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IRAN FILES: Dissidents' Fate, Ahmadinejad's Future, Thieves

Mousavi in a photo from the 2009 campaign
Mousavi in a photo from the 2009 campaign
Ahmad Shayegan

Fate Of Dissidents In Rouhani Era
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has yet to release two leading dissidents, Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, from house arrest, which broadcaster Deutsche Welle"s Persian-language outlet characterized as “disappointing.”

Both detainees were reformist candidates during the 2009 presidential elections and backed massive protests after incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected amid what many Iranians denounced as fraudulent voting. Authorities suppressed protests with mass arrests and the alleged torture of many detainees. Mousavi and Karrubi were also arrested as “seditious readers,” as was Mousavi’s activist wife Zahra Rahnavard.

[rebelmouse-image 27087685 alt="""" original_size="800x533" expand=1]

Mousavi supporters in 2009 — Photo: mangostar

Deutsche Welle observed that citizens’ hopes were raised with Rouhani’s implicit promises to relax Iran’s repressive environment when elected on a “reformist” ticket in August 2013, and with the release of some prisoners in September.

The three “dossiers” — of the former candidates and Mousavi’s wife — were reportedly sent “three months ago” for review by the National Security Council, a consultative body Rouhani leads, with permission from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The broadcaster quoted presidential adviser Hesameddin Ashna as saying recently that their release might depend on some act of contrition or confessions. Ashna said that Mousavi “must make some decisions. If he cannot or does not wish to, things will become difficult for everyone.” He said some people in Iran did not view Mousavi and Karrubi as victims of injustice but beneficiaries of the state’s “mercy.”

Prague-based Radio Free Europe reported that the Supreme Leader’s website accused the “subversives” of committing an “unforgivable” sin — namely turning their “doubts” about election results into a “challenge against the system.” It was not immediately clear what that meant for their fate.

An Iranian legislator has asked the Judiciary Chief to stop “uttering slogans” and work to resolve the four-year controversy. “To resolve this issue, we need an independent judiciary, not one that takes orders from this … or that office or security agencies,” the conservative Jomhuri-e Eslami quoted Tehran representative Ali Mottahari as telling the Parliament.

He said “the solution” of insisting Karrubi and Mousavi publicly repent for their political choices “will lead nowhere, because while they may admit some of their faults, they consider the main culprit to be their opponent.”

Ayatollah Khamenei’s brother Hadi Khamenei told students in Tehran last week that “certain parties” had no interest in eliminating the “intimidating atmosphere” they had created in Iran, according to Prague-based Radio Farda, citing Jamaran, a reformist website. Khamenei, a mid-ranking cleric associated with reformists, wields little power and is sometimes described as estranged from his brother. “Those who create fear will not willingly reduce that fear. Their administration requires it,” he said.

A prominent theologian recently asked Rouhani to help release a liberal politician detained for over 40 days in the central city of Isfahan, apparently after publishing comments deemed threatening to Supreme Leader Khamenei, Radio France Internationale reported last week.

Abdolkarim expand=1] Soroush, who has lectured at Yale, Harvard and Princeton in recent years, noted that Rouhani himself is a former revolutionary, and he himself had “tasted detention and enjoyed freedom. Do not deprive the innocent of this pleasure.”

The liberal politician in question is Ali Asghar Gharavi, local head of the Freedom Movement of Iran, a group the regime barely tolerates. Gharavi apparently wrote recently in a local paper that the leadership of the Muslim community was not “God-given” but elective, which appeared to question the status of Iran’s Leader, deemed by supporters to be the leader of all Muslims.

Legal "noose tightening” on Ahmadinejad
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face a dose of his country’s justice at some point, following the unusually frank criticisms made by a senior judge.

[rebelmouse-image 27087686 alt="""" original_size="650x434" expand=1]

Ahmadinejad glory days, with heads of state at the 2010 Caspian Summit — Photo: Kremlin

Administrative Justice Court head Mohammad Ja'far Montazeri accused him of repeatedly breaking the law when he was president. He said Ahmadinejad “lied … and blatantly broke the law,” while “lawlessness” in his administration undermined public confidence in the state. Montazeri deplored how Ahmadinejad had appointed an “offender and a criminal” to senior positions, the conservative Jomhuri-e Eslami reported.

The man in question was likely Tehran’s former chief prosecutor Sa'id Mortazavi, apparently dismissed after the 2009 protests for his brutal interrogations, but whom Ahmadinejad later insisted on appointing head of the social security fund. More conservative papers reported Montazeri’s remarks only briefly, while reformist media gave his harsh words generous coverage — which isn’t surprising, as Mortazavi eagerly shut down newspapers as prosecutor from 2003-2009.

French daily Le Monde wrote that the “noose was tightening” around the former president.

Armed robbers should expect to die, prosecutor says
Iran Prosecutor-General Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei said last week that “armed thieves” may well be executed and that their “punishment can be a lesson to others,” the daily Aftab-e Yazd reported. The cleric told the press at a Tehran police station that those “especially” who robbed using knives, “blades and scimitars” could face the worst criminal charges, namely being declared an enemy of God and religion (mohareb) and “spreading corruption on earth.”

Drug traffickers are convicted and hanged on such charges. Mohseni-Ejei was informing the public of the “ongoing arrests” of a 120-member gang of thieves in Tehran.

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How WeChat Is Helping Bhutan's Disappearing Languages Find A New Voice

Phd candidate Tashi Dema, from the University of New England, discusses how social media apps, particularly WeChat, are helping to preserve local Bhutanese languages without a written alphabet. Dema argues that preservation of these languages has far-reaching benefits for the small Himalayan country's rich culture and tradition.

A monk in red performing while a sillouhet of a monk is being illuminated by their phone.

Monk performing while a sillouheted monk is on their phone

Source: Caterina Sanders/Unsplash
Tashi Dema

THIMPHU — Dechen, 40, grew up in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Her native language was Mangdip, also known as Nyenkha, as her parents are originally from central Bhutan. She went to schools in the city, where the curriculum was predominantly taught in Dzongkha, the national language, and English.

In Dechen’s house, everyone spoke Dzongkha. She only spoke her mother tongue when she had guests from her village, who could not understand Dzongkha and during her occasional visits to her village nestled in the mountains. Her mother tongue knowledge was limited.

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However, things have now changed.

With 90% of Bhutanese people using social media and social media penetrating all remotes areas in Bhutan, Dechen’s relatives in remote villages are connected on WeChat.

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