Last week was an important week in Iran. Monday, June 12 was the anniversary of the 2009 fraudulent elections which led to Ahmadinejad’s continued presidency for the second term. Before I get to a report on the commemoration of the anniversary. I’d like to honor another victim of the Iranian prison, journalist Reza Hoda Saber. Hoda Saber died after ten days of hunger strike at Evin Prison protesting what he called “the murder of Haleh Sahabi” at the funeral of her father.
A letter signed by 64 Iranian political prisoners says Reza was severely beaten after being taken to the infirmary – to be cared for! – on the 8th day of his hunger strike. These prisoners who clearly put themselves at extra risk by signing the letter describe Reza’s condition after being returned to Ward 350 of Evin Prison where they are all kept. Read more You can learn more about Reza Hoda Saber, the journalist, translator, and political activist here.
More Hunger Strike
Immediately after Hoda Saber’s death, the American based news site, Gooya News, reported three more political prisoners who were on hunger strike to express opposition to the death of Haleh Sahabi are continuing their hunger strike to attract attention to the death of their cellmate Reza Hoda Saber. They are Mahdi Khodaie, Arash Sadeqi, and Ahmad Shahrezaie. Read more. Since then, the number of the political prisoners on hunger strike has reached 12.
Dictator Greet the End!
Iranians are risking their lives in different ways to get out the message that they won’t tolerate dictatorship any more. On June 12, a large sign which read “Dictator Greet the End!” hung from a bridge over Sadr Highway near Shari’ati Street. A similar sign was used a few months earlier. Take a look at the latest:
“The city was turned a garrison. The Vali-e Asr Square was filled with anti-riot police, all kinds. We are moving forward. All the stores on Vali-e Asr Street have been closed down. In a way this is symbolic of what the regime has done. It has closed down the country all together for the past two years…Despite the fact that the shops have been forced to close down, the pavement is filled with the crowd, people who calmly walk. The street is taken over with motorcycles. Plain clothes security forces lurk among the crowd. A friend who is with me is speaking on his mobile and in answer to “where are you?” says “Vali-e Asr, Hemmat Bridge.” A plain close police says “Are you inviting people to come here?” arrests and takes him inside a van. We rush there and try to explain he has simply explained where he is, all of us explain this very carefully, particularly to our wives when they call us (perhaps we should be careful not to do that within the earshot of plain clothes police!)…eventually, we manage to take him back after one Basiji joins us in interceding on his behalf (the fact that he is wearing a beard is not without effect). Initially, he is the second person pushed inside the van, but buy the time we are done two vans parked under the Hemmat Bridge are filled with arrested people. You can imagine how many people have arrested all through the Vali-e Asr Street.”
Mr. Khazali has an important observation about the arrest of young women:
“In the ten minutes that I am standing next to the anti-riot police waiting for my friend to be freed, they arrest many people mostly girls! I try to focus hard and understand the criterion for the arrests, but I can’t. Everyone is walking slowly and quietly. All of sudden someone is picked and let to the van. The gut feelings of the anti-riot police seems to be the only criterion, and perhaps the beauty of the women to be arrested. I am not joking, I am recording what I saw with my own eyes. They are arresting young and beautiful girls. Perhaps they saw them as a kind booty in a war! Or wanted to spend the interrogation time with a beautiful girl! I saw this painful fact with my own eyes, arrest of innocent people who had not even chanted a slogan. Perhaps they were going home, or to a party!”
And another observation which reveals people’s feelings about the regime:
“An old man faints and falls on the pavement. A young Basiji approaches him with a kind smile to help him get up. As soon as the man gains his awareness and notices the Basiji he cries out “No, no, I am fine, I am perfectly fine.” The Basiji who sees the fear in the old man’s eyes moves away. A young man from the crowd steps in and helps the man walk away.”
You have been reading my translation of Mr. Khazali’s account in his Persian blog. Read the original here.
Paris Flash mob for the Greens
On June 12, 2011, to mark two years since Iran’s disputed election, United4Iran and Move4Iran coordinated a flash mob in a Paris metro station to draw attention to the ongoing human rights abuses Iran’s citizens continue to face. I is quite well done:
Three Gang Rapes – a new violence against women
In the months of May and June, three gang rapes have taken place in Iran. This is a new and worrisome crime pattern the victims of which are mostly educated and less traditional women. In one case, the victim was a physician, and in another women partying with friends and family in a private garden. Predictably, the authorities (while condemning the rapists) have exploited the occasion for blaming the victims dressing and socializing habits. Women rights activists fear that these incidents, which make the public space less safe for women, may not receive the necessary legal attention from the authorities. Fortunately, the public are expressing outrage against the aggressors. Websites and other news sources are keeping the debate alive and demanding full legal attention to it.
Baghi Released from Jail
Emadeddin Baghi, Iranian Journalist, Human Rights Activist and founder of the first Iranian organization in support of political prisoners was release from jail yesterday!
Baghi who had been arrested last September, was sentenced to 6 years in jail for “propaganda against the regime” and “conspiracy to overthrow” the government. An appeal court overturned the second accusation. Baghi, was one of the twelve political prisoners on hunger strike whom I mentioned earlier in today’s blog. Yesterday, on his third day of strike, he was release. On the way home from Evin Prison, Mr. Baghi stopped by the residence of the Sahabi and Saber family to express his condolences for the death of these two political activists. You can read about him here.
With best wishes for Mr. Baqi (including extended freedom from prison), I’ll leave you with two beautiful paintings by Iranian painter Gizela Sinaei. Gizela (born 1967) works mostly with oil on canvas interpreting Persian motifs.
Have a great week,