October 15, 2006VOLUME 29
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN
To our readers,
While seven women are facing stoning
Alas! One would hope equal media or
public attention was given to the status of those women facing stoning in
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Hundreds of Iranian women gathered
outside the offices of the judiciary in
Reuters News Agency –
Hojat-el Islam Abbasali
MEMRI Website –
In May 2006, Zohreh Tabibzadeh
Nouri, advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was appointed head of
Hugo Chavez, one of the key important figures in the left populist movements spreading throughout Latin America, has publicly lauded and embraced Iranian president Ahmadinejad. (See “Two anti-US nations heap praise upon each other,” AP, Sept. 17) It is moments like this, when feminists and any activists who care about women's liberation, are reminded of just how little women’s lives matter in the world of patriarchal nationalist politics. Apparently, Chavez, appears not to have noticed that the Iranian government has created one of the most brutal and misogynist regimes in modern history—turning Iran into a country where gender apartheid and sexist hatred of women has been enshrined in law, where women are still TODAY stoned to death for the “crime” of adultery, buried up to their necks and pelted in the face and head with stones until they die, where women have no right to divorce or child custody, are legally forced to veil under threat of physical beating or imprisonment, can’t travel without the permission of a husband or father, where their testimony in a court of law is considered half that of a man, and where political dissent of any kind, for women and men, is punishable by imprisonment, often torture and death. This is the government that Chavez compares to his own as a “heroic nation,” one which he deems, “revolutionary.”
ISNA State News Agency –
The World Volleyball Federation agreed to the Islamic outfit of Iranian Women in international fields. Deputy of Iran's Women Volleyball Federation, Hajar Nejatizadeh stated that Iran had got the consent of the World Federation and was trying to present its designed Islamic outfit for final approval to the FIVB in the upcoming months. "In a meeting that took place between the chief of our federation and one of the World Federation representatives, Habib Abdollah, he stated that there were no obligations for Iranian women to appear in their Islamic outfit," she added. "He told us that we could appear in our Islamic outfits just like the Egyptian women because this is not contradictory to any of the laws of the FIVB," she concluded.
The Guardian –
She was the speed queen of the racetrack who became a feminist icon after triumphing over an all-male field to become Iran's national car rally champion. But now the high-octane driving career of Laleh Seddigh has juddered to a halt, with a ban from participating at a race by the country's motor racing authorities. Seddigh, 29, was walking towards her 1600cc Peugeot 206 at Tehran's Azadi stadium when stewards blocked her way, citing "security problems". The snub followed days of wrangling with Iran's racing federation over her right to take part in an event she won two years ago on her way to becoming national champion. In the lead-up to the race, she was told her participation was not guaranteed but was advised to register her name. Her registration was passed after technicians gave her car the all-clear. "I thought I had been given the go-ahead," she said. "I was walking towards the grid thinking; thank God this has been resolved, when they shut the door on me. They said they didn't know why, but the head of the federation said I wasn't allowed to participate." It was the first time Seddigh, whose exploits earned her the soubriquet "the little Schumacher", had been excluded from a contest. Senior federation officials said they had been unable to obtain permission for her participation.
AKI Italian News –
A radio programme on Italian state broadcaster RAI is organizing a rally Thursday in Rome to save eight Iranian women sentenced to death by stoning or hanging in the Islamic Republic. Aldo Forbice, the conductor of Zapping, a programme on the first channel, has invited his public to participate in a torch-light procession on the women's behalf. Demonstrators - whom organizers say will include dozens of Italian mayors, politicians, journalists and intellectuals - will gather in front of the Iranian embassy in Rome on Thursday night. Rights group Amnesty International has launched a public awareness campaign the save the women from imminent execution.
According to information received, on September 26 Mrs. Fereshteh Dibaj, daughter of Rev. Mehdi Dibaj who was brutally murdered by agents of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in 1994, was arrested in the city of Mashhad. Mrs. Dibaj, 28, along with her husband Reza Montazami, 35, MOIS agents at and transferred to an unknown location. In 1994, Rev. Dibaj, Bishop Haik Hovsepian Mehr and Bishop Tateos Michaelian were brutally murdered by MOIS agents. Some time before the criminal murders, the mullahs’ regime was forced under international pressure to release Rev. Dibaj after he spent nine years in prison. The regime immediately blamed the killings of the Christian leaders on People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. Four years later, however, in the course of factional feuding in 1998, the regime’s officials admitted that the priests’ murders were carried out by the MOIS. The Iranian Resistance calls on all human rights organizations to condemn the arrest of members of Rev. Dibaj’s family and take urgent action to secure their freedom.
Spero News –
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameini offers advice about observing Ramadan and the practice of temporary marriage. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Sayyid Ali Khameini, the successor of the Ayatollah Khomeini, offers advice to mostly Shiite Muslims on a website offered by the government of Iran. On the website, inquirers can ask about subjects ranging from the proper observance of the holy month of Ramadan, to arranging for a “temporary” marriage between a man and a woman.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Stoning Women to Death
Coming soon to the United Nations: Iran's chief executioner of women
By Nat Hentoff
On . . .
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has become an international celebrity, brandishing his nuclear program? and his yearning to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. He is visited by such personages as U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan and Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes. In their conversations with him, neither has asked the swashbuckling leader about "honor killings" by the government of women charged with having committed "adultery." As human rights lawyer Lily Mazahery, president of the Legal Rights Institute reports, "in 99 percent of these cases, the accused women have received no legal representation because, under the Shariah legal system, their testimony is at best worth only half the value of the testimony of men." And there is no single executioner. These are mass murders by stone-throwing members of the community, having the kind of festive time common among American mass lynchers of blacks, when the murderers brought their children to join in the fun. In Iran too, kids are present to witness the sinners' redemption. The capital crime of adultery, Mazahery has explained to World Net Daily, "includes [under Shariah law] any type of intimate relationship between a girl/woman and a man to whom she is not permanently or temporarily married. Such a relationship does not necessarily mean a sexual relationship. "Further, charges of adultery are routinely issued to women/girls who have been raped? and they are sentenced to death." (Their unpardonable crime is to have been raped.)
During the continuous coverage in this country of Iran's nuclear threat and its crucial support of terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, there has been scarcely any mention of this horrifying dimension of the culture of Iran: sangsar, the stoning to death of women.
Mazahery, the Persian American lawyer whose mission has long been to save Iranian women from this and other brutal treatment, tells me that sangsar, "dating back to the dark ages," was, for a time, suspended by the pre-revolutionary regime due to pressure from international human rights organizations, combined with protests from civilized persons around the world. But when the mullahs took over in the 1979 revolution, they brought back Shariah law, and when this president came to power, he reinstituted public stonings, as a "religious principle," against women.
As of this writing, President Ahmadinejad is on his way to address the United Nations in New York. There will be heavy press coverage. Will any reporter ask him about the stoning of women in his country? and the particular case of Malak Ghorbany? And while former "moderate" Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has been in the United States? lecturing at Harvard, among other prestigious venues? I know of no reporter who has asked him to discourse on the stoning of women under his successor.
Mazahery, who was recently invited by students and faculty to respond to Khatami at Harvard, has written and circulated an online petition, "Save Malak Ghorbany From Death by Public Stoning," addressed to Kofi Annan; the U.N.'s commissioner of human rights; and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran; as well as to the head of its judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi...Wall Street Journal: "Satellite dishes are being collected to cut off public access to the . . . news of the global community. Women's groups, labor organizations, and student groups are not permitted even the more peaceful acts of protest."
As a result, however, of growing international concern about Malak Ghorbany, partly from Mazahery's petition, the Islamic regime has stayed her execution until she gets a new trial. But as Mazahery points out, Iran has used this three-card-monte trick before. As she told World Net Daily: "It is quite possible the Islamic regime will schedule a rush sham trial and reissue the same sentence [and] even with a new trial, Ghorbany would still receive the same sentence or be sentenced to death by public hanging instead." The pressure to save Malak Ghorbany must continue. The direct link to Malak's petition, where you can sign on, is petitiononline.com/Malak/petition.html. For related topics, and to link to videos of actual public stonings, click on savemalak.googlepages.com/home . Keep in mind, Mazahery warns, “There are no scheduled dates for such killings in Iran. A prisoner can be executed at any time with little or no notice at all. Needless to say, that makes matters that much more complicated and urgent in these types of cases." I shall return to this ongoing story and to Mazahery, whose own personal story illuminates the barbarism of the rulers of Iran? where scores of student dissenters are in prison and, as Ali Afshari and Akbar Atri report, "the noose has been tightened around the neck of writers, journalists, and bloggers in the past few months."
Women graduates challenge Iran
By Frances Harrison
The number of women graduating from Iran's universities is overtaking the number of men, promising a change in the job market and, with it, profound social change. In some subjects 70% of Iran's graduates are women Twenty postgraduate students are sitting in a plush modern classroom listening to a lecture on environmental management at the Islamic Azad University - a private institution with 1.6 million students across Iran. The room is darkened so the students can watch the lecturer's slide show comparing energy consumption around the world. Three quarters of the students in this class are women - the five men in the class are huddled together in a corner. As Professor Majid Abbaspour explains, this is a far cry from the past: "When I was doing my bachelor's degree in Iran we had a class of 60 in mechanical engineering with only four women.” Now the number has changed a lot - I think this may be because the attitudes of families have changed." Well over half of university students in Iran are now women. In the applied physics department of Azad University 70% of the graduates are women - a statistic which would make many universities in the West proud. It is a huge social shift since the 1979 Revolution: Iran's Islamic government has managed to convince even traditional rural families that it is safe to send their daughters away from home to study.
But in some areas the larger number of women than men is beginning to alarm the authorities. "As a matter of fact it's starting to get worrying - in some fields maybe they will put some limitations?" says Professor Abbaspour, referring to suggestions that there should be positive discrimination for men in certain key subjects. We women want to show we are here and we have a lot to say - for years we have lived under the heavy shadow of men - our fathers and brothers and now we want to come out of that Massoumeh UmidvarStudent and working mother
He explains: "In the oil and gas industries at the present time there is no discrimination but... for example when they want to work on the oil and gas platforms in the Persian Gulf area it might be very hard for women to do so." Part of the reason for more women in university education seems to be that many young men are more interested in making money. "We women want to show we are here and we have a lot to say," says Massoumeh Pahshahie Umidvar. "For years we have lived under the heavy shadow of men, our fathers and brothers, and now we want to come out of that." Massoumeh holds down a job in a factory, has a child and is doing a postgraduate degree. Her life is completely different from that of her mother who stayed at home, cooking and looking after children.
"Before the revolution everybody supposed that if you wanted to be a rich person with a good standard of living you needed to be educated," explains journalist and social commentator Sayed Laylaz. I will choose a person as a husband who lets me work because I love my job...”
"But after the revolution because of a lot of changes - especially because of the Iran-Iraq war - this mentality changed. “At the moment boys don't think that if they want to be a successful person they should be educated and because of this they leave free more places for girls to go to university." Mr Laylaz calls it a historic opportunity for women that they have eagerly seized. He hopes this new generation of educated Iranian women will force social change in the decades ahead. It will not be long, he argues, before women are in charge of recruitment in offices. Already he sees signs that Iran's politicians recognize the importance of women's votes in elections. Massoumeh tells her husband that it will not be long before Iranian men will be forced to sit at home while their wives run the country. Already it has become a problem for women with degrees to find husbands with the same level of education.
Marriage or a career
Another social change is that young women who do have careers are now beginning to think twice about getting married. Especially as under Iranian law a woman needs her husband's permission to go to work. Graduating women are not accepting traditional social roles Sudabeh Shahkhudahee has just finished a night shift as a nurse and is relaxing in front of her cousin's satellite TV and reading her horoscope. After studying at university and finding the right job Sudabeh is nervous about her future - she could lose it all if she marries the wrong man. "I will choose a person as a husband who lets me work because I love my job," she says. "I will not give up my job after I get married." This is a sentiment that is increasingly being heard in a society where a single woman even has trouble hiring an apartment to live alone. Sudabeh knows it is going to be hard to find a man who will not have a problem with her doing night shifts and being away from home for long periods, especially when she has children. Working mothers are a relatively new phenomenon in Iran but attitudes are changing among the younger generation of working women, many of whom will no longer accept a husband who does not share the workload at home. "Our men are coming out of this macho shell and becoming more co-operative," says a young married student. Many believe Iranian women who have worked hard to overtake Iranian men will be the ones to bring about social and political change. "Maybe in the near future we can get our rights - at least I hope," says another student.
Iran: Kobra "I want to live!"
Scoop Independent News
Press Release: Organization for Women's Liberation
"I want to live!"
This is what
Kobra wants the world to know. She has written a letter from prison. Kobra
Rahmanpour is a 22 year old woman who has been sentenced to death by the
Islamic regime of Iran. She had spent the past three years in prison and been
convicted of murdering her mother in law by a kitchen knife. On the first of
January 2005 she was woken up early in the morning to be told that she was
going to be hanged that day. Kobra was to be hanged on
In July 2005 following the refusal of 4 of the relatives of the mother in law to pardon her, the court issued her death sentence by hanging. According to Islamic law of "an eye for an eye" if the relatives of the deceased pardon the accused, then he/she could be freed. Kobra now faces death by hanging. Her execution must be stopped.
Kobra herself is a victim of poverty and injustice. She was born and raised in a family that could not even provide the mere necessities of life for its members. Her father is elderly and one of her brothers is disabled and there is no welfare system to look after such people who are in need. Kobra had to give up her ambitions of going to university, and in order to help her family survive, married a man 40 years her senior. But her life did not get better; in fact it was made hell by repeated maltreatment and abuse se received from her husband and his family.
On one occasion he was even arrested and imprisoned for physically and sexually abusing her. In the last incident according to Kobra, she was attacked by her mother in law with a kitchen knife in her hand. Kobra claims that she killed her mother in law in a self defense act.
We urge all to support our campaign to save Kobra. Please sign our online petition:
Kobra Rahmanpoor's open letter
"I want to live!
I am a human being just like you. I do not want to die. However I am now a sol less body who in fear of the execution rope has forgotten how to laugh and be happy. A lot of people say to me how come your case has been so much publicized but you are still in prison? I have to tell them that I am only steps away from execution. I too like all of you am afraid of dying. Please help me so that this would not be my last letter.
My mother, father and handicapped brother are very worried about me. Your supports so far have been such a comfort to them. I wish my life was different. I wish I had finished my pre-university education. I wish I did not have to be a servant for my husband. I wish I had not reached insanity. I suffered a lot and was intimidated. I am a true victim. Now they are about to hang the victim. This was not and is not my destiny.
In these dark days of fear, I urge you once again to help me. I thank all mass media and all people who supported me before. Now, may be for the last time, I urge you to do everything you can to free me from execution. I like freedom. I dream about my freedom and a good life.
I have suffered enough. Help me to get rid of the nightmare of execution which wakes me up all the time. Do what you can. There is not much time left. Every minute takes me nearer to the rope. Please help me! I am afraid of the rope and death. I hate the rope that is waiting for me on the crane. I want to live. All other doors are closed to me. Nobody helps me. My only hope is the people. I want to hold my mother and father in my arms.
I want to thank my mother, father and all who have supported me. Kobra Rahmanpoor
From Evin prison, Tehran/Iran
Shahrivar 1385 (September 2006)"
Kobra's father talks to the world!
"She is scared from the execution, the rope and the crane. She wants to go to university and study. Kobra is a very kind girl, her inmates can testify that. She should be free as soon as possible to go back to her normal life."
To all noble humans, and all human right defender bodies
I, Abolfazl Rahmanpour, the father of Kobra Rahmanpour pledge you to protest to the unfair sentence of my young daughter.
Kobra, my young daughter, was forced to marry a man, 43 years older than herself. Kobra was a good student in her school and her wish was to study in the university but she was forced to forget all of her wishes because of the extreme poverty of the family.
Kobra had a hard life before marriage and after marriage her life became even worse. the extremeness of problems and sufferings that she had to take in a family that looked at her first a servant and then a daughter-in-law, was so much that made a kind girl like her to commit a murder in an accident and while defending herself.
Kobra spent the best years of her youth in the prison and with the threat of death. She has suffered so much and has completely fall. It is so many years that she can feel the execution rope on her neck and her life goes on with sensing death, she shouldn't suffer more tortures. When I look at her colorless eyes, fallen teeth, and senseless body I always ask myself what did I do wrong? What shouldn't I have done? Whose fault is this?
As she has said herself she wants to live and she is scared from the execution, the rope and the crane. She wants to go to university and study. Kobra is a very kind girl, her inmates can testify that. She should be free as soon as possible to go back to her normal life.
Our only hope is the protest of you noble people to this unjust sentence. The only way of preventing this sentence is the protest of all of the people, human rights defending bodies, committees against the executions and international bodies. Just for a second thought what me and Kobra's mother are going true to realize how horrible are this days. I wouldn't mind to be executed instead of Kobra, is that possible? I have always worked from day to night, but I don't know why our destiny went this way? I and Kobra's mother have no hope to life or another thing beside Kobra. Help us. Save my Family, my disabled son who always asks about her sister, Kobra, from this horror of execution of our dear Kobra. We are waiting for your definite actions. We all ask you to sign this letter. I know that there is no time and we are in last seconds. I ask for your help once more, in these last seconds. Sign this letter to show that you also demand Kobra's Freedom.
Please send your supports to this Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will declare the names of those who sign in this blog: www.save-kobra.blogfa.com
AbolFazl Rahmanpour, September 2006
Seven Women Face Stoning in
By Alison Langley
Inter Press News Agency
Amnesty International has issued an urgent appeal calling on its members to write letters to the Republic of Iran asking them not to stone seven women.
of the women have been sentenced to die by stoning for adultery. Officially
Iran had placed a moratorium on the cruel and painful practice in 2002, but
Amnesty claims sentencing continues. The group has received credible reports
that two people were stoned to death in May.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled that treating adultery and fornication as criminal offences does not comply with international human rights standards.
"The sentence of execution by stoning for adultery breaches Iran's commitment under article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that death sentences will be imposed ‘only for the most serious crimes'," Amnesty wrote in its appeal. Under Shari'a law, a prisoner is buried up to her breast, her hands restrained. Rules also specify the size of the stones which can be thrown so that death is painful and not imminent. Both men and women can be sentenced to die by stoning. In practice, however, an overwhelming number of women receive that penalty. "It's high time this brutal practice ends.
are people deprived of their right to life by the state but they are tortured
in the process," Nicole Choueiry, Amnesty's Middle East press officer,
who asked not to be named, told
According to Amnesty, Parisa A. received her execution sentence while working as a prostitute in the city of Shiraz. She claims she had been forced into prostitution by her husband due to her family's poverty. Her sentence was upheld by a branch of the Supreme Court in November 2005. Her case is under review by the high court.
Iran E., an Ahwazi Arab from the Bakhtiari clan, was sentenced to be stoned for adultery. Her verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in April. Khayrieh V., another Ahwazi Arab, was reportedly subjected to domestic violence by her husband when she allegedly began an affair with one of his relatives, who then murdered her husband, the Amnesty report said.
She has denied any involvement in the murder but has admitted to adultery. The Supreme Court has upheld her sentence and the case now apparently has been sent to the Head of the Judiciary for permission to be implemented. Amnesty quoted her as saying, "I am ready to be hanged, but they should not stone me. They could strangle you and you would die, but it is very difficult to have stones hitting you in the head."
Shamameh Ghorbani (also known as Malek), was sentenced to die by stoning for adultery in June after relatives killed a man they found in her home. Her case is being re-examined.
Kobra Najjar, 44, is at imminent risk of execution, Amnesty said. She claims to have been forced into prostitution by her husband, a heroin addict who was violent towards her. "In 1995, after a severe beating by her husband, she told one of her regular customers that she wanted to kill her husband. The customer allegedly murdered her husband after Kobra Najjar took him to an arranged meeting place. The customer was sentenced to death, but he was pardoned by the victim's family, to whom he paid blood money," Amnesty added. Soghra Mola'i was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the January 2004 murder of her husband Abdollah and to execution by stoning for adultery. She claims her lover killed her husband. Her boyfriend has been sentenced to hang for the homicide, after receiving 100 lashes for "illicit relations." In May 2005, a Tehran court sentenced Fatemeh, whose surname is unknown, to pay retribution for being an accomplice to murder, and to be stoned for having an "illicit relationship" with a man named Mahmoud.
Her husband has been sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment as an accomplice to the murder. Her case is under review with the Supreme Court. In addition to these women, Amnesty officials said the human rights group was concerned about the fates of Ashraf Kalhori and Hajieh Esmailvand, also convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned.
To send us your comments or op-ed on relevant topics for future issues, email email@example.com
To unsubscribe or subscribe others to our newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For past volumes of E-Zan visit www.wfafi.org
The E-Zan © 2006