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Posts Tagged ‘ Ayatollah Montazeri ’

  • 1 June 2011
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, UN

Haleh Sahabi killed at father’s funeral

Haleh Sahabi, a human rights activist and women rights champion, died today in a scuffle that broke out with Iranian government security forces at her father’s funeral, Reuters reported.

Haleh was arrested for participating in protests following the 2009 election, and temporary released to attend the ceremony. Her father, Ezzatollah Sahabi (1930-2011) was a politician and former parliament member who spent about 15 years in prison before and after the Islamic revolution, and also was a member of the interim government installed after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.  He resigned in protest over the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

Iran state news agencies and Iranian officials denied that Haleh died at the hands of security forces and instead have said she died as a result of a heart attack due to the high temperatures. However, eyewitnesses, including Ayatollah Montazeri’s son and Haleh’s uncle, indicate that she was killed after being hit and punched by regime militia and they hold the regime responsible for her death.

Shirin Ebadi, in her interview with Deutsche Welle Persian, pointed out that Haleh’s death is considered a murder and can be investigated by the UN Human Rights Council.

In addition, the U.S. State Department called for an investigation into Haleh’s death.

NIAC issued a statement condemning the killing:

Haleh Sahabi’s death at the hands of Iranian government security forces marks the tragic closing of yet another chapter in Iran’s long struggle for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  Just as her father dedicated his entire life to achieving a democratic Iran, Haleh ultimately lost her life in pursuit of this cause and, like him, died as a political prisoner.  Iran’s government must release all prisoners of conscience and end the systematic repression that has led to so much suffering in Iran but failed to diminish the Iranian people’s aspirations for a brighter future.

  • 6 October 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Monolithic Myths

I could not help but laugh at the irony when I read successive articles in the New York Times on Monday in which, in the first article, Iran’s government was referred to monolithically as “the mullahs”, while in the second, the Times reported that senior clerics in Iran are actually being targeted for government censorship.

The divided and competing interests within Iran’s political scene is nothing new.  But following the 2009 election crisis, this reality was exposed even to those who do not closely follow events in Iran. And the un-Islamic nature of the Iranian government, despite official claims, has been revealed time and time again, especially in the past two years–including in the brutal crackdown on protesters and the government’s attacks on dissident clerics’ homes and offices.

Despite all these obvious divisions, the New York Times published a news analysis discussing Bob Woodward’s new book and what it may reveal about Obama’s policy towards Iran. Throughout the article, author John Vincour constantly refers to the Iranian government as “the mullahs.”

Yet as the Times reported the same day (“In Sign of Discord, Iran Blocks Web Sites of Some Clerics”), Iran’s government is  censoring the websites of Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei and Grand Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat-Zanjani. Those attempting to access the websites were instead redirected to the standard Iranian government filtering page.

The most likely reason? Both Sanei and Bayat-Zanjani openly condemned the violent crackdown on the street protests following the fraudulent presidential elections in 2009. Muhammad Sahimi, a UCLA professor and political columnist for Tehran Bureau, said of the censorship:

“Filtering their sites is precisely because of the public positions that they have taken… This is part of the ‘cyberspace war’ that the hardliners have publicly announced against the Green Movement and its supporters.”

As Grand Ayatollah Sanei said on his website in response to the censorship, “Let it not go unsaid that freedom of expression is emphasized under Islam.”

So why does John Vincour talk about Iran’s government in shorthand as “the mullahs”?  It doesn’t just happen once. Vincour continuously refers to the Iranian government as a group of mullahs, as if they are all united and of the like mind.

Now, I’m not talking about being politically correct. I’m just talking about being correct. Vincour ignores all the rivalries and complexities in Iran’s leadership and unites them all under the same banner.

Many clerics refused to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his supposed election victory; Ayatollah Dastgheib called on the Assembly of Experts to review the performance of the Supreme Leader; the homes and offices of Montazeri, Karroubi, and Sanei have all been attacked; and recently, a dispute erupted over Azad University. These are but a few examples of the many rifts and complexities in Iran’s leadership.

To be perfectly honest, considering how often Iran is in the news today and how often it is the subject of policy discussions, I expect more from not only the New York Times, but also of those who are leading the debate on Iran. And I am not only bothered by Vincour’s ignorance, but also surprised.

Perhaps as we debate and formulate policies regarding Iran, it is time to do ourselves a favor and be mindful of the intricacies of Iranian politics before we talk about Iran as if it were a monolith.

  • 16 June 2010
  • Posted By Shawn Amoei
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

One Year Later: Are We Missing the Real Story?

Much attention has been given to the absence of large street protests on the anniversary of Iran’s disputed elections. This focus on street protests however, largely misses the point of the opposition movement today.

“A government that is scared of a corpse is a weak government,” Shirin Ebadi said, referring to the government’s decision to bar families of killed protesters from holding public funerals. Attacks on Mehdi Karroubi and  raids on the offices of Grand Ayatollahs Saane’i and Montazeri show the increasing desperation of Iran’s rulers. Every website managed by WordPress (the most popular blog hosting platform on the web) has been filtered since this past weekend in Iran (including this blog), and the Revolutionary Guards have even set up a “Facebook Espionage Division.”

All of this indicates that the Islamic Republic is a regime that has become afraid of its own shadow.  And this is the real story of the past year.

Pundits in the West have been quick to write obituaries for the Green Movement because it’s been unable to maintain the mass protests we last saw on Ashura. They ignore the fact that the regime has now become permanently on edge, and every crackdown against the opposition is a testimony to this.

One year on, the real story is that a pro-democracy movement that had long been simmering under the surface has finally been thrust into the spotlight.

Those who expected to see the toppling of the mullahs within a year failed to grasp the difficulty of such a task in an authoritarian state. Ayatollah Khamenei understands better than anyone the fragility of his authority, and his actions in recent weeks are the best indication of this.

Movements in pursuit of democracy and independence are long, protracted struggles. At times, the efforts of the people manifest themselves in public displays of strength. But even more important are the times in between where ordinary citizens retreat to their homes and places of worship to discuss the future of their country, and to engage in a spirited discourse about the future of their political system. And this has been the most fundamental achievement of the Green Movement: to craft an alternative narrative for Iran’s future that abandons the status quo.

Once that idea catches on in the minds of the people, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a reality.

Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi points out in the Green Movement charter issued on the anniversary:

“By rejecting the ruling establishment, by going back to their own homes and developing and expanding their social networks, strong and reliable relations between the various strata of the nation have been established. The social networks have created miracles in the area of informing [the nation] of political-social and cultural [developments]. All we need to do to understand this is to glance at their artistic productions, the amount of news and information that is exchanged, and the analyses that are going on in a completely democratic way. The Green Movement has created a powerful wave of debate and discussion concerning the critical problems among the people that is unique in our recent history.”

This debate — more than the number of people out on the streets or in the jails — is the true measure of the movement. Those who ignore this are missing the biggest story of the past year. “Just because there are less people on the streets does not mean that the movement has weakened, but that the criticism has taken a different form,” Shirin Ebadi said on Tuesday.

Joe Klein of Time Magazine said in reference to Iran on Sunday that “this is the greatest mismatch between a people and a government of any country in the world.” Very true. And that mismatch — not displays of strength on the street — is what will ultimately bring about the change Iranians have long been waiting for.

  • 14 June 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran

IRI’s Helping Hand

Hardline backers attacked and vandalized Grand Ayatollah Saanei's office on Sunday.

While some Iranians came out to protest on the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent presidential elections this weekend, others came out to attack Mehdi Karroubi and the offices of Grand Ayatollah Saanei and late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.

Karroubi, who traveled to Qom on Sunday for a mourning ceremony, planned on visiting Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, and the family of late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Shortly after arriving at the house of Saanei, a group of pro-regime backers encircled Saanei’s house, chanting slogans against Karroubi and Saanei. They also attacked Karroubi’s car, which despite being bulletproof, was still heavily damaged due to the severity of the attacks.

While these attacks were not particularly surprising — just another statistic added to the many other attacks this past year — what was surprising was the IRGC’s aid to Karroubi. The IRGC not only urged the violent crowds to disperse, but Karroubi also took refuge in a building owned by the Revolutionary Guards per their request until 4 in the morning on Monday when he finally left for Tehran. He escaped through a corridor made by the anti-riot police to ensure safe passing of Karroubi’s car.

As any Iranian who first points to an underlying conspiracy as the reason for an unnatural event taking place, I assumed it was the regime that set up the entire thing. Photos of Saanei’s office greatly resembled photos of university dormitories attacked by the Basij following the elections last year. Plain clothed thugs were hired by the regime, I thought, and then the IRGC came to the ‘rescue,’ showing the regime’s kindhearted nature, even to the opposition. It would serve for a brilliant propaganda campaign. But after fruitlessly searching on Press TV for any news of this event, I realized I was slightly off.

But only slightly. The place to look was Raja News, not Press TV. The state media was broadcasting the event, and of Karroubi’s flee from the people on domestic news sites, not international ones. The state-run media seemed to mock Karroubi for escaping a violent crowd — though I couldn’t imagine anyone in their right mind doing differently.

And all the while, the police did nothing. Shortly after Karroubi escaped, police and security forces stood by, watching while the mob attacked Saanei’s house and office and vandalized the late Montazeri’s office.  Said opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s son Hossein:

From the sudden gathering and the behavior of this group, it is obvious that they did not act by themselves and have orders.

This elaborate, and very organized plan, served the regime quite well. First of all, it allowed them to score some cheap points through the fear of violence.  Also, the IRGC very deliberately prevented the mob from going too far — because the last thing they want to do is create another martyr for the opposition movement.

Iran was shaken up after the death of Neda, and again, after the death of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri last year.  Another martyr would serve as the very flame needed to ignite the relatively smaller protests on the anniversary this year and turn them into something bigger, resembling the protests that followed the previous deaths. And so the IRGC prevented that from happening.

To be clear, this could have been a very major event — and it appears the senior leadership in the IRGC knew it.

For me, it wasn’t the violence that was surprising — thankfully, no one was hurt — it was its target: two grand ayatollahs, Montazeri and Saanei.  I was looking through the pictures of Saanei’s attacked office and saw a broken mohr.  A Mohr is a small clay tablet that Shi’a Muslims use to pray.

There’s no better illustration than this of what Montazeri meant when he said Iran is no longer Islamic nor a republic.

  • 14 January 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009, Uncategorized

Reformist Cleric Arrested

Radio Zamaneh reports (via www.payvand.com) that Iranian reformist cleric Mohammad-Taghi Khalaji was arrested yesterday by the Qom Intelligence Department. Khalaji’s son Mehdi affirms that when arrested, Khalaji’s computer and personal documents, such as his passport, were confiscated as well. Mehdi Khalaji further reports that his mother and sister also had their passports confiscated and they were told not to leave the country.  The Khalaji family had been planning to visit Mehdi, who currently lives in the US and works at the DC think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Mohammad-Taghi Khalaji is a prominent Qom cleric close to reformist clerics Ayatollah Montazeri and Ayatollah Sanei. He was arrested and imprisoned three times before the Revolution as a political activist.

Mehdi Khalaji reports that his father had given a speech on the night of Tasua, the Shiite Holy Day in Ayatollah Sanei’s home criticizing government pressure against clerics and opposition leaders.

Mohammad-Taghi Khalaji supported presidential candidate Mousavi and has spoken out several times condemning the Iranian government for their brutal crackdown on election protestors.

  • 21 December 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 8 Comments
  • Iran Election 2009

The Significance of Today’s Events

 

Copyright AP

The hardline newspaper Kayhan reported that there were "a maximum of 5000" in the crowd mourning Montazeri's death. (h/t enduringamerica.com)

 

Today clearly breathed new life into Iran’s opposition movement. Opposition leaders Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi both took the risk and attended alongside countless other mourners. (Mousavi’s convoy was reportedly attacked en-route back to Tehran by plain-clothed security officials who cut off the convoy and bashed in a window of one of the cars and injured one of Mousavi’s bodyguards.) 

Khamenei issued a rather insulting statement of condolence, which the NY Times reports sparked boos, chants of “we do not want rationed condolences” and “death to the dictator” from the crowd of mourners in Qum. Khamenei’s statement follows:

“We have become informed that the sublime jurisprudent Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has departed this life. He was a competent religious authority and a prominent expert and many students attended his classes. A long portion of his life had been dedicated to the movement of the revered and great Imam (Khomeini), and he strived and suffered hardships on this path. In the last years of the Imam’s life, he (Montazeri) was faced with a difficult test. I ask Almighty God to forgive him through His mercy and to accept the hardships suffered during his life as atonement. I extend my condolences to his bereaved wife and children and ask God to bestow forgiveness and mercy upon him.”

While the Iranian government managed to successfully block BBC Persian service into Iran, another critical audience couldn’t possibly miss what happened today. One of the readers at the New York Times’ The Lede put it best: 

Qom is in many ways the heart of the last Revolution (how it ended up anyway) and its aftermath. Until now, the regime has tried very very hard to isolate Qom from the protest movement. The security presence there has always been reported as very high to prevent any protests. […] With today’s protests in Qom, and the clergy’s close-up view of it (perhaps for the first time for some of them) it will be interesting to see what the Qom clergy does in the days and weeks to come.

The next day to watch is Sunday, when two major days of mourning coincide: the day of mourning for Ayatollah Montazeri (the seventh day after his death) and the religious holiday of Ashura, which marks the martyrdom of the Imam Hossein.

  • 3 November 2009
  • Posted By Sanaz Tofighrad
  • 0 Comments
  • Uncategorized

Ayatollah Montazeri: Occupation of the American Embassy Was a Mistake

In a statement posted on his website, Ayatollah Montazeri said that the occupation of the American embassy was not the right thing to do.  According to Montazeri, “occupying the embassy of a country we are not at war with is like declaring war on them and is wrong.  Many devoted [revolutionaries] who were involved accept that it was wrong.”

Montazeri added that Khomeini’s ruling against relations with the U.S. “was temporary and changes based on political and economic situations.”  According to Montazeri, “Israel and its lobby in the U.S. are firmly against relations between Iran and the U.S. and believe it is in their interest for the current crisis between Iran and the U.S. to continue.  Unfortunately, [Iran’s] officials do not pay attention to this important issue.”

In the end, the Grand Ayatollah asked the Islamic Republic to “return the lost authority to the system” by “freeing the political prisoners and removing the ban on the press…”

  • 4 August 2009
  • Posted By Sanaz Tofighrad
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Ayatollah Montazeri: no pious court can try someone based on these confessions

montazeri_4Grand Ayatollah Montazeri issued a statement today regarding recent trials, condemning forced confessions and other human rights abuses:

With complete surprise and regret, our dear and suffering people are witnessing the broadcasting of unlawful and immoral interviews by their captive love ones; those who have been detained for more than 40 days and some of them have become martyrs.

These confessions, which have unfortunately been common in the Islamic Republic for years and have been taken in illegal prisons under abnormal conditions by threatening and deceiving the prisoner, cutting off his relationship with realities of the society, and by imposing physical and psychological pressures, are completely against the law and religion and are considered to be “major sins…”  The overseers and executor of these must be tried and punished…One the other hand, no pious court can try and sentence someone based on these confessions and interviews. […]

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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