January 15, 2010 VOLUME 68
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
2009 marked the year for those who want to stand on the side line or stand up for the Iranian people. While the increasingly violent suppression is disintegrating the regime in Tehran as well, we must not forget the brave men and women in the streets who are exposing the growing weakness of this regime. Everyday mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives are being arrested, tortured and executed by this regime.
The movement for change in Iran is with legacy of bravery, and it is exceptionally resilient. People are refusing to retreat under police baton charges and volleys of warning shots. In fact, the police and some security forces, not linked to the notorious Revolutionary Guards, are joining the crowd denouncing the Iranian leadership.
Yet, a vocal and meaningful support from Washington is long overdue. Undoubtedly, the next decade will be defined based on these unfolding events in Iran. It is up to Washington to decide if they want to change the current cold blooded foreign policy or continue the course of silence and inaction.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Amnesty International - December 18, 2009
Amnesty International has called for the
release of an Iranian student leader whose arrest and detention have
inspired men to cover their hair in an online solidarity photo
campaign. Majid Tavakkoli was arrested in student protests on 7
December and was later pictured wearing female clothes in an
apparent attempt to humiliate him. Now many Iranian men inside and
outside the country have taken pictures of themselves wearing
various forms of hijab, such as headscarves or the chador, in
protest and solidarity. Many pictures include the slogan "We are all
As part of the online photo campaign, which has seen hundreds of images uploaded on Facebook, women have also pictured themselves with false moustaches, in a further gesture of solidarity and to rebut the authorities’ tactic to ridicule Majid Tavakkoli. Majid Tavakkoli's whereabouts are unknown and he is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Amnesty International believes he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his peaceful expression of his right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. "The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Majid Tavakkoli and any other students detained around the 7 December demonstrations solely for the peaceful expression of their rights to freedom of expression, association or assembly," said Amnesty International's Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. Majid Tavakkoli was arrested as he left Amir Kabir University of Technology in Tehran, where he had given a speech at a student demonstration marking Student Day in Iran.
Reuters News Agency - December 23, 2009
Iranian security forces armed with
batons and tear gas are clashing with supporters of the late
dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri in two
cities, opposition websites are saying. One report said tear gas and
pepper gas were used against people who were gathering for a
Montazeri memorial service planned to take place in a mosque in the
city of Isfahan, while another said women and children were among
those beaten up.
The Associated Press - December 23, 2009
Security forces and hard-line militiamen
assaulted opposition protesters, beating men and women and firing
tear gas, as thousands gathered in a central Iranian city for a
memorial commemorating the country's most senior dissident cleric,
who died this week.The government's crackdown showed signs of moving
for the first time against clerics who support the opposition: Basij
militiamen surrounded the house and office of two prominent
religious figures, shouting slogans and breaking windows, opposition
Web sites reported. The death on Sunday of the 87-year-old Grand
Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a sharp critic of Iran's leaders,
gave a new push to opposition protests, which have endured despite a
heavy security crackdown since disputed presidential elections in
Qantara German Site - December 24, 2009
"If I didn't pursue the murder case I'd
feel I'd lost my parents all over again." Now based near Frankfurt,
the Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar has spent years campaigning to
have her parents' murderers punished. The couple were killed by the
Iranian secret service in Tehran on 21 November 1998. Now Forouhar
has been prevented from boarding her flight out of Tehran. The
authorities confiscated her passport and told her the Ministry of
Information had brought charges against her. The bone of contention
is presumably the interviews Forouhar gave over the past few weeks.
Parastou Forouhar has flown to Iran once a year since 1998, to
organise memorial events for her parents. The couple, both activists
for the Party of the Iranian Nation, were the first victims in a
series of politically motivated murders. Others killed in the autumn
of 1998 included the writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Jafar Pouyandeh.
The latter two men, who had campaigned for the authors' association
to be legalised, were found strangled in a roadside ditch, prompting
the killings to going down in Iranian history as "the chain
ABC News – December 24, 2009
A memorial service in Iran for a dissident cleric has descended into more violence after security forces began beating women and children, and arrested scores of people. His funeral has sparked a wave of protests as mourners vented their anger against the government. The death of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has drawn thousands of mourners onto Iran's streets since his funeral on Monday. In several cities police responded with force, using batons and tear gas to quell the unrest. Local media say security forces beat women and children with batons, chains and stones. Many were injured and at least 50 people were arrested. The latest crackdown comes as the main opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was sacked as president of Iran's Academy of Art.Hardliners want him arrested for his role in inciting unrest since the disputed June election.
Agance France Presse - December 26, 2009
Iranian security forces on Monday
arrested seven anti-government figures in a crackdown launched a day
after at least eight people were killed in fierce clashes in Tehran,
opposition websites said.The latest demonstrations came on Sunday
when thousands of opposition supporters poured on to streets of
Tehran and other major cities, making use of the Shiite sacred day
of Ashura to stage fresh anti-government rallies. Police fired tear
gas and used batons to disperse crowds and according to witnesses
and the opposition later resorted to live rounds, marking the
bloodiest showdown between protesters and security forces in months.
Security agents also raided the office of a women's magazine,
Irandokht, run by Karroubi's wife, on Monday and confiscated
computers, pro-reform website Advarnews said.
Reuters News Agency - December 28, 2009
Maryam Rajavi, president of the
Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said the
latest wave of protests should be backed by economic measures by
Western governments."It's time to adopt very firm, global
sanctions," she told Reuters in a telephone interview."There needs
to be a firm policy to cut economic and political relations because
the Iranian people have taken to the streets. They have to be
helped. The United States and Europe must act," she said. The NCRI
and its main faction, the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI),
have thousands of followers in Europe and the United States and it
was the first group to expose Iran's covert nuclear program in 2002.
Iran's Intelligence Ministry said members of the PMOI were among
those arrested in Sunday's protests. Rajavi said the protest
movement was now calling for the same things that her group was
aiming for: a complete removal of the government under Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "What the Iranian people want is a
total change in the regime of the Supreme Leader. They don't want
reform or a more moderate approach from the regime," she said."They
want to overthrow the regime of the mullahs, they want a secular
republic to replace religious dictatorship."
The Feminist School - January 5, 2010
The wave of arrests following the protests and violence taking place on Ashura (December 27, 2009) has included over sixteen women journalists, women’s movement and civil society activists, according to The Feminist School and Change for Equality. Among the women, activists and journalists who have been detained are Mansoureh Shojaee and Noushin Ebadi, Bahareh Hedayat and Maryam Zia, Mothers for Peace Mahin Fahimi and Zohreh Tanekaboni, Badarolssadat Mofid, Leyla Tavassoli, Nasrin Vaziri, Nilofar Hashemi Azar, Atiyeh Yousefi, Nafiseh Asghari, Mahsa Hekmat, Parisa Kakayi, Forough Mirzayie, Sara Tavsoli, and numerous others. Harassment and targeting of women activists for arrest had already intensified prior to this new wave of mass arrests, and those remaining in detention include Shiva Nazarahari, Azar Mansouri, Somayeh Rashidi, Zahra Jabari, Kobra Zaghe Doust, and Mahdiyeh Golrou. This systematic clampdown is meant to threaten and silence not only political opposition, but all voices speaking out in support of human rights and reform. WLP is gravely concerned for the health and safety of all women and civil society activists who are currently in detention, and calls for their immediate, safe release.
The Washington Post - January 11, 2010
An Iranian parliamentary probe has singled out a former Tehran prosecutor as being responsible for the violent deaths of three protesters in a now-closed prison facility after anti-government demonstrations in July. The report read in parliament on Sunday focused on Saeed Mortazavi, a former hard-line judge and prosecutor, who said the three prisoners died in Kahrizak prison because of an outbreak of meningitis. But the parliament investigation found that the prisoners, including the son of a top political aide, died because of beatings and the ignorance of security officers. "There was no instance of meningitis," the report said. Separately, an opposition Web site on Sunday about 30 "mourning mothers," with children who were killed or disappeared during the post-election unrest, were arrested in a Tehran park on Saturday and were taken to a detention center in the capital. The mothers gather in Tehran's Laleh park every Saturday, the Kaleme Web site said. The report could not be independently verified.
Reuters News Agency - January 12, 2010
People in Iran appear to suffer strokes
more often and at younger ages than those in many Western countries,
according to a new report. In a study that followed more than
450,000 Iranian adults, researchers found that 624 suffered a
first-ever stroke over one year. When the researchers adjusted the
figures to compare against a number of Western countries, they found
that Iranians' stroke rate was substantially higher. The overall
rate among Iranian men and women aged 45 to 84 was 743 strokes per
100,000 persons. That compared with rates ranging between 200 and
400 per 100,000 in most of the other countries assessed in the study
-- including the UK, Italy, Greece, Australia and Sweden.
Amnesty International and State Department Statement - January 13, 2010
The United States on Tuesday called on the Iranian authorities to release members of Iran’s so-called “Mourning Mothers” group, who were arrested during a peaceful vigil in Tehran on Saturday. “The United States urges the immediate and unconditional release of the dozens of members of the Mourning Mothers group who, according to reports, were violently dispersed and arrested by Iranian security forces,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement. The group was formed by women whose children have been killed, disappeared or detained in the unrest following the disputed presidential election in June. According to Amnesty International, 33 of the group’s members were arrested during their weekly meeting in Laleh Park in the capital, several of whom were reportedly beaten. Clinton said the women “were exercising their universal right to peaceful expression” and had “done nothing more than peacefully express their grief and seek accountability from their government.” “As a woman, a mother and a person of conscience, my heart goes out to them and their families.” “If the Iranian government wants the respect of the international community, it must respect the rights of the people. It must govern through consent, and not coercion,” said Clinton. Nine of the detained women are believed to suffer from illnesses, increasing the concern for their well-being.
VOA News - January 14, 2010
The United States strongly condemns the
decision by the Iranian government to commence an espionage trial of
7 leaders of Iran's Baha'i community. The 2 women -- Mahvash Sabet
and Fariba Kamalabadi -- and 5 men –- Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif
Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm -- have
been held in Evin prison for more than 20 months. No evidence
against them has been made public, and they have only been granted
limited access to legal counsel. The 7 have been falsely charged
with spying for Israel and of being "corrupt on earth," crimes that
are punishable by death.In a statement, U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State for Public Affairs Philip Crowley said reports indicate that
"as many as 48 Baha'is are currently imprisoned in Iran solely on
the basis of their religious beliefs. ... These persons," said Mr.
Crowley, "are entitled to due process. The right to a fair and
public hearing is embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. Iran's constitution provides the right to legal
representation in criminal cases, as does the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a party."
WFAFI News - January 15, 2010
An Iranian court in West Azarbaijan Province rejected the appel of two Azeri and upheld the sentence of death by stoning for Sarimeh Ebadi, 30, and Booali Janfeshani, 32. The two were convicted of adultery and are currently in Orumieyh prison in northwest of Iran. According to the reports from Iran, the appeals court upheld the previous sentence that was issued on 9 days ago on January 6th. Under Iran’s Islamic law, adultery is punishable by stoning.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Statement By Reporters Without Boarders
December 14, 2009
Iranian authorities have meticulously
carried out total control of news and information in the last week,
gearing up for National Students' Day on 7 December, reports
Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Recently, two prominent journalists
were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, reports the Committee to
Protect Journalists (CPJ). Others are being summoned for
interrogation or simply arrested.
Internet access has been slowed down or blocked making it impossible to surf the Internet or send emails, SMS messaging has been jammed and accreditation of foreign journalists was suspended for 72 hours, reports RSF. In addition, opposition websites have been unavailable for several days.
"This is the first time that censorship measures affecting all forms of media have been adopted so early, several days ahead of... demonstrations, with the aim of preventing the opposition's attempts to rally its supporters by such means as social networks and mobile phones," said RSF.
Thousands of students gathered at universities across Iran on 7 December, and clashes broke out between protestors and tens of thousands of Basij militiamen, according to news reports. The Basij responded with massive amounts of tear gas, electrical truncheons and stun guns to control the crowds.
Students' Day in Iran commemorates the killing of three students by the Shah of Iran at Tehran University on 7 December 1953 in the aftermath of a coup orchestrated by the U.S. and the U.K., which took down the democratically elected prime minister.
Iranian authorities continue to ruthlessly eliminate all critical voices. Farhad Sharfai, a blogger who defends women's rights, was arrested on 2 December in Khoramabad. Tahereh Riahai of the daily "Jahan Eghtesad" ("Economic World") was arrested on 1 December in Tehran.
Critical journalists Hengameh Shahidi and Saeed Laylaz were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on 30 November, reports CPJ. Shahidi was sentenced to six years and three months; and Laylaz was given nine years.
Worldwide acts of protest are planned for 12 December to express solidarity for the Iranian people's struggle for human rights and to focus the world's attention on the grave situation in Iran, according to ArtsUnited4Iran, a campaign sponsored by Human Rights Watch, ARTICLE 19, RSF and other rights groups.
A global network of activists have organised arts and culture events to take place on 12 December, reports ArtsUnited4Iran. Lectures, concerts, gallery showings, readings, round tables and film screenings, are being planned in locations worldwide.
The terrorist regime in Iran will be overthrown
Interview with Maryam Rajavi
Norwegian daily Verdens Gang,
January 4, 2010
Maryam Rajavi calls for a more firm international response to the Iranian regime; Norway must take the lead, she adds.
Maryam Rajavi is the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Iranian opposition organization. In a telephone interview with Verdens Gang, Rajavi voices optimism that the uprising will continue. The uprising will become more organized and will include students, workers and women, and the regime will be overthrown in the next year, she adds.
It will not be possible for the regime to reverse the situation. This regime has used every tool in its arsenal. They may resort to a massacre. But this will only make the situation more radical. Rajavi says that the circumstances are incredibly precarious.
She calls for help
She believes that the international community must confront the regime with firmness and impose more serious sanctions against it. The regime must be warned about the consequences of its behavior. That is how we can prevent a bloodbath in Iran. Rajavi says that Western governments can play an effective role.
In her view, any measure can lighten the load of pressure on the Iranian people and adds that people need help.
Rajavi says: I hope Norway can take on a leadership role. It is not enough for Western governments to merely declare their support. The Iranian people need this regime to be placed under serious sanctions.
Against the death penalty
Rajavi notes that the Iranian people do not approve of a religious dictatorship and seek a free election under UN auspices.
She wants an Iran that is free of nuclear weapons and rejects the death penalty.
The NCRI is an umbrella organization that includes the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Until last year, the group was listed as a terrorist organization in Europe and is still maintained on a similar listing in the US.
Rajavi has told Reuters: It is very unfortunate that Western countries use the terrorist label against the Iranian Resistance at a time when it is clear that the listing takes place at the behest of the Iranian regime.
Iran State TV Suggests Neda's Iconic Death Was 'Faked'
January 7, 2010
By Golnaz Esfandiari
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Iranian state television has made a
documentary about the death of Neda Agha Soltan, a young Iranian
woman who was shot dead during the June postelection protests in
Tehran, suggesting she was an agent of the United States and Britain
who staged her own death.
Neda's last moments were filmed on a cell phone and watched by millions of people around the world, becoming a symbol of democratic resistance to the regime.
The state-television documentary suggests the video of Neda's dying moments merely depicted her pouring blood on her own face from a special bottle she was carrying. Later, the documentary alleges that 27-year-old Neda was shot dead in the car that was taking her to a hospital.
The conspiracy theory alleged in the documentary is in line with comments by Iranian officials, who have repeatedly described Neda's death as "suspicious" and a "premeditated scenario" to defame Iran.
The state reaction was prompted by the immense impact of a grainy amateur video shot as Neda participated in a June 20 protest in Tehran.
Neda and tens of thousands of fellow opposition supporters had gathered in downtown Tehran in defiance of an official ban on the mass protests that followed the country's June 12 presidential election, which was handed to incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad by a landslide.
At least 10 people were reported killed and more than 100 were wounded that day after security forces cracked down on the protesters, but it was the unforgettable image of Neda's death that struck a chord both at home and abroad.
The video, which was posted on youTube, was watched by millions of people around the world. Within hours, Neda became an icon of a protest movement that has plunged the Islamic republic into its worse-ever crisis.
The name "Neda" has become universally recognized, as have the pictures of her that are now displayed proudly during rallies of the opposition Green Movement, whose members have vowed to keep her memory alive.
Neda's death has also proven to be a very sensitive issue for the Islamic establishment.
The state television documentary was featured in a January 5 report broadcast by PressTV, Iran television's international English-language news network.
Neda is portrayed in the documentary as a foreign agent who became the victim of a plot orchestrated by foreigners and opposition supporters.
Doctor Accused Of Conspiracy
The documentary alleges that Arash Hejazi, the writer and physician who treated Neda as she lay bleeding on a Tehran street, as well as her music teacher who was with her at the protest, were members of a team that carried out the plot.
"While Neda is [pretending] she is injured and is lying on the back seat of the car on their lap, they bring out a handgun from their pockets," the documentary's narrator says.
"A handgun that they obtained from their Western and Iranian friends to water the tree of reforms and kill people and create divisions within society. Neda, for a moment, realizes their wicked plan and struggles to escape, but they quickly shoot her from behind."
The narrator adds that this is how "deceived and deceitful" Neda was killed.
Hejazi, who has been accused by Iranian hardliners of being Neda's murderer, has denied being in the car that took her body to a Tehran hospital.
In a telephone interview with RFE/RL from Britain, where he lives, Hejazi describes the documentary as a shameful and worthless attempt to cover up the truth and place the blame for Neda's death on others.
"A young innocent woman was shot dead while protesting. Since her killing, until today, the Iranian government has been doing all it can to distance itself from it and throw the responsibility on others, instead of acting responsibly and dealing with those who are guilty," Hejazi says.
Hejazi has said he believes that Neda was shot in the chest by a member of the Basiji militia who was among the crowd of protesters.
Hejazi has claimed that the Basiji member was detained by the crowd, who took away his ID card. The identification card of the alleged shooter, with his name and picture, was posted on opposition websites.
Although Hejazi has publically identified the man as the one who was caught by the crowd and disarmed, Iranian judiciary officials have reportedly failed to launch legal action against him.
Since Neda's death some six months ago, authorities have come up with different theories about the circumstances of her death.
On January 6, Iran's ambassador to Bahrain, Hossein Amir Abdullahyan, told "The Nation" that groups from Britain and the United States infiltrated the opposition movement and carried out assassinations among its ranks.
Abdullahyan went on to allege that the groups were behind the killing of Neda -- and he didn't stop there. He also said they were responsible for the death of Ali Musavi -- the 35-year-old nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi who was killed during rallies on December 27 in which eight protesters died.
Hejazi says Tehran's stories about the circumstances of Neda's death keep changing.
"Their first reaction was that she was alive. Then they said the footage was fake. One day they said a BBC reporter killed her. Then they said it was the CIA. Then they said the [Mujahedin] Khalq Organization [MKO] was behind it. The latest is this documentary," Hejazi says.
Iranian state media have said the documentary presents "another side" of Neda's death, and challenges claims made by "Western media."
It says its findings are based on "forensic evidence and statements by security officials" that shows that Neda was not killed, as "shown by Western media."
Hejazi says Neda's death has become a thorn in the side of Iranian authorities due to the international attention it received, helping to mobilize global public opinion against the crackdown in Iran.
Neda's fiance, Caspian Makan, who was detained for a while before leaving Iran, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda this week that her image carved into her tombstone had been vandalized.
Makan accused those who arrest, torture, and kill innocent protesters of damaging her grave, concluding: "What the regime of the Islamic republic did to Neda's tombstone is like shooting her again."
Iran accuses five of warring against God
January 8, 2010
The New York Times
By Nazila Fathi
At least five protesters arrested in Iran last week during antigovernment demonstrations will be tried on charges of warring against God, which carries an automatic death sentence if they are found guilty, Iran’s judiciary said Thursday.
The severity of the charge, coming so soon after the defendants were arrested, suggests that the Islamic theocracy is stepping up its efforts to intimidate protesters to end the demonstrations that began over the disputed election results in June and have erupted periodically ever since despite a brutal crackdown.
In a statement carried by IRNA, Iran’s official news agency, the judiciary said the five would soon be tried by the Revolutionary Court on charges of Moharebeh, meaning waging war against God. The statement did not disclose their names, when they would be tried or details of accusations against them.
Tehran’s prosecutor general, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, said Sunday that the judiciary would deal with detainees arrested during the most recent protests “very severely,” the news agency ISNA reported.
Authorities have invoked the Moharebeh charge against other detainees but some courts have dismissed it, said Nasrin Sotoodeh, a lawyer in Tehran who has represented several detainees.
“What is very surprising is how the court has come up with the indictment in 10 days since the arrest of the detainees,” she said in a telephone interview.
“How was the indictment put together so quickly? When did the defendants hire or meet with their lawyer? When did the lawyer read the case?” she asked. “No sane mind can believe that all this was possible in 10 days.”
In another sign of an intensified crackdown on dissidents, a Kurdish activist, Fasih Yasamani, 28, was executed early Wednesday by hanging at the Khoy prison in western Iran, on charges of membership in a Kurdish separatist group, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. If true, he was the second Kurdish activist executed in Iran in recent months. At least 17 other activists are on death row.
Authorities have also added new charges against seven Bahai leaders detained since 2008, under which they could face execution, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported Thursday. Twelve other Bahais were detained during the mass arrests that began after the antigovernment demonstration on Dec. 27, the statement said.
Authorities have confirmed the deaths of eight protesters in Tehran during the demonstration.
A representative of the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, characterized protesters during a speech at a pro-government rally last week as “followers of the path of Satan.”
Canada slams brutal Iran
prosecutor and renews demand for Kazemi's body
By Mike Blanchfield
The Canadian Press
January 11, 2010
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon denounced a former Tehran prosecutor Monday and renewed Canada's six-year-old demand to have the body of slain Montreal photojournalist Zahra Kazemi repatriated from Iran.
Cannon's comments came in response to a recent Iranian parliamentary investigation that found ex-prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi responsible for the deaths of at least three protesters imprisoned after last summer's disputed Iranian elections.
Mortazavi has been named in a $17-million lawsuit by Kazemi's family for his role in her imprisonment, sexual assault and beating death in 2003. The Canadian government supports the suit.
"Mr. Mortazavi has displayed his disregard for the respect of human rights on several occasions, including during the detention and murder of Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi," Cannon said in a written comment Monday to The Canadian Press.
"Canada also continues to call upon Iran to conduct a credible investigation into the murder of Zahra Kazemi. The search for justice remains firmly on the agenda in Canada's relations with Iran."
Canada and Iran have downgraded their diplomatic relations, with neither country allowing a full-fledged ambassador to serve in each other's capital, in part due to the Kazemi case.
Kazemi, 54, was born in Iran and later became a Canadian citizen, settling in Montreal. In June 2003, she was arrested and imprisoned in Tehran for taking photographs of a demonstration and died 17 days later after being repeatedly beaten and sexually assaulted.
The Iranian government promptly buried her before an autopsy could be performed, pre-empting any attempt by her Canadian family to have her body returned.
In Iran, Mortazavi has earned the nickname, "butcher of the press" for his leading role in the detention and abuse of journalists, bloggers and other dissenters.
Human rights groups have for years singled out Mortazavi. The pressure grew after his roundup of hundreds of dissenters and journalists following the disputed June 12 presidential election, which spawned the largest protests since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Mazair Bahari, a Canadian journalist and filmmaker who reports for the U.S. magazine, Newsweek, was arrested in the June crackdown but was released unharmed in October.
Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said no one should be surprised that Mortazavi has been linked to more deaths of jailed dissenters.
"There consistently, in the past, has never been anything done to ensure that he is accountable and brought to justice for the many violations he has been accused of, and thus he has long enjoyed a sense of impunity and un-touchability in Iran," Neve said.
Neve said Kazemi's family is seeking justice not only for her death, but to prevent Mortazavi from hurting others in the future.
"There is something that is particularly touching and heart wrenching for the Kazemi family in this because they have been so diligent in their pursuit of justice for Zahra Kazemi and certainly have repeatedly pointed the finger at Mr. Mortazavi and the importance of him being held accountable."
Canada's diplomatic contact with Iran is limited to four subjects: human rights, Iran's nuclear program, its regional role and the Kazemi case.
Cannon said Monday that he does not want to comment specifically on the Iranian parliamentary probe into last summer's protests and arrests.
"Canada has consistently called upon Iran to respect all of its human rights obligations," Cannon added. "We have clearly noted our concerns regarding the heavy-handed crackdown by Iranian security forces on legitimate protesters and called for a free and transparent investigation into allegations of abuse following unrest."
The Desire for Freedom
By Asefeh Emami, Resident of Camp Ashraf
The Women's International Perspective
January 12, 2010
I am Hanif and just became 29,
No no! Don’t look down here, you won't find me!
I am the one who’s looking at you from the blue sky
I am a shining star in the darkest night
And I am longing for the sun rise
My heart is still burning from hotness of the bullet,
The bullet which dressed me in red of my blood.
I wonder, desiring for freedom is a crime today
So I’m the biggest criminal!
The darkness saw the desire flame in my eyes
Now I am the star, watching you from the above
The situation in Iran is of concern to everyone. We are witnessing everyday the savagery that ended with at least 20 killed by shooting and the running over of the people by police vehicles. This was due to the nation-wide uprising that started following Iran's sham election and came to a turning point in the day of Ashura against the dictators ruling in Iran and will never end until freedom and peace reach Iran.
Me and my brother, Hanif. I and my brother Hanif, who was 29 years old when he was killed only because he was seeking freedom in Iran, had a great life in Sweden and we didn’t have a clue that one day I would say farewell to him forever. I used to study in the field of society research and Hanif used to study medical care. We had the best life and all the joy and happiness, but we decided to make a change for the future of Iran and bring back the freedom that was stolen by the Iranian regime. For this reason I am now living in my second home in Camp Ashraf located north of Baghdad.
Today I am witnessing in Iran the same oppression that occurred in the past in Ashraf, which means shooting straight at my fellow residents, running over them with military vehicles, beating them with batons and exploding tear gases. I was injured in the face during the attack on July 28 by the Iraqi forces and my brother Hanif got shot in his heart. What was his crime? Did they kill him just because he did not want to leave his home? Or, because he was seeking freedom for Iran?
Today we see the main reason that the Iranian regime has an open hand in killing, executing, and oppressing us. It is because of the western countries' appeasing policy towards the Iranian regime and their silence about the future threats to Ashraf residents as opponents to the regime in Iran. The mullah's excuse to oppress us is that the PMOI members have been designated as terrorists in the US FTO list. This designation is only to appease the mullahs in Iran. We should not forget that the PMOI was removed from the black list in Europe and England after seven European court rulings. This clearly shows that the designation of the PMOI by the US State Department, which has yet to be removed is an injustice and is the outcome of collusion with the Iranian mullahs.
The time has come to make a change in Iran. The only way to end the dictatorship in Iran is to support the Iranian people's uprising. The US should stop its appeasing policy towards the mullahs. The name of the main opposition in Iran which is the Mojahedin must be removed from the US list so there would be no more excuses for the Iranian regime to oppress and kill its opposition inside and outside of Iran. My younger brother Hanif was killed because of the terrorist label against the PMOI by the US that has justified his killing without any punishment.
Obama's Iran policy doesn't have
By Lord Peter Archer and R. Bruce McColm
The Washington Times
January 12, 2010
On Dec. 27, during one of Shi'ite
Islam's holiest occasions, Ashura, millions of Iranians poured out
onto the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, defying
warnings and a brutal crackdown by the security forces, to call for
the overthrow of the now increasingly vulnerable theocracy. Who
could have thought that a theocratic regime like Tehran would murder
its opponents in bright daylight on such a day? Welcome to the Iran
The remarkable developments on Ashura showed that the harsh measures taken by the authorities during the previous protests have done little to intimidate the millions whose cry is freedom and who appear to be led by Iranian women. Their message to the outside world has been loud and clear: 'We will not give in to the regime that easily, and neither should you.'
The question now is what Europe and the United States are going to do?
Let's face it: the choice of the international community on both sides of the Atlantic on Iran is clear: To stand with the oppressors or the oppressed.
That being said, there should be no doubt that Europe and United States are entitled to march to the tune of their own interests. Last year at this time, the international community was eagerly hoping for a new U.S. president. His message was engagement.
President Obama genuinely hoped that a strong diplomatic overture to the Iranian leadership could, in the end, convince them to give up their nuclear weapons program. America's European allies clung on to that hope for a long time. But, not only has Iran refused to desist, it has now taken steps to expand its program tenfold.
Why? The answer lies not so much in our intentions but in the Iranian leadership's strategic calculations inspired by profound domestic threats. Recently, in an unprecedented act, young Iranians burned photos of the Iranian regime's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and walked on his life-sized portraits in Tehran. "Death to Khamenei" (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) is now the leading slogan in Iranian streets, as the activists are protesting against the entire system, not only the fraudulent election. Such actions brought the spontaneous street protesters more in line with the main Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI), which had long questioned the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic.
That is why as Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei desperately needs nuclear weapons to guarantee the regime's permanence in the face of mounting protests.
To achieve that goal, the ayatollah uses negotiations to buy more time for his nuclear program. Clearly, further concessions to Tehran would not only be construed as weakness by Iran's rulers but would also empower them. It would enable them to fund their terrorist activities, speed up their nuclear program, and consolidate power by cracking down on dissent. This is extremely perilous for the interests of America and its allies on the other side of the Atlantic.
Nevertheless the United States cannot engage in a military conflict with Iran, the risks of which would far outweigh its benefits. Instead, America and Europe should reach out to millions of Iranians who seek democratic change, a nuclear-free Iran, and a peaceful nation. This is where our interests converge with the Iranian people's democratic aspirations.
As a practical step on this track, the United States should lift the terrorist designation of Iran's principle opposition group. The Mujahedin-e Khalq was listed by the State Department as a "terrorist" entity in 1997 as a goodwill gesture to the Iranian government. Britain and Europe followed America's lead in listing the PMOI but were forced to reverse their decisions on the orders of their highest courts. These courts reviewed all the evidence pertaining to the PMOI and concluded that there is not a shred of evidence linking the organization to terrorism.
The terrorist designation of the group, however, was incredibly controversial to the extent that in the final days of the Bush administration, even the State Department's top counterterrorism official, Dell Dailey, strongly advised the department to undo the blunder. He was overruled by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, due to political considerations.
There is also a humanitarian issue involved here. Both Iran and Iraq have used the PMOI's terrorist designation to crack down on its members and sympathizers. At least 11 were killed last summer when Iraqi security forces launched an attack on Camp Ashraf, PMOI's headquarters in Iraq. And in early January, the Iranian judiciary announced that it has charged five protesters whom it described as members of "the counterrevolutionary terrorist group," the PMOI, with Moharebeh (waging war on God), for taking part in antigovernment demonstrations on Ashura. Moharebeh, carries the automatic death penalty.
On Dec. 27, faced with chants of "death to the dictator," Iranian security forces and government officials retorted by shouting "death to the hypocrites," a prerogative term the regime uses to undermine the PMOI in Iran. If President Obama were to decide to issue an executive order to remove the unwarranted terrorist label from the PMOI, he would certainly grab Tehran's attention while demonstrating to the Iranian people that America would no longer block Iranian opposition groups from working to bring democracy to Iran. But, time is running out and Washington's options are severely limited.
Seeing a democratic Iran could and should be our New Year resolution.
Lord Peter Archer is former solicitor general of the United Kingdom. R. Bruce McColm is the president of the Institute for Democratic Strategies (IDS) and former executive director of Freedom House.
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Volume 68, January 15, 2010
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