Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shiva Nazar Ahari is not just a name

At Evin prison, Shiva Nazar Ahari is not just a name. It is a sea. A sea of hope. Hope that lights up the eyes of every new prisoner. You can find the name “Shiva Nazar Ahari” in every interrogation room in Ward 209, written in a neat and legible hand on the acoustic walls. It’s not simply a name –it’s a sign. A sign that communicates, “Don’t be afraid! Resist!” It is only during the agitation of a heavy, exhausting interrogation that you are able to grasp what it means to be Shiva Nazar Ahari. In my land, the story of “Being Shiva Ahar Nazari” is the painful narrative of all human rights activists in Iran. Those who selflessly inveast their resources and their lives –bearing many crosses along the way– for the goal of establishing the full observance of human rights and human rights law in the Islamic Republic.

From human rights activism to execution

Writing about Shiva Nazar Ahari is more than writing about a human rights activist and fighter. It’s writing about those who take up the mantle of struggle to fight for establishing and consolidating their countrymen’s basic rights, without having a political agenda. Some bear prison and torture, others exile and refuge camps. Still, Shiva Nazar Ahari’s case is a dangerous one and the silence of the media about her is reprehensible, especially as her lawyer says Shiva’s trial date is set for September 4, for charges of moharebeh, war on god, which is punishable by execution.

On the latest developments in her case, her lawyer says: “One of Shiva Nazar Ahari’s three charges is moharebeh. I’m wondering how to defend her in court on that one! In a conversation with my colleagues, I told them that if a few more charges like this are issued [for my clients], I’ll withdraw from all of my cases. Shiva Nazar Ahari’s trial will be held on Sept. 4, and I really have no idea what will happen –what verdict will be issued, based on what line of reasoning. If they are going to sentence her using the same logic with which they charged her, her situation may be dangerous. This is a charge that receives the death penalty.”

Mohammad Sharif goes on to say: “Shiva will stand trial at the same court branch that tried the case of Badr-al-Sadat Mofidi. In my estimation, the court’s ruling on Ms. Mofidi’s case was unconstitutional and illegal. As Shiva faces a first-degree charge of moharebeh, I am very worried about the court’s probable ruling.”

Sharif says one reason for his concern is that while a specific judge heads Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court, a different had presided over Ms. Mofidi’s case.

He explains the three charges against Shiva: “One is moharebeh, based on Article 186. The second is ‘assembling and colluding to plan a crime,’ based on Article 610, and the third is ‘anti-regime propoganda,’ based on Article 500.”

Who is Shiva Nazar Ahari?

Shiva Nazar Ahari is a 26-year-old human rights activist specializing in child labor and the defense of political prisoners, and a former editor and current spokesperson for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. She is also a journalist, blogger, and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign and Tara Women’s Association. Formerly a civil engineering graduate student, Ahari was expelled from university as a result of her student activism.

Ahari became involved in human rights defense in 2002 when she joined the Student Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners. In July 2004, while she was chairing this committee and at the height of youth, Shiva was arrested in front the United Nations building in Tehran during a protest by families of political prisoners.

She was arrested again during the wave of protests that followed Iran’s disputed tenth presidential elections. Intelligence agents arrested Ahari at her workplace on June 14, 2009.

Shiva’s defense attorney, Shadi Sadr, was arrested a month later on July 17, while headed for Tehran University to attend the protests that day at Friday Prayers. Sadr was beaten by plainclothes agents, seized without an arrest warrant, and transferred to an unknown location.

On July 28, in a call to her family from Evin prison, Shiva said she would be unable to contact them for some time. After spending 33 days in solitary confinement at Evin’s Ward 209, she was transferred to a general ward on August 17. During this time, she was allowed to contact her family only a few times. In one conversation, Shiva mentioned that she had filed a request for visitation with her family; however, she has been granted visitation rights to date.

On August 14, the Iran Women’s Center wrote on their website that Shiva’s family had not heard from her in 20 days and that security agents had informed them she was barred from visitation rights –a cause for serious concern about her wellbeing.

On September 1, eighty days after her arrest, the Judiciary set Shiva Nazar Ahari’s bail at $500,000, an exorbitant amount her family did not have the means to pay. Shiva’s mother appealed to the Revolutionary Court to contest the heavy bail. She was told by Investigator Sobhani, the examining judge for Shiva’s case: “Then let her remain in prison.”

After repeated visits to this court by the Nazar Ahari family, on September 16, the Judiciary reduced Shiva’s bail to $200,000. After her family paid this amount, Shiva was released on temporary license (until her trial) from Evin prison at 9:00 pm on September 23. But this was not the end of the story.

In the wake of the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, a number of people attending his funeral were arrested. These arrests, however, were made before the attendees had reached the dissident cleric’s funeral, on the road to Qom. Shiva Nazar Ahari was among those arrested.

A woman of brave mettle

After her release on bail, Shiva Nazar Ahari began helping a young woman who had been raped at Evin by her interrogator seek legal redress. With her friends, Shiva started a campaign for Atefeh Nabavi, a student arrested during the June 15, 2009 protest march in Tehran. The campaign endeavored to push for Atefeh Nabavi to be freed from jail.

Shiva also published a piece about her experience at Evin, in which she identified Atefeh Nabavi as one of the many victims of physical torture and sexual abuse.

Defense attorney Nasrin Sotudeh, who represents Nabavi, says of Shiva’s arrest: “According to the statements of persons arrested and interrogated along with Ms. Nazar Ahari that day, she and Houman Fakhar-Moghadam (who was also out on temporary bail at the time) were interrogated about their roles in starting the ‘Atefeh Nabavi Campaign.’ My client, Ms. Atefeh Nabavi, was sentenced by Branch 12 of the Revolutionary Court to four years in prison for taking part in the June 15 march. It is stated clearly in Atefeh’s ruling that the heaviness of her sentence is a consequence of her family’s activities [in drawing media attention to her case]. The ruling blatantly ignores the first principle of indictment: individual criminal responsibility. Therefore, I think Ms. Ahar Nazari did well to start this campaign, and she has come under pressure for it.”

Making enemies in the Islamic Republic

From the morning after Ashura, when popular protests had hit a new peak, embattled Islamic Republic security agents launched an effort to fabricate an ‘organized enemy’ scenario in Iran. By linking human rights activists to the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), they attempted to present the MKO as the primary force behind the street protests. To this end, they have continued to extract coerced confessions from activists to construct this scenario –an attempt that has failed thanks to the resistance of those like Shiva Nazar Ahari and Kouhyar Goudarzi.

All political prisoners in prisons across Iran, regardless of their various ideologies, have one thing in common: they all have Shiva Ahar Nazari’s phone number. If today she is in danger of receiving the death penalty, it is because she spent her days of freedom fighting for these prisoners, taking their calls every day to listen to their grievances about torture, not being allowed to see family, and other violations of their rights. We’d better do something for this courageous defender of human rights –before it’s too late, let’s at least work to ward off the shadow of death from this tireless young fighter. When we were in jail, Shiva worked for us. Now it’s our turn.

Source: Street Journalist

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More sanctions as Iranians boycotted from the Arts

By now most of us have an idea of the oppression that citizens of Iran face on adaily basis under this regime. One of the ramifications of this leadership hasbeen the people's exclusion from the international community, the regime'swillful effort to control exposure to any external social and culturalinfluences. Deprivation from this exchange between Iranians and other nationalshas been a huge loss to both sides, and last year's uprising and the world'ssurprised and supportive response to it was a first, auspicious moment in therecovery of this relationship.

Politicaland economic sanctions assume their hopeless role in international politics andthose on the receiving end of their trail continue on in resignation to yetanother harsh consequence of the respective determination of the powers thatbe. But what now comes as a fresh blow is the imposition of new sanctions incompletely virgin territory, away from the political arena, dead centre of theArts.

On 6 July 2010,YouTube announced the launch of Life in ADay, an experimental documentary incorporating footage submitted by YouTubeusers, calling for "thousands of people everywhere in theworld...on a single day, which is the 24 July this year to film someaspect of their day and then post it onto YouTube so that we can use it to makea film that is a record of what it's like to be alive on that one day".

For the many Iranianactive YouTube members this was a sensational opportunity to finally contribute,participate and share in a non-political world community project easily througha medium they knew well. After all it was the 2009 elections that inspiredcitizen filming in Iran and championedYouTube's direct route to the world outside. Conversely it was this veryfilming of Iranians on the streets and the brutality that ensued thatcatapulted YouTube into newsrooms worldwide and signalled it as a potent newssource.

A slap in the facethen when it came to browsing the FAQ (frequently asked questions) on the Life in a Day website to read "Anyoneover 13 years old can submit footage, except for residents and nationals ofIran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan, North Korea and Burma (Myanmar), and/or any otherpersons and entities restricted by US export controls and sanctionsprogrammes." So "The story of a single day on earth... Oneworld, 24 hours, 6 billion perspectives" is actively boycotting 1.5 billion ofthe 6 billion perspectives it pursues. Granted, YouTube is currently blocked in China but then theanticipated "6 billion perpectives" should be more accurately billed at 5billion – you can't include a nation for the dramatic statistics and excludeher for the inconvenience.

And so a great disappointment. The past year has altered perceptionof people in Iran after exposure to the true social climate there. And there isso much more to know. Wouldn't it be great to haveincluded these countries – to have seen something of daily life rather than theusual imagery, to have seen what they come up with – and left it to theindividuals to overcome what is necessary to contribute by choice? That wouldhave been more in step with the bountyand liberality of the project, especially given that most submissions willnaturally end up on the cutting room floor aspart of the course. Instead this decision is mean-spirited and hasty andcompromises the completeness of a project intended to be truly universal whenit is not open to all. Least onecelebrating diversity and the exchange of parallel lives.

YouTube has beendescribed as being "a 'Speakers' Corner' that both embodies and promotesdemocracy". A valid appraisal so why the concern and involvement with political sanctions? Is the film US government funded I wonder?Is YouTube US government funded even? This still wouldn't have made sense: the USsenate has allocated $55m to the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act (VOICE) tohelp Iranians evade government censorship of the internet and to put pressureon foreign companies not to help Iran in its repressive measures.

Perhaps there was an issue relating to plannedscreening at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Surely not when the SundanceInstitute prides itself onproviding a forum for film makers "to explore their stories free fromcommercial and political pressures". Even Korean electronics giant LG (Life'sGood) partnering the project says: "Using video footage to bring peopletogether to share their diverse perspectives and experiences helps enrich allour lives. Life in a Day is a perfect fit with our core values: Humanity,Pleasure, Curiosity, and an Optimistic Energy". Poignantly, these four characteristicsperfectly fit the Iranian psyche.

Looking to theLife in a Day team, the film'smulti-national footage will be directed by Kevin MacDonald who made One Day in September and Touching the Void, both provocativefilms that don't succumb to public expectation. As the morefamous member of the team, Executive Producer Ridley Scott, acclaimed director of Blade Runner and Gladiator's name has come under attack, circling Iranian Internet forums and inspring anaccomplished group of Iranian film makers in Amsterdam to create their own Iranian version of the Life in a Dayconcept in retaliation. Ironically, it was Scott who directed the campaign that launched Apple Mac computers in1984.

In this ad, in an Orwellian depiction of the Big Brother state of Nineteen Eighty-four, Macs are coming tosave man from conformity, with the strapline "With Macintosh1984 will not be 1984". This feared dystopian society is characterised by a large military-like police force, different kinds ofrepressive social control systems and an absence of individual freedoms. Allnow rather too familiar for comfort.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Marching towards a people-based media; Statement of Establishment of the IraNeda Foundation

On the anniversary of the Iranian Constitutional Movement

Marching towards a people-based media

Dear Fellow Iranians,

During the past year, the movement of the people of Iran has been associated with massive media developments. The key message of this movement is to be inclusive of all the different voices. This has led to the creation of dozens of websites, news portals and participatory and people-based media. Small ideas have brought about huge impacts. Daily and weekly videos of prominent people, interviews and video messages of leaders and numerous video clips by leading or unknown artists are increasingly in wide circulation, conveying the message of democracy and dismissing tyranny and despotism.

The movement of the people of Iran has needed far-reaching and widely available media. Even so, the massive growth of small media have been instrumental in spreading the Green message in a way that no mainstream medium outside Iran has been able to do without them. A visual medium created and supported by Iranians all over the world is of urgent necessity. Over the past year, we have been moving toward achieving this goal. We have consulted and deliberated widely and we have taken the preparatory steps for the establishment of a people-based medium.

Various groups have independently endeavoured for the realization of the idea of a far-reaching and widely accessed medium. We have high respect for all of them; we have been in touch with a number of them and we are aware of their plans and proposals. We are also making our own contribution for our share in a project for an Iranian and people-based medium. In doing so, we rely on proposals, ideas and efforts of representatives from different political and human rights activists, citizen-journalists, prominent figures known to the wider Iranian public, artists, filmmakers and bloggers.

While remaining in touch and liaising with other media groups and embracing any joint effort, the signatories of this statement have a core idea of setting up a satellite channel to realize the model of a participatory medium which would help Iranians come together. We have no doubt that we will have to overcome many obstacles before implementing a new medium which aims to enable and empower people. We acknowledge these problems, but we also think that the atmosphere which has been born out of the encouraging movement of the people of Iran has made the establishment of such media more possible than any time before.

The media world has changed. This is no longer a univocal world and there is no monopoly and exclusivity for any single media in it. The medium we intend to establish takes this development into account; it does not claim to be comprehensive and all encompassing, nor does it assert to be a representative of the entire nation.

We are simply declaring that as a group of people who have deep interests in the movement of Iran’s people for freedom and justice and its efforts over the past year. This was just one example of a series of movements initiated by Iranians since the Iranian Constitutional Movement. We wish to establish a medium which can be an example of openness to the people of Iran and mutual understanding with the world and which can work for an Iran in the future where the cornerstone of its constitution shall be the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This medium shall not be the medium of a particular political party or establishment and it shall have no objective but to fight lying and dishonesty, opening the space for contributions and participation of Iranian citizens, fostering the Iranian culture. Our people-based medium is a modernist medium. It is open and anti-discriminatory and it seeks to reflect and display the ideals and opinions of those who have been suppressed in the past three decades and those who have been continuously and systematically discriminated against.

The medium we are endeavouring to establish is financially transparent and it shall rely on the funding of Iranians. The founders of this medium–who have gathered in the IraNeda Foundation–its planners, managers and policy-makers are Iranians. This group does not have any political ties with any financer, individual or foundation and shall remain so. It will always be dedicated to professional and progressive principles in media work. We welcome small and big donations of citizens and Iranian civil organizations. We shall have a separate statement regarding these contributions.


The Founding Members of the IraNeda Group

Daryoush Ashouri, Mehran Barati, Shahrnush Parsipur, Mehdi Jami , Ramin Jahanbeglou, Reza Deghati, Arash Sobhani, Reza Allamehzadeh, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, Kazem Alamdari, Masih Alinejad, Mehrangiz Kar, Nikahang Kowsar, Mohsen Namjoo, Mohammad Reza Nikfar

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Poetry by Jacques Prévert - voice: Ahmad Shamlou - Music: Amir Sadeghi Konjani

“When truth is no longer free, freedom is no longer real: the truths of the police are the truths of today.”
Jacques Prévert

This is the last sound of well-known poet,Ahmad Shamlou along with Amir Sadeghi Konjani's Music which has been released in 2010 .

عسل حناچى (فلوت)، شقايق شهرابى (ابوا)، بهار توسلى (كلارينت)، عليرضا متوسلى (باسون)، ميلاد عباسى (هورن)، بابك ميرداديان (توبا)، آوا شادمانى، ياسمن كشاورزى، طناز اوستاد اسداللهى و عسل حسينى (ويلن)، پگاه عبداللَّه‏زاده (آلتو)، آنكيدو دارش و پروشات زندآئين (ويلنسل)، مريم آزادى (كنترباس)، كسرا پاشايى (پركاشن)، رامين براتى (ترمبون)، احسان نادرى (ترمپت)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Iran's streets on London walls/خیابانهای ایران روی دیوارهای لندن

Campaign video projected on the walls of the Iranian Embassy in London, June 2010

کمپین ویدیوئی روی دیوارهای سفارت جمهوری اسلامی در لندن

Campaign video projected on the Ministry of Trade and Industry, London, June 2010

خیابانهای ایران روی دیوارهای وزارت صنایع و تجارت انگلستان

Campaign video projected on Carphone Warehouse, London, June 2010

خیابنهای ایران بر روی دیوارهای فروشگاههای فروش خدمات الکترونیکی لندن در اعتراض به فروش ابزار سرکوب رسانه ای توسط کمپانیهای نوکیا و زیمنس

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Canadian Teachers’ Federation: We strongly condemn the execution of the Kurdish teacher trade unionist Farzad Kamangar!

Photo:May 21, 2010 – Rally in front of the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa (Canada) , Mary-Lou Donnelly, CTF President.

Canadian Teachers’ Federation
Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants
May 12, 2010

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran 13168-43311
Islamic Republic of Iran

  • Re: Execution of Iranian teacher trade unionist Farzad Kamangar

I am writing to you on behalf of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation who represents nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada to strongly condemn the execution of the Kurdish teacher trade unionist Farzad Kamangar on May 9, 2010.
Despite the evident lack of independent inquiry into the allegations, the absence of a fair judicial process, the fact that Mr. Kamangar’s appeal was still to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, though Mr. Kamangar’s lawyer had been told that the file had been lost, Mr. Kamangar has still been executed. I denounce this inhumane treatment of Farzad Kamangar, and the fact that neither his family, nor his lawyer, were informed about the execution.
This brutal execution raises anxiety about the fate of other detained teacher unionists,such as Rasoul Bodaghi, Hashem Khastar, Bahman Goudarzzade and Abdolresa Ghanbari. This execution will also intensify the already pervasive climate of fear and persecution surrounding trade union activities in Iran.
The Canadian Teachers’ Federation urges the Iranian authorities to: • Investigate the legal framework of the execution of Farzad Kamangar and clarify why his file was not reviewed by the Supreme Court in accordance with national law;

• Ensure, in law and practice, all guarantees of due process of law established in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the principle of presumption of innocence and elimination of torture and ill-treatment in prison;
• Respect the full exercise of the right to freedom of expression and rights to association and assembly, as recommended by the Committee on Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organisation;
• Announce a moratorium on executions.

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
May 12, 2010

I look forward to hearing about your positive intervention on this very serious matter.
Yours sincerely,
CTF President

Cc : Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ottawa (

Education International (

Le 12 mai 2010
Son Excellence monsieur Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Président de la République islamique d'Iran
Avenue Palestine, intersection Azerbaijan
Téhéran 13168-43311
République islamique d'Iran
Courriel :
Objet : Exécution de Farzad Kamangar, enseignant iranien syndicaliste

Monsieur le Président,

Je vous écris au nom de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants, qui représente près de 200 000 enseignantes et enseignants aux paliers élémentaire et secondaire au Canada, afin de condamner fermement l’exécution de Farzad Kamangar, enseignant kurde syndicaliste, le 9 mai 2010.

Malgré l’absence flagrante d’une enquête indépendante sur les allégations portées contre lui, l’absence d’une procédure judiciaire équitable, le fait que l’appel de M. Kamangar devait toujours faire l’objet d’un examen par la Cour suprême, bien que l’avocat de M. Kamangar ait été informé que son dossier avait été perdu, M. Kamangar a quand même été exécuté. Je condamne ce traitement inhumain et le fait que ni la famille ni l’avocat de Farzad Kamangar n’ont été informés de son exécution.

Cette exécution brutale soulève des inquiétudes par rapport au sort des autres enseignants syndicalistes toujours incarcérés, dont Rasoul Bodaghi, Hashem Khastar, Bahman Goudarzzade et Abdolresa Ghanbari. Elle intensifiera également le climat déjà généralisé de peur et de persécution qui entoure les activités syndicales en Iran.

La Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants presse les autorités iraniennes de prendre les mesures suivantes :

• enquêter sur le cadre juridique de l’exécution de Farzad Kamangar et éclaircir la raison pour laquelle son dossier n’a pas été examiné par la Cour suprême conformément à la législation nationale;

• assurer, en droit et en pratique, toutes les garanties d’une application régulière de la loi établie selon le Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques, y compris le principe de la présomption d’innocence et l’élimination de la torture et des mauvais traitements en prison;

• respecter le plein exercice du droit à la liberté d’expression et des droits d’association et de réunion, tel que le recommande le Comité de la liberté syndicale de l’Organisation internationale du Travail;

• annoncer un moratoire sur les exécutions

Président de la République islamique d'Iran
Le 12 mai 2010

Dans l’attente d’une intervention positive de votre part à l’égard de cette question très
grave, je vous prie d’agréer, Monsieur le Président, l’expression de ma très haute

La présidente de la FCE,

c. c. : Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, chef suprême de la
République islamique d'Iran(
Ambassade de la République islamique d'Iran, Ottawa(
Internationale de l'Éducation (

Photos: May 21, 2010 – Rally in front of the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa (Canada) to oppose execution of Kurdish teacher and human rights activist Farzad Kamangar
Le 21 mai 2010: ralliement en face de l’ambassade iranienne, à Ottawa (Canada), pour contester l’exécution de Farzad Kamangar, un défendeur des droits de la personne et enseignant kurde.

Mary-Lou Donnelly, President, speaking with Saeed Valadbaygi, Journalist & Political activist living in Canada.
Farid Partovi, International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

General Strike In Kurdistan

Bazaar in Sanandaj shut down

Despite all of the security measures in Kurdistan for today, reports indicate that the bazaar in Sanandaj is completely shut down and the students did not attend their classes. The streets of Sanandaj are full of special guards. The city seems to be shut down.

General Strike , Mahabad/Kurdistan

Bazaar shut down in Mahabad

City of Mahabad- In the province of Mahabad, military presence is high. The city’s bazaar has been closed and the people are on strike. The slogans ‘Death to the Regime’ and ‘Death to the Dictator’ have been written in various places (walls, etc) around the city.

Bukan- In response to the call for a general strike by the Kurdish people to protest the execution of five Kurdish political activists, citizens of Bukan went on a coordinated strike. All shops, bazaars, and public places have been shut down. Security forces are situated in various street corners.

Today the city of Bukan is on a general strike. In most places in Bukan, along with most of Kurdistan from Maku to Ilam, all stores are closed. People are not leaving their houses.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Video Gallery: Recent Executions and Ahmadinejad’s Visit Cause Uproars

Since yesterday’s execution of five political prisoners, Iranians inside and outside the country have re-emerged to show their opposition to the Iranian regime.

Inside the country, students at Shahid Beheshti University, in protest to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the university, erupted in anti-regime chants that called for freedom. Several female students were attacked by Basij forces during the protests. The altercations can be heard and seen in the videos below.

No current reports of protests have emerged from other universities in Iran. There is however video evidence of a higher-than-usual security presence at the University of Tehran.

Demonstrators from around the world showed their solidarity with the Iranian people by arranging last minute protests against the five calculated executions in Evin prison.


Translated by

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day Reports from Iran | Protests in Tehran,Tabriz,Kurdistan,Qazvin,Mashhad,Shiraz,Isfahan Heavy Security

Will be continued...

High Volume of Security in Tehran for International Worker’s Day

Received reports indicate that in accordance with International Worker’s Day (that is recognized on May 1st) a high volume of security is apparent in Tehran, especially in the central region.

Military and disciplinary officers are concentrated in Enghelab Square until near Azadi Square. [Government-operated] vans are stationed around Enghelab Square.

The Kaleme website reports that the security agents are concentrated outside the Ministry of Labour and Laborer’s House (on Azadi Street). The area has been reported to look like a military zone.

There are also reports from Fatemeh Square

of security agents based across the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

A number of Iranian employers have threatened their staff with termination from their position if they decide to act in protest for International Worker’s Day.

Workers Gather in Protest after Labour Minister Speech in Mashad

Yesterday in Mashad, on the first national conference for the day of labour mobilization and celebration of worker martyrs, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, analyzed the third verse of Surat Al-Baqarah from the Qur’an and then interpreted the concept of absence of the Imam and faith. Since the conference was supposed to be held on May Day and he did not mention the situation of workers in Iran,

a group of workers gathered after his speech in the Ayeha building to protest the minister’s talk.

One of the workers said, “We expected the minister to say better words on the improvement of workers situation, but he did not even mention workers.”

Another worker said, “When the Health or Education Minister talks, part of the speech focuses on congratulating nurses and teachers, but the Labour Minister spoke and didn’t say a word about workers.”

A worker Mohammad Karimi said, “The minimum we expected from the Labour Minister was that after he analyzed the Qur’an, he would talk about problems pertaining to workers and also provide solutions.”

He added, “Unfortunately, in our country, there is no value for workers. The proof of this is all the letters and correspondence I had with the Ministry of Labour since March 2009 that have gone nowhere.”

Buses Filled with Workers Stopped By Regime Forces, Man Badly Beaten

Despite the strong security atmosphere, a gathering began in front of the Ministry of Labour. Currently a crowd has gathered in Azadi and Enghelab Squares. Some people are holding flowers to commemorate May Day.

Between Enghelab and Azadi Squares, undeclared martial law continues. INA correspondent reports three buses full of workers coming from Varamin was stopped by police.

The forces acknowledged that the workers were on their way to the demonstration, but did not allow them to proceed. One worker was badly beaten and left there in his blood.

May Day Protest Gathering in Shiraz

Workers in Shiraz organized a protest gathering on the occasion of International Worker’s Day (I.e. May Day).

The gathering took place in front of Shiraz’s Azadi Avenue in the province of Fars. Demonstrators held banners that read: “Expelling workers will bring them a black destiny.” Another banner read: “Workers, congratulations on your day of employment, we won’t sit down until we get what is ours.”

One of the workers at the gathering said that in the last few months he has been expelled from the Gooshe Fars industrial complex and has not been paid his wages for seven months. The annonymous worker explained that Gooshte Fars Industrial Complex has been shut down for over two months and close to 1,200 workers are now unemployed.

Workers from the Gooshte Fars factory also protested their situation in March and April 2010.

Several Hundred Protesters Gather in Tabriz for May Day

Several hundred workers in Tabriz gathered in front of the Labour Department to celebrate International Worker’s Day

Based on reports recieved by Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran (HRDAI), several hundred workers and citizens gathered in front of the Labour Department on Khomeini Street in Tabriz and protested against massive expulsions, unemployment, and poverty.

The protests began at 11:00am (Tehran time) and hundreds of people continue to protest [as evening approaches]. The gatherings have taken place despite the vast presence of oppressive forces.

Eyewitnesses have reported over 40 cars belonging to regime agents stationed at the scene of protest. Also, a large number of baton-wielding motorcyclists are patrolling the streets. Plainclothes forces from the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards are present in strong numbers as well.

Heavy security presence in Tehran and other major cities

According to eye witness reports, there were heavy security presence in Tehran and some other major cities of the country on International Worker’s Day.

Kaleme website reports on the large security and plain cities militia presence in the central areas of the Tehran and near Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Organization.

Based on this report there have been gatherings and heavy security presence in other major cities of Iran including, Tabriz, Shiraz and Qazvin; in these gatherings workers by holding signs in their hands stressed that layoffs will bring the workers “Black fate” and some other signs read: “Worker, congratulation on your Unemployment Day” and “We will not give up until we gain our rights”.

There have also been some unconfirmed reports of clashes between protesters and security forces.

International Worker’s Day celebration in Saqez, Kurdistan

On may 1, 2010, at approximately 5:30am, a large number of workers moved toward Jaghal Mountain, a leisure hanging place for the citizens of Saqez (a city in the province of Kurdistan).

Around 8:00am, a large number of people also gathered at the mountain to celebrate International Worker’s Day.

First a moment of silence was held for those killed for the freedom of the working class. After, everyone stood up and a poem was read to break the silence.

Activist Mahmood Salehi addressed the crowd for Worker’s Day. An article was read by another activist, followed by a poem titled, “I am a worker.”

A student present at the gathering also gave a speech.

At the end, a nationwide resolution was read and then the people, in an organized manner, returned back to the city.

Coordinating Committee for the Formation of Worker’s Organizations

Sources: HRANA , Kalameh , Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran (HRDAI) , Street Journalist

Translations by

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Good The Bad The Ugly ; Iran's latest Coup

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  • >Militarization

In the current situation, in order to digest the phenomena one must pay attention to more integral issues. What is clear is that everything in Iran is working its way towards militarization. Everything is set to run towards control by the armed forces of the Leader in defense of the interests of his rule. In school, children and adolescents are given military and ideological training, and through the creation of numerous material and spiritual incentives are encouraged to join the Basij and militia forces from an early age. Television and radio, schools, the press, the arts, and family culture, must all provide for this inevitable need. In such circumstances finding a career in military institutions in any capacity is far easier than gaining a place at university. Mobilizing or in other words the militarization of society as a whole is one of the policies that the system is reliant on. Now that a reasoning and intellectual component of the system, as reformists have disengaged from this and are trying to impose themselves on the regime in the format of social networks, only militarization and the creation of a fearful climate can bring relative stability. However much this balance and durability is hanging on by a thread, staying in power under any circumstances and at any cost is paramount to the leadership and current government of Iran. For cultural reproduction to show the current situation as normal and mobilize the people to heed the Leader's call, the state media has a crucial role. Iran’s state media that as a tool of the government in the 30 years of its life has trumpeted the system’s policies is now witnessing changes within itself.

  • >Institutional Treatment

With the rise of Ahmadinejad and the appointment of officials and managers of his administration and government institutions, the state media too has witnessed important changes within itself. The (collective) establishment of family and non-professional relationships in attracting people and the casting aside of professional workers and cadres and absence of critics has resulted in the state media operating in an atmosphere of command and security. Although, the situation before was no better, but preparatory maneuvers in the news sector and laying down forces based on the level of loyalty to the regime and leadership, the fabrication of news stories and open spreading of lies alongside the confinement of scenarios like Keyhan and Shariatmadari all speak of scenarios illustrate. Added to this, the throng of people rallying outside the state media’s headquarters during the street riots led to its becoming equipped with semi-heavy military weapons. That which has taken place in recent months has caused the state media to be used as a tool more than ever.

  • >Crisis

The severity of inflation and decrease in people’s economic power was evident at the start of the new year, alongside widespread unemployment and lack of foothold in society among the youth; Furthermore more than half of Iran’s well known political, literary and artistic figures spent the new year in prison. Let alone the mourning families who in the desolation of losing their children had no festive season at all. For the people of Iran, imprisonment, execution and torture, poverty, unemployment and systematic violence are nothing was only the outward expression and public confrontation of the people against the regime in the past year that gave Noruz this year a taste and colour brimming with hope and fear and can therefore be seen as a historical milestone and base for retrospective analysis of the current movement.

  • >Media and Social Satire

The media or better yet state media (IRIB), as the voice of the leadership, is directly affected by relations between government and the people.The aim of this article is not to clarify the role of state media in the government’s relationship with society, but to describe a corner of events that could be a turning point in the planning process of this organization. Following the tradition of previous years IRIB broadcast programmes in the genre of satire over the New Year holiday. These TV series, for the first time featuring the work of Mehran Modiri, were able to draw large audiences, such that the behaviour and dialect depicted in them entered people's everyday language. The vital secret of the success of these programmes was in their mode of critical portrayal of the inescapable prevalent social conflict. The New Year satires in their indirect appraisal of administrative corruption, its culture and unhealthy relationship with society, in sports, art and culture, were able to attract a wide audience. Viewers of these programmes, rather than relating to the satirical aspect of these programmes, connected to the common suffering in their society on their television screens. It’s clear that these programmes were not a part of the pre-set policies of IRIB but the result of the initiative and innovation of directors and artists, the elimination of whose work from the state media after two decades calls for another coup in the realm of media.

The broadcast of TV series by directors like Massoud Dehnamaki during the holiday period can be seen as one of the most visible signs of a media coup. Although censorship and the systematic elimination of artists in the field of television and cinema has a long history, but the dismissal of Mehran Modiri as one of the new year programme’s index profiles of the past two decades indicates a different situation. Although irresponsible acts towards political-social developments detract from the director’s character and popularity, his exclusion from this year’s New Year scheduling has to a great extent reinforced his popularity. These days that imprisonment, criticism and standing against dictatorial policies gives a person character and credibility, expulsion from television and cinema could in better days bring popularity and prestige for Modiri and others likes him.

  • >Mehran Modiri

Mehran Modiri made his debut in the world of television satire on Happy Hour in 1373 (1994) with the help of other artists such as Dariush Kardan, After a few years, with a great deal of experience behind him, Modiri was able to enter the fields of radio, theatre, television and most significantly communicate with people, to direct and act in ninety episode satirical programmes. From the very start Modiri and his colleagues were confronted with censorship, exclusion and the pressures of the press and media in Iran, and in the most difficult of circumstances managed to introduce satire to the dry and hostile television and cinema of the country. Cross relations and the social issues of the language of satire and innuendo were accomplished through his talent and innovation. His efforts in nearly two decades of directing in this area meant that Modiri's work were the most watched television programmes of recent years. For this year’s New Year holiday Mehran Modiri had prepared a television series called Ghahveye Talkh (Bitter Coffee) which was prevented from screening so that the cliché Dara va Nadar (Rich and Poor), Massoud Dehnamaki's stereotypical series could be broadcast instead. A series based on the stereotypical and repetitive topics of the director’s spun tales, is brought to our screens depicting the world of the rich and bad and the poor and oppressed, with familiar and repetitive characters, superficial and quick changes and of course full of slogans and direct messages. All this is a transfer of the director’s critique from cinema to television.

  • >Reza Attaran

Reza Attaran the director responsible for the series Boznegah and Sweet and Sour has for some reason also been banned from television. Attaran was present among the people during the street protests. With the exception of these two key figures and of course Hamid Lola'i virtually all Iranian satire assets were put in front of the camera in the hope that the New Year programmes could recover the lost foundations of the national media. perhaps Nowruz programs can boost the lost profile of Iranian national media within the people. After all this the results were more disappointing than previous years. The dismissal of these artists and directors before anything requires their replacement with alternatives. With this approach Massoud Dehnamaki was responsible for making a comedy series by the name Dar va Nadar (Rich and Poor).

In response to this event Modiri and a number of his colleagues in the TV collectives made an unofficial announcement that they are not willing for their programmes to be shown alongside the works of characters like Massoud Dehnamaki; Thus as well as the dismissal of these artists at the hands of IRIB, their sense of honour and professional prestige does not allow them to compete with individuals like Dehnamaki.

  • >Mohammad-Reza Shajarian

In the past other artists have for similar reasons also officially asked the national media not to air their works. Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, Iran’s great singing teacher, and music professor Abdol-Hossein Mokhtabad have both repeatedly stated that the state media is broadcasting their works without permission and observing ethical standards. In his latest response, a letter to the head of IRIB, Mohammad-Reza Shajarian wrote: As you are aware IRIB is constantly playing my patriotic anthems, particularly the anthem, Iran, A House of Hope. In 1374 (1995) announced that I was not happy for my work to be broadcast by IRIB. I have repeatedly made this request and emphasize that this institution has played no part in the production of these works and must immediately refrain from the broadcast of my voice and my works, in accordance with the law."

  • >Mokhtabad

Abdol-Hossein Mokhtabad was extremely angry by the broadcast of his work within the New Year programme. In an open letter he declared that the work was from two years ago, therefore the inclusion of the word “live” on screen was a media lie by IRIB and diminishes its credibility more than ever. Mokhtabad states: "IRIB has shown that it has never been able to act fairly and impartially especially where artists and musicians are concerned. Naturally, as long as IRIB continues with such one-sided policies against artists, the people’s trust will diminish further and that’s why the media that spends a budget of more than 500 billion USD annually, is shamed and has lost the competition to media that does not spend one twentieth of this budget."

  • >Zarghami, Head of Media Lies

And finally Zarghami, Head of IRIB in response to these statements, said: "Trust and creating opportunities for new groups for the incidence of creativity and discovery of hidden talents in the area of satire in the New Year proved to be one of the most successful we’ve witnessed." A media coup; the exclusion and filtering of professional artists and directors and their replacement with those who carry a black report card from previous years are just been some of the tasks that Zarghami has been responsible for and the most distinguished and determined of these efforts was the positioning of Massoud Dehnamaki in place of Mehran Modiri. Tenure of Modiri’s position and other artists who with their outlook and vision were able to establish a deep connection with society requires a large audience who spend little time on the state media. Adopting such policies pushes more audiences towards satellite channels and foreign media, something that reformist leaders have also repeatedly indicated and have again and again asked for the setting up of a satellite network. The state media’s loss of a social base in addition to the loss of legitimacy of the leadership and current government are also factors. The presence of one of the leaders of the club handlers of the university dormitory massacre and one of the supporters of serial killings on national television is not a phenomenon that people can easily ignore, nor is the presence of these imbeciles for the advancement of repressive policies and promotion of Basij culture and training of violence irrelevant to IRIB. Massoud Dehnamaki’s background speaks of a bitter reality the knowledge of which is worthy of your attention.

  • >Massoud Dehnamaki

Massoud Dehnamaki is one of the founders and leaders of the militant Ansar-e Hezbollah group also known as "plain clothes" or “thugs” and was a key player in the university dormitory massacre of 17 Tir 1378 (9 July 1999). He is among the few who in an interview openly supported the systematic killing of intellectuals, saying: "The removal of enemies is a part of many other countries’ policies that is carried out in various ways. Regarding individuals who are on file for serial murder (defendants) - far from political affiliation, they must say that they acted upon their legal duties, that is the “removal of enemies". In a system, just as some are busy with the gathering of information, others are officers of the physical elimination of enemies and it’s usually the second group who does the most work and is less often appreciated.

He even made the following criticism of the performance of the intelligence officers: “The authorities have eliminated the harmless characters and activists, a mistake that can be made by any organization. Based on official interpretation of the Supreme Leader, the victims were a danger to the system. The important point is that that the perpetrators of the killings did not take priorities into consideration, otherwise the Leader would have applied a better interpretation, because the removal of “safe enemies” did not have any benefits, and only became a politic to help those who wanted, to reach their goal...the enemy - safe or unsafe - can be killed, but this needs time and planning, not arbitrary action. In fact in war the threat of the enemy in defense is less than that of an enemy in attack...Now if the Ministry of Intelligence (terrorists) has mistakenly removed some safe enemies, an unwritten text has no mistakes, all the young who lost their lives in ammunition factories were martyred because of pitfalls, so four safe enemies were eliminated because of the correct analysis or proper management of the Information Ministry. This does not give good reason to demotivate the intelligence agents (terrorists).”

Masoud Dehnamaki has in addition held editorships with weekly newletters Shalamcheh, Frontline and Morning, generally the writings of the Basij armed forces and Revolutionary Guard. After Ahmadinejad came to power he made two documentaries and films such as Deportations. In Deportations Dehnamaki uses humour and non-moral discourse and the unprecedented support of state television and other media to record sales, but became known as the worst director among critics, and despite pressure on the festival jury of the festival did not win any prizes for the film. The state media in support of the film and to secure higher sales for the actors involved in the series invited them for the early hours of the 1388 (2009) New Year celebrations, an obvious example of discrimination and protection of a personality who had promoted terror and violence more than directing. Unprecedented support from government institutions of Dehnamaki films culminated in the Ministry of Education issuing a communication that required schools to free the curriculum and take students to see the film. The Ministry of Education in previous years has been more of a production base for Basij stations such that classes in an unprecedented collaboration were taken to see this film so that children would be exposed, thereby fostering a culture of violence, terror, war, fear of the enemy and slavery to the leadership.

  • Dara va Nadar (Rich and Poor)

Dar Va Nadar is Dehnamaki’s latest work and has been broadcast on state television. In this series, as in his two films for cinema, Dehnamaki uses a large number of well-known professional TV actors in order to cover the absence of a humorous and coherent script. Fath-Ali Oveyssi, Ali-Reza Khamse, Shohreh Lorestani and Behnoosh Bakhtiari are among the actors appearing in the series who were not only unable to conceal the shortcomings of this series but also brought to question their own talent by appearing in the series and collaborating with Dehnamaki.

Translated by Elham
Edited by Negar

Three day report on the condition of political and human rights prisoners in Iran

[...]Question: Saber, Do you ever have dreams of being executed?

Saber: Dream? What can I say? I do dream, but I forget them, as though I have Alzheimer’s. I am constantly in an imaginary and dream-like state. I fall asleep deep in those thoughts, and I will wake up suddenly in the same state. I don’t remember what the dreams that make me wake up suddenly are. Once they took me for execution, but the name of my father was misspelled in my file, so they returned it for correction [and thus postponed the execution].[...][...]This letter of suffering is much longer than this. But I end it with one sentence. I am directly addressing Mr. Khamenei: ‘You consider yourself as the father of this nation. I was a daughter of Iran. Your sons raped me. Who will pay for my lost dignity?’[...]

>>Torture, execution, imprisonment, and repression continues

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