Sunday, 27 September 2009

SILENT VOLCANO


video



SILENT VOLCANO


For almost three decades the children of this land have been relentlessly suppressed by the Iranian regime and this continuous repression has been carried out in the name of God. For nearly thirty years people have silently witnessed injustice and oppression for the sake of religion. All facets of people’s life have been constantly subjected to monitoring and supervision. The government has explicitly instructed the general public especially women how to dress or otherwise be prepared for punishment. Similar codes of conduct extended to other aspects of life such as music, movies, books, newspapers and even speeches. This absolute authoritarian approach of the regime overshadowed all forms of civil liberty beyond what anyone could have imagined.

During Khatami’s presidency, from 1997 to 2005, concepts such as; freedom of expression, citizens’ rights and liberalisation were advocated by him and his ministers. There was a window of opportunity for journalists, civil rights campaigners, film makers and public speakers to follow their long desired dreams. Interestingly and despite all the criticism, nobody even tried to undermine the religious authority of the regime. However, the whole society became aware of the importance of distinguishing between political and religious boundaries in the context of freedom. It did not last. It did not last because of the existence and power of some narrow minded politicians who see themselves as the guardians of the whole nation’s values. All those shining dreams faded away when Khatami and his ministers completed the term of office. As soon as they left and even shortly before that those who had enjoyed the freedom and expressed their ideas were arrested and put behind bars. The whole nation once again was confronted with the consequences of mental darkness and ignorance.

Ahamadinejad who has so far managed to disgrace one of the oldest nations on the face of the earth became the president of Iran. He has established a system of terror and intimidation among the general public especially those who believe in the necessity of fundamental reform. The last five years will always be remembered for being the darkest chapter of the history of Iran. However, the sequence of the post-election events, regardless of the possible outcome, has made one thing crystal clear; the country’s circumstances as well as the people’s attitude towards their politicians have irreversibly changed. After many years, now the whole nation is recognising it’s potential. They are neither afraid of the system nor ready for any compromise. The courage and bravery of ordinary people have revealed the greatest of all virtues of this nation. This “stream of people” may flow slowly or swiftly according to events and circumstances but it is not stoppable. It is only a matter of time when people decide to break through the thin crust over the volcano of revolution.

Shahin M

Friday, 25 September 2009

AFFLICTED WITH PAIN




AFFLICTED WITH PAIN

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.

This poem by 13th century Persian poet Sa’adi, graces the entrance to the Hall of Nations of the United Nations in New York. On 23rd of September, the so called president of Iran on his fifth visit to the general assembly passed the same entrance to address the leaders of the world. However, his audience as well as hundreds of protesters outside the UN and millions of Iranian in Iran who know this poem believe that he has no sympathy for human pain. On his arrival at the UN, he faced the pictures of young political dissident who were killed during the post-election crisis either inside the prisons or in the heat of the demonstrations. Their bodies were sold to their families by the authorities while they were forbidden from observing the usual religious rituals. Many of young detainees were subjected to horrific experiences inside the detention centres and the politicians who took up the cudgels for them were accused of treason and acting against the national security. Since the 12th of June, midnight arrests, solitary cells, forced confession, torture, rape and killing have only been part of the appalling behaviour of the Iranian regime towards its opponents. Last Wednesday after almost 100 days of governing a society conditioned by violence and repression the head of this regime in his 35-minute speech, covered many issues. His speech included some rather bizarre and very ironic points:

a) He stressed that today the ideas and public opinion should be only determining factors.
b) He repeatedly condemned the despicable form of intimidation and deceit in the name of freedom and democratic practice.
c) He emphasized that the unfair system of thought has reached the end of its road and it is unable to move.
d) He mentioned that it is no longer possible to humiliate a nation and impose double standard.
e) However, at the end he insisted that he won a “large majority” in June election which was “glorious and fully democratic”.

This pattern of denial and deception from a head of state can only continue to baffle anyone who observes the current political situation of Iran. He should, however, know that it is no longer feasible to use this strategy to twist the reality of the present circumstances of the country. The influx of information from inside Iran literally made it possible for the rest of world to comprehend the whole truth. At this crucial period of our age, it is indeed the responsibility of not only the international community at the UN but all human beings to express their sympathy for the pain which had been inflicted by this regime. A free Iran is the great country to be longed for and a great aim to be fought for.

Shahin M

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

IMPOSTER AT THE UN




IMPOSTER AT THE UN

Provocative, offensive and outrageous are only some of the descriptions for Ahmadinejad’s speeches particularly on the international platforms. After more than three months of political turmoil inside the country, Ahmadinejad will make another rhetorical speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday 23rd of September. The intention is not only to show the leaders of the world that the political unrest at home has not weakened him but he has a full package of resolutions for global problems. He has even declared his readiness for a televised debate with Obama at the UN in order to address the roots of today’s global dilemmas; similar requests were rejected before by the White House as propaganda.

In his latest press conference, Ahmadinejad admitted that he was proud to stoke international outrage with his remarks denying the Holocaust. Interestingly, the main purpose of this Ahmadinejad’s style of speech is twofold:

a) Delivering controversial and outrageous speeches give an opportunity to Ahamdinjad to overshadow far more important domestic and international issues about Iran. By calling the Holocaust a myth, he can divert the eyes of the world from breaching human rights in Iran as well as the nuclear dossier. Otherwise, he would have to answer the international press at the UN about what happened in the secret detention centers to the young political dissidents. The detainees who were accused of acting against national security when they just questioned the credibility of the presidential election. He definitely has more to say about the right of Palestinian to live in the free society than Iranians who claim their right to choose their own president

b) Ironically, making foreign enemies is another pleasant dream for the one who gives these kinds of speeches. Having created these “foreign enemies” Ahmadinejad and his team can easily blame Iranian political opponents for being the “enemies” fifth column. This fabricated association paves the way to implicate political opponents in an inexcusable act of treason for which they should and will be punished.

Although this Wednesday the world once again has to listen to Ahmadinejad’s speech; a vague litany of platitudes with no concrete reasoning, his position as a president is no longer tenable. He is not representing Iran at the UN, he is in fact representing small minority of narrow minded and dogmatic politicians who are willing to sacrifice the national interest of the country just to hold on to power. The willingness to negotiate with the United States at this particular time is another pathetic strategy from a conning self-deluded politician.

Shahin M

Sunday, 20 September 2009

FOLLOWING THE GREEN BANNER




FOLLOWING THE GREEN BANNER

Form the regime’s prospective it was all over. After three months of intimidation, arrests, show trial, torture, rape and killing, the government was fairly sure that it had regained control of the situation. The regime’s annual display of solidarity with the Palestinians held on the last Friday in Ramadan was an auspicious occasion for the regime to draw a line under all the controversy around the disputed election on 12th of June. However, the reality proved otherwise. Thousands of demonstrators with green banners and wearing green clothes took to the streets of Tehran and all major cities across the country. Despite all the preemptive efforts of the government, people created one of the most courageous demonstrations during the last three months. The magnificent presence of the crowd instantly echoed through the whole world. All the international news channels broadcast the footages of the people shouting “death to the dictator” and marching through central Tehran despite the heavy presence of the regime’s security forces.

During the last three months, the government has clearly underestimated the importance of the new ways of communication among its opponents. The social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed are the websites in which all the dissidents constantly exchange their ideas and opinion and harmonize their anti-governmental activities. This phenomenon, unprecedented in the political history of Iran, is literally breaking the backbone of Ahmadinejad’s government. In a desperate act in an attempt to drown out the voice of the people, Ahmadinejad for the second time in less than a month decided to use the Friday prayers as a platform to make another speech. He, who has a global reputation for making controversial speeches, once again questioned the Nazi Holocaust and claimed that the incident was designed to justify the existence of Israel. However, the diligent demonstrators, with their mobile phones, who were not far from Tehran University succeeded in engraving another historic day in the memory of the political life of Iran. The video footages recorded by these people sent a strong message to the rest of the world that today is neither about Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, nor about people in Gaza. Today is about people who have been deprived of basic human rights in their own country by their own government. Today is about ordinary Iranian people in the streets of this country who want their own rights before fighting for the rights of others. Gaza can wait and so can Palestinians.
Shahin M

Monday, 14 September 2009

SHIMMERING MIRAGE




SHIMMERING MIRAGE

The Supreme Leader of Iran once again make the most of the Friday pray’s platform to give his own vision about the future of the regime. In the first part of the sermon Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave an explicit description about how Shia’s fist Imam, Ali, dealt with his opponents. He explained how patient and understanding Ali was with his enemies. However, he said, Ali eradicated all of his opponents when he found them determined to threaten the very existence of Islam. Giving the present situation in Iran and with this comparison, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s intention was to send a strong but blunt message to his own opponents. There are, however, a few points in this apparently simple analogy which are missing. First and the foremost, there is no characteristic resemblance between the Shia’s first Imam and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the circumstances are absolutely different. In the aftermath of the disputed election, all the members of the opposition along side with ordinary people were systematically prosecuted, tortured and then taken to the court. None was threatening the principals of Islam and presenting such a comparison is either due to delusional grandeur of the Supreme Leader or meant to mislead the public. The approach of the regime and the position taken by the Supreme Leader himself showed no sense of understanding and tolerance towards people who were only concerned about the credibility of the presidential election.

In the second part of the sermon the Supreme Leader divided government’s opponents into those who have remained inside the regime and those who have chosen to be outsiders and then he accused them of acting in their own vested interest. However, he clearly failed to explain the basis of this categorization. As far as the leaders of government’s opponents are concerned, they have been part of the establishment for the last 30 years and believe in Islam and the Constitution. Therefore, this dividing line drawn by the Supreme Leader is being used as a pretext to repress those who dare to raise their voice against the regime.

His lack of political insight became obvious when he exemplified the global acceptance of the regime by saying that people in a café house in remote part of North Africa cheer up the Iranian football team while they watch the match on T.V. This idea of replacing the passion of football with the world wide political support for the Iranian regime is the most ridiculous example he could have ever mentioned in his sermon.

The present dispute in Iran is neither about the election nor about the credibility of Ahmadinejad’s government. The present dispute is about injustice. In the aftermath of the election according to the government’s official figures about 4000 people were arrested. It has been confirmed that more than 80 people were killed and their relatives were banned from observing the religious rituals. There are many unidentified graves in the cemetery which are matter of great concern for families with missing individuals. The issue of overcrowded and secret detention center in which detainees were systematically tortured, beaten and raped was so scandalous that the Supreme Leader was forced to order its closure. These are some of too many examples of the injustice of this Islamic government which according to the Supreme Leader has a strong resemblance to Shia’s fist Imam’s way of governing the nation. Despite all this evidence, his illusory and unattainable vision for the future of the regime became even clearer when he predicted the huge turn out in the next general election.

The striking point at the end of his sermon was when he warned everyone to be vigilant about those who will attend the International Jerusalem Day (Rooze jahaniye Qods). The event is observed in Iran on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as a day of support for Palestinians and opposition against Israel. This year it falls on 18th of September. Ayatollah Khamenei was clearly anxious that there should be no misuse of the event. The opposition forces are intending to use this opportunity to demonstrate and express their anger regarding the post-election events while legally there should be no constraints or restriction against them. It is ironic that during the last 30 years the regime, weeks before the event, used to urge all Iranian to take to the streets on this day. However, this year’s International Jerusalem Day is already proving to be problematic.

The Supreme Leader in his latest appearance as the Friday Imam seemed to be a broken man who could see many irreversible mistakes. He did not appear as one who has a vision for the country; all he could see was a shimmering mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.

Shahin M

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

I HAVE A DREAM




I HAVE A DREAM

I have a dream of an Iran where people have every right to choose their leaders.
I have a dream of a nation that can live freely and not be terrorized if they hold their leaders accountable.
I have a dream of a prosperous Iran in which there is no sign of poverty and destitution.
I have a dream of one day no father will have to sell his kidney to send his son to the university.
Oh I have a dream of an Iranian mother who will not have to sell her body to feed her children.
I have a dream of one day Iran will regain its pride and glory.
I have a dream of one day people can just cast their ballot papers knowing that it matters to the regime.
I have a dream of an Iran in which none will be beaten to death if wanted to speak out.
I have a dream of a country without secret, overcrowded detention centers.
I have a dream of one day no brother and sister will have to go through the endless pictures of dead bodies to find their fathers.
I have a dream that one day no mother will have to search for the body of her beloved teenager in a remote cold storage room.
I have a dream that one day no father will have to pay for the bullets which killed his son.
I have a dream that one day no family will have to moan for their children who were unjustly taken away from them.

I have a dream that one day no innocent girl will have to remind herself of what went on in the darkness of that cell.

Oh I have a dream today.

This is an Iranian dream. This is our dream. It is about a free country in which we can celebrate our victory against bad and evil.

Let us pray for our freedom, for our dream.

Shahin M

Monday, 7 September 2009

FATWA...



FATWA …

In 1975 a group of human rights activists from Belgium visited the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Their mission was to investigate the alleged cases of torture by the Iranian security forces. Amongst the inmates there was a middle aged cleric who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for acting against the national security and helping the Islamic movement. The main question asked by the group was whether there was any mistreatment or torture experienced by the prisoners. In the presence of the prison guards and the security servicemen the majority of the detainees kept silent or denied any torture. However, when the middle aged cleric was asked the same question, he replied in English “I can not answer this question.” The response was short, simple but subtle. After 35 years Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri is still outspoken and the main critic of the Islamic Republic’s domestic and foreign policy. In 1997 after openly criticizing the authority of the Supreme Leader he was placed under house arrest for five years. The growing concerns about his health and the pressure from national and international scholars finally forced the regime to lift the ban.

Monatazeri’s approach towards Islam as a senior theologian with many supporters across the country is based on an understanding of Islam as a religion which can be part of people’s daily life in 21st century. This approach is far from hostility and animosity towards other religions, races and nations. He, for example issued a statement in support of the Baha’is who lives in Iran; “they are the citizens of this country; they have the right of citizenship and live in this country. Furthermore, they must benefit from the Islamic compassion which is stressed in Quran and by the religious authorities.”

During the last four years Montazeri has openly decried Ahmadinejad’s government and its performance regarding the economy, public spending and especially human rights. On 25th of August his theological opinion was sought about the importance of public acceptance in the credibility and legitimacy of the person who rules the Islamic nation (The Supreme Leader). Montazeri’s response was crystal clear; He said that people’s desire to choose their leaders is prominent in Islam. He also said even the prophet and his direct descendents never governed the nation unless they had the full support of their people. In his latest public statement in response to the letter written by 293 of the Iranian intellectuals, he condemned the mistreatment of the detained demonstrators. He strongly demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners and urged the authorities to stop the show trials and forced confessions. Moreover, for the first time since the revolution he addressed a very critical issue when he asked the authorities to have the courage to say that this regime neither is Islamic nor a Republic. The salient point in his argument is that the sequence of the post-election events mirrors a totalitarian regime which treats the majority of its people as second-class citizens. People are systematically prosecuted if they call the government into question about the credibility of the election. The post-election detainees are paraded inside the court room in front of the camera in order to be humiliated and then forced to admit their so called treacherous intentions to topple the regime. This government’s “portfolio” certainly does not remind anyone of an Islamic or Republic government let alone the Grand Ayatollah who is rightly one of the founders of this regime.

During the last two weeks the increasing presence of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri as well as the hunger of the people to seek his advice indicates a significant point which is the desire for a leader. Giving the gravity of the situation, a heavy weight religious leader like Montazeri could not only mobilize and motivate all the opposition groups but could also raise the stakes for the government. His final word as a Fatwa in order to oppose the regime in anyway could endanger the very existence of the Iranian government. Whether or when the ayatollah decides to use his discretion remains to be seen.

Shahin M