Iran news digest

The gentle plea of Iran News Digest to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and security forces is very moving.

The digest is of news from Iran by big media outlets in what I can appropriately term ‘the free world’ – I found many (though not all) of the same by searching Google News, but it’s good to have aggregated. From it:

Green Thursday takes support for Iranian freedoms offline today, plus Persepolis 2.0 – t

Via Harry’s Place:

Please Join us 9th July

Its another big day tomorrow. The 10th anniversary of the student uprising in Iran. The student protests in 1999 spread to 19 cities and went on for 6 days. The uprising was brutally crushed but it was the beginning of a new dawn. It gave us hope that change was coming to Iran. That despite all the propaganda machinery of those who consider themselves the ‘Representatives of God on earth’, the young Iranians had not been duped, and they had not given up. They were as determined as ever to bring about the 100 year old struggle of the Iranian people for democracy and freedom of speech to fruition.

‘Freedom of Thought, Forever, Forever’ Was the main slogan of those youngsters who had risked their lives by joining the protests in 1999. Ten years on now, the struggle is much more widespread. Now its every section of the Iranian population. The people of Iran deserves your international support.

Come and join us outside the Islamic Republic embassy in London, tomorrow 9th July, in London after 5:30 pm. Let the forces of darkness know that the freedom loving people of Iran are not on their own.

See you tomorrow at: 16 Prince’s Gate, SW7. The nearest Tube station is South Kensington.

Victory to the freedom loving people of Iran.

Help them enjoy the same freedoms you enjoy.

Back online again – via Shiraz Socialist, Iranian graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi in the New York Times and the recent and freely downloadable graphic novel Persepolis 2.0 (see Spread Persepolis). See also the Flickr slideshow (which WordPress’ free service currently won’t let me embed).

At Iran Body Count the poor, brave Azadi Eshgeman’s works unsensationally to make sure that nobody’s death goes forgotten.

“Young people are not praying any more”

The twittering hasn’t stopped; #IranElection is still trending.

From it I learn that Haddi Ghaffari, a conservative Iranian cleric and founder of Hesbollah, has made an openly critical address to Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei over his conduct during the elections, including:

“Khamenei, your recent actions and behavior has brought shame to us clerics. Our image in the streets and bazaars has been tarnished as everyone is placing us in the same category as Ahmadinejad.”

“Khamenei, you are wrong, your actions are wrong. I believe in the velayat e fagih more than you.”

“I’m not preaching these messages so that I could be associated with the West. I loathe the West and will fight to the last drop of my blood before I or my land succumbs to the West. On the contrary, I’m preaching these messages on the count that the respect for our profession is gone.”

“Young people are not praying anymore, whose fault is that? It is your fault Mr. Khamenei, it’s your fault for placing us in the same line as that lunatic Ahmadinejad.”

“Ahmadinejad is nobody, you should congregate with us instead of him.”

Talk about a rock and a hard place.

See too Iran News Now where @iran_translator is carefully selecting and summarising tweets into daily digests of happenings on the streets and institutions of Iran, including:

“9. Ahmadinejad declared that an attempt at a ’soft overthrow’ of the regime had failed. This comes after a partial recount of 10% of the vote by the Guardian Council which resulted in slightly more votes of Ahmadinejad!!! Mohammad Yazdi, a cleric and member of the Guardian Council, announced today that he could personally testify as to the impartiality of the election. He added that Mousavi will be barred from taking part in any future elections.

10. Tehran’s notorious Evin prison is reportedly packed to capacity now and security forces are housing the detained in football stadiums. So many people are put in Tehran’s prisons that prisoners only have standing space. Reports say guards are preventing prisoners from sleeping by keeping them standing all night. Amnesty International today warned that the opposition leaders arrested in Iran were at risk of being tortured.”

What are the emerging demands of the reformists? See Inside Story from Al Jazeera (23 minute presentation and panel debate from 10 days ago which I haven’t yet watched).

Iran, the dead, and the withered

I found a blog which names the dead of Iran’s post-election riots. I wonder if we can find out any more personal about these people, to remember them by, other than that they rioted and were killed, sometimes after torture.

The blog’s author comments on another blog:

“Dear Azarmehr, the dead and injured are innumerable. I set up the site http://iranbodycount.blogspot.com and I just don’t have the time to post all the killed and injured, all photos and videos, they are soo much!!! I could do it all day and they won’t finish!

This is worse than anything before.”

Bob’s recent post on Iran and the left is depressing to the extreme, but perhaps the link to formerly imprisoned Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky will indeed prove prescient

Letter to Boris Johnson: no to Iranian government Press TV ads on London Transport

In typical limp and un-self-efficacious manner, I left my last blog post on Press TV at that.

Update: for readers who can’t tell the difference between the critique below and a call for a ban, the above post contained a condemnation of Press TV’s content and a defence of its right to broadcast.

Update 2: A donation to Avaaz’s ‘Break the Blackout’ is one way you can genuinely give “a voice to the voiceless”.

Press TV’s paltry, and then anodyne, coverage of the aftermath of Iranian elections has clearly demonstrated its potential, as an English-language propaganda organ of a repressive Iranian government, to undermine the building of solidarity between imperilled reformists in Iran and their supporters in this country and abroad.

I speculate that Iranian Trade Unionists would feel the same. In the post before last I mentioned a few of those who are being held for no good reason in Iran’s Evin jail for political prisoners.

Here are Drink Soaked Trots with an open letter calling for the Press TV ads which have recently appeared on London Transport to be pulled, and here’s Principia Dialectica leafleting versions of the letter with significant interest from the small number of people who attended the last Stop The War – No! Not That One – Coalition meeting.

See my previous posts and links on Iran for reports of the clerical leadership’s enforcers persecuting trade unionists and closing down channels for free democratic expression. Press TV is an accessory to this, actively inhibiting international solidarity with affected Iranians by censoring all news of such occurrences. Not only has Press TV been largely silent about the violence and deep unrest in Iran since the elections but, still dining out on long-past wrongs committed against Iran by the Great Powers in the name of imperialism, it is attempting to deflect internal criticism outwards towards Israel and the US. Needless to say, Press TV has failed to even note, let alone mark, Global Solidarity Action Day for Iran. Search the Press TV site for the people mentioned in my last post, whose denied freedoms are widely echoed across the world by people who want a free, democratic, egalitarian Iran. Try a few different spellings. You’ll be lucky to find anything, because Press TV has ghosted these important reformists out of Iranian politics. Search for Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death has become emblematic of the danger faced by protesters. I can’t find anything with the spellings I’ve tried (the ones used by the BBC, CNN, etc).

Uh, perhaps Press TV’s search is a bit fucked? Trying Google for Neda site:http://www.presstv.ir/, we get “CIA involved in Neda’s shooting?”. Oh sure, that’s much more likely than pro-Ahmedinejad vigilantes – maybe it was also the CIA who went clouting and killing students at Tehran University, prompting a mass resignation of faculty? We get nothing for “Mostafa Tajzadeh“. Nothing for “Abdollah Ramezanzadeh“. Nothing for “Farzad Kamangar“. Nothing for “Mansour Osanloo“. I’ll stop there. Press TV is not a station that can answer questions from people who are really thinking about Iran.

The front page is some indication of Press TV’s priorities at time of writing; Israel is mentioned 5 times above the fold and 9 times in total. On the other hand, Press TV’s headlines for Iran – you would never know that the country had been gripped by a popular spasm for the past few weeks, now repressed on the streets and continued by power-holding clerical factions behind closed doors:

  • US, Israel behind Iran vote-rigging rumors: Ejei
  • Report: Iran to end gasoline subsidies
  • Press TV to air ‘War; American Style 2’

It is the epitome of propaganda to whitewash what is damaging to the interests of the power-holders in a regime, and vigorously promote stories which support the opinions the regime wants people to hold. Contrast that with British media’s proud (if sometimes awful) critique of government.

And as I said in my last, Press TV has no governance documentation on its site, no charter, no statement of values. This is reason enough to disregard it – it has no value in a country which values transparency in its institutions and news organs.

I don’t want to see these adverts for Press TV. It is a propaganda channel for a violent and repressive regime.

Here’s one version of the letter to end its advertising run on London Transport – a version I think benefits from less antipathy (no matter how justifiably in general) to George Galloway:

Mayor of London,
City Hall,
Queen’s Walk,
London
June 2009


Dear Mr Johnson

We are writing with reference to the advertising of Press TV on London buses and on the London Underground. You as chair of Transport for London as well as Mayor have overall responsibility for transport in the capital.

We are obliged to point out to you that Press TV is a propaganda station for the Iranian government. It is funded by that government and was launched by Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad personally in 2007. By allowing these advertisements Transport for London are giving implicit support to that government and helping to promote their propaganda.

It claims to give “voice to the voiceless.” Yet the events of the past few days have shown the true “voiceless” are not the Iranian government, who have a whole phalanx of nauseating apologists outside the country, but the Iranian people who are being bludgeoned and killed by the regime’s thugs for trying to make their voice heard.

At a time when Iran’s bus drivers union leaders are in jail, foreign journalists are expelled from Iran, Internet is clamped down and satellite TV stations outside Iran have their signals jammed, to have London buses carry Press TV ads with the motto of ‘we give voice to the voiceless’ is an insult to the Iranian people who are killed and beaten up for their desire for a freer society.

Yours sincerely,

Hat-tip MJP.

Torture of Iranian reformists; international day of solidarity with the Iranian people

Mostafa Tajzadeh (reformist, former Minister of the Interior under Khatami) Abdollah Ramezanzadeh (spokesperson under Khatami) and Mohsen Aminzadeh (diplomat) are reportedly screaming in agony in Evin prison. Their friends say that the Iranian authorities are hoping to extract denouncements of the opposition candidate Mousavi. Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard may also have been detained. Efrafandays has news of another chilling disappearance. The possible purpose of the torture is to implicate Israel, the US and Britain in the post-election unrest and broadcast these confessions to the populace. A classic case of deflecting criticism outwards.

I hope I take a lesson from the fact that, while idly wondering over the past few days whether Twitter is the kind of safety valve that keeps people off the streets, I neglected to even mention the day of solidarity, scheduled before the elections on behalf of jailed Iranian trade unionists, with its hour-long lunchtime demonstration organised by Amnesty and the TUC at the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge. More here on Justice for Iranian Workers – the day is properly global, I hope this heartens them.

The trade unionists named by Amnesty are:

Amnesty have automated the sending of an email to senior Iranian government figures calling for their release.

It is good that the BBC is now broadcasting by satellite to Iran in Farsi (although it is illegal to own a satellite dish). ll reach many more people than mostly-Anglophone Twitter can, and the BBC with its charter and governance contrasts very  favourably with Iranian government TV here in Britain.

iRevolution is an important blog I’m going to look at as often as I can. So thankful for blogging academics.

The aftermath of the Iranian election in music

As Ben Capper said:

“Not much to say apart from poor old MJ…very sad but let’s not take the heat off #Iran #iranelection #michaeljackson”

To mark the final breaking of Michael Jackson‘s heart, my posts on Iran today are in the medium of music.

(Both via Free Lantern)

Chaos of Paradise by Axiom of Choice – ht Yish.

For communicators in repressive environments, the rules of Beeping (ht Patrick Meier and Yish).

Update: on History Is Made At Night, Transpontine links to Song for Neda:

And Harry’s Place, to Joan Baez with a verse in Farsi.

Ich bin ein Iranian

I didn’t realise it until now but I care about Iran like a patriot. I think I must have fallen for the many Iranian ex-pats around me at a London university in my early ’20s. Being British and an occasional advocate for Israel I might, though, be more of an embarrassment than an ornament to the Iranian reformist cause of Iranian freedom, and perhaps should bear in mind that discretion is the better part of valour.

Is the opposition leader Mousavi under house arrest again? It’s hard to know, but Ayatollah Montazeri, who opposes Khameini, has been for over ten years. Some opposition leaders have withdrawn complaints about conduct during the election, saying that the security situation is more important. What sort of democracy is this?

This seems like a comprehensive list of students and academics killed or detained by Iranian government forces since the election.

Here is Norm – the Iranian footballers who wore green have been retired. I wore black and green today but nobody else did – what I really need is a badge.

Shappi – her exiled dissident father is silent.

Nokia – connecting people.

Update:

Two from Martin in the Margins on the massacre that day.

On One Hot Minute, strewn with exuberant ads of happy men sucking each other off and enjoying rodeo sex, is a determined open letter from the Network of Homosexual Students of Iran, including abruptly contrasting pictures of men who have been whipped and hanged. I thought I would draw your attention to it, considering Ahmedinejad denied the “phenomenon” of gayness in Iran. Wishful thinking.

Reports that Ahmedinejad came third

After reading Nora Mulready on Iran, and what was coming out of Chatham House and St Andrews’ Institute of Iranian Studies, and the Stop the War’s (sic) incongruous neutrality*, I got to wondering about Marjane Satrapi, author of the animated graphic novel Persepolis. Marjane’s family suffered during the upheaval of the late ’70s and early ’80s – some were tortured and executed by the Shah, some by the clerics. Persepolis was so perceptive about the 1979 revolution, counter-revolution, betrayal of the Iranian left and the lassitude of the European left. What did she have to say about the Iranian election?

She is a supporter of the reformist candidate Mousavi. With fellow luminary Iranian director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, she has called the election a coup and presented the results of a count which declared Mousavi the winner.

Here they are testifying in the EU Parliament in Brussels back on June 17th, Makhmalbaf in (I think) Farsi, with Satrapi translating:

From a report:

“The document said liberal cleric and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi came second in the election with a total of 13.3 million votes, while president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came third with only 5.49 million votes.

However, there is no certainty about the legitimacy of the document.

“Ahmadinejad received only 12 percent of the vote, not 65 percent,” said Marjane Satrapi, who was the director of Oscar-nominated film Persepolis.

Makhmalbaf, a representative for Mousavi abroad, called the declaration of Ahmadinejad’s victory a “coup d’etat” and appealed to the international community not to recognise it.

He explained that Mousavi had called him from Tehran, asking him to inform the world of what is really going on in Iran.

“What happened is not an electoral fraud, but a coup d’etat,” he said.

Makhmalbaf claimed that Mousavi was informed of Ahmadinejad’s victory by the interior ministry and told to prepare a speech.

“Few minutes later, an army general entered his (Mousavi) office, and told him that they would not allow a green revolution (green is the colour used by Mousavi for his campaign),” he said.

“It did not take long, until the State TV declared Ahmadinejad winner with more than 65 percent”.

“If anyone asked themselves whether the Iranian people are ready for democracy, the answer is yes, and we showed it by voting, but we were robbed of the vote. Now we need international support.”

*Stop the War’s web site is sporting a cheering banner declaring ‘IRAN NEEDS YOUR HELP’. If you click its About This Banner link, you get:

“The banner was created by the owner of the stopwar.org.uk domain in response to the StWC loss of direction and hypocritical response to the Iranian election compared to an arguably comparable situation in the US in 2004.

In particular, the domain owner believes that the current attitude of StWC as per its statement, fails to realise the opportunity that we must all seize to make the world safer, especially for the citizens of the Middle East.

The domain owner believes StWC is losing its way, losing its vision, and losing its soul, by letting so-called ‘leftist’ rhetoric and nonsense prevent it supporting vigorously (as it once would have) the democratic wishes and freedom-of-communication of the peoples of Iran, who are crying out for the world to support them at this time.

As Hossein Mousavi’s external spokesman Mohsen Makhmalbaf said:

“We [Iranians] are a bit unfortunate. When we had our Obama [meaning President Khatami], that was the time of President Bush in the United States. Now that [the United States] has Obama, we have our Bush here [in Iran]. In order to resolve the problems between the two countries, we should have two Obamas on the two sides. It doesn’t mean that everything depends on these two people, but this is one of the main factors.”

There is some history here. The owner of the stopwar.org domain has been attempting to communicate with the StWC office for several months, to arrange transfer of domain ownership to them, without response. The StWC statement on the Iranian situation was so poor, so lacking in the vision, soul, and objective morality that created the Coalition, that this action was deemed appropriate, until the Iranian situation is resolved.

Peace.”

Update: more fishy numbers.

For Iran – on Wednesday 24th June wear black to commemorate and green for hope

In Iran things are the opposite of subsiding. We learn that the election was rigged, with more than 100% turnout in many regions. This assessment is based on the Iranian government’s own data. They are a living insult to their people, and they are not even attempting to hide this:

  • In two conservative provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, a turnout of
    more than 100% was recorded.
  • If Ahmadinejad’s victory was primarily caused by the increase in voter
    turnout, one would expect the data to show that the provinces where
    there was the greatest ‘swing’ in support towards Ahmadinejad would
    also be the provinces with the greatest increase in voter turnout. This
    is not the case.
  • In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that
    Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, all former
    centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former
    reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two
    groups.
  • In 2005, as in 2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and
    Ahmadinejad in particular, were markedly unpopular in rural areas.
    That the countryside always votes conservative is a myth. The claim
    that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more rural provinces
    flies in the face of these trends.

For those far away from Iran, there is Green Wave Global day Wednesday 24th June – wear black to commemorate and green for hope. That’s all you have to do – but it would help to take a picture, post wherever you post these things, and tag it intelligently. It seems small, even pathetic, but it will be a comfort to Iranian democratic reformists whose governments will try to criminalise them and make them feel alone.