Monday, September 18, 2006

Iran Watch: Activists Harassed, Rural Unrest and More

World Politics Watch: in association with Iran Press News

In an unprecedented action, the selection committee of the Ministry of Education and Sciences prohibited the advancement of three student activists at Tehran University from the faculty of political science to higher academic ranking, reported the Student Committee of Human Rights Reporters.

Mohammad Sawber, Mohammad-Reza Hedayati and Samaneh Asad-Khani could not register, an act dependent upon the permission of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

A similar incident occurred last year, when political activist and high-ranking graduate student Paymon Aref was expelled from the university while finishing his thesis. A complaint made to the Ministry of Education and Sciences by the widely detested president of Tehran University, Mullah Amid Zanjani, also denied the student his degree.

Reacting to the forced retirement of some of the secular professors at Tehran University, student protests have once again intensified during recent weeks.


Two people have been arrested by government security agents in the town of Naghdeh for distributing leaflets announcing an anti-regime demonstration organized for Sept. 23.

One of the arrested, Eskandar Mirzaee, is a taxi driver in the city of Naghdeh. The other individual, Vahid, is a store owner.

The residents of Naghdeh say that, after the anti-regime demonstrations of recent months, the number of security forces in the area has increased.

Political activists based in Azerbaijan have called for widespread demonstrations against the despotic Islamic regime to take place on Sept. 23.


Advaar News, the news source of the Office of Fostering Unity* reported:

"The disciplinary committee for the medical sciences faculty of the University of Hamadan issued heavy sentences against 11 student activists; some of these students will be suspended from attending university for at least one to two academic terms. The university authorities dashed to issue these drastic verdicts."

University authorities said that they felt severe disciplinary action had to be taken against students who protested against the dissolution and confiscation of property.

* The Office of Fostering Unity, known in Farsi as Tahkim'eh Vahdat, is the largest student organization in Iran which has mainly been a university students' organization. It was formed to support the rule of Ruhollah Khomeini. Tahkim'eh Vahdat became one of the most vocal critics of hardliners in Iran and promoted a pro-reformist stance, supporting Khatami. Since the failure of the so-called reformists, at present the organization works at promote secularism, though many of its governing members are "nationalist religionists," meaning that they believe in the separation of religion and state though they remain faithful Muslims.


According to activists in Iran, tension between rural residents in the Awmol area and government disciplinary forces has intensified. Iran Press News received the following e-mail:

"The Islamic regime has forcefully usurped 50 hectares of land belonging to farmers from the village of Kamdarreh in order to build their Ayatollah Amelie University. The brutal security forces have so far arrested more than 250 people from the village among them women and children. In order to suppress the locals, the guards have taken to lobbing tear gas at the locals, firing their rifles off randomly and beating people with their nightsticks. In order to track down protestors, the guards have begun conducting house-to-house searches, kicking doors down, they enter without permission. They brutally attack and beat the residents of the houses and break everything in sight, including windows of the house, and mercilessly brutalize women. They have cut off the water and electricity of the village. All the residents have been arrested and sent to prison and every day the number of detainees increases. Not one man in sight... they've all been arrested or have fled to big cities or the nearby forests for fear of their lives. Most of their houses have been totally destroyed, forcing them to go to stay with relatives in neighboring villages. Now all financial responsibilities of the family are left on the shoulders of the women. All those around the world whose gaze has become fixed on the issues of Lebanon should also look at the story of Kamdarreh. They (the Islamic regime) have even bulldozed the land that was under cultivation by the local farmers."


According to human rights activists in Iran, the Islamic Republic has begun to put pressure on political prisoners detained at Rajaii Prison [in the Gowhardasht section of the Tehran suburb of Karaj] by preventing them from meeting with their attorneys.

Lawyers representing several political prisoners met with serious problems when attempting to meet with their clients in recent weeks. Several lawyers were prohibited from entering the prison. This preventative action was ordered by the judiciary and officials from the Office of Prisons.

At present, a large number of political prisoners are deprived of legal advice and are being held in Ward 209 of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, as well as other prisons in Iran.

Human rights activists in Iran have condemned such restrictions on political prisoners and their lawyers. They have also called for the intervention of international human rights organizations to end such inhumane actions. According to global human rights covenants, legal representation is considered a basic right.


According to Mullah Khaz-Ali, a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts,* President Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah, are members of the Assembly of World Islamic Order which will soon be finalized by the Hidden Imam when he emerges from hiding.

Mullah Khaz-Ali, speaking at a meeting of the Hidden Imam exhibition, congratulated and embraced Ahmadinejad. "I kissed Ahmadinejad," he said, "because it was he who popularized our Hidden Imam in that land where those filthy jerks run their Great Satan government. Yes, he and Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah steadfastly persevere our Hidden Imam. They are in fact in direct contact with the Hidden Imam but they're being modest about it! The reason for the delay in the emergence of the Ruler of All Time is the low level of intellect and culture in society; the foundations must be cultivated. Stupid people, have some shame and come to your senses." READ MORE

* The Assembly of Experts is the 86-cleric organ [no women & no non-clergy] that can select and, if need be, dismiss the Wali al-Faqih, the man who rules the Islamic Republic with limitless powers. At the moment the Wali al-Faqih is Khamenei.


On Tuesday, Sept. 12, hundreds of velvet and silk textile workers gathered in front of the Kashan governor's office, demanding four month's worth of their unpaid salaries.

According to the regime-run news agency, ILNA, 400 to 500 morning shift workers gathered in front of the governor's office and then took to blocking the main road between Kashan and the city of Ghom.

One of the representatives of the protesting workers said that "despite frequent correspondence with the officials, the workers' continue to go unpaid and the general manager keeps telling us that he does not have the money to pay; he tells to go and protest all we want!"

The Labor representative added: "The factory faces the lack of raw materials and the management makes no attempt to resolve this problem either." The representative reported that the unit employs more than 700 people. "The management," he said, "wouldn't mind seeing this factory meet with more difficulties and then dissolve."

Rezvon-nejad, the political and security deputy of the governor of Kashan, told the ILNA reporter that "the management and shareholders of the unit should be made to resolve the workers' problems; the workers are owed three to five months back pay."

According to the report, the workers' protest still continues and negotiations between the director of the Labor Department and the factory unit have been arranged.


Revolutionary Guard Morteza Talaie, known as the criminal captain of the government's disciplinary forces, threatened that "anyone breaking their fasts in public is forbidden and people who attempt to eat in public will be arrested and dealt with. If someone cannot stick to their fast, they should not come out in public; we will not stand for anyone violating the observances of our month of Ramadan."*

* The most prominent event of this month is the fasting practiced by all observant Muslims. The term for fasting during Ramadan is sawn. Eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse are not allowed between dawn (fajr), and sunset (maghreb). During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, sarcastic retorts, and gossip. People are meant to try to get along with each other better than they normally might. All obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided. Purity of both thought and action is important. The fast is an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm.

Fasting during Ramadan is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would be excessively problematic. Children before the onset of puberty are not required to fast, though some do. However, if puberty is delayed, fasting becomes obligatory for males and females after a certain age. According to the Quran, if fasting would be dangerous to someone's health, such as a person with an illness or medical condition (this can include the elderly), that person is excused. For example, diabetics and women who are nursing or are pregnant are not usually expected to fast; but they are encouraged to feed a needy person instead. According to the Hadith, observing the Ramadan fast is not allowed for menstruating women. Other individuals for whom it is usually considered acceptable not to fast are those in battle and travelers who intend to spend fewer than five days away from home. If one's condition preventing fasting is only temporary, one is required to make up for the days missed after the month of Ramadan is over and before the next Ramadan arrives. If one's condition is permanent or present for an extended period of time, one may make up for the fast by feeding a needy person for every day missed.

If one who does not fit into one of the exempt categories breaks the fast out of forgetfulness, the fast is still valid. If, however, one intentionally breaks the fast, that individual must continue fasting for the remainder of the day but then make up for the entire day later. If one breaks the fast through consensual sexual intercourse, the transgressor must make up for the day by fasting for sixty consecutive days.
Read all of the many important reports in this post.