December 15, 2005 VOLUME 19


To our readers,

Iraqi voters casted their ballets to choose representatives who will serve for the next four years in Iraq’s new 275-member Council of Representatives.  More than 300 political entities and coalitions ran for seats in Iraq’s 18 provinces.  Each province is allotted a certain number of seats in the legislature based on its population.

While there has been persistent calling for active participation in December 15th elections by Iraqi women, Faten Ibrahim-Ra’ouf, a women’s rights advocate, said, “The Iranian regime and its proxies do not want women to take part in the elections. They have carried out terrorist and criminal actions such as the torture that took place in Jaderiya Prison and the attacks of the mosque in Khanaqin to scare people away from taking part in free and fair elections”.

Policy of intimidation and terror did not deter the women of Iraq to cast their vote. However, the fundamentalist regime in Tehran resorted to other tactics to impact the elections in Iraq. The New York Times reported less than two days before nationwide elections, the Iraqi border police seized a tanker that had just crossed from Iran filled with thousands of forged ballots. To Tehran’s surprise, there has been a very strong turnout and casting of real ballots. The elections results are still unknown, but relentless effort by Iraqi people, particularly women, in exposing the threats of the Iranian regime is truly commendable.

As Iraqi women see their Iranian sisters are stoned to death, executed for their political beliefs and murdered in the name of Islam, they charge to defeat spread of Islamic fundamentalism in their homeland. Jus one week before the election, Saeidia Thamer Farman, a prominent women’s rights activist, called on the Iraqi people to say “no to fundamentalism, and yes to democracy”. Democracy is indeed a strategy to defeat fundamentalism in Iraq. Supporting the voice of Iraqi women will ensure a secure and stable Iraq in post elections days. WFAFI joins Iraqi women in solidarity to say no to fundamentalism and yes to democracy in both Iran and Iraq.

E-Zan Featured Headlines

Dutch News Agency (DPA) – November 15, 2005

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi said she has been repeatedly threatened with death in her home country Iran. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize of 2003 did not protect her from repression, she said in an interview in the newspaper Die Presse while attending the current international conference in Vienna on "Islam in a Pluralistic World". "I am threatened with death in Iran. I'm constantly getting anonymous threatening letters. I am accused of defending western human rights, and working against the interests of Iran." "I was already in prison once, and there were two attempted terror attacks on me. By a miracle I stayed alive", said the lawyer...She said that since the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president in June this year, the situation in Iran had become "stricter".


Agence France Presse – November 16, 2005

Iran's hardline judiciary has upheld its acquittal of an intelligence agent accused of the murder in custody of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, the agent's lawyer said on Wednesday. Kazemi, who was 54, died in custody in Tehran in July 2003 after being arrested for photographing a demonstration outside a Tehran prison. The intelligence agent accused of giving her a fatal blow to the skull, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, had already been acquitted last year and the latest verdict in the controversial case comes after a lengthy appeals process.


Reuters News Agency – November 18, 2005

U.N. General Assembly committee narrowly approved on Friday a resolution expressing serious concern over a long list of human rights abuses in Iran after turning back a delaying tactic by Tehran. The assembly's social and humanitarian committee voted 77 to 51, with 46 abstentions, to call on Iran to fully respect its people's right to freedom of assembly and speech, and to end harassment and persecution of opposition groups and rights activists. "The use of torture or the execution of children, the denial of freedom of expression, the targeting of women and specific religious groups -- all of these things are continuing and in some instances worsening" in Iran, said Canadian Ambassador Allan Rock, who submitted the resolution.


Herald News Daily – November 20, 2005

Ethnic and sectarian tensions have dominated the run-up to the December 15 parliamentary election, exacerbated by violence that has touched every community in Iraq, from Shi‘ites to Sunni Arabs, Kurds to Turkmens and other minority groups. At the last election in January, a Shi‘ite Islamist bloc took the majority of seats after Sunni Arabs boycotted the vote, raising concerns among secular Iraqis about the influence of powerful Iranian-backed clerics and religious militias. Zainab Fou‘ad, 24, who is studying French at Baghdad University, said parliament had done nothing for women since then. "I believe women‘s rights can‘t be achieved under a religious government," she said.

This time, Sunni Arabs are expected to vote in large numbers, offering the possibility of a more representative parliament. More than 200 parties and coalitions have registered for the ballot, including secular parties and small local groups that have a better chance of winning seats under a new system of proportional representation for Iraq‘s 18 provinces.


Freemarketnews.com – November 29, 2005

The authorities have reportedly spent millions on programmes designed to filter cyberspace and block access to controversial sites, with names such as "regime change Iran", "free thoughts on Iran" and "women against fundamentalism". As part of the most recent clampdown, reported in the reformist newspaper Shargh, Iran's Telecom company has ordered all service providers to block access to blogrolling.com, a free service enabling users to track their favourite weblogs and be informed when they are updated.


Iran Focus – December 4, 2005

Iranian State Security Forces raided a home in the north-eastern city of Mashad, host to a co-ed party, dozens of youths, a state-run daily reported on Sunday. At least 18 young men and 22 young women were arrested in the raid, according to the daily Iran.
The 40 detained individuals have been handed over to the judiciary to face prosecution for attending the mixed-sex party.
Co-ed parties are banned in Islamic Iran. Thousands of teenage boys and girls were arrested last year for taking part in similar parties. Some were flogged in public.


Iran Focus – December 5, 2005

Iraqi women gathered outside a political party headquarters in Baghdad protesting secret prisons and torture chambers run by Iraq’s Interior Ministry, an Iraqi television reported on Saturday. The women gathered outside the headquarters of the Iraqi Islamic Party, al-Sharqia TV reported. They protested the detention and torture of Iraqis, in particular women, in secret prisons similar to Jaderiya Prison discovered in Baghdad. The report said that torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by the officials inside the Interior Ministry with ties to Iran had caused anger and protests among the Iraqi public. The women called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all female prisoners”. There have been reports of rape of female prisoners inside prisons under the control of the Iraqi Interior Ministry. They also demanded an inquiry into the torture and abuse cases and demanded that those involved in torture be brought to justice.  Iraqi officials have blamed Iran’s notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) for running the secret Iraqi Interior Ministry prison in Baghdad where more than 170 Iraqi prisoners were being illegally held.


Iran Focus – December 7, 2005

Dozens of women blockaded a main road leading to Tehran during a protest on Monday. The women from the village of Keresht blockaded the road from neighbouring Boumehen to the Iranian capital, forcing all traffic to stop in both directions. The women, several of whom had brought their young children with them to the demonstration, protested government inaction in providing social welfare and services in their neighbourhood.

Iran Focus – December 11, 2005

An Islamic court in Tehran sentenced a woman to stoning for adultery in the town of Varamin, near Tehran, a state-run daily reported on Sunday. The woman, only identified by her first name, Massoumeh, was given prison sentence for aiding her husband Ismaeil in the murder of a brother and sister, the daily Hamshahri reported. She was condemned to stoning for adultery, the paper added. Ismaeil, Massoumeh’s husband, also murdered their two children in 2004, but has not been sentenced to stoning. Under Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, adultery by a married woman is punishable by stoning. The law is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones”.


The Washington Times – December 13, 2005

An Iraqi general formerly in charge of special Interior Ministry forces said yesterday that a senior Iranian intelligence officer was in charge of a network of detention centers where suspected insurgents were routinely tortured and sometimes killed….Four were in the Iraqi capital, including the one raided by American forces Thursday, he said. Another three are in largely Shi'ite regions of the country, the general said. He said there are also two detention centers for women in Baghdad, where "female prisoners are tortured and raped."


Italian AKI News Source – December 13, 2005

The government of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has begun preventing women who are not wearing the chador - the traditional Muslim head to toe veil used in Iran - from entering restaurants owned by government bodies and state institutions. For several days, the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) have been standing guard outside such restaurants preventing access to any women who wear alternative forms of the hijab, such as a scarf. Iranian law stipulates that women must cover their heads in line with conservative interpretation of Islamic teaching, but does not specify how or make reference to the chador. "This initiative and others which we are considering will help women to have a clearer and better perception of the Islamic female role model," female MP Eshrat Shayegh told the ISNA news agency. "The other objective is to help women protect themselves from the lure of Western culture and decadence," added Shayegh, who is part of a parliamentary committee studying a dress and behaviour code for women. "Other tasks of our committee include enforcing the use of the hijab (Islamic head scarf), creating a better balance in the relationship between the sexes, helping young people to accept Islamic tenets and we will work closely with the police, the government ministries and with the state radio and television," she said. During the eight-year-rule of former president Mohammed Khatami, the police and various Islamic militias were more lenient, often ignoring the "violations" of the moral laws in force.


E-Zan Featured Reports


Ahmadinejad Terror Policies Must be Fought

The American Thinkers

By Roya Johnson

November 16, 2005

Government officials all over the world were stunned last month by statements made by Mahmood Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran. Ahmadinejad stressed that having a world without the United States and “Zionism” is indeed a goal “which is attainable and could definitely be realized”.  Ahmadinejad also threatened leaders of Muslim countries with ties with Israel that they would burn in the “fire” of their nations’ “fury”. 

“This occupying country [Israel] is in reality the staging-ground of the World Arrogance in the heart of the Islamic world…” Ahmadinejad’s remarks are indeed an articulation of his government’s terror policy.

Last week, his invective found an ominous resonance in Jordan.

In the last two decades, Iran’s primary instrument of advancing its foreign policy objectives has been terrorism or the threat of it. Engaged in an asymmetric war for regional domination, the mullahs of Tehran advocate the dispatch of the suicide bombers and hostage-takers as instruments of advancing their foreign policy agenda.

Ahmadinejad’s speech was a call to action for terrorists to attack sites in the Middle East, and cannot go unanswered by the community of free nations in the midst of a Global War on Terror. On October 30, the Associated Press reported from Tehran that about 300 men and women, motivated by Ahmadinejad’s remarks, turned up a few days later at a state-sponsored event to volunteer for suicide bomb attacks. Several senior officials, including Parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, were at the gathering, according to the report. Ahmadinejad’s ascendance to presidency was the product of a well-executed plan by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), backed by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

To implement his bellicose domestic and foreign policies, Khamenei corruptly facilitated Ahmadinejad’s “election” to fill the seat of presidency. Ahmadinejad’s loyalty to Velayat-e-Faqih and his notorious background as a former member of the IRGC and a commander of the Guards Corps’ Qods (Jerusalem) Force, tasked with “exporting the revolution to Qods  through Karbala”, made him the best candidate to be the chief executer of the Supreme leader.

A glance at Ahmadinejad’s performance since assuming office indicates a rapidly deteriorating situation in domestic and foreign policy areas. The state-owned hard-line daily Jomhouri Islami wrote that Khamenei had recently ordered the head of the country’s judiciary to deal “decisively” with “elements creating disruption in society” and to sentence them to “the most severe punishment that God has prescribed”. Ahmadinejad’s inauguration was followed by a severe crackdown on Iranians: arrests, at least 71 public hangings, and the execution of individuals, among them three women and minors.  In September of this year, close to 1,600 persons were arrested in Tehran as part of a nationwide crackdown. 

Last month, the international media watchdog, Reporters without Borders (RSF), ranked Iran as the worst violator of press freedoms rights in the Middle East. RSF ranked Iran at 164 out of 167 in its 2005 annual Press Freedom Index.

If economic expediency were ever a motivator for the West’s policy of appeasement, their policies have certainly backfired. The Financial Times recently reported Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) has dropped 20 percent since the election. In response Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying

“If they [Iran’s ruling elite] allowed us to execute 2 or 3 individuals, Tehran Stock Exchange’s…problems would be solved for good,” according to state-controlled on-line publication Rooz, whose correspondent spoke with the ministers after the session.  None of this news bodes well for Iran’s industries, including its petroleum industry or for the stability of the global petroleum industry.

And in the nuclear standoff, Ahmadinejad’s government resumed operations at the nuclear facility in Esfahan last August in violation of its Paris agreement, and since then has pursued a highly dangerous and belligerent diplomatic approach. In short, mullahs are fulfilling their nuclear weapons ambitions and there is not going to be any turning back.

Western efforts sidestepping the irreformable rogue nature of the Iranian regime have so far failed miserably, for both the Iranian people and the West. Opting for the delusional goal of achieving “behavioral change” of Iran’s theocratic regime, European capitals have designed their policy based on the appeasement of the Iranian government. While Washington has moved away from the late 1990s outright appeasement of the clerical regime by President Clinton, it is suffering from a policy paralysis - which is no less harmful than appeasement. The West’s roadmap has so far included measured sanctions relief, huge trade and commerce, opening dialogue channels with Iranian officials and blacklisting the “enemies of the ayatollahs”, Iran’s main opposition, the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) and its primary member the Mujahedine-e Khalq (MEK). 

The reality on the ground inside Iran is rapidly changing for the worse. This is alarming, to say the least.  The policy of the free world’s democracies has to be designed to answer Tehran’s terror policy.  If the free world is unable or unwilling, it may lose more than it could have ever gained by appeasing the tyrants of Tehran. A firm policy, clear of any appeasing gestures, with the intention of supporting the legitimate opposition groups, is the most beneficial solution for the West and the Iranian people to deal with the government of Iran and its rising terror policies.


Belgian Female Parlimentarians Speak Out Against Islamic Fundamentalism Emanting from Iran

Address an Iranian rally in Brussels

November 21, 2005

Belgian Senator Erika Thijs: “As a member of the Women Committee in the Senate as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have been very much concerned about the situation of human rights in Iran and especially women, who are constantly repressed and humiliated by the fundamentalist regime in Tehran.

The most urgent issue that has aroused concern across the world is Islamic fundamentalism emanating from Iran. It is now spreading to other Muslim countries, regional countries and especially Iraq, seriously threatening peace, democracy, and the achievements of humanity and the equality movement.

The plight of girls and women in Iran, where even 16-year-old girls are hanged by the mullahs, cannot be ignored.
The danger of Islamic fundamentalism is not unique to
Iran and the Middle East. Fundamentalism is now spreading in Europe.
The Iranian Mojahedin is the main anti fundamentalist movement opposing the mullahs in
Iran. Women have a high and leading role in the People's Mojahedin. The Iranian Resistance as whole is also led by a woman. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, that I know personally, is a hope for many women and men and young people in Iran. The Iranian people deserve to have Maryam as their president and not this criminal Ahmadinejad.
The recent events after the election of Ahmadinejad show that EU's soft policy with
Iran has failed. There are now no so called moderates to be seen in the regime. The regime is keen to get a nuclear bomb and has cancelled all its agreements with Europe regarding the nuclear issue.

Maryam Rajavi has said that appeasement and external war are not solutions. She has proposed a third option, which is to support the Iranian people and their resistance to achieve democracy. Therefore the first step is for our Foreign Ministers to remove the name of the People's Mojahedin from its blacklist. This should be done very quickly. We in Belgium are working to have the Mojahedin removed from this list. Last year 41 senators, which is a majority, signed a statement which expressed support for the People's Mojahedin.”


Karin Lalieux, Member of the Belgian Parliament: “I’m a woman politician, and as such what concerns me even more are indeed the rights of women. I see also here that there are many women present today. I believe that in this fight women are in the frontline.  But if they are in frontline, they are also in the frontline as victims, they are the first victims. Therefore I would like to express all my solidarity with all women today who are victims of this regime, victims of laws that violate personal freedoms and basic rights of each individual. I believe indeed that as women politicians we must fight on your side so that your struggle will be heard much more here in Belgium, in Brussels, the capital of Europe, but also in European level.  I believe that it is unacceptable that in the twenty-first century women are stoned, are killed simply for demanding basic rights, or are executed without a judicial process or the right to defense. This is what we want here, and tomorrow I hope that Europe and our government will begin to speak very clear in favor and in defense of human rights in Iran and will limit the relations with Iran on the condition of respect for human rights and particularly women rights.  I believe that everyone here, you all show that you are first of all pacifists who want to fight for a legitimate freedom and rights that are recognized by the whole world. It is time that the European countries take their responsibilities in this. I wanted to say that of course I myself, but also many of my political partners will be fully on your side to try to fight peacefully for freedom and for human rights in Iran.”


UN Diary: Will the UN resolution save Hajieh Esmailvand?

By Ayesha Javed Akram

November 28, 2005

A week after the United Nations chided Iran for its human rights record, the country hasn’t stopped bickering about what it calls a western agenda.
The Third Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted a US-backed resolution critical of
Iran’s human rights record on Nov 17. The Canadian-drafted measure was passed 69-55 with 51 abstentions.

The resolution called upon the Iranian government to fully implement the ban on torture announced in 2004 and “to expedite judicial reform, abolish executions and pursue penitentiary reform.”

Since Canada announced its intentions to pursue the resolution, Iran has been launching attacks against Ottawa’s human rights record. “Some think that Canada may have reached a level of human rights record that allows it to point its finger,” Mostafa Alaei, director of the department of human rights at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told a General Assembly committee earlier this month. “Astonishingly, we found otherwise. We have obtained piles of credible and reliable information suggesting that the violation of human rights in Canada is alarming.”
In numerous statements,
Canada has dismissed Iran’s attempts to claim moral equivalency. “Iran’s response clearly shows that it is feeling the pressure of Canada’s leadership at the UN in focusing attention on Iran’s dismal human rights record,” Pierre Pettigrew, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, told CanWest News Service.

Canada and Iran have been at loggerheads since Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-born photographer with Canadian citizenship, died in Iranian custody in 2003. Since then, Ottawa has been making concerted efforts to bring about international condemnation of Iran’s human rights records.
On the eve of the General Assembly’s approval of the resolution, Allan Rock,
Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, reiterated the need to continue pressuring Iran. “While no country can claim a perfect human rights record, there are cases that particularly merit this Committee’s attention – cases where governments have condoned and often been the instrument of human rights violations,” said Rock. “It is important for the international community to be able to speak out about such cases.”

Though the resolution was co-sponsored by 44 countries, Canada’s staunchest ally against Iran is the United States.
Speaking to reporters after the Third Committee approved the resolution, Deputy US Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Anne Patterson said: “It’s quite a victory for the Iranian people because it brings to life the fact that there’s no free expression in
The most surprising critics of
America’s attempts to draw attention to Iran’s human right abuses have been Tehran’s liberals. “It is hard not to see America’s focus on human rights in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests,” wrote Shirin Ebadi, Iranian human rights advocate, in the London-based The Independent.

Ebadi won the 2003 Nobel Prize for peace and is founder of the centre for the defence of human rights in Tehran. In the article, Ebadi severely criticised what she calls American hypocrisy. “Given the long-standing willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women’s rights, by close allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration’s focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests.”

Most of the media coverage of the resolution has been centred on gauging the reasons for America’s recent interest in Iran’s human rights abuses. In the midst of these controversies, little attention has been paid to the text of resolution.

The resolution acknowledged slight improvements in Iran’s human rights condition but said this limited progress was undermined by a serious clampdown on the independent media. The resolution noted unjustified closures of newspapers and blockings of websites, and urged Tehran to allow journalists the freedom to fulfil their duties.

In a report presented earlier this year, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Iran, Maurice Copithorne said almost the entire reformist press in Iran had been shut down.

The resolution also called upon Tehran to ensure “full respect for the right to due process of law including access to counsel by those detained.”
In particular, the resolution decried executions of people under the age of 18. Human Rights Watch said
Iran executed at least four juvenile offenders in 2004 and up to 30 juvenile offenders are on the country’s death row. Citing Iran’s discriminatory practices, the resolution urged Iran to adopt policies that eliminate discrimination of women and religious minorities. In August, Human Rights Watch registered the deaths of 17 Kurds at the hands of security forces in Iran’s Kurdish region.

Almost all Muslim countries, including Algeria, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and Pakistan voted against the resolution. Muslim member states said such a resolution would undermine potential within the system and serve to polarise and politicise human rights at the United Nations.

Patterson expressed displeasure at the small vote-margin “The vote was a little narrow for comfort. We believe that the human rights machinery in the United Nations needs wide-scale reform. It was revealing that countries that spoke in favour of Iran, like Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba and Sudan, are major human rights violators.”

While debates and discussions over the resolution continue, Amnesty International worries change may not come soon enough to save the live one Iranian woman.

Hajieh Esmailvand has been convicted of adultery and orders have been given to stone her to death. Amnesty International says Esmailvand has been a prisoner in the northwestern city of Jolfa since 2000 and is scheduled to be executed on Dec 21.


Iraqi women condemn Iran’s meddling in elections

Iran Focus

December 12, 2005

Prominent women’s rights personalities from Iraq’s Diyala Province condemned on Monday “massive meddling by Iran” in their country’s internal affairs ahead of key elections this week. They called for widespread and active participation in the elections by Iraqi women to combat this threat.

”This time, all of us women will go to the ballot boxes and vote for national and democratic candidates. We will also put all our efforts in preventing the propaganda in the elections by the agents of the mullahs’ regime in Iran”, Feryal Majid-Hendi, a women’s rights activist, told the gathering.

The women called on the international community to help prevent Iranian meddling in Iraq.

Zekra Dawood-Jum’a agreed. “In these elections, we women must vote for currents, parties, and candidates that are opposed to fundamentalism and are not tied to the clerical regime [in Iran], since this regime and its mercenaries do not have the slightest respect for women’s rights and are unwilling to accept that women can determine their own fate”.

Dawood-Jum’a, who called on international organisations to increase the number of people they plan to dispatch to monitor the polls for riggings, said, “Only by choosing democratic and nationalist candidates can the people of Iraq, especially women, take hold of their rights”.
Robab Aboud-Azab told the gathering, “The meddling by
Iran’s rulers in the election is the greatest danger to the security and stability of Iraq”.
While calling for active participation in Thursday’s elections by Iraqi women, Faten Ibrahim-Ra’ouf, said, “The Iranian regime and its proxies do not want women to take part in the elections. They have carried out terrorist and criminal actions such as the torture that took place in Jaderiya Prison and the attacks of the mosque in Khanaqin to scare people away from taking part in free and fair elections”.
Saeidia Thamer Farman, a prominent women’s rights activist, called on the Iraqi people to say “no to fundamentalism, and yes to democracy”.

“We see the day of the elections as a day which will determine the fate of Iraq and we are resolute not to allow fundamentalist currents determine our destiny”, she said.

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Volume 19, December 15, 2005

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