August 15, 2008 VOLUME 51
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
Recent weeks have marked one of the deadliest month when it comes to execution, public hanging, stoning and arrests in Iran. In less than two days, Iran announced and carried out the executions of 30 people in Evin prison. While it was packaged as "punishing the criminals and thugs," many of those killed were political prisoners. Men and women both are being sentenced to stoning and public hanging. Four teenage boys are now facing public hanging in Tehran. Another young man was executed on August 13th in city of Zahedan. Last week alone 15 prisoners were executed in city of Yazd. In past two weeks 40 prisoners were executed and 114 youths face death for the crimes allegedly committed when they were minors. The youngest is a 13-year-old boy named Ahmad Nowroozi sentenced to death by the regime's judiciary three years ago in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan.
Since April 2007, Ahdaminejad launched a new
campaign to boost "public security". More than 350 executions have been
carried out since and most of the victims are ranged from age 13-28. His
plan is also coupled with the so-called combating "mal-veiling," that
targets women in both public and private sphere. Tehran's fundamentalist
regime is running full speed a head in suppressing the Iranian citizens of
all walks of life. From private parties to public gatherings, Tehran's
regime is invading the most basic human rights of Iranians. In Tehran,
people are not even allowed to gather in gas stations for services.
According to the latest report from Tehran, on August 12, 2008, Colonel Hadi
Hashemi, a branch head of the State Security Forces said "we will use Bassij
personnel to help police the gas stations. The new measure will go into
effect in 10 days time." He added "The gas stations are twice as crowded as
they should be." The security forces have also launched a new program called
"Cell Phone Police" to inspect cell phone usage by teenagers.
Mirza-Mohammadi, Secretary of the Headquarters Fighting Special Crimes Task
Force said, "Let me make it clear that 'blue tooth immorality' amounts to
waging 'war on God' and 'being corrupt on Earth' which is punishable by
Using religion as weapon, mullahs in Iran are committing the most barbaric crimes that have gone unnoticed. One can only wonder what it takes for the world community to place the issue of human rights and women's rights as a precondition for diplomatic relations or recognition of a state at the UN. It is time to hold Tehran's regime responsible for its crimes against Iranians and humanity.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
WFAFI News - July 16, 2008
Head of Tehran's Family Dispute Council announced that "if women had the right to divorce, then all of our men will be single." In his interview with Tehran Radio, he said "Given that 80% of those who initiate request for divorce are women, if we give women the right to divorce, then all of our men will be unmarried and divorced." Freydoon Amirabadi said with the demands for divorce "women have unrealistic expectations." He further explained that "we cannot allow women to have the divorce rights" because it will interfere with the interest of men. He explained "we have to rethink our law such as the cases where the husband is an addict and women have the legal grounds to divorce their husband. I suggest we remove such grounds. We have 4 million men who are drug addicts in Iran, we just need to tell their wives to live with it."
NCRI Website - July 18, 2008
Soghra Najafpoor (Molaii) accused of killing an eight-year-old boy spent nineteen years behind bars. She was thirteen at the time of alleged crime but the mullahs' judiciary insists on carrying on the hanging soon, the state-run daily Etemaad reported on July, 15. She was sentenced to death in October 2, for the last time. As a state party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Iranian regime has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under the age of 18, however, a famous case in recent past was Atefeh Rajabi Sahaaleh executed on August 15, 2004. The 16-year-old schoolgirl was executed after being sentenced to death by a mullah named Haji Rezai in the northern town of Neka. On October 29, NCRI's Women's Committee Chair Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz said, "The mullahs' regime is a signatory of both ICCPR and CRC. However, according to reports by international human rights organizations, more than 114 juveniles are presently on death row in Iran." She added, "The growing number of executions, under the clerical rule in Iran, is appalling. In past 11 months, the hangings have doubled the total number of executions reported last year in Iran." She called on all international human rights organizations, women's and children's rights groups to condemn the brutal violation of human rights by the regime and to adopt urgent measures to save Soghra Najafpoor.
The Guardian (UK) - July 21, 2008
Nine people in Iran - eight women and one man - have been sentenced to death by stoning after being convicted of adultery in verdicts lawyers blame on a resurgence of hardline Islamic fundamentalism. The sentences have been imposed in courts across the country despite a supposed moratorium on the punishment, which Iran says is justified under sharia law. Lawyers say most of the nine have been victims of violence and are mostly too ill-educated to understand the charges against them. Many of the sentences were handed down after hearings held in private without the presence of witnesses and defence lawyers. One woman, Kobra Najar, an ethnic Kurd, is said to have been condemned after being forced by her husband into prostitution. After she divorced him, he forced their daughter to sell her body. Another defendant, Shamame Qorbani, claims she was raped but that the allegation was not investigated.
NCRI Website - July 22, 2008
Abbas pouriayi, the prosecutor general for the
northeastern province of Golestan told the state-run news agency ISNA on
Saturday that more restrictions are on the way for women deeded "immodest in
what they wear." Pouriayi told a meeting of the Drug Enforcement Unit for
Golestan Province that "we will assign a judge in every park working closely
with the State Security Forces (SSF) -- [mullahs' suppressive police] -- to
expedite the legal proceedings for those women not abiding by the dress codes."
"Local judiciary officials as well as SSF agents are instructed to stop vehicles
with occupants improperly dressed in all district of the province," Pouriayi
added. The so-called "boosting public security plan" was first introduced in
April 2007 to combat popular uprisings. Mass street arrests of hundreds of
thousands of women and youth under the pretext of "mal-veiling" and cracking
down on "thugs and hooligans" followed. In the same period, more than 300
prisoners were sent to gallows.
It seems that the clerical regime is taking a U-turn in so far as kangaroo trials of 1980s are concerned. Such conduct by the mullahs' regime is a reminder of those days when citizens were stopped in the streets and tried in fewer than ten minutes for crimes they had not committed.
The Press Association - July 24, 2008
The EU has urged Iran to prevent the execution by stoning of eight women and a man convicted of adultery.Rights groups in Tehran said the nine were convicted in separate cases in Iranian cities and could be executed at any time. Under Iran's Islamic laws, adultery is the only capital offence punishable by stoning. A man is usually buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her neck. Stones are thrown until the condemned dies. In a statement, the EU said Iran has "pledged to introduce a moratorium on stoning," adding it must abide by its commitments and international human rights standards. "The European Union calls on the Iranian government and parliament to abolish, in law and in practice, recourse to cruel and degrading punishment and, in particular the use of stoning, as a method of execution," said the statement issued by France which currently holds the EU presidency. The EU urged Tehran to "to put an immediate stop to these executions and to commute the death sentences by stoning that have just been passed."
Agenece France Presse - July 25, 2008
Iran is planning a mass execution of 30 people
convicted of murder and drug trafficking, in the biggest such event in recent
years, a local newspaper reported on Saturday. "Thirty people convicted of
murder, drug trafficking, illegal relationships... will be executed on Sunday at
dawn," the Aftab newspaper quoted Tehran's prosecutor office as saying.It would
be the largest mass execution in the Islamic republic in recent years. In
January, Iran hanged 13 people including the mother of two young children who
had been found guilty of murdering her husband. The prosecutor's office said
that the verdicts against the 30 people had been approved by "high judicial
authorities".The location of the planned executions was not given. Hangings
often take place inside prisons but can be carried out in public in Iran.
NCRI Website - July 27, 2008
Women refuse to wear a chador are banned from
sitting in the first three rows of the prestigious Rudaki Hall in Tehran.
"Ladies intent to sit in the fist three rows of the theater must wear chador,"
said in a statement Rudaki Hall state-run management. However, Asghar Amirnia,
the newly appointed management has not issued any directives to employees at the
theater to distribute chadors to women at the cloak rooms. It has become
customary in some mosques in Iran since the start of the mullahs' regime to give
out chadors to women whishing to take part in the prayer sermons on Fridays.
Amirnia in his first press conference after his appointment as the new general
manager of Rudaki Hall made it clear that "art for the sake of art is nonsense.
Art is valuable when it is at the service of the society. Otherwise spending
money on anything else is wasting it."
The Associated Press - July 27, 2008
Iran hanged 29 people at dawn on Sunday after they had been convicted of murder, drug trafficking and other crimes, state run television reported. All were hanged inside Evin prison, north of the capital. The hangings were carried out after the death sentences were ratified by Iran's Supreme Court, the television report said. A separate report on the television station's web site quoted Tehran Chief Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi as saying the men had records of repeated crimes, including rape, armed robbery and murder. The web site also said some of the convicts had "smuggled thousands of kilograms of various kinds of narcotics" in and out of Iran. The hangings brought to about 150 the number of people executed in Iran so far this year.
Iran News Agency - July 29, 2008
Based on article 987 of the Civil Law: If an Iranian
woman marries a foreigner, her nationality will stay with her, unless the law of
the husband's coutnry imposes that nationality on the woman. Like Iran, the
Civil Law of Afghanistan prefers the nationality of the man over the woman's and
for this reason if an Iranian woman marries a foreign man; she will gain her
husband's nationality. Even if her children are born in Iran they can not have
the Iranian nationality and will not be issued birth certificates. Based on
article 1060 of the Civil Law, if an Iranian woman marries a foreign man
illegally, she will not receive any support from the government.Village girls
wed foreign men such as Afghans for different reasons including poverty.
Kargozaran Newspaper - August 4, 2008
In a letter to the Higher Education Commission of Majlis (the mullahs' parliament), 2611 pre-university girl students applying for university admissoin expressed their protest to the enforcement of gender quota in the university admission exam. They demanded that the commission observe the rights of female students.
WFAFI News - August 6, 2008
According to the state-run Fars News Agency, the head of the Cultural Center in city of Kerman (southeastern Province of Kerman) had revoked the permit for concert by Lilly Afshar, an American-Iranian guitar player. Ms. Afshar and her group had already been granted permit to play in concert hall named Emaad Talaar on August 9 and 10, 2008. However, upon learning that the event is lead by a woman and that tickets have been sold to public includes men, the permit was revoked.
Salam Democrat - August 9, 2008
Branch 101 of the Penal Court in Sanandaj presided by Judge Yarijani, issued flogging and prison sentences for four persons on August 5, who had participated in the Labor Day demonstrations. Soosan Razani (f) was sentenced to nine months in prison and 70 lashes, Shiva Khair Abadi (f) to four months in prison and 15 lashes, Abdullah Khani (Abah Najar) to 91 days in prison and 40 lashes and Seyed Ghaleb Hosseini to six months in prison and 50 lashes. They have been informed of their sentences. The four and eight other activists from Sanandaj are accused of participating in the Labor Day demonstrations. They had been arrested before and released on bail.
NCRI Website - August 10, 2008
On Saturday, judges have been assigned by the
mullahs' to "advice" women violating the imposed dress codes in the streets of
the central city of Yazd. Such a suppressive move has caused much hatred
for the clerical regime among the local residents. However, judges are backed up
by the State Security Forces (SSF) – mullahs' suppressive police -- if the
subjects do not comply. So far more than 100 people have been arrested since the
start of the new plan in Yazd.The move is in line with the so-called "boosting
public security" plan. The plan was first introduced in April 2007 to combat
popular uprisings. Mass street arrests of hundreds of thousands of women and
youth under the pretext of "mal-veiling" and cracking down on "thugs and
hooligans" followed. In the same period, more than 300 prisoners were sent to
WFAFI News - August 10, 2008
State run news agencies report 40 percent of infants born in Sistan Baluchistan province have no birth certificates, due to their fathers’ multiple marriages which have not been registered and licensed by the city hall. Yazdan Eesaapour, the deputy in charge of Social Department said in an interview with Fars in the city of Zahedan (capital of Sistan Baluchistan): “why men are not satisfied with having one woman and without considering their rights, marry other women”? He continues to elaborate that due to multiple and temporary marriages taking place in tribes traditional customs, such as infertility of first wives, many men opt to marry again without obtaining marriage certificate, thus, children born out of those marriages are left without birth certificate, exposing them to much difficulties later on in their lives. Essaapour also states that, “according to statistics obtained by the State’s Health department, 6 out of every 10 women visiting the department seeking help, have not documents of their divorce or financial support by their husbands. In Zahedan alone, children of 500 families have no birth certificates, due to multiple marriages, which have not been registered with the city hall. Also, 3,721 un-registered marriages have been identified.”
ANI - August 13, 2008
Recent studies of a team of archeologists have shown
that 5000 years ago (3200 BC) women had the economic control of the Burnt City
The Burnt City has been continually excavated since the 1970s by Iranian and Italian archaeological teams, with new discoveries periodically reported. Covering an area of 151 hectares, the city was built around 3200 BC and abandoned over a millennium later in 2100 BC.
The city experienced four stages of civilization and was burnt down three times. It took its eventual named because it was never rebuilt after the last fire. According to Seyed Mansour Seyed Sajjadi, director of the team working at the Burnt City in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, southeastern Iran, some paleo-anthropologists believe that mothers in the Burnt City had social and financial prominence. Sajjadi said that 5000 year-old insignias, made of river pebbles and believed to belong only to distinguished inhabitants of the city, were found in the graves of some female citizens.
NCRI Website - August 13, 2008
A 34-year-old woman identified only by her first
name as Shabnam is scheduled to be executed on August 13, reported the state-run
daily Etemaad on Tuesday. Shabnam allegedly killed her husband in a domestic
dispute. She has already spent three years in prison, the report said.
Her death sentence has been upheld by the mullahs' Supreme Court and the execution order has been sent to prison. Her family has been told by the prison officials that she will be executed today. In past two weeks 39 prisoners have been executed by the mullahs' regime. In a single incident, at crack of dawn on July 25, twenty-nine prisoners were sent to gallows. The rights groups have condemned the hanging with no avail.
WFAFI News - August 15, 2008
Research has revealed that 65% of Iran's parliamentarians practice polygamy and have more than two wives. The new parliament is now working on a new resolution that encourages and recognizes more rights for those with more than one wife.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Iranian Women a Force to be Reckoned With
By Talajeh Livani
July 16, 2008
Middle East Times
Iran's parliament convened last month for the first time since the April 2008 elections. The results of the parliamentary elections are in and all the votes have been counted. Surprisingly, or perhaps alarmingly, women now account for a mere 2.8 percent of this new conservative-dominated parliament. This is a decline from the already low 4.1 percent representation in the previous Iranian parliament.
Those familiar with Iranian society may find this shocking. Iran performs much better than other Middle Eastern countries on female education, health, and labor force participation. Iranian women comprise around two-thirds of university entrants, which has led to government-imposed quotas on university admittance, where women were dominating fields such as medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. And, while lower than the world average of 58 percent, Iran's female labor force participation – 42 percent – is the highest in the Middle East.
How is it then possible that the political representation of Iranian women is lagging, even when compared to other countries in the region; the average for the Middle East and North Africa is approximately 9 percent with Iraq having the highest female representation in parliament – 26 percent.
The answer to this question is complex. First, Iran does not use gender quotas for female political participation like some other Middle Eastern and North African countries; it is not certain how the other countries would have performed without the use of quotas and appointments.
Second, to qualify as a candidate in the parliamentary elections, the conservative Guardian Council – a powerful political body that has the power to veto candidates – has to be convinced of the prospective candidate's belief in Islam and the Islamic Republic. Women in Iran have played a crucial role in shifting the conservative-liberal balance in the government. Many believe that women were an integral part in bringing to power former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Therefore, it may simply be that females who register to run are likely to be less conservative than their male counterparts leading to a lower qualification rate.
Third, some of Iran's laws discourage women from rising to positions of leadership and decision-making. Women are not allowed to serve as judges or to run for the presidency. And the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, encourages women to stay at home and focus on the institution of family. Only two women hold secondary cabinet positions, the Center for Women's Participation has been renamed the Center for Women and Family Affairs and Ahmadinejad has publicly announced support for larger families with women staying at home to take care of children.
Finally, in light of external pressure with regards to its nuclear program, the Iranian government has come to view domestic women's groups as a threat to national security. There have been crackdowns on the One Million Signatures Campaign, a campaign aimed at collecting 1 million signatures in support of gender equality in Iran, peaceful women's rights demonstrations, and over the dress code. And the premier women's magazine, Zanan, was shut down in January 2008 allegedly because it offered a dark picture of the Islamic Republic and compromised the psyche and the mental health of its readers by providing them with "morally questionable information."
Despite these challenges, Iranian women's determination to break stereotypes cannot be underestimated. Today, Iranian women are present in every educational and employment field that is traditionally male-dominated. And they are active politically, especially at the local level. In the 2006 municipal elections, 44 seats out of the 264 on provincial capital councils went to women.
In addition, Iranian women represent such a large share of voters in local and national elections that they are able to significantly influence national politics. For instance, the 2008 parliamentary candidates had to adjust their election campaigns to attract women voters by vowing to change family and labor laws to ensure more equal treatment of women.
The government is slowly amending laws that are discriminatory toward women. The most recently passed laws by parliament allow some Iranian women married to foreigners to pass on their Iranian nationality to their children, which was previously not possible. And women suffering injury or death in a car accident are now entitled to the same insurance company compensation as men, whereas previously women received only half of the compensation given to men.
There is strong public support for greater gender equality in Iran. A recent poll conducted by World Public Opinion and Search for Common Ground finds that 78 percent of Iranians think that it is somewhat or very important for women to have full equal rights with men and 70 percent think that the government should make an effort to prevent discrimination against women.
As the world is watching developments in Iran, the women's movement is likely to be on the forefront. And perhaps it will not be too long before Iranian women become as politically empowered as they are in other spheres of society.
Iran: Woman to be hanged after 18 years in jail
July 16, 2008
Adnkronos International (AKI)
Iranian woman arrested at the age of 13 is due to be hanged after spending 18
years in jail.
Soghra Molaii Najafpour was sent to work as a maid in the northern city of Rasht, on the Caspian Sea, when she was nine years-old and accused of the murder of her employer's eight-year-old son, Amir.
She claimed responsibility for the murder of Amir in court , reportedly under pressure, and told the judge how she killed the boy.
However, her confession was contradicted by other evidence that raised doubts about her confession. She later said she had not killed Amir, but she was sentenced to be executed. When Soghra was 17 years old, she was transferred to solitary confinement, where she was kept until she would be executed before dawn of the following day.
Soghra escaped execution after Amir’s mother could not bring herself to witness Soghra’s execution, and had requested that the execution be postponed until a later time. Soghra, now 31, was freed by the General Court of Rasht after posting 6,000 dollars bail, according to a human rights website called SaveDelara.com.
After learning she was freed, relatives of the victim she allegedly killed filed an appeal to have her execution carried out.
However, according to the site SaveDelara.com, when Soghra was a maid in Rasht, she was subjected to sexual abuse and was repeatedly raped by Amir’s father. The site claims that on the day of the incident, Amir’s father had once again attacked Soghra and was raping the 13 year-old when Amir walked in and witnessed the crime. In an attempt to get rid of him, Amir’s father pushed the young boy away, and that is how young Amir hit his head to the wall, fell to the ground, and lost consciousness.
Soghra’s employer then allegedly forced her to dispose the boy’s body in a well because he could not bring himself to do so.
Soghra is now awaiting a date for execution in prison. Iran has ratified international treaties including the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbids capital punishment for underage youth who commit crimes.
In Iran young men are considered to be adults from the age of 14 and young women from the age of eight and a half, and therefore responsible for any crimes that they commit.
The place was rocking… until the Iranian police came round
July 16, 2008
I wear the skimpy dress or the more conservative one?” I asked myself as I held
up two gowns in front of the mirror, an hour before the driver was due to
arrive. The wedding I was preparing myself for – between an Iranian groom and an
Arabian bride – was to be held just outside the Iranian city of Shiraz, in a
secluded villa with a huge garden… “for privacy”.
“It is going to be a mixed wedding,” one of my friends told me. Mixed weddings – with no segregation between men and women – are not allowed in Iran but, as discreetly as possible, they take place anyway. Periodically, the police carry out raids to make sure the rules are being followed, and that no alcohol is being served. Offenders face fines or prison.
Not sure what to expect, I chose the more conservative dress, even though I was going to wear the scarf and the abayah when I was in public. Everywhere you go in Iran, regardless of your religion, you have to wear a scarf and clothes that cover the body parts considered “awra” (private) in Islam, such as the chest and legs. Shops, hotels and restaurants across the country, particularly in Tehran, have signs requesting women to “kindly” observe the Islamic dress. Often, when I was out walking, my scarf would slip and be barely covering my head, but no one said anything except occasionally a husband walking with his wife would gesture to my head.
After almost 45 minutes of driving, we reached the blackened outskirts of the city – there was no street lighting beyond the centre of Shiraz – and found the villa where the wedding was being held. The main door was being guarded by a young man in casual clothes who checked we had been invited, and then we were let in. Spread out in front of us lay an absolutely beautiful garden, adorned with classical touches such as white and beige ribbons, and flowers carefully placed on round tables.
The women were dressed in the latest fashions, but wearing heavy make up and parading puffy 1980s hairstyles. The men were mainly in suits, many sporting Elvis Presley-style quiffs, gold chains and rings; some even sent a wink or two in our direction.
In one of the corners, the “Sofreh-ye Aghd” (wedding spread) dating back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition was placed next to the chairs of the bride and groom. There were at least 10 items laid out, including the “Aayeneh-ye Bakht” (mirror of fate) and candles to brighten the future of the newlyweds, a tray of spices to protect them against the evil eye, crystallised sugar to sweeten their life, gold coins to bring wealth and a Quran to bless the union. The bride and groom arrived in Western wedding clothes and sat at the spread where they observed all the usual customs.
But then the music – traditional Persian but updated with the latest beats – started to boom out, and they instantly hit the dance floor, joined by everyone else. “We love to dance, and we don’t need alcohol to loosen up,” said one of my Iranian friends.
True enough, young men were breakdancing in the centre of the floor in their suits, while others waited on the side for the more traditional music to be played, at which they formed circles and kicked in rhythm. I was kicking away with the best when, all of a sudden, a pair of hands pushed me off the dance floor. Women all around were quickly putting on their scarfs and taking their seats.
Within a wink of an eye the men were in one corner and the women in the other and the host had pulled a curtain across the middle of the garden, separating the sexes. “The police are here, dressed in civilian clothes,” explained one of the guests. The bride seemed nervous as she used a white tablecloth to cover her head. After 15 minutes, the curtain was pulled back and everything returned to normal. Not once, though, did the music stop or reduce in volume. “This happens all the time,” said the groom’s brother in great irritation. “We already paid off the police, but another batch came and we had to bribe them too.” People went back to dancing as if nothing had happened. But then the police called again. This time, though, I reacted rather faster and was ready for inspection as quickly as the rest. “Don’t worry, they only go to the men’s section, and check to see if anyone has been drinking,” one of the women reassured me. The wedding ended with cheers and smiles at 4am after a lavish dinner served at 1am. I found it remarkable how Iranians found ways around restrictions, and enjoyed their time regardless.
“Next time Rym, you can wear something more fashionable,” laughed one of the bride’s sisters as she appraised my “conservative” dress. Of all the women there, I was perhaps the only one who didn’t have to put on anything else except a scarf when the police called.
A Magnificent Show of Popularity by the Iranian Resistance
By Jila Kazerounian, Executive Director of WFAFI
July 18, 2008
On June 28th, 2008 in an unprecedented and historic rally in Paris, 70,000 Iranians from around the world gathered to strongly oppose the theocratic regime in Iran and to express their support for the Iranian Resistance. The rally was exceptional because never in history have we witnessed such an organized and massive crowd of dissidents congregate in exile to lend support to the opposition leaders. The convention was comparable to ones launched by governments with resources and power in their own countries. Any unbiased observer will testify to this fact. This event, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), demonstrated the strength and determination of the organizers and the unparalleled support they enjoy among the Iranian people.
This remarkable backing has caused much fear among the ruling mullahs in Iran. It is for this reason that they ask for the suppression and limitation of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a member of the NCRI coalition, at every negotiating session with the West. The western governments´ favorable response of appeasing the mullahs has resulted in the MEK being labeled as terrorists. Better than anyone else, the regime realizes who the main threat to its existence is. The vicious mullahs know all too well about the widespread support the Iranian resistance enjoys inside the country. Last year alone, there were about 5,000 protests and uprisings throughout Iran. The people are fed up. The dismal human rights record and suppressive measures of the clerics show their desperation and anxiety. Since the west has set course in bending backwards and giving in to the mullahs´ demands, the fundamentalist rulers of Iran get more emboldened in their terrorism and expansionism.
One impressive aspect of the Paris event for Democracy in Iran was the extensive participation of Iranian women. Young and old, 3 generations of women were present in the gathering. Women have been the prime victims of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. Considering women as sexual objects and sub-humans has been a clear characteristic of mullahs´ ideology. For them, women are created to serve men and submit to them! As a natural outcome, thousands of women were in Paris to dismiss the mullahs´ ideology and extend their support to the women-led MEK and the charismatic President-elect of NCRI, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. The MEK in practice and not just in theory has proven their profound commitment to political leadership of women. Iranian women, who have been historically suppressed and kept back, now see hope and a bright future that comes with the inevitable downfall of the mullahs. Let me assure those in power in Iran that soon their house of cards will collapse and their rotten regime will be dumped into the trash can of history by these brave women.
I would like to end this article by quoting from Mrs. Rajavi´s speech in Paris: "The day will come when cranes, from which people are hung, torture chambers and torture acts are all but frightening tales of the past. The day will come when the horrific abyss of bigotry will give way to tolerance and understanding. No religion will be privileged. No one will be denied his/her right because of the belief or non-belief in a religion; and there is the separation of church and state. The day will come when the world of suppression and discrimination against Iranian women will crumble and gender equality will steer the Iranian society towards a new world. And that day is very close."
The price of speaking out
By Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui
August 13, 2008
The New Statesman
Mahboubeh Karami has been languishing in Evin prison since 13 June. Amnesty's Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui explains how the journalist and activist ended up in Tehran's notorious jail
Campaign for Equality
Mahboubeh Karami, 40, is a freelance journalist. She is also active in the Campaign for Equality, a women's rights movement in Iran which calls for reform of laws that discriminate against women and which launched the "One million signatures" campaign in support of this demand. She has been detained in Tehran's Evin Prison since 13 June.
On that morning, she called her mother briefly from her mobile, after boarding a bus in north Tehran. All was well but about 20 minutes later she called again. The bus had been forced to halt near Mellat Park because of a demonstration by people against the arrest on 11 June of Abbas Palizdar, who had accused several senior Iranian officials of financial corruption.
The protest was peaceful but police and other security forces reportedly used tear gas and batons to disperse the demonstrators. They also set up checkpoints. While drivers were told to keep moving, they stopped a number of buses, including the one on which Mahboubeh was travelling, so that plain-clothed officers could check the passengers.
When Mahboubeh called her mother that second time it was to tell her that her coat had been pulled from her and she was being manhandled from the bus by the security police. She was able to speak only briefly before her phone was disconnected.
On the day she was detained, her family and friends could find out nothing about where she was being held. The next information they had came from one of the other bus passengers who had found Mahboubeh's bag - dropped when she was seized. He took it to her family and told them that Mahboubeh and all other female passengers had been taken off the bus, although they had not taken any part in the demonstration.
On 14 June, the day after the protest, the Head of Tehran's Judiciary told the press that 200 people had been arrested and that those who were innocent or were suspected of committing only minor offences would learn about the status of their cases within a week. In the weeks that followed others who took part in the demonstration, or who were arrested at the same time as Mahboubeh, were released, although in some cases they first had to pay considerable sums of bail.
Mahboubeh Karami's mother, Sedigheh Mosa'ebi, has said that her daughter called her from Evin Prison on 25 June saying that about 90 women were arrested on 13 June. Most of whom, like her, had nothing to do with the demonstration in Mellat Park. She told her mother that "The police stopped the bus in front of the Park. Then they began hitting the windows with their batons and forced the driver to open the doors. They attacked a man in the bus. I could not keep silent and when I protested, they took me in too."
Mahboubeh Karami and nine other women, then being detained with her, went on hunger strike on 6 July to protest about their incarceration and conditions – they had been moved to a section of Evin Prison where detainees are not permitted visits. The protest ended after the other nine women were all released by 25 July. Although not freed, Mahboubeh Karami was moved to a 'general' section of Evin Prison, and has since been allowed weekly visits from her family.
Bail for her release was posted at the equivalent of more than 100,000 US dollars - far beyond the family's reach. On 3 August, she was summoned to court where vaguely-worded charges relating to 'national security' were reportedly brought against her and, despite being forbidden from meeting her lawyer, her trial started. Her lawyer expects there to be a verdict on Wednesday, 13 August. While Mahboubeh languishes in jail, a victim of arbitrary arrest, her family's anxiety as to what may yet befall her continues to grow.
Her situation is part of a wider campaign of harassment, intimidation and detention of women's human rights activists in Iran, documented in Amnesty's report "Iran: women's rights defenders defy repression".
There is an international campaign to support these courageous women; Amnesty International members around the world are campaigning for the release of Mahboubeh Karami and others detained in connection with the 13 June demonstration – you can take action here. In the meantime, their relatives continue to wait and hope.
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Volume 51, August 15, 2008
The E-Zan © 2008