Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The regime is planning to release 15 of "less problematic" students from Evin prison. The Ministry of Sciencses is producing a list to this effect! How bizarre! As if all this time the regime had not been aware of how many students there were in its prisons! In any event, it is yet unknown as to who is going to make it to the list. Will, for example, Akbar and Manouchehr Mohammadi, and Ahmad Batebi who were arrested during the student uprising in 1999, be released too? I suspect not!
Why this decision all of a sudden? For obvious reasons. They - i.e. the hardliner elements of the government in the executive and the judiciary- just want to make a democratic gesture, saying that "hey! look Khatami was not able to get students out of prison, but we were"! Besides, they are really struggling hard these days to at least get relieved from the international pressure over their atrocious human rights record. But measures as this latest one are only TEMPORARY MEASURES. Not every student political prisoner will be let out of their cells and even those who will be released by the regime, will remain under its close monitoring and will be returned, on most absurd grounds, as soon as possible.
Besides, those who know and worry about human rights in Iran want to see someone else to be released from Evin too. That person is: GANJI!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Alireza Avaee has been appointed as the new head of Tehran judiciary department. He replaces the long serving mullah, Abbas Ali Alizadeh. It is said that Mortazavi, the notorious chief prosecutor will too be removed of his job soon. Changes are also taking place in the military positions.
Some have related these recent moves to the current nuclear crisis. It may well be so. However, it may also have to do with the upcoming visit by the UN rapporteur (which has not yet been officially confirmed, but the regime has been informed of its likelihood). The regime wants to get the torturers away from the scence. It is already in lots of trouble internationally and doesn't want to invite more.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Information or Imagination? Or Provocation?!

The following is an extract from Kayhan today:

"While ever since the occupation of Iraq, there have been numerous signs indicating that terrorist operations targetting Iraqi people are organised and enforced by occupying forces, what happened last Tuesday has revealed everything and disclosed the true faces behind such barbaric crimes.

On Tuesday, Iraqi police at a check-point in Basra became suspicious of two British soldiers, who were wearing Al-Mahdi Army uniforms and carrying considerable amount of explosives. The British were arrested. The news of their arrest would not leave any doubt [among Iraqis] about the real identity of the terrorist acts and blast. People of Basra heard the news, their hearts still bleeding from the bereavement of those killed in terrorist attacks. They rushed towards the police station where two Britons were kept, demanding the Iraqi police that the two British terrorists appear on TV with their explosives and in their fake Al-Mahdi uniforms so that the truth behind the years of US-UK conspiracy against Iraqis and their role in terrorist attacks which have so far killed tens of thousands of Iraqi men and women becomes clear.Elsewhere, the HQ of the British troops in Basra, immediately after receiving the news of the arrest, dispatched two fully equipped brigades to the police station. They were armed with heavy weapons and tanks. [...] Once faced with the mob, the opened fire to them. [...]
One might argue that these two British soldiers were operating under cover to penetrate the Al-Mahdi Army. This is a ridiculous argument, as they did not have the slightest knowledge of Arabic. [...]. Besides their appearance (blonde hair and blue eyes) would raise suspicion in the naivest of the Iraqis, let alone the members of the Al-Mahdi who are professional fighters.
[Besides] how could they justify their carrying of explosives and remote transmission kit that are defined equipments used by terrorists? Would these men, as members of the British troops who have the whole area in their control, have any problem for carrying such things [as British soldiers] that would have justified their use of Al-Mahdi uniforms?
The above points demonstrate that the two Britons were in the course of conducting a terrorist operation and, as always, intended to attribute their act to Iraqis by leaving some indicators such as the Al-Mahdi uniform. [...]

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Marionette Returns Home

Photo: ISNA (The message on the banner reads: "Greetings to the messengers of the [Islamic] Revolution".)

Ahmadinejad returns home to report back to his master that he has successfully taken Iran another step closer to UN sanctions. At Tehran's airport, a small crowd of Sepahis and their families were waiting to greet him. How they want to make Ahmadinejad a Mossadegh! In 1952, Mossadegh went to the UN to defend Iran's right against the British exploitation. He was seen as a symbol of resistance not only by Iranians, but also by other oppressed nations. However, the fact is that Mossadegh had not come to power by cheating. Nor did he have such a suspicisous background as Ahmadinejad does. His cabinet members were not terrorists and torturers either. And he was a 'politician', not a religious preacher.

Ahmadinejad's speech at the UN was just a recitation of ideas postulated by mullahs such as Messbah. Have a look at the latter's book on 'Mahdaviat' and you will find this by yourself. As a matter of fact, Ahmadinejads' speech had two parts: the first one which was on ideas of justice and Imam Zaman (Shia's Messiah) came from Messbah. The second part on nuclear energy was from Shariatmadari (head of Kayhan newspaper and Khamenei's close fellow).

Besides, Ahmadinejad did not meet with European heads of state. Why? Because, Larijani advised him not to do so as he was certain that Ahmadinejad was not capable of negotiating with such political figures as Blair and de Villepin.
Mossadegh was the messenger for Iranian nation at the UN, whereas Ahmadinejad was nothing but a messenger for the regime. He did his job very well.

Friday, September 16, 2005

When I was a teenager, I had a friend called Shahram. He was a very nice and friendly boy. Everyone liked him. Wherever Shahram was, there was happiness. He would tell jokes, make fun of our neighbours to make us laugh. But his jokes were not like the types of jokes my other friends used to make.
When I left Iran, we somehow lost contact. I hadn't heard from him for a number of years until last week when I ran into one of our common friends. I asked him about Shahram. He said that I'd better not look for him anymore. 'He is not the same person he used to be', my friend said. When I insisted, he gave me his phone number. I was very happy that I eventually found Shahram. I called him. First he sounded very happy to hear me after such a long time. But as soon as I said to him that I wanted to see him, his tone changed. He tried to make excuses. But when I told him that I will not stay in Iran for long, he finally gave up and agreed that we meet somewhere.

We met in a cafe close to his place. My first impression was that he had changed a lot. He was not as cheerful as he used to be. In fact, he was not cheerful at all, although he said he was happy with his life. But I could notice that he was trying to hide something from me. I tried to extract that secret from him. He resisted, saying he was not willing to lose another friend. At last, he revealed the secret. He told me that he was gay and has suffered a lot because of this. His family had found about this and almost abandoned him. As he was saying these things, he fell into tears. Shahram said he had attempted suicide on a couple of occasions. I asked him whether he had considered leaving Iran. His responsed: "why should I leave the country I love, only because of my sexuality"? He also said that he had a boyfriend and neither of them would want to leave Iran. Shahram said he and his boyfriend had no problem in terms of hanging out in the city or travelling. That was no surprise to me though, given that in Iran it is much more difficult for heterosexuals to appear in public than for homosexuals. But what Shahram found unfair was that he could not live his life, express his emotions, etc. in the same way as others do. Then he asked me: "you are a lawyer, you tell me, why shouldn't we have equal rights as others do? [do other Iranians have rights?] Why should we be treated so differently? As if we are nothing else BUT pervert homosexuals?"

I know many like Shahram are suffering in Iran. Many are even forced to get married only to abandon their "pervert" behaviour. But I don't think Iranian society is prepared to approach homosexual rights now. Sexuality, both heterosexuality and homosexuality, is an absolute taboo. When husbands and wives cannot talk about their sexuality, and sexual need, when sexuality is completely absent from public (and private) attention, how can one expect a politician, an MP, a political figure venture into this? I don't know. All I could tell Shahram was that he and his boyfriend would have no future in Iran because the society is not yet ready to take them. Gay and lesbian rights are not a priority in Iran. There are 'more serious' issues than gay rights. Was I right? I'm not sure. All I know that Shahram, the cheerful teenager, has now turned into a depressed and anxious man.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today, Ahmadinejad left Tehran for New York on an official five-day visit to attend the 60th session of the UN General Assembly. According to reports, a number of Iranians are preparing to demonstrate outside the UN headquarters in protest to Ahmadinejad's presence (and other issues?). But what message will that send? Who is/are the organiser(s) of this protest? What is their real purpose? Could it be achieved in this way? Who will benefit from such a move? These are the questions that I wish I had clear answers for.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

It has been a month since Ahmadinejad, the least popular president of all times moved to the presidential palace in Pastor Street. He came to office by luring people with his idealistic promises that he certainly will not able to deliever. He is praying day and night for some heavenly help. So far, he has been lucky. God seems to be on his side. The price of oil is rising rapidly which has enabled him to accrue unexpcted amount of money and spend them at will. Only last week, his government allocated 100 million dollars from the ‘foreign currency savings account’ in subsidy for pupils enrollment in the new school year.
But the problems that his government is facing are far more serious and cannot be resolved by such temporary measures as injecting oil money. Widespead corruption, unemployment, deep division between the rich and the poor, crime, and lack of social justice are among the most significant problems in Iran. In addition, the divide between key figures within the regime is growing deeper. And this time, there is no attempt to disguise the divide. Karoubi, for example, has expressly referred to the critique of power as his intention for establishing his new political party. In a more recent time, he has also announced that he will not run for Khobregan Assembly (which is in charge of monitoring the leadership) next year. Elsewhere, the Expediency Council has turned into a scene of conflict: Ahmadinejad has not attended a single session of the Council since he has become the president. He obviously is not comfortable to be part of the Council which Rafsanjani heads. He has prayed to God that his master (Khamenei) show more empathy to him than what he has for Rafsanjani. It seems that God is on his side. (See Iran Scan).
In the meanwhile, political groups and parties are trying to find a way to curtail the absolute power of Ahmadinejad’s master. They have no doubt that with the current pattern of power, any attept towards reform or democracy is doomed to fail. But what kind of strategy will the come up with? No one knows yet. Besides, their passive political conduct during their heydays is still fresh in people’s memory. Thus, it is hard to conceive of their success in winning people’s heart in the near future. So, God seems to be on Ahmadinejad’s side on this too.
The US is loing its patient with the Islamic regime and wants to force it to stop its nuclear program. Economic sanctions are seen as the best viable solution. But, how will sanctions affect the Iranian regime? To answer this, we only need to recall the experience with UN sanctions on Iraq that were imposed after the 1991 Persian Gulf war. For over ten years Saddam’s Iraq was under sanctions. But did they serve their purpose? Did Saddam fall as a result of their imposition? The main bearers of the predicaments caused by the sanctions were Iraqi people, not the government who, hand in hand with UN officials, were making benefit of the emabargos! (And of course, this is no secret now). Imposing economic sanctions on Iran will be no different either. The regime, no doubt, knows where to find the resources it wants. And if the intention behind this plan is to weaken the position of the regime, it will certainly fail too. History suggests that Iranians become solidly united whenver they come under foreign pressure or encounter foreign hostility. Moreover, once under UN sanctions, the government can no longer be held liable for its inability to deliever its promises. It can readily point the finger to the US and the UN for causing all troubles in Iran. Besides, it would be likely that the government declare ‘emergency status’, under which it will be able to suppress, as it has done before, any political opposition. Will God be on Ahmadinejad’s side here too? This time its up to Americans to decide as to whether to bring God on Ahmadinejad’s side.