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Ex-Advisers Warn Obama That Iran Nuclear Deal ‘May Fall Short’ of Standards

Submitted by Emily on Mon, 2015-06-29 09:10

URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/25/world/middleeast/former-advisers-caution-obama-on-iran-nuclear-talks.html?_r=0
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Female Genital Mutilation Practiced in Iran, Study Reveals

Submitted by Emily on Sun, 2015-06-07 08:46

URL: 
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/04/female-genital-mutilation-iran-fgm
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Sun, June 7, 2015 Why Does the Iranian Regime Rape its Own Citizens?

In 2009 the Basij militia (pictured here) raped protesters as a matter of policy. (Photo: Reuters)

In 2009 the Basij militia (pictured here) raped protesters as a matter of policy. (Photo: Reuters)

by: 
Elliot Friedland

Like all countries which use sharia law as state law, the Islamic Republic of Iran institutionalizes a litany of women’s rights abuses.

These include:

  • The husband is the head of the family, and his wife is legally bound to obey him. Article 1,105 of the civil code states: “In relations between husband and wife, the position of the head of the family exclusively belongs to the husband."
  • A married woman cannot leave the country without her husband's permission.
  • A woman's testimony as a witness is worth half that of a man, in compliance with the Sharia basis of the legal system.
  • Women are forced to wear the hijab, a headscarf, in all public places. More broadly, Islamic modesty requirements are enforced by a morality police.
  • Polygamy and temporary marriage are permitted for men (up to four wives are allowed, subject to certain restrictions), but not for women.

Moreover, women are frequently subject to honor killings. In cases where the father kills his daughter, he is not liable for the death penalty, but only for imprisonment. This is further compounded as when someone is murdered, the family of the victim can forgive the murderer and choose to forgo punishment.

As harsh as the everyday discrimination is, however, the most serious violations are meted out against dissenters.

Use of rape as a method of torture against political opponents has been deployed widely against both men and women, as well as sexual taunts, threats and other forms of assault.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran told PBS that in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election, "rape was routinely practiced as a matter of policy to intimidate young ordinary people from ever coming out to protest again."

In prisons, virgin girls who are sentenced to death (the death penalty covers a wide variety of crimes, including the nebulous charge of Moharabeh, "enmity against God") are typically forced into "temporary marriages" with the prison guards and raped on the night before their execution.

According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center this is "because the guards believed young girls executed while virgins would go to heaven" and they wanted to prevent that.

A former Iranian Basij militia man spoke to The Jerusalem Post on the condition of anonymity and recorded his role in perpetrating these rapes when he was a prison guard.

He said, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning, the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die. I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over. I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her fingernails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her.”

Rape and other forms of sexual assault are a means of humiliation and degrading the regime’s opponents – and are also a potent means of intimidating others into cowed obedience.

Thus, the Islamic Republic inflicts on the bodies of its citizens the purest demonstration of raw power, reminding them who rules Iran.

Join our campaign to say "No to a Nuclear Iran."

Join us and be on the right side of history.

Thu, June 4, 2015 Iran Executes En-Mass Prisoners Asking Forgiveness

(Photo: © Reuters)

(Photo: © Reuters)

Dozens of inmates in Iran gathered in the prison yard to ask for forgiveness, but all were executed instead by the prison authorities.

The men, mostly convicted on drug offences, gathered in the yard of Iran’s largest prison Ghezel Hasar to ask for a reprieve.

A spokesman for Iran Human Rights Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam told the International Business Times UK the men were forced to confess under torture and then executed.

“All of the prisoners are sentenced to death for drug charges, and all are from Unit 2 of the prison, where more than 2000 death row prisoners are being held. They are subjected to torture, forced confessions and unfair trials.” 

Some 56 prisoners have been executed since May 6, Iran Human Rights said.

"The mass executions started after some of the prisoners gathered to ask forgiveness. Instead, 34 of those who gathered outside were executed. The situation is very desperate. We don't know what to do. There are no international reactions.”

He added “At least 450 people have been executed in the first five months of 2015 in Iran. The number of executions is even higher than last year.”

Executions have skyrocketed since President Hassan Rouhani, widely touted as a 'moderate' took power. 

For more information about Iran’s repressive justice system, see our Clarion Project’s factsheet Human Rights in Iran.

Join our campaign to say NO to a nuclear Iran. Join us on the right side of history.

 

A Question for Canadian Politicians: What Gives?

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldiers salutes in front of a picture of Ayatollah Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini, the founder and first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Photo: © Reuters)

An Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldiers salutes in front of a picture of Ayatollah Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini, the founder and first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Photo: © Reuters)

by: 
Tarek Fatah

On Sunday, over 700 Canadians braved unseasonal cold and non-stop rain for four hours outside an Islamic centre north of Toronto. They came to protest a bizarre celebration honouring the life and deeds of the late Iranian theocratic dictator, Ayatollah Khomeini.

There were politicians from the left to the right, writers, poets, artists, former prisoners and exiles, grandmothers, refugees, victims of torture. They were mostly Iranian Canadians, but also Pakistanis, Jews, Kurds, orthodox Muslims, Marxists and Monarchists.

Inside the sprawling mosque other Canadians were bused in to participate in the macabre display of contempt for life and liberty.

It was encouraging to hear Liberal MPP Reza Moridi praise Prime Minister Harper for his stand against Iran. Such bipartisanship is rare. Denunciation of the Khomeini celebrations came from across the political spectrum, including Defense Minister Jason Kenney.

He tweeted: "Disturbing to see anyone in Canada celebrating the murderous depravity of Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal dictatorship."

But there is another reality that does not bode well for our country. After all, there are other Islamist centres across Canada where misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and cursing of non-Muslims and secular Muslims are routine.

Yet politicians of all stripes shrug in the face of these facts, embracing those who would want to see a caliphate in Canada, with sharia law as this country's constitution.

The difference being, these mosques are pro-Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood, rather than pro-Iran and the ayatollahs.

Apparently politicians have determined embracing pro-Saudi Islamists can generate votes while rejecting pro-Iran Islamists will cost almost none.

Why else would NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in March visit the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) mosque in Mississauga and declare: "For years, this mosque has played a vital role in Mississauga — promoting education and charity for all. And it's been a leader in promoting unity—a lesson so important to the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him"?

Perhaps Mulcair isn't aware of a 2005 story in the Globe and Mail identifying millions of dollars worth of Saudi funding to the ISNA mosque where he spoke. (The Globe reported the funding was touted on the ISNA's website although a spokesman officially denied it.)

Or a 2013 Toronto Star story on the Canada Revenue Agency revoking the charitable status of the ISNA Development Foundation after concluding it "facilitated the transfer of (charitable) resources that may have been used to support the efforts of a political organization . . . and its armed wing," in Pakistan. (The charity denied the allegation.)

Or that the parent organization of ISNA in the U.S. has been listed by the U.S. Justice Department as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a terror funding trial. ISNA was never charged with any crime, but prosecutors listed it as one of the "entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood." (A federal judge later ruled the document should not have been released and ISNA said its inclusion was guilt by association.) In 2013, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau spent an evening at ISNA's Islamic Centre with the congregation during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

This same organization Mulcair and Trudeau embraced recently refused to allow its boys' school soccer team to play against a Catholic school team with two girls on it.

Does this mean Islamism Saudi-style is fine, while Islamism, Khomeini-style is not?

Canadians need to put this question to all three political party leaders before this fall's election.

 

Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Wed, June 3, 2015 Why 'Death To America?'

A Basij militia man in Iran on parade. The Basij and their parent organization the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps are tasked with guarding the ideological purity of the Revolution and are indoctrinated with

A Basij militia man in Iran on parade. The Basij and their parent organization the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps are tasked with guarding the ideological purity of the Revolution and are indoctrinated with "Death to America." (Photo: © Reuters)

by: 
Elliot Friedland

"Marg bar Amrika" (Death to America) has been chanted by irate Iranian crowds since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. 

As Jason Rezaian, Iran bureau chief for The Washington Post currently standing trial in Iran on dubious espionage charges, wrote in 2013 “The slogan still forms a pillar of the Islamic Republic's revolutionary values.”

But where did it come from? Apart from the fact that it rolls off the tongue, why do people chant it?

Operation Ajax

The roots of Iranian anti-Americanism date back to 1953, when the Eisenhower administration and Winston Churchill organized a coup and overthrew the democratically elected government of prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq in a secret plot named Operation Ajax.

The coup was organized predominantly to prevent the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and to protect U.S. oil interests. 

After the coup, the Shah ruled Iran with an iron fist for 25 years, backed by the notorious SAVAK secret police (trained initially by America).

Many Iranians blamed the U.S. for the Shah’s repressive policies and that was a contributing factor to the institutionalized anti-Americanism embedded into the Islamic Republic of Iran’s revolutionary ideology.

In 2013 the CIA declassified the relevant documents and publically admitted to organizing the coup. One document read “The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.”

The New York Times has an in-depth timeline of the coup

 

Death to the Shah

As a slogan, “marg bar Amrika” (Death to America) began in the streets of Tehran, where revolutionary crowds in 1979 chanted “Death to the Shah.” Despite pre-existing anti-American sentiment, it wasn’t until the siege of the American Embassy that the slogan really took off.

Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days in the Iranian Embassy by students who stormed the building. Then Ayatollah Khomeni backed the siege and when the hostages were eventually released they were subjected to humiliating chants of “Death to America” as they walked through the students.

Every year on the anniversary of the siege of the U.S. Embassy crowds gather to commemorate the event and chant “Death to America.”

Death to America is frequently chanted at rallies, at parades and at all sorts of public functions. It is scrawled on walls and used in posters.

It is also used by other militia groups and Iranian proxies around the region. The motto of the Houthis, the Iranian backed Shiite militia group fighting in Yemen is “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.

The Iranian regime regularly produces anti-American propaganda such as this music video portraying The Statue of Liberty as Thais, a Greek prostitute who (allegedly) persuaded a drunken Alexander the Great to burn the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis to the ground.

 

We Hate America

Anti-American sentiment has not ameliorated as the memory of the coup fades.

In 2013, while on the campaign trail, now President Hassan Rouhani said "saying 'Death to America' is easy. We need to express 'Death to America' with action."

This ideological antipathy is central to regime doctrine.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the elite military force tasked with safeguarding the ideological purity of the revolution, trains every cadet to see the world as a binary struggle between good and evil. In this world there is an axis of ‘domination’ led by America and an axis of ‘resistance’ led by Iran.

The Islamic Revolution is what the IRGC and Iranian regime hope will overthrow this uneven power balance.

By framing their ideology in this way, the Islamic Republic of Iran has positioned itself against America in the long term and in general.

In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama gave a historic address in Cairo calling for a rapprochement with the Muslim World. Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, rejected Obama’s speech out of hand, saying “People of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa -- people of these regions -- hate America from the bottom of their heart.”

 

The Regime is not the people

Although regime ideology is committed in principle to hatred of America and what they say America stands for (domination, colonialism, anti-Islam), that should not be confused with the attitudes of ordinary Iranian people.

A World Public Opinion poll in 2009 found that 51% of Iranians have a favorable view of America, higher than anywhere else in the region. Although American culture and is officially banned, a thriving black market exists for American films and music.

Although it is not possible to gain an accurate picture of public opinion in a closed society like that of Iran, it is clear that many Iranians chafe at the strictures of Islamic Republic.

Whatever the feelings of the people in Iran, "Death to America" is still firmly embedded into the political culture of Iran, as this jaunty song from 2014 illustrates. 

Marg Bar Amrika: Song by Hamed Zamani

 

Lyrics: English translation:

Death to the whipping – relentless whipping – on the innocent slaves’ loins.
Death to the death of a thousand lifes, in one or two seconds, through fall of the science from the sky.

Death to killing the buds.
Death to spreading poison in clear rivers.

 

Death to the eloquent lies.
Death to the propaganda machines and censorship.
Death to barbed wires and minefields.
Death to mass graves and solitary confinements.

Death to cutting off the breath… Death to cage…
Death to the deceptive glory of thorns… Death to lust…
Death to the Rights without Humans… Death to ax…
Death to the flames of evil…

Death to the embassy of wiretapping.
Death to the black coup.
Long live his life!
Long live my life, yours, ours!

In a word… Death to America.

Death to cutting off the breath… Death to cage…
Death to the deceptive glory of thorns… Death to lust…
Death to the Rights without Humans… Death to ax…
Death to the flames of evil…

 

(Choir: Death to America)

 

Death to Abu-Lahab.

Death to Yazeed and Shimr and ibn-Sa’d.
Death to Ziyad’s son.

 

Say loudly: May they be damned more.

Death to the resolutions for closing the water of Furat… Water famine…
Death to the arrow that remained in the throat of Rubab’s baby.

Death to the murder of the beautiful smiles of Alireza (*).
Death to the bullet which scratched on Armita (**)’s memories

In a word… Death to America

Iran's ISIS Cartoon Competition: Please Hold up a Mirror

One of the cartoons from an anti-ISIS exhibition currently being staged in Iran

One of the cartoons from an anti-ISIS exhibition currently being staged in Iran

by: 
David Harris

Here’s the basic idea of this post: Some 2,300 years ago Kauṭilya came up with the concept of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Or as he put it in his seminal treatise Arthasastra:

The king who is situated anywhere immediately on the circumference of the conqueror's territory is termed the enemy.

The king who is likewise situated close to the enemy, but separated from the conqueror only by the enemy, is termed the friend.

In 21st-Century Middle-Eastern realpolitik my suggestion is just forget it.

No more so is this the case than in the relationship between Iran and the Islamic State (ISIS). It would appear right now the terrorist Islamic Republic and the terrorist Caliphate are on a collision course.  And given (as Iran claimed this very day) it is fighting the West’s battle against the evil caliph and his crazy followers, it stands to reason that we in the West should take Tehran’s side.

Indeed, this week Iran is hosting an anti-ISIS cartoon show, surely proving we should jump into bed with the smiling Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and his army of artists who are so keen to point out the blemishes of ISIS.

But hang on a minute.

Iran.

Let’s back up before we dive under the covers for a quick cuddle with Rouhani or his boss, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

According to Yukiya Amano, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the IAEA is “still not in a position to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is [for a] peaceful purpose.” 

That maybe the case but they don’t have nukes yet so why panic.

OK, so they hang gays and other miscreants – 1,000 in the last 18 months – but they are all Iranians, so it doesn’t really impact on me.

Via the Qods Forces, the Revolutionary Guards and a variety of other militaries like Hezbollah, Iran is force-feeding wars on the citizens of countries around the Middle East. But as long as these guys are killing one another I’m alright man.

No. You are most certainly not alright.

It’s time to wake up. Iranian terrorist operatives have carried out attacks in Asia, Africa, and South America. Oh, and let’s not forget American interests overseas.

All of this without a nuclear weapon. Just imagine what Iran would be like along with its proxies if it had the bomb – and the ICBMs it is developing. Soon enough Iran could possess missiles capable of hitting four continents, including the North American mainland.

It’s time to stand up and say no matter what the relationship is between Iran and the Islamic State, no matter how much Tehran claims it is fighting the good fight, I must be on the right side of history. I must say “no to a nuclear Iran.”

Before it’s too late.

Tue, May 26, 2015 Russian Missile Deal with Iran Means 'Military Option Dead'

An S-300 system ready to launch. (Photo: Wikipedia)

An S-300 system ready to launch. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Iranian news sources are reporting that negotiations with Russia to buy the S-300 surface-to-air missile systems were “successful.”

Western officials say delivery of the system would essentially eliminate the military option to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

During a press conference Monday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that the missiles will be delivered as soon as possible.

Amir-Abdollahian spoke after a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, in Moscow.

Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly threatened to sell the system to Iran but relented under Western pressure. On April 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree facilitating the sale of the missile system.

See Clarion Project’s analysis on the sale:

 Russian System Should Be Treated As Part of Iran's Nuke Program

Meanwhile, the trial of Jason Rezaian, an editor and writer for the Washington Post in Tehran has begun behind closed doors.  The Islamic Republic has accused Rezaian, who holds dual American-Iranian citizenship, of being a spy.

The Washington Post issued a statement through the executive editor of the paper, Martin Baron, which read: "The shameful acts of injustice continue without end in the treatment of Rezaian.  Now we learn his trial will be closed to the world. And so it will be closed to the scrutiny it fully deserves. There is no justice in this system, not an ounce of it, and yet the fate of a good, innocent man hangs in the balance."

Rezaian was arrested last September. For four months he was held in an Iranian prison without being formally charged. He first appeared in an Iranian court in December for 10 hours but the charges were not made public. At the time, the Post reported that the charges were not even clear to those in court.

For the last nine months, Rezaian has been jailed in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has been denied proper medical care and held in solitary confinement for months at a time.

The Post also reported that he was only allowed to meet with his court-approved lawyer for one and a half hours before the trial began.

According to Rezaian's lawyer, Leila Ahsan, as reported by Iranian state media, Rezaian is charged with "espionage, collaboration with hostile governments, gathering classified information and disseminating propaganda against" Iran.

The BBC reported that Rezaian’s case has been “repeatedly raised" during the current negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, but that the U.S. was not making freedom for the journalist a condition of the deal. 

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