In a country where EVERYTHING has become so political, I find it hard to undrestand how some people try to distinguish between political and non political issues in Iran. When something as intimate and private as sex has become a political issue, when people do not have the right to chose even in simple matters such as clothing, dating, eating and drinking how can we claim that some things are not political? If you ask me right now EVERYTHING in Iran is political. Where is my frustration coming from? Recently I was asked to help out with a very prestigious "social event" which is to take place on December 17th and is to crown Ms./Mr. Persia. The candidates are or supposed to be extremely accomplished people to say the least. At first glance I was more then happy to help, until I realized that one of the candidates was Shirin Ebadi. I will not go into detail about my problems with her, but lets just say that I do not believe she should be on any list that gives awards to Persians, since she has always made is clear that she first identifies with Islam and then with Iran. Needless to say i refused to be a part of the event and made it clear that even though the event was non-political the fact that Ms. Ebadi was on the candidate list made it VERY POLITCAL and that I could not go along with anything that I felt was not in the best interest of Iran. I think this has left a lot of people very unhappy. How can you not distinguish between political and non-political they say? Like I said everything in Iran is political and I think its very dangerous to look for gray areas especially when women are sentenced to stoning for very personal and intimate acts in Iran.
September 27, 2006 Amnesty International Urgent Action
The women named below are at risk of execution by stoning: IRAN Parisa Akbari (f) Iran Eskandari (f) Khayrieh Valania (f) Shamameh Ghorbani (also known as Malek) (f) Kobra Najjar (f, aged 44) Soghra Mola'i (f) Fatemeh (f) Parisa Akbari was arrested in April 2004, while working as a prostitute in the city of Shiraz in southern Iran. She confessed to the charge of adultery during the preliminary investigations, claiming that she had been forced into prostitution by her husband due to the family’s poverty. Her trial took place in June 2004, during which Parisa Akbari retracted her confession. Nevertheless, on 21 June 2004, Branch 5 of Fars province Criminal Court sentenced her to death by stoning for adultery. The sentence was upheld by Branch 32 of the Supreme Court on 15 November 2005. Her case is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. Parisa Akbari is detained in Adelabad prison in Shiraz. Iran Eskandari, an Ahwazi Arab from the Bakhtiari clan, was reportedly talking to the son of a neighbour in the courtyard of her house, when her husband attacked her with a knife. She was badly beaten and left bleeding and unconscious on the floor. While she was unconscious, it is alleged that the man killed her husband with his own knife. While police were interrogating her about the killing, Iran Eskandari reportedly confessed to adultery with the son of her neighbour. However she later retracted her confession. A court in the city of Khuzestan sentenced her to five years' imprisonment for being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, and to execution by stoning for adultery. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in April 2006. Her lawyer has appealed against the sentence. She is detained in Sepidar prison, in Ahvaz city. Khayrieh Valania, an Ahwazi Arab, was reportedly subjected to domestic violence by her husband. She allegedly began an affair with a relative of her husband, who then murdered him. She was sentenced to death by Branch 3 of Behbahan Court, in Khuzestan in southwestern Iran, for being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, and death by stoning for adultery. Khayrieh Valania has denied any involvement in her husband’s murder, but confessed to adultery. The sentence was upheld, and the case has reportedly been sent to the Head of the Judiciary for permission to be implemented. Talking about her fate, Khayrieh Valania said "I am ready to be hanged, but they should not stone me. They could strangle you and you would die, but it is very difficult to have stones hitting you in the head". Shamameh Ghorbani (also known as Malek), arrested in June 2005, was sentenced to execution by stoning for adultery by a court in Oromieh in June 2006. She is reportedly held in Oromieh prison. Her brothers and husband reportedly murdered a man that they found in her house, and she too was nearly killed after they stabbed her with a knife. Shamameh Ghorbani’s case is reportedly being re-examined. Kobra Najjar, who is detained in Tabriz prison in northwestern Iran, is at imminent risk of execution. She was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder of her husband, and execution by stoning for adultery. She was scheduled to be executed after serving her prison sentence, which was finished two years ago. She has reportedly written to the Judicial Commission for Amnesty to ask for her sentence of execution by stoning to be commuted, and is awaiting a reply. Kobra Najjar was allegedly forced into prostitution by her husband, a heroin addict who was violent towards her. In 1995, after a severe beating by her husband, she told one of her regular customers that she wanted to kill her husband. The customer allegedly murdered her husband after Kobra Najjar took him to an arranged meeting place. He was sentenced to death, but he was pardoned by the victim’s family, to whom he paid diyeh (blood money). Soghra Mola’i was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder in January 2004 of her husband Abdollah, and to execution by stoning for adultery. During interrogation she said "My husband usually tormented me. Nevertheless, I did not intend to kill him. On the night of the incident … after Alireza killed my husband, I ran away with him because I was scared to stay at home, thinking that my brothers-in-law would kill me." Alireza was sentenced to death for the murder of Soghra Mola'i’s husband, and to 100 lashes for "illicit relations". The sentences are pending examination by the Supreme Court. It is believed that Soghra Mola’i is detained in Reja'i Shahr prison, Karaj, near Tehran. In May 2005, Branch 71 of the Tehran Province Criminal Court sentenced Fatemeh (surname unknown) to retribution (qesas) for being an accomplice to murder, and execution by stoning for having an ‘illicit relationship’ with a man named Mahmoud. Her husband was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder of Mahmoud. The case is currently being examined in the Supreme Court. According to a May 2005 report in the newspaper Etemad, an altercation occurred between Mahmoud, and Fatemeh’s husband. Fatemeh confessed to tying a rope around Mahmoud’s throat, which resulted in his strangulation. She has claimed that she intended merely to tie his hands and feet after he was unconscious and hand him over to the police. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Amnesty International is aware of two other women under sentence of execution by stoning in Iran, Ashraf Kalhori (see UA 203/06, MDE 13/083/2006, 27 July 2006; and updates), and Hajieh Esmailvand (see UA 336/04, MDE 13/053/2004, 16 December 2004; and updates). The Head of the Judiciary announced a moratorium on the use of stoning in December 2002, but reports indicate a man and a woman may have been stoned to death in May 2006.
Here is part III as promised.
Stewart Bell, National PostPublished: Tuesday, September 26, 2006
A National Post investigation has found the outlawed terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq recruited teenagers in Canada and sent them abroad to overthrow the Iranian government by force. Today, part three of a five-part series about a Canadian family that got deeply involved with the guerrillas -- and now regrets it.
- - -
At 11 o'clock in the morning on June 19, 2003, Mustafa Mohammady stopped his car on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, opened the driver's door and headed toward the French embassy.
He held a gasoline canister in one hand and a lighter in the other.
Two days earlier, French anti-terrorist police had detained Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a cult-like resistance group fighting to overthrow Iran's repressive government.
The MEK had responded by mobilizing its international network of supporters, ordering them to take to the streets in protest. At the French embassy in London, an Ottawa woman named Neda Hassani died after setting herself on fire.
Protesters also congregated outside France's chancery overlooking Rideau Falls in Ottawa. They were chanting, waving placards and hunger-striking when Mustafa arrived to take the demonstration up a notch.
An Iranian-Canadian father of four from Toronto, Mustafa said in an interview that he went to the embassy after receiving a telephone call from a U.S.-based MEK activist named Sima.
Sima told him that Ms. Rajavi's arrest was a disaster for the Iranian resistance, and that unless he did something, his children could be in danger, he said.
Although he had been a MEK activist in Iran and Canada, Mustafa said he followed the instructions not out of any zealous devotion to the cause, but because he thought it would help his son and daughter.
"It was all about my children," he said.
In 1998, his then 17-year-old daughter, Somayeh, an Etobicoke high school student, had been recruited into the MEK. The following year, Mustafa's son Mohammad, then 16, joined her. They had been living at the MEK's base in Iraq, Camp Ashraf, ever since.
After four years, the Mohammady children had still not returned and Mustafa said he turned against the resistance over what he termed the MEK's "kidnapping" of his children.
Camp Ashraf was a huge paramilitary complex 100 kilometres west of the Iranian border. Saddam Hussein had given the land to the MEK to use as a staging ground for cross-border attacks into Iran.
The Mujahedin at Camp Ashraf viewed themselves as Iran's only hope against the religious extremists who had seized power in the 1979 Islamic revolution. But their low-level insurgency had little popular support within Iran and little to no chance of success.
Then the Americans invaded Iraq.
Within weeks of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. military captured Camp Ashraf and disarmed the MEK of its 10,000 small arms and 300 tanks. The MEK was all but finished.
Officially, any Mujahedin fighters that wanted to leave Camp Ashraf were free to go. A few hundred left, but most stayed, either because they were true believers or because they had nowhere else to go except back to Iran, where they were sure they would be detained, tortured or killed.
But human rights groups say there was another reason they didn't leave: The MEK wouldn't let them. Human Rights Watch says those who tried to leave Ashraf were labelled "defectors," imprisoned and tortured. A few were killed. The MEK has dismissed the allegations as lies planted by Iranian spies.
"The Iranian government has a dreadful record on human rights. But it would be a huge mistake to promote an opposition group that is responsible for severe human rights abuses," Joe Stark of Human Rights Watch said upon the release of the New York-based group's report on Ashraf.
In September, 2003, the U.S. military opened a "defectors" camp. Formally called the Temporary International Presence Facility, it serves as a transit camp for former Mujahedin who want out of Ashraf and are waiting to return to their home countries.
A Canadian immigration official based in Jordan who visited the defectors camp described it in a report to Ottawa as "better than any refugee camp that I have ever seen," but that was in 2004 and human rights activists say conditions there have worsened and its occupants are eager to get out.
The defectors camp covers about six acres and has its own recreation area and mess tent. More than 200 Mujahedin have left Ashraf to live under the protection of the U.S. forces.
Somayeh was not among them.
While she had opted not to go to the U.S. camp, Somayeh apparently wanted to return to Canada. She wrote a letter in Farsi in 2004 and addressed it to the Canadian embassy in Amman.
In it she politely asked for help getting back to Toronto. "I would really like you to help me out," she wrote.
By that time, things were looking grim at Camp Ashraf. Iraq's new interim rulers wanted the base dismantled, and they were talking about deporting the occupants of the camp to Iran.
The Mujahedin's campaign for international legitimacy was also struggling. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the West was beginning to look unfavourably at the MEK's tactics, which included suicide bombings, hijackings and assassinations.
The arrest of Maryam Rajavi threatened to fatally taint the MEK as a terrorist group. The Mujahedin decided to respond dramatically, and Mustafa was to be part of the performance.
The MEK had a history of targeting embassies.
On April 5, 1992, about 40 people armed with sticks, crowbars and mallets stormed the Iranian embassy in Ottawa to protest an air attack on a Mujahedin base in Iraq.
Several people were injured. Most of the demonstrators were MEK members, according to a Canadian Security Intelligence Service report obtained by the National Post.
"The Ottawa attack occurred several hours after the bombing in Iraq, illustrating the high level of organization and commitment of the MEK within Canada," the CSIS report said.
Similar attacks were carried out simultaneously at Iranian embassies in 13 other countries. The mastermind of the Ottawa embassy assault, Robab Farahi-Mahdavieh, was later deported to Britain.
Eleven years later, France's arrest of Ms. Rajavi had made French embassies the focus of the MEK. A commander from the MEK's secret U.S. base in Virginia telephoned Mustafa in Toronto and suggested it would be a good time to do something, the Toronto man said in an interview.
She never told him in so many words to set himself on fire, he said. But elsewhere in the world, MEK activists had been self-immolating in front of television news cameras. Mustafa thought that if he were to do the same, the Mujahedin might let his kids return to Canada.
As he neared the French embassy, he tipped the gasoline canister over his head, dousing himself in fuel while shouting denunciations of the Iranian regime. But before he could ignite himself, onlookers wrestled him to the ground and knocked the lighter out of his hand.
It was all over in seconds.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AT CAMP ASHRAF
"Human rights abuses carried out by MKO [Muhahedin-e Khalq Organization] leaders against dissident members ranged from prolonged incommunicado and solitary confinement to beatings, verbal and psychological abuse, coerced confessions, threats of execution, and torture that in two cases led to death. ...
"Dissident members who requested to leave the organization as well as ordinary members were detained in the bangals [pre-fabricated trailers]. Detention inside a bangal was considered a form of MKO punishment for members whom the leadership considered to have made mistakes. They were expected to reflect on their mistakes and to write self-criticism reports while in detention....
"The third type of detention reported by the witnesses encompassed imprisonment, physical torture and interrogations inside secret prisons within the MKO camps. These prisons were primarily used for persecution of political dissidents. Their existence was unknown to most members. The witnesses who suffered under this form of detention told Human Rights Watch that they were unaware that the organization maintained such prisons until they experienced it firsthand.
"One of the witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Mohammad Hussein Sobhani, spent eight-and-a-half years in solitary confinement, from September, 1992, to January, 2001, inside the MKO camps. Another witness, Javaheri-Yar, underwent five years of solitary confinement in the MKO prisons, from November, 1995, to December, 2000. Both were high-ranking members who intended to leave the organization but were told that, because of their extensive inside knowledge, they could not be allowed to do so."
Source: "No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the MKO Camps," Human Rights Watch, May 2005.
THE MEK'S RESPONSE
"The Iranian Resistance's President-elect, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, described the report by Human Rights Watch against the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, as a catalogue of false allegations and a shameful example of rushing to the aid of the religious dictatorship ruling Iran. On the eve of the discredited presidential election farce, the clerical regime was in dire need of such an endorsement, she said."Mrs. Rajavi added, 'This report contains nothing new. It is a rehash of allegations by notoriously discredited agents of the Iranian regime's Ministry of Intelligence and Security. That no inquiries were made to either the National Council of Resistance of Iran or the PMOI and that no notice was taken of explanations made public by the Iranian Resistance, and the haste in putting out this report, clearly reveal the political agenda behind it.' "
In the fourth part of the series, Mustafa Mohammady journeys to Iraq to try to retrieve his son and daughter from the guerrillas.
Losing a son
Stewart Bell, National Post
Published: Monday, September 25, 2006
A National Post investigation has found that the banned terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq recruited teens in Canada and sent them abroad to overthrow the Iranian government by force. Today, part two of a five-part series about a Canadian family that got deeply involved with the guerrillas -- and now regrets it.
RICHMOND HILL - Nervous and pensive, Mohammad Mohammady has the look of someone who has been through too much, too young. Five years at a guerrilla camp in Iraq will do that to a person.
At age 16, Mohammad left Toronto and made his way to Camp Ashraf, the headquarters of an armed resistance group fighting to overthrow Iran's repressive government.
His parents, Mustafa and Robabe, were refugees from Iran and supporters of the militants, known as the Organization of the Freedom Fighters of the Iranian People. But in his first interviews since returning to Canada, Mohammad said he only went to the paramilitary camp in Iraq for one reason: to bring home his sister, Somayeh.
Somayeh had dropped out of Grade 10 at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute in 1998 and travelled to Camp Ashraf. The guerrillas had told her parents she would only be gone four weeks.
But a month passed, and then another, and another. Still, there was no sign of Somayeh; no letters, no phone calls. The Mohammadys began calling the guerrillas' secret office in Virginia, but they could not get a straight answer.
"She likes being in the camp and she would like to stay," one of the commanders finally told the parents.
The Freedom Fighters, better known as the MEK, short for its Farsi name Mujahedin-e Khalq, enjoyed wide support among Iranian refugees in Canada, and Mustafa was an activist in the group's Toronto branch. Somayeh had gone to Camp Ashraf with his permission, but he said he never intended for her to join its cadre of guerrillas.
"She didn't go to join," Mustafa said. "She went to see the camp. I sent her to go there to see the camp for a holiday.... That's the greatest mistake I have ever made in my life."
Feeling they had nowhere to turn and afraid to alert the Canadian government (even friends and neighbours were told she was on an exchange program in France), the Mohammadys agreed to send their son Mohammad to Iraq to look for Somayeh and bring her back.
"And that," Mustafa said, "was our second mistake."
Mohammad was close to Somayeh. She was like a mother to him and he missed her terribly. He wanted her to come home to Canada. He travelled to the Pirayesh, the MEK's U.S. secret headquarters near Washington, D.C.
The MEK leaders told Mohammad he could go to Camp Ashraf. He could see his sister, see the camp and come back. The Mujahedin paid for his plane ticket.
Following the same route his sister had taken the year before, he flew to Jordan. From Amman, the MEK took him by road to the Iraqi border. He walked across the frontier and into a waiting car that delivered him to Camp Ashraf, a guarded paramilitary encampment that stretches six-kilometres by six-kilometres over the plains north of Baghdad.
Four thousand MEK members lived at the camp, all decked out in green fatigues. They had come from around the world; many were Iranian expatriates from the West. Mohammad believes that about 100 were from Canada. Other estimates say the number is closer to 50.
Camp life was rigidly regulated.
The men and women were strictly segregated into different sectors of the camp, with little interaction permitted. Even the bakery had separate hours for men and women.
Wake-up was at 4 a.m. The men would shave and shower before breakfast at 4:30. At 5:30, they would do chores, such as cleaning the tanks or working the farm.
A hot lunch was served from 10 to 11:30, after which the recruits had down time until 3 p.m. They would sleep or read. Anything but work; it was too hot for that.
The afternoons were devoted to political indoctrination sessions, then there was another three-hour work party at 4:30. At 7:30 p.m., it was exercise time. They would play soccer or go running. Dinner was at 9:30. Before a shower and bed, the recruits attended a final indoctrination session.
According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the MEK uses "internal propaganda" to indoctrinate its members. Recruits must chant their allegiance to MEK boss Maryam Rajavi, who ruled with her husband, Massoud, during training: "Iran is Rajavi, Rajavi is Iran. Iran is Maryam, Maryam is Iran."
A classified CSIS report obtained by the National Post says that, "This internal propaganda has served to foster a cult-like atmosphere as many MEK members revere the Rajavis like Gods."
Two weeks after he arrived, Mohammad had still not seen his sister. The excuses varied, he said: "She's busy," "She's not here," "It takes time," "She's sick today."
It was a month before they were finally reunited. Two female MEK officials supervised. Somayeh asked about their parents but also voiced her support for the MEK's husband-and-wife leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, but Mohammad said he could tell it was an act.
"She wasn't happy," he said.
Having seen his sister, but having failed to convince her to leave, Mohammad told the MEK commanders he was ready to go home. He was told, "later." Then an administrative official told him he could not go back because he had signed a contract.
After three months, he began to resign himself to camp life. He had no passport and no plane ticket (the MEK had taken both). Even if he escaped, there was nowhere to run except into the barren, land mine-strewn Iraqi desert.
He underwent small arms training on an AK-47 and did odd jobs. He fixed the camp cars and cube vans, worked on their engines. He says he never took part in military operations. "I wasn't a member," he said. "I was with the Mujahedin, but I wasn't a member."
A year after his arrival, Mohammad was sent closer to the Iranian border, to another camp called Alavi, northeast of Ashraf. His visits with Somayeh were restricted to once a year at Persian New Year celebrations.
Back in Toronto, the Mohammadys waited to see whether Mohammad would bring Somayeh home, but as the weeks passed it dawned on them that he had met the same fate as his sister.
"He was recruited by the Mujahedin," Mustafa said.
The Mohammadys became Canadian citizens on June 23, 2000. At the ceremony, they received certificates signed by immigration minister Elinor Caplan that said, "Welcome to the Canadian family."
But their own family was in turmoil. Mustafa remained active in the MEK network in Canada, attending their demonstrations, but only because he thought it would help get his son and daughter home, he said.
As the MEK ramped up its attacks in 2001, Iran's Revolutionary Guards fought back with rocket barrages aimed at the Mujahedin's six camps in Iraq. A dozen surface-to-surface missiles struck Ashraf and five hit Alavi.
Mohammad once again asked to leave the camp in 2001, but he said the MEK did not tolerate "defections." Mohammad was brought before a gathering of men who denounced him and spat on him. He relented, agreeing to stay.
He said in an interview that during a visit to his camp, Massoud Rajavi gave a speech in which he had said that anyone who left the MEK would be hunted down and killed. (Mohammad fears for his life to this day and would not agree to be photographed for this article).
Increasingly worried, Mustafa wrote letters to Mohammed pleading for news. On Nov. 22, 2002, he wrote to the Rajavis, whom he addressed as "brother Massoud and sister Maryam."
"I wish you good health and prosperity under the care of Imam Mahdi and hope that under your leadership we get rid of the inhuman ruling of the Mullahs in Iran," he wrote.
"Honorable brother and sister, we, the under signers, Mustafa and Mahboobeh Mohammady, humbly ask you to facilitate our meeting with our children, Somayeh and Mohammed Reza during the Christmas Holiday.
"With the warm wishes for you and victory for the movement in the New Year we appreciate your help on this matter."
He never got a reply.
A FATHER'S LETTER
In the name of God,
With warm greetings to all members of the "Army of Freedom" who are trying for the removal of the inhuman regime in Iran and to you my dear son.
I wish you are fine and wherever you are you are protected by almighty and the Imam Mahdi. Dear Mohammad, if you have any worries about us please rest assured that we are fine and our only concern is you and Somayeh and the unbearable pain of being apart from you two.
Dear Mohammad, your mother is missing you so much and we keep ourselves busy watching films that we have from you. Your baby sister, Hurieh, is growing fast and she keeps asking about you and her elder sister all the time. She prays for both of you at bedtime every night.
Your younger brother, Morteza, is a grownup adult now and he also
expresses his deep feelings and concern about you too.
Dear Mohammad, I know that you don't have free time to write us but the letters that were written on your behalf before our New Year were received by us 3-4 months after that date.
Although we were happy to hear about you, since it is hard to believe that you are so busy that you can't spare a few minutes to write yourself, we became a little concerned. You know that seeing your own handwriting makes us really happy.
It is due to the concerns and worries caused by this incident that we have tried every possible way to get some information about the safety of you and your sister. Please write to us, in your own handwriting, or call us as soon as possible. If we don't hear from you very soon we have no choice but to push every possible button to get some result.
So, please, either yourself or your sister should get in touch with us and confirm your health and safety.
In hope to see you as soon as possible and to see the demise of the inhuman regime in Iran,
God bless you
Mustafa and Mahboobeh
In the third instalment of the series, a father takes extreme measures to get his son and daughter out of the clutches of the guerrillas.
Scaryy, but no surprises there. I think most Iranians are well aware of the cult-like nature of MKO. What I got from this is that MKO is so unpopular that the only way they can recruit and keep members is by FORCE. No surprises there. I am so glad people are going public with this though, somebody needs to stand up to them and expose them for what they really are. I just have to add this, the words "freedom fighters" and MKO used in the same sentence really makes me want to vomit, since they are ANYTHING BUT. Tune in for part III tomorow.
Im probably going to get attacked for this one but here it goes...
September 23, 2006 National Post Stewart Bell
A National Post investigation has found the banned terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq recruited teens in Canada and sent them abroad to overthrow the Iranian government by force. Today, we begin a five-part series about a Canadian family that got deeply involved with the guerrillas -- and now regrets it.RICHMOND HILL -- The video playing on the 36-inch Hitachi television in Mustafa Mohammady's living room in the suburbs north of Toronto shows his daughter Somayeh in a paramilitary uniform, her hair tucked under a khaki scarf that's knotted at the neck.The home video has come to the Mohammadys from the plains north of Baghdad, where their daughter lives in a guerrilla compound called Camp Ashraf, the headquarters of the Organization of the Freedom Fighters of the Iranian People.A student at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, Somayeh dropped out of Grade 10 to join the rebels, and for the past several years her parents have done little else except try to get her back to Canada. They have written pleading letters to guerrilla commanders and the Canadian government. They travelled to Iraq four times.But she is there still."Her brain's been washed," her younger brother Morteza said. "The Canadian government needs to take her out of there. We know my sister is not a terrorist."The Mohammadys are nervous and sleepless with worry, but as much as the parents are torn up that their daughter is a member of what the Canadian government calls a terrorist organization, in arguably the most dangerous country in the world, they also know they are partly to blame because she went to the camp with their consent."I trusted them," Mustafa, himself a former activist in the group, said of the guerrillas, better known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK. "At the time I sent my daughter, I trusted them.... I thought this organization respect the human rights. I never thought they would do the same thing [Ayatollah] Khomeini did to his people."An investigation by the National Post has found that the MEK sent recruiters to Canada to enlist teenagers and send them to Camp Ashraf, where they were armed and trained to overthrow the Iranian government by force.One Iranian group in Toronto, the Centre for Thought, Dialogue and Human Rights in Iran, says three boys and seven girls under the age of 18 were sent to Ashraf.The teens were sent from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Dozens of others older than 18 have attended the camp.To date, only one Canadian is known to have returned to Canada from Ashraf. The rest remain at the camp to this day, either unable or unwilling to leave, and Somayeh is among them.The Mohammady family fled Tehran after it degenerated into a rigid dictatorship of mullahs. Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution had broad support at first, but disenchantment soon set in.The MEK, led by Massoud Rajavi, had been one of the strongest supporters of the revolt to depose the Shah, who preceded Khomeini's rule. But when Khomeini began a crackdown on opposition groups, the MEK turned against the new regime and began assassinating key government officials and hijacking Iranian airplanes. In some cases, it used suicide bombers.In Tehran, Mustafa was active in the MEK, although he said he was never a member, only a supporter who distributed literature and tried to convince others to join. But his family was deeply involved.His brother-in-law, Hadi Hamzeh Dolabi, joined the MEK but was arrested in 1981 and executed by Khomeini's Revolutionary Guards three years later. A sister-in-law, Hourieh Hamzieh, joined the MEK as well, but was killed in 1988.Under surveillance and fearing for his life, Mustafa fled with his wife and children to Turkey in 1992. Eighteen months later, Ottawa recognized the Mohammadys as refugees, and in September, 1994, they flew to Amsterdam and then Toronto.For the first two months, they lived in a refugee shelter in Scarborough, but as their first Canadian winter set in, they found their own apartment in Etobicoke.In the spring, Mustafa went to a community event to celebrate Noruz, the Iranian New Year. Some activists who ran a support network for the MEK in Canada were there and they invited Mustafa to their office in Toronto.From the outside, it looked like just an ordinary home in a residential neighbourhood. But inside, everyone wore MEK uniforms, and the walls were decorated with MEK flags and portraits of Rajavi and his wife, Maryam.The house served as the Canadian headquarters of the Mujahedin's international support network. From this unassuming house, the MEK organized protests and raised money. But it was also recruiting for Camp Ashraf, the 36-square-kilometre military encampment that Saddam Hussein had set aside for the MEK in Iraq to stage cross-border attacks against Iran.Mustafa watched propaganda films at the centre with his wife and children and attended group discussions.Eager to see the overthrow of the Iranian regime he blamed for the deaths of his family members, he began to spend a few hours a day collecting money for the cause.He went door to door, or stood on a street corner near Dundas and Spadina. He would show photos of crying children, and tell stories about how their parents had been executed by the Iranian regime. On Saturdays and Sundays, his daughter Somayeh would accompany him on his rounds. She was 13, maybe 14 at the time.In 1997, the MEK began a major recruiting drive. The fighting ranks were ageing, and young blood was needed to rejuvenate the People's Army. During the 1991 Gulf War, MEK members at Camp Ashraf had sent their children abroad for their safety. Some of them came to Canada to stay with aunts and uncles. The recruiters were tasked with bringing them back, along with as many other young Iranian expatriates as they could get.The recruiter who came to Canada was a petite woman with glasses and a headscarf who went by the name Mazia. She began to pay a lot of attention to Somayeh. They talked about Somayeh's favourite aunt, the one who had died fighting with the Mujahedin almost a decade earlier. Mazia showed Somayeh photographs of Camp Ashraf and described it as a "very nice place."Mazia convinced Somayeh to attend a demonstration in Washington, D.C., and on June 30, 1997, she crossed the border and travelled to the Pirayesh, the MEK's secret base in Sleepy Hollow, Va. Somayeh watched videos of Ashraf and met the head of the U.S. Mujahedin recruiting network, Sima, who offered to send her to Iraq to visit her aunt's grave.Somayeh returned to Toronto and started Grade 10, but she dropped out to join the MEK. She was only 17 years old, but Sima told the Mohammadys their daughter would be safely returned to them after a month.Mustafa had a favourable opinion of the MEK back then. The security era ushered in by 9/11 was still three years away, and the Mujahedin had not yet been outlawed as a terrorist group."We thought they were a nationalist group that wanted to topple the Iranian government," he said. As for Ashraf, he thought it was "like other camps that were run by nice people. So I consented for my daughter to go there."Somayeh said her parents paid for her airfare. Mustafa denied that."I didn't have the money," he said. The MEK's U.S. office bought the ticket, he insisted."I think the purpose was just to deceive some young people and get them there," he said. "At that time, I did not know." He said he thought she would be like an exchange student."I thought it was just another program."In February, 1998, Somayeh flew from New York to Amsterdam, then transferred to a flight to Amman, Jordan. From there, she went by road to Baghdad and then travelled north on a highway for 65 kilometres to a gate where palm trees and Iranian flags marked the entrance to the rebel base.For the next decade, Camp Ashraf would be her firstname.lastname@example.orgDECODING THE MUJAHEDIN-E KHALQ ORGANIZATIONMujahedin-e Khalq: "The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) is an Iranian terrorist organization that was based in Iraq until recently. It subscribes to an eclectic ideology that combines its own interpretation of Shiite Islamism with Marxist principles. The group aspires to overthrow the current regime in Iran and establish a democratic, socialist Islamic republic. This Islamic socialism can only be attained through the destruction of the existing regime and the elimination of Western influence, described as 'Westoxication.' To achieve this Islamic ideology, the use of physical force, armed struggle or jihad is necessary. Besides having had an alliance with Saddam Hussein, the organization has or had ties with Amal [from which Hezbollah originated], the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Al Fatah and other Palestinian factions. The MEK is even suspected of past collusion with the regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan." Source: "Currently listed entities," Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, (www.psepc-sppcc.gc.ca/prg/ns/le/cle-en.asp).MONDAY: Part IIIn the second part of the series, Somayeh's brother Mohammad joins her at Camp Ashraf.
I have had first hand experience dealing with the Mojaheds in Ottawa, oh sorry i mean the Mojahed "supporters" god forbid if they actually admit that they are part of the group. But Im not going to resort to personal attacks lol
For all the Mojahed supporters out there please enlighten me
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MJAHEDING AND THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC WHEN:
1. they both use brainwashing and propaganda techniques to use and munipulate people
2. both groups have had the same leader for the past 25 years. The leadership changes only with death.
3. Both groups are religion based (and don't deny it, just look at the female uniforms
4. both groups have their own prisons and torture techniques
Need I say more?
Fazail Azizan has been in custody since monday. He had earlier anouned that in case of arrest and detention he would go on a hunger strike and according to reports he has been on hunger strike for the past 6 days. His wife Ms. Kobra Ghorbanzadeh was also arrested on Thursday while visiting her husband in prison. It is important to note that she is three months pregnant and any physical or phychological torture may very well lead to losing the unborn child. Both Mr. Azizan and Ms. Ghorbanzadeh have been active members of a committe for the support from political prisoners in Iran. Their lives and the life of their unborn child is in danger. Please write to all human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights watch and pressure them into campaigning for the freedom of these two human rights activists.
"man agar barkhizam, to agar barkhizi, hame barmikhizand, man agar benshinam, to gar benshini, che kasi barkhizad"
From talking with a lot of people who are a generation older (35-45 years old) or even people closer to my own age I have seen that so many of them have become extremely cynical and jaded when it comes to any possible change in Iran. Who can blame them for being discouraged when we see how political prisoners are killed everyday without anyone daring to raise a voice or question anything. Many of us believe that a real change can only happen through the efforts of people who are INSIDE Iran but how can that happen when people are just not willing to take a risk and stand up? (Majority of people that is, ofcourse there is the activist fraction consisting of students, workers, women and human rights activists). Well I heard something on Radio Farda on Monday that really gave me renewed hope and courage, maybe change is forthcoming after all. A husband and wife by the name of Azizan (hopefully im not mis-spelling the name) who reside in Ardebil decided that they were going to hold the government accountable for the death of Akbar Mohammadi and Feyze Mahdavi and they went and stood in front of a government building (not sure exactly which one) and hold up a poster saying why did these above named prisoners had to die in custody. Ofcourse within 30 minutes they were attacked by government officials, the husband was beaten and taken away, after the wife arrived home numerous male government officials forced their way into their house and searched the entire house and took away many of their personal belongings. I do not have any update on what has happened in the past two days, but the moral of the story is we have strong coragous people who are willing to stand up and risk everything while holding the government accountable for their crimes. This couple who had absoloutely no relations with Akbar Mohammadi or Feyze Mahdavi said that they could not sit back and let people die for no reason. This is so encouraging and gave me brand new hope that things are really changing and people are just not willing to obey the dictatorship anymore. I would love to hear more thoughts on this.
I think trying to remove the Islamic Regime from the United Nations due to the gross human rights violations commited by them is one thing, but removing them for a comment made by Ahmadi Nejad is a whole other story. I spten about two years reading every book i could find on the Holocoaust and I have no doubt that it occured and that it was one of the greaters tragedies committed by the human kind. I also think its extremely dnagerous to deny the past becasue then we are bound to repeat the same mistakes. That is exactly what is happening in Iran. What is happening to the Iranians in Iran is no less then a genocide, people are being executed in public everyday, we have the same type of torture, rape and disapearances that took place during the holocaust, granted not in the millions, NOT YET. Not to mention the cultural genocide undertaken by the Islamic Regime in the past 27 years. It is all good and well for human rights activists like Elie Wiesel to condment the comments made by Ahmadi Nejad, but its disturbing that no where in the article anything is mentioned about any of the human rights abuses going on in Iran. Could it be that the real concern here is STATE Soverignty rather then human rights? When UN was first created it was meant to prevent anything like the Holocaust from ever occuring again. Unfortuantely th eUN has done anything but to fulfill its purpose. Over the years the only thing that has gained importance within the United Nations is the concept of state soverignty. thats probably why some of the worst human rights violators have seats on the human rights commision in the United Nations. Since the holocouast at leasttwo genocides hae taken place in Rwanda and Yougoslavia and UN has done literally nothing to even attempt to stop it. I would go fruther and argue that what is going on in Iran is genocide although on a smaller scale. I think the point here is that we as Iranians canot sit and wait for other people or other nations to keep the best interest of the Iranian people in mind, we cannot depend on the UN or the international community because at the end of the day the only people that have the best interest of Iran are Iranians. Iran is our homeland and we have Iranian blood flowing through our veins and always will, it is time for us to unite under the Shiro Khorshid (Lion and Sun) and take the faith of our country into our own hands.
Elie Wiesel calls on U.N. to expel Iran
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK -- Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel says Iran should be expelled from the United Nations.
"I began a campaign for the expulsion of Iran from the U.N. and the declaration of its president as a persona non grata all over the world because he threatens a member state of destruction," the Holocaust survivor said Thursday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Iran announced April 11 that it had enriched a small quantity of uranium, fueling international concerns that it is well on the way to developing an atomic bomb. The country insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and has dismissed the Holocaust as a myth.
I just finished listening to a part of Khatami's speech, where he responds to a Jewish students question in regards to the missing Israeli pilot Arad. His answer was disturbing on so many different levels. He basically said that if he had any idea where this pilot was he would do everything he can to return him to his home because its terrible when people go "missing" and have their families waiting for them for years not knowing what is going on. This coming from a guy who is personally responsible for the dissapearance of so many innocent Iranian students and activists! In Farsi we have a saying "faghat bayad ru dashte bashi" and he DOES. I have never seen a bigger hypocrite in my life!! To speak publicly of how bad dissapearance is when he personally has hand in the dissapearance of so many is DISGUSTING. If anyone had any doubts once again he has proved what a lying snake he is!
Im sure many of you heard about the recent crack down on sattalite dishes in Iran. Why the sudden crack down? Was it part of the systematic censorship or is there something more? I was reading that the son of a prominent mullah has imported very discreet sattalite dishes and is selling it on the black market. It is possible that the government destroyed peoples large sized dishes, so that they would be encouraged to buy these smaller and more discreet dishes, making a lot of money for the bache mullahs at the same time?? If there is one thing I have learned, anything is possible. If anyone has any information on this please let me know, in the mean while I will do my own research and see if I can dig up anything.
Crackdown on Satellite TV Taken StoicallyKimia SanatiTEHRAN, Aug 21 (IPS) - Iranians have taken stoically a crackdown on rooftop satellite dishes that allow then to watch 'decadent' foreign channels as well as a proliferation of Farsi language programmes beamed in by dissident expatriates. Police action, last week, enforcing a 1994 law that bans the possession and use of satellite dishes, was generally mild and squads steered away from entering people's homes and seizing receivers. There seemed defiance in the fact that many of Iran's estimated 3-4 million satellite TV viewers had not bothered to act on a warning issued by the city police chief more than a month ago. ‘Shargh', a leading reformist newspaper carried on its front page, on Thursday, a prominent picture of policemen destroying satellite dishes. Saeed Aboutaleb, a parliamentarian who piloted the move criticised the police for going after householders and not being harsh enough on distributors and service providers. "Channels bearing immoral content and politically oriented ones will be filtered," Shargh quoted him as saying. Many of the distributors have been of help in hacking into the signal decoders that make it possible to view hundreds of channels not only illegally but also for free. Fearing arrest, the distributors are now lying low and have switched off their mobile telephones. "They blocked the street, rang the doorbells, announced it was the police, and then went straight to the rooftops. I guess they didn't have warrants to enter apartments and seize the receivers. They cut the cables and broke or took away the dishes but didn't confiscate the receivers as they used to do," said Ahmad Ramezani who lives in Tehran's uptown Elahieh district. In some cases, the police were content with issuing warnings. For example, in Karaj, a city near the capital, residents of apartment blocks received letters from the police directing them to take down their equipment and deposit it at the local police station, the Fars News Agency reported. "What difference does it make if we have to take away our dishes from the roofs?" asked Zahra Amani, a retired primary school teacher. "Since last year they have been jamming satellite signals so badly that it's almost impossible to watch anything. It was bad during the early days of Iran's nuclear crisisà almost all channels were affected.'' Amani said she thought it odd that the jamming did nothing to channels with pornographic content but seemed to be directed at Farsi language channels run by dissidents. ‘'At first I thought there was something wrong with my receiver and called my satellite man (distributor) but then he told me many of his customers in our area were experiencing the same thing. I have heard that it (jamming) can be very harmful to people's health." According to the Iranian Students' News Agency the police have been directed to deal only with dishes that are plainly visible. But in some places dishes were seen being thrown off rooftops. During the initial waves of the crackdown in the northern province of Gilan and Kurdistan province in the west, a couple of weeks ago, police reportedly broke into some "private domains". "Iranian state TV channels are very boring. The music is always dull, there are no dances and the news is always censored," said a young college student who rued the thought that he would not be able to watch his favourite channels -- the Farsi language channels that are located outside the country and are far livelier with music, news and films. Farsi language channels are privately owned unless they are propaganda channels like the Voice of America. Quite a few of them are run by exiles and have political agendas inimical to the regime and support anything from a return to monarchy and ethnic dissidence. There is even a channel promoting conversion to Christianity, an act punishable with death. Testimony to the popularity of the Farsi channels is the fact that they are able to raise revenue through commercials that promote not only foreign products and services but also Iranian ones. But recently, the Islamic guidance ministry warned Iranian companies not to patronise "unauthorized" satellite channels. Government employees, academics and other have likewise been told not to give interviews to or appear in programmes on such channels. "We need to know what is really happening in the world. We have no private television or radio stations. All we know is what the government decides is good for us. It's natural that people will be attracted to other voices." says Negar (second name concealed), a student of medicine in Tehran University. Her family has been watching satellite TV for many years, taking down the equipment everytime there was talk of police raids. One source of hope for people like Negar is technology in the shape of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services which can be received using small, indoor dish antennae. In fact, the ‘cultural committee' of the hardliner-dominated Iranian parliament has been drafting a motion to amend the 1994 law and authorize private service providers to offer DTH channels to the public. "The motivation for the crackdown can be the increasing number of Farsi language channels as well as greater diversity in their contents. They can greatly influence social and political behaviour,'' said a political analyst who asked not to be named. "We are going to have elections to the ‘assembly of experts' and city council elections, simultaneously, in less than three months' time. Hardliners are determined to win these elections. They are not as united as they were in the previous election and are, therefore, more vulnerable now. They are making every effort to prevent these bodies from falling into the hands of moderate conservatives, let alone reformists," he added. Before last year's presidential elections, Mehdi Kalhor, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cultural advisor and representative on the board of supervisors of the state broadcasting organization had pledged that the new government would not limit people's freedoms -- including the use of satellite TV. ‘'Ahmadinejad is apparently distancing himself from advisors who encourage social freedom and is getting closer to people like the hardliner police chief who is, incidentally, his brother-in-law," says the political analyst. "I have stored away my equipment for the time being," Reza, 34, a government employee says optimistically. "We have experienced this several times before. It's only a wave and it will pass soon. Hundreds of thousands of homes in Tehran alone have them. How can the police deal with them all?"
Now this I found really interesting. I was listening to an interview on Radio Farda yesterday about this very topic where one journalist was talking about another cartoon that had supposedly insulted the Azari Basiji's and how how the basiji's had pressured the government to close down the newspaper. It seems like not only is there crack down on written articles but also thins like caricatures. Today they are not allowed to draw donkeys and tomorow maybe monkeys (god forbid if people mistake the monkey for Ahmadinejad ;) ) and the next day god knows what. How far will they take this censorship, will it go to the point where no cartoons will be allowed? Or all cartoons will have to be approved by the government before its published? And in return what does this really mean? Is the Islamic Regime that WEAK and PATHETIC that they believe they will cruble against a simple cartoon? Maybe so... I wouldn't be surprised.
Sep 12, 2006ASSOCIATED PRESS
Iran closed down two opposition newspapers on Monday, one of which had recently poked fun at hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the way his government has handled nuclear talks with the West.
It was a fresh show of determination by Iran's ruling clerical establishment to silence dissent over its handling of nuclear talks with the West and deny reformers a chance to air their views ahead of elections scheduled for Dec. 15.
The rights group Reporters Without Borders voiced concern last week about harassment of Iranian journalists, including prison sentences and interrogations. Ahmadinejad has purged dozens of journalists, university professors and government officials seen as supporting warmer ties with the West.Iran's most prominent reformist daily, Shargh, or East, ran a cartoon Thursday depicting a horse and donkey facing each other on a chess board. The donkey - a symbol of ignorance in Iranian culture - has his mouth open and light around him, while the horse shows no emotion.Iranian judiciary officials apparently took the donkey to represent Iran in nuclear negotiations with the West, journalists said.Ahmadinejad reportedly said he felt there was a light around him, and that world leaders focused unblinkingly on him when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly last year. Ahmadinejad is reportedly planning to address the assembly again later this month."We got a call from the Press Supervisory Board saying that we have no right to publish our newspaper as of today," Shargh editor Mohammad Ghouchani told The Associated Press.Iran's official news agency reported the paper was ordered closed down for "dozens of violations," including the cartoon's publication and "publication of material against the rulings by the Supreme National Security Council." The council handles Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West."In recent months, nuclear officials have been warning the press to be careful over what they publish over Iran's nuclear policy and not write anything that contradicts what they do," reformist lawmaker Esmaeil Gerami Moghadam told the AP.State-run television said Shargh was shut because it failed to appoint a new managing director to "more aggressively supervise material published in the paper."The current managing director, Mahdi Rahmanian, denounced such a demand."Pressure on the press to change their managing director is illegal. The law doesn't allow the board to make such a demand," he said.The Press Supervisory Board also ordered the political monthly Nameh, or Letter, to be closed down, IRNA reported Monday.The paper's editor, Majid Tavallaei, said the reason behind the closure was the publication of a poem from dissident female poet Simin Behbahani. The text of the poem was not immediately available."Publication of the poem is seen as the main reason for the closure. They have taken that as an insult," Tavallaei said.Echoing the rhetoric of the nation's 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad appears determined to remake Iran by reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued under the republic's late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.Upon taking office last year, Ahmadinejad replaced nearly all his country's governors and lower provincial officials, as well as 40 ambassadors. Many of Iran's top government officials are now either former commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards or former hard-line security officials.Last week, he urged students to push for a purge of liberal, secular university teachers, and dozens of such instructors have been sent into early retirement during Ahmadinejad's rule.Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei both appear on a list of "press freedom predators" compiled by Reporters Without Borders each year.Iran saw a wave of newspaper closures in past years amid a confrontation between reformers and hard-liners during the 1997-2005 tenure of reformist President Mohammad Khatami.The hard-line judiciary shut down more than 100 pro-reform newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers on vague charges of insulting authorities.But Moghadam said the new wave of press crackdown meant no tolerance for criticism ahead of upcoming elections."It is a clear message that they don't tolerate any voice of opposition. They also don't want reformers to convey their message through Shargh to the people ahead of the elections," he said.Iran is preparing to hold elections for the Assembly of Experts, a clerical panel that has the authority to choose or dismiss Iran's top leader, and city council elections. Both are slated for Dec. 15.
Is it me or has there been virtually no reports of the protests that took place against Khatami's visit to the United States? The very few reports that I came across reported the number of protestors to be much lower then what it really was. To the best of my knowladge the number of protestors was over 1000 but most media outlets who bothered to report on the demonstrations reported the number to be around 200. Talk about conspiracy!! I would love to hear other peoples views on this, I will write a more complete detail about the protests hopefully later today. Until then...
Long Live Iran
Khatami's Disdain for Zahra Kazemi:
Dialogue as Brutality
by Russell Berman
September 11, 2006
Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami advocates a dialogue between civilizations, and Harvard defended its controversial decision to give him the prominent forum of the Kennedy School invitation because of the importance of the free exchange of ideas.
Yet Khatami evidently cannot tolerate dialogue within a civilization, i.e., free and open discourse within Iran; and Harvard has given a forum of freedom to freedom's enemy.
This became painfully evident in a detail of the exchange following his speech. An Iranian in the audience questioned him about an egregious case of the suppression of free speech: the arrest, rape and murder of Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi.
Khatami's propaganda mission has been to present a softer image of Iran to a West perplexed by the antics of his successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet the material of this question was not immediately relevant to that project, since it involved an internal Iranian scandalâ€”no matter how much it also involved Canada and the world public. "Dialogue between civilizations, but tyranny at home"â€”this seems to be Khatami's motto. He offered no condemnation of Ahmadeinjad's call to purge Iranian universities, no apology for his own role in the suppression of dissidents in Iran.
Born in Shiraz in 1949, Kazemi moved to Paris to study literature and cinema in 1974. In 1993, she immigrated to Canada and acquired dual citizenship. As a journalist she traversed the Middle East, covering, among many other topics, the US role in Iraq. Working in Teheran, she was arrested in front of Evin prison in June of 2003; nineteen days later she was dead. In the abortive murder trial, her family was represented by Shirin Ebadi, who won the Nobel Prize the same year.
But the issue here is not the scandalous story of Kazemi's murder and the cover-up perpetrated by the Iranian "justice system." It is Khatami's callous response to the student's question. The friendly reformer's reply to a question about a brutal killing:
"Maybe if the relatives of Kazemi had not made into such a big political issue it could have been resolved a lot quicker and more to their liking."
So it's the fault of the relatives who wanted to see a murderer brought to justice. It's their fault for having pursued justice through the institutions available to them. For all his chatter about dialogue, what Khatami lacks is the basic capacity for human empathy. Hardly a good place for dialogue to begin.
This small detail is unlikely to work its way through the press, predisposed as it is to give Khatami a pass. Too bad. One might have expected some solidarity in the press corps with their murdered colleagueâ€”let alone some appreciation for those true Iranian reformists who want nothing more than an end to theological tyranny and to propagandists like Khatami
September 08, 2006 NewsMax.com Kenneth R. Timmerman
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., introduced legislation Thursday that would refocus U.S. government-funded broadcasting into Iran to "stand with the people of Iran." The Iranian regime's record of "repression, oppression, beatings and abuse ... was "a story that has been told too little," Brownback told reporters and Iranian-American activists. His "Iran Human Rights Act" would also appoint a "special envoy" to pro-democracy groups in Iran and in exile. "While we are focusing on [Iran's] nuclear weapons development, as we should, we cannot deny the human suffering of the Iranian people," Brownback said. "This story needs to be told." As a backdrop to the new Brownback bill, former Iranian political prisoners and their relatives gave grisly testimony Thursday of torture under the regime of former president Mohammad Khatami, who is currently visiting the United States. They were introduced by Reza Pahlavi, son of the former shah of Iran, who called the meeting "an unprecedented gathering" and applauded his compatriots for setting aside partisan political differences to work together to "liberate" their country from clerical rule. He blasted Khatami "who for eight years personally forwarded the agenda of the regime that has inspired, funded, directed, and sponsored militancy internationally and suppression at home." Nasrine Mohammadi, sister of political prisoners Akbar and Manoucher Mohammadi, described how her father received a phone call from the prison where her brothers had been jailed for helping to lead a massive student protest in July 1999. "The man from the prison said, ‘the more we torture them, the less they respond. They are like stones,'" she recalled. Akbar Mohammadi was murdered in jail this July, after prison officials refused to give him medicine during a hunger strike. When he continued to shout defiantly at his torturers, they taped his mouth shut for two days, eventually torturing him to death. "They told him, ‘you are going to die like a dog,'" Nasrine Mohammadi said. Hamid Alireza Behbahani thanked the United States for helping secure his freedom, after he was imprisoned in Iran. "I was a physician in Iran and only work as a laborer here," he said. "But I am much happier here because I am free. Today I am happy because my children start school, and I know that no one will steal my wife and threaten my children because of my beliefs." Amir Abbas Fakravar, another student leader who recently arrived in the United States, said he was tortured for 222 days in Iran. Minou Khomeili, who heads a nonprofit organization in Canada that provides aid to Iranian refugees, said she personally witnessed the rape and murder of a 14-year old girl by Iranian regime prison officials. "I will never forget the way [prison officials] washed the blood off their hands after they killed that girl," she said. "If Iran were a democratic country, Khatami would have been arrested for these crimes," she added. Javad Amini told the story of his brother, a medical doctor, who documented torture and helped expose the regime's involvement in distributing heroin and opium in Iran, where non-governmental groups estimate there are now several million young addicts. "My brother, Jamshid, was arrested on his way to work in Feburary 2000," Amini said. "He was handcuffed and blindfolded by an unknown group wearing no uniform or official ID documents. They took him to a prison belonging to the intelligence branch of the armed forces and tortured him for a full year." Seven years later, Jamshid Amini is still in prison in Iran. Repeated beatings have left him with an enlarged liver, internal bleeding in his eyes, total hearing loss in one ear, broken teeth, memory loss, and several broken bones in his palms and the soles of his feet. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., blasted the Bush administration for giving Khatami a visa to the United States and providing him security at taxpayer expense during his stay. "Both before and after Sept. 11, the Khatami regime provided safe harbor and safe passage to al-Qaida," Sherman said. Holding up a copy of the 9/11 Commission report, he said it provided "clear documentation that when al-Qaida operatives transited Iran, they received special treatment and no visa stamp by an Iranian government dedicated to helping al Qaeda." It was "an insult" to those who died on Sept. 11 that American taxpayer dollars "are being used to promote a terrorism-promotional tour," he added. Referring to a demand by Iran's current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that America "bow and surrender" to Iran, he called the Bush administration approach to Iran "a bow-and-surrender policy." Sherman accused the Bush White House of "refusing to enforce the law" by allowing multinational corporations to invest in the Iranian oil and gas sector without incurring the penalties required under the Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA). Sherman's harsh partisan attack was out of step with the rest of the meeting, which was devoted to firsthand testimony of torture, political conditions inside Iran, and which ultimately became a workshop on Iranian democracy as Pahlavi fielded questions from supporters and critics. Pahlavi called on the international community to adopt a three-fold policy toward the Iranian regime: to "confront" the regime politically and diplomatically, to "pressure" it through international economic sanctions, and to "support" the pro-democracy forces in Iran. Asked why he was not playing a more forceful role in leading the opposition, Pahlavi said, "I don't think this is the moment to give somebody a title." Then he laughed: "Trust me: it's much easier said than done to provide such leadership. I have been witness to that for many years." Recalling the revolution that overthrew his father and brought "27 years of living hell" to Iran, he cautioned Iranians to think through the type of future they wanted. "This is not just about changing the regime. We want to make sure that the result of such change is truly what the people want," he said. "All I care is that it is secular and democratic in nature," he insisted
I have been thinking about these issues for a while now and I don't have the answers, just questions. Ofcourse I do also have my theories, but I am asking anyone who might know the answers to please enlighten me. About a month and a half ago Akbar Gangi was in the United States, promoting a hunger strike in support of three perticular political prisoners. None of those prisoners where students. This was at the very same time when Akbar Mohammadi was on hunger strike in Evin Prison. Why did Mr. Gangi forget about Akbar Mohammadi at a time when it was well known that he was on hunger strike and under very dangerous conditions? Another question why is it that while Akbar Mohammadi could not even get a medical leave to leave Iran, Akbar Gangi gets a visa to visit the United States of all places? How does anyone smuggle pictures of Akbar Gangi from the Evin prison while he was on hunger strike, when it is so difficult for other prisoners to let the outside world know about their plights and their hunger strikes? Call me paranoid but I find a few BIG holes in this picture. If anyone knows the answer to my questions please enlighten me, otherwise I have no choice but to come to the conclusion that Mr. Gangi orchestrated that hunger strike to steal all media attention while Mr. Mohammadi was dying in the Evin prison. A big distraction, and a disturbing one if you ask me.
Last night a friend brought it to my attention that the link between Carleton University the Islamic Regime and Terrorism may not be very clear. So I thought I would shed some light on the issue. I did my undergraduate degree at Carleton University and I am very familiar with the student body as well as the numerous student organizaitons.
For starters Carleton University is the only Canadian University that has an admission office in Iran. Numerous Iranian students come to Carleton each year funding htier education through governmetn bursaries. these bursaries are given to students who at the very least have a very strong Islamic background. Many of them come to Carleton University under the disguise of studying, but in reality they have other assignments. One of the things these students are actively involved with is information gathering against students and groups who are opponents of the Islamic Regime.
How do I know this? I was the founder of a student group that opposed the Islamic Regime while doing my undergraduate degree and I have had numerous unpleasant experiences with these students, from being snubbed to being verbally attacked to having to defend myself against complaints made to the university because I refused to use the Islamic Regime’s flag and always organized my events under the Lion and Sun (Shiro Khorshid) Flag.
There is also another group of students who are very closely related to the Islamic Regime. This is the Islamic fundamentalist students who have numerous religious organizations in the University. These students consist of both Iranian and Arab students.
In 2002-2003 I was well acquainted with the leader of one of these groups which shall remain nameless. This individual personally informed me that their group was funded by the Islamic Regime Embassy in Ottawa. This was a group which would put up the pictures of Khomeini (the so called Islamic Leader) and would promote suicide bombings in Palestine. This organization is still running strong 4 years later as is many newly developed Islamic Fundamentalist groups.
Few activists that have remained at the university are operating under real fear for their safety and well being. I have tried on numerous occasions to bring the attention of journalists to this issue, unfortunately there has never been enough proof to link these students to any illegal/terrorist activities. UNTIL NOW that is. I have no doubt that the case of this particular Iranian girl is not an isolated incident. Carleton University is full of extremists Islamic Students who are financially backed by the terrorist Regime of the Islamic Government. I have no doubt that if further criminal investigations are undertaken in Carleton University it will be discovered that many things are going on under the disguise of student organizations including possible and very dangerous terrorist activities.
According to the latest news from Radio Farda, another political prisoner Mehrdad Lohrasbi has been put under great "pressure" in order to force him in front of a camera stating that Mr. Mahdavi committed suicide and did not die as a result of hunger strike.
Today we are faced with the tragic death of another political prisoner. Valiollah Feyzal Mahdavi is the second political prisoner to die as a result of hunger strike in the past two months. Mr. Mahdavi had been charged with being a member of Mojahedeen and was originally sentenced to death. His sentence later was commuted to life imprisonment. He had been transferred from the Evin prison to the Rajaee Shahr prison two years ago. He had not been able to have any visitors for the past two years including his lawyer. 11 days ago he went on a hunger strike protesting the terrible prison conditions and asking for three simple things including seeing his lawyer and being transfered to the Evin prison. Unfortunately none of his requests were granted and he passed away while on hunger strike. There have been reports of the Islamic Regime authorities pressuring his inmates into stating that he had died as a result of suicide instead of a hunger strike.
We have lost another young individual to the brutality of the Islamic Regime. It's important to point out that just a month ago we lost Mr. Akbar Mohammadi while he had been on a two week hunger strike, today its Mr. Mahdavi and tomorow... Let us break the silence before its too late.
Down with the Islamic Regime
Here is an interesting article, for years now I have been saying that the Islamic Regime imports terrorists under teh disguise of students to carleton university. Now there is literal proof. Lets hope the Canadian governemtn will start to open up their eyes to what is going on right under their nose.
Carleton student says she funnelled cash to terror cell
GREG MCARTHUR AND OMAR EL AKKAD
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
She started out looking for a husband. Instead, the young Carleton University student became a key conduit for thousands of dollars that, police say, was financing terrorism.
Zenab Armend Pisheh, an Ottawa-area chemistry student in her early 20s, says she was used by young, aspiring jihadists in Britain and Canada and that she was handpicked because "sisters don't get caught -- brothers get caught if they send money."
For the first time yesterday, Ms. Armend Pisheh emerged as a key, co-operating witness for British and Canadian prosecutors, who are trying to prove that seven young British men and an Ottawa man, Momin Khawaja, conspired to blow up a British landmark in 2004.
The seven Britons have been on trial for months, and Mr. Khawaja, the first person charged under Canada's anti-terrorism legislation, is slated to begin his trial in January. Although Ms. Armend Pisheh didn't appear in court in London yesterday for the trial of the seven men, a statement detailing how she was first wooed, and later made a co-conspirator, was read into the record by British prosecutors. Her double life as a money runner, she says in her statement, began in the summer of 2002, when she was finishing her CEGEP studies, the college program that Quebec teenagers must complete before attending university. Although The Globe was unable to locate Ms. Armend Pisheh, associates said that, at that time, she lived in Aylmer, Que.
She lived with her Iranian parents.
It was around that time that, through an Internet chat room, she got to know a man who identified himself as Abdul Rahman Adam. It was a whirlwind romance, and soon he was phoning her from Britain and discussing marriage. He also told her that he and some other brothers were interested in unspecified "training" in a place she presumed to be Pakistan, she said.
The man she met, prosecutors say, was actually one of the seven accused British men, Anthony Garcia, 24.
The wedding never happened; her suitor insisted that she move to Britain and live with him and his parents, and she wanted him to come to Canada, she said in her statement.
She kept in contact with him, though, and she alleges that he asked her for money.
Shortly after that, Ms. Armend Pisheh received an e-mail from a man who identified himself as "Hamza." British prosecutors have identified Hamza as Mr. Khawaja, an Ottawa software developer who is accused of designing the cellphone detonator that the Britons were allegedly planning to use to ignite 600 kilograms of ammonium nitrate.
At first, Hamza talked about jihad and the "cause of Allah," she said in her statement. Eventually, they met in person, she said.
"He later told me he needed a woman to send money," she said in her statement. "He said it had to be a woman because sisters don't get caught -- brothers get caught if they send money."
In a meeting at the University of Ottawa, he handed her cash, she said. In total, she estimates that she and "Hamza" met between 10 and 15 times, and that on one occasion he gave her $4,000 to send. She had orders to send the cash through a Western Union in downtown Ottawa's biggest mall, the Rideau Centre.
"He also gave me CDs and jihad videos. One showed training. . . . He gave them to me over a period of time," her statement said.
Over the next few months, she would send more cash, and a debit card for a bank account which, prosecutors say, was later used by the British suspects.
Ms. Armend Pisheh also says she once met with Mr. Khawaja and his friend, Younes Lasfar. Mr. Lasfar told her that using e-mail was unsafe, she said in her statement, and soon, the group began communicating through the same joint e-mail account.
They shared the same user name and password and would write draft messages to each other. That way no e-mails would be sent and intercepted, she said.
Reached yesterday, Mr. Lasfar said he had no idea what Ms. Armend Pisheh was talking about.
"All I know is that she used to be friends with my sister and that's it," he said.
Last year, Mr. Lasfar told the CBC's fifth estate that he and Mr. Khawaja used to play paintball and to avoid suspicion, they would sign up with Western names such as Matthew and Robert. If they talked about paintball on the phone, they would refer to it as "hockey," he said.
He hasn't been accused by authorities of any wrongdoing.
The alleged financing scheme came to a halt when Ms. Armend Pisheh started to question the sanctity of their operation, she said. She abandoned the bank account because she "didn't think what [Mr. Khawaja] was doing was right," she said.
"I don't think it was right as a woman and they kept getting caught. If it was religiously right it would go smoothly."
When Mr. Khawaja was arrested in April of 2004, she said she realized what she had involved herself in. Although Mr. Khawaja always referred to himself as "Hamza," she said he had signed off one e-mail with the name "Momin," her statement said. However, she also said her in statement that the outdated photograph of Mr. Khawaja that appeared in the media after his arrest didn't look exactly like the man she had secretly been meeting.
"I could not be sure because Hamza had a beard and the picture of Momin on the news did not have a beard."
Lawrence Greenspon, Mr. Khawaja's lawyer, said yesterday that if he has the chance to cross-examine Ms. Armend Pisheh, her motives for helping the authorities will be explored thoroughly. Mr. Khawaja's older brother, Qasim Khawaja, told The Globe that he didn't know the woman.
Her involvement in the case made him wonder about what sort of deal, if any, she had made with the Crown and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is an offence to enhance, directly or indirectly, the ability of someone to facilitate, or carry out, a terrorist plot.
"If she alleges that she's running money . . . then how come she's out there?" Qasim Khawaja said.
Here are some pictures from the memorial for the political prisoners who were massacred in 1988. As usual the regime made it extremely difficult for the families to gather, but they climbed walls and walked through through tunnels to get to the cemetary. As most of you know a brutal massacure took place in 1988 where thousands of political prisoners were executed following a 3 minute trial/sentencing. The exact number of prisoners that were murdered is not known, but some say it was as much as 10,000 people. It is important to remember this day, to make sure that we never allow such attrocity to take place in the future.
Valiallah Feyzi Mahdavi- A political prisoner in Rajai Shahr Prison suffered from a cerebral vascular accident (CVA) on september 3rd 2006. He had been on a hunger strike for 9 days when he suffered from cardiac arrest. He was transferred to the prison hospital, the cardiac arrest was treated, but immadiately after Mr. Mahdavi suffered from CVA. He has been transferred to a hospital outside of the prison. Mr. Mahdavi had been asking for three things during his hunger strike. 1) For the new verdict commuting his death sentence to be submitted to him. 2) to be transferred to the Evin prison. 3) to have access to his lawyer.
As most of you know about a month ago Akbar Mohammadi was murdered in the notorious Evin prison while on a two week hunger strike. The news was devestating not only for the student movement, but for all Iranians who are in support of a free and democratic Iran. This is something you may not have heard about just yet. Manouchehr Mohammadi was smuggled from Iran about a week ago. His whereabouts as of now are not known, but we know that he is out of Iran and safe. He is awaiting to get acceptance from a safe country. I personally feel very optimistic about this new development. I believe that Manouchehr Mohammadi could be a great asset to the student movement outside of Iran, because he is credible and becasue of his in debt knowladge of Iranian politics and personal experiences of the past 7 years. I look forward to hearing about the new developments as they take place.