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Iran sentences three activists to prison for role in postelection protests

Revokes licenses of two opposition political parties

Mohsen Mirdamadi was convicted of spreading propaganda and banned from political activity for 10 years. Mohsen Mirdamadi was convicted of spreading propaganda and banned from political activity for 10 years.
By Nasser Karimi
Associated Press / April 20, 2010

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TEHRAN — Iran has sentenced three prominent political activists to six years in prison each for involvement in the country’s postelection turmoil, the official IRNA news agency reported yesterday.

The three are among more than 100 opposition figures who were put on a mass trial in the wake of the country’s disputed June presidential elections. The trial has led to a dozen death sentences so far.

IRNA said the activists — Mohsen Mirdamadi, Mostafa Tajzadeh, and Davood Soleimani — were convicted of spreading propaganda against Iran. The court also banned them from any kind of political activity for 10 years.

The Iranian opposition, led by Mir Hossein Mousavi, charges that the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent and that Mousavi was the rightful winner.

As part of its anti-opposition campaign, the government yesterday revoked licenses for two opposition parties.

Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, head of the Interior Ministry’s political department, said the two are the Islamic Iran Participation Front, or IIPF, which is the largest opposition group, and the reformist Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization. The three activists that were sentenced belong to IIPF.

The two parties publicly supported Mousavi in the presidential election. They were prominent in Iran’s parliament during former President Mohammad Khatami’s administration but were later barred from running in Parliament elections in 2004 and 2008. They have been considered influential in shaping reformist strategies.

The move was not unexpected after the government suggested last month the parties would be banned.

Ali Shakourirad, a senior leader of the IIPF, said the decision doesn’t mean the party will stop its activities. “Until there is a court ruling, no one can stop the political activities of a party,’’ Shakourirad said yesterday, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

In the latest developments in the government push to silence reformist voices, a proreform newspaper was ordered shut down over charges of questioning the election and criticizing government officials.

The semi-official Fars news agency reported yesterday that the Press Supervisory Board ordered the Bahar daily closed for “spreading doubts on fundamental issues such as elections, questioning the pillars of the system, and libel against state officials.’’

In a separate development, Iranian media reported that a senior Iranian cleric said women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

“Many women who do not dress modestly, . . . lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity, and spread adultery in society, which [consequently] increases earthquakes,’’ Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying.

Iran is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric’s unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

Women in the Islamic Republic are required to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.

“What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?’’ Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon Friday. “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.’’