June 26, 2017

Iran Watch – December 15, 2008

[spoiler title=”President-elect Obama Should Engage Iranian Women Calling for Change”] By all accounts, women played a pivotal role in the rise to prominence and election of Barack Obama. It is, therefore, fitting that women play a key role in helping him address one of his greatest foreign policy challenges – the growing threat from Islamic extremists, particularly the ayatollahs in Iran.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike are eager to see Mr. Obama chart a new course which contains the calamity commonly known as Islamic fundamentalism. Iran is unique as the first country where fundamentalists managed to attain power and institutionalize their medieval worldview. A monopolistic, suppressive, dogmatic, misogynous, and terrorist political regime strives to preserve and expand the velayat-e-faqih (absolute rule of the clergy). Gender distinction and discrimination against women is an essential social and legal element.

Iran’s misogynist state imposes gender inequality with a series of laws that go so far as to legalize the rape and murder of women. There are widespread arrests, torture, flogging, and stoning of women. In his November 2008 report, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon expressed concern about “cases of stoning and public execution.”

The ruling clerics’ hatred of women is in part based on fear. Over 60% of Iran’s 70 million population is under the age of thirty; nearly half are women. Additionally, in excess of 60% of university students are women. The paucity of professional and social opportunities and rampant discrimination fuel female dissent, creating a home-grown threat to the powers that be.

It should, of course, be emphasized that the Tehran regime’s sadistic hostility to women, as well as the velayat-e faqih system itself, are diametrically opposed to Islam. The principle of equality; regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity, is among the pillars of Islamic belief. According to the genuine message of Islam, women must have equal participation in political leadership.

Tehran’s regional influence has certainly been fueled by its unique ideological regimen, and the hesitant Western reaction to it. To advance it regional hegemony, the regime is hurtling full speed ahead to develop nuclear weapons. Its survival depends on continued perpetuation of domestic repression – particularly against women, and export of fundamentalism and terrorism.

Ignoring these fundamental features of Iran’s theocracy, successive U.S. administrations sought to engage Iran with the hope of altering the regime’s behavior. None, however, has truly engaged the Iranian people, or more specifically Iran’s women and their undeniable movement for change.

Currently 3,500 members of the main Iranian opposition reside in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, where they have been recognized as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Nearly 1,000 are women; many of them spent years in Iranian prisons and subjected to torture, others escaped the country after Tehran sought leaders of anti-government student demonstrations. Ashraf residents have been under the protection of the United States military since 2003. As Tehran ramps up pressure to extradite or disperse its primary opponents from Iraq, and in light of the approval of the SOFA agreement, the U.S. must continue its protection of Iranian dissidents to avoid a major humanitarian tragedy.

The least costly and most effective way to bring about change in Iran is to rely on the strength of the Iranian people, its women, and its organized resistance for democratic change.

In charting a new course, Mr. Obama’s administration, U.S. interests, and indeed the cause of democracy in Iran will be well served if the lessons of history are heeded. As World War II loomed, Winston Churchill cautioned against appeasement of Hitler’s regime. But many, including British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, advocated engagement with Germany. Ultimately the agreement Britain signed with Hitler allowed his expansionist machine vital time to prepare, before he launched his aggression in Europe.

As the world community increasingly realizes that Iran’s rulers are illegitimate, it must also recognize the legitimacy of the democratic alternative. Coupled with increased international diplomacy, President-elect Obama should look to Iranian women and their organized democratic opposition as a partner in seeking the establishment of democracy in Iran and stability in the region.

Soona Samsami is the Executive Director of Women Freedom Forum. Until 2003, she was the US Representative of parliament-in-exile, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

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[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Never again?”] by: Irwin Cotler
December 11, 2008
National Post

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, sometimes referred to as the “Never Again” Convention. On this oft-ignored anniversary, we must acknowledge our abysmal failure in preventing the most destructive threat known to humankind — the crime whose name we should even shudder to mention–genocide.
The enduring lesson of the Holocaust and that of the genocides that followed is that they occurred not simply because of the machinery of death, but because of the state-sanctioned incitement to hatred. As international tribunals have recognized, the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers; it began with words. These are the chilling facts of history.

Most important, in all other cases of state-sanctioned incitement to genocide — the Holocaust, the Balkans, Rwanda and Darfur — the genocides have already occurred. Only in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran can we still act so as to prevent a genocide foretold from occurring.

For it is in Ahmadinejad’s Iran where one finds the toxic convergence of the advocacy of the most horrific of crimes embedded in the most virulent of hatreds. It is dramatized by the parading in the streets of Teheran of a Shahab-3 missile draped in the words “Israel must be wiped off the map” and underpinned by the words of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that “[t]here is only one solution to the Middle East problem, namely the annihilation and destruction of the Jewish state.”

Alarmingly, Iran has already succeeded in dev.eloping a long-range missile delivery system for that purpose, and it has assembled enough material to make a nuclear bomb. All this in the context of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s open threat that “even one atomic bomb inside Israel will wipe it off the face of the Earth.”
Iran has therefore committed the crime of incitement prohibited under the Genocide Convention, and is preparing the means to act on it. As one involved as minister of justice in the prosecution of Rwandan incitement, I can state that the aggregate of precursors of incitement in the Iranian case are more threatening than were those in the Rwandan one.

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Italy backs EU decision on PMOI”] December 10, 2008
Middle East Times

ROME, Dec. 10 (UPI) — The Italian Parliament passed a measure endorsing a European court decision to remove the People’s Mujahedin of Iran from terrorist blacklists, the PMOI said. The European Court of First Instance Dec. 4 ruled the European Union had “violated” the rights of the PMOI by not providing sufficient evidence to maintain the group on its list of terrorist entities, paving the way toward its delisting.
The European decision follows a wave of similar rulings. A British court of appeals ruled in May the group should no longer be classified as a terrorist group, and in November the German Parliament signed a petition in support of the group.

Italian lawmakers joined the chorus of European voices calling for “the necessity of full respect for the verdict issued by the European Court of First Instance,” as the group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, has embarked on an aggressive lobbying campaign throughout Europe.

The PMOI is blacklisted by several nations, including the United States and Canada, for its bombings and assassinations of Iranian leaders during the 1970s and 1980s. The group says it has renounced violence as of 2003, however. It seeks regime change in Iran. PMOI members are under U.S. military protection in Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala province. Its political wing, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is based in Paris. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Students Rally For Democracy In Iran”] (CBS) Hundreds of students from different colleges gathered Sunday at Tehran University to protest against injustice and the dictatorship which runs their country and their lives.

The gathering marked “Students’ Day,” a commemoration of the day about 50 years ago when the Shah’s police attacked students.

Iranian students inside the Islamic Republic and abroad have long used the occasion to call for political freedom and voice their struggle against dictators – first the Western-backed Shah, and now the hard-line Islamic regime led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Despite a heavy presence of police and security forces, students inside the university Sunday managed to break down a barricaded gate and let others flood into the grounds.

Any rally or gathering at the universities has to be authorized by the government, and there are strict restrictions for entering Tehran University.

At one point, a number of students were detained by university security guards, but demonstrators demanded their release. After talks between the two sides they were freed to rejoin their fellow students.

In recent years several members of the students’ movement have been arrested on security related charges and sentenced to long prison terms, exiled, or expelled from Iran’s universities.

The organizers of Sunday’s rally insisted that the protesters should not damage the university or get out of hand. One speaker said: “Many did not want us to hold this gathering, therefore I ask you not to give them any excuse to stop us.”

At this rally, like others in the past, the students called for basic democratic rights including freedom of speech, human rights and justice. A female student talked about “gender apartheid” in the country’s universities.

Students at the rally, which lasted about three hours, carried signs bearing several slogans. One read: “Democracy in Iran – International Peace”.

As they marched toward the university gates, students chanted slogans against dictatorship, the behavior of the police, and against Ahmadinejad.

A senior member of one of the largest student organizations, the Office for Consolidating Unity, said about 3,000 students attended Sunday’s rally.

Toward the end of the rally, a group of students started directing their chants against former President Seyed Mohammad Khatami.

Khatami, a reformist cleric who led the country from 1997 until 2005, was due to meet students at the university on Sunday but the visit was postponed to a later date.

In recent months groups of reformists have urged Khatami to run in the 2009 presidential election – a request he has neither refused nor accepted.

Pro-government students held a simultaneous rally in support of Ahmadinejad on Sunday, holding up his picture along with images of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

It has become tradition for top officials to meet with students on Dec. 6-7 each year in honor of Students’ Day, but Ahmadinejad chose not to visit any universities this year.

It had been announced that Khamenei would visit Alm-o Sanat University, where Ahmadinejad studied and then taught, on the 6th. That event was cancelled without any official explanation.

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