Wong Choon Mei
An intense and emotional campaign is expected to kick off now that the Election Commission has confirmed that the Manek Urai by-election will be a straight fight between Umno and PAS.
About 15,000 supporters thronged the quiet town, creating a festive atmosphere with their kompang beats, loud cheers and also jeers as they accompanied the two main protagonists for the state seat to the nomination centre at SMK Sultan Yahya Petra 1.
Man-of-hour was PAS spiritual adviser and Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat as he led his party’s candidate Mohd Fauzi Abdullah to file in nomination papers.
PAS president Hadi Awang was also present to lend a hand, along with other Pakatan Rakyat leaders including Azmin Ali, Zaid Ibrahim and Tan Seng Giaw.
Umno candidate Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Rural Development Minister Shafie Apdal, Women Affairs Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and party Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
But despite the presence of top brass from the federal cabinet, Umno supporters were easily outnumbered by at least three to one.
Although seven sets of nominations forms had been sold, only PAS and Umno filed their papers on Monday. But even if Independent candidates had emerged, the by-election would still have been waged primarily between arch foes PAS and Umno.
A PAS stronghold coveted by Najib
For Manek Urai is a core Malay heartland, part of Kelantan’s green belt, and a long-held PAS enclave. The seat fell vacant after its assmblyman Ismail Yaacob died from illness in May.
Both pretenders to his crown – Mohd Fauzi and Tuan Aziz – are local men and well known to the Manek Urai folk.
But despite being a PAS bastion, a heated contest is expected.
Thanks to recent ‘unity’ offers and jibing from Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also Umno president, all eyes are now on the outcome of the contest.
Najib has been trying to knock together a power pact with PAS, claiming Malay and Muslim unity, although PAS members are disinclined to believe him.
They have counter-accused the PM of trying to weaken their party and thereby their Pakatan Rakyat coalition with PKR and DAP.
As PAS has already publicly and emotionally rejected the high-profile offer, the result will be closely watched as a referendum on Najib and his waning appeal to the Malay community.
Having lost in five of the past six by-elections, the heat will now be even greater on him as he approaches his 100 days in office with little to show that he can snap the Umno-BN’s losing streak.
Not only has he antagonised the non-Malays, his relentless efforts to ‘woo’ PAS which at times appear more like attempts to belittle and ridicule the Islamist party may well have further solidified existing tensions within the Malay community itself.
Emotional and intense campaign expected
According to latest data from the EC, there are 12,293 voters, including 25 postal voters. Of these, 99 percent are Malays, 0.5 percent Chinese and 0.3 percent Indians.
The constituency is also one of the four state seats that make up the Kuala Krai parliamentary constituency. The other three are Mengkebang, Guchil and Dabong,
PAS’ Mohd Fauzi is the Kuala Krai party treasurer. He is an affluent and self-made trader with a thriving wholesale fish business, and already very active in local politics.
At 39 years of age, Tuan Aziz is 11 years younger than his main rival Mohd Fauzi. Tuan Aziz also has a completely different profile although he too is a local boy. A Universiti Teknologi Malaysia graduate, he is the former Kesedar project monitoring division manager.
While voters in rural Malaysia tend to pick Wakil Rakyat or state representatives based on their familiarity with the candidate and his ability to service them, this time, it is likely that they will also vote to make a statement on the recent spate of politicking at national-level.
Chief among these would of course be Najib’s unity talks that sparked an internal quarrel in PAS and the consequent attacks against Nik Aziz, who is revered within his party and throughout the state.
“We don’t think all the voters here fully support PAS and Nik Aziz,” DPM Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, told reporters after nominations closed.
Still, a main question that Umno will have to contend with will be why the 55-year old Najib has persistently shied away from public debate with the 78-year old religious scholar, despite his showy offers of unity talks with PAS.
As Nik Aziz put it: “I just want to ask two things – why reject Islam and embrace nationalism, and what is wrong with the policy implemented by PAS, especially in Kelantan.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
JUN 30 — ManekUrai hanyalah sebuah kampung di daerah Kuala Krai, Kelantan tetapi dengan hampir seluruh 31,000 penduduknya orang Melayu, ada sesuatu yang perlu diperhatikan tentang kampung ini dalam seminggu dua yang akan datang.
Statusnya sebagai salah sebuah kawasan Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Kelantan dan dengan jumlah pengundi seramai 12,292 yang memperlihatkan pengundi Melayu seramai 99.25 peratus, menjadikan Pilihan Raya Kecil DUN Manek Urai yang akan berlangsung pada 14 Julai nanti sebagai titik tolak kepada proses evolusi nilai budaya Melayu.
Di tangan para pengundi Manek Urai terletaknya pembentukan citra bangsa Melayu masa depan. Semua orang tahu bahawa kedudukan bangsa Melayu ketika ini amat goyah kerana sedang berhadapan dengan krisis identiti atas factor dalaman mahupun akibat faktor luaran.
Semenjak sekian lama, terdapat orang Melayu yang hanya sibuk memperkaya diri sendiri dan kaum keluarga serta sahabat handai tanpa berusaha bersungguh-sungguh untuk membantu bangsanya sendiri yang ketinggalan.
Akibatnya sebahagian orang Melayu memprotes keadaan itu pada Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-12 lalu. Kuasa politik yang selama ini menjadi tunjang pertahanan orang Melayu mulai goyah dan terhakis sedikit demi sedikit.
Demi kuasa, ada orang Melayu yang sudah tergamak membelakangkan symbol tradisi ketuanan Melayu dan sebaliknya lebih rela tunduk kepada kehendak orang lain. Baru sahaja digertak, sebahagian orang Melayu sudah menolak hasrat untuk bersatu, walaupun sebelum itu mereka sendiri yang mengacah-acah untuk mewujudkan perpaduan Melayu.
Ada orang Melayu yang sudah tergamak mengumpamakan saudara sebangsa dan seagama sebagai komunis, sosialis dan mengamalkan ajaran sesat, sedangkan pada masa yang sama saling bermesraan dengan rakan seperjuangan yang secara terang-terangan menolak Islam.
Ketika orang ‘dewasa’ Melayu asyik dengan sepak terajang politik, masalah remaja Melayu yang terlibat dengan dadah, lumba haram dan budaya hedonisme masih tidak selesai malahan semakin berleluasa.
Sedarkah orang Melayu bahawa ketika ini kita sedang leka bertandak mengikut rentak paluan gendang orang lain yang tidak jemu-jemu berusaha melelahkan kita?
Pengundi Manek Urai akan menjadi penentu citra yang menjadi pilihan orang Melayu untuk masa depan. Walaupun hanya pilihan raya kecil, pengundi Melayu di DUN ini akan memilih kumpulan pemimpin mana yang akan mewakili mereka.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin mewakili golongan orang Melayu yang sudah sedar dan bersedia mendahulukan rakyat dan mengutamakan pencapaian. Manakala satu golongan lagi nampaknya masih leka berpolitiking dan bermain retorik.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin Melayu sudah bersedia untuk berbincang tentang perpaduan Melayu, manakala satu kumpulan lagi menjadikan agenda perpaduan Melayu sekadar test market.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin sedang berusaha keras untuk mengembalikan keyakinan penyokong Melayu, manakala satu kumpulan sedang menagih simpati dan sokongan kaum lain dan rela memburuk-burukkan bangsa dan agama sendiri.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin sudah mulai turun padang untuk meninjau sendiri masalah rakyat, tetapi satu golongan lagi juga sudah turun malah hingga ke jalanan tetapi untuk berdemonstrasi.
Setiap tingkah itu ditontoni oleh orang Melayu. Pengundi Manek Urai akan menterjemah pendirian Melayu melalui kuasa satu undi apabila tiba masanya. Jika mereka memilih golongan pemimpin yang sudah sedar dan sudah bersedia membela nasib rakyat, bermakna mereka mahu mengekalkan status quo nilai Melayu yang dibudayai selama ini.
Sebaliknya, jika mereka memilih golongan pemimpin yang sudah berani membuang tongkat dan bersedia menjadi Malaysian, orang Melayu lain harus bersedia juga dari semua sudut supaya tidak lemas dalam arus persaingan membangunkan bangsa Malaysia itu nanti.
Justeru, para pengundi Melayu Manek Urai perlu berfikiran bijak dan rasional kerana undi mereka menjadi penentu kepada citra bangsa Melayu masa depan. — Utusan Malaysia
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDERBy Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — With the PAS-Umno unity talks behind them at last, Pakatan Rakyat will hold a public rally this evening in Petaling Jaya to show that the loose coalition formed after the last general election remains intact.
Senior party leaders including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang will address the rally which organisers are hoping will draw about 100,000 people.
PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa, who came under heavy criticism for his part in the pro unity talks, is also expected to make an appearance tonight.
But the infighting within the Islamist party — which reached its peak during party elections early this month — caused by the unity government proposal made by Hadi is far from over.
The rally tonight which was first proposed at last week’s PR leadership council meeting has already being criticised by supporters of the Erdogan faction who are against any form of co-operation with Umno.
Political attacks targeted at Nasharudin continue despite last week’s meeting of pro unity leaders with spiritual adviser Nik Aziz that ended the public display of disagreement between senior leaders.
Just days earlier Nik Aziz had asked Nasharudin to leave the party after he responded positively to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s remark that favours a formation of a unity government.
“Tonight’s assembly is to publicly cleanse Nasharudin Mat Isa, but a tiger doesn’t change its stripes,” said a Kelantan PAS official who is sceptical about the Bachok MP’s stand on Umno.
The Malaysian Insider understands some party leaders linked to the Erdogan faction believe that last week’s central working committee meeting did not solve the issue.
“They will be squeezed out, unless they are willing to be yes man in the party,” said former PAS vice-president Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad on the Erdogans in a recent interview with The Malayian Insider.
Nakhaie left the party in late 1980s in the face of strong opposition from PAS’s conservative leaders who were against co-operation with the non-Muslims and his approach in formulating party policy in preparation for taking over the government.
(NST) – KOTA BARU: Some 3,030 police officers and men will be deployed for the Manik Urai by-election, starting from nomination day on July 6 until polling day on July 14.
Kelantan police chief SAC I Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the first group of about 1,200 men would be dispatched just before nomination day.
“The deployment will be made in six batches with the final one just after polling day,” he said at a Lions Club function here yesterday.
On campaign permits, Rahim said they would be issued by the Kuala Krai police chief but, as state police chief, he could cancel permits for campaigns that contravened the rules.
“We have yet to issue campaign permits to political parties. However, gathering permits have been issued to the contesting parties.”
“Saya amat memahami masalah dihadapi remaja sekarang. Saya juga akan menggunakan kesempatan yang ada untuk mendekati mereka bersama menangani masalah sosial,”
KUALA KRAI, 28 Jun (Hrkh) – Selepas diumumkan sebagai calon PAS di Dun Manek Urai kelmarin, Mohd Fauzi Abdullah terus menjadi perhatian masyarakat. Masanya menjadi semakin sendat sekarang
Beliau dan isteri, Aminah Mahmood terpaksa berkejar ke sana ke mari siang dan malam bagi memenuhi jemputan penduduk.
Dan hari ini beliau semakin sibuk. Tengahari tadi menghadiri satu program di Laloh, dan sebelah petang pula bersama masyarakat di Peria.
Sedangkan Umno hanya petang ini mengumumkan pegawai Kesedar, Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat sebagai calon BN bagi menentang Mohd Fauzi yang lebih dikenali sebagai Abang Uji pada 14 Julai ini.
Petang semalam Abang Uji hadir pada program dianjurkan Pasti. Beliau berkesempatan berjumpa dengan ibu bapa pelajar bertempat di Pasti Kampung Manek Urai baru.
Pada majlis itu beliau berpesan kepada ibu bapa supaya sentiasa memantau anak-anak sejak dari kecil lagi memandangkan banyak cabaran yang berlaku sekarang.
“Walau pun anak kita masih kecil seharusnya dijaga sebaik mungkin agar tidak terikut-ikut kerenah remaja masa kini yang semakin tidak terkawal.
“Saya amat memahami masalah dihadapi remaja sekarang. Saya juga akan menggunakan kesempatan yang ada untuk mendekati mereka bersama menangani masalah sosial,” ujar beliau.
Beliau juga menjelaskan kerajaan Kelantan sentiasa mengutamakan kebajikan rakyat antaranya mewujudkan skim Takaful Kifaalah bagi warga emas berusia 60 tahun ke atas.
Selain itu, skim Takaful Armalah untuk ibu tunggal dan sumbangan pendidikan kepada anak-anak yang cemerlang.
Beliau juga yakin penduduk di Manek Urai sentiasa mengikuti perkembangan semasa yang berlaku termasuk di tempat-tempat lain.
Menurutnya, rakyat di seluruh negara masih mempertahankan perjuangan Pakatan Rakyat berdasarkan kepada lima pilihan raya kecil yang diadakan sebelum ini.
Manakala Aminah berkata, beliau sentiasa menyokong perjuangan suaminya bagi merapatkan lagi hubungan dengan penduduk di Manek Urai.
“Saya sangat gembira kerana dapat bergaul mesra dengan penduduk di sini, malah ramai yang saya sudah kenali. Rupa-rupanya ramai anak rakan saya pun belajar di sini,” ujar beliau.
Oleh itu beliau berharap penduduk di Manek Urai memberi kerjasama kepada suaminya bagi meneruskan perjuangan yang ditinggalkan Allahyarham Haji Ismail Yaacob.
Sementara itu Setiausaha Kerja Pasti Kelantan, Mokhtar Ismail berkata, kedatangan calon PAS Dun Manek Urai ke majlis tersebut dapat memberi peluang ibu bapa mengenali lebih rapat Abang Uji.
Selain itu katanya, hari terbuka Pasti di Manek Urai Baru diadakan bagi memberi peluang kepada ibu bapa beramah mesra sesama mereka memandangkan pada hari lain sibuk mencari rezeki.
Program tersebut diisi dengan pemeriksaan kesihatan percuma, ceramah motivasi keluarga, kuiz dan mewarna. – mj _
The UK has demanded the immediate release of Iranian staff at its Tehran embassy who were arrested on Saturday.
Iranian media earlier reported that eight local staff at the mission had been detained for their “considerable role” in post-election riots.
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband called the arrests “harassment” and dismissed the allegations as baseless.
Relations between the countries are strained after Tehran accused the UK of stoking unrest, which London denies.
Iran has repeatedly accused foreign powers – especially Britain and the US – of stoking the unrest that swept the country after the 12 June election, which handed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a decisive victory.
In the fallout of the crisis, Tehran expelled two British diplomats in the past week, and the UK has responded with a similar measure.
Mr Miliband said about nine employees had been detained in total, but some had been released
“We are still concerned about a number of them who to our knowledge have not been released… The numbers are changing hour by hour,” he said on the sidelines of a European security meeting on the Greek island of Corfu.
“The idea that the British Embassy is somehow behind the demonstrations and protests that have been taking place in Tehran in recent weeks is wholly without foundation,” he added.
A strong protest had been made directly to the Iranian authorities, but there had been no response.
Mr Miliband said he would discuss the arrests with his European Union colleagues.
“All European countries have made clear that they want to stand together in standing up for the diplomatic principles that are important for our diplomatic activity all over the world,” he said.
The arrests were first reported by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.
“Eight local employees at the British embassy who had a considerable role in recent unrest were taken into custody,” Fars said, without giving a source.
Some 17 people are thought to have died in street protests after the disputed presidential poll, which the opposition complains was rigged.
Meanwhile, Iran’s powerful Guardian Council was due to give its verdict on the result of the disputed presidential election.
But the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen in Tehran says there is much politicking taking place behind the scenes, and that the five-day deadline for the Guardian Council to return its verdict may be extended.
Our correspondent says there is an attempt to form a committee – including the disappointed presidential candidates – to oversee the recount of 10% of the votes, a move which they are resisting.
Another parliamentary committee is holding discussions with the grand ayatollahs in an attempt from pro-Ahmadinejad forces to put on a show of unity, he adds.
But opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has not backed away from his claim that the election result was fraudulent, and has refused to support the Guardian Council’s plan for a partial recount.
Mr Mousavi has been calling for a full re-run of the vote, but said on Saturday that he would accept a review by an independent body.
However the Guardian Council has already defended President Ahmadinejad’s re-election, saying on Friday that the presidential poll was the “healthiest” since the Iranian revolution in 1979.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDERBy Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — The former Bar Council president wants Barisan Nasional (BN) to let the people and not the courts decide on Perak’s mentri besar.
“The answer is to go back to the people because the people will not be satisfied until they get their result and ultimately the power does belong to the people because once the people decides, everyone will accept it,” she said.
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan was speaking at a public lecture here last night organised by the Chevening Alumni of Malaysia.
Ambiga added that BN would be able to get back much need credibility if the ruling coalition would go to the polls and drop all charges against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“Do the right thing, just do the right thing and immediately people will say that they are quite reasonable but when you force these issues which people can read… we are not stupid, you cannot insult the intelligence of the people to understand what is really happening,” she said.
Ambiga stressed that BN would only be able to get the results it wants in the next general election if it gave the people what they wanted.
“You may lose a little bit this time but you would have gained a lot more,” she said.
During the question-and-answer session later, British High Commissioner Boyd McCleary agreed with Ambiga’s position on Perak and believed that the government should not oppose the will of the people in Perak.
“It looks to me as though over there, we have ended up with a situation where the government seems to have opposed the will of the people and that is wrong.
“The way forward for this government is to go back to the polls because even if they lose that battle they can still win the war by demonstrating that is the right way to go.”
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
End Violent Attacks on Protesters, Arrests of Critics
(New York) – The Iranian government should immediately end its nationwide crackdown on opposition activity, Human Rights Watch said today. The scale of the crackdown is apparent in the arrest of scores of reformist politicians, intellectuals, and journalists across Iran on June 17 and 18, together with violent attacks by police and state-sponsored militias against largely peaceful demonstrators, Human Rights Watch said.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on June 19 issued a warning that protests against the country’s disputed presidential election results must end and that political leaders would be blamed for any violence. Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks followed several public statements by leading officials in the past week threatening a crackdown against protesters.
“Peaceful protests are a fundamental right,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to stop its harassment and intimidation of its critics, including peaceful demonstrators.”
Other signs of the nationwide crackdown include attacks by security forces and state-sponsored militias on university student dormitories (a traditional stronghold of opposition protesters), the severe disruption of internet and mobile telephone communications, and restrictions on international and domestic media reporting on the protests against alleged election fraud.
In past years, peaceful student protests, as well as labor unrest and protests by ethnic minorities, have been met with a harsh crackdown from the authorities including physical attacks by security forces and pro-government Basij militias on protesters, mass arrests, and the torture of some detainees. The last major round of student protests in Tehran occurred in 1999, but this week’s demonstrations in Tehran and other Iranian cities appear to be by far the biggest since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Iran is bound by international human rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which it ratified in 1975. Under the covenant, Iran is required to recognize and protect key human rights, including peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
Widespread Arbitrary Arrests
Since protests started on June 13, following the release of the disputed results of the June 12 election, Human Rights Watch has confirmed from sources across Iran the arrest of hundreds of opposition and reformist activists. Those arrested include prominent political and religious leaders on the reforming wing of the political establishment as well as leading intellectuals, journalists, and students. The arrest of hundreds of protesters, including university students in Tehran and Mashhad, has been reported by unofficial Iranian internet news sites.
According to reliable reports, beginning on June 13, security forces began arresting leading reformers, including: Mohammad Reza Khatami, member of the Central Committee of the leading reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the brother of former President Mohammad Khatami; Behzad Nabavi, founding member of the reformist Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Party; Mohsen Mirdamadi, secretary-general of the Islamic Iran Participation Front; Mostafa Tajzadeh, a leading strategist in the Islamic Iran Participation Front and former deputy interior minister; and Shaeed Shariati, a member of the Central Committee of the Islamic Iran Participation Front. The following day three, leading opposition journalists – Taghi Rahmani, Reza Alijani, and Hoda Saberi – were arrested, but were released within 48 hours.
On June 16, the security forces arrested: Saeed Hajjarian, a former adviser to former President Khatami who was severely disabled in a March 2000 assassination attempt; Mohammad Ali Abtahi, also known as “the blogging Mullah,” a leading adviser to the reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi who chairs the Institute for Religious Dialogue and sits on the central council of the reformist-oriented Association of Combatant Clerics; and Abdolfattah Soltani, a leading human rights lawyer who directs the Defenders of Human Rights Center and had previously been detained from July 2005 until March 2006.
On June 17, security forces detained Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, Iran’s first foreign minister after the revolution and secretary-general of the opposition Freedom Movement of Iran, at Pars Hospital, where he was undergoing medical treatment. He was later returned to the hospital from Evin prison, but remains under guard. Saeed Laylaz, the prominent economist and business reporter for Sarmayeh newspaper who is one of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most outspoken critics, was arrested on June 17 at his home.
Among other prominent figures reported to have been detained are Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, the spokesperson during the Khatami presidency and a leading member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front: Bagher Oskouiee, a leading campaign official for Karroubi; Amir Mardani, a member of Karroubi’s campaign staff; Mohsen Aminzadeh, former deputy minister of foreign affairs and a supporter of the reformist presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi; Mohammad Atrianfar, an opposition journalist and senior adviser to former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; and Mohammad Tavasoli, the director of the political office of the Freedom Movement of Iran. It is also reported that other members of the Karroubi campaign staff have also been arrested in Tehran and Tabriz. Dozens of other arrests of lesser-known activists, students, and politicians have also been reported to Human Rights Watch.
Although Human Rights Watch has not been able to determine the circumstances of all of these arrests, in none of the cases it has examined did the authorities provide any document or warrant at the time of arrest. Associates of some of those detained contacted by Human Rights Watch indicated that their families have not heard from them since their arrests.
The wife of one of those arrested told Human Rights Watch that the arresting authorities presented no summons or other legal documents when taking her husband into custody. Since then, she said: “for five days, we have not received any information on where he is and his health condition. That makes us very concerned.”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 9, states that “no one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention.” It requires Iran, as a state party, to ensure that everyone arrested is informed at the time of their arrest of the reasons for their detention, as well as any criminal charges against them, and brought before a judge or judicial officer to review their detention.
A Violent Crackdown by State-Sponsored Militias and Security Forces
Since the protests began last week, units of the state-sponsored Basij paramilitary militia and government security forces have engaged in sporadic violence against demonstrators and opposition activists. On a number of occasions, the Basij militia, which was founded during the 1979 revolution and is subordinate to the Revolutionary Guards, has attacked student dormitories, beating the students and ransacking their rooms. Basij militia members have arrived in large groups at mass demonstrations, normally on motorcycles, to attack protesters.
In Tehran, official media reported that seven people were killed at an incident at a Basij base on June 15 in the Azadi Square district, although it has not elaborated on the circumstances of those killings. Human Rights Watch has called for an investigation into the incident.
In another incident reported by local and foreign media, including the Amirkabir University newsletter, Basij forces invaded dormitories at Tehran University on June 14, attacking students and burning some of their rooms. Amateur film footage of that attack appears to show black-clothed Basij militia members armed with sticks and other weapons chasing students. There have also been reports of violent attacks by security forces on demonstrators and students in the provincial towns of Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz, Bandar Abbas, and Mashhad. The Iranian government has attempted to suppress news from those towns by shutting down communication networks and banning reporters from traveling outside Tehran. International journalists who were present in provincial capitals such as Isfahan say that the crackdown in those towns has been even more violent than in Tehran.
Throughout the week, residents of Tehran and other Iranian cities have reported sightings of Basij militia armed with clubs and chains patrolling the streets, stopping passers-by and beating up those suspected of involvement in anti-government protests. Many protesters can be identified by their green clothes or armbands, as that color has become the symbol of support for Mousavi.
Mousavi filed a complaint with Iran’s state national security council that plainclothes agents used sticks, metal rods, and firearms to “attack the lines of peaceful participants before the arrival of the security forces.”
One resident of Tehran told Human Rights Watch that he had seen Basij militia members operating in various parts of the city, including Vanak Square, the focal point of many reformist gatherings. The Basij moved about in groups of about 20 on motorcycles, beating and harassing protestors with batons. “People were coming through peacefully, chanting, but not provoking the Basji militia members,” he said. “But they [the militia members] came forward and beat people.” Human Rights Watch has received similar reports of unprovoked violence by the Basij militia and Iranian security forces from other parts of Tehran and other Iranian cities.
The Iranian Parliament has taken some steps to investigate violent attacks. On June 16, Ali Larijani, the speaker of parliament, created a committee to investigate “unfortunate incidents” at a Tehran University student dormitory on June 14, in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election. The following day the deputy speaker of parliament, Mostafa Abutorabi, said that “plainclothes individuals entered the dormitory without being on a mission from their responsible institutions.”
In the past, the Iranian government has failed to hold the Basij militias accountable for violent attacks on opposition activists and protesters. During some of the violent attacks against protesters by Basij militias this week, witnesses have reported that police and other formal uniformed security forces were often present but failed to intervene.
Warnings of a Crackdown on ‘Criminal’ Protests
Government officials also appear to be engaged in an organized campaign to discredit and criminalize those engaging in peaceful protest. Leading government and pro-government figures have claimed the latest protests are a result of a Western-sponsored conspiracy.
On June 11, the eve of the election, Yadollah Javani Mousavi, political head of the Revolutionary Guard, warned that authorities would crush any attempt at a popular “revolution” and said they would not tolerate the formation of a post-election political force under the banner of the candidate Mousavi’s “green movement.”
On June 15, the Revolutionary Guard’s “Center for Review of Organized Crime” issued a statement accusing several Iranian blogs and websites of promoting “street riots” and “rebellious behavior,” warning that “our legal action against them will cost them dearly.”
On June 18, Mohammadreza Habibi, the prosecutor-general of the province of Isfahan, threatened protesters “controlled by foreigners” that they could face the death penalty, stating that the punishment for “waging war against God is execution.”
On June 19, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave a sermon following Friday prayers at Tehran University, again endorsing Ahmadinejad as the winner of the disputed presidential elections and demanding an end to the street protests, ominously warning that “if there is any bloodshed, leaders of the protests will be held directly responsible.” The sermon could give the green light to a broader, more violent crackdown on the opposition.
Attempts to Shut Down the Media and Communications in Iran
The government has sought to disrupt the flow of information about the demonstrations, banning the foreign and domestic media from reporting on unauthorized protests and rallies, intimidating bloggers, and seeking to block websites that have been a vital tool for the opposition movement.
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has refused to extend the short-duration work visas of foreign journalists currently in Iran, and has ordered them not to attend or report on unauthorized opposition protests and rallies without permission from the ministry, which has not been granted.
Authorities have also placed the domestic press under severe censorship: on June 17, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance ordered two major opposition dailies, Hayat e No and Aftab e Yazd, not to publish, stating this was because of their prominent coverage of the peaceful opposition protests. Mohammad Atryanfar, the publisher of a number of opposition newspapers including Hamshary, Shargh, and Shahrvand Emrouz, was detained on June 15 and remains in detention.
Mobile phone and text messaging networks have also been switched off sporadically. Since June 12 censorship and filtering of websites has intensified. In the past three days Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and other internet-based communication tools have been blocked or interrupted by the Iranian authorities. Several Iranian journalists in Tehran told Human Rights Watch that slowed internet connections, blockage of websites, and disruption of mobile phone and text networks have severely hampered their ability to report on events.
International law, in particular article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires Iran to protect freedom of expression. The covenant states that this right specifically includes the “freedom to seek, receive and impart information of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any media.”
Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian government to stop arresting peaceful protesters and opposition supporters, and to free those it has already detained. It should allow all Iranians to exercise their rights to demonstrate peacefully and to express and receive information freely from any source. Authorities should end all harassment, especially acts of the violence by security forces and Basij militias against peaceful protesters. The acts of violence by security forces that have taken place should be immediately investigated, and perpetrators of unlawful violence should be prosecuted.
KUALA KRAI, 21 Jun (Hrkh) – Ketika Umno berhempas pulas merayu simpati pengundi, namun rakyat di Manek Urai terus memperlihatkan sikap dingin terhadap parti itu.
Situasi itu dapat dilihat apabila Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri terpaksa mengerahkan guru-guru yang mengajar di sekitar Dun Manek Urai hadir pada program bersama Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Jumaat lalu.
Tidak cukup dengan arahan itu, ibu bapa pelajar juga dikerah hadir sama pada program yang diadakan di Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Sok.
Begitu juga dengan anggota keselamatan memenuhi kawasan itu. Tiga helikopter digunakan mengiringi kehadiran Menteri Pelajaran tersebut ke Dun Manek Urai.
Manakala pada sebelah petang ketika bersolat Asar di Masjid Laloh, ramai anggota keselamatan memenuhi kawasan luar masjid.
Penduduk yang hadir solat di masjid tersebut seperti kurang menghiraukan kehadiran timbalan perdana menteri biar pun telah diumumkan imam masjid sebaik sahaja selepas selesai solat.
Sedangkan pada malam hari yang sama, ribuan penduduk memenuhi padang di Kampung Chuchuh Puteri B mengikuti forum perdana yang dianjurkan Urusetia Penerangan Kerajaan Negeri.
Kehadiran Naib Presiden PAS, Dato’ Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, anggota parlimen Shah Alam, Ir Khalid Samad dan anggota parlimen Kuala Krai, Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli menarik perhatian penduduk tempatan.
Tuan Ibrahim berharap rakyat di Manek Urai tidak bersekongkol dengan pemerintah yang gemar membuat zalim dan melakukan banyak penyelewengan harta rakyat.
“Jangan kita cuba tolong orang yang derhaka kerana ia tidak membawa kita selamat di dunia dan akhirat,” katanya.
Dr Mohd Hatta berkata, amalan pembaziran diteruskan kerajaan BN hari ini apabila rombongan Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin menggunakan tiga helikopter semata-mata hendak datang menemui pengundi di Manek Urai.
Begitu juga dengan markaz taktikal polis yang kini sedang dibina di banyak tempat di Dun Manek Urai termasuk di Laloh dan Manek Urai Baru bagi menempatkan ribuan anggota polis.
Kata beliau kerajaan terpaksa mengeluarkan belanja besar dengan kehadiran polis yang cukup luar biasa di Dun Manek Urai sekarang. – mj _
KUALA LUMPUR, 20 Jun (Hrkh) – PAS akan mengisytiharkan calonnya untuk pilihan raya kecil Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Manek Urai pada 26 Jun ini bersama-sama pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat.
Penasihat Jentera Operasi Pilihan Raya Manek Urai, Dato’ Wan Rahim Wan Abdullah berkata, pengumuman itu akan dibuat di Manek Urai berdekatan dengan rumah Allahyarham Ismail Yaakub atau lebih mesra di kenali sebagai Pak Su Wei.
Ditanya sama ada calon yang akan dimumkan itu memiliki ciri-ciri seperti Allahyarham Ismail, Wan Rahim berkata pemimpin seperti beliau sukar diganti dan tidak boleh ditandingi.
Bagaimanapun, beliau yakin calon yang akan diumumkan nanti akan diterima oleh pengundi di Manek Urai.
Sementara itu, Wan Rahim menggesa SPR mengarahkan majikan-majikan supaya membenarkan pekerja mengambil cuti pada hari mengundi 14 Julai nanti.
Keadaan ini katanya berpunca daripada SPR sendiri yang sengaja menetapkan hari pengundian pada hari bekerja.
“Kita betul-betul mengharapkan SPR memberi arahan kepada majikan bagi memberikan cuti satu hari,” tegasnya ketika dihubungi.
Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) menetapkan pilihan raya kecil itu pada 14 Julai ini dan penamaan calon pada 6 Julai.
Kerusi DUN Manek Urai kosong selepas penyandangnya, Ismail Yaakob, 60, dari PAS meninggal dunia pada 22 Mei lalu kerana masalah kesihatan.
Beliau memenangi Dun Manek Urai buat pertama kali pada pilihan raya umum 1986 dan mengekalkannya untuk lima penggal berturut-turut.
DUN Manek Urai terletak dalam kawasan Parlimen Kuala Krai yang juga disandang oleh PAS. – mns_