Monthly Archives: July 2010

Group of University of Tehran Students Deliver Message in Commemoration of 1999 Student Uprising

18 Tir Message from the Islamic Association of Students for Democracy at the University of Tehran and Medical School

Persian text originally published on: July 9, 2010

Remember us.

We were just 22 years old.

We had dreams of love.

We died before having the chance to fall in love.

Eleven years ago, a tragic and violent event turned the University of Tehran into a blood zone. Those in power supposed that such carnage would demolish the will of the people for freedom, democracy, and social justice. But simpleminded people do not understand the statement that the “university is the last entrenchment of freedom.” The cries of students, with the bloodshed of July 9, 1999 (18 Tir), gave new life to Iran’s freedom movement, followed by ten years of struggle for civil, social, and women’s rights.

18 Tir marked the beginning of the Iranian people’s peaceful struggle for democracy. Students endured much grief in the following years with imprisonment, torture, and the inability to continue their education or work. Now, eleven years after 18 Tir and more than a year after the revived uprising of the people of Iran, we still insist on our demands for democracy and freedom.

Ten years after the events of 18 Tir 1999, the children who had grown older under the dictatorial regime and developed into young adults bellowed louder for social justice. This time they stood even taller and stronger, demanding rights for women, youth, workers, and teachers.

Even though they had never met the original students who rose in 18 Tir 1999, the youth ten years later took up arms, but again, they were met with violence. The dorm rooms were set ablaze and destroyed. Once again, the blood of the students stained the dormitory rooms. Students were severely beaten, and now more than 30 of those students are still imprisoned under rugged conditions as they await their sentences.

This government knows the Green Movement is not withering, and it has reaffirmed its repression against the people with much greater force. They are dominating the universities with the expulsion of students, and preventing many from completing their studies. However, even with such forcible intimidations, the Green Movement for democracy in Iran will not perish. The rulers have gone as far as shutting down the schools for ridiculous reasons such as the time they closed the University of Tehran to “spray insects.” In the past year, they have managed to reduce the population at the University of Tehran to a third of what it was the previous year.

Deceiving students and all the people is no longer acceptable. The Student Movement is united with the struggle of the workers, who are under more pressure than ever before. The students stand united with women and youth who want freedom and democracy in Iran.

The student organization cherishes and commemorates all the martyrs who lost their lives on the path to freedom during 18 Tir, in particular the memories of martyrs Ezat Ebrahimnejad and Akbar Mohammadi who relayed and consolidated their faith in the freedom fighting people of Iran. They demanded the advance of people’s rights on the path to freedom and democracy and they pressed for unconditional freedom of political prisoners in Iran.

Ahmad Batebi

Strike in Tehran Bazaar Continues

Daneshjoonews –   Ahmadinejad’s government has attempted to come up with many solutions to end strikes in the Tehran bazaar. However, on July 14, 2010, the strikes became more widespread than previous days. Despite this, government news agencies claim that the stores were opened.

According to Kaleme News, a group of merchants joined the strikes that began last week by jewellery and clothing merchants. Witnesses say the merchants are present at their stores but their lights are off and there are no signs of buying or selling. The government blamed the lack of trade in the bazaar on the hot weather and announced that the tax and commerce departments reached an agreement with the merchants. The government backed away from a planned 70% tax hike and lowered it to 15%, in the hopes that by Tuesday the strikes would end.

The merchant trade union has asked the merchants to now pay their taxes and end their strike. According to one of the merchants, the traders have absolutely no faith in this government’s settlement agreement. He said that last year, they paid taxes on their trades and received administrative forms as receipts. Then in April of this year, there was an announcement from the government tax agency that last year’s forms were no longer accepted and the merchants would have to pay another 5% in taxes. Even though the Tehran bazaar strike has spread in the past two days, the main reason for this is not clear yet. It seems like the bazaar trades are not playing a role in the situation and the merchants are shutting down without paying attention to the trade union.

The government site of Raja News, in their report on the situation, admitted that the strikes are continuing. An analysis was conducted that demonstrated that the strike is economical with some political roots. Raja News has not given a clear reason why no one has been able to stop the most widespread bazaar strike since the 1979 revolution. The bazaar strike has not yet had a huge impact on the entire city of Tehran, due to the fact that the sections on strike are not the ones that affect people’s everyday lives. However, a longer strike could have a huge affect on all commerce in Tehran.

According to reports, the Tehran bazaar is filled with an unprecedented number of security forces who are not allowing people to gather anywhere. Store owners are also not allowed to stand outside their stores. It is reported that even though the government has agreed to reduce the trade tax to 15%, the merchants have refused to pay the new amount due to economic recession and massive unemployment. Since the government has already backed down and lowered taxes by 55%, the merchants seem to have confidence in putting Ahmadinejad’s government under more pressure.

Ahmadinejad, who usually jumps on the opportunity to comment on every situation, has made no mention of the strikes in his talks in the past eight days. This shows the government’s weakness when it comes to economic issues and its fear of angering the merchant community.

International Committee Against Executions: A Government of Killers

International Committee Against Executions– Since the worldwide protest against the stoning sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, families of others held in Tabriz prison have contacted us with heart-wrenching news about their loved ones. We are disclosing this news so that people throughout the world can better understand the abhorrent nature of [the Iranian] government. We hope that all people will join the people of Iran in combating this repulsive regime.

According to a report by the International Committee Against Executions, there are 170 people sentenced to death in Tabriz prison. The prisoners list includes children and youth and there is one woman who is pregnant.

Azar Bagheri, 19 years old, in Tabriz prison: Azar was 15 years old when she was arrested and sentenced to death by stoning for having an extramarital affair. She has lived the past four years with the nightmare of knowing she will be stoned. During these four years, Azar Bagheri was twice taken for a mock stoning: the prison authorities twice buried this young girl in the soil up to her chest and told her that if she does not cooperate with them, this is what was going to happen to her. Azar was forced into an unwanted marriage at the age of 14, and her husband lodged a complaint against her, saying that she did not love him and had a relationship with another man.

Maryam Ghorbanzadeh, 25 years old, in Tabriz prison: Maryam is also sentenced to death by stoning. Maryam has been in jail for four years. During a short prison leave that she was granted, she got pregnant, and the Islamic Republic sentenced her to death by stoning. Usually they wait for pregnant women to have their babies before they stone them.

There is news that in Tabriz prison, there are at least eight women and ten men sentenced to death by hanging for being homosexuals.

On Friday July 9, 2010, a heavy sadness swept over Tabriz prison. Soudabeh Ahmadi, a 16 year old girl who was sentenced to death for murder, killed herself in her cell. This young child could not tolerate the pain and suffering of counting the moments until the rope would be put around her neck. She killed herself instead.

20 year old Fariba Shafaat was arrested at the age of 14 for the murder of her father and sentenced to death. On Monday July 12, 2010, we were contacted from Tabriz with the information that the judicial authorities of the Islamic Republic in Tehran have given orders to carry out this sentence. This young woman could be executed at any moment.

This is just one jail and a single example of the unimaginable, primitive actions that the government of the Islamic Republic is taking against the people of Iran. The Islamic Republic is not the government of the people of Iran. This government is murdering the people of Iran. The international community needs to terminate all relations with this government and close all of its embassies.

We ask the people of the world to intensify their pressure on the Islamic Republic. Please demonstrate against this brutal regime in front of their embassies or in the area where you live. Demand a stop to the death sentences being carried out. Demand an end to all death sentences and death by stoning in Iran.

We ask the UN to send representatives to Iran in order to visit the Tabriz prison and other murder houses. This visit needs to be forced upon the Islamic Republic.

International Committee Against Executions

July 13, 2010

Mourning Mothers visit Tavakoli Residence

On the anniversary of the university attack by security forces (18 Tir), a group from the Mourning Mothers visited the home of imprisoned student activist Majid Tavakoli to share their empathy and solitude with his mother.

On their way to Shiraz, the mothers made a stop at the memorial site for Cyrus the Great to symbolically express the oppression and injustices being committed against the best youth in Iran today, 2,500 years after Cyrus the Great established the first human rights charter.

The mothers wrote a letter addressed to Cyrus the Great. It reads:

Cyrus, don’t rest comfortably. Why is it that after 2,500 years, prisoners are being tortured and violated in your country? Why are women being abused in your country?

~Mourning Mothers

Also, a poem by the great Iranian poet Simin Behbahani was read by one of the mothers.

Then the mothers continued their journey to the home of Majid Tavakoli. They expressed to his mom how much they looked forward to the visit and that, in the past ten months, every time they heard about Majid’s suffering, they also suffered. They explained that when they heard Majid had finally ended his hunger strike, they were able to breathe a little easier. They shared how proud they were of Majid, one of the children of Iran. When they read Majid’s letter written after the execution of Farzad Kamangar, they appeared saddened. They expressed heavy despair for the loss of Farzad, a distinguished teacher.

Majid’s mother spoke of her pain. She spoke of the four agonizing months when there was no contact with Majid. She spoke of how Farzad Kamangar would call her and would tell her that he would do everything he could to obtain information about Majid. Then she heard of Farzad’s execution and she went into shock for 24 hours and could not think about Majid. Even now, she has a hard time believing the execution occurred.

After four months, Majid finally was able to contact his mother. She explained that she does not like to leave her house to not miss Majid’s call. She spoke of her endless crying for her beloved son and how much she misses him. Currently, her body is so sick and weak that she is not allowed to travel and cannot even visit Majid. She spoke of the hardships of the 13 to 15 hour trips that Majid’s father and brother have taken to visit Majid for ten minutes. She said that when she spoke to Majid, he did not complain and told her he was fine and not to worry. But she is a mother and she can feel his pain and suffering in his voice.

She spoke of how hard Majid had worked to be accepted to university. He studied endless long nights with very little sleep. His father would go into his room at 4:00am and see Majid had again fallen asleep with the light on, with his book positioned on his chest.

His mother said Majid went to Tehran six years ago to attend Amirkabir University, but it seems he had signed up for Evin because he spent four of those years in prison. She remembers the saying: Iran has become a detention center and Evin has become a university.

She said she received a call from the attorney general’s office asking why she has talked to people outside the country. She responded to them that she has a lot to say and that her child was in solitary confinement for four months so she had 40 months of talking to do. She told the representatives of the attorney general’s office that she would speak to them too if they were interested.

She then spoke about her worried state of mind. The doctors at the prison said they do not have the means to take care of Majid’s health. She has asked from authorities to allow Majid to be taken to a medical facility that is able to care for him. When Majid was arrested, he was in perfect health and thus prison officials are now fully responsible for ensuring he is healed. She said even though she and so many others are suffering and in pain, the government will have to answer to its people and to God.

The Mourning Mothers asked Majid’s mother to pass on their best regards to her son.  They hope that Majid will be healthy again and they are praying that Majid and all the Majid’s will be free soon.

Mourning Mothers

July 2010

Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran

Location: Shiraz, Iran

Zeynab Bayazidi on Hunger Strike

Zeynab Bayazidi, a Kurdish prisoner in Zanjan prison, has gone on hunger strike. Zeynab’s mother confirmed this news in an interview and stated that Zeynab is protesting the inappropriate behavior of the  head of Zanjan prison toward several of the female prisoners.

It is reported that Zeynab is a former member of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and the One Million Signatures Campaign. She has spent approximately two years in prison. The Revolutionary Court of Mahabad sentenced Zeynab with citations 499 & 17. Under the penal code of the Islamic law she received citation 230, accused of spreading lies and causing disturbances. She was sentenced to four years imprisonment in the central prison in the city of Zanjan.

Pressures and Inhuman Restrictions against Political Prisoners in Ward 350

According to reports by Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, unbearable pressures and restrictions are taking place against prisoners in ward 350 of Evin prison.

Since the night of June 20th, prisoners are not allowed to call their families. The only phone calls made now have to be for specific reasons and made only under strict guidelines and under the supervision of officials.

One of the cells in ward 350 that was once for political prisoners now holds regular criminals. Consequently, there are now fewer cells for political prisoners. The number of political prisoners in each cell has multiplied. Presently, there are 30 to 36 political prisoners in each cell and one third of them have to sleep on the ground. Despite the intense summer heat, the cells are very chilly and overcrowding has caused political prisoners to live in unbearable conditions.

It was recently announced that 50 prisoners arrested on June 12th who were detained in torture areas of wards 209 and 240 will now be transferred to ward 350.

The difficult conditions in prison take place even though prisoners already suffer from a poor diet. They are not provided with basic proteins needed to sustain their bodies. Due to the low quality food, which is mostly not edible, prisoners are forced to purchase food from the prison store and attempt to cook it. Albeit, they are not given any of the necessities for cooking and, in many cases, officials have taken away the prisoners’ ability to use stoves. Thus, prisoners are not even able to cook the most basic foods. Despite complaints by many prisoners, no changes have been made to the dire situation.

Prisoners have no access to hot water. They are forced to take cold showers. As a result, many prisoners are very sick.

The library in ward 350 has been closed down. The library was created because of the hard efforts of older political prisoners, namely Ali Saremi. The books are mostly donations by previous political prisoners.

The security officials are torturers who subject political prisoners to unbearable pressures and inhumane treatment. Two of the known torturers of Evin prison are Sedaghat Nejad, head of the prison, and Mostafa Bozorgnia, head of ward 350. These two individuals are committing crimes against humanity.

Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran denounce these grim and intolerable living conditions of political prisoners. HRDAI asks the head of the UN Human Rights Commission and other international agencies to create files regarding the crimes committed by the regime. HRDAI asks the United Nations to review the files and make decisions on how to handle this situation.

Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran