Friday, July 31, 2009

U.S. briefs Israel on new Iran nuke sanctions

The candor of the "refrain from ranting and raving in public" part of this article is refreshing. Diplomats certainly have their work cut out for them on these issues!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Human trafficking plagues UAE

Fared Shafinury, Yare Dabestaniye Man, July 25, 2009 NYC Performance

Fared Shafinury played an intense arrangement of Yare Dabestaniye Man at the United For Iran rally in New York City on July 25th. NYC was one of more than 80 cities around the world who also held United For Iran rallies on this day, in support of the democracy, freedom and human rights movement in Iran.

Original link with more info:

Hamid Dabashi at United for Iran Rally, on NY-1

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Iran Inside Out Exhibition at the Chelsea Art Museum

Reviewed by Julie Ashcraft A.K.A. Jigsawnovich

The blue patterns and beckoningly tactile look of glossy paint in Negar Ahkami’s May The Evil Eye Be Blind echo Shiraz enamel work. But the content of this painting would have been censored had it been made in Iran. A large female figure in high heels, legs exposed, stands straddling a reclining mullah. She stabs him in the eye with a jeweled dagger. Her crotch is covered by the concentric blue circles which symbolize protection from the evil eye. In the background, video crews film women in black chadors. One of the women extends a bare leg from her chador as a male kneels before her with his camera. Further in the distance, is a glitteringly debauched beach scene, and a roller coaster with loops in the shape of the word “Allah.” Such heretical and politically potent themes could be cumbersome in the hands of a less talented artist. But May The Evil Eye Be Blind is dynamic, charged, and strangely beautiful while it is harsh.

Visiting the Islamic Republic of Iran this Spring, I wore hejab for the first time. The idea of covering up in order to draw attention to my mind was familiar. But, a fellow Chelsea Art Museum goer, viewing Negar Ahkami’s painting confirmed, “That form of showing respect, when it is accompanied by enforcement of laws in Iran dictating that women cover their hair and dress a certain way, can become restrictive to the point of showing women disrespect.” There are also practical, physical considerations. Persepolis was already well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the Spring. An ambulance arrived after a female tourist lost consciousness in the lesser heat of Esfahan. Some Iranian women allegedly wear also nothing under their chadors in order to deal with the heat.

Yet, installed in the Chelsea Art Museum near the phrase, “Section 2: From Iran to Queeran and Everything in Between On Gender and Sexuality,” is Abbas Kowsari’s stunning photo collection: Women Police Series, 2007, which shows chador-wearing female police officers, guns drawn, shooting from police cars, and rappelling from buildings like Batman. A chador might not be the most practical crime-fighting gear, but it has undeniably intimidating aesthetic appeal. It’s hard not to root for these scary female officers on some level, given that women find fewer jobs than men in Iran, even though there are more female college graduates than male. I found IRI government ladies attractive sometimes because of their seriousness and intensity, and when they are beautiful, it is without make-up. After confessing to a friend that I was secretly hoping one particular female Iranian airport security agent would search me, my friend pointed out that, “legal restrictions against unrelated men and women speaking to each other in public in Iran have probably resulted in an increase in same-sex experimentation and relationships.”

Sex outside of marriage is a crime punishable by death in Iran. Yet, “There are more than 100,000 prostitutes in Tehran,” according to Iran Inside Out co-curator, Sam Bardaouil. Given the high unemployment rate there, it is unknown how much sex work is performed due to economic desperation or as a rebellious expression of sexual power. Bardaouil mentioned that Shirin Fakhim’s mixed media sculptures, Tehran Prostitutes, 2008, are installed in the exhibition in such a way that they “scrutinize the nudity of the man. This is a reversal.” With tremendous self-abnegating charm, the painter of the aforementioned and ”scrutinized” nude self-portraits, Darius Yektai, mentioned that the darkness of his work has sometimes led to it being referred to as, “Rembrandt with the lights out.” And he thanked Bardaouil for, “hanging me from the ceiling,” – meaning, presumably, his oil paintings: The Reveal: Day 1, Day2, Day 3, 2009.

Installed on the reverse wall behind Yektai’s paintings, vivid full-color ads for prostitutes now have inky black hejab and chadors drawn on them by Shahram Entekhabi. Only their eyes and hands are exposed, while the ad copy blares that they are “Beautiful Busty Blonde”, “Naughty But Nice…Spanking, Caning”, etc. This work could be a reversal of censorship for privacy in the West, where a black bar may cover a person’s eyes while the rest of their body remains exposed. But it also triggered sad memories of finding a video posted online by someone in Dubai, showing a young woman wearing only heels, bra, panties, and hejab covering her hair, mouth, and neck. She sat stiffly on a chair, her eyes expressing fear as the camera operator sized her up from different angles. Dubai is known for slavery. But there are reportedly many forced prostitutes throughout the world, even here in New York, who are not paid for their work. One can only speculate how many women shown in Entekhabi’s piece actually chose their lifestyle.

With added pathos via juxtaposition, Ahmad Morshedloo’s oil painting of a reclining male figure, Untitled, 2008, is installed below Entekhabi’s piece. Morshedloo’s male figure looks wan and spent, and there is an elegant sadness to this work, reminiscent of Picasso’s blue period. This work’s sharp sense of longing lingers in my memory, even though I gravitated to more sensationalist works while in the museum.

Female consumerist desire is portrayed as grotesque in Saghar Daeeri’s series of acrylic paintings, Shopping Malls of Tehran, 2008. Smirking women with glittering claws grasp their purses or take clothes off hangers like meat from bones. A dripping pink ice-cream cone projects lewdly in the foreground. My friend responds, “The grasping shoppers look like the rich Northern Tehrani girls who have homes that are like fortresses, and they can do anything within their walls. They can bribe government officials. They can travel to other countries when they want to. They are fine with how things are. So they are a problem. They are not going to risk their lives protesting in the street. But look at the girl in corner of the painting, wearing a backpack over her manteau as she ascends an escalator. Look at the expression on her face. She is different from the other women in the mall. Women like her could be the future and the hope for Iran.”

This is a small sampling of works on display by 35 artists working inside Iran and 21 artists working outside Iran, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath.

*Upcoming public programs at the Chelsea Art Museum relating to this exhibition include Iranian films, dance, and musical performances. This exhibition closes September 5, 2009.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alleged Audio of Basij Meeting

I can barely say, "Haletun chetor-e?" in Persian, so I honestly have no clue what the guys in the following audio file are saying. But this audio file is allegedly a "Basij meeting secretly recorded in June 2003. Names of highranked Basij, their tactics, etc." If anyone can tell me what they are saying, please send me an email.

Cycling for Human Rights in Iran

photo of
Pouya Alagheband
by Julie Jigsawnovich

reported by Julie Jigsawnovich

Pouya Alagheband is among a group of Iranians and Canadians cycling 450 kilometers from Toronto to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottowa, to deliver a petition initiated by Amnesty International. The petition, signed by 4,000 supporters, calls on the authorities to respect the human rights of all Iranian citizens and for the immediate release of those arrested for expressing their critical opinions of the elections since June 12, 2009.

The cyclists tuned up their bicycles, and started the trek today. They plan to arrive at their destination on Monday, July 27th at 2pm. Follow live Tweets from Cycling for Human Rights in Iran at:
Watch a video at:
For more information about Pouya Alagheband, go to:

Report: Cheney wanted to illegally deploy American troops in U.S. cities.

Friday, July 24, 2009

NYC Artist Inspired by Iranians Protesting for Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights

artwork and image
copyright (c)2009 Tina Portilla
used by permission

reported by Julie Jigsawnovich

Stunned by the soaring feeling of vastness and self-determination that this drawing exudes, and captivated by the synthesis of iconography from the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, the Azadi (Freedom) Tower and Green democracy movement in Iran, I asked the artist how she came to draw it. Tina Portilla answered,"I've been working with a focus on politics for a while. Situations from all over the world interest me. When a good friend of mine, who happens to be Iranian, started going to protests and such, I thought I'd do more research. What I discovered as I followed the situation more and more closely appalled me, and I wanted to get involved as well.

"After a while, however, it seemed I was shouting at a brick wall. I would re-post videos and articles on Facebook, urge people to come to rallies, try to get the word out as much as possible. But it seemed like none of my non-Iranian friends cared... as a matter of fact, most of them flat out did not. A friend asked me once, as we sat in a bar drinking, why I wore the green armband. I gave him a brief rundown... and his response? 'I don't watch the news... I don't need that negative bullshit in my life.'


"I finished my beer, nodded at the bartender and left. I couldn't believe it. After that, I REALLY wanted to do more than go to protests and rallies and spread things on Facebook. My friend, who I had mentioned before, founded The Freedom Glory Project, which I'm sure you've heard of. He's an amazingly talented and passionate musician; his words come from the heart and resonate in your soul. I figured, he does what he knows, I should do what I know and draw. But I wasn't quite sure what to do yet...

"The answer came after I read the story about Taraneh. It destroyed me. I sat in my bed weeping, nearly vomiting. Later that night, the drawing started coming together, and by the end of that night, I had a preliminary sketch. By the end of the next night, I had an almost finished drawing up on my Facebook, which I was sure no one would see, haha... but I see I was wrong!

"She's done with watercolor pencils and permanent marker... and I chose a goddess figure over anything else I could have used because not only have women been on the front lines of this revolution, but it is violent, negative male energy that is dominating the people of Iran. A goddess of peace and liberty is just what they need right now, I believe."

Portilla informed this reporter, "that's a white rose she's holding behind her back. The word at the bottom is "Freedom." Her crown is made from the windows of the Azadi tower [Freedom Tower in Tehran,] as her skirt is made from the rest." Portilla later added some lines as framing, and a flock of black birds. The original, "unfinished" drawing is shown here.

Come be inspired! There is a rally in support of Iranian democracy, freedom and human rights scheduled to begin tomorrow at 12:30 in Times Sq., at 7th Avene and West 41st Street, continuing on to the United Nations, at 1st Avenue and East 47th Street from around 3-5pm. There are simultaneous rallies in 83 cities around the world. See for more information.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Letter to Mojtaba Khamenei

Momentum Shifts to Iran's Reformers

Microwave weapon will rain pain from sky

Addressing Iran's Gender Apartheid

photos of signs/crane and photo of Abdee Kalantari courtesy of Julie Jigsawnovich

reported by Julie Jigsawnovich


Threatening weather, an ominously towering crane, and noise from the next-door construction site faded into the background as this reporter was captivated by sociologist Abdee Kalantari's presentation of a statement by philosopher and scholar, Mohammad-Reza Nikfar, on the second day of the hunger strike near the United Nations headquarters in New York.  In translating Nikfar's statement from Persian to English, Kalantari said:

"Mr. Nikfar points out that the Islamic regime is based on several basic discriminations:  Islamic v. non-Islamic/insider - outsider/cleric - non-cleric/Sheite - non-Sheite/and, perhaps most serious of all, gender Apartheid.  

'In the initial phase of the Green Movement, although we feel pain and sorrow for our fallen youth--Nedas and Sohrabs--at the same time we feel a sense of euphoria, because we come to see our strength--we witness our strong solidarity.  And even though the regime's reaction is brutal and savage, we see its vulnerability, its weaknesses.  After this recognition, this initial sense of joy and solidarity, we can pause, we can step back and look at the past 30 years, and ask ourselves, where, when, and how we became complicit in all this.  Take a stern look at ourselves and ask ourselves where we went wrong.  That's the hardest task ahead.

'Where does gender Apartheid come from?  Is it just the government?  Once the religion left the state government and we achieve a secular politics, we will still ask ourselves about the nature [of] prejudice in ourselves.

Best wish,

M. N.'"

To see a photo of Mohammad-Reza Nikfar, please go to:

Artwork Created During Hunger Strike

artwork (c)artist, photo (c)Sara Rahai

reported by Julie Jigsawnovich

On July 22nd, during the first of the three-day of the hunger strike near the United Nations headquarters in New York City in support of Iranian protesters demanding democracy, freedom and human rights, Iranian Architect Soheil Tavakoli created a painting live, on site--combining imagery of Tehran's Azadi Tower, the UN building and protesters bearing signs including one that said, "I am Neda"--a reference to the the slain protest bystander who became a symbol of the movement. With characteristic Iranian forbearance, Tavakoli said he purposely left the work "unfinished so that it could be completed by other people's signatures." Tavakoli has also designed a memorial for the contemporary Iranian poet, Shamlou, who, "during his life just talked about freedom." Tavakoli now plans to also include in the memorial the names of the many persons who have died in the violent crackdown on protesters following the recent presidential election in the Islamic Republic.

The hunger strike continues today and tomorrow, and Tavokoli will be there with fresh canvases and new designs. Hunger strike participants are invited to sign the work. Saturday, July 25th there will be a rally starting at Times Square at 12:30, marching to the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, and then on to the United Nations headquarters at 1st Avenue and East 47th St. Both events are hosted by the New York Chapter of Where is My Vote? For more information, see:

UPDATE: This painting reportedly sold for $2,000. at an auction on the last day of the hunger strike.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

American Socialists show support for Iranian protesters

I consider myself a socially-responsible Capitalist who has respect for some Socialist ideas (I certainly support public education, public post office, public library, and public healthcare.) I'm not as critical of Obama as the author of the following linked article is. And I recently attended a panel discussion of scientists (at the World Science Festival) where a new generation of nuclear reactors that can actually run on what the US stores as nuclear waste was mentioned. Nonetheless, the general tone and thrust of the article are refreshing--especially after seeing some Leftists side with the brutal crackdown by Khamenei/Ahmadinejad/Revolutionary Guards:

Here's an excerpt:

"The brutal repression of the popular upsurge against Iran's ruling clique of Islamic clerics only postpones the inevitable. Iran's theocracy has lost the confidence of its people, as militant protests continue on the streets of Tehran.

"The Socialist Party USA stands with the people of Iran in demanding an immediate end to arbitrary rule and the holding of genuinely free and open elections. We believe that the complete separation of religious institutions and the state is an essential prerequisite for a democratic society. Every resident of a nation should have the same rights and privileges, no matter what her or his religious belief may or may not be..."

Almost sounds like Thomas Jefferson.

US 'ready to boost Gulf defence'

"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the US is prepared to bolster the defence of its Gulf allies if Iran develops a nuclear weapons programme."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chomsky, Redford Support Hunger Strike near UN building, NYC

Hunger-strikers will gather near the United Nations building in New York, at 1st Ave. and E. 47th St. on Wednesday, July 22nd through Friday, July 24th in demanding human rights for protesters and those held prisoner in Iran for demanding their democratic rights and for demanding freedom of speech. The hunger strike has received support through statements issued by many highly respected academics including Noam Chomsky, celebrities known for good works including Robert Redford, and many others.

For more information visit:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

OP ED: The Symbolism of Green/Black in Iran

by Julie Jigsawnovich

Today a friend in Iran posted a photo of someone flashing a victory/peace sign, with one extended finger wrapped in a green ribbon and the other in a black ribbon. Next to it, he posted an illustration of an upraised green fist with a black ribbon near the wrist, replacing the Islamic Republic symbol on the Iranian flag. These may be a significant developments in terms of symbolism.

Green has come to represent democracy and freedom, is associated with the Moussavi campaign, and is an important color to Islam. There have been days of mourning when protesters wore black instead of green. Does the combination of black and green show sadness for slain protesters and continuing demands for democracy and human rights? Or could this combination also signify new political developments in Iran?

In Europe and in New York, black combined with red represents a combination of Anarchist and Communist sympathies--which could land anywhere on the political spectrum from a desire for militant overthrow of Capitalist Democracies, to a non-Totalitarian, non-Fascist desire for community-based cooperation combined with personal responsibility.

In the West, an upraised fist has tended to represent willingness to organize and /or use violence to attain or defend rights. It has sometimes been associated with secular Communists, but not always. The upraised fist of the American Black Power movement tended to be associated with Islamist Malcomb X. In Iran, militant Communists may find few friends, since the MEK aligned themselves with Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war.

The democracy movement in Iran has been compared to the peaceful civil rights movement in the US lead by Martin Luther King. I remember water cannons, and possibly police batons being used against the King-led civil rights peaceful protesters here. But I do not recall swords being used to hack at them, nor live bullets repeatedly fired into them--as has reportedly been done to peaceful protesters in Iran. Can a completely peaceful movement survive in the face of such extreme brutality? There are already reports of hundreds of bodies stacked up in storage in Tehran--protesters killed by militia.

How do you survive a fight against someone brutal and cruel without becoming brutal and cruel yourself? There are some really core ethical questions here that anyone may ask themselves.

Does the symbolic combination of black and green, and the increase in symbolic use of fists rather than victory/peace signs indicate that the democratic movement in Iran is moving from being one of protest to being one of Revolution? Do the majority of Iranians want to retain the Islamic basis and retain the current Constitution, or do they want to completely overthrow the regime and become more secular? What mixture of Capitalism and Socialism would the majority of Iranians choose? Will they demand free public schools, as we have here in the US? Your emails are welcome:

Update 7-22-09: Here's a link to a photo of a giant green fist at the hunger strike in front of the UN:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Iranian Editorial Cartoonist

This drawing is called, "Honesty." It was created by the Iranian artist, Mana Neyestani, who still lives in Iran. Artists who do not tow the official government line there take great risks.

State-run television in Iran has reportedly not shown an accurate picture of what has gone on there since the presidential election. Many journalists have been arrested, and Basiji have been smashing satellite television receiving equipment that was used to pick up broadcasts from outside Iran.


Rafsanjani's Speech, as reported by British, Arab, Israeli, and Iranian Press

by Julie Jigsawnovich

Rafsanjani has the Constitutional power to remove Supreme Leader Khamenei from office. Khamenei and his son are reportedly behind the extremely brutal crackdowns on Iranians protesting presidential election results widely believed to be fraudulent--and on journalists documenting and reporting the protests. Rafsanjani's own daughter was previously arrested, and later released, after voicing her support for opposition candidate Moussavi. It is interesting to compare the reportage on Rafsanjani's speech today by British, Arab and Israeli, and Iranian journalists. I have added italics to these excerpts for emphasis.

BBC posted video of Rafsanjani speaking, with an English translation overdubbed. Here's a transcript:
"We should base our work on law and we should open the way for debates. Maybe if we would be able to have open debates, we would be able in a short span of time to return trust to the people. We shouldn't have people in prison under such names. We should allow those people to go back to their homes. We should not allow our enemies to blame us for imprisoning some people. We should not allow them to laugh at us, and to plot against us. We should try to be brave enough, patient enough to tolerate each other."
See the video at:

Alireza Ronaghi, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tehran, said:
"Rafsanjani said we must preserve the Islamic nature of our government and without the people's votes and trust, the government cannot be Islamic.
"And that's the argument that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi [another defeated presidential candidate] have been putting forth.
"He's trying to open a way for solving the standoff, and give a convincing option for those dissatisfied with the election outcome."

Israeli website, reports:
"Tens of thousands - mostly pro-opposition but also some government backers - packed the prayer hall and shouted competing slogans. Hard-liners made traditional chants of death to America, while opposition supporters countered with death to Russia - a reference to government's ties to Moscow. Many pro-reform worshipers wore green headbands or wristbands or had green prayer rugs - the opposition movement's color.
"In the front row of the worshipers was opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, attending for the first time since the election. Mousavi claims he won the election and that results showing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory were fraudulent. He insists Ahmadinejad's government will be illegitimate."

Given that Iranian state-run IRIB tends to be used as a propaganda tool, the concluding sentence of this article about Rafsanjani's Friday Prayers is refreshingly frank:
"Outlining the procedure of the Islamic Revolution in Iran under the leadership of the late Imam Khomeini and the principles the revolution was basically built upon, he said it was a fundamental notion with the late Imam Khomeini that if people were not satisfied, then the country’s affairs would not succeed."

Worldwide Rallies for Iranian democracy, freedom and human rights

Come to a rally on Saturday July 25, in one of more than 50 cities around the world. If you don't see your city, you can contact the organizers and ask how you can get involved.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vow to catch Chechnya assassins

Iranian nuclear chief 'resigns'

Mr Aghazadeh is a veteran official who served as oil minister before taking up his post at the atomic organisation under former President Mohammad Khatami.
Iranian nuclear chief 'resigns'

New military robots 'could feed on corpses'

This is beyond Soylent Green:

US tells Iran 'time running out'

"The US government has sent a strong message to Iran, saying it is running out of time to engage in dialogue over its nuclear programme to avoid further isolation or even military action.

[Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said that Iran]
"'does have a right to civil nuclear power, if it re-establishes the confidence of the international community that it uses its programmes exclusively for peaceful purposes.'

"'Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights,' she said."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Rape of Taraneh: Prison Abuse of Iran's Protesters


There are reports of prison guards raping female prisoners and male prisoners. "Taraneh, whose first name is Persian for "song", disappeared into arrest. Weeks later, her mother received an anonymous call from a government agent saying that her daughter has been hospitalized in Imam Khomeini Hospital in the city of Karaj, just north of Tehran--hospitalized for'rupturing of her womb and anus unfortunate accident'. When Taraneh's family went to the hospital to find her, they were told she was not there."

Video: Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno” on Ahmadinejad


I tole joo!

Shia cleric defends civil rights: Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's Fatwa

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's Fatwa is heartening and stereotype-breaking. Here are some excerpts:

"A political system based on force, oppression, changing people’s votes, killing, closure [of organs of civil society], arresting [people] and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail, is condemned and illegitimate. And, according to the teachings of the Prophet and his descendants confessions in jail have no religious or legal validity and cannot be the criterion for action [against the confessor].

The courageous people of Iran are also aware of such confessions — the examples of which can be found in the history of communist and fascist regimes — and are aware that such confessions and fake television interviews are extracted from their jailed children under duress and torture, in order to hide the oppression and injustice, and in order to present a distorted image of the peaceful and lawful protests of the people. The [government] officials who are responsible for such acts must be aware that such acts are sinful, and are punishable both religiously and by law. Iran belongs to the people, not to you and me, and they make the decisions, and the officials are their servants. People must be able to gather peacefully, and defend their rights both in writing and orally."

For the full text, please visit:
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Democratic Protests in Iran and US Policy

Reported by Julie Jigsawnovich

Last night the Brecht Forum in New York City hosted a round table discussion regarding US policy and the protests resulting from the disputed Presidential election in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The panel included Hamid Dabashi, Ervand Abrahamian, and Arang Keshavarzian, and was moderated by Leili Kashani.

Dabashi dispels the notion that opposition voters in Iran are overwhelmingly middle class. He says that in fact it is the militias who are brutally assaulting them in the streets who are paid wages allowing them to marry and get their own homes. Many of the people they are beating and killing are educated people who struggle to find work in Iran, even with college degrees. Even with recent years of unprecedented oil revenues, the government of Iran has failed to focus on job creation other than in the militias. Dabashi is, however, against sanctions, saying they hurt the democratic protesters. And Dabashi predicts that air strikes against Iran would mean the end of the democratic movement there. Abarahamian discusses current US policy towards Iran in reference to historical US involvement in Iran. He supports the approach that Obama has taken. Arang Keshavarzian focuses on evidence of systematic election irregularities, and facts that dispute characterizations of Ahmadinejad as a populist with rural support. He suggests building bridges between organized workers in Iran and organized workers in the US. Following are excerpts from my live transcription:

Ervand Abrahamian:
"History is being used to undermine the current popular movement. It's easy to fit into that narrative--foreign powers trying to undermine sovereignty--easy to say this is a repeat of that. The problem with that is facts. Here are the facts. You find that the Obama administration was taken very much by surprise. Why? Because its priority is to negotiate over the nuclear issue. This crisis actually puts a spike in the wheels--because it could be said, 'How can you deal or negotiate with a regime that is killing people in the streets?'"

"Facts rather than history--Obama has made dramatic changes. This administration dropped the prerequisite of stopping uranium enrichment before negotiation, dropped talk of regime change, apologized for coup of 1953, ended the financing of dubious groups in Iran--Obama stopped the financing of terrorist groups. Obama has done a good job of trying to negotiate the nuclear issue. Is there any willingness to meet Obama halfway?"

Hamid Dabashi:
"I am on record as saying that this is a civil rights movement, not a revolution. But I may turn out to be wrong, and this may turn out to be a revolution.

"The people are exercising Article 27 of their Constitution. There is within the Iranian Constitution the right to question, to right to hold rallies. Leaders of the Republic are in violation of the Constitution because they will not give permission for peaceful protests.
So many arrests, tortures--the state of military siege is there for all to see. The religious foundation of the republic is now being questioned."

Arang Keshavarzian:
"It's naive to start talking about this as a revolution. The language on the streets is a language of citizenship, a language of rights. Moussavi and his aides really pushed the idea of rule of law, the checks and balances--that Ahmadinejad violated during his term." After the election people say, 'Look all those issues Moussavi talked about were right.'

There is a sense that participants, active citizens were violated. The number of mobile voting stations this election was extremely high. There was an extremely high number of extra ballots printed. Ballots are usually counted at the polling place, but this time the boxes of ballots were taken somewhere else. Supporters of opposing candidates were not allowed to monitor polling places. SMS was cut off on the day of election. Telephone communication was sketchy, too. The night of the election Moussavi's campaign staff was attacked and arrested.

There is good evidence that Ahmadinejad has never been popular with the rural voters. He has unwound some of the agricultural policies that Moussavi had started. And Ahmadinejad has systematically attacked independent organizations of the working class. This includes bus drivers, teachers and the notaries."

According to the press release for this event:
"Hamid Dabashi ( is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and has been regularly commenting on the political crisis in Iran for various media outlets, including Al Jazeera, ABC, BBC, CNN, Democracy Now!, GRITtv, and Al-Ahram Weekly. He has written eighteen books and edited four, including Iran: A People Interrupted (2007), Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire (2008), Masters and Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema (2007), and Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema (2006). He has authored over 100 essays, articles, and book reviews on a range of subjects, and is the founder of Dreams of a Nation, a Palestinian film project dedicated to preserving and safeguarding Palestinian Cinema. A committed teacher for nearly three decades, he is also a public speaker around the globe, a current affairs essayist, and a staunch anti-war activist.
Ervand Abrahamian is Distinguished Professor of History at Baruch College, CUNY. His books include A History of Modern Iran (2008), Targeting Iran (2007, with Barsamian, Chomsky, and Mozaffari), Tortured Confessions (1999), Khomeinism (1993), The Iranian Mojahedin (1989), Iran Between Two Revolutions (1982), and Inventing the Axis of Evil (2004). He is working on a book called The CIA Coup in Iran, has authored numerous articles, and spoken publicly about Iran over the last three decades.

Arang Keshavarzian was in Iran during the 2009 presidential elections, and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU. He is on the editorial committee of the Middle East Research and Information Project
(MERIP:, where he has published articles on current events in Iran. His book and articles focus on modern Iranian political economy and social movements, but his current research examines free trade zones in the Persian Gulf to shed more detailed light on imperialism and globalization.

Leili Kashani has a graduate degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from NYU where she studied twentieth-century Iranian social movements, and she is a senior editor at Arab Studies Journal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cranes for Construction vs. Execution

I'm glad to be in NYC, where cranes are used for construction. In Iran people are hung from cranes until they suffocate. "According to the state run Iranian news agency Fars, fourteen people are scheduled to be hanged in public in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan tomorrow July 14...Since beginning of July 2009, at least thirty-seven people have been executed in Iran."--

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mousavi Khoeini Speaks at NYC 18Tir Anniversary Rally

The New York Chapter of Where is My Vote organized yet another great, spirited rally, on Thursday, July 9th. Former Iranian Member of Parliament, Mousavi Khoeini spoke at this event. He was elected to Parliament, in part, because of his involvement in helping students who participated in the 1999 "18Tir" protests in Iran--after the newspaper Salaam was shut down by the government. He was also an outspoken advocate of Iranian women in their struggle for equal rights. Khoeini's impassioned and reasoned speaking at this event gave further proof to the fact that, not only have there already been some very good legislators and leaders in Iran who are progressively democratic--it is especially vital to support the rights of democratic voters in Iran now, at this time in history.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Makhmalbaf speaks about the future of Iran's democratic movement

by Julie Jigsawnovich

Today Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf spoke about Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Iran's democratic movement during a conference call hosted by The Huffington Post and the New York Chapter of Where Is My Vote.

Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the 1999 "18th of Tir" Protests in Iran, during which students protesting the closing of the reformist newspaper Salaam were attacked. Protests continued for six days, culminating with thousands of Iranians demonstrating for democracy and civil rights. At the time, it was the biggest display of popular discontent in the Islamic Republic's history.

Following is my live transcription of what Mohsen Makhmalbaf said through an interpreter during the call today. (I just received an audio file and will double check it against this, but believe this is pretty accurate.)

"Mir-Hossein Moussavi is under threats to his life right now.

[A human chain was made by Moussavi supporters in Tehran.] "In case Moussavi is imprisoned, we are prepared to think of Moussavi as one link in this chain. In case we lose him, the chain will not be lost. We will continue. We believe every Iranian inside Iran is a campaign supporter, and every Iranian outside Iran is an ambassador to this group. Participants in this movement do not need Moussavi's permission for their actions.

"I spoke yesterday at the European Parliament, asking them not to recognize Ahmadinejad as President. I demanded them to consider the nuclear and the democratic issue as one issue--not as two, because we are facing one dictator government in Iran. It's one and the same dictator that is torturing the people inside Iran, and the outside world--with its projects in trying to build a nuclear bomb.

"We ask the European Union to punish Nokia Siemens for selling spy equipment to the Iranian government.

"I want to ask world leaders or people that they should not accept the Iranian regime's propaganda about [hurting by helping.] We do need everybody's help, as part of humanity.

"If a hijacker takes the passengers hostage, will they consider it an internal fight--or will they help the passengers? Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have taken the Iranian people hostage. Will you sign oil treaties with this government, or will you side with the Iranian people and help fight injustice?

"Will Obama accept the military coup in Honduras? In Iran also, the previous president has held a coup against the current president.

"I think that the fate of democracy in Iran and the fate of the world are tied together. If they do not help the people of Iran, they will face threats by these dictators on the outside.

"Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are not liked by the Iranian people and do not have international support, therefore they will run towards the nuclear option. The only mistake the international community is making is giving Khamenei time. He is getting the time he needs to finalize his nuclear project.

"I just want to finish with a few lines about Obama. Obama has said there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi. If so, there is no difference between Bush and Obama. Ahmadinejad has Hitler as his role model. Moussavi has Ghandi and Mandela as his role models. Iranian people cannot go abroad to ask Obama or Mandela to lead them. The world community cannot dictate which leaders Iranian people choose.

"Moussavi is an experienced politician, but Moussavi's art spirit dominates his politician's character. The main reason for this claim is 20 years of silence. He went back to his art career. His poetic and artistic spirit is very different from the murderous spirit of Ahmadinejad.

Iranian cinema was founded during Moussavi's Premiership, and backed by him. I'm a filmmaker who made several films that were openly critical of his government, and he is the one who was for these movies coming out and being seen. Movies were openly critical of his government, but he allowed them to be released.

"One day, with more time, I would like to tell people about Moussavi's character and tell people what an honorable character is leading this movement।"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Names and particulars of those killed in recent clashes in Tehran

Iran is the World's Top Jailer of Journalists.

More than China!

This article has a list of the journalists' names, and details of their arrests.

Iran: A Conversation About the Elections, Protest and the Future

My mystical Persian philosopher friend referred to the people on this panel as "mainstream academics." But he also mentioned that Esfandiari knows Rasfanjani's daughter (who has been a vocal Mousavi supporter--and in regards to this was arrested and later released.)

Iran: A Conversation About the Elections, Protest and the Future With Shaul Bakhash, Roger Cohen, Haleh Esfandiari and Karim Sadjadpour

$15/$8 for students with ID and PEN members.

92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center
1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
Subway: 4/5/6 to 86th Street

Freedom Glory Project @ Mercury Lounge - July 19

I enjoyed Hypernova's performance at the recent Columbus Circle rally, and look forward to this show.

"The FREEDOM GLORY PROJECT ( has put together a benefit show for the green movement. Come and join us in solidarity with the people of Iran through song and music. The show will include the following Iranian/American artists:
Electric Black: the most punk rock country-blues chamber orchestra on earth! @9:30PM
Hypernova: a now world famous underground band from Tehran based in NYC. @9PM
Ali Eskandarian: Born in Pensacola, Florida but raised in Iran, Germany, and the US, this singer/songwriter has been based out of NYC while criss crossing the country for the last few years and performing his unique blend of music. @8:30PM
Esfand: Born and raised in Iran with deep roots in Sacred Persian music, also the ex-front man of "Landlord", a New York City rock band, is currently making big noise with his solo deput through electronic/pop sounds. @8PM

This event will be held @ the famous:
Mercury Lounge in the lower east side of Manhattan.
217 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 260-4700

Tix - 10$
*All Proceeds Go To Keeping The Iranian Struggle In The News*"

Literatures of Resistance: In Solidarity w/ the Iranian People

I'm not familiar with these writers, but they sound intriguing.

FREE EVENT featuring Rana Farhan, Luis Francia, Amir Parsa, THE TEHRAN-DAKAR BROTHERS , Eleanor Wilner, D. Nurske, Said Sayrafiezadeh, Roger Sedarat, Dalia Sofer, Niloufar Talebi and more!

This free event is sponsored by the Association of Iranian American Writers, Persian Arts Festival, The Translation Project, ArteEast and Bowery Arts and Science. Any contributions at the event will be donated to Amnesty International.

Saturday July 11, 2009, 2 - 5 PM, Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery, NYC

Monday, July 6, 2009

Washington Sq. Park Rally for Iran

Add your name to a green scroll that will be installed on the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

The New York Chapter of Where Is My Vote? activists for democracy encourages supporters of human rights of Iranian students to gather in Washington Square Park on Thursday, July 9th from 7-10pm, and to sign a giant GREEN banner which will sewn together with banners from around the world and dropped from the Eiffel Tower.

Their press release states that, "Iran loves anniversaries. 'The next one, and perhaps most pivotal to the current movement, happens to fall on Thursday of this week: the 18th of Tir (or 9th of July.)'

'On that day in 1999 students protesting the closing of the reformist newspaper Salaam were attacked in their dormitories in Tehran and Tabriz. Six days of protests ensued, which began with several hundred students and blossomed into thousands of people from all walks of life supporting the demonstrations. They were the biggest display of [protest] sentiment in the Islamic Republic’s then twenty-year history, and they were put down by the regime with a mandate by the threatened leadership to stop the unrest “at any cost."'

“Sounds familiar.”

Thursday marks the 10th anniversary of the 18th or Tir. While the date has been marked with numerous protests of the last ten years this anniversary takes on special significances. The chatter is saying this could be a big day in Iran but we also know that authorities will try to lock the cities down ahead of time. Either way let us show the people of Iran, especially the students how comprise most of the dead and imprisoned, that we are watching what the regime is doing. They are not alone especially on a day like the 18th of Tir."

Iran's Revolutionary Guard takes command,0,5039533.story

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Axes and swords in the streets of Tehran

by Julie Jigsawnovich

I asked a friend in Tehran whether earlier Twitter reports of militia using axes on protesters were true. This morning he told me that, "Axes and big swords called Ghameh are weapons that Tehran gangs and downtown boys are using in the streets...and there is a rumor that Basij members are recruited from them...and if that is true, axes and Ghamehs will be normal to use against people."
60 Minutes - The Witness (November 22, 2009)Amnesty International Universal Declaration Poster

An exciting time to be a student in Iran

My friend in Mashad just took his college entry exam. This must have been a challenging time to study for a test! Students have long been the targets of brutality and murder by those seeking to repress dissent in Iran. But even though Basiji recently broke into Tehran University dorm rooms and left a trail of blood, corpses and smashed computers, and similar reports have come from Shiraz--there are still videos being posted to youtube documenting the high spirits of students dissatisfied with the "official" results of this Presidential election.

The song they are singing is Yar-e Dabestani - My Classmate. Here are the lyrics, which I found at the following website. I'm trying to find out what they are chanting, as well, if anyone would like to leave a comment.

Yar-e Dabestani - My classmate

Maa Zendeh Be Aaneem Keh Aaraam Nageereem
Mojeem Keh Asoodegee-Y-E-Maa Adam-E-Maast
We are alive by virtue of our restlessness
We are like waves that die through calm
My old school chum
Baa Man-O-Hamraah-E-Manee
You are with me and along side me
Choob-E-Alefe Barsar-E-Maa
When the cane is weilded over our head
You cry and hurl with me
Hak Shodeh Esm'e Man-O-Tow
Engraved are the names of you and I
Rooy-E-Een Takhteh Seeyaah
On this black board
The scars of the lashes of tyranny
Maandeh Hanooz Roo Tan-E-Maa
Have stayed on our bodies
Dasht-E-Bee Farhang-E-Maa
Our desolate and uncultugreen wilderness
Harz-E Tamaam-E-Alafhaayash
With all of its Shrubbery being but weeds.
Khoob Ageh Khoob Bad Ahgeh Bad
Be it good or bad
Dast-E-Man-O Tow Baayad Een Pardeh Raa Paareh Konad
My hands and your hands have to tear down this curtain
Kee Be Joz Man-O-Tow Dard-E-Maaro Chaareh Konad
Who other than me and you will find the cures to our ills

Friday, July 3, 2009

Parody: Hitler finds out Michael Jackson has died.

Dear Reader,
I hope you will forgive me for posting this link. After so much sadness, there needs to be some comedy here.

Happy Independence Day!

I am so happy to live in a democratic republic with a Constitutional separation of church and state!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

NYC Rally for Killed and Detained in Iran

by Julie Jigsawnovich

Names of Iranians killed by Basiji and other forces, since the June 12th election, were read aloud last night at a rally in Union Square in Manhattan. Before reading them, a speaker mentioned the military coup that occurred in Honduras within the last few days. Drawing parallels in terms of the suppression of freedom in Iran and Honduras, the speaker showed solidarity with people suffering human rights violations in both countries by asking everyone to say the Spanish word, "Presente," after each Iranian name. In this context, "Presente" was meant as something to warn or remind.

photo: Julie Jigsawnovich

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mohammad Mostafaei released after paying $100,000.00

My friend Reza J. sent me this update. I don't have the link:

4:44 PM ET -- Iran activist released from Evin prison. On the website of his organization 'Stop Child Executions,' Mohammad Mostafaei posts a message titled, "Free after 7 days."

This afternoon after paying 1 billion Rials (about $100,000 USD) , being accused of conspiracy against the security of the government and propaganda against the regime, I was released from section 209 of the Evin prison (in Tehran)

I greatly am thankful to all of those who had a role in gaining my freedom.

My imprisonment made me more determined than ever to solidly stand for human rights

Remain strong and standing

Mohammad Mostafaei

Human Rights Lawyer Detained in Iran


I lost the link to this article. Will post if I find it.

"Human Rights / Death Penalty Lawyer Arrested in Iran
Death Penalty, Middle East | Posted by: Brian Evans, June 30, 2009 at 4:14 PM

"In the midst of all of the political and social turmoil in Iran right now, activist and lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei was arrested this afternoon and taken away by plainclothes officers while out with his wife and daughter. The arrest was most likely related to his human rights activites connected with the recent protests, but he is most well-known for his work representing juveniles facing the death penalty. The officials searched Mostafaei’s home and his office after arresting him and then took him away to an undisclosed location. His family has not been informed of his whereabouts.

"Mohammad Mostafaei is a lawyer who, among other things, represents those on death row who were juveniles at the time of their crimes. He currently has 25 such cases. As a signitory of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has agreed not to execute anyone for a crime committed before the age of 18, but they have ignored this agreement many many times. By Amnesty International’s count, Iran has executed 18 child offenders since 2007."

City Council Members walk out of MJ Tribute

New York City Councilman Lew Fidler told the reporter Azi Paybarah, “Clearly his death is a tragedy,” but "I’m the chairman of the Youth Services Committee in the Council and the man was probably a serial pedophile, may have well died of a drug overdose.”

Fidler said the talents of a celebrity don’t necessarily “make them a role model. While we can mourn his death I don’t know that standing up on the floor of the Council to pay tribute to a life I wouldn’t want my kids to aspire to was appropriate.”


Using Tor and Squid to loosen Iranian repression by proxy