Iran Hopes

A Weblog on Iranian Affairs (Formerly Iran Votes 2005)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

While Ganji is hovering between life and death in Milad Hospital, his lawyer, Abdolfatah Soltani has been arrested by Mortazavi's (Tehran chief prosecutor) men (not by the police). Shahroudi (head of the judiciary) is reported as saying that Ganji's recent remarks, in which he stated his belief that "Khamenei must go", have made his case "legally difficult".
Shahroudi is right. Challenging Khamenei's power makes everyone's case difficult. All political prisioners in Iranian jails are there only because they questioned Khamenei's authority. They did not commit a crime, but apostacy. For the Brethren, there is a huge difference between committing a crime and committing apostacy. The former is dealt with by the courts and hence falls under the jurisdiction of Shahroudi. But sins are for Mortazavi to handle. Ganji is not a 'criminal', but an unforgiven apostate in the eyes of the Brethren. And those who defend an apostate share his sins. This is why Soltani was arrested without due process. He was 'outside' the law in the same way as Ganji and other political prisioners are.

It is very sad, but Ganji is destined do die. Death is his punishment for what he did to Khamenei. Khatami, Shahroudi, Rafsanjani can do nothing to save him - even if they sincerely want to.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

In 1953, the popular government of Dr.Mohammad Mossadegh was overthrown by a coup led by the CIA and the MI6. General Zahedi was appointed as the prime minister. Mossadegh was arrested, jailed, and later placed under house-arrest for the rest of his life. All this was happening in front of the eyes of a ‘silenced’ Iranian nation. The very same nation who, only a year before the coup, had poured on to the streets in unity to show their solid support for their hero and leader.
Years passed. Mossadegh died. Obedient prime ministers were appointed. Shah was assured that people had forgotten all about Mossadegh and they now were in love with their Shah, the shadow of God on earth. Things were under control. What happened to Shah is history.
Last month, I was waiting outside a government building for the doors to open. A man and his son joined me in waiting. The boy wanted to sit on the stairs and asked his father to give him a piece of his newspaper to sit on. But as soon as the boy wanted to sit on that piece of paper, his father said: “Don’t sit on that paper! It has got the photo of the late Mossadegh on it. Use another one!”.
Today, at a newspaper agent, I found an elderly woman in tears. Her eyes were fixed on the headlines of a newspaper which read: “The Last Saturday of Khatami”. She was crying in silence. I don’t know if she was crying for Khatami or not. But I’m sure that many Iranians will remember Khatami, for all he did and what he falied to do for them and their country. It is his last Saturday. Ahmadinejad will be sworn in on Wednesday. The shadow of God feels assured of the nation’s bountiful love. ‘Things are under control’.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Partow Sokhan", a hardliner Iranian monthly, has published an advertisement for volunteers to carry out suicide bombings against "enemies of Islam". The monthly belongs to Ayatollah Messbah Yazdi an ultra-hardliner cleric. He is a thoerist for violent Islam and also a key supporter of Ahmadinejad.

Recruting suicide bombers (called volunteers for martyrdom), officially started in the late 2004, is becoming growingly appealing to some within the circle of power of the Islamic regime. It is claimed that 'thousands of volunteers' have registered since last year. This is despite the fact such a move has been categorically rejected by the majority of Iranians as 'un-Iranian', 'anti-Islamic', and 'in line with the strategies of al-Qaeda (whom are regarded even by the ruling clerics as the enemies of Shi'a and Islam).

What objectives would advertisements such as the one just mentioned satisfy? A major purpose of such moves, it seems , is to send a warning to the US that if they attack Iran, there are people ready to sacrifice their lives not only in the battlefield where the actual war would take place, but all around the world. Thus, Messbah and his followers including Ahmadinejad and even Khamenei himself believe that suicide bombers will be able to protect their regime and their Islam (it says in the ad that the purpose for those recruitements is to protect the foundation of the Islamic Republic and Islam - not Iran as a nation). The same justification is offered for the regime's insistence on acquiring nuclear power. But what the regime seems to disregard is that spreading the ideas of terror and violence will eventually lead to the end of its own existence. There are troubling reports of violence against the Iranian police and security forces from Khuzestan and Western Azarbaijan. Three policemen were killed during the unrests in the Kurdish areas near the Iran-Turkey border.

But is it surprising that those people who have for long been treated by the regime as second-class citizens because of their ethnic or religious background have now turned to violence as means to oppose the Islamic regime whose official strategy in dealing with every crisis has been to use violence and terror? Besides, the likes of Messbah may count on suicide bombers to protect them against 'foreign' threats. But what will they do to confront the domestic threats that are dividing the nation apart?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hello again!

This is my first update after a while. Not that there was nothing to write about during the past few weeks. In fact, there is always something happening in Iranian politics, so it is not hard to update one's blog even on daily basis. But I think there is a difference between a personal weblog and a news site or blog in that a weblogger shall update his or her blog only when he or she has really got something to comment on. It is not about spreading news, it is about sharing one's opinion. And an opinion worthy of being shared is not just out there. Rather one must be in the right mood to think and to share.

But it seems to me that some people just like to write about anything, to analyse everything, every situation, every action. Take this recent issue of Ganji's hunger strike for example. Every weblog that deals with Iranian politics (and in some cases even those not directly about politics) have something about Ganji: there are interviews, articles, comments, etc. And everyone sees him or herself competent to analyse Ganji's act, his motives, and the reaction by the Islamic regime. The funny (or perhaps sad) part is that some have gone too far to claim that the Islamic regime will benefit from Ganji's action, or the US is actually behind all this to see him dead and thus, it is argued, to find an excuse to attack Iran on the basis of the violation of human rights!!! Isn't it better to remain silent than to make such absurd comments? Isn't it better to say nothing when there is nothing to be said?

It is great to be able to update one's weblog often and in this way to share one's thoughts with viewers, it is great to have sound and solid views and share them with others. But it is totally irresponsible to abuse every possible situation only to show off. It is irresponsible and unethical to use the sufferings of responsible people like Ganji as a tool to get publicity.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yesterday, it was July the 9th. On this day in 1999, the first, but certainly not the last, popular movement, in the history of Islamic regime took place. It is known as the Student Uprsing of 18th Tir, which shook the foundations of the 'Mullahtarian' dictatorship in Iran. Students were attacked, killed, and wounded and many of their leaders were arrested. It was the end of the Republic for the Islamic regime, while at the same time, the beginning of the new era Mullahtarianism - whose offspring is the phenomenon of Ahmadinejad. July the 9th 1999 testified for the end of the so called 'Reformist' movement, when Khatami threatened the students to discontinue their uprising or get the stick.
I was present at one incident of clash between the students and Ansar which occured on Enghelab Avenue. It was Monday, July 12. Earlier in the morning Khamenei had addressed Ansar- his fanatic followers- to remain calm, even if protesters had torn of his photos. But in fact he was giving them the 'code': "Do not remain calm! tear them off!". I recall at 5pm, around a thousand people were marching down from east to west of Enghelab Avenue, chanting anti-regime and anti-Khamenei slogans. Then the Ansar came. Bearded men in white shirts, armed with thick sticks, chains, batons and tear gases. Some were on motorbikes. First they warned the people to go away, using offensive language. But demonstrators defied them. Then Ansar attacked, beating people with their sticks and chains. It was a dreadful scene. I still have in mind every moment of that day and all the days between the 18th and 23th of Tir. They remind me of a deeply divided Iranian nation: peacful vs violent, fanatics vs moderates. What I saw in those few days taught me of the huge diversity among the nation I belong to.
The 18th of Tir is remembered since. But every year in a different way. This year I had the opportuinty to be here on its anniversary. I wanted to see if people still remember those unforgettable days. Those who did were reluctant to express it openly. Maybe they asked what is the point in remembering those days when those who perpetuated the atrocities of 18th of Tir are now celebrating their 'victory'? What is the use of remembering the 18th of Tir when the 3rd of Tir (July 24 the day of the second round of the election) is celebrated by the aggressors of that day and the rulers of today, while all this is happening in front of our eyes, the nation's eyes - a nation who has been silenced and drugged to forget its real history as it happened?
There may be enough reasons to forget 18th of Tir. But there are many more reasons to believe, to have hope, to see, to learn, to teach, to celebrate, and to remember. The next '18th of Tir' will not be created by 'us' who went on the streets or used our vote in 1997 to make our voice heard, but by those who will talk to this deaf regime differently. Let the regime be happy for the moment that it has silenced the people. But it is only silence before the storm.

Monday, July 04, 2005

I liked the way Mr. Ahmadinejad played down US accusations of his involvement in hostage taking in 1979. While Iranian foreign ministry reacted to the allegations, rejecting them as false and unfounded, Ahmadinejad did not make any comment on the issue: sorry, but just not interested!
Clearly and understandably, Americans are not happy about the election result. But they need some anger management here. They way they are reacting to the ‘problem’ just adds to it. First came the allegations, which sent the message to the American people, and the world, that Iranians have voted for a former hostage taker as their president. This was followed by the illegal move as a result of which the assets of a number of Iranian companies in the US were expropriated. These companies were allegedly linked with Iran's nuclear program. Regardeless of the credibility of the latest allegations, these moves show the depth of Americans' confusion over the developments in Iran. Americans seem to assume that under pressure, the Iranian regime will eventually give up its hardline stance. But the truth is that their strategy will only reinforce the fundamentalists’ position.
In fact, the recent moves by the US has damaged the reputation of the Iranian people (not the regime) and at the same time contributed to an increase in Ahmadinejad's popularity domestically. Accusing the man who will soon become the leader of a nation (regardless of the way he achieved this) of being an international criminal does no good to the reputation of a nation who are already facing a hard time convincing the world of their peace-loving nature. Besides, placing restrictions on the activities of Iranian companies in the US in less than a week after the election sends the message to Iranians that the US is not happy about your ‘choice’. More precisely, it shows that Americans are angry. For Iranians who hardly forget American historical hostility towards themselves, this translates into a victory. No wonder then, that these days, people who voted for Ahmadinejad's rivals in the past election are pondering on what makes the US taking such measures against Iranians when the Ahmadinejad has not yet officially sworn-in as the president They are now thinking perhaps those who were insisting that Ahmadinejad would be 'the best choice to ensure Iran’s autonomy' were right. All the hardship the US is giving us as punishment is only the result of saying NO to their wishes.
So what will come next? When will the US hostility towards us end? When will they let us deal with our affairs by ourselves? Does the US ever realize that its moves make it very difficult for the opposition groups inside Iran to criticise the regime as they will be accused of spreading US (the enemy) propaganda?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Mr. Akbar Ganji, a dissident journalist, writer and politican activist who has spent over 62 months in the Islamic Republic prison for publishing his anti-regime opinions, has written a letter to the outside world to let everyone know if he dies in prison, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will be directly responsible for his death. Ganji who has been on hunger strike since last month says that "Hejazi" from the office of the Leader delievers Khamenei's orders to Mortazavi, Tehran's chief prosecutor, on how to treat Ganji should be treated.
I just wonder what has happened to us Iranians. Why don't we do anything for Ganji? What has happened to us? Isn't Ganji and his situation more important to us than a sport victory for which poured onto the streests to show, not only our joy, but also our power? Can't we use this power to support Ganji? Can't we just march on, I don't know, Enghelab avenue to show that we care about Ganji? Doesn't Ganji need our support? If it were not because of us, for our freedom, Ganji would not have been jailed. He put his life in danger, he sacrificed his freedom to open our eyes to the truth. This brave man revealed to us what was going on behind the curtains, he told us how the 'holy men' ordered our fellow Iranians to be butchered only because of their opinions. We have no hope in the international human rights bodies. They are useless. But can't we do something to at least show that we care about Ganji? Is this the way we treat freedom fighters?!