This weblog was created to act as a platform for the voice of secular pro-democracy activists in and outside Iran who are struggling against the religious dictatorship of the Islamic clerics in Iran.
My favourite quote:
"Evil only prevails when the good stay silent"
Ali Akbar Javanfekr, quickly climbed up the promotion ladders after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Soon after the revolution he was sent to Madrid to head the Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA in Spain. He was deported from Spain after he openly called for the murder of Salman Rushdie during a radio program. The expulsion served Javanfekr well however and he was promoted to the head of IRNA in Khamenei's office when he was the president of the Islamic Republic and later the head of IRNA in the Supreme Leader's office, when Khamenei became the Supreme Leader. It was said that no news or telext leaves the Supreme Leader's office without Javanfekr's approval.
Javanfekr managed to get back to Spain in year 2000 during Khatami's presidency until he left IRNA and joined Ahmadinejad's office when he was the mayor of Tehran. He has remained loyal to Ahmadinejad ever since and is now the press advisor to Ahmadinejad as well as the head of the government organ, Iran Press Institution. Hence as an important effective Ahmadinejad ally, he has become one of the targets by the 'principalists' in the factional infighting.
Last Sunday, the courts sentenced him to six months prison for publishing 'vulgar' pictures in an article 'incompatible with Islamic values and standards', as well as a three year ban on any journalistic work. The controversial article for which he was sentenced was an article in Khatoon, one of the magazines under his responsibility, which simply discussed and questioned why the chador, favoured by the religious hardliners as the 'superior dress code for women', should be regarded as the 'superior veil'?
One day after Javanfekr's sentence was passed, he was holding a press conference at the Iran Press Institution, when judiciary and intelligence agents came to arrest him. The attempts to arrest him however were met with stiff resistance by the employees, many of whom have ties and connections with the intelligence ministry and even took part in suppressing the post-election protests. Even tear gas was said to have been used inside the building. Footages of the event released on youtube, show employees burning paper to counter the effects of tear gas. While the massive melee was going on, Javanfekr was frantically making phone calls to stop the judiciary agents from arresting him. Ahmadinejad's threats to take counter measures and 'spill the beans' finally convinced the judiciary to issue the order for retreat and although more than 30 newspaper employees were injured and arrested, Javanfekr was spared.
Javanfekr then made statements which said 'stating a different opinion is not a crime and the country should not be dragged into a situation where there is no freedom to criticise'. Rich words from someone who himself has had a hand in cracking down dissent. Of course the freedom, Javanfekr is talking about is for his own faction's freedom only and not for anyone else.
There are important conclusions from this incident.
- If you have strong connections in the Islamic Republic, even a court sentence against you can be useless
- On the contrary, you can be imprisoned and put under house arrest like Moussavi and Karroubi, along
with your other family members, without even a trial or a sentence passed against you
- Unlike Khatami, Ahmadinejad stands by his loyal troops
- Ahmadinejad's faction have information so sensitive at their disposal which can always stop the principalists at their track
This is Islamic Republic! Three decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution which was supposed to rid Iran of all social malaise, what is left of the revolution is just the fancy slogans. A total failure in all fronts. The dangerous cocktail of mixing religion and politics now awaits the other countries in the Middle East.
Today is the anniversary of the state murder of Iran's great historian and literary figure, Ali Akbar Saeedi Sirjani. A great visionary who through his works warned the nation of the terrible consequences of a religious dictatorship.
"When religion and state intertwine
A mighty power will emerge
Capable of doing wrongs with ease
That not even the King would dare"
I was so saddened to learn about the trial in Tunisia over the broadcasting of the animated movie, Persepolis. The Tunisian revolution which was supposed to be about the overthrow of a dictator will soon descend into a religious dictatorship, if the secular Tunisians remain silent about this sort of thing. Once again, my favourite quote by Edmund Burke "Evil Only Prevails, When the Good Remain Silent" manifests itself in our own times.
The animated movie, Persepolis, is not about attacking sacred values at all. Only a religious zealot moron could come to such a conclusion. It is in fact a brilliant depiction of how a revolution against dictatorship is hijacked by such extremists. It is a movie that pre-warns ordinary people what will happen if they remain silent and allow the extremists to take over.
All Iranians who have experienced religious dictatorship will identify with the Persepolis movie. I remember watching it with my elder son in cinema. When the little girl, the main character of the film, stood up to her teacher, who was regurgitating the official revolutionary propaganda, and delivered the real truth, I was so overwhelmed that much to the embarrassment of my 10 year old, I got up in the middle of the movie and started clapping, only to have my shirt pulled by my 10 year old and be told "we just sit down and watch the movie ok? no clapping".
The nonsense of the trial however can best be summed up by the following statement made by Nabil Karoui, the owner of the private Nessma television, which broadcast the movie:
"I am very sad when I see that the people that burned my house are free while I am here because I broadcast a film which was authorised" and he rightly described the trial as the "death of freedom of expression".
A huge explosion shook most of Tehran on Saturday. At first it was said a CNG fuel depot had exploded but finally the official confirmation was the explosion had happened at the Modares base in Bidganeh village 50 km SW of Tehran. Even though the explosion was well outside Tehran, almost all residents of Tehran, even to the East of the city, said they either heard or felt its shock waves.
There have been many speculations as to the real cause of the explosion, one common rumour has been that it was the Israelis who had attacked and destroyed the base, because it stored Shahab 3 missiles. Whatever the real cause of the explosion, I thought this poster by a group calling itself the Cyber Soldiers of the Supreme Leader was worth posting on my blog. The caption reads "Just one depot shook all of Tehran, See what will happen if it falls day and night on Tel-Aviv"
Islamic Republic is at the point of imploding. Huge astronomical fraud and embezzlement is draining the country's coffers dry. Iran's environment is in danger, one of the most beautiful lakes in Iran, the Lake Oroumiyeh is on its death bed. Iran's national heritage is facing damage beyond repair. Today it was reported huge cracks are appearing at Iran's ancient site of Persepolis, the very embodiment of Iran's identity. The state's enthusiasm for brinkmanship is threatening the country with a terrible war and further sanctions.
But none of the above are considered a threat to Iran's national security, instead what the state is more worried about is the likes of young Arya Aramnejad who dare to criticise and stand by their convictions.
Last Tuesday, Arya Aramnejad attended the court in Sari, which was set up to review his appeal sentence. On his way back, he was kidnapped by state security apparatus and taken away. His whereabouts is still unknown.
His friends in Babol, issued the following statement addressed to the Supreme Leader, after Arya's disappearance:
"In the Name of God who Stands by the Innocents and is the Enemy of All Tyrants
It has to be said, without much introduction needed, that you jail the best sons and daughters of this country. Not a single day goes by where the disgraceful actions and scandals of your men doesn't shock the world. The events around the world are proving that no amount of brutal crackdown and suppression can stop the just demands of the people and yet you continue to clamp down on the slightest of dissent.
You tolerate all the huge multi billion embezzlements and corruption around you and yet you can not tolerate the slightest criticism by the best sons and daughters of this country. What untold secret are you trying to protect with these arrests and imprisonments? What scandal do you think you will be covered up by arresting Arya?
You accused your opponents of lacking insight and two years later we see how much insight you had when you backed those whom you are now referring to as the 'deviant trend' of exorcists and sorcerers. Is it not so that you are enraged because it is clear it is the likes of Arya who have the insight and not you?
Would it not have been better that instead of all these arbitrary arrests which are proving to be useless, you apologised to the people and made up for your dark past deeds?
The arrest of our kind and wise friend Arya will serve you nothing and shows the depths of your imprudence. We advise you before your time runs out to choose wisdom and righteousness.
So we are told just about every protest, every cry for freedom and every liberation movement around the world is in support of the Islamic Republic and its Supreme Leader. Today, the Supreme Leader's message to these liberation movements was read on state TV while video footages of these protests was played over the Supreme Leader's voice as his message of solidarity to the protesters not to give up and stay resolute to the end was broadcast to the dispossessed and the downtrodden across the world.
The Baseej has even set up a website - http://www.wsfall.com/ - both in English and in Persian in support of the Wall Street occupiers.
The only thing is though, you never see any of these protesters carry a picture of the Supreme Leader or any other IRI figures. Instead sometimes you see them actually carrying pictures of the very victims of the Supreme Leader's absolute rule or express solidarity with the dissidents in Iran. Like this protester in Wall Street who is showing a picture of Peyman Aref, the Iranian dissident student who spent two years in prison and received 74 lashes. Peyman has once again been imprisoned for having prayed by Neda's graveside last week:
It is such simple acts of solidarity that undermine the entire investment of despots to jump on the bandwagon and their hollow propaganda in claiming their leadership of protests.