February 15, 2007 VOLUME 33
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
As the debate over Iran take center stage in Washington again, many are wondering about the extent of Tehran's role and influence in Iraq. To this end, Dianne Sawyer of ABC News took a trip to Iran and interviewed Ahmadinejad on various topics including his regime's meddling in Iraq. The holier-than-thou Ahmadinejad flirted his way through an interview with Diane Sawyers, lobbing along the way dovish statements such as that Iran opposes "any" proliferation of nuclear weapons and remains open to negotiations with the West. At the end of the interview, Ahmadinejad jokingly chastised her for asking tough and "combative" questions and lectured her about how "women should not be asking tough questions about war, women should ask about love, culture and family".
The president of the misogynous regime in Tehran is incapable to see women beyond what is defined by their system of gender apartheid, hence his advice to Sawyer. With such a inherit backwardedness and anti-historic mindset , no wonder a woman-led movement shakes this regime's foundation and frightens its rank and file.
Many still tend to willingly or unwillingly turn a blind eye on Tehran's fundamentalist agenda in the region, particularly in Iraq. The debate over more American troops vs. withdrawal of troop among members of US Congress is ignoring a third option in resolving Iraqi crisis. There is another option on table that Washington has failed to see and that is to rely on the democratic Iraqis who are aligning themselves with democratic Iranian opposition in confronting Tehran. Washington must realize that bullets and tanks will not solve the spread of Islamic Fundamentalism in Iraq. Just as it would not resolve the nuclear crisis with Tehran. Instead, it is the progressive and secular Muslim movement, led by women, which will defeat such phenomenon. In Iran's case, this movement is led by Maryam Rajavi, popular among Iranians, she also enjoys a tremendous popularity among Iraqi women of all backgrounds including Shiite, Sunni and Kurds.
Time is of the essence.
Failure to recognize the third option in
Iraq and Iran will lead to continuous escalation of violence. Among such
tragic violence is the recent assassination of president of the Iraqi Women
Syndicate (IWS), Ms. Amereh Abdul-Karim Al-Aqabi in Iraq. She was abducted
by Tehran's fundamentalist agents and brutally murdered in Iraq.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
CBC News Website - January 16, 2007
A Vancouver woman who has
worked for months to help a jailed Iranian teen is thrilled that a court has
overturned a death sentence against her. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, former Miss World
Canada, said "feelings of joy" came when she heard the news this week that
Nazanin Fatehi, 19, will be spared from death by hanging. But she said she will
continue the fight to free the young woman from prison...After a retrial last
week, the court ruled that Fatehi acted in self defense and has been exonerated
from the charge of murder, but used a disproportionate amount of force to fend
off one of her attackers. Afshin-Jam said Monday she is certain that
international pressure helped to spare Fatehi, but said the case continues to
underscore the status of women in Iran and the injustice that Iranian women face
when they get into legal trouble."A woman's life is worth half that of a man,"
State-run News Agency Aftab - January 17, 2007
One Ahmadinejad's cabinet minister, in a meeting with heads of the Department of Health and Human Services, suggested that sexual intercourse between man and women must be regulated to a specific timing of a day to avoid birth defects. In the meeting he said: "in order to avoid and reduce the birth defects these regulations have to be put in place. These are some of the recommendation by religious edicts. They have proven to be effective and must be in practice". He referred to a religious narrative that suggest sex at night will result in healthier babies.
NCRI Website - January 18, 2007
The mullahs' agents abducted and
brutally murdered president of the Iraqi Women Syndicate (IWS), Ms. Amereh
Abdul-Karim Al-Aqabi in Iraq.
Ms. Al-Aqabi was one of the fierce opponents of the Iranian regime's meddling in Iraq. She was also one of the co-sponsors of the historic statement by 5.2 million Iraqis in June 2006 which called for eviction of the mullahs' regime from her country. Ms. Al-Aqabi was involved in extensive activities to improve the role of Iraqi women in the society. As the president of IWS, she led a major resistance against fundamentalism and increasing restrictions imposed on Iraqi women. In a letter to the speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly and Vice-President, she wrote, "I, as a patriotic Iraqi woman, in solidarity with female members of the Mojahedin in Ashraf City, home to the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), call for reaffirmation of the political refugee status of 1000 Mojahedin women who are against the mullahs' regime in Iran." The Iranian Resistance expresses its condolences to Al-Aqabi family and calls for condemnation of the gruesome murder by international human rights organizations as well as women rights organizations. It reiterates on the need for a firm stance in regards with export of terrorism by the regime to Iraq. Last June 5.2 million Iraqis in their statement called for the eviction of the regime from Iraq and reminded the mullahs' crimes such as "mass murders, assassination of national figures, abductions and ever more growing waves of arbitrary arrests in Iraq." It went on to add that the Iranian regime has targeted "security, life, and democracy" in Iraq and had pushed the country to the brink of virtual collapse.
AKI News Agency - January 23, 2007
Delara Darabi, a 20-year-old Iranian woman sentenced
to death on charges she killed a cousin when she was 17, tried to kill herself
at Tehran's Evin prison. Her mother told Tehran daily Etemad that her daughter
is clinically depressed and only weighs 35 kilos. Dozens of petitions have been
made worldwide since Delara's story caught the attention of the international
media after a journalist who had been following her story organized a show with
paintings Delara made during her imprisonment. Delara denies she killed her
cousin. The exhibition of her paintings, entitled 'Prisoner of colours', was
organised by journalist Assieh Amini in October last year at Tehran's Golestan
gallery. A minors' tribunal sentenced Darabi to death for knifing to death her
17-year-old cousin with the help of a young man, 21, who was sentenced to ten
years in jail. Darabi's attorney, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, has pleaded her
innocence in the first trial and two appeal cases in vain
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty - January 24, 2007
frequently maintain that most of that country's HIV infections are the result of
intravenous drug abuse -- often in prison. But a senior health official's recent
warning of the potentially exponential spread of HIV and AIDS through sex
suggests that an official reluctance to discuss extramarital intimacy and other
forbidden topics might be giving way to a more realistic view of AIDS. The head
of the Iranian Health Ministry's disease-management center (Markaz-i modiriat-i
bimariha), Mohammad Mehdi Guya, warned that the threat of "a third wave of
AIDS...through sexual relations is slowly showing itself," Fars News Agency
reported, according to "Kargozaran" on January 11. He cautioned that a failure
to "intervene in time" could allow "a sudden increase in the disease." Guya said
the first wave of infections came in the 1980s, with the import and use of
infected blood for transfusion. The second wave erupted in the late 1990s and
was blamed on needle sharing by drug addicts.
AKI News Agency - January 26, 2007
The increasing number of
women in Iranian universities is worrying Iran's authorities and parliament is
discussing a draft law to limit access to female students. Today, 65 percent of
university students in Iran are women. The MPs with the ultra conservative
Osulgarayan (loyal to principles) political faction of Iranian president Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad has announced it will soon present the bill to "rebalance the
university's population," claiming that the large number of women attending
secondary education is undermining Iranian society. Osulgarayan MPs in fact
claim that the rise of women graduates has contributed to raise the number of
divorces in Iran."Once they get a degree, many young women refuse to stay home
and take care of their husband and children and want to work, which is mainly
why so many marriages end," said this week Rad Ali Tahmasebi, one of the
lawmakers who drafted the bill. Tahmasebi also blamed the increase in the
average marrying age of women on university attendance, noting that this too was
a "threat for an Islamic society such as Iran's." In the previous reformist
legislature prior to the election in June 2005 of Ahmadinejad, a similar
proposal by conservative MPs had been blocked by the then majority coalition.
Daily Times - January 27, 2007
Although some estimates suggest that every year 1 to 2 million women, men and children are trafficked worldwide, around 225,000 of them are from South Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, and Bhutan). These trends were summarized by S. Huda in a World Report on Women’s Health 2006 that appeared in the ‘International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics’ Sept 2006. Boys are trafficked internally mainly for labor and sexual exploitation. Iranian women transit Afghanistan to Pakistan where they are forced into prostitution. Human rights groups in Bangladesh estimate that 10-20,000 women and girls are trafficked annually to India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Agance France Presse - January 28, 2007
A report says that Iranian officials arrested three
women's rights activists as they were about to leave the country to take part in
an educational workshop in India. Mansureh Shojai, Talat Taghinia, and Farnaz
Seifi were arrested at a Tehran airport on January 27, said Bamdad
Davudi, Shojai's son. He said Nobel peace laureate and lawyer Shirin Ebadi will
be representing the detainees.
The three women were involved in a recent campaign dubbed "One Million Signatures," which aims to change Iran's "discriminatory laws" for women. They sought to collect signatures both online and in person.
NCRI Website - February 2, 2007
Yesterday, Chief of the regime’s Appeals’ Courts in Tehran Province, Mohammad Ali Khani admitted to handing down stoning sentences, the state-run daily Etemaad reported. He said, “If the law proves that the crime has been committed then judges would hand down stoning sentences. The law makers will not allow a substitute sentence for the crime. Stoning to death is a form of punishment which is different from [mere] execution.” On June 27, 2006, the regime has sentenced a woman, Ashraf Kalhori, to death by stoning. The regime often announces such cruel punishments as hangings to cover the stoning sentences in Iran.
State-run News Agency Aftab - February 2, 2007
Sarfaraz Iyzadi, a member of Education and Scientific Research Committee of parliament claimed, “Before the revolution [in 1979], there were certain restriction on female attendance in some scientific fields such as Mine [Engineering], Agricultural [Engineering], and Mechanical [Engineering] which they did not agree with the women’s physical strength.” Another member of parliament, Fatemeh Hyedar-Pour said about the plan, “If our women want to pursue science and technology, they should seek such skills useful to their households. Women should not seek more than their share of the society.” Such misogynistic comments made by the regime’s leaders come at time when they admit that women’s admissions, with all discriminations against women in Iran, in the higher education schools throughout the nation are greater than men.
AKI News Agency - February 4, 2007
An Iranian rights group said on Friday that a Tehran
appeals court upheld a death sentence against Delara Darabi, 20, who allegedly
killed a cousin three years ago when was minor. On 22 January, Delara's mother
told Tehran daily Etemad that her daughter had tried to kill herself at the
capital's Evin prison where she is detained. Dozens of petitions have been made
worldwide since Delara's story caught the attention of the international media
after a journalist who had been following her story organized a show with
paintings Delara made during her imprisonment. Delara denies she killed her
cousin. The exhibition of her paintings, entitled 'Prisoner of colours', was
organized by journalist Assieh Amini in October last year at Tehran's Golestan
gallery. A minors' tribunal sentenced the young woman to capital punishment for
knifing to death her 17-year-old cousin with the help of a young man, 21, who
was sentenced to ten years in jail. Delara's attorney, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi,
has pleaded her innocence in the first trial and two appeal cases in vain.
Delara is one of 24 young Iranians who are awaiting to be executed for a crime
they allegedly committed when they were minors.
NCRI Website - February 9, 2007
The Iranian Resistance calls on all international
women’s human rights organizations to try for freedom of a 62-year-old political
prisoner, Mrs. Zahra Aliqoli who has been imprisoned in the mullahs’ regime’s
dungeons since summer of 2006. In previous years, she had been imprisoned and
tortured by the regime twice. Mrs. Aliqoli’s poor health is of great concern in
prison. She has been tried by the mullahs’ judiciary on the charges of visiting
her children in Ashraf City, home to the members of People’s Mojahedin
Organization of Iran (PMOI) in Iraq. Mrs. Aliqoli’s daughter, Shahnaz Aliqoli
was imprisoned by the regime for five years and later executed in 1988. In 1981,
she was arrested and imprisoned for the first time with her husband. In 1986,
for second time, she was imprisoned and tortured severely by the regime’s
henchmen. The Iranian Resistance calls on all international human rights as well
as women’s rights organizations to condemn the regime’s crimes and take urgent
measures to save the life of Mrs. Aliqoli and other political prisoners in
ABC News - February 12, 2007
Women in Iran are allowed to vote at the age of 15.
They hold 4 percent of the seats in Parliament, and more than half the
university students are women...Make no mistake, though, strong as they are,
Iranian women have a battle to wage. Human rights groups say, that especially in
the countryside, a woman can be publicly stoned to death if she is thought to be
unfaithful to her husband. "A woman is half of a man. Women cannot have
guardianship of her children. A women does not have right to divorce equal to
men. A woman cannot leave the country without permission of her husband — all of
these and many, many others".
E-Zan Featured Reports
Iranian woman living in Moscow airport seeks asylum in Canada
January 23, 2007
An Iranian woman who has been
living in Moscow's international airport for the last nine months continues to
be in legal limbo as she seeks asylum in Canada. Zahra Kamalfar, who was granted
refugee status by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees Office in late November, said she wants to go to Canada with her two
children. She said her brother has been living in Vancouver since he fled Iran
as a refugee more than a decade ago. Zahra's lawyers said she's applied for
asylum in Canada but there's been no response, leaving her stranded at Moscow's
Sheremetyevo International Airport.
"I want to go Canada because I want go someplace that is good place, that is good place for future [of] my child," she told CBC News.
"Canada is number one in the world because person from Canada is very nice and they understand respect," her 18-year-old daughter Anna said.
Her lawyers said she arrived in Russia nearly two years ago, after fleeing Iran during a prison sentence.
She took her two children, got phoney travel papers and left for Canada, via Russia and Germany.
She got to Germany but was caught and sent back to Russia.
Zahra said Russian officials have tried to deport her, and her two children, back to Iran.
She said they won't allow her to leave the airport, where her family must sleep on the floor in public, and use a sink in a public washroom to bathe.
Meanwhile, her lawyers say the Canadian consulate won't give her any information about her case. Canadian diplomats say that Canada's privacy laws prevent them from doing so.
But her lawyers can't understand what's taking so long to treat her asylum request. Canada has a special procedure to deal with desperate cases in 72 hours and another for women in danger.
Zahra said what hurts most is seeing her children suffer, especially her 10-year-old son David.
"He need books, he need everything. Now he is very tired. Every day he cry and cry. He told me, 'I don’t have hope.'"
The Women’s Revolution in
Iran: Interview with Ramesh Sepehrrad
The Global Politician
By Ryan Mauro
January 25, 2007
Ramesh Sepehrrad is political scientist and president/founder of the oldest Iranian women’s Organization in Washington DC: The National Committee of Women for a Democratic Iran (est. 1990). Sepehrrad comes from a family of political prisoners with first hand knowledge of the Iranian peoples’ suffering, particularly women, at the hands of the clerical regime. In addition to public speaking, she has been published in The Brown Journal of World Affairs, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The United Press International – Outside View, Global Politician, American Chronicle, Women eNews, Feminist Voice, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and Women's Caucus for Gender Justice Newsletter.
RM: What is the state of women’s rights in Iran?
RS: The current status of women in Iran can be described in one phrase: system of gender apartheid. The regime in Tehran has institutionalized violence against women in its laws and regulations. Women are considered as second class citizens whose affairs have to be managed through their male guardians.
RM: Are women’s rights increasing or decreasing in Iran?
RS: Before 1979, women did not have much political or economic rights. They enjoyed some very basic social rights under the family act law in the areas of divorce and child custody. For this reason, women were an important player in the 1979 revolution, but fundamentalists, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, set the clock back for Iranian women. Under the rule of Vali-e-faqih (Supreme Leadership of clerics), aka Islamic Fundamentalism, women have no rights. The worldview of Islamic Fundamentalists describes women as a source of sin who must be controlled at all times. In the past 27 years, the measure of success of the Islamic Fundamentalists, be it turbaned leaders or not, was the depth of the suppression of women’s rights and activities. The constant battles among factions within Iranian regime are played out over women’s rights, hejab (compulsory dress-code for women) and public segregation.
RM: How strong is the movement
for democratic change in Iran?
RS: Given the women-hating nature of the regime in Tehran, one can measure the strength of democratic movements in Iran through the active involvement of women in both leadership or other ranks of the organized resistance movement. Tehran’s regime has the highest
number of female political execution in the world, even higher than China. Yet, women are not deterred and continue to challenge the regime politically, socially and ideologically. I must say for the first time in Iran’s history, women’s movement is very much political in nature. Over the past several months, women have held some of the largest rallies in Tehran demanding more rights and freedom. Their strategy is commendable because they ask for the very basic social and political rights such as divorce rights, child custody or employment rights. Iranian women know their very basic demands shakes the very foundation of theocracy in Tehran. Iranian women are fully aware that Tehran’s regime will never heed to their demands, yet they continue push their agenda which is essentially a regime change. They are not alone. They have coupled their efforts with student and labor movement in Iran. They also have a very strong presence outside of Iran. For example, Maryam Rajavi, leader of the organized Iranian resistance movement in exile, has held numerous international conference and seminars since 1990’s to raise awareness on the threat of Islamic Fundamentalism. She has met with world leaders in Europe to raise the voice of democracy in Iran and push for democratic change in Iran. This is a sign of strength both inside and outside of Iran.
RM: What do you need from the West to cause change and what sort of change do you seek?
RS: Iranian women seek democratic change in Iran by the people and for the people of Iran. There is no need for military intervention and further talks or negotiation only legitimizes regime’s terrorist crimes and state-sponsorship of violence against women. Iranian people ask the west to isolate the regime politically, diplomatically and economically. The people of Iran can take care of the rest. The recent UN Security Council Resolution 1737 is a step in a right direction. Isolation and international pressure on Tehran’s regime empowers the Iranian people and weakens Ahmadinejad’s regime. This can pave the way for change by the Iranian people.
RM: Is regime change even possible in Iran considering how brutal the regime suppresses dissent?
RS: Absolutely. The price of freedom in Iran is very high and the brutality of the regime has cost thousands of lives, but the resistance is also very strong. I am reminded of a message from Valliollah Faiz-Mahdavi, a political prisoner who was murdered in prison a few months ago; who said: “In the course of my struggle I learned that for freedom fighters it is not all that important to personally see realized the ultimate aim of their efforts and sacrifice. What is paramount for them is steadfastness in struggle. I truly believe that freedom, democracy and justice are as vital to human life as the air one breathes. I thus permit myself to ask you not to abandon Iran’s just fight against the oppressive regime of the mullahs. I also have a few words for the leaders and minions of the regime: we will never resign ourselves to the ignominy of surrendering to your repressive dictatorship, even if it will cost us our lives.” Faiz-Mahdavi reminds us how Iranians will undoubtedly unseat the fundamentalist regime in Tehran.
RM: Looking at Iraq, the American people are hesitant to endorse regime change, due to the chaotic aftermath. Should the mullahs fall, who will replace them? How? Won't there be-infighting among people seeking to replace the mullahs?
RS: First, in Iran’s case regime change does not mean military attack and American people must understand the 26-year-old call for regime change is coming from Iran not Washington. In 1981 a broad coalition of democratic Iranian organizations, groups and personalities, was founded in Tehran. This coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has been on the forefront of calling for democratic change in Iran. They have been exposing regime’s human rights since the 1980’s, terrorist network and activities since the 1990’s and illegal nuclear activities in the last 15 years. Although NCRI has been forced to exile, they have strong support among Iranians at home and abroad. Headquartered in Europe, NCRI have strong support among European parliamentarians and US Congress.
Second, while Iranian people and their resistance are fully aware of the chaotic aftermath in Iraq, they have been exposing the hands of the Iranian regime acting as the engine of chaos in Iraq. Reports publishes in numerous Iraqi newspapers, Time magazine, LA Times, Fox News and elsewhere testifies on Tehran agenda and drive to never tolerate democratic governance in Baghdad.
So, by continued promotion of chaos in Iraq and unlawful nuclear activities, Tehran is boxing Washington and EU to choices between US-led military attacks or negotiation (appeasement). However, as Maryam Rajavi said in European Parliament, there is another option and that is change brought about by the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance.
This option will be costless for American people. The war with the Iranian regime is between the people of Iran and the regime in Tehran. Iranians are not asking for American soldier to fight their battle. Instead, they are asking America (Washington), to completely close the door on this regime and de-legitimize it politically and diplomatically. The rest is up to Iranians and their resistance movement. Because of NCRI’s comprehensive platform to protect the rights of all citizens, there will not be any infighting of any nature. NCRI plan is to have a transitional government, led by Maryam Rajavi as its president-elect, for 6 months. After that, there will be a nationwide election where people can decide on the type of governance.
RM: How likely is it that there'd be civil war in Iran as the various minorities seek independence after the mullahs are overthrown?
RS: All minorities have seats in NCRI which acts as a parliament in exile. According to NCRI’s platforms, the rights of women, religious and ethnic minorities are guaranteed and protected. If there is going to be change by the people and their resistance movement (NCRI), the chance of civil war and sectarian conflict is zero. No to mention, Iran has a very strong history in its national pride and unity. Let us not forget, in its modern times, Iran has experienced two major popular revolutions: the anti-monarchic (1978-79) and Constitutional revolution (1906-1910). Neither one resulted in such conflicts; instead it enhanced the national unity which is now echoed in the NCRI.
RM: Should there be a Western strike on Iran, how would the people of Iran respond?
RS: Disappointed and disenchanted. As mentioned, there is no need for Western strike. The only way to defeat the threat from Tehran’s regime is to support the call of change by Iran’s resistance groups such as Maryam Rajavi’s organization.
RM: How do Iranians view the Mujahideen-e-Khalq? What sort of reaction would occur if the U.S. were to back the group?
RS: Given the suppressive nature of the regime, no one can measure popularity of any political organizations. This regime does not adhere to any standards of liberal democracies which makes it difficult to assess the popularity of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK/PMOI). However, one can certainly measure the Tehran’s fear of the effectiveness and impact of MEK in the society. According to a study conducted by a Washington Think Tank, Iran Policy Committee, the MEK is the topic of discussion over 230% more often than all other groups combined. The results suggest that the regime is worried about the MEK because of the latent and overt support the group has within the Iranian population and the capability of the MEK to facilitate regime change.
MEK is the largest member of the NCRI coalition. More than 100,000 of its members and sympathizers have been killed by the regime in Tehran. But it is the only opposition group that has maintained an active and effective network in Iran. Obviously, that would have been impossible without popular support in Iran. For the past two decades, MEK has been the single most effective and accurate source of intelligence on Iran’s terrorist activities, missile technology, bio/chemical weapons and nuclear weapons program. The MEK also has an effective network throughout Iran and organizes and conducts an assortment of protest and publicity activities across the nation. None of which could have been possible without a strong and favorable support among Iranians. At the end of the day, MEK organization is part and parcel of the Iranian society made by the sons and daughters of the Iranian people.
Although it is difficult to put numbers on MEK's popularity inside Iran, they have always challenged the regime with free and fair elections (with international monitoring), because the issue is not the MEK popularity, it is about the popular will. Another good indicator of level of support for MEK is outside Iran where Iranians can express themselves freely without fearing reprisals from the regime. In a rally against Ahmadinejad, September 2005 in New York City, more than 20,000 of their supporters showed up. Two months later in Brussels, some 35,000 came out in support of the MEK. So, no wonder the regime invest so much political and monetary capital to demonize and destroy the MEK.
On the issue of US backing, the people of Iran have only one demand and that is the removal of all obstacles from the NCRI and the MEK. Both the current and previous administrations blacklisted the MEK and the NCRI as terrorist organizations to curry favor with Tehran’s regime. The designation has been challenged in US courts and by members of Congress. The State Department no longer has any justification to designate them. In order to reinforce President
Bush’s promise that America stands with the people of Iran in their struggle to liberate themselves, the designation against the MEK and NCRI must be reversed and all political and legal restriction on this groups must be lifted. This approach will have short-term and long-term benefits.
In the short term, it helps with the expansion of the MEK’s intelligence network inside Iran on a variety of issues such as information about Iran’s nuclear and terrorist network throughout the Middle East, its support for chaos in Iraq, and a more detailed understanding of the political situation in Iran, including leadership issues and popular sentiment. In the long term it is a move in supporting and strengthening pro-democracy opposition in Iran that will deliver a more permanent solution to the threats posed by regime in Tehran. The fact is that the terrorist designation has hamstrung more than 90 percent of the social, political and financial potentials of the MEK. If removed from the terror list, the MEK can utilize all that effort toward organizing the opposition in and out of Iran.
RM: How do you respond to experts like Ken Timmerman who claim the MEK is a Marxist-Islamist terrorist group with little support inside Iran? Or those that point to Saddam Hussein’s sponsorship of MEK and use of the group to suppress internal strife?
RS: Other experts such as the members of Iran Policy Committee beg to differ with Mr. Timmerman. Clearly, an objective study on this group is in order. IPC experts have done an extensive research on these issues and published their findings on the MEK.
They have found that the phrase (an oxymoron) first came from the days of Shah in the 1970’s as a scare factor in the Iranian society. Shah’s secret police, SAVAK, manufactured this phrase to demonize the MEK and the current regime inherited it to further lobby against the MEK. I believe, looking at the published material and books by the MEK (a Muslim group), any expert and scholar can conclude MEK’s rejection of Marxism. An article by Dr. Safavi, a sociologist who has closely studied and followed the MEK activities, explains how Massoud Rajavi (leader of the MEK) delivered a series of lectures in Tehran University in late 1979 on the ideology of the MEK. He, in fact, saved his most extensive critical commentary for Marxist materialistic epistemology.
Still, ‘Marxist-Islamist’ has become a catch phrase among the MEK opponents who have not done their homework and used so callously by some experts.
On the issue of MEK’s relation with Saddam, the fact is, recently, Washington Times had a page on 5.2 million Iraqis (of the voting population over 18) who declared their support for the MEK. Their declaration was first reflected in Iraqi, Middle Eastern and Asian newspaper. So, if indeed the MEK was used by Saddam to suppress Iraqis why do they enjoy such popularity among the Iraqi people? Some even accuse the MEK of killing the Kurds, yet in 2002, Reuters obtained a document from a civil suit in the Netherlands testifying that the MEK had no part in Saddam’s brutal operations against the Kurds. The document, signed by a principal Kurdish political official, said that the MEK was not involved in suppressing the Kurdish people neither during the uprising nor in its aftermath. Furthermore, one has to ask the question that with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and 16 months investigation and interviews by several US agencies, where is the evidence on MEK’s involvement in any act against Iraqi people? They have not surfaced because there is none.
In July of 2004, the New York Times reported "there was no basis to charge any member of the group [MEK] with the violation of American law." In fact, the Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2004 recognized the rights of the MEK as "protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention." So, just as the members of US congress called them a “legitimate resistance group”, the recent Iraqi declaration reads “The terrorist allegation and designation of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran that with 120,000 martyrs is the prime victim of state-sponsored terrorism is neither legitimate nor credible and it should not be regarded as a criterion for relations with this organization.”
On the issue of popularity, experts like Dr. Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Committee acknowledge the popular base of the MEK given their extensive access to Iran’s nuclear intelligence (Congressional briefing in summer of 2003). Ultimately, the answer to the question on MEK’s popularity comes out of the ballot boxes in a free and fair election in Iran. This has been and remains to be political challenge to Tehran’s regime. No matter what the outcome will be, let us focus on making sure such elections can take place in Iran.
To conclude, we must recognize the political realities in Iraq, Iran and the role of Tehran’s most formidable opposition, the MEK. I sincerely hope that some of our experts look beyond the catch phrases and see the fact for what they are and not what Tehran’s regime has painted them to be.
THE STONE & THE WOMAN
By Dr. Carole R. Fontaine
(In the Islamic Republic of Iran,
stones used for public executions must be neither too large, nor too small;
proper stoning requires that the stone must be just the right size in order to
cause serious pain and injury without killing the victim too rapidly.)
How is a stone
Different from a woman?
Just the right size,
One makes death;
Made to give life,
Her age? No matter.
Her crime? Look at her:
Defence against a rapist?
Peddler of her flesh?
Just choose the crime
That looks the best
As index of social morality,
And pile up the stones
Not too big:
She will die too soon.
Not too small:
She must bleed and swoon
From the pain
All gather to see.
O, Defenders of Morality!
You soil the Qu'ran
So eager to make your world
Safe from sin,
You re-enact it again and again.
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Volume 33, February 15, 2007
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