Thursday, July 30, 2009

The 40th day anniversary of Neda, other martyrs

Sohrab A'rabi's mother, speaks with protesters at an opposition rally at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery

Found on Uruknet; videos available there. 
Also see Revolutionary Road for live blog reports of demonstrations in Tehran, photos and videos.

Iran security forces retreat as huge numbers of mourners gather at cemeter

As many as tens of thousands of protesters meet at the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose shooting death was videotaped. Meanwhile, the first group of protesters arrested in the unrest heads to trial.

Reporting from Tehran and Beirut -- Thousands and possibly tens of thousands of mourners, many of them black-clad young women carrying roses, overwhelmed security forces today at Tehran's largest cemetery to gather around the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose videotaped shooting at a June 20 demonstration stunned the world.

Amateur video apparently taken at Behesht Zahra cemetery and quickly uploaded to the Internet shows a sea of mourners moving through the cemetery chanting slogans.

"Death to the dictator," chanted those in one long procession, kicking up a storm of dust as they walked. "Neda is not dead. This government is dead."

Afterward, the crowds began to gather in front of central Tehran's Grand Mossala mosque, defying authorities who had prohibited the use of the site. Protesters chanted slogans as they rode the subway to the venue, setting the stage for more clashes as dusk approached.

Uniformed security forces initially clashed violently today with some of the mourners, supporters and leaders of the opposition, who were there to protest and grieve for those killed in recent unrest. Unsuccessful presidential candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi attempted to attend the graveside ceremony marking the religiously significant 40th day since the death of Agha-Soltan and others killed in the fighting.

"Oh, Hossein! Mir-Hossein," the mourners chanted in support of him.

According to one witness, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, Mousavi stepped out of his car only to be surrounded by police, who forced him back into his vehicle and out of the cemetery.

At first, mourners were confronted by security forces, who struck some with batons and made arrests in an attempt to bar them from gathering at Tehran's Behesht Zahra cemetery, the country's largest. The tree-lined streets leading to the graves of Agha-Soltan and others were blocked by riot police, the witness said.

The witness said protesters identified and violently confronted several plainclothes Basiji militiamen.

Read the complete report here ...

Khiaban No. 32: Pressure from below ... and then what?

Translation of the lead article from the Iranian newspaper Khiaban, #32. Thanks to the sender! 

Pressure from Below, Haggling Above; or Pressure from Below, People's Power from Below?
Khiaban # 32 / Wednesday, July 29, 2009

People are not leaving the streets. Tomorrow, the city's streets will belong to the people again. Different groups of people and countless dissenting citizens are preparing memorials for the martyrs and the dead of the current Iranian revolution. Until now, names and details of 78 martyrs have been published. Many families, due to pressure from the regime's security and intelligence forces, have stayed silent and have not shared their immense grief with other people.

These killings started with the direct and unambiguous order of Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, in his June 19th Friday prayers speech. He said that from the next day anybody who took to the streets to protest would be held responsible for the loss of their own life. People, however, took up this responsibility and, in the face of the supreme jurist's bullets, machetes and knives, took to the streets to demand their rights from this regime of injustice. The brutality and ruthlessness of the supreme jurist's death squads was beyond compare. The order was to employ the maximum violence in order to impose an atmosphere of terror on the people and bring a graveyard-like silence to the society. That mediocre clown, Ahmadinejad, took up the directive of the supreme leader, using the dissent-killing machineries of the Sepah [Revolutionary Guards] and the Basij. The gangs of ruthlessness and brutality had their eyes on the 1980s experience and were imagining the absolute success of the state terror. What fools' dreams!

This time, there was not merely a small, vanguard group at the forefront [of the fight], whose shedding of their lives even could not save the barricades of street resistance from falling. This time the entire society had risen and they had erected their street barricades against a criminal minority.

In this bloody struggle -- in which the people, armed with their solidarity, hope, desire for freedom and a collective love, were on one side, and a governance equipped with the most horrific instruments for murdering its own citizens on the other -- countless of the purest of this land's children have fallen. Countless martyrs have become witness to the naked violence of a system of deceit and criminality, which has put its claws into society's lifeline, sucking its blood, growing corpulent. Countless youths gave their lives to bring to society freedom and a new world. [...]

Their martyrdom was the result of an organized mass killing by a regime, which, after taking away people's right of free speech, right to dignified work, right of assembly, right of self-determination, right of clothing, and all their other rights in a most merciless fashion, is now taking away from them even the right to life. The resistance of the people and the youth does not fit within the framework of the rulers' calculations, and the continuation of this resistance and people's solidarity against the coup regime is shaking the rulers' palace of religious despotism.

The fortieth day memorial of the martyrdom of Neda and all those who were killed the same day by the bullets of the regime, so that freedom and resolve would not fall, is a new day in the fight to bury the dark night of this land forever. People have stood up, and each day with their protests and innovations, they enrich and deepen their movement.

Some, with their thinking and beliefs rooted in the circumstances prior to June 12, are still following the "pressure from below, haggling up above" solution. In this view, people's movement in the streets, in their workplaces and places of living will give a section of the rulers -- who, in this view are thought to be more with the people, and work for the good of all -- a more powerful backing, and in the lobbies of power in the halls of the parliament and the cabinets, cause them to be able to extract more concessions from the other group of rulers, who are openly and unambiguously the enemies of the people. In this view, people, by enduring the costs of building pressure on a despotic and merciless power from below, will enable the more moderates within this closed circle of rulers to impose petty reforms on the other faction, which is reliant on oppressive military forces.

In previous years and in smaller and weaker movements, this logic may have had some buyers, but in the days after June 12, any tendency that takes up this viewpoint will isolate itself and lose people's support.

Today, people have concluded that they shall not give any blank checks to any layer of the ruling politicians, any reformists and seekers of change [from above]. They want their own control over all [social] matters. The rule of a religious group such as the supreme leader, the Guardian Council, the Assembly of Experts, which are backed by military and economic institutions that have no accountability to the people, stands in direct opposition to the governance of the people over their own fate.

The only thing that can lead to an improvement of the people's real life conditions is a pressure from below leading to the taking of power from below and by the people. People want to determine their society's public laws themselves, and want to do so freely. They want all social institutions to be elected by the society and be accountable to them and under their oversight.

The existence of military institutions such as the Sepah and the Basij, which, in the hands of power thirsty groups, easily turn into instruments of killing people, are of no use for the people. The society wants to determine by itself which institutions are needed for its security and how those institutions work. A university president who has not been elected by the students, the professor and the university staff, but selected by powers beyond the society, easily and as it has happened, become collaborator with death squads killing the students.

Parliamentary representatives elected in a system other than one under people's control can come to reveal themselves, as they have these days, not as representing the people, but as functionaries and paid, rudderless hoodlums at the service of a coup regime of terror.

People want to create a new social system, in which in their places of work, in their places of living and in their cities, the methods of management and responsibilities are determined by the people and in realistic fashion, and in which the source of legitimacy and lawfulness is the people, not a group believing themselves to be religious scientists claiming to be god's replacement on earth. It is for these demands and with such outlook that the society has entered the arena of struggle with all they have, with all that the regime has left them with: their lives. If you take a good look at their determination, you will realize that they will achieve their goal.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Horrific Report from Camp Kahrizak

True face of the Iranian regime

This is a translation of the report by a survivor from Camp Kahrizak, or the Death Camp, as it has come to be known in Iran. It must be said that similar reports abound in Farsi language websites and weblogs. Kahrizak has been ordered closed by Khamenei, no doubt due to the word spreading fast regarding the extreme and sadistic barbarity of the regime's thugs at this prison camp. 
We call on all freedom-loving people to spread the word. The perpetrators of these crimes against humanity must be pursued and brought to justice. Please pressure the American leftist publications you read to reflect the extent of this barbaric regime's crimes against humanity; write to the editors of American leftist magazines and website that have remained silent, and demand that they stand with the Iranian people in this darkest hour of our recent history. 
Down with this theocracy! 
Long live the people's movement for freedom and justice! 

The Catastrophic Killings at Camp Kahrizak
I don't know where to begin! If there are spelling and grammar mistakes in this report of the Iranian Guantanamo, Camp Kahrizak, forgive me, because I am in great hurry and must go soon. Now that I am writing this is July 28. This morning, along with several others, we miraculously escaped certain death. And just now, I got home from hospital and immediately sat down to create this weblog.

I was arrested July 9th (18th Tir, in Iranian calendar). I am 21 years old. Now, as I write this, I still cannot believe that I was freed. In the July 9th demonstrations, with a friend of mine we were on a motorcycle and my friend was filming things with his mobile phone, when we were attacked by several plainclothes people. A woman came to rescue us from under the blows of these guys, when that poor woman too got beaten severely. They threw us into a minibus full of others who had been beaten up and were injured like us. The minibus took us to the police station. We were so beaten up I don't even know where we were. Then they lined us up against the wall, and my friend and I were standing next to each other. Then a buffed up plainclothes man came in and took out every other one of us, and with a kick put us on a minibus, and from that point on I have no idea what happened to my friend, and they took us along with tens of others to Kahrizak. You can't believe it, but the room they took us to had some 200 people in it. Everybody injured from blows by truncheons; sounds of wailing everywhere. I thought to myself, What are they going to do to us? Maybe tomorrow we'll go to the court. Prisoners. That's better than being here. There was no place to sit. Blood smeared all over the walls.

I was thinking of my friend, because he's not one of those kids that can endure places such as this. In the meantime, some people started wailing and crying, and said one person had died. The voices came from the back of the room, but you may not believe it, we were all stuck together and could not move at all. The plainclothes guards came inside and broke the light bulbs, and in pitch darkness they started beating people up. They beat anybody who was in front of them. For half an hour they beat us severely. Several people got beaten so badly that they went into coma, or maybe they died.

Then, some flashlights came on, pointed at our faces. They said, "If you make a noise we'll stick these truncheons in your ... " I couldn't believe this. I thought I was in a nightmare.

Sadegh, who seemed to be their superior, took the corpse of the dead guy, put him up against the wall, flashed the light on him and said, "We have orders to kill you all. So, if you're lucky, you won't end up dead like this mother#$@*#$! Don't make a sound! If you're alive in the morning, you're alive. If not, then ..."

He said, "You are mohaarebeh (fighting goodness). You know what is mohaarebeh?" There was a boy up front, 16 maybe 17 years old. Sadegh took him by the neck, "Tell these guys what is mohaarebeh!" The boy said he didn't know. "Like hell you don't know!" He started beating him, "Say it! Say it! Say it!" He beat the kid so much he passed out. Then he said it means Satan. It means doing bad. He beat him so much that some others started protesting loud. And they too got beat to a pulp.

In that room we were in, at least four people died until morning.

Sadegh [the head guy] yelled out: There are no western toilets or toothbrushes here, just do your thing right here!!! Got it?

There were no un-injured people among us, and everybody had clotted blood on their faces like me, or had swollen eyes like me, or like many others had broken arms and legs. Due to the pitch darkness, I couldn't see most people.

When they'd open the door, the light would hurt our eyes severely in a strange way. The day after and the days after that were spent in the worst possible conditions, to describe which would take a long time. In order to stave off starvation, each day, we didn't know whether it was day or night, they would give us a sack of leftover food, which we ate with delight. Inside the sack were some pieces of bread, raw vegetables and rice. One of the people among us, his name Dr. Zaare' who said he was a physician, was responsible to divide out the food. I only knew him and some other fellow prisoners only by voice since for several days I had only heard them [and not seen them]. After several days, Sadegh came in with some light bulbs, and they took us to the outside area of the camp. Oh my; it was like the feeling of freedom for us. The blue sky and the sunshine had a sense of newness for us. (Incidentally, I should say that they took us outside so that we could take out our garbage and feces.) I apologize for writing like this but in some time, when others are freed from prisons, especially from Camp Kahrizak, they can explain things better for you, and I am sure that this camp, in some respects, has very much outdone Guantanamo and Abu Ghuraib during these days. In any case, we were told by Sadegh's goons that we were lucky that without any trial (!), yesterday morning, due to the overflowing crowdedness of the camp we were thrown out. And they threatened us that if we said a word anywhere, they would murder us. I immediately contacted my family, using a passerby's mobile, and they came to get me. Taste of freedom is very sweet. But, remember that right now thousands are suffering the worst conditions in Kahrizak.

Incidentally, I'll tell you the names of some people who, during this time, lost their lives and whose names I committed to memory. And, by the way, if these animals had taken these people to the hospital, they would be alive today: Hasan Shapouri (student); Reza Fataahi (student); Milad no Sir-name (the 16-17-year old boy that on the first night was beaten into a coma by Sadegh and they took him with them; but the doctor who was our fellow prisoner, and was our senior so to speak, said he was bleeding from his ear and mouth, and sadly had died); Morteza Salahshoor; Morad Aghasi; Mohsen Entezami.
My God, please free us from these people's cruelty! I can't believe where I was only 24 hours ago. My God, please hurry and save us all Iranians and freedom-seekers.

Incidentally, I think it is possible that with all the changes that have occurred in Camp Kahrizak, the detention center that the corrupt leader is about to close down is Camp Kahrizak. Because many people have been killed there.

With hopes of freedom for those imprisoned in Kahrizak,
Reza Yaavari (my pseudonym)
July 28, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Iran: The Shakeup in Intelligence Ministry

"What does a man have to do to get a doctored report around here?"

This came in the mail, and the sender wishes to remain anonymous. 

Coup in the Intelligence Ministry

According to sources inside Iran, there has been a coup inside the Intelligence Ministry. It is said that during the days before the sacking of the Intelligence minister, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, two vice-ministers and several experts in the ministry, up to senior management levels, were forced to resign or retire.

Based on reports sent to 'Freedom's Green Wave' [Moje Sabze Azadi], some 20 high ranking staff of the Intelligence Ministry were forced to resign after the elections, including two vice-ministers.

According to these reports, the real reason for the recent shakeup in the ministry was the report of the special team in the ministry working on the 'velvet revolution' file. The drafters of this report, after a review of all the files and re-interrogation of a number of the recent detainees, came to the conclusion that the accusations of efforts to foment a 'velvet revolution' were baseless.

The writers of the report, two copies of which were sent to the supreme leader and the president, have concluded that the series of events that followed the elections had no relation to any forces outside the country and, further, there had been no preparations for them in advance and had not even been foreseeable.

It is worth noting that Ahmadinejad's initial reaction to the Intelligence Ministry report was to hurry over to the ministry panic-stricken, and without holing any meetings with the minister or his vice-ministers, had called for a general meeting of the ministry workers, and, addressing them, saying: "I am very satisfied with the Sepah [Revolutionary Guards], but I am not satisfied with the Intelligence Ministry." He had also said: "The conspiracy of the enemy for a soft overthrow must be exposed, and I expect the Intelligence Ministry to be more active in this area." In a meeting some days later, Ahmadinejad had asked for the sacking of two vice-ministers, and had requested an investigation of others involved in the drafting of the ['velvet revolution'] report.

For Ahmad Shaamloo

We salute Shahin Najafi!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where should the Iranian left stand?

It is now clearer than ever that the opposition movement in Iran has two heads. One is the official loyal opposition within the regime, the reformists, and the other is the opposition movement of the people on the streets, which has its own diversity of lines of thinking.

The opposition movement among the people is clearly more radical and is determined to go much farther than the Mousavi-Khatami-Karroubi faction and their cohorts will ever, EVER be willing to go. In all this, we must not forget that Rafsanjani is a third column within the regime, and has his own agenda.

The loyal opposition has made it clear that for them it is all about the 'elections', and they dare not mention the fact that a majority of the Iranian people want nothing short of a replacement of theocracy with something more humane and more democratic.

For the people, the 'elections' were merely an excuse to take to the streets, both before and after the voting day, which, to their shock, turned out to have been an elaborate final stage of an electoral coup.

* * *

In the meantime, in order to give some clarity to the objectives of the movement, and in order to delineate those demarcation lines that would help prevent a repeat of the fate of the 1978 revolution -- during which the Islamists succeeded in keeping people's demands vague, under such slogans as, 'Everybody together!' (Hameh baa ham!), and were thusly able to hijack the revolution after the Shah's overthrow -- it is necessary to raise some minimum demands that clarify where the left must stand, and to help differentiate various segments of this movement in relation to the overall demands of the movement. To clarify the left's position does not mean abandoning unity of action. But, unity of action based on vague and undifferentiated demands can only lead to another disaster and the hijacking of this movement by one of the factions of the regime.

So, here are some demands that should be raised loudly, for the current movement to have realistic chances of success in bringing a degree of social justice to Iran:

* Immediate and unconditional abolition of executions and of death penalty
* Immediate abolition of torture and the freeing of all political prisoners
* Immediate access of international human rights organizations to political prisoners
* Freedom to strike
* Abolition of theocracy
* Unconditional freedom of expression, thought and clothing
* Freedom of the press and access to media by all
* Freedom of assembly and political organizations and parties
* Establishment of a Constituent Assembly after an appropriate period of discussion among the people (at least 9 months to a year)
* Equality of all the rights of all the people
* Separation of state from religion and ideology
* Establishment of a minimum wage
* Limiting of the ratio between the maximum income and minimum wages
* The right to employment for all adults seeking work
* Social security and medical insurance for all
* Housing for all
* The right and opportunity to education for all
* The right to bilingual elementary education where applicable (in minority communities)
* Use of oil revenues to furnish the costs for the above, and until such time that the national economy has been rebuilt based on internal needs and has become independent of oil and gas revenues
* Establishment of principle of autonomy in running the local affairs of minority communities (Kurds, Turkmen, Baluchi's, Arabs, Azeri's)
* Establishment of local and national councils (city councils, homemakers' councils, workers' and peasants' councils, trade councils, etc.) for:
- Participation in the writing of a new constitution
- Management of local affairs
* Reduction of workweek to 32 hours
* Childcare centers near work places
* Abolition of the use of military or paramilitary forces against the people
* Abolition of forced marriage, and Siqeh (temporary marriage)
* Abolition of physical or mental punishment at home, school and the society at large
* Urgent action to clean up and protect the environment

More can be added to this list, of course; but the important point is to clarify what the Iranian left must stand for. Let us hope that this movement for fundamental change will not be derailed and hijacked once again by the people living upstairs.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

International Solidarity with Iranian People

This slideshow is from Revolutionary Road.

Statement of Independent Union of Print Shop Workers of Tehran to
July 25 International Day of Solidarity Rallies

[Thanks to Steve Zeltzer for sending this!]

brothers and sisters:

on the occasion of iran solidarity day, we men and women members of the independent union of printshop workers of tehran (iupwt), would like to extend to you, halfway across the globe, our deep appreciation for your support and solidarity with our cause.
our union, iupwt, is centered on a number of large and mostly state- or semi-state-owned enterprises accounting for the bulk of the books and print media published in the capitol. because of the harsh police conditions imposed against labor organizing, our union activists and the workers who support us have to operate under the constant threat of arrest, imprisonment in solitary conditions, physical and mental abuse, and dismissal from work. at the time of rising unemployment, the least of these measures, dismissal from work, could have devastating effect on our workers and their families. these are illegal acts that are even against the iranian regime's own constitution, not to mention all the international covenants to which the iranian government is a signatory.

as you all well know, the courage of our people, especially its young, has permanently transformed iran into a new country. there is mass repression going on against our people but the dictatorship has lost its aura of invincibility and its mystique of superior other-worldly power. and for the first time in more than a generation, there is hope again in the country. [...]

dear friends, at this point, allow us to speak freely to you. there are some dangerous misconceptions about the democratic movement in iran that must be addressed urgently:

one of these misconceptions is that the green wave movement is a rich man's movement, whereas mahmood ahmadinejad's government is a pro-working class and pro-poor people's movement headed by a humble man of the people. this is a gross and blatant lie. our movement is supported by millions of the poor and the working people. ahmadinejad is a demagogue who has surrounded himself with ex-revolutionary guards, present-day multi-millionaires who care absolutely nothing for the poor.

if he is pro-working class, why did he want to end 70% of all subsidies last year? why did he change the labor law against the workers' interests? why does he systematically arrest, imprison and torture labor activists? this is an insult to the working people of iran that they support a petty dictator because he has bought them off by cash hand-outs and free footstuff at election time.

ahmadinejad is as much a progressive man of the people as mussolini was pro-working class and anti-capitalist. [...]

we suspect that this myth is bought by those in the worldwide progressive movement that automatically assume anybody who stands up or pretends to stand up to the american empire must be a noble nationalist. to these friends, we must say that anti-americanism is just a fig leaf for the most reactionary and obscurantist forces in iran who need it to hide their deeds, namely, their incompetence, their theft of national property and their repression against their own people and their personal enrichment in the name of religion. if mr. khamenei has benefited the progressive anti-imperialist cause anywhere, it has been out of opportunism and nothing else!

Read the complete statement here ...

July 25: Global Day of Solidarity with Iranian People

Rallies and demonstrations planned in more than 100 cities worldwide.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Iran's Absolutist Dictatorship Reloaded

"Look! How many times do I have to tell you; God chose ME! Nobody else counts!"

This is a good one. Not that it is news for real leftists who have stood with the people, but it should be for those who, for years, and especially since Ahmadinejad's presidency, which, if anything, has intensified the oppression in Iran both politico-culturally and economically, have been praising the 'Islamic democracy' in Iran ... That is, for people like that unforgivable editor at MRZine, who on her own blog has said things like, "At least you [Iranians] have a republic" (sic.), and who has been disseminating the theocrats' propaganda so much so that now the official news agency of these religious dictators regurgitates articles posted by MRZine for their propaganda purposes.  

So, anyway, here it is: Khamenei orders Iran vice president sacked!

As in, no matter how slavishly you kiss the Supreme (sic.) Leader's hands -- or, if you're Ahmadinejad, other obligatory body parts -- as the 'elected' president, as the supposedly independent chief-executive of a supposedly independent branch of the government, you don't even get to choose your own assistants.

If even the 'elected' president cannot act independently in choosing a relatively minor figure (in the overall frame of the current setup) for his cabinet, is it any wonder that the regime has reacted with such extreme brutality against the millions of people who took to the streets to demand accountability from the entire state?
'Democracy'? Republic? NOT!! More like ... well, more like a Khalifate, or Sultanate, or, why use fancy words, a one-man absolutist dictatorship.
More to the point, super conservative cleric Ayatollah Yazdi threw all 'republican' pretenses to the winds and said outright that the regime receives its legitimacy from god (see here also for an interesting commentary in Farsi), not from the people. People only provide 'popularity' (IF the Supreme Leader agrees with their choice, that is).  
In other words, the ideas, thoughts, social needs and demands of the people who do all the work, who produce all the wealth, provide all the services ... they just have nothing to do with the legitimacy of the government. They only bring the government 'popularity', which is quite a superfluous quality. 
Just as in the 'elections' in this system, where the Supreme Leader (through the Guardian Council) selects the menu from which people may decide which one is best for them (not that their decision means anything, anyway, as we've seen in this presidential 'elections'), god in turn chooses who must be his divine representative on earth, and the people, if they act correctly, better go along with that divine decision. Otherwise, it follows naturally, and if they choose wrong, they are blasphemers and apostates, and deserving of senseless beatings, torture, rape and murder.
And the fact that god has chosen such fascistic, anti-humane bunch of thugs to represent the divine will ... well, you can fill in the rest. 
These guys are literally saying that they stand for god on earth, so the poor people who are trapped in this geographic boundary called Iran, their wishes and needs have no place in this system. That's about as clear as it can get. Now, if that is not blasphemy, I don't know what would count as such (if you're religious, that is). 
And for the tens of millions of Iranians who are not religious to such a fanatical degree, and want nothing of sorts ruling over them with such extreme intrusiveness as they have been experiencing for thirty years, well, the insult is absolute, yet not surprising at all. For thirty years, we have been saying exactly the same thing, with, of course, the opposite intention: there is no 'republic' in the 'Islamic Republic'. When you have a one-man-decides-all type of system, where does the 'republic' fit in? It doesn't, and now the world knows it, too. (The unblind world, that is.)

The fact that American left is split between the blind (the Stalinist binary left, the left that just can't see reality no matter how clearly and forcefully reality presents itself) and the unblind (among the labor movement, and the real radicals) over what to do regarding the current historical movement of the Iranian people for their rights, for freedom and social justice (none of these apparently mean anything anymore to a whole bunch of American 'leftists') ... this is a tragic commentary about the state of affairs in the U.S. left, and is exactly one of the major reasons why the U.S. imperialism has such a free hand in doing whatever it bloody wants. 
But, fortunately, for the Iranian people there is no confusion. They know what they are facing, and they have finally decided enough is ENOUGH

Long live the people's movement for democracy and social justice! 
Down with theocracy! 
Power to the people, no delay! 

Iranian moderate: Our security agents are 'worse than Zionists' (Reuters; July 25, 2009)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Arrests and Deaths Continue in Iran

From Amnesty International. 
One note though: the list of those killed runs waaaaay longer than suggested. There have been at least 65 identified deaths so far. For a more complete list, please see here.

22 July 2009

Reports from Tehran on Tuesday, said that security forces deployed excessive use of force to counter peaceful demonstrations in Haft Tir Square, where more arrests were said to have been made. This news is, according to Amnesty International, a jarring reminder to the international community that the waves of arrests and killings continue unabated in Iran, as the authorities tighten their grip.

Thirty-six Iranian army officers are among people reported to have been arrested recently in connection with the disputed presidential election in Iran. Amnesty International has received the names of 24 of them.

Others reported to have been arrested in recent days include political activists, journalists, academics and lawyers. Amnesty International said it fears for their safety in detention, as torture or other ill-treatment of detainees is common in Iran.

According to media reports, the military officers planned to attend the Friday prayer sermon in Tenrah on 17 July, led by former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. They planned to do so while wearing their military uniforms as an act of political defiance.

The gesture was said to be intended to express solidarity with the demonstrators protesting against the official but widely disputed presidential election result.

Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who supported the campaign of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, expressed concern in his sermon at the handling of complaints regarding the election by the Guardian Council, and called for the release of all those detained following the protests and an end to media restrictions.

Hundreds - possibly thousands - of people have been detained for protesting against the official election result. Many are held in undisclosed locations across Iran.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, arrested on 16 June, unlike some other detainees, has not yet been allowed to call his family, nor have they been able to obtain any information concerning his whereabouts from the Iranian authorities.

Bijan Khajehpour Khoei, a business and economic consultant, was arrested on 27 June at Tehran airport when he arrived back from a trip to Vienna and London. During his brief trip abroad, he spoke to trade officials in Vienna and met the Iran British Business Chamber in London, as part of his work to support Iranian business and encourage foreign investment in Iran. His whereabouts are also unknown and his family fear for his health as he is diabetic.

Possibly as many as 197 protestors were arrested on 9 July at a demonstration marking the tenth anniversary of 18 Tir, the suppression of student-led protests in 1999, in which at least one student was killed and many others were tortured or otherwise ill-treated. The police say that about 40 demonstrators were arrested at the 9 July protest.

Dr Sheikh Hassan Aghaei, a journalist from Iran's Kurdish minority and a political cartoonist, was detained in Mahabad, northwest Iran at 11am on 18 July by plain-clothes security officials who may be affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, and transferred to an unknown location. No reason has been given for his arrest but he had been involved in campaign activities for Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Lawyer and human rights activist, Shadi Sadr, was violently arrested in Tehran on the morning of 17 July on her way to prayers.

Read the complete report here ...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Khiaban No. 26: 'Return to Law' Or Create New Laws?

Thanks to the sender! This is a translation of a lead article from issue number 26 of Khiaban newspaper. To get electronic copies of the paper in Persian, write to:

For reports of resistance as well as details of those detained, murdered and disappeared, in English, go to
Revolutionary Road ... and to

Return to Law Or Create New Laws?
Amir K.
Khiaban # 26 / Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yesterday, the city [of Tehran's] streets belonged to the people once again. Rafsanjani's leading of the Friday prayer [at Tehran University] became an excuse for mass gatherings and demonstrations in the city. On route to and from the Tehran University, from the early morning till long after dark, Tehran's streets were witness to huge and united crowds, who had opened a way through the shields and the truncheons, and filled the hot summer air with their slogans.

It is now more than a month that the streets have become the most important arena for struggle, changing hands in turns between the dissenting people and, on the other hand, the oppressive forces of the regime. At times, the people take back the control of the streets, at other times death squads have established their reign over the streets. The system knows that, to consolidate a new era of sinister rule, it must control the streets just like before the electoral coup; and the people too know that, in order to put an end to decades of tyranny, discrimination and inequality, they must make the city streets their own. The end result of this fateful fight will determine the people's future life. So, it is not without reason that the people, holding their heads high and ready for death, with steadfast steps and smiling lips, are confronting the darkest and the bloodiest regime of the era. The rhythms of the accelerated waves of their movement has compacted their social history, and the seeds of their hopes and anticipations in mere moments have already turned into healthy saplings standing tall.

In the Friday prayer sermon [of July 17th], Rafsanjani did not stand with the organizers of the coup. But, did he stand with the people? His suggested solution was to return to law. This demand, however, has no relation to the current demands of the people. Interesting how the fundamentalists too invite the reformists to submit to the law, and claim that Mousavi and his cohorts refuse to accept the legal institutions (particularly the Interior Ministry and the Guardian Council).

The truth is that the people, as a result of the experience of their glorious confrontation against the coup, have discovered that countless existing laws are in contradiction with a just and dignified life. In the very widespread presence of the people in the streets yesterday, once again vast numbers of people were subject to beatings, large-scale arrests, and reports of guns firing [at people] have been published. People are being oppressed by institutions, which gain their legitimacy from the existing laws. For the people, the opportunity for public assembly to dissent and protest is a right, and they are furious over the violent answer of the regime to dissent. Some have even come to the protests with placards displaying parts of an article of the constitution guaranteeing the freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration by any group. However, these placards usually skip the rest of this article, which clarifies: "Unless it is against Islamic principles." And by reading the constitution more carefully, we see that according to the existing laws, in effect the regime has the option to decide which assemblies are against the [Islamic] principles and which ones are not.

As a result, when the murderous coup regime speaks of the illegality of the recent demonstrations, they are not far off the mark. For the current laws sanction a small minority, hovering above the people and beyond their oversight, to [legally] crush any opponents. However, although the behavior of the coup regime may even have a standing on the basis of the current national legal system, it has become clear for everyone that these laws are not based on justice, but are simply tools at the service of injustice and brutality against the society.

The people have entered the arena to reclaim their rights, and if there exists contradictions between the laws and the social rights [of the people], people are demanding the laws to be changed and want to create new laws that recognize and protect their rights. 'Returning to law', from the people's point of view, is nothing but a return to 30-year old subjugation. People have taken to the streets in order to create free political spaces. They are fighting for the creation of new social laws. And this goal cannot be achieved but through the destruction of an oppressive and anti-human legal system, and the creation of a new set of laws based on citizens' rights, freedom and social justice.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Against a new wave of crackdown and oppression in Iran

This statement is from issue number 24 of Khiaban newspaper. Thanks to the sender!
To receive electronic copies of the paper in Persian, write to:

Joint statement: against a new wave of crackdown and oppression in Iran
Khiaban #24 / Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Struggling people of Iran, freedom-loving peoples of the world!

The act of millions of demonstrators who took to the streets recently in most cities in Iran was a huge show of power by a people challenging the injustice, deceit and the constant oppression of this regime. A challenge that was answered by the exercise of violence by the anti-democratic system of the Islamic Republic and its security forces. Up to now, we have had definite reports of tens of deaths and hundreds of injured. Available reports tell of thousands of detained or disappeared among the activists and dissidents against the regime. Meanwhile, the university dormitories have been among the first targets of the forces of oppression, leading to tens of deaths and innumerable arrests of students. The widespread wave of nightly raids and arrests in the homes of the youth, journalists and students, and the disappearance of others remind us of the fear and the terror during the 1980s. The masses of the detained, in addition to being sent to known prisons such as Evin or Gohardasht or ... are being sent to military bases, Basij offices and unknown locations.

Despite the severe censorship, the reports, pictures and videos that have been sent out are incontrovertible documents indicating that the dimensions of the tortures, the ruthlessness and cruelty of the torturers have reached unimaginable levels in the Islamic Republic. The beatings, throwing the detainees and the prisoners from elevated heights while blindfolded and with hands tied, along with other unbearable psychological and physical tortures -- all these have given a heavier bulk to the Islamic Republic's files on violations of human rights. The well-established methods of creating fear among the people, of constant attrition-by-torture of the prisoners to force "confessions" from them for televised interviews -- these are among the crimes that these days can be seen on a vast scale. Prisoners are tortured around the clock, day and night, in order to break them and, despite their will and wishes, to force "confessions" that fly in the face of their lives, their values and aspirations. We declare unambiguously that forcing prisoners to give dictated "confessions" has no [legal] validity, and can only be used as hard evidence against the Islamic Republic regime, which has placed such interviewee under harsh pressure and torture.

The families of the detained, without any news of their children and relatives, have no channel for pursuing their cases and for clarifying the situation and fate of their loved ones. Disturbing news pertaining to the killing and the secret burials of detainees have raised the concerns of the families and spread wider an atmosphere of fear and terror in the society. The efforts of mothers of the recently detained in finding their children by repeated gatherings have been countered by the arrests of family members by the regime. Street killings and kidnappings are currently on the agenda of the regime's security forces, and we face the dangerous beginnings of systematic and widespread executions. The regime is pursuing a ruthless, systematic and planned crackdown on the active and persistent opposition; a trend, which without widespread protests in Iran and the world, can turn into extensive killings by the regime at any moment.

A number of the signers of this statement are political prisoners, who experienced harsh prison lives and tortures in the 1980s. Many of us are survivors and witnesses to the killings of 1981 and 1988. And for this reason, we can be sure that the dimensions of the crackdown, torture and the killings go much farther than indicated in the reports made available to the public. Bearing these reasons in mind, we demand immediate, widespread and multilateral action against the current situation in the prisons and the torture chambers in Iran. Let us hope that international efforts, as well as efforts by Iranians outside the country, will be a worthy reflection of the current sensitive situation.

Along with alerting Amnesty International and the International [Committee of the] Red Cross regarding the repetition of another crime against humanity, we ask these institutions to use all their capabilities to stop the repetition of such crimes, and to visit all the official and unofficial [secret] prisons of the Islamic Republic regime, and to spare no efforts in saving the prisoners' lives.

--We demand the unconditional freedom of all political prisoners, and the banning of any form of torture in prisons.

--We demand the unconditional banning of death penalty in Iran.

Freedom loving people! Come and let us use all our resources in an effort to free the political prisoners. We, former political prisoners of the Islamic Republic regime, in support of the freedom struggles of the people and the freedom of all political prisoners, and in particular those detained in the recent events, and in order to prevent widespread mass killings, on July 24th and 25th, will conduct a hunger strike in Berlin, Germany. We ask all freedom loving political activists, organizations, institutions and the defenders of human rights to participate in this strike and play a role in preventing yet another round of mass killings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Khiaban No. 23: Local Solidarity Committees

Thanks to the sender of this translation of a lead article from issue number 23 of Khiaban newspaper, published in Iran. To get electronic copies of the paper in Persian, write to:

For reports of resistance as well as details of those detained, murdered and disappeared, in English, go to Revolutionary Road ..

Local Solidarity Committees Against the Coup
by Amir K.
Khiaban #23 / Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How can we confront the coup? One alternative being spoken of with lots of fanfare is to keep our gaze an those above: [they say] let's just wait for Mousavi and Karoubi and their fellows to form a political front, and then let's wait some more to see what actions they propose. Or else, let's put all our efforts into getting the U.N. and the developed nations to reject this coup regime and force them into accepting to hold free elections. Or else, let's just keep staring at the TV screen or the YouTube videos, waiting for them to tell us what to do. This alternative puts its prayers in the 'greats' and the 'experts'; 'great' people whose source of 'greatness' is far from clear. Have they earned their greatness in a struggle for people's crushed dreams; or have they earned greatness through owning pistachio orchards, large import-export companies, daily presence on the television networks, long history of service in the Sepaah [revolutionary guards], blood connection to this or that ayatollah, and on and on?

In such alternatives, where are the people? Is it possible to change the current unjust social relations based on prejudice, without people creating new social relations through their struggle? Is it possible to act like a television audience and [expect to] create a humane government? Can we really keep our eyes fixed on those above and wait to see what conclusions are reached in Mousavi and Karoubi meeting, or what Rafsanjani will say in the Friday prayers?

But, another alternative does exist. Decentralized and spontaneous forms of people's organizations have created a much more powerful movement, which -- regardless of Obama's reactions and irrespective of whether the reformists in the regime stand with people or stick to their own interests -- has united to defeat the coup regime, and has put its trust in the power of the people. This alternative should be supported and participated in actively.

Local solidarity committees against the coup can be one of the forms carrying the task of joining all the forces and the abilities of every single individual, people who pay the biggest price for the [current] social existence. This movement can transform the citizens from being victims of this regime of velayat-e faqih into free and equal citizens of a people's governance.

By forming committees made up of men and women, of young and the middle aged, in places of living and neighborhoods, we can defend ourselves against the coup, and fight them with a bigger force. These committees can put to good use the variety of capabilities of their members and create a collective force. In these committees, different methods of resisting the coup can be discussed and collective decisions can be reached. We can discuss what kinds of slogans to raise and how to participate in protests. Some members of the committees can gather a collection of news and analysis and pass them on to other members and their neighbors, and even put them up in public places. If a family member of a committee affiliate is among the latest detainees or the disappeared, we can help them either legally, or financially, or even by providing them with a car, a ride, etc. The youth can discuss slogan writing [on the walls] in the adjacent neighborhoods, and find suitable ways for it. We can give spiritual support to those who have experienced soul crushing events. In working class neighborhoods, workers can discuss issues relating to mass dissent in factories and workshops out of the reach of the company officials and the foremen.

We cannot and must not limit ourselves to the slogans and demands available on the [mainstream/official] media. We can unite around real demands and daily problems. In their fight to gain back their rights, girls and women -- who in their places of work, face sexual harassment, discrimination, having to endure unbearable working conditions, unequal payment and rights, and other such obstacles that prevent them from a life of freedom and dignity -- can use these committees to find people with similar thoughts and can then act collectively.

Those who, in the current system, in order to make a living, have to leave the house at five in the morning and don't get back home until well into the dark of the night, can unite together to stop this death machine, which has destroyed their lives. In these committees it can be learned that we do have rights, and how we do have our own thoughts: whether about our daily problems or about big subject matters such as the running of the state, the running of the prisons and the courts and the police, and about the workings of the television and the newspapers.

This limited [ruling] minority, which in broad daylight and in opposition to demands for the citizens' human rights, resorts to cheating, lying and killing, has zero right or legitimacy in deciding our fate.

People's solidarity against the coup is not a 'plan'; rather, it is a reality, a reaction that has already started among the people, exactly because the coup has stood for the absolute abolition of people's rights. Ordinary people have shown and will show the most steadfast resistance, exactly because they are fighting for their lives, for a dignified living, which has come under attack by the rulers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Khiaban No. 22: People's Organization

Thanks to the sender of this translation of a lead article from issue number 22 of Khiaban newspaper, published in Iran. To get electronic copies of the paper in Persian, write to:

For detailed reports of detained, murdered and disappeared, in English, go to
Revolutionary Road ...

People's Organization
Amir K.
Khiaban #22/ July 13, 2009

Thirty days have passed since what they called the presidential elections. Thirty compact days, during which in tandem with the terror, the bullets, torture and the regimes lies, the collective consciousness and awareness of the people have developed and morphed. The true nature of the Islamic Republic and its anti-human laws and regulations has been exposed to all, and people have discovered the power of their numbers and their togetherness.

Those wisps of illusion that had forced many into sweet thoughts of step-by-step change have been blown away, and the flames of awakening have spread across the rooftops in the country. In their fight against the coup regime, people have come to see the deep contradiction between a system based on velayat-e faqih [guardianship/rule of religious jurist] and a popular system based on people's will. When their singing throats became the targets of the regime's bullets, the people saw the anti-human nature of the Sepaah [Revolutionary Guards] and the Basij. People found out all about the regime's daily, hidden crimes, when it became apparent to all that their social wealth has been spent to procure the latest and most sophisticated instruments of police oppression, and the most technologically advanced know-how at the service of spying and controlling the citizens.

Kamenei issued the command for the killings, and every day since a new corpse is handed to yet another grieving yet rage filled family opposing them. That inept clown, Ahmadinejad, talked of freedom, while thousands of the country's youth were lined in death camps, awaiting to receive their daily dose of torture. That regime wrote illusory letters to their promised Mehdi the messiah, while the nation's mothers in search of their disappeared children in the corridors of the Islamic halls of justice were insulted, and saw the catastrophe of the events in their shaken hopes.

This consciousness has grown and a collectivity has made it impossible to breath the suffocating air any more. To make the passage from consciousness to proactive action, to go from understanding the oppressive, unjust and corrupt social relations to changing those relations and building a just, free and equal society -- this passage is dependent on organization. Let them speak of easy solutions for change, those who are horrified of the people's power, and those who have tied their hopes to the replacement of a layer of today's rulers with a layer of tomorrow's rulers. Leave them with their dreams and ideas such as a Green TV station that would remote control the people from afar, and render them into political observers, not actors.

However, the people who did not remain mere observers of the coup and intervened in their fate with their own lives if need be, are marching far ahead of the colored dreams of that crowd. The people have realized that to overthrow this organized injustice, they need their own organization. An organization that, unlike the party suggested by Mousavi, will not submit to an existence in the poisoned crevices of the coup regime's laws, but an organization that will grow in order to smash open the cracks in the system and reach the air of freedom.

A large people's organization is an association of small organizations, which sprout and gather strength from within the heart of the struggle against the coup, and which will guarantee the people's rule by defeating this anti-human system.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Khiaban No. 21: Death dawns on unofficial camps in Iran

Thanks to the sender of this translation of an article from issue number 21 of Khiaban newspaper, published in Iran. (To get electronic copies of the paper in Persian, write to:

For detailed reports of detained, murdered and disappeared, in English, go to Revolutionary Road ...

Clearing Out Evin: Death dawns on unofficial camps
Khiaban #21/Sunday, July 12, 2009

Worrying reports are being heard from the prisons. Yesterday, we reported on the murder of a detainee in Evin prison [in Tehran]. Sohrab A'arabi's murder is but a small indication of the calamity in the regime's death camps. In the wake of the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad coup, thousands have been detained and disappeared, and nothing is known about their fate. The Islamic regime, in early 1980s too set out on a mass killing spree in the prisons. Pictures painted by the recently released detainees are identical to those described in the prison diaries of the 1980s. Cells and the corridors overflowing with detainees, horrible tortures, devoured bodies, blood everywhere.

Prisons are crammed with the youth and the dissidents who would not surrender to a regime of fear and terror, and are singing mythic songs of resistance. May embraces of solidarity rain on those singing lips. Never before has the freedom of the individual been so tied to the freedom of all.

The latest news gathered by the Khiaban newspaper indicates that the Evin prison is undergoing a clearing out. Fearing the possibility of having to accept a delegation visiting the prison, and the exposure of the severity of the tortures and the ruthlessness of the regime, has caused them to transfer in a hurry those who have been subjected to horrid tortures, to secret and unofficial detention centers.

One of the most important of these death camps is Kahrizak camp, which is referred to as the 'slaughterhouse', and is one of the innovations of the ruling fascism, and which reminds one of a model of Nazi death camps. In this camp are kept numerous of the disappeared and the youth arrested in the street demonstrations; treated utterly inhumanly and tortured to the point of death.

Some families of the detained are trying to get their loved ones released from the claws of the fascists by writing letters to authorities scared into silence, by haggling over their release. But, it must be said that people have realized well in the last month that their most important power in confronting the regime is their solidarity and collective action. Whether they have family members in detention or not, people must initiate collective actions in order to gain the freedom of their loved ones. We must put an end to this naked violence and brutality. Mass and widespread rallies and demonstrations are the people's most important and effective tools in forcing the release of the recent detainees. It is possible that some of the famous detainees may have invisible support in the prisons of this murderous regime. But the ordinary people do not have any support other than their own arms joined together, their voices in harmony. Let us get prepared for a united effort for demolishing the torture and killings in the prisons.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Some Analysis on Iran

Below, please find three articles that provide some decent analysis on Iran, at the same time that they critique some of the idiotic, sicko American 'leftists' who have lined up behind the most retrograde/reactionary forces within the Iranian theocracy, and who are doing so shamelessly, under the excuse of buying into the mullahs' 'anti-imperialism'. 

Even if we stay kindly polite and take this as an oversight on their part and believe that they completely (if moronically) believe in whatever comes out of Ahmadinejad's mouth, they consistently (and it is instructive to see what things are systematically overlooked) forget to ever take into account all the collaboration this regime has provided the imperialists: e.g., the mullahs' stabbing in the back of the Nicaraguan revolution in the 1980's when they collaborated with the Reagan Administration; and, more recently in the 21st century, their collaboration with the Americans in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The first article looks at how the movement in Iran can keep its independence, and what kind of solidarity it needs from abroad:
Iran: their solidarity and ours (Yassamine Mather; HOPI/July 10, 2009)

There are also two very good articles looking at some of the sickos* of the 'Left', most notably the very sickly AND sickening MRZine:
MRZine and Sex Change Operations in Iran (Louis Proyect; July 10, 2009)
The Tragedy of Left's Discourse on Iran (Saeed Rahnema; ZNet/July 10, 2009)

[*Note: the adjective 'sicko' is too kind, but let's just settle for that for now!]

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Slogan on Iran Streets

This bit of news is interesting in that it reports on a new slogan being voiced on the streets on July 9th:
Mojtaba bemiri, rahbari-ro nagiri!
(roughly; 'die Mojataba, so you won't become the leader').

As reported, "During the past week, rumors have surfaced that [Mojtaba Khamenei, supreme leader's son] has taken over the pro-government Basij militia and that his father is grooming him to be the next supreme leader. Thursday marked the first time protesters chanted against him."

Khamenei's son takes control of Iran's anti-protest militia (Julian Borger/Gurdian; July 8, 2009)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Video: Iran protests on anniversary of July 9, 1999

This was found on Uruknet

Click here for more videos and the report by Ian Black and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian (UK).

Beyond Mousavi: The Movement of the Iranian Masses (David Broder/July 9, 2009)
[found here]

Khiaban No. 17: Anniversary of another uprising in Iran

Translation of the lead article of Khiaban #17, received in the mail.
For reports, photos and videos of July 9th protests, you can go to Revolutionary Road ... 

18th of Tir/July 9: From 1999 to 2009
By Amir K.
Khiaban #17/ Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 9th/18th of Tir is close. Both sides are preparing. Massive nationwide protests by the people, and their prevention by the state. The government has announced the day off, so as to reduce the traffic and Tehran's daily crowds. SMS services have been turned off again to disrupt the organizing. But, the people are organizing by the word of mouth, and using any cracks to inform as many people as possible about the July 9th protests, and forming numerous small cells, so as to dawn on the streets again with all their strength.

July 9th/18th of Tir, is the anniversary of a student uprising against state violence and the attacks of the death squads on the Tehran university campus, in 1999. In that year too the death squads and forces of crackdown attacked the Tehran university campus, watering the soil with the blood of students. Students' reaction was unequivocal: an uprising. The state, however, came forth wielding two blades: violent crackdown and deceit.

It was said to return to homes and pursue your grievances through legal means. A majority of the students, who still harbored illusions about Khatami, left the streets. They were promised that soon committees created by the people's popular president would uproot those who, vigilante-like, had allowed themselves the right to violate the university's sanctity. The more radical elements of the movement stayed, and the government's wolves went after them. Once the streets were emptied of the people, on July 14th, Khamenei's thugs took over the streets and bellowed howls of victory. And the city was once again under the control of the government.

The law convicted a single soldier for stealing a student's shaver. All others were found not-guilty. Some were promoted to high ranking embassy staff in Iranian embassies abroad. Some were promoted to directors and other cultural figures. On the other hand, the Ezatollah Ebrahimnejad's were buried in scorched earth. Numerous students spent many years of their lives in the regime's prisons. At that time, a generation of student dissidents was liquidated so that a dictatorial Islamic regime shall remain.

Ten years have passed. This time, it was not only in universities but in all of Iran that a line of blood was drawn. And again, some hands are working hard to turn the streets over to the enemies of the people, with the promise of pursuing things legally. But, this time, people have paid a very high price for their practical knowledge. They have realized that they are the many. The millions. And the power of their unity cannot be broken by any oppressive machinery.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Statement of Former Political Prisoners of the Islamic Republic of Iran

From Pezhvak-e Iran

Statement of Former Political Prisoners of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Since the onset of the June 12th “coup d’état” thousands of people have been detained or disappeared in Iran. In Tehran, for instance, the number of detainees is so large that the officials are holding prisoners in places such as the Ministry of State building’s basement and vacant camps in the city suburbs. Many families are kept in the dark with regard to the whereabouts or the conditions of their loved ones. According to the testimony of some of those who were arrested, tortured and released, this recent wave of arrests and disappearances is overseen by the Ministry of Intelligence, and in Tehran through their base in Evin prison, the infamous Section 209. Their stories tell of subjection to both physical and psychological torture, forcing them to incriminate themselves and others by confessing to prefabricated charges. Coincidentally, tortured-confessions begin to appear on state media. These events are reminiscent of the well-documented atrocities committed inside the prison walls during the 1980s.

We former political prisoners of the Islamic Republic of Iran testify to the scarring effects –on the prisoners, their families and society as a whole—of physical and psychological torture. We have witnessed how, through the application of callous methods, prosecutors sought to break down the sense of identity and human integrity of their ‘subjects’.

We fear that, under torture, some will be forced to confess to crimes committed by the security, military, paramilitary and plain-clothes forces on the streets, crimes such as the attacks on the University of Tehran and Shiraz’s dormitories on June 14th, the murder of student residents, the murder of Neda Aqa-Soltani, etc.

We fear this new generation of prisoners will, in their turn, experience this awful cycle of violence. We fear this naked, violent suppression of people in the streets and inside numerous jails around the country will lead to another wave of political executions. This naked violent suppression must be taken with the utmost seriousness. This threat of execution must be taken with the utmost seriousness.

As we demand release of all political prisoners, including those categorized as rioters by the government, and an end to torture and execution in Iran. we call on all international human rights institutions, particularly the United Nations to hold the government of Iran accountable for this violence and the violence it will continue to perpetrate; to utilize all their powers to stop crimes being committed in Iran’s prisons; and, adding our voices to those of the many other concerned citizens, we urge the general secretary of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, to send a representative to inspect Iran’s prisons before everything is swept under the carpet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Khiaban No. 16: A Safe Nest for Our Hopes

This was sent in by a kind person, and is a translation of the lead article in Khiaban #16 (Monday, June 6, 2009). Many thanks to the sender! 
(additional editing was done where needed.) 
(To get electronic copies of the paper in Persian, you can write to:

A Safe Nest for the Seeds of Our Hopes
By Seemin Mesgari 
Khiaban #16 / Monday, July 6, 2009

What has been happening over the past month in the streets of Iran, leaves no doubts among any skeptics that the people know best what's in the best interest of their own country! If until now, some have been holding onto the fantasy of exported peace and freedom of the Iraqi and the Afghani (!) type, or have put all their media effort into colorizing or velvetizing the people's uprising to the benefit of one of the governing factions, people's struggle up to now have shown that the fate of this country is neither being figured in the hands of the imperialists nor in the internal lobbies of the ruling system, but in the streets and in every single house, and with the raised fist of every single fighter and activist. Any hope in any illusion other than this fact is doomed to disappointment, and any effort at reducing this struggle to a family fight [between the ruling elites], is doomed to failure!

In view of the principle that any path to the elimination of the enemies -- of freedom and equality and popular sovereignty -- passes through the ranks of the people, the voice of every freedom and justice loving individual and group that cannot be present [in Iran] in this struggle can be turned into an effective voice. A prime example is that of the is the vociferous voice of the Iranians outside Iran, who from the very beginning of the struggle of the Iranian people in the streets, though not literally shoulder to shoulder, but in the same spirit and voice in unison with the Iranian people's demand for change, they have formed their lines of struggle outside the borders of Iran.

The fact that every individual and organization and line comes to the side of the Iranian people for their own reasons is a separate discussion, which is neither in the scope nor the intention of this note. But, the tools employed by the Iranians living abroad, in their solidarity with and support of the activists inside, are limited tools which can be summarized mainly into demonstrations, and bringing to the attention of the world media what is happening inside Iran, and try to pressure mostly European and the American governments to unambiguously condemn the crackdown and the killings and the arrests by the Iranian government.

If we take a fair look at what has been, and being done outside the country, for those inside, we cannot deny the positive effects of the information dissemination efforts and pressuring of the government leaders in those countries ...

But, what compels me to write this note is the exaggeration of some Iranians living abroad regarding the utility of putting any hope in world's statesmen and women. Of course it is very useful to keep up the pressure on world leaders, but holding out huge hopes about their steadfastness of assistance, given the record of the last thirty years, is not very realistic.

If the people's historical memory is short, all evidence points to the fact that the memory of politicians is much shorter. Let us not forget that, in the political games played by the statesmen of the word, it is self-interest, not humanistic or human rights considerations, which have the primary say.

After three weeks of killings and violent crackdowns and arrests and immoral and illegal, tortured confessions, it is the arrest of the British embassy staff in Tehran that turned the Iranian events into a crisis situation for the European parliamentarians, and got them to start considering an unambiguous position and some practical steps. And perhaps the possible freeing of those staff will be portrayed as a 'positive step of building confidence' taken by Iran!

But, even in the midst of all this, European countries such as Italy and Germany, that have the biggest capital investments and trade with the Iranian government, find themselves fighting against plans for and ratification of any proposals for actions against the Iranian government.

Therefore, focusing and trusting these governments, for consultation/pressuring, should not make Iranians living abroad overlook or neglect the main focus of the struggle and the ongoing events inside Iran.

The hope for a fundamental change passes through the ranks of the fighting people of Iran inside the country, and given the untrustworthiness of any other form of alliance, especially with any statesmen and women -- all this renders the movement of our fighting people the safest nest for the seeds carrying the saplings of freedom and equality in Iran.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Khiaban No. 13: A Velvet Coup?

A kind person of anonymous disposition sent this translation of one of the lead articles from issue number 13 of the paper (put out by leftist dissidents in Iran), Khiaban (The Street). If you read Farsi/Persian, or have an Iranian friend who can, you can get pdf files of all issues of the paper on this blog from Sweden

A Velvet Coup?
Khiaban, #13/Saturday, July 4, 2009

In a meeting with a group of families of those detained in recent days, [former president] Khatami called the recent events a 'velvet coup'. This was an implicit reply to Ahmadinejad's characterization of the recent events as a 'velvet revolution', which was defeated by the government.

However, to call it a velvet coup is as much of a lie as calling it a velvet revolution. A coup that has murdered hundreds of people in the most violent fashion, that has shut down all the news and communication lines, that has arrested and subjected to torture a vast number of political activists, and has locked up thousands of youth and dissidents in torture/imprisonment camps -- how can it be called velvet like?

In a few coup's in the modern world history, such level of ruthlessness and violence has been employed; and in very few cases in the world has a coup stood in such absolute confrontation with the civil society. Numerous coup's that in their own right would not be described as 'velvet like' operated with much less crackdown and killing than the joint Khamenei-Ahmadinejad coup.

Using the term 'velvet like' by Khatami to describe it is to paint a gentler face of the coup, so as to secure himself and his friends the possibility of cooperation and friendship down the line with the coup regime. He has made up his mind about staying with the system at any price. Therefore, he has no choice but to justify the symbiosis of his faction with the coup regime at every step. Yesterday, Ahmadinejad's move was a coup d'etat, today it's a velvet coup, and perhaps tomorrow there will only remain a colorful piece of velvet to be spread on the seat of the rulers.

But, as Khatami obfuscates, Ahmadinejad spins misinformation yarn: he claims to have defeated an American velvet revolution. A velvet revolution whose planners, like all velvet revolutions, were part of the power structure. He wants to deny the absolute opposition of the people to the ruling system.

But, a new era has begun. And nothing about it is velvet like.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bazr: Iranian Student Paper

Consolidating the Electoral Coup in Iran

In the aftermath of the electoral coup carried out by Ahmadinejad-Khamenei in Iran, the push forward by the people to force the state authorities to submit to some accountability, openly questioning the legitimacy of the state in the process, has caused a great deal of fear in both ruling factions. But, more critically, in order to consolidate the coup, the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction has to move very carefully, so as not to inflame more intense hatred and discord among the ruling factions themselves. Hence, the insistence of the coup leaders to put the biggest blames on 'foreign arrogant powers', especially the British. 

And ergo the editorial in Iran's daily Kayhan, by Hossein Shariatmadari, declaring Mousavi a foreign agent, stating, "It has to be asked whether the actions of (Mousavi and his supporters) are in response to instructions of American authorities," adding that Mousavi was trying to "escape punishment for murdering innocent people, holding riots, cooperating with foreigners and acting as America's fifth column inside the country," (see here).

Meanwhile, they are doing their best to keep an iron fist on any form of open and mass dissent, lest the storm of the people's fury blow to hell the entire house of conceit.

The first step in the consolidation of the coup has been carried out: the overwhelming presence of security forces on the streets, leading to a de facto martial law state of affairs, in which any assembly of more than three people can be attacked and shot at, at will, with one hundred percent impunity.

More than a thousand people have been arrested and very likely being tortured as I write these lines, to force 'confessions' out of them (just like the Americans in Guantanamo forced 'confessions' out of people linking Saddam to Al-Qaida). Six people were already hanged in the Evin prison on Wednesday, July 1; another six were hanged in Qom on July 2. There are also reports of 20 more hangings outside Tehran, in Karaj, on July 4th; some of the hanged were arrested between 2004-2008 on drugs charges, but their hanging in the current tense atmosphere is meant to instill terror in people's hearts. Meanwhile, more names of martyrs from post-election demonstrations are being unearthed, raising the total of names released to 26 (excluding the Basiji's members killed). Most of the dead have been shot in the head.

Additionally, the calls by senior clerics for trying the British embassy staff for fomenting an uprising show that the authorities will resort to any and all forms of fabrication and intimidation.

All this, to instill terror in the hearts of our people; to drive them back to their homes and out of the streets, to drive them back to solitude and fear, to despondency.

But, more will need to be done if this coup is to be consolidated solidly. Most importantly, they have to get key figures of the loyal opposition to give up their protests (like they did with Mohsen Rezaee, the other conservative candidate in the stolen elections, who quickly enough jumped ship).

So, for those loyal opposition figures who refuse to shut up and put up, well, a whole host of 'legal' measures await. One such has been suggested by the Basiji's: they want to bring charges of 'treason' for his 'call to an uprising against the system' against Mousavi, for daring to call the election results illegitimate. Other 'legal' means will include what Ahmadinejad stated explicitly in his televised debates: corruption charges against those not going along with the coup (and 'files' filled with 'evidence' of any 'guilt' you'd like to order up can be made out of pure air, by these alchemists of deceit).

And, of course, as always, they have to crush the most daring of the popular dissenters: university students. Universities -- historically bastions of the most radical of the dissenting classes, consistently standing against oppressive machineries erected by both the Pahlavi and later the theocratic dictatorships -- have always played a key role in the overall national movements for justice in Iran. Hence, the need for the harshest crackdown on the university campuses.


There is a video clip of an extremely chilling nature, available online (in Farsi, no subtitles), of a post-election meeting of a group of conservatives, including Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, a most fascistic clerical leader, who literally OK'd vote rigging before the elections ( see here). 

In the clip, you will not observe the slightest of lighthearted jubilation among the attendees, as would be expected from a group of people who had just won a clean, hard-fought election campaign. Quite the contrary, a sinister, hushed tone of guilt-ridden sickly purpose saturates every utterance made by Ahmadinejad.

In the clip, Ahmadinejad speaks in allusions and metaphors, which, when listened to carefully, shed some light on the general strategy the coup organizers are likely to adopt. Ahmadinejad talks about the completion of the first difficult phase of the struggle, and the start of the second, more difficult phase, which, as he puts it, will require ALL the capabilities of the system; the executive, judicial and 'spiritual' (meaning the solid backing of certain of the clerical classes). He also talks about the 'big wave of enthusiasm, both internal and external', for this divine movement toward the 'Purist Mohammedan Islam' (Islam-e Naab-e Mohammadi).

[The reference to the wave of enthusiasm from abroad is usual propaganda of course, but there is also a very telling subtext here: there are reports of foreign, Arab sounding, goon squads which have been shipped in, paid handsomely and put up in hotels across Tehran (the Iranian paid goons brought from provincial small towns and villages, by contrast, get paid much less, and are put up in modest dormitories).]

There is also a very chilling reference by Ahmadinejad in the clip about the need to take care of the universities.

Ahmadinejad, the co-conspirator, also talks about the 'joyous nature of fighting corruption', a judicial tactic they will be lining up for the next wave of eliminations of the loyal opposition; and, of course, all this has to happen fast, hence his reference to the urgency of the task at hand, and how time is of the essence; hence, in his words, "Let's operationalize our plans".

Among international developments that must bring some joy to the coup leaders in Iran is Obama administration's behind-the-scenes manipulations to stop the G8 from issuing any new calls for (or actual proposals for) expanded sanctions against the government of Iran (see here).

To conclude then, in the aftermath of the electoral coup pulled by Ahmadinejad-Khamenei and the resultant outrage expressed by millions of Iranians, those 'leftists' vociferous in conjuring up imaginary coups, remote-controlled from Langley, VA, should rejoice in knowing that their favorite state formation in Iran will last a while longer. And will be doing so through pure terror, kangaroo courts and summary executions, fraudulent deal makings and concentration of even more conceit at the very top of the state ideological apparatuses.

But, to their chagrin, and to the chagrin of people in love with authoritarian states, the people of Iran have not given up, nor feel cowed. They may be momentarily pushed back into their homes, but this movement is far from over.