international intrigue

Your Morning Iran-Unrest Update: Neda, Mousavi, and the Vote Ruling

As more information is revealed about Neda, the young woman who has become the face of victims of Iranian government oppression and retaliation, the country’s political process rumbles ahead, quashing the hopes of protesters and supporters of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

• The New York Times and Los Angeles Times were able to find out more information about Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old woman who was shot dead near protests in Tehran on Saturday night. (The online video of her murder had shocked viewers across the world.) Though security forces reportedly demanded that her friends and family not hold memorial services for the woman, nor to speak publicly about her, some spoke about the young woman’s passion for music and travel, and how she wasn’t fervently politically active, but decided to attend the protests because she was outraged by the dubious results of the election. From a middle-class family, Neda had studied Islamic philosophy at her university. [LAT, NYT]

• The Guardian Council, charged with overseeing elections, rejected a plea to nullify the results of the presidential election, shortly after it announced that the number of votes cast in 50 (largely small, remote) cities exceeded the number of eligible voters there by three million. “If a major breach occurs in an election, the Guardian Council may annul the votes that come out of a particular affected ballot box, polling station, district, or city,” said the group’s spokesman, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei. “Fortunately, in the recent presidential election we found no witness of major fraud or breach in the election.” Since the process is so opaque, there’s no way to know what kind of review, if any at all, was actually conducted. The Times has a great list of the obvious, unanswered questions that remain, all of which poke holes in the government’s seemingly ridiculous claims of confidence:

How did the government manage to count enough of the 40 million paper ballots to be able to announce results within two hours of the polls closing? How is it that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s margin of victory remained constant throughout the ballot count? Why did the government order polls closed at 10 p.m. when they often stay open until midnight for presidential races? Why were some ballot boxes sealed before candidates’ inspectors could validate they were empty? Why were votes counted centrally, by the Interior Ministry, instead of locally, as in the past? Why did some polling places lock their doors at 6 p.m. after running out of ballots?

• The judiciary committee of the Iranian parliament is now weighing the possibility of legal action against opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi for calling his supporters to protest. [WP]

• Meanwhile, another reform candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, is openly calling for more protests to mourn those killed by the security forces. [Lede/NYT]

• Yesterday, Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari was arrested without charge. “According to his mother, who lives with the 41-year-old reporter and documentary filmmaker, the men did not identify themselves,” reports the mag. “They seized Bahari’s laptop and several videotapes. Assuring her that he would be their guest, they then left with Bahari. He has not been heard from since.” [Newsweek]

• There are riot trucks patrolling Tehran today, but no signs of a major protest. [Reuters]

Your Morning Iran-Unrest Update: Neda, Mousavi, and the Vote Ruling