March 15, 2006 VOLUME 22


To our readers,

International women’s day of 2006 marked an impressive milestone for equality movement in Iran. Women from all walks of life took to streets to express their opposition to fundamentalism regime ruling Iran while demanding rights and gender equality. Rally held by women in three locations of Iran capital, Tehran, has a very clear political message for the misogynous tyrants in Iran and those who still advocate policy of engagement with Tehran’s regime.

Since women’s rally on March 8th, other anti-regime protests have taken roots in various cities in Iran. In preparation for Nouroz festivities (Persian New Years) and in spite of regime’s call to cancel all celebrations, Iranians launched a week-long cultural “fire celebration” that in many places turned into anti-government protests and clashes. In central Tehran several vehicles belonging to the State Security Forces and a number of government buildings were attacked and set on fire.  In various cities such as Tehran, Ahwaz, Esfahan, and many others pictures of Khomeini (founder of 1979 Islamic Republic), Khameinie (Supreme Leader), Khatami (former president), and other government officials were set on fire.

Iranian people are using culture, sports and internationally recognized celebrations such as Women’s Day as weapons against the regime. Best put by Mehri Amiri, a women’s activist in Tehran, “price of freedom is high, but we are willing to pay”.

In recent weeks, the bravery and courage seen by men and women of Iran, particularly among protesters and political prisoners should resonate with the freedom loving people of the world. 

We hope in this time of courage, the world community takes the side of the Iranian people and their female leaders. The time has come to close the chapter of misogyny in Iran and draft the democratic chapter of Iran’s history.

As the Iranians, Iraqis, Kurds and all those who celebrate the ancient festivities of Nouroz in Spring of 2006, we celebrate their courageous women who stand up for equality, freedom and peace.


E-Zan Featured Headlines

The Virginian-Pilot – February 22, 2006

Women may vote, but they cannot hold high office. They need their husbands' approval to leave the country. Their testimony often counts half as much as a man's. And when they remarry, they automatically lose custody of their children. "This legal system is not for Iran," women's rights activist Mehrangiz Kar said of her homeland Tuesday night at Old Dominion University. "It is for some other society from 200 years ago or 300 years ago. "Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has drawn worldwide alarm for his suspected nuclear ambitions and his comments advocating the destruction of Israel. His ascendancy last year also has imperiled his own citizens, including female activists, Kar said. Anyone challenging the government could be accused of working against Islam. "That's why it's very dangerous in that political system," Kar said. "That's why I am here. I am not inside the country that I love."


NCR-Iran Website – February 26, 2006

The Swedish Euro MP and Vice-chair of EP's Women's Committee, Ms. Eva Britt Svensson, joined her colleagues in condemning the human rights violations in Iran and emphasized that her presence in the meeting was aimed to show her solidarity with the Iranian Resistance. Karin Resetarits, Austrian MEP from the Liberal Group, strongly condemned the regime's nuclear activities and called on her government which holds the EU presidency to review terror list. She described Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, as the hope of millions of Iranians who oppose the religious dictatorship ruling Iran and emphasized that the best policy for the EU would be to open a dialogue with Mrs. Rajavi.


Iran Focus – March 2, 2006

State Security Forces attacked female football fans in Tehran on Wednesday after they held a defiant protest against the government decision to ban women from football stadiums. Dozens of young women, who had bought tickets and hoped to cheer on their national team, were all banned from entering Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. The ban has been in force for years, but a few dozen women have challenged it in recent months. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hard-line government recently decided to enforce the ban more strongly. After being refused entry into the stands, the women organised a demonstration outside the stadium and quickly brought to the scene banners which read, “Azadi Stadium: 100,000 men-only arena” and “We also want to cheer on our national team”. They were immediately threatened with arrest by police who had been placed on standby. Within minutes, the security forces started to attack the teenage girls and young women. They were all forced into a bus and driven away.


Iran Focus – March 2, 2006

There are currently over 300,000 homeless women roaming the streets of the Iranian capital Tehran, according to a government expert. The latest figure was announced by Amanollah Qaraei-Moqaddam, a long-time social analyst, in an interview with the state-run news agency ILNA. Qaraei-Moqaddam blamed the economy instability and families’ financial perils as causes of the high figure. One contributing factor to the high level of homeless women roaming the streets was that women were being “marketed”, he said. He added that the average prostituting age was between 11 to 17 years of age. “The reason for this is the very large number of street-girls who entered the prostitution market because of being orphans, maltreated, losing a parent, psychological torment, or restrictions placed on them by their families”, Qaraei-Moqaddam said.


State-controlled Rooz Newspaper – March 3, 2006

"Previously, the registering of young Iranians for the martyrdom units had been perceived [primarily] as psychological warfare against the West; however, the operation of the martyrdom seekers website, the continued activity of the World Islamic Organization's Headquarters for Commemorating the Shahids, and the call to join Iranian martyrdom units indicate that organized and planned activity is afoot.... Headquarters spokesman Muhammad 'Ali Samedi... has claimed that so far... 53,900 have signed up." "The Planners of This Apparatus for Suicide Missions Have Succeeded in Attracting More Iranian Women and Girls Than Men"… "Religious Commandment" page of the website offers Muslim women religious justification for exposing their hair: "Should a Muslim who seeks martyrdom be compelled not to maintain her [head] covering in order to carry out the important thing that she has undertaken [i.e. martyrdom], she will commit no crime. One of the principles of Islam is that in time of need, some prohibitions become permitted..."


Iran Focus – March 6, 2006

Iranian security officers forcefully removed several hundred women spectators from an indoor stadium as they were watching athletes performing in the 2006 Gymnastics World Cup tournament being held in Tehran, eye-witnesses reported. The action took place on the opening day of the tournaments as fans gathered in Tehran’s 12,000-seater Azadi indoor stadium to watch the international gymnasts compete. Little more than 10 minutes after the start of the games, intelligence officials from the government’s sports institution entered the stalls of the arena and demanded that all women exit the facility. Among those asked to leave were several female translators for the international teams that were competing on the day. As the roughly 250 women were being led out, a number began to protest loudly and chanted slogans against gender inequality in the Islamic Republic. Some international athletes took photos of the women being forced out.


Iran National News Agency (exiled) – March 6, 2006

Official from Ahmadinejad administration announced that women are not allowed to have any “gatherings” or event commemorating 2006 International Women’s Day. Sassani, Director of Women’s Affair, said: “Under no circumstances women will be allowed to hold an event on March 8, 2006”.  This news came as women’s organization announced their plan to hold rallies in Park-e Laleh and elsewhere in Tehran.


CNS News – March 9, 2006

Demanding freedom for women and political prisoners, protesters in Iran gathered Wednesday to celebrate International Women's Day, only to be beaten by police. According to one of the organizers in Tehran -- Mehri Amiri of the Society for Defense of Women's Rights in Iran -- about 2,000 protesters gathered in Laleh Park, but were immediately attacked.  She said 300 were able to make it into the park to voice their opposition to religious fundamentalism in Iran and the subjugation of women that they allege has accompanied the fundamentalism. "On this day, in different countries of the world, they give presents to women, congratulate them and commemorate this day of national celebration. They heed women for their increasing activities and steadfastness," said a statement from the Women's Rights Association of Iran. "Contrary to this point of view of the civilized world, sits our imprisoned country." "The Iranian women have reached the conclusion that within this regime there is no future for them. The women are alienated and suppressed," Amiri said. "The reality is the government in Iran, since the first day they came to power -- the fundamentalists, not just the current regime -- day by day they have made it very difficult for Iranian women to live. Now, the current regime and the coming to power of terrorist Ahmedinejad, the situation is far worse than before," she said, referring to the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. "We have reached a level where women on the streets are being killed," Amiri said. She argued that other countries should isolate Iran because the money the Iranian government earns from petroleum is spent on weapons. "What we are asking from the world is to stop appeasing the Iranian government. The government must completely go away and the regime must be changed."


The Associated Press – March 9, 2006

Police armed with batons charged into about 200 mostly female demonstrators demanding equal rights for women in a Tehran park, beating protesters, witnesses said Thursday.  An international rights group accused Iran of using violence to suppress peaceful protest. The protest Wednesday afternoon in Daneshjoo Park was largely ignored by Thursday's media, and the two reports that did appear – one on a Web site and the other in a small-circulation paper – did not mention the police charge.  It was not known if the government tried to suppress reports on the police action. A government spokesman could not be reached for comment because of the late hour. A news photographer who saw the incident said police confiscated journalist's cameras. The photographer, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared problems with the authorities, said his camera was not taken, but his paper did not report on the protest. He declined to say why. The group of mostly women and a few male supporters had assembled at the park to mark International Women's Day. They held banners calling for equal rights, with one reading: “It's a shame to have to ask men for our rights.” Another banner condemned the fact that since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women have not been allowed to serve as judges in Iranian courts. “The right to be a judge is essential for women,” it read. Police told the protesters to disperse because they did not have a permit from the Interior Ministry, said a woman who took part in the demonstration. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the authorities. When the women refused to leave the park, the police charged the demonstrators with batons and dispersed them, she said.  The photographer said the police chased the women down the streets near the park to prevent them from reassembling.


Iran Focus – March 11, 2006

An Iranian opposition satellite channel aired on Saturday footage of a demonstration in Tehran by hundreds of women celebrating International Women’s Day, and a brutal raid by Iran’s security forces to break up the rally. The rally took place on Wednesday afternoon in Tehran’s Laleh Park. Numerous women were beaten up by truncheon-wielding policemen and dozens were arrested as they resisted attempts by security agents to disperse the demonstrators. The television, Simaye Azadi -- “Vision of Freedom” in Persian – said the film was taken by women activists in Tehran. Click here to view the film


Iran Focus – March 14, 2006

Police fired tear-gas and used force on Monday to disperse protesting students at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, eye-witnesses reported. The disturbances broke out after hundreds of students tried to prevent the burial of three “unidentified martyrs” on the university campus. The students, many of them women, carried placards against the takeover of universities by Islamist groups affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards. These include the paramilitary Bassij Daneshjui and Jihad Daneshgahi.


Iran Focus – March 14, 2006

Young people set fire to pictures of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, according to dissidents in the Iranian capital who sent a photo of their activities to Iran Focus. Protestors gathered and burned down posters of Iranian leaders hung on lampposts in Mirdamad Street in Tehran. Despite a massive crackdown to prevent this year’s “fire festival” from turning into scenes of anti-governments protests, young people have taken to the streets across Iran to defy the government ban and celebrate the last Tuesday of the Persian year with a big bang. During the festival, known as ‘chaharshanbeh souri’ – literally, Feast of Wednesday – people jump over bonfires to “drive away evil”. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, however, Iran’s theocratic leaders have made strenuous efforts to stamp out the festivities, but to no avail. In recent years, there have been extensive clashes between festive crowds and the security forces deployed to prevent street celebrations. This year the event falls on March 14.

E-Zan Featured Reports

Women should rally for basic Human Rights

By Kathryn Lopez

The Times Union

February 28, 2006

March 8 marks what the United Nations designates "International Women's Day." I'll be thinking about an 18-year-old Iranian girl named Nazanin that day. Instead of letting activists waste the day denouncing George W. Bush and other protectors of human rights and freedom, the United Nations ought to use its bullhorn to insist that Nazanin become a household name. Nazanin and her 16-year-old niece were about to be raped last year when the older girl stabbed two of their three attackers, killing one. Nazanin reportedly told a criminal court that "I wanted to defend myself and my niece. I did not want to kill that boy. At the heat of the moment I did not know what to do because no one came to our help." But she was sentenced to death earlier this year for her crime. Her (insane) sentence is subject to higher court review. International Women's Day this year should be Save Nazanin Day. It's not only this one young woman who might be saved, but countless unknowns in similar situations. It's a hard position for the United Nations. The United Nations is an institution whose secretary-general continues to pass the buck on investigations into its relationship with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and a group that has a "human rights" watchdog commission that laughably includes the likes of Sudan, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia. And the United Nations isn't nudged in the right direction when Amnesty International seems to miss the point of outrage in Nazanin's sentence. An Amnesty International press release in January on the matter proclaimed: "Amnesty International calls for end to death penalty for child offenders." Offender? The girl killed a man in self-defense while being assaulted. She was not the criminal here. And the next question Amnesty International should have asked while condemning the sentence was: What if Nazanin had not killed the attacker? Would she have been punished for rape in their sharia court? (Rape often translates into "adultery" as far as their sharia court is concerned, often requiring multiple male Muslim witnesses to the crime for it to be considered a legitimate rape case. As you might expect, such witnesses do not often materialize.) Instead of asking tough questions -- politically incorrect, but vitally important questions -- Amnesty outrageously puts Nazanin in league with a teen who broke into a home allegedly for a burglary, but wound up a convicted murderer. In 2003, the life of a Nigerian woman named Amina Lawal was spared, most likely because Westerners were paying attention. Divorced, she was charged with adultery; she testified that she had been raped. A court ordered her stoned to death, but she was ultimately allowed to live on appeal. Still, as Asra Nomani, author of "Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam" has written, "every day there are untold numbers of Muslim women who abort their pregnancies, dump their babies in rubbish piles or secretly abandon their children so they don't face the consequences of having a child out of wedlock." Nomani conceived a child out of wedlock while working as a reporter in Pakistan -- premarital sex is a crime of 100 lashes there; but as a West Virginian, she was spared the whip, coming home to have her boy.

At a time when the world is on fire -- literally when you look at, say, the Danish embassy in Syria burned down by protesters, for instance, over lame cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper and now around the world -- rallying to Nazanin's cause represents more than saving one woman's life. Shedding a much-needed light on inhumane sharia punishments and so-called honor killings would be an important step in calling Islamic regimes to account for their wrongdoing and encourage moderate Muslims the world over to reclaim their religion. This should be a top priority for Western feminists. On International Women's Day, they should stand with moderate Muslim women and women like Amina Lawal and call for an end to the terrorizing of women like her and Nazanin. And all those women whose names we'll never know. Instead of naive hysterics about wage gaps and Gitmo, someone ought to break out the smelling salts and get an army of feminists and human-rights groups occupying a room at the United Nations to use their public voices to fight for those who can't. I'll never see eye to eye with some of these folks on the whole of their agendas (so long as feminists insist protecting the right to destroy an unborn life is sacred, their bill of goods is fatally tainted), but where we can stand together -- basic human rights for women, even -- we should. I'd like Nazanin to one day be thankful that we rallied to save her life.


Courageous Resistance: Iranian political prisoners

By Ramesh Sepehrrad

The American Chronicle

March 2, 2006

This article is dedicated to Hojjat Zamani, a political prisoner who was executed on February 7, 2006 by the Iranian regime.

"The Iranian regime settles scores in an old fashion way, by executing opposition at home and assassinate them in exile", said Bruce McColm, who is a former Executive Director of Freedom House and current co-chair of the Iran Policy Committee (IPC). Mr. McColm delivered this quote in a speech at a congressional briefing in the House on February 16th. The conference included a bi-partisan panel of members, hundreds of congressional staffers as well as the leaders of Iranian-American communities. Moments before the briefing, the news of the execution of Hojjat Zamani, 31-year-old teacher was released. Zamani was a supporter of the main Iranian opposition group, and his execution was confirmed by his family in Gohardasht, Iran.

Zamani served four years in Iranian prisons prior to his execution. He was executed because he was, and would still be if he were alive, a supporter of Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK), translated as the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). Since his execution, political prisoners in notorious Evin and Gohardasht prisons have began a hunger strike. Exiled Iranians across the world, including Washington DC, Berlin, Copenhagen, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and elsewhere held candle light vigils and rallies in his memory. While the regime has not yet handed over his body to his family, Zamani's execution took place just three days after Iran's nuclear file was reported to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It appears as though the killing of Hojjat Zamani was a retaliatory gesture targeted at the MeK/PMOI network, the main source of exposing Tehran's illegal nuclear activities. Indeed, Tehran's regime is shameless in settling scores. News, also confirmed by Radio Farda and other media outlets, indicate that the visitation rights of political prisoners have been suspended in various cities throughout the country. More specifically, the Iranian regime has threatened to massacre all political prisoners, particularly those associated with MeK/PMOI, if Iran is referred to the UN Security Council next month. If carried out, this would not be unprecedented. More than 30,000 political prisoners were systematically executed in summer of 1988.

On February 18, 2006, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) issued a statement that describes the Iranian regime's strategy to create the conditions for the massacre of political prisoners. In its statement, the NCRI explained the conditions in Ghohardasht prison where Zamani was killed, and said: "At the instigation of prison authorities, the regime's agents posing as ordinary prisoners assembled in front of the wards housing political prisoners on Wednesday night (February 16) and shouted, 'death to political prisoners,' 'death to counter-revolutionaries,' and 'Mojahedin prisoners must be hanged.'" NCRI also warned on the intensified wave of executions given that 13 people were publicly hanged or executed in just one week. Listing the 13 cases from the Iranian regime's own media sources, NCRI urged the international community to condemn the Iranian government for its recent escalation of violence against its own citizens.

Threats against political prisoners have continued since Zamani's execution. On February 26th, the NCRI issued a statement listing the names of those prisoners who have been threatened with execution. The list includes Mr. Valiollah Feiz-Mohammadi, Mr. Saeed Massouri, Mr. Gholamhossein Kalbi, Mr. Amir Parvizi, Mr. Alireza Karami Kheir-Abadi, Mr. Khaled Hardani, Mr. Shahram Farhang-pour and Mr. Mansour Pour-Farhang. At their core Iranian officials are fanatical reactionaries, without respect for international democracy. Reacting to the consequences of its referral to UNSC, the Iranian government is desperate. Its record of recent executions occurring over the last several weeks is engineered to instill fear among political prisoners and the Iranian society. It is clear that the Iranian regime fears the people of Iran, particularly political prisoner, who maintain the flame of resistance, keeping it bright in the dark cells of Evin, Ghohardasht and numerous other prisons or secret torture chambers across the oppressed Iranian state. The circumstances in Iran are dire. Without a doubt, resistance has become an inalienable right of the Iranian people. As Bruce McColm said at the briefing, "Now is time to stop looking at Iranian people as victims, instead, look at them as resources." The right and privilege of regime change in Iran belongs to the Iranian people. Those familiar with American or the French revolution are adept to recognize the determination among the Iranian populace. For 27 years, with thousands of people executed, tortured, imprisoned or exiled, the Iranian people have declared that irreconcilable differences exists between them and the government presiding over them.

It is truly remarkable that Hojjat Zamani was only 4 years old when the so-called Islamic Revolution of 1979 took place. His knowledge and experience of the MeK/PMOI was gained under the intense suppression and constant state monitoring in Iran. It should be noted that two of Hojjat’s brothers were also murdered by the Iranian regime. His older brother, Khaz'al Zamani, a member of MeK/PMOI, was killed in Ilam's mountainous terrain in 1999 and his other brother, also a MeK/PMOI member, was killed in March 2001 in the Haft-Cheshmeh region of Ilam. His maternal uncle, Abdullah Naderi, was also killed under torture by the regime in 1989. One can only imagine the pain and suffering inflicted on the Zamani's family. Sadly, they are not alone; there are thousands of families who have endured such losses. In July of 1981, a Time Magazine article entitled: "Terror in the name of God" reported the news of 12 girls who were brutally executed by the government of Iran because they took part in a demonstration for democracy. The article said: "The Islamic judge who sentenced them—Ayatullah Mohammadi Gilani—did not even know who they were. The twelve girls, the oldest 18, the others under 16, refused to identify themselves in court. When Gilani asked their names, each in turn replied, "Mojahed" (member of MeK/PMOI). To the question "Child of?" each replied, "The people of Iran." Gilani solved the problem of identifying the girls by having them photographed. Then he consigned them to the firing squad. Islamic guards led the dozen girls to the courtyard of Evin Prison in Tehran…As the guards began to blindfold them, the girls started chanting, "Death to fascism! Death to Khomeini!"…Three days later, the clergy-controlled newspaper Ettela'at printed the girls' pictures with a terse message asking the parents to call for the bodies…"

There is no difference between wanton brutality and justice in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As McColm said at the briefing on February 16, 2006, "the Iranian regime is neither Islamic nor Republic." In reference to the Iranian people’s resistance, he said: "this talented opposition has been quietly waging a war on the Iranian regime without our support for decades. Among them, there are the finest minds and talents Iran has ever produced. There are generations who have experienced different periods of Iranian history and were participants in major events of the last several decades. They deserve to be consulted and listened to. The Iranian-American community, for instance, dominates the hard science fields in the United States and has become one of the most prosperous and successful communities of recent immigration...Attempts by the United States and the European Union to placate the leadership of Iran by placing the MEK on the proscribed list of terrorist organizations should end. It is way past time to take back Iran's lone diplomatic victory over the past fifteen years. De-List the MEK and the NCRI now. It is the right thing to do."

Although the Zamani's and all those who lost their lives for the cause of Iranian freedom are no longer, their message of resistance and struggle continues through the hopes of millions who continue the call for regime change and possess the will to join the fight for democracy in Iran on the D-day. In concluding his speech, Bruce McColm said: "Before his execution, Hojjat Zamani wrote Kofi Annan a letter to encourage the United Nations investigation of the status of the families of political prisoners in Iran. He was too aware that the Iranian regime has been adroit in blackmailing families of those involved in activities considered contrary to the regime. This practice continues to this day. The international community should create a fund in Zamani's name to subsidize the families of political prisoners so as to alleviate their financial suffering." One would only hope the international community will act with courage, and in time to support the Iranian people's resistance, political prisoners and their families.


Fighting Tehran from afar

By Marcus Dysch

The Edgeware Times

March 6. 2006

"Even here I do not feel safe. Something can happen at any time," says Iranian exile Marzieh, speaking at a secret location in East Barnet. Marzieh has spent the past 20 years looking over her shoulder since fleeing from her home town in northern Iran, and is too scared to tell us her surname. As a member of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), she was opposed to the Islamist regime headed by Ayatollah Khomeini, making her a target for the Revolutionary Guards loyal to him. "There was a lot of support in my home town for the PMOI because people were more open-minded," she said. "In June 1981, the Revolutionary Guards raided many homes, including those of my parents, cousins and friends. They were arrested and some friends were executed. It was as quick as overnight it was horrible." Marzieh, 45, recalls the events in stuttering English, shaking as she speaks. "I was lucky I was not at home that night otherwise my fate would have been something different," she said. She fled to Britain in 1985 to claim political asylum and since then has studied events in the Middle East with interest. Recently she has become increasingly concerned as Tehran has resumed a uranium enrichment programme, which the West fear could lead to Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Together with friends who sympathize with Iranians opposed to the regime, she set up the Anglo-Iranian Society (AIS) in Barnet last year, a group which aims to educate the people of Britain and give a voice to the millions of Iranians who cannot speak out in their home country.

Thomas Darby, chairman of AIS, said the group supports the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), effectively a government-in-waiting, based in France. The NCRI has an elected leader, Maryam Rajavi, who would be proposed as the new national leader should President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime be toppled. Mr Darby said: "We support their call for a change in Iran that will hopefully lead to the downfall in some way of the current regime." Georgina Oliver, as a volunteer for AIS, approaches churches in the borough to discuss the situation with clergymen, who can then share the information with people in their communities. Mrs Oliver said: "It is slow work, but it is happening. We are also contacting libraries to give out our information and we are going to have a DVD available to people who wish to look into things a bit further." She plans to send information to universities and aims to arrange fundraising events to allow the group to expand. Since Mr Ahmadinejad came to power in June, relations between Iran and the governments of the Western world have deteriorated further. In October, he was criticised after calling for the destruction of Israel. Marzieh believes people have a misguided view of the Iranian people because of the president's outbursts. "One of our objectives is to combat fundamentalism," she said. "The regime says Israel should be wiped off the map, but we are totally against that and we need to educate people to make them see that is not how all Iranians think. It is not what the Iranian people want, it is only the fundamentalist regime which thinks like this." Marzieh said her resistance to Mr Ahmadinejad's regime was influenced by several factors. "Women are treated as second-class citizens," she said. "Discrimination is written into the law and women cannot be judges or leaders. I am a Muslim and I wear my headscarf through choice, I do not want someone to force me to wear a hijab." She continued: "Since the events of September 11, the Madrid bombing and the London bombings in July, I realise that fundamentalism is increasing rapidly and being exported to other countries by Iran. The root of fundamentalism is in Iran. "Every day we see suicide bombers in Iraq many of them have been trained in Iran. Although the London bombers were English, their thinking was from Iran. Even in Pakistan, where the London bombers were trained, that ideology comes from Iran.

"The security of the world is threatened because of this Islamic fundamentalism." The group believes the international community now has three options to deal with Iran. They do not favour two of them, appeasement and military intervention, but, they say, the NCRI could bring about a revolution if supported by countries such as Britain and America. Mrs Oliver said: "The Western countries have decided to appease Iran, but you cannot appease people who are hell-bent on domination through Islamic fundamentalism."


Death Penalty Rare for Women, But On the Rise in Iran and China

By Alison Langley

InternPress Service News Agency

March 7, 2006

A 17-year-old Iranian girl known only as Nazanin fought off two men trying to rape her, and is said to have fatally stabbed one of them. In January, almost two years after the incident, a Tehran court sentenced her to death.  A 17-year-old Iranian girl known only as Nazanin fought off two men trying to rape her, and is said to have fatally stabbed one of them. In January, almost two years after the incident, a Tehran court sentenced her to death.  Nazanin is one of at least 19 women believed to be on the death row in Iran, says Elisabetta Zamparutti, head of Hands Off Cain, a Rome-based organisation working to abolish the death penalty around the world.  While the number of women facing the death sentence appears to be on the rise in some countries, like Iran and China, worldwide, women are less likely than men to be condemned to death.  Women commit fewer heinous crimes like murder, for which death can be the ultimate sentence, and there is a cultural repugnance to killing a woman that does not hold for men.  "Legally there is no discrimination" between men and women in Egypt, Amr Abdel Motaal, senior partner at a Cairo law firm, told IPS. "Males and females are equal before the law, although judges, who are typically men, tend to be more lenient towards female defendants. The number of women who receive the death penalty is very small."  Only China, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Vietnam regularly execute women without any apparent gender bias, according to the Capital Punishment U.K. website. The penal codes of most countries prohibit the execution of pregnant women, who are either reprieved at once or, in theory, liable to be executed after they have given birth.  While overall the number of executions around the world is seeing a downward trend, according to Amnesty International, they appear to be increasing in a few countries, notably China and Iran, where Nazanin lives.  Following the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year, the number of executions in Iran has increased sharply. According to news articles in the Iranian media compiled by Hands Off Cain and Human Rights Watch, between Jan. 20 and Feb. 20 alone the judicial authorities executed 10 prisoners and condemned another 21 to death. Last year at least two Iranian women were executed and another 13 were given death sentences, Zamparutti said. Of those, two, Delara Darabi and a young woman known only as Fakhteh, were minors like Nazanin, Zamparutti said.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. These treaties also prohibit the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishments. Iran is a party to both treaties, Zamparutti said, but appears to ignore them. The death penalty continues to be used extensively and arbitrarily in China, says Amnesty International. People were executed for non-violent crimes such as tax fraud and embezzlement, as well as for drug offences and violent crimes. Because authorities keep national statistics on death sentences and executions secret, AI researchers said it is difficult to come by accurate figures. Based on the available public reports, the human rights watchdog estimates that at least 3,400 people had been executed and at least 6,000 sentenced to death in 2004. There is no breakdown in the number of women killed by the Chinese state.  The reasons women are sentenced to death and the way they are killed sometimes differ from men. Of the 13 women in Iran sentenced to death, three face stoning as punishment for alleged adultery. Stoning is a particularly painful way to die. "Only women are sentenced to death by stoning for adultery," Zamparutti said. Men, on the other hand, are hanged, if they are sentenced to death for that crime at all.  Ma Weihua, a woman facing capital punishment on drugs charges in China, was reportedly forced to undergo an abortion in police custody in February 2005, apparently so that she could be put to death "legally," according to Human Rights Watch. Chinese law prevents the execution of pregnant women.  In the wake of public protests, Ma's trial eventually was suspended after her lawyer provided details of the forced abortion, HRW said, and she was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.  There are 55 women currently on death row in the United States. Frances Newton was killed by the southern state of Texas on Sep. 14, 2005. Since capital punishment was reinstated in the United States in 1976 after a three-year suspension, 11 female offenders have been put to death. Still, death sentences and actual executions for female offenders are rare in comparison to male offenders in the United States. In fact, women are more likely to be dropped out of the system the further the capital punishment system progresses. While women account for one in ten murder arrests, only one in 97 are actually executed.  In a 1983 ruling, India's Supreme Court said the death sentence should be awarded only in "the rarest of rare cases" but the country has yet to abolish the death penalty altogether. Capital punishment is carried out by hanging, without exception, and this method is considered to be devoid of suffering and humiliation -- it is never done publicly. The last woman to be executed in India was in the 1920s.

In Latin America, the death penalty is rare for men and women alike. Only Cuba and Guatemala still have the death penalty on the books for criminal offences, beyond crimes in the military arena or in times of war. The last time Cuba implemented capital punishment was in 2003: three men were condemned to death for stealing a boat in an attempt to escape the island. And Guatemala is debating the abolition of capital punishment altogether.


Amnesty International condemns violence against women demonstrators in Iran

March 10, 2006

Public Statement

Amnesty International condemns the violent action taken by Iranian police, Revolutionary Guards and others on 8 March to forcibly disperse about 1,000 women who had gathered peacefully in Tehran to commemorate International Women’s Day. Scores of women are reported to have been beaten by the police and those assisting them. The women had gathered in Daneshjoo (Students) park, where they began a peaceful sit-in and displayed banners with slogans such as ‘discrimination against women is an abuse of human rights’, ‘women demand their human rights’, and ‘Iranian women demand peace’. Initially, there were about 100 police present but as the protest continued busloads more police and also members of the plain clothes Basij militia, and special anti-riot forces belonging to the Revolutionary Guards, arrived at the park. They filmed and photographed the women protestors and then ordered them to disperse, on the grounds that the gathering had not been officially authorized. However, the protestors did not do so and at 4.20pm, after one of them read out a statement calling for greater rights for women, the security forces charged them and began assaulting them. Many were beaten with batons, some by teams of security men. For example, Simin Behbehani, an elderly feminist poet with poor sight, was beaten with a baton and kicked repeatedly by security forces. Journalists present at the protest who had filmed the event were reportedly arrested, only released from custody after their film and photographs were confiscated. Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian government to undertake an immediate investigation into this excessive use of force by police and other security forces and to ensure that those responsible for the assaults and violence against demonstrators are brought to justice promptly and fairly. The organization is also calling on the Iranian authorities to respect the right to freedom of assembly and expression, in accordance with Iran’s obligations under international law. The organization reminds the Iranian authorities of Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. This states that “Everyone has the right…to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The Declaration requires states to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection…against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

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Volume 22, March 15, 2006

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