October 15, 2009 VOLUME 65
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
The last two months were filled
with numerous developments which has indeed turned a page in the struggle
against Iran ’s fundamentalist regime. For one, the impressive 72-day
international campaign by exiled Iranians led to the end of illegal Iraqi
captivity of the 36 members of Iran ’s main opposition group in Camp Ashraf
, Iraq. The 36 were captured during the Iraqi’s violent raid on unarmed
Ashraf residents in July which sparked a round clock vigil and hunger strike
in 16 cities around the world, including the one by the White House in
Washington DC . The most impressive aspect of this worldwide campaign was
the role of women and their hunger strike around the world. From a
19-year-old girl in Germany to a 60-year-old grandmother who celebrated her
birthday while being on her 64th day of hunger strike in Washington DC.
There is no doubt that women have entered a new front in pushing back the
agenda of Iranian regime against its opponents. While empty handed, they
were strong because of their undeterred will and determination to fight
Tehran ’s conspiracy against Camp Ashraf. Inspired by the resistance
movement at home, the exile Iranian women defeated Tehran ’s plot in Iraq .
During the 72-days effort, several women were interviewed by WFAFI research
team and some of their comments are reflected below:
- “This is our non-violent mean to fight against the Iranian regime and its effort to silence the opposition.”
- “When I saw the image of Neda Agha-Soltan killed by this regime, I realized mullahs have gone beyond their limits of atrocities. But when I saw the images of brutality against the men and women in Ashraf, I saw a new face of brutality by this regime. We have to stop this regime not allow it to go beyond the Iranian boarder. We need to fight this regime because the people of Iran and the rest of world deserve so much more than this barbaric regime. I am determined to use my hunger strike as weapon against this regime.”
- “Knowing this [Iranian] regime, I am not surprised at their open-ended appetite for violence and terror. What I don’t understand is the undying appetite of the world community to stand by and do nothing about it. We began our hunger strike to hopefully move the world leaders to action. By action I mean to stand up for human rights for refugee rights. People in Ashraf are refugees and they should not face such brutalities. We don’t fault the Iraqi people, but we fault the Iranian-backed Iraqis who are doing Ahmadinejad’s dirty job against Camp Ashraf .”
- “For the first time in my life I feel empowered with a weapon that will defeat this regime, will power. I consider my pain, because of not eating, as injury in this fight, but everyday I fee stronger because of newly discovered steadfastness and will power. This is what will bring this regime down…fighting with our hunger strike for Ashraf is a battle for humanity and respect for human rights.”
All these women were taken to hospital several times due to sever fatigue, chest pain, and dehydration during the 72 days of hunger strike. But, their effort paid off and the 36 were released on October 7, 2009. As the exiled women ended their hunger strike, they vowed to continue their effort in ensuring the safety and security of Ashraf residents, especially the 1000 women at the camp.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
WFAFI News Services – September 29, 2009
Jelveh Javaheri, member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, has been sentenced to six months imprisonment. Charges against her bas been for "gathering and collaborating against national security." Ms. Javaheri was arrested on June 17 with eight other women's activists in front of Abrisham Gallery. Her defense attorney, Mina Jafari maintains that Ms. Javaheri's membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign was the grounds for her sentencing. Javaheri’s attorney says the charge cited in the sentencing is different from the indictment. The court is withholding release of the sentence ruling to Javaheri’s attorney.
NCRI Website – September 30, 2009
The mullahs’ regime hanged a group of five prisoners in northeastern city of Taybad on Wednesday in a bid to combat the recent nationwide uprising in Iran by intensifying atmosphere of fear and terror. A woman was also hanged on Sunday in a prison in northeastern city of Sarakhs . The regime’s authorities have not released any information about the six victims hanged in the two northeastern cities of Iran . The Iranian Resistance urges all international human rights organizations to condemn the increasing violations of human rights in Iran and adopt urgent measures to halt executions in Iran .
AKI Italian News – October 2, 2009
A women's rights activist and journalist has been sentenced to six months in jail by one of Iran 's Revolutionary Courts in the capital, Tehran , for having 'endangered state security'. Jelveh Javaheri, arrested in June 2008 for protesting in the centre of Tehran in favour of women's political and civil rights, was subsequently freed from Iran's notorious Evin prison and her sentence has only now been made public, Iran's Radiofarda said. She was charged with "acting against national security by spreading propaganda against the state." Javaheri had been previously arrested in May and was freed after posting a bail of 75.000 euros. She was the founding member of the Campaign for Equality. Javaheri is part of a group of Iranian feminists that begun a national campaign two years ago to abolish all of of Iran 's discriminatory laws against women. They also wanted to gather 1 million signatures urging the Iranian parliament to review parts of the civil and penal codes that in their present form could harm women's rights.
Reuters News Agency – October 6, 2009
A group of women who are risking imprisonment to collect one million signatures on a petition demanding greater women's rights in Iran were presented on Tuesday with the Anna Politkovskaya award for courage. The One Million Signatures campaign, launched in 2006, aims to petition the Iranian parliament asking for the revision and reform of current laws which discriminate against women in Iran . RAW in War says some campaign members have been imprisoned for acting against national security in Iran and disrupting public order, while others have been given suspended prison sentences. Activists say women in Iran , while able to vote, drive cars and hold most jobs, are subject to discrimination that makes them second-class citizens in divorce, inheritance, child custody, legal matters and other areas of life. Leila Alikarami, an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who has defended many cases involving campaign members, was accepting the award in London on Tuesday on behalf of the group. "Iranian women have demanded equality for more than 100 years," she said. "This prize will support those Iranians who are striving for equality of rights between men and women."
Agance France Presse – October 7, 2009
Iraqi authorities have released 36 Iranian dissidents who had been imprisoned for months, were on hunger strike for weeks and also lately refused water, a spokesman for the prisoners said on Wednesday. The members of the People's Mujahedeen, an exiled opposition group, were seized during a raid on Camp Ashraf, a refugee base in Diyala province north of Baghdad in July that left 11 people dead, and are now mostly in ill-health. "On the 72nd day of their hunger strike and seventh day of a dry hunger strike, 36 ... hunger strikers who had been taken hostage in Iraq returned triumphantly to Camp Ashraf ," said spokesman Shahriar Kia. "Upon their arrival, they were immediately taken to Ashraf medical centre to rest and be looked after," he added. The prisoners were arrested by Iraqi police at Camp Ashraf in a July 28-29 operation, held nearby for three days and transferred to a prison in a local town before finally being taken to a detention facility close to Baghdad . A judge ruled three times that they must be released but officials repeatedly refused to comply, justifying the prolonged detention on the grounds that the prisoners had entered Iraq illegally.
Iran Human Rights Site – October 7, 2009
A man was hanged in the prison of Tabriz (northeast of Iran ) yesterday October 6. Human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei wrote in an open letter that his client Rahim Mohammadi was hanged in the prison of Tabriz yesterday morning. Neither he nor Mr. Mohammadi’s family had been informed prior to the execution. Mr.. Mostafaei wrote in this letter that his client Rahim Mohammadi was sentenced to death by hanging and stoning convicted of alleged "anal rape" and adultry, while Mr. Mohammadi’s wife is sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. According to Mr. Mostafaei, there is not sufficient evidence for the charges against his clients, and the judges have not paid attention to the deficiencies in the case. Mr. Mostafaei is also concerned that Mr. Mohammadi’s wife could be stoned to death in the near future. According to the reports in Iran several people among them a minor (Behnoud Shojaee) and a woman (Akram Mahdavi) are scheduled to be executed in Iran on Sunday October 11., a day after the international day against the death penalty.
Tonic Website – October 9, 2009
Reach All Women (RAW) in War has awarded its annual Anna Politkovskaya award for courage to The One Million Signature Campaign that petitions the Iranian parliament asking for the revision and reform of current laws that discriminate against women.
The campaign was launched in 2006 and although members have campaigned peacefully and legally, they are often subject to arbitrary arrests and imprisonment. "We gave them the award because they are an extremely brave and courageous group of women and they are really changing the society in Iran , which is extremely difficult," RAW in War founder Mariana Katzarova told Reuters.
RAW in War is a human rights group that aims to end violence against women in conflict situations. The award is offered in memory of the Russian journalist murdered three years ago in Moscow . It was presented in London on Tuesday by Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Maguire and was accepted by Leila Alikarami, a lawyer and human rights activist who has defended many of the women members of the campaign including Aliyeh Eghdam Doust who was the first women's rights activist in Iran to be imprisoned for the full term of her three-year sentence. Activists say women in Iran , while able to vote, drive cars and hold most jobs, are subject to discrimination that makes them second-class citizens in divorce, inheritance, child custody, legal matters and other areas of life. Iranian women have been demanding equality for more than 100 years.
WFAFI news Services – October 9, 2009
A woman, Akram Mahdavi, charged with murder of her husband three years ago, is facing a death sentence in Tehran . Mahdavi is being held in the notorious Evin prison and was forced, by her father, to marry a man when she was only 20 years old. Her husband was 50 years older than her. Mahdavi is now 34. In her eight years of marriage, she pled for divorce and both times was rejected by the court. This was her second forced marriage since her father married her off, for the first time, at age 13. Since arrested, she has been barred to visit with her only daughter. Mahdavi’s daughter is now forced by her grandfather to marry a much older man.
Baptist Press – October 9, 2009
Two young women are still being held in Iran 's notorious Evin Prison after refusing to deny Jesus Christ and return to Islam. Maryam Rostampour, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, were detained by Iranian security officers in March after being arrested on grounds of being "anti-government" and "a threat to national security," according to freethemm.com, a website dedicated to winning their release. At an Aug. 9 hearing in Tehran 's Revolutionary Court , the two learned the sole charge against them is apostasy -- leaving Islam. When the judge told them they would be executed if they did not recant their faith, the two reportedly told him to expedite the sentence.
The pair subsequently were returned to the prison, where friends say their health is deteriorating because of unsanitary conditions and lack of medical care, the website reported. Authorities set bail of $400,000 and their families have offered the deeds to their homes but no judge apparently is willing to review the case.
NCRI Website – October 13, 2009
Iranian regime’s henchmen hanged fourteen prisoners during the past two weeks (September 27 – October 11). Three of the victims are women. Six prisoners, including two women were hanged on October 6 in Karoon Prison in southeastern city of Ahwaz , the state-run daily Kayhan reported on Tuesday. They were identified as Abdullah J., Khadijeh J., Fozieh J. and Karim A. Two other prisoners, Oday B. and Saad B. were sent to gallows on October 8, in the same prison, the report added. Meanwhile, Rahim Mohamamdi was hanged on October 6 in Tabriz . In northeastern cities of Taybad and Sarakhs five men and a woman were hanged on September 27and 29. The execution of the 21-year-old Behnoud Shojaei, who was 17 at the time of alleged crime, has sparked public outcry in Iran and worldwide.
Agance France Presse – October 15, 2009
A top hard-line Iranian cleric said on Thursday that "God's fury" would be unleashed if Iran appoints women as governors of some provinces, as was raised as a possibility by a minister last week. "If some people want to change the principles and values of the revolution without considering the views of clerics, they will face the fury of God and of the people," Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayghani said on his website. Golpayghani was reacting to remarks by interior minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar in the holy city of Qom last week, who when asked whether Iran would appoint women as governors of provinces, replied: "Yes. It is possible." Golpayghani said the appointment of women in such top jobs was against sharia (Islamic) law. "They come to Qom , the centre of Shiite Islam, and announce that they will appoint women as governors of some provinces. Do you want to fight with the Koran and the Prophet with such talks that go against sharia?" he asked. "Who are you against? God's rule or the definite rules of religion?" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also faced stiff resistance from hardline clerics, including Golpayghani, in appointing women as cabinet ministers. Lawmakers, however, did approve one woman cabinet minister - the first female minister of the Islamic republic - during a vote of confidence in September. In recent years Iranian women have outnumbered men in universities but they still account for only around 15 percent of the official work force. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, women have been banned from becoming judges and suffer from legal inequalities with men in marriage, divorce and inheritance.
E-Zan Featured Reports
UN Human Rights Council Speaks out on Camp Ashraf
Relief Web Site
September 16, 2009
Several speakers drew the attention of the Council to the situation in Ashraf Camp and requested a series of measures from the United Nations and the Iraqi and United States Governments. The Council and the international human rights system were urged to move beyond simple expressions of dismay at violations and to take credible steps to study and address the institutional failings that were at the root of human rights abuse and impunity cycles.
CHARLOTTE PETTERSSON, of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, on behalf of Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples, drew the attention of the Council to the particular situation of the Iranian citizens living in Ashraf camps, who had become the target of severe violations of human and humanitarian rights. The crack down on the residents had resulted in 11 deaths and over 500 wounded. The Mouvement Contre le Racisme et pour L'amitié Entre les Peoples asked the High Commissioner what steps had been taken in that regard and urged her Office to provide a monitoring presence in the camp, in the view of the threats of further violations by the Iraqi Government.
ORETTA BANDETTINI DI POGGIO, of France Libertés – Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, on behalf of Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples, deplored that the United States had not assumed their legal responsibility to protect the inhabitants of the Ashraf camp. They further requested the Government of Iraq to protect the refugees, guarantee their fundamental rights and abstain from any action that might endanger their lives or security. France Libertés: Fondation Danielle Mitterrand requested the United Nations to assure the respect of rights as defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention and to establish a permanent delegation in the camp. The United States needed to provide the protection to the delegation to enable them to implement their mission.
ELI FARHAM, of Women's Human Rights International Association, said the High Commissioner had rightly expressed concern about another global trend, that of the protection of civilians in situations of armed conflict. The Women's Human Rights International Association called on the High Commissioner to ask for serious international action regarding the 2009 attack by Iraqi forces on the Ashraf camp which left 10 dead and 500 injured. This was in clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Following this event, 36 captives were on hunger strike.
Hunger Strikers Press for Iraq ’s Release of Iranian Exiles
By Brian Knowlton
The New York Times
September 19, 2009
WASHINGTON — Wednesday was the 50th day of their hunger strike, but Hamid Goudarzi, 26, and his fellow Iranian-immigrant protesters here swore they would never give up. “I’m getting weaker every day,” said Mr. Goudarzi, who gave up his job in San Antonio to join the protest. “But I’m here to the end.”
He is among two dozen hunger strikers encamped a stone’s throw from the White House to protest the deaths in Iraq of at least six members of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, an exile group based in Iraq and committed to the overthrow of the Islamic revolutionary government in Tehran. Similar sympathy strikes are under way in Ottawa , London , Berlin , Stockholm and The Hague .
In addition to those killed, hundreds of other members of the exile group were wounded when Iraqi forces, newly empowered by the pullback of American combat troops, tried to forcibly take over their camp, Ashraf, north of Baghdad, at the end of July. The group fears mistreatment and expulsion at the hands of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, which has many ties to Iran .
The protesters are calling for the resumption of American protection of the camp until a United Nations presence can be arranged and for the release of 36 members who have been detained since the clash at Camp Ashraf , which is home to about 3,400 people.
A local Iraqi court has ordered the detainees’ release, but the government has appealed.
So far, the pleas from the protesters in Washington have elicited little reaction from the White House. But then the People’s Mujahedeen, also known as the M.E.K. and Mujahedeen Khalq, has a complicated history and still-disputed connections to enemies of the United States .
It remains on the State Department list of foreign terrorist groups (though Britain and the European Union have dropped that designation); it was linked to the assassinations of senior Iranian figures; it has been called “far left” and “cultlike” by analysts; and at one time it had friendly relations with Saddam Hussein, who provided space for its camp when the exiles — enemies of his enemy — needed a home.
The group’s defenders say its thinking has evolved as it has sought wider acceptance. It renounced violent tactics in 2001. In 2003, at the United States ’ urging, it proclaimed neutrality in the Iraq war and turned over its weapons to American troops. Its members were declared by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2004 to be “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and now it is pressing to be dropped from the United States terrorist list.
“Times have changed; we’ve grown up,” said Ali Safavi, a spokesman.
Analysts say the Obama administration is torn. The group’s fierce opposition to the Tehran government and its help in providing intelligence about the Iranian nuclear program have made it useful to those in the administration seeking to contain that threat, but awkward for those seeking dialogue and reconciliation with Iran.
“This is not a black-and-white situation,” said Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington .
“There’ve long been people in the U.S. government who thought the M.E.K. was useful as a way to put pressure on the Iranian government,” said Mr. Alterman, a former senior policy planner at the State Department. “And there are people who’ve said these are not the kinds of people we should be hanging out with.”
Asked about the group this week, a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said, “The U.S. government continues to urge the government of Iraq to honor its public commitments to treat the M.E.K. humanely and in accordance with Iraqi and international law.”
“We are working with international organizations to help address the difficult situation of this group in Iraq ,” he said. “We empathize with and respect the concerns that many have expressed for their friends and loved ones in Iraq .
Despite the administration’s stance, the group has garnered support from some of the most staunch conservatives in Congress, and some liberals.
The Iranians, said one of the conservatives, Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, were “an imperfect group.” But, he added in a phone interview, “My belief is that we should be helping anybody who’s dedicated to bringing down the mullah regime in Iran .”
Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, said, “The United States has a moral and legal obligation to protect these Iranian political dissidents and Camp Ashraf .”
Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, a Texas Democrat, has expressed particular concern about the welfare of the estimated 1,000 women at Camp Ashraf .
But many American officials remain deeply skeptical of the group, including the claims that the 36 detainees in Iraq are on their own serious hunger strike.
The protesters in Washington say they are limiting themselves to tea, water, sugar and Gatorade. Dr. Gary Morsch, 58, an Army Reserve doctor who served at Camp Ashraf in 2004 — and expresses sympathy for the Iranians’ cause — said that situation was precarious. A half-dozen have required hospital treatment.
The great Iranian cover-up: mannequins told to lose curves and wear hijabs
By Adrian Blomfield in Jerusalem
The UK Telegraphy
September 23, 2009
Iranian police have told shopkeepers that female mannequins must lose their feminine curves and be dressed in the hijab, the headscarf worn by devout Muslim women.
An edict was issued requiring mannequins to be dressed with greater modesty.
"Using unusual mannequins exposing the body curves and with the heads without hijabs are prohibited to be used in the shops," the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted the edict, issued by the country's moral security police, as saying.
The new rules also prohibit men from selling women's underwear and forbid the display of men's ties and bow ties, seen as Western affectation, in shop windows and on shelves.
A strict dress code has been imposed on the Iranian people since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, their president, came to power in 2005.
Women are forbidden from wearing tight-fitting trousers, while there are restrictions on the amount of hair gel men can use.
Iran shut down at least 20 barber shops in 2007 for displaying signs of pro-western decadence after the morality police discovered they offered an eyebrow-plucking and make-up service for men.
But this is the first time the strictures have been extended to inanimate objects.
It is unclear what sanctions shopkeepers who fall afoul of the new guidelines will face.
Mobile police units patrol the city looking for signs of inappropriate western dress. Although offenders are usually only cautioned, there have been calls for women who fall foul of the dress code to be exiled to remote parts of the country.
ICLW warns against mullahs' plots to displace and massacre Ashraf residents
October 8 2009
Formation of the International Committee of Lawyers in support of 1,000 Women in Ashraf was announced Thursday in a press conference in Paris . The conference warned against imminent threats to Camp Ashraf residents, particularly plans for their displacement as a prelude to massacre them.. They reiterated that in any forcible displacement, the prime victims will be women.
The lawyers call for immediate intervention of the European Union, the United States and the United Nations to guarantee the rights of Ashraf residents, particularly women, in accordance with Geneva conventions and to prevent their displacement as a ploy to pave the way for a humanitarian catastrophe.
Members of the committee comprised of distinguished women lawyers from France , Britain , Italy and Scandinavian countries strongly condemn the Iraqi Government for preventing them from meeting their clients, the 1,000 women residing in Ashraf, and establish contacts with them for the past few months.
They stress that their fundamental rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention, as stipulated in the European Parliament resolution on April 24, 2009, to be acknowledged and a U.N. monitoring team to be deployed in Ashraf to prevent the repeat of attack and violence against the residents or their forcible displacement. The committee reiterates that if the rights of its clients are violated, they will pursue their case through competent international courts.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, in a message to the conference said that the attack on Camp Ashraf was planned and coordinated by the clerical regime in Iran . Nationwide uprisings in the past three months have deeply shaken and destabilized the regime, thus, it desperately needs to suppress its opposition. The assailant forces are still inside the camp and they have the motive to repeat the attack.
She warned that the forces in their attacks on the residents of Ashraf repeatedly threatened women with rape. The fate of 36 Ashraf residents taken hostage by force is extremely alarming. The attackers abducted them in Ashraf by force and tortured them. This happened to them while they were recognized as Protected Persons. Although they were released on Wednesday after 72 days of hunger strike, but recurrence of this kind of criminal forcible displacement must not be allowed, Mrs. Rajavi stressed.
Camp Ashraf is home of 3500 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), an opposition movement to the current regime. On 27 and 28th of July Ashraf was the target of a violent attack by Iraqis forces, in which 11 residents were killed and 500 injured. In this attack, the female residents were threatened with sexual assault and rape. This makes it more imperative for the lawyers to contact and meet with the clients in order to defend them.
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights condemns Iran for juvenile executions
October 13, 2009
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Tuesday she was deeply dismayed to hear that another juvenile offender was executed in the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday, and called for changes to Iranian law and practice “to end execution of juvenile offenders once and for all.”
She also said she had serious concerns about the death sentences recently handed down to three individuals for their involvement in the protests that took place after Iran ’s recent Presidential election.
Behnoud Shojaie, who was executed on Sunday, had been convicted of the murder of another boy in a street fight when both were 17 years old. Both the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN special rapporteurs had raised his case with the Iranian authorities, reminding them of their international obligation not to execute juveniles.
Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which prohibit the death penalty for juvenile offenders.
The High Commissioner had welcomed indications that the Iranian judiciary was encouraging victims’ families to reach private settlements in such cases. The former head of the judiciary had previously agreed to suspend Shojaie's death sentence, in order to give the victim's family a chance to pardon him under Islamic Shariah law.
A new draft juvenile justice law, which is currently being considered by the Iranian legislature, provides a valuable opportunity to end the execution of juvenile offenders.
“This latest execution shows there are no guarantees of clemency for juveniles until Iran changes its law and practice to end execution of juvenile offenders once and for all,” Pillay said. “It is the state’s responsibility to stop these executions, not a family’s prerogative.”
The High Commissioner also raised concern over Iranian state news agency reports that three people have been sentenced to death in relation to protest activities following the recent Presidential elections. Reportedly, the verdicts must be confirmed by a higher court.
“Under international law, the death penalty can only be applied when very strict conditions are met, for example only in respect of the most serious crimes and only after scrupulously fair trials,” the High Commissioner noted. The UN human rights mechanisms have held the view that the imposition of the death penalty for crimes that do not result in loss of life is contrary to the ICCPR. “There are also major concerns about the way the recent trials of opposition activists were conducted, and I hope these judgments will be reviewed carefully by the higher courts,” Pillay said.
Beyond the question of legality of the death penalty under international law, the High Commissioner reiterated that she is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, and urged governments to act on the UN General Assembly's February 2008 Resolution which called on all states “to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”