01/21/2010, 00.00
IRAN
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Khamenei and Ahmadinejad threaten newspapers and the Green Wave: Zero Tolerance

Fresh clashes expected for 11 February, 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Massive demonstrations planned by opposition and government supporters. Fifteen papers have received "warnings" about publishing criticism of the president, they call the situation "chaotic", saying that there is no freedom of expression. Prohibited the use of e-mail and text messages to organize demonstrations.

Teheran (AsiaNews / Agencies) – At least15 journalists received threats from the Ministry of Culture today accused of telling lies by describing the situation as "chaotic" because it offends the nation and President Ahmadinejad, and augments social conflict. It is a further sign of tension that grows ever deeper into the country. All eyes are fixed on February 11, the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which could turn into a new bloodbath of anti-government protesters in Iran. Meanwhile the web is flooded with messages on blogs and sites that invite people to organize massive protests in cities.

Ali Khamenei yesterday appealed to Iranians to participate in the official celebrations of the anniversary. Everyone is being summoned to Azadi Square to defeat the plots of the "enemy who seeks to create instability." The Supreme Leader added that all high ranking figures of the Islamic Republic "should take a clear position." That is to say with us or with the hated West, which is as always regarded as the financiers of the reform movement that has been challenging President Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election since June last year.  

Former president Khatami, has responded to Khamenei – says website Parlamnews - defending the right of the opposition to demonstrate peacefully, and accusing government officials of "telling lies". Khatami was speakimg at the meeting with some opponents who were arrested in the protests and later released. While people want a radical change of the political system, the former reformist president has said we need "to prevent an aggravation of the crisis" and that even if "those who protest have reasons, the regime’s response must respect the law and morality" .

The intervention of Khatami reported by some local newspapers, has prompted the Ministry of Culture (which also manages press) to issue warnings (or threats) against them. Newspapers Ettele'aat, Ea'temad, Asrar, Towse'eh, Rouzan, Mardomsalari and Bahar are accused of having published the statements of the former President, according to whom "the condition of the nation is" chaotic" and " government supporters are implicitly accused of disturbing the national unity".   Other newspapers have been threatened because they state that "freedom of expression is denied in Iran".  Others because they publish criticism of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, going against the law that prohibits the publication of "rumours, untruths, forbidden material”.    

On the Internet, meanwhile, videos are circulating of the  protests which led to the fall of the Shah in 1979 and those which every day for the past six months are taking place in Tehran. The videos are accompanied by slogans like "victory is near", "Iran has awakened" and this irritates the regime.  

After the events of this summer, the authorities ordered the closure of almost all opposition newspapers, but the reform movement bypassed the censorship by going online, using social networks and mobile phones. Also on this occasion, the Green Wave movement was able to send its messages online  against the government, who responded immediately and ordered an iron fist against those who foment unrest on 11 February. The authorities have warned opposition supporters against the use of text messages and e-mails to organize protests. Police chief General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam said that those who "spread the message of the opposition" will be pursued and punished. "The era of tolerance is over," he added.

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