February 15, 2010 VOLUME 69
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
February 11th marked the 31st anniversary of the 1979 revolution in
Iran and once again brave Iranians took to the streets to expose the
weakness of the fundamentalist regime in power. It is, however,
disheartening to see some analysts and shallow media reports
characterize what took place as a setback. Counting heads of
pro-regime vs. opposition in the streets of Tehran is not the
correct yardstick to measure the strength of the regime or the
opposition. The protests on February 11, 2010 reached a significant
milestone for the opposition movement in Iran because despite the
regimes full-fledged preparation and deployment of all its
suppressive forces, people still took to the streets. As reported by
the New York Times "Irans autocrats were determined to use the
anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution to show that they are
still in control and have the support of Irans people. Their
ruthless campaign of violence and intimidation against a largely
peaceful and extremely courageous opposition proves just the
opposite. Opposition supporters still showed up, even in
conservative cities around the country. And they did take risks. "
The yardstick in measuring the strength of the movement in Iran is seen in the following factors: - New methods and tactics. Protesters knew how the regime has deployed its ruthless thugs to kill and squash all and any signs of protest. Therefore, the creative approach of protesting in buses and subway stations where the minimum security forces were overtaken by the protesters is a sign of the evolving and growing movement. As reported by AP newswire The female university student said she headed to join Thursday's protest carrying a poster of Khamenei, hoping to get through security by passing as a government supporter long enough to join other demonstrators."
- Targeted acts of protests: the fact that people are pulling down Khamenei and Khomeini's pictures shows the movement has radicalized and grown in its methods.
- Sharp slogans targeting Khamenei that said we did not lose our loved ones to bow to a murderous leader.
- Avoiding arrests by gathering in one location and retaining an organized approach for maximum presence throughout the city.
- Dispatching the news to outside of Iran and vowing to regroup and advance methods and tactics in future protests. There is already a protest scheduled for Fire festivities one week prior to the Iranian New Year.
- Presenting a clear testament to the leadership skills of the candidates who lost to Ahmadinejad and are known as opposition leader. As reported by AP newswire, there is a need for a strong charismatic leader One protester pointed to how Karroubi supporters gathered in one location, Mousavi's in another, making them easier to disperse.
The true yardstick of measuring the regimes fear and growing weakness is seen in:
-The need to bring people from nearby towns and villages with the promise of food and sweets. Some of those buses were blocked by opposition protesters and turned back. As reported by CNN pro-government folks were complaining about not receiving food and sweets saying the government promised them food.
- As reported by The Guardian, there is a continued blockage of foreign media
- The most brutal forms of violence and force used against opposition protestors as reported by CNN. The AP newswire reported on an eyewitness account on how a woman saw one young man, about 17 years old, being beaten by security agents, who "put his head on the curb of a gutter and threatened to knock it off. ... Protesters managed to rescue him."
- Khameinis personal thank you message to his repressive forces. As reported by the AP newswire: An array of riot police, undercover security agents and hard-line militiamen some on motorcycles fanned out across Tehran in what appeared to be the largest and most strategic deployment The report quoted a female opposition protester by saying "For every one of us, there were at least two security men: plainclothes, intelligence, Revolutionary Guards, anti- riot police, masked men and motorcyclists driving right among people, savagely revving their engines and shouting, 'Haydar, Haydar,'" a reference to the Shiite saint Ali she said.
To be clear, Iranians have no illusions on what it takes to bring this regime down. It will take more than mass street protests, facebook messages and twitter. The price is high but the determination and commitment to see this through is unquestionable. One hopes the world community recognizes the brave face of opposition in Iran which will inevitable evolve to a liberation movement.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Canada Free Press – January 16, 2010
Ms. Shirin Alan Hovi who is currently in custody in the Evin Prison has been sentenced to death. Ms. Alan Hovi has been convicted of being a Mohareb (enemy of God) for working with a Kurdish opposition group. She was sentenced to death last week by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Ms. Alan Hovi is 28 years old, resident of the city of Maku in the Western Azarbaijan Province. She was arrested one year and six months ago. Previously it had been reported that most likely Ms. Alan Hovi would be sentenced to life in prison, however her lawyer has confirmed that she has been sentenced to death. This sentence can be appealed. Currently there are at least 17 other Kurdish activists who are on death row.
Gulf News – January 17, 2010
Iran today is cracking down on e-mails and cell phones to prevent the opposition, mainly young, tech-savvy men and women, from organising rallies and spreading anti-government messages. It is foolish to think that restricting the use of the internet and mobile phones will deter the opposition. Life will find a way, will it not? The issue is the roots of the opposition cause. The regime has probably failed to evolve to accommodate the aspirations of the great Iranian people. There has to be a major rethink of the way the country is being handled by an elite few. Stopping e-mails, cutting off communication lines and even killing several protesters will not do the regime any good.
The National – January 17, 2010
Iranian security forces recently beat and arrested some 30 “mourning mothers” holding a peaceful weekly vigil in a Tehran park to demand news of their sons and daughters who had been killed, disappeared or detained in the unrest following June’s disputed presidential election. The shocking scene encapsulated an acute quandary for the regime. It has a tight grip on the levers of repression – but one of the most potent threats it faces comes from unarmed women protesting peacefully. The authorities feared female activism long before the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, viewing women’s demands for equal rights as inseparable from a wider drive for greater democracy. As a social movement, women’s groups have been the most organised and vibrant movement in Iran for at least five years. The regime fears their proven ability – as it does that of university student movements – to galvanise and appeal to the country’s youth with a nationwide network of activists. That is precisely what happened after Mr Ahmadinejad’s election. The women’s movement and the opposition are now inextricably enmeshed.
Agance France Presse – January 18, 2010
An Iranian prosecutor called Monday for the death penalty against five protesters arrested during demonstrations staged as Shiites participated in solemn Ashura rituals last month, state media reported.The five were accused of having ties with Iran's exiled and armed opposition, the People's Muhajideen, and charged with "Moharebeh" or being enemies of God, which is punishable by death under Iran's Sharia-based law. "I ask the court for maximum punishment against these people based on the investigations, the defendants' confessions and (their) criminal acts on Ashura," the prosecution said in the indictment carried by the media. It said the unidentified group had been trained in Mujahideen's "camp in Iraq and European countries to carry out terror and rioting." Two women, draped in print chadors worn by prisoners, were shown by state television among the group of defendants sitting in the front row of the court room during Monday's proceedings. Eight people were killed and hundreds were arrested on December 27 as opposition protesters took to the streets on Ashura and clashed heavily with security forces. Iran hardliners were infuriated but what they saw as the "desecration" of Ashura by protesters and called for their severe punishment. Iranian authorities arrested hundreds of protesters on Ashura and vowed to bring offenders to justice speedily. Since protests broke out in June following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, thousands of people have been detained for inciting or participating in the demonstrations. Dozens, including prominent reformists and journalists backing the opposition, have been convicted and handed stiff jail terms while five have been sentenced to death.
NCRI Website – January 18, 2010
The clerical regime’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tried to dress its medieval concept of forced veiling as “national attire” in remarks that smacked of absurdity and demagoguery. During a ridiculous show entitled “The Ceremony for National Registration of the Chador as the Veil of Iranian Ethnicities,” Ahmadinejad tried to amass a series of ludicrous statements and expressions like “the preference to veil oneself,” and “Iranian men and women have covered themselves throughout history,” and “chador is a full attire,” to describe the forced and suppressive veiling imposed by the mullahs against Iranian women as “the veil of Iranian ethnicities” and a “moral heritage.” He also manufactured bizarre historical falsities like, “it has been discovered in three thousand and several hundred year old relics that chador was among the clothes that Iranian women wore at the time.” He then proceeded to demand for the “chador veil” to be promoted in the rest of the world (State-run Fars news agency, January 16, 2010). The mullahs’ president, who drew on the vulgar and repulsive cultural lexicon of the clerical regime regarding women, once again insisted on gender apartheid in the clerical regime and said, “In contrast to those in the West, we will never say that men and women are alike.”
Agance France Presse – January 19, 2010
More than 40 people have been arrested on the basis of tip-offs after police circulated photographs of demonstrators at a December rally which turned deadly, a police website reported on Tuesday. But the reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami defended the protesters and condemned the new wave of arrests of government critics launched after the bloody protests during the Shiite mourning rituals of Ashura on December 27. In a rare measure police publicised photographs of the protesters encouraging people to help with their arrest. "After the publication of pictures of Ashura day rioters on the police website and in the police special edition ... more than 40 elements of sedition were identified and arrested with the cooperation of noble Iranians," the website said. The special edition of a police publication, which came out on January 13, ran photographs taken on the Ashura day of anti-government demonstrators. The eight-page publication appealed for the general public to come forward with "information and documents regarding the photographs," providing a phone number for informants. It ran close-up shots of men and women on the capital's streets, with the faces of wanted participants in the rally circled in red. Some of the pictures show a police car being attacked and stone-throwers. Eight people were killed as clashes erupted between security forces and opposition supporters on the day.
WFAFI News – January 25, 2010
Both Karoubi and Khatami have issued statements accepting Ahamadinejad's presidency. Karoubi, through his son announced his decision through his son whose comments was published in major media. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: “Today an Iranian news website, "Khabaronline," published parts of a letter said to be by opposition figure [Karoubi] and former President Mohammad Khatami addressed to Supreme Leader Khamenei in which Khatami reportedly says reformists recognize the Iranian government. "We recognize the current government, but extremism should be stopped," the letter says.”
WFAFI News – January 27, 2010
[Translated from Farsi]
Gisso Shakeri, based in Europe, is an Iranian female artist and singer who has actively criticized Tehran’s regime for its violence against women and human rights abuses. She issued a statement regarding the recent propaganda campaign by the Iranian regime to lure the European and American artists in to their “Music and Performance” concerts in Europe. In her statement Ms. Shakeri address the Iranian regime saying “are you inviting people to performance and dance over the blood of those who you have killed in recent months? You kill our youth and vanish the mother’s hope for their children. You are the enemy of peace and humanity….you are the most backwarded and inhumane regime…do not attempt to white wash it with your hollow gestures and concerts. Your prisons are full of young people. There are thousands of mothers and fathers who are mourning the loss of their child, have no shame?...you can not fool the world with your free concerts. With all the crimes and atrocities, you can no longer fool the world…just know that these are you last concerts as the music for your regime’s funeral has began in the streets of Iranian cities…”
Amnesty International – January 28, 2010
Amnesty International has condemned the execution of two men arrested during protests that followed Iran's disputed presidential election last year. Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour were hanged on Thursday after being convicted in unfair trials of “enmity against God” and being members of Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran (API), a banned group which advocates the restoration of an Iranian monarchy. They are the first executions known to be related to the post-election violence that erupted across Iran in June and has continued since. "These shocking executions show that the Iranian authorities will stop at nothing to stamp out the peaceful protests that persist since the election," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.
Iran Human Rights Website – February 3, 2010
At 4 a.m. today, plainclothes officers stormed the homes of Sahar Ghassem Nejad and Nazanin Hassan Nia, who belong to families of those executed in the 1980’s, arresting both women. After searching the premises, the officers who had warrants from the Prosecutor’s office took computers and personal items of the two individuals and transferred the women to an unknown location. The only explanation the officers gave families of the arrested individuals was that if they don’t hear anything by Thursday, they can go to the Revolutionary Courts. Sahar and Nazanin did not belong to any political party or group. Sahar Ghassem Nia was born in 1982 and her father was one of those who were executed in that decade in Iran. Nazanin’s aunt was also in prison for some time in the 1980’s. Her arrest took place a few weeks after the arrests of Omid Montazeri and his mother, Mahin Fahimi. Mr. Montazeri’s father was also executed in 1988, along with a large group of political prisoners. Iranian news web sites report on the arrest of Alireza Saghafi, member of the Iranian Writers’ Association, and a labor rights defender. This journalist and author was arrested on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, after appearing at the Ministry of Information. After Reza Khandan, he is the second member of the Iranian Writers’ Association to be arrested over the past few days. Previously, Alireza Saghafi and his son, Mohsen Saghafi, had been arrested during the International Labor Day ceremonies at Park Laleh in Tehran, and released on bail after a few weeks.
RFE/RL – February 3, 2010
Iranian human rights activist Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi was arrested today, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. A friend and colleague of Kermanshahi told Radio Farda that he was arrested this morning at his home in the western city of Kermanshah by security forces, who took away his computer and other personal belongings.The reason for his arrest is not clear. Kermanshahi, 25, is a member of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan. He is also belongs to the One Million Signatures Campaign that seeks to gather public support against laws that discriminate against women. Kermanshahi had been active in reporting about human rights abuses and arrests in the Kurdish areas of Iran.
The Times – February 5, 2010
A British national has begged forgiveness from an Iranian revolutionary court after being put on trial in Tehran for subversive activities, Iranian websites reported yesterday. An unidentified woman, 24, the daughter of a British mother and Iranian father, has admitted some of the charges against her including encouraging and attending demonstrations, consorting with foreigners and drinking alcohol, government and opposition websites said. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has asked the Iranian Government for clarification of the reports, and that the woman be given consular assistance if true. That is unlikely to be granted, though, because Iran does not recognise dual nationality. The woman, who was born in Manchester but is believed to teach English in Tehran, is one of sixteen opposition supporters who went on trial late last week for allegedly plotting against the regime and conspiring with Iran’s foreign enemies. The Jaras opposition website said that she had been charged with espionage, undermining state security by encouraging anti-government demonstrations, disseminating propaganda against the Islamic Republic, insulting its leaders, using a satellite dish and having immoral relations with employees of the German Embassy. The regime is handing out draconian penalties in an attempt to deter a demonstration scheduled for the anniversary of the Iranian revolution next Thursday.
Amnesty International – February 10, 2010
Amnesty International has urged the Iranian authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations on Thursday, the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in the country, after warnings from police and judiciary that anti-government protests will not be tolerated. The call comes amid a wave of arrests, unfair trials and executions of those involved in earlier protests against the government concerning the disputed presidential election of June 2009 and the authorities' violent response
The Associated Press – February 10, 2010
The United States hopes a U.N. debate next week on Iran will shine a light on Tehran's mistreatment of prisoners, its repression of protesters and its imprisonment of journalists and intellectuals, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. John Limbert, who was among dozens of Americans held captive in Iran in 1979-1980, said he wants to hear honest credible discussions about Iran's human rights situation even if the U.N. Human Rights Council holding the debate has a spotty record in that regard. The four-year-old U.N. body has been criticized for failing to address some of the world's most serious rights violations, but Limbert, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, said Monday's hearing offers the world a valuable forum.
People in Iran have been "gassed, arrested, beaten up and shot" since its disputed presidential election in June, Limbert told reporters. "The U.S. and the international community can bear witness to what is going on there, and can speak a simple truth." He said the U.S. was very concerned about Iran's people, and said their plight had grown worse since the June election, but he declined to speculate on the level of fraud in the vote that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Limbert said recent rights abuses come on top of Iran's long-standing problems linked to the treatment of detainees, rights for religious minorities, limits on freedom of speech and assembly, and the arbitrary arrest of journalists, bloggers and filmmakers.
NCRI Website – February 11, 2010
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, congratulated the Iranian people for the triumph of their spirited resolve over the clerical regime’s suppressive preparations and on the occasion of today’s uprising, adding: This glorious resolve for victory will lead to the realization of freedom and democracy in Iran. She lauded the courageous Iranian women, men and youths who have taken to the streets and rattled the foundations of the clerical regime with their chants of “Down with dictator” and “down with Khamenei.” She said: Today, you managed to liberate the occasion of the anniversary of the anti-monarchical revolution from the clutches of the clerical regime, and you will undoubtedly liberate Iran from their occupation as well. The uprising has rang the death knell for the religious fascism ruling Iran and shows that the days of the regime are numbered.Mrs. Rajavi added that the nationwide uprising of the Iranian people sends a clear and blatant message to the international community, and especially the European Union and the United States, that the regime is condemned to fall and any economic or political investments on it would be doomed to fail.
The Guardian (UK) – February 11, 2010
Iran has done all it can to limit coverage of celebrations of this year's anniversary of the Islamic revolution, using lessons learned over the past eight months of sporadic protests since the disputed presidential election. Western journalists, including from the Guardian, have largely been denied visas to enter the country. The internet and phones have been interfered with. The few foreign correspondents resident in Tehran operate under severe restrictions. Iranian officials claim that more than 200 foreign media were "cleared" to cover the anniversary, but minders from the ministry of Islamic guidance escorted selected journalists to today's main official rally at Tehran's Azadi square and warned them not to report opposition protests.
BBC News – February 12, 2010
Italian photographer Pietro Masturzo has won the top prize in this years World Press Photo Award. His photograph shows women shouting on a rooftop in protest at the presidential election results in Tehran, Iran in 2009.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Iranian women activits list their own demands
Source: Radio Zamaneh
January 18, 2010
A group of Iranian women activists issued a statement listing their own solutions to the current crisis in the country. They maintain that the proposals put forth by opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi "neglect" the demands of women. Some of the jailed women activists: Iran Arrest of 19 Activists from the Women's Movement, Women Journalists and Civil Activists Iranian women have been a very key part of the opposition movement
The statement lists: "annulment of all discriminatory and anti-women laws, recognition of women's right to their body and mind, ending violence against women and prosecution of all perpetrators of the crimes committed in the past thirty years" as solutions for exiting the current crisis.
They add that women's issues are a major part of the current crisis and "no solution will be effective" without recognizing and trying to resolve these issues.
The statement also supports general demands such as "freedom of thought, speech and assembly." While calling for an end to torture and the death penalty, they also express their support for "the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners."
Some of these demands are similar to those included in the proposals by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
The statement emphasizes that the demand of the women community "is not changing the president or limiting the power of the leadership; but rather the realization of fundamental and structural changes."
Shadi Amin, Golrokh Jahanguiri, Fariba Davoudi, Shadi Sadr, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Shahla Abghari are amongst the signatories of this statement.
Women have played a major role in the recent protests in Iran and scores of women's activists have been detained and imprisoned for their participation in the protests.
In November, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi condemned the violent treatment of women by government forces during the protests.
Related News – Translated by WFAFI News Services
Iranian women publish their demands in a five-point plan:
1. Abolishment of all discriminatory laws against women including divorce rights, marriage age, polygamy, inheritance laws, testimony, etc…
2. Recognition of women over her choice of clothing and body. This include freedom of wearing or not wearing the veil, and, abortion rights.
3. Abolishment of all forms of violence against women both at home and in publish, this includes abolishment of honor-killing
4. Separation of church and state
5. Prosecution of all the officials engaged in crimes against humanity and women in the past three decades.
Iranian Women Fight Polygamy Proposal
By Sahar Sepehri
February 1, 2010
Global Arab Network
Iranian women’s groups and other rights organisations are fighting a
much discussed proposed law which they say would encourage polygamy
by allowing a man to take a second wife without the permission of
the first in certain circumstances.
The proposal comes at a time when the country has been rocked by protests, in which women have played a major part, following the disputed re-election last June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Although Sharia law permits a man to take up to four wives, polygamy is not widely practiced in Iran and women have enjoyed greater rights and freedoms than in some other Muslim countries. At present, an Iranian man needs his first wife’s permission to take a second.
A so-called Family Protection Law, proposed by the government in 2008, said a man could marry a second wife on condition only that he could afford both wives financially. The parliament dropped that clause following a wave of opposition from women but is now reconsidering a different version of the provision.
The spokesman for the parliament’s Judicial and Legal Commission, Amir Hussein Rahimi, announced recently that the commission had now approved article 23 of the proposed Family Protection Law that said, “A man can marry a second wife under ten conditions.”
The new version still requires the first wife to give permission, though controversially this would not be required under certain conditions, such as if she is mentally ill, or suffers from infertility, a chronic medical condition or drug addiction, in which case the husband can marry another woman. Also if the first wife does not cooperate sexually, the husband can take another wife.
The change is being promoted by conservative members of the parliament as a move that supports Islamic law. A leading conservative deputy, Ali Motahari, said in parliament last year, “Polygamy is Islam’s honour.”
Iranian women still oppose the legalisation of polygamy, saying it weakens their role and status at home and in society. Shahla Ezazi, professor of sociology at Allameh Tabatabai University, conducted a survey in 2008 which showed that 96 per cent of Iranian women do not approve of allowing a man to take a rival wife.
The original plan was dropped after a group of intellectuals, religious, social and human rights activists created a movement to voice their opposition to the law. In September 2008, a group of 50 well-known women, including poet Simin Behbahani, politician Azam Taleghani and lawyer and Noble prize winner Shirin Ebadi, met representatives from the parliament to express their concerns about what they called “an anti-family protection law”.
Islamic organisations such as the Zeinab Association and the Women’s Organisation of the Islamic Revolution also supported the movement. In addition, organisations such as the One Million Signatures campaign, which opposes discrimination against women, played a significant role in mobilising public opinion.
The law was also controversial among government officials and several reformists protested against it openly. Iran’s former president, Mohammad Khatami, called it “persecution”. Even a leading cleric, Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, stated, “If the first wife does not permit her husband to take another wife, the marriage will not be legitimate, even if a man can support both wives financially.”
Nevertheless, the speaker of the parliament, Ali Larijani, has declared that it will consider a slightly amended version of the controversial article.
A lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, “When a government imprisons the women who ask for a change of discriminatory laws, and it persistently proposes a law that encourages men to marry a second wife, it is only natural that women don’t trust such a government.”
A young member of the Centre for Iranian Women, Taraneh Bani Yaghoub, said, “The women’s movement will not remain quiet.”
Iran’s first law that recognised polygamy according to Islamic Sharia law was passed when Reza Shah, who ruled between 1925 and 1941, was in power. In 1970, women activists demanded the secular government of Mohammad Reza Shah outlaw polygamy but despite the government’s positive reaction to their demand, clerics prevented it. In 1975, an alternative was adopted that polygamy was permitted under certain conditions, such as obtaining the first wife’s permission.
Much has changed in Iran since the 1976, when only 36 per cent of women were literate. Now, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, 80 per cent of women are educated, and almost 1.6 million are university students – half the total and compared to 46,000 in 1976. Women’s education has also brought about a drastic change in their demographic behaviour. A woman’s average age on marriage is 24 while in 1976 it was 18 and the birth rate has dropped by one third compared to 30 years ago.
In addition, despite government restrictions on women, the number of female professionals has increased at around six per cent a year, so that about 2.5 million women were working in 2006, according to official statistics. A large group of educated women – scientists, doctors, academics, writers, artists, cinematographers, lawyers – has shaped today’s Iranian society. For years, these women have demanded legal and social rights and equal treatment with men. They have resisted any law that weakens their rights or degrades their position in society.
They say the proposed new law on polygamy is intolerable, also in the light of other laws on, for instance, divorce, fixed-term marriage contracts for men (or Sighehs), and child custody. Under Iranian divorce law, men can split from their wives under any circumstance, whereas women must have a “valid justification” such as the man’s addiction to drugs. Married men can have as many Sighehs as they wish, whereas women are stoned to death if they have an extramarital affair. In most cases, men also get custody of the children.
While women are angry with the proposed new law, they have also been disappointed by the reaction of key figures of the opposition movement. A recent statement signed by a group of women activists accused defeated presidential contenders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi of ignoring women’s rights and even their existence in their political manifestos. “We believe that women’s issues are a major part of the current crisis and no solution will be achieved unless this issue is included,” they said.
Shiva Nazarahari’s Mother: “Release My Daughter, She is Innocent!”
February 4, 2010
Iran Human Rights Website
Shahrzad Kariman, mother of imprisoned human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari who was arrested on December 20, 2009, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that her daughter’s activities in Committee of Human Rights Reporters was completely legal and charges such as “association with MKO” are completely groundless. Referring to Shiva’s ailing health she said: “Shiva continues to remain in solitary confinement since the day she was arrested. I have not heard anything from her for the past ten days and I don’t know whether she is well or not. Before she was imprisoned, she had chest pains and her treatment was incomplete. We were going to take her in for treatment for her heart and for EKG’s when she was arrested and we couldn’t go. She has not called me over the past ten days and when we went to visit with her today, we were not allowed to see her.”
Referring to the 2009 death of Omid Reza Mirsayyafi at Evin Prison, she expressed her concern about her daughter’s health and talking about Shiva Nazar Ahari’s activities, and said: “The Committee for Human Rights Reporters Web site was established in 2006 by individuals most of whom are in prison now. This is a completely independent Web site and is not related to any group or party and its only mission is dissemination of information. Wherever an individual’s rights are violated, these reporters write about it. Two years ago, during the crackdown on street thugs, they strongly reported on the Kahrizak Detention Center, but nobody paid any attention to it; until after elections when the atrocities took place in Kahrizak. All the site’s activities, even the software purchased for managing the Web site, are in Iran and Iranian. The team have started and now maintain this Web site and collect and report their news inside Iran. This Web site is not supported by anyone, anywhere else. Even so, some of the reporters now are living in hiding, because they are being pursued.
Nazar Ahari’s mother denied the charges made against her daughter and other members of this human rights defenders’ group, tying them to groups outside Iran. She said: “I consider all these charges baseless, just like the baseless charges made against many other people, because nothing illegal was taking place. In our Constitution, dissemination of information, such as defending the rights of minorities, is not considered a crime. Minorities are recognized in our Constitution, therefore disseminating information about them cannot be a crime. Defending women’s rights is not a crime. Defending children’s rights is not a crime. If they are stoning someone somewhere, just as several stoning sentences were overturned during Mr. Shahroudi’s term as Head of Judiciary, talking about it is not a crime. When they can’t find any crimes, they feel they have to relate them to a group or organization which no longer has a standing in Iranian society, a group which is really dead. I don’t understand why they feel compelled to revive a dead organization without any public support base. I don’t understand what the authorities intend to achieve. I am baffled. I was closely familiar with the Committee’s work and my daughter’s activities. I never saw anything against the Iranian Constitution in their disseminated information and their statements. What is the crime according to the gentlemen, I do not know. If you know, tell me, too.”
She posed some requests from Iranian authorities and those responsible for Nazar Ahahri’s file: “My request is that authorities behave according to our Constitution. I don’t want discriminatory or illegal behavior. It is true that she is now a prisoner, but a prisoner has rights, too. When I went to the Prosecutor’s Office, the Prosecutor said that my daughter can have one phone call and one visit per week. But, unfortunately, this has not happened and the authorities act arbitrarily. On the weeks when they want to hurt a family, they inform them that they cannot have a visit or a telephone call. My daughter has been in solitary confinement for 40 days. What is her crime? Is working in the human rights field such a bad thing that she has had to stay in solitary confinement for 40 days? I want the authorities to hear our voices. I would very much like for my voice to be heard through the Iranian state radio and television, I mean the National TV. But, unfortunately, nobody hears our screams and nobody asks us what our pain is. When we go to see the Prosecutor, he won’t let us talk, even though they have a pleasant reception. What’s the use, though? It wasn’t an insulting reception but they wouldn’t let me talk, either. He only said what he wanted to say and informed me that their experts have said that this Web site is affiliated with MKO. We listened to all of this, but we couldn’t get two words in to the Prosecutor, to defend ourselves, and to say that none of this is true. They say: ‘You don’t know, we know better than you.’ That’s it. I wish they would hear our words and pay attention to our pain. When we go there, they shouldn’t treat us like we have leprosy. We love our children, too. Just like they love their children and they want them to sleep in their home at night; we want our children to sleep in our homes at night, too.”
Shiva Nazar Ahari is a human rights activist, Spokesperson for Committee for Human Rights Reporters, child labor activist, member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, journalist, blogger, and university student deprived of the right to education. She was arrested by security forces in her office during the post-elections unrest on Sunday, June 14, 2009. She was released on a $200,000 bail on September 23, 2009. She was arrested again on December 20, 2009 as she was on her way to Qom to attend Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral procession, along with two other members of the Committee, Kouhyar Goudarzi and Saeed Haeri, in Tehran’s Enghelab Square. She went on a hunger strike from the moment she was detained. Her health deteriorated quickly thereafter and she was transferred to Evin Prison’s clinic. She is now in Ward 209 of Evin Prison. She has not yet had her trial for her June arrest and it appears that her new arrest is an attempt at keeping her from her human rights work until her court has been held and her sentence has been issued. She is a “Starred” student, deprived from education, who has been preparing news and reports about violations of human rights of political prisoners, women, and children for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Nazar Ahari had been arrested another time in August 2005 during a gathering of families of political prisoners in front of UN offices in Tehran and was subsequently sentenced to a year’s suspended imprisonment.
Mourning Mothers: “Stop the executions.”
Iran Human Rights Website
February 6, 2010
Mourning Mothers, a group of wives and mothers who have lost their spouses or children during the post-elections protests or whose spouses or children are currently in prison, have issued a statement, objecting to executions of political protesters and execution sentences for several political prisoners, demanding revocation of death sentences for political prisoners. They have issued a warning to Islamic Republic of Iran: “Don’t allow a repeat of the 1980’s catastrophe.” They are referencing mass executions of political dissidents in 1988 during which it is said thousands were executed in Islamic Republic prisons. Islamic Republic authorities have continually maintained silence on these executions.
Mourning Mothers have also demanded release of “prisoners of conscience,” and trials of “those who were responsible for and who ordered their children’s murders.” The statement adds: “We, the Mourning Mothers, who have gathered spontaneously at Laleh Park, other parks, and public buildings over the past seven months to condemn the murders and arrests and demanding an end to these inhumane and illegal actions, are facing our own children’s executions today.” “Who has subjected the mothers to this gradual death, mourning our loved ones?…Should our children’s participation in elections lead to their arrest, torture, rape, murder, and execution?”
According to Mourning Mothers, if such violence against Iranian youth continues, public protests will also increase.
On January 9, 2010, thirty Mourning Mothers who had gathered at Laleh Park were arrested by security forces. The arrests brought widespread condemnation of Iranian government’s opposition and critical political and human rights organizations.
Currently, many post-elections detainees, especially journalists and student activists, are spending time in prisons on charges of heretics (moharebeh), and it seems the authorities wish to intimidate dissidents with threats of execution.
Early on Thursday, January 29, 2010, Arash Rahmanipour and Mohammad Reza Alizamani who are said to have been arrested prior to elections were executed by Revolutionary Courts. The two men were accused of membership in Iran Monarchists Society and actions against national security of Islamic Republic of Iran. The two individuals’ attorneys have stated that their clients were told that if they confessed to the crimes the interrogators told them, they would be released. But their confessions brought them their deaths.
In Solidarity with the People of Iran
Opinion by Amnesty International
February 6, 2010
Opposing View Website
The first charter on human rights was authored by Cyrus the Great over 2500 years ago. As Iranians we are heirs to a proud tradition of human rights and tolerance. Sadly, the Iranian authorities have not lived up to this legacy, as can be seen by the mock trials, false imprisonments, torture, child executions, and lack of equality for women in Iran today.
For the past 30 years the Iranian government has barred Amnesty International from entering the country, affording us no transparency in regards to its human rights record. However, advances in technology and the internet are allowing brave Iranian activists to share direct eyewitness accounts of what is happening on ground zero in the post-election crackdown: brutal attacks on and murder of peaceful protestors, wrongful imprisonment without access to an attorney or fair trial, forced confessions obtained under torture and duress, rape used as a weapon of torture in prisons, and the lack of freedom of assembly as seen in the case of the ‘Mourning Mothers’ whose only “crime” was gathering for an hour each Saturday in a peaceful vigil near the place and time of the killing of protester Neda Agha-Soltan.
Despite the dangers posed to protesters, Iranians continue to take to the streets in hundreds of thousands to demand their universally recognized rights. The movement has grown beyond simply contesting the results of the presidential election. It has morphed into a Civil Rights movement of the magnitude seen in the United States in the 50’s and 60’s, uniting Iranians across a broad spectrum of political ideologies, bridging our differences for the first time in 30 years, with a single goal in mind: Freedom.
Today, I stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in demanding a fair and democratic society where the 30 articles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights are fully realized. Together we can ensure that their pleas for freedom are not going unheard by the international community, that their struggle is not in vain, and that they will prevail.
Unleash the Opposition to Sanction Iran
By Roger Gale, Member of Parliament UK
February 10, 2010
The Huffington Post
Ever since the 2002 revelations by an Iranian opposition group detailing Tehran's clandestine nuclear program, Iran has been the foreign policy nightmare which has baffled United States Presidents and Secretaries of State. Sidelined by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran's nuclear defiance was ignored at times as other crises in the region took precedence. Now, as Tehran forges ahead with its nuclear program, there can be little doubt that the single largest policy decision the current President must take is how to deal with the threat posed by the Iranian regime.
In the lead up to his election, President Obama long advocated a policy of engagement with rogue states, and his strategy in dealing with the Iranian threat has centered on dialogue and diplomacy. Many believe that the President had pinned his hopes on a conviction that in the June 2009 Iranian Presidential elections Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be replaced by elements within the regime that had a greater interest in listening to proposals put forward by the US.
The President's belief may well have been based on sound foreign policy. However, the election of less radical elements within the regime never materialized in an election overshadowed by allegations of widespread fraud, and the President has found himself face to face with a man who has conclusively stated that Iran's nuclear program is not up for negotiation.
The days, weeks and months that have passed since that hotly contested presidential election have meant that Obama is faced with an Iranian regime whose hardcore element has rallied around its own President as widespread protests amongst the Iranian population call for an end to the rule of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Whether negotiations, diplomacy and engagement were ever tools which could have convinced Tehran's leaders to step back from their nuclear ambitions is questionable, but internal developments in Iran have meant that this regime will not and simply cannot negotiate if it wants to survive in its current form.
The Iranian people's widespread protests calling for an end to the rule of the Iranian leadership has in a strange twist of fate forced Tehran's leadership to show their cards on the nuclear front, cards which have indicated to the international community that engagement and incentives will have no impact on their nuclear ambitions and continued nuclear defiance.
The question now raised is whether the international community is willing to impose the further financial sanctions that may bring the present Iranian regime to its knees in the coming months.
Such sanctions must clearly play a role in any policy developed towards Iran, but we must couple this with the one thing that the Iranian regime fears most, the democratic desires of the Iranian people and the Iranian opposition movement.
The Mujahedeen e Khalq (MEK) has been at the heart of Iran's opposition movement for years. Blacklisted in the US, the group has faced pressure from authorities intent on not allowing anything to hinder their ambitions to engage Tehran. As the Iranian people gear up for further widespread protests on the 31st anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah, they will be looking to the world for support.
Sanctions are measures that will play their course in the coming months, but today and now the President should unfetter the Iranian opposition by removing the ban on the MeK and allowing the Iranian opposition movement to forge ahead towards democratic change.
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Volume 69, February 15, 2010
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