated a large part of their space to showing the events that took place during and after the election the wrong way round. They are using the facilities that belong to you not just to cover up the violations and disturbing incidents of the recent days but to portray those who helped you restore your rights as directly or indirectly responsible for those events.

"The reality they are trying to ignore, in vain, is that a big fraud has taken place in this election and after that those who protest were attacked in an inhuman manner and were killed or injured or arrested. Had those who were involved in the dormitory incident of 18 Tir 1378 [June 9, 1999 when a week of riots took place following the killing of a student] been appropriately and legally punished, we would have not witnessed the same crimes in larger scales and the realities being shown the wrong way.

"I am not only prepared to respond to all these allegations, but am ready to show how election fraudsters joined those who are truly behind the recent riots and shed the blood of people, and are yet trying to show the scenes, which were witnessed by hundreds of people and footages, the wrong way round . However, I am not prepared to give up under the pressure of threats or personal interest ."

He closed his statement urging followers to stay calm and avoid the traps of "ill-wishers who try to brand popular social movements as riots linked to foreigners."

Updated 12:13 p.m. Eastern: State Media: Unrest? What Unrest?

Iran's been severely cracking down on independent media for about a week now, so much of what little news there is coming out the country passes through the state's media filter.

Judging by some of the images released today, here's what Iran's government wants people to know: University entrance exams are going on; the women's soccer team is practicing hard; and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still president.

Photos courtesy of the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency:

(AP Photo/ISNA, Mona Hoobehfekr)

(AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamushi)

(AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamushi)

Updated 11:27 a.m. Eastern: Mousavi Appears Undeterred

The Guardian reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi released an even more defiant statement criticizing the Iran regime's crackdown on opposition protests.

Here are some quotes:

"I am ready to show how the electoral wrong-doers, standing beside the main agitators that have caused the present disturbances, have spilled people's blood. I would not, for the sake of personal expediency and fear in the face of threats, withdraw for one moment my demands for the return of the rights of the Iranian people, whose blood is being unjustly spilled today."

"(The people's) problem is with millions of votes whose fate is unknown."

"It is a must for us to neutralize this evil conspiracy through our behavior and expressions."

Updated 10:13 a.m. Eastern: Momentum Gone For Iran's Opposition?

Despite vows by reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi not to drop his election challenge (Read story here) the protests that have gripped Tehran for almost two weeks appear to be losing steam.

Another opposition leader, Mahdi Karroubi, has called off a march Thursday to mourn the protesters killed during demonstrations, according to his Web site. The government hadn't given organizers any permits for the event, so it's been postponed for at least a week.

And as earlier noted, Iranian state TV reported that Mousavi and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key Iranian cleric with reported opposition sympathies, met with a parliamentary committee to negotiate ways to end the unrest.

But there are still some voices speaking out in opposition to Iran's crackdown.

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a senior cleric, wrote that if peaceful protests weren't allowed, it ""could destroy the foundation of any government."

Montazeri was the heir apparent to Iran's first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but fell out of favor after questioning the authority of Iran's religious leadership, according to an Associated Press report.

Updated 5:00 a.m. Eastern: Mousavi, Rafsanjani Reportedly In Talks To End Unrest

Iran's state-run English language news channel reports that lead opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and his high-ranking ally in the Islamic clergy, Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, have met with members of the parliament and promised to help end the post-election unrest in the country.

Below is a direct excerpt from Press TV's Web site:

Head of Iran's Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, will support efforts to end the post-election tension in the country, an Iranian lawmaker says.

Ala'eddin Borujerdi, head of Iran's Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, told Fars news agency that the committee's governing board has held a meeting with Rafsanjani and Mirhoseyn Musavi, President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad's main rival in the elections, on Wednesday [24 June].

Borujerdi termed the parliamentary delegation's talks with Rafsanjani as "constructive".

"The lawmakers asked Ayatollah Hashemi-Rafsanjani to help solve the problems and he vowed support and we hope that we would witness practical measures to be taken to end the current situation soon," he added


Updated 4:50 a.m. Eastern: Ahmadinejad Wants Obama To Apologize

Iran's state-controlled Fars news agency is reporting that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has advised President Obama that he should "express regret" over alleged U.S. interference in Iran's election.

Iran's hard-line ruling regime has repeatedly sought to cast the post-election violence as the fault of meddling governments in Washington and London, and Western media.

President Obama has repeatedly denied any U.S. interference in Iranian politics.

Updated 4:40 a.m. Eastern: 70 Professors Reportedly Detained

The Web site of lead opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi claims 70 Iranian university professors were detained Wednesday night after meeting with him. The site did not say whether the professors had officially been placed under arrest, or where they might have been taken. (Read the full story here.)