Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How do Ordinary Iranians Really Think?

A friend of mine was at a conference in Washington recently. It was hosted by a cross party foundation composed of Republicans and Democrats, politicians and academics. During the session, a female Democrat told him, they have been given some names of Iranian dissidents and would like to know his opinion on these dissidents. Naturally my friend was happy to oblige and so the Democrat member, struggled to pronounce the name as she read her notes, 'Mo-ham-ad Qali? Qalibaf?'. Dumbstruck and taken back at the ignorance of this US Democrat, my friend just raised his eyebrows and asked for the name of the next dissident.
'Ali La-ri- err Lari-jani', she continued. Struggling to hold back his laughter, my friend asked bemused as to who had told her these were Iranian dissidents?

-'Tritta Parsi' was her swift reply and so things became clear to my friend, as it probably has to most readers of this post.

The truth is an organised and well funded body of lobbyists and 'Iranian scholar experts' in numerous think tanks have confused the hell of the US statesmen, whose initial knowledge on Iran was rock bottom zilch in the first place. Yet this deliberate attempt to confuse and mislead is not confined to the Americans about Iran. So-called 'Iran experts' who at best are just hustling for recognition and academic credibility amongst their niche audiences and at worst are direct agents of the Islamic Republic have also been hard at work confusing the European statesmen at what is going on in Iran and how the ordinary Iranian thinks.

Although in Europe, the attempt is much more sophisticated. I doubt, rather I hope, a European statesman would not accept Qalibaf and Larijani, major IRI establishment figures, as Iranian dissidents!

The approach in UK, in my experience, for example, has been something along these lines, a wrong impression fed by half truths:

'The Iranians are extremely suspicious about the British motives. They recall the British role in the overthrow of the nationalist Dr. Mossadegh, blah, blah, blah...' and then the usual conclusion is that if the British government takes up measures against the Islamic Republic, it will rekindle those memories of half a century ago and will rally the nationalist feelings of the Iranian population behind the mullahs, hence appeasement of the mullahs is the best option!

Here is a rough narration of a conversation I had last week with a friend who had just arrived from Iran. Lets call him Mehdi for obvious reasons. This is not however an isolated anecdote, most of the ordinary Iranians I meet who live in Iran tell me similar things and you can see the common trends in their thoughts on politics.

Mehdi : America and England support the mullahs, it is as clear as daylight. We don't have a chance against the mullahs.

Me: Mehdi, how can you say that? look at all the overwhelming evidence, both UK and US would love to see the back of these mullahs, they just don't have many options.

Mehdi: Ok, tell me about the overwhelming evidence

Me: Well lets start with Bush calling Iran an axis of evil.

Mehdi: What? Thats just cheap talk, to fool the public. Cheney's Haliburton was still operating in Iran when all that was being talked.What practical measures has Bush taken to change this regime? If anything Bush has helped them. For example, the Taliban and Saddam were the most immediate problems for the Islamic Republic, America removed both of them and Jack Straw welcomed khatami as a partner in the 'war on terror'. Don't you remember?

Me: Why would UK and US want to support the mullahs Mehdi?

Mehdi: Arabs have so much money in their hands they could buy the West. Somehow this money has to be grabbed from them. Islamic Republic is the bogey man of the region, just like when Saddam was for a while. US and UK make Islamic Republic a dangerous threat to the rich Arab Persian Gulf countries so they can sell them more arms. Look at the recent missile tests, seconds after they were fired, there were massive orders for arms by the rich Arab countries in the region.

Me: What about the capture of the UK sailors?

Mehdi: What about it? First of all it established exactly where the disputed Iranian water territories was and secondly it made Ahmadi-Nejad more of a hero in Muslim countries, thus making their pro-Western governments even more scared into buying arms and equipment from the West.

Me: Mehdi, look at the oil prices soaring, how could UK and US want this tension in the region, look at the effects it is having on the global economy.

Mehdi: Nonsense, Bush was elected by the oil lobby, it is in the interests of those who brought him to power for the oil prices to soar. they are making billions and what money the Arabs are making, the US and the UK are pocketing again by selling them arms.

Me: Look at all the interference in Iraq made by the Islamic Republic. Surely, the US wants Iraq to be stable.

Mehdi: America wants to stay in Iraq so it can sell all the oil at these high prices. If Iraq was stable there would be no reason for the Americans to stay there. So once again the mullahs are doing what they are told to do by the UK and US. Come on you know what we Iranians say about the mullahs, 'lift a mullah's beard and you see Made in Britain'. Who helped the UK and US to overthrow Mossadegh? The mullahs, we all know that, now they have been rewarded for their services.

Mehdi then went into the all familiar territory of how the BBC helped overthrow the Shah and how supportive of the mullahs the BBC is now, and how the BBC is referred to as Ayatollah BBC amongst the Iranians.

I was struggling to convince Mehdi on any front with my counter arguments, so I asked him about sanctions. 'Why would the UK and US impose sanctions against Islamic Republic if they support IRI?'

Mehdi: Its just a show again, these sanctions are useless, when have they ever been imposed against those who are repressing the people? They ban some Iranian scientist from travelling but they let Mortazevi go to Geneva as the head of the Iranian Human Rights delegation, come on Potkin, get real. If they want to finish the Islamic Republic, all they have to do is stop the export of Petrol. It will paralyse the regime, but they will never do it. They want them in power.
Carter brought them in for a reason.

Me: Mehdi, everyone is talking about the threat of war, and how an attack on Iran is imminent and you say Bush is supporting the mullahs?

Mehdi: Ah, we have heard all this for the last God knows how many years, it is all cheap talk, for the last decade we have been hearing in the next six months they will attack, they never will, do you know how many six months it has been? why would they attack their best friend in the region? Tell me something, do you have any idea how much the house prices have gone up in just the last year in Tehran? 100 percent! if people thought an attack was imminent do you not think they would start selling their houses and house prices would be falling instead. No one is doing it, no one in Iran believes this war bullshit.

They say the markets never lie. I really didn't know how to answer Mehdi on this point. If people in Iran thought war was imminent, why would they not sell their houses and move to safer places? Obviously they don't see an attack as an imminent danger and there is no panic about this amongst the population.

I gave up trying to convince Mehdi, so I was just resigned to ask him what his outlook on the future was. To which again Mehdi surprised me, 'Oh these lot will go. People are fed up with them and they have had enough. They have never been as hated as they are now. Iranians like change every 30 years or so. It will take a few years before this feeling of hatred towards the mullahs turns into street riots, but as soon as it does, the British and the Americans will find their next puppets to replace them and do their work.'

This surprised me, I have never known Mehdi to say the mullahs are on their way out until now, but this was also a contradiction to his original opening statement, 'we don't have a chance against the mullahs'. So I pointed out his contradiction, thinking at last I will have the upper hand in this friendly debate.

'Not right now we don't have a chance, but give it time, it is inevitable, everyone hates the mullahs more and more every day', Mehdi replied.

Let me just add Mehdi comes from a religious family background, he voted for the Islamic Republic in the sham referendum held immediately after the revolution. He also volunteered and served in the front line against Saddam's invasion of Iran and voted for Khatami first time round.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mahabad Protests for the Release of Kurdish Activists

Video of people in Mahabad protesting for the release of Kurdish activists. Pictures of Hana Abdi and Ronak Safar zadeh from the Azarmehr Women's Association and Farzad Kamangar, see my previous post, can be seen carried by the crowds.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kidnapping of an 11 Year Old

I have never written anything about Fazad Kamangar, the Iranian Kurdish teacher who is due to be executed. This is because there has been much written about his plight in other websites and I have none of my reliable sources in Iran who can give me first hand information about him. The Islamic regime accuses him of having ties with the armed Kurdish separatist groups, but if I jott down how many times these representatives of the clerical regime have blatantly lied, I will never finish.

However when I read about the kidnap and torture of Kamangar's 11 year old nephew, in the website of Human Rights Activists in Iran, I was really shaken. I have a nephew of the same age myself. Islamic Republic has a horrific track record of killing teenagers during the eighties by madmen like Khalkhali and Lajevardi, even pregnant women were executed by this regime in the eighties. One of CIS members who now lives in Germany, spent the first five years of his life growing up in Islamic Republic prisons in the same cell with his mother and other female political prisoners, watching them being taken for interrogations, and then returned bruised, battered and bleeding. Believe me, you need nerves of steel to listen to or read about the accounts of these children whose misfortune was they were born to parents who were political dissidents during the eighties in Iran.

According to the Human Rights Activists in Iran website, Kamangar's 11 year old nephew who had popped out for some shopping errands, was forced into a white car belonging to the IRGC, taken to an unknown place, and beaten while the assailants hurled insults and threats at his family and at Kamangar in particular for several hours. At the end, this 11 year old boy was released 5 Kilometers outside the town at 21:00 hours, bleeding from his eyes and ears. It took him more than one hour to walk back and find his home. Naturally the kid is in shock and extremely frightened. His family have lodged a complaint with the authorities, who have postponed the hearings from witnesses to Saturday. I can not even imagine the rage this family must feel at the moment. Even if Kamangar is connected with a separatist Kurdish group, what on earth does that have to do with his 11 year old nephew?? Is there no limit to the barbarity of these neanderthals?

Of course according to groups like CASMII and now a newly formed group, 'Iranians for Peace', with the same old familiar faces [Haleh Afshar, Elaheh Rostami, Ziba Mir Hosseini and the rest of the usual IRI apologists and lackeys...], we must not talk about these things at the moment, while we face an external threat! The same external threat that we have been told we face constantly and continuously for the last 28 years. If the regime continues to treat people like this, there will come a time when people will even welcome the external threat, treat your people right however and no external threat can ever match the resolve and support of your people.

All dictatorships have always used the 'external threat' excuse for their human rights abuses. Talk to a brain washed North Korean and he or she will tell you that the Socialism led by their Dear Leader, Kim Il Jong, is so desirable and precious that the whole world is plotting against North Korea. Even the Dear Leader's bulging stomach is not because he stuffs himself while his people starve but because he constantly worries about his people!

Its funny, or perhaps revealing, how during the Pahlavis time, 'external threat' was never a consideration by these people who make up these CASMII and 'Iranians for Peace' type of groups. When Reza Shah came to power, Iran was on the brink of being torn to pieces by separatists like the British backed Sheikh Khaza'l in the oil rich Khuzestan and the Russian backed Mirza Kuchak Khan in the North. Reza Shah was forced to abdicate when the Allied forces of Britain and Russia invaded Iran in 1941. The Russian backed separatists even tried to separate Azerbijan from Iran, and during the second Pahlavi's rule, Iran was constantly under threat by the Soviets to the North and Saddam Hussein's Iraq to the West.

Yet the likes of these IRI apologists who make up CASMII and 'Iranians for Peace', they are old enough and most were political activists against the Shah at the time, were never heard saying 'We must not talk about Human Rights abuses, because we face external threats'. These people welcomed external threats, they saw Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the Soviet Union as liberators!
They went out of their way to exaggerate the human rights abuses under the Pahlavis.

Iranian diaspora must not be fooled by their anti-war rhetoric and peace loving gestures. The best way to remove an external threat is to help establish a regime which respects human rights and allows all Iranians to participate in running of Iran. A democratic secular government which promotes citizens on their merits and not on their ties to the ruling clergy is the best defence against any 'external threats'.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guilty Feelings of a Revolutionary Guard 20 Years Later

During the terror years of the eighties which led to the massacre of the Iranian political prisoners in 1988, there was a disturbing news which further shocked any decent human being.

The leadership of the Left wing groups in Iran were still ploughing through Marx and Lenin's writings and squabling whether the clerics, who were in complete control of the country, represented the petty bourgeoise class, natural allies of the Proleteriat according to Lenin, or a merchant bourgeoise class, blah blah. While their young, even teenage ordinary supporters and sympathisers were being lined up for mass executions, the Left's leadership in Iran considered such intellectual theoretical debates as having top priority, because the correct Marxist-Leninst formulation, in their warped out of touch minds, was important to decide the 'correct' tactics against the regime!

Yet any sane rational person by hearing such shocking news that was coming out of the Islamic Republic prisons would say, what difference does it make? these are nothing but brutal savages.

The horrific news, was that female prisoners who were virgins, were raped before their execution. Apparently according to the Koran, virgin girls will always go to heaven, and by raping them before their execution, one would prevent them from entering the Paradise. Clerics in the prisons would perform the Sighe, temporary shi'ite marriage, ceremony and their 'temporary husbands' could do as they pleased before these young girls were executed in the morning.

Ayatollah Montazeri, who was the original designated successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, as the next Supreme Leader, also mentions in his memoirs, the enormous feeling of guilt he suffers for not having stopped this loathsome conduct in Islamic prisons at the time.

Families of these executed girls also reported, how a prison guard or a revolutionary guard, would bring the tragic devastating news of their daughter's death to their household and have the further audacity of telling them, 'by the way, last night, we were your son-in-law'. Just imagine what these families went through in those moments.

In a Persian weblog, You Killed Iranians but Iran Lives On, the blogger writes about an uncle who is now a Major in the Revolutionary Guards. The uncle's wife is dead and the guilty feelings are catching up with him in his old age, perhaps because he now sees himself in the waiting lounge for the next world. The uncle was stationed in the Shiraz prison at the time, and was amongst a group due to be sent to the war fronts the next day.
After the evening meal and reading the Komayl prayers, the prison governor, told them he had good news, 'You can choose any of the female prisoners due to be executed as your temporary wives for the night.'

Some of them refused to take part in this crime, the blogger's uncle was also tempted to turn away and nearly did, but someone shouted at him, 'Hey, where are you going, you don't want to leave this world without having tried it, do you?' The temptation and his youth, and his uncertain future at the war front finally won over.
According to the blogger's uncle, the young girl said she was sentenced to death, after she had gone along to a Tudeh Party meeting, Iranian pro-Soviet Communist Party. Her name was Leyla. After he spent the night with her, he watched her get executed along with the others. At the time he justified the unsettling experience to himself, by thinking' This is necessary so that Islam can spread'.

Like many other henchmen, the Revolutionary Guard who took part in this inhumane act, is now suffering the after shocks of his barbarity, yet some Tudeh Party affiliates of those days, like Elaheh Rostami, SOAS lecturer, and Haleh Afshar, the People's Peer!, still try and justify the regime and claim women in Islamic Republic are better off than before by quoting meaningless statistics like 'More women are vaccinated now than during the Shah's regime'. With some, perhaps, the guilty conscience will never catch up.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Let Batebi Rest

Since the student uprising in July, 1999, many things have happened in my life that I never thought would happen. Looking back they just seem incredible. For example, when I was following the news of the suppression of the student uprising in Iran, I never thought one day, one of those student leaders, Gholamreza Mohajerani-Nejad will be my guest for two weeks in London. When I was helping to make the documentary, Iran Forbidden, I never thought one day I will meet Fakhravar face to face, and host him here in London. Similarly when I wrote the post on Nazanin Afshin-Jam two years ago, I never thought I will help organise an event for her to speak in the UK parliament. The list can go on like this, but I don't want to deviate from what I am about to write.

After July, 1999, two other young Iranian ex-pat activists and myself in three different parts of the world, started a website which was supposed to concentrate on the new pro-democracy movement in Iran, publish related news and help us to establish contact with those inside Iran.
One day we received a Persian text from an unknown source which read 'The young student whose picture was published on the cover of the Economist, is called Ahmad Batebi, and is sentenced to death' . In fact we misread the name as Bateni - the difference between the letters 'n' and 'b' in Persian is a dot above or below respectively.

Immediately, I contacted the Economist's Foreign Editor at the time, a very pleasant and approachable lady by the name of Barbara Smith. She was devastated at what I told her and said she would check with her sources in Iran. Her sources confirmed the news and in fact Barbara Smith was the one who told us the young man's name is Ahmad Batebi and not Bateni.

Barbara Smith then ran an article highlighting the severe sentences passed by the Islamic court, including the four death sentences in the next issue of the Economist. She also gave us a contact name at Reuters who owned the photograph of Batebi published on the cover of the magazine. I rang Reuters, explained the situation and Reuters kindly wavered their loyalty fee and provided me with the high resolution photograph. This enabled us to make posters and T-shirts of Batebi and publicise his plight.

When Batebi's letter from prison about his treatment reached us, some English friends of mine made a play based on the letter. We staged this play in some UK universities and schools.

I was invited to a UK student conference in East London, organised by Campaign for Free Education, and talked to them about the student movement in Iran from the cultural revolution right up to the July uprising. The students themselves then suggested to nominate Ahmad Batebi for the historic position of honorary vice-president of UK's National Union of Students.
The NUS conference in March 2000, did in fact elect Batebi for this post. On one anniversary of the student uprising, we made a short clip for Azadi TV, where we went to a UK university and asked UK students to express messages of solidarity to Iranian students and hold up Batebi T-shirts while saying 'Azadi Andisheh, Hamishe Hamishe' - 'Freedom of Thought, For Ever, For Ever' The popular slogan of the uprising. The program was a huge success and was beamed almost every day to Iran leading up to the anniversary of the student uprising.

Other Iranian pro-democracy activists in UK and other countries outside Iran also campaigned hard and Batebi with his famous picture holding a bloody T-shirt became the symbol of the new movement. All this we hoped helped to save Batebi from the death sentence.

Today, I received an email from a friend who was familiar with the campaign we had for Batebi at the time. I laughed when she asked if I had some thing to do with his escape. The truth is I had nothing to do with it. I only ever managed to talk to Batebi once in the last 9 years and that was very briefly during one of his prison leaves.

While I was happy to see Batebi finally find safety, I have been uncomfortable about the fact that he ended up in US. Unfortunately Iranian ex-pats in US and their petty rivalries and rumour mongering have often broken down escaped dissidents even more than the Islamic Republic prison authorities have managed. Cell mates who stood together against their interrogators in the Islamic Republic prisons become sworn enemies of each other in US through the unsavoury manipulation of some Iranian ex-pats in US who revel in petty factional rivalries.

I have seen this unfortunate phenomenon too many times. While these dissidents are inside Iran, they are everyone's heroes but when they come out, God forbid if they hold an interview ,for example, with a rival TV presenter. Soon petty personal jealousies will make villains out of them and yesterday's heroes become Islamic Republic 'collaborators' etc. A point which was also raised by Amnesty International's Zahir JanMohammad in the article published in NY Times:
' Mr. Batebi joins an exile community whose rivalries are legendary, many factions would seek to recruit him. '

I hope what happened to previous Iranian dissidents who ended up in US will not happen to Batebi, and I wish Iranian ex-pat groups in US will not get into yet another mud slinging match with each other over who is more suitable to recruit Batebi. I wish to talk and meet with Batebi one day and even have him as my guest in London in the future, but for now I just hope Batebi will get a chance to rest and Iranian ex-pats just help him get the medical attention he needs. I wish, as Batebi himself says in the NY Times, he can go fishing and enjoy life in a country where people are free to live their lives.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Iranian Kurdish Cities on All Out Strike

Cities throughout the Kurdistan province of Iran have been on an all out general strike, commemorating the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Qassemlou, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran.

All shops and businesses in Saqiz, Mahabad, Oshnavieh, Bukan, Naghadeh and parts of Oroumieh are all closed down despite severe threats by the Islamic Republic authorities warning businesses that they will lose their permits should they not be open today.

Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, has also asked people to switch their lights off at 10:00 pm local time, in a further act of solidarity and civil disobedience against the Islamic Republic.

Dr. Qassemlou's Czech born wife, Helen Krulich, speaking in fluent Persian, appeared on Tishk TV and also endorsed the general strike and the planned lights out later this evening.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Farewell Nazanin

What an eventful week it was. It seems it was only a few minutes ago when we were waiting in the airport for Nazanin to arrive. Anxiety mixed with excitement, excited that we were seeing Nazanin again and anxious that we would be worthy hosts for Nazanin Afshin-Jam and make a success of this amazing opportunity.

I didn't get time to write about Nazanin's meetings yesterday, and so let me do so now. Nazanin met Stephen Crabb MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, at the House of Commons yesterday morning. In the afternoon, Nazanin met with Tom Porteous, the London director of Human Rights Watch followed by a meeting with Drewery Dyke from Amnesty International.

Today Nazanin met with representatives of Iranian religious minorities in the morning followed by an interview in the Bush House with the BBC Persian and her last formal meeting in the afternoon was with Maryam Namazi.

So to wrap up the week, we had a farewell dinner in an Iranian restaurant with some of the young Iranian diaspora. In particular I wanted Nazanin to meet young Iranians who are not actively involved in Iran related issues, I wanted Nazanin to show them how they can make a difference but at the same time, I wanted Nazanin to hear their side and find out what prevents these young Iranians from becoming active themselves.

I am waiting for more photos to reach my mail box and share them with you. So those who took the photos please hurry :))

Let me finish the post by mentioning another amazing quality of Nazanin. In the whole week that we were going from one meeting to another and holding one event after another, Nazanin never showed any signs of fatigue or tiredness, she never refused anything we asked her and obliged with every appointment, her enthusiasm and energy never wavered. Going about from one part of London to another, in a week which hardly stopped pouring with rain, we were often concerned that her schedule may be over demanding, but she always replied with her humble smile, 'No its ok'.

Last but not least, I have to mention our colleague Maryam Raiisi, another Iranian girl who worked non-stop throughout this week. Despite all her family commitments, she too never showed any signs of tiredness. The sheer energy of Nazanin and Maryam, has strengthened my long held belief that Iran will be liberated by the collective effort of its women.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nazanin Parliament Photos

Nazanin Afshin-Jam in the UK Parliament:

Hope to get some time soon to transfer more photos and show them on the blog.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Nazanin's Third Day in London

Nazanin had an interview with More4 TV Channel this morning and then after a quick lunch at the Portcullis House, we made our way to the Foreign Office, where we had a very useful meeting with an Iran Desk officer on Human Rights issues.

Later we went to the House of Lords. It was my first time ever in the House of Lords. While we were waiting in the lobby, one of the peers acknowledged Nazanin and said he was in committee room 14 the day before and was very impressed with the points she had made during the meeting.

We had a quick tour of the House, as we made our way to the Lord's tea room. I even had the chance of standing right in front of the very Throne of the Queen of England, where the Queen sits at the State Opening of Parliament and delivers the Queen's Speech.

Lord Avebury invited us to his office, where we discussed various Iran related issues. More tomorrow I hope.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Nazanin Afshin-Jam in UK Parliament

It was a busy day for Nazanin today. The first engagement was an interview with Bloomberg news followed by a press conference at the Henry Jackson Society offices in Queen Ann's Chambers. Three Iranian media representatives from Radio Farda, Radio Zamaneh and Kayhan Weekly were also present and as usual some of our Iranian media didn't cease to amaze me with their snobby opinionated attitudes. Rather than interviewing Nazanin, you would think they were the ones who were there to be interviewed. Instead of asking questions about why Nazanin was in London and her schedule of events in the coming week, they were advising her about what she should say in the parliament and making speeches of their own . A point which did not go unnoticed by the non-Iranians present in the room either.

The representative of Radio Farda, boasted about being the most popular radio station in Iran etc. When I asked her if Radio Farda will be covering Nazanin's event in the UK parliament later in the afternoon, Radio Farda representative said no unfortunately she can't make it! Neither of the other two Iranian media came to cover the parliament event either. Instead as usual they expected us to write a report and land it on their lap. Radio Zamaneh however did a one to one interview with Nazanin after the press conference.

More than 100 people turned up at the committee room 14 in the House of commons at 5 pm today to hear Nazanin. The meeting was chaired by Graham Stuart MP who introduced Nazanin and myself to the audience. Nazanin started by showing a few slide images of Iran before the 1979 Islamic revolution, followed by pictures of public hangings, beatings and other human rights abuses which have taken place in the last three decades in Iran since.

Today also coincided with the student uprising in 1999 which engulfed 19 cities across Iran for six days. Nazanin reminded the audience about some of the victims of the student protests, the bloodshed which followed and the long term prison sentences received by some of the captured protesters. She talked about the persecution of the religious minorities in Iran and the new apostasy bill, the barbaric punishments and the execution of minors, the murder of the Iranian-Canadian photo journalist, Zahra Kazemi and other victims. Yet despite all these atrocities and suppression, the civil movement in Iran for democracy and human rights remains alive. Students, the youth, the women and workers of Iran continue their protests and political prisoners like Arzhang Davoodi defy their captors by staging a 70 day hunger strike.

Nazanin stated her position against a military strike on Iran and at the same time she criticised any appeasement of the Islamic Republic by the West, saying the best solution is empowering the civil movement in Iran.

Nazanin finished her speech by expressing her optimism that soon change will come about in Iran and dictatorships will not last for ever.

The first member of the audience to be allowed to ask a question, turned out to be a Press TV employee, the satellite station run by the Islamic Republic from Tehran with studios in London.
Although he did not ask a question, but rather aggressively and in a loud voice stood up and said he did not want to say what his name was and objected to being filmed, he then advised Nazanin that there are people in the Iranian regime who are reasonable and not all should be blamed.

Tomorrow will be another busy day with more meetings which hopefully I will get time to write about.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pictures of Young Palizdar

Pictures of a young Palizdar and his Janbazan[War Wounded] ID card. Palizdar volunteered for the war front to fight Saddam's war of aggression against Iran at the age of 14, but perhaps his greatest battle against the occupiers of our country lies ahead of him.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam in UK

Nazanin Afshin-Jam arrived in UK today.

It is July and it was pouring down with rain all morning in London, yet everyone in our welcoming group was looking forward to meeting Nazanin. As always it was so Exhilarating to meet her, despite her long flight, she was so full of energy, so enthusiastic about her work and still so down to earth. After we picked up Nazanin from the airport, on the way back to her hotel, the clouds broke up and the sun even started to shine! so symbolic of how she inspires all Iranian pro-democracy and human rights activists.

Nazanin has been invited by the Confederation of Iranian Students in UK and will have a heavy schedule in the days ahead. I will write more about her events in the coming week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Official Figures on Prostitution in the Islamic Republic

The Islamic revolution in Iran according to Ayatollah Khomeini was supposed to provide the people of Iran with free electricty, water, bus rides, housing and eliminate corruption and prostitution. What lies they all were and how the Iranians were tricked and continue to pay the price! Something I keep reminding the Muslim youth here in UK when I see them duped and fascinated by rhetoric of Muslim radical charlatans.

Here are some official figures about prostitution in the Islamic Republic, published in the daily Sarmayeh on Wednesday:

'Seyyed Kazim Rasoolzadeh Tabatabaii, head of the Tarbiat Modarres University Psychological Group and Head of the Vulnerable Women's Work Group stated, 'In the 80s and 90s, the average age for prostitution was above 30 but now this average is above 15 years old. '

'If previously the main reason for prostitution was to meet their basic needs, now it has changed to meet their secondary needs. Also previously prostitution was mainly amongst single women but research shows that most of the women involved in prostitution are now married women and this trend is increasing fast'

Rasoolzadeh also claimed figure show that 11% of the married women engage in prostitution with their husband's knowledge'

Elaheh Rostami, SOAS lecturer, and proletarian hero of the Socialist Worker's Party, on the other hand believes that the 'The Great people's revolution of 1979 was a huge benefit to the Iranian women who are much better off now than before the revolution.' In particular and in contrast to the above official statistics, Elaheh Rostami's favourite statistics is that more women are now vaccinated than before the revolution :)) Talk about the low standards of British universities which employ such 'useful idiots' as lecturers these days.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Video of Mashad Protests on Youtube

See footage of Mashad Protests on youtube.

The peaceful protest was against the corruption and the stranglehold of the financial mafia on Iran's economy resulting in the deteriorating economic conditions for ordinary people. See how baton wielding guards on motor bikes smash the old man in the crowd on to the ground. It is also interesting to see the sheer hatred of people against the troops and how the crowds jeer the guards and call them bootlickers of the mafia.