August 15, 2007 VOLUME 39
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
Tehran's fundamentalist regime has launched an aggressive public hanging campaign over the last two month to curb the ongoing protests, spread fear and intimidation all over the country. State-run news agencies have quoted Tehran’s prosecutor who has called on the provincial punitive court to issue death sentences for 17 people. In addition, 12 others are on the verge of execution in Kerman, eastern Iran. Recently, in a matter of 10 days, Iran publicly hanged 13 men and a woman in various provinces throughout the country. The photos and news of these killings are well covered in the world media.
Tehran's regime is shameless. And, the silence from governmental and non-governmental organizations in US including the liberal left, the compassionate conservative right and all in between is deafening. The situation in Iran with respect to human rights should have brought the "defenders of human rights" to the political scene and call for action in defense of freedom fighters in Iran. The US-State Department did not even issue a statement to raise concerns about the escalation of public hangings in Iran. As for the NGO's, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have issued statements, at the same time they call for "unconditional talks" with Tehran's regime! What an insult to Iranian people and such a gift of legitimacy to the despicable regime in Tehran.
We have to remember, those risking their lives in Iran every day are doing so to tell us that no amount of talks will change the behavior of the regime there. When it comes to Iran our commitment to human rights should be complimented with our support for the Iranian people and their aspiration for freedom and democracy.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Asia News- July 16, 2007
Iranian women as the authorities take care of women
with inappropriate Islamic covering. Since the introduction of the plan to
increase public morality, police officers across the country have issued
warnings to tens of thousands of women for their failure to wear appropriate
Islamic covering in public, or even their own vehicles, and conform to the
Islamic regime’s interpretation of Islam’s precepts. Now the government has come
up with a new strategy with incentives for women to cover up their heads. A
Tehran political leader is in fact promoting fashionable head covering. A
fashion show titled ‘My Land’s Women’ will exhibit 200 new chadors, 50 new
high-quality hejabs and 60 new dresses approved by regime-sanctioned stylists.
Commander Ahmadi of the Tehran police force insists that the government intends
to tighten up its enforcement of appropriate Islamic covering. Greater
repressive measures are in his opinion necessary to keep the capital safe from
inappropriately-covered women, drug abusers and thugs. For this reason any
inappropriately dressed woman can expect a warning, an arrest or legal
charges.Store owners who carry clothing that does not conform to Islamic
standards are in danger of having their businesses shut down.However, in the
past few months, some “immoral” clothing items taken off store shelves have
appeared at underground shows. In the past few months, new guidelines titled
“Hejab and Decency” have been distributed in schools as part of a plan to
promote a hejab culture among the youth.
BBC News - July 16, 2007
Iran will intensify a crackdown on women flouting
Islamic dress laws, a senior policeman has told local media. Tehran police chief
Ahmad Reza Radan said from 23 July twice as many police will tackle "immoral
behaviour". Hundreds of women have already been arrested and some beaten by
police since the drive began in April, human rights groups say. Iranian women
are obliged to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes to disguise their
figures. However, some women - especially in wealthier urban areas - wear
tighter or more revealing clothes. Ahmad Reza Radan told Iran's Farhang-e Ashti
newspaper that police would be enforcing the crackdown with renewed vigour in
Mordad - the Iranian month starting on 23 July. "First, those who breach the
dress code will be warned by the police. "But if they continue their
ignorance... they will be sent to courts," Mr Radan said. He also added that
men's hairstyles must be in accordance with Islamic religious values.
Agence France Presse - July 23, 2007
Iran on Monday launched a new wave of a moral
crackdown against women who "dress like models" and men whose hairstyles are
deemed unIslamic, police said. Tehran's police force dispatched dozens of
police cars and minibuses into the early evening rush-hour to enforce the dress
rules at major squares in the city centre, an AFP correspondent said. The
new "plan to increase security in society" -- which is limited to Tehran but
will later extend nationwide -- comes after a pre-summer drive by the police
resulted in thousands of warnings and hundreds of arrests. "We have vowed to
continue the campaign to reinforce the plan to increase security in society with
new personnel who have received the necessary training," the Tehran police head
of information Mehdi Ahmadi told reporters as the first police forces were
dispatched. "This notably includes the use of 100 female police officers,"
he added. He said that the campaign would target women who were badly veiled,
wore overly tight overcoats, sported excessively short trousers and were
"dressed like models." "As far as men are concerned we will act against
those who have Western-style haircuts and clothing. We are also going to act
against clothes shops and hairdressers."
Ahmadi said the policy will be first to give a verbal warning to those who infringe the law and, if necessary, they will then be arrested and taken for "consultation." "Normally the problem is resolved here. If not, and these cases are often those of re-offenders, the case is sent to the judiciary," Ahmadi said. An AFP correspondent in Vanak Square in central Tehran saw women being apprehended and then being escorted towards a waiting minibus by female police officers. They then waited in the bus as the operation continued. Other women were seen quickly adjusting their headscarves to cover loose hair when they saw the officers. Women in Iran are obliged to cover all bodily contours and their heads, but in recent years many have pushed the boundaries by showing off bare ankles and fashionably styled hair beneath their headscarves. Although the April crackdown was the severest such drive in years, some women are still donning figure-hugging coats and skimpy headscarves. The wacky hairdos favoured by some young men in Tehran are also much in evidence. By renewing the drive, it appears the police want to send a message that they are serious about enforcing the dress rules. Many conservatives have applauded the crackdown as important to protect the security of society, but moderates have publicly questioned whether Iran would be better off tackling poverty and crime rather than slack dressing. Ahmadi emphasised that the plan was not just restricted to enforcing Islamic dress rules but also targeted all those who disrupt "security" in society.
Iran Focus - July 24, 2007
An Iranian opposition satellite channel has
broadcasted shocking footage of a public execution of a woman and two men in
Simay-e Azadi aired the footage on Monday. It is believed the woman and two men were hanged as recently as this month.
The clip was captured by a bystander and smuggled out of Iran. Simay-e Azadi said it obtained the video from supporters of the People's Mojahedin (MeK).
AKI Italian News Agency - July 26, 2007
The trials of 31 feminists arrested on 3 March for having organised a sit-in in front of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran have resumed in the capital. The womens' rights activists are this time being tried individually and accused collectively of "seditious meeting" and "plotting against state security". The first ten have been given jail terms of between six months and five years, of whom three are also to be flogged. Most of the women received suspended sentences. Only one woman, Behareh Hedayat, remains in jail but not for her activities in defence of womens' rights, rather for her role in the executive of the students association of the Amir Kabir Polytechnic. While being sentenced to jail for demanding sexual equality and equal rights in the Islamic Republic may be considered "normal" public flogging, a punishment to date reserved for political crimes, is not. The last three feminists judged by the Revolutionary Court, Delaram Ali, Alieh Eghdam e Maryam Zia, as well as jail terms, were punished with 10,20 and 10 lashes of the whip respectively. "This is an unprecedented and worrying development" commented Yousef Molaii, Maryam Zia's lawyer.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Iranian American's chilling
return to homeland
By Borzou Daragahi,
Los Angeles Times
July 22, 2007
The man in the green uniform at the immigration control counter at Mehrabad airport stamped her passport. Journalist Parnaz Azima said she breathed a bottomless sigh of relief. It was here the intelligence officers often moved in, discreetly guiding visitors to the small office off to the side that every Iranian traveler knows and fears. She met her brother, and they went to gather up her bags and head for the exit. Their mother was gravely ill, and Azima was anxious to see her before she died.
That's when they heard someone call out: "Mrs. Azima? Mrs. Azima?" A man in a black suit escorted her back to the interrogation room. "You can give me what I want now, or we can search through all of your bags," the man said, according to Azima, an Iranian American with U.S.-funded Radio Farda who is being barred from leaving Iran on charges of spreading propaganda against the regime. Azima, stripped of her passport that January day, is one of several Iranian Americans swallowed up by their native country's security institutions. The others are Middle East expert Haleh Esfandiari, sociologist Kian Tajbakhsh and Orange County peace activist Ali Shakeri. Iranian authorities have subjected all four to interrogations and locked up all but Azima. Azima, 59, is free on more than half a million dollars bail. On the advice of her legal counsel, she has taken her plight public, offering a glimpse of the methods of Iranian security forces. Azima's legal troubles cap a three-year flirtation with Iran, which she left in 1983 after being purged from her job as a government librarian.
She was branded a counterrevolutionary after the 1979 Islamic Revolution for failing to wear proper Islamic attire. While she was abroad, her brother called and warned her not to return; the Islamic regime's enforcers had come several times to her home, he said, and were looking to arrest her. So began decades in exile in Europe and then the United States, where Azima forged a career on the East Coast as a translator and journalist. She became a mother, then a grandmother.
Radio Free Europe's Persian-language section, later renamed Radio Farda, or Tomorrow, recruited her in 1998, and she moved to Prague to work at the 24-hour radio station. She assembled reports about Iranian literature and poetry as well as about human rights for women and minorities.
Two years ago, with Iran under the presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami, Azima received a surprise: an official invitation to come to Tehran and attend the March 1, 2005, dedication of the new Iranian National Library building. Azima, who had jumped at the offer despite her initial concerns, was given the royal treatment during her two-week visit.
"They treated me like I was a VIP," Azima said during hours of interviews conducted recently in Tehran. "They asked me to promote their efforts on the radio." Reconnecting with family and friends, she decided to return the next year for Persian New Year festivities. By 2006, however, Khatami had retired from office and conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in power. Still, she arrived in Tehran without incident and stayed with her mother for three weeks. But on the day before she was scheduled to head back to the Czech capital, five bearded young men armed with a search warrant and court summons stormed into her mother's apartment. They went room to room, removing an illegal satellite television receiver and seizing Azima's Iranian passport. They told her to show up at a special security court.
There, she was accused of working for a counterrevolutionary organization. "Isn't the goal of Radio Farda the overthrow of the Islamic Republic?" the interrogator asked, according to Azima's recollection.
No, she replied. The radio outlet adheres to international journalism standards emphasizing fairness, she said.
The Iranian security apparatus had closely monitored her reports, asking her about specific pieces she had broadcast about Iran's Kurdish minority, women's rights, censorship, U.S.-Iranian relations and the treatment of dissidents.
"Isn't it a counterrevolutionary station?" the interrogator asked. "If not, why do you have so much criticism of Iran?"
"As a woman, I am in favor of equal rights for women," she replied. "As a person of culture, I am opposed to censorship. As far as Kurdistan [goes], I interviewed a person from Kurdistan who was later put to death. I am opposed to the death penalty. If these are crimes, I am guilty of all these crimes." He didn't reply. The session ended.
Azima pleaded with the interrogator to return her passport, but he warned her to keep quiet. "If you don't make a big deal about this, we'll clean it up and you'll be able to go back home," he said.
She warily complied. She posted the deed to her mother's home as bail to keep herself out of jail.
But the interrogator, however, offered her a deal, Azima said. Collaborate with Iranian intelligence services, and you can go home, back to your job at Radio Farda. Azima refused. She told her interrogator that she was 18 when Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi's security service, the SAVAK, approached her and asked her to inform on her fellow students. Back then she also refused. "I told him, I am almost 60 now and I don't have more than 10 or 15 years left," she said. "I have one son, and the only thing I have to give him is my name and integrity — I'm not going to ruin this at the end of my life."
What they wanted, he said, wasn't much. "If a bomb is about to go off, you'll tell us about it," he said.
"I said to him, 'If a bomb is about to go off, it's my duty to alert the public about it,' " she said. " 'I don't need to make some kind of deal with you.' " The interviews continued for three weeks, then, they handed back her passport and let her go. After she left, they cleared her of charges and handed back the deed to her mother's home.
But before she left she had a question for her interrogator. Why didn't they arrest her the previous year?
"Last year," he told Azima, "you were our guest." When Azima's 93-year-old mother fell severely ill this year, Azima found herself facing another harrowing trip to Iran. Her plane arrived before midnight Jan. 25 at the Tehran airport.
"That CD you brought," the man in the black suit told her. "Hand it over, and we won't search your bag."
Azima wondered whether they were trying to trump up an espionage case against her or just wanted an excuse to search her bags. They found nothing, but again seized her Iranian passport.
Azima's mother recovered from her illness. Azima, along with her lawyer, Mohammed Hossein Aghassi, began navigating the byzantine maze of Iran's security establishment. An interrogator asked why she had refused to collaborate.
Azima replied that she would never work for them. She asked for her passport back but was told to go home and wait.
Iranian law requires that charges be filed before passports are taken. Still, weeks became months, and no charges were forthcoming. Frustrated, Azima and her lawyer alerted the international media. They enlisted the support of the Swiss Embassy, which acts as a U.S. liaison in Iran in the absence of formal relations between Washington and Tehran.
Iranian authorities were furious. She was summoned to the Revolutionary Court to face charges May 15.
Aghassi advised Azima to bring her toothpaste and personal items to the court appointment because she might be sent to jail.
She was charged with working for an institution that authorities alleged spreads propaganda against the Iranian regime. Bail was set at about $600,000, the estimated amount Azima earned during nine years at Radio Farda. She put up the deed to her mother's home. Aghassi said he believed Azima and the three other Iranian Americans were being held against their will in retaliation for the five junior Iranian diplomats detained by the U.S. in a Jan. 11 raid on an Iranian government office in northern Iraq. "If the five Iranian diplomats are freed in Iraq, then there might be some reciprocity, and Parnaz and other cases may be positively affected," Aghassi said.
Azima considers herself lucky to be out on bail but still feels like a prisoner. "My situation is unclear," she said. "I have trouble sleeping and eating. I have nightmares."
Ayatollahs’ Lobby In
Washington Offering Human Rights As A Negotiating Item
By Hassan Daioleslam
July 21, 2007
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and its president Trita Parsi plan to organize a panel in the US House of Representatives on July 26th, 2007, titled “Human Rights in Iran and US Foreign Policy Options” . According to the published agenda, representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch will participate. The sponsors of the program (NIAC and Trita Parsi) are key players in the lobby enterprise of Tehran’s ayatollahs in the United States. The Iranian regime’s violations of human rights have reached unprecedented levels. Its barbaric suppression of women, workers, students and dissidents, and the stoning of a man after 11 years of imprisonment, have been the subject of broad international condemnation. The reason Iran’s lobby is organizing the program is twofold:
1. To present “human rights” as a negotiating item on the “engagement” table with hopes to have human rights entities argue for Tehran-friendly rapprochement, easing of sanctions and tolerance of a nuclear Iran. In a nut shell, the lobby’s message is that the more West pressures the regime, the more violent it becomes, hence, lift the pressure.
2. To uphold the Ayatollahs’ friends and inner circles in control of international reaction to Tehran’s human rights abuses.
The Iranian regime’s lobby has continuously tried to justify the Iran’s clerical behavior and especially its record of human rights violations, by arguing that its cause are external factors and US coercive policies. If the Iranian American scholars are arrested, blame the US administration for allocating funds for Iranian activists. If Ahmadinejad has embarked on a policy of total repression inside the country and antagonism abroad, the blame is on US administration for the famous axis of evil speech and not supporting Khatami.
Ahmadinejad hold the Holocaust conference and declared that “Israel should be wiped off from the map”, Trita Parsi and his cohorts not only did not condemn this anti-Iranian and anti-humanity act, but launched a campaign directed by Siamak Namazi (Parsi’s main partner in Tehran) to blame the fault on “neocon” media which intentionally misinterpreted Ahmadinejad’s declarations .
The lobby’s PR tactic on human rights issue in Iran is best presented in Trita Parsi’s own declarations. In 2005, he called for linking improvement of the human rights situation in Iran to guarantee of security of the mullahs and the lifting of sanctions .
“While the world has focused on discussions over Tehran's nuclear capability, human rights in Iran have suffered severe setbacks…..With the rest of the world distracted by the nuclear issue, anti-democratic forces in Iran have clamped down on the Iranian democracy movement……. For Tehran, a nuclear arsenal is only really useful as a deterrent against possible US aggression. Iran does not need a nuclear deterrent against any other Middle Eastern country. …. Only security guarantees from the US, as part of a broader political arrangement, can convince Iran to agree to lasting compromises in the nuclear area.”
The mullahs’ message in this article is clear: If the west does not guarantee their uninterrupted rule (“security”) by providing ample financial resources (elimination of sanctions) and allowing an unimpeded path to super power status through development of nuclear capabilities, the regime will continue to suppress, kill and torture the Iranian people.
Binding accountability for Iran’s barbaric suppression of the population to nuclear issues and Iran’s meddling in Iraq per the demands of their US lobby, does the bidding of the ruling ayatollahs. The participation of international human rights organizations in this charade would be a grave mistake.
NIAC, Trita Parsi and The
Officially founded in 2002, NIAC is one of the Iranian regime’s Lobby arms in the US. In a recent article I wrote about NIAC and its effective role as a lobby node for Tehran’s rulers [4,5].
In order to better understand the relation between NIAC and Tehran, we should refer to several figures directly involved in its creation. First and foremost, is Bob Ney, a current federal prisoner and former Ohio Congressman. Ney reportedly received bribes from lobbyists and two international arms dealers in a conspiracy to circumvent sanctions to sell US-made airplane parts to Tehran [6-8]. At the time, Trita Parsi was Ney’s assistant in Iran-related matters . Then, there are two of Neys accomplices in his bribery and conspiracy relations with the arms dealers. These two are well-known Washington lobbyists Roy Coffee and Dave DiStefano. Roy Coffee in a letter to the Dallas Morning News in February 2006  justifying his relationship with Ney and the arms dealers, discussed their collaboration with Trita Parsi to create an Iranian American lobby in 2002. In this letter, Coffee described the events following the meeting of his former classmate Darius Baghai (who had just returned from Iran) with Bob Ney:
“From that meeting, Darius, Dave and I began to work with Trita Parsi, another Iranian-American, to try to form a political action committee of Iranian-Americans to pursue a strategy of normalization of relations between the two countries. The 4 of us worked very hard for about 9 months to form this committee.”
One of the most important figures behind the creation of NIAC is Siamak Namazi who along with his sister and brother, control the Atieh Bahar enterprise, a major umbrella firm for several companies in Iran. Atieh’s customers include the foreign corporations who wish to do business in Iran and find no option but to bribe officials. Recent fiascos involving Atieh’s customers corrupted dealings with the Iranian regime (such as Norway’s Statoil.or the CEO of the French oil company Total SA  )has not changed Namazi’s prominent place inside the dominant spheres of power in Tehran. Namazi’s enterprise continues to provide networking and computer services for almost all Iranian banks, parliament, and other important institutions. Namazi’s groups monitor nearly all Iranian economic and political activities and have access to the country’s most sensitive data . One of the Atieh Bahar’s affiliated companies is Azar Energy, which is in partnership with Iranian government in oil projects and is a part of the Mullah’s oil mafia .
In 1999, Trita Parsi who was then living in Sweden, and Siamak Namazi, living in Tehran, presented a project in which they explained how to create an Iranian lobby in Washington. This roadmap for creating NIAC and its modus operandi was presented at the invitation and arrangement of Hossein Alikhani at a conference called “Dialogue and Action Amongst the People of Iran and America” (DAPIA) that he hosted in Cypress in 1999. . Hossein Alikhani is a former felon who in 1992, pled guilty to charges of violating anti-terrorist sanctions  and spent some time in US federal prisons. Recently Iran’s ayatollahs promised him the deed for the US embassy complex in Tehran  for his pain and suffering in American prisons. The true reason for this very generous $1.0 billion dollar reward should be sought elsewhere.
The roadmap for the lobby in US is described in the paper  titled “Iranian-Americans: The bridge between two nations” in DAPIA. This report comprises the manifesto and roadmap of the new Iranian lobby in the US. In this paper, the authors suggest that: “an Iranian-American lobby is needed in order to create a balance between the competing Middle Eastern lobbies. Without it, Iran-bashing may become popular in Congress again.” The “competing lobby” was AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee). The pillars of the road map are: To give the appearance of a citizen’s lobby; To mimic the Jewish lobby in the US; To impede Iranian opposition activities; To infiltrate the US political system; To break the taboo of working with the Iran’s cleric rulers for the Iranian Diaspora; To improve the image of the Iran’s government abroad.
Once NIAC was created in 2002, on November 25, 2002, Roy Coffee and Distefano organized a lobbying training class for NIAC in a restaurant in Washington DC area.[20,21]. On January 29th 2003, Bob Ney organized a fundraising for NIAC . This was at the same time that the two London based felons related to the Iranian government, had hired the Washington lobbyists and were bribing Bob Ney.
On December 28, 2006 the governmental newspaper Aftab in Iran published an interview with Trita Parsi . In his introduction, the editor underlined the role of Parsi’s lobby on behalf of the Iranian regime. Next to Parsi’s photo, the article’s title seems interesting: “The Iranian Lobby Becomes Active”. The translation of parts of the paper follows:
“The conflict between Iran and the West on Iran’s nuclear file has entered a critical state. The government must now utilize all the possible resources to defend the national interest. In this, we have not paid enough attention to the potentially significant influence of the Iranian American society in moderating the extremist policies of the White House. In comparison of this untouched potential to the influence of the Jewish lobby in directing the policies of Washington in supporting Israel, we see the difference between what is and what could be. The role of unofficial diplomacy (lobbying) has been correctly underlined by experts”
On September 19, 2006, the former head of the Iran Interest in Washington, Ambassador Faramarze Fathnejad thrilled about Trita Parsi and NIAC’s efforts underlined “the importance of relation with Iranian organizations in the U.S. and specially pointed to NIAC and his young leader who is a consultant to CNN and has been very successful in his efforts” .
To this date Trita Parsi and NIAC have tenaciously followed their declared roadmap and have worked hard to improve the image of Tehran’s rulers and pale Tehran unfriendly actions by the West.
Trita Parsi and the violations of Human Rights in Iran
In order to understand the Iranian regime’s goal of organizing the “human rights panel” in Washington, we should first examine Trita Parsi’s past activities on the issue of human rights in Iran. In this regards, Parsi has meticulously followed his boss, Bob Ney. In his famous speech in June 2001 before the American Iranian Council (AIC), Ney criticized the US government and stressed that Iran “has a freely elected president and a parliament”. Ney promised the launching of a citizen’s lobby to educate the American lawmakers about Iran. . In 2002 NIAC was founded. In the next several years, Ney relentlessly opposed every single bill criticizing the Iranian regime. He countered such bills by presenting a rival bill. Naturally Trita Parsi’s role was to provide the “citizen’s support” through sending letters and contacting the lawmakers. NIAC continuously assisted Ney’s defense of the Iranian regime .
Parsi’s efforts have not been limited to helping Bob Ney. For instance, in 2000, the human rights activists protesting Kamal Kharazi presence in UCLA, disturbed the Iranian foreign minister’s speech. While Trita Parsi had always refrained from condemnation of the torture, mass executions, rapes of women in prison, and stoning consistently carried out by Tehran’s mullahs, he was outraged by this event and Kharazi’s deprivation of his rights. He wrote an article “The need for genuine human rights activists” .
By selectively quoting statements of the U.N. Special Representative for Human Rights in Iran, Parsi paints a rosy picture of the human rights situation in Iran.
"…significant progress has become evident in a number of areas and sums up the report with the following words: Overall, progress is certainly being made and, in the Special Representative's view, it is very likely to continue, perhaps even accelerate.”
Parsi then harshly criticizes the human rights groups that protested the speech of the Tehran’s Foreign Minister at UCLA:
“It is quite disturbing to witness groups that title themselves as Human Rights activists, openly and blatantly opposing the freedom of speech of an individual, no matter how despised he or she may be…… Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right that cannot be denied to anyone-including a person accused of violating other people's human rights or guilty of representing a government that continues to show inadequate respect for these rights. It was therefore a sad spectacle to witness the noisy opposition by these so-called Human Rights groups to Kharrazi's right to free expression at UCLA.”
For Mr. Parsi, “noisy opposition” at the speech of the envoy of an oppressive regime is a “quite disturbing” violation of a “fundamental human right” which “undermines the very idea” of human rights. Nonviolent verbal protests are, for Parsi, a “sad spectacle” of “intimidation” that we should deplore and denounce, but violent, misogynous, and well-documented oppression should be addressed with “respect and dialogue”:
“We need to implement and nurture a culture of mutual respect and dialogue, and, once and for all, turn our backs on intimidation, verbal aggression and intolerance.”
NIAC’s sister organization: CASMII: denying the violation of human rights in Iran
In December 2005, Abbas Edalat, a London based computer engineer, along with several pro-regime activists, founded the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) .
On January 6, 2006, Jon Tirman from MIT, one of Parsi’s guests for the July 26th event, hosted a meeting for Edalat to launch CASMII in the US. This new organization was primarily consisted of Mr. Parsi’s circle. Six members of CASMII’s board and advisory (the majority at the time) belong to NIAC and Mr. Parsi’s former organization, Iranians for International Cooperation (IIC). These were M. Ala, S. Mostarshed, A. Patico, M. Navab, J. Fakharzadeh, and D. Pourkessali . Alex Patico, the US coordinator of CASMII, is also listed as one of the NIAC’s founders and its treasurer . Indeed, CASMII is NIAC’s offspring (2 links) [31,32].
Parallel to Mr. Parsi, his cohorts have engaged in silencing the regime’s critics. Two short examples are adequate evidence. One example is included below. In May 2006, one of the anti-war movement’s groups released a petition called “Iran: Neither U.S. aggression, nor theocratic repression” . In this petition, there was a mild reference to the Iranian regime’s record of human rights violations. CASMII released a statement titled “Opposing Theocratic Repression in Iran or Playing into Hands of US Warmongers?” in which Mr. Parsi’s cohorts strongly condemned the petitioners’ stance against the Iranian regime:
“It is regrettable that your petition caves into US propaganda by devoting more space in its text to condemnation of the Iranian regime, which is to a large extent based on fallacies, inaccuracies and exaggerations, than to opposing the US warmongers. As citizens or residents of western countries, our essential duty is to oppose the aggressive and imperial policies of our own elected governments which we face and can impact rather than present a misleading and condescending picture of the internal situation in Iran and promote our version of "democracy" for a country with a different culture than ours. Rather than joining the bias Western media and condemning Iran for human rights violations… The war crimes and the gross violations of human rights committed by the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the human rights issues in Israel, and the Arab client states of the United Sates, as well as the violations of the U.S. Constitution, international renditions, Guantanamo Bay, and torture, will remain our main area of public focus.”
CASMII’s chief in the U.S. is Rostam Pourzal who like Edalat and Parsi is a strong advocate of Tehran’s rulers. For instance, in the June 2006, a women rally in Tehran was brutally crashed by the police. The police brutalities were widely reported by international media and human rights organizations. Pourzal came to the regime’s rescues and in under the title “What Really Happened in Tehran” wrote :
“Contrary to dispatches by news services, I learned from an eyewitness whom I infinitely trust that he saw no beating or gassing of the demonstrators. Now I quote from his email directly: I witnessed a few women protesters being asked by some female police officers to walk away. In response the protestors [sic] started screaming hysterically at the officers and accused them of beating them, an accusation which looked unsound. "Why are you beating us?", shouted a woman protestor at a female police officer, who was visibly shaken and became speechless at such an accusation. Small crowds of bystanders would also converge on these places to see what is going on, as it is typical in the Iranian culture. I did not see any expression of sympathy by these bystanders and onlookers for the cause of the protestors. If, for example, equal rights for women are actually not as popular in Iran as we wish, we would be better off facing the facts and asking what we are doing wrong, instead of inventing excuses or blaming the messenger. I was stunned during a recent visit to Iran to find that President Ahmadinejad is quite popular among women from all walks of life.”
Mr. Parsi’s cohorts in CASMII are so concerned about protecting the image of Tehran’s mullahs on the human rights issues that even Shirin Ebadi the Nobel laureate is not safe from their attacks. After her call to the international community to raise the human rights issue in their negation with the Iranian regime, Rostam Pourzal, smeared her in his article titled: “Dancing to Western Music”.
NIAC and its sister organizations have rarely raised the issue of human rights in Iran. Nonetheless, like clockwork, those rare occasions parrot several predictable claims, namely that the human rights situation in Iran is improving; that the main reason for human rights violations is pressure from the West or resistance from the victims and the oppressed. Invariably, the recommendations are to increase kindness toward the ayatollahs, to offer more carrots, and to develop pundits of a more Tehran-friendly breed.
Iran - Indications of a Volcano
By Jean Lure
Tehran- Iran is lonely and
abandoned in the international scene and none of its economic and social
promises have been observed. It is faced with increased daily protests of
students and workers. The fear of an acting volcano is depriving the mullahs
from a good night sleep. On that day a young man was supposed to be hanged in
Shiraz. This is a normal affair in Iran. Since Ahmadinejad took power, the
public hangings have wickedly increased. It is a vehicle to control the society:
the more they kill, the more fearful people will get.
A young man was supposed to be hanged in Shiraz. A masked executioner was ready at the scene. Police officers and revolutionary guards had surrounded the place to prevent riots. This show did not take place as planned. A group of young people contested. The opposition got louder and became a riot. The automobile carrying hanging gear was turned upside down by the rioters. Town officials decided not to carry the hanging. This is what happens in our century in the city of flowers and nightingales.
On May 20th, in Haft-teer there is another scene and another framework. Police officers are trying to arrest the mal-veiled women. Passers-by clash with the officers to let the women escape. Since June 1st and after the implementation of honor and mal-veiling laws that were passed by the mullah’s parliament, a number of incidents have occurred in Tehran and resulted in clashes. Based on reports by the Iranian Women’s Association, 70,000 women have been detained since the violence against mal-veiling started.
In Iran, scenes of resistance against suppression are increasing. Since a few months ago, strikes and uprisings have been spreading throughout Iran. The situation in the universities is explosive and numerous clashes have been reported between the students and the security forces. Students in Isfahan, Hamedan and Tabriz have joined in the dissident movement. In the past the uprisings were to gain social benefits but now they are for freeing their classmates. One of the main centers of uprisings is the Amir-Kabir Polytechnic University in Tehran. This was the place where they insulted Ahmadinejad and burned his pictures in front of his eyes. As a result, a number of students have been arrested and imprisoned. A student paper reports that the students are held in ward 209 of Evin prison which is supervised by the ministry of Information and Vavak. The security officials have closed down six papers and three student organizations. They have also expelled some students.
At their protest, students carried slogans such as: “The train of student movement does not have a break any more (referring to Ahmadinejad’s slogan about the nuclear program)”. On May 1st demonstrating workers also called unusual slogans similar to that of the students’. For example: “free detained workers”, “No to nuclear program, no to 180,000 rial monthly salary”. This all means that people think the nuclear program and the expenses related to that have caused poverty and shortage for them.
Teachers are also as determined. “I am Alireza Akbari’s daughter. My father is in prison. I used to think that jail is a place for bad people but now I know that it is also a place for teachers. I only want to hear him say he is fine. I don’t want anything else.” These words touched thousands of teachers who had gathered for freedom of their colleagues. Teachers make 130 to 140 Euros a month which is under poverty line.
Imprisonment or Hanging
The important question is why the mullahs are not meeting the demands of teachers, workers or students despite the fact that with the 56 billion dollar income from oil in 2006, the government is capable of doing it. The truth is that the mullahs are fearful that peoples’ demands will spread throughout the country and get out of control as they did at the end of the Shah’s era thus bring down the regime. The launch of writing slogans on the walls in big cities in favor of Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) brings back bitter memories in mullahs’ minds.
The fear is reasonable. Peoples’ protests, especially in the areas with ethnic minorities such as Azeris, Baluch and Arabs are exploding. This is not surprising. Although those areas have abundance of natural resources, their poverty stricken people live under discrimination. This year in Naghadeh, the anniversary of Azeri uprisings ended up in riots and clashes with security forces.
The only response of the regime is increasing suppression. With the justification of establishing security, masked militias of regime’s special forces attack young people, beat them up, insult and arrest them. These scenes are aired on TV to create terror and fear among the population. The victims are heavily punished. Resalat newspaper of May 29th quoted Saeed Agha-Sadeghi, the deputy of the prisons: “The detained thugs are dangerous criminals who will be denied the usual services in the prison.”
On the other hand, Alireza Jamshidi the Judicial spokesman confirmed the detention of 1500 young men and said they should expect heavy punishments. Alireza Eftekhri, regime’s deputy attorney in Ghazvin demanded their execution despite the fact that their arrests and charges have not even been announced.
Presently, we are witnessing an increase in number of executions. According to government-run media reports, 42 people were executed in May. A prisoner named Hardaei whose execution verdict was suspended in 2005 as a result of international pressure, is now at the verge of execution. Recently in Hamedan, the regime executed a 17 year old boy by the name of Saeed Ghanbar-Zehi on charges of dissent. His charge was in fact being related to a member of the Baluchi group fighting against the suppressive forces. A lot of people have been executed on the charge of “resisting the security forces” which actually means political dissent.
There is a big distance between the people and those ruling them. The question is: will the regime be able to prevent people’s uprising with intensified suppression as it has done in the past? The regime has been emboldened in its internal suppression after the shocking decision of the UN Human Rights Council to end overseeing human rights violations in Iran. And prior to that by the EU decision not to present to the Human Rights Council, the resolution to condemn human rights violations in Iran. The other factor is the shameless lenience of the westerners towards the regime. For example, the refusal of EU in accepting the ruling of the European Court of the First Order to remove the name of the main opposition of the Iranian regime from the terrorist list. The EU is concerned about jeopardizing its relationship with Tehran.
A Despicable Regime
As the Americans and Europeans haggle over the success of talks with Iran and are dreaming about a respectable result in the nuclear dossier and Iraq, the Iranian rulers are very concerned and alarmed. Not because of unfeasible foreign military attack but because of peoples’ support for Mojahedin-e-Khalq. Today, MEK is highly capable of attracting the young people born and raised after the revolution. The regime is extremely fearful of increased protests as a result of international sanctions.
Ahmadinejad’s promises have not been observed in Iran. The U.N. Security Council resolutions have discredited the illusion of stability that the regime had created for its supporters. In Iraq, the regime was promising its followers a smooth and easy infiltration which in reality has been blocked by hurdles. The world has realized the extent of Iranians’ meddling in Iraq and Arab countries consider Iran as the god-father of the most violent extremist groups who are targeting the entire Iraqi nation.
Iran’s third option: A front seat at the next revolution
The Emporia Gazette
By Antonio Felix
July 25, 2007
ON JUNE 30, 50,000 Iranian exiles
gathered in Paris to show their support for the Iranian resistance, a group that
seeks to replace the Islamic fundamentalist regime in Tehran with a secular
democracy. Yes, there is a long-standing, internationally supported Iranian
resistance. But most Americans, in spite of the White House’s foreign policy
focus on democracy building, have never heard of it.
The Iranian resistance has proven itself a formidable threat to Tehran on several fronts, including its ability to deliver crucial intelligence about the regime to the West. Its most well-publicized reports, delivered in 2002, blew the lid off the regime’s secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Arak. More recent reports have uncovered underground nuclear and missile installations and identified factories in northern Tehran that build improvised explosive devices used to kill American troops in Iraq. On another front, the MEK offers Iranians — 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30 — hope for a better future by outlining a democratic platform for the new Iran. This includes the separation of church and state; legislative representation by religious and ethnic minorities; banning of torture, military tribunals, and oppressive military organizations such as the Pasdaran Corps; the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction; and a foreign policy focus on reversing Iran’s isolation by building friendly and cooperative relationships with the West.
This movement, known as the Mujahedin al-Khalq (MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran , does not get much press in the United States, even though it enjoys bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress as well as in the EU parliament. These supporters, as well as more than 5 million Iraqis who signed a petition of support for the group last year, believe that the Iranian resistance is the most viable option for bringing about regime change in Iran — and, as a result, greater security to Iraq and the entire region. U.S. Representative Bob Filner, a California Democrat, who spoke at the Paris event, stated that the stability of the Middle East depends upon a stable, democratic Iran, which is possible by “empowering the very opposition organizations that share our goals and values.”
Sitting two rows behind Filner at the Parc D’Expositions that day, I witnessed one of the largest gatherings of what many believe is the burgeoning international Iranian movement that will initiate Iran’s next revolution.
I discovered the MEK during my ongoing research about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her foreign policy agenda, which I began when I wrote a biography of Rice three years ago. As I studied the democratic foundation of the Iranian resistance, I became intrigued by the strong links between the MEK and the theme of women in political power. The NCRI’s president-elect, Maryam Rajavi, embodies the movement’s core ideology of equality and human rights, with a strong emphasis on women’s rights, which the MEK believes is crucial in reversing the oppressive and brutally discriminatory policies of the Iranian regime.
By the time I attended the Paris event I was familiar with the critical role that women play in the Iranian resistance, yet I was struck by the crowd’s overwhelming response to Maryam Rajavi’s presence.
In decades of observing the political process in the United States and writing about women leaders, I have never seen a reaction to the appearance of a woman political figure that can compare to what I witnessed that day. The overwhelming outpouring of affection, as people of all ages clamored for a closer look or to touch her outstretched hands, expressed a combination of respect, admiration, gratitude and, most palpably, hope in this leader. Some academics may claim that feminism is dead, but don’t tell that to the global Iranian resistance, which confirmed in Paris that it puts its hope in a woman and a human-rights-based platform to eradicate Islamic fundamentalism from its country.
Supporting the Iranian resistance, which is known in policy circles as the third option, has thus far not been included in the Bush administration’s discussions about an Iran policy in which “all options are on the table.” The administration has also chosen to not include this movement in its democracy-building foreign policy agenda for the Middle East. And the resistance is not the only big Iran story that been ignored by the press.
The massive protests and riots over gasoline rationing that filled the streets of Tehran, Arak and Mashhad two weeks ago revealed to many Americans for the first time the discontent erupting in Iran. That story made headlines, but according to a recent book, The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis by Alireza Jafarzadeh, which outlines in detail the thousands of anti-government protests that have occurred from the early 1990s through 2006, more than 300 protests occur each month. Unpaid bus drivers, angry students and university professors, families of political prisoners who are languishing in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, abused ethnic and religious minorities, and women who dare to publicly protest the oppressive Islamic codes have all taken to the streets. Thousands of them have been beaten, arrested, and imprisoned as a result, and hundreds of them executed. Over the past 20 years, 120,000 members of the resistance have been hunted down and killed.
If the resistance has played such a significant role in the Iranian regime’s history and has, according to its supporters, the potential to bring about regime range, why haven’t we heard about it?
The primary reason is the U.S. State Department’s decision to label the MEK as a terrorist group in 1997, in a move to appease what appeared to be moderate elements in the Iranian government. A state department official at the time explained that putting the MEK on the terrorist list “was intended as a goodwill gesture to Tehran and its newly elected moderate president, Mohammad Khatami.” Tehran, which has long perceived the MEK as its principal Iranian threat, has used it as a bargaining chip for decades. The strategy continues to work: in 2003, when the U.S. reached out for information from the Iranian regime about al-Qaida members possibly hiding in Iran, the State Department closed down the NCRI’s Washington, D.C., office and froze its assets.
The 1997 designation was part of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s “road map leading to normal relations” with Iran, which, predictably, never materialized. Rather than move toward cooperation with the West during the 1990s, Tehran continued to develop its secret nuclear program, which the MEK uncovered in 2002, and to arm and fund terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy toward the United States has been consistently and openly hostile, and now, under President Ahmadinejad, the rhetoric and activities are even more aggressive. Negotiating a moderate stance with Iran continues to be impossible with a head of state, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who continuously refers to the United States as the Great Satan.
For the past ten years, the MEK’s terrorist designation has severely undermined the resistance’s ability to operate and layered it with a stigma that, understandably, manages to close down discussions of the group before they begin. Maryam Rajavi’s speech at the Paris event focused on the European Union’s need to comply with an EU court ruling that obligates each EU nation to remove the MEK from the terrorist list.
Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice repeatedly dismisses questions about Congress’s requests for her to de-list the MEK, reiterating that it is a terrorist group. This is a dramatic irony in a foreign policy agenda that named Iran part of the “axis of evil. The vehemently anti-West, Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran has been identified for years by the State Department as the world’s most dangerous sponsor of terrorism, yet Rice continues to throw this government in the same camp as the democratic opposition group that Tehran recognizes as perhaps its most formidable threat.
The American people deserve to be aware of the full range of options in dealing with the religious dictatorship in Iran. The Iranian resistance should become as visible in the press as were Lech Walesa and his revolutionary trade union in 1980. Like the voices of Solidarity, which stood up to a tyrannical regime and transformed not only Poland but ultimately led to the breakup of the Soviet Union, the voices of the Iranian resistance deserve to be heard.
In death, a martyr's smile
By Ana Sami
The Denver Post
August 9, 2007
The world has seen nothing like it. When Majid Kavosifar was hanged in public in Tehran for killing criminal judge Hassan Moghadas, no one expected to see the expression they saw on his face the day of his execution.
As Kavosifar was jostled through the crowd by the regime's demonic henchmen in ski masks - and even as he was hoisted onto the platform that he was to be hanged from - he wore a triumphant, almost joyful smile on his face. If there were ever an image that qualified for "Is there something wrong with this picture?" it would be this one.
Hanging in public serves the purpose of quelling dissent and evoking fear for Iran's people. The recent wave of hangings in Iran has proven once again that many of those who are hanged under the pretext of social crimes are indeed people who are fed up with the unjust Iranian regime and are taking matters into their own hands.
Most of the public images of hangings in Iran that have taken place normally show a victim with a much different demeanor than that of Majid. Sullen eyes that speak of endless pain, faces blank with fear, and for the women, dark cloaks, chadors that enshroud their bodies and a blindfold to disguise their anguish.
This scene has become all too familiar, especially since the Iranian regime has stepped up its public executions to horrifying degrees. On July 22, the Iranian regime hanged 12 people simultaneously, and several other hangings took place in July all over the country, including another group hanging in Azerbaijan.
In a televised interview regarding the group hangings, Ahmad Reza Radan, the commander of Tehran's police force, stated that, "The response to those who stand firm against the Iranian regime and its practices is execution."
In Iran, legal procedures to execute the most outspoken against the regime are often expedited or simply ignored. Such was the case with Atefeh Rajabi, the 16-year-old girl who was hanged in Neka. Her case was expedited to lightening speeds. In Iran, the judiciary and the government are one and the same, thus leading to dangerous exploitations of the law simply for political purposes.
Majid Kavosifar and his uncle, Hossein Kavosifar, were both hanged for killing Moghadas. They had collaborated and confessed to committing the act. Moghadas was Tehran's assistant chief prosecutor, responsible for signing countless death sentences. Moghadas's role was that of a ruthless cleric who bypassed judicial procedures to ensure the swift death of the Iranian regime's opponents.
Tehran's public prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, did not allow the press to interview Majid Kavosifar, 22, and his uncle Hossein, 28, as is typical with public executions. However, after the execution, Mortazavi did state that he had spoken to both men, and that they refused to renounce their actions and expressed no regret for what they did. Majid is reported to have said, "I have reached a level of understanding to know who the corrupt and depraved are."
The price these victims pay for their bravery is the same, and all hangings are equally as disturbing and unjustified. However, the smile that gleamed over Majid's face as he strained to wave goodbye while handcuffed was indeed victorious, and the message was clear: "I defeated you, I am not frightened, and I am honored to die; hanging me will no longer repel resistance."
While Majid's courage is remarkable in the face of such torment and brutality, we can be sure that there will be other fearless Iranian youths ready to give their lives, until that proud smile gives way to the much awaited dawn of change.
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Volume 39, August 15, 2007
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