Saturday, June 21, 2003

Azam wrote about people from the MKO burning themselves. In April 2003, a suicide specialist in Iran wrote about the reasons for this happening in Iran. In fact he found that 70% of suicides in Ilam province were women. As far as I know, Iran (just Ilam?) and Afghanistan are the only countries where women commit suicide more than men; in all other countries men far outnumber women in this regard. It is no surprise that both are very patriarchal cultures. Also, Bemani is a movie which has self-immolation as part of its theme.

Lady Sun suggests some people think right-wing pressure groups (like Ansar-e-Hizbollah) are being paid by Americans! I could become angry and say "what a retarded concept!". However their beliefs are up to them. People having such beliefs only condemn Iran to more backwardness. Conspiracy theories are linked to blaming others for your problems, which is why many people say that it is "Afghan Arabs", and not fellow Iranians, who are beating up the protesters. Blaming outsiders cannot possibly solve Iran's problems. You can imagine what uneducated Iranians believe! E.g. "the world's economy is controlled by Jews", Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi talking about the former head of the CIA visiting Iran etc. I've even talked to a top student at the School of International Relations (who should know better) who was prepared to give credence to the belief that the CIA planned September 11. My friend from SIR understands English well, and got the idea from Patrick Martin. The cure for this kind of warped, crazy belief is world travel and an end to Iran's international isolation.

Elaine Sciolino has a great quote from the Shah about nuclear weapons. I read the Shah's "Answer to History" where he wrote about his huge nuclear power ambitions, but I didn't know that he publicly spoke of his weapons ambitions before now.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Analysts considers implications of Bush's statement on Iran.

The argument that the United States was engaging in selective enforcement of a strict standard against Iran while other countries have developed nuclear weapons without such U.S. threats left Clawson unmoved. Those other countries do not organize public demonstrations around the theme of "death to America" and are not on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, he said.

It's a very tiring slogan, and it's long past time to kill it.

A few days ago I said I haven't seen basij roadblocks for a while, but around the Ozgol junction at night I have been now, that's because it's on the way to Tehran Pars.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Donkey wedding staged to bring rain. I thought they only had donkey weddings in Tabriz. I guess I was wrong.
I'm obsessed with definitions of "soosool"!

"They (Iran's government) think that everything happening there is my fault and that the protesters are just sissies who want to dance," Atabay said referring to the clerics' bans on dancing and pop music.

You live in Shahrak-e-Gharb, 30, unmarried, unemployed, been to 11 countries, but you can't pay me 5000 tomans an hour ($US6) for English teaching? OK, there are plenty of other fish in the sea.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Pensive Persian arrives in Tehran and extrapolates from the traffic to the internal situation. He exaggerates about the pollution, but not the traffic. "When there is no respect for others and no indication of mutual concern and co-operation, a people will make themselves vulnerable to the Shahs and Ayatollahs of the world." (link via Steppenwolf).

I got impatient with International Crisis Group so I emailed them and asked them when their next Iran report was coming out. This was the reply:

My colleagues are working on an Iran report, but no date is yet set for publication. Do keep in touch, or keep an eye on or website,

Dar al Hayat from Saudi Arabia writes: "...unless the Iranian people start insulting Khomeini himself instead of Khamenei, the chances are slim for a second popular revolution that would compensate for the first one." My theory for improving Iran is like Whoman's, start with the easier, social issues like traffic. But if things were to really change, the omnipresent pictures should come down. However, the last thing to change in Iraq was the statues.

The BBC enlightens the outside world about the problems within the universities, if Mehdi's post below and ibelievethat Sharif students didn't explain it for you. "I pray for the day happiness shines on all women and men in Iran."

Time for reformers to resign by Ahmad Sadri. "A political system devoid of resignations must be viewed with suspicion." It was an excellent article.

Iranians write to the BBC. There are some people who are just like Khamenei living in a dream world: "I used to dream of living in the US. But under George W Bush it has become a police state, far worse than Iran and perhaps as bad as Nazi Germany." When I was in the US (March and April 2003) I saw many many peaceful protests about all sorts of issues (the Iraq war, sugar companies, the Everglades in Florida, even signs all through Americus, GA saying the mayor and police chief were part of an "axis of evil" and should be fired - "boot chief yates"!) and there were no thugs to beat anyone up. The worst that happened was Clear Channel (lots of radio stations are owned by them) sponsoring pro-war rallies. Obviously this Iranian guy has never been there. There's so much ignorance about other countries, all over the world, what can I do?

I got some email from an American in NYC with the subject "Reality Check" and body "are you really blogging from Iran?" and I said "yes, why do you doubt me?". Then she wrote back and said "Because isn't Iran a police state where they will drag you into jail for saying human things and beat you up or worse?". And I have been thinking about how to answer this. Initially I was quite angry, like Salam Pax was, thinking "why doesn't she believe I'm in Iran?" Then I got the reply and realised it was a good question, it's difficult to see into Iran from the USA.

I want to start by being positive. (Steppenwolf got in trouble with someone for saying you can't have a boyfriend/girlfriend in Iran, which is not really true.) You can speak freely in taxis, or with people you know well. It's not like Russia under Stalin or Iraq under Saddam. There's no "secret police" to turn you in for making subversive statements privately. It is partly democratic. Many newspapers have been closed, but there's lots of political debate within limits in those that are still open. An American professor from New Jersey visited here a while ago, and you should read his report. Unless you say something loudly and publicly and non-anonymously, nothing will happen. Signing petitions is not a problem unless the mullahs think you're part of an organised group.

Problems occur if someone famous "says" something publicly in opposition to the mullahs, like Ahmad Batebi, Montazeri, Aghajari, Abbas-Amir Entezam, Ali Afshari, or something the mullahs don't like, like Sina Motallebi, or lots of other political prisoners whose names I can't remember.

But if you're a nobody like me, and you write anonymously and in English, no-one will care. (I hope.)

Monday, June 16, 2003

Iraqi women forced to veil. Oh No, Not Again.

"It's an issue of people's rights - it's an issue not only of women's rights, but human rights - and people have a right to choose whether or not they wear the veil, what religion they practise, how they practise that religion," [UNICEF] chief told the BBC.

I walk past a UNICEF building in Abbasabad quite often. There's an armed guard outside, I always wonder why a children's fund needs an armed guard outside. Does UNICEF say anything about Iranian women who don't want to wear the veil?

And now I must write something positive! I'll think about it.

Christian Science Monitor gives one English translation of soosool:

"You define yourself by your enemies, and those were the superpowers back then," the analyst says. "But now they are fighting young people who put gel in their hair. That's the enemy. So it's demeaning, and not at all elevating for their self-image."

In news that's been completely ignored by international news agencies, Hashem Aghajari's sentence was reduced on appeal to four years in prison and a five-year ban from teaching. It's a good issue for the students to protest about, but maybe they have forgotten him. Also, Babak Payami, the director of "Secret Ballot" was arrested leaving the Russian embassy and is out on bail. Azam wrote about the 20 forbidden things on the Iranian internet and Ebrahim Nabavi's letter.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Mehdi lives in the Tehran University dormitory. He's been getting thousands of hits a day! Here is an English translation of the first part of his blog entry for June 14.

I left behind 3 days and 3 nights full of scandal. Only the first night of rioting was relatively quiet; it was about privatisation of the universities. But not the following nights. Even the people of Ansar savagely attacked the dormitories of Chamran. Take a look at these pictures. They are self-explanatory.

A group of people wanted to enter from the south-east door of Gisha; with military force they settled down there and there was heavy conflict. Groups and individuals and political wings with different purposes and intentions exacerbated the conflict and chaos, whether in the country or outside. I even heard satellite channels in some cases by broadcasting these scenes were encouraging the people to come into the streets. Among the students some people thought they were representatives of other students. In some cases they made unnecessary and mistaken decisions that mostly exacerbated the currents of chaos. From my point of view, I think the thuggish and illogical behaviour of the students, non-students, militia or Ansar was common to all. By the way, the number of students attending the conflict may not have reached 2000. I mean something between 1000 and 2000 people were involved, and the rest were unintentionally caught up in the incidents.