Saturday, May 29, 2010

Head of Iran State Broadcasting Admits, 'We Jam Satellite Signals'

If you don't stand up to bullies and tyrants they don't just become audacious, they become arrogant, confident and more brutal as well. Ezzatollah Zarghami is one of Ahmadinejad's cronies heading the Iranian state broadcasting (IRIB). Speaking to a selected audience on Thursday, Zarghami didn't beat about the bush and without any worries, proudly admitted 'Yes, we jam satellite TV signals'.

Jamming satellite signals is against international broadcasting conventions and has a detrimental effect on the environment and the health of the citizens. Islamic Republic of Iran has been a persistent offender in jamming satellite signals for the last decade and if there was a shadow of doubt in anyone's mind that the Iranian regime is a persistent offender, surely the public admission made by the head of the IRIB on Thursday should convert any doubting Thomas to a Thomas the Believer. Yet the Iranian regime has jammed signals with total impunity. Not only broadcasters, governments, broadcasting watchdogs and trade unions alike have refused to stand up to the Iranian regime about the illegal jamming, the number of Islamic Republic propaganda channels broadcasting from commercial satellites have in fact proliferated.

When Ribal Al-Assad, the director of the Syrian opposition ODFS, was asked in the Carlton Club about the future of the Green Movement in Iran, he replied 'I have always supported the Green Movement in Iran, how can anyone not support such courageous people but one despairs at the lack of resolve by the West to stand up to the regime in Iran. One clear example being the jamming of BBC Persian and VOA Persian and how the Iranian regime has got away without any repercussions.'

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), head-quartered in Geneva, is the UN agency for information and communication technology affairs and the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing broadcasting services. The ITU, however, seems just as incompetent as the Western governments on enforcement capabilities against Member States who contravene the international order. Seven months after the French National Frequencies Agency (ANF) appealed to the ITU to stop the Islamic Republic from blocking satellite signal broadcasts into Iran, there is still no action, except that now the head of IRIB even proudly and publicly admits they are jamming the signals.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How Can I Eat When My Son Isn't?

Majid Tavakoli's ill mother in Shiraz, who has not been able to see her son, since Majid was imprisoned in December, has also gone on hunger strike today. 'What has my son done to deserve this? How can I eat when my loved one isn't eating?'

Two other prominent Iranian student movement leaders, Koohyar Goodarzi and Hossein Ronaghi Molki (aka Babak Khorramdin) are also on hunger strike. Koohyar's condition today meant he had to be taken to the prison clinic.

If only the world media reacted, if only the universities outside Iran showed a strong reaction, it could save Majid, Hossein and Koohyar.

Majid Tavakolli's Mother: Help My Son

The footage below is the voice of Majid Tavakoli's mother. She asks all of us wherever we are, do whatever we can to save her son, Majid.

Majid, a prominent leader of Iran's embattled student movement, was arrested in December, after making a speech on the anniversary of Iran's Student Day. The regime has demonstrated a pathological hatred towards Majid for his uncompromising stand and courage in resisting his captors who are demanding he publicly begs for forgiveness from the Supreme Leader.

There is now serious concern for Majid's health. Majid has developed respiratory problems since his incarceration. Majid also began a hunger strike four days ago after he was returned to solitary confinement again. What happened to the international student solidarity??

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jafar Panahi's Release Shows International Pressure Works

The release of the Iranian film maker, Jafar Panahi, on a bail of $200,000 today shows international pressure and campaigning to release prisoners of conscience does work. Panahi enjoyed the solid support of his world famous film celebrity colleagues, who included the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg etc.

At the Cannes film festival, a tearful Juliette Binoche, carried a large sign with Jafar Panahi's name on it and said 'I hope he will be here next year'. Time and time again it has been proven that persistent pressure and high profile campaigning does work.

I wish Western academics and universities would also learn from their film industry colleagues. One would have thought with all the Iranian students currently imprisoned, tortured and killed, the UK students and academics would also campaign for their colleagues. Yet sadly the evidence suggests otherwise, even at universities like SOAS, UCL and Durham where graduates of these universities are currently serving long term prison sentences, not only there isn't much appetite for campaigning, representatives of Ahmadinejad's junta administration continue to hold regular 'cultural' events and dinner parties. One wonders at the moral decline of UK academics, which sadly includes many Iranian lecturers, where a free lunch seems to be more preferable for them than standing up for basic human values.

Video of Bahareh Hedayat, Iranian student appealing for solidarity from Western universities before she received a 9 and 1/2 year sentence:

Picture of SOAS lecturer Anna Contadini, rushing to receive her award from Ahmadinejad :

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ahmadinejad in Khorramshahr

Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr and Ahmadinejad who never spent a single day in the front during the war with Saddam, was desperately trying to exploit the occasion for one of his cheap publicity stunts. It could have been another publicity stunt, the rent a crowd were there, the state TV cameras were playing their usual tricks, only one thing did not go ahead as planned. Unemployed workers had rushed to the area and kept chanting 'Unemployment, Unemployment' and it was all heard on the State TV:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bakhtiar's Killer is Returned to Iran with an Official Welcome

Is it any wonder a murderous government welcomes an assassin murderer and treats him like a hero? Of course not, so no need to say any more on that. Is it any wonder though that a Western democracy frees a killer and deals with a terrorist state?

Dr. Bakhtiar's killer, Ali Vakili Raad, was today freed and returned to Iran. Most Western media simply refer to Shapour Bakhtiar as the Shah's last Prime Minister, but Bakhtiar was a lot more than that. This mountain of a man fought in the Spanish Civil War as an International Brigadist against General Franco's Fascism. Later, he volunteered and fought in the Orleans battalion and in the French Resistance against Hitler. He spent a total of six years in Shah's prisons and was the only significant opposition figure to the Shah, who had the foresight to warn Iranians in 1979 that mixing religion and state will have tragic consequences. This mountain of man fought against despotism and tyranny all his life to the very end, and this is how a Western democracy betrayed him, time and time again.

Bakhtiar survived an earlier assassination which resulted in the death of two French citizens and the permanent paralysis of a French policeman. His assassin then, Enis Naqash, was also returned to Iran after some lucrative contract. Bakhtiar's murder and that of his secretary Soroush Katibeh was with the lucid collusion of the Mitterand government at the time with the Islamic Republic. France's betrayal and collusion with the terrorists is therefore not a one off event.

'Never underestimate the capacity of the French for moral relativism and plain double dealing, not to mention their ability to organise a swift coverup and to boldly tell blatant lies. That is the way of government in France and has long been so.'

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ar(gh)avan Rezai is a Traitor, Full Stop

The video below is a part of Ahmadinejad's promotional video during last year's presidential (s)election. The young girl in the video is the Iranian born French tennis player, Arghavan Rezai or Aravan Rezai as she calls herself. I have no idea who the other older chubbier woman is, it may be her mother, but since Arghavan Rezai has been overcome with so much emotion after meeting Mahmood Ahmadinejad and can't speak herself, the other woman starts speaking on Rezai's behalf until Ar(gh)avan composes herself:

Woman - She has been waiting for this moment to meet and speak to Mr. Dr. Ahmadinejad that is why she is so emotional

Reporter - What gift did you give to Mr. Ahmadinejad?

Aravan Rezai - Two tennis rackets

Reporter - Mr. Ahmadinejad is not a tennis player, is he?

Aravan Rezai - May be he will become one

Reporter - Do you love Mr. Ahamdinejad?

Aravan Rezai - Yes very much so

Reporter - Why?

Aravan Rezai - Because he has shown all the world the strength and power of Iran and I am really proud of him

So you would think this is a no brainer, Aravan Rezai is a traitor and a sycophant, full stop. Imagine my surprise however when I saw so many Iranians on Facebook, expats who call themselves supporters of the Green Movement outside Iran congratulating themselves on the recent success of this tennis player champion! First I thought may be they have never seen this footage but then further to my surprise they were still defending her. Below were some of their justifications:

- This was before the protests!

So, one year has passed, so many atrocities against the people of Iran have happened, protesters have been beaten, raped and killed, has she ever publicly regretted her appearance in this promotional video? No, in fact her and her father Arsalan Rezai have appeared numerous times on Iranian state TV. Her father is said to have won a large business contract as a reward for his daughter's appearance on Ahmadinejad's promotional video.

- Its not her fault, its her father's fault!

We can find some root cause for any traitor's actions, does it make a difference? We can say the same thing about a Baseeji saying its their family upbringing etc. at least Aravan Rezai lives in France and has more access to free information to make a judgement than a Baseeji in Iran. She certainly does not need the money either.

- She is only 22!

So? Is there a minimum age limit for being a traitor? If so what is it? Do you have to be 25+ before you can be labelled as a traitor? Again many of the Baseejis are 22 or even younger.

- She should be judged for her tennis ability and not her politics!

I am sorry, if she has taken such a politically blatant partisan side by her own accord, then she should face the music for her politics too.

- She may regret her support soon

If it happens, all well and good, until it happens, Aravan Rezai is a traitor.

Finally the last justification of these confused weak minded expats who get too excited and drop all their principles when they get celebrity struck:

- Her coach seemed to be wearing a green wrist band in the last match

Well she may have even been wearing a pair of knickers with shades of green, if she wants to be forgiven she should do a lot more. She can be just as vocal as she was in the above video.

If we do not learn to ostracise traitors and sycophants, then I am afraid we will live in tyranny for a long time. This all reminds me of a Persian poem about a proud eagle who is shot down by an arrow, when the eagle looks at the arrow, he notices the eagle feathers used in the arrow and laments 'What happens to us is no one's fault but our own'

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Latest Ahmadinejad Comedy

Looks like the Western media also missed out on the comedy of what happened at today's press conference that was broadcast on IRI state media. Ahmadinejad starts his speech by reciting verses from the Koran in Arabic, the poor Iranian translator has no idea however what the Arabic verses are about and is unable to translate. The Brazilian president Lula thinks there is some technical difficulty and he is not hearing the translation. Ahmadinejad keeps asking 'No Translation?' until he twigs on at what is happening and says 'ok, don't worry about that bit' and the translation into Portuguese finally begins when Ahmadinejad starts speaking in Persian.

Thursday's Solid Strike in Kurdistan

More than 95% of shops and businesses in the Iranian Kurdistan were reported closed on Thursday, which was in reaction to the shock news of the five executions last Sunday. Sadly the strike didn't get much publicity in the Western media. This New York Times article was the only one I could find which covered the strile. Pictures and footage of closed shops may not be categorised as sexy news for these news editors but I think they are missing out on the significance of what happened on Thursday.

Iranian Kurdistan has been reluctant to join the Green Movement until now, perhaps because of their mistrust of the fact that Moussavi was the Prime Minister in the eighties when the Iranian Kurds suffered much violence, but last Sunday's executions and the swift condemnation of the unjust executions by both Moussavi and Karroubi has broadened the Green Movement.

The writing on the walls of Nazee Abad in South Tehran : 'Kurdistan, Tehran is with you'. As I have said many times before, don't underestimate Ahamdinejad's administration in its capability to shoot itself in the foot.
The execution of the five in Evin prison on Sunday will not cower people into fear in the run up for the anniversary of last year's fraudulent elections, it has instead broadened the Green Movement. Lets build on that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Regime Tries to Arrest the Entire Family of the Executed Teacher

It wasn't enough for them to unjustly hang the Kurdish teacher, Farzad Kamangar in Evin prison on Sunday, now the regime not only refuses to give his body and belongings back, they have issued arrest warrants for the entire family members who have been 'making too much noise' outside the Evin prison.

Saltaneh Rezayi, Farzad's mother pictured here, Mehrdad Kamangar (Farzad's brother), Sarvar Kamangar (Mehrdad's wife), Shirin Kamangar (Farzad's sister) and Farzad's 15 year old nephew, Javid, have all been threatened with arrest by the Evin prison authorities.

Prison authorities have also refused to return the bodies of the other four executed on Sunday, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alamhouli, Ali Heydarian and Mehdi Eslamian. The authorities have told the families that bodies will be secretly buried and they will be notified at a later date of the whereabouts of the burial places, in fear of the funerals turning into public protests.

Khalil Bahramian, the Iranian lawyer who represented Shirin and Farzad breaks down during this telephone interview with the Kurdish channel, Newruz, as he describes the injustice of these executions.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Moussavi Condemns Sunday's Executions

It was an uneasy day in Iran yesterday. Iranian Kurdish cities like Sanandaj and Kamyaran were said to be under virtual martial law and Ahmadinejad's unannounced visit to Beheshti University with ten bus loads of Baseejis, who were intended to be used as has his audience, sparked off the protests by Beheshti university students:

CNN's Report of the protests at Beheshti University

Meanwhile families of those executed on Sunday who had travelled to Tehran to collect the bodies of their loved ones were affronted by the Evin prison authorities who instead arrested some of the family members. Today it has been confirmed that the mother and sister of Shirin Alamhouli, who was executed on Sunday have now been arrested too.

More heavy sentences against other detainees have been announced, amongst them Hengameh Shahidi, the SOAS graduate, who has received six years imprisonment.

Mir Hussein Moussavi today condemned Sunday's executions by issuing the statement below:

'The sudden announcement of the execution of five of our citizens without any illuminating explanations given to the public about their charges and the judicial process is similar to the unjust processes we have seen in the last months and the bizarre sentences handed out to many of our loyal men and women citizens.

When the judiciary takes the side of those who are in power instead of the true victims, it is difficult to stop the cynical judgement made by the population towards these sentences. How is it that the judiciary ignores bringing to justice the perpetrators of crimes in Kahrizak, Tehran university dormitory, Sobhan residents and the crimes committed against peaceful protesters in June last year and on the Ashura? How is it that huge corruption cases are closed without ever being investigated and yet just as the anniversary of last year's events approach, five citizens are hanged without the proper judiciary process and with much doubt surrounding their charges? Is this the justice the Iranian people were after and promised?'

Sunday, May 09, 2010

International Protests Against This Morning's Executions in Iran

'A regime which links earthquakes to the way women dress has no credibility when it tries to label civil activists as bombers and terrorists' - KDP spokesperson today.

Iranians across the world have been united in condemning the callous executions of five Kurds in Iran this morning. There was a peaceful demonstration in front of the Islamic Republic embassy in London this afternoon. A group of Leftist Hekmatist supporters also attacked the IRI consulate in Kensington:

In Paris:

In Vienna

Five Iranians Executed This Morning

Five Iranians including a woman were executed this morning. Farzad Kamangar, the dissident Iranian Kurdish teacher, Shirin Alamhouli, Ali Heidarian, Farhad Vakili and Mehdi Eslamian were hanged in the early hours of this morning.

Their lawyers said they had not been informed at all about the sentences being carried out today.

I have been informed there will be a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy today at 5 pm, in protest to these executions.

Galloway is Out!

Best result, from Thursday's UK elections for me so far, was Galloway coming third in the Poplar and Limehouse constituency. David Cohen has written a good piece on Galloway's demise:
George Galloway 'loses respect of voters

Having lost his parliamentary seat as well as his 100K a year radio talk show, 'Mother of All Talk Shows', it now seems Ahmadinejad's administration is his last major source of income. Galloway's pay for just one of his Press TV episodes is more than an Iranian war veteran gets in a year.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

No Praise for Ahmadinejad's Mention of Cyrus in the UN

It is not often that the leaders of the Islamic Republic praise Iran's pre-Islamic era. In fact Iran's pre-Islamic culture and festivities are very much frowned upon by the Islamic Republic leadership.

The regime in Iran does have a dual policy of what is said publicly, one is for the 'internal consumption' and one for the 'external consumption' as they put it. So when Ahamdinejad mentioned Cyrus the Great as the great king of Iran who abolished slavery 2500 years ago, in his UN speech, it may have stirred the hearts of some Iranian nationalists and those who pride themselves in Iran's pre-Islamic identity and history, but the more astute observers know that such gestures made by Ahamdinejad are just hollow window dressings to fool the gullible audiences.

In fact already, Fatemeh Rajabai (pictured above), wife of Ahmadinejad's governement spokesman, has criticised Ahmadinejad's statements in UN. This is a translation of Fatemeh Rajabai's criticism of Ahmadinejad's speech in UN for mentioning Cyrus the Great:
'The abolition of slavery in Iran's 2500 year history is ambiguous, and brings no glory for our Shiite history.'
'Sadly, Although Mr. Ahmadinejad, in his previous speeches always put his emphasis on the Hidden Imam, Mehdi, as the sole saviour of the world, and her holiness Fatemeh Zahra, this time, he did not speak like in previous occasions. Mr. Ahmadinejad always ended his speeches with prayers for the imminent resurgence of the hidden Imam Mahdi, and instead he ended his speech by talking about the love of human beings for one other and in my opinion this is not appropriate'

There you go, who says there is no freedom in Iran and you can not criticise?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Protest Outside the Islamic Republic Embassy, Paris on Press Freedom Day

Today is the Press Freedom Day and to highlight the vicious onslaught on Iran's press by Ahmadinejad's administration, protesters throw 300 newspapers rolled into footballs over the IRI embassy gates in Paris, in a symbolic action against the messianic regime's crackdown on press freedom. Protesters demanded the release of all imprisoned Iranian journalists. There are now more than sixty Iranian journalists languishing in the regime's prisons.

The event was organised by Reporters Without Borders - RSF. See Pictures:

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Hollywood Big Names Rise to Panahi's Defence

I remember how an Islamic Republic apologist university lecturer, invited by Jeremey Corbyn MP to a parliamentary meeting was telling her audience how much freedom there is in Iran when Jafar Panahi is able to make films like Offside. Well Panahi is now also held in Evin prison. Originally he was charged with 'unpsecified crimes', then the charge was revised to making a film against the regime and more recently with making a 'naked' film!

Its good to see that finally some of the big names in Hollywood have rallied to Panahi's support, for Iran's freedom fighters need all the international support they can get.

Scorsese, Spielberg and Stone among filmmakers urging Jafar Panahi's release