Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aziz was Buried Today

Aziz was buried today in a cemetery in North London. So many of us come to this world and go without leaving a footprint, but Aziz was one of those who did leave a footprint.

I was glad that his burial was as he wanted it to be. His coffin was draped in the Iranian Sun and Lion flag. After his coffin was lowered to the ground, his family then poured some Iranian soil in his grave. I too had brought some Iranian soil with me, it was from the Gardens of Fin, where Iran's great secular Prime Minister, Amirkabir was murdered. It was my last contribution to a man whose judgement and insight, I trusted so much when it came to Iranian affairs.

Each person who could, then took turns with the shovel filling up the grave until Aziz's coffin was fully covered. Then came the many bouquets of flowers from family and friends, many of them in the green, white and red of the Iranian flag's tri-colours.

Once all the flowers were laid, a speech was made by a family friend celebrating the life of a courageous man who stood by his principles and helped anyone he could, without expecting any favours in return. A man who was praised by friend and foe for his honesty and loyalty.

When the speech was finished, we sang the Ey Iran anthem, and finished with the shouts of Payandeh Iran (Long Live Iran).

There was no religious ceremony, it was the way Aziz wanted it.

During the speech, my mind wondered off to all the memories I have of Aziz. His famous humourous one-liners and also his serious side. In the background I could hear his beloved daughter's cries "Baba, why aren't you answering me any more?" and I asked myself who will I turn to for advise now? Who will have Aziz's wealth of practical experience that I could trust as much, now that Aziz is silent?

As I walked away from his grave, I met with Aziz's daughter-in-law. Like most his family members, she thanked me for my previous post on Aziz and said "We were Aziz's relatives but you were his son from politics" and another friend of Aziz shook my hand and said "Aziz was so proud of you, he told me once, see that Potkin, he is one good demonstration why Iran will never die" I was so touched by those comments, I nearly lost my composure and quickly walked away.

Aziz was one of those few older generation Iranians who did not try to hinder the younger activists and instead whenever he could, he would promote them and give guidance. He loved being amongst the younger generation and his footprints will be visible for many years to come.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Aziz's Funeral Tomorrow

Azizollah Esnaashari's funeral will be held tomorrow, 27th Feb - 10 am, at:

Hendon Cemetery
Holders Hill Road

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Two Seconds Worth on ListeningPost

I appear for only two seconds. As you can imagine, I said a lot more about Gunaz TV and all that separatist nonsense:

I showed Simon Ostrovsky, the presenter of the program, my post on Gunaz TV, and his strange remark was, "very divisive!" whatever that means?!

But perhaps he answers the likes of Ahmad Obali and Sabri Tabrizi by showing that Aliev's realm is no utopia for Iranians to embrace by any means.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Aryashahr Residents Shout 'Islamic Government we Don't Want'

Around 200 Aryashahr residents in Tehran reacted angrily, after a girl who was stopped by the Islamic Guidance units for inappropriate Hejab, resisted arrest. The Guidance units started beating up the young girl when she started resisting arrest and their brutality stirred the crowds who came to the girl's rescue.

Islamic Guidance units, faced with angry protests, drove away from the scene in a hurry, forgetting to take one of their colleagues, who was duly set on by the angry protesters. As the crowds got bigger and bigger, they started shouting "Islamic Government, We don't want, we don't want" which can be clearly heard on the youtube clip.

Watch the people spontaneously shout "Islamic Government, We don't want, we don't want"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Azizollah Esnaashari Died this Morning

Azizollah Esnaashari, the man who introduced me to Dr. Bakhtiar, died this morning in Ealing hospital. He was my political mentor in many ways and one of the few of the old generation who stood up to the Ayatollahs' take over of Iran.

Esnaashari lost his father at the age of 10, being the eldest son and in order to support his family, he started working in Isfahan's tea houses. Years later by hard work, he managed to save enough money to buy the tea house he worked in. During the oil nationalisation years, his tea house became a debating place for different political groups and he took an active part in the protests that led to the nationalisation of Iranian oil industry.

After the events of 1953, Esnaashari became a successful businessman, and because he was trusted in Isfahan's business community, he was forced the unwanted task of courier for the religious levies paid to the Shiite Ayatollahs by the Bazaari merchants in Isfahan. This also meant he had to travel to Iraq several times and hand over the payments to the likes of Ayatollah Khoeii and also Ayatollah Khomeini.

Here he saw at first hand the hypocrisy of the Ayatollahs and despite his religious upringing, became totally disenchanted with organised religion.

During the mass frenzy of 1979, Esnaashari opposed the religious leadership of the revolution and stood by his long time friends and secular dissidents to the Shah, Dr. Bakhtiar and Dr. Boroumand, and joined them in the National Movement of Iranian Resistance led by Dr. Bakhtiar.

Esnaashari, is the only one ever reported to have stood up and opposed Ayatollah Khomeini to his face.

Both Dr. Boroumand and shortly afterwards, Dr. Bakhtiar were assassinated in 1991 in Paris by the agents of Hashemi Rafsanjani and with the collusion of the Miterand government.

Esnaashari however remained loyal to his friends and to his principles and opposed the Islamic Republic until the last day of his life.

I will remember many of his qualities, his courage, his loyalty in friendship, his honesty, his dislike of ideologies, his tolerance of different opinions and his sharp Isfahani humour.

My fondest memories of him will be when I used to go to his house in Ealing. Often his house would be full with different people and passionate political debates would take place. I will remember how he waited and listened until the other side finished their arguments and he would then start with
"I am not an intellectual like you lot, I am just a tea boy, I had to leave school and work from the age of 10, but..." and with that 'but' he would continue to demolish the shaky arguments of the academics and the intellectuals and those who know politics only through reading books.

I am proud to say that my political mentor was a tea boy who never finished school but he knew his country and his people better than the Iranian intellectuals of the previous generation.

Farewell Aziz, thanks for all you taught me. Sorry you couldn't be buried in Iran.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

They are Safe at Last

Remember the 5 Iranian dissident refugees who were beaten savagely by the Turkish police in the border town of Van and then dropped at the border with the Iraqi Kurdistan?

At last they are safe and finally been given asylum by a democratic European government. Arya (Abolfazl) Ajorloo, Ali (Mahan) Alemzadeh, Mojtaba Vatanpoor, Alireza Ranjbar and Pejman Piran's long years of suffering in the Turkish border town of Van and their almost daily ill treatment by the corrupt Turkish authorities has finally come to an end.

I wish them all good fortune in their new homelands and hope they will be good citizens who will positively contribute to their new host countries and communities.

My sincere thanks to our friends in the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran for the kind and generous hospitality they showed the five during their stay in Irbil.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Arch Idiot of Canterbury

What a monstrous idiot this Dr. Williams is? He reminds me so much of Seyyed Hossein Nasr type advisers during the Shah's reign and how they constantly tried to appease the Islamists.
An example to let you know what I am talking about was when more than 400 innocent people, women, children and whole families were charred to death, when the Islamists set the cinema Rex on fire in Abadan.

Rather than bringing the culprits to a public trial and ceasing the opportunity to show the country the indiscriminate savagery and cruelty of the Islamists, the Shah's imperial advisers were more keen on not rocking the boat in case they upset the Islamists and the regime lost the chance of negotiation with them!

Dr. Williams's remarks resonates the same recollections in me of posturing gestures by spineless officials who inch by inch gave more grounds to the radical Islamists.
In their naive innocent goody goody minds they think they are "avoiding conflict in the interest of harmony", but in fact what they are doing is giving ammunition to the extremists who then say to the faithful, look how much we have achieved, look at how much they are conceding, its our strength that is making them retreat and thus making the extremists even more popular.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

IRI Event at SOAS is Cancelled

My previous post on the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, hiring SOAS university facilities to celebrate the 29th victory of the Islamic Revolution, got some worthwhile publicity.
Iranvajahan, Harry's Blog and the Spectator all picked up on it. Soon the whole thing snowballed into a spontaneous protest by Iranians and non-Iranians. Decent people who could not remain silent for a British university to let its facilities be used as a platform for the very same regime that imprisons students and academics in Iran, protested using sound reasoning and rational arguments.

While we were planning to turn up to the event and hold posters of the latest detained students in front of the Embassy delegates during the event, emails started reaching me that the event has been cancelled.

The email read,
"I write on behalf of Professor Paul Webley, Director and Principal of the School of Oriental and African Studies. Thank you for your email expressing concern over this week’s scheduled event.
I would like to inform you that the event has been cancelled on procedural grounds.
Please contact me with any further questions

Which was also posted on Harry's Place. Yet I was still not convinced, for I was also getting reports that the event is still shown scheduled and unaltered on the Embassy's website. People who rang the embassy to enquire were also told the event was to go ahead as planned.

In the back of my mind, I was suspicious that perhaps this was the administration's plot to keep us away from the event. For this reason I did not want to say anything until I turned up at SOAS myself and saw with my own eyes that there is no Embassy event at SOAS. My main difficulty was to decide what to tell those who were planning to come from outside London.

Well tonight I can confirm that the celeberation of the 29th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran is not held at SOAS. When we turned up outside the Brunei gallery, some dipstick holding the poster upside down told us that the event had changed to the Imperial Hotel in Holborn. He was reluctant to say he worked for the embassy at first until his position changed to "I am sort of connected to the embassy but I do cultural work only". We told him it cannot be pleasant to work for an unpopular regime that represses its people, and again he said "But I only do cultural work"

I was told there were eight people in total who had turned up for the new venue at the Imperial hotel, which was soon reduced to five. The three artists Ali Nassirian, Hossen Yari and Golshifteh Farahani who had sold out their principles to promote the religious dictatorship in Iran must have felt so humiliated standing in front of an audience of just handful of embassy employees. A bitter experience for all artists who sell out and let their talents be exploited by repressive states.

The most difficult task now however is to convince the impotent Iranian media, that this is news worth reporting. It will hearten the combatants inside Iran and it will show them that any human rights abuse by the regime inside Iran can cost the regime outside of Iran.

My sincere respect for all those who did not remain silent and reminded a British university that while there are detained students in Iran and while there is "intellectual cleansing" going on in Iran's universities, there shall be no comfort zone for the Islamic Republic in an academic establishment outside Iran.

From SOAS we had to dash to the Listening Post studios who make programs for the Aljazeera English TV. They were doing a piece on Azeri ethnic issues in Iran, we did our bit to make sure there will be a voice against any separatist claptrap and that Azerabadegan was, is and will be an integral part of Iran. We shall see how much will be edited and included.

Friday, February 01, 2008

IRI Uses SOAS as a Propaganda Platform Again

Last year the SOAS Administration claimed they were unknowingly duped by the Islamic Republic embassy in London, who used the university facilities as a platform for their propaganda and disinformation, by holding a "symposium" as a pretext for an official celebration of the Islamic Revolution in a British university.

Well if you could give the SOAS Administration the benefit of the doubt last year, a repeat of the same "symposium" makes it impossible and cretinous to do so this year. For once again, an invitation by the Cultural Centre of the Embassy of the I.R. of Iran, accompanied by a poster with the heading "In Praise of the 29th Anniversary of the Victory of the Islamic Revolution", has been sent out to embassy staff and associates for a 3 day event, 6-8th February at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, with the usual reception starting at 6:30 pm.

At a time when only recently, 43 Iranian students, across Iranian universities, have either been arrested or abducted by the Islamic Republic agents, it is a travesty of common decency and human values for the SOAS university to allow this cultural facade by the Islamic Republic to be held in a British university.

I shall be ringing SOAS on Monday to make sure they are aware that the Islamic Republic embassy is behind this "symposium". If so, I believe the (ab)use of university facilities for a foreign embassy's propaganda activities is in fact illegal as I was told by the SOAS administration last year.

The event will be attended by three turncoat Iranian actors who have continously served and praised the Islamic Republic, but in no way do they represent the decent mainstream Iranian artists who only recently, during the Fajr film festival, protested at even more increasing government control and censorship by Ahmadi-Nejad's government.

For further information to enquire as to why a British university is allowing its facilities to be used by representatives of a religious dictatorship that has for three decades repressed students, academics and artists in Iran, refer to the following:

SOAS Principal Paul Webley:

Tel 0207 898 4014
Fax 0207 898 4019

SOAS Conference Office:
020 7898 4918