Paris, 5 July (IPS) For the first time, Iranian authorities acknowledged the existence of new type of revolutions, colourful and non violent, as the “orange” or “velvet” revolutions that occurred in Kiev or Bishkek.
In his first public interview with Iranian news agencies, Intelligence Minister Hojjatoleslam Qolamhoseyn Mohseni Ezhe’i revealed that university professor Ramin Jahanbaglou was arrested “on suspicion of assisting the U.S. in its efforts to provoke a velvet revolution in Iran”.
“However, the Intelligence Ministry has yet to complete its investigations on him”, he added, according to the semi-official “Mehr” news agency affiliated to the Supreme Council on National Security.
This is the first time that Iranian authorities introduce the expression of coloured revolutions into the official jargon
An internationally acclaimed scholar, researcher and philosopher, Mr. Jahanbaglou had been detained on 27 April at the Tehran airport, on his arrival from India where he had met Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
Since then, he is held without access to a lawyer and some of his colleagues and friends have expressed concern that he could be under pressure to make forced confessions, a method used by the clerical led authorities in the past to discredit critics.
"Iran's Islamic regime is continuing its political repression and human rights violations like before", Mr. Akbar Ganji, an investigative journalist and human rights activist said in Berlin.
"One of the tools for political repression is arbitrary and illegal arrests. They arrest people because of their opinions and because of dissent", added Mr. Ganji, who spent six years behind bars for exposing the participation of the regime’s highest officials in the assassination of Iranian political and intellectual dissidents.
In London on Tuesday, Mr. Ganji, who is on a European tour that started from Moscow, where he received the Golden Pen Award of the World Congress of Journalists, noted that many human rights activists and intellectuals have called for the release of Jahanbeglou, Ali Akbar Moussavi Kho’eini, a former reformist lawmaker and Mansour Osanlou, the Tehran Bus drivers Union leader.
He warned the Iranian authorities to release “immediately and without condition” the three men or he would call an international hunger strike.
“Since the Iranian Government have not paid attention to these calls, a general hunger strike seems to be the only way to press for their release”, he warned.
In recent weeks several separate statements have been issued by activists and intellectuals in protest of the detentions of the three men.
In the case of Jahanbeglou, personalities such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Literature Prize winner J.M. Coetzee, acclaimed Italian writer Umberto Eco, and prominent historian and author Timothy Garton Ash have joined the call for his release.
There is also growing concern about Mr. Moussavi Khoeini, who was arrested in Tehran during a June 12 women's rights gathering.
Seventy men and women were arrested for attending the protest against legal gender discrimination. All have been freed except for Mr. Moussavi Khoeini.
"This is a matter of concern because it is possible that they will bring new charges against him such as espionage or toppling the regime", Mrs Fatemeh Haqiqat Jou, also a reformist lawmaker, told the Prague-based Radio Free Europe- Radio Liberty.
"During his term in the parliament he worked hard for the closure of secret and illegal prisons; he also defended the rights of political prisoners. These are among issues that can lead to new cases against him especially because he has been a defender of student rights and also the rights of women and workers."
Human rights activists are also worried about the fate Osanlou, the president of the Syndicate of Workers of the Tehran Bus Company.
"Iran's Islamic regime is continuing its political repression and human rights violations like before
He has been in jail since last December on unspecified charges. He reportedly helped organize demonstrations against bus drivers' work conditions.
According to Mr. Mohseni Ezheh’i, the Americans are preparing for a “velvet or colour revolution” not only in Iran, but also in other Central Asian nations, and Mr. Jahanbaglou was arrested in this framework, having the mission of coordinating various currents in this issue.
“This is the first time that Iranian authorities introduce the expression of coloured revolutions into the official jargon. That the Intelligence Minister talks about velvet revolution means that the country is ready for such peaceful, non violent event”, commented Mr. Mas’oud Behnoud, a veteran journalist based in England.
“The importance of means at the disposal of Mr. Jahanbaglou as well as his relations and communications attracted the attention of the (Intelligence) Ministry of him. Some of his activities were absolutely organized and organizational, point out to his mission”, Mr. Mohseni-Ezhe’i said, without providing the slightest proof of the scholar’s involvement in any political activity.
"They (Americans) are making numerous efforts to foment insecurity and tension in Iran and have allocated a large fund for this purpose, which is beyond the $75 million officially approved by the U.S. administration. They have used much more money than that and have specifically set up educational classes to train spies", the Minister said, as the detention of Mr. Jahanbaglou and two other prominent politician and union’s leader are bringing increasing pressures over the Islamic Republic”, he added.
To Mr. Abdollah Mo’meni, the spokesman for the Office of Consolidating Unity (OCU), Iranian students’ largest and most popular organization, “such claims by the Iranian authorities are not unusual, as they existed before, with the governments never being able to substantiate any accusations against any of the detained dissidents”.
“Their aim”, he told RFE-RL, the aim of the regime is only to push dissidents and opponents aside and silence them”.
"They (the Americans) take various NGO members abroad to educate them. Recently, some people have been officially invited to be trained in the U.S. under the pretext of attending scientific seminars or for business or employment. The initial financial assistance given to them is not enough to arouse the suspicion that they have been invited to be trained as spies", Mr. Mohseni Ezhe’i further claimed, in reference to several Iranian political activists now in the US.
"Following the Iranian people's election of President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, who used revolutionary and Islamic slogans, the enemy felt it should reconsider its perception of Iran. Since then, they began sending more spies to Iran than ever before in an attempt to create a crisis in the Islamic Republic", the Intelligence Minister told local journalists.
But the detention of Mr. Jahanbaglou is not approved by all Iranians in the leadership as some have indirectly contested the decision.
"We hope that Mr. Jahanbaglou is legitimately arrested. However, one has to wait to see the result, hoping that it would not end into another blow to the regime", the internet news service "Baztab" that belong to Mr. Mohsen Reza'i, the the Secretary of the powerful Expediency Council wrote.
Pointing to the growing number of weapons smuggled into the country, Mohseni Ezhe’i said that his Ministry has arrested over 250 people for attempting to smuggle weapons into Iran and has confiscated 1800 weapons.
In reference to the recent unrest in the oil-rich Khuzestan, Sistan-Balucheshtan, East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan provinces, he said that ethnic groups are not regarded as threats, but, quite the contrary, are thought of as opportunities for the Islamic The U.S. is trying to use ethnic groups and various non-governmental organizations in Iran to fight against the country, Mohseni Ejei added.
“The U.S. is trying to use ethnic groups and various non-governmental organizations in Iran to fight against the country”, he added. ENDS JAHANBAGLOU 5706