January 15, 2008 VOLUME 44


To our readers,

If one were to look at the treatment of Iranian women in 2007, there is no doubt the disturbing trend in public stoning, hanging and continuous crackdown and mass arrests emerges. According to Agance France Presse, "last year, Iran carried out at least 297 executions...the total was a sharp increase with compare to 2006, when 177 executions were carried out."  According to Amnesty International "Iran currently makes more use of the death penalty than any other country." Not to mention Iran also holds the highest number of female execution in the world, even higher than China. 

But that is not the full picture.

The 2007 review also reveals a stronger public defiance, resistance and organized movement of women in Iran. A potent force that has shaken the foundations of theocratic regime in Tehran. The nervous regime has no other choice but to lash out with harsher suppression and crackdown to intimidate the public, especially women. It is clear that the struggle of Iranian women is not about the one-million signature campaign aimed at just changing the laws of the Islamic Republic. As campaigner Sussan Tahmasebi said, "You have grandmothers, mothers and daughters working on this side by side." Iranian women are determined to change the regime in Tehran. The world must recognize that and lend its support for those vying to change the fundamentalist regime in its entirety.

Should the international community choose to act, there are specific steps that can be taken to weaken Tehran and its suppressive forces. To begin with, escalate and enforce stronger economic, political and diplomatic sanctions against Tehran, not just for its nuclear program, but for its grotesque human rights conducts and treatment of its citizens. Should the international community choose to remain silent, the movement for change will continue to grow but the above mentioned figures will be much higher in 2008. Let us make this a year of support for the brave men and women who are destined to bring peace, freedom and democracy in Iran.

E-Zan Featured Headlines

RFE/RL - December 15, 2007

Iranians have been informed about the police operation through an advertising campaign on radio and television. Billboards dot the streets warning women to dress properly. But it is the first time police have launched a winter crackdown on what is called "lax dressing" or noncompliance with Iran's strict Islamic dress code. The crackdown has been gaining in intensity under President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and hit a new peak this past summer. But the "morality police" have traditionally targeted women whose small head scarves reveal a portion of their hair or pants that do not cover their ankles. Such women are given a warning and forced to write a pledge that they will no longer dress "immodestly." The police sometimes fine or briefly arrest those who argue with them.

Agance France Presse - December 16, 2007

Iran has charged two women's rights activists with taking part in "terrorist" actions and belonging to a militant Kurdish separatist group, an investigating judge said on Sunday. Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi were "arrested for acting against national security by taking part in attacks in Sanandaj and for being members of the militant group PJAK," the official IRNA agency quoted the judge as saying. The judge, whose name was not reported, said that the two women were using their activities as women's rights activists as cover for their connections to the separatist militants."Counter-revolutionary groups use civic groups to carry out terrorist actions," he said. The two women were part of a nationwide campaign in Iran to collect a million signatures in favour of changing laws in the Islamic republic which are seen as discriminating against women.

Human Rights Watch - December 17, 2007

Iran should drop politically motivated charges against two women's rights activists facing trial this week because of their participation in a peaceful protest, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should release Jelveh Javahari and Maryam Hosseinkhah without delay. Human Rights Watch learned that court officials have set court dates of December 18 and 19 to try Javaheri and Hosseinkhah on charges stemming from their involvement in a March 4 peaceful gathering to protest the prosecution of other women's rights activists.They were among 26 women arrested at that time and released from detention over the following weeks. However, authorities have been holding Hosseinkhah and Javeheri in Unit 3 of the general women's ward of Evin prison since November 17 and December 1, respectively, on separate charges relating to their peaceful activities on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign to End Discrimination Against Women. "There seems to be no end in sight to the Iranian government's persecution of women's rights activists," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "They are bringing new charges against women faster than they can try them."

Reuters News Agency - December 17, 2007

An Iranian court has jailed nine teachers for 91 days on charges of disturbing public opinion by encouraging colleagues to stage illegal protests, an Iranian daily reported on Monday. Seda-ye Edalat (The Voice of Justice) said the sentences were handed down in the western city of Hamedan. The teachers were arrested during the Iranian month starting in late March, when the newspaper said they spent nine days in solitary confinement. Some teachers have staged protests in Tehran and elsewhere over the past year demanding better pay and conditions. Many of them make the equivalent of a few hundred U.S. dollars per month and have seen their real wages eroded by double-digit inflation.

Associated Press - December 18, 2007

The U.N. General Assembly committee approved a draft resolution Tuesday expressing «deep concern» at the systematic human rights violations in Iran, including torture, flogging, amputations, stoning and public executions.The 192-member world body adopted the resolution by a vote of 73-53 with 55 abstentions.The resolution is not legally binding but carries moral weight and reflects the majority view of world opinion.The resolution expresses «very serious concern» that despite previous assembly resolutions on human rights in Iran, there have been «confirmed instances» of violations including the use of stoning as a method of execution, «torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations,» and multiple public executions. It also expresses «very serious concern» at the arrest and violent represssion of women exercising their right to peaceful assembly and increasing discrimination against people belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic and other minorities, especially members of the Bahai faith.It also calls on Iran to abolish public executions and stoning and «to end the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders, including by releasing persons imprisoned arbitrarily or on the basis of their political views.


AKI Italian News - December 19, 2007

A top Muslim cleric in Iran, Hojatolislam Gholam Reza Hassani said on Wednesday that women in Iran who do not wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf, should die. "Women who do not respect the hijab and their husbands deserve to die," said Hassani, who leads Friday prayers in the city of Urumieh, in Iranian Azerbaijan.  "I do not understand how these women who do not respect the hijab, 28 years after the birth of the Islamic Republic, are still alive," he said.  "These women and their husbands and their fathers must die," said Hassani, who is the representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in eastern Azerbaijan.  Hassani's statements came after two Kurdish feminists in Iran were accused of being members of an armed rebel group and of carrying out subversive activities threatening the security of the state.  It is believed that his statements and the arrests could spark a fresh crackdown on women who do not respect the Islamic dress code in Iran. Thousands of women in Iran have already been warned this year for their "un-Islamic dress" such as wearing tight, short coats and skimpy headscarves.


Reuters News Agency - December 24, 2007

IIranian police detained 28 young men and women wearing "inappropriate and repulsive" clothing and confiscated alcohol at a party in a northeastern city, an Iranian news agency reported on Monday. Mingling between sexes outside marriage is banned in Iran, which has stepped up a campaign this year against fashion and other practices deemed incompatible with Islamic values, including women flouting strict dress codes. Local police commander Farajollah Vafadar said 10 liters of alcohol, also illegal in the Islamic Republic, were seized in the raid in the city of Shahrud, the Fars News Agency said, without saying when it happened. "The police officers arrested 18 girls and 10 boys with inappropriate and repulsive clothing in the house," he said. "A file was opened for the arrested individuals and their case was referred to the Shahrud judiciary to take its legal procedure," Vafadar said.

Agance France Presse - January 2, 2008

Iran hanged 13 on Wednesday, including the mother of two young children who had been found guilty of murdering her husband after discovering he was having an affair, reports said. Raheleh Zamani, who reportedly chopped her husband's body into pieces, was hanged alongside seven men convicted of murder, in a mass execution at Tehran's Evin prison, the Iranian Student Correspondents' Association (ISCA) reported. Three drug traffickers were also hanged on Wednesday in public in a square in the central city of Qom and another two in the eastern city of Zahedan, state media reported. Pictures from Qom showed the three blindfolded men, their bodies hanging limply from nooses attached to cranes as dusk fell, the winter snow falling heavily. The hangings, the first reported in 2008, were the latest in a growing number of executions in the Islamic republic as the authorities impose a drive they say is aimed at improving security in society. Etemad newspaper reported on December 17 that Raheleh was the mother of a five-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy and had begged for forgiveness from the victim's family. "My husband was having an affair with another woman and I was under the influence of the pills I took," ISCA quoted Raheleh as saying during her trial. Raheleh had been due to be hanged on December 19, but was given a last-minute stay of execution to allow her more time to reach a settlement with her in-laws, reports at the time said. Under Iranian law, a victim's family can ask right up to the moment before an execution that a murderer's life be spared and blood money be paid instead.

Amnesty International - January 15, 2008

As nine women and two men in Iran wait to be stoned to death, Amnesty International today called on the Iranian authorities to abolish execution by stoning and impose an immediate moratorium on this horrific practice, specifically designed to increase the suffering of the victims. In a new report published today, "Iran: Death by stoning, a grotesque and unacceptable penalty," the organization called on the authorities urgently to repeal or amend the country's Penal Code...The majority of those sentenced to death by stoning are women. Women suffer disproportionately from such punishment. One reason is that they are not treated equally before the law and courts, in clear violation of international fair trial standards. They are particularly vulnerable to unfair trials because they are more likely than men to be illiterate and therefore more likely to sign confessions to crimes they did not commit. Discrimination against women in other aspects of their lives also leaves them more susceptible to conviction for adultery.

E-Zan Featured Reports

Iran shuts down 24 cafes in Internet crackdown
Dec 16, 2007

Reuters News Agency

Iranian police have closed down 24 Internet cafes and other coffee shops in as many hours, detaining 23 people, as part of a broad crackdown on immoral behaviour in the Islamic state, official media said on Sunday. The action in Tehran province was the latest move in a campaign against fashion and other practices deemed incompatible with Islamic values, including women flouting strict dress codes and barber shops offering men Western hair styles.
"Using immoral computer games, storing obscene photos ... and the presence of women wearing improper hijab were among the reasons why they have been closed down," Colonel Nader Sarkari, a provincial police commander, said. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the presidency in 2005, promising a return to the values of the 1979 Islamic revolution, hardliners have pressed for tighter controls on "immoral behaviour".
Sarkari told the official IRNA news agency that police had inspected 435 coffee shops in the past 24 hours, and 170 had been warned.
The report did not make clear whether they were all Internet cafes, which have mushroomed in Iran over the past few years and are popular especially among young people. Police were not immediately available for comment.
"Twenty-three people were detained," Sarkari said, adding 11 of them were women.
Many young Iranians are avid users of the Internet, some using chat rooms to socialise with the opposite sex. Mingling between sexes outside marriage is banned and many Web sites considered unIslamic are blocked by the authorities.
The cafe crackdown coincides with a winter campaign against women wearing tight trousers tucked into long boots and other "improper dress" such as short overcoats and hats instead of scarves.
Enforcement of Islamic dress codes that require women to cover their hair and disguise the shape of their bodies has become stricter since 2005, following eight years of reformist rule.
Police regularly clamp down on skimpier clothing and looser headscarves in the summer, but usually for only a few weeks. This year the campaign has run into the winter.
Women found dressing inappropriately may be warned and repeat offenders can be taken to a police station and fined.
"Our people want their women to be able to go in the streets with respect and want their dignity to be protected," senior Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami told worshippers in Tehran on Friday. "Our people want the society to be morally clean."
In a separate campaign, IRNA said police had inspected 275 restaurants in the capital to check compliance with a new ban on smoking in public places. The ban includes water pipes, known in Iran as qalyan, offered in some outlets.
Of those, 138 received a warning and 17 were shut down, police official Mohammad Reza Alipour said.

A nervous Iranian regime "lashes out" against the population

Asia News

December 18, 2007
Under pressure from the international community, the authorities are carrying out a violent campaign of intimidation to discourage Iranians from participating in any form of protest against the government, or against the male authority figure in the family. Many internet cafes that do not respect Islamic values have been closed, women have been arrested, and executions have been broadcast on state television. And tomorrow, in the prison in Evin, a young wife who was abused by her husband will be sentenced for having rebelled against him. The anxiety of the Iranian regime, under pressure from the international community on the matters of its nuclear programme and its respect for human rights, continues to be "vented" on the population. Concerned that widespread dissatisfaction among the people may give rise to increasingly prominent forms of protest and anti-government demonstrations, the Iranian authorities are carrying out a campaign of intimidation characterized by public hangings, the arrest of students, capital sentences against women and minors, the closing of internet cafes that do not respect Islamic values.
The news of hangings - especially when these are public - are part of the regime's propaganda to stop the people from participating in open-air protests, or even from posing the slightest opposition to authority, whether in the family or in society. Scheduled for tomorrow, in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, is the execution of a young woman found guilty of defending herself against the violence inflicted by her husband. Rahele killed him a few years ago in order to put an end to a life of abuse. The woman, mother of two children aged 5 and 3, is asking her mother-in-law to pardon her, to spare her from the death penalty. Iran's laws, inspired by the "lex talionis", places in the hands of the victim's family the fate of the person who has committed voluntary or involuntary homicide. But Rahele is herself a victim, a victim of the domestic violence practiced with impunity by husbands and fathers against their wives and daughters.
Last December 11, the state television broadcast the images of a prisoner who was hung from a crane in front of a large crowd. The same broadcaster then disseminated the images of three other condemned persons who were hung from a scaffold in a police courtyard, in the north-western city of Bonjnourd. The practice of filming executions and releasing them on the internet has developed only within the past two years, and according to experts it is a clear sign of the anxiety that reigns among the Iranian mullahs.
The repression is also being unleashed against the places where people meet and where information comes from the outside: universities and internet cafes. Colonel Nader Sarkari, an agent of the state special forces (SSF), informed the official news agency IRNA that between December 14 and 15 alone, 435 coffee shops were raided, 170 were warned, and "23 persons were arrested", 11 of whom were women. "The use of immoral videogames, obscene photos, and the presence of women wearing improper hijab are among the factors that required the imposition of restrictive measures", Sarkari said. The closing of internet cafes coincides with a new wave of oppression against women, under the pretext of "improper dress".

Iranian Human Rights Violations Deserve Sanctions
By James Ottar Grundvig
Special to The Epoch Times

December 19, 2007
For the past few years human rights abuses in Iran have been pushed into the shadow by the proliferation of its nuclear weapons program, threats to wipe "Israel off the map," and the state's sponsorship of terrorism in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. What a shame that the focus has shifted away from the rogue regime's brutal, three-decade-old treatment of its citizens since the fall of the Shah in 1979.
On Saturday Dec. 1, world leaders met in Paris in a final step to levy more punitive sanctions against Iran. This punishment, however, is for the regime's continuing to enrich uranium in its growing cascade farm of centrifuges in the race to develop nuclear weapons, not for the republic's abysmal record on human rights.
While this vote made the news, it has obscured the Nov. 21 referendum put forth by Canada to the U.N. General Assembly for a resolution that condemns Iran's "ongoing systematic violations of human rights" (CBS News). The sponsorship of this resolution, which has passed the vote in each of the years Canada has brought it to the table, was born out of the 2003 death of the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, while kept in the regime's custody.
France had lobbied the European Union separately to further tighten the sanction noose. But as before, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will scoff at such threats. He has been adept at allowing the brunt of those sanctions to trickle down to affect the population, while not impeding the nuclear program or the arming of terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He will undoubtedly let his poor countrymen suffer the consequences of the new economic penalties, the world and Iranian people be damned.
In Iran, human rights violations have covered the entire spectrum of abuses, from the passive infringement of barring women from attending soccer matches, to the more deplorable abuses, like coerced confessions, amputations, and multiple executions by stoning, hanging, and shooting.
Many of the less reported crimes against individual freedom fall under the umbrella of Iran implementing its austere form of Islam nationwide. That gender-ethnic-religious bias has emasculated the rights and ambitions of secular-leaning women and lead to the cultural cleansing of the Kurds.
Women used to make up 25 percent of the engineers and scientists of Iran's nuclear program—that was in the 1960s and 70s during the pre-revolutionary days. I doubt women make up a fraction of that group today as they have been relegated to third class citizens with little to no rights.
Kurds, who populate Kurdistan and other provinces in the northwest parts of Iran, have been forced not to speak or teach the Kurdish language in their schools, to assimilate to the doctrine of Islamic law, and have had their own journalists murdered at the hands of the IRGC in its annual crackdown on the Kurds. The first wave of economic sanctions that followed the Iranian Revolution at the hands of the militant Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic clerics, coupled with the fatigue of the eight year Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s, worked so well that it made Iran a pariah on the world stage. The sanctions and the war almost bankrupted the country, while the isolation became unbearable.
In 1990, Iran changed tack. It invited the U.N.'s Human Rights Team into the country to show progress, such as releasing a couple of American prisoners, while opening diplomatic channels with Europe, the United Nations, and the World Bank. But just as Iran makes token changes to manipulate the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, the symbolic acts of "progress" and the opening up to the world are a sham.
While Iran's propaganda machine has worked overtime ever since to get back some of the goodwill it had lost, two seismic events this decade—the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Iraqi War—have overshadowed the regime's massive human rights violations. And the release of the recent National Intelligence Report, downplaying Iran's nuclear ambitions, doesn't help. These human rights abuses occur inside and outside of Iran's borders. They would include Iran's ramping up of war in Lebanon against Israel, the sponsorship of insurgency in Iraq, and the sponsoring, arming, and training of terrorists. More opaque abuses include political assassinations of Kurds and other enemies of the mullahs in Iraq, Turkey, and beyond.
Inside the republic, the list is long and horrifying. Writers, activists, and critics of the government "disappear" or are imprisoned on trumped up charges, like spying. The revolutionary courts, whose trials are closed to the world, wield absolute and unlimited power. They can overturn any previous decision made by any other court, do so in secrecy, and sentence as they see fit, often invoking the death penalty, which has been the political tool of choice to silence detractors.
The world can and must do more to condemn and punish the regime for its human rights abuses. It must start with the United States in the Bush Administration and carry on through, like a torch, during the presidential elections next year. It must coincide with the European countries' vocal outcries and actions against Iran and become a unified wave with the UN, tying into the sanctions the world has imposed on Iran for its nuclear program. Without such a hard stance, then the abuses and miscarriages of justice, freedom, and rights will continue unabated. That is something the world can't be passive about.

To send us your comments or op-ed on relevant topics for future issues, email editor@wfafi.org

To unsubscribe or subscribe others to our newsletter, email newsletter@wfafi.org

For past volumes of E-Zan visit www.wfafi.org

Volume 44, January 15, 2008

The E-Zan © 2008