November 15, 2007 VOLUME 42
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
Last month Tehran's fundamentalist regime, from
its top leadership to their so-called members of parliament and police
force, has launched a fresh wave of public campaign against women and youth.
Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei has ordered a police crackdown on "social
vices." In doing so, the police have been seizing satellite dishes and
raiding private parties in search of alcohol, unapproved videos, CDs and
other ‘trappings of Western decadence.’ According to the ayatollahs, Iranian
women are barred from wearing "inappropriate" makeup and wearing clothes
that show any part of the hair or the leg. Bright colors are out too. Black
chadors have become the approved public image of women. The parliament has
taken detailed approach to outline for the police the approved list of how
women can dress in public, which also calls for strict banning of "wearing
boots with short pants." Neither sex is to wear the t-shirts of "deviant
groups" - that is, Western rock groups and rappers. Couples are encouraged
to behave "appropriately" in public. Cafes and bookstores have shut down
because of government orders, and college campuses have seen an
unprecedented presence of ministry agents who gather intelligence on for the
Given all this, one can only wonder how the Iranian regime is threatened by its own citizens to impose such suppressive detailed rules about their public image and behavior. These measures are not accidental. They are carefully orchestrated to silence the voice for change in Iran. For this reason, any act of civil disobedience according to these repressive laws should be considered as political opposition to the so-called "Islamic Republic" in Iran.
The fact remains that there is nothing Islamic or Republican about the regime in Tehran. The recent call for crackdown is because the Iranian wheels are in motion to unseat the fundamentalist regime from power. The world community has a duty to recognize the voice of change in Iran and support the brave men and women who are risking their lives every day to say no to this regime.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Ynet News.com - October 22, 2007
Iranian police have decided to crack down on
"inappropriate behavior of couples in public", the semi-official FARS new agency
"If someone walks in the street with his partner and commits an offense, we will deal with it," Ahmad Ruzbahani, chief of the morality police, was quoted as saying. Iranian law forbids women to be seen in public with men who are not family members. However, not all Iranians comply, and many meet their significant others in public parks. Now police have decided to put an end to the growing phenomenon and forbid couples to hold hands in public. Ruzbahani said married couples were also called upon to "act modestly" in public. "They should not act in an inappropriate manner or in a way that will attract attention," he said. Other police officials said kissing in public was also strictly forbidden. Last week it was reported that a young woman committed suicide after being arrested for a "moral offense". Zuhara Bani, a 27-year-old med student, was caught in a public park with her boyfriend. She was taken to a detention facility, where she hung herself 48 hours later with a piece of cloth she had found. The wide scale campaign to enforce "morality" in Iran, which was launched some six months ago, has evoked opposing responses within the Islamic Republic. The moderates criticized the regime, while the conservative sector of Iranian society lauded the campaign, saying it has contributed to an increase in personal security and morality.
The Iran Focus - October 23, 2007
Hajj Ali-Akbari, an Iranian Vice-President and head of the National Youth Organisation, accused non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of being “imported models”, state media reported. “The cultural fabric of the society here has an impact on the model of youths’ social participation”, the official news agency quoted Ali-Akbari as saying on Monday in Kohkilouye-va-Boyerahmad Province. “According to some investigations carried out, some of the populist organisations have faced political pollution, moral corruption and anti-cultural and anti-religious issues, and their activities were banned”, he said
NCRI Website - October 23, 2007
A political prisoner in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, ward 209, is on the brink of death as a result of brutal physical and mental tortures. Tahereh Pour-Rostami, 44, has been on the point of death twice and at the moment she is in a critical state. Tahereh and her husband Naser Sodagar, 46, were arrested after taking part in a gathering marking the anniversary of massacre of political prisoners in summer of 1988. Tahereh has been tortured by one of the interrogators of the Intelligence Ministry forcing her to repent and give information. They have been transferred to solitary confinements and after every session of interrogation which is combined with torture, the head of interrogation of the branch one of the Revolutionary Court visits them in their cells to see if they are ready to repent.
Student Committee Human Rights Reporters – Oct. 25, 2007
46 days after the arrest of Sepideh Pour-Aghaii,
human rights activist and member of the Students Committee of Human Rights
Reporters, she is still kept in a solitary confinement in cellblock 209 of Evin
Prison. In a call to her house, she told her parents that even though her
interrogations had been over 10 days ago, but there is no talk of her release
yet. Visiting her daughter after a month, Sepideh's mother claimed that she is
in a very critical condition. She said: "Sepideh suffers great insomnia and
stress and she is using tranquilizers for them…." Spideh Pour-Aghaii was
arrested on September 9 in her house in Karaj.
NCRI Website - October 27, 2007
In a seminar in Stockholm organized by human rights
groups and the Association of Iranian Women on Thursday, October 25, recent
video clips and pictures of public hangings and degrading punishments shocked
the audience. Several speakers expressed their abhorrence over the state of
human rights in Iran and expressed their solidarity with Iranian people and
their resistance to rid the country from the clerical rule. A former political
prisoner who had served 10 years in jail in Iran spoke about his experience and
the kind of tortures he suffered. He told the seminar about savage tortures used
on prisoners in order to force them repent and go on national TV to denounce the
opposition. Participants also expressed their support to student protests across
Iran which has been going on for several months and the regime has not been able
to quail it despite intense repression and widespread arrests, torture and
executions. Women's role in recent protest moves was praised especially their
active participation in student demonstrations and protests.
Agence France Presse - October 29, 2007
Iranian police have ordered shut and sealed several
Tehran bookshops which also provide coffee and snacks to their customers,
because of what one officer termed "a clash of professions." "Based on the
[bookseller's] union law, owners of one type of business are not allowed to
practice two different professions at the same time."
Globe and Mail - November 3, 2007
Mehrnoushe Solouki, the Montreal-based documentary
filmmaker who was arrested in February in her native Iran, has been told she
will face trial behind closed doors this month on charges of intending to spread
propaganda. In a telephone interview from her parents' home in Tehran, the
38-year-old doctoral student at the University of Quebec in Montreal said she
finds the charges "very bizarre" because her film has never been completed, let
alone shown publicly. She has been told that the trial on Nov. 17 will be closed
to the public and that even her father will not be allowed to attend. "They had
to find something against me," said Ms. Solouki, a French citizen who moved to
Montreal in 2003 and has Canadian landed-immigrant status. She declined to
answer questions on some subjects, concerned that her telephone was being tapped
by Iranian authorities.Ms. Solouki was arrested while working on a film about
repression during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and her videotapes and other
material were seized. She was held for a month in Tehran's notorious Evin
prison, where Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photographer, was beaten to
death in 2004. Friends in Montreal have been publicizing her case through a
website, and Reporters sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders), the
Paris-based journalist-rights organization, has taken up her cause. Ms. Solouki
is anxious to return to Canada, but her French passport was taken from her last
month when she attempted to get permission to leave the country. The French
embassy has been applying pressure for her release and has allowed her to stay
occasionally at the embassy, particularly after she was struck and injured in
July by a motorcycle in what she said was a suspicious hit-and-run accident. She
sustained facial injuries and has had to undergo several operations.Ms. Solouki
expressed frustration that the French government had not been more outspoken in
Tehran Times (State-run newspaper) - November 5, 2007
Iranian First Vice President, Parviz Davoodi, here
last week in the closing ceremony of the Conference of Advisors to the
Ministries for Women’s Affairs called for a bill proposing a decrease in women’s
working hours...Majlis [parliament] representatives, especially female ones,
support any motion that helps strengthen the foundation of the family, he noted.
Hadad Adel [head of the parliament] also emphasized the importance of the basis
of the family, and the magnificent role women play in the home, the society and
workplace in Iran’s Islamic society. The Islamic Majlis believes that women’s
jobs should not damage the nature of family life and if a bill on decreasing
women’s working hours is proposed to the Majlis, it will definitely be ratified,
Agence France Presse - November 7, 2007
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is not
amused by those who violate the Islamic dress code, and is urging cops to keep
up an ongoing crackdown. The crackdown, which began in April, is an attempt to
"elevate security in society" with arrests of so-called “thugs,” raids on
underground parties, seizure of satellite dishes and street checks of improperly
dressed individuals. Thousands of women have been admonished for wearing
revealing head scarves and other violations of the Islamic dress code, in which
Muslim women are required to keep their hair and body covered. Nineteen men have
been hanged in Tehran and Mashhad in violation of “arazel va obash,” or those
who disturb public security during the crackdown.
BBC News - November 10, 1997
Seven human rights organisations, including Amnesty
International, have called on authorities in Iran to set aside a sentence passed
on Iranian women's rights activist Delaram Ali. She has been sentenced to 2.5
years in jail and a flogging for taking part in a peaceful demonstration last
year calling for greater rights for women under Iran's Islamic legal system. Ms
Ali has been free while awaiting the result of an appeal, but she
has now been told to give herself up by today so the sentence can be implemented. Several other women have also been sentenced to prison terms because of the demonstration. They are currently free waiting the outcome of their appeals. Human rights workers say the Iranian authorities have been harassing members of the group because they have been attempting to collect a million signatures in support of a petition demanding the end of laws that they say discriminate against women.
Agence France Presse - November 12, 2007
Iranian police have unveiled a list of "vices" --
including makeup, un-Islamic dress and decadent movies -- being targeted in an
ongoing moral crackdown, a conservative newspaper reported on Monday. The list
was published in the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper as part of a
police drive launched in April which has seen the arrest of "thugs", raids on underground parties, seizures of satellite dishes, and street
checks of improperly dressed individuals."The list of illegal behaviour against the security and morality of society which will be pursued by police... has been announced," the Jomhuri Eslami said. The list, which does not make any reference to gender, highlights the fight against extortionists and drug dealers as well as what it terms "inappropriate" clothing which is short, tight or see through. Thousands of women have been warned for wearing tight, short coats and skimpy headscarves and for flouting the Islamic dress code, which requires every post-pubescent woman to cover their hair and body contours. "Wearing boots with short pants, wearing hats or scarves which do not fully cover hair and neck instead of the proper head veil and putting on unusual make-up that contradicts public chastity (is forbidden)," the list said. "Wearing Western-style clothes and insignias of deviant groups (usually a reference to referring to Satanists or rappers)," was on the list alongside "production and distribution of decadent movies as well as private home-made videos." Iran has in recent months stepped up executions of criminals rounded
up in the drive, in a clear warning to those deemed a menace to society.
Times - November 12, 2007
Homosexuals deserve to be executed or tortured and
possibly both, an Iranian leader told British MPs during a private meeting at a
conference, The Times has learnt. Mohsen Yahyavi is the highest-ranked politician to admit that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality after a spate of reports that gay youths were being hanged. The latest row involves a woman hanged this June in the town of Gorgan after becoming pregnant by her brother. He was absolved after expressing his remorse. Britain said that this demonstrated the unequal treatment of men and women in law and breached Iran's pledge to restrict the death penalty to the most serious crimes. A series of reported executions of gays, including two underage boys whose public hanging was posted on the internet, has alarmed human rights campaigners.
NCRI Website - November 14, 2007
Following the arrest and murder of Zahra Baniameri,
a twenty-six-year old Tehran University medical school graduate by the State
Security Forces (SSF), Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, NCRI's Women's Committee Chair
called on Ms. Yakin Ertürk, Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on
Violence against Women to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder. She
added that her committee is willing and able to provide documents regarding the
matter. Ms. Chitsaz said, "All evidence show that the SSF misogynist agents
murdered the young physician."
"Forty-eight hours after her arrest in a park in the western city of Hamedan, the mullahs' local judiciary branch announced that Dr. Baniameri committed suicide while in police custody. Earlier, she was accused by the judicial authorities of so-called 'evident crime'," Ms. Chitsaz further added. However, there are credible reports indicting that Ms. Baniameri was tortured while in the SSF custody. NRCI's Women's committee Chair reiterated, "This is not the first time the regime commits such crimes against women in its prisons. It is responsible for the executions of thousands of women activists, among them many members of the main Iranian opposition the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran."
E-Zan Featured Reports
Women's studies professor says Islamic fundamentalists violate women's rights
By Tyler Will
College Publisher Network
October 24, 2007
Donna Hughes, professor and
Carlson endowed chairperson of the University of Rhode Island women's studies
program, contended that Islamic fundamentalists violate women's rights
yesterday. Her lecture in the Memorial Union was part of URI's College
Republicans Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Hughes told roughly 35 people in the
audience that the two largest obstructions to women's rights are Islamic
fundamentalism and sex trafficking.Hughes said she uses the term Islamic
fundamentalism to describe a "political movement," and said.
"Islamic fundamentalism is a political movement that has particular goals and methods and ideology," Hughes said.
Hughes dubbed the movement as "a major threat to world peace and freedom," and a distortion of religious belief.
"The political goal of Islamic fascists is to create a religious dictatorship," she said.
Hughes said the goals are demonstrated through rituals like honor killings, beatings, stoning, threats and family pressure.
Hughes defined an honor killing as a murder carried out by family members who oppose the family's will. Other breeches of women's rights include mandatory dress codes, such as the requirement of head coverings.
"They basically treat women, honestly, as dirt," Hughes said.
Hughes was careful to isolate the political movement from Islam itself.
"I am not talking about all of Islam or all Muslims," she said. "I'm talking about a political movement."
Hughes' specified objective did not deter student discomfort. Sarah Shihadeh, the president of the URI Muslim Student Association, said that honor killings happen all over the Middle East.
"This is not Islam," she said. "Christians do that. Muslims do that. Don't blame the religion for what people do."
Shihadeh said she came to the United States two years ago and has a very informed representation of the Middle East. Hughes had to remind Shihadeh, and other students, that she was speaking about a political movement, not Islam in general.
Some of the controversy could have sprung from Hughes' mention of the judicial system in the Middle East. She referred to Muslim activists who came to the United States and tried to install a separate judicial system for Muslims, "which, of course, did not guarantee equal protection under law," Hughes said.
Hughes said that a system of law called Sharia law segregates public facilities and subdues women's position in society. Hughes said eight women in Iran, a country which claims to operate under Sharia law, are waiting in jail to be stoned.
"This form of killing is not found in the Quran. It is a barbaric form of killing used centuries ago and brought into modern timers by Islamic fundamentalists," she said.
She also said that Islamic fundamentalists oppose democracy.
"They oppose democracy and the Western concept of freedom, claiming that Western democracies and laws are man made, and only the laws of God or Sharia laws are valid," Hughes said. Hughes added that most effective form of justice lay with the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights.
Hughes said people are afraid to condemn women's rights violations, because it is a part of another culture.
"What it translates into is being silent, and accepting some of the worst human rights violations against women," Hughes said.
She emphasized that the world has a "responsibility" to protect the rights of women. Privileged societies should seek to assist oppressed women, Hughes said.
Hughes said the solution to the problem is to develop Islamic interpretation of the Quran that support women's rights.
"There are, indeed, liberal and moderate Muslims who I believe we should be supporting," she said.
A noted dissident says Iran is closer to a nuclear bomb than we think.
By John Hughes
November 7, 2007
The Christian Science Monitor
Provo, Utah - The head of the Iranian opposition group in exile that supplied early intelligence on Iran's clandestine nuclear program says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has engineered a clever disinformation campaign to convince foreign experts that Iran is eight to 10 years
away from developing a nuclear bomb. But in fact, she says, the regime is less than two years away from producing such a weapon, as part of
its plan to "create an Iranian empire" in the Middle East.
In a wide-ranging weekend telephone conversation from her base of exile in Paris, Maryam Rajavi told me that Mr. Ahmadinejad has purged
between 40 and 50 senior military officers who are in disagreement with his plans. She also explained that the resignation of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, followed dispute between Mr. Larijani and Ahmadinejad over "incentives" Larijani had been prepared to offer his interlocutors in the West.
Ms. Rajavi heads the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), whose military arm is the People's Mujahideen of Iran.
The Mujahideen are listed as a terrorist organization by the US for its violent tactics. (The group allegedly supported the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979.) But in a bizarre twist, some 3,800 Mujahideen fighters who later conducted operations against the Iranian
regime from Iraqi territory during the reign of Saddam Hussein are currently being held in benign custody in Iraq by US forces as "protected" persons. The current Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to prosecute or deport them. Rajavi says this is at the behest of Iran.
Both the NCRI and the People's Mujahideen claim to have substantial underground support in Iran. Though the information of exiled groups
about events in their tyrannized homelands has come under acute scrutiny since Iraqi exiles produced questionable data about events in
Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the NCRI is credited by US sources with accurately identifying clandestine Iranian nuclear facilities early on.
By interesting coincidence, The Times (London) recently cited Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa as the
first Arab leader to directly accuse Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons. "While they don't have the bomb yet, they are developing it,
or the capability for it," The Times quotes the crown prince as saying, adding that this is the first time one of Iran's Gulf neighbors has "effectively accused [Iran] of lying about its nuclear programme."
In her weekend conversation, Rajavi was adamant that "military intervention" in Iran by the US or others is not desirable. However, she praised the Bush administration for its recent branding of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity. The IRGC, she said, holds key positions in government, dominates much of the economy, controls the nuclear program, and has a major role in drug trafficking. The US government's action against it, she says, is a "clear testament and an indispensable prelude to democratic change in Iran."
Her own program for change in Iran is a combination of accelerated sanctions and political pressure from without and upheaval arising
from discontent within. Getting rid of her own organization's "terrorist" label, she argues, would help energize internal critics of the regime. She says support for this is growing among both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. She is heartened by recent efforts
of British parliamentarians to persuade the European Union to lift restrictions on Iranian opposition groups and blacklist Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
The Guards, she says, are responsible for the torture and execution of many Iranians and are the "center of all the disasters" of the Iranian
people. They are also key to Iran's military role in Iraq. According to Rajavi, they use the "Ramezan" garrison and four tactical bases
near the Iran-Iraq border to send arms and explosives to Iraq. NCRI has exposed three factories in a very secure area in Tehran that are
making roadside bombs to send to Iraq, she adds.
In a previous conversation with Rajavi a little more than two years ago, she spoke in Persian, translated into English through an interpreter. On this occasion she spoke in heavily accented English. "I studied English in high school," she said, "but I have been practicing it more." She also speaks French.
As we began our conversation, she reminded me that "everything I warned you about two years ago about Ahmadinejad has come true. He has
declared war [on his perceived enemies]."
Iranian regime’s ‘Achilles’ heel’
By Ali Safavi
November 13, 2007
Shortly after ousting Tehran’s Chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and appointing one of his own cronies, a former Revolutionary Guards Commander, Saeed Jalili, to the post, the Iranian regime’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told the state-run news agency ISNA that the regime’s nuclear case was “closed” and that U.N. sanction resolutions were “just a pile of papers.” He raised the stakes even further by announcing on Wednesday that Tehran had succeeded in manufacturing 3,000 centrifuges, which would enable it, according to some experts, to make a bomb within a year.
Despite Ahmadinejad’s asinine attempts to project a commanding and authoritative political tone to the mullahs’ foreign interlocutors, however, within Iran his position is as fragile as ever. When he visited Tehran University last month, he was met with the chants of “death to the dictator.”
The scene at Tehran University epitomized a dual reality about the Iranian regime. On the one hand, the regime desperately endeavors to portray a powerful image of itself, and thus thwart additional international pressure. On the other hand, that fictitious image is frequently shattered into pieces by students, women, workers, and other disenchanted sectors of Iranian society.
In summer, the ruling mullahs subjected the Iranian population to a dreadful wave of suppression with the sole aim of quelling further social unrest through terror and fear, and thereby thwarting any real prospects of change at one of the most critical junctures of their 28-year rule.
Amnesty international reported that 250 people have been hanged in Iran since January, many in public before the stunned eyes of onlookers, children and adults alike. In yet another barbaric act, some hangings have also been broadcast on state television.
The human rights watch dog, which recently referred to the Iranian regime as “The Last Executioner of Children,” added that 71 minors are currently waiting to be hanged in Iranian prisons. Moreover, at least 600 prisoners in a single jail west of Tehran remain on death row.
Close to 150,000 women were arrested in summer for “mal-veiling,” while at least 977,000 individuals were interrogated on the streets under other phony pretexts. On July 5th, a man in Takestan, a city in Qazvin, was stoned to death, and at least eight women will suffer the same fate.
All this comes at a time when the mullahs are gripped by terminal crises at home, and are increasingly isolated. The October 25 designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, its terrorist arm, the Qods (Jerusalem Force, the Ministry of Defense and a number of institutions and officials by the U.S. Government as Nuclear proliferators and terrorism financiers was sent shock waves through senior Iranian leadership.
However, even as the weakening regime becomes alarmingly more barbarous towards the country’s population, Western governments continue to exhibit a troubling proclivity for silence and tolerance. Turning a blind eye to the Iranian regime’s severe human rights violations is one of the more revolting symptoms of the appeasement policy towards the mullahs.
Hitler, it is often said, enthusiastically welcomed negotiations during the 1930s in order to buy time for the preparation of war. Once he reached his short-term objectives, however, he declared negotiations as futile, and at one sweep obliterated Neville Chamberlain’s vision of “peace in our time.”
Today, the Iranian religious tyrants have adopted similar tactics. Not that long ago, in April, Ahmadinejad had said, “negotiation is the best way out of Iran’s nuclear stand-off.” Today, he openly ridicules the idea by exclaiming that the mullahs “are not ready to sit around a table and discuss their absolute nuclear rights.”
So, what has changed since April? Simply this: As the regime continues to adopt a more aggressive stance towards the Iranian people, the response from Western governments turns out to be ever more timid and lenient.
If the West continues to ignore the dire human rights situation in Iran, therefore, it would ultimately be faced with a more brazen Iranian regime, which struggles to prolong its survival by more suppression at home.
But, that’s not all. The regime would also step up its meddling in Iraq to erect a sister Islamic republic there, foment wider chaos in Lebanon, partition Palestine to prevent a long lasting Middle East peace, and inch ever closer towards a nuclear bomb. Therefore, “the Men of Tehran” (to borrow an analogous phrase used in reference to the appeasers during the 1930s - “the Men of Munich”) will have chosen dishonor and will definitely have another Mid-East war.
Ironically, the same appeasers of Tehran have caged its most effective opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), by placing it on the terrorist list. They have hitherto effectively covered the mullahs’ Achilles’ Heel. Referring to this policy as “crazy,” Dick Armey, former Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, added in a recent interview with CNN, “[The PMOI] are the people that can keep us best informed of what’s going on in Iran, and they are the people that can best inform people within Iran of the opportunities for liberty. And we keep them tied down.”
The PMOI is the main component of the democratic coalition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, whose leader Maryam Rajavi told the Council of Europe earlier this month that the world does not have to choose between war and appeasement. There is a third option, democratic change by relying on the Iranian people and the organized resistance. Western governments could ill afford to ignore her option.
As a first practical step in this regard, the PMOI must be removed from the terror list. As well, and in addition to a strong censure resolution at the current UN General Assembly session, Tehran’s appalling human rights record must immediately be referred to the Security Council to consider binding decisions against the mullahs.
Sooner or later, the West will realize that the only parties offering it a helping hand out of its predicament with the mullahs are the Iranian people. Let us hope that will happen sooner rather than later.
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Volume 42, November 15, 2007
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