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Entries in Shadi Sadr (2)


Iran: Shadi Sadr's Speech Accepting "2009 Human Rights Defenders Tulip"

The Latest from Iran (11 November): Revelations & Connections

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SHADI SADRLawyer, journalist, and human rights activist Shadi Sadr accepting the 2009 Human Rights Defenders Tulip at The Hague:

Jury of the Human Rights Tulip Award,
Your Excellency Foreign Minister of Holland
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am greatly honoured that the jury of the Human Rights Tulip Award has found me worth of receiving this year’s award and given me the opportunity to speak about the situation of women’s rights in Iran, the dire needs of people in Iran and also their expectations from the international community. You have all seen pictures and videos of people’s protests in the aftermath of this year’s presidential elections. You have seen how women, particularly young girls, have been at the forefront of all protests. They challenged the stereotype image of Iranian woman which was often imagined in veil or passive around the world. Neda, the young girl who was shot and murdered in demonstrations, quickly became a symbol for the struggles of Iranian people for freedom and democracy. To me, however, the active and determining role of women was not shaped only through images and videos. I had seen the leadership of women on the streets and the most lasting images I have in mind go back to the 9th of July this year.

On this day, large crowds of people took to the streets of Tehran on the 10th anniversary of the suppression of student protests of 1989. Demonstrations were about to end and as usual, violence and attacks were increasing by the minute. Along with a number of the demonstrators, to get away from pepper gas which was thrown into the crowd by security forces, I had to run into a city bus, while I was badly coughing from the effects of tear gas. A few stops away from there, when coughs were less disturbing, a political debate began among the people on the bus. Young women, who had broken the gender segregation rule on public buses and had found seats in the male area of the bus, were leading the debate. I asked loudly and with suprise, “Anyone from the gentlemen? They are all quiet!” Instead of someone from among men, a young girl who was dressed in black said, “Men had better be quiet now. Thirty years ago, they made this revolution and we have now seen its result. They had better be quiet now and let us do our job! This revolution is our revolution, women’s revolution!”

Here, I would like to pose this question: who are these women, who simply speak about a revolution of women, those whose images you have seen and I hope you have not forgotten? Who are they? And why do they fight so bravely for freedom and democracy?

Many of these young women have been born after the 1979 revolution or they have been young kids in the early days of the revolutions; they are completely products of an ideological system, which has had the monopoly of power in Iran for thirty years. Apart from having to suffer the lack of political freedoms and democracy like men, they also have to accept rules of compulsory veil, live with family laws which put them under the guardianship of men, seek the consent of their fathers for marriage, the right of getting a divorce and they are often deprived of the guardianship of their children. These are the same women who will be flogged in they have relationships other than in a marriage and if they are married women, an extra-marital relationship may lead to being stoned. These are the same women that Ahmadinejad’s government wants to minimise their role in universities and the labour market and make them stay at home and be isolated with fundamentalist policies which is now even more restrictive than the past 30 years.

In the past thirty years, Iranian women have gone through the highest level of suppression and pressure in their personal and social lives and have sustained the most damage of all from the ruling system. Under such circumstances, it is obvious that they are the unhappiest and the angriest citizens who do not have much to lose. If they are arrested today because of attending demonstrations for democracy, they have been arrested before for attending gatherings in defence of women’s rights and they have gone to prison for it. If they are raped today by security forces, they have felt this rape on their body and their soul for thirty years in the violation of their rights and their human dignity. Given all these facts, do we still have to ask why, today, women are at the forefront of the struggles of Iranian people?

At the beginning of my talk, I said I hope you have not forgotten the images of the protests of Iranian people against the violation of human rights and the absence of freedom and democracy.

However, let me be honest and tell you that I concerned. I am concerned that these images and these struggles may be forgotten. Yes, if violation of human rights in Iran does not face any resistance or repercussions and if these struggles are not defended in a concrete way, the Iranian people have the right to tell us you have forgotten us. My concern becomes even much deeper when I see that the western media is becoming less and less concerned about the violation of human rights in Iran and even politicians are not better than the media.

Unfortunately, forgetting the thousands who were arrested and tortured in prisons, the hundreds who were killed and the unknown number of prisoners who were raped are killed in detention is a real concern. The fact is that in Iran, while on the one hand people’s struggles and protests are still powerful and living and on the other hand , violation of human rights continues in a systematic way in all spheres, from women’s rights to freedom of gatherings, from rights of prisoners to freedom of speech, it appears that European nations and states are beginning to forget what they witnesses in Iran this summer. It is my conviction that by forgetting these realities, western governments not only forget their own responsibility which has been defined as countries who uphold human rights, but they are also putting in jeopardy the interests of their own state and their own citizens by forgetting these events.

They sit at the same table of negotiations with Ahmadinejad in the capacity of a legitimate president and the only item on the agenda of these negotiations is the issue of nuclear energy, as if none of these events had happened in Iran and as if none of the disasters which we see today keep occurring in Iran. On the level of international politics, everything is business as usual with the Islamic Republic like before the events of this summer. Even when there is talk of sanctions against Iran, sanctions are considered in the face of Iran’s advancements in the area of nuclear technology, as if no one sees the day to day violation of the basic rights of Iranian citizens by the Iranian government. Human rights is a universal issue and if one state claims to be supporting human rights, this claim brings about responsibilities with it . Ignoring these responsibilities, not only subjects Iranian people to further and wider suppression, but it also has long term repercussion for the citizens of countries who consider themselves defenders of human rights, because just in the same way that human rights is universal, fundamentalism as one of the greatest enemies of human rights has also become universal and global. Silence, toleration and recognition of a fundamentalist government that violates the rights of women, dissidents and minorities result in the enhancement and the export of global fundamentalism. We can already see symptoms of it even on this side of the borders: Holland is one of the societies which is now dealing with the issue of religious fundamentalism as a social and political problem..

In the latest demonstration of the Iranian people against the government which was held last week, a large number of people and this time, women more than before, were attacked, beaten up and abused by security guards. Women were wounded, arrested and among them were a large number of political activists such as Vahideh Mowlavi, a women’s rights activist , were violently arrested. In these demonstrations, people were chanting the slogan: “Obama! Obama! You are either with us or with them!” The slogan clearly implies that right before the eyes of the people who are now fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights in Iran, one cannot sit at a negotiation table with a dictatorial government to speak about nuclear energy or economic contracts and talk about concrete conditions and at the same time, criticise the state of human rights in Iran through political statements which have no actual guarantee to be put into action. Demonstrators are overtly challenging Obama to clarify his position towards the struggles of the Iranian people and they have the same expectation from European governments.

As a women’s rights activist who comes from the heart of the struggles of the people, I am here in The Hague, in Holland – the city which is the seat of the International Criminal Court for addressing crimes against humanity – to speak of two dire needs of the movement of the Iranian people. These needs and necessities will not be realised unless western governments take responsibility. First, it is necessary that the issue of human rights in Iran remains on the table of negotiations alongside the issue of nuclear energy with equal significance. As long as the issue of human rights is not raised at least in a parallel way to the nuclear issue at all levels of political and economic negotiations with the Iranian government and sanctions and other possible guarantees of action do not include both areas, one cannot accept that some real effort has been made to stop the violation of the rights of Iranian citizens.

The second necessity is that all those involved and all those who have ordered the widespread and systematic violation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran should be prosecuted and tried. It is true that Iran, like many other violators of human rights, has not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, but western governments, including the Dutch government, as the host of the International Criminal Court, can ask the UN Security Council to pursue the issue of crimes against humanity through setting up an international court for Iran. Let us not forget that a global issue can only be dealt with through a global action.

Thank you.

The Latest from Iran (9 November): Assessing the Government

NEW Iran: An Eyewitness on 13 Aban “Protest An Inseparable Part of People’s Lives”
NEW Iran's Nuclear Programme: Washington's Unhelpful Misperceptions
Latest Iran Video: Mehdi Karroubi on the 13 Aban Protests
NEW Iran: An Opposition Renewing, A Government in Trouble
Iran: Question for the Regime “What’s Your Next Punch?”
NEW Latest Iran Video: More from 13 Aban & from Today (8-9 November)

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ahmadinejad62030 GMT: We're still waiting for an English translation of today's Mir Hossein Mousavi newspaper with Jamaran, the newspaper of the Khomeini family (see 1015 GMT). The headline is Mousavi's declaration that Iran is "vulnerable" in the current political situation: “People who entered the scene of the Revolution did not do it to suffer such difficulties. They came to secure their freedom and welfare, and if the system fails to deliver, it will lose its legitimacy for certain.”

2020 GMT: An EA reader has sent us the petition, printed in full in the comments below, to the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, to commute the death sentence of Ehsan Fatahian, a 28-year-old Kurd who is scheduled for execution on Wednesday. Fatahian was initially given a 10-year prison term for “plotting against national security” but this was changed to a death sentence by an appeal court when the charge “waging war against God” was added.

2000 GMT: Back from a break to find excellent material from readers. With university demonstrations continuing today, we've posted four clips from a rally at Azad University, Khomeini Shahr, outside Isfahan.

An EA reader describes, in a comment below, today's  ceremony awarding the Human Rights Defenders Tulip to Iranian lawyer and human/women’s rights activist Shadi Sadr in The Hague.

Tomorrow (10 November) at 12:00 CET she will present a film, Women in Shrouds, and hold a Q&A about human rights in Iran. If anyone here would like to ask her a question through me, please post it here in these comments.

1645 GMT: Daftar-Tahkim-Vahdat, the main reformist student and alumni organisation, has issued a statement announcing that it will withstand the oppression of "coup agents" with all of its organisational power, even as almost half of its key members are imprisoned or sought by the security forces.

The significance beyond this general assertion is that when the organisation issued a statement of defiance on the eve of 13 Aban, the regime arrested three of its leading members. So renewing this show of resistance is a clear signal that, less than a month before the next mass rally on 16 Azar (7 December), the students will not be cowed into silence.

1630 GMT: Hillary Responds and Iran's State Media Takes Note. No surprise that Secretary of State Clinton would offer a boiler-plate response to the news of the charging of the three hikers:
We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever. And we would renew our request on the behalf of these three young people and their families that the Iranian government exercise compassion and release them so they can return home. And we will continue to make that case through our Swiss protecting power, who represents the United States in Tehran.

More interesting, perhaps, that the statement would be prominently featured on Press TV's website.

1440 GMT: The Story Beyond the Headline Story --- 3 US Hikers Charged with Espionage. Western media will be dominated for the next 24 hours by the breaking news that three Americans who strayed across the Iraq-Iran border will be charged with spying, according to Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi.

Here's the unreported dimension of the event. The news came through only hours after the US representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Glyn Davies, offered Washington's olive branch in the nuclear talks:

"There have been communications back and forth. We are in extra innings in these negotiations. That's sometimes the way these things go....We want to give some space to Iran to work through this. It's a tough issue for them, quite obviously, and we're hoping for an early positive answer from the Iranians."

Davies' kind words appear to be tied to the new Iranian counter-proposal (see separate entry), which in visit may be linked to Russian intervention through the visit of its Deputy Foreign Minister to Tehran this weekend.

So is the Iranian Government playing a cunning game where it can engage the US with one hand and strike at Washington, via its citizens,  with the other? Or are we now seeing a schizophrenic Government in which one group is pursuing negotiations while another is going for intimidation?

1225 GMT: Ahmadinejad and the CIA. The politics around the President's "engagement" with the US, given the regime's simultaneous post-election use of "velvet coup" to crack down on opponents, is getting very confusing.

The Iranian Labor News Agency features an interview with conservative activist Mojtaba Shakeri, who says that  some of the journalists and scholars who met with Ahmadinejad, presumably during the President's trip to New York, were undoubtedly CIA operatives. Shakeri says this is common US practice and occurred in previous encounters with Presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami.

For Mir Hossein Mousavi's Kalemeh, the interview is enough to become the sensational revelation that the President has met CIA officials. That, of course, is part of the current opposition campaign to question the President's duplicity in negotiating with the Obama Administration while denouncing the evils of the US.

1145 GMT: We have received a moving and thoughtful e-mail from an EA reader, offering an eyewitness summary of the importance of 13 Aban. It is posted in a separate entry.

1110 GMT: Saeed Mortazavi, the former Tehran Prosecutor General who organised the first post-election trials and has been linked to the abuses at Kahrizak Prison, may be moving post for the second times in three months. Mortazavi became Iran's Deputy Prosecutor General but may now become head of the economic crimes division of the Justice Ministry.

1015 GMT: Green Publicity. Mir Hossein Mousavi has spoken with Jamaran, the newspaper of the Khomeini family, about the need for unity through adherence to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. This is the second major interview Jamaran has featured in 72 hours, having spoken with former President Mohammad Khatami this weekend.

0945 GMT: Why are Bread Prices Rising? EA correspondent Mohammad Khiabani, who specialises in analysis on the Iranian economy, has a look at the recent increase in bread prices (see yesterday's updates), "This is not completely unrelated to subsidy removals, since merchants often increase prices in future expectation of inflation, which of course leads to inflation." This from the US Open Source Center:
In its November 8 issue, Hemayat said that the two traditional breads including Barbari and Sangak were being sold for 600 and 2,000 tomans, respectively (approximately 1,000 tomans = US $1). The newspaper said that, coming before the announcement of the new rates for bread, evidence shows that the increase in prices is more than what was officially declared. Officials had declared new rates for the traditional bread in the first week of November. Under this scheme the price per bread for unsubsidized Sangak is 400 tomans and in subsidized bakeries it is 175 tomans.

Jomhouri Eslami headlined: "New wave of expensive bread". The report pointed out that the offenders are overcharging while the authorities are only giving warnings. Jomhuri Islami reported the cost of bread in various Tehran neighborhoods. In southern Tehran Barbari costs 150 tomans, Pasadaran (northeast) 200 tomans, Saadatabad (northwest) 250 tomans, Shahrake Gharb (northwest) 300 tomans, Shahrake Omid (northeast) 500 tomans, Ketabi Square (north) 600 tomans.
As for the Sangak, which uses a more expensive flour and baking process, it was sold in Pasdaran for 1,000 tomans, Saadatabad 700 tomans, and Shahrake Gharb for 2,000 tomans.

0900 GMT: Iran's Telecommunications Privatised. Press TV reports:
An Iranian consortium has signed a deal to buy 50 percent plus one of the shares of Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) for around eight billion dollars. According to the deputy of Iran's Privatization Company, the related contract was signed Sunday with an Iranian consortium named Etemad Mobin Development that includes three firms.

"The historical deal was signed after an article was added to the $7.8 billion text of the contract according to which the buyer will be committed to the charter of TCI," said Mehdi Oghadaei.

0805 GMT: The muddle inside Iran on the nuclear negotiations and a useful but disturbing New York Times article this morning prompt us to offer an analysis, "Iran's Nuclear Programme: Washington's Unhelpful Misperceptions".

0640 GMT: Unsurprisingly, Iranian state media are playing up the meetings of President Ahmadinejad with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. No details are offered, though Erdogan has recently been supportive of Iran's line on its nuclear programme, criticising its Israeli counterpart.

0610 GMT: An EA reader sends in a piece of interesting information about Internet trends inside Iran. The search volume for Mohsen Sazegara, a founder of the Revolutionary Guard who is now a fervent opponent of the regime from his exile in the US, is twice that for Mehdi Karroubi.

Not sure of the significance of this; any ideas would be welcome.

0600 GMT: We'll be trying to put the pieces together on where the Iranian Government is heading, even if those involved don't know where they fit.

President Ahmadinejad is in Ankara for the meeting of the economic committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which raises the possibilities of the Government going into a holding phase or (more likely) others manoeuvring while Ahmadinejad is away.

One of the events which may or may not be significant in those calculations continues to be debated today. We initially speculated that Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, travelled to Najaf in Iraq to see senior clerics because of the internal discussions in Tehran. EA correspondent Josh Mull has been putting the alternative that Larijani saw Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and others to encourage passage of the law for Iraqi elections in January, and other observers also back that view.

On the opposition side, there is a lot of Internet chatter this morning about Mehdi Karroubi's webcast yesterday, recounting the events of 13 Aban and criticising the Government's manipulation of the issue of relations with the US. And discussion is picking up over a planned demonstration at Shiraz University today.