Monday, December 31, 2007

1977 UK Archives on Iran

Each year the UK government releases a set of 30-year-old documents to the national archives for public study. Two interesting ones from what I have read so far have grabbed my attention related to Iran in 1977.

First one is around the death of Ali Shariati in Southampton, UK. Shariati is often referred to as the intellectual force of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Almost all the MeK supporters I have ever come across who played an active part in bringing the Shiite clergy to power in Iran, started their misguided path by reading Ali Shariati's books. Shariati had a great aptitude for creating Socialist interpretations of Islam, and his books particularly impressed youngsters who had never read a book before. Shariati's sermons and his publications were instrumental in turning away the Iranian youth from secularism and nationalism and instead poisoned them with a cocktail of Islamic-Marxism, fondness for the Algerian revolution and glorification of martyrdom.

Shariati's supporters, as can be seen on his official website always claimed that he was murdered by the Shah's secret services, yet the released archives confirm that his death was due to nothing other than a heart attack.

The next document that grabbed my attention was the Shah's very accurate understanding of the players in Rhodesia. In his meetings with Anthony Parsons, the then UK ambassador to Tehran, the Shah expresses his concern about the future of Rhodesia and states that the Mugabe-Nkomo alliance is that of a temporary nature and short-lived political expediency. He expresses his clear preferences for Nkomo and refers to Mugabe as a dangerous village Marxist who will lead the country to ruin.
Remarkably accurate predictions 30 years ago!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

In the Year 2007

Here is a summary of my highlights of the year 2007. It looks rather thin compared with 2005 and 2006, perhaps because I was out of the UK for most of 2007 and then ending up rupturing my pectoral tendon towards the end of 2007 or perhaps because this year I have felt more tired than ever before. As I explained to a friend in a New Year greeting email, I can not think of many things in which I have put so much time and effort into and yet got so little tangible returns from.

The year kicked off with exposing IRI propaganda activities in British universities:

and then soliciting help for Iranian women campaigners from students and academics in UK universities:

Highlighting protests by Iranian teachers

Showing Ahmadi-Nejad's popularity:

Highlighting the crackdown on dress code in Iran:

Then the crackdown on "hoodlums and thugs":

Pourya's escape:

Some good news in 2007, was sponsoring the CIS football team:

Exposing the hypocrite supporters of the Islamic Republic in London:

Hosting Fakhravar in London:

Meeting face to face with one of my favourite persons, Nazanin Afshin-Jam:

The sort of people the UK Home Office grants asylum to:

Turning up to face the Islamic Republic supporters in London on the Al-Quds day:

Going to Rome with Fakhravar:

and then exposing the way VOA Persian reported it:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kite Runner

Earlier this week, the US embassy in London showed a pre-premiere screening of the film, The Kite Runner, based on the best selling novel by Afghan-American writer, Khalid Hosseini.
I have been too busy this week to write about the event in my blog until now, but let me tell you straight away, it was an amazing film.

I must admit I had not read the novel and I did not know what to expect. The first thing that grabbed my admiration before the movie even started, was the calligraphy of the starting titles. The film is about many things, the story of Afghanistan, friendship and loyalty, a proud father, the long lasting guilt of showing cowardice, sacrifice, courage, sudden upheaval of lives, exile, re-building of lives in a new land, the roots to the original homeland, new freedoms and opportunities, the misery of living under extremist totalitarian regimes and much more.

You could say I could somehow relate to each one of those topics above and perhaps thats why I was so mesmerized by the story of the film which was so beautifully told and so well directed.

After the film, Khalid Hosseini himself joined the panel which was hosted by the US embassy's cultural attache, Michael Macy. Khalid talked about his own life, his book and the making of the movie and then fielded the questions from the audience. The last question was asked by a woman sitting right next to me and it was which scene in the film was the most memorable for Khalid himself. I can't remember what Khalid Hosseini answered, because somehow my own thoughts made me ask the same question in my mind from myself. It was really difficult to pin point just one scene.

Loyalty is so significant for me in my own friendships and the director, Marc Forster, could not have picked a more suitable young actor for the role of Hassan which was so genuinely played by Ahmad Khan Mahmadizada, in so many scenes which got imprinted in my mind.

Hassan's fascination with the story of Rostam and Sohrab from the Iranian Book of Kings (Shahnameh), and the slight similarities between this saga from the Shahnameh and the story of the film was another memorable scene which became more significant once the entire plot was unfolded.

The entire upheaval of exiled communities and the scenes related to it struck a chord with all of those who have experienced exile, as an Iraqi woman in the audience mentioned in her question.
There was a couple of factual mistakes or perhaps as Hollywood would like to call it, "artistic licence", in the film. The Taliban were shown coming to the stadium after a game of football watched by men and women in burkas, where as in fact Taliban did not allow football nor women being present in a mixed audience with men even in their burkas. Ignoring this minor Hollywood ignorance, The Kite Runner is a film well worth watching. It will keep you glued to your seat and you will talk about it with others who watched it for days after.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fakhravar's Speech in Rome

Please click on this link below to see Fakhravar's speech on the second day of the conference in Rome:

Italy's Radio Radical Broadcast of Fighting for Democracy in the Islamic World conference in Rome.

Fakhravar is the first speaker after the introduction. For obvious reasons the whole broadcast has an Italian voice over. I will post the links to the film footage of Fakhravar's speech without the Italian voice over as soon as possible so you can all judge for yourselves whether Ahmad Rafat and Jamshid Chalangi were trying to bad mouth Fakhravar or whether they were telling the truth. Whether these old generation Iranians try to inspire the young Iranians or divide and disappoint them with their falsehoods?

Despite the Italian voice over however, I think just from the applause Fakhravar receives, you can tell his role was not as insignificant as Ahmad Rafat tried to make out on Jamshid Chalangi's program.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

VOA Persian Lies About the Rome Conference

At last, VOA Persian could no longer ignore the Rome conference just because Fakhravar was there. Fakhravar was briefly mentioned today but in a program that started with lectures about professional journalism and the principle of balanced reporting, Ahmad Rafat, the VOA Persian correspondent in Rome lied through his teeth and sufficed to say, "The Iranian participant was Mr. Fakhravar but he only talked about himself".

Chalangi, the program presenter then repeated Rafat's statement, as if to emphasize Rafat's ridicule of Fakhravar, and said "So basically Mr. Fakhravar just talked about himself in this conference" and Rafat nodded again!

What nasty cheap liars! This is why the young generation of Iranians are sick and tired of the old generation of Iranians who got us in this mess and still won't let go. Their lies, their smear campaigns, their nepotism, their stupidity and their selfish motives still an obstacle to progress in Iran.

So much for impartial professional reporting when they now tell us they had their correspondent there but yet they did not even bother to interview Fakhravar.

Fakhravar's speech on Monday and his speech on Tuesday as well as his interview with the Italian newspaper and Italain televisions is all available and will be a testimony to VOA Persian's lies to the people of Iran.

Those of you who live in US should all let the VOA board of governors know about how VOA Persian tries to smear the reputation of an Iranian dissident, who has spent six years of his youth in Islamic jails, and how instead VOA Persian promotes Islamic Republic apologists and supporters.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back From the Rome Conference

I have just come back from the 'Struggle for Democracy in the Islamic World' conference held in Rome, where I had the pleasure of interpreting for my friend, Amir Abbas (Siavash) Fakhravar.

On Sunday Fakhravar had an interview with the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera. Just before the interview began, Fakhravar remembered the very first time a reporter from Corriere della Sera had contacted him. It was during one of his leave from prison periods before Ahmadi-Nejad became the president. The reporter had asked Fakhravar's prediction and was surprised to hear Fakhravar predict "Ahmadi-Nejad".

Ahmadi-Nejad was so unknown at the time, that the reporter had concluded Fakhravar was out of touch and "crazy". When Ahmadi-Nejad and Rafsanjani were put through to the second round however, the same reporter contacted Fakhravar again and this time called him a genius and asked how he had made the correct prediction? Fakhravar's reply was "the so-called Iran experts you rely on, are those who come to Iran for a few days, meet government officials, talk to a few hand picked and planted people, read a couple of books on Iran on top of that and think they know it all. We on the other hand live within the system, we know the internal power struggles, we understand the psychology of the regime officials better and we become aware when millions of duplicate ID cards are issued to the Baseej and they are told who to vote for, because we know this system inside out we can make the right predictions."

I have not had the text of the interview, that was printed in the paper yesterday, translated to me line by line yet, but in particular I liked Fakhravar's answer to the question "wouldn't more comprehensive sanctions bring more hardship on the Iranian people?"
Fakhravar's reply was "The oil prices in 1998 dropped down to $11 to $12 per barrel, and now they are over $90 per barrel. Do you think the Iranian people are any better off now than in 1998? Do you think the Iranian people benefit from the oil income? Iran's economy is controlled by and divided amongst the "Sons of Clerics". More effective sanctions will mean THEY will lose income and less money will be available to the regime to spend on sponsoring terrorism around the world."

After the interview we worked a bit on Fakhravar's part for next day's agenda and still had some time to wonder around Rome and see some of its famous land marks and magnificent monuments before joining with the other dissidents to eat in an Egyptian restaurant in Rome.

I must say, there were some amazing people who were invited by the conference. The likes of Bassem Eid, founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group a non-partisan organisation dedicated to exposing human rights violations by both the Israelis and Palestinians , or the likes of Saad Eddine Ibrahim, the Egyptian dissident sociologist, who was imprisoned in 2000 for allegedly defaming Egypt's image abroad (sounds like familiar charges? dictatorship are so similar :)

It really was a privilege for me to be dining and talking to these men whose resolve was never broken despite all the hardships they had suffered. The occasion reminded me again of my favourite quote, "Evil only prevails when good men stay silent" and here I was amongst these very good people who had not remained silent and had stood up to evil.

The next day the conference started with introducing the invited dissidents. They briefly talked about their experiences and each carried a message to those who enjoy the privileges of living in a free world. Fakhravar talked in Persian, I translated into English and a professional Italian translator then told his words to the audience in Italian. I was nervous, I felt an enormous responsibility not to miss a single word Fakhravar said, not to miss a single word when he talked about the students recently arrested in Iran, not to miss a single word when he pleaded to the free world to remember those who are detained in solitary confinements in Iran, and yet as always Fakhravar was shooting out the words as fast as a machine gun and with the force that comes from his abundant inner strength when he talks about freedom. I was struggling to keep up.

Afterwards, the TV camera crews surrounded the dissidents for interviews. The humility and modesty of these great men who suddenly found themselves surrounded by the Italian media cameras, brought an admiring smile to my face. Their shyness and reservation from being the centre of the attention made me like them even more. I helped Fakhravar with two TV interviews. Interpreting in front of a camera was harder than interpreting for a newspaper. Even though the interviews were not live, I felt I couldn't make a mistake and it seemed there was just less time to give answers. The TV crew wanted quick short sound bites and yet some of their questions needed a long detailed reply and clarification.

One of the reporters referred to the 1999 student uprising, she said "We know the 1999 student uprising during the reformist president Khatami failed and the people of Iran did not support the students and the intellectuals because the US spoke in support of the protests, what do you think should be avoided if there is another uprising on that scale?"

I translated the question to Fakhravar, our eyes locked into each other and I just know we were both saying inside our heads, "what the hell is this woman talking about?" Again inside my head I was pleading with Fakhravar "Please put this woman in her place Siavash, please!" and when Fakhravar delivered his reply, with full confidence I turned to the interviewer and repeated Fakhravar's words "Your premise in the question is not correct at all. The 1999 student uprising in fact failed because precisely we did not receive the international support that we needed and the international media failed to give accurate coverage of what was going on. The people of Iran did support the students and joined in the protests, It was the intellectuals and the reformists led by president Khatami who stabbed us in the back."
The interviewer was so shocked at Fakhravar's reply in not joining her in blaming America, that she nearly dropped the microphone!

In the evening another dinner was arranged, much more formal than the friendly and relaxed one we had amongst ourselves the day before. This time there were Italian politicians, senators and deputies and notable business people whom we did not know.

I was told Natan Sharansky would be there and will give the opening dinner speech. I remember clearly the TV pictures when Natan Sharansky was released to the West. He was a short man made to look even shorter in the middle of two huge KGB agents that were surrounding him, and it seemed the Soviet authorities had deliberately given him a pair of larger than waist size trousers that he was struggling to hold up. It was all so obvious that they wanted to humiliate this dissident in front of the world, but in fact they were humiliating themselves. For the greatness of the man who was being released was not in his tall stature or broad shoulders or in his difficulty to keep his trousers up, it was in his spirit of courage and determination.

I kept my eyes open to see Sharansky. I wanted to tell him my recollections, and when he did arrive, I pounced on him, introduced myself and told him my recollections of his release. Sharansky was overcome with laughter when I told him how I remembered his release, and in his gritty Russian accent said "Yes you are right" and asked me how old I was when that happened and where I was at the time. I wanted to talk to him more but there were so many others who wanted to grab his attention too.

In his speech, Sharansky said, "There are many things common in what happened to me and what has happened to these dissidents who are here today, but there is one fundamental difference. Neither I, nor Sakharov, nor Vaclev Havel or any other dissident in the Soviet bloc ever doubted that the West would forget us or not apply pressure for our release. It would have been unthinkable for us to imagine that the West would negotiate with them and say OK you give us this and we will forget about this or that dissident. Yet this is what is happening today. A dissident's worst nightmare is thinking that he is forgotten and abandoned"

I thought about our own comrades, Arya (Abolfazl) Ajorloo, Ali (Mahan) Alemzadeh, Mojtaba Vatanpoor, and Alireza Ranjbar abandoned and forgotten in Irbil. Amongst the audience were some deputies from the Iraqi Kurdistan, it was time Fakhravar and I told them about the hopelessness of the four and solicited their help.

I am a bit tired from the travelling and the lack of sleep over the last 48 hours, perhaps I write some more tomorrow and post some of the pictures, but before I finish this post, I have to mention the wonderful young volunteers at the Magna Carta Foundation, one of the sponsors of this conference. I can not thank these volunteers enough, they worked so hard as well as being great company for us during our free time. They provided us with an unforgettable Italian hospitality which I hope I can one day return.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

More on Moran on VOA

One of my blog readers has alerted me, after my previous post, to a photograph on Congressman Jim Moran's website which explains why Moran made so many outrageous statements in support of the Islamic Republic, when he appeared on Ahmad Reza Baharloo's roundtable program on VOA Persian.

See Tritta Parsi and Jim Moran Picture or in case they remove the link, see:

You can clearly see one of the most active and well funded Islamic Republic lobbyists in Washington, Tritta Parsi, sitting in the panel, first from the left, while Moran is making his speech behind the podium.

I have also found out why Moran was invited to VOA Persian. Faraj Ardalan, one of the VOA employees, is a constituent of Jim Moran, and wanted to please his congressman by arranging his appearance on the program. Clearly not thinking about the extent of the damage that Moran's appearance would do to the viewers in Iran, to whom the Islamic Republic will seem once again so powerful and invincible with so many friends outside Iran.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Jim Moran the Moron on VOA Persian

As a further testimony to my previous post on how little intelligence US has about Iran, Congressman Moran appeared on a VOA Persian program yesterday.

Jim Moran claimed the Iranian people had elected Ahmadi-Nejad in an orderly fair election and that Ahmadi-nejad won the election because his pledge in redistributing the wealth had appealed to the Iranian people!

Need I say any more? Does Moran the moron know that the candidates are vetted by the unelected Guardian Council in Iran and Iranian people are not free to choose whoever they want? Does he know that even Islamic Republic veteran politicians like the former speaker of the Islamic Assembly, Karrrubi, cried out massive vote rigging had taken place by the Baseej and the Revolutionary Guards? Does Moran know about the Supreme Leader's orders issued to the Baseej, that each Baseej member should solicit at least ten of his associates and acquaintances by whatever means in their disposal to vote for the Supreme Leader's chosen candidate? Is Moran aware of the Islamic Republic's Ministry of Interior's ridiculous published figures, where in several provinces the figures showed more than 100% of those eligible had voted?

Perhaps Moran is aware but the endless lobbying and dinner parties by the likes of Seyyed Hossein Nasr's proteges are influencing his judgement, just like the major credit card issuer who gave him a large home equity loan under favorable terms influenced his judgement on bankruptcy reform bill.

As usual the presenter of the program, the idiot Ahmad Reza Baharloo, who struggles to speak English or Persian fluently, was unable to challenge his guest on any of the moronic statements Moran made. The viewers who managed to get through the phone lines however did at least show how much Democrat appeasers like Jim Moran are hated by Iranians.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

US INtelligence Report on Iran

I have never commented on Islamic Republic's nuclear weapons program, simply because I don't have any information nor any expertise on this subject. I do however know that US intelligence on Iran is bollocks, they have no substantial knowledge or intelligence on Iran.

My instincts have always been to be against not only nuclear weapons but against nuclear energy too, not only for Iran but for any country in the world. The risks of more accidents like Chernobyl frighten me to no end. Similarly I have been against any military attacks on Iran and instead have always solicited international public support for the pro-democracy movement in Iran.

I do however have first hand experience of US State department officials and their lack of intelligence on Iran, which spans over three decades. I have witnessed a full blown revolution take place right after Jimmy Carter stated "Iran was an island of stability in a turbulent region". I have witnessed US officials refer to Khomeini as a "saint" and as "Iran's Gandhi". I have read how US intelligence had concluded that there was no danger to its diplomats in the US embassy in Tehran just before the embassy was taken over by pro-Khomeini students and the US diplomats were taken as hostages for 444 days. I have read how time and time again the US officials trusted the Iranian authorities that the US hostage crisis will soon be resolved. I have witnessed US officials apologise for the US role in the 1953 coup, to the very people who supported and benefited from the coup against the secular Iranian prime minister, i.e. disciples of Ayatollah Kashani, who are now in power in Iran.

I was part of a group of five Iranian ex-pats who took part in the first IVLP program for Iranians since the Islamic revolution. During our visit, we had several meetings with the US state department officials. We were told in black and white, several times that the US had no official policy for regime change in Iran but was intent on changing the behaviour of the Iranian regime. When I asked how they intended to change the behaviour of the regime, I was told "we have a web site", and it was the crappiest, most useless and most unknown website I have ever come across.

We also met with a lot of think tanks, from Michael Rubin in AEI to Hadi Semati in the Brooklyn institute. None of the officials or think tank people we saw ever supported a military attack on Iran or suggested it was on the cards.

In my view the whole notion of attacking Iran has been something trumped up by the media and, and it has never been suggested by any US State department officials. On the contrary all US administrations since Jimmy Carter, have always tried to appease the Islamic Republic, and they have always been outdone by the Islamic Republic.

The result of all this hubba hubba has been detrimental to the Iranian pro-democracy movement. Islamic Republic apologists and agents have formed well funded organised groups who have urged the international public opinion to turn a blind eye on human rights abuses by the clerical regime in Iran, under the justification that Iran faces an imminent military attack. Progressive and active groups have been reluctant to support the protests by Iranian women, workers, students, teachers etc. for fear of propagating an attack on Iran.

Iranian opposition have been accused of receiving money from US administration, although the truth is that no one but VOA Persian and Radio Farda got any of the much publicised allocated budget, and we all know how these institutions have wasted this money through the management's cronyism and nepotism on useless "special reports" like traffic in Karachi. All this media hubba hubba about an imminent attack on Iran has meant over shadowing of human rights abuses and peaceful protests in the news.

Also the perception of an Iranian nuclear threat has basically meant the continuation of the appeasement policy as well as people like me, with Iranian backgrounds, being held in US airports for over two hours by another super not-intelligent US agency, the Homeland Security, while Iranian officials visit the US with ease and make speeches and fund their umbrella organisations!

So in a way, I welcome this latest US intelligence report. Perhaps now Islamic Republic funded Groups like CASMII, Iran Action and individuals like Tritta Parsi and Elaheh Rostami, Abbas Edalat, etc. can go back in their holes and the world can take notice of an overwhelming majority of Iranians who want change and deserve a better more accountable government than these figures from the dark ages who are interfering in Iranian people's daily lives.

Although as before I wouldn't give a tuppence for any US "intelligence" reports. It wasn't just in Iran and in Iraq that they were wrong. Four months before the 1956 uprising in Hungary, a CIA report had concluded - "There really is no underground movement in Hungary at all".

Monday, December 03, 2007

Not Even Boots

It is normally during the summer time that Iranian women are harassed by the Islamic police for showing a few strands of their hair and their choice of clothing, but now for the first time, Chief of Police, Commander Radan, has announced the government's "guidelines" for combating inappropriate dress code in public.

Part of this new guideline is long boots worn by women. It is not allowed this year!
Expect some "pundit" Islamic Republic apologists to write something along these lines
"Although women in Iran are not allowed to wear long boots this winter, they can ,unlike their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, drive cars......."

Of course these "pundits" never compared Iranian women before the Islamic revolution with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, this type of comparison only became fashionable when defending the clerical rule in Iran became a well paid pass time.