September 15, 2008 VOLUME 52
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
Gross violations of human rights has been one
of the most prominent characteristic of Islamic Fundamentalism in Iran. As
Amnesty International notes "twenty years after the then Iranian authorities
began a wave of largely secret, summary and mass executions in September
Amnesty International (AI) renews its call for those responsible for the
'prison massacre' to be held accountable. There should be no impunity for
such gross human rights violations, regardless of when they were committed."
Amnesty reminds Tehran 's regime of its obligation to international human
rights law and reminds Tehran to "identify and bring to justice those
responsible. The failure to do so to date and the time that has elapsed
since the killings do not in any way reduce this responsibility."
The massacre which began in the late summer of 1988 was carried out in massive wave of executions, under Khomeini's direct orders, mainly targeted members and sympathizers of Iran 's main opposition group, the People's Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI). The group places the total count in several thousands. Research by Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) concludes that at least 35% of those killed were women, including pregnant women and senior citizens.
Such crime against humanity is about to happen once again if Tehran gets its way in Iraq . According to an AI statement issued on August 28, 2008 "Amnesty International has been monitoring the situation of members and supporters of the PMOI in Camp Ashraf. Following the US-led military intervention in Iraq in 2003 about 3,400 members of the PMOI were disarmed by the US-led forces at Camp Ashraf . Since that time PMOI members living in the Camp, which is managed by the MNF, have been designated as "protected persons" under Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prevents extradition or forced repatriation to Iran as long as the US-led Multinational Force (MNF) is present in Iraq." In recent weeks, Tehran has been pressuring the Iraqi government to extradite the residents of Camp Ashraf back to Iran. There is no doubt that Tehran is preparing for another massacre of the PMOI members. In its letter, Amnesty calls on "both the Iraqi and US governments reminding them of their obligations under international law and urging them to continue to provide protection to people affiliated to and members of the People's Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq ."
Knowing there are more than one thousand women in Camp Ashraf , WFAFI joins this call and urges Iraq and the United States to prevent another humanitarian crisis.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Amnesty International - August 17, 2008
An Iranian woman been sentenced to 100 lashes, after being found guilty of adultery at a retrial. The woman, Shamaheh Ghorbani, claims that she only said she was having a relationship with a man found at her house to ensure that her husband and brothers, who stabbed the man to death, were not charged with murder.Shamameh Ghorbani, aged 34, had originally been sentenced to execution by stoning in June 2006 after her brothers and husband murdered a man they found in her house, and she too was nearly killed when they stabbed her. The men were convicted of deserved or 'legitimate' murder and received a sentence of six years' imprisonment. In a letter to the court submitted by her lawyer during her first trial she said: "Since I am a rural, illiterate woman and I didn't know the law, I thought that if I confessed to a relationship with the dead man, I could clear my brothers and husband of intentional murder. I said these untrue words in court and then understood I had done myself an injury."
Women's Association website – Aug. 17, 2008
Zeinab Bayazidi has been sentenced to four years
imprisonment and banishment to Zanjan for choosing a Kurdish name for her store
and active participation in the One Million Signature Campaign. Zeinab, 26, an
active member of the One Million Signature Campaign, was summoned to the
Deparment of Intelligence 40 days ago. The court held her hearing in the absence
of a lawyer and sentenced her to four years in jail and banishment to Zanjan.
She is presently on the sixth day of her hunger strike, objecting to the verdict
issued by the preliminary court. Zeinab, a computer sciences student, owned a
cosmetics store in Mahabad called 'Zeilan', which is a Kurdish name for a kind
NCRI Website - August 18, 2008
Brig. Gen. Hossein Sajedi, deputy commander of the
State Security Forces (SSF) in greater Tehran – mullahs' suppressive police
said, "Police will arrest those who eat in public during the upcoming month of
Ramadan." "All necessary measures have been considered to deal firmly with
those individuals not observing the month's [Ramadan] restrictions," reported
the state-run news agency Shahr quoting Sajedi as saying on Monday. "Hotels and
restaurants are not allowed to do any cooking during the day. They will have a
three hours time limit before [the sunset] to do all their preparations for
serving people in the upcoming Ramadan," Sajedi told Shahr. He emphasized on the
need for "everyone to comply with the rules" otherwise "the law breakers will
suffer the consequences. In October 2005, the state-run daily Hamshahri
wrote that 23-year-old Seyyed Mostafa was shot and killed by the State Security
Forces in Tehran's Delgosha Street on Friday for not observing a fast during the
holy month of Ramadan. The man had been stopped by agents from Tehran's 132nd
Precinct. As he left his car, one of the Guards shot him nine times at point
blank. He died the next day in hospital because of his wounds. Mrs. Maryam
Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance – in message at the time--
underscored that the mullahs are peddlers of religion who murder women and young
men on bogus charges in the streets or sentence them to stoning, cruel
punishments and flog them in public. They are the worst enemies of Islam, she
Society and People Farsi blog – Aug. 18, 2008
Around 286 Iranian women have been sold in Fujaira,
U.A.E., reported Sharq newspaper on 26th May. An Iranian pilot, Mostafa Ibn
Yahya, who works in Emirates Airlines, announced that an average 10 to 15 girls
are transferred from Iran to Dubai every day on nine direct flights and 20
indirect flights. In addition, dead bodies of three to five girls are sent back
to Iran every month
NCRI Website - August 19, 2008
At the same time with the opening of moppet show on
the grounds of Tehran's International Exhibitions Hall, the State Security
Forces – mullahs' suppressive police – has added to its chastity patrols to
control what it called "immoral behavior." The patrols would stop women on their
way to watch the show to check what they wear to the event. The Iranian women
are all too familiar with the mullahs' suppressive measures. However, the
members of the SSF teams would also stop foreigners who are not at all used to
such insulting behavior by the police in their countries. To make sure that
foreigners do not miss out anything, the SSF has brought in English speaking
agents to do the job. "It has created a bizarre situation," said one eyewitness.
"Ahmadinejad government is making every effort to embarrass the Iranian people.
We have gotten used to such degrading and suppressive measures over the years
and are fighting them in our own ways. But the poor few women from other
countries living in Iran have no way other than staying home," a woman said.
Since April 2007, the mullahs' regime has introduced a new suppressive plan
nationwide called "boosting public security" with the aim of crushing all
resistance by especially women and youths.
Bu-Ali Sina Newsletter – Aug. 21, 2008
Ten students of the Teachers' Training University
(in Pardis, Karaj) have been summoned to the Revolutionary Court, so far, in
connection with the recent protests at this university. The students went on
hunger strike for a total of 260 hours. Mosleh Fatah pour, Abbas Rashidi, Seivan
Farokhzadi, Amin Shoja, Amin Arya, Amir Salari, Mohammad Sharifi, Forough
Maaroufi (f), Shabnam Madadzadeh (f) and Firouzeh Sedaqati (f) are the students
summoned to court.
Human Rights and Democratic Activists in Iran – Aug. 23, 2008
Security forces attacked and arrested 12 student
activists including five females, on August 22, in Laleh Park, Tehran and
transferred them to the third base of the Intelligence Ministry. The students
transferred were: Hamed Mohammadi; Nader Ahsani; Elham Ahsani (f); Bita
Samii-nejad (f); Nima Nahvi and Saeideh (f). As soon as the students' families
were informed of their arrest, they went to the police station where the
students were detained and demanded to be informed of their children's
conditions, but were not given a straight answer. The families remained outside
the police station until that night. They were told that their children were
arrested for gathering illegally in Laleh Park.
NCRI Website - August 23, 2008
The Park Management Organization (PMO) prohibited
women riding on bicycles to enter parks in Karaj 40 kilometers west of the
capital. PMO hanged signs banning women cyclists from riding their bikes in the
city's parks and outdoor greens. Mullahs' officials defended the move calling it
"immoral" and against "Islamic dress codes." Riding bikes has become very
popular among female college students. In the scorching summer heat of Tehran
and other cities the outdoor sport would give women some comfort. Although,
women were very cautious about what they wore when riding not to get into
trouble with the so-called "boosting public security plan" in effect since April
2007, the new order stop them from biking.
Agenece France Presse - August 24, 2008
An Iranian appeals court has upheld a four-year jail
term handed down to a Kurdish women's rights activist, a press report said on
Sunday. "An appeal court in West Azarbaijan confirmed the four-year jail
sentence with exile for Zeinab Bayzeydi," Kargozaran newspaper said, quoting her
lawyer Mehdi Hojati. Bayzeydi will have to serve her jail term outside home
province of West Azarbaijan, which has a substantial Kurdish population. The
26-year-old had been involved with the "One Million Signature" campaign, an
initiative launched in 2006 seeking to change Iranian law regarded as
discriminatory to women. Several women have been arrested for their involvement
with the campaign in Tehran and Kurdish-populated areas, including Bayzeydi,
Ronak Saffarzadeh and Hana Abdi, who was given five years in jail. Earlier this
month the French presidency of the European Union condemned the arrest of the
three rights activists and called for their unconditional release. Iranian
women's rights campaigners demand equal rights in marriage, child custody and
divorce. A married woman in Iran needs her husband's consent to work and obtain
a passport, and the blood money paid for a woman's life is half that for a man.
Iran Focus - August 28, 2008
Iranian authorities hanged five people, including a
woman, in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, state media reported on Thursday. All
five were hanged on Wednesday, the official daily "Iran" wrote. The four men
were identified as Amin, Majid, Najaf, and Vahid. They were accused of murder.
The woman was identified only by her first name Shabnam. She had been convicted
of stabbing her husband to death over a divorce dispute. Executions in Iran have
sharply risen over the past two months. At least 63 people have been hanged in
August, and 29 people were hanged simultaneously in Tehran on 25 July. Over the
past week, two young men, Behnam Zare and Reza Hejazi, were hanged for crimes
they allegedly committed when they were 15 years old. Both were hanged without
the knowledge of their lawyers or relatives.
NCRI Website August 29, 2008
In a clear insult to Iranian women, Ali Borhan, a
prayer leader on Thursday compared Iranian women who refuse to wear the
traditional chador to "bare-back donkeys," in the central city of Mehriz,
reported the state-run website Asriran. "Residents in Mehriz will not
tolerate women wearing anything but chador. The way women appear in public is
worse than appearing naked," Borhan said. "We will not accept tapes [music
cassettes] distributed in our city and will not tolerate women with improper
outfits. They would be better off not wearing anything," he added. "Women
wearing garments in place of chadors are just like bare-back donkeys. It is
something that we will prevent at all costs in the city," Borhan told a small
congregation of worshipers. Borhan showed his anger at those trying to
open movie theaters in the city by saying that he would stand up to "anyone dare
building a theater" in Mehriz regardless of its consequences. "Islamic centers
should concentrate on Islamic laws and teach how to properly read the Quran's
verses," Borhan finished his preaches to the worshipers made up of the
paramilitary Bassij forces.
NCRI Website - September 1, 2008
Mullahs' suppressive police— at the airports stopped
128 women passengers from boarding the planes. In addition, it has given
171,000 oral warnings and took another 6,799 written commitments from the
passengers before they began their journey for not violating the mullahs' dress
codes again, the state-run news agency Entekhab reported on Saturday. "Despite
seasonal travel pikes, we have been able to enforce the law at the airports
nationwide," Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Botshekan, the airports' SSF chief was quoted as
saying to Entekhab.
NCRI Website - September 2, 2008
Thousands of women consumers flocked in the Saat
Square protesting to home cooking gas shortage in the northeastern provincial
capital of East Azerbaijan. The demonstrators, mostly housewives, were
badly beaten by the State Security Forces (SSF) – mullahs' suppressive police –
attempting to disperse their gathering. The SSF agents in full riot gears
attacked the protesters beating and injuring some participants in the
demonstration.Some men trying to stop the SSF beating the protesters were
arrested and taken to an unknown location by the suppressive security agents.
According to Oil and Gas Journal, Iran has an estimated 974 trillion cubic feet
(Tcf) in proven natural gas reserves. It holds the world's second largest
reserves after Russia. Around 62 percent of Iranian natural gas reserves are
located in non-associated fields, and have not been developed. Major natural gas
fields include: South and North Pars, Tabnak, and Kangan-Nar. In 2005, Iran
produced and consumed 3.6 Tcf of natural gas. Natural gas consumption is
expected to grow around 7 percent annually for the next decade. However, the
mullahs' regime is not providing the public with enough to respond to their gas
demands. Instead, the SSF is often dispatched to suppress their protests.
Los Angeles Times - September 3, 2008
Women’s advocates scored a rare but significant victory this week after Parliament decided to shelve legislation that they said would have reduced the rights of women in marriage. On Tuesday, however, an Iranian court sentenced four of their leaders to prison. The four women were sentenced to six months in prison for contributing to banned women’s Web sites, Shirin Ebadi, their lawyer, told news outlets. They were identified as Mariam Hossein-khah, Nahid Keshavarz, Jelveh Javaheri and Parvin Ardalan. Another women’s rights activist in western Iran, Zeinab Bayzeydi, was sentenced last week to four years in prison. All five were involved in an international campaign, “One Million Signatures,” to amass petitions demanding women’s rights in the Islamic Republic. Legislation set aside Monday would have allowed husbands to obtain “temporary” marriages or take additional wives without the consent of their first spouse. In addition, divorced women would have to pay taxes on alimony.
NCRI Website - September 4, 2008
In the latest set of new restrictions imposed on
Iranian women, a directive recently was putout by local office of the Ministry
of Islamic Guidance (MIG), banning women entering government offices wearing
red, white or yellow colors. The mullahs' regime takes advantage of every
opportunity to add to women restrictions in Iran. In a similar move, last week
women deemed "improperly dressed" were banned from entering the State Security
Forces (SSF) – mullahs' suppressive police – Division of Motor Vehicles' complex
called "Shahrak Azmayesh." in west Tehran.
Agence France Presse - September 6, 2008
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on Friday
criticised Iran for sentencing women's rights activist Parvin Ardalan to prison,
saying it revealed Tehran's "deteriorated respect for human rights." "The jail
sentence on September 3 against Iranian human rights defender Parvin Ardalan
gives rise to concern," Bildt said in a statement, adding that "the claim that
Ardalan poses a threat to Iran's national security lacks credibility."
NCRI Website - September 9, 2008
In past few weeks, the State Security Forces (SSF) –
mullahs' suppressive police – Chastity Units beat up young women in streets in
major cities such as Tehran and the southern city of Shiraz. Chastity Units
patrolling the neighborhoods stop young women and after a few questions beat
them up before the eyes of local residents and shop keepers. In one such
incident, a Chastity Unit stopped a woman in Nirou-Havai district East Tehran
following a brief squabble; the agents riding in a police van began beating the
frightened woman. Youths standing in the street corner intervened to get the
woman freed but they were also beaten up and were forced into the police van.
The Market Watch - September 11, 2008
The President of Iran will have to get past the
"Ahmadinejad Wall of Shame" -- a visual display and demonstration across the
United Nations Headquarters -- before entering the opening of the General
Assembly. Organizing the event, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an international human
rights activist and former Miss World Canada, will lead off the line up of the
"Wall of Shame" by asking: "Ahmadinejad why are you executing children?"
Nazanin's actions on behalf of the children on death row in Iran began when she
was told of a young girl on her namesake that was going to be executed for
stabbing one of three men who attempted to rape her. Nazanin was instrumental in
saving this girl and since then has been dedicated to saving more lives. "There
has been 6 children hanged this year alone in Iran and over 130 children on
death row awaiting execution," said Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President and co-founder
of the Stop Child Executions (SCE) organization. "While the UN legitimizes
Ahmadinejad as the leader of Iran by having the door open to him at the General
Assembly, the Iranian people feel betrayed by the false representation. In face
of the west's obsession with Iran's nuclear development, the voices of the
Iranian people have been stifled and human rights abuses have been overshadowed.
This 'Wall of Shame' demonstration is hoping to give a 'voice to the voiceless'
and address the concerns of the vast majority of Iranian people who believe in a
united, secular, democratic Iran based on the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and no military intervention on Iran," said Nazanin.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Iran's war on trade Union
By Peter Tatchell
August 18, 2008
The Guardian (UK)
The anti-worker dictatorship in Iran has stepped up its attacks on labour activists, with a new wave of arrests and jailings.
Among those recently jailed were two workers' rights campaigners, Sousan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi. They have been sentenced to 15 lashes and four months in prison for the "crime" (under Iran's Islamic law) of participating in a May Day celebration in the city of Sanandaj earlier this year. The verdicts were issued by the criminal court of Sanandaj – branch 101.
On the same charges the same court sentenced Abdullah Khani to 91 days in prison and 40 lashes and Seyed Qaleb Hosseini to six months and 50 lashes.
In addition, Khaled Hosseini, a worker activist, was given a 91 day suspended sentence and 30 lashes because of his efforts to support the trade union leader, Mahmoud Salehi, who was imprisoned at the time and was being denied medical treatment. The charges against him include "disturbing public order and agitation."
Meanwhile, Mansour Osanloo, leader of Tehran's bus workers syndicate, remains in jail since he was sentenced to five years in July 2007 for his union activities.
Nine of his union members have recently had their dismissal from their jobs upheld by the Islamic courts, which do not recognise trade unions or workers rights. The sacked men were all bus drivers, who had suffered two years of harassment and victimisation for the "crime" of establishing a free and independent trade union.
Another labour activist, Afshin Shams, was arrested in July 2008. He is a member of the coordinating committee to help form workers' organisations, and a member of the committee in defence of Mahmoud Salehi.
These arrests and jailings coincide with a wave of strikes and demonstrations against profiteering, corruption and shady business dealings by the country's political and religious elite, as reported in the Guardian last month. Many of the strikes are in response to President Ahmadinejad's collusion with employers who are pushing through redundancies, withholding pay and forcing down wages.
Workers at the Alborz tire manufacturing company are owed two to five months pay. At the Shahryar Dam in Mianeh, the staff have not been paid for four months. More than 40 workers of Mahloran company in Borujerd city have been unpaid for seven months. Last week, employees at the Sanandaj textile company were violently attacked when they held a rally in Farvardin Square in protest at the sudden shutdown of plant operations and mass lay-offs.
Workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar cane company, which employs more than 5,000, have been on strike too. The last time they took industrial action, they won three months of unpaid wages.
The strikers have been buoyed by the success of the Khodro car workers who walked out in June to demand wage increases and an end to mandatory overtime – and won.
The Tehran regime is increasingly hostile to rising working-class militancy, which it fears could become political and turn into a mass movement against the government. The ruling elite are particularly nervous of the possibility that the unions might link up with students, leftwingers, civic organisations and oppressed national minorities (like the Arabs, Kurds and Baluchs) to form a united front for a free and democratic federal state.
Tehran's crackdown on union activists is, in fact, part of a broader assault (pdf) on civil society and campaign groups, as the rightwing Islamist regime in Tehran seeks to stifle dissent and tighten its grip on power. This repression includes a rise in death sentences on opposition activists. In Baluchistan, an estimated 700 nationalist and human rights campaigners are on death row.
Even small, peaceful and lawful protests by women are violently suppressed, which is more evidence of the regime's insecurity and tyranny.
The persecution of Kurdish Iranians is typical. On July 20 2008, Farzad Kamangar was sentenced to death in a seven minute show trial, in which three minutes were taken up by the prosecutor reading the allegations and the defence was given a mere four minutes to state its case. Kamangar's lawyer was never notified prior to the trial of the offence with which his client was charged.
Kamangar, a young teacher, was originally incarcerated on 18 August 2006. He was tortured over allegations (probably trumped up) of collaborating with the Pejak party, being a member of Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), transporting explosives and various other doubtful accusations. Since then, he has been transferred from one jail to another, from one city to another and from one judicial and security jurisdiction to another. The government has ignored all Iranian and international pleas for clemency.
Thirty people were executed on 27 July 2008 in Tehran. Saeed Mortazavi, the attorney general, denounced them as "drug dealers, murders and insurgents". A confidential source inside the public prosecutor's office reported that some of them were people who had participated in the mass protests against gas price increases last year. "The execution of these people is in accordance with the new regulations called the social security enhancement plan", Saeed Mortazavi is reported to have said. This plan is the regime's hardline strategy to crush criticism, dissent and protest.
Mohammad Mostafaee, a defence lawyer, seemed to cast doubt on official claims about the crimes of the executed men. He told Deutsche Welle:
My understanding is that these so-called insurgents are special people. The date of their execution is not a routine practice. Normally, every last Wednesday of each month, the Tehran criminal prosecutor's office carries out the executions, but in this case they will be executed on Sunday. These are people who have had their trial in either Enghelab Islami (Islamic Revolutionary) courts or in the special crimes' courts.
This explanation implies that at least some of those who were executed were probably not common criminals, but deemed to be more serious and threatening political protesters.
While the people of Iran, including oppositionists, do not want a western military attack on their country, growing numbers do want democracy, human rights, social justice, trade union rights and an end to Tehran's neocolonial subjugation of ethnic minority peoples.
You can support Iran's heroic trade union activists by signing this petition and by supporting the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran. You can also show your solidarity with the Iranian people by joining the Hands Off The People Of Iran, which campaigns both against a military attack on Iran and against Tehran's neoliberal despotism.
Together, we can all do something to help our beleaguered sisters and brothers in Iran. Like us, they want freedom and equality. And they deserve it too.
Tehran's Web of silence
By Elham Gheytanchi and Babak Rahimi
August 24, 2008
The Boston Globe
TEHRAN'S nuclear crisis grabs headlines, an ominous development is taking place
inside Iran: the escalation of state repression against Iranian dissidents
online. The hard-liner administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stepped up the
arrest of political dissidents, who have used the Internet as an alternative
medium to express their views against the Islamic Republic.
Coupled with their suspicion of the international community and continued attachment to a dogmatic vision of an Islamist society, the recent developments raise concern over the extent to which hard-liners are determined to muzzle dissent in cyberspace, thereby advancing their sphere of influence over Iranian civil society - especially over women's rights and human rights groups that have suffered the most in the latest attacks.
Among the many dissidents detained by the regime are prominent students and women's rights activists like Mohammad Hashemi and Bahareh Hedayat, whose websites were shut down in July for allegedly propagating "immoral activities" online and receiving support from organizations opposing the regime based outside of Iran. The two are accused of acting against "national security" and "insulting public sanctities."
The July arrests came at the same time as the disturbing news that the hard-liner dominated Iranian parliament has plans to toughen some of the press laws to restrict blogging by dissenters. Bloggers who express anti-regime views would be vulnerable to being labeled as enemies of God on earth - a crime punishable by death. If passed by parliament, the measure would unleash the most repressive law adopted by the Islamic Republic.
Iran now employs the highest level of Internet filtering and surveillance in the world. Citizens are prohibited to access websites ranging from academic and social-networking sites to erotic poetry and computer technology - and especially websites that relate to anti-filtering programs. Politically dissenting sites are subject to regular blocks, while sites devoted to human rights and ethnic minorities are filtered for fear of undermining the existing religious ideology of the government.
In recent months, there has been talk of easing relations with the United States, and even the establishment of a US interests section in Tehran for the first time since 1979. Yet as that news spread, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pursued activists through Kayhan, the newspaper he directly controls. Among the first targets of Kayhan's infamous accusations were two Kurdish activists who were seeking support for the One Million Signature Campaign, a nonviolent initiative against laws that discriminate against women. The newspaper accused Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi of engaging in threats to national security and of taking up arms against the state on behalf of the Kurdish movement - a capital offense.
The charges were false. Both are young activists - in their early 20s - committed to a nonviolent grass-roots movement that has started two years ago by women's rights activists first in Tehran and later active in 16 provinces around the country as well as among Iranian diasporas in Germany, the United States, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The simple act of gathering signatures has been defined by the Iranian authorities as "threat to national security." Some of the activists are spotted and detained by Ahmadinejad's newly appointed police guards, so-called social security guards in public places such as parks, buses, and in the streets.
The recent wave of arrests and accusations bring back the chilling memory of the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, when, a few months after then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini himself was about to sign the UN Security Council resolution that ended the eight year war between Iran and Iraq, he ordered the massive killings of more than 3,000 political prisoners.
Many of the clergy objected, but the supreme leader was undeterred. Apparently, he thought such a brutal act was needed, while Iran was negotiating with the West, to demonstrate that Islamic Republic was strong. Could it be that today's supreme leader is thinking the same thing? As the Islamic Republic of Iran is entering direct negotiations with the Great Satan, the authorities deem it necessary to suppress internal dissent to show that the regime is stronger than ever.
Two Crimes Against Humanity, One Perpetrator
By Jila Kazerounian, Executive Director of WFAFI
August 26, 2008
Middle East Times
years ago in the summer of 1988 the clerical regime in Iran committed one of the
most horrific massacres in history. In an edict Ayatollah Khomeini ordered:
"Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their
support for the Monafeqin [Mojahedin], are waging war on God and are condemned
to execution.... Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately. As regards the
cases, use whichever criterion that speeds up the implementation of the
Right after this fatwa the mock summary trials leading to executions began in prisons across Iran. A committee of three people called the "committee of death" by the political prisoners was in charge of enforcing this edict. In speedy two- to three-minute "trials," the political prisoners were asked about their ideological beliefs.
If the committee sensed the slightest indication that the prisoner was still supporting the opposition groups, specifically the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), s/he was sent for execution. Within a few months, thousands of men and women of all ages were hanged and their bodies moved outside via trucks to be buried in mass graves. Those who escaped this bloodbath revealed the shocking stories later.
For the past 20 years, the theocratic regime has kept silent about the slaughter of 1988, unquestionably crimes against humanity. None of the leaders of the Iranian regime have mentioned, let alone condemned this brutal violence against the innocent political prisoners. Ayatollah Montazeri, who was earmarked to follow Khomeini, was the only one in the ruling circle who revealed the mass executions of 1988 in his book along with Khomeini's hand-written fatwa. At the time Montazeri was Khomeini's deputy. Montazeri was immediately dismissed and put under house arrest. Even the so-called reformists have never exposed this bloodbath either. In fact many of them were active or silent partners to this crime.
Amnesty International has declared Sept. 1 as "a day to remembrance of the victims of political violence including political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and all other victims of human rights abuses whom we, and humanity as a whole, have failed to rescue because they were executed, massacred, murdered, or kidnapped and killed…." Amnesty International has also renewed calls to hold accountable and bring to justice all those responsible for this crime.
Another crime of the same proportion is about to happen by the mullah's regime and their proxies in Iraq. Members of Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) in Ashraf city who have resided in Iraq for more than 20 years hold the refugee status issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Since 2004, the MEK members have enjoyed the "protected persons" status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Their compound has been protected by the coalition forces in Iraq. They are very popular among the Iraqis. In June, some 3 million Iraqi Shiites signed a declaration supporting MEK and demanding an end to the Iranian regime's meddling in Iraqi affairs. As opposed to the Iranian regime that has brought death and destruction to Iraqi citizens, residents of Ashraf have worked closely with them on mutual interests and projects. Women of Ashraf are considered role models by Iraqi women. They have taught them to stand up to Islamic fundamentalism and extremism. They have demonstrated that achieving equality between men and women is no longer a myth among Muslims and political leadership of women is attainable.
As a result of all their success, the Iranian regime is exerting a lot of pressure on the Iraqi government to obtain the security of Ashraf from the coalition forces. In other words, to hand over Ashraf to the proxies of the Iranian regime! This action will undoubtedly result in another massacre of large magnitude.
The regime in Iran has no shame of killing its opponents. The history of their past 30 years is a testimony to this fact. Tens of thousands of political prisoners from teenage girls and boys to grandparents in their 70s have been tortured and executed by the mullahs. The transfer of protection of Ashraf is against the rights of refugees and the principles of the Geneva Convention.
The world did not and has not recognized the extent of the 1988 massacre by the Islamic fundamentalist government of Iran. It is never too late to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Nazis who committed crimes are still being hunted and tried in international courts. Instead, the world has chosen to "engage" and appease the murderers of Iranian people.
The crime of 1988 happened behind closed doors and in secret. The executors have concealed it for years. The massacre that could happen in 2008 can and must be prevented. If anything happens to the unarmed refugees of Ashraf, the conscience of the world will be held responsible.
As we honor all of those who were so unfairly massacred by the vicious mullahs, we have a responsibility to protect all the thousands who could become their potential victims. Handing over the protection of Ashraf from the coalition forces to the Iraqis must be stopped.
Iran's human side depicted by artist
By Ana Sami
August 28, 2008
Democratic National Convention in Denver brought with it a plethora of activity,
including booths supporting various political and social causes and
demonstrators who also voiced their opinions at Civic Center Park.
Undoubtedly the most eye catching of all presentations was a mosque-like structure made out of synthetic silk with pictures held up by massive steel beams, a sound system that played street sounds from Iran including the azan (Islamic call to prayer), and lights to be lit at sundown.
The inside and outside of the structure boldly displays large photographs printed on sturdy weather resistant fabric of Iranians living in Iran, including an Iranian cleric, a young bassiji (Iran's internal paramilitary forced charged to maintain public order through suppression), and many photos of young women with their headscarves pushed back.
The artist, and the name behind this project called "Pictures of You," Tom Loughlin, states that the purpose of this project is to show Iran's human side, to allow the American public to see that "we are all made from the same flesh."
From the outset, many Americans and others who viewed the display were appreciative of the art, and received the message of "peace" and no "war" well.
However, those who are more familiar with the reality on the ground in Iran, were outraged, not by the images which were pleasing to the eye, but to the deeper political message that Loughlin admitted was "inevitable."
If Loughlin admits there is a political message involved, it is necessary to dissect the message that Loughlin whether purposely or unintentionally has promoted.
Throughout the past thirty years since they gained power, and especially since the Khatami administration (1997-2005), the Iranian regime has made their best attempts to promote an image of Iran that is falsified and only attempts to mask the worst of crimes committed against the Iranian people, and now sadly the people of the region.
The laundry list of Iran's crimes against humanity include the execution of minors, the hanging of individuals under the pretext of being criminals (often in mass number, without fair trials), the stoning of women and men to death, the gouging out of eyes, the severing of fingers, the rape and sexual assault of very young girls and women by Iranian officials, the physical oppression and torture of Iran's vibrant youth who protest, and of course violent terrorist acts abroad which has been responsible for the death of Americans, and so many other innocent individuals.
In addition the majority of Iran's population lives in abject poverty because of the massive amounts of money dedicated to developing their nuclear program-Iranians starve to feed the ego and political prowess of their unwanted ruling regime.
One can only wonder if Loughlin ever passed Evin prison in Tehran, the notorious torture chambers where heart stopping crimes are committed, and where Zahra Kazemi was brutally tortured, sexually assaulted by Iranian regime officials, and murdered by a blow to the head.
Kazemi was a photographer as well, but felt the need to show the truth, images of Evin, and the brokenhearted yet steadfast families who were there to protest the abuse of their families and friends.
Yes, Iran and their people are beautiful, and try as they might, the Iranian regime will fail time and time again to obliterate their spirit and resolve to free their country.
If an image is worth a thousand words, then images of Iran's people, resisting tyranny and oppression, deserve to be photographed, displayed, and lauded.
Loughlin's unbalanced view of the reality of the Iranian people undoubtedly plays directly into the hands of Iran's ruling elite, the message that Iranians are well, happy, and carefree are superficial and promote the Iranian regime's agenda to convince world leaders to use "diplomacy" and not violence as a means to deal with them.
The Iranian regime knows all too well, and recent US diplomatic history has shown that diplomacy and its potential results of appeasement are simply a ploy to buy time and continue their expansion of suppression.
Loughlin and those that fund his rather expensive projects have a responsibility to understand the message of their art, while attractive, only encourages Tehran's hideous and oppressive nature.
At the very least, Loughlin has an obligation to show all sides of Iran's social structure. The truth of the matter is that Iranians, because of their serious situation in the world spotlight, are infused with politics and burning to tell the world the horrific crimes they have witnessed throughout the years. Of course, the fear in speaking out and documenting such things is ever-present.
On at least one occasion, Loughlin traveled to Iran with an outspoken anti-war advocate, Iranian-American Deena Guzder, who just received her advanced degree from Columbia University.
Interestingly enough, Guzder was a member of a student organization called CCAW (The Columbia Coalition Against the War) who according to the AdHoc Columbia University newspaper, "generally supported Ahmadinejad's invitation, some on free speech grounds, and others as a move towards dialogue rather than war with Iran."
While war is not the solution to the Iran crisis, the failed policy of diplomacy isn't either. The only solution is to listen to the Iranian people, and to support and allow them to take back the control that they deserve, but never had.
Loughlin acknowledged that he would rather his message bear a more "connective" nature rather than "divisive." But what he has failed thus far to realize is that he has alienated the deep wishes and dreams of Iranians; to free their country and end the nightmare that has become their lives.
Indeed, human beings are all made from the same flesh, but we are all also sustained by the same blood; one should ask why the Iranian regime chooses to spill the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. The most genuine bond any human being can have with the Iranian people, is to remember and speak of those that have paid so dearly for their ideals.
Iranians and others should remember Atefeh Rajabi, who was hanged at 16 by an Iranian judge/cleric, for "crimes against chastity," while she was being raped by a former Iranian prison guard four times her age.
People can connect with Rajabi and thousands of others by honoring and pondering their most intimate wishes and unwavering faith.
Their desire for liberty and justice shine bright, especially in those last few moments of their lives. Before the noose was tightened or the bullet bore, these fearless individuals show us an image far greater than a photo can fully capture, that of the unbreakable quality of a true human spirit.
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Volume 52, September 15, 2008
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