Sunday, October 30, 2011

Former Founder of the Islamic Republic Warns the Tunisian People 'Don't make the same mistakes as we did'

Ebrahim Yazdi is in his eighties now, but three decades ago, he was instrumental in bringing about the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was always seen next to Ayatollah Khomeini during the Ayatollah's stay in Neauphle-le-Chateau, helping to conduct and translate Ayatollah Khomeini's numerous interviews with the Western media. Yazdi also accompanied Ayatollah Khomeini on his flight back to Iran and became the deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister in the first provisional government after the revolution.

During the terror months of the post-revolution era, some say Yazdi even presided as the judge in the revolutionary kangaroo courts that summarily executed thousands of people accused of being part of the Shah's regime and some say that Yazdi and Bazargan supported a general amnesty. In any case Yazdi was seen in many summary trials like in the footage below, sitting on the left telling General Rahimi to order the surrender of his men:

As always however, revolution devours its own children and as the clerics consolidated their power in the aftermath of the US embassy hostage taking, Yazdi's fall from favour also became inevitable. The clerics no longer felt they needed to fool the population with their useful idiots. Unlike their promises before the revolution, they were not going back to the mosques and letting the politicians do the dirty work of politics and government. Once intoxicated with power, they wanted to rule alone and many more internal purges were ahead.

Yesterday, Yazdi now in his eighties and perhaps somewhat wiser than three decades ago, wrote an open letter to Rached Ghannouchi, the Islamist leader of Hizb Al-Nahdah which won the recent election in Tunisia, advising him not to make the same mistakes made by Yazdi and his generation of Iranian revolutionaries in 1979.

In the letter Yazdi says "We overthrew a dictator only to replace one dictatorship with another" and asks Ghannouchi to safeguard three important principles in order for the Tunisian revolution not to become another failed revolution:
1 - To respect, accept and encourage pluralism
2 - To be tolerant of different views
3 - To apply co-operation and compatibility amongst the different political factions

I never thought one day I would help disseminate the words of someone like Ebrahim Yazdi, but the words of a former revolutionary Islamist who helped bring about the Islamic Republic in Iran will perhaps have more mileage amongst Tunisia's Islamists than mine.

Perhaps the Iranian Left should also now pull their fingers out and start educating Europe's Left about how the Leftists in Iran were destroyed and massacred by the very people they helped bring to power.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clinton's Cyber Embassy Gift

I remember when I took part in an IVLP visit five years ago, we had a brief welcome meeting with a US state department official for the Middle East region. I can't remember her name, Dianne something but I remember she told us she was Egyptian by birth. What I remember most about our conversation however, was when she said "We are not after a regime change in Iran, we want to change the behaviour of the regime!"

"That's good", I replied as I was tapping thoughtfully on my forehead with a pen. "And how do you want to change the behaviour of the regime?" I asked with immense curiosity.

"We have a website" came the sobering reply from another state department official who was sitting across the table.
Hearing his reply, I dropped my pen on the table in shock and said "Vow! That must be some website" and asked for the site's url and visitor stats. I never got the visitor stats but the website was the biggest load of cyber bollocks I had ever come across. It was also no surprise to me that no one I was in touch with had ever heard of it.

Today, I had the misfortune of watching Hilary Clinton  talking to a popular VOA presenter and answering the questions Iranians around the world had apparently sent for her. Watching Hilary Clinton's interview reminded me of that farcical conversation with the US state department officials during the IVLP welcoming meeting five years ago.

In answer to one of the questions, Hilary Clinton talks about the effectiveness of the Islamic Republic in filtering the internet and limiting all kinds of information access with the outside world. A huge problem indeed for the pro-democracy movement in Iran whose lifeline is access to information.

Traditionally the VOA presenter asks his guests at the end of his program to look at the camera and say whatever they like to the viewers in under one minute. Hilary Clinton too was asked to do the same and it was in her one minute uninterrupted message, where she unravelled her 'big gift' to Iran's freedom fighters, ANOTHER WEBSITE! A cyber US embassy for the people of Iran! What are the chances of the regime in Iran, not filtering this cyber embassy, now that it has been announced by the US Secretary of the State?

At a time, when the Islamic Republic is shutting down the VPN ports and tightening its internet filtering technology and is said to be six months away from creating the "Clean Internet", the US secretary of state thinks a US Cyber Embassy by the end of this year, is of any use??

What happened to the 'Internet in a Suitcase' plans? Was that all marketing hype too?

But why not take the most effective step? Stop the regime from jamming TV satellite stations which they do with such impunity. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ahmadinejad's Latest Porkie Pie in Birjand

"In an interview with an American reporter, I told him in the last 25 years, none of Iran's presidents or deputy presidents ever met with the Libyan dictator, although we have been friends with the people of Libya, but you show me one European president or prime minister who didn't travel to Libya"

The above was part of Ahmadinejad's speech to the people in Birjand, NE Iran, during his latest one of his provincial tours, as reported by Iranian news sites.

and below are some pictures from 25 years ago:

Parviz Davoodi, one of Ahmadinejad's deputies four years ago in Libya:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Solidarity with Wall Street Protesters, Baseej Style

One thing that most of my generation of Iranians learned from the 1979 revolution was, not to chant death to something, if we did't have something better to replace it with.

In the above AP video, the Baseej "students" are demonstrating outside the Swiss embassy, US interest section, in Tehran. They are expressing solidarity with the "Wall Street Uprising" and the "American Spring". The video starts with chants of 'Death to Capitalism' - is the Islamic Republic not a capitalist economic system? - and at (00:08) their banner is shown which reads:
'Student Solidarity Protest On Wall Street Unti Capitalism Movement'

It took me a few seconds to try to understand what the banner was supposed to mean but of course they meant they were expressing solidarity with Anti and not Unti Capitalist Movement as the writing on the banner suggests. Still we should be pleased that it didn't say 'Student Solidarity Protest on Wall Street Auntie Capitalism Movement'.

Not the brightest kids on the block, the Baseej students of course, for if they had a two digit IQ, they wouldn't be in the Baseej militia in the first place.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mummy is Never Coming Back

Nasrin Sotoudeh's family, her husband Reza Khandan, her daughter Mehraveh and her four year old son, Nima visited the recently freed Iranian student activist, Peyman Aref today.

Peyman Aref is still convalescing from the 74 lashes he received for insulting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a punishment he received on top of spending two years in prison for his peaceful protests against the fraudulent presidential election results in June, 2009.

The visit by Sotoudeh's family was yet another solidarity gesture by Peyman Aref's well wishers who have been shocked at the barbaric flogging of this 29 year old student activist.

As Sotoudeh's family were leaving, Peyman told Nasrin Sotoudeh's four year old son, Nima, "Next time I see you, I hope it will be with your mummy". When Nima replied, "mummy is never coming back", Peyman said he felt himself choking and struggled to hold back his tears until Nima had left and he could pour out his tears at the injustice of a paranoid regime which is hurting so many innocent lives.

This morning another student, 22 year old Amin Niayifar, top student in Tehran's Technical University, also received thirty lashes as part of his sentence for insulting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Niayifar who was arrested during the Ashura protests had been sentenced by the notorious Judge Pir-Abbassi to six months in prison, 18 months suspended sentence and 30 lashes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tragic Fate of War Martyr's Daughter, Ameneh Zanganeh

On the day Ameneh died, Iran's VPN ports were already shut down. Access to the worldwide web was cumbersome and limited but suddenly some reported that their mobile networks had stopped working too. Usually this is a sign that something has happened and the regime is trying to stop the spread of some news.

The news in this case was the tragic fate of AKU student, Ameneh Zanganeh, the only child of a war martyr, who had worked hard to get into the university as a post-graduate student, studying polymers.

Her death was a series of blunders which describe the incompetence of Iran's current officials.
Ameneh should have been allocated a place at the uni's dormitories as she was entitled to but instead she had to sleep in the uni's prayer room which lacked basic facilities like shower and bathroom.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Payman Aref Receives His 74 Lashes

Iranian student activist, Payman Aref, was sentenced to one year in prison for his role in the post-(S)election protests, but he was also sentenced to 74 lashes for insulting Ahmadinejad. In fact the 'insult' was nothing other than a polite open letter to Ahamdinejad. Today, Payman Aref received his 74 lashes.

US anchormen who carry out uneducated interviews with Ahamdinejad seem unable to challenge him when he spurts out sentences like 'Iran is the freest country in the world and anyone can criticise me' and it is left to people like Payman Aref and Somayeh Tohidlou who show the hollowness of Ahmadinejad's regurgitations  with their wounded flesh and skin.

The Autumn Wind May Flog the Green Trees
But the Wind Goes and the Trees Stay Upright
And they will be Green Again

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Regressive Moral Values of an Iranian Opposition Website

It was a palpable story. The suicide of two young Iranians, Nahal and Behnam, had all the elements for a gripping movie, a mixture of love, social pressure, politics and the sheer feeling of gloom and despondence felt at present by so many young Iranians in the repressive state of the Islamic Republic.  When the story hit the headlines, for me however, the most important headway was that the world also learned about the kidnapping and disappearance of Iranian human rights activist, Kouhyar Goudarzi and the shameful imprisonment of Kouhyar's mother, who was dragged out of the bath by security forces in her home, and is now imprisoned in Kerman prison. 

This was one of those rare opportunities where the news story had a spin which appealed to mass audiences across the world. Newspapers all over the globe from US, to Italy, to Turkey and many more that I have probably not come across yet, duplicated the story. One would have thought Iranian expat opposition would then cease the opportunity and use this international awareness to campaign for the release of Kouhyar and his mother. It seemed the death of Nahal and Behnam may not have been in vain and some good may come out of it. That is until, the Iranian expat 'journalists' and Iranian 'opposition' websites started meddling in the story.

It seemed for these so called Iranian opposition journalists, the most important thing was not to use the story to pursuit Kouhyar's case but to find out whether Nahal and Behnam had sex or not?! Their method of investigation was also not the tedious procedure of going through Nahal's facebook and blog posts to build a picture of what went on but the more laid back option of talking to Nahal's immediate family on the phone. Calling Nahal's father for example, knowing full well the social pressure at least, which he must be under to talk freely and asking questions which more or less implied, 'where they having sex?'  or "was your daughter against the regime?" and expecting the poor father to tell the truth about his divorced daughter going out with a much younger boy and being a supporter of the Green Movement.

Roozonline, an Iranian opposition website, with a limited and specific readership and columnists who all more or less represent very similar points of view, a narrow spectrum of Iranian elite intellectuals, printed one of these silly 'investigations' in finding out whether Nahal and Behnam had consummated their relationship. The website went one step further however, they even imposed their backward values on a picture of Nahal by photoshopping, see picture above, a small part of Nahal's belly which was showing as she raised her arms in the air while standing on top of a hill.

This is the very same website which lampooned the hardline Islamic Republic daily, Kayhan, for photoshopping Catherine Ashton's picture. A clear case of the pot calling the kettle black by a site which claims to represent Iranian opposition and is probably receiving a grant from some European body.