Monday, June 27, 2011

ICC issues arrest warrant for Gaddafi

The international criminal court in Hague, today, issued the arrest warrant for Mo’amar Gaddafi, his son and a few other Libyan officials. This means Gaddafi’s option of seeking sanctuary in another country is, by law and on paper, taken out of the equation as he will be arrested the moment he sets foot outside his secure circle in Tripoli.

The question is how will this be implemented? How can various countries be forced to follow this ruling? Sudan’s tyrant, Omar Al Bashir, also has been on the similar arrest warrant by the ICC, for crimes against humanity. However, the effectiveness of such warrants has come under question when we see the very same Sudanese tyrant attending the ridiculous “conference on terrorism” in Tehran (oh, the irony!) and he is scheduled to visit yet another country known for its abuse of human rights, China.

The Chinese officials, however, wave any inquiry away, merely commenting: “China is not a signatory to the ICC, so is not legally obliged to turn Bashir over”. It comes as no surprise such criminals find allies and sympathizers only in similar states where the government is well known for its infringements and crimes against humanity; the Islamic regime of Iran and China.

Therefore it will be of interest to see how the international community will react and impose the will of the ICC. Or will ICC be shown as just another impotent and increasingly weakening international body like the United Nations, when it comes to the real issues that the people of nations (as opposed to the governments) face.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Prisoners' hunger strike rakes in support

Prominent opposition activists and figures, including the Noble Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, extend their support for the 12 political prisoners who have resorted to hunger strike in their bid to be heard by the authorities, following the latest tragedy, the death of a well known activist and journalist, Hoda Saber. The latest in a long line of despicable treatment of political prisoners and those who think differently from the ruling theocrats.

The brave prisoners:

Shirin Ebadi, lawyer, former judge and human rights activist, winner of Nobel Peace Prize

Maziyar Bahari, journalist, Newsweek correspondent

Mojtaba Vahedi, Journalist and Mehdi Karoubi's deputy

Prof. Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University

RASA TV's coverage of the hunger strike:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Numbers tell a tall tale

According to the Human Rights statistics released recently:

0: number of UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights issues permitted to visit Iran in last 2 years.

1st: Iran is the first and largest prison of journalists in the world, according to Reporters without Borders.

19: Arash Rahmanipour’s age, when executed in January 2010 after appearing in a show/mass trial. According to Amnesty International, his sentence was flawed for several reasons including concerns about his motivation for confessing against himself in a public trial.

20: number of years filmmaker Jafar Panahi was banned from making films, on 20 December 2010. He was also given a 6-year prison sentence, and is currently on bail.

25: number of people executed in public (at least) since the beginning of 2011 in Iran, according to Iran Human Rights (.net) list and an Amnesty International report in April.

27: is the article in the Islamic Republic constitution, referring to freedom of peaceful assembly and gathering; however this right has been severely restricted in Iran throughout the past couple of years.

34.5: is the total number of years of imprisonment that the two bloggers Hossein Ronaghi Maleki and Hossein Derakhshan have been sentenced to (15 yrs and 19.5 yrs respectively).

116: Number of days that the leaders of the opposition, Mousavi and Karroubi have been placed under house arrest without trial or arrest warrant (up until Sunday 12 June, according to Iran Green Voice counter)

120: Number of days (at least) that Ahmad Zeidabadi, journalist, spent in a solitary confinement. He later described his solitary confinement to his wife as like a grave (a small room of 1.5x1 meters with no ventilation) according to Radio Free Europe (Farda).

150: the number of Iranian Journalists (at least) who have fled Iran and sought asylum in other countries in the past couple of years according to Reporters without Borders.

158th: Iran’s ranking (tied with Libya) in the Index of Democracy, out of 169 countries in 2010. Iran dropped 11 steps in the ranking since the 2009 election, according to Economist Intelligence Unit (from Wikipedia).

271: Number of Prisoners of Conscience in Iranian prisons (at least) including journalists, human rights defenders, union activists, dissident politicians, women rights activists, poets and authors, religious and ethnic minorities, religious converts, student activists, etc. (According to the list of Free My Family Campaign)

682: number of people executed in 2010 in Iran according to UK Human Rights Report 2010, based on credible reports. More than all other countries put together in 2010, with the exception of China.

1,000,000: 1,000,000 signatures is the name of the biggest women’s rights movement in Iran, several of whose activists have either been forced to flee Iran or have been imprisoned over the past couple of years; despite all this the movement is still going on.

(Courtesy of ukiniran website - British Embassy in Tehran)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Former Maldives foreign minister is UN's investogator to Iran

Maldives former foreign minster, Mr. Ahmad Shaheeb has been appointed as United Nation’s Human Rights Commission representative and investogator to Iran. It is a wise decision as he is first and foremost a muslim, which will automatically deny the Iranian government their usual excuse of “westerners” being unfamiliar and opposing eastern and Islamic values.

On earlier occasions, the Iranian officials had brought up plethora of excuses for their non-compliance with these representatives, whose mostly western origin was exploited. Therefore, in a preemptive act by the Iranian human rights activists, proposing a muslim male who is an easterner is nothing short of a coup.

And what is a promising turn of events is that he is authorized to gather information and present the case whether he is permitted to enter the country or not, through families, relatives and friends’ accounts of those who have been victims of human rights abuse by the regime. So the crimes and atrocities of Khamenei’s regime will be documented irrespective of compliance by the government and there is no way that this can be stopped.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Youtube and Facebook revolution

These days we hear a lot about the events in Syria with the people’s uprising and Syria’s and Lybia’s news fill the air with every broadcast agency covering all aspects of the peoples’ struggle. Very similar to the Egypt uprising with 24 hour coverage by some news agencies like Al-Jazeera. This 24 hour coverage helps the people’s cause tremendously as it keeps the focus on the issue, therefore forces the international community to take action. Something that was missing when Iran and Iranians went through the same motions 2 years back during the election fraud.

However, the dissimilarities don’t stop there. These days we hear a lot about Syria introducing the “Youtube revolution”. Much like when we heard the “Facebook revolution” during the Egyptian revolt. Really? Surely the western news agencies can remember 2 years prior to these events when Iranians introduced the use of social media, particularly the Facebook and Twitter in service of spreading information, coordination of groups and informing of the occurrences when the Iranian government severely restricted the coverage of the events and banned any foreign media to be present and bring the voice of our people to the rest of the world. It was the very same Iranian, back in June 2009 when they made use of Youtube to relay clips recorded by their personal cell phones of the atrocities and crimes of the Iranian security forces and Basij militia.

Yes, the only difference is the amount of attention the western and international media is giving to the Syrian and Egyptian and other revolts because there are foreign media on the ground covering news as they happen. But surely they can be fair and acknowledge the true introduction of Youtube or Facebook revolutions.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yesterday saw a show of defiance by the people, despite the regime’s efforts at decapitating the opposition through various nefarious means, starting with imprisoning the prominent figures of the opposition, Karoubi and Mousavi along with their family, to closing all the opposition newspapers and websites and pretty much every route for spread of information, to intimidation, imprisonment, torture, and murder of the activists, journalists and even ordinary folk who dared make a stand against the ruling theocracy.

There is absolutely no way to measure the numbers as this was supposed to have been a silent protest. But given the regime’s frightened tactics of flooding the streets with thugs and security forces, while other basiji thugs on motorcycle roaming the streets shouting and screaming at people, only shows the depth of its fear of the opposition. According to the NBC reports there were tens of thousands gathered in several venues, among which Vanak Square and ValiAssr Circle saw more action. There were reports of several arrests by the security apparatus, the numbers of which we don’t know yet and given the regime’s track record, may never know.

The video evidence may take a few days to leak out of Iran due to the govt’s strict control of the internet and its band width. Not to mention hacking of people’s personal accounts and emails by the hired goons (including some Chinese and Russians hackers) calling themselves “Iranian Cyber Army” makes dispatch of information and video clips more difficult and dangerous. But what can be understood in all this is that the people showed their defiance despite 2 years of constant life threatening measures taken by the regime. That, by itself, ought to demonstrate the level of antagonism prevailing among the people against this tyrannical regime.

Meanwhile, some of the opposition figureheads have announced the following demonstrations and protests will not be as silent. So while the government lackeys desperately tried to sell the idea that the opposition is dead, it showed it is still thriving, albeit underground, and will make its presence known in more ways than only hitting the streets.

Elsewhere, Hoda saber, an imprisoned journalist, on 8th day of his hunger strike, passed away. He was reported to have been beaten and injured by plain-clothed intelligence ministry personnel and his cries of help were heard by others in the hospital.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On the eve of the anniversary of the stolen 2009 elections

There have been calls for a peaceful, silent demonstration throughout the country, especially Tehran. Given the recent events within Iran and in the Middle East, it is expected that the authorities will bring in their security apparatus in full force to quell any dissent or outward display of opposition. Therefore, I believe inviting the people to a silent demonstration is a wise move.