September 15, 2005 VOLUME 16


To our readers,

Thousands of Iranians came together on September 14th in New York City to denounce the presence of Iran's new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at the United Nations. The vast majority, ranged from 15000 to 20,000, of demonstrators were supporters of the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), whose president Mrs. Maryam Rajavi lives in exile in France.

Ahmadinejad's record represents a regime that stands on 26 years of state-sponsor of violence against women. His inauguration followed by severe crackdown on Iranian Kurds, arrests and 53 public hanging and execution of individuals, among them three women and minors. Ahmadinejad is well known for his terrorist activities at home and abroad.

 One can only wonder how could the United Nations host such a criminal individual, while upholding the ideals of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women!

Nearly 170 world leaders came together, yet no word was said about the on-going violence against women in Iran. No mention of Ahmadinejad’s record for killing political prisoners! As the diplomats chose silence, the civil society outside of the UN building chose a vociferous rally, united in saying: “Ahamdinejad is a terrorist, Down with Ahmadinejad”. The crowd also declared “United we stand, Against Mullah’s terror mind”.

This issue of E-Zan is dedicated to the conscious voices who chose to speak and break the silence against the tyrants of Iran. While women of Iran continue to defy the misogyny by Ahmadinjad and alike, they urge more unity among the civil societies, especially women’s NGO’s, in defeating Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. Ahmadinejad presidency represents the will of fundamentalist regime in Tehran and not the Iranian people. His presidency was manufactured by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and holds no popular legitimacy. Until Iranian people have free and fair elections, United Nations should not recognize Ahmadinejad as the head of Iranian state.

E-Zan Featured Headlines

RFE/RLAugust 25, 2005

In Iran, most children drop out of school after completing primary school or after completing the first three years of secondary school.
Shirzad Abdollahi, an education expert in
Tehran, says the drop-out rate among girls in rural areas is high.
”After completing elementary school, usually most of these pupils have to go to other regions or provinces to be able to continue their education. Because of cultural reasons, families prefer to send their boys to school, and keep their daughters,” Abdollahi says.
Abdollahi says most boys leave schools because they don’t find the school curriculum attractive and don’t have a hope that their studies will guarantee them a good future.”…there are limited possibilities for sports and few laboratories. Furthermore, the students do not see any prospect for finding a good job after completing secondary school or gaining money or respect in the society,” Abdollahi says. The diploma that students receive in
Iran after completing secondary school does not guarantee them a good job. Unemployment is a major issue in Iran.

Aftab State News Agency – September 3, 2005

In a gathering of the high ranking members of the public health administration, one of Ahmadinejad’s cabinet ministers stated that the sexual intercourse between couples should happen at specific times of day so that according to sharia law the chances of inception of a retarded baby is minimized. A correspondent reporting from that meeting states that: In his speech he gave priority to prevention of diseases and said if all the verses of Quran were observed, these handicaps would be prevented.  In this meeting where some participants were women, he specified at what times during the day the sexual intercourse should happen so that healthy babies are produced. The report specifies that some of those in attendance felt very uncomfortable and some were blushing. This minister has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in System Engineering.


Iran Focus – September 6, 2005

Women who violate Iran’s strict Islamic dress code will be flogged immediately, prosecutor’s offices in provincial centers announced on Tuesday. In the central Iranian city of Shahin-Shahr, the prosecutor’s office posted huge notices on billboards and shop windows warning women that dress code violators will appear before an Islamic judge immediately after arrest to receive a sentence, usually 100 lashes in public. The prosecutor will be demanding maximum penalties, the notice warned. ”Individuals whose state of attire and make-up is against religious laws in public will be prosecuted without having to first wait in a queue and will be sentenced to flogging and fines”, the statement said. ”Scarves which do not cover the hair and neck”, “tight overcoats or coats that which finish above the knees and whose sleeves cover to a point higher than the wrist”, “tight trousers which do not cover the calf of the leg”, and “women’s make-up” are all forbidden, according to the statement, which added that failure to adhere to the dress code would be dealt with accordingly. Women whose scarves do not properly cover up their hair will face between 10 days to 10 months in prison, the statement added.


Jomhouri Islami State-Run News Paper – September 6, 2005

The regime's ruling newspaper, belonging to Mullah Khamenei, blamed Iranian women and girls, in an article entitled "The main reason for social corruption and ills," and called upon the disciplinary forces to exert all the necessary force in confronting such blight.
This newspaper wrote: "Families are not only troubled by hoodlums and misfits. The actions of these hoodlums and misfits are as a result of other people's influences upon which the commander of the disciplinary forces did not expound. The main problem of our society today stems from sloppy women and girls whose veiling problems are a constant concern and of course there's the prostitutes who are the source of trouble on the streets. Those hoodlums and misfits who harass women and girls would never think of bothering proper and sophisticated women who are veiled according to the Islamic rules and maintain decent and respectable standards. Women who are not properly veiled and dress in a common and garish way are looking to be harassed and attacked. Therefore these women and girls are the real reason for the actions of these hoodlums to begin with."


Hambstegi Meli Website – September 8 2005

In accordance with the laws of the security forces governing public places, women should have a male executive assistant in order to run a restaurant. This law is concerned with all the women who apply for restaurant management permission.

According to the president of the restaurant owner’s association, “Mohammad Hossein Armin”, in addition to producing all the necessary documents and successfully passing all the steps, women need to have a male executive assistant in order to apply for restaurant ownership. Armin who was interviewed in the “Cultural Inheritance” magazine said that this law applies to all the women who submit an application.


Iran Focus – September 9, 2005

Female restaurant managers in Iran will be required to name a man as the person who will carry out the management on their behalf, or else their businesses will be shut down, the country’s police force announced on Friday. According to the Public Places Inspection Office of the para-military police, Iranian restaurants must be managed by men to prevent “social corruption”. The new announcement was confirmed by the head of Union of Restaurant Owners, who claimed that apart from the regular licence required, if a man was not appointed as manager, the restaurant would not be given a government approval permit and would face closure.


Peike Iran Website – September 9, 2005

(State-run source: Fars News) According to the United Nations Human Development Report the Islamic Republic of Iran ranks 155 among 165 nations of the world in Women’s Economic Activities and empowerment.

[WFAFI: Other studies (source Iran Focus 9/11/05) indicate that over the past four decades, despite the fact that women constitute half of the population in Iran, the men-women employment ratio reached 90-10 respectively. Strikingly, while women have made up more than 60 percent of university entrants in the past five years, the recent survey showed that women represent only 12 percent of the country’s economically active population]


Iran Focus - September 12, 2005

A young Iranian mother was sentenced to execution in the town of Langaroud, northern Iran, the semi-official daily Jomhouri Islami reported on Monday. The young woman was identified as 19-year-old Hajar Vafi from the nearby town of Lahijan. She has a two-year-old infant.
She was sentenced to execution after an Islamic court in Langaroud convicted her of murdering her aunt earlier this year following a dispute over money.

E-Zan Featured Reports

Iran’s new Justice Minister vows harsher crackdown on women

Iran Focus
August 20, 2005


Tehran - The man designated by Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as his Minister of Justice vowed on Saturday that “improperly-veiled women” will be treated as if they had no Islamic veil at all. Jamal Karimi-Rad told the local press, “Being improperly veiled and not wearing a veil are no different. When it is clear from the appearance of a woman that she has violated the law, then the crime is obvious and law enforcement agents can take legal measures against her”. ”Crimes such as mal-veiling or other prohibited acts, which happen before the eyes of a law enforcement agent, are evident crimes and must be dealt with in accordance with the law”, Karimi-Rad said. Karimi-Rad also made it clear that members of the para-military Bassij and the notorious Ansar-e Hizbollah, government-organized gangs of hooligans, are regarded as law enforcement agents in clergy-ruled Iran. Women have been facing a harsher crackdown since the June elections that led to Ahmadinejad’s presidency.  In July, Iran deployed squads of women-only vice police to clamp down on “un-Islamic” dress. The semi-official Jomhouri Islami recently reported that women have been arrested in Iran for “disrespecting Islamic virtues and for having repulsive and immoral attire”. With the arrival of a top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as the country’s new police chief, a new summer-long crackdown on “social vice” in Tehran was launched targeting young women. State-run news agencies reported that “mal-veiled or unveiled individuals inside and outside of cars” would be the target of arrests by Iran’s State Security Forces, the paramilitary police force. The police would also embark on a systematic clampdown on “shops and public places where public chastity and Islamic values are ignored”.


A woman came to me weeping. "You have to tell our story. You have to tell our story!

Special to the SF Chronicle, Sean Penn

August 25, 2005

…During his visit to Iran in June, Sean Penn had the chance to witness a rare demonstration in support of women's rights. The demonstration was to begin at 5 p.m. I wanted to refresh a bit, so I took a shower at the hotel and began to dress when, at about 4:30 p.m., my companions Reese Erlich, Norman Solomon and Babak knocked on my door. They'd gotten an update. What had been anticipated as likely violence the evening before was now considered certain…We headed down to the demonstration. As we approached Tehran University, traffic slowed to a stop. It was hot in the car. And sweaty. I could see people on overlooking apartment balconies, pointing in the direction of the demonstration and then retreating inside. The closer we got, the louder the volume of the couple of thousand people before us. The singing of the demonstrators, the honking of horns, the heckling of the crowd were rising. I was taping through the windshield as we approached. A traffic light came into my viewfinder and turned to red.

 At this point, rather than stay car-bound, I suggested we walk into the demonstration on foot. People were being pushed, tempers were rising, but for the moment, we could see that the demonstrators had not yet been dispersed. There were uniformed police, yelling in threatening tones, and I was taping as I walked. I zoomed through the crowd catching several close images of some of the 100 female demonstrators. Women were prepared to take a baton across the head or more as the cost of speaking out. As we walked through the crowd, I led the way, being jostled about, moving closer and closer to the center of the demonstration. A demonstration like this is quite rare in today's Iran and was probably planned to correspond with the election-week presence of international press. Of course, I knew that either the camera or my Western face could promote any number of responses in this kind of situation, and on my video screen, there he was: one of many who were considered to be plainclothes intelligence officers infiltrating the crowd. (This would later be confirmed by several sources.) I didn't understand what he was yelling at me, but I knew he was displeased with my presence and my camera. I said to him, "American journalist!" He yelled, "No camera! No camera!"…

This was the muscle of the oppressor I was looking at, perhaps of the Baseej, one of the violent volunteer militias in Tehran. Or, as it turned out to be, an officer of the intelligence ministry. We struggled briefly over the camera. I didn't know what the limits were exactly. I struggled with my left hand to retrieve my journalist's credential from my pocket…The longer I held on to the camera, the more likely I'd get hit in the back of the head by one of his cronies. So I let the camera go as he held onto my wrist and pulled me through the crowd. In all the chaos, I was separated from Norman and Reese. We had planned that if anything like this happened, whoever could stay and get the story would. We prearranged a meeting place should we be separated, but those would turn out to be the best-laid plans of mice, and the snakes had something else in mind. I couldn't see Maryam, our translator, at this point, but I knew she was close behind me. As I forcefully presented my journalist's credential, the bastard snatched that from my grasp as well. Now I had a hand pushing my hip forward behind me. It's hard to imagine that guys like this have friends, but evidently he did. And then Maryam appeared at my left shoulder, urgently explaining to the officer that I was an accredited American journalist. He released his grasp on my wrist…he did return my camera and credential, forcing me to put the camera into my pocket, which it barely fit into, and giving us a shove into traffic to cross the street and away from the demonstration. It was a dance of thousands of people, many of them men, and most supported the demonstrators. Others just observed with curiosity, pouring through the street onto the crowded sidewalk opposite the university. For a moment, looking back at the demonstration, I caught a glimpse of Norman. He was within feet of the demonstrators, seemingly invisible while he recorded and took notes. I was envious because I was suddenly recognized by a lot of people. "What are you doing here?" "Be careful. They'll beat you or arrest you." My video camera was closed in my pocket, but it was not turned off. It was still running. And I recorded all that followed on audio. Several people warned me that interspersed in the crowd were a large number of anti-reformist vigilantes and intelligence officers. "They'll approach as friends; they'll stand by and listen to your conversations." Some people were less concerned with being overheard.

A woman came to me weeping. "You have to tell our story. You have to tell our story! They've just beaten two of the women." The demonstration had turned somewhat violent, but it was more a series of whirlpools within the sea of people than a tidal wave throughout. I was told that one of the women who was beaten had her hijab ripped from her head. These hijabs are tied tight and don't come off easily. She defied her assailant's order to put her hijab back on. She said, "You took it off." And with enormous courage, she went on with her protest. As the story was told to me, her assailant impotently went back to his duties of crowd control. A telling example of the power in courage.

As Maryam went back to the crowd to try to find Reese and Norman, the police began to arrest journalists. By day's end, approximately 30 journalists were jailed. I ran into one well-known, and I will confess, left-leaning Western journalist who suggested I make an effort to get arrested, that it would "make a great story." So that's the way they play it, huh? Maryam returned dazed and alone, unable to find Reese and Norman. She then tried Reese on a cell phone that he'd acquired, but the intelligence ministry had initiated the use of jamming devices, shutting down all cellular phone signals in the area of the demonstration. With no intention, beyond a desire to make another attempt to get some pictures, I said, "We'll find them later. I want to try to get back into the demonstration." We pushed our way across the street. Two older women in chadors passed. They whispered to me, "We don't want the mullahs, we just have to pretend we do." They disappeared into the crowd. With car fenders pressing against our legs, Maryam and I serpentined through the crowd and automobiles until we were shoulder to shoulder among the throngs, within about 40 feet of the center of the demonstration. And then everything got loud. Really loud.

A line of uniform policemen began batoning the mass of which we were a part. There was screaming and panic. And our bodies were four-walling each other -- you could barely move. It certainly seemed as if some could have been trampled, though as far as I know, that did not occur. But the following describes the irony of oppression: There was a woman among the panicking crowd. She reached her hand toward mine and I took it. Between us, we'd support each other out of this chaos. \All of this couldn't have lasted more than 40 seconds, but at the end of it, the force of the police had only forced an illegal touch between a man and a woman. We parted instantly as the police stepped back from the line they had been assaulting. The crowd dispersed somewhat. I crossed back to the opposite sidewalk, rendezvousing finally with Reese and Norman, who by now had been forced away from the demonstration as well. I was getting too much attention on the street as a movie face, and I felt inappropriately engaged by it. So, while Reese and Norman continued interviews on the sidewalk, I jumped in a car with Babak and his wife. They dropped me off at the hotel, where I waited for Norman and Reese's return. 

That evening, we dined at a pan-Asian restaurant called Monsoon in the trendy section of town. Evidently, some journalists had witnessed the confiscation of my camera and press credential, and there had been reports that I had been beaten. I worried that my family would hear this distorted news, so I borrowed a local cell phone and called home. Next, we got a call from someone within the police department apologizing for what had occurred. But, while they were apologizing to me on the telephone, an Iranian journalist arrested at the scene reportedly was beaten in their jail that same evening for protesting the verbal abuse of him and the other detained journalists.  Within hours of these reports and the embarrassment of my treatment (I was unharmed), all 30 journalists were released. We had just asked for the dinner bill when Maryam got an urgent call on her cell phone. She stepped outside for a clearer connection and then rushed back into the restaurant with the news. "There's just been a bombing in Tehran."…


'My sister Soma set herself on fire rather than wear the hijab'

The Star, Sheffield, UK

30 August 2005

It is a little known fact that there are more Iranian asylum seekers in Sheffield than any other nationality. Richard Heath talks to one refugee about his experiences and finds out why so many choose to leave their homeland.

IN a school in western Iran, a 14-year-old Kurdish girl died after setting herself on fire in protest over her right not to wear the hijab headdress.
The story nearly brings Iranian Kurd Kawa Kohnaposhe to tears. He escaped
Kurdistan in 2000 after twice being arrested and tortured for supporting the Democratic Party of Kurdistan. He fled to Turkey, obtained false documents and eventually arrived in Sheffield via London and Coventry. Meanwhile, the girl began to question certain details of Islam and refused to wear the hijab.  She was detained after school and after months of torment she decided to end her life. Kawa never had the chance to say goodbye to the 14-year-old girl, his sister, Soma.
"I only had one sister. She was only 14 when she died. I never said goodbye to her and that has left me with a pain in my heart that won't go away. It will be with me forever," said Kawa, speaking at his Burngreave flat. Kawa, aged 26, had little choice but to leave behind the oppression of
Kurdistan after his every move became tracked by the Iranian intelligence service. After leaving high school in the town of Mariwan, the then 19-year-old began teaching at a local school. It was there where he began secretly teaching the pupils about the Democratic Party of Kurdistan. This act caught the attention of the Iranian government. No Kurdish resident can have a Kurdish name. They cannot study their own language, celebrate their own festivals or even display their own flag. Those who do are captured and tortured.
Kawa was 20 when he was arrested, taken to the local jail and subjected to two weeks of mental and physical abuse.
He said: "They put me under pressure to tell them about my political work but I didn't say anything. They had no evidence against me.
"So they began playing tapes of women and children screaming because they were being beaten. Some were being abused sexually.
"Then they beat me. They tied my legs together and hung me from the ceiling and hit me with guns and sticks." Kawa spent two weeks inside the jail, living in a cell so small he couldn't lie down. He still suffers pain from the beatings and during an English course at
Sheffield College had to leave class early so he could exercise his neck and shoulder. Council figures show that Iranians have taken over Somalis as the largest ethnic group claiming asylum in Sheffield. There are 149 Iranian asylum seekers in 109 households in Sheffield. There are 129 Somalis in 60 households. Kawa said: "Life is difficult in Kurdistan. There is always someone watching you and you are constantly denied celebrating your culture.

"Most people don't even know what the Kurdish flag looks like because no-one is allowed to have one."  Two months after he was released from jail, and having been constantly monitored by the Iranian government, Kawa was rearrested, locked up and again tortured. "They did the same thing again but I wouldn't say anything to them.”Those 21 days were horrible for me and for every single prisoner. They didn't treat us like humans. "I got into politics for a reason – to change things. So, why would I tell them anything? If I did, they would have killed me." Kawa left Kurdistan and claimed asylum in Sheffield after relatives warned him that people captured for a third time are either detained for life or killed. One man who was seen with a Kurdish flag was arrested and allegedly splashed with boiling water before having his fingers chopped off. He was then beaten, shot, cut open and his body was dumped outside his family's home as a warning to other Kurds. "They would cut your body; they would take body parts from you. I had to leave because I thought they would kill me. If I went back there now I would be killed, it is as simple as that." Kawa was granted leave to remain in the UK about four years after arriving here. This spring he spent eight weeks shadowing teachers at St Patrick's School in Firth Park. He told the children stories about life in Kurdistan and helped improve his language and teaching skills. Now Kawa plans to take a teacher training course in London. He will temporarily have to move out of his Sheffield flat, and take with him the Kurdish flag, which is hanging in his living room.


Iran’s Supreme Leader insisted on gender apartheid

Women's Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

September 3, 2005

Iran-Women: Women cannot enter any field, including financial and economic arenas - Khamenei

In an appalling and misogynistic comment, mullahs' Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tried to justify gender apartheid and denying women the right to political and social activity under the medieval theocracy ruling Iran. In remarks carried by the state-controlled news agency, IRNA, last Sunday, Khamenei said, "Men are suited to enter economic and financial arenas “Women, however, have preoccupations. They must give birth and feed the child, and they are physically, psychologically and emotionally soft. They cannot enter into every field. They cannot tolerate every interaction. These create restrictions for women in financial and economic fields and related activities. Men do not have these restrictions. In this respect, privilege must be given to men because they are strong."

As such, Khamenei again justified systematic discrimination in law and practice against women as well as their increasing deprivation from participating in society's social and political affairs. In doing so, he put aside the clerical regime's pretenses of supporting women's rights in the past eight years, particularly during the recent sham Presidential elections, that were merely designed for foreign consumption.

To this end, a woman Parliament deputy, Fatemeh Ajarlou, responding to the question as to why there were no women in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet, told semi-official news agency, ILNA, on August 29, "Not choosing a woman as a cabinet member or in the parliament leadership is an exercise in democracy."

Another woman, Seddiqeh Kiani, from the ultra-conservative pro-Khamenei grouping Allied Association (Mo'talefeh) told the same news agency, "The more women are kept away from interacting with strangers is better for them. We have no objections to the absence of women in the cabinet." In trying to justify the mullahs' medieval mindset, she said, "One must not insist on the presence women in areas where men could be used. That they say a woman should not become a judge is because women are flexible and it would not be proper for them to witness disputes and arguments every day or issue death sentences for any one."

Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chairwoman of NCRI's Women's Committee, said, "The mullahs' misogynous remarks are before anything else a reflection of their fear over the increasing role women are playing in the struggle against this misogynist regime and their pivotal role in toppling the ruling theocracy."


Free Roya Tolouie

KurdishMedia News, Kurdish Women's Rights Watch

September 6, 2005

Following the murder of a young Kurdish citizen in the city of Mahabad on 9th July, 2005, there have been large-scale anti-governmental demonstrations over the past six weeks in different cities and towns of Iranian Kurdistan. The security forces have responded to these peaceful protest marches by opening fire on both demonstrators and ordinary people on the street. Dozens of civilians have been killed and injured, and according to official reports more than five hundred people have been arrested. The efforts of the families of these prisoners to get their loved ones freed have so far been unsuccessful. Recently it has been reported that a couple of hundred prisoners have been transferred to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Two independent Kurdish magazines have been banned.

Among those arrested are a number of human rights activists, including Ms. Roya Tolouie, an activist in the women’s movement, and a member of the Association for the Defence of Women in Kurdistan. Roya Tolouie is a doctor in laboratory science, a writer and the editor of a monthly magazine, Rasan. She was arrested on August 1 along with several others, following a peaceful sit-in to demand the release of prisoners following the recent events in Mahabad, the trial of those who ordered and those who opened fire on peaceful demonstrations in the cities of Kurdistan, and respect for the human and national rights of the Kurdish people. Her husband visited her in prison on 18th August (when she was transferred to the general detention centre, where many other prisoners are held), but her children have not been allowed to do so.
We are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of these and other Kurdish political prisoners in
Iran. Specifically we wish to draw attention to the situation of Roya Tolouie and her colleagues in the different human rights organizations, including Edjlal Ghavami, Said Saedi, Madeh Ahmadi and Azad Zamani, arrested on the same occasion. We condemn unreservedly the behavior of the Iranian judicial authorities in relation to political prisoners.

We demand that the United Nations and the International Red Crescent should be given access to the notorious prisons of the Islamic Republic to ascertain the health of all political prisoners there. We also call for the release of Roya Tolouie along with other human rights activists imprisoned on political grounds.

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Volume 16, September 15, 2005

The E-Zan © 2005