Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sadeh Celebrations

Today, the day of Sadeh Celebration, should be the third most important celebration in the Iranian calendar after Nowrooz and Mehregan. In the Book of Kings, according to Iranian mythology, it is the day man discovered how to create fire at will and control it for the benefit of mankind.

Traditional celebration of Sadeh involves lighting a big fire outdoors. The ceremony is followed by singing and dancing around the fire by the people gathered for the festivity. Everyone is expected to participate in the festival by bringing wood for the fire.

By contributing to feed the flames of fire collectively together, we symbolically provide light and illumination to our mind, and hence the Zoroastrian tenets of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds. By contributing to feed the flames of fire collectively, we remember the visible symbol of the Invisible Divine Light to fight evil.

But there will be no large fires in the birth place of Zarathustra today. There will be no singing and dancing around the fire. Today coincides with the Shiite ceremony of Ashura on the lunar Arab calendar. A day in which a battle between Arabs in Karbala is commemorated. A day in which heads were decapitated and raised aloft on spears as trophies, and little babies killed by arrows through their throats. A day in which water was denied to thirsty children, stranded in the desert.

Instead of singing and dancing in the land of Cyrus, men will beat their bare chests, and whip their backs with chains, men and children will draw blood by striking their heads with large daggers and Shiite priests will perform sermons in mosques with the sole intention of making the faithful weep.

Today in the land of Zarathustra, martyrdom, blood, death, lamentation and self flagellation have displaced the singing, dancing and the zest for life and pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Iranian Women Rights Activists Arrested at the Airport

The following three Iranian women’s rights activists were arrested yesterday in Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport as they tried to attend a journalism workshop in New Delhi, India. They are held in the section 209 Evin Prison in Tehran.

The three are Talat Taghinia, Mansoureh Shojaee and Farnaz Seifi.

After the three were arrested at the airport, the security agents escorted them to their homes, searched their houses, and seized their personal belongings such as their computers, books and writings.

This is an opportunity for the Liberals, the Left and the women's rights activists in the West to show the Iranian people where they stand on fundamental issues of freedom and human rights.

Do they back Iranian people's legitimate struggle for human rights and democracy, do they back Iranian women's just cause for equal rights? Or do they only come out of their closets for a bit of US bashing?

Imagine what a boost it would be for other Iranian women's rights activists, if suddenly the international community displayed a massive show of solidarity for them. Imagine if the international community, instead of debating whether they should give in to the rulers of the Islamic Republic or preparing for a military attack, or begging the Iranian officials for talks, decided in a show of solidarity to expel ex-President Khatami and his delegation from Davos, Switzerland!

Dialogue amongst civilisations, is not just for Mr. Khatami to go to a conference and rattle on about it. Dialogue amongst civilisations means exchange programs and visits, where people and professions get to meet each other and to talk to each other, not just for a selected few government officials with the sole purpose of staying in power.

We are often asked "what do you want the international community to do?" Here is something you can do, expell all the Islamic Republic officials from all current international conferences and demand the release of these women!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mehra Maleki on VOA

Really enjoyed watching Mehra Maleki on VOA tonight. She is so knowledgable about contemporary Iranian history and so confident when she speaks. Another remarkable point about Mehra is how well and fluent she speaks Persian. For someone who left Iran at the age of 13 to speak Persian so fluently, is truly remarkable and puts a lot of other Iranian ex-pats, who left Iran at a much later age and have forgotten their mother tongue, to shame.

I also like it when she has a go at the Iranian pseudo-intellectuals who helped mullahs come to power in 1979, and as she rightly says for having made such a huge misjudgement, they should by right simply retire but they don't seem to let go of the arena and continue with their nonsense claptrap.

Hope Mehra is invited as a guest on the program more often and wouldn't it be great if she starts a blog of her own.

Strange Bedfellows

I thought the title of the leader's comment in yesterday's Telegraph, "strange bedfellows", was a very suitable choice.
If you read any of the memoires by Iranian ex-political prisoners who were imprisoned by the Islamic regime for their Marxist sympathies, or speak to them in person, they will tell you that the regime's abhorrence for the Marxist prisoners was so profound that the prison guards were told not to have any skin contact with the untouchable - najes - atheists. When the Marxist prisoners were taken to interrogation, the guards would tell the prisoners to hold the end of a rolled up newspaper or a stick, so that the pious Muslim guard would not become polluted by having skin contact with the infidel.

After the massacre of Iranian political prisoners in 1988, the bodies of the victims were dumped in mass graves next to a Bahaii cemetery. The public became alerted of the mass graves only when they noticed large gathering of over enthusiastic stray dogs, scavenging for bones.

I remember the speech by Fakhreddin Hejazi, broadcast from Islamic state radio, at the beginning of the "cultural revolution". He was livid at having seen posters of Marx and Lenin in Iranian universities and was threatening and rebuking the infidel students for having put up posters of such atheists after the Islamic revolution.

So how is it that now, the North Koreans, Castro, Ortega, Putin's ex-KGB Mafia, are all best friends of the Islamic Republic? Indeed they all make strange bedfellows. Who knows, may be straight after their meetings, the Islamic Republic officials perform ablution rites. For now however, it is their common interest of survival in power that keeps them close together.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Anecdotes Instead of Research

A friend forwarded me an article by Ali G. Scotten, a PHD student in anthropology at the University of Chicago and a former Fulbright scholar, published in the Christian Science Monitor, for my perusal. For some reason I am just not keen on most academics of non-scientific subjects and the mega tonnes of "research" they produce. Perhaps its because of my engineering background, I like building things and changing things, not just writing essays about things. Right or wrong, I also seem to have a different view of what research is.

So this was my reply once I read the above article:

"The unfortunate thing is, these guys (think tanks/academics) call a few anecdotes and interviews with Iranian people, research. One thing they all misunderstand is that Iranians will not talk about their true feelings and spill out whats truly in their hearts in front of someone they dont know well enough. Talking the truth and whats really in your heart has consequences in Iran.

I kept telling this to the American officials and think tanks we saw when we were in US.
At the end of the day, I can say for 100% that his conclusion of talking to the regime is just wishful academic windup. What Iranian people need is confidence. If they think they have a good chance of overthrowing the regime, the critical mass in the protests against the regime will be reached. Look at what Iranian refugees risk. They risk their dignity, their life savings, their life and limb to leave Iran and come to the West, but most of them are not political and won't take part in the anti-government protests, so why do they take the risks to flee Iran? Because they think there is a 10% chance of a better life at the end of the tunnel. But sadly most of them feel there is 0% chance of overthrowing the regime.

Some people may be impressed by this guy's academic credentials but when he quotes an opium dealer who says he will lay down his life to save Iran from foreign invaders, I just then think the Chicago PHD student, Ali G. is not familiar with Iranian khalibandi :) - empty gestures and boasting.
Those with a scientific background will understand that one experiment that disproves a theory will then make the theory totally redundant. The proposition of dialogue with IRI leaders has been exercised by the EU countries for 27 years now, why go down a path that has failed again?

Instead I tend to believe the confidential report prepared by Iran's foreign affairs and defence ministry obtained by Le Monde.
PHD students on a single trip to Iran, still have to learn a lot about Iranian psychology and proper research.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Hossein Hossein Saved Iran not the Ey Iran Anthem"!

I had many reasons to start this blog, but the predominant reason was to present the real news about Iran. Not the news that got censored because foreign correspondents in Iran dared not cross the red lines in fear of getting deported, and not the news presented by those whose income depends on sounding intellectual to the anti-Bush niche market. I wanted the people in the world, including the young Muslims, to see the Islamic Republic of Iran for what it really is. Not the window dressing that the likes of Khatami so expertly do but also not the unnecessarily exaggerated version put out by the old dinosaurs of the old generation Iranian "opposition", which ultimately leads to losing us credibility.

Yet I think I am going to struggle in translating this piece of news which was printed in an Islamic Republic news site, Raja News. Only an Iranian will understand and feel the depth of tragedy behind the news. It shows how un-Iranian these present day rulers are. It echoes the real message behind Khomeini's famous reply of "Nothing", when on his flight from 15 years of exile to Iran, he was asked the question "How do you feel about returning to Iran after all these years?".

For these clerics ruling Iran now, feel "Nothing" about our homeland. Our joyous culture, our values, our pride in our heritage and in the achievements of our forefathers, means "Nothing" to these foreign usurpers of our land.

When Ayatollah Amoli is quoted in Raja News, that it was the cry of "Hossein, Hossein" and not the patriotic anthems of "Ey Iran.." that saved the country and therefore it is Hossein, the grandson of prophet Mohammad who along with his family members was savagely killed in the battle of Karbala outnumbered by other rival Arab armies, who owns the title deeds to this land, I struggle as to where to start and how to explain to a non-Iranian what this statement means.

I wish somehow I had a chance to stand up in front of the likes of Amoli and tell their brainless zealot audiences, that before the patriotic anthem of "Ey Iran.." was replaced by the chants of "Hossein, Hossein", the enemy aggressor was dealt with swiftly and appropriately. Everytime Saddam Hossein's adventurism flourished, he was punished and pushed back by the able Iranian soldiers whose hearts were stirred by the "Ey Iran" anthem.

The women of Khorramshahr did not have to suffer at the hands of ba'athist soldiers and Iranians did not have to suffer the agonising excruciating pain of chemical attacks and over a million Iranians did not have to die and be maimed, when the patriotic "Ey Iran" anthem stirred our hearts. Before the chants of "Hossein, Hossein" replaced the "Ey Iran" anthems, Saddam Hossein, was forced to sign a treaty under our terms. It was when you lot replaced the "Ey Iran" anthem with your "Hossein, Hossein" chants and destroyed our powerful army, that guarded our borders so dilligently, that Saddam Hossein dared tip his toes inside our Marze Por Gohar. Yet even after 8 years of sacrifice by Iranians to repel Saddam Hossein's henchmen, your lot could not bring about an honourable treaty and claim a rightful compensation for our people. This was the result of replacing Ey Iran anthem by the chants of Hossein Hossein!

تفو بر تو ای چرخ گردون، تفو!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In Broad Day Light in Islamic Republic

This is what happens in the Islamic Republic in broad day light. This is "Dialogue Amongst Civilisations", this is "Inter Faith Dialogue", this is "Civil Society" and all those other deceiving phrases used by the likes of Khatamis to woo the yoyos outside Iran.

A Peugeot stops the passengers in a Paykan. Plain clothes and armed persons from Peugeot, drag the passenger out of his Paykan car.

As the passers by look on in disbelief, the Paykan passenger is shoved into the trunk of the Peugeot car.

One passer by is seen confronting the kidnappers while the rest can only look on.

While the fate of the Paykan passenger is unknown, the car is towed away by municipal vehicle removal van.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nazanin's Last Day

I post this email exactly as it reached my inbox:

Thank you to all the wonderful people who have been signing the petition at http://www.helpnazanin.com/ and have been spreading the word about the injustice that Nazanin Fatehi is facing in Iran.
Many of you are asking what you can do further?
1. Learn about the case and watch a 30 min documentary called "The Tale of Two Nazanins" at http://www.bodog.tv/
2. Sign the Petition at http://www.helpnazanin.com/
3. Fax or Email a personal message to the Iranian heads of state and Head of the Judiciary pleading with them to release Nazanin. (try to be diplomatic and do not use any profane language) For an idea of what to say you can watch my plea at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYOA9l5rPPc.

Send your messages to:
AYATOLLAH KHAMENEISupreme Leader of the Islamic RepublicEmail: http://us.f515.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=info@leader.irEmail: http://us.f515.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=istiftaa@wilayah.orgFax: 00 98 251 7 774 2228
PRESIDENT AHMADNEJADPresident of Islamic RepublicEmail: http://us.f515.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=dr-ahmadinejad@president.irEmail through website: www.president.ir/emailPhone: 00 98 21 6 649 5880
4. Call your local Iranian Embassy To locate it go to www.irantravelingcenter.com/embassy.htm.
Iranian Embassy - United Kingdomhttp://us.f515.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=info@iran-embassy.org.ukIranian Embassy - Canadahttp://us.f515.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=ambassador@iranembassy.org
5. Tell your local media (Newspapers, TV, radio stations, magazines, on-line news)
6. Tell everyone you know (family, friends, schools, blogs, websites) and direct them to http://www.helpnazanin.com/
Peace and love,
Nazanin Afshin-Jam

Monday, January 08, 2007

Shirin Ebadi on VOA

As I have said before, it is always very hard for me to criticise those who are socially and politically active inside Iran. It would be very inappropriate for the likes of me to do that.

Likewise, I am not against Shirin Ebadi, I want her to be successful in defending those who have suffered human rights abuses inside Iran. However I just can not digest and understand one of her replies to the VOA presenter last night.

When the VOA presenter, Bijan Farhoody, asked Shirin Ebadi about her Nobel Prize lecture in Oslo, and why she spent so much time on non-Iran related issues in her lecture, Ebadi replied "Everything has its time and its place, where 90% of the audience are non-Iranians, then I should talk more about international issues, but when talking to an Iranian audience I will talk about Iran related issues"

But Shirin Ebadi did not talk more about the international issues and less about Iran related issues in her Nobel lecture. She did not say ANYTHING about Iran related issues in her Noble Prize lecture! and what sort of a logic is it that says in front of foreigners we should talk less about Iran? What is the point of talking about things we already know amongst ourselves?? Yes we Iranians know the Islamic Republic laws are discriminatory against women, children, religious minorities, personal and political freedoms, etc. The point is to tell the outside world about these human rights abuses who do not know these things!

I asked Ebadi similar question when she spoke in Imperial College in London, during Ganji's hunger strike, but she chose not to answer the question.

I think Ebadi shows a lack of judgement by the way she decides what to say in front of what audience.

What I do admire about Shirin Ebadi however, is her constant defiance of Islamic Republic "elections". Unlike other Iranian pseudo-intellectuals outside Iran, who seem to be yearning to find a way to go back to Iran, like Massoud Behnood and Ibrahim Nabavi who keep encouraging Iranians to go to the "ballot boxes" and choose between the bad and the worse, Ebadi has always consistently mocked the Islamic Republic "elections".

"One can not call these a free election, when opposition is not allowed to have a campaign platform and the candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council, therefore I will not take part in such elections" Ebadi has frequently said in her lectures to Iranian audiences.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Meeting with Siroos

I have been friends with Siroos Malakooty for several years now. Siroos is one of those people who I refer to as "having inherited Left wing genes" :) He will always have a Left wing accent and a Leftist view of the world. A good thing too, for it would be a boring, bland and monotonous world if we all looked the same, talked the same and thought the same.

Conversations with him are always interesting and challenging and I always learn from him. Despite our differences, we also always find a lot of common ground.

I had a chance to meet him in Paris yesterday after several months. Siroos is a classical guitar soloist and founder of Artists Without Frontiers. A stroke few years ago, resulted in Siroos not being able to raise his left arm above his shoulder, which has stopped him from playing classical guitar.

Siroos presents a program on Tishk TV, which is run and funded by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. I was glad to find him in his usual high spirit. I wish him luck in his endeavours and hope he will contribute towards our common goal which is the well being and prosperity of human beings everywhere.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

So Where are the Peaceniks?

Before the US-UK led attack to remove Saddam, I had lots of heated debates with peaceniks in the streets of London. Their central argument was that they don't want to see innocent people killed. Of course no one in their right mind wants to see innocent people killed, but my argument at the time was that innocent people were being killed while Saddam was in power, and it was he who was the cause of their deaths. One Left-wing revolutionary outside the tube station in Hammersmith was actually lost for words, when I put this argument to him "You advocate a violent revolution for the working classes to come to power, don't you?"
"We believe the bourgeoisie will never surrender power peacefully to the proletariat, so yes we do advocate a violent struggle by the masses as the only way to bring about a workers state" was his standard text book reply.
"But innocent people will be killed in your violent struggle too, won't they?" was the question that he could not answer.

Or when I once asked an SWP member selling his Socialist Worker outside a tube station, "Who should have removed Saddam or the Taliban?"
"It should be the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan" was his confident reply.
"But sometimes dictatorships are so brutal that people need outside help. Look at Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the people of Cambodia had no chance against the Khmer Rouge. If it wasn't because of the Vietnamese, the killings by the Khmer Rouge would have continued. Yes lots of innocent people did die in the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam. Yes it took many years for peace and stability to come back to the country, but overall it was better to remove Pol Pot."
I waited for his answer but after a moment of silence, embarrassingly all he could say was
"That was before I was born, I don't know enough about that."

Today the killing of innocent people in Iraq is not because of the US or UK troops. Innocent people are dying in Iraq because of the ruthless militias and their infiltration into the Iraqi security forces. According to the Economist, "The Mahdi Army, in particular, is thought to be responsible for most of the killing around Baghdad, which in turn—according to American officers—accounts for some 90% of the violence nationwide".
The Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, is obviously in cahoots with the brutal Mahdi Army leaders. He is holding back the troops from taking on the Mahdi Army, and he has made the US troops set free captured Mahdi Army leaders. Peaceniks please note that the Mahdi Army drills holes into innocent people. Ordinary people are so frightened of the dentist's drill even after an injection, now imagine the terror caused by a real masonry drill without any injection, into the bones of your body! Thats what the Mahdi Army do!

But the violence and the killing of the innocent people is not just limited to the Mahdi army, there are other groups too. There is one regional power however that pulls the strings and supports ALL of these militia groups. The objective of this regional power is to prevent democracy and stability in Iraq. Why? Because a prosperous democratic neighbour will motivate the Iranian people too.

I always detest hypocrisy, so while objecting to the killing of innocent people is always a noble cause, it should not matter who is doing it. If peaceniks march and demonstrate against those who are funding the brutal sectarian militias in Iraq, I will join them. But will we ever see the likes of Brian Haw have a protest outside the Iranian embassy in London? I doubt it very much. As usual these protesters are not even handed when it comes for caring for the lives of the innocent people.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Change of Photo

Ever since I started my blog, friends and well wishers have been complaining about the photo I used in my blog. Especially the unshaved stubbles which prompted comments like "you look like one of those baseejis in Iran" :))

The truth is I dont have that many photos on my own. Most of the photos I have, are when I am amongst friends, family, colleagues or others and it would be unfair to include them on such a blog. Attempts to edit such pictures normally ends up in an ear getting cut or part of a chin missing etc.

Another criticism was the clothes I was wearing in the photo. "Why do you always dress in black?" Again the simple answer is being colour blind, wearing black is just a safe bet :) nothing more to it.

But finally, I listened to all these criticisms and changed the photo.

Monday, January 01, 2007

In 2006

Here is a summary of my highlights of the year 2006.

- There was the most commented post about Gunaz TV Twaddle.

- Then there was the thrill of learning how to snowboard.

- Demo on the anniversary of the clerics seizing power in 1979, where we were dressed in black to signify a black day in our history.

- Rally in support of the jailed bus drivers in Iran.

- Our role in stopping Islamic Republic apologists in the SWP meeting from having a free platform to promote how good life under mullahs is!

- Publicising the crackdown on Iranian women rally in Tehran.

- Exposing how Washington Post was duped by the Islamic Republic, five days before their article was published.

- Our protest at the use of IRI symbol by VOA Persian on the Iran related news, which resulted in its removal.

- Backing Clare Short and exposing child abuse laws in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

- The Iranian New Year, Nowrooz.

- And there was discovering the brainy, beautiful and passionate daughter of Iran, Nazanin Afshin-Jam.

- The sort of people, the UK Home Office would grant a visa to!

- Publicising the crackdown on May Day rallies in Iran.

- Face to face with Islamic Republic apologists again, this time in the House of Commons.

- Publicising student protests in May.

- My discontent at the protests sparked off by the "cockroach cartoon".

- Following World Cup with Sun and Lion flags only.
Identifying Iranian ex-pat idiots.

- Yet another crackdown on Iranian women.

- Publicising the arrest of a good man, Moussavi Khoeini.

- Exposing some more "Iran experts".

- Putting the record straight with those who think they know it all with just one trip to Iran at the Frontline Press Club!

- A mystery about Ahmadi-nejad's father that never got solved.

- At the commemoration of the Iranian victim of 7/7.

- Taking part in hunger strike called by Iranian dissident, Akbar Ganji, in support of prisoners of conscience in Iran.

- The tragic news of Akbar Mohammadikilled in Islamic Republic prison.

- Exposing another Islamic Republic agent, Hossein Derakhshan aka Hoder.

- Publicising the struggles of Sanandaj workers.

- Another murder in Islamic Republic prisons

- Khatami's visit to St. Andrews.
See also Khatami Myth Busters, which I wrote with the help of my firend Dr. Namdar Baghaii-Yazdi.

- Trip to the USA:
Visiting HRW
City of Tolerance
Campaign Dont Complain
Learning from Sterling
Absurdity of US news channels
At American Way School in Memphis
Civil Rights Museum in Memphis
At VOA Studios

- Covering the clashes outside Ayatollah Boroujerdi's house and his arrest.

- Publicising more unrest in Tehran Polytechnic and more unrest.

- Writing about the Islamic Republic "elections".

- Protest outside the Russian embassy to condemn evil Putin's continuous support for the Islamic Republic.