Iran Blogapalooza: NGO’s That Aren’t…

Jadi at inside Iran has two posts relating to his work in NGO’s:

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are merely a new concept in Iran…after the 1977 revolution, our government change to an Islamic Republic one which acts like an Totalitarian regime. It controls all the media, own all the TV and Radio stations. Controls all the Internet providers and dictates to the newspapers what to write and what not to write…it tries to control every aspect of life in Iran.

In this atmosphere, NGOs started to evolve. NGOs were the only place in which people could gather and do something…from holding computer workshops, talking about human rights abuses up to documenting torture inside the country.

So it is understandable that government started to react. At first it started his own “NGO”s which are better to be called a gNGO; Governmental NonGovernmental Orgs. One good example of these fake NGOs are the Organization For Defending Victims of Violence; ODVV (Their site is http://www.odvv.org/statements/statements.asp but I did not make this one clickable so they will not know that I’ve wrote about them. It is VERY risky. The site is english and I linked the statements part.) With all of their luxury magazines, seminars, buildings and money, they have never told anything about the brutal violence which is happening in Iran. They only condemn Lebanon, Israel, Russian School attacks and even on the case of Saddam.

    “As a nongovernmental organization which was originally established to help the  victims of Iraq’s enforced war against Iran, the ODVV welcomes the sentence, and as the rest of the Iranian nation, calls for Saddam to be tried for the crimes that he committed against Iran.” 

It closes its eyes on a CAPITAL PUNISHMENT and claims to talk on behalf of the “rest of the Iranian nation”. This gNGO always participates in international meetings and saya “We are an NGO and we are watch dogging violence in Iran and we ensure you that everything is GOOD” 🙂

So at first the government tried to start many fake NGOs (i.e. gNGOs) and put pressure on the real ones not to participate at International events and not to publish anything or start any website. They did not success so they changed their attitude by shutting down NGOs, arresting activists and sentencing them to long prisons and threaten others not to participate any event.

NGOs were our hopes for some years and we try to continue our activities in them. The government is also make more and more pressure on us and this is very dangerous. NGOs are kind of moderators. They make you go slower and more “internal” (accepting the situation, rules and even pressures to be able to continue). When they crack down the NGOs, younger people do not have any place to actively pursue what they want so they might commit violence, they might act radically, they might… . In the NGOs we were not politicals, we were not trying to access political power. After the crack down, people do not have any place to participation in their society as a CIVILIAN; this can lead them in the wrong direction.

Read the unexpurgated post at inside Iran. Then his second post is about his NGO work in Kabul:

I was in Afghanistan / Kabul for two weeks. I was training two NGOs to start their websites. Unfortunately both are in Persian.

This was my second time in Kabul. It is a nice city with friendly people. The main problems there are not being clean and not being safe. Everyday the are some killings in the news and you read about how “some people” killed “some other”. While I was there, 3 newspaper reporters where murdered and more than 20 polices. One day one of trainees did not attended the class. When I asked him the day after he said: “One of my relatives were killed during a conflict with Taliban; he was a policeman”.

One good point there is the freedom of expression 🙂 Although it is dangerous but legally you have the right to speak out your idea. This might be only available during the “honeymoon” of the country and it seems the government is trying to decrease it because of national security.

I met many people there. I went to Afghan PEN sessions, met politicians and people from newspapers and media. This was good. Most of the people were not with the Karzai and told me that he is not doing well. 

And when he returned another arrest:

Oh and as soon as I have returned back to Iran, Police have arrested one another activist! Again an active woman from “1 million campaign”. This time Ehteram Shadfar. A 62 years old woman is in the prison because of … nobody knows.    

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Iran Blogapalooza: Cold War Blues

So because of a cold war campaign by the Empire the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) which doesn’t need much of an excuse to get overtly oppressive is going into full scare mode and the fear of arrest among many is growing. Such is the human cost of the Empire’s games of supremacy and the demagoguery of Ahmadinejad. First Naj at Neo Resistance

why would it (IRI) be arresting American-Iranian scholars with no track record of aggression toward IRI, or no neo-conservative related controversy tied to their name?

Omid Me’marian answers, and because I agree with his points, I translate excerpts [I left out a couple of paragraphs of rhetorics]:

These individuals, although live abroad, but are considered the national pride of the Iranian diaspora. And now, they are confined under various charges laid on them by the security officials. The dug up evidences on these individuals do not reflect the journalistic genius of the “toopkhaneh” paper [ I think this refers to Keyhan?], rather the availability of the documents to the public. However, the evidence are read with paranoia and are twisted with disinformation. And this shows how empty handed the accusers, and how innocent the accused are. Because, considering the web sites of these individuals, and their publications reveal that the false accusations against them resemble inventions.

[…] such usual spreading of lies aims to both frighten the Iranian diaspora whose heart beats for Iran, and also to send a warning message to those who might aim to use such individuals towards their own [political] goals, unaware that with such “accidental” or ‘false” arrests, they are shooting themselves in the foot. [here the author is pointing the finger to the hardliner papers that are putting wood in the fire.]

This is not the first time that the [right-wing] security-organizational-journalistic ring undertakes such projects. Similar instances have occurred several times in the past years and it is possible to predict the outcome. I expect that as I am writing these notes, some of the wisemen of the conservative camp are scolding their hardliners for such impulsive actions; while on the other hand the hardliners are promising the prisoners that they will be free to go if they make a little confession.

Therefore, the stories of arrets, charges of espionage, leaking the interrogations in the headlines of the hardline papers, censorship of the news, refusal to allow access to legal counsel, perpetual lying, fear mongering in sectors of the society and throwing in names that are the objective of the future “intelligence-project”, forced confessions and then release without court appearance [remember the British soldiers?] but with a hefty bail, is an old and repeated story, without any intelligence or humanitarian outcome.

Any Iranian citizen likes the intelligence officers to be among the elite. Both qualified and smart, and capable of providing safety and security with minimal expense and maximum cooperation of the citizens, which will lead to trust and satisfaction. But in the most optimistic assessments, the intelligence officers have raised so many false flags that one wonders why they are occupying such posts [makes me think of the CIA and the FBI and Saddam’s WMD!]. The picture that these people project of Iran resembles the anti-human right picture that the American war-mongers portray of Iran.

Naj’s conclusion (and I hope she is right) is this-

In addition to being a fear-mongering device, this is a smoke-screen because Monday is a sensitive day. Some in Iran, like many in Washington, do not want Iran to sit at a table with the US! Thus, it is important for the government to appear tough on America’s possible intervention in internal affairs of Iran. Of course, the Americans are not making it easy for these people, by publicly calling for “destabilizing action inside Iran”.
Nonetheless, everyone will be freed unharmed!

This is just an excerpt, go to the Neo Resistance for the full post. Then over to View From Iran and Esther post a heart rending entry-

Keivan is on the phone with a friend: “The Iranian government needs no excuse to arrest people. They say that the money from foreign governments is bringing activists into danger. But the truth is that they do not need an excuse to close down ngos and arrest activists.”

Well… it is a distressing time in Iran. The past few months have been the worst time for me in Iran. It was the first time in our almost four years there that we saw life in Iran the way that people outside the country sometimes imagine it: as repressive and oppressive. The night before we left for vacation we had kebab in a teahouse north of Tehran. When we left, we ran into a huge roadblock manned by fresh-faced religious police who all looked about 16 years old. They stopped every car looking for alcohol and infringements on morality. People we know have been arrested. Others have heard rumors of their own impending arrest. (These people are not even activists!)

Again there is more so please go to View From Iran to read the full post, part of the Blogapalooza is to get people to read these blogs and explore their links and blogroll. Alternatively, you could just be spoon fed whatever our govts want you to hear, whatever huh?

Jadi at inside Iran finishes with a slightly happier post of some small resistance-

In Iran there is a semi-secret-police group called HERASAT. Literally it means “guarding/protection” and its logical function should be protecting (guarding) the entrances of the organizations, universities, offices and … (kind of doorkeeper).This “HERASAT” – in the recent decade – has morphed from a doorkeeper to a secret police.

They are scary, “big” people who can order the head of the university to throw out a student, they can introduce you to the secret police and the intelligence services, they can ask anybody to go to their office to be asked questions, they can arrest “bad hijab” people and they even can investigate and regulate professors interviews and travels!As you can imagine, this people are becoming more and more powerful and “important”. Nowadays they have their own office in all the universities and many many compaies. They check you in the Airport in Theaters and practically everywhere.

Oh.. Let me return back to the story! These people also have an office in our university and in the previous week protests against all the problem our government is making for us, they confronted students a lot and even attacked to the students and broke the windows and……a student had attached a Sign to this HERASATs office. It reads “HERASATs office is closed by students because of committing VIOLENCE”.

Iran Blogapalooza: Bad Hijab Victimisation

As well as Western sabre rattling the people of Iran have to put up with their authoritarian govt. Jadi at inside Iran has some pictures, here’s one-

hijab_iran.jpg

He explains-

Our government is brutally attacking Bad-Hijab women. There are special forces all over the city and they arrest girls and women who do not hide all of their hairs or do not conduct in an “islamic manner”. REMEBER: THESE ARE NORMAL PEOPLE WHO WHERE WALKING PEACEFULLY IN THE STREET 5 MINS AGO. There are beatings all over the city. My heart beats mad writing this. I feel very angry and I am not able to do anything…

I feel hopeless. At the morning I’ve got the news of the arrest of one of my close friends (Maziyar Samiei) was arrested because of his leftist ideas and now he is in prison; nobody know where. And now, these photos. Today I was thinking of leaving this country. Not for studing, not for work. Just for not being here.

Esther at View From Iran is also feeling the pressure-

“People are really nervous,” a friend told us. “They are calling each other every few hours to make sure that one of them has not been arrested.”

We know. We were busy calling one of our friends regularly to make sure that she was still sleeping in her own bed.

So what do people in Iran do when they are worried about being arrested? Here’s the drill:
1. Sell all the alcohol.
2. Backup everything on the computer and then reformat the hard drives.
3. Call people with connections to find out if they can verify any rumors.
4. Carry an extra toothbrush everywhere.
5. Don’t answer the door for unexpected visitors.
6. Wait.

I wish there was honest help being offered by our govts. and that when this bully regime is reported on it wasn’t used by warmongers to stoke their pyre. I wish I didn’t have to write that and we could simply pressure the regime to stop this bullying without it being a tool of a hidden agenda. If our governments insist on being stuck in pre 20th century games of conquest I guess we will have to work without them to help others with similarly idiotic leaders. So sod our suits write to theirs (but in somewhat more polite terms):

Ambassador Rasoul Movahedian,
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince´s Gate
London SW7 1PT

email: info@iran-embassy.org.uk

Iran Blogapalooza: Images Of Tehran

These pictures are courtesy of Jadi at inside Iran and I think they really help to get an idea of the city, for big versions and commentary by Jadi click the pics.

tehranpicsjadi.jpg

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Iran Blogapalooza Round-up Part 2

A while back Jadi decided that he would go cold turkey and stop any internet use for a whole week:-

I am addicted to the net. I’ve found it in the recent couple of weeks when I did not had access to the Internet from my house and did not went to job (because the government had shut down our NGO). In these two weeks I was war driving trough the city to find a free WiFi zone and “borrow” their Internet :”>

Thankfully his addiciton reasserted itself and he came back after a spell of that wonderful new sport ‘borrowing’ wi-fi. He does a Q&A for an Italian who is thinking of visiting:-

1. Police behavior is good. But you can not have sex, alchole,

2. Lets talk in Euros. A sandwich is 1 Euro, A good laptop is 1400 Euros, A bus from Tehran to another city is around 8 Euros. A shared taxi for transporting in city is 0.5 Euro. A book is 3 Euros. A luxury meal in a good restaurant is 20 Euros. A t-shirt is 5-15 Euros, A pair of shoes is 15-50 Euros, One kilo of meat is 8 Euros, One Litre of milk is 0.5 Euro, A bread is 0.2 Euro, One kilo of orange is 1 Euro and the best part: one litre of gas is 0.08 Euro ! … enough ? 🙂 I don’t know about the hotels’ price but you can check them on the internet (i wish!)

3. Difficult question ! For sure younger generation is interested to know more and more about other countries and if you start to talk with them, they will have many questions. I think many of them will ask “What do you think about Iran ?” I think the reason is something like this: We believe that we have a good country and we are afraid what other people think about our country in this situation. So they want to ask to be sure that YOU know the difference between our government and our people. This is one theory, the other theory is “This question is simple and everybody knows how to ask What do you think about Iran so they ask it :D”
Jadi
p.s. If you are coming to Iran it’s better to be here 6 months later; In the SPRING. Nowadays Tehran is cold and if you are coming to Iran in the fall or winter, it’s better to visit south of Iran which is warmer.-

And his last post tells a familiar story about Google cooperating with censorship:-

I wanted to download the “Persian Calendar” open source project from http://code.google.com/p/jalali-calendar/ today. When I clicked the “Download” link, it said Forbidden: You are accessing this page from a forbidden country. It should be because of the embargo but from today on we do not have access to our open source projects on Google Code anymore. This happens while I am reading on boingboing.net that Shareholders ask Google to counteract foreign ‘net censorship. –

He ends saying he is trying the onion router via EFF found here http://tor.eff.org/, bad google.

Happy Birthday Hamed! The inimitable Mr. Saber moves onward and upward and the stage is set for the 6th Iranian flickr group gathering, the Iranian flickr group has at the moment 15,160 pics click here to view them all, and here are a few snippets:-

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Iran Blogapalooza Round-up & Meet View From Iran

It’s a big one ‘cos its been a while, first off Neda with a great post translated from a Persian blog:-

1- Tehran, airport: They remind her again to fix her hejab, and cover all the hair inside the head scarf. The agant who’s suppused to stamp her passport for exit says: why do you travel so much to and from Iran? you’re a spy! and calls another officer to arrest and take her to custody to question her. It’s two hours before the flight.
They search her bags and laptop and tell her repeatedly to “tell the truth”. She calls every one she knows and asks for help. at last, half an hour before the flight she enters the plane with eyes red and swollen and tears on cheeks.

2- Torento, airport: Everybody is asked from which country they’ve come. Iranians all mention Amsterdam, the city in which they changed their flight, but “iran” is the words that jumps out of her mouth. The police gives her a different look and takes her towards the red line. They search all her bags, even her books.Then the agent helps her to pack her bags again and says in a comparetively kind voice:
Next time we asked, don’t say Iran.-

Read the rest at her blog a glinting glimpse FROM ABOVE THE WALL , plus some pics of the Roger Waters gig in Mumbai.

Earlier she posts about running into a car with her scooter and then pressure to conform:-

I’m in my favorite café, studying “parental care in Amphibia” which is an amazing topic. But then thoughts come to my head like every time I try to use my brain in a good way.. thiking how much I don’t understand those people who ask: “so.. is it too hard to study this late or what? I mean.. girls in your age usually are married and have kids”-

And violent men:-

It’s late at night and we are walking. it seems every body is sleeping, nobody in the street.. well, almost nobody. he is just like a kind polar bear, I’m thinking.. Suddenly a female voice comes out of a parked car; Stop it! and then, voices of slapping someone on the face.. No shouting!! A male voice now.. we’re now approaching the car.
The girl now talking in a lower voice, trying to making it up to him; like nothing’s happened, and he’s not the one who was slapping her just second before..

I can’t feel my hand slipping off his hand, getting into my jeans’ packet.. Pune has never been so cold in April… I’m thinking.-

Then David at ddmmyyyy with some coverage of the crack down on non-‘islamic’ dress:-

That night I’d popped out with my father, traveling by car we couldn’t help but go through Tehran’s notorious Jordan Boulevard – notorious among other things for being a road not unlike a catwalk. As we inched forward I noticed the traffic had slowed for different reasons to usual. One-by-one police officers glared in at the drivers subsequently ushering the women drivers to the side whereby further police and a blacked-out van awaited.

If a headscarf falls in a far away forest and nobody is there to see it, will they make a sound? I thought while I sat watching the the police decipher the morally correct with no great ease.

“My friend was cautioned”, said one girl at work the next day, “yes mine too”, said another. We all shared our stories and although this annual tactic is expected we all agreed that the level was way beyond what has been seen for the last few years at least.-

And he links to another blog which I will now introduce: Meet View From Iran, “Chronicling the adventures of an American in Tehran with guest appearances from her Iranian husband. Unofficial home of “Norooz 2007”. They also have stories about the crackdown fever:-

“Please fix your scarf,” the taxi driver said to me. “Not because of me, but because the religious police are checking. I don’t care what you wear.”
“It’s not good enough?”
“Make it good enough for them.” I fumed a bit and then retreated into my thoughts. Up front Keivan and the driver discussed the crackdown on hejab.
“I was taking a young woman and she had her small dog with her. The religious police pulled us over. They said, We are impounding your car, arresting the girl, and letting the dog loose on the streets where it will be killed. I said, Hajh Agah, (Mister Hajh: a term of respect given to a man who has made pilgrimage to Mecca) you can’t do that. How can you take my car from me? How will I earn a living? And this young woman, what is wrong with her hejab? She is properly covered. There is no law against having a dog. And you have to consider that maybe the dog was sick, and we just came from the veterinarian.” Riding in the car was testimony to the fact that he was able to talk his way out of the arrest and that the dog survived. –

She lays out her love for Iran warts and all:-

Iran is far from monolithic or doomed… It is diverse and delightful and filled with people who are unbelievably welcoming. Can you imagine Iranians traveling to America or Europe and being met with sincere kindness by 99.9% of the people they run across? Yet, when I travel Iran, I *am* met with kindness. Yes me. An American. I tell everyone who asks that I am American. Yes I do. I tell everyone. I tell the Revolutionary Guards and the soldiers and the police and the school girls and their mothers and brothers and fathers and friends. I tell cab drivers and business men and oil execs and refugees. Everywhere I go, I am met with kindness. When Iranians say to me, “It’s your government we hate, not you.” I say, “The government represents me. I may not have voted for it, but you must hold me and other Americans responsible for its actions.” Yes. They should, but they don’t.

The West sees images of Iranians throwing smoke bombs and burning flags and shouting down with America… You don’t see the 16-year old girl trying out her English with me. You don’t see the soldiers who greet me with jokes. You don’t see the families who have served me countless dinners. You don’t see any of this.

The West has chosen to demonize Iran. I don’t agree with Iran’s politics; I don’t agree with its legal system; I don’t agree with a lot of things here. Iran is flawed. Well aren’t we all…?-

This can’t be said enough and the Iranian bloggers say it well, the war pimps always look to dehumanize and demonize a country so their idiot supporters think they are being righteous in attacking it. No country would pass the kind of scrutiny the west applies to its enemies, not least America itself. And criticising Iran is not support for attacking it, I have to say that because wingnuts might take coverage of the Hejab crackdown as evidence they should load up the bombers. The Hejab crackdown is a good example of authoritarianism and how idiotic it is:-

I will tell you this: enforcing hejab makes me feel insecure and mistrustful. I am nervous walking down the street. I do not trust anyone. Why should I? I am wearing this scarf and manteau by force. Therefore, there can be no trust. If I had come to the decision to wear hejab on my own, and wore it because of choice, faith, or even subtle social pressure, that would be different. But I wear hejab because of force and that force has been even more visible the past week. Force will never allow me to make a religious choice of my own free will. It’s a ridiculous notion.-

There are also links to other articles at that post, maybe Jack Straw could give it a read too.

Ok, part 2 including flickr photo extravaganza (Happy Birthday Hamed) & Jadi’s latests will commence on Friday.

 

Iran Blogapalooza Round-Up

Hamed Saber has been on a portrait kick on his flickr site and also he’s using it like a blog which is a really genius idea, because of the censorship by the authorities and his cunning workaround flickr plug-in for firefox he is utilising flickr for all it’s worth. He writes in the comments for his photos and of course other people can comment too. He like many have been pissed off at the ‘300’ movie:-

To me, history is just a tool for patriotism and nationalism, the great empire etc!
Yes, we have a honorable history, but what I want to accent is that this film has some hidden agenda behind it, which wants to make visitors believe that Iranians are dumb wilds, who like the war. At least their ancestors were such people!
The problem is cinema was always a tool for colonialism, and best way for justifying war against other nations, or even other religions, or ideas! –

And this road sign looks familiar:-

And he’s down with the foxy ladies.

There is also a big flickr using community of Iranian photographers so I’ll have to mooch around some more and do a Blogapalooza Photo Carnival.

Neda at Above the Wall reckons she is getting a new scooter

after a friend unwittingly slags off her existing ‘scooty’. And I hope she found her passport.

Jadi at Inside Iran as well as helping me with the IB logo also gets into the Persian/Farsi debate and links to another blog which helps explain:-

our language’s name is Persian but because of some reasons during this 3 or 4 decades more and more people are going to call it Frasi instead of Persian and thats wrong, Persian’s local name was Parsi and after Arabs came to Persia (Iran) in the case that they don’t have [p] they call it Farsi and during the time even Iranians themselves call it Farsi as well, but still in western and other languages the original name of Persian or Parsi remains. During these recent 3 or 4 decades and because of massive Iranian immigrants in foreign countries when foreigners asked them “well dude whats your language?” because most of them didn’t know foreign languages very well they simply answered “Farsi” this is one of the reasons you can find more reasons in the links and articles that I will put at the end of the note.It’s like Japanese people who call they homeland “Nippon” or “Nihon” but the international name is “Japan”, just like the same case about Finish people and their “Suomen Tasavalta”, when you say Persian you are talking about a big language family that is spoken in at least 4 countries with some versions such as Dari and Tajik and Persian culture easily comes in the listeners mind. But when you say Farsi its absolutely nonsense: “OK dude, where this Farsi is exactly spoken?” –

There are more links and I think the consensus weighs in on the side of ‘Persian’

The English equivalent of ‘Farsi’ is ‘Persian’ (Like Deutsch and German). The Iranians prefer Persian to Farsi since Persian has a broader meaning and could be used for all Iran-related items (such as Persian language, Persian cat, Persian rug / carpet, Persian literature, Persian Gulf, and so on)-

So amazingly Ten Percent actually has some educational worth (I know I’m as shocked as you). Jadi also linked to a Washington Post article:-

More than 40 major international banks and financial institutions have either cut off or cut back business with the Iranian government or private sector as a result of a quiet campaign launched by the Treasury and State departments last September, according to Treasury and State officials.-

Tightening the screws, he also talks about some free open source software that is censored because of the word ‘free’ possibly and weighs in on the sailor incident and is as unconvinced as the rest of us by the propaganda uses.

Naj is posting like a banshee at Neo Resistance, kept on top of the sailor pulaver and now takes a break to reminisce about the books we read as children.

I have to put a vote in for Willard Price, kind of the Hardy boys (who I enjoyed but they were a bit wanky after a while and thus we enjoyed calling the books the Nancy Boys and Hardly Drew Adventures, it’s funny to a 9 year old) but traveling around seeing loads of natural history.

Of course they were probably just cover for their Dad’s CIA work destabilizing foreign govts. I’d also have to add in- Doctor Who books, loads of film novelizations (Alan Dean Foster got a lot of work), Lord Of The Rings, Bill Badger’s Winter Cruise, Wind In the Willows, Watership Down, Roald Dahl. I hated the Famous Five kind of stuff and enjoyed immensely the Comic Strip’s spoofs of them. Now I must go and give chocolate eggs to my nieces and tell then about a restaurant in Bristol my friend just emailed me about that started doing rabbit stew for Easter, ahh, cute bunnies, in gravy. (I’m a vegetarian so the only bunnies I see are frolicking free across the fields here or are dead after Mogwai catches them to bite the heads off, cats love to eat rabbits heads, go figure.)

Iran Blogapalooza 3-Colours Blog

You may notice a slight change to the Iran Blogapalooza logo, so here is the story; Jadi wrote a post about the little logo:-

As you can see I have added a PEACE FOR IRAN logo designed by RickB. To be honest at first glance I wanted to ignore this logo but in the second toughth, I realized that I have to use the logo but ask RickB to change it. Why ?
As you can see, the logo contains a Peace in Farsi and English and a flag of Iran. But this is not MY FLAG. As most flags, Iran’s flag contains three colors:


Green. two interpretations: 1-color of life, 2-this is an Islamic country.
White. Peace
Red. Iranians are ready to die for their flag / country.

I am not an Nationalist and I do not insists that “we are raedy to die for our flag” or anything. Instead I want to talk about the Symbol in the middle of the flag.
In the white area (in the middle of the flag there is a symbol). This symbol represents the eras of Iran’s flag. The ancient one had a lion and a sun in it. Have a look youself:

This is not an Monarchy sign but a sign of all eras and many groups agree on it (even communist parties).
After the 1979 revolution, the new ideological regime changed the logo to this one:

It is a combination of Allah (In Farsi letters) and some other symbols (for justice and sword and …). I do not like it represents ONLY this ISLAMIC REGIME which tortures peoples and censors everything. I do not stand in front of this flag and do not believe in it. my PEACE sign does not has an ISLAMIC REGIMES sign on it. I want peace but without supporting this regime. I my self prefer a simple three color flag, without any ideology on it. I want a flag without Lion, without Allah and without Swastika. This does not means I am against Lion and Allah but it means my flag should mean Iran and not ISLAMIC REGIME or any other ideology.

RickB ? Are you interested in changing your Islamic Regime’s flag to Iran’s flag ?-

So my answer is yes I am more than happy to change the logo not least because a simple 3 colour band of green, white, red was my original design! D’oh. Plus Jadi made & sent me the gif of ‘Peace’ in farsi/Persian that adorns the logo so it is in fact a co-operative Anglo/Iranian logo and as such should be made so that both of us are happy.

Iran Blogapalooza- Meet Naj At Neo Resistance

I started Iran Blogapalooza to write about Iranian blogs and in the process an Iranian woman, Naj dropped by the blog and so this is the first Blogapalooza to feature a blog that was discovered because of the blogapalooza, which is great, an organic growth of the concept. So drum roll please and welcome Naj an Iranian woman scientist/researcher currently working in Canada. There is a huge Iranian diaspora and concern for their country and the drum beats of war is echoing around the world. Naj calls her blog Neo Resistance and she is kicking ass and takin’ names.Given the heightened tension at the present let Naj’s resistance tell you some stories:-

I just came across a nice blog The Osterley Times and this title:
Washington Snubbed Iran Offer- drawing attention to BBC’s report that Dick Cheney’s office turned down an offer from Iran in 2003, in which the Iranians offered all that the US could have wanted.
Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion. Offers, including making its nuclear programme more transparent, were conditional on the US ending hostility. But Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office rejected the plan, the official said.-

She returns for a visit:-

I was surprised to realize America’s nuclear threat is not something that Iranians are paralyzed with–except the satellite/CNN-glued ones. I was amused to notice that Ahmadi-Nejad is taken far more seriously by the Western powers, than is by the Iranians.

His party got the boot in the recent city council election. He will get the boot in the next election. Not even the Supreme leader or the Mullahs are supportive of him! And this time around, less people willboycot the election!

When I was in Iran Saddam was hanged! Saddam who destroyed half of Iran. My mother cried, my father condemned death penalty, my sister called it a barbaric act, I considered it a huge mistake, and a lot of others shook their head in disapproval. (Revenge is not a Persian virtue) From my point of view the mood was sober. No one (not even the state television) cheered his death, althoughAhmadinejad gave a hefty sum to the Iraqi government to celebrate, I suppose.-

And she points to a very interesting film festival (yes panic now this may inspire me to make a new piece):-

In June 2005, Hamed Safaee, a graphic designer and one of the writers of TehranAvenue proposed the idea of “visual haikus,” poems that broke off of their written mold and transcribed themselves on celluloid or digital media. This lyrical approach became fodder for a festival: The One-Shot Film Competition . In the following months this idea was further developed — in the interim of a single “turning on and off of the camera,” or any other recording medium, simple images could be captured, without a need for technical acrobatics and or technological props, to get to the essence of the image. The One-Shot Film Festival called for a form of haiku, a sequence of images that is neither a short film nor a photograph, neither a funny report of an incident nor a makeshift collage relying on digital cosmetics — an uncut and fluid visual poem.-

An archive of films from this festival where you can download the short pieces is right here. For free!

And she digs up this dynamite quote:-

Adolf Hitler:
“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed the subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.”

Or as it’s more commonly known US foreign policy since the 19th century. Anyway, she links to Norman Finkelstein’s website with clips of him debating Alan Dershowitz and adds this quick comment:-

Well, okey am I going to spend time figuring out who Alan Dershowitz is? The video above gives a glimps.-

Unfortunately I already know about Alan ‘torture warrants’ Dershowitz, she’s lucky if she can ignore him. She’s dug up some great stuff about Cheney, neo-cons, the Israeli lobby’s influence on US congress (free trips, top hotels, cash) and this interesting angle of the post 911 cultural shifts:-

But now, a group of Iranian-American feminist scholars are raising an alarm flag about “a particularly lucrative industry of Iranian and Muslim women’s memoirs [that] has mushroomed in the aftermath of the 9/11 atrocities.” Niki Akhavan, Golbarg Bashi, Mana Kia and Sima Shakhsari, warn that “These women’s memoirs have assumed center-stage in appropriating the legitimate cause of women’s rights and placing it squarely in the service of Empire building projects, disguised under the rhetoric of the “war on terror.”-

She’s doing great work and if I may borrow one thing from her site it is this:-

So go and read some Iran facts from Naj, Now!

Iran Blogapalooza Round-up

Ok, time for the inaugural Iran Blogaplaooza round-up, first off is Neda with a personal reflection on Norooz:-

Today, like the past seven years I don’t have a haft sin*.. it’s like my Norooz is lost somewhere, within memories of those colored glass windows..

Jadi answers a readers question about how followers of the Bahai faith are treated in Iran, it’s all worth reading and I apologise to Jadi for excerpting so much of it here, but it’s important:-

I think their situation in Iran is one of the worst things in this country and one of my biggest shames as an Iranian. They can not work for the government, can not study in the universities and as you said, they do not have same rights as me.
I can not talk on behalf of Iranians but me myself am against this situation. I think people should be free to choose their ideas and be equal with each other, independent of their ideas.
Let me add something more. When talking with even pro-Islamic people, they accept that this kind of treat is not fair, good or even an Islamic rule. During Prophet Muhammad’s era, people had the right to talk about their ideas and live on their ideas (the pro-Islamics say) so we can not accept the situation of Baha’i people in Iran.
In Iran we have kind of freedom of religion but only for Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians (Ancient Iranian). These religions have their parliament members and can perform their prayers and rules. But no other religion (or atheistic believes) can exist here. –

And David writes a great post about the 15 Brits and how the media treats it:-

“So what is your take on these 15-navy officers arrested?”, she finally asked. “Well, it’s a rather interesting coincidence, somewhat of an ‘October Surprise’ I might say”. And just as I was warming up to allude to a parallel with the Iran Contra scandal, she interjected, paused a for a brief moment and that was me done.-

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Iran Blogapalooza- Meet David At ddmmyyyy

David Mohammad Yaghoobi runs a journal called ddmmyyyy.org :-

I’m a late 20s dual-national Brit with a shameful lack of exposure to my paternal homeland of Iran, having recently found that my opinion of England my life-long residence went from OKish to nonplussed. Concerned that my view of the world would be forever channeled through a thick pair of National Health blinkers, I sought to correct my vision, through exposing myself completely to Islamic Republic, that is Iran.
Currently residing in a city soon to be consumed by a rapidly expanding Tehran, I devise noble excuses to escape the haphazard work environment gifted by my family, to experience moments that often require me to fabricates stories for different ears. As cultures crash, flying debris is caught and chronologically arranged for my weekly anthropological vehicle I call ddmmyyyy.org. –

His blog is really more like a book, lot’s of detail and incident as he lives his new life in Iran and travels. It’s hard to pick snippets from such a large body of work, really you should treat it like a book, put aside some time each day and go read it, in order from the first entry in September ’05 up to the current post. He starts working at his families big health center and training to pass the lifeguard exam and supervise some building work, and about a hundred other things, he seems kinda busy:-

I am working there and for the moments am working on various design projects for tile patterns on the walls as well as researching various technologies to help with monitoring staff movements, customer volumes and methods to deal with money handling. I also help oversee construction work for the ever expanding complex. We currently have 6-pools, steam and dry saunas, Jacuzzis, restaurants, gymnasium, weights room, massage parlor and are expanding to have a wave-pool, two water-slides and a huge conference hall – naturally split in two for both men and women. At weekends we are currently having just short of 1000 visitors per day and this is just in Ramazan (half days essentially).

And disillusioned with voting:-

“How did it feel to have voted then?”, I asked a friend as we left the small school tucked away from one of Tehran’s main roads. “Like having done my duty, painful though it was”, she responds. “Yes, it is like volunteering a gun to a person that will shoot you in the foot because the other one will go for your head – no different to how it was for me in England really”, I add, inviting a nervous laughter between us.

His Christmas in Dubai is complicated when his passport isn’t returned to him by the bloke who was sorting out his national service and there is a curious encounter with the odd Nirooyeh Entezami Naja who are like Daily Mail readers with a badge:-

They seem to fit somewhere between the military, clerics and police – occasionally armed, with police powers yet apparently strictly Islamic.-

And stalking Jon Snow and being interviewed for Ch4 news:-

“So what have you been learning about this nuclear mess?” I inquired, thrilled at being able to get an off-the-record response from such exposed people. “Well it’s crap isn’t it” replies Snow barely allowing me to finish. He continued to remind us of the hypocrisy involved –

And his sister guest blogs (brave man, no just kidding my sister’s lovely, eek):-

Finally, I would like to add, should I ever live in Iran, I would find socialising very hard due to unrelated men and women not being able to mix freely. And I note, where women are restricted in their clothing, they seem to make up for it in other ways – namely by wearing a LOT of makeup, having very high hair-dos (which seem to correlate with wealth) and wearing varying degrees of bleached-blonde highlights. Similarly, men also like to groom themselves by either matching the height of the ladies hair or growing it long and slicking lots of gel through their mullets.-

And almost as terrifying as mullets he has to surf the bureaucracy to avoid national service:-

It is compulsory for Iranian males to forgo 2-years of army service with a few exception. I fall into one of these exceptions by having lived roughly 97% of my life in the UK and being a dual national – that I have flat feet, a small eye deficiency and am far from fluent in Farsi however is irrelevant. This privilege however, comes at a price, a year’s salary equivalent to that of a teacher (pre-tax)

Because of his dual status he spends a lot of time being asked and answering questions of comparisons and differences, there’s national politics, American posturing, customs, sheep and family.

So go to ddmmyyyy.org Now!

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Iran Blogapalooza- Jadi & Neda Rock The Joint

Some new posts from the inestimable Jadi and the exquisite Neda.

Neda has a couple, first she links to a site that is proposing to redress the propaganda that the new Hollywood punch & sword fest ‘300’ is putting out there. It’s a retelling of the Spartan story and of course the baddies in it are Persians, which is very ominous given the Bush mobs attempts to conjure up an attack on Iran- Hollywood and neo-con ambitions in perfect harmony. She then posts about two feminists remanded to solitary confinement for a month until their trial date:-

Just imagine, being kept in a 1 x 1 room, for days, or week, or a month… because you wanted to be considered as a complete human being, and not half of it.

Shadi Sadr and Mahboobeh Abasgholizadeh, have received an arraignment for staying in custody for one month. Both since mar. 8 kept in solitary cells. –

Jadi posts a link to lots of good photos of Iran. Like Hamed Saber’s they portray an Iran that westerners may not be familiar with:-

70461775dkd597ljautumnsnow.jpg

Have a look at this nice collection of photos from. Then add some bombs to the photos using your imagination; Attack to Iran if the result looks attractive. We have problems here, we have human rights violations, we have obligatory was of coduncts, we have Ahmadinejad as our “selected” (not elected) president and we do not have to say we are against authorities. But BOMBs will not improve our situation.-

Jadi is kicking ass and taking names baby.

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Iran Blogapalooza- Meet Parastoo Dokouhaki  -UPDATED

Today is International Women’s Day so it makes sense to feature Parastoo Dokouhaki (sometimes spelt Dokoohaki) one of the best known women bloggers in Iran. This is especially important because last Sunday she got arrested for peacefully demonstrating in solidarity with women who were being tried for upholding the cause of equality. As of yesterday it has been reported that she has been released, so yay. (There is a link to an interview with her after her release at the bottom of this post, she’s ok). Although that does mean she’s not quite on top of her email, however I decided to go ahead and feature her to show that dumb macho authorities can’t stop good people.

portrait.jpgNow Parastoo is kind of famous, she has had a fair amount of notice in the press and is one of the Iranian bloggers/journalists/writers/activists the MSM sometimes turn to (she’s busy). She has been harassed (her paper was shuttered) over the years and has employed cunning methods to continue her writing and avoid the authorities attention:-

But this is not all that makes me sleepless. My Persian weblog is blocked for the third time in the last 6 months. I’ve established new domain addresses twice, but all three are now blocked by the authorities. Although I’m a journalist, I write my personal notes and concerns—from family to society, from poetry to cinema—on my blog and I don’t know why they are against it. Why should I be censored?-

Her farsi blogs are well read and the cat and mouse game with filtering is constant, she recently wrote an english language blog which lets us in on some of her life in Iran. She named it after The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. In this post she references ‘Zombies’ by The Cranberries (she also has embedded an mp3 by Evanescence, so freebies!) It’s very personal and she doesn’t hold back from showing her despair sometimes:-

Where are people who are against a military attack on Iran? Is there anyone left? People who believes that no war can contribute to the establishment of liberty and democracy in Iran –what I do believe in?
Britain prime minister has changed his foreign secretary because of not believing in war against Iran but it seems lady Beckett, the new one and the first woman to hold one of the “big three” political posts, believes in war.
How could I conquer my feminist opinion: women are against war, pro peace? After Rice, we see another mother of war in the world?-

Her reports on how women demonstrators are treated:-

One of my friends who was in an office near Hafte Tir square told me in yahoo messenger that there were a lot of policewomen with teargas. They had also red sprays to put on women, so that they would be recognized in case of escaping.-

But she loves her city nonetheless:-

It was completely dark when we started to climb Kolakchaal at 4 am. I was some how sleepy and unconscious at first but after feeling the cool gentle breeze on my face’s skin, I fell into a nice dawn-dreaming!
After a while, light comes up steadily. And there was a wow-like light on Tehran…
I love this city. No matter it’s crowded, polluted and full of traffic jams. No matter it’s dirty, has ugly buildings and bumpy streets. It’s beautiful specially when you look at it from the northern mountains. –

She also wonders about those that leave, I think she is brave to stay and unselfish, she cannot simply leave and ignore the plight of others:-

Immigrating to other countries (so-called first world!) for searching better life opportunities, it’s the road Iranians, especially young generation is driving on. Is it the best road? Why aren’t other roads parallel?-

And while she likes ‘Friends’ (Courtney Cox is an officially approved Ten Percent siren) she neatly demonstrates the cultural imperialism of America that also shows US arrogance and ignorance:-

I watch Friends TV series these days. Although I hate that laughing sound scripted on some scenes, I like the overall sitcom. It makes me familiar to American society. Well, in season 3, there is an episode which Pete, Monica’s millionaire boyfriend, wants to be an ultimate fighting champion. And here is one of the dialogues:

Ross [Monica’s brother]: How long until Pete’s fight?
Monica: About 5 minutes. They’re interviewing his opponent. Apparently, he trains by going to Iran and pulling the arms off thieves.

Hehe! I wonder if there were (are) any complaints about this dialogue anytime… How can they lie in a way that it’s a fact? And you find yourself so weak to mediate this real fact: Pulling off the arms never happened here, in Iran; never.-

And anyway that whole season 3 story arc was rubbish, give me the Monica/Chandler romance any day.

So right now she will be concerned with her own welfare and the other still imprisoned women. That this international women’s day is commemorated here by writing about a woman who has just been released from jail simply for standing up for her rights is a damn shame. Hey men listen up, you know the sign of a real man? A feminist.

You can read an interview with Parastoo after her release, excerpt:-

“their behavior was despising. They would fold our eyes and we would accept and we would say it is illegal and torture so they would forcibly do it. During the time of reception we would hear the loud voice of Nushin and Parvin and Susan calling I don’t know to the judge or the inspector of the file. They were arguing in a loud tone and we could hear shouting. They wanted to threaten us.”

So go visit Parastoo Dokouhaki’s blog The Remains Of The Day. Now!

UPDATE: Jadi at inside Iran reports:-

All women released except Shadi Sadr, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Jila bani yaghoob…..

and further demo:-

And those brave people are going to gather in front of the parliament today, in celebration of 8th of March. They are asking for equal rights and some of the recently arrested / released people are participating.

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Iran Blogapalooza- Hamed Saber’s Photos

hamed-saber.jpg

Ok well I’m stretching the definition of a blog to include a flickr site but I did find Hamed via a blog so I reckon it all even outs in the end. Hamed Saber became a bit of a star because flickr was being filtered (censored) by the Iranian govt. he made a firefox plug in that enabled Iranians to see and use flickr:-

Sami Ben Gharbia: Why did you set up the Firefox extension Access Flickr!?

Hamed Saber: As I said in the extension home page, in my country (Iran), unfortunately, flickr.com is banned. I’m a fan of that photo-archive website, so I wrote this extension just to help my dear friends who can not access flickr.com from Iran.

SBG: What purpose does Access Flickr! serve?

HS: I think all human beings have the right to choose what is good and what is bad for themselves. The “Big Brother” theory is not logical and ethical to me. Yes! Of course. I don’t want to say that parental control should not be happening just because of freedom and information access rights! No! I mean NO ONE has the right to censor ANY THING for me and for others without our permission! We can decide what is good and what is bad for us, better than those! – globalvoicesonline.org

The above selection (slapped together by me, so please excuse the cropping Hamed) is a small part of his portfolio so go and have a look. I really like the shot of his wife Somayeh sleeping on top of the car which apparently is an old Buick. I also love the pictures of snow (because I like snow) which are surprising as Iran makes most people think of deserts, but there was a lot of snow in Tehran last month and it’s as cold there as here on my little island home.

You can also see a photo taken in a very old synagogue, this picture caused some discussion and here is what Hamed had to say:-

Some people sent me emails about “Are you advertising Israel?” or “Do you accept Israel?” etc.
I’d better to write down the answer here, before others try to send me such emails!
No, I do not accept Israeli Regime, but I think Israelian people are human, like others, and have the normal social rights as others!
Of course this image is not related to Israel at all! This is a synagogue, a place to worship God or what ever you call him/her, Allah, Yehovah, Elohim …
I do respect Jews, as other religius peoples!
And to my Muslim friends who asked me to remove this shot:
I won’t do so! We (Jews and Muslims) both worship the same God! We (Muslims) must respect their prophet Moses (p.b.u.h.), because he’s respected by our prophet and our holy Quran! –

So long may he continue to make photographs.

Update: Direct link to his Firefox Flickr plug-in  https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4286

Iran Blogapalooza- New Posts From Jadi & Neda

Jadi at inside Iran has a new post, go read how he is helping Afghanistani’s build websites in Kabul & protect their rights in Iran.

His friends on trial for a peaceful demonstration.

Preparations for the 8th March celebration of the women’s movement.

And playing with fire:-

And we are going to celebrate the “4 shanbe soori” in a couple of weeks. A great ceremony: the last Wednesday of the year in Persian calendar. It is a pre-Islamic ceremony and Islamic government tried to ban it for years but it is still alive. I have to write more about it but the main idea is jumping over the fires to let the “bad” burns in the fire.-

All I’m saying is- thick trousers.

Neda meanwhile describes a dream she just had, either she’s eating a lot of cheese before bed or witches are tastier than you thought:-

one of the witches starts shrinking, the third witch is getting sucked in the hole, it is eating her.-

Or she’s just seen ‘Sleepy Hollow’.

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