Mauritania’s World Bank Bubble

Don't mention the workers from Mali
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Shameful waste! “Consultancy Project to recruit a Technical Assistant” the grand sum of $250,000 was apparently awarded in 2003 to a contractor, GEOIDD in Tunisia, for this basic recruitment service. But then follow the link from that page, and the project name is listed as Rajasthan, India. Are they just insanely sloppy or cooking the books?

Now it's Mauritania

Now it’s Mauritania

and now it's Rajasthan

and now it’s Rajasthan

Here is another – a “study” worth $246,000 awarded to a company “TANSITEC” in Switzerland, which also links to Rajasthan, not Mauritania.

Almost half a million dollars on two items, and what is there to show for it?

Even a cursory examination of the “consultancy” and “study” and “audit” costs, over the life of this 11 year development programme, will show money being squandered on costly but nonsensical projects like the ones above, with little or no immediately apparent or tangible benefits. This programme began before General Aziz staged his military coup in 2008, continuing after he came to power, and it indicates widespread mismanagement and/or corruption on an international scale.

Just one example of a questionable Mauritanian infrastructure and development project was for urban development in Atar, where Mauritanian company Macoba TP (part of the AZIZI group) and Spanish construction company Franjuan were appointed to work with local contractors. Seven local firms were reportedly involved, and they engaged 100 labourers - including some from Mali – to install 46,600 square meters of paving covering 4km of drainage pipes and gutters. The news item posted 7 October 2011 about this project on cridem.org has “vanished” (still visible via the Internet Archive here). Mention of labour from Mali is a big clue for the story disappearing – this project was supposed to create work for Mauritanians, not Malians.

Don't mention the workers from Mali

Don’t mention the workers from Mali

Also missing is the World Bank website page about the contract which went to Macoba-Franjuan (still visible on a Chinese site that published a copy, here). The decision to remove evidence of this project may indicate that World Bank prefers not to have anyone look too closely at the bid and tender process for standards compliance. We can be sure that China would be more than interested, since they bid on many construction projects in Mauritania.

Some of the images from the October news item are missing but you can see some photos on the Adrar info site here, from January 2012, when the mayor was chuffed with himself about how well the project was going, and here in August the same year, when several snags and unfinished areas were highlighted.

This paving project was part of a larger, long-term, Urban Development Programme with a total budget of almost US$100  million funded by various international organizations via the World Bank . The project closed 30 June 2012, and the details page and reports are available here in English. The stats, such as exist, are baffling. Atar is the regional capital of the state of Adrar and boasts a population of more than 24,000, who celebrated completion of the drainage project on 28 June 2012. This begs the question why there is such a small increase reported (8,305 – from 17,000 in 2011 to 25,305 in 2012) in the number of people, in all urban capitals across the country, provided with improved drainage services.

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

My current theory is this: they don’t care about the numbers, or where the money seems to be going, or even whether some of the projects are imaginary, because the purpose of the entire shambolic scam is to line the pockets of corrupt officials whose companies, and those of their cronies, profit from contracts to undertake the various “improvements”. This buys the required mix of compliance and silence so that, once real estate prices have been boosted by roads, drainage, etc, even more financial shenanigans can take place, as the already wealthy endlessly shuffle their ill-gotten gains around.

I further assume this is the reason for evicting tens of thousands of the poorest people in Mauritania from their hovels. In a recent example, dozens of families in Leimghetty [ar] have been left homeless for over a month after the national guard sent in bulldozers to destroy their huts – over their heads in some cases. All this happened even as the government was issuing advice to citizens to “stay indoors” during the hottest parts of the day, as temperatures soared to 50 degrees Celsius. The homeless families have been completely ignored by officials from the interior ministry, who are under orders to clear the land and to hell with the people, even the most vulnerable such as the elderly, infirm, and mothers with babies, who are slowly being grilled into oblivion under the scorching sun. Don’t think for one moment that the World Bank is not aware of this. They are aware and they do not care. In fact, they want these slums demolished, and they note that :

“The amount paid by low-income people to have access to land property rights is very low as compared to the existing land market value. Depending on local conditions, additional arrangements needs to be put in place to ensure that only targeted people are benefitting from such programs, and will keep this benefit.”

No doubt they are looking forward to a property price boom.

News from Iran – Week 43 – 2012

busr
Standard

Prisoners’ News

Transfers

Mousavi’s 2009 campaign coordinator, Mir Taher Mousavi, who was arrested 3 months ago, has been taken to hospital.

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was taken to hospital in dire condition but not admitted and returned to Evin.

Jailed lawyer Mohammad Seif Zadeh transferred from Evin prison to the hospital.

On hunger strike Human Rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh was transferred to prison infirmary.

 

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

Idris Seidin Boroujerni, student activist, enters Evin 350 to serve his one year sentence.

Journalist Abdolnaser Mahimani has been released on furlough.

19 year old Baha’i Tina Mohabati was arrested by Intelligence agents at a bus station in Gorgan. Her mother Shiva Rohani was arrested last week.

Farzin and Ramin Shahriari, Baha’i residents of Eslamshahr, in Tehran province, were arrested and taken to Evin.

Leila Tavasoli reported to Evin to start serving her 2 years sentence and was reportedly released after 2 hours.

 

C-Liberations

Activist Mehdi Fakhrzadeh, labour activist Behnam Keyvani , and Green Movement blogger Siamak Namayeshi released on bail.

D-Other News

Ahmad Ghabel, religious scholar, political dissident and whistle-blower on the mass executions at Mashhad prison has passed away.

Baloch security prisoner Hamzeh Rigi in solitary last 30 months is on 25th day of hunger strike.


News of injustice in Iran

Baha’i Akbar Pourhosseini sentenced to 28 months in prison.

3 executions in Sistan Baluchistan on Sunday.

10 executions in Evin on Monday.

3 executions in Ghazvine on Tuesday.

A man convicted of adultery was lashed 99 times in public in Ghaemshahr.


University – Culture

Film, director Jafar Panahi and jailed lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh were jointly awarded the European Union’s Sakharov prize for outstanding contribution to human rights and freedom of expression


Protests

Traffic protest and defiant dancing in the streets in Tabriz after Tractor game despite heavy security presence.

1,000 workers from Iran Entekhab group staged a demonstration at the South Korean embassy in Tehran after Daewoo deal sours.


Iran Economics

Iran’s inflation rate rises to 24% in Shahrivar (August 22-September 21).


Politics in Iran

Ahmadinejad’s request to visit Evin Prison is rejected for a second time by the judiciary.

Inflation reports are confidential; head of Iran’s Statistics Center said.


Iran  abroad

FM Salehi due to visit Lebanon on Saturday for a few-hour visit.

German parliamentary team to visit Iran.

Saudi coastguard ‘capture 15 Iranians.


Miscellaneous

28 students killed in bus accident.

Jet fighter accompanying Khamenei allegedly crashed.

7 earthquakes measuring from 2.0 to 3.6 have jolted Varzeghan, Ahar and Haris.

A storm that struck Bushehr killed one and injured three.

3 killed in explosion in Karaj.

 

#Mauritania: Sex, Lies and Videotape

February 25 Movement
Standard

Let’s break with tradition and do the sex part first. Yes, it has been suggested that there is a sex angle to the accidental shooting story of president Aziz in Mauritania! This is a quandary, as everyone is adamant that they do want the truth, but at the same time, no one wants it to be some sordid and sleazy tale of the president having an illicit relationship that went horribly wrong, and got him shot or injured or whatever. And yet, in the absence of any reasonable, logical and reliable alternative explanation, more people are gravitating towards this very unofficial yet somehow more credible version of events. I have to say right here: I have no way of knowing if the president was even attacked, let alone shot. All I know for certain is that something happened to him, and I have nothing to rely on apart from outright lies and half-truths peddled by the corrupt regime, or the meandering fantasies of observers (myself included!) whether inside or outside Mauritania.

In trying to keep an open mind I have to allow for two possibilities: that what happened to Aziz might have been staged, or might have been an accident. For me, only his prompt return will confirm the latter. Despite my efforts, I find myself increasingly convinced France and Mauritania are playing a dirty game, one designed to promote the prospect of a military misadventure in Mali. I could not for one moment believe that they are the only countries involved in such a farce.

Aziz’ post-surgery TV appearance last week reveals a gauze dressing on the left side of his lower neck

We have the president of Mauritania holed up in the Percy military hospital in Paris for additional care of an unspecified nature, despite being told his injuries in the October 13th incident were minor, and that the surgery performed in Nouakchott military hospital was a success. Close inspection of the footage of president Aziz’ post-surgery TV appearance last week reveals a gauze dressing on the left side of his lower neck, despite having the sheets pulled up to conceal it. Whatever happened in that area, it is unlikely to be related to the bullet which reportedly damaged in his colon and required a delicate 4-hour surgery.

Visible scarring on Aziz’ neck

Four days after the incident, when the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, paid a “social call” on Aziz, there was a small patch of scarred skin visible on Aziz’ neck, just visible above his over-sized pyjamas. It is difficult to tell what; it could just as easily be  a bullet wound or a burn. This is the time to note that the Percy hospital specialises in the treatment of burn injuries. The photos of Aziz and Le Drian were posted on the official ami.mr news site [ar] in Mauritania later on Wednesday, but not on the French Ministry of Defence website. The visit was largely ignored by the French and international media, despite Le Drian having just been widely quoted the day before  promising military action in Mali in “weeks, not months“. There was no press release, and the visit was not mentioned in the minister’s official engagements diary. A request for comment from the Ministry’s press office had not received a response at the time of writing this post.

Then there is the mystery of Ba Mamadou dit Mbaré, the only constitutionally legal replacement in case of the Mauritanian president’s incapacity, as President of the Senate. It was only discovered after Aziz left for Paris that Mr dit Mbaré was already on sick leave there himself. No mention had been made of this in any official media, and he was being reported on as normal, attending to his duties, until a few weeks ago. There has been no statement even now the news is out, and no comment on the nature or likely duration of his medical condition. This is being played as a non-issue, with officials asserting that Aziz is well enough to perform his duties while undergoing treatment. And so, for a week now, the country has been governed by an absent president, sundry unelected government representatives, and his Chief of Defence. The regular Thursday cabinet meeting was cancelled – this is important: because Aziz is the only validly elected official in the entire government, he has to sign off on everything, and every cabinet meeting has to be an “emergency meeting” convened by the president.

Now we are told that the French embassy is denying the President of the National Assembly, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, a travel visa to Paris. But this is not quite accurate. What is really happening is Ould Boulkheir allegedly objecting to being asked to attend the consular office to give his fingerprints in order to create his visa. Ould Boulkheir holds one of three posts named in the constitution as having the power to declare Aziz unfit to serve, and through this manufactured stalemate, he is effectively prevented from going to Paris to assess the president’s true condition and raising the alarm if required. The other two are the Prime Minister (Laghdaf, a lapdog) and the head of the Supreme Court (the incumbent was recently replaced before the end of his official tenure by Aziz).

While this play unfolds, the external PR and media offensive is being ramped up: trying to tie the “shooting” to terrorists; claiming Mauritania is “seriously concerned” about the terrorist threat; re-hashing of any old news story mentioning AQIM and Mauritania. Over to the East, it would seem we are witnessing a replay of events, uncannily similar to those which preceded the NATO force’s arrival in Libya last year, in which someone busted jihadist contractors out of prison presumably to boost the rebel forces in northern Mali and for all we know, financed by a bank robbery in Yemen. This contrasts with almost total silence about conciliatory gestures being made through negotiations between various groups, and last weekend’s regional Tuareg conference in Lere, Nigeria. We should be on the lookout for increased reports of hostile actions: violence, beatings, rapes, robberies, etc, followed by more in-fighting and divisions. We should also pay attention to a developing story [fr] from Mali, of northerners who originally fled returning home despite the imposition of Sharia by the Islamists, and finding free though erratic power and water supplies, reduced food prices, and paid work. Poverty and misery in the south is said to be providing the impetus for the reversal. Word of this will spread to the refugee camps and, as winter sets in, repatriation could become an increasing trend. No wonder one of the NLP-type catchphrases in the media for the Sahel is “a race against time”. [See here, here, here and here]

The mistaken marksman of Mauritania, Elhaj Ould Hamoudi

Internally, the website Sahel Media was mysteriously unavailable to users in Mauritania of the Mauritel phone service (51% owned by CMC Morocco Telecom) for almost an entire day. Access was lost almost immediately after Sahel Media published a story [ar] about French Islamists* breaching the Western Sahara barrier built by Morocco, near the border with Mauritania, through which is being smuggled cocaine from Colombia. Sites carrying articles quoting AQIM supposedly threatening France remained freely accessible.

Sunday night, Mauritanian national TV produced the poor sap who has been named and shamed as “the shooter” – a rookie lieutenant from Kiffa whom we are told “is normally based in the north”. He was shown on TV [vid, ar] at prime time, to reinforce the official story about mistakenly firing on Aziz as  the president sped past him, in an unmarked car, at top speed. Even after a whole week to prepare and rehearse, there were inaccuracies in the retelling between this on-air confession, and the original official statement [NYT En], and even the words of the president himself [CSM En].

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera managed to do a 2-part interview [vid, ar] with Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, aka Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, the former Al-Qaeda number 3. The interview took place inside Mauritania, where one might expect he would be under strict orders not to talk to the media about his former role with Al Qaeda, as a condition of his recent release from custody. This would appear not to be the case, but even if there are objections, Aziz has his “I was in Paris” alibi. I am actually hoping that both the US government and the jihadists in Mali take notice of Abu Hafs, because he talks a lot of sense.

As for the Mauritanian political opposition, they collapsed like a gurney before the bullet hit the kidney-dish, and declared they would suspend all planned protests out of respect for their opponent’s debilitated state. At this point, please note that every previously elected member of government – ruling party as well as opposition – has collected a year’s salary gratis out of the state coffers, while the poverty-stricken population waits to hear yet another excuse for why there is still no date for either of the postponed elections. The opposition did not stand idle however: they called for an investigation and convened a standing committee to try and determine the true events of  October 13, and have called a press conference for Monday 22 October. One of them, Mohammed Ould Moloud, kept busy with a series of meeting with officials from various EU countries.

February 25 Movement – nothing left in Mauritania but questions

The only breath of fresh air in this whole stinking scenario once again comes from the activist movement of 25 February [ar], who formed a human chain along the main street of Nouakchott last Thursday, each one of them silently holding up a poster which totally captures the mood of the country at this time: a large, solitary “?”.

Some of the members of “m25fev”, as they are known, will be interviewed on Chinguetti TV tonight or tomorrow, if all goes to plan.  The best part of the silent protest was that the police didn’t attack or arrest the demonstrators. The next day the police rediscovered their calling, and attacked and arrested the peaceful pro-morality protesters. People have to remind themselves every time this happens (and it happens too often) that Mauritania is an Islamic Republic.

*For more on France as a breeding ground for Islamists, see Marc Sageman’s 2004 article “Understanding Terror Networks”. Or Google.

News from Iran – Week 42 – 2012

bahai-hra-news
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Prisoners’ News

A- Transfers

Following announcement of hunger strike, imprisoned retired teacher Mohammad-Amin Agoshi moved to solitary cell.

Ali Moezzi was transferred to Ward 240 of Evin prison for solitary confinement.

After 18 months in solitary, political prisoner Farid Soroori moved to Hall 12 of Rajai Shahr prison.

Labor activist Shahrokh Zamani was taken out of Tabriz prison handcuffed and shackled, he was moved to Dezful Prison then to Rajaei Shahr .

 

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

Vahid Alighalipour, leftist student, goes to Evin to serve his 1 year sentence.

Camelia Bidelian, Baha’i from Minoodasht, arrested with husband during raid against their home.

Roxana Foroughi, Bizhan Haghighi, Shahin Lahooti, Eskandar Rezaei, Mohammad Roghangir (Vahid), Soroosh Saraei, Christians from Shiraz, arrested and sent to Intelligence detention.

Political prisoner Mashaalah Haeri’s daughter Negar Haeri has been arrested for following up on her dad’s case.

Shahnam Jazbani and wife Shohreh Samimi, Baha’is from Minoodasht, arrested during raid against their home.

Mahmoud Maghari, eminent Bazaar activist, arrested.

Behnam Hosseini, Houshmand and Maryam Dehghan, Hana Aghighian, Farahmand and Pooneh Sanaei, Farhad Fahandezh, Kamal Kashani, Mitra Nouri, Soudabeh Mehdinezhad, Navid Moalemi, Parivash Shojaei (Fanaian), Farahnaz Tabianian, Sheyda Ghodousi, Nazi Taghighi (Khalkhi), Shiva Rouhani (Mohiti),arrested during raids on their homes.

Former Allameh University student activist Nasim Soltanbeigi reported to Evin to start serving 3 years sentence.

C-Liberations

Labour activist Alireza Asgari released on bail on medical grounds.

Adeleh Cheraghi wife of labor activist Alireza Asgari was released on bail.

Release of Vahid Zardy, Christian Artist, from Mashhad prison.

D-Other News

Imprisoned teacher Mohammad-Amin Agooshi started a hunger strike; his son had sold a kidney to be able to visit his father.

Mohammad Nazari ended his hunger strike.

Detained Green leader Moussavi and wife Rahnavard were allowed a 3 hour family visit at their home.

Incarcerated blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki’s family threatened by Tabriz Intelligence.

Security forces attack Isa Saharkhiz visitors in hospital.

Jailed Human Rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh has launched a hunger strike protesting violations of her legal rights.

After 10 days, political prisoner and cancer patient, Farah Vazehan, ends her hunger strike.

Imprisoned former member of Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat student organisation, and a member of the Pan Iranist Party, Shahin Zeinali denied family visits.

Women political prisoners in Evin staged a sit-in protest protesting violations of their legal rights.


News of injustice in Iran

Baha’i Anisa Fana’ayan sentenced to 22 months in prison.

Hassan Ghanbari, Azari activist, sentenced to2 years suspended for 5 years.

Civil rights activist Masoud Hosseinzadeh court proceedings held without a lawyer present.

Alireza Khanlari, Baha’i, sentenced to 6 months in prison.

Reza Malek, former Intelligence Ministry agent serving 12-year prison term got extra 2 years for insulting leader.

Hamid Monafi Nazarlou, Azari activist, sentenced to2 years suspended for 5 years.

85 years old Baha’i Mohammad Hossein Nakhei sentenced to 3 years in prison in Birjand.

Appellate court has sentenced Trade union activist Pedram Nasrollahi to 19 months in prison.

Former Tehran mayor and senior member of Iran Freedom Movement Mohammad Tavasoli has been sentenced to 11 years + 5 years ban on political activities and journalism.

5 executions on Sunday

2 executions in Shahroud on Thursday.


University – Culture

Head of IRIB, Ezzatollah Zargham summoned by court.

Zaber Haldian, a religion and Arabic teacher with 23 years’ experience, banned from teaching because he is a Sunni Kurd.

Rauf Hosseini, a religion and Arabic teacher with 18 years’ experience, banned from teaching because he is a Sunni Kurd.

Edris Ranjbar, an elementary school consultant with 12 years’ experience, banned from teaching because he is a Sunni Kurd.

Atollah Salimi, a science teacher with 23 years’ experience, banned from teaching because he is a Sunni Kurd.


Protests

Metal workers protest in front of Minister of work.

Tabriz Dizel strike enters its twentieth day.


Iran Economics

1,000 workers fired from tire factory in Mashhad in one year.

$ 1 = 3290 tomans 1EUR = 6280 tomans on Saturday. $ 1 = 3550 tomans on Monday, 3700 toman on Tuesday, 4000 toman on Wednesday

About 3.8 million Iranians are suffering from hunger.

30% increase in American exports to Iran in the first eight months of 2012.

Over the past several days USD 5 billion of counterfeit money has been put into circulation in the Iranian market.

18,000 retirees unpaid.

Two textile plants were closed in Yazd Province, resulting in the layoff of at least 50 workers.

Brickwork company in Varamin reduces output due to high energy costs resulting in 2,500 unemployed workers.


Iran abroad

34 Iranian companies or institutions will be added to a list of more than 400 facing EU asset freezes.

Yemen seizes Iranian arms.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with the Emir of Qatar.

A 15-member European Parliament delegation to visit Iran on Oct. 27.

Iran recalls vice-consul in Frankfurt, Germany over sexual abuse of a young girl

Iran flights deferred by Gulf Air.


Miscellaneous

Two months after the earthquake and winter approaching people still living in tents.

MP Mehdi Chamran stated that Azerbaijani earthquake damage estimated at 900 billion toman.

Sanctions: In 5 months, list of medicines no longer found in Iran changed from 30 to 90.

Deadly flood in Behshahr, Mazandaran province has claimed 12 lives so far.

Suicide bomber kills one in southern Iran mosque attack.

Another explosion at Iran-Turkey pipeline halts gas supply.

 

News from Iran – Week 40 – 2012

Mohammad Ali Dadkah
Standard
Prisoners’ News

A- Transfers

  • Political prisoner Fayzollah Arabsorkhi has launched a hunger strike protesting denied medical care; he stopped when transferred to hospital.
  • Imprisoned Journalist Mohammad Reza Pourshajari (Siamak Mehr) taken to hospital after heart attack.
  • Keyvan Rahimian transferred from Evin to Rejaei Shahr prison.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, prominent Human Rights lawyer, has gone to Evin to serve a 9 year prison sentence.
  • Children’s books translator Nazanin Daihimi reported to Evin to start serving her 8 months sentence.
  • Nava and Nika Khalousi, Baha’i, arrested during a raid against their home in Mashhad.
  • Mahsa Mahdavi, Baha’i, arrested during a raid against her home in Mashhad.
  • Mehdi Emami-Naseri, editor in chief of Maghreb newspaper arrested.
  • Two people arrested for publishing music on Internet.
  • On the pretext of ridding the Salmas in West Azerbaijan of thugs, security arrested 15 people – no charges known.

C-Liberations

  • Behrooz Alavi activist arrested at the earthquake site has been released.
  • Mohammad Azadi released from Evin.
  • Hamid-Reza Moseibian activist arrested at the earthquake site has been released.
  • Mehdi Rahmanian, editor in chief of Shargh newspaper, was released on 50 million toman bail.
  • Baha’i citizen Shahnaz Ranjbar summoned twice by Intelligence Bureau, arrested.
  • Esmail Salmanpour activist arrested at the earthquake site has been released.
  • Hooman Taheri activist arrested at the earthquake site has been released.

D-Other News

  • Saeed Malekpour, jailed web programmer who is sentenced to death, ‘expressed remorse and repented’.
  • Political prisoner Fardin Moradpour started a dry hunger strike to protest being severely beaten.

News of injustice in Iran

  • Shahab Abbasi, Arab activist, arrested in 2008 was sentenced to execution.
  • Hadi Albokhanfarnezhad, Arab activist, arrested in 2008 was sentenced to 3 years in exile in Ardebil.
  • Taher Eskandarian sentenced by Appeals to 3 years in prison.
  • Student activist Mohammad Haji Babaei sentenced to 5 months in prison.
  • Supreme Court has upheld the death sentences of Ebrahim Isapour on Moharebeh charges.
  • Sami Jadmavinezhad, Arab activist, arrested in 2008 was sentenced to 3 years in exile in Ardebil.
  • Abdolreza-Amir Khanafereh, Arab activist, arrested in 2008 was sentenced to execution.
  • Jasem Moghadam, Arab activist, arrested in 2008 was sentenced to 3 years in exile in Ardebil.
  • Abdolamir Mojdami, Arab activist, arrested in 2008 was sentenced to execution.
  • Supreme Court has upheld the death sentences of Sirvan Nezhavi on Moharebeh charges.
  • Civil rights activist Hamid Reza Ranjbar sentenced to 3 years in prison and 74 lashes.
  • Afrasiab Sobhani sentenced by Appeals to 1 year in prison.
  • Pouya Tabianian sentenced by Appeals to 6.5 years.
  • Hand amputation for the person convicted of theft to be carried out in public.
  • Three Afghan nationals hanged in Tabas on Monday.
  • Two hangings in Naghadeh on Tuesday.
  • One Afghan national hanged in Evin on Tuesday.
  • Two men charged with theft publicly lashed in Masjed Soleiman; one received 50 lashes the other 70.

University – Culture

  • San Sebastian Film Festival lauds works of Touraj Aslani, Majid Barzegar.
  • Iran lifts block on Gmail.
  • More than 50 female students of Shahrekord Uni expelled from dormitory for dress code violations
  • 9 Internet cafes have been closed in North Khorasan since the start of year.
  • Iranian websites that give current currency rates filtered.
  • Banned from filmmaking,yet Jafar Panahi has made another movie, says Abbas Kiarostami.
  • Iran student magazine “Arman” at Tehran Azad University banned; equipment confiscated.

Protests

  • Tehran bazar closed; bazari hold gathering to protest rising prices/dollar exchange rate; anti-riot police reported they arrested around 150 people, including 2 Europeans.
  • Iran Security forces clashed with people gathered at Ferdowsi Bazar in Mashhad.
  • A second petition by workers with 20,000 names protests government’s indifference to first petition.

Iran Economics

  • 200 workers laid off at Electric Khodro Shargh Company (EKS)
  • $1 = 2770 tomans on Saturday, 3050 on Sunday, 3500 on Monday, 4000 on Tuesday
  • Tehran Metro partly lying idle because of subsidy cuts.
  • The Pouya auto parts factory that laid off 1,300 workers in February has now completely shut down.
  • Tehran Bazaar partly closed on Monday because of currency crisis.
  • Trade in gold coins and US dollar in Tehran Bazaar ‘stopped’ on Tuesday.
  • Damash mineral water plant shut down.
  • Isfahan’s goldsmiths’ Bazaar half closed because of currency crisis.
  • Tehran’s bazaar remained closed on Thursday.

Iran  abroad

  • Ahmadinejad’s former-Basiji cameraman defects in New York; Debka File claims he was recruited last year, and brought secret nuclear site videos with him
  • Tehran transfers $10 billion to aid Assad war effort, and Ahmadinejad awards Iran’s highest national medal to Assad.
  • German investigators uncover more illegal exports.
  • First Vice President, Mohammad Reza Rahimi visits Turkey to discuss economic cooperation.
  • Three kidnapped Iranian nationals freed in Syria after four months.
  • Six Iranian pilgrims killed in Karbala.

Politics in Iran

  • French embassy in Tehran ‘under attack’.
  • Iran’s parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani cancels press conference.

Miscellaneous

  • More than 8,000 stray dogs have been killed in Mashhad this year.