Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category
Citing unnamed sources in Iran’s judiciary, the website irinn.ir is reporting Shane Bauer and Josh Fattel, following closed-door court hearings on Feb. 6th and July 31st, were each sentenced to three years for illegal entry into Iran and five years for cooperating with American intelligence services and spying for the United States. Attorney Masoud Shafiee, representing in front of a branch of the country’s politically charged Iran’s Revolutionary Court both of these Americans, had yet to hear a verdict since the trial ended.
When you had been awaiting rulings on issues of power and might. On issues of life and death. Waiting and waiting in Iran, where the Revolutionary Court handles national security cases. And your case had become a bit of a Show Trial. In a place where you never had planned to be until a uniformed officer summoned you, in a place where you did not speak his language, to his side.
The place was Iran, overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There were branches of government with a judiciary and a president and a legislative branch, all under the power and might of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Did you believe in defendants’ rights, wherever they might have been born? When it comes to Show Trials. What did you believe in? In a part of the world where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was fighting against another branch of believers, in Saudi Arabia. Over who knew God best. On issues of power and might. On earth. These sons of Abraham who had shown up with Ishmael, if you believed the Qoran, in the reading at the end of Ramadan, of Eid Al Fitr. With the same scene played out between Abraham and Ishmael, that the Judeo-Christian world knows from when Abraham took Isaac to the mountain top. To sacrifice his son.
Ramadan being the month in which the first verses of the Qoran were written, denoting intense heat, scorched ground and shortness of rations. The Revolutionary Court, working in an auspicious month of Ramadan when the revelations of God to humankind first came down. With bigger than life people, in bigger than life moments, on mountaintops. Like in the strange story of covenant on Eid Al Fitr, as Mohammed began to record stories of power and might. The stories shared by Persian people led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as Arabs in various tribes and nations.
All the things done in the name of God, over who knew best…crazy thing like a father thinking of killing his son, to confer a spirit, to somehow pass on a tradition, a point of view. About belief. Not much different than Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who approves the Minister of Intelligence and the Minister of Defense. Or other crazy secular things done by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with his own Quds Force which reports directly to him, like some kind of Papal Guard.
Ramadan, as a name for the month, of Islamic origin. With an imagination connecting the real world of fear to sacrifice. Amidst all the dysfunction in the world, belief. When dysfunction was related to the depth of communication, in a relationship, and there was Muslim people showing God reverence. Especially during Ramadan. It was why there was still hope at the end of Ramadan that clemency might be given. Like God seemed to give clemency to Ishmael. As well as to Abraham. Because when it was all over, Abraham had to return to home.
Crazy people, with God or without Him. Abraham was never welcomed back. To Hagar. Not after he tried to kill her son. Or, as the prosecutors might have pointed out, just in trying to act upon his crazy belief. When neither of them were ever coming back. Originally. These guys after all were nomads, for God sake. Can you imagine the shock of Hagar when she heard the story? Or the neighbors?
It probably was not much different than the shock those of us in the West who heard the verdict from Iran’s Revolutionary Court had, whenever they got up enough courage to announce this verdict to the world, as well as the attorney for the defendant. And imagine the shock of that third hiker as she sat down today listening to the songs of Cat Stevens. Or depending on when you came to hear him,
Yusuf Islam. Or imagine the shock when you learned the verdict from your bare-faced prison guards, instead of your own lawyer.
Seeing a mirage. When you were caught on a sandbar, in some kind of never-ending sandstorm, and you lost any conception of recognized measure of depth which surrounded you. As the Arab Spring turned to desert heat in the neighboring countries, and you felt as suffocated as the Persian women who you saw only on occasion outside, mostly crying sometimes laughing inside their buqas. To hear the news today, when the air seemed as hard to breathe as the sand, was a lot like reading an obit. Too much like your own obituary, which addressed eight years of your young life. In a country that you never wanted to visit.
You had to wonder, when called to prayer five times per day, about the content of the prayer. When prayer is really something that is not said, but an awareness kept, like keeping company, in an encounter.
To pray five times a day is to be available. To the Truth. How to exalt God? To confer a spirit….the slow patience while creating something in God’s image. A child. A story. The TRUTH. In the circle of revolutions. When revolutions are a process and not individual events. I know not why life is astir…in Iran. In the the torment of their God, and His people.
You had to wonder about the framework, the purpose, of the prayers in Iran, when called to pray five times per day, of those in power. With their prayers. Whether anyone truly wants to meet God. In their prayer encounter with a living God. In Iran.
With 62 percent of the vote, holding a seat in the United Nations, you were allowed to torture and murder – torture in the name of God– as part of the “security apparatus.”
The Islamists who since 1979 in Iran had morphed into elected autocrats once in office, exporting their tactics once sharpened by the neighbor to the north – Russia – to Syria and Lebanon and beyond. In a country without basic human rights of freedom of religion, or freedom of the press — where the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approves the Minister of Intelligence and the Minister of Defense – the Quds Force which reports directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and serves as the linchpin in Iran’s regional strategy, had been dispatched to Syria. To interfere with the airspace where satellite waves and prayer were transmitted.
Between November 1998 and February 1999, the brutal serial killings were carried out of leaders of the Iran Nation Party, including Mr. and Ms. Foruhar, brutally murdered in their house; the kidnapping and killing in December 1998 of Mohammad Ja’far Puyandeh, writer and translator of literature on women’s rights; and writer Mohammad Mokhtari. With the Grand Ayatollah attributed the murders to foreign powers, the state investigation and prosecution of the case of these four became known as the serial murders, and lasted several year before eighteen Ministry of Information employees were presented as scapegoats, admitting that suspects were under pressure to confess that they had links with foreign entities. Killed in Iran by “rogue elements” in the security services.
The National Union of Journalists had released the video, throwing light on a conspiracy of the Khatami government to conceal the truth. With ongoing variation on a theme over the ensuing twelve year. In 2009, there were, dressed in civilian clothing, the Basij — in the hands of those with Special Forces and a special force in an Islamist Republic — crushing the dissent over the reins of that power. When death sentences had lost meaning, to people without freedom.
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, criticized this week the conduct of the Syrian government, while torture by the Iranian government had been long accepted as the status quo. The conduct of the Iranian government, blessed by, held above reproach.
UN High Commissioner Pillay said, “Resort to lethal or excessive force against peaceful demonstrators tends to not only breed a culture of violence, serves to exacerbate tensions, and violates fundamental rights, including the right to life.”
Meanwhile, when killings were approved at the highest level, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for unity among African nations, proclaiming “the UN decisions have always been against the interests of the African and Asian countries. Although the world’s independent countries comprise the majority of the United Nations member-states,” President Ahmadinejad in expressing his satisfaction with the formation of the African Union continued, “the UN has failed to defend the interests of independent states.”
Spinning the promotion of unity, with a people now repressed beyond a decade, you wondered if the locals ever interrogated their God. About power and might, and the use of earthly power. Over what was going on in their own world. And if this is how they treated their own, how did they treat their enemies?
Did the undefined interests of independent states include anything about independent belief, along with the freedom to freely pray? The spin on the Arab Spring from Iran is that these were not genuine popular movements in Syria but actually hostile outside intervention – perhaps too much like prayer – hostile to the Supreme Leader, directed at regime change. Called by Iran to be some kind of Western phenomenon.
Praying to the one True God, when killings were approved at the highest level. Connecting in praise and thanksgiving – in sacrifice – prayer is a process, an awarness kept, requiring tremendous freedom. No matter where you lived. When true revolutions are, not unlike prayer, processes, and not events. With God always at your side. When words do not truly articulate the truth. About the world. When silence – once used in the second half of prayer, to listen – had become, as in any dysfunctional relationship, the only weapon left. As leaders, while their Basij attack people and their Quds Force attack airspace, demonstrate exactly what it meant to take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain. And people kept praying five times per day.
When you lived in nations with illusion of power, even illusions about God-appointed leaders, to fight the counter-insurgencies of the soul sixty percent of Iranian homes and businesses, Reza Bagheri Asl, director of the telecommunication ministry’s research institute, told an Iranian news agency, would be soon on the new internal network.
When your God came credentialed by the authorities. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ‘s intranet, for the emerging conflict called the “soft war,” allegedly directed against the West. Ali Aghamohammadi, Iran’s head of economic affairs, said: that Iran’s national intranet would be “a genuinely halal network, aimed at Muslims on an ethical and moral level.”
Reza Taghipour, Iran’s communication minister, made mention of the coming new computer operating system to replace Microsoft Windows. In the national interest. For a nation where murder and torture of your own was approved, by the Supreme Leader. When the sons of Hagar mostly always showed perfect obedience to Allah. And the women on a normal day always felt so all alone.
An International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran report published in mid-January 2011 said that Iran has hanged an average of one person every eight hours since the beginning of the new year. Amnesty International is very concerned that, after an unfair trial, Saeed Malekpour is facing a death sentence in Iran, with reports “he was tortured in order to confess to his crimes.” Last month Dutch-Iranian Zahra Bahrami was executed, having been convicted of drug smuggling.
So what is worse, pornography or torture? A web programmer who had written photo uploading software that was used in a porn website, Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour was arrested in October 2008 by plainclothes officers . Kept in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran for the past two years, Saeed Malekpour had been initially in solitary confinement for almost a year without access to legal representation. One year after his arrest, Saeed Malekpour was put on state television to confess to his crime of designing and moderating adult content websites, acting against the national security, insulting and desecrating the principles of Islam. “A large portion of my confession,” Saeed Malekpour wrote, “was extracted under pressure, physical and psychological torture, threats to myself and my family, and false promises of immediate release upon giving a false confession to whatever the interrogators dictated.”
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), 121 people have been hanged between 20 December 2010 and 31 January this year. Saeed Malekpour has now been sentenced to death for running “indecent” websites. If these were porn websites, his wife claims, they were without his knowledge. Informed of the verdict, the 35-year-old Iranian born web programmer is facing imminent execution and has been transferred to solitary confinement, until the supreme court sanctions the administration of his execution.
The principles of Islam. Or the administration of those principles. Or the view into the administration of principle, in view of human rights. The human rights to communicate something about living free. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, as president, 26 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution. The Khomeini government then had placed the Ministry of Culture in charge of reviewing all books before publication. With the imposition of strict rules on book publishing, which now under the current president’s regime, seem to threaten the life of a writer. A literary spring during the era of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency beginning in 1997 had once opened up the cultural atmosphere of book publishing.
The principles of torture that seems to be woven into the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which comes with the human desire for power. The power of one human to say who is stronger. The power of one human to say that he/she knows God best. The power of one human to say that he/she knows the manner to know God better. It all was the same conflict that Eve had with Adam, as she offered him the bite of the apple. It was the same conflict that had Cain kill Able. It all revolved around the first commandment relating to knowing God. That commandment was why Adam, why Eve, were not to eat the apple.
The power. Governments wanting power, cloaking police and secret police in plainclothes. Looking for challenges to power. Using torture to keep human power. Just as had been done following September 11th by the American government, distorting the principles of the American constitutions, when American power was challenged. Just as in Cairo, as plainclothes police arrest hundreds of demonstrating opponents of President Hosni Mubarak, placing them in detention, subject to torture. Since President Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, he has his security services detaining, using various method of torture on people off the street. Like the CIA had kidnapped people and held them in detention. Not all that dissimilar to the three Americans arrested near the border of Iraq, while on holiday, when asked by Iranian authorities to come over. A man in authority, in the name of government, in uniform, with power. The two males were at least provided legal counsel, even if they did not get to talk to their attorney alone on the day of the trial, before or after the court proceeding, in their trial this week. Their attorney, Masoud Shafii has said that he had not seen his clients since Sarah Shourd was released, with requests to visit them repeatedly denied by Iranian authorities.
When the government of law seemed subservient to government of men. The Iranian press reported the number of trial sessions will depend on the presiding judge. Did this all seem like a “show” trial, in a country with a religious state where you had to try to show others you prayed. In a system sounding a lot like a Communist regime, where you first had to belong to the Party. Only Communists had not been allowed to believe in God, publicly.
When absolute power corrupts, and provides distortions in concepts of fairness. The distortion that led Cain to kill Able. The distortions which lead to capital punishment, in the name of justice. The distortions which led governments to want to manipulate the news of the world, or just control the release of the Truth.
It was a challenge to governments to try and cover the news, based in Damascus, Syria. Where then 17-year old Tal al-Molouhi, a high school student has been under arrest since 2009, on charges of revealing information to a foreign country. In her blog. There was not much left in the rights of journalists as newspapers collapsed in the past few years. There was little left of the Society of Professional Journalists. Was this the same motivation behind the detention of Shane Bauer that no one writes about. A professional journalist based in Syria, with the 45-year ban on public demonstrations, state-run television, and all of the “security” forces, where the government goes looking for 17-year old bloggers. And graduates in journalism from Berkley are allowed to write freely, but just not hike on weekends?
When armed groups” in Iraq “receive financial and logistical support from Syria,” according to Iraq General Raymond Odierno’s previous comments to Al Hayat. Yet traditional media never really reports on the financial foundation of all these “insurgents” in Iraq. When the money for weapons, a great deal of money, most come from somewhere. Iran presenting itself as the natural representative of the non-Sunnis and non-Arabs nations, opposing both Israel and the West in the region, allied with Syria in support of Palestinian “resistance” to the supposed ambitions of the West and Israel in the region.
POST SCRIPT: On Valentine’s Day, chained and blindfolded, Tal al-Molouhi was brought into court and sentenced to five years in jail. In Syria. Where 80-year old Haitham al-Maleh has been incarcerated since October 2009 with a three year prison sentence for spreading”false information. About Syria, the recipient of Iranian oil money to prop up the power of the family of a long-time dictator.
Egypt. There no longer was a Society of Professional Journalists left. Not when their papers were on their last ropes. There were no labor unions offering protection. As governments smirked about it all. The news last week was about journalists being beat up and released. People like Hilary Clinton, who hated the press. AND it had been Obama who had kicked 3 journalists off a plane during the last campaign, because their papers failed to endorse him. On February 14th, the U S State Department in the way of Hilary Clinton has clamored for the rights to an internet connection, in the Middle East. The communication systems that could be bugged, or turned off or turned on. The ones which had been developed by the U S Military but became prevalent under the presidency of Hilary Clinton’s husband. Technology in which the location of every cellphone user could be found. The Clinton administration, not exactly the stalwarts of freedom, having set up the Joint Task Force-Civil Support in October 1999 as a “homeland defense command.” In 2002 this evolved into the establishment by the Pentagon of the U.S. Northern Command, charged with carrying out military operations within the United States. Up until the Clinton Presidency, the U S armed forces under Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances. There was a hollow ring to the words of the Secretary of State today, by a government which issued National Security Authorization letters which no one was allowed to talk to anyone about –not even a lawyer –under the terms of the Patriot Act.