30 June 2009

Persepolis 2.0

Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi’s masterpiece of life during and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 (and her time in Austria and her subsequent return to Iran) has been reworked to reflect the situation in Iran following the June 12 election, outrage at the result, street protests, the role of Twitter in the unrest, and the death of Neda Agha Soltan.

As reported in the Guardian Persepolis 2.0 is based on images in Satrapi’s original work the new cartoon is the initiative of two Iranian exiles called Sina and Payman. Marjane Satrapi, gave her permission for the update, but was not directly involved.

Sina said the updated cartoon was intended to show how history was repeating itself in Iran. "The reaction to Persepolis 2.0 has been great, We've had visitors from 120 countries thus far, and a large volume of emails from people asking how they can help support Iranians. This has really infused us with energy, and we're now working on additional ways to help get the word out."

Persepolis 2.0 can be viewed at the website Spread Persepolis. I would strongly recommend a visit

My thanks to Modernity blog for drawing my attention to this work.

WW- Crab spiders

Crab spiders on our Cephalaria. This week's entry for the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of Wordless Wednesday.

Iran - the high price of free speech continued

Jila Baniyaghoob (above)who was arrested with her husband Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee on 20 June. Their whereabouts are unknown but probably they are held in the security wing of Tehran’s Evin prison.

According to Reporters Sans Frontières (via the Guardian) the media crackdown in Iran means that the country now imprisons more journalists than any other country

In the space of two weeks Iran has beaten both China and Cuba to the top spot with more than 33 journalists in jail in Iran (the figure will almost certainly rise further). At least 25 journalists arrested since the disputed election remain in prison, the Paris-based organisation said on Friday.

This clampdown has also seen Iran jump above Burma, which RSF claims has 14 journalists in jail, Eritrea, which has 17 jailed reporters, Cuba with 24 and even China, where 30 reporters – out of the 166 that RSF claims are imprisoned worldwide.

RSF fears for the safety of those imprisoned in Iran. "Several witness accounts make us fear that torture and ill-treatment are being systematically inflicted on prisoners who have demonstrated against the regime," RSF added."Several journalists and bloggers were brutally treated by the guards and by men employed by the state prosecutor, Saaed Mortazavi."

Amnesty International today called for the Iranian authorities to release the journalists arrested since the elections.

"It is shocking that journalists whose job it is to provide information to others are being detained, on top of all the other draconian measures the authorities have taken to restrict the free flow of information about what is really happening in Iran," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme.

"Rather than trying to investigate alleged abuses, the only message the authorities are sending is that they are seeking to hide the truth, both from their own citizens and the rest of the world."

I wonder if George Galloway or Seumas Milne will be protesting the incarceration of their comrades in Iran? Shall I hold my breath?

One thing is for sure Jila Baniyaghoob and her husband are worth a million Galloways

29 June 2009

Zelaya’s removal sparks protests in Honduras

Yesterday’s removal of Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, sparked protests in the country’s capital Tegucigalpa. The protestors put up barricades near the presidential palace as governments across the region condemned the first military overthrow in Central America since the end of the cold war.

Zelaya, who had been in office since 2006, was ousted after clashing with the judiciary, congress and the army over proposed constitutional changes that would allow presidents to seek re-election.

Congress named an interim president, Roberto Micheletti, who announced an immediate curfew for Sunday and Monday nights. The country's leading court said it had authorised the toppling of the president.

The US and European Union joined Latin American governments in denouncing the coup. The US president, Barack Obama, distanced the US from any involvement in the coup."Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference," he said. Washington said it recognised only Zelaya as president.

Last week, Zelaya tried to fire the armed forces chief, General Romeo Vasquez, in a dispute over an attempt to hold an unofficial referendum about changing the constitution to allow presidential terms beyond a single, four-year stretch. Under the constitution as it stands, Zelaya would have been due to leave office in early 2010.The Supreme Court, which last week ordered him to reinstate Vasquez, said yesterday it had told the army to remove the president.

Zelaya may have exceeded the limits of his presidential authority by calling for an unconstitutional referendum and by attempting to dismiss the head of the armed forces for refusing to cooperate in said referendum. But using the military to depose Zelaya was absolutely and utterly wrong, no matter how mild their role was (if the reports are accurate).

Latin America has been plagued by military coups ever since the Spanish and Portuguese were ousted in the 1820s. It is not long since we have seen the passing of some extremely nasty dictators (Pinochet, Videla, Rios Montt, and Stroessner to name a few). Any military action against a duly elected leader is to be condemned absolutely. I hope to hell that this is not the start of the slippery slope back to those vile times.

More tedious crap from George Galloway in today's Record

George Galloway SS* craps on further about Iran in today's Daily Record. Included in the column are indications of possible litigation against the Sunday Herald and an intimation that the protests were provoked by foreign agents.

Ach I can't be bothered with going any further into Galloway's bullshit. The man is a waste of rations. In the case of Iran he is simply a shill for what is most certainly an ugly regime.

But perhaps he will shock us all by doing something out of character like supporting, say, Mansoor Osanloo, the imprisoned union activist.

When you thought Richard Nixon’s reputation couldn’t be tarnished further....

Last week, the New York Times carried a report concerning the release of new tape recordings and documents made public on Tuesday (23 June) by the Nixon Presidential Library.

Although Nixon made no public statement on Roe v Wade (which 22 January, 1973 struck down laws criminalizing abortion) one segment indicates that he was worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.”

However he did see a need for abortion in some cases: “There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he said before adding, “Or a rape.”

The tapes were recorded by the secret microphones in the Oval Office from January and February 1973

So there you have it - yet another vile comment from one of the USA’s vilest presidents. I am not sure what could show him in a even worse light... a photo of him sodomising Checkers perhaps?

Thomas Telford Aqueduct becomes Britain’s newest world heritage site

According to today’s Times the Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal in North Wales has been designated by UNESCO as Britain’s newest World Heritage Site - the British site to be so designated.

The 200-year-old structure near Llangollen was built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1795 and 1805. It is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain. Heritage lovers have campaigned for more than six years to have the aqueduct recognised alongside the world’s best known cultural and historical sites. Last night their campaign finally succeeded when it was added to the prestigious list by officials at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) meeting in Seville, Spain.

“We are absolutely over the moon," said Dr Dawn Roberts, economic development manager for Wrexham Council. "We have been working on this for so long and it means so much to those of us that are from this area. To have our aqueduct and our canal named as a World Heritage site is amazing. There is so much local pride and a lot of celebrations going on.” Dr Roberts added: “World Heritage status does not bring with it any prize or money, it is more of a badge of honour. It is an awesome sight and one of those sites in the world we feel people must visit.”

Rhodri Morgan, Wales’s first minister, said: “World Heritage nomination for Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal is the cherry on the cake for Wales’s historic transport and industrial environment.”

Pontcysyllte aqueduct and canal is the third site in Wales to be granted World Heritage site status. The other two are Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.

28 June 2009

Simin Behbahani on NPR

Simin Behbahani on a telephone interview on NPR on 26 June

Stop Throwing My Country To The Wind

If the flames of anger rise any higher in this land Your name on your tombstone will be covered with dirt.

You have become a babbling loudmouth. Your insolent ranting, something to joke about.

The lies you have found, you have woven together. The rope you have crafted, you will find around your neck.

Pride has swollen your head, your faith has grown blind. The elephant that falls will not rise.

Stop this extravagance, this reckless throwing of my country to the wind. The grim-faced rising cloud, will grovel at the swamp's feet.

Stop this screaming, mayhem, and blood shed. Stop doing what makes God's creatures mourn with tears.

My curses will not be upon you, as in their fulfillment. My enemies' afflictions also cause me pain.

You may wish to have me burned , or decide to stone me. But in your hand match or stone will lose their power to harm me.

Simin Behbahani

June 2009

Translated by Kaveh Safa and Farzaneh Milani. From NPR

Simin Behbahani - A poem for Neda

For Neda Agha-Soltan

You are neither dead, nor will you die.

You will always remain alive.

You have an eternal existence.

You are the voice of the people of Iran.

Simin Behbahani "The Lioness of Iran" is Iran's greatest living poet and human rights advocate. If like me you do not read or speak Farsi. I would strongly recommend purchasing A Cup of Sin Selected Poems. Her works is extremely powerful in English. In Farsi it must be breathtaking. The poem was published on the NPR website

The sewing needle is mightier than the sword

According to Friday’s Guardian British biological warfare scientists developed a poisoned dart to rain down on enemy troops during the second world war and used sewing machine needles to make prototypes.

A "most secret" War Office file, entitled "research into the use of anthrax and other poisons for biological warfare", shows that scientists at the Porton Down in Wiltshire were testing the use of poisoned darts to be dropped in cluster bombs.

Trials on goats and sheep demonstrated that even if the dart was removed, the victim was likely to collapse within five minutes. Where the dose was lethal, death followed within 30 minutes.

At first, scientists used a few needles bought at a branch of the Singer sewing machine company in nearby Salisbury, but soon realised that local stocks would not be sufficient.In January 1942 the man leading Britain's wartime chemical weapons programme, Dr Paul Fildes, made a direct approach to the sewing company. His letter opened with: "It is a little difficult to explain what I want sewing machine needles for ... "

The scientists admitted that, once used, people would quickly learn that light cover – such as trees, aircraft and lorries – would give almost complete protection against the darts. They were part of a programme that saw testing of anthrax and led to the creation of a hidden arsenal of anti-crop sprays, poison gas and germ weapons that experts say the government have been at pains to play down ever since.

Interestingly it was only in the 1990s that Gruinard Island in NW Scotland was made safe. It had been used for biological warfare tests during WWII

Holiday in Mazandaran (to the music of a Dead Kennedys song)

>Regular readers will know that I am certainly not phobic when it comes to the people of Iran (Mullahs, militias and sock puppet presidents excluded) and Persian art and culture. In fact I hope either next year or the year after to visit the country.

That said it does seem a bit daft, given the current situation in Iran, to think of promoting tourism to Iran. But that is exactly what the Iranian government has done.

According to Press TV, the Iranian government has just launched the new version of its tourism website, providing users with information about the country's stunning tourist attractions.

The new website introduces Iran's various historical, archaeological and cultural attractions and provides detailed information about the country's museums, hotels, ecotourism and gastronomy as well as sports, religious and health tourism.

The website also helps visitors obtain information about Iran's geography, economy, industry, agriculture, energy and climate.

Interestingly there is a large section on performance arts, particularly street theatre, including the production of improvised play called Election. The site also waxes lyrical about the recent performances of the Basij Morris Men and their performance of intricate dance routings on Azadi Square and at other locations.

The website also features information about Persian language and literature, poetry, visual arts, poetry, cultural diversity, and cinema and theatre (However the film the Hidden Half may not be reviewed, neither maybe is Touba and the Meaning of Night).

To visit Iran's tourism website go to tourismiran.ir.It seems to have disappeared for the moment

27 June 2009

And some art by two superb young Iranian artists

My friend Elahe Heidari's haunting portrait of an Afghan refugee girl

A stunning work by Negareh Ayatollahi.

I had the privilege of meeting both artists last year Ot was my also my pleasure to meet Azadeh Tahaei an extremely talented photographer and poet. I only wish I had a tiny fraction of their atristic skills

...and of course some Darya Dadvar

....and the Vahdat sisters

Instead of Iranian news, here's some Niyaz

Niyaz, featuring the beautiful Azam Ali

Photo Hunt - Flags

he theme for this week's Photo Hunt is flag. Ach what is a Photo Hunt if I can't mould the theme to a photo I want to post! Here's a crab spider the not-wife found on our Cephalaria this evening.. It's patience in waiting for prey never flags!

I couldn't in all good conscience stretch this theme so blatantly and badly so here is a Union Jack flying over a building in central London

26 June 2009

Ayatollah Khatami - what a charming fellow

Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (not the erstwhile president of Iran)has called for the execution of "rioters" who have led a series of anti-government protests following the rigged presidential election.

Khatami, a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, told worshippers during a sermon at Tehran University todaythat Iran's judiciary should charge such rioters as "mohareb", or one who wages war against God. "Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction," Khatami said in the nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University. We ask that the judiciary confront the leaders of the protests, leaders of the violations, and those who are supported by the United States and Israel strongly, and without mercy to provide a lesson for all."

The penalty for people convicted as mohareb is death.

It would be nice to think that his reward in paradise will be a syphilitic harpy

Well I enjoyed it anyway!

It would seem that Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, was "shocked and saddened" to learn that his social networking device was being used to disseminate pertinent and timely information during the recent civil unrest in Iran.

"Twitter was intended to be a way for vacant, self-absorbed egotists to share their most banal and idiotic thoughts with anyone pathetic enough to read them," said a visibly confused Dorsey, "When I heard how Iranians were using my beloved creation for their own means—such as organizing a political movement and informing the outside world of the actions of a repressive regime—I couldn't believe they'd ruined something so beautiful, simple, and absolutely pointless."

If you hadn't twigged this is of course a spoof article from the Onion! Well I found it funny anyway.

Thanks to Bob From Brockley for drawing my attention to this one

Mourning the death of a true pop great.

While the media concentrates on Michael Jackson's death, Richard Marsh, aka Sky Saxon lead singer of the Seeds, passes with little fanfare. Such is fate. RIP Sky Saxon.

The Satan cat of Transylvania

Meet Csili. Without doubt the most evil cat in the whole of Transylvania and the bane of Redwine's life. This week's entry for the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

25 June 2009

Neda’s family forced out of home?

Yesterday’s Guardian reported that the Iranian authorities had ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home. Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed.

The authorities have apparently treated the family with utter contempt: They did not let the family have her body back, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.
In accordance with tradition, the family had put up a mourning announcement and attached a black banner to the building. But the police took them down, refusing to allow the family to show any signs of mourning. The next day they were ordered to move out. Since then, neighbours have received suspicious calls warning them not to discuss her death with anyone and not to make any protest.

A tearful middle-aged woman who was an immediate neighbour said her family had not slept for days because of the oppressive presence of the Basij militia, out in force in the area harassing people since Soltan's death.The area in front of Soltan's house was empty (yesterday). There was no sign of black cloths, banners or mourning. Secret police patrolled the street.

"We are trembling," one neighbour said. "We are still afraid. We haven't had a peaceful time in the last days, let alone her family. Nobody was allowed to console her family, they were alone, they were under arrest and their daughter was just killed. I can't imagine how painful it was for them. Her friends came to console her family but the police didn't let them in and forced them to disperse and arrested some of them. Neda's family were not even given a quiet moment to grieve."

"In Iran, when someone dies, neighbours visit the family and will not let them stay alone for weeks but Neda's family was forced to be alone, otherwise the whole of Iran would gather here," he said. "The government is terrible, they are even accusing pro-Mousavi people of killing Neda and have just written in their websites that Neda is a Basiji (government militia) martyr. That's ridiculous – if that's true why don't they let her family hold any funeral or ceremonies? Since the election, you are not able to trust one word from the government."

Aung San Suu Kyi

From the Huffington Post A stunning new depiction of Aung San Suu Kyi by Shepard Fairey, who created the iconic image of Barack Obama.

Zahra Rahnavard arrested?

According to the Independent There were fears last night that Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of Iran's opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi, had been arrested after a defiant statement that protesters should not buckle despite being in a situation she likened to martial law.

Zahra Rahnavard criticised the presence of armed forces in the street and insisted that the opposition had a constitutional right to hold demonstrations. The regime should not suppress it "as if martial law had been imposed", she said.

In the message posted on her husband's website, she also demanded the immediate release of people detained since the election. But before the day was out, there were reports that she herself had been detained.

24 June 2009

It’s Time to Mow the Flowers - Simin Behbahani

It’s time to mow the flowers,
don’t procrastinate.
Fetch the sickles, come,
don’t spare a single tulip in the fields.
The meadows are in bloom:
who has ever seen such insolence?
The grass is growing again:
step nowhere else but on its head.
Blossoms are opening on every branch,
exposing the happiness in their hearts:
such colorful exhibitions must be stopped.
Bring your scalpels to the meadow
to cut out the eyes of flowers.
So that none may see or desire,
let not a seeing eye remain.
I fear the narcissus is spreading its corruption:
stop its displays in a golden bowl
on a six-sided tray.
What is the use of your ax,
if not to chop down the elm tree?
In the maple’s branches
allow not a single bird a moment’s rest.
My poems and the wild mint
bear messages and perfumes.
Don’t let them create a riot with their wild singing.
My heart is greener than green,
flowers sprout from the mud and water of my being.
Don’t let me stand, if you are the enemies of Spring.

--Translated by Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa

From Logos Journal

Some cartoons on the Iranian election

Confrontation - Sohrab Sepheri

A light descended on earth,
I saw two footprints in the desert sands.
Wherefrom had it come?
And where was it going?
Only two footprints were visible,
Maybe somebody had stopped on the ground by mistake.

Suddenly the footprints started moving,
Light followed the footprints,
The footprints were lost.
I watched myself from the opposite direction:
A cavity was filled by death
And I started to move in my dead corpse,
I could hear the sound of my footsteps from distance,
Maybe I was passing a desert.
I was imbued with a lost expectation.
Suddenly a light fell on my dead body
And I resurrected with anxiety:
Two footprints filled my existence.
Wherefrom had it come?
Where was it going?
Only two footprints were visible
Maybe somebody had stopped on the ground my mistake.

Sohrab Sepheri (1928-1980) from sohrabsepehri.com

A roll of honour for Ireland’s WWII dead

A new study by the University of Edinburgh found more than 3,600 soldiers from the south of Ireland died on active service during WWII. Their names joined those of almost 3,900 fallen combatants from Northern Ireland on a roll of honour being unveiled at Trinity College Dublin on 12 June.

The study estimates that in the British army alone, as many as 100,000 people from the island of Ireland served in WWII, despite the Irish Free State's neutrality in the conflict. (Working out how many people did serve is harder than one might think, The best estimates I have seen would estimate 60-70,000 men and women from Eire served in the British armed forces during WWII)

Historian Yvonne McEwen said the ambitious project, which began in 2003, was inspired by stories of her grandfather's experience upon coming home after WWI where he fought as a Royal Irish Fusilier. "Society was not very kind to returning men who fought in the First World War, and I wanted to look at that in terms of WWII particularly with a partitioned country," she said. "I wanted to learn what happened to these men and women on both sides of the border - it turned out to be a staggering picture. suppose it was like becoming a detective - the more I uncovered, the more I wanted to know. I've learned a lot about the sacrifice made on the island of Ireland."

The roll of honour will be permanently housed in the Trinity College library, but Ms McEwen said some of the blanks in her research still needed to be filled.

It has taken a long time but the Republic has woken up to the contribution and the sacrifice made by those men and women who fought to defeat the Nazi monster. The IRA, on the other hand, got into bed with the Nazis.

23 June 2009

Justice for Iranian Workers Protest on 26 June

Justice For Iranian Workers is a collaboration between four global trade union organisations:

The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation),

EI (Education International),

ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation),

IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations)

In a move in a continuing campaign to secure justice and trade union rights inside Iran they have called a worldwide action day on June 26 to demand justice for Iranian workers.

They are calling for:-

Mansoor Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi
  • The immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned trade unionists including Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi and Farzad Kamangar;
  • Unconditional recognition of all independent workers’ organisations in Iran and reinstatement of workers who have been disadvantaged as a result of their support for these organisations;
  • Ratification of core ILO Conventions on freedom of association and the right to collective bargain by the Iranian government;
  • Conclusion of collective bargaining agreements between the independent unions and the relevant employers.
Farzad Kamangar

A demonstration will take place
on Friday from 1230hrs outside Iranian embassy in London 16 Prince’s Gate, London SW7 1PT in Knightsbridge. A separate demonstration will take place in Newcastle (see site for details)

TUC International spokesperson Sally Hunt (UCU General Secretary); Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen; and ITF General Secretary Dave Cockcroft will attempt to deliver over 16,000 postcards calling on Iran to release jailed Iranian prisoners.

Protesters dressed in black will hold up placards bearing the names of those arrested at trade union demonstrations on May Day last month in Tehran and still not released.

Click on the link at the top of this post for details of protests elsewhere in the world

This protest has even greater relevance given the dreadful events in Iran over the last 11 days. It is a cause that deserves the greatest possible support.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf interviewed, Mousavi under house arrest

According to Mohsen Makhmalbaf film director and international spokesman for Mirhossein Mousavi the Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi is under 24-hour guard by secret police and no longer able to speak freely to supporters.

"he has security agents, secret police with him all the time. He has to be careful what he says." He said in an interview with the Independent "The regime, arguably, is losing ground, not the protests, Ordinary Iranians are openly rejecting the legitimacy and power of Ayatollah Khamanei. That is entirely new, unheard of."

Mr Makhmalbaf is touring Europe to try to explain events in Iran to the media. He denied that he had been formally appointed as a spokesman for Mr Mousavi outside Iran. "I am simply speaking on behalf of all the people who are protesting and dying on the streets of Iran," he said. He explained that Mr Mousasvi's means of communication had been cut off, or confiscated, just after the disputed election, Mr Makhmalbaf had been asked informally to make sure that a true picture of what was happening in Iran reached the outside world.

Mr Mousavi had urged his supporters not to confront the regime directly but to "adopt the tactics of Gandhi, the tactics of non-violent protest and civil disobedience". "The problem is that the more people that are killed, the more angry people will be, the more protesters will want to come out onto the streets." Mr Makhmalbaf said

The film director dismissed all hope of some form of negotiated agreement. "Within the last ten days, there has been a meeting between Mousavi and Ayatollah Khamanei," he said. "Nothing came of this meeting. I do not know of any further dialogue which is now going on."

If Mousavi was to become president, he said, Iran would invest in "improving the economy for ordinary people, not creating nuclear weapons or supporting conflicts abroad". Secondly, he said, there would be an end to the "constant harassment of young people which means that virtually every young person in Iran has been beaten up by the security forces."

Mr Makhmalbaf, said that there were reports from Iran that some of the militia deployed to suppress protest were "speaking Arabic". "That is unconfirmed but it suggests that the regime is unable to trust its own security forces to repress the Iranian people," he said. "It suggests that people are being used from abroad”

Nothing more to add to this. Mousavi was never going to lead the people of Iran dancing into the Elysian fields but his presidency would surely have been a little better than what is being offered to the people by Khamenei. I won't say Ahmadinejad, That sock puppet seems to be locked away in a drawer.

WW - Neda

Neda Agha Soltani. Murdered by the Iranian regime 20 June 2009. This week's entry for the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of Wordless Wednesday.

22 June 2009

Chavez continues to spit in the face of Iranian protestors

According to a Press TV report Hugo Chavez has stated that says that the world must respect Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's eelctoral "triumph".

Cavez is reported to have said on his his weekly radio and television address"We call on the world to respect Iran because there are attempts to undermine the strength of the Iranian revolution. Ahmadinejad's triumph was a triumph all the way. They are trying to stain Ahmadinejad's triumph and through that weaken the government and the Islamic revolution. I know they will not succeed,"

At one point I would ahve given Chavez the benefit of the doubt, later I thought he was a prating idiot. Now he can f*&k off and die for all I care.

Shocking proof of support for Baha'is by perfidious Albion

In my previous post I noted that Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki had accused Britain, inter alia, of sup[porting members of the Baha'i faith, a religion that was founded in Persia in the 19th Century and which has faced severe persecution in Iran under the regimes of the Shah and the Mullahs and also in Rgypt.

I can confirm exclusively that Mottaki's allegation is absolutely true. the Bush Blair Corporation (as stalwart progressive and friend of the oppressed everywhere George "Stalinist Shithead" Galloway calls it) has had the temerity to give extensive television time to Britain's most prominent Baha'i.

Well there you have it. I hope you enjoyed Omid Djalili's comedy as much as I do!

Just to be clear I am mocking the rubbish that has emanated from teh mouth of Iran's foreign minister. It is certainly not my intention to mock a faith that has been persecuted horribly under both the Mullahs and the Shah

More Uncle Napoleon style posturing by Iranian officials

CNN has reported that Iran may review its ties with the United Kingdom because of "interference in Iran's recent post-election unrest,"

Iranian Foreign Minister Uncle Napoleon, sorry Manouchehr Mottaki accused Britain of interfering in the country's recent vote(see my earlier post below. It also explains the Uncle Napoleon reference if you are not familiar with it). In addition Iran's parliamentary speaker, Uncle Napoleon, sorry Ali Larijani, submitted the request Monday to the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission which called on the Foreign Ministry to review the relationship
"The Islamic Republic of Iran favours the expansion of relations with all countries, but will never accept interference of other states in its internal affairs,"

According to CNN (and this is something I missed yesterday) Mottaki accused Britain of supporting followers of the persecuted Baha'i faith (more on this above).

Once again Britain has become Iran’s number one demon. There are good historical reasons for Iran to be deeply suspicious of our country but right here, right now the Iranian government is passing the blame for a situation totally of its own making.

SS* Galloway: Football 30 - Iran 12

It is interesting to note that Galloway's Daily Record http://blogs.dailyrecord.co.uk/georgegalloway/ column today devotes 30 lines or part lines to the demise of Setanta Sport and its effect on the Scottish Premier League and just 12lines to Iran, of which a large part is devoted to pouring scorn on John Simpson.

Even though the Record is a Scottish paper and events affecting the SPL are important it does seem that Galloway, who has such "progressive" views (hahahaha), seems to have his priorities a tad askew.

(* SS standing of course for Stalinist Shithead)

Not one iota of evidence George? Press TV report may indicate otherwise!

George Galloway’s confident assertions that the Iranian elections were as free, fair and as transparent as the finest glass money can buy are perhaps undermined a tad by a news item on Press TV, the Iranian news channel he works for.

My thanks go to Bryan of Why Now? for drawing my attention to this item. (Why Now? is always well worth a read)

Press TV reports that Iran's Guardian Council has indicated that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of people eligible to cast ballot in those areas.

The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.

"Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80-170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said.

Kadkhodaei further explained that the voter turnout of above 100% in some cities is a normal phenomenon because there is no legal limitation for people to vote for the presidential elections in another city or province to which people often travel or commute.

The spokesman, however, said that although the vote tally affected by such issues could be over 3 million and would not noticeably affect the outcome of the election.

He, however, added that the council could, at the request of the candidates, re-count the affected ballot boxes, and determine " whether the possible change in the tally is decisive in the election results,"

Rezaei, along with Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, reported more than 646 'irregularities' in the electoral process and submitted their complaints to the body responsible for overseeing the election -- the Guardian Council.

Mousavi and Karroubi have called on the council to nullify Friday's vote and hold the election anew. This is while President Ahmadinejad and his Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli have rejected any possibility of fraud, saying that the election was free and fair.

Just 50 cities then? Well call me a pedant but irregularities in even 50 cities is a major cause for concern and surely a good reason for a rerun of the election. If 3 million votes can be affected than why not 11 million?

It looks to me that the Guardian Council are covering their backs. They have indeed highlighted a number of irregularities so in their mind they have discharged their duties and life can return to normal.

The problem is that a lot of the people of Iran (certainly and not just the “gilded youth” or “liberal elites” as Milne and Galloway describe them) are not fooled. This may not transfer to further large scale protests at present but there is a huge reservoir of resentment will boil over again at some stage, perhaps very soon

George Galloway sneers at John Simpson but ignores Iran protests

Last week George Galloway declared that the Iranian election was fair and square and the result absolutely, and utterly reflected the voting patterns of the Iranian people. The protestors on the other hand were simply the liberal elite who would lose interest quickly.

It was therefore interesting to go to the Daily Record to see what Galloway had to say on last week’s events in Iran. (he has a weekly column in the Daily Record.. where does he find the time) Do we see a resounding condemnation of the Iranian regime’s attacks on protestors? Do we my arse!

Firstly George waxes lyrical about Virgin Atlantic in what could be a paid advert! He devotes the more column inches too snide attacks on his erstwhile Labour colleagues than he does on the situation in Iran

When it comes to Iran he devotes more of his time to slagging off the BBC’s apparent bias and John Simpson’s coverage than to any other issue

I just wish people like John Simpson would admit that the BBC - that's the Bush and Blair Corporation - has an agenda in its coverage of Iran, which is vehemently antigovernment.Poor old John looks a shadow - OK, a pretty substantial shadow - of his former confident and incisive self, falling over his words as he hams a take into a blurry digicam from a toilet in Tehran, or wherever he sends these faltering reports from. “

George remains resolute in his view that there is no evidence of electoral fraud

"Can we just look at the facts here, which sadly get in the way of a good story? We do not have one iota of evidence that the Iranian election was fiddled. Until we do, we should respect the result."

And here is his support for the protestors:

As we should the rights of the Tehran protesters to demonstrate peacefully on the streets without being shot or beaten up by government militias or soldiers.

In Galloway World, the election was fair and the BBC is biased against the Iranian authorities.(Or should that be the OBC now that Obama and Brown are president and prime minister George...). Perhaps the BBC should have gone out and sought the views of the Basij and the Revolutionary Guard

Galloway gives no appreciable support to the protestors apart from a throwaway line that he can bring out in the future to show everyone that he supported the protests all along. But then what can we expect from this opportunistic Stalinist Shithead?.

Uncle Napoleon alive and well and working as Iranian Foreign Minisiter

A Tehran Times article called The sun has set on the British Empire, so stop interfering Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused the United Kingdom of a list of infamous acts against the paradise that is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to Mr Mottali Britain sent secret service into Iran, not in ones, twos or even fours, but in “droves” - We witnessed an influx of people (from Britain) before the election. Elements linked to the British secret service were flying in in droves,”.

He called on Britain to stop interfering in Iran’s internal affairs, saying its officials must realize that the expression “the sun never sets on the British Empire is no longer true.” (well golly gee willakers, and there we were thinking that a quarter of the world was still painted pink!)

Mottaki then went on to denounce certain Western governments and Western media outlets for their hasty reactions toward Iran’s presidential election and asked them to revise their attitude toward events in Iran.

Starting with France he accused the nation of having to put up with political lightweights who are “auctioning off” the French Revolution’s achievements” (I know it was a mistake to sell off that guillotine!)

Meanwhile Germany’s leaders are hostage to the Zionists’ terrorist policies, saying their country has been implementing policies in tandem with Tel Aviv. As a result it is in “no position to express views on Iran’s transparent election”, he added.

Methinks Mottaki has been listening too hard to the Wit and Wisdom of Comical Ali. In one sense it is amusing to see that Britain remains Iran’s default bogeyman even though our influence is much reduced. But then again at is perhaps no surprise - Britain’s (usually detrimental) interference in Persian/Iranian affairs over the years are a matter of record

"Uncle Napoleon" is a reference to Iraj Pezeskhad’s wonderful comic novel My Uncle Napoleon. The Uncle Napoleon of the title, was a blustery former army officer who genuinely believed he was involved in battles against the British Empire in his youth and that the British (the book is set in WWII when Iran was under British/Soviet occupation) are out to get him.

The novel is so popular in Iran (and should be popular anywhere people can read) that the expression Uncle Napoleon is used as shorthand for those people in Iran who believe that foreigners are the cause of all of their country’s woes.

21 June 2009

Chatham House/St Andrew’s University report casts serious doubt on Iranian victory claims

Chatham House has published a paper titled Preliminary Analysis of the Voting Figures in Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election (available here as a pdf document).

Written by Professor Ali Ansari, Daniel Berman and Thomas Rintoul of the Institute of Iranian Studies, St Andrew’s University the report casts serious doubts on the plausibility of the claimed victory and demonstrates irregularities in the official results.

According to the press release (I just can’t work out how to copy salient ponts from the pdf document!) the official statistics indicate that:

  • claims that Ahmadinejad swept the board in rural provinces flies in the face of previous results
  • The plausibility of Mr Ahmadinejad's claimed victory is called into question by figures that show that in several provinces he would have had to attract the votes of all new voters, all the votes of his former centrist opponent, and up to 44% of those who voted for reformist candidates in 2005.
  • Irregularities are found in conservative Mazandaran and Yazd provinces where votes cast exceeded the number of eligible voters.
Professor Ali Ansari said: 'The analysis shows that the scale of the swing to Ahmadinejad would have had to have been extraordinary to achieve the stated result'. Thomas Rintoul said: 'The claimed results in minority provinces are particularity extreme, the numbers from Ilam, Lorestan and Hormozegan almost defy belief'."

This is just a summary of the executive summary. The whole paper is well worth reading. It certainly does confirm suspicions that the election was rigged an a gigantic scale

Meanwhile in Burma Suu Kyi supporters are jailed for praying

A Burmese court has sentenced two supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi to 18 months in prison simply for praying for her release.

According to the BBC Chit Pe and Aung Saw Wei were arrested in April after leading prayers at a pagoda in Twante, about 40km (30 miles) south of Yangon. They were convicted of insulting religion after leading prayers at a pagoda for Ms Suu Kyi and other activists to be freed
Supporters traditionally pray for the release of Ms Suu Kyi and other activists at Buddhist pagodas. But prison sentences for insulting religion were rare in Burma until the law was resurrected in 2007 to jail monks demonstrating against the military authorities, and has since been largely used to prosecute political cases.

As if we really needed it here is more proof that the Burmese regime is evil

Veronica Guerin’s probable killer dies in prison

Yesterday’s Irish Independent reports the death of Patrick Eugene (Dutchy) Holland, who was named by gardai as the killer of journalist Veronica Guerin

Holland (70) was found dead by prison officers around 6am in Parkhurst prison in England where he was serving an eight-year sentence for his role in a £10m plot to kidnap an English businessman. The UK Prison Service said that he appeared to have died from natural causes.

Holland's name was placed on a list of key suspects for the murder of 'Sunday Independent' journalist, Veronica Guerin, in June 1996.Intelligence gathered by the team of detectives indicated that Holland had been the pillion passenger on a motorcycle that was used in the murder Gardai were that Holland fired the fatal shot as he and another gang member, Brian Meehan, pulled alongside Ms Guerin's car. But they were unable to secure the evidence to ensure that he would be convicted on a murder charge.

Holland was later convicted on drugs charges and served nine years of a 12 year sentence. Within a year of his release he was one of five people arrested by police in London following an undercover operation.He was charged with involvement in a "honey trap" kidnap plot and sentenced to eight years in jail in May last year.

Ms Guerin's mother Bernie said simply: "May the Lord have mercy on his soul

It is a shame that worthless piece of shit did not die in prison serving a sentence for Guerin’s murder but at least he died behind bars. Rot in Hell scumbag

Rafsanjani's daughter arrested

The daughter of Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and four relatives were arrested over their involvement in the Iranian protests.

The Fars news agency said that Faezeh Hashemi, her daughter and three other relatives were arrested during Saturday's demonstrations for 'agitating' the protestors.

I promise to respect you in the morning

Chavez and Ahmadinejad look longingly into each other's eyes. Surely it was the start of something beautiful!

Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower

Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust

This is definitely one of my all time favourite songs

The brutal face of the Iranian Regime

Hat Tip Martin in the Margins and Anneke who also carry this video

Hat tip to Martin in the Margins for this video.

There are no words that can fully express my disgust.

20 June 2009

Maryam Namazie on the people's protest in Iran

I would not be a supporter of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran but I do agree with much of what she has to say.

A Poem by Zahra Rahnavard

Zahra Rahnavard is the wife of Mir-Hossein Mousavi. She is a well lnown academic and artist in her own right.

An article by Amir Taheri in today's Times prints a poem issued by Madame Rahnavard through Twitter and text message.

Let the wolves know that in our tribe

If the father dies, his gun will remain

Even if all the men of the tribe are killed

A baby son will remain in the wooden cradle

A discreet call to further action? Time will tell

Henry Allingham now the oldest man in the world

Following the death of death of Tomoji Tanabe in Japan WWI veteran Henry Allingham (113) has officially been proclaimed the oldest man alive by Guinness World Records.

Henry is the last survivor of the battle of Jutland, the last survivor of the creation of the Royal Air Force. May his tenure as world's oldest living man be a long one

Poem for the Rooftops ot Iran

Via the Guadain live coverage on the Iran situation

Photo Hunt - Creamy

Photo Hunt is creamy. Although the colour is a bit nearer yellow than creamy, I think it is creamy enough. The flower is one of the many blooms on our Phygelius capensis

Hugo Chavez also sneers at Iranian protestors

I must thank Bob of Bob From Brockley for this link.

Sadly but unsurprisingly Hugo Chavez has stood by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, regardless of the protests that have taken place over the last week.

A Venezuelan foreign ministry statement, "in the name of the people," hailed the "extraordinary democratic development" that resulted in Ahmadinejad's victory.
"The Bolivarian government of Venezuela expresses its firm rejection of the ferocious and unfounded campaign to discredit, from abroad, that has been unleashed against Iran, with the objective of muddying the political climate of this brother country," said the statement issued June 16. "We demand the immediate end to maneuvers to intimidate and destabilize the Islamic Revolution."”

This sort of tripe makes me sick to be a leftist. For the likes of Chavez, Milne, Galloway and far too many others it does not matter what sort of scumbag someone is so long as they are anti American

Aren’t we meant to be better than this?

Bob has collated an excellent series of posts on Iran from around the blogosphere... oh and drivel from some tit called Jams O'Donnell!

19 June 2009

Lest we forget

Aung San Suu Kyi is 64 today

So Cats really aren't as clever as dogs and psychologists?

Psychology lecturer Britta Osthaus has concluded that cats do not understand cause-and-effect connections between objects and is thus nit as bright as the average psychologist

She tested the thought processes of 15 of them by attaching fish and biscuit treats to one end of a piece of string, placing them under a plastic screen to make them unreachable and then seeing if the cats could work out that pulling on the other end of the string would pull the treat closer.

They were tested in three ways, using a single baited string, two parallel strings where only one was baited, and two crossed strings where only one was baited.
The single string test proved no problem, but unlike dogs no cat consistently chose correctly between two parallel strings. With two crossed strings, one cat always made the wrong choice and others succeeded no more than might be expected by chance.

Osthaus, of Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, said: "This finding is somehow surprising as cats regularly use their paws and claws to pull things towards them during play and hunting. They performed even worse than dogs, which can at least solve the parallel string task."

Quite clearly this experiment shows nothing of the sort. It fails to take account of the fact that cats know full well that nothing is worth doing that needs much effort. Ask any cat about the experiment and they will point out that that sooner or later they were going to get fed by the psychologist, so why waste important energy that could be better employed in a nice long rest.

I rest my case!

Robyn and Bebe wear green

This week's entry for the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

18 June 2009

Shirin Ebadi says VOID THE ELECTION

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has written an important piece in the Hufffington Post. This is an extract. The full post is here

On Monday, June 15, more than 1 million people marched in the streets of Tehran to support Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi -- two defeated presidential candidates -- and to object to the results of last week's election.... Peaceful demonstrations ended, and while people were slowly dispersing to go home, suddenly, from the rooftop of a building belonging to Basij (the volunteer people's militia), shots were fired on the people. Another group started firing from another direction. Based on reports, there are seven killed and around 30 wounded and hospitalized thus far.

People's dissatisfaction with the results does not concern the present elections alone: Many objections were made four years ago when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected president. At the time, Mehdi Karroubi and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, two senior and powerful figures of the Islamic Republic, were Ahmadinejad's opponents.
Ahmadinejad's four years of presidency resulted in people's great dissatisfaction.

During this time, inflation reached 25 percent, prices kept increasing on a daily basis, and people's purchasing power kept decreasing. A large number of newspapers were closed down, an increasing number of political and human rights activists were imprisoned, the offices of the Center for Human Rights Defenders (I am chair of the center) were closed down, etc.

The Leader of the revolution continued his support of the president in spite of the people's dissatisfaction, even after the Majles (parliament) declared that $1 billion had been withdrawn without legal authority. And the moment the Interior Ministry declared Ahmadinejad winner of last week's election, the Leader congratulated him, although votes had not been counted in all districts. Furthermore, other candidates had the right to contest the elections results, and no one should have been congratulated until their objections had been heard and definitive results been determined. This premature act of congratulating angered the Iranian population.

Objections to the last week's election are generally as follows:

1. At most voting locations, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi's representatives were not allowed to be present.

2. It is claimed that many of the ballot boxes have been tampered with.

3. Ahmadinejad obtained 14 million votes in the previous elections. This time, however, they made the unprecedented announcement that he had 24 million votes. Mehdi Karroubi announced that his votes were less than the number of his election headquarters' members and the members of the "Etemad Melli" party, which he heads. When millions of people in Tehran and other cities came out on the streets to protest the elections results, it was clear that Ahmadinejad's 24 million votes could not have been accurate.

The intensification of popular protests has resulted in the Leader of the Islamic Republic ordering an investigation of the complaints and the Guardian Council announcing that some of the ballot boxes would be recounted. It does not appear, however, that this will calm the situation.

The best solution for establishing peace in Iran consists of:

1. The unconditional release of every individual arrested and imprisoned for having objected to the results of the elections.

2. Ordering the cessation of Basij and police violence toward protestors.

3. Declaring the election void.

4. Ordering new elections under the auspices of international organizations.

5. Paying compensation to the injured and to the families of those who have been killed.

Calm could perhaps be brought back to the Iranian society if these conditions are met. Otherwise, there is a great possibility of increased violence in Iran.

Where is Ahmadinejad?

Ahmadinejad spots Mousavi out of the corner of his right eye

One thing that has puzzled me is the near total absence of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the last few days. His last appearance in Iran was at a press conference on Sunday and then at a “victory” rally in the centre of Tehran.

On Monday he appeared at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where he was greeted as the "newly re-elected president of Iran". Interestingly he spoke of the end of "the age of empires"

The Iranian media reported that he was greeted by a number of senior government officials on his return from Russia on Tuesday. And then?

Nothing, nada, zilch and not a sausage

According to the Guardian analysts and diplomats say that the fact that Ahmadinejad has not been seen for is an indication that his position may have been weakened. Rallies backing him have been far less well attended than those organised by the Mousavi camp (when not photoshopped of course).

"If he was feeling confident he would be more visible," said Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, of London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. "It would make sense for him to present himself as the president of all Iranians. But he appears to be a bit detached from reality. The way he reacted has seriously damaged his position."

It does indeed seem odd that he has been absent. It certainly is not the action of a man confident in his office

An interesting historical note: On 18 December 1989 Nicolae Ceacsescu left Romania for a visit to Iran. This was at the height of the Romanian revolution. Seven days later he received an unwanted Christmas present.

On 15 June 2009 Ahmadinejad left Iran for a visit. Seven days later......???

Seumas Milne also sneers at Iranian protestors (no surprise there)

Although it can be said of others too there is not probably not a despot (sorry I meant freedom loving anti-imperialist) that unreconstructed Stalinist Seumas Milne will not support.

In today’s Guardian he excels himself! It is an article that starts with a cheap shot, comparing the response in Iran to that of disgruntled Tories after Attlee’s resounding election victory in 1945 (apparently a Savoy diner declared "The country will never stand for it.").

In Milne World (where the red star shines brightly among the hammer and sickles) “the evidence so far coming out of Iran, something similar seems to be ¬happening on the streets of Tehran – and in the western capitals just as desperate to see the back of Iranian president -Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

“Of course the movement behind opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi spreads far beyond the capital's elite, as did the supporters of Winston Churchill against Clement Attlee. In Iran, it includes large sections of the middle class, students and the secular. But a similar misreading of their own social circles for the country at large appears to have convinced the opposition's supporters that it can only have lost last Friday's election through fraud.

That is also reflected in the western media, whose cameras focus so lovingly on Tehran's gilded youth and for whom Ahmadinejad is nothing but a Holocaust-denying fanatic. (I don’t know about you but Holocaust-denying fanatic is enough to damn anyone in my books even if they are kind to animals and love their old mum)

The other Ahmadinejad, who is seen to stand up for the country's independence, expose elite corruption on TV and use Iran's oil wealth to boost the incomes of the poor majority, is largely invisible abroad..... But such details have got lost as the pressure has built in Tehran for a "green revolution" amid unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen. The strongest evidence appears to be some surprising regional results and the speed of the official announcement, triggered by Mousavi's declaration that he was the winner before the polls closed. But most official figures don't look so ¬implausible – Mousavi won Tehran, for instance, by 2.2m votes to 1.8m – and it's hard to believe that rigging alone could account for the 11 million-vote gap between the main contenders.

If Ahmadinejad was in fact the winner, then there is an attempted coup going on in Tehran right now, and it is being led by Mousavi and his western-backed supporters... But for the demonstrators facing repression in Tehran, the conviction that they have been cheated has created its own momentum in what is now a highly polarised society. .. The article then goes on about Iraq, Israel, Lebanese elections (won with vote buying according to Milne)

In such a context, the neutralisation of Iran as an independent regional power would
be a huge prize for the US – defanging recalcitrants from Baghdad to Beirut – and a route out of the strategic impasse created by the invasion of Iraq. But so far, the signs from Tehran are still that that's unlikely to be achieved by a colour-coded revolution.

I wonder if it ever occurred to the likes of Milne that the men and women protesting in Iran are not “gilded youth” but people who are frustrated not only by what they see as a blatantly fraudulent election; they are frustrated by life in an oppressive society, frustrated at being second class citizens (in the case of many of the women, frustrated at high inflation, frustrated at high unemployment. They are angry and they want change.

The BBC is currently reporting that Iran’s Guardian Council is inviting Mousavi and the other two opposition candidates to discuss not 6, not 66 but 646 individual complaints arising from last week’s election.

As for being dupes of foreign powers, particularly the USA, if he were to ask the average protestor I am sure they would laugh in his face. Oh yes, I’m sure that the US would like a “defanged Iran” but this is not about pulling teeth of a local power, it is about people wanting a better Iran.