Greetings, I hope you are well. As the anniversary of the 2009 Iranian general elections approaches, in this window, I’ll try to bring you up-to-date on recent events in Iran. But I must start with the sad news of the death of a women activist, Haleh Sahabi.
These days, Iranians in and outside Iran, are grieving for Haleh Sahabi, the latest victim of the brutality of the security forces in Iran. Haleh, who died on June 1st during her father’s funeral, was a scholar activist who dedicated her life to social, and especially gender, justice.
“Haleh Sahabi, 54, was a distinguished Qura’nic hermeneutician, a religious comparatist, a women’s rights scholar, and a committed activist to the cause of her people’s civil liberties,” writes Hamid Dabashi. She had been sentenced to a two-year prison term after she had joined a rally in front of the Iranian parliament in the aftermath of the contested presidential election of 2009.
While serving her term in jail, Haleh Sahabi was informed of her father’s impending death. He was the prominent Iranian dissident Ezzatollah Sahabi (1930-2011), a revered democracy activist, known and admired for his mild manner, open-minded generosity of spirit, a liberal demeanor, and a commitment to non-violent activism on a religious-nationalist platform for over half a century. Read the rest of Dabashi’s article here.
Events continue to be held across the country honoring the achievements of Haleh Sahabi and her father Ezzatollah Sahabi:
If you read Persian, visit the face-book page of madrese-ye feministi for a report and lots of pictures from the event held by Mothers for Peace here.
Mousavi and Karrubi, approaching 5th month of captivity
Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi the Presidential candidates who objected to the 2009 election results, and emerged as leaders of the Green Movement seeking civil liberties for Iranians, are now approaching their 5th month of captivity. Their situation is usually described as “House arrest” which implies being confined to the spaced of one’s normal home. But the reality of their situation is that all furniture has been removed from their home, the windows fully covered, and all contact with the outside cut. In other words, they are in prison.
Major Clashes between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei
Having killed a over a 100 reformists, and tortured and jailed thousands more, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad are now fighting each other. The tension appears to be over controlling major economic and other power resources between the followers of Khamenei and a military/revolutionary group that wishes to get rid of the clergy step by step. Since negotiation, and compromise, is not part of the political culture of either group, the two camps seem to be determined to eliminate each other. Today for the first time, in a press conference, President Ahmadinejad spoke of this rift between his government and “senior Islamic figures” in the country, read more.
Verbal Sexual Assault on Women Political Prisoners
On may 28, on the occasion of Iranian Mothers Day, a number of women political prisoners were given an opportunity to meet with their families. They managed to send out a letter which was written on behalf of 32 of them. The letter described horrendous prison conditions, ranging from solitary confinement, deprivation from family visits, and being beaten up. The harshest condition these women speak of is verbal sexual assault with the aim of breaking their resistance and obtaining false confessions from them. In the letter, the women compare the interrogation sessions to being repeatedly raped.
The Iranian Nobel Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, and four international Human Rights organizations, have called on the United Nations to send its special envoy to Iranian prisons and prevent these brutalities.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, A Women for All Seasons
I opened this window with Haleh Sahabi, let me close it with the account of another amazing women, Nasrin Sotoudeh. Sotoudeh is a lawyer, and her fault is to have defended reformist clients such as Isa Saharkhiz after the the 2009 disputed elections and advocating for human rights in Iran. She has been sentenced to 11 years in jail, barred from practicing law or leaving the country for the next 20 year. Her accusation: “spreading propaganda against the government and compromising the security of the country.” If you would like to see how the above mentioned verbal assaults fail in breaking the women like Sotoudeh who are fighting for their freedom and dignity, take a look at the picture below:
The circulation of Sotoudeh’s court images in Iran caused major embarrassment for the government.
Read more about her here. Sotoudeh is a thoughtful, gentle, and unassuming person with a compelling presence. She has consistently guided the women’s movement in Iran toward a balanced and informed approach to others. Do please listen to the clips of her speeches below (has English subtitles) and share with others:
As you see much is happening in Iran. I’ll try to keep you updated as best as I can. For now, we need at least one piece of creative art work by an Iranian woman to close this window… and to celebrate the positive force they are in present day Iran.
Till the next window!