Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Iran Live Coverage: Seizing the Children of the Detained Opposition Leaders

0815 GMT: Trade Watch. The opposition site Kalemeh reports that the export of automobile parts has fallen by 96%, with a total of less than $2 million between March and January.

0745 GMT: Election Watch. Bahar daily has given a boost today to President Ahmadinejad's right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, a possible candidate in the June Presidential election. The newspaper hailed his public appearance, "He came out like the sun."

0705 GMT: Economy Watch. Journalist Azadeh Moaveni passes on an example of the economic difficulties for Iranians, with the Toman near its all-time low of 4000:1 vs. the US dollar:

0659 GMT: The House Arrests. United Nations human rights officials have called on Iran to release hundreds of political prisoners and lift the house arrests of opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Zahra Rahnavard.

Ahmad Shaheed, the UN's Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, noted that as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Iranian Government is “obliged to protect the civil liberties of all its citizens", including the rights to be protected against arbitrary detention, to be informed of any charges against them, to be given access to legal counsel, and to face an independent and impartial tribunal.

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, reminded the Iranian authorities of their international obligations guaranteeing the rights to free expression, free association, and peaceful assembly:

Such rights are essential components of democracy and are all the more relevant in the context of Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, to be held next June.

It is of the utmost importance that members of civil society, including the media and human rights defenders, as well as political activists, be given greater space to avail themselves of these rights.

0654 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The US Government has announced sanctions on a Chinese businessman and several companies for selling banned items to Iran.

The Government notice said Li Fangwei,named on three occasions since 2006 for supplying material and support to Iran's missile development, and Dalian Sunny Industries "have engaged in missile technology proliferation activities that require the imposition of missile sanctions".

A separate sanction notice listed Li, Dalian Sunny, and three other Chinese firms, including Poly Technologies Incorporated, for violations of the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

The other two Chinese firms, BST Technology and Trade Company and China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC), were on a list that also included companies from Belarus, Iran, Sudan, Syria and Venezuela.

0640 GMT: The Detained Opposition Leaders. After eight days of high-profile political tension, the regime finally put the spotlight elsewhere on Monday, seizing the children of detained opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi.

Security forces raided the homes of the two daughters of Mousavi and Rahnavard, searching the premises for three hours and taking the women to Evin  Prison for interrogation. News later emerged that Mohammad Hossein Karroubi, the eldest son of Karroubi, was detained and questioned for nine hours.

All three were released, but the point had been made. The two-year anniversary of the strict house arrest of the opposition leaders is this week. Far from considering their release, as has been suggested by some conservative politicians, the regime had put out another message: "We can pressure not only you but your families as long as we want, and if you do not 'repent' for your crimes, that is what will happen."

Mousavi, a former Prime Minister, was the main challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 Presidential election, in which Karroubi was also a candidate. Mousavi's wife Rahnavard is a prominent activist and academic.

Mousavi and Rahnavard's daughters had publicly expressed concern that they have been blocked for months from seeing their parents and that there was inadequate health care for the detainees.

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

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