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Posts Tagged ‘iranian diplomats arrested in iran’

Windows on Iran 29

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi, are cycling around the world in an effort to spread their message of peace and friendship (see below for more about them and their trip). (Image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk)

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi, are cycling around the world in an effort to spread their message of peace and friendship (see below for more about them and their trip).

Dear All,

Greetings, after two weeks…and no windows. I hope you are all well. For me, it has been a very busy time. The commencement on Washington University campus has been as lively and colorful as ever. I am enjoying a smaller version of the festivities at home, as my own daughter graduates from high school this weekend. What am I doing sending a window on my daughter’s graduation weekend? I woke up this morning, and simply missed talking to you all. Furthermore, I have had queries about the windows, and about recent events in Iran, which made me think it would be good to open Window 29 even if on a briefer fashion than usual.

I have been traveling. I was away for a week sitting on a panel at MIT in Boston, and then on to New York. The panel at MIT was organized by
the Middle East Crisis Coalition and CASMII (the Campaign Against
Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran) and was titled
“Preventing a War on Iran.” Over 500 people attended. The panel was
also an occasion for me to have the pleasure of meeting Professor Noam
Chomsky, the brilliant linguist and renowned peace activist. It was
heart warming to see that so many people wanted to do something to
prevent a military confrontation with Iran. In the audience, there
were many subscribers to Windows on Iran. Close to a hundred of those
who were not signed up. If you are one of the newcomers to these
windows, welcome!

Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz addressing the United Nations General Assembly (please click the link on the right for the video). (Image courtesy of www.un.org).

Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz addressing the United Nations General Assembly (please click the link on the right for the video of her speech). (Image courtesy of http://www.un.org).

From Boston, I flew directly to New York, where I was to enjoy the great and unique experience of making a presentation at the General Assembly of the United Nations. At the suggestion of the President of the Assembly, a cultural debate had been organized for the representatives of the nations to switch from purely political issues to the cultural matters at the roots of political conflict.  This was a two-day event that brought some ministers of culture, high ranking religious leaders, and scholars to speak. The format of the debate was the usual one at the Assembly. Once we spoke, the representatives of nations asked questions and commented. At the end, we responded. It was absolutely delightful to be welcomed by the President of the Assembly and by the Secretary General, H.E. Ban Ki-moon. Here is the link to the video clip of the panel: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ga/61/ga070510am.rm . The panel is long. Around minute twenty-four the moderator introduces us, the three panelists. My presentation is about sixty minutes into the session.

Iranian Cyclists for Peace, Jafar Edrisi and Naseem Yousefi (visit their website at: http://www.rmc4peace.com/).

Iranian Cyclists Cycle for Peace

On May 10th 2007, 14 Iranian cyclists will travel city by city across ITALY, GERMANY, FRANCE, UK and US to communicate the pacifist message of Iranian people to other nations around the world as:

* We Iranians are peace loving people.
* We Iranians love all other nations.
* We Iranians wish to be a constructive member of the international community.

Current Events:

* Not all is peaceful and rosy. Some of you have been asking me about the situation of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari the Iranian American Scholar who was arrested in Iran about ten days ago. The Iranian news paper Keyhan which reflects the views of the religious right in Iran has made accusations of connections between Dr. Esfandiari and regime change attempts outside Iran. This is very unfortunate because security related accusations could imply closed trails and restrictions on contact with lawyers (as is the case with the Guantanamo detainees).The Iranian lawyer and Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has announced that she will defend Dr. Esfandiari and her legal team in attempting to meet with Dr. Esfandiari. This troubling incident is bad news for those of us who work to empower the moderate forces in Iran. It shows that the outside threat of regime change and military campaign in Iran – far from helping the situation – leaves Iranian moderates powerless and gives the upper hand to extremists who prefer confrontation rather than cooperation with the west. Iranian academics and intellectuals have condemned this incident. We all hope for a speedy resolution of this troubling conflict. Dr. Esfandiari’s arrest may well be a response to the arrest of the five Iranian nationals who have been in American custody for months now. According to Iranian  news media, U.S. officials have indicated that these Iranians who have been detained in northern Iraq by U.S. forces could be released by June 21.

* On a totally different note, my wonderful American friends Judy and
Carl Ernst who just visited Iran have returned with lots of heart
warming stories of friendship and well wishing. Many Iranians told
them how they do NOT hate Americans and wish for the political
conflict to be resolved in peaceful ways. Judy and Carl have promised
me photographs which I will duly post on these windows.
* Many of you sent me information this week about a recent and very
positive Iran-related cultural event at the United States. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice, accompanied by young artists from Iran and
Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes, toured an Iranian art exhibit,
“Wishes and Dreams”, May 10, at the Meridian International Center
where she praised Iran’s rich culture and the work of Iranian young
artists: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/may/1137.html

Iranian Americans in California

* Iranian Americans succeed in bringing positive change to American
perceptions of Iran. This includes a wide range of activities,
sometimes very different from the art exhibit mentioned above.
Recently, a  Blackwell medical textbook titled How the Immune System
Works, by Dr. Lauren Sompayrac was removed from many reading lists
thanks to the activism of the Iranian Americans. A required reading by
the Department of Molecular Genetics, Microbiology, and Immunology at
UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, for example, the book
contains a passage (on p.49, 2nd edition) which draws an analogy
between the response of the immune system to pathogens and that of the
Defense Department “to a threat to our national security”, comparing
the would-be pathogens to “Iranian terrorists” who would potentially
“fire on one of our embassies” here in the United States. It is
shocking that a respectable publisher would allow this to appear in
print in the first place. (Thanks to  my friend Sara Ruebelt for
sharing this news).
* If you remember, I reported in Window 28, the sudden and unexplained
decision of the American Chemical Society not to renew the membership
of its  Iranian scientist members. Due to pressure from Iranian
American Scientists, the society reversed its decision.

* To get and idea of the kind of activities that the Iranian American
community in California engage in, please click here: http://www.nipoc.org/. Their calendar which is put together by the Network of Iranian American Professionals of Orange Country, NIPOC provides social, cultural, and political news. The calendar was forwarded to me by my friend, Minoo Riahi-sharifan. Thanks Minoo jan!

A painting by Sadegh Barirani (click on the link on the right for more of his work).

A painting by Sadegh Barirani (click on the link on the right for more of his work).

Visual Delight

And on to our weekly visual delight before the closing of this window. I would like, this time, to introduce you to two contemporary painters. Elham Bayati is a young and upcoming female artist of 27 who has already had multiple exhibits of her work. The same slide show cotains works of Sadegh Barirani, a more mature artist who has years of teaching experience in addition to producing his own work. As you will see in the slide show, Bayati and Barirani have very different styles. Click here: Bayati and Barirani Art Show.

Until our next window, have a great week!

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
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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A beautiful painting by the young Iranian artist Krista Nassi (see the link at the end of this post for more of her work).

A beautiful painting by the young Iranian artist Krista Nassi (see the link at the end of this post for more of her work).

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all enjoying the arrival of spring. These are happy and festive times for Iranian Americans. Some visit the country. Others just send gifts and make phone calls. I wish I could send you many more visual represenations of Nowruz. I hear, however, that some modems (particularly with home computers) have had a hard time importing the visual data that I send with each slide show. I’ll try
to keep them shorter and not go beyond 20 or 25 slides.

Visual Delight

* Last week Iranian Americans took their colorful Nowruz to the streets of New York. The parade has now become an annual event. Color has always been important to Nowruz celeberation. This year, to counter the dark images of Iran put forth by the popular media — and the movie 300 — the decorations were made even more cheerful and imbued with color. To watch scenes from the parade click here: Nowrouz Parade in New York City.

Nowrouz Parade in New York City (click on the link above to see more photos from the event).

Nowrouz Parade in New York City (click on the link above to see more photos from the event).

* Speaking of the movie 300, which Iranians find a direct assult on
their culture, I have a review (thanks to Dr. Bahar Bastani) by a
rather unusual reviewer: Dr. Kaveh Farrokh, a student of ancient
Greece and a child born to Iranian parents in Greece.  Dr. Farrokh’s
review is extensive and contains many interesting observations such
as:  “In the course of their historical intercourse, Greece and Persia
have created breathtaking works in domains such as the arts,
architecture, sciences, music and of course, democracy and human
rights. It is interesting that many modern Greeks acknowledge and
appreciate ancient Iran as a civilization as worthy as their own, yet
the same is not necessarily true in northwest Europe and North
America. ”  Here is the link to the full reiew if you like to read it:
http://www.ghandchi.com/iranscope/Anthology/KavehFarrokh/300/index.htm.

Current Issues

Two British soldiers being interviewed on Iranian television.

Two British soldiers being interviewed on Iranian television.

* There is a whole lot of action going on outside the silver screen as well. The latest: 14 British Service men and one woman arrested by Iranian border patrols about a week ago (picture on right). An important piece of information either not mentioned or not emphasized in the U.S. media is that the British quote the global position of their helicopter which appears to have been not in Iranian air space while Iranian authorities quote the global position of the boat which according to them has been in Iranian waters. Whatever the initial positions, it now seems that both sides would like to put the crisis behind them. Initially, Iran had suggested that it would put the British soldiers on trial. The most recent headlines in Iran quote Ali Larijani, the cheif Iranian negotiator, suggesting that there is no need for a trial. Another important development is the arrival in Tehran of a British negotiator to end the crisis.

* While this crisis has been given a most serious dimension – comparing the British soldiers to American hostages – the British daily Guardian has published a piece that blasts the bashing of Iranians who according to the writer don’t look bad compared to the West’s own Guantanamo and Abu Ghuraib records. The piece written by the film director and Monty Paython member Terry Jones was sent to me by my dear friend Richard King, himself British. The article is a plea for the media to maintain independence and refrain from demonizing the enemy. It is refreshing that while the Britons are in custody in Iran, a British paper and its readership are able to rise above the crisis and publish such a humorous and critical piece: http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2047108,00.html . Finally, it is months now that the five Iranian diplomats arrested in Iraq are in American custody.

Final Visual Delight

Iranian Painting Krista Nassi

Iranian Painting Krista Nassi

Having promised not to cause indigestion to modems in home computers, I can’t now add a whole new painting show, can I? All right, I compromise. Here is a really short slide show of the paintings of  the young artist Krista Nassi, born in 1970. The main theme of this show is scenes from under the sea. Click here: Krista Nassi Paintings.

Have a great week.

Fatemeh
===================================
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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Tehran at night.

Tehran at night (image courtesy of Arash Hamidi http://www.hamidi.ir).

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have all had a very nice holiday break and are ready for
2007. Thanks again for all your kind messages after window number 16.
I have finally managed to catch up with e-mail responding to your
personal messages. Please note that there was an unusually high volume
of bounced messages as Window number 16 was sent out to the list. This
may be due to full mail boxes over the holidays. If you did not
receive Window on Iran – 16, and would like to have it,  please write
a short note in response to this message and we will resend that
window to you.

Before we get to our  current issues which usually focuses on
conflict, I would like to share two beautiful seasonal images from
Iran:

Iranian Christians praying in a Tehran church on Christmas (image courtesy of www.iranian.com).

Iranian Christians praying in a Tehran church on Christmas (image courtesy of http://www.iranian.com).

To see some neat pictures of Iranian Christians celebrating this past Christmas in Iran click on:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jan/1006.html
Also, I have attached a very short slide show – about ten slides – of winter images from the famous Dizin ski resort in Iran. The photos are by Shahrokh Setudeh. Click here: The famous Dizin Ski Resort in Tehran. Enjoy.

Current Issues

Following American’s recent announcement of its readiness to deal with outside interference in Iraq (interesting language to use by a country which has sent its own forces about 10,000 miles to solve Iraqi inner problems), the American security forces kidnapped five Iranian nationals in the city of Erbil in Iraq early last Wednesday morning. These unnamed officials called “diplomats” by the Iranian government and “operatives” by the Americans are still in custody. So far, nothing other than a few local maps has been declared to be found on these individuals.
Iranian News sites reflect widespread criticism of Ahmadinejad’s
inflexible diplomacy on the developing Iranian nuclear industry amidst speculations that enrichment activity has been suspended at least in the Natanz site.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070113/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_nuclear_diplomacy

A major poll in Iran confirms that Ahmadinejad’s popularity is falling
dramatically since his election in June 2005. When asked “If the
elections were held today, what would be the chances of his election
to the office, 76.1% said “much less,” and 15% said “less.” Only 5%
said he would have a chance of getting re-elected. The total number of
respondents was over 43,000, a significant number in itself.

Sunday Times has revealed frightening plans of a possible Israeli
nuclear attack on Iran. The level of anxiety among the Iranians in the
country, and Iranian Americans in the U.S. is beyond description. All
we can do is hope and pray that a new Nagasaki and Hiroshima are not
in the making: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2535310,00.html

I received Robert Fisk’s article on Saddam’s execution from two
friends Bahar Hashemi and Adam Shriver. My general policy is not to
include in the Windows issues which are not directly relevant to Iran.
Here are some Iran-related excerpts from this article particularly
informative to Americans who wonder about anti-American feelings in
the region. These unfriendly feelings are often attributed to
religious hatred for western freedom. Fisk’s article describes a small
portion of what America signifies to many Iranians. On the American
support for the Iraqi attacks on Iran (1980-1988), Fisk quotes a
German arms dealer:

“Mr Fisk… at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I
was invited to go to the Pentagon,” he said. “There I was handed the
very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You
could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun
emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches
on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments –
thousands of them – all the way up the Iranian side of the border
towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I traveled
with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt
on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very
grateful!”
According to Mr. Fisk “the terrible cocktail” of nerve gas and mustard
gas used freely on Iranians and Kurds by the Iraqi dictator was also
“given to Saddam by the US. Washington denied this. But the Iranians
were right.” The most moving is Mr. Fisk’s personal encounter with
Iranian soldiers affected by these chemicals. I apologize for the
graphic nature: “I saw the results, however. On a long military
hospital train back to Tehran from the battle front, I found hundreds
of Iranian soldiers coughing blood and mucus from their lungs – the
very carriages stank so much of gas that I had to open the windows –
and their arms and faces were covered with boils.”  Rober Fisks full
article was published in the London Independent, in case you are
interested  http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2114403.ece

More Visual Delight

All right, time for some nice friendly visual contact. Many of you
have told me that you like the visual information coming through these
windows. I think I have given you enough of historical monuments for a
while.  So, here is a power point slide show of just faces and places
in the city of Tehran. Just click here: The city and people of Tehran.

On that note, I wish you all a great week — and a great start to the
spring semester if you are in the academia. Again, please let me know
if you did not receive Window on Iran – 16.

Till the next Window, stay healthy and warm.

Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
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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Windows on Iran 16

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim www.iranian.com).

Fin Garden in Kashan, Iran (image courtesy of Afshin Deyhim http://www.iranian.com).

Dear All,

Greetings! And Happy New Year!

Time to open a new window on Iran. I hope you have had a wonderful holiday so far. Thank you so much for all your kind messages concerning window number 15.  A combination of end of the semester duties and holiday activities have prevented me from writing
individual thank you notes.  I am most appreciative of all your responses. Please note that all the recent requests to be added to the listserv will be taken care of in the coming week.

I would like to indulge in a little holiday self promotion with a good
news!  My latest book –  a study of contemporary Persian poetry – was
just named “an outstanding academic title for the year 2006” by the
ALA’s review journal for academic and research libraries known as the
Choice Magazine. A wonderful Christmas present! The list is a small
percentage of approximately 7,000 titles. Here is the full
bibliographic information on the book:

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Recite in the Name of the Red Rose: Poetic Sacred
Making in 20th Century Iran (University of South Carolina Press,
2006).

Visual Delight:

Before we get into the special report that I have for you about the
very important mid-term elections in Iran, I want to give you my
Christmas gift. This is a power point slide show of a 19th century
private house, the Tabatabai House and a 17th century Safavid garden
called the Fin Garden in the city of Kashan, a central city with a
population of about 300,000. The main portion of the slides were
circulated by my friend Bahar Bastani. In case you want to use this in
class, the show has about 30 slides with a six second transition time
between slides. Just click on here: Fin Garden and the Tabatabai House in the City of Kashan.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Tabatabai House in Kashan, Iran.

Current Issues:

Iranian mid-term elections

Two weeks ago, the Iranian electorate made a clear statement in the
mid term elections in which reformists received 40%, the moderate
conservatives 24%, and the supporters of President Ahmadinejad about 3%
of the vote. The rest of the seats went to independent candidates. Of
the 15 seat up for grab in the Expert Assembly, only one went to his
supporters. This despite the fact that the reformists have objected to
accuracy of the counting process and want a recount of 10 ballot boxes
in each city to demonstrate that the overall pattern of the results
was more in their favor.  Since the main stream American media gave
minimal coverage to this very significant event (although it happened
in a country they are too eager to call the most dangerous country in
the world) I would like to give you some important details:

Among the features of this mid-term election was the prominence of
women in urban as well as rural settings. In my home town Shiraz the
top candidate was a 27 year old female architecture student, Fatemeh
Houshmand . In some cities like Qazvin and Hamadan, the top candidate
as well as 50% of the total elected members were women.

In an editorial for the online political newsletter CounterPunch my
friend Behrooz Ghamari wrote:  “Had this election occurred in an
allied country of the United States, it would have been celebrated as
the highest achievement of American foreign policy.”

What is most unfortunately masked from the American general public is
the maturity and thoughtfulness of the Iranian voter who did not allow
outside pressures on Iran to get translated into an exaggerated
“patriotism” in favor of the current regime. Here are examples of what
some voters said:

– “There is no room to breathe freely, Iran’s international
credibility and respect is diminishing, and we hope that we are not on
a path to war, I voted to change this direction.”
– “I voted to prove that our true desire is to transform this system,
and to show that we don’t need American democracy.”
-“I want to know, in which other country in the world do they have
carnivals on the streets and the artists and celebrities go to
neighborhoods to encourage people to participate?”
– a  young voter from Shiraz called the election a “velvet revolution”
that will strengthen “local decision making and non-governmental
organizations.”

To read Behrooz’s full editorial, click on:
http://www.counterpunch.org/ghamari12182006.html

Iranian Diplomats Arrested in Iraq:

Last week the U.S. defense officials declared the arrest of four
Iranian diplomats in Iraq. Two were released right away. The captured
Iranians – who were not named – were supposed to be carrying all kinds
of sensitive lists and documents pertaining to shipments of weapons
into Iraq, organizational charts, telephone records and maps, among
other sensitive intelligence information. No evidence has been
provided by American officials who are apparently unhappy at the
release of the last two diplomats. The story itself seems somewhat
shaky as the “highly sensitive” information claimed to be carried by
these officials can easily be transmitted electronically – or by two
inconspicuous Iraqi citizens – with much less risk.

According to the Iranian version of the story, the arrested people
were diplomats visiting as guests of the Iraqi President – which
explains why he was agitated at the incident. They were arrested
attending a funeral in the house of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, an Iraqi
Shiite leader. According to this version, these people were released
because none of the claimed documents were found on them.

Iranian Women conducting a 1,000,000 signature Campaign

To reform gender related legal codes in Iran, young Iranian women
activists have started a signature collection campaign. They go door
to door, speak to people about women’s rights, and collect signatures
in support of the reforms which they seek. The innovative nature of
the move and passionate persistence of these young and energetic
feminists have earned them support from the Iranian public and shocked
the opposition. Please publicize this movement to friends who can get
on line and support them. My friend, women’s studies scholar and
activist, Nayereh Tohidi has written about the 1,000,000 signature
campaign:  http://www.payvand.com/news/06/dec/1174.html

On this very bright note, I wish you all a very happy 2007,
and great week.

Fatemeh
===================================
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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