Posts Tagged ‘Emaddedin Baghi’

Dear All,

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.

Cellmates say Reza Hoda Saber was beaten up severely on the 8th day of his hunger strike

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:

Eyewitness Account

“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!

For supporting political prisoners, Emadeddin Baghi spent more than half of the past decade in jail himself

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.

Visual Delight

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.

Gizela Sinae - Oil on Canvas

Women have a lively presence in Sinaei's work

Have a great week,


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Windows on Iran 30

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

A peek at the stunning natural beauty of Iran (please see below for much more!).

Dear All,

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the summer. St. Louis summers are beautifully green. They can be toasty and wet too. We are enjoying a bit of both at the moment. The news from Iran has both good and disturbing parts. Among the disturbing parts are further American action to create unrest in Iran, as is the Iranian government’s move to tighten its enforcement of the ladies dress code in public and of course the continued anxiety over the arrest of Dr. Esfandiari. Good things include news of continued strong resolve among Iranian women to enhance their presence on the social and political scene by forming new coalitions as well as the usual great artistic and intellectual activity in the country.

One of my goals in these windows is to dispel the myth that reduces Iran to a culture of “villains vs. victims.” I would like you to see that regardless of the internal and global issues that Iran is dealing with, Iranians continue to be a lively, creative, humorous, and art loving people like any other in the world. Here it is in the words of one of the major contemporary Iranian painters Iran Darrudi
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1304.html. Or, read about the three-minute documentary that the renowned Iranian director and screen-writer Abbas Kiarostami made on the occasion of Cannes Film festival’s 60th year. Kiarostami included in his three-minute documentary, 24 top Iranian actresses whom he has worked with over the years: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1226.html.

Visual Delight

Nothing connects cultures like a visit. Let’s take a look at some
recent photos of Iran’s natural beauty (thanks to my friend Bahar
Bastani who sent the images). I have kept the slide show short so your
home computers don’t have large files to deal with. Click here: Iran Natural Beauty.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

The colorful countryside of Iran.

Recent Visit to Iran

While disturbing news about visits to Iran get a lot of attention, the
happy and successful ones find it hard to get any. My friend Judith
Ernst who visited Iran recently, had promised to share her experience
with us. Judith wrote a beautiful piece which provides a rare window
on Iran as few Americans make such a visits these days. Her
thoughtfully written piece about the trip received little attention
from the national papers. However, fortunately, it was greeted
enthusiastically by on-line news source Commondreams (thank goodness
for the alternative media). Judy was in Iran with her husband, Carl
, a professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was invited to a conference on Rumi and
while there received an award for his most recent book, Following
Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World
.  I recommend the book highly for personal reading and/or classroom use.  Now, for Judy’s take on the trip to Iran click on:

Current Issues
* And now to the not-so-exciting current news:

According to ABC News, the CIA has received secret presidential
approval to mount a covert “black” operation to destabilize the
Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence
community say. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has
signed a “nonlethal presidential finding” that puts into motion a CIA
plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda,
disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international
financial transactions.

* Though the majority of Americans many not readily connect the two, the
recent harshness on the part of the Iranian government toward Iranians
themselves as well as Iranian American visitors has much to do with
these “regime change” plans cooked here in the U.S. In a letter
recently written by Emaddedin Baghi of Defending Prisoners’
Rights Society in Tehran, Iran and circulated through the
International Society for Iranian Studies here in the US, Mr. Baghi writes:

In recent years, the government of the United States has announced
that it has allocated a yearly budget for the support of civil
society, democracy, and human rights in Iran. This so-called
“democracy fund” is approved by the United States Congress and
extensive media coverage of this financial endeavor has been

Given the existence of long-standing hostilities between the
governments of Iran and the United States, the government of Iran has
shown extreme sensitivity to the idea of individuals or groups
receiving funds to engage in activities that, in the public words of
at least some American officials, is intended for an eventual “regime
change” in Iran. I am sure the United States government would show
similar sensitivity if it was revealed that there were individuals or
organizations in the United States that were receiving funds from
hostile groups or countries intent on creating instability in that

Mr. Baghi suggests in his letter that “Undoubtedly, not all these
pressures and arrests are reflective of recently developed government
concerns and suspicions. Forces that are against liberty also use the
U.S. budget allocation as a pretext or excuse to legitimize their
opposition to civil liberties and to discredit their critics.”
Nevertheless, he goes on to say: “It is not right for independent
individuals and institutions inside Iran to pay the price for
allocated funds that the United States government spends on
broadcasting from the United States into Iran or for the activities of
exiled Iranian groups that cooperate with various American
Mr. Baghi’s moving letter ends with “This is why I hereby make a plea
to you and your respected organizations to insist that the United
States government change its ways or, in case of its insistence on
allocating a yearly budget, make public and transparent the exact
amount and recipients (individuals and groups) of these funds.”

* On the brighter side, an Iranian woman member of the parliament,
Fatemeh Rakeii has announced a plan to form a coalition of women
political activists to help women gain all their rights in the
political and management arenas. Rakeii described the main goal of the
coalition as “abolition” of gender discrimination. At the same time, a
coalition of reformist women is also about to form in order to
increase women’s seats in the 2008 parliamentary elections. To read
more on these, please visit:

* In these windows, I am always talking about one-sidedness of the media
on Iran/Islam related issues. At the moment, Iran gets the worst
possible press. But the treatment is extended to all Muslims, as my
student Matt Miller noted recently in an e-mail (thanks Matt!). Matt
writes: “There was a poll by Pew that came out today that surveyed the
U.S. Muslim population. Here is the headline that appeared in U.S.
media outlets (via the Associated Press) about the poll: “Some young
Muslims approve suicide hits.”  While on the BBC this was the headline
about the same poll: “Muslims ‘well-integrated’ in the U.S..”  The
stark contrast in the headlines is incredible. The articles both go on
to talk about the same poll by Pew, yet the AP (U.S.) article focuses
almost exclusively on Muslims and terrorism (citing the 13% of young
U.S. Muslims who approve of suicide attacks to defend religion in
“rare cases”),while the BBC article talks about how U.S. Muslims are
well-integrated into U.S. life, reject terrorism in overwhelming
numbers, and like the U.S. although they don’t often feel welcomed in
the U.S.” Matt finds “incredible” how two stories about the same poll
portray the U.S. Muslim population in such vastly different lights. He
provides the link:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18797530/. Now compare
with:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6680939.stm

St. Louis Persian Music Event!

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

Monika Jalili and her Persian music group Noorsaaz.

We just have to end on a happier note. What better than the news that my friend Behfar Dianati has sent. Behfar, with help from Iranian American Cultural Society of the Midwest, has organized a concert of Persian music by American musicians called Songs of Love from Iran by the artist Monika Jalili and her group Noorsaaz. The group will perform at the Missouri Historical Society, on Saturday, June 9, at 7:00. If you live in or near St. Louis, come to get a taste of Persian music performed by American artists. And, if you like more information, call (314- 746-4599).

Until the next window, I wish you a great week.

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399

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