Families still insist release of their beloved ones bravely , while gathering in front of the notorious dungeon EVIN.

VOA

Average citizens are using the Internet and mobile phones to fight violence, and the movement is set to grow. That was the message of a two-day London summit in which social media activists from around the world met to explore ways the Internet and mobile technology tools can be used to combat violent extremism.
Jason Leibman, Co-founder of the Alliance for Youth Movement, which organized the event, says Web sites such as the social networking site Facebook, the video-sharing site YouTube, and the micro-blogging site Twitter have become critical tools for fighting extremism.

But he says extremist groups are also often savvy Internet users. "Groups like al-Qaida are extraordinarily sophisticated in how they're using media, which is everything from setting up popular blogs, being on platforms like YouTube, using platforms like Second Life really effectively - so the quote unquote 'bad guys' are often extraordinarily effective at using these tools - much more effective than those that are trying to fight against them," he said.

Social media, he says, is a natural extension of traditional media sources such as radio and television. But he says by using the Internet people can get global attention for their cause cheaply and easily.

And he says all over the world people are using the Internet to fight what they see as injustices. He says, for example, that the micro-blogging site Twitter has been used to combat media censorship in Iran. "You know, one of the reasons it's been so widely used in Iran is that it's a great tool for people that are being blocked off often times from media coverage, from the Internet even, to get up and broadcast their messages to the world," he said.

Colombian Oscar Morales Guevara set up a Facebook group in January 2008 against the insurgent group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia. Morales called for a massive march against the guerilla organization, and through Facebook rallied over 12 million people who marched in over 200 cities around the world.

Its supporters included Colombia's president, Alvaro Uribe and the country's most influential newspaper El Tiempo - but Morales says the movement was not led by politics. "We had no engagement whatsoever with any political parties, we were just regular citizens expressing ourselves, demanding that our voice be heard," he said.

He says the Internet has given people the power to be independent. "One of the things that Internet has is that we can have our own voice, our own movement, without having to rely on governments, or on traditional media. Facebook itself is a media," he said.

Pastor Kingsley Bangwell, from the Nigeria-based Youngstars Foundation, which gets young people involved in social development projects in Africa, says right now the use of Internet is not sufficiently widespread in Africa to be as useful a tool.

But mobile phones, he says, are changing lives. According to the United Nations, mobile subscriptions in Africa rose from 54 million to almost 350 million between 2003 and 2008, the quickest growth in the world.

And, Kingsley says, mobile phones are used for everything from sending money to buying food in a market.

And he says they're increasingly used by young people for political purposes. He says young people in Nigeria are using their phones to raise awareness about the next election. "Right now as we're talking young people are mobilizing, gathering phone numbers because they want to engage in huge text message mass campaign and all of that, so it's also going to play a very critical role in the forthcoming election. I'm hearing that is happening also in Ghana, I'm hearing that Cameroon is mobilizing around that -- people are beginning to understand the power of using telecoms for campaigns," he said.

According to Internet marketing research firm Miniwatts Group, there are about 1.7 billion Internet users worldwide. In Africa it says there are 67 million, up from only 4.5 million users in 2000.
Mocking Khamenei, as the weakest in the crocked Velayat Faghih prism

طنز عظما كه كله شد from nikoo on Vimeo.



I believe source is iranntv

بي بي در چهارشنبه سوري from nikoo on Vimeo.

Tell us the difference between the two circumstance!

The only difference is that Facebook is in Europe and in a supposedly Democratic Social net, and HR activists site is based in Iran and is under the pressure of a repugnant religious fascism at tis weakest point.
So I would assess that FB is confronting more controversy and pragmatism if it really has blocked Freedommessenger with a poltical point of view and gesture!

Link to FreedomMessenger

HRA the main news site which has been covering HR news from inside Iran tolerating much pressure, has been hacked by GERDAB, the site beloning to the RGC.
hra-news.org the site leads surfers to Gerdab site.

Strong recomendation for all those in Iran who have been surfing on HRA: Change IPs and renew IPs or change positions.

Pedestrian

Seems like while building a career out of condemning the atrocities in Gaza, the IRI officials are taking careful lessons from its perpetrators: turning Iran into an open air prison. [I am in no way comparing the monstrous living conditions imposed on the people of Gaza to Tehran].

Why release Tajzadeh? I wonder? And Jalaipour? Tabataie? Abtahi? … Well, just take a look at how quiet they have been after their release. They are forced to keep deathly quiet, because as soon as they speak out, it’s back to prison for them (as Emad Bahavar was “called” to prison this week). They keep the dissidents in jail for months and months and months, most of it in ghastly solitary confinement, in brutal conditions … and then release them, forcing them to renew their leave day by day … to make sure they remain quiet.

The IRI officials have learned that they can release them … to have them on a leash and make sure they don’t utter a word. It gets less negative media attention if they are outside prison, but they are living inside an open air prison anyway.

And even that’s not working! Just remember Nabavi’s 10 day leave … His home was on fire!

This encounter Samaneh Navab recounts on her blog about meeting Safaie Farahani (who was recently released) demonstrates this to the core.

———————————

Dad was standing in the line at the sandwich shop, and we were standing a bit farther back. Dad suddenly ran to us and said: “hurry up! come and see him!”

At first we thought dad had mistaken him with someone else, but a few seconds later, we too were running towards him. Yes, it was him alright: Safaie Farahani.

My mind had stopped and I couldn’t say anything. We only managed to say that we are so proud of him, and that he keeps our hopes alive.

With this weird smile he replied: our time here [on earth] is almost up. Your hopes should lie with god first, and then yourselves, the younger generation.

Dad told him that I was a student at Amir Kabir University. It was interesting to me that the first thing he asked was: did the university hold the final exams? [there was talk that the exams would be canceled]. So even he knew about this?!

He said that his appeal would be answered any day now, and that there was no way he’d get less than five years. He said that even now they are not free, and they must renew their leave of absence every week.

He seemed very determined, and when mom told him that our hearts are with him and that we pray for him everyday, he said that everybody’s fate rests in god’s hands.

He seemed calm and determined. It was really awe inspiring.

I remembered Galileo, and Tajzadeh, and Nabavi and Abtahi and … I was dizzy.


Radio Zamaneh

Tehran’s Friday Mass Prayers Leader, Emami Kashani told worshippers today: “If the Islamic Society has shortcomings, they should be covered and not publicized and talked about.”

ISNA reports that the conservative cleric urged people to avoid talking about the faults of the system because according to his interpretation of certain Shiite principles, "it is our duty not to undermine the leaders of the country.”

Emami Kashani, a member of two important government bodies of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, maintained that “if we divulge our faults and the enemy realizes it, we have committed treason.”

He added that this is a principle that should be followed by every individual and group in the society.

The issue of censorship and freedom of speech is a controversial issue in Iran and internationally, human rights groups refer to Iran as the “prison of journalists.”

The comments of Emami Kashani come at a time when many Iranian authorities have denied the existence of censorship and media restrictions in Iran.

Last year Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying: “With regards to this government, individuals enjoy close to absolute freedom and say almost whatever they want.”
The State Department condemned Iran's persecution of religious minorities on Friday following the Iranian authorities' detention of Baha'is and Christians in recent months.

Iranian authorities have detained more than 45 Baha'is in the last four months, and as many as 60 Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran on the basis of their religion beliefs, the State Department said.

Iranians have also recently detained more than a dozen Christians, according to the State Department.

"The United States is increasingly concerned about the Iran's ongoing persecution of Baha'is and other religious minority communities," said Philip J. Crowley, assistant secretary for public affairs, in a statement on Friday.

The State Department's condemnation comes a day after it released a human rights report on Iran that blasted the country's government for abusing religious minorities, among other criticisms.

"Government rhetoric and actions created a threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shia religious groups, most notably for Baha'is, as well as for Sunni Muslims, evangelical Christians, and members of the Jewish community," Thursday's report said.

Iran is an Islamic Republic where Shia Islam is the state religion.

The Iranian government did not respond directly to the State Department on Thursday or Friday. However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized the West on Friday for ignoring religious principles like monotheism.

At a meeting with Iranian intellectuals, "the president stressed that [many] efforts should be made to ... promote justice and support [a] campaign against oppressors and help monotheism flourish," Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

Thursday's State Department report said that Iran's government prevents Baha'is from gathering in homes to worship and bans Baha'is from public schools, universities, the social pension system and government leadership posts unless they conceal their faith.

"The government repeatedly pressured Baha'is to recant their religious beliefs in exchange for relief from mistreatment," the report said.

All seven members of Iran's Baha'i national leadership body, who were arrested in 2008, remained in prison at the end of 2009, according to the report.

The Baha'i faith was founded in Iran in the 19th century. Today, Baha'is are the country's largest religious minority, with 300,000 members, according to the official Baha'i Web site.

Thursday's State Department report also accused the Iranian government of destroying a Sufi library and religious hall in Isfahan; demolishing several Sunni mosques; and requiring evangelical Christian groups to submit congregation membership lists to the government.

The report was part of a broader State Department release of human rights reports on 194 countries.

AP
An international human rights group on Saturday called on Iran to either charge or release an acclaimed Iranian filmmaker who backed the country's opposition.

Jafar Panahi was taken into custody nearly two weeks ago by Iranian security forces during a raid on the filmmaker's Tehran home. A state prosecutor has said Panahi's detention is not political and that the filmmaker is suspected of committing unspecified "offenses."

Human Rights Watch noted that Panahi and fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who was picked up along with Panahi, have not been charged since being arrested on March 1. In a statement released Saturday, the rights group also criticized Tehran for providing no legal basis for the filmmakers' continued detention.

"The Iranian authorities should either charge these men or release them immediately," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the rights group's Middle East director.

Human Rights Watch said a third filmmaker was also still in custody. That report could not be independently verified.

Panahi, 49, supported Iran's opposition following the disputed June presidential election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner. He was briefly detained last summer when he visited the gravesides of the victims of Tehran's postelection unrest and was later banned from traveling abroad.

The filmmaker has won awards at the Chicago, Cannes and Berlin film festivals, although several of his films have been banned from showing in Iran.

Whitson said that by targeting a high-profile artist like Panahi, "the Iranian government is sending a clear message that it is willing to go after anyone it considers a threat."

"If well-known figures like Panahi are not immune from arbitrary arrest and detention, ordinary Iranians will think twice before engaging in any activity that may seem critical of the government," Whitson said.

Ahmadinejad's re-election has been challenged by a range of public figures, including filmmakers and singers who have expressed support for the opposition and criticized the harsh government crackdown on street protesters.

The opposition contends Ahmadinejad won through fraud and that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was the rightful winner.

AFP

WASHINGTON — The United States charged Thursday that Iran's already poor human rights record had "degenerated" in 2009, particularly with a security crackdown after disputed presidential elections.

The sharp criticism of Iran, contained in an annual State Department report on human rights abuses worldwide, comes as the Obama administration pushes for tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear ambitions.

"The government's poor human rights record degenerated during the year, particularly after the disputed June presidential elections," the State Department said.

In a press briefing after the release, senior State Department official Michael Posner underscored the point that Iran's "poor human rights situation rapidly deteriorated after the June elections."

Iran is "a place where we are continuing to see severe repression" and the United States is continuing to pay "great attention" to the situation there.

Specificially, the report itself said "freedom of expression and association and lack of due process continued to be problems within Iran."

It recalled that Iranian police and the paramilitary Basij "violently suppressed demonstrations" after incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of a contested election.

Dozens, if not scores were killed, and at least 4,000 individuals had been detained by August, it said.

"A massive show trial involving many of the more prominent detainees was undertaken in September," the report said.

It also referred to the Iranian government's crackdown on new media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

"After the June election, there was a major drop in bandwidth, which experts posited the government caused to prevent activists involved in the protests from accessing the Internet and uploading large video files," it said.

"The government continued to restrict freedom of religion severely, particularly against Bahais and, increasingly, Christians," it added.

Comparison chart of HR report 2009

The detailed report we received has valuable and reliable statistics which ve been illustrated in charts.

Summary of Rights abuses in 2009

Death Decrees
Total executions: 402 people
Total executions in public: 12
Total Arbitrary killings:301
Total Death sentences: 336

Special Decrees:
Stoning : 1 instance (Before the uprisings)
Political executions: 60
Women executed : 15
Minors executed: 9
Women receiving Death sentences : 18
Political prisoners receiving Death sentences: 76
Minors receiving Death sentences: 17
Stoning sentences: 22

Introduction of Report and Charts

Last year, with at least 366 publicly-announced executions and execution of 9 minors, the Tehran regime set the world record in executions (relative to the country’s population). This year, the regime set an even higher record by executing 402 persons including 9 minors.

Iranian regime resorted to bloody crackdown on those participating in the post-elections protests killing hundreds who were mostly buried without acquiring their identities or informing their families.
Families of those missing have been inquiring for months about the fate of their loved ones from the judicial authorities and prisons without receiving any answer. Some have received the lifeless bodies of their children only after pledging to hold only small, private funeral ceremonies. They also pledged not to speak out against
the murderers of their children (i.e. Ahmadinejad’s illegitimate dictatorship) or write the cause of death on the tombstone. They were even forced to pay the price of the bullets used to kill their own children.

This was the case for the families of Farzad Jashni, Saeid Abbassi, Ashkan Sohrabi, Bahman Jenabi, Iman Hashemi, Parisa Kolli, Mostafa Kia‑Rostami, Fahimeh Salahshoor, Arman Estakhripour, Meisam Ebadi (17), Massoud Hashem-zadeh, Hossein Tufan-pour, Abbas Disnad, Ramin Ramezani, Yaqoub Bervaieh, Shelir Khezari … and Neda Aqa Soltan, the young woman shot to death by a Bassij agent in a peaceful protest in Tehran on June 20, 2009. Neda became the symbol of Iranian people’s demand for democracy as the world witnessed in her death, the innocence of the people of Iran. Such arbitrary killings also included children as young as 10 and 12.

Torture was widely used to pressure prisoners and even officials of the rival faction to take part in television show trials. Many young Iranians lost their lives under torture. They included Kianush Assa, Sohrab Erabi, Mohssen Rouholamini, Ramin Qahremani, Amir Javadifar and Taraneh Moussavi, the young girl whose charred body was found in the outskirts of Tehran after numerous counts of dastardly rape.

Although rape of young women has been used in Iranian prisons as a routine method of torture sanctioned three decades ago in a fatwa by Khomeini, the founder of this medieval regime, this time, young boys were also exposed to this type of torture to terrorize the general public. The measure backfired, however, since Khamenei, the mullahs’ supreme leader, no longer enjoys his previous influence and is recognized as the first person responsible for all these crimes.

This is why he ordered closure of Kahrizak Detention Center – publicly referred to as the “Death Camp” – in an obvious retreat. The regime has so far refrained from persecution and introduction of the perpetrators of these atrocious crimes, including Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Radan, the head of Tehran’s Police, who openly ordered torture of detainees. He said, “We enjoy absolute freedom in dealing with you, so much that we can cut you into pieces and bury you in the desert.

Your cries will reach nowhere and if you don’t die here, you should shrink to the size of a mouse to be able to pass through these bars and go to Evin (Prison)…” Torture and rape are routinely practiced in all official and secret prisons and detention centers. Living eyewitnesses and their families have been threatened to death if they dare to reveal these crimes

Women are systematically terrorized, repressed, and deprived of humane activities. The mullahs’ brutality however has failed to rein in the Iranian women’s demand for a democratic and equal life and they are present at the forefront of all democratic protests.


In addition to university students who are systematically summoned, deprived from education and imprisoned, monitored by hidden cameras, and their freedom of speech violated in the student press, this year, the university faculty and professors have also been badly suppressed and targeted. Dr. Mohammad Maleki, 76, the first post-revolution President of Tehran University, who suffers from a severe case of prostate cancer, was arrested while resting at home and subsequently taken to Evin Prison in solitary confinement deprived from any medication attention since August 22.

Plain clothes agents of the Ministry of Intelligence, Revolutionary Guards and Bassij, in coordination with the State Security Force, attacked student dormitories in the post-election crackdowns, killing dozens of students.
At least eight students were murdered in Tehran University, alone. Hundreds of students have been summoned and detained, tortured and deprived from education. Those professors, who dared to defend the rights of students and demand freedom, were deprived from employment (i.e. fired) and subsequently imprisoned.
Today, in an open contravention of international laws, suppressive agents have been organized inside universities under the banner of security, disciplinary and Bassij forces. Intelligence agents with plain clothes also enjoy freedom of action on campus and are deployed outside by the State Security Force.

Discrimination against religious and national minorities has also aggravated. Azeri, Kurd, Arab, Baluch and other activists have been repressed and executed en mass. Ordinary citizens have neither been spared. More than 20 teachers in Baluchistan have been arrested and jailed. Kurdish citizens, including a 16-year-old boy by the name of Arman Resalat as well as dozens of inhabitants of border villages, have been arbitrarily killed.

Christians and Bahais have been detained and persecuted. They have been threatened with death and execution on the charge of being renegades. This type of persecution is no longer limited to religious minorities, Sunni and Sufi Shiites, but it also includes religious Shiite authorities who oppose Khamenei’s medieval regime.

Journalists and the press are censored and repressed. Reporters without borders describe Iran as the largest prison for reporters and one of the major enemies of the Internet. This round, however, the practice expanded to foreign journalists who were brutalized, jailed, and expelled from Iran.

The internet services are in the control of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and “internet criminals” are charged with “waging war on God” and sentenced to death. Reporters have also been forced to confess in show trials that they spied for foreign countries.

Today, a large number of persons have been imprisoned, harassed, and sentenced to long prison terms only for being related to members of political groups, specially the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI),on fabricated charges. They are deprived of their most basic rights including the right to have family and lawyer’s visits and receive medical treatment. They include the Yazerlou, Banazadeh, Hajilouii, Tarlani, Nabavi, Dokmehtchi, Ziaii, Mo’ezzi and Naderi families among others.

The present collection aims to show a picture – although inadequate -- of the pervasive crimes committed against the oppressed people of Iran and seek help to restitute their trampled rights. These crimes against humanity need to be addressed by the UN Security Council and its perpetrators -- the Tehran leaders -- appropriately brought to justice in international tribunals.
NCRI HR Committee of Human Rights

This 500 pages report was published on 1 March 2009 and relevant documents were sent to relevant UN sessions and Institutions.
The link received by a reader of this blog with comparison charts and detailed XL charts with specifications of detainees, martyrs, and disappeared political prisoners.
We were asked no to publish the charts concerning the political prisoners due to security reasons and pressure due on their families.

The Annual Report on HR in Iran 2009

English HR 2009

I was listening to my cellmate’s lullaby, he was singing for his daughters Parya and Zahra. His melancholic lullaby was followed by the sobs of another cellmate, and I burst into tears too. It was the second time that he was arrested. The first time, he was sentenced to one year in jail, and this time he has to serve another 10 years. All his joy and excitement was about seeing his children who would visit him on Monday.

On the day of the visit, the children, without caring that they were surrounded by people and before their parents’ eyes (and in the middle of the seats and chairs of the visit hall), jumped up and down and performed hand stands to show their father their progressing athletic abilities.

The father, who was proud of his children, wore a smile. The mother, with her innocent expression, was trying to deny her pain of solitude and expectation. She was looking at her husband with joy and at her children’s excitement with love.

And I, who had been away from the school environment for months, kept staring at Parya and Zahra, and would tell my mother about them. One of the most memorable moments which has been carved in my mind is the moment this family spent together.

They were as though in a vacuum, in the heavens, in a place outside this world, not surrounded by anyone. They only had their compassion for each other. Without paying attention to the guards, the walls, and other prisoners, they shared their smiles. I always hope to see Parya and Zahra outside prison, or wish that they were able to visit thirty minutes longer. As they said their farewell, I tried not to look at them, so that the spectacular moment of their reunion would be etched in my mind forever. The beautiful girls mocked the fake world around their father with every move and jump.

The fate of children like Zahra and Parya is the story of our time. It has been written for years now, and every day, another Zahra and Parya visit their father. Or a child like “Ava” would sit next to the Haft-Seen table (The table arrangement made by Iranians for Norooz), sing to her fish, and cry,“This year daddy is in jail!”

I saw Parya and Zahra about to depart, still holding on to their father’s hand. They walked toward the exit with a smile on their face as though they were going to the fair.

I wanted to hold their hands too and share their joy. Before the father said goodbye, I turned my face so I would not be able to see his tearful eyes. However, now, I was watching the tearful eyes of my mother who was getting ready to separate from her son. I mimicked Parya and Zahra in my embrace with my mother.

When Parya and Zahra were calling us, I couldn’t keep my eyes away anymore. The two angels waved at me. They are angels, except that they don’t have wings.

Farzad Kamangar
Evin Prison

March 10, 2010

Farzad Kamangar is a teacher who worked in the poor areas of Kurdistan. He is a human rights and environmental activist. He was arrested, subjected to torture, and sentenced to death in a trial that lasted less than three minutes.

Translation by: Siavosh J. | Persian2English.com
The Feminist School

On the afternoon of March 7, 2010, a ceremony celebrating International Women’s Day took place in Tehran. Participants included Zahra Rahnavard, Minoo Mortazi, Shahla Lahiji, Fatemeh Rakei, Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Mansoureh Shojaee, Farzaneh Taheri, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Farideh Mashini, Fatemeh Gavarayi, Shahla Foroozanfar, Parastou Sarmadi, Marzieh Azarafsa and a number of other women’s rights activists and families of prisoners.

Due to the current restrictions, the ceremony took place with the presence of only a limited number of women’s rights activists and families of those imprisoned during recent events. The groups that were present include Mothers for Peace, The Forward Thinking Religious Women’s Organization, The Women’s Participation Front, a number of members of the Committee Against Violence Toward Women, members of The Feminist School, The Association of Iranian Women, The National and Religious Women’s Association, The Committee of Women Supporting Female Prisoners, and a number of prominent female lawyers.

The following is the statement by a number of women’s rights activists attending a Green gathering in commemoration of March 8th, with the goal of eliminating discrimination and violence to establish democracy.

The 8th of March, International Women’s Day, is a reminder of the common protests by women around the world. Women all over this planet have made efforts on this day to declare their demands based on existing socio-economic conditions. Throughout history, Iranian women have made their voices and demands heard across our country.

This year, however, the Iranian women celebrate International Women’s Day during a time when a dynamic movement is fighting for the “right to citizenship” and “civil liberties” – a movement in which it can be said that women are bearing the brunt of the responsibilities, and if not, are at minimum equally involved and responsible as their male counterparts. Women are paying a high price in many areas such as detention and imprisonment, deprivation from work and education, being banned from leaving the country, deprivation of their civil liberties, and even death and martyrdom.

Even though Iranian women have played a central role throughout the past 100 years of our history in the advancement of justice and freedom (take for example the Constitutional Revolution, the tobacco movement, the nationalization of oil, the Revolution of 1957, and a variety of other social movements and protests in the past thirty years), and fighting by the side of their male counterparts. This time, however, women have been present in a more determined and informed manner than in the past. They have been cognizant of their gender and have played an active and influential role in the movement.

The experiences of the various women’s groups fighting against injustice and discrimination in the past decade (through collaboration, cooperation, campaigns, and various coalitions) were collectively, consciously, and responsibly transferred by women onto the Green movement.

We women demonstrated that we can move in a common direction and resolve social problems and political crises. We find appropriate and intelligent solutions through dialogue, regardless of our ethnic, racial, religious, or social differences. It was these experiences that demonstrated to achieve civil demands, a principle adherence and commitment to non-violence and an ability to remain patient and resist is needed. It also demonstrated that one can hope for change and allowed for the green movement to stay away from any form of violence and conflict.

As a result of these historic efforts and struggles, Iranian women expect their aspirations and demands to be advanced not because they pertain to a specific group but rather as aspirations belonging to society at large, so that our nation can move toward progress and democracy.

As such, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, women activists in Iran will once again announce the demands that have been raised by women over the years:

  1. Elimination of discrimination against women in all civil laws, including family law, criminal law, etc.
  2. Iran to become a member of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
  3. The establishment of legal, social, and political frameworks for the reduction of family, legal, political, and social violence.
  4. Equal opportunity for women in all administrative, political, and management areas.
  5. Elimination of all gender based segregation, in particular segregation in universities and public places, etc.
  6. Freedom for peaceful activities for women as it relates to their rights.
  7. The release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including women and the dismissal of all charges against them.

On the threshold of March 8th, we announce loud and clear that we will remain by the side of the people and the Green activists. We will also continue our independent efforts and will not sit still until we achieve our aspirations and demands, because we are countless.

Signed by a number of women activists in Iran.


Translation by: Negar Irani | Persian2English.com




AFP

Internet giant Google on Thursday joined a top journalists' rights group in rewarding a collective of Iranian women bloggers for their reporting on last year's post-election unrest.

The online journalists of women's rights blog we-change.org were given the "Net Citizen" award, a new prize by Google and French media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to defend freedom of expression online.

Dozens of the Iranian site's contributors have been detained for reporting online on huge anti-government demonstrations that broke out amid claims of fraud in Iran's election, RSF said.

"The Iranian women's movement has always shown resistance... Now the movement is bringing its experience and methods of working democratically into cyberspace," said one of its members, Parvin Adalan, accepting the award at Google's Paris offices.

Google and RSF said in a statement that the site, formed in 2006, "has become a point of reference for information on women's rights in Iranian society," and "Iranian cyber-feminists have created new spaces for expression."

"Female online journalists show the world the abuses of power suffered in recent months by demonstrators and the population in general" in Iran, they said.

Among others shortlisted for the prize was Tan Zuoren, a 55-year-old Chinese journalist jailed for five years for his reporting on poorly built schools that were destroyed in the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, southwestern China.

Google and RSF said Tan, a contributor to the Chinese language human rights blog 64tianwang.com, had urged "Internet users to mobilise to establish the truth" and was harassed by authorities and put on trial for subversion.

Tan's nomination came at a sensitive time for Google's relations with China.

The US firm has threatened to pull out of China, the world's biggest online market, accusing authorities there of online censorship and of hacking the accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Google senior vice-president David Drummond said at Thursday's prize-giving that Iran and China were among the regimes that posed "the most systemic risk and the most immediate risk to individuals" by cracking down on online dissent.

The prize was awarded on the eve of RSF's "World Day Against Cyber Censorship" on Friday when the group publishes a list of countries it accuses of "displaying a disturbing attitude towards the Internet."

This year it said it has added several countries, including Australia, South Korea, Turkey and Russia, to the list of states it is monitoring for breaches of online media rights.

A senior manager of US Internet giant Google, David Drummond, said there was an "alarming trend" of government interference in online freedom, not only in countries that are widely judged to have poor human rights records.

Fars state-run News Agency

The deputy Prosecutor of Qom announced that a number of Monafeghin members (literally meaning hypocrite used by the regime to refer to the PMOI) who had communications with this organization and with Camp Ashraf were arrested.
Mahmoud Talebi said, "In a number of operations a monafegh group that carried out activities against the government was arrested in Qom"."These people were carrying out activities against the Islamic Revolution and government and intended to subvert the revolution and velayate faqih (leadership)".

Human Rights Activists in Iran
According to reports from the town of Bukan in the past few days, three labor activists in this city identified as Omar Minayi, Hadi Tanoumand and Karim Fatehi were arrested by security forces. Official sources in Bukan have still not announced the charges of these activists but their arrests were reportedly linked to an International Women's Day ceremony and on charges of being members of the Coordination Committee to Create Labor Associations. These men are currently jailed in the Central Bukan Prison.
Jaras Website
According to reports, Razieh Jafari (Shiraz student activist) was sentenced to 6 months of prison and 6 months of suspended prison while student activists Kazem Rezayi, Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, Saied Lotfi and Saied Khosro Abadi were summoned to the Revolutionary Court. Students believe that Hossein Karparvar Fard, the assistant head of Shiraz University and Mohammadi, the head of the Protection Department in this university are behind the (suppression) of student activists. It seems they are direct elements of the Shiraz Intelligence Agency.

Committee of Human Rights Reporters

According to reports, Evin Prison officials have prevented Mahdieh Golro from seeing her husband, Vahid Lalipour and this jailed student activist has been barred from receiving visits in the past two weeks. Vahid Lalipour who was also just recently released from prison after 3 months has not been able to visit his jailed wife despite constantly going to judicial and security institutions and officials prevent this couple from visits under various pretexts.

Asre Iran state-run website

The head of the Qom Revolutionary Court Mahmoud Talebi said, "From the beginning of the current (Iranian) year, 10 death sentences have been carried out for drug smugglers in Qom and this shows our serious confrontation with smugglers".
"The latest hangings were in the morning when two drug smugglers were hanged". "Hamid Kh. and Zeinolabedin Q. were two people who were executed today on charges of smuggling various kinds of drugs", he added.

Radio Free Iran
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has praised the two Iranian activists who were awarded the Homo Homini prize presented annually by the Czech NGO People in Need "in recognition of a dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy, and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts" and called on them not to lose hope.

We reported earlier this week that former student leader Abdollah Momeni and student activist Majid Tavakoli are the recipients of the prize, which was presented last night at a ceremony in a church in Prague.

Havel could not attend the ceremony, but he sent this message:

"Of course all of us are interested in Iran's nuclear program and the nature of the current regime, just as we are interested in the abuses committed under the flag of Islam and whether or not the 2009 election was rigged. However, what I am most interested in are the brutal violations of human rights. I found myself in high political position thanks to peaceful public demonstrations and thanks to the students, who led them and made them happen. As a result, I have an elevated sensitivity for certain things and am deeply outraged and shocked that for participating in similar demonstrations in Iran, people are not only being sentenced to several years in prison, but are even being executed. It seems to me like an endless barbarity and I firmly believe this savagery is about to come to an end.

"I congratulate Majid Tavakoli and Abdollah Momeni for receiving the Homo Homini Award. I am glad that the prize has been given to them and I wish for them not to lose hope."

Vaclav Havel

8.March gathering at Art University of Tehran



video

It seems that the Iranian regime HAS not yet managed to curb Protests !!

Secretary of Journalist Syndicate , Badr al Sadat Mofidi has been transferred to 209 notorious Evin prison.

Her familly has asked for her immediate release.

According to Kalame site, this transfer could mean increased pressure and new interrogation and torture for this journalist and her family . She was arrested along with her husband earlier this month. Her husband has been released .

Behrouz Javid Tehrani is a 27 years old pro-democracy student activist who was first imprisoned during the July 9th 1999 (18 Tir) student protests.
He served 4 years in prison and was released in 2004. However he did not stop his activities and continued to fight against human rights abuses and injustice in Iran.
He was re-arrested a few months after his release and imprisoned once again.
Tehrani has continued his human rights work inside the prison walls, and because of this he was transferred to Gohardasht (Rajaii Shahr) Prison, where some of the most dangerous criminals are kept.
He has been attacked and beaten both by prisoners and prison guards on numerous occasions. The Regime has done everything possible to make him stop his activities and has not been successful. There is great fear that they may do the one and only thing that can silence Tehrani, and that is to execute him. We need to bring the attention of the International Community to guarantee his safety and make sure he is not executed



In a letter in April 2009, Tehrani wrote:

“Here, the ghastly executioners have exceeded all inhumane boundaries. I have no other alternative but to resort to hunger strike and seek your support to find a safe haven for me
Today, 6 April 2009, when my sister came to visit me, the barbaric behaviour of my jailers towards me and my sister in the visitors’ hall annihilated my patience. They not only subjected me to the most disgraceful and humiliating type of body search and inspection, and even confiscated the smallest piece of paper and a phone number I was carrying, but they also did worse than that to my sister. The visitor’s hall’s wardens, Misters Islamic, Ahmadi and Khosravi, and Mrs. Shahbazi behaved most callously towards me and my family who had only come to visit me. They only granted us 3 minutes just to be awkward with us. My sister had tried for a month to be given the chance to visit me and had travelled from Tehran to Karaj. And yet they only gave us 3 minutes to talk. Our objections to their behaviour only caused more violence towards us. This kind of behaviour was of course contrived by the management and higher authorities of “Gohardasht” prison.
The day Amir Heshmat Saran died (Murdered) under extremely suspicious circumstances, the prison authorities instructed us to keep quiet about it and not to mention anything to anyone. As everyone knows, we did quite the opposite and exposed the circumstances under which Amir Heshmat lost his life.
For sometime now, no one in this prison has been following up my ill health. My health has been deteriorating due to the inflicted tortures by the “Ministry for Security”. The prison clinic at “Rajayee Shahr” prison refuses to refer me to a civilian hospital as I need to have a M.R.I. scan done to diagnose my illnesses. I have been suffering from the loss of 50% of my vision due to blows to the back of my head which has partially damaged the rear side of my brain.
Today, in my family’s presence, the head warden threatened me: “You counter revolutionary idiot, you will soon join your friend Saran”!
Dear compatriots, I have been captive for over ten years as a political prisoner; since the students’ uprising on 9 July 1998. Have I any option other than starting a hunger strike?
Behrooz Javid Tehrani

The last survivor of 9 July students’ uprising in Rajayee Shahr prison
6 April 2009[


Blogs for Berooz
Kianoosh Sanjari on Behrooz
http://sos-tehrani.blogspot.com/
http://kavehsh.mihanblog.com/post/63

His last revelation from inside the prison revealing a repugnant gang exchanging body parts of prisoners in prison to the outside who are actually prison officials !
Read the report in farsi

The report in English

His page in FaceBook
Link to page


Please distribute the petition for ALL to SIGN

http://www.petitiononline.com/behrooz/petition.html
Mehdi Gooya, a graduate degree student in mechanical engineering at Polytechnic University of Tehran and an activist for Mir Hossein Mousavi’s campaign was summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence. He was arrested upon arrival. According to RAHANA, he has not contacted his family since and there are no reports regarding his whereabouts or condition.

Translation by: Tour Irani | Persian2English.com
Caspian Makan , Neda's fiance in Geneva "Neda did not vote,she did not believe in Moussavi..., What had happened was that a chance had come up for people to protest for Freedom..".. Neda thought the elections was a show.. the regime had already chosen its candidate.. Thats' why we never participated in the show..if we did we would have supported the regime in a way .."


Please listen to the realities of Iranian Green Movement from those who are in it and not those who seem to chair from outside Iran.







Prague, 8 March, 2010 – Two detained Iranian student leaders Majid Tavakoli and Abdollah Momeni were awarded for the 2009 by Homo Homini Award. Along with the imprisoned Iranian students the organization has symbolically recognized the whole Iranian student movement. The People in Need organization annually bestows the Homo Homini Award on people who have contributed significantly to human rights protection in the World. Two delegates will collect the award at the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival opening in Prague on March 10.

"Both recipients have played an important role in the formation of the Iranian student movement that has become crucial in the promotion of freedom of expression and democracy in Iran in the past ten years," said. “Iranian students are traditionally very active in proreform protests. As a result they are exposed to monitoring, whipping and arrest and within the context of post election protests their situation has worsened”.

One of the recipients, Majid Tavakoli, is a student of Amir Kabir University in Teheran. For his effort in human rights protection he was arrested twice in the past, firstly in 2006.. More recently, he was detained after a speech in which he openly criticized the Iranian regime, false imprisonment of demonstrators and other human rights abuses relating to student actions on December 7 in 2009. For his participation in the protests He was sentenced to 8 years in prison in January 2010.

After He was arrested photographs were published of him dressed in hidjab in the semi-official media Fars news and Raja news. He was charged with trying to escape the security forces from a university campus after making his speech dressed as a woman. To all appearances this was done as an attempt to on various internet websites to support him.him. After this a huge campaign started on various internet websites to support him.

The second laureate is Abdollah Momeni, one of the student leaders from 1999 when huge numbers of students protested daily against the abolition of reform newpaper. In the evening of the day when the demonstrations took place, security forces broke into the student campus of Teheran University and beat up the students. Within the next week the riots spread to the streets of Teheran and other towns and became the biggest rising since the Islamic revolution.

Abdollah Momeni worked as a longtime spokesman of the Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat organization which focuses on enforcement of democracy and human rights protection. He was arrested during protests after the election in June 2009 and later sentenced to eight years in prison for his presence at post-election gatherings and activities against national security. According to witness statements, Momeni is subject to abusive treatment in prison.

According to the latest unofficial news Abdollah Momeni was released on bail for five days on March 7 2010. Then he must return to prison. He will probably hear the news that he has won the Homo Homini Award before his return to jail.

VOA reporting on this ;

Beginning on Wednesday March 10, 2010, Latif Mohammadi who has been in prison for the past eight years has gone on hunger strike protesting his indefinite and suspended situation.

According to Mokrian News Agency, Mohammadi has been sentenced to death on accusations of clashing with security forces. His relatives claim that his sentence has been rejected and he is still in an indefinite suspended situation.
Translation by: Tour Irani | Persian2English.com

On the morning of March 9, 2010, Shadi Sadr dedicated her Women of Courage Award to Shiva Nazar Ahari, the imprisoned human rights activist.

Shadi Sadr stated that she would not be going to Washington tomorrow to attend the ceremony in order to show her solidarity with Shiva Nazar Ahari so the international community sees the severity of the situation.

Shadi Sadr’s acceptance speech that explains her reasons for dedicating the award to Shiva Nazar Ahari was supposed to be presented tomorrow March 10, 2010 at the award ceremony, but the organization Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) reported that the US Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that the speech will not be aired. In a press release, WLUML described the decision an act “to silence the voice of protest and solidarity among women.”


Shadi Sadr’s speech acceptance speech for the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony:


from WULM

Your Excellency Mrs. Clinton, Respected Members of the Jury, Ladies and Gentlemen, (cont…)

I am honored to be selected as one of the ten recipients of the International Women of Courage Award, which I consider as yet another opportunity for me, and other human rights activists, to bring to the international community’s attention the efforts of Iranian women on a global level. This award also enables me to publicize the systematic human rights abuses in Iran, particularly the crackdown on civil society activists in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential elections.

This Award, as is evident by its title, is given every year to women all across the globe that have illustrated exceptional courage in defense of women’s rights, social justice and human rights. For this exact reason I would like to dedicate my award to Shiva Nazar Ahari, a young activist that is currently imprisoned in Iran for her women’s rights and human rights activism. I dedicate this award to her since I believe her courage has been exceptional and deserving of worldwide recognition.

Shiva, who since her youth has been an influential activist, founded the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, a university student group that provides important and objective reports concerning human rights abuses in Iran. She has also been actively involved in the women’s rights movement, never for a moment ceasing her efforts on behalf of human rights and democracy.

Unfortunately, shortly after the elections, Shiva was arrested and kept for months in solitary confinement and subjected to extreme interrogations. After spending more than 100 days in prison, Shiva was released on a $200,000 bail for only three, brief months. Shiva, who had re-started her activism immediately upon her release from prison, was arrested once more in December 2009 along with other members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Since her arrest, the authorities have placed her under extreme pressure in order to make her confess to the crime of ‘acting as an enemy of God’, which carries the death penalty under state law. They kept her for a long period in a cage-like cell so small that she could barely move her limbs. Despite such extreme torture, Shiva has not, even today, accepted that her peaceful activism in promotion of Women’s rights and democracy are acts of terrorism, and consequently has faced even more abusive treatments.

Shiva, one of the world’s most courageous women, who herself worked tirelessly in defense of the rights of political prisoners, is herself in a small prison cell, and deprived of having even a pen and paper or meeting with a lawyer, and is kept blind-folded.

To be honest, since the Iranian regime declares that all human rights activists and civil activists are spies and puppets for the West, particularly the United States, I initially worried that to dedicate this award to Shiva alone might increase the pressure and hostility of her interrogators and the judicial forces and make matters worse for her.

However, I eventually arrived at the conclusion that the Iranian government will still accuse all activists of being spies, similar to the way they accused me of selling myself to America for receiving this award (calling me a “servant of the United States”), so that it really makes little difference. As Shiva is not with us and cannot attend this award ceremony, I will also refrain from attending with the hope that my absence will turn the attention of the international community to her dire situation. I would like to request that you all take any measures available to you to help to free Shiva along with other human rights activists and journalists in Iranian prisons.

Thank you.

According to Amin Ahmadian, even though interrogations for Daftare Tahkim Vahdat member Bahareh Hedayat have ended, her file is still not available at the Revolutionary Court and her lawyer has not been able to register the file either. [editor's note: Amin Ahmadian is Bahareh Hedayat's husband]

Ahmadian told a RAHANA reporter: “The situation for other Daftare Tahkim Vahdat members has been alleviated, and they have been granted visitation. Even though my wife’s interrogations have ended, her file remains vague and her family has not been allowed visitation.”

Bahareh Hedayat is a student activist who was arrested on December 31, 2009. Tehran prosecutor Jafar Dolatabadi has personally indicted Bahareh Hedayat on 16 charges.
Translation by: Maryam | Persian2English.com
ILNA state-run news agency
A member of the Board of Directors of the Hospital and Treatment Centers' Union believes that the lowering of women's working hours will cause employees not to give key management jobs to women and the ratification of this law is an excuse to eliminate women from the social scene.
"In a traditional society like Iran, the lowering of women's working hours can seriously damage this stratum because this will definitely lead to the lowering of their wages and may hurt their professions", Zeinab Taheri said.
"Currently, many of the women in our country are the breadwinners of their families and if this law is passed, employees will not welcome hiring women or will give them lower wages, therefore it can be said that the lowering of women's working hours can lead to a decrease in social calamities"

Bamdad Khabar website

The initial sentence for Mehrdad Bozorg and Ehsan Dolatshah was issued by 26th branch of the Tehran Revolutionary Court headed by Judge Pir Abassi. These two members of the Liberal Students and Graduates of Iran's Universities were sentenced to one year of prison on charges of spreading propaganda against the government. Six months of their prison term is suspended
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Mehdi Sadeq Lu, a young man who has been charged with committing murder while a minor (under 18) is in danger of being executed.
This young man who is imprisoned in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj killed a boy identified only by his last name as Buy in 2007 and was sentenced to death.
Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Majid Tavakoli, an Amir Kabir University student who has been serving his third term of prison since December 7, 2009, was once again transferred to a solitary cell from five weeks ago in section 240 in Evin Prison.
Tavakoli, who was beaten once again by his interrogators, is kept in solitary illegally despite the fact that the court issued his sentence.
This jailed student only called his family once in these three months after his court and has been banned from phone calls in the past two months. He also once visited with his brother with the presence of security forces.
His trial was held in January without his lawyer in the 15th branch of the Revoluti
Committee of Human Rights Reporters

The lack of care of Evin Prison's infirmary in the women's section has led to many physical problems for political prisoners Mahdieh Golro, Pakhshan Azizi and Zahra Jabari.
This is while Pakhshan Azizi, a Kurd student, who was arrested on November 16, has requested to go to the infirmary for more than a month because of muscle cramp and a jaw and gum infection, but she has still not received as answer.
Zahra Jabari who was arrested after the elections suffers from severe rheumatism, bone disease and severe heart ailments and has to be under the care of a specialist, but after 5 months of prison, the necessary coordination to get her medicine has still not be carried out and her physical condition is deteriorating every day.
Committee of Human Rights Reporters
Ali Malihi, a journalist and member of the Iran Graduates Organization who was arrested on February 9 and transferred to Evin Prison was beaten in this prison.
Interrogators beat him because of his resistance to the extent that the bruises and torture signs were evident on his face.
Human Rights Activists in Iran
A Kurd citizen identified as Karvan Azizi was shot and killed by security forces in the border region of Siran Band in the town of Baneh.
On Sunday March 8, security forces opened fire on a number of border tradesmen who were reportedly carrying smuggled fabric and clothes which led to the death of Karvan Azizi.
Another Kurd man, whose identity is not known, was also severely wounded.

EU Should Be Hard on Iran


Fiorello Provera

Eighty Members of the European Parliament, including its former president, Hans-Gert Pöttering, and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, are urging the parliament to honor its commitment to human rights by remembering the life of Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman who was killed last June in Tehran while standing up for her rights. We believe that the European Parliament should commemorate her sacrifice by hanging a poster of her image on the external wall of the parliament’s premises in Brussels, beside the poster of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s democratic opposition.

This year will be a crucial and uncertain year for Iran and for its relations with the European Union. The domestic hostility toward the regime that erupted in the aftermath of the disputed presidential elections last June has not died away but has become stronger and more determined.

The Ashura riots of December and the violent suppression of protests during the recent anniversary to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution were some of the fiercest to date. The regime’s sharp crackdown ahead of the anniversary did not stop thousands from marching in the streets, despite the threat of swift retribution. The likelihood of more arrests, trials and bloodshed is a concern for many in the international community.

More ominously, following the riots the regime put 16 opposition members on trial for taking part in the demonstrations, with prosecutors indicating that some would be charged with the offense of mohareb — “making a war against God” — a capital crime.

The heavy-handed approach adopted by the regime is causing friction even among its loyalists. A former member of Iran’s parliament, Javad Ettaat, argues that the “government is contravening the principles of Islam by using an iron fist against protesters.” Mohammad Taghi Khalaji, a cleric and devoted follower of Ayatollah Khomeini, was arrested on Jan. 12 after saying at a Tehran mosque that Iran’s leaders should repent for their actions.

The European Parliament has been paying close attention to Iran’s deteriorating situation. There has been pressure to impose targeted sanctions aimed at impeding the financial operations of the country’s Revolutionary Guard, which holds a virtual monopoly over strategic industries such as banking, defense and construction. Since many European companies have profited from investing in such firms, deciding on the terms of sanctions could prove cumbersome.

On the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Iranian government’s equivocal position is also a source of growing concern. Many European lawmakers are worried by the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran on Europe’s doorstep and are not convinced by the regime’s claim that it seeks only nuclear energy.

It is critical, therefore, that the EU demonstrate its commitment to the Iranian people through actions, rather than words by taking a tougher stance against the regime. Targeted sanctions aimed at the Revolutionary Guard would be an important step, but so is clearly expressing solidarity with the millions of Iranians who are fighting for a democratic and pluralist society.

Europe should stand with Iran’s civil society, and the European Parliament has already paid tribute to the courage of all those Iranian men and women who are defending their basic freedoms and democratic principles. A concrete demonstration of its commitment is the request to make better use of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.

Eighty Members of the European Parliament, including its former president, Hans-Gert Pöttering, and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, are urging the parliament to honor its commitment to human rights by remembering the life of Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman who was killed last June in Tehran while standing up for her rights. We believe that the European Parliament should commemorate her sacrifice by hanging a poster of her image on the external wall of the parliament’s premises in Brussels, beside the poster of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s democratic opposition.

Agha Soltan has become a symbol of the desire for freedom of a people that Europe must help. This simple act could demonstrate the importance of Europe’s soft power, which frightens the Islamic Republic more than the threat of military force by keeping the media spotlight on the regime’s human rights record and emphasizing its growing isolation. It would also foster stronger ties between Iran’s civil society and the outside world, while setting an example to the international community that the EU is committed to the principles enshrined in its own Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Europe’s policy for Iran is not regime change, but when human rights and democracy are at stake we cannot simply close our eyes.




Fiorello Provera is vice chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. © Project Syndicate
Sahar Sepehri

Iranian women's groups and other organisations are fighting a much discussed proposed law which they say would encourage polygamy by allowing a man to take a second wife without the permission of the first under certain circumstances. The proposal comes at a time when the country has been rocked by protests, in which women have played a major part, following the disputed re-election last June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Although Islamic law permits a man to marry up to four wives (with strict restrictions), polygamy is not widely practiced in Iran. At present, an Iranian man needs his wife's permission to take a second wife.

A so-called Family Protection Law, proposed by the government in 2008, said a man could marry a second wife on the condition that he could afford both wives financially. The Parliament dropped that clause following a wave of opposition from women, but is now reconsidering a different version of the provision.

The spokesman for the Parliament's Judicial and Legal Commission, Amir Hussein Rahimi, announced recently that the commission has now approved Article 23 of the proposed Family Protection Law that states, "A man can marry a second wife under ten conditions."

The new version still requires the first wife to give her husband permission, though controversially this permission would not be required under certain conditions, such as if she is mentally ill, suffers from infertility, does not cooperate sexually or has a chronic medical condition or drug addiction.

Iranian women still oppose the legalisation of polygamy, saying it weakens their role and status at home and in society.

The original plan was dropped after a group of intellectuals, religious, social and human rights activists created a movement to voice their opposition to the law. In September 2008, a group of 50 well-known women, including poet Simin Behbahani, politician Azam Taleghani and lawyer and Noble laureate Shirin Ebadi, met representatives from the parliament to express their concerns about what they called "an anti-family protection law".

Islamic organisations such as the Zeinab Association and the Women's Organisation of the Islamic Revolution also supported the movement. And the One Million Signatures campaign, which opposes discrimination against women, played a significant role in mobilising public opinion.

The law was also controversial among government officials. Several reformists protested against it openly. Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, called it "persecution". And a leading cleric, Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, stated, "If the first wife does not permit her husband to take another wife, the marriage will not be legitimate, even if a man can support both wives financially."

Nevertheless, the Speaker of the Parliament, Ali Larijani, has declared that it will consider a slightly amended version of the controversial article.

To which a young member of the Centre for Iranian Women, Taraneh Bani Yaghoub, replied, "The women's movement will not remain quiet."

Iran's first law recognising polygamy was passed when Reza Shah, who ruled between 1925 and 1941, was in power. In 1970, female activists demanded the secular government of Mohammad Reza Shah outlaw polygamy, but despite the government's positive reaction to their demand, clerics prevented it. In 1975, an alternative law was adopted, stating that polygamy was permitted under certain conditions, such as obtaining the first wife's permission.

Much has changed in Iran since 1976, when only 36 per cent of women were literate. Now, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, 80 per cent of women are educated, and almost 1.6 million are university graduates – compared to 46,000 in 1976.

Despite government restrictions on women, the number of female professionals has increased to around six per cent a year, or 2.5 million women in 2006, according to official statistics. A large group of educated women has shaped today's Iranian society. For years, these women have demanded legal and social rights and equal treatment with men. They have resisted any law that weakens their rights or degrades their position in society.

Women are angry with the proposed law, and they have been disappointed by the reaction of key figures of the opposition movement. A recent statement signed by a group of women activists accused defeated presidential contenders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi of ignoring women's rights and even their existence in their political manifestos, claiming that "women's issues are a major part of the current crisis and no solution will be achieved unless this issue is included."



* Sahar Sepehri is a journalist and media analyst based in Washington, DC. This abridged article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

LONDON—Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Wednesday it is no longer selling gasoline to Iran, the latest oil company to make such a move during threats of tougher sanctions against the Islamic republic.

"Shell is not currently selling gasoline to Iran," a company spokesman said. He declined to comment on whether it was related ...


Read More


Following is a rush transcript from a speech delivered at today’s Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy, by Caspian Makan, fiance of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman murdered by government troops during the June 2009 post-election demonstrations in Tehran.

------
I was born in 1972 in Tehran, and when I started school, it was in 1979. And that coincided with the religious revolution under Mr. Khomeini. At that time, schools had to close their doors, everything had to stop in the country. And even though Islam was present at the time, no one had really realized what this had implied when Islamic authority took power. And people were receptive to the promises made. They thought they would be more well-being, they thought that they would be better off. They thought they would have more political freedoms and that would be added to further freedoms. Therefore they supported the guide of the revolution and the first thing that was done was to have the preceding government official, to have them step down, to have them either tortured or killed without trial.

Now my parents were civil servants under the preceding civil regime and their lives were put into danger. But my father was able to convince them that they were wrong and he saved our lives. People had to line up in a very harsh winter to be able to buy staples. But they took to the streets to demonstrate and our life was turned topsy-turvy. After a few months, schools had opened again but everything had changed.

I had never seen such things before. The girls who had been part of our class before had been separated. They had been sent to a special school. Our teachers had to change strangely, strange attire, they had to hide their hair, hide their bodies.

A lot of the books changed as well, for example how they taught history. We had to learn Arabic and the Quran and other Islamic subjects. And the life of Mr. Khomeini became compulsory as well. There was a very big change that the population had been subjected to, and slowly, pressure built up to control people’s opinion. If there was an ideology that anyone held that ran counter to Islam, that person was imprisoned or murdered.

Now, I remember, I had been eight years old and I had started a discussion with my music teacher. And I was expelled from my music class but I was not discouraged. I felt I had a role to play in society, I tried to understand what was going on socially and politically in Iran. I would attend public events, I visited hospitals, conferences, I would talk to the mullahs, the basiji and different supporters of the regime. I was not afraid, I started a conversation up.

I studied architecture and film, and I continued my work as a writer and a poet. I was a journalist and a photographer. But due to the pressure that was placed on people, and on society, I wanted to reflect what was happening politically, and socially, through my poems, in my films, in everything I wrote. Now I was threatened, I was censured and I was arrested for short periods of time. And I realized that I wouldn’t be able to continue my activities, so I focused on nature and history. But I still keep trying to take a short glance at politics. I studied different religions secretly and then I decided to change religions.

Now we’re in 1983 in Iran, when we talk about Nega Agha Soltan, when she was born. Her father was in civil service and he was a musician. She was very intelligent, she was very honest. She was very sincere, she had a very sharp mind, she was an intellectual. She was well ahead of the times and she was precocious for her age intellectually. I was impressed by her and she never got angry when people behaved badly. She was saddened by this. She was a deep thinker and she was really a source of joy for all of those around her.

We met on a trip, we struck up a conversation and we talked about the beauty of creation and nature that God had made. We talked for a bit and little by little things continued, and finally we decided to marry. She was an artist at heart.

She was very curious about different religions and the different visions people had about religions. And she decided to study for this reason theology and after a while she realized that the surface matters counted more at university than the reasons for wanting to study. And she spent a lot of time talking with the management of the university about the dress code and superficial matters like this and so she decided to drop her studies at university and decided to study art as she wished.

She always enjoyed talking about the different pressures that were being placed now on Iranian society, above all, young people. She suffered a great deal from these useless restrictions and she thought they were part of superstitions, that they were something from the Middle Ages.

She suffered from the lack of freedom that in society that wondered why this happened. She wondered why no one would react, why people didn’t speak up and didn’t complain. She explained her dissatisfaction. She wondered what would be the end result and what would happen.

What marked her as being different from other people was that she tried to find solutions, not only did she raise questions. And then the presidential elections arrived, and at that point, there was a campaign by the different candidates, and she rejected the regime.

She felt it wasn’t a matter of individuals, she felt that all the candidates were more or less the same. She thought it was always a show, always a charade. The regime had already designated its candidate. The people’s vote didn’t matter. And the die was already to some cast. She had never voted and I agreed with her. And that’s why I have never participated in the elections, because we thought that if we did, we would be participating in the regime to some extent.

And that’s what the regime had said, that the people had voted in a block to support the government. She felt they were fooling people, had exploited their naivete. They used fraud.

And that’s why before the campaign had began, the authorities had given instructions to the police to ease up on the population, to stop pressuring the population. Coupons were given out at the time so that people could buy food. So, the pressure had eased up.

A lot of the young people didn’t know who Mousavi, who was one of the candidates was, had been. They didn’t know that he had been a prime minister and had contributed to the extermination of thousands of political prisoners. They had only heard about him when he had been transformed, reborn, and they were fascinated by what he was saying. Young people above all else wanted to get rid of Mr. Ahmadinejad. We have to choose the lesser evil.

People took to the streets to express their joy. But, no one bothered them. The situation was less tense.

You didn’t see the militia in the streets. Now people thought this wasbecause of Mr. Mousavi’s participation. There had been a debatebetween the two candidates and these discussions allowed us to seewhat was happening behind the scene, to see the truths that emergedafter thirty years of oppression, and this was truly unprecedented.

Now, more and more people were supporting Mr. Mousavi. And after theelection when it had become clear that the election had been rigged,millions of people demonstrated and demanded their rights, once theycould see that Mr. Ahmadinejad was no longer supporting him.Over the past few months, we have seen in Iran that certain horriblecrimes perpetrated by the regime have come out. The electoral fraudthat appeared, has appeared. We have seen hate expressed by the peopleagainst Mr. Ahmadinejad. We have seen oppression by the regime thatdates back the thirty-one years of the revolution, we have seen theacts taken by the regime, taken by the regime when the results of theelection were announced.

A great pressure had built up again which recalls the situation of therevolution at the begin.Neda followed the campaign, and when the results of the election wereannounced, she realized it had been rigged, and she joined thedemonstrators. She had voted, and saw that circumstances had appearedwhere she saw she had the right to demand her rights. She saw that themistakes had been made by the regime and that it should be revealed tothe world at large. She felt that this should be told.People had been arrested and tortured, murdered even. The regime hadstruck with a strong hand. There was a groundswell of sentiment withthe people. Now there was a new element. There was new technology,there were mobile phones, there was satellite, there were all sorts ofnew technology that would be harnessed to broadcast all the terriblenews coming from Iran. The news of the revolution openly threatenedthe population and the government gave the order that people should betook down.

Nonetheless, people took the streets. And the mercenaries of theregime reacted against them and caused bloodshed. I was an eye witnessto this, I was doing my job. I was trying to collect information. I saw firsthand that the army of the revolution was shooting and killingthe demonstrators from a helicopter. Now four days before the event Ihad talked to Neda and I had tried to dissuade her from demonstrating.I was in love with her, I didn’t want her to be hurt. I knew theregime was fighting for survival and that nothing would stop it.

And I said to Neda why do you want to go demonstrate, she said we havea responsibility to defend our rights. She said, you know Caspian, Ilove you, I love being with you, but what is most important to me isthe freedom of our people. And I said to her and what if you are arrested, what will happen, and she said nothing. And I said what if you are shot at? And she said to me, “Even if a bullet hits my heart,it doesn’t matter, because everyone will be marked.”

And on that great day, I left ahead, and I heard her have aconversation with her mother, and her mother wasn’t able to turn backand talk her out of this.And at 6:00 on Saturday, the mercenaries of the regime did indeedshoot her to death, and put a bullet in her heart.

There was footage of her last moments and so the whole world had afirst hand account of the tyranny of Iran. They saw an inhuman andpainful and horrible act that showed the black face of an innocentwoman of 26 years was killed by a bullet in her heart. She was losingher blood but she remained conscious and she was calm even at the end.

Perhaps she was thinking at the end perhaps of her final objective. She did not fight to stay alive, she gave herself up to death.We have seen many people who have been wounded and killed but thisstruck the world particularly hard. We were able to see on the footagehow good and kind she was and admire her attitude when faced with death, to admire her courage as a symbol of liberty, as she diedhoping for a better life of the millions of Iranians who remainedbehind, and her wish for the gift of freedom for her people. Now theworld has experienced a great deal of progress.We have made great headway in science and technology. And this hasimproved humanity. But we can wonder if our spiritual depth has grownto the same extent as technology and science. And there is a clear answer, and that is no.And in human rights, our progress has been very feeble. After athousand years of history, we can still see that mankind treats eachother in a very cruel way. We can see that scientists spend colossal amounts of money to make progress to save lives.

At the same time we see that other authorities use their intelligenceto create increasingly deadly weapons to kill, rapidly, on a largescale and more efficiently.Now I’d like to make an appeal. I would like to appeal to theauthorities of the United Nations and human rights representatives. I would like to urge that we respect human rights and that in thisway, we help to put an end to the murder and the death of the man inflicts on his fellow man, that we put an end to murders, to wars, toextermination. I hope on the 20th of June when we mark the anniversary of death, thatwe think of her. She is a person who thought of freedom. I hope this day will mark a day when we end to man killing of mankind.I have a comment to make.

I would like to thank my dear friend who has just spoken about the Iranian regime and has rightly brought up a number of points, two of which I consider to be very important, not only considering theIranian regime but have a worldwide validity. And I would like tomention them concerning the clear and fragrant infringement of humanrights by the Iranian government, but of human rights, that they’dlike to be a member of the Human Rights Council.

If the Iranian regime does become a member of the Human Rights Council, then it will be a slap in the face of the other members ofthe Council.

Flouting such rights would be an encouragement of other countries whohave a tendency to do so and that would undermine the entirecredibility of the Human Rights Council.

I feel furthermore that if the Iranian regime became a member, thenthat would legitimize the regime and its inhuman and cruel acts Givingit legitimacy would encourage it to go further still.So I think that no activity should be considered a right for theregime, which is a dictatorship, nor any terrorist or dictatorship inthe world. Now the regime is lacking confidence and we should notendow them. However, armed with its nuclear technology, it is a perilfor world security.

The Iranian regime is very strong in terms of its army and weaponry.

It also has allies. Well, I won’t mention them by name. But there areallies that protect Iran.

So, nuclear technology under any form is a danger. And although theyclaim that it is used for peaceful ends to produce electricity, thispower in the hands of such an inhuman regime would become extremelydangerous. Given the countries that are protecting this, this couldeven lead to a world war, I feel.This is my message to the international community, to the UnitedNations, to world authorities. They should declare this regime to beillegitimate and work for its disappearance.
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