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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Daniel Brett‎‏

A video of the Iranian police firing live rounds at Ahwazi Arabs in Hay al-Thawra district of Ahwaz City during anti-regime demonstrations. When Israelis do this, there is international outcry. When Iranians do it, it is "national security and "cultural defence". Even the Iranian "opposition" cheers on this behaviour because it is against Arabs, so deeply entrenched is racism in Iran

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Iran confirms sending troops to Syria, says bloodshed otherwise would be worse

A rare admission that Iran was aiding the Damascus regime came in a statement from an Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force official. (File photo)Iran reportedly confirmed late Sunday that it has sent troops to aid Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on anti-regime protests, adding that the country’s uprising would have been bloodier had it not interfered.

The rare admission that Iran was aiding the Damascus regime came in a statement from General Ismail Qa’ani, deputy-commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force,

“If the Islamic Republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of civilians would have been twice as bad,” General Ismail Qa’ani, deputy-commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, told Tehran’s ISNA news agency.
Iran, he added, “Had physically and non-physically stopped the rebels from killing many more among the Syrian people.”

But after only a few hours of being published on the ISNA’s website, the quote was removed without any explanation.

Gen. Qa’ani’s statement was however still picked up by international media outlets online.

Some analysts say that his published statement was merely a slip-up, although it bears some truth.

“I think what he said was not studied, he didn’t consult with his superiors, it just came out of his mouth in an occasion when he shouldn’t have said something about Iranian participation in Syria,” said Alireza Nourizadeh, the director of the Centre for Arab & Iranian Studies in London.

The statement had come at a tense time in Syria, following the killing of at least 108 people, including many children, in Houla, a neighborhood in the embattled province of Homs.

The massacre has drawn international condemnation from the United Nations, the United States, Britain, Germany and France, while the Arab League called for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council.

“But what he [Qa’ani] has said is true; the uprising would have been bloodier had Iran not participated. Syria had the Quds force on its side,” Nourizadeh added.

“The Quds used their intelligence networks to train the Syrian army how to fight people without killing; how to use force to cause injury, without being accused of a massacre.

“The Syrian army was not well trained. Iranians also went to Syria as experts on cyber warfare, teaching them how to control websites and social media and how to jam television channels,” said Nourizadeh.

After Qa’ani’s controversial statement was removed, Iran on Monday condemned killings in Houla, blaming them on “terrorist actions” rather than its Damascus ally and calling for the perpetrators to be punished.

Iran “condemns the terrorist actions in the Houla area in Homs in Syria. The killing of a number of innocent people in the area has distressed the Islamic nations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement relayed by official media.

It denounced the “suspect act” and urged authorities “to identify and punish those responsible.

Azerbaijan stops senior Iranian official from entering the country

Tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan has risen this year with both sides accusing the other of meddling in each other’s affairs. (File photo)Azerbaijan stopped a senior Iranian official entering the country on Tuesday, Iran’s embassy said on Tuesday, a move set to further sour relations between the Islamic Republic and its secular neighbor after a spat over the Eurovision Song Contest.

Tensions between the two countries has risen this year with both sides accusing the other of meddling in each other’s affairs and Iran’s withdrawal of its ambassador last week after clerics criticized Baku for hosting Eurovision.

"We report with great regret that the head of the culture department of Iran’s Supreme Leadership ... was rejected from entering Azerbaijan on Monday," the Iranian embassy said in a statement. "It was done in an undiplomatic way."

It said the official was turned back at Baku international airport. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the most powerful figure in Iran, and senior officials working directly for him in his office wield great sway.

Azeri officials declined to comment on the decision.

Western-allied, mostly Shi’ite Muslim Azerbaijan’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest - a flamboyant annual pageant of pop music from around Europe - was condemned by some Iranian clerics and lawmakers who referred to a "gay parade" - although no such event was planned or held.

Iran was angered by subsequent anti-Iranian protests in Baku, where demonstrators carried pictures of Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and banners reading "Azerbaijan does not need clerics-homosexuals!".

The latest dispute is part of wider diplomatic tensions between the neighbors which share a religion but have sharply different political systems.

Some 15 percent of Iranians are ethnic Azeris and there are strong linguistic and family ties straddling the border, adding another strain to ties between the two neighbors as each side fears the influence of the other on its population.

Iran has accused Azerbaijan of assisting Israel in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Azerbaijan, for its part, has arrested dozens of people this year on suspicion of connections with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and of plotting attacks, including on the Israeli ambassador to Baku.

Earlier on Tuesday, Azerbaijan handed over a diplomatic note to Iran asking to clarify the whereabouts of two young Azeri poets, who have allegedly been arrested in the Iranian town of Tabriz during their visit to the country earlier this month.

Monday, May 28, 2012


The Ahwazi issue is set to go to the forefront of British human rights concerns in Iran after members of the Ahwazi Arab community in the UK and Canada met with Sir Bob Russell MP at the Houses of Commons in May.
Liberal Democrat Sir Bob has supported minority rights issues, including the Palestinian cause, in the House of Commons since he was elected as MP for Colchester in 1997, but like many MPs has little experience of the Ahwazi issue. Among those representing the Ahwazis were Amir Saedi of the Ahwazi Community Association UK, Ali Ghata Ahwazi of the Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights and representatives of the Canadian Ahwazi Friendship Society and Ahwazi Arab Solidarity Network (AASN). The Iranian regime’s pillaging of oil resources from traditional Arab lands, its policy of forced displacement, environmental degradation and the atrocious human rights record in Al-Ahwaz were topics of discussion.
Sir Bob agreed that the British government needs to do more to prompt multilateral bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council, to take action over the plight of indigenous Ahwazi Arabs. The main short-term objective is to ensure that UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Ahmad Shahid, is allowed unfettered entry to Al-Ahwaz to interview political prisoners and examine living conditions in Arab districts.
Sir Bob pledged to raise the Ahwazi issue in parliamentary questions and possibly move an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament, which could be signed by MPs. The AASN will be working with Sir Bob to promote the Ahwazi cause in parliament.
Meanwhile, AASN director Daniel Brett met with a representative of the National Council for Resistance in Iran to examine campaigns of mutual interest, particularly the conditions facing Ahwazi and Kurdish inmates of Camp Al-Waleed and Mujahideen-e Khalq in Camp Liberty in Iraq.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

UAE eyes June opening for pipeline bypassing Hormuz

The Habshan-Fujairah pipeline will carry oil from fields in Abu Dhabi on the Gulf to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman. (File photo)A pipeline being built by the United Arab Emirates to pump most of its oil exports from east coast terminals bypassing the Iran-threatened Strait of Hormuz, will be operational in June, the ruler of Fujairah told AFP in an interview.

“The pipeline will be operational in June,” said Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, whose east-coast emirate is one of seven that make up the UAE.

Construction of the 360-kilometre (225-mile) pipeline began in 2008.

The pipeline will have an initial capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day rising to 1.8 million bpd, which represents the bulk of the UAE’s current production of around 2.5 million bpd, Sheikh Hamad said.

The Habshan-Fujairah pipeline will carry oil from fields in Abu Dhabi on the Gulf to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman.

Fears of a closure of the Strait of Hormuz intensified in recent months after Iran threatened to close the strategic outlet to the Gulf if Western governments kept up their efforts to choke off its oil exports in a bid to rein in its controversial nuclear program.

In addition to the exports of the UAE and Iran itself, all the oil exports of Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar are shipped through the waterway. Iraq also pumps the bulk of its exports through ports on the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, pumps most of its crude from its terminals on the Gulf but it can divert large supplies to terminals on the Red Sea.

Sheikh Hamad, however, played down the possibility of a closure of Hormuz.

“I do not believe there will a war,” he said, arguing that the tension with neighboring Iran is just a “summer cloud that will clear.”

Iran held talks on Wednesday and Thursday in Baghdad with six world powers that nearly collapsed when the powers demanded that Tehran give up enriching uranium to the 20 percent level seen as a key step towards weapons-grade.

In exchange, Iran would get some inducements such as aircraft parts for its dilapidated commercial fleet and technical assistance in nuclear energy.

Iran, which is suffering under Western sanctions, said the inducements were far too little and countered with a demand that the P5+1 declare that it has a right to enrich uranium.

The two sides agreed to meet again in Moscow on June 18-19.

Syrian opposition calls for ‘battle of liberation’ if U.N. fails to end bloodshed

Burhan Ghalioun, outgoing president the Syrian National Council, said the anti-regime uprising in Syria had reached a “turning point” after the killings on Friday and Saturday of more than 90 people in the town of al-Houla. (AFP)Outgoing Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun called on Sunday for a “battle of liberation” against the regime until the United Nations takes action under Chapter Seven which allows military intervention.

“I call on the Syrian people to lead a battle of liberation and dignity, relying on its own forces, on the rebels deployed across the country and the Free Syrian Army brigades and friends,” he told a news conference in Istanbul.
Ghalioun, outgoing leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), said such action would be taken “unless the international community assumes its responsibilities under Chapter Seven” of the U.N. charter.

A Chapter Seven resolution, which can be imposed by the UN Security Council, authorizes foreign powers to take measures including military options.

Ghalioun, in a meeting earlier with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, said the anti-regime uprising in Syria had reached a “turning point” after the killings on Friday and Saturday of more than 90 people in a central town.

“The SNC calls on the international community and in particular (UN-Arab League envoy) Kofi Annan to act immediately to halt the killings,” an unnamed Turkish source quoted him as telling Davutoglu.

After an international outcry over what activists branded a massacre, the Syrian government on Sunday denied its forces were responsible for the killing of at least 92 people, a third of them children, in the town of Houla.

“Rule by murder”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded that those who carried out the killings be held to account.

“The United States will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end,” she said.

France said it would call a meeting of the Friends of Syria, a group of Western and Arab countries keen to see Assad removed.

Britain said it would summon Syria’s envoy over the massacre and that it would call for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in coming days.

The United Arab Emirates requested an urgent meeting of the Arab League, whose head, Nabil Elaraby, urged the U.S. Security Council to stop the killing.

But there was no immediate official word from Russia, which along with China has vetoed Council resolutions calling for tougher action.

Although the ceasefire plan negotiated by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan has failed to stop the violence, the United Nations is nearing full deployment of a 300-strong unarmed observer force meant to monitor a truce.

Houla killings ‘vile testament’ to ‘inhumane, illegitimate’ Syrian regime: White House

U.N. observers stationed in the Syrian city of Homs visited the scene of the carnage in al-Houla and confirmed that more than 92 civilians, including at least 32 children, were killed by artillery shelling. (Reuters)The White House said on Sunday that the recent mass killing of civilians, including women and children, in the Syrian town of al-Houla was a further evidence of an inhuman and illegitimate Syrian government.

“These acts serve as a vile testament to an illegitimate regime that responds to peaceful political protest with unspeakable and inhuman brutality,” a White House spokesman said.
Russina deputy foreign minister, meanwhile, said the “tragic” events deserved condemnation and called for a U.N. investigation.

Russia deputy foreign minister, meanwhile, said the “tragic” events deserved condemnation and called for a U.N. investigation.

The head of U.N. monitors in Syria has told the Security Council that 116 people were killed and 300 injured in the Houla carnage.

Hours earlier, General Robert Mood told Al Arabiya that perpetrators of the killing “will be held accountable and will be punished,” and indicated that an investigation was still underway to determine the parties responsible, adding that artillery shelling over distance increased the death toll.

Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon to discuss the carnage.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations cast doubt on the culpability of Syria’s government for the massacre.

“We need to establish whether it was the Syrian authorities,” Igor Pankin told reporters at the United Nations. “There are substantial grounds to believe that the majority of those who were killed were either slashed, cut by knives, or executed at point blank distance.”

The diplomats say Britain and France proposed issuing a press statement condemning the Houla massacre, but Russia told council members it could not agree and wanted a briefing first by the general heading the U.N. observer mission in Syria.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the briefing by Maj. Gen. Mood was being arranged. Russia called for a council meeting to begin at 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT).

The U.N. and others have issued statements appearing to hold the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad responsible. The Syrian government has denied responsibility for the Houla killings.

Iran to build new power plant in southern city by early 2014

The issue of Iran’s stockpile of uranium and new nuclear plants, were at the center of talks between Iran and six world powers. (File photo)
Iran is to build a new nuclear power plant, alongside its sole existing one in the southern city of Bushehr, by early 2014, state television reported on Sunday, quoting the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organization.

“Iran will build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr next year,” the television quoted Fereydoon Abbasi Davani as saying. He was referring to the Iranian calendar year running from March 2013 to March 2014.

The current Bushehr nuclear plant was started by German engineers in the 1970s, before Iran’s Islamic revolution, and was completed by Russia, which continues to help keeping it running and provides fuel for it.

In addition, Iran has a research reactor operating in Tehran that is used to make medical isotopes for patients with cancer and other illnesses.

A new Bushehr plant would boost electricity production in Iran, which has some of the world’s biggest reserves.

Uranium enrichment

Meanwhile, Tehran is adamant that it has “no reason” to suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent − one of the key demands of world powers engaging in talks over Iran’s nuclear program − the head of its Atomic Energy Organization said late Sunday.

“We have no reason to cede on 20 percent, because we produce only as much of the 20 percent fuel as we need. No more, no less,” Fereydoon Abbasi Davani was quoted as saying late Saturday by the ISNA and Mehr news agencies.

The issue of Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, and its stockpile of that uranium, were at the center of talks on Wednesday and Thursday in Baghdad between Iran and six world powers, known as the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany).

Meanwhile, the United Nations nuclear watchdog has not yet given good enough reasons to visit an Iranian site where it suspects there may have been experiments for developing nuclear weapons, Iranian media said on Sunday.

Tehran denies accusations that it is developing atom bombs, despite a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week said satellite images showed “extensive activities” at the Parchin complex, at the center of Western suspicions over Iran’s nuclear activities.

Iranian officials have refused access to Parchin, southeast of Tehran, saying it is a military site.

“The reasons and document have still not been presented by the agency to convince us to give permission for this visit,” the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency on Saturday.

Six world powers failed to convince Iran last week to halt its most sensitive nuclear work, but they will meet again in Moscow next month to try to end a standoff that has raised fears of a new war.

Iran, which is suffering under Western sanctions, said the inducements were far too little and countered with a demand that the P5+1 declare that it has a right to enrich uranium.

With that impasse, which Abbasi Davani termed “predictable,” the talks teetered on failure and were saved only by last-minute wrangling that agreed to give negotiations another shot in Moscow on June 18-19.

Abbasi Davani was quoted as saying that Iran had now joined the small group of countries “that can produce fuel for others.”

He added: “It is better that others engage us about providing (them) with fuel, not that they (the West) demand we shut down our fuel production.”

According to the latest report by the IAEA, Tehran has produced 145.6 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium, of which nearly a third has been converted into fuel for its research reactor.

Iran has also produced more than six tons of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, part of which was processed further to make the 20-percent stock.

Uranium enriched to 90 percent or above is used for military ends, to make nuclear warheads. Twenty-percent uranium is considered just a few steps short of that level.

The IAEA has voiced suspicions that Iran might be working towards nuclear weapons research. It says its inspectors have not been given sufficient access to verify or invalidate that suspicion, although it expressed optimism that an agreement should be signed soon with Tehran permitting that.

Iran, for its part, insists its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. It has railed against Western sanctions hitting its vital oil and financial sectors that aim to force it to curb its activities as unfair and illegal, although it claims they are ineffective.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Suicide bombing kills police officer in central Turkey

Three men sped their vehicle into a police station in the central Turkish province of Kayseri on Friday, killing one of the bombers and a police officer, broadcaster NTV and news agencies reported.

The officer was killed instantly and another left in critical condition.

Ten civilians, including several children, who were nearby were wounded, Turkey’s Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin was quoted as saying.

At least five of the injured appeared to be in serious condition.
Police suspect the attackers were members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and carried out the bombing in panic after fleeing a traffic stop earlier in the day, reports said.

It marked a rare suicide bombing in Turkey, which frequently sees roadside explosions and bomb attacks carried out by the PKK.

The group, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and by much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

Last September a powerful bomb rocked the center of the capital Ankara, killing three people and wounding at least 15 and a bomb blast in May last year injured eight people near a bus stop in Istanbul. Both attacks were blamed on the PKK.

Pressure for real progress in next Iran talks

EU embargo on Iranian oil is set to come into force on July 1, two weeks after the next meeting in the Russian capital. (File photo)Iran and world powers cannot afford to come away from their next round of nuclear talks in Moscow in June without concrete progress, as they did in Baghdad, analysts said on Friday.

“We are starting to reach a point in which it is going to be more difficult to keep this process alive without having some tangible results on the substantive issues,” said Trita Parsi, author of a recent book about U.S. diplomacy with Iran called “A Single Roll of the Dice.”

With an EU embargo on Iranian oil set to come into force on July 1, two weeks after the next meeting in the Russian capital on June 18-19, Iran in particular cannot afford to keep avoiding the key issues indefinitely.

But the pressure is also on the P5+1, as the group comprising Germany and the five permanent and nuclear-armed members of the U.N. Security Council -- Russia, the United States, China, Britain and France -- is known.

Israel, the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, has like Washington not ruled out military action to prevent its arch foe also getting the bomb and has made clear its patience with diplomacy is running out.

U.S. President Barack Obama wants to bring down oil prices to help the economy as he seeks re-election on November, although at the same time he is wary of being accused of weakness towards Iran by his Republican challenger.
Parsi said he had expected this week’s meeting to be a “calculated failure in the sense that both sides will drive a very hard bargain, knowing they have a chance of having another meeting before these other sanctions kick in.”

“They could afford to do this (in Baghdad), but I don’t know if they can afford to do this in Moscow,” he said.

In intense discussions in Baghdad this week, the good mood music hailed by all at an initial gathering in Istanbul in mid-April, the first in 15 months, fell silent as negotiators got down to the real issues.

“Baghdad began with a giant leap backward as a result of an obstinate non-flexible Western approach and ended as a small step forward by the agreement to continue in Moscow,” said Kaveh Afrasiabi, former adviser to Iranian nuclear negotiation teams from 2004-06.

The main bone of contention was -- and will remain in Moscow -- the speed at which the P5+1 eases sanctions if the Islamic republic suspends the parts of its nuclear program that most raise suspicions it wants an atomic arsenal.
This is the enrichment of uranium to purities of 20 percent, a capability that in theory cuts the “breakout” time needed to develop the fissile core of a nuclear weapon if Tehran took the decision to build the bomb.

Iran’s negotiator Saeed Jalili said in Baghdad that this “can be an issue of discussion for cooperation” and that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Iran had “declared its readiness to address” the topic.

But Mark Fitzpatrick from the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London told AFP that Iran’s expectations going into the talks of what the P5+1 would offer were “wildly inflated.”

Ashton’s proposals on behalf of the six called on Iran to suspend 20-percent enrichment but she did not dangle the carrot of easing sanctions that Iran had wanted in return for giving up what Jalili called Tehran’s “inalienable right.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Iran holds military maneuvers on day of nuclear talks: report

Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, commander of Iran’s ground forces, says the aim of the exercise is to show the Islamic republic’s readiness to confront “global arrogance.”  (Reuters)  Iran’s official news agency says Iran’s military has wound up a one-day exercise in the center of the country.

The Wednesday report by IRNA says Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, commander of Iran’s ground forces, described the aim of the exercise as showing Iran’s readiness to confront “global arrogance,” a reference to the United States, as well as improving the capabilities of the forces.

He said jet fighters took part in successful maneuvers, and new weapons were tested.

The one-day drill has been held annually since 1987. This year’s coincided with nuclear talks between Iran and world powers in Baghdad.

The exercise was held in Isfahan province, which hosts Iran’s uranium enrichment and conversion facilities.

The West suspects Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran denies that.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Oil rises above $92 ahead of Iran nuclear talks English
Oil prices have fallen because tensions over Iran’s nuclear program have eased since April’s meeting between Iran and the six world powers. (File photo)
Oil rose above $92 a barrel Monday in Asia ahead of talks this week aimed at avoiding a military conflict over Iran’s nuclear program.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 56 cents to $92.04 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.08 to settle at $91.48 in New York on Friday.

Brent crude for July delivery was up 85 cents at $107.99 per barrel in London.

Iran plans to meet Wednesday in Baghdad with officials from the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany following initial discussions in April. Investors are concerned that a pre-emptive attack by Israel or the U.S. on Iran’s nuclear facilities would likely pinch global crude supplies and send prices higher.

World leaders have warned Iran that misusing its nuclear energy program to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Iran says it is enriching uranium only to create nuclear fuel.

“May is shaping up to be a key month for international efforts to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough on the Iranian nuclear program,” Barclays said in a report.

On Saturday, the Group of Eight industrial nations said they were prepared to ensure the oil market is “fully and timely supplied” as sanctions designed at limiting Iran’s crude exports will likely take full effect in a few weeks.

Crude has slid from $106 earlier this month amid signs of slowing global economic growth. Oil prices have also fallen because tensions over Iran’s nuclear program have eased since April’s meeting between Iran and the six world powers.

In other energy trading, heating oil was up 1.9 cents at $2.85 per gallon and gasoline futures gained 1.6 cents at $2.84 per gallon. Natural gas fell 1.8 cents at $2.72 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Azerbaijan slams critics ahead of Eurovision song contest

Senior presidential administration official Ali Hasanov accused some European media and international campaign groups of actively seeking to tarnish Azerbaijan’s image ahead of Eurovision. (Reuters) 
Al Arabiya News
Azerbaijan on Monday hit out at critics ranging from Iran to Western rights groups as it tried
to combat pressure over alleged abuses ahead of hosting the prestigious Eurovision song contest.

Senior presidential administration official Ali Hasanov said that human rights campaigners were spreading lies about the ex-Soviet state and Western media were conducting an “anti-Azerbaijani” campaign.

He accused Islamic neighbor Iran of spreading fake rumors that a gay pride march would be held in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku during Eurovision week.

“They are making statements about something that does not exist. We are holding Eurovision, not a gay parade,” Hasanov told a news conference.

“Actually there is no word in the Azerbaijani language for a gay parade, unlike in their language,” he added.

He accused Iran of being “jealous” of Azerbaijan’s economic success and worried about its secular government.

Unfounded rumors circulated on Iranian websites this month suggesting that a gay pride march would take place in mainly Muslim but officially secular Azerbaijan during Eurovision.

In a wide-ranging attack on his country’s detractors, Hasanov went on to accuse some European media and international campaign groups of actively seeking to tarnish Azerbaijan’s image ahead of Eurovision.

“Groundless statements by two organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, cause particular regret,” he said.

“I want to say that if these organizations continue (acting) in the same way, they will risk losing the Azerbaijani people’s trust, because the Azerbaijani people see that the statements of these two organizations have nothing in common with the actual situation in the country,” he added.

Western media have given significant coverage in recent days to claims by campaigners that the government of strongman President Ilham Aliyev systematically violates human rights, jailing opponents, persecuting journalists and suppressing free speech.

Hasanov specifically singled out media in Germany, where alleged abuses have been widely reported, for what he called their “negative, anti-Azerbaijani information policy”.

The Azerbaijani authorities want to use the pop contest watched by an estimated 125 million people worldwide to enhance the image of the energy-rich state.

In a separate development Monday, opposition leaders accused police of detaining around 40 people at unlicensed protests staged by the Public Chamber alliance in Baku on the eve of Eurovision’s first semi-final show.

“There were small protests in various parts of the city, 100 people attended and 40 were detained,” said Isa Gambar, leader of the Musavat party which is part of the Public Chamber, claiming that some detainees had also been beaten.

Hasanov’s sideswipe at neighbour Iran came amid increasingly tense relations with the Islamic Republic after a series of arrests of alleged attack plotters with links to Tehran in recent months.

Iran is also unhappy about Azerbaijan’s friendly links with Israel and its reported purchase of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons from the Jewish state.

There will be two semi-finals on May 22 and 24, with ten from each going on to the final on May 26 alongside Azerbaijan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain.

Top Egyptian cleric denounces Shi’ite mosques

Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the imam of the prestigious Sunni Al-Azhar institute, and other scholars issued a statement condemning what they said were attempts to spread Shiism in Egypt. (Reuters)Egypt’s top Islamic cleric on Monday denounced Shi’ite houses of worship in an usual outburst against the Muslim sect, telling Iran’s envoy in Cairo that the husseiniyas promoted “instability.”

Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the imam of the prestigious Sunni Al-Azhar institute, met with the envoy a day after scholars from Al-Azhar and Islamist groups issued a statement condemning what they said were attempts to spread Shiism in Egypt.

Shiites are estimated as a tiny fraction of Egypt’s population of 82-million, most of them Sunni Muslim. Shiism is dominant in Iraq and Iran, a regional rival to Egypt and the conservative Gulf monarchies.

Tayyeb told the envoy that Al-Azhar “rejected any husseiniya in Egypt because of their negative effects in destabilizing the country and fracturing unity and weakening the national fabric,” Al-Azhar said in a statement.

Sunnis have traditionally opposed Shiism, which teaches that many of the Prophet Mohammed’s companions revered by Sunnis were corrupt and usurped power from his rightful successor and cousin, Ali.

“We are not against Shiism. They can do whatever they want in their countries, but if we are to draw closer to them, we don’t want to hear insults against the companions,” Mahmoud Azab, Tayyeb’s dialogue adviser, told AFP.

Over the past decades, Al-Azhar has tried to promote a measure of reconciliation between the two streams of Islam, recognizing Shi’ite jurisprudence as legitimate.

But the sect remains taboo in Egypt, partly because of its association with Iran, which has low-level diplomatic representation in Cairo after Egypt broke off ties following Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

In a recent debate ahead of a May 23-24 presidential election, one front-runner, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, said Shiism must not be allowed to enter Egypt, while another candidate has been forced to battle rumors that he secretly embraced Shiism.

Azab told AFP that Tayyeb’s statements were prompted by reports of a husseiniya built in a Cairo suburb which has an Iraqi expatriate community.

“It is reported -- almost confirmed -- that there was a husseiniya in the October 6 (suburb) and the people were unhappy about it,” he said.

According to sources, Egyptian authorities shut down the husseiniya, which was reportedly opened by Lebanese Shi’ite cleric Ali al-Korani during his recent visit to Cairo.

The sources told Al Arabiya that the authorities confiscated all publications, posters and recordings found in the mosque.

Iran sacks diplomat after Brazil groping scandal

The Iranian diplomat allegedly fondled underage girls in a swimming pool in Brazil, where he was stationed before being recalled. (AFP)Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday it has sacked one of its diplomats who allegedly fondled underage girls in a swimming pool in Brazil, where he was stationed before being recalled.

“After an investigation into the violations by the Iranian employee of the Iranian embassy in Brazil, it was found his behavior was contrary to administrative regulations and Islamic conduct ... thus he was dismissed,” the ministry said in a statement.

Brazilian media identified the diplomat as Hekmatollah Ghorbani, 51, and reported that he groped at least four Brazilian girls aged between nine and 15 in a Brasilia pool last month, making them cry and attracting the fury of their parents.

He was arrested but quickly released when Brazilian police verified his diplomatic immunity.

Iran’s embassy in Brasilia had initially defended the diplomat by issuing a statement claiming the groping allegations were the result of a “cultural misunderstanding”.

But foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast subsequently said the diplomat had been recalled and would be “dealt with”, even though he also asserted that the incident was being twisted by Western and Arab media.

In Iran, men and women of any age are not permitted to share swimming pools. Iranian officials and representatives are expected to follow Islamic rules while abroad.

Kanada Toronto 20may2012 GAIP təşəbusulə etraz eyləmi keçirildi

Kanada Toronto 20may2012 GAIP təşəbusulə etraz eyləmi keçirildi
İran'ın işqalçı terorist devleti, 2006 da, devletin resmi qazetinde Güney Azerbaycan Türküne olan sayqısızlığıa qarşı protesto eden milletin medeni eylemini qanda boğdu. Yüzleri öldürüldü, minleri zindanlarda işkence oldular, minler aile dağıdı. O zamandan beri, İranın Fars ırqçılığı üzerine qurulmuş devleti Güney Azerbaycan'ı sıxı nizami durumda tutmaqdadır. Bu duruma e'tiraz etmek üçün Kanada'nın Toronto şehrinin North York merkezinde düzenlenen toplantıya, Güney Azerbaycan Türkünün sesine ses vermek üçün, Türkiye, Güney Türkmenistan, Al Alwas Arablerinin Temsilcileri de qatıldılar. İran işqalçı devletinin insanlıq dışı işlerinin eleyhine sıloqanlar sölenildi ve yüzlerce ingilizce yazılmış biligiler ehaliye sünüldü. İki saat süren bu toplantı, Güney Azerbaycan İstiqlal Partisinin düzenlediği qetnamenın Yaşar beyin terefinde oxumasıyla sona erdi.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Arab Spring a loss for Israel: Qatari ruler

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has urged Israel’s leaders to view the Middle East uprisings as an opportunity for serious peace talks with Palestinians. (Reuters)
Qatar’s ruler says Israel has become more isolated by the Arab Spring and will face increasing pressures over issues such as its presumed nuclear arsenal.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani urged Israel’s leaders to view the Middle East uprisings as an opportunity for serious peace talks with Palestinians.

The fall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak last year has also wiped away Israel’s main Arab ally, and Qatar’s emir predicts the region’s new governments will press Israel harder over its policies, including a widely suspected nuclear arms program.
Israel has never confirmed or denied whether it has atomic weapons.

Qatar’s emir spoke Sunday at the opening of the Doha Forum, an international political affairs conference.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to establish a Palestinian state in line with the two-state solution after forming a surprising coalition with opposition Kadima party early May. Many critics said it is Netanyahu’s chance to strike a deal with the Palestinians, as his coalition with Kadima has strengthened his political party’s agendas not to be brought down by hard-line nationalists.

The Arab Spring has put Israel under a lot of pressure, and has forced Israel to change its stance on the future of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Israel which has long-warned that Islamists will hijack the Syrian government if Assad’s regime falls but Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi’s recently said that the Jewish state is “better off” if Assad’s regime was toppled.

المركز الاحوازي لحقوق الانسان يدين محاولة السلطات الايرانية اصدار حكم الاعدام بحق عدد من المواطنين الاحوازيين - باللغة الانجليزية

IRAN-Ahwazi human Rights and cultural activists are at risk of execution18-05-2012

Six Ahwazi Arabs human and cultural rights activities are at risk in the detention of Iranian intelligence services. A source from inside of AL.Ahwaz who is in regular contact with prisoners’ families informed me.
For sure, I directly contacted some other sources from Ahwaz- Khalafia and they assured me that all Ahwazis from Khalafia are in dramatic situation since the barbaric and brutal torture. The prisoners referred to them were arrested on 28 February 2011 in Khalafia (Khalaf Abad or Ramshir) and some were arrested on 13th March 2011 by Iranian security of Khuzestan.

The details below are about the prisoners.
1. Mr. Hadi Rashedi (38years old), single and was born in Khalafia. His father’s name is Mr. Hamza.
Hadi was arrested on February 28, 2011 in Khlafia in his house, 22, Bahman Street, Khalafia.
Has a postgraduate qualifications with an MSc in chemistry, he was working in local high schools as a teacher. Hadi has a keen interest in cultural issues. In his medical history he he is suffering from heart and liver disorder, but the authorities refused to give him fair treatment. During his imprisonment, he has suffered considerable mental stress, developing a digestive disorder as a result. Because of beatings, he has a fractured hip. He appeared in a documentary aired by Iran’s Press TV (see in which he was forced to confess to firing a gun at a security centres and government officials in Khalafabad. The authorities accused him of having contact with Ahwazi political parties out of Ahwaz and also against the national security of the Iranian regime.

2. Mr. Hashem Shaabani (Amoori) (31 year-old), married and has one child. Hashem was born in Khalafia and lives in Kanawi street. His father’s name is Mr. Khalaf.
Hashem was arrested on 28th February 2011. He has a Bachelor degree in Arabic language literature and education and holds a Masters degree in Political Sciences from Ahwaz University. He has written poetry in Arabic and Farsi and teaches Arabic language and Arabic literature in high schools.
Hashem is a cultural activist. He takes care of his elderly parents. His father Khalaf Shaabani was disabled while fighting Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq War. Due to their son being arrested, his parents are suffering both physically and mentally. In December 2011, he was featured on Iran’s  Press TV (see in which he was forced to confess to being involved in separatist terrorism and supporting Ba’athism in Iraq and also has connection with Ahwazi political parties out of Iran, and against the national security of the regime. He was also forced to claim that he had assistance from Hosni Mubarak and Muammer al-Qadafi, the former rulers of Egypt and Libya.

3. Rahman Asakereh (33 year-old), married and father of five children. Rahman was born in Khalafia. He was arrested on 28th February 2011. He has a BSc in Chemical Engineering from Khorramabad University and an MA in Social Sciences from Ahwaz University. He was in the process of editing his Master’s thesis, which was focused on the difficulties faced by bilingual students in the Iranian education system. He worked as a chemistry teacher in local high schools and conducted free courses for university entrance exams for local youth. He was active at a regional level in cultural and civic activities and was a student activist at the universities he attended. His 14 year-old son  namely Hamed Asakereh died on September 13, 2011 after he was hit by a police car in suspicious circumstances while his father was in prison. It is suspected that Hamed was murdered to cause distress to Rahman. The Iranian authorities accused Rahman of having relation with Ahwazi political parties out of Iran and also opponent of the national security of the Iranian regime.

4. Mohammad Ali Amoori (33 year-old), from Khalafia son of Mr. Abdul Zahra, fisheries engineer. He graduated from Isfahan University with a degree in aquaculture and natural resources. He was one of the founding editors of the student newspaper Torath and was also an active blogger. He taught in some of the high schools in Khalafabad. He was originally inspired into political activism by the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. He had proposed a plan to form a civic institution called Al-Hewar (Dialogue), but permission was denied by the Ministry of the Interior. He was later involved in the Lejnat al-Wefaq (Reconciliation Committee), an Arab political association that was allowed to contest elections and won a number of seats in municipal councils, including a majority on Ahwaz City Council, as well as the Ahwaz seat in the Iranian Majlis. However, the Iranian authorities banned the organisation.  Rahman was forced to flee to Iraq with Shahid Shaabani Amoori and Fares Silawi where he was arrested in 2008 and spent 3 years in Iraqi prison, but Mr. Fares killed under torture. After he was repatriated to Iran, he was arrested by the security services on 28th February 2011. The Iranian authorities accused Mohammad Ali of having relation with Ahwazi political parties out of Ahwaz and also against the national security of the regime. Other Ahwazi human rights organizations and I contacted Amnesty International and Human Rights organizations and also UN several times, while Mohammad Ali was in prison in Iraq. Amnesty international in 2010 asked Iraqi authorities not sending him back to Iran. However, Iraqi authorities ignored his request and took their action.

5. Mr. Jabber Alboshoka (27year-old), was born in Khalafia in Alboshoka street. Jabber is married and has one child. His father’s name is Mohammad. Jabber  was arrested with his brother Mokhtar on 13th March 2011 at their house in Khalafia. Jabber was working in his private family company near Meshrage Town (13 km north of Khalafia).  Jabber suffers from depress and stress due to serve torture by the Iranian intelligence services. Although he has solicitor,but has not met his lawyer yet.  Amnesty International had report in Jun 2011 and condemned the Iranian authorities and also had another report in February 2012 and asked the authorities to free Jabber and his brother Mokhtar. Jabber Uncle, Sultan was killed by Iranian security guard on 25th December 2005, therefore the services arrested Jabber’s father, elder brother and his grandfather namely Jassem Alboshoka 83 years old, and his uncle.

6. Mr. Mokhtar Alboshoka (25 year-old), was born in Khalafia in Alboshoka Street. Mokhtar is single and arrested the same day with his brother, Jabber.
Mokhtar suffers from depress and also lost his memory due to serve torture (See above).
Mokhtar was in his two years Compulsory military service but arrested after he spent one year in army.

In the below, I am going to give the Ahwazi Arabs name who also arrested but freed temporary by bills:
1. Mr. Habibollah Rashedi (42 year-old), married, father of three. Habibollah was arrested on February 28, 2011, with Hadi his younger brother. He has a BSc in chemical engineering and used to work at the Bandar Imam Khomeini (Mahshor) Petrochemical Company. He was elected chair of Khalafabad City Council during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. He is popular among the poor and youth in the town due to his management of the town as well as promoting Arabic poetry events and other cultural gatherings and activities. Habibollah freed temporary by house bail in Jun 2011, the price of the bill is around two Iranian Billions reyal (around $120,000).
2. Mr. Shahid Shaabani (Amoori) (42 year-old), from Khalafia, his father’s name is Abdul Hussein. He is married and father of three children. In addition to being a well-known poet in Ahwaz, he is a civil and cultural activist and was active in Arabic poetry events. Despite being a famous poet, he has suffered poverty, homelessness and unemployment and denied employment or assistance from the government. His poetry stressed Ahwazi Arab identity and the persecution of the ethnic group, which meant he was under constant surveillance. In 2008, he fled Iran, accompanying Mohammed Ali Amoori and Fares Silawi to Iraq. He was arrested in Iraq and spent 3 years in Al-Amarah prison (See Mohammad Ali’s deportation case). Shahid was freed temporary by bail in July 2011, the price is around one Iranian Billion Reyal (more than $60000).
3. Mr. Ali Badri (30 year-old), married with one child, from Khalafia city. He has a BA in Accounting from Ahwaz University and has worked in Ahwaz’s office of charity and endowments. He is a political, civil and human rights activist. Raised in an educated, respected family, Ali is described as an intellectual, well-mannered person. He was arrested on April 11, 2011, released on bail in August 2011, and has been dismissed from his job. The bail is around 800 million Reyal (around $50000).
4. Mr. Amir Amoori (29 year-old), single, was born in Khalafia. Amir has a university diploma and brother of Mohammad Ali Amoori. Amir was arrested on 28th February 2011 with his brother.
Amir freed on bail in May 2011, the price of bail is around 800 Iranian million Reyal (see Mohammad Ali’s case).
5. Mr. Aghil Aghili (29 year-old), from Khalafia in Khomeini Street, son of Mr. Abed.
Aghil has computer technician and internet cafe owner. Aghil  was arrested on 28th February 2011, but then was freed by bail in May 2011, the price is around 700 Iranian million Reyal.
6. Mr. Saied Asadi (40 year-old), from Khalafia in Damegani Street. Saied was arrested in April 2011, but freed by bail in May 2011, the price is around 500 Iranian million Reyal.
7. Mr. Bagher Alboshoka (43 year-old), son of Mr. Zalaan Alboshoka, from Khalafia Ballad Motlab Olya village. Bagher is married and has six children. Bagher  was arrested on 13th March 2011 with Jabber and Mokhtar (Jabber is married with Bagher’s sister). He was then freed on bail in Jun 2011. The price is around 800 Iranian Million Reyal. Bagher is a sport man and manager of Khalafia boxing team; he was also member of Ahwazi boxing team assistance.
The information was gathered by Kamil Alboshoka Human rights activist.

For more details please contact:e
Ali Saedi
Ahwazi Centre for Human Rights
Mobile: 00447864555134

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Document - Iran: Ahwazi Arabs facing unfair trial, risk torture

Six members of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority are due to go on trial in Iran on 20 May. The men were detained without charge for almost a year and all were arrested in connection with their activities on behalf of Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority. It is feared they will not receive a fair trial and may be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
The six men, all from Khalafabad in Khuzestan province, south-west Iran, were arrested at their homes in February and March 2011 in advance of the sixth anniversary of widespread protests by Ahwazi Arabs in April 2005. Blogger Mohammad Ali Amouri, chemistry teacher Rahman Asakereh and teacher Hashem Sha’bani Amouri were arrested on 16 February. Teacher Hadi Rashidi (or Rashedi) was arrested on 28 February, and Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and his younger brother Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka were arrested in March.
The men are now held in Karoun prison in the city of Ahwaz, Khuzestan province. At least four of them were denied access to a lawyer for at least eight months after arrest. In or around February 2012, they were all charged in separate five-minute court sessions with the vaguely-worded offences of “enmity against God and corruption on earth" (moharebeh va ifsad fil-arz), “gathering and colluding against state security” and “spreading propaganda against the system”. The charge of “enmity against God and corruption on earth” carries a possible death sentence. They are due to be tried before Branch 2 of the Dezful Revolutionary Court on 20 May 2012.
Mohammad Ali Amouri, who fled to Iraq in December 2007and was forcibly returned in January 2011, was reportedly tortured and otherwise ill-treated during his first seven months in detention. Hadi Rashidi was hospitalized after his arrest, apparently as a result of torture or other ill-treatment, and is said to be in poor health. According to their family, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka lost 10 kg and Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka experienced depression and memory loss as a result of torture or other ill-treatment.
Please write immediately in Persian, Arabic, English or your own language:
Calling on the authorities to ensure that the men (naming them) are tried according to international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty;
Urging them to make sure that the men are protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and that they are allowed regular access to lawyers of their choosing;
Calling on them to ensure that Hadi Rashidi and the other five men are given immediate access to adequate medical treatment.
Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei�The Office of the Supreme Leader�Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid�Keshvar Doust Street, �Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran�Email: �Twitter: "#Iran Leader
@khamenei_ir must ensure six Ahwazi Arab men are tried fairly”
Salutation: Your Excellency
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
[Care of] Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: (Subject
Line: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani)
Salutation: Your Excellency�
And copies to:
Secretary General High Council for Human Rights
Mohammed Javad Larijani�c/o Office of the Head of the Judicary�Pasteur St, Vali Asr Ave
South of Serah-e Jomhouri�Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran �Email: �(Subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

ADditional Information

The Ahwazi Arab minority is one of many minorities in Iran. Much of Iran's Arab community lives in the south-western province of Khuzestan. Most are Shi’a Muslims but some are reported to have converted to Sunni Islam, heightening government suspicion about Ahwazi Arabs. They often complain that they are marginalized and subject to discrimination in access to education, employment, adequate housing, political participation and cultural rights.
There were mass demonstrations in Khuzestan province in April 2005, after it was alleged that the government planned to disperse the country's Arab population or to force them to relinquish their Arab identity. Following bomb explosions in Ahvaz City in June and October 2005, which killed at least 14 people, and explosions at oil installations in September and October 2005, the cycle of violence intensified, with hundreds of people reportedly arrested. Further bombings on 24 January 2006, in which at least six people were killed, were followed by further mass arbitrary arrests. At least 15 men were later executed as a result of their alleged involvement in the bombings.
Mohammad Ali Amouri fled from Iran to Iraq in December 2007: he was said to have been sought by the authorities for organizing protests during the widespread anti-government demonstrations in April 2005. He was arrested in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, charged with entering Iraqi territory illegally and sentenced to serve one year’s imprisonment in al-‘Amara prison. He completed his prison sentence (see UA 3/09, MDE 14/001/2009, 7 January 2009, and was forcibly returned to Iran in January 2011. He was
Scores, if not hundreds, of members of the Ahwazi Arab minority were reportedly arrested before, during and after demonstrations on 15 April 2011. The demonstrations had been called a “Day of Rage” to mark the sixth anniversary of the 2005 mass demonstrations. At least three (according to the authorities) - and possibly many more - people were killed in the April 2011 demonstrations during clashes with the security forces, including some in the Malashiya neighbourhood in Ahvaz. Amnesty International received the names of 27 people said to have been killed. Ahwazi Arab sources have claimed the casualty figures were even higher. Amnesty International has been unable to confirm the reports as the Iranian authorities do not allow the organization to visit the country. The authorities maintain a tight control on the flow of information in and out of the province, preventing foreign journalists from visiting Khuzestan. At least four Ahwazi Arab men reportedly died in custody between 23 March and mid May 2011, possibly as a result of torture or other ill-treatment. Others – including Hadi Rashidi - were hospitalized around the same time, apparently as a result of injuries sustained from torture or other ill-treatment.
Between 10 January 2012 and the beginning of February, in the lead-up to parliamentary elections held on 2 March, between 50 and 65 people were reportedly arrested in at least three separate locations in the province; at least two deaths in custody were also reported. Some Ahwazi Arabs, mostly in Shoush, north-central Khuzestan, called for a boycott of the elections and arrests in Shoush, reportedly followed the appearance of anti-election slogans painted on walls. Others may have been pre-emptive arrests aimed at preventing any gathering of Ahwazi Arabs either on the anniversary of country-wide demonstrations held on 14 February 2011 in support of the people of Tunisia and Egypt which were violently repressed, or on the 15 April anniversary of the “Day of Rage”. In the immediate lead-up to the 15 April anniversary, from late March until mid-April 2012, at least 25 Ahwazi Arabs were reportedly arrested following protests in cities across the province.
Name: Mohammad Ali Amouri, Rahman Asakereh, Hadi Rashedi, Hashem Sha’bani Amouri, Sayed Jaber Alboshoka and Sayed Mokhtar Alboshoka
Gender m/f: all m
UA: 137/12 Index: MDE 13/029/2012 Issue Date: 18 May 2012