February 15, 2008 VOLUME 45


To our readers,

On February 2nd, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the First International Congress to Commemorate Women Martyrs. In his speech he said that "millions of women are today ready for devoting themselves and value of their work which is equal to martyrdom." Demonstrating the blatant signs of misogyny in ideology of Islamic Fundamentalism, Ahmadinejad advocated using women as weapons of his regime's strategy on global terrorism. While describing how women have been  "shouldering much graver role than men in safeguarding virtues, values and aspirations" Ahmadinejad added, "one of the important missions is identifying women martyrs worldwide and introducing them."  He then explained women as "the symbols of love, kindness, patience and devotion,"  who "have necessary qualifications to transfer virtues, including lofty culture of training and martyrdom." Ahmadinejad said that "women have a position equal and even superior to martyrs due to their divine features and maternal responsibilities." Tehran's fundamentalist president said there are "6,610 women martyrs in Iran" and said "the one who nurtures a martyr is more valuable than the martyr himself."

When it comes to the issue of "martyrdom", Ahmadinejad's message is equality and "superiority" for women, but when it comes to the issue of basic human rights, Iranian women are subject of their male guardians!

After such blatant misogynous remarks revealing the true face of Islamic Fundamentalism, one wonders what does it take for the world to see this regime for what it is! 

E-Zan Featured Headlines

Agance France Presse - January 18, 2008

An Iranian-French journalism student who had been prevented from leaving Iran for nearly a year was en route to Paris on Friday, the French foreign ministry said. Mehrnoushe Solouki, a 38-year-old graduate student from Montreal, Canada, was arrested in February in Iran while working on a documentary film on the Iraq-Iran war. Solouki was freed in March after posting bail and had since been under house arrest in Tehran pending the outcome of an investigation. Iranian authorities do not recognize dual citizenship and insisted Solouki was an Iranian national. Solouki boarded an Iran Air flight from Tehran that was due to land in Paris on Friday morning, according to a diplomatic source in Tehran.
"We are pleased that Madame Solouki is returning to France," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani. The journalism student was arrested after interviewing relatives of members of Iran's armed opposition, the People's Mujahedeen. Iranian authorities confiscated her notes and film footage and called her in for questioning.  Solouki said in November that Iranian authorities had accused her of "attempting to produce a propaganda film." She has complained of being held in inhumane conditions, sleeping on the floor of a jail cell and being subjected to daily interrogations.

Adnkronos International (AKI) - January 25, 2008

Iranian authorities are looking at new restrictions that will create different school textbooks for boys and girls. Ali Reza Ali Ahmadi, responsible to the interim public education minister, told a seminar on textbooks there was a need to provide students with books according to "the requirements of age and sex" to satisfy their particular needs. "The spiritual, physical, and mental needs of boys and girls are not identical, and therefore textbooks that give them information cannot be the same," Ali Ahmadi told the seminar. "The goal is not, however, one that will discriminate against female students but on the contrary give a more precise response to the needs of students." The education official asked textbook authors "not to photocopy western textbooks, because our textbooks must only have space for our values and not those of other cultures".

Adnkronos International (AKI) - January 28, 2008
Iran's most important women's magazine, Zanan, (Women) has been forced to close after 16 years of publication, after being accused of painting a "dark picture" of Iran. Zanan's founder Shahla Sherkat is considered a prime example of Islamic Iranian feminism. She has been accused of "offering a dark picture of the Islamic Republic through the pages of Zanan" and of "compromising the psyche and the mental health" of its readers by providing them with "morally questionable information." The magazine, has for years been considered a place where controversial topics in Iranian society have been discussed, ranging from domestic violence, to cosmetic surgery and relationships. It has been at the forefront in the fight for fundamental women's rights in Iran. The magazine has also used very subtle and creative language in order to avoid being shut down.

Voice of America - January 28, 2008

The United States is calling for an investigation into the death of Ebrahim Lotfallahi, a law student from Kordestan province in Iran who died in government custody. In a written statement, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “The United States is deeply concerned about the tragic death under suspicious circumstances of Ebrahim Lotfallahi, an Iranian student of Kurdish descent detained by the Ministry of Intelligence on January 6th. We call on Iranian authorities to conduct a full investigation.”  Mr. Lotfallahi's brother visited him in prison and said he was in good spirits. His family does not know what, if any, charges were brought against him. On January 15th, Iranian officials informed his family that he was dead and had been buried in a local cemetery. They claimed Mr. Lotfallahi had committed suicide in his cell. His family has not been allowed to see his body and is calling for an autopsy. The case bears similarities to the death in October of a young female medical student, Zahra Bani Yaghoub, who was arrested by security forces in the western city of Hamedan while walking in a park with her fiancé.

Reporters without Boarders (RSF) - January 30, 2008

Reporters Without Borders condemns a decision by the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance on 28 January to suspend the feminist monthly Zanan ("Women" in Farsi) for "publishing information detrimental to society's psychological tranquillity." The press freedom organisation is also concerned about a summons received by Jila Bani Yaghoub of the daily Sarmayeh on 23 January from a Tehran revolutionary court in connection with a case for which she was arrested in March. "The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance is the judiciary's right arm in its crusade against news media that stray from the official line," Reporters Without Borders said. "It has been responsible for the suspension of many publications which the courts subsequently close down for good, often imprisoning their journalists. In Iran, the right to information is still seen as a threat to national security." Dozens of news media have been suspended by the commission since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president. Deputy state prosecutor Nasser Saraji told the official news agency ISNA in October that the commission had suspended 42 publications and cancelled 24 licences since 2005. Other newspapers have been temporarily or provisionally suspended by the courts. Yaghoub is being prosecuted for covering a women's demonstration on 4 March 2007, when she was arrested and held for three days. She is charged with "participating in an illegal demonstration," "activity against national security" and "publicity against the Islamic Republic."

The Associated Press - January 30, 2008

Iran's chief of judiciary has decreed that executions in the country no longer take place in public, the official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday. The report said the official, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, on Tuesday decreed that "execution cases no longer be carried out in the open." The report said executions henceforth could be public only after a special approval by the head of the judiciary. The decree also banned publishing pictures and broadcasting video footage of executions. Earlier on Monday, state television broadcast a video footage showing two men it said were convicted of serial rape and murder of women, after their hanging in the central Iranian city of Arak.

Agance France Presse - February 4, 2008

Two Iranian sisters convicted of adultery face being stoned to death after the supreme court upheld the death sentences against them, the Etemad newspaper Monday quoted their lawyer as saying. The two were found guilty of adultery -- a capital crime in Islamic Iran -- after the husband of one sister presented video evidence showing them in the company of other men while he was away. "Branch 23 of the supreme court has confirmed the stoning sentence," said their lawyer, Jabbar Solati. The penal court of Tehran province had already sentenced the sisters identified only as Zohreh, 27, and Azar (no age given) to stoning, the daily said. Solati explained that the two sisters had initially been tried for "illegal relations" and received 99 lashes. However in a second trial they were convicted of "adultery." The pair admitted they were in the video presented by the husband but argued that there was no adultery as none of the footage showed them engaged in a sexual act with other men. "There is no legal evidence whereby the judge could have the knowledge for issuing a stoning sentence," Solati said, adding that he had appealed to the state prosecutor. "The two sisters have been tried twice for one crime," Solati protested.

PRWEB - February 5, 2008

The Iranian Parliament is currently considering a draft penal code that for the first time legislates the death penalty for what the regime defines as apostasy. Further, the law gives the regime global jurisdiction, holding groups accountable around the globe for differing from the regime on religious issues.The Iranian Parliament is reviewing a draft penal code that for the first time in Iranian history legislates the death penalty for apostasy. The draft clearly violates Iran's commitments under the International Covenants on Human Rights, to which the State is party. "The draft penal code is gross violation of fundamental and human rights by a regime that has repeatedly abused religious and other minorities," stated Institute on Religion and Public Policy President Joseph K. Grieboski. "This is simply another legislative attempt on the part of the Iranian regime to persecute religious minorities in the country and around the globe, especially Bahá'ís."


Earth Times - February 13, 2008

Iranian activist Parvin Ardalan was Wednesday named winner of the 2007 Palme Prize for "making the demand for equal rights for men and women a central part of the struggle for democracy in Iran."Braving "persecution, threats and harassment," the jury cited her efforts noting an "ongoing campaign for a million signatures against discrimination." Ardalan, a journalist, was co-founder of the women's cultural centre Markaz-e Farhangi-ye Zanan in the mid-1990s that has raised awareness and documented women's rights in Iran, the jury said.

E-Zan Featured Reports

Iran Urged to Stop Stoning People to Death
By Susan Jones
CNSNews.com Senior Editor
January 15, 2008

Human rights activists are demanding that Iran abolish its practice of stoning people to death.  A new report, published Monday, comes as nine Iranian women and two Iranian men are now awaiting that "cruel and unusual" fate, Amnesty International said. AI calls stoning a "grotesque and unacceptable penalty" that should be halted immediately.
The head of Iran's judiciary in 2002 issued a moratorium on stoning, and the country's Penal Code is due to be amended, Amnesty International said. But the moratorium on stoning is not always observed. Amnesty International said it welcomes Iran's recent "advances toward reforms," said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director. But Cox also called on the Iranian government to ensure that the new Penal Code does not allow stoning to death or other means of execution for adultery.
Iran's current Penal Code prescribes execution by stoning. According to Amnesty International, Article 102 of Iran's Penal Code says that men should be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for before the stoning begins.
Article 104, which refers to the penalty for adultery, says the stones used should be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill the victim immediately.
Amnesty International noted that "serious failings" in Iran's justice system "commonly result in unfair trials," and that includes capital cases.
"Despite the moratorium imposed in 2002 and official denials that stoning sentences continued to be implemented in Iran, deaths by stoning have been reported," AI said Monday in new release publicizing its new report.
The group mentions one man, Ja'far Kiani, who was stoned to death on July 5, 2007 after being convicted of committing adultery with a woman who bore him two children and who was also sentenced to death by stoning. The stoning was carried out despite a stay of execution ordered in his case and in defiance of the 2002 moratorium, AI said. Another couple is "known to have been stoned to death" in May 2006, AI said. And more Iranians await such a fate.

Women most affected
Amnesty International said most of the Iranians sentenced to death by stoning are women, who are "not treated equally before the law and the courts." Amnesty International said Iranian women are more likely than men to be illiterate -- and that makes them 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," Amnesty International said. Amnesty International said there is reason to hope that death by stoning will be completely abolished in Iran in the future.
It noted the "courageous efforts" of local human rights defenders in Iran who launched a "Stop Stoning Forever" campaign in May 2006. The campaign is credited with saving four women and one man, and a fifth woman has had her stoning sentence temporarily stayed, AI said.
"The Iranian government should pay attention to its civil society activists who are working courageously to end stoning," said Elise Auerbach, Amnesty International USA Iran country specialist. But the activists are often harassed, arrested or otherwise intimidated by Iranian authorities, AI said. Amnesty International says that human rights defenders in Iran believe that international publicity and pressure can help bring about change in the country.
Iran is not the only country where harsh Islamic law has drawn international criticism. Last year, the Saudi government was blasted internationally when a 19-year-old woman, a gang rape victim, was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for violating a law that forbids unrelated men and women from meeting in private. As Cybercast News Service reported, the Saudi government was forced to issue a statement defending the court decision.


West should tackle Iran's ruthless rulers

By Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen is a Labour member of Britain's House of Lords

The Middle East Times

January 17, 2008
Throughout recent years the Iranian regime and its activities in relation to terrorism and nuclear weapons have caused frenzy across not only the political world, but also the media. However, the evil nature of this regime should not be anything new. Anyone who has looked into the actions of this regime from the 1979 Revolution to this current day will know that this regime is evil from head to toe, having run a 28-year campaign of violence, murder and destruction against Iran's people.
In fact, human rights violations inside Iran have reached a horrifically shocking level. Within the last two weeks alone we have seen three people hanged on Jan. 10 with five further individuals having hands and legs amputated on Jan. 7. These crimes occur alongside stoning to death, public lashings, the gouging out of eyes and over 170 other forms of torture that this regime commits in its notorious prisons. These are the truths that lie behind Iran's borders and it is critical that such victims are not forgotten. Not only must they not be forgotten, in fact they must be looked to as the solution, because it has always been those demanding democracy and freedom in Iran that are the first to end up hanging from cranes in Iran's city centers.
Amnesty International recently spoke out against stoning to death in Iran. In their statement they also addressed the issue of women's rights. As an individual who has dedicated a great deal of my time to publicize equal rights in the U.K., I cannot place enough emphasis on how significant such support for women's rights in Iran truly is.
Another major issue that needs much greater publicizing is the horrendous number of street children in Iran. In such an oil rich state, it is truly shocking that so many children in Iran live in the gutters of Iran's cities, without the food or shelter needed to even live the most basic of lives. This in conjunction with Iran still executing individuals under the age of 18 leaves the children of Iran living a hard-hitting and dangerous life.
These human rights abuses and the nature and shape of this regime today can be traced back to Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini viewed human rights abuses as the tool to maintain his rule and that of his regime. However, Khomeini needed to sell such abuses as necessity to his mercenaries and for this he used the one tool he knew would succeed above all, religion. Through the creation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, recently designated a terrorist organization by the United States, he created a force not only to carry out such abuses at home, but to spread the Islamic fundamentalism created by himself to the wider Middle East, a fundamentalism which has no essence of the true Islam that is practiced by so many.
It is today that the IRGC can be seen to be spreading this ideology, an ideology which has one consequence, bloodshed. This bloodshed is now visible from the streets of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine to those of Pakistan. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan was an all too vivid portrayal of what we now face to achieve peace in that region. In Iraq the Iranian regime's funding and supplying of weaponry to Iraqi insurgents has caused the death of British and coalition troops as well those of hundreds of innocent Iraqis. These as well as Iran's support for Hezbollah and Hamas are creating an atmosphere of Islamic fundamentalism, which coupled with Iran's nuclear weapons program acts as the greatest threat to world peace as we know it.
To achieve success in this fight against Islamic fundamentalism, we must cut it at its source, Tehran. Islamic fundamentalism began with the creation of Ayatollah Khomeini's regime and will end with its downfall. However, support for change in Iran does not mean support for any external intervention in the country. War simply is not an option that should be contemplated. However, nor is it acceptable for the current climate to continue. Supporters of further dialogue with Iran wish us to believe there are moderates in Iran willing to change. This is a wholly mistaken view of the entire basis of this regime.
It is however on this basis that the U.K. government has based its entire foreign policy toward Iran. It has been an ill advised policy of appeasement, which has allowed the regime to continue its human rights abuses, to continue its support for terrorism and to continue unabated in its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. Furthermore, this policy was the root cause of the terror listing of Iran's democratic opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran in 2002.
Many British parliamentarians felt this terror tag to be absolutely unjust and a shameful act against an organization dedicated to bringing democracy to Iran. Fuelled by this injustice and the government's steadfastness in appeasing Tehran, 35 MPs and peers, including myself took the British Parliament to court. On Nov. 30 of last year the Proscribed Organizations Appeals Commission ruled conclusively in our favor, indicating that the decision of the government was "perverse" and "flawed" while ordering it to remove the PMOI from its terrorism list. Furthermore, POAC went on to reject the government's leave to appeal.
This victory occurs on the back of an unprecedented decision at the European Court of First Instance in December 2006. The CIF ruled the terror listing of the PMOI in the European Union as illegal and ordered it annulled. However, after more than a year the PMOI still remains on the EU list, an act which is in direct defiance of the CFI ruling. Dick Marty, a Swiss investigator working for the human rights body of the Council of Europe who conducted an investigation into the terror list, in reference to the PMOI case said, "it remains almost impossible, in practice, to be removed from the blacklist -- a situation that is illegal and unacceptable."
The PMOI must now be removed from both terror lists immediately. The PMOI offers a solution which can bring change to Iran, where a flourishing democracy will lead to the spread of democracy throughout the region and an end to Islamic fundamentalism. The PMOI a member group of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has 1,000 female members with women in control of the entire leadership council. In fact the NCRI, of which the PMOI is a member organization, is lead by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Rajavi acts as a ray of hope for the people of Iran and the people of the entire region. Through support for Rajavi and her third option advocating democratic change by Iranians for Iranians we can not only avert a further war in the region, but we can finally begin to lay the seeds of democracy for Iran and the wider region.

Iran: Nightmares Of Evin Haunt Freed Filmmaker
By Toumaj Tahbaz

January 22, 2008

Night after night, from her cell in solitary confinement, Mehrnoushe Solouki could hear the anguished crying of fellow inmates in Tehran's Evin prison. When the French-Iranian filmmaker asked her guards about it, they were clear: The cries were not from hardened criminals but female activists, artists, and intellectuals locked up for nothing more than their political beliefs.
Since January 18, Solouki has been back in Paris, safe in the warm embrace of family and friends -- and far from Evin prison. Yet it still haunts her. A doctoral film student at Canada’s University of Quebec, Solouki traveled to Tehran in late 2006 to research a documentary about the burial rites of Iran’s religious minorities. But when she accidentally stumbled upon a mass grave of regime opponents summarily executed in 1988, she was quickly thrown in prison. It was February 19, 2007.
"I was leaving the office of my colleague when five plainclothes agents, who seemed to be armed, stopped me," Solouki says. "From that moment on, my life totally changed."
Solouki went on to spend a month at Evin in solitary confinement, before her release on a bail of 85,000 euros ($124,000) posted by her parents in France, at the risk of losing their own house.
But authorities had confiscated the 39-year-old filmmaker's passport. Unable to leave, she waited months for her trial in November on charges that included making antigovernment propaganda and endangering national security. At the trial, she was fined around $2,000 for her activities.
The French Foreign Ministry has not provided any details about her case. But a website set up by supporters (freesolouki.org) claims she was acquitted last week and allowed to leave Iran.
'So Many Students, Intellectuals, And Activists'
In July, an unknown assailant in Tehran attacked Solouki. Her facial injuries required four separate operations. But while still in pain from the surgeries, she tells Radio Farda that what's most haunting now are the memories of her imprisonment.
"I heard the cries and yelling of other women prisoners," she says. "I thought that they were terrorists, but when I asked about it, the answer was that they were women activists arrested during the ceremony of March 8 [International Women's Day]. I couldn't tell whether this answer was tragic or comic."
But tragic seems to best describe Evin, which includes a much-feared wing that is thought to be run by Iran's secret services. In recent months, the prison's ranks have swelled with students, women's rights activists, journalists, and others amid a fierce crackdown on dissent by the Iranian government.
"I have heard some things about Guantanamo Bay -- that terrorists are kept there," Solouki says. "But I can’t believe there could be a place in the world with so many students, intellectuals, writers, and women's rights activists [as Evin prison]."
Solouki has always denied the charges against her, saying that her documentary had not yet been filmed at the time of her arrest and that none of the equipment seized from her gave any indication of the film's content.
She was granted a research license by the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance to film a documentary on the burial traditions of religious-minority communities such as Armenian Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. She says the authorities had prior knowledge of her planned activities, such as the locations where she wanted to film, including a particular cemetery on the outskirts of Tehran.
Not just any cemetery, however. Solouki, in doing her research, was suddenly captivated by an area at the Khavaran Cemetery. She describes it as "totally different" from the other areas where she had been filming. That's because the cemetery reportedly contains a mass grave of regime opponents executed in the summer and fall of 1988.
How many people were buried there has never been established. However, estimates generally point to more than 2,800 killed, with their bodies buried in different areas around the country, not just at Khavaran Cemetery. Most were opposition leftists and mujahedin members taken from jail and summarily executed. Solouki says authorities may have believed that she intended to make a film critical of the executions.
"When I came across that reality, I couldn't turn off my camera," she says. "This is apparently part of Iran's history, but later I had a talk with professor Aghajari, who teaches at the Tarbiat Modaress University. He said, 'No, this is not part of Iran's history, and this has not entered Iran's history.'"
Solouki says the academic "even warned me that anyone who researched that part of Iran's past -- not history -- would be persecuted, because it is likely that bringing up this case, the Khavaran case -- would take Iran and those in power who were involved to international courts."
During her ordeal, Solouki says she often felt her life to be endangered, and even briefly sought refuge at the French Embassy in Tehran. But in the end, she was fortunate.
Unlike Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Iranian-Canadian photographer who was beaten to death at Ervin prison in 2003, Solouki has survived. Now, she plans to make a film about her story, to tell the world about what she endured inside Evin prison -- and what scores of dissidents continue to suffer there daily.

The Silence of the Progressives is Deafening
By Jila Kazerounian Executive Director of WFAFI
American Chronicle

February 05, 2008
The news media report that Iran will be stoning to death two sisters convicted of adultery. The verdicts against the two sisters, Zohreh Kabiri (27) and Azar Kabiri (28) were confirmed by the 23rd branch of the Supreme Court in Iran. The sisters had already been tried and already received 99 lashes on charges of adultery. Shockingly, this was basically their second trial. In addition, a 49-year old music teacher by the name of Abdullah Farivar in Sari, Northern Iran has also been sentenced to death by stoning within a week of the two sisters.
According to the penal code of the theocratic regime in Iran, the punishment for adultery is stoning to death. The stones should be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill the victims instantly. The executioners bury women up to their necks and men up to their waist in the ground and have the public throw stones at them. If the victims escape, they are free to go. What are the chances for women to free themselves from this savage act when they are buried in the ground up to their neck?! None. The misogynist regime discriminates against women even in stoning them to death.
Currently there are nine women and two men awaiting the brutal punishment of stoning in Iran. There are also 9 teenagers in Gohardasht prison in Karaj waiting to be executed. Public hangings are familiar scene in the streets of Iranian cities these days. The Mullahs in Iran have no mercy. Their brutal treatment of Iranian people, and in particular those who dare to speak out or stand up against their medieval and discriminatory laws, is outrageous.
And in response to this barbarism, the silence of the Progressives in the west is deafening. They will go out of their ways to appease the dictators in Tehran, as if engaging a bunch of religious despots is the new sign of open-mindedness. They are ready to talk to the Mullahs with no pre-conditions!! Isn't that heart-warming? No pre-conditions!! Not even requiring them to show minimal respect for the most basic human rights of their citizens. It is utterly sad to see the progressives who should stand alongside the people, so easily forget the oppressed masses and silently recognize their oppressors. It is very disturbing to watch them turn a blind eye to these executions and massacres by the fundamentalist regime ruling Iran. After all, progressives claim to be the voices of conscience and humanity; do they not? In the short run, they are not the ones who would pay for their own appeasement and conciliatory policy towards the clerical regime. Iranian people are the victims of the twisted policy of "watching the mullahs´ ruthlessness and turning your face away". Iranian women are the ones suffering the brunt of it, as the second class citizens in a society that treats them so harshly.
Every day, the Iranian women, students, teachers and workers are protesting against the violations of their rights that are violently suppressed. They get arrested, detained and tortured. But, they do not give up until they rid themselves from dictators ruling their land. And as the Great Civil Rights leader of this land, Dr. Martin Luther King said: "In the end, they will remember not the words of their enemies but the silence of their friends".
At the end, I would like to pose a question: What would you have done if these brutalities happened in your country, especially under the name of god and religion? Would you still sit down at the same table and negotiate in good faith with the savage murderers of your people? What would you say to stoning and daily public hangings in the streets of Washington, New York, London or Paris?
Would you still keep silent and talk unconditionally to the executioners????
I doubt it…..

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Volume 45, February 15, 2008

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