January 15, 2005    VOLUME 8


To our readers,

The tsunami tragedy in Asia occurred on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran. While the shock and sorrow of this loss is still incomprehensible, the world community can not lose focus on the aftermath and rise of human trafficking in those areas. Let us hope the current post-disaster situation in Asia will take the lessons from Bam in to account.

The Iranian women and girls from Bam can only offer their painful stories and the promised aid that never reached them due to corruption within the fundamentalist regime. According to the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the $1 billion aid pledged to the ancient Silk Road city of Bam, where some 31,000 people died, never arrived.

The misogynous characteristic of the fundamentalist regime in Iran displayed itself in post-disaster human trafficking, government corruptions and the institutionalized socio-political and economic discriminations against women. Unfortunately, the world community has chosen not to see the Iranian regime for what it is. The women and girls in Iran will never be safe and secure under this tyrannical regime and that is why they are taking matters in to their own hands to end this regime. Women’s rights and human rights should be recognized as one of primary pillar of world policy towards Iran.The world community should recognize the just cause that Iranian women are fighting for and support their struggle to achieve democracy and equality in their homeland.

E-Zan Featured Headlines


Amnesty International – December 17, 2004

According to reports, Hajieh Esmailvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17 year old minor. Although the exact date of her arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been imprisoned in the town of Jolfa, in the north west of Iran, since January 2000.The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty for adultery, that the stones used should “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones”. [WFAFI update December 24: Due to international pressure and outcry, the Iranian regime has temporarily stayed the execution by stoning of Hajieh while her case is studied by the “judiciary pardons commission”. Her partner, identified only as Ruhollah G, has been sentenced to hang and is still awaiting execution.]


Peyk-e-Iran Website – December 18, 2004

Fereshteh Ghazi, an Iranian woman arrested for her opposition to the Iranian regime, was released on bail due to deteroriating health conditions. Ms. Ghazi was arrested in September and faced serious torture and beatings by the Revolutionary Gaurds. She has suffered a broken nose and ribs. Ms. Ghazi refused to sign a letter of regret denouncing her ciritcism of the regime and has been deemed as a “threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran”. Her temporary release has been limited to medical treatment and she is no allowed to speak to media or any reporter.


Aftenposten NorwayDecember 20, 2004

Iran's ambassador to Norway refused to meet the local head of Amnesty International on Monday. Amnesty is among those taking up the case of a young, retarded Iranian who's been sentenced to death. The 19-year-old, known only as "Leyla M," was forced into prostitution by her own mother at the age of eight. By age nine, she already was pregnant, and she's been repeatedly abused, raped and even sold as a sex slave throughout her young life. An Iranian court has since convicted her of immoral behaviour and sentenced her to death by stoning and hanging. Both Amnesty International and Norway's own embassy in Teheran are among those mounting protests. Petter Eide, secretary general for Amnesty in Norway, had an appointment to meet Iran's ambassador in Oslo at 11am Monday. Eide planed to deliver a petition with thousands of signatures protesting the pending execution of Leyla M. The ambassador refused to open the embassy's doors to Eide, complaining that reporters were present. When reporters moved down the street, Iran's embassy remained closed. "We were told that the police could come and deliver the petition on our behalf, but we can't use the police as messenger in a situation like this," Eide said. Around 100 people demonstrated outside the embassy in Oslo earlier on Monday, protesting the planned execution.


Reuters News Agency– December 21, 2004

The U.N. General Assembly has criticised Iran for public executions, torture, arbitrary sentencing, flogging, stoning and systematic discrimination against women. Sponsored by Canada, the human rights resolution was adopted on Monday by a vote of 71 in favour, 54 against with 55 abstentions in the 191-member assembly. The resolution also said there was a "worsening situation with regard to freedom of opinion and _expression and freedom of the media and noted the "targeted disqualification" of reformists in Iran's parliamentary elections. Iran made no comment on Monday. But in November when an assembly committee passed the draft resolution, Iranian envoy Paimaneh Hasteh called the charges baseless. She accused Canada of introducing the measure in response to a domestic outcry over the death of Kazemi.


Zanan-e Iran Website– December 23, 2004

A female reporter working with Iranian state-run media committed suicide. The reporter worked in the news department of the Iranian state-run was only 21 years old and is said to be under a lot of pressure both at work and at home. Her half-dead body was discovered 15 minutes after her suicide attempt. She was taken to the hospital and was rescued.


State-run ISNA news agency– January 2, 2005

Head of the Women's Assembly of the Islamic City Councils expressed profound concern over the rise in the number of women inmates giving birth to children in prisons, ISNA reported.Sediqeh Qannadi warned that the society would witness a growth in social disorders and the number of street children, unless prompt action was taken to rein in the dilemma."Preliminary studies reveal that wanted and unwanted pregnancies are on the rise even among inmates with life imprisonment. Reports suggest that most women sentenced to life imprisonment in Mashhad, Yazd, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchestan become pregnant," she explained. "Assertions by judiciary officials that the birth rate in prisons has declined are far from reality."


The Washington Times – January 5, 2005

Iran's increasing meddling in Iraq and its defiance in its nuclear weapons program pose the greatest challenge to peace and security in Iraq and the whole Middle East, as we enter 2005. The Iranian clerics have never been so close to realizing their decades-old dream of erecting a sister Islamic Republic in Iraq. The deterioration of human rights in Iran has revealed new depths of barbarity, where pregnant women and children are routinely executed and floggings and amputations are an almost daily public spectacle.  Appeasement is not the way to contain or change this evil regime. Nor is it the path to avoid another war. A nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime will not spare the EU, either. Iran's missiles already can reach southern Europe. The mullahs are now rushing to develop a third-generation missile system able to reach Paris, London and Brussels.  For once, we should side with the millions in Iran whose cry is for freedom and regime change. A modern, secular and democratic Iran would not only be the key to regional peace and security, but also a long-term ally as we try to spread democracy across the Middle East and the world.


Radio Free Europe/Radio LibertyJanuary 10, 2004

Iranian deputies are considering designs for a national dress. The idea was first proposed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a way of countering the influence of Western fashion. Supporters -- including Khamenei -- point out other countries have a national dress and that it reinforces pride. Detractors say the idea is not likely to catch on among young people -- and may simply be a way for officials to tighten enforcement of existing Islamic dress codes for women.

E-Zan Featured Reports

Violence Against Women in Iran: The Toleration of Routine Aggression

WFAFI Research Committee

December 20, 2004 

In addition to institutionalized violence against women in Iran, majority of women and young girls face domestic violence at home at the time that they still live with their parents.  The father and other elder male members in the family are among the first who commit the aggression against the women and young girls.   According to the latest statistics, two out of every three Iranian women have experienced discrimination and domestic violence from the father or other male members of the family.  For the vast majority of Iraninan women, married life is the beginning of horror, pain, and humiliation; she is the victim of her husband and his family members.  81 out of 100 married women have experienced domestic violence in their first year of marriage.  Even women with an ouststanding job and prestigious social standing are subject to the violation.  In most of the cases, this abuse leaves permanent physical and psychological damage upon them for the rest of their lives.  Without saying a word and with much pain yet no support, cimes against women in the private sphere has gone unnoticed.  90 out of 100 women suffer from a severe case of depression, from which they ultimately commit suicide and 71% of those women experience nervous breakdowns.  Their methods of suicide include setting themselves ablaze.  This is the only way of escaping from segregation and humiliation.  Each month, only in Ilam, 15 girls set themselves ablaze, fighting against oppression or depression.  It is our responsibility to fight the oppression against women.  Female victims need to believe that they should not be blamed.  Our active participation in the organization to defend women's rights and opposition to Islamic fundamentalism is the least we can do to end the pain and suffering of victims of violence in both private and public spheres in IranViolence against women, inhuman and brutal punishments such as stoning as well as complete elimination of women from the political and social arenas represent some aspects of the modus operandi of fundamentalists leading to institutionalized violence. We believe that the struggle for equality, safty and security cannot be separated from the fight against fundamentalism in Iran.


Tank girls: the frontline feminists

The Independent

Christine Aziz

December 28, 2004

As the coalition bombs hit the flat salt plains on the north-eastern border of Iraq, members of a little known, female-led Iranian army huddled in a bunker. While the earth shook, showering dust on their neatly pressed khaki headscarves, 25-year old Laleh Tarighi and her fellow combatants tried to protect themselves.Eighteen months later, recalling the terror of being attacked by British and US bombers during the invasion of Iraq last year, Tarighi, a former pupil of Parkside and Hill Road School in Cambridge, says: "We were puzzled more than afraid. We knew our officers had sent messages to the Pentagon insisting that we were neutral and shouldn't be attacked. We were only in Iraq to overthrow the Islamic fundamentalist regime across the border in Iran." It is hard to imagine that Tarighi was once a typical British teenager who loved going to the cinema and socialising in cafés. Few of her friends knew that when she was a child in Iran, her father had been executed for being a member of the Iranian resistance, and that her mother was a high-ranking commander in the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA). After A-levels, Tarighi had planned to study media at university, but then, aged 18, she decided to leave the comfort of the home she shared with her aunt to join her mother in the NLA in a military camp on the Iran-Iraq border. The NLA is the military wing of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a female-dominated, Iranian parliament-in-exile whose aim is to topple the Islamic fundamentalist regime and replace it with a secular, democratic government. The NCRI is led by a charismatic Iranian, Maryam Rajavi, 53. Security around her is tight for fear of assassination attempts, and she very rarely appears in public. Her organisation has kept a low profile until it recently started sharing intelligence reports on Iran's nuclear programme with America and Europe. But, in spite of this co-operation, the NLA is still considered a terrorist organisation by the West. The coalition forces in Iraq have restricted its 3,800 combatants to their camps, and their weapons have been confiscated. Women make up 30 per cent of the NLA, but 70 per cent of the officers are female. The British Army has just one female brigadier, while in the Navy there are four female captains. Rajavi has long encouraged female participation in the army. She argues that, as misogyny is the mainstay of the Iranian government, who better to strike at it than women? Her female recruits, many of whom had been tortured and imprisoned in Iran, train alongside men in all aspects of frontline battle, including hand-to-hand combat and armoured vehicle operation. With the backing of wealthy Iranian exiles, they are preparing for the day when the order comes to march east over the frontier to liberate their land from the mullahs. Tarighi is one of hundreds of sons and daughters of Iranian exiles in Europe, America and Canada who have volunteered to join the army since its inception in 1987, when Saddam Hussein allowed the NLA to build its camps along the Iranian border. Until Saddam's fall in March last year, the NLA had been able to build up its military force under the watchful eye of its host. When Tarighi arrived in Iraq in 1997, she was still sporting a stud in her tongue and wearing trainers - very different to the army's uniform for women of khaki headscarves, combat trouser-suits and boots. It was not her first visit to the NLA camp at Ashraf; when her mother fled with her daughter in 1987, they escaped to this camp, where they lived for four years. The Gulf War in 1991 meant that all the camp's children were evacuated to foster-carers in the West. "I grew up in Cambridge from the age of 10. My life was pretty much there," Tarighi says. "After I passed my A-levels, I decided to spend a gap year in France before going off to university. "But I got news that my mother had sent me a letter, care of the NCRI headquarters in Paris. It was the first letter I'd received in a long time, and it was very affectionate. I talked to NCRI members and decided to go and join my mother. We hadn't seen each other for eight years. I knew her immediately I saw her, but she didn't recognise me. I looked like any other British girl, and she wasn't too pleased about my tongue stud. "At first it was difficult living back in the camp, and I missed a lot of things, especially, believe it or not, the English weather. I love rain, and there wasn't a lot of it in Iraq. But it was the friends I made in the camp, and the support and encouragement I received, that carried me through. I did marching drills and learnt to fire a Kalashnikov. I had never seen a gun in England. I didn't join the NLA for my mother, but for Iran. The regime murdered my father, and my grandmother had been in prison there many times. Resistance is in my blood." Ashraf is 14 square miles of impeccable tidiness. The first impression is of a holiday camp rather than a military base. Eucalyptus trees line long driveways, men and women tend gardens, and there's the smell of bread from the bakery. Since Tarighi arrived at the camp in 1997, a swimming pool and an exhibition room have been built. But in that time the cemetery, decorated with plastic flowers, has expanded. In the past 18 months, 40 soldiers have been killed in coalition attacks and, after these assaults, by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who then found it easier to slip across into Iraq. The NLA tanks and artillery that once patrolled and guarded the base have disappeared; in their place, American military police guard the entry checkpoint with tanks and patrol the base in armoured Humvees. The growing danger meant that Tarighi left the camp soon after the bombing. Now she works in NCRI offices around Europe, still hankering for her army life. But another British girl, Sharobeh Barooti, 19, stayed on. She is one of several hundred combatants with European passports or residency rights who remain at Ashraf. Born in France, Barooti is an only child whose parents are in the Iranian resistance. She doesn't know where they are, although she receives occasional letters. Barooti moved to the UK in 1991 to live with an aunt and uncle, but by the time she was 15, at Edgware High School in north London, she knew she wanted to join the NLA. "I had heard a lot about the Iranian regime from my aunt and uncle, and I began to feel I should do something. I went to the NCRI office in London and told them I wanted to join. They gave me information and arranged for my travel to Baghdad." She dropped out of her GCSE studies and travelled to Iraq, where she was met by officials of the People's Mojahideen of Iran (PMoI) - the most significant group within the NCRI - and escorted to Ashraf camp. Sitting in the camp's library, she recalls that her friends thought she was mad. "After all, families are not torn apart in Britain, people aren't tortured, and women can achieve anything," she says. "In Iran, women's lives are limited and they are punished for the smallest things. "When I arrived here, it was the hardest thing to obey different rules. It was so different from my life in London. For a year, I thought about the future I could have had in Britain and compared it to my future here. I had thought about travelling the world and opening an art gallery." Several weeks after the fall of Saddam, the US General Ray Odierno of the 4th Infantry division entered Ashraf camp to negotiate the disarming of the NLA. He found himself in a room lined with cream Regency furniture and Persian rugs, drinking coffee from white and gold china cups and eating homemade sweetmeats with a group of female army commanders considered to be terrorists by his government. In 1997, President Bill Clinton had declared the PMoI and NLA to be terrorist organisations, as a goodwill gesture towards Iran's newly elected President Mohammed Khatami. Recently, the NLA's potential to be used as a bargaining chip by Washington has been noted as tensions rise over Tehran's meddling in Iraq. But on his visit the US general, clearly impressed, said that he thought the terrorist status of the NLA combatants should be reviewed. The disarmed NLA keeps up its training on computers, and the US military police in the camp are their sole protection against attacks by the Tehran-backed groups now moving freely around Iraq. "If the Americans don't protect them, there will be a bloodbath," says Capt Ismael Ibrahim of the Iraqi National Gathering party. Only in July, when the NLA came under the protection of the Fourth Geneva Convention (relating to the protection of civilians in wartime), did its members feel safer. They no longer face the possibility of being handed over to Tehran by America in exchange for high-ranking al-Qa'ida members. As Captain Ibrahim says: "I think in a few years the US may think of doing to Iran what they have done to Afghanistan and Iraq, and will try to use the PMoI and NLA." This is not what the resistance likes to hear, but in the long term this thinking could help the NLA and PMoI lose their terrorist tags. In May 2000, Britain included the PMoI in a list of 21 terrorist organisations under the Terrorism Act. A year later, the European Union added the PMoI to its list. Mojgan Parsai, the secretary general of the PMoI, said in October: "From the outset, the terror label on the PMoI lacked a legal basis. We are blacklisted in the framework of commercial and political deals with Tehran." Her comments came as France, Germany and Britain were reported to have promised Iran that if steps were taken to halt work on completing its nuclear fuel cycle, the European side would continue to regard the PMoI as a terrorist organisation. At a conference of human-rights lawyers in Paris last month, Bill Bowring, professor of human rights and international law at London Metropolitan University, said: "Under the definition of the Terrorism Act, Greenpeace and Amnesty International should be on the terrorist list. It was a completely arbitrary decision to include the PMoI on the list." Also at the conference was the Danish human-rights lawyer, Anne Land. Earlier this year, she visited Ashraf camp. She is aware that the NCRI is accused by its critics of being a cult, and that some consider both the NCRI and the NLA to be militarily and politically ineffective. "The real importance of this army has been overlooked," she says. "In Iraq, many women were able to go to school and university, to work and to wear what they wanted. Now, they are being intimidated in the streets for not covering their bodies, or for just being outside their homes. Groups of men strongly influenced by Iranian fundamentalists, who are apparently supporting some political and religious groups in Iraq, are making their lives miserable. "The presence of a female-dominated army prepared to fight the mullahs and Iran's Revolutionary Guards is a powerful symbol to all women in the region. Its effectiveness is not in its military might. The fact that the army exists at all is a huge threat to all male-dominated fundamentalist regimes. It shows what women can do. "The women in Ashraf say they don't want to leave until they have overthrown the regime in Iran. Unfortunately, they don't see their courage as having a wider, inspiring influence beyond Iran," Land says. It was the treatment of women in Iran that moved Barooti and Tarighi to join the NLA. "My aunt used to tell me how Revolutionary Guards would stop women in the streets and wipe off their lipstick with the blade of a knife," Barooti says. Tarighi says she cannot forget the harrowing pictures of a young woman her own age buried to her neck and stoned to death by a crowd. She asks: "Why am I a terrorist because I fight for my sisters' rights?"


European Parliament resolution censures Iran rights violations

Iran Focus

January 13, 2005

Strasbourg, Jan. 13 - The European Parliament adopted a resolution by majority vote today condemning human rights violations in Iran in the second such move over the past six months. The toughly-worded resolution denounced practices such as execution of juveniles and stoning carried out by the Iranian regime. Parts of the resolution read, "the European Parliament … strongly condemns death sentences against and/or the execution of juvenile offenders, pregnant women and mentally handicapped persons”. The EP resolution also expressed deep concern over "the worsening situation with regard to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the media, especially the increased persecution for the peaceful expression of political views, including arbitrary arrests and detention without charge or trial".  The European Parliament censured “the campaign by the Judiciary against journalists, cyber journalists and webloggers leading to the closure of publications, imprisonment and according to reports widespread torture and forced false confessions.” The resolution also pointed to the fact that “Iran is still not a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Parliament recently rejected draft legislation on gender equality,” and called on Iranian authorities to “give evidence that they do implement their declared moratorium on stoning” and demanded “the immediate implementation of the ban on torture.” The resolution also noted with concern the finding by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Ambeyi Ligabo that “the Iranian Press and Penal Code do not conform to the permissible restrictions listed in the Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” 

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Volume 8, January 15, 2005

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