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Solidarity group calls for release of trade unionist on hunger strike!


PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE USE
15th April 2014

The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has called upon the labour and trade movement internationally to take urgent action in calling for the release of Shahrokh Zamani, a trade unionist currently on hunger strike in Iran.

Zamani was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for his pro trade union activities. Arrested in June 2011, Zamani was convicted of charges including "acting against national security by establishing or membership of groups opposed to the system" and "spreading propaganda against the establishment". These charges are widely used by the Iranian state to intimidate and imprison those engaged in trade union activity.

Zamani has been on hunger strike since 8th March 2014. The hunger strike began in the Gohar Dasht prison in solidarity with other political prisoners. Three days into the action the prison management decided to transfer of Zamani to Ghezel Hesar prison, with no explanation or justification. In protest Zamani continued his hunger strike.

He has spent eight days in solitary confinement since his transfer to Ghezel Hesar prison. So far he has lost seventeen kilos of his body weight.

Zamani is a member of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran but the regime in Iran does not recognise independent trade unions and many trade unionists have been arrested for attempting to organise such bodies.

Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary of ITUC has written to the Iranian president demanding Zamani's freedom from prison. In her letter, Ms Burrow refers to Zamani's case and expresses concern about his treatment. The issue of his transfer to Ghezel Hesar prison, where 20,000 prisoners including 13,000 prisoners on drug and criminal charges are held, and the threats to the safety of political prisoners there is also mentioned.

The ITUC General Secretary has called for the release of Zamani and demanded his right to return to his work.
Alex Gordon, British leading trade unionist and President of CODIR, has already signed a joint statement "holding the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible for Mr. Zamani's health and well-being". The joint statement signed by trade unionists and progressive personalities globally demands "immediate and unconditional release for all incarcerated workers and political prisoners in Iran." "Solidarity work in defence of Iranian workers and trade unionists, who are engaged in a difficult struggle for better pay and conditions of work, is a vital part of CODIR's activities", said Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi. "We must work to ensure that the reality of life inside Iran for those fighting for basic rights is brought to the attention of their colleagues across the world."

CODIR regards the current period as an important opportunity to put effective pressure upon the government of President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected last year on a promise of reform inside Iran.

CODIR is keen to make sure that Rouhani's declared willingness to reform is tested on the domestic front, where there has been insignificant movement on the question of trade union rights and the freeing of political prisoners.

"Those supporting Iranian trade unions must push to get the Iranian government to positively respond to their demands, for better pay and conditions and for trade union rights", continued Mr Ahmadi. "We call on the government of Iran to enact ILO conventions 87 and 98 without delay."

Almost a year after the presidential election in which Hassan Rouhani was elected on a platform of heralding a new era of respect for human and democratic rights, nothing has changed noticeably for people of Iran. The economy continues to struggle under the weight of economic sanctions. The regime's economic policy has brought more factory closures, unemployment, unpaid wages and poverty pay.

CODIR has called for protest letters and appeals for the release of Shahrokh Zamani and other detained trade unionists in Iran to be sent immediately to the following:

President Hassan Rouhani at: rouhani@csr.ir
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Leader, at : info@leader.ir
Islamic Republic of Iran Judiciary at: ijpr@iranjudiciary.org
and info@judiciary.ir
Ministry of Justice at: office@justice.ir

Or by Twitter: @khamenei_ir; @HassanRouhani

ENDS

Note for Editors
CODIR urges the Iranian government to ratify and enact ILO conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining).
Contact Information:-

Postal Address:
B.M.CODIR
London
WC1N 3XX
UK
Website: www.codir.net
E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

Further information for Editors
CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
CODIR has worked closely with the trade union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.
CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.
In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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Free Bahareh Hedayat!


JANE GREEN, CODIR's National Campaigns Officer, highlights the plight of women political prisoners in Iran
March 13 2014

Having just marked International Women's Day on the 8th March, Jane Green considers the wider situation for women in Iran and the plight of one political prisoner in particular.

Bahareh Hedayat, will be 32 years old in next month. She looks likely to mark that birthday in prison unless the Iranian government can be persuaded to free her. Hedayat is one of the leaders of the powerful student movement in Iran and a woman's rights activist. She was a member of the Executive Committee and spokesperson for Iran's pro-democracy student movement, the Daftar-e Takhim-Vahdat (Office for Consolidating Unity). She was also an initiator and active in the One Million Signatures Campaign that seeks to end legal discrimination against women in Iran.

Hedayat has been sentenced to nine and a half years in prison and is serving that time in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Around midnight on 31st December 2009, she was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry of the theocratic regime in Iran for the fifth time in four years and taken to unit 209 of Evin Prison. Hedayat met with one of the harshest punishments ordered against the student activist movement over recent years. She was sentenced for participating in legal, peaceful activities and for challenging the existing discriminatory laws against women.

The injustices and oppression inflicted upon Hedayat are retaliation for her activism as a female university student. The sentence imposed upon her by a Tehran court, comprised two years for "insulting the Supreme Leader"; six months for "insulting the President"; and five years for "acting against national security and publishing falsehoods." She was also sentenced to an additional two years in prison for "acting against national security through holding a protest gathering for women", currently suspended.

Hedayat is suffering from serious health issues that require urgent medical attention, without which her life could be in danger.

As well as Bahareh Hedayat at least fourteen other high profile women rights campaigners are incarcerated in Iran's political prisons for demanding their rights. In recent weeks, we have witnessed the passing of inhumane long-term jail sentences against a number of women activists. One such example is Mariam Shafi' Pour, a university student activist who was arrested in 2010, in Qazvin. She was suspended from the university and was expelled in her 8th term at the university. She had been sentenced to one year's suspended sentence, but this was extended to seven years after 67 days in solitary confinement. She suffering torture and beatings, because she had refused to admit to crimes she had not committed. She had been threatened by her interrogator that she would get a long sentence and her 7 year sentence suggests the power of interrogators in the judicial system.

This year, the Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women celebrates the 71st anniversary of its foundation. In all these years the organisation has campaigned tirelessly for women's rights and freedoms, and against traditionalist and reactionary laws. However, the regime in Tehran continues to consider laws that worsen the lives of women in Iran and margininalise them in the economic and social arenas. In March last year, the employment of women by the state became limited to those who work part-time. Their salaries, benefits and pensions were halved to make them pro rata. The presence of women in places of work has been limited further by the introduction of home working for women. This is publicised as a progressive move to enable women to look after their children by working from home.

The last government initiated a policy for increasing the population by closing down the Family Planning Unit in 2010. The Minister of Health at the time said, "the Ministry's Pregnancy Prevention programmes have been removed completely. No birth control is promoted anymore - on the contrary - the Ministry of Health's new policy is population growth...'

In the education sphere the regime has introduced the strict segregation of sexes in universities. The opening of ten women only universities in different towns and cities in Iran was heralded as the dawn of the Islamisation of universities. There has been a significant reduction in the acceptance of women in universities.

Against this background women such as Bahareh Hedayat, who are prepared to make their voices heard and speak out for the rights of Iranian women, continue to be dealt with severely.

Since his election as president in August 2013, Hassan Rouhani has been trying to present a more liberal face to the West, to give the impression that conditions for the opposition in Iran are not as harsh as solidarity movements suggest. It is worth noting that the security forces prevented hundreds of women from holding an International Women Day celebration last Saturday, 8th March.

While some political prisoners were freed in September and on the eve of Rouhani's much publicised appearance and speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations, many are still languishing in prisons. The continued incarceration of Bahareh Hedayat and others gives the lie to Rouhani's claims of liberalisation.

The women's movement in Iran has gained itself a prominent place in the struggle of the Iranian people for freedom and equal rights. It has been intelligent in its choice of tactics to reach the masses and to publicise its demands. Over the last decade the women of Iran have been at the forefront of major campaigns against the reactionary rulers of Iran. The One Million Signatures Campaign organized by progressive women against discrimination and inequality against women was very successful in galvanizing women, gaining international recognition and support and forcing the regime to notice. The persecution and imprisonment of the activists has not succeeded in silencing it.

On the occasion of International Women's Day 2014, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) renewed its call for the release of Bahareh Hedayat; renewed its call for the Islamic Republic of Iran to grant equal status in law to its female citizens; and re-affirmed its solidarity with the women in particular, and the people of Iran in general, in their struggle to achieve true peace and democracy.

CODIR calls upon all those concerned for women's rights and freedom in Iran to put pressure upon the Iranian government to free political prisoners in general, and to release Bahareh Hedayat in particular. If the claims of President Rouhani to be leading a more liberal regime are to have any credence, such action would be a small but necessary first step.

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Free Bahareh Hedayat! Women's Rights Campaigner, Student Leader


CODIR launches its 2014 International campaign:
March 2 2014

Bahareh Hedayat, who will be 32 years old in just under a month, looks likely to mark that birthday in prison. She is one of the leaders of the powerful student movement in Iran and a woman's rights activist. She was a member of the Executive Committee and spokesperson for Iran's pro-democracy student movement, the Daftar-e Takhim-Vahdat (Office for Consolidating Unity). She was also active in the One Million Signatures Campaign that seeks to end legal discrimination against women in Iran.

"We have been pressured and pummelled but have neither broken nor bent. We have stood firmly, but with anxious and broken hearts, we have witnessed the plunder and despotic destruction of a flower pot for which our predecessors and us have toiled and laboured to see its growth and flourishing." (Message from Bahareh Hedayat in prison, on the occasion of 7th December 2010, National Student Day in Iran).

Hedayat has been sentenced to nine and a half years in prison and is serving that time in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Around midnight on 31st December 2009, she was arrested by the Intelligence Ministry of Iran for the fifth time in four years and taken to unit 209 of Evin Prison. Hedayat met with one of the harshest punishments ordered against the student activist movement over recent years. She was sentenced for participating in legal, peaceful and civil society activities and for challenging the existing discriminatory laws against women.

The injustices and oppression inflicted upon Hedayat are retaliation for her activism as a university student. The sentence imposed upon Hedayat, by a Tehran court, comprised two years for "insulting the Supreme Leader"; six months for "insulting the President"; and five years for "acting against national security and publishing falsehoods." She was also sentenced to an additional two years in prison for "acting against national security through holding a protest gathering for women", currently suspended.

Hedayat is suffering from serious health issues that require urgent medical attention, without which her life could be in danger.

Since his election as president in August 2013, Hassan Rouhani has been trying to present a more liberal face to the West, to give the impression that conditions for the opposition in Iran are not as harsh as solidarity movements suggest. Some political prisoners have been freed as a result.

The continued incarceration of Bahareh Hedayat however gives the lie to Rouhani's claims of liberalisation. On the occasion of International Women's Day 2014 CODIR renews its call for the release of Bahareh Hedayat; renews its call for the Islamic Republic of Iran to grant equal status in law to its female citizens; and re-affirms its solidarity with the women in particular, and the people of Iran in general, in their struggle to achieve true peace and democracy.

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Solidarity group steps up campaign for the release of imprisoned trade union leaders and activists!


Press Release - For Immediate Use
4th January 2014

The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has called upon the labour and trade movement internationally to take urgent action in defence of Iranian workers and trade unionists who are engaged in a difficult struggle for better pay and conditions of work.

CODIR regards the current period as an important opportunity to put effective pressure upon the government of President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected last year on a promise of reform inside Iran. Since his election Rouhani has tried to show a different face internationally, resulting in the interim agreement on nuclear inspections.

However, CODIR is keen to make sure that Rouhani's declared willingness to reform is tested on the domestic front too, where there has been insignificant movement on the question of human rights, respect for basic trade union rights and the freeing of political prisoners.

In stepping up the campaign for trade union rights in Iran CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the need for the New Year to be a new beginning for the people of Iran, stating,

"We must do everything in our power to make sure that all imprisoned trade unionists in Iran are released without any delay. They have done nothing but call for their rights to be respected," he said. "As we celebrate the dawn of 2014, those supporting Iranian trade unions must push to get the Iranian government to positively respond to their demands, for better pay and conditions and for trade union rights. We call on the government of Iran to enact ILO conventions 87 and 98 without delay."

A recent call by three detained trade union activists, Shahrokh Zamani, Mohammad Jarrahi from Gohardasht prison and Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, in ward 350 of the notorious Evin Prison, reached CODIR in the early hours of the New Year, describing salaries as being below the poverty line and stating that the regime has condemned workers to humiliation, poverty and deprivation. Six months after the presidential election in which Hassan Rouhani was elected on a platform of heralding a new era of respect for human and democratic rights, nothing has changed noticeably for the people of Iran. The economy continues to struggle under the weight of economic sanctions. The regime's economic policy has brought more factory closures, unemployment, unpaid wages and poverty pay.

CODIR is also making a special appeal to all trade union organisations internationally to appeal to Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, to urge him to release Reza Shahabi and Mohammad Jarrahi from prison so that they can receive essential medical attention for ongoing conditions.

"The statement we have received from inside Iran rightly asks, 'Why should these men remain in jail to suffer?' and 'To whom would they be a threat outside of prison?'" said Mr. Ahmadi. "Many suffer at the hands of the Iranian government but the cases of Reza Shahabi and Mohammad Jarrahi, show the darkest side of this regime."

CODIR urges the Iranian government to ratify and enact ILO conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining).

CODIR calls on all concerned organisations and individuals to write to the Iranian authorities calling on them to release all detained trade union activists and leaders and in particular Reza Shahabi and Mohammad Jarrahi.

Appeals should be sent to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid
Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter: @khamenei_ir
Email: info_leader@leader.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public Relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Salutation: Your Excellency

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: media@rouhani.ir
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and
@Rouhani_ir (Persian)
ENDS

Contact Information:-

Postal Address:
B.M.CODIR
London
WC1N 3XX
UK
Website: www.codir.net
E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

Further information for Editors

CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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Iran's Trade Unions call for urgent action:


Let's all campaign for the freedom of our imprisoned trade unionist brothers!
To the Iranian trade unions,
To trade union activists, friends and supporters of trade unions,

With regards to deterioration of Reza Shahabi's health which was pointed out in the latest statement of Tehran Bus Transit Workers Union (Syndica Vahed), in the most recent visit of Reza Shahabi with his family, the impact and signs of pain and suffering were sadly apparent on his face. The aforesaid statement reads: "Drawing the attention of reputable labour and human rights organizations to continue the campaign for release of this labour rights activists [i.e. Reza Shahabi], the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company once again demands his immediate release from prison and his urgent and effective medical treatment. We request from the authorities to arrange for immediate payment of his deferred unpaid wages so that the family- wife and two student children- of this imprisoned and tormented worker at least could manage the economic hardship and backbreaking high expenses of daily life and their rent."

Unionised workers, Raza Shahabi and his family demand "Reza Shahabi to be hospitalized in the next few days and undergo further surgery. After surgery, he has to stay in an unstressed environment with necessary means and services to his avail. Why Reza Shahabi- bus driver and a member of Syndica Vahed- and Mohammad Jarrahi- painter/ decorator and cancer patient and member of Tehran Painting and Decorating Workers Union- who are both suffering from various illnesses, should be kept in prison? Why these two workers cannot be released from prison and have to live in pain and suffering? Whose interests outside the prison do they threaten?

We demand from the authorities to release these captive workers so that they can receive medical treatment. We appeal to our sister and brother workers and trade unions and World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and human rights organizations to mobilize their efforts by all possible means for the freedom of these unionized workers.

The Union of Metalworker and Mechanic Workers of Iran
The Board of Re-Opening of Syndicate of Painting and Decorating Workers of Iran

1 January 2014

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Exclusive report from Iran on trade union issues - Iranian workers' life and death struggle for justice continues - Urgent call for solidarity



Introduction

The following statement, from the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanic Workers of Iran, outlines the difficult conditions facing employees within the automobile industry in Iran. Trades union organisation, as defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), is effectively outlawed in Iran. This situation encourages employers to behave in ways which can only be described as unscrupulous and in contravention of internationally accepted standards in employer/employee relations. The statement attached by the Metalworkers Union draws particular attention to several areas of concern for trade unionists including,

  • The impact of international sanctions upon ordinary workers in Iran. Sanctions imposed by Western governments have not been called for by Iranian trade unionists and are having a detrimental impact upon the lives of ordinary people in the country;

  • Working conditions are changed arbitrarily by management and give employees no job security;

  • Deductions from pay are made to support projects and campaigns supported by management without employee consent, in spite of pay levels being below those of the official poverty levels in Iran;

  • Basic health and safety requirements are flouted or ignored resulting in increased sickness and workplace accidents.
  • These are not conditions which trade unionists should have to suffer or that employers should be allowed to impose. Workers in Iran have to organise in clandestine conditions in order to tackle these issues.

    The statement from the Metalworkers Union underlines the importance of CODIR's campaign to press the Iranian government to take seriously its commitments under ILO conventions, concerning freedom of assembly and organisation.

    We will continue to work with international human rights and trades union organisations to put pressure upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In spite of the reformist veneer the Rouhani government is seeking to adopt, this statement makes it clear that conditions for workers continue to be severe.

    While that is the case, the work of CODIR will remain as vital as ever.

    Report to the periodic meeting of the Global autoworkers

    Iranian automobile workers suffer from common predicaments: high pace of production lines, damaging physical and mental stresses due to working overtime, low wages, crackdown against labour unions, and repression and incarceration of labour activists. Because of cheap labour [in Iran], the Iranian automakers have become the paradise for Korean, Japanese, French and Spanish automakers, which provides a great market for greedy capitalist to sell their outdated automotive technologies and parts. This has turned Iran into a target site for exploitation of workers by Iranian capitalists as well. Valuable petrodollars and other oil currencies that are the fruit of the labour of Iranian working people and the national wealth of Iran are plundered [by foreign capitalists] who move their capitals into poor [low cost] countries and shut down the automotive industry in their own countries. This way, they intimidate and scare their domestic labour unions, weaken them, and coerce them into submission and taking a blow on their labour achievements, as we have witnessed in France and all across Europe.

    Due to the unsteady and "flexible" workforce of Iran Khodro, one can never tell how many hourly and salary employees are working there. Currently about 17,000 hourly workers and 8,000 salary employees are working there in various positions. Approximately 7,000 employees work in each shift. It should be noted that out of this 7,000, there are always 1,000 to 2,000 who are working overtime.

    These are the workers who are working directly at Iran Khodro. In subsidiary companies of Iran Khodro such as Megamotor, Niroo Moharrekeh, and parts manufacturers such as Gharb Steel Semnan, Robot Machine in Kamal Shahr (in Karaj), Mehvar Sazan in Karaj, and also affiliated part manufacturers, overall there are 110,000 workers who somehow depend on Iran Khodro.

    Iran Khodro currently makes various models of vehicles made by French automaker Peugeot, such as Peugeot Pars, Peugeot 206, GLX, RD, Samand, and also Peykan light pickup truck, L-90 and Tiba.

    Since September 22nd of 2012 and due to the impact of economic sanctions imposed by capitalist states, Iranian auto makers such as Iran Khodro, Kerman Khodro, Saipa, Saipa Diesel, Saipa Yadak, Pars Khodro, Tractor-Saazi, Megamotor, Niroo Moharrekeh and a number of parts manufacturers have laid off workers and reduced their production levels to 25%. In these layoffs more than 100,000 workers in machine building companies and in excess of 200,000 workers affiliated with machine building companies lost their jobs. They forced these layoffs under the pretext of "compulsory leave" which we pointed out in the editorial of "Payam-e Felez-Kaar" [Metalworker Message] periodical and objected to it. As of now, auto makers have not returned to the production levels before last year.

    Working Conditions: in Iran Khodro, whenever more production is needed, the line speed is turned up which causes a drop in quality of the vehicles. However, due to the high market demand and great sales of automobiles in Iran, the managers don't care much about the quality. Every year around November-December, management of Iran Khodro mandates a 10% increase in production compared to the year before. They meet their targets by putting outrageous work pressure on workers ("Record Celebration"), and this becomes the new baseline for next year increase, which means every year the production record has to be broken, i.e. exploitation becomes harsher year over year. It should be mentioned that workers are handed bonuses for breaking records. Production lines, the yard, change rooms, and office areas are all monitored by CCTV. As such, if the speed of one line is slow or workers want to take a short break, supervisors are contacted and those workers are harshly disciplined, and even sent to HR for further disciplinary action. For example, worker's contract may be downgraded from one year to 6 months, from 6 months to one or two months, and from one or two months to daily contract, and eventually s/he may be fired.

    Working Hours: currently, whilst the plant is in downturn, each worker works 220 hours per month. But workers work 40 to 90 hours of overtime every month to make the ends meet and that is still not enough to make a living. To speak with evidence, we will send you a few pay stubs. And this is at a time when Iran Khodro is working at the lowest production level. In the past years, we had workers in Iran Khodro who worked 2 shifts every day. In 1999, there was a worker who was working 3 shifts [full day] for 22 days in a row, and when he was exhausted and was resting beside a pallet of parts at 2 a.m., he was run over by a lift truck and killed. Up until 2 years ago, there was no such thing as Friday [weekend], and there were no statutory holidays; all days were work days. The only holidays in the year were 2 days: New Year's Day [Norooz] and Ashura [death of Imam Hussein]. This pressure led to numerous strikes in 2011 and management promised not to schedule Friday anymore as a work day, but after two months, Friday yet again became a work day. One of the reasons that workers agree to work overtime and not to go on strike is their low wages; this year, the announced minimum wage is 4 times less than the wages that define the line of poverty and that is why workers agree to overtime in order to earn a modest living and make the ends meet. (The minimum monthly wage of an Iranian worker is established at $166.5, whereas the poverty line is established at $666.] Also, all workers owe the company one way or another and every month 50% of their pay is deducted to pay for their debts and loans. In addition, there is a clear robbery from their pay cheque under "Prophet Charity" which costs workers 5000 Toomans every month and nobody knows where that money goes and is spent on. That is, every month 85 million Toomans, about $28,000, is deducted from the pay cheques of Iran Khodro employees. In the pay cheque, there is an item called "Efficiency" which is controlled and determined by supervisors, which denotes that from the company point of view whether you have been a compliant employee or not. If not, you will not get this "Efficiency" amount. 10% of a worker's pay is deducted as tax, and 10% is deducted for state health care, and yet another 6% is deducted for private extended health insurance.

    Employment Conditions: Until 1998 full time permanent employment was common in Iran Khodro. Later, and with the promotion and prevalence of temporary contracts and introduction of employment agencies, full time permanent employment disappeared. Thus, in case of any disputes between the worker and employer, the worker will have to file a complaint against the employment agencies not Iran Khodro. Contract workers who have been with the company more than 15 years will get one-year contracts; this includes low ranked managers and supervisors. Six-month contracts are signed with those with less than 10 years employment with the company. Those with less than 5 years of employment with the company work on one- or two-month contracts. Those with 2 or 3 years employment record mostly work on a daily basis which ends after 89 days and they have no rights to anything. Today, daily workers wish that they could get the status of one- or two-month contract workers. None of the contract and daily workers in Iran Khodro are considered company employees. Contract and daily paid workers are paid half of the permanent employees of Iran Khodro. Iran Khodro contractors pocket at least 40% of the wages of contract and daily workers. In fact, contractors of Iran Khodro are robbers which are able to rob workers because of Iran Khodro regulatory decisions [not to hire directly]. Iran Khodro is the partner in this obvious crime. It has happened many times that when the contract of the employment agency with Iran Khodro ends for whatever reason, all of a sudden it disappears without paying the workers. Workers, who have no means to recover their loss, live day by day with the hopes that another employment agency would hire them. There is no job classification in Iran Khodro. Job classification is one of the most important demands of Iran Khodro employees.

    Benefits: Previously, workers used to get safety shoes twice a year, which is now reduced to once a year. Milk has been cut off from daily food service.

    The problems Iran Khodro workers are facing: one of the problems of Iran Khodro employees is the absence of any kind of trade organization in this labour complex, whether state-run or independent. Another problem which stems from the lack of job security- in turn due to temporary and daily contracts- is irreparable psychological and mental damage inflicted on working families. Pace of work and working without vacation days has led to a sharp increase in mental and psychological disorder cases in Iran Khodro. Depression, anger, chronic headache, escalation of family disputes and divorce are among the problems that threaten the health and wellbeing of workers.

    Labour Activities: There are no labour organizations in Iran Khodro and other large companies like oil and steel producing companies, not even state-run organizations. If a worker initiates labour activity, s/he will be quickly identified and after being warned and relocated in her/his workplace, will eventually be fired. In 2009, an employee of Iran Khodro who was engaged in union activities was arrested and detained in Iran Khodro's prison for one night, and was then transferred to Evin prison, and after being released from prison, was fired from Iran Khodro. The atmosphere in Iran Khodro is a militarized atmosphere and you are always being watched and monitored. From the time you enter the plant, in change rooms, and in production lines, you are always being watched and controlled by CCTVs. Supervisors, as agent s of repression, report any discontent and suppress it as soon as it starts.

    Imposing of all these pressures and lawlessness state on workers, is rewarded by multi-thousand dollar bonuses and exotic foreign trips for high ranked managers and directors of Iran Khodro so that they can plan and prepare for harsher exploitation or workers and ravaging workers' rights.

    The Union of Metalworker and Mechanic Workers of Iran
    October 2013

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    In Defence of Human Rights in Iran



    On the occasion of 10th December 2013, the 65th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    10th December 2013

    "The campaign reminds us that in a world still reeling from the horrors of the Second World War, the declaration was the first global statement of what we now take for granted - the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings."

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

    Today, 10th December, marks the 65th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory to the Declaration, the reality of life in Iran today suggests that the Islamic Republic is merely paying lip service to its obligations rather than taking them seriously. Jamshid Ahmadi, CODIR's Assistant General Secretary reports.

    The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains thirty articles covering a wide range of issues designed to be "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", opening with the famous first sentence of Article 1,

    "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

    It would be easier to try and identify the few articles with which the Islamic Republic of Iran comes close to complying rather then enumerating those many articles it breeches. Nevertheless, a few examples serve to illustrate the gap between the aspirations of the UN Declaration and the reality of life in Iran.

    Article 19 of the Declaration reads as follows:-

    "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."

    Even a cursory knowledge of the recent range of press restrictions and crackdowns in relation to freedom of speech give the lie to the Islamic Republic putting this article into practice. The media is exclusively controlled by the regime and even slightest departure from the strict what is considered as acceptable is censored. Last month two newspapers were prevented publication even before they released their first issue.

    The right to freedom of opinion and expression is further undermined by the increasing filtering i.e. blocking of websites which are deemed to contain "immoral and anti-social content." According to the official news agency IRNA, the regime regards websites as more dangerous than satellite channels and reported the call from some quarters for the creation of a "cyber police".

    Article 23 (2) of the UN Declaration states,

    "Everyone without any discrimination has the right to equal pay for equal work."

    While Article 23 (4) of the Declaration states clearly that,

    "Everyone has the right to form and join trades unions for the protection of his interests."

    To say that both of these articles are more honoured in the breech than in the observance in Iran is a massive understatement.

    Sex discrimination is endemic in the Islamic Republic, from the inequality in pay for women; their status as possessions of men under the law; to the restrictions on women's dress which are regularly enforced.

    While women constitute the bulk of attendees at institutions of higher education, with more than 60% of registered students, the regime continuously enact stricter rules for admitting women to universities.

    The situation for trade unionists in Iran is no better. Prominent trades union leaders such as Reza Shahabi and Ali Nejati and scores of others have been imprisoned for daring to campaign for basic trade union rights. The arbitrary arrest and intimidation of activists remains commonplace in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Article 9 of the UN Declaration states that,

    "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."

    A flavour of the reality of life in Iran is given by the recent report published by Ahmed Shaeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. On 19th November 2013, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution concerning the human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran based on the reports of special rapporteurs and representatives. The resolution catalogues many instances of arbitrary arrest, detention and forcing into exile of dissidents and non-conformists. It refers to "the systemic targeting and harassment of human rights defenders who face arrest, arbitrary detention, long-term exile, and harsh sentences including death:". It also refers to "continued harassment, at times amounting to persecution, and human rights violations against persons belonging to recognised religious minorities, including, inter alia, Christians, Jews, Sufi Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and Zoroastrians and their defenders... ."

    On the 65th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights it is clear that our efforts to expose the violations of basic human dignities in the Islamic Republic of Iran must be redoubled. Freedoms taken for granted in other parts of the world continue to be routinely abused in Iran. The repression must stop; democracy and freedom for the people of Iran must remain our goal.

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    CODIR condemns execution of ethnic minority Arabs



    Press Release - For Immediate Use
    9th December 2013

    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has today condemned the execution of four members of the Arab minority in Iran. The four men had been sentenced to death on 15th August 2012 for the vaguely worded charges of "enmity against God" and "corruption on earth". The charges related to a series of shootings that had allegedly led to the deaths of a police officer and a soldier.

    The men all categorically denied any involvement in the shootings, saying their "confessions" had been obtained under torture and they had recanted them in court. However these claims of torture have not been investigated. Torture and ill treatment, particularly during pre-trial detention, are common in Iran and are committed with impunity.

    These executions are the latest in a long line of executions of political prisoners. Since September a number of political prisoners in Kurdistan and Baluchistan have also been executed.

    Following the election victory of Hassan Rouhani, who was elected on an allegedly reformist platform, atrocity and political execution in Iran has continued unabated. CODIR has made it clear previously, and repeats its view, that if Rouhani's reformist credentials are to have any currency he must stop such atrocities immediately.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the solidarity organisation's opposition to the death penalty stating,

    "CODIR has consistently campaigned against the death penalty in Iran. It is a punishment which is made even harder to take given the vagueness of the charges brought against many of those executed."

    CODIR has also stressed the inconsistency with Iranian law in the carrying out of the executions. Under Iranian law, lawyers must receive 48 hours' notification of any client's execution. However, the lawyer of at least one of the men has said he had not been told beforehand of the executions. In addition the families of the executed men were not told the exact date of the executions, either in advance or after they had taken place, and have been barred from holding memorial events.

    "These are the kinds of actions that keep Iran beyond the boundaries of international acceptability", continued Mr. Ahmadi. "All political detainees should have access to proper justice, access to a lawyer and independent defence council. The torture of victims under any pretext should cease. International pressure is always important to highlight the injustices of the Iranian regime and to expose their human rights abuses. That pressure must continue in this case."

    CODIR extends its sympathy and solidarity to the families of the four executed men, Ghazi Abbasi, Abdul-Reza Amir-Khanafereh, Abdul-Amir Mojaddami and Jasim Moghaddam Payam and pledges to continue its solidarity work to raise awareness of ongoing human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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    CODIR calls for the immediate release of all detained trade union activists and political prisoners!



    Statement on the position of jailed trade unionists and political prisoners in Iran
    2nd November 2013

    The recent House of Commons round table discussion, organised by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and chaired by Ben Wallace MP, co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Iran, is to be welcomed. The IFJ 'Free Iranian Journalists' campaign, which was the subject for the discussion, has raised important issues in relation to the plight of journalists inside Iran and the limitations upon freedom of expression imposed by the regime.

    The sensitivity of the leadership of the Islamic Republic to any criticism was underlined this week with the sentencing to 18 months in prison of actress Pegah Ahangarani, for the catch all "crime" of "action against national security and links to foreign media". The sentencing of Ahangarani is the latest in a long line of actions by the Rouhani regime which directly contradict the reformist rhetoric seized upon hopefully by many in the presidential election campaign earlier this year.

    The House of Commons meeting focussed upon the campaign of the IFJ on behalf of its affiliated body in Iran, the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ), to have its headquarters re-opened and for jailed journalists to be freed.

    Since the 2009 presidential elections, more than 160 journalists have been jailed and similar numbers have been forced to flee Iran. More than 30 newspapers and magazines have been banned.

    At present around twenty journalists remain in Iranian jails, some of them since 2009. Three have been released in recent days but all have completed their jail sentence. Like others speaking out in criticism of the regime, journalists are jailed because they are deemed to have "acted against national security". They continue to be subjected to inhuman treatment ranging from flogging to solitary confinement and denial of hospital and family visits.

    Two AoIJ board members remain in prison (Mr Rajaei and Mr Mogheseh) and two others are out on bail waiting for their appeal (the union's General Secretary Mrs. Badrossadat Mofide and its Vice-President Shamsolvaezin Mashaallah).

    Like many others the IFJ and are hopeful that the reformist noises being made by the Rouhani administration will translate into real progress on the ground. However, while there has been a collective sigh of relief internationally that the days of Ahmadinejad are over, the actions of Rouhani still fall a long way short of his reformist rhetoric when it comes to the domestic political agenda. In fact, for jailed trades unionists and opponents of the regime, it is more accurate to say that nothing has changed.

    CODIR has been campaigning with UK trade unions to reiterate the call for the release of trade unionist and prisoner of conscience, Mr. Reza Shahabi, the Treasury General of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Sherkat-e Vahed. A call has been made for the immediate release of Mr. Ali Nejati, the former leader of the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Company Trade Union, a prisoner of conscience, and Mohammad Tavakoli, Secretary of the Kermanshah Teachers' Guild Association.

    Recently leaders of the TUC, UNITE, UNISON and RMT unions signed a joint appeal from CODIR, calling on President Rouhani to end Iran's repression of trade unions by immediately and unconditionally releasing those in prison for their trade union work; dropping charges against others currently facing trial for several reasons; and ending the repressive measures which marginalise trade unions and their members.

    CODIR continues to press for President Rouhani, to sign and fully implement relevant international conventions and protocols, in particular ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the right to organise and the right to organise and collective bargaining.

    CODIR is emphatic in its call for the right of Iranian workers to belong to independent trade unions. The government should respect the independence of trade unions. CODIR does not recognise Islamic Labour Councils and the Workers House as legitimate trade union organisations as due to their functions and constitutions they are under the control of the government. The ILC's are ideologically oriented as they only permit those who believe in Islam to become involved in their activities. They are tripartite organisations with the involvement of the Ministry of Labour and employers in their structures.

    CODIR is clear that support from trade unions and MPs in the UK sends a signal to the regime that the people of the UK care about their brothers and sisters in Iran.

    However, CODIR stresses that many prisoners remain behind bars in Iran, simply for standing up for human rights, women's rights and trades union organisation.

    CODIR is committed to campaigning for the release of all political prisoners in Iran and will continue to work with political, trade union and human rights organisations to apply pressure upon the government in Iran until this happens.

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    'Release Reza Shahabi now!' says CODIR



    CODIR supports the call by the family of the imprisoned trade union leader for his release from Evin Prison.
    31st October 2013

    CODIR has consistently supported the international campaign for the release of Reza Shahabi, the imprisoned executive member of the Tehran Bus Workers' Union. Mr Shahabi's only crime has been to bravely and tirelessly work to defend the right of his fellow workers to organise as a trade union and to protect their wages, conditions and livelihoods. After more than three years in Evin's notorious cells, Mr Shahabi's health has been badly damaged and he needs medical treatment urgently. Below is an open letter written by his family demanding his immediate release. CODIR wholeheartedly supports their campaign and calls on its members, affiliated organisations and the trade union movement to do likewise.

    Reza Shahabi's family demands his freedom to prevent his paralysis!

    Copied to workers, workers' organizations, the media, government and judicial officials

    Workers, labor organizations and all people of conscious!

    As you are all aware, Reza Shahabi, a transit worker and a member of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, has been incarcerated in Tehran's Evin Prison since June 12, 2010, only because of his advocacy for workers' rights and supporting the demands of his fellow workers.

    During these years of unjust imprisonment, Reza has suffered from an array of health problems, including but not limited to: decaying of a few lower vertebrates, problems with back and neck disks, liver and kidney complications, numbness of feet and hands, heart issues and dental problems. Because of such amalgamation of health issues, a cervical spine operation was performed on Reza in July 2012, but despite his physicians' recommendations for further hospital care and physiotherapy, he was returned to his cell, which has further caused many problems.

    After close to three and half years of incarceration, the coroner has examined Reza's conditions inside Evin prison, and based on an MRI scan has determined that three lower vertebrates have been damaged and are in need of immediate surgery in a hospital. It should be noted that Reza has been suffering from lower back pain for months, his left foot becoming almost paralyzed as a result, with very little mobility left in it.

    Due to numbness of left foot and severe back pain, on October 19, 2013, Reza was transferred to "Imam Khomeini Hospital". After all examinations, physicians have once again recommended that Reza is in no condition to be returned to a prison environment, and is in need of hydrotherapy and physiotherapy in a stress free environment outside of prison. They have also warned that unless such treatments are provided there is a very high possibility that his entire left side could be paralyzed.

    We, the family of Reza Shahabi, his wife and two children, declare that based on doctors' recommendations, Reza cannot endure prison conditions at all and must be released immediately. We hold security and judiciary officials responsible for Reza's severe condition. We ask all labor organizations and activists in Iran and around the world to continue protesting against Reza's prolonged incarceration.

    Signed by: Robabeh Rezaie (Spouse), Mohammad Amin Shahabi (son) and Shirin Shahabi (daughter)

    Published by Reza Shahabi Defence Committee- October 23, 2013

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    CODIR condemns imprisonment of Iranian actress


    Press Release
    31st October2013
    For Immediate Use

    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has today condemned the sentencing in Iran this week of 24 year old actress, Pegah Ahangarani, to 18 months in jail for the alleged and baseless crime of "action against national security and links to foreign media".

    Ahangarani, has appeared in around 20 films and has been detained twice since the protests in 2009 over the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, although she was released without charges.

    Following the recent election victory of Hassan Rouhani, who was elected on an allegedly reformist platform, Ms. Ahangarani asked him at a public meeting to appoint a culture minister who would be able to deliver promises on "freedom of thought and expression."

    Since 2011 Ms. Ahangarani has been banned from travelling abroad indicating that the authorities have not been comfortable with her activism. The election of Rouhani has not changed this position. Indeed, there is no evidence that Ahangarani has been engaged in any "action against national security" or that she has "links to foreign media" over and above those which would be commensurate with her profession.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the importance of the international arts community taking up Ahangarani's case.

    "International pressure is always important to highlight the injustices of the Iranian regime and to expose their human rights abuses", said Mr. Ahmadi. "In this instance it is particularly critical as many artists in Iran feel pressured to keep silent on Ms. Ahangarani's case, as they fear that speaking out will subject them to the same fate."

    CODIR has contacted the key media unions in the UK including the NUJ, BECTU and EQUITY urging them to raise the case of Ms Ahangarani with the Iranian government.

    "The 18 month jail sentence appears to be an attempt to gag Ms. Ahangarani and intimidate the wider arts community into silence, hardly the agenda of a reformist presidency", said Mr Ahmadi, "Pressure from the trades union movement in the UK and internationally is vital if we are to get this decision reversed and we are doing all in our power to make them aware of this case."

    The Chicago Film Festival is currently showing Ahangarani's latest film, Darband, about a female university student who becomes the roommate of a young woman wrestling with financial problems.

    BECTU, the independent trade union for those working in broadcasting, film, theatre, entertainment, leisure, interactive media and allied areas , has already supported CODIR's campaign. Please refer to the following link:http://www.bectu.org.uk/news/2047


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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    CODIR is concerned about the plight of girls in Iran under theocracy


    Jane Green
    Legalised paedophilia in Iran condemned The rights of women and girls in Iran continues to be an area of debate and disagreement. While the Rouhani regime continues to try and promote a more positive image internationally Jane Green highlights domestic legislation that continues to show the reactionary nature of life in Iran.
    13th October 2013

    On the 11th October the United Nations celebrated the day of the girl in an attempt to highlight the position of girls across the world and to improve their rights.

    In the Islamic Republic of Iran however the day was marked by the the Guardian Council of the regime approving a bill passed by Iran's Majlis or parliament for the "protection" of children and young people. The bill controversially contains a clause which allows men to marry their adopted daughters with the permission of a court. While the law applies to both male and female adoptive parents or children, given the patriarchal nature of the Islamic Republic, it is most likely that it will be used in the case of girls rather than boys.

    Ironically, the bill had previously been denied and sent back for review because it had originally banned the marriage of step-fathers and their adopted daughters. The Guardian Council found this to be in contradiction with Islamic Sharia law. Opposition groups have condemned the bill as legalised paedophilia, calling for the law to be revoked and for international pressure to be brought to bear upon the government of Iran.

    The abuse of the rights of women and girls is a constant concern under the regime of the Islamic Republic. The catalogue of discriminatory laws and practices against women and girls is a long one. The age of marriage for girls is 13 years old, although it is possible before that age, provided the court and the father decide so. The age of criminal responsibility for girls is only nine years old. Girls have to wear the hejab at an ever-earlier age, supposedly to protect them from lustful eyes.

    A statement by Salaar Moradi, an MP who sits on the Social Committee of the parliament betrays the sentiments behind the bill. Moradi stated that, "An adopted child is not the same as [one's own] child. The religious teaching allows a guardian to marry his adopted daughter". Furthermore said Moradi, "When a girl enters a family, she becomes Na Mahram (non-familial) when she reaches puberty, unless the oath of making Mahram, or marriage is taken".

    Inside Iran, Shiva Dolatabadi, head of Iran's society for protecting children's rights, has warned that the bill implies that the parliament is legalising incest. "You cannot open a way in which the role of a father or a mother can be mixed with that of a spouse," she said. "Children can't be safe in such a family."

    In the UK the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) have spoken out against the new law. Assistant Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, made clear the need for action stating,

    "This outrageous bill must be condemned as vociferously as possible. Girls must be protected from potentially being exposed to such damaging abuse. The Iranian government's efforts to portray a moderate image, internationally, should not divert attention from the severe violation of human and democratic rights of the most vulnerable individuals, in domestic policy. Such measures demand an outcry to stop the introduction of new laws that may lead to the destruction of young lives."

    At a time that the president of the Islamic Republic is trying to promote himself as a symbol of moderation and decency, the new law exposes the reality of life in Iran for a huge section of the population.

    If Rouhani is willing to be accepted as a moderate and a different type of leader in the "reformed" Islamic Republic then legislation of this character must be reversed. Iran cannot operate an internal policy so incompatible with the norms of behaviour at the beginning of the 21st Century.

    Jane Green is National Campaigns Officer of CODIR (Committee for Defence of Iranian People's Rights), Iranian solidarity organisation, www.codir.net. For all enquiries please contact: codir_info@btinternet.com

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    TUC recognition for CODIR solidarity work


    Press Release
    27th September 2013
    For Immediate Use

    The Trades Union Congress this month acknowledged the key role played by the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) in raising awareness about the repression of trade unionists in Iran.

    In a keynote speech in the international debate Alex Gordon, a leading member and former President of the RMT union, referred to key campaigns which CODIR has brought to the attention of the trade union movement in the UK and stressed the importance of action arising from this work.

    Mr Gordon noted that,

    "...last month leaders of the TUC, UNITE, UNISON and my union RMT signed a joint appeal from the Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights calling on the new President-elect in Iran, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, to end Iran's repression of trade unions by immediately and unconditionally releasing those in prison for their trade union work; dropping charges against others currently facing trial for several reasons; and ending of the repressive measures which marginalise trade unions and their members."

    Mr Gordon urged the TUC to remember the call it had made in 2012 to seek the release of a number of high profile trade union activists noting,

    "...(at) this TUC conference we must reiterate the call made last year for the release of trade unionist and prisoner of conscience, Mr. Reza Shahabi, the Treasury General of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Sherkat-e Vahed. We should also call for the immediate release of Mr. Ali Nejati, the former leader of the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Company Trade Union, a prisoner of conscience, and Mohammad Tavakoli, Secretary of the Kermanshah Teachers' Guild Association."

    Mr Gordon also drew attention to the fact that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the massacre of 5,000 people by the Iranian regime in 1988, an event which has still to gain international recognition as a war crime and one in which CODIR has played a key role in keeping on the international agenda.

    In concluding his address Alex Gordon called upon the delegates to continue to apply pressure to the Iranian regime and not to take the liberal noises coming from Tehran at face value. Suggesting that actions speak louder than words Mr Gordon urged that,

    "The TUC should echo the call to the new President Rouhani, to sign and fully implement relevant international conventions and protocols, in particular ILO Convention 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the right to organise and the right to organise and collective bargaining."

    CODIR has been leading the campaign in the UK to highlight trade union and human rights abuses in Iran for over 30 years and continues to urge that the pressure exerted upon the Iranian regime over a long period continues.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, welcomed the positive response of the TUC, and UK trade unions more widely, to campaigns to support unjustly imprisoned trade unionists in Iran.

    "Clearly support at this level sends a signal to the regime in Iran that the people of the UK care about their brothers and sisters in Iran", said Mr Ahmadi, "but we should be clear that many prisoners remain behind bars in Iran, simply for standing up for human rights, women's rights and trades union organisation. We await their release and will continue to apply pressure upon the government in Iran until this happens."

    CODIR will continue to campaign in the UK and work with human rights organisations worldwide to raise awareness about human rights abuses in Iran and press for democratic rights for the Iranian people.


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Solidarity organisation welcomes prisoner release


    Press Release
    19th September 2013
    For Immediate Use

    The release of human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and others unjustly incarcerated by the Iranian regime was welcomed today by the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian Rights (CODIR).

    CODIR has been leading the campaign in the UK to highlight human rights abuses in Iran for over 30 years and attributes the release of Sotoudeh, along with eleven other prisoners of conscience, to the ongoing pressure upon the Iranian regime exerted by the international community over a long period.

    Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to six years in prison in September 2010 for "spreading propaganda against the system" and "acting against national security", catch all charges which the regime in Iran has routinely used to suppress the views of those prepared to be critical of the regime's human rights record.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, welcomed the news of the prisoner release but stressed that the regime's reformist credentials would depend on much more being done to address serious abuses of human rights in he country.

    "Clearly any prisoner release in Iran is to be welcomed", said Mr Ahmadi, "but we should be clear that one swallow does not make a summer. Many more prisoners remain behind bars in Iran, simply for standing up for human rights, women's rights and trade union organisation. We still await the release of Reza Shabi (trade union leader), Ms. Bahareh Hedayat (student leader) and many others languishing in the appalling conditions in Iran's jails."

    CODIR has stressed that the timing of the prisoner release has clearly been significant, coinciding with the imminent visit of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations in New York, thereby maximising international publicity.

    "The Iranian regime is not beyond using these prisoner releases for its own purposes," continued Mr Ahmadi. "While we celebrate the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh and others we should take the opportunity to increase the pressure upon the regime which has led to their release and press the Iranian government to abolish the policies which give rise to these injustices."

    CODIR will continue to campaign in the UK and work with human rights organisations worldwide to raise awareness about human rights abuses in Iran, release of all political prisoners and press for democratic rights for the Iranian people.


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Amnesty International: End human and democratic rights abuses in Iran now!


    Drewrey Dyke, Amnesty International's expert on Iran, talks to Iran Today about the human rights situation in Iran and why it is vital that the campaign for an end to the abuse of all basic rights in the country should be continued and widened.

    Iran Today: What is your evaluation of the current human rights situation in Iran?

    D. Dyke: While very poor for three decades, the human rights situation entered into a downward spiral in the run up to, and after the disputed, June 2009 presidential elections. The last four year term of office of the now former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was marked by ever more executions; over 600 in 2012 alone; routine reports of ill treatment and torture in pre-trial detention and a denial of full access to legal representation from the time of arrest. These instances often preceded unfair trials, often based on politically-motivated criminal charges which were invariably, vaguely-worded accusations for alleged actions that, on many occasions, do not have any basis in international criminal law. Scores of prisoners of conscience were arrested and convicted; at least tens if not scores languishing in prison today, though it is impossible to know with any certainty, the exact numbers.

    Discriminatory practices against Iran's religious and ethnic minorities over the past eight years have been as prevalent as has ever been recorded by the organisation and many of today's prisoners, like Mohammad Kaboudvand, a Kurdish journalist and head of the Human Rights Organisation of Kurdistan, a proscribed organisation in Iran, are human rights and/or minority rights advocates. NGOs like the Committee of Human Rights Reporters have been forcibly closed and its members repressed, while lawyers, like Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prisoner of conscience, was unfairly jailed for 11 years, merely for doing her job.

    The trades union movement has been marginalised in law in recent decades. In the last eight years, unofficial but tolerated workers' bodies, such as bus drivers in Tehran, sugar factory workers in Iran's southwest; and teachers' bodies have been broken up and their members detained.

    Student activists have been amongst the first to face repression in the last four years. They were amongst the most engaged sectors of society during the 2009 election. Zia Nabavi was arrested in June 2009 and remains in jail to this day, unfairly convicted to a ten year prison term on politically-motivated charges. . He was a member of the Council to Defend the Right to Education, a body set up in 2009 by students barred from further study because of their political activities or on account of their being Baha'is.

    That said, in recent years Iranians, have faced unrest in some of the country's peripheral regions, where armed groups opposed to the government or armed drug traffickers have engaged border guards or other security officials while the ever-present threat of an armed intervention over Iran's nuclear programme is a source of concern.

    While the evidence is limited and mixed, there appears to be grounds for concern that the international sanctions regime may be impacting on the Iranian peoples' ability to enjoy their human rights too. We cannot examine this, though, since we have not been allowed into Iran for research since 1979.

    There is a United Nations 'special rapporteur' on the human rights situation in Iran and we believe, with good reason. Whether and how the new, Rouhani government engages with him, with organisations like Amnesty International and other international human rights bodies will be an important litmus test for the future direction of human rights in Iran. More immediately, however, is the question of how the new government will deal with Iran's student body and academics. All of the student bodies forcibly closed in recent years should be allowed to re-open; all the students suspended or expelled for reasons of their peaceful actives or on account of their opinions or beliefs should be allowed to return to their universities in the coming academic year. Banned student publications should be allowed to re-start, where the closure related to maters of expression or identity. And academics sacked for who they are or what they think should be allowed to return to their posts.

    Iran Today: Do you have reliable information about the past and present treatment of political prisoners in Iran?

    D. Dyke: Sadly, the treatment meted out to political prisoners has been appalling; the documentation about it is copious. Thousands faced torture and executions in the years just after the 1979 revolution; opposition was largely muted during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, but in 1988-9, many thousands of already or newly detained prisoners who had already faced grossly unfair trials were then made to face three-person 'death commissions' that could have prisoners executed if they answered questions relating to their political opinion 'incorrectly'.

    The killings came to be known as the 'prison massacres', no one has ever been held to account for the mass and generalised nature of the systematic killing of many thousands of prisoners.

    In the 1990s to today, activists have faced brutal torture. Student demonstrator Ahmad Batebi was repeatedly beaten and had his held down a toilet as a form of torture following his arrest during largely peaceful student demonstrations in 1999.

    In 2009, political activists, including members of former president Mohammad Khatami's government faced ill treatment and forced, televised 'confessions'. All the while, more and more evidence, both old and new, has been emerging.

    The new government has simply got to put an end to this cycle. The conduct of the security forces has got to put respect for human dignity and human rights at the core of its operating policies, like all such bodies everywhere.

    Iran Today: What action has Amnesty International taken in respect of human and democratic rights abuses in Iran during the presidency of Ahmadinejad and what, if any, have been the outcomes? Is Amnesty International currently campaigning in defence of workers' rights and those of trade unionists targeted by the regime?

    D. Dyke: Amnesty International reports and documents human rights violations; and its membership engages in campaigns against them.

    Between 2005-2008 Amnesty International issued three in-depth reports on the treatment of Iran's Ahwazi Arab, Baluchi and Kurdish minorities, respectively. Others planned for the following year were discontinued on account of the impact of the presidential election in 2009.

    That same year - 2009, then 2010 and 2011, we issued in-depth reports on violations arising from the 2009 election, while in 2012, we issued an in-depth report on the expanding use of the death penalty, including for drug trafficking. Smaller reports on stoning and trade union rights were also issued.

    We have called upon the movement's members to take up tens of cases, both for long term campaigning, such as those imprisoned after the 2009 presidential election, but also for urgent appeals, to try and save the lives of those facing the death penalty or torture.

    In recent years, it has been difficult to discern positive outcomes, but they are evidenced in how some cases are handled by the authorities, in temporary releases, short term reprieves but more often the highly defensive way in which officials talk about human rights in Iran.

    Amnesty International believes that workers rights are human rights. Members have repeatedly campaigned on behalf of trades union activists who have been detained or imprisoned, including members of the bus drivers' union in Tehran, known as Sherkat-e Vahed; or sugar refinery workers at the Haft Tappeh facility. In recent months we have campaigned for bus driver Reza Shahabi and assisted former bus driving union board member, Mansour Ossanlu, who has now left Iran with his wife. We will assist him as he makes a new life outside of Iran.

    Iran Today: There are many reports of the use of psychological torture against political detainees in Iran. What has been the international reaction to these reports? Can the Iranian regime use forced confessions as the basis for sentencing those accused?

    D. Dyke: The international community has shown its revulsion over the many accounts of torture and ill treatment in Iran. United Nations human rights bodies have repeatedly called for this to stop; as have organisations like Amnesty International and countless numbers of Iranians themselves.

    Forced 'confessions' have no standing in law. They show only the bankruptcy of a system intent on imprisoning dissidents or those seen as opponents. Despite good levels of education and professionalism amongst many in Iran's judicial community, the continued use of such measures is a further insult to the dignity of all Iranians.

    One way to help limit the use of such practices would be to allow those arrested full access to a lawyer of their choice from the time of arrest. A global practice, it is not allowed under current Iranian law.

    That said, it could end tomorrow, if there was a clear and unambiguous directive from the Head of the Judiciary or The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamene'i, ordering its halt.

    Iran Today: On 4th August 2013, President Hassan Rouhani, Iran's new president, formally started his term of office. What does Amnesty International consider to be the main challenges confronting him and what are the key and immediate steps that his government should take to improve its human rights record?

    D. Dyke: The appointment of the new president is an opportunity for the leadership of the country, as a whole, to re-evaluate its policies and practices. President Hasan Rouhani obtained a strong majority for his campaign, in which he made a number of pledges to improve Iran's dire human rights record. The heads of Iran's judiciary, legislature and security bodies must taken heed of this mandate for change.

    Both before and after the election, President Rouhani has been critical of gender segregation in educational facilities; emphasized the importance of freedom of expression, including by criticising internet restrictions, and the need to allow government criticism to make way for true progress.

    He has talked about drafting a 'civil rights charter', which calls for equality for all citizens without discrimination based on race, religion or sex. It also calls for greater freedom for political parties and minorities, as well as ensuring the right to fair trial, freedom of assembly and legal protection for all.

    Proposed draft bills on women; about establishing the country's first Ministry of Women, and ensuring gender equality, including in relation to job opportunities would be welcome - if he is able to deliver on such promises.

    Next month, when university campuses open, the government will face perhaps its first human rights challenge: campuses should again become centres of debate and discussion and learning, in an atmosphere in which individuals' opinions should not be tolerated but celebrated. In other words, the government must protect the right to education and academic freedom.

    In the 'agenda for change' that Amnesty International recently issued the organisation set out a range of areas where progress is needed. They include eliminating discrimination on any grounds; reforming the justice system; eradicating torture and ill treatment; ending impunity, tasking measures to end the death penalty; ensuring the full realization of economic social and cultural rights and cooperate with UN mechanisms.

    If the government seriously tackles these issues, one by one, it would represent a sea-change in government conduct.

    Iran Today: The treatment of women by the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a major concern of those following developments in Iran. Considering what we know of Hassan Rouhani's plans, are you optimistic that there will be a significant and measurable improvement?

    D. Dyke: The powers of the president are limited. But his own conduct and that of his government; and others that he has the power to appoint, such as university administrators, will be in a position to change the context in which women exercise their rights in society.

    Whether the president can bring about the legal changes in the status of women that would represent significant and measurable improvements remains to be seen. That he has made this a priority for the government is encouraging, but we must all remain realistic about what he can achieve.

    Iran Today: What can western governments do to support the recognition in Iran of genuine rights and freedoms, including the freedom to form trade unions, freedom of expression and the right to be treated equally irrespective of gender, political opinions and religious or other beliefs?

    D. Dyke:The international community should welcome the stated direction of the government but also insist that only concrete action can bring about concrete change, such as a change in the level of international scrutiny or opprobrium. We look to the global south, along with European and other nations, to encourage Iran to bring about the changes that the Iranian people have waited decades to see, so that Iran resumes its rightful place in the global community of nations.

    Iran Today: The number of executions, including the execution of minors, is very high in Iran. How best can public opinion internationally put pressure on the regime in Tehran to stop these executions and ban the death penalty?

    D. Dyke: Global public opinion resonates in Iran. It always has done, even if in recent years, the effects have been difficult to discern.

    We would urge activists across the world to join with Amnesty International and other human rights bodies, including many Iranian bodies, in expressing their concern not just about the about the death penalty in and of itself, but also how it is used, the procedural guarantees of those on trial.

    We believe that human rights permeate every facet of life. Consequently, we look to artists and writers; salaried office workers and government officials; factory workers and labourers to look to their own consciences; to ask how they can better respect human rights in their everyday work, with the people they come across.

    It is about respect and recognition, not least the recognition of the inherent dignity of the person before you and of life itself. We think that if we can convey this change of outlook to the Iranian people, then change will happen. Why? Since people who put human rights first are people who will have no truck with tyranny.

    Iran Today: What does Amnesty International consider as a minimum programme on human rights improvement to be achieved by Rouhani if his claim to moderation and fairness is to be taken seriously?

    D. Dyke:The minimum that the government can do is live up to what it said it will do. Iran is a state party to a range of international human rights treaties that envision much of what I have talked about here. On the one hand, it is not rocket science; on the other, by merely adhering to them now would represent a near-existential threat for many of the powerful in Iran; those with vested interests.

    We are looking to the government to persuade and cajole such entrenched interest groups that there is, in reality, no other way, and that by adhering to international human rights standards, they are strengthening the country, not weakening it.

    Iran Today: What are the main ways in which CODIR and Amnesty International might in future work together to secure and improve the rights of the people of Iran?

    D. Dyke: There are a variety of areas and ways in which CODIR and Amnesty International can cooperate. Above all, let us champion the human rights of the Iranian people, by speaking out against violations in the country. In this, every voice counts. Let us come together where and when it makes sense, to actively campaign on specific causes and cases, where we can have an impact, or where our voices can make a difference.

    Published in Iran Today, Volume 25, Issue No. 2, September 2013

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    Massacre of Iranian opposition in 1988 - International recognition long overdue


    This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the massacre of opposition activists by the Iranian government, following the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988. Jane Green for Iran Today looks back over the period and highlights current action which may break the deadlock over this issue.
    31st August 2013

    Once the news of the killings in 1988 was out of Iran CODIR was to the forefront in organising protest against the massacres, lobbying the UK government and demanding that pressure be put upon the government of Iran. CODIR has consistently pressed for the massacre of almost 5,000 Iranian political prisoners to be recognised as a crime against humanity under international law.

    Numbered among the dead were leaders, members and supporters of the Iranian People's Mojahedin Organisation, the Tudeh Party of Iran, the People's Fedaian (Majority) and the Organisation of Raheh-Kargar. Many of those executed were serving prison sentences which had expired many years earlier.

    Others appear to have had little more than summary trials, followed by summary execution and burial in unknown destinations with unmarked graves. Any clear, consistent or internationally recognised judicial process appears to have been bypassed entirely, hence the demands for recognition of the executions as crimes against humanity and the Iranian government to be brought to justice.

    In co-ordinating a lobby of the UK Parliament, in May 1989, CODIR pointed out that the information regarding the massacres had been confirmed in reports published by Amnesty International in December 1988 and February1989. In its Spring1989 issue of Iran Today the editorial quoted then president, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who said on 3rd December 1988, "These are human beings whose only remedy is repression. We must crack down on them."

    Rafsanjani may have made efforts to re-invent himself as a moderate in recent years but his endorsement of the massacre of opposition leaders is clear.

    Between January and May 1989 Amnesty international reported over 900 executions in Iran for alleged criminal offences but the deaths appear to have been a continuation of the purge of the opposition initiated in July 1988.

    Through the pages of Iran Today the reports of the Special Representative of the United Nations on human rights in Iran, Professor Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, who visited Iran twice in 1990, were given wide publicity. Prof. Pohl is unambiguous in his conclusion that, "...human rights violations occur frequently in the country and...government action...has not been sufficient to put an end to them."

    Tragically, 25 years since the massacre of the opposition and 23 years since the reports of Prof. Pohl the situation for those opposed to the government has shown little, if any, improvement. Arrest, intimidation, torture and execution are still all too common and a constant threat to the lives of those who speak out against the regime.

    It is fitting therefore that in the year of the 25th anniversary of the executions CODIR has been able to welcome the Canadian government's recognition of the massacre of almost 5,000 Iranian political prisoners as being a crime against humanity.

    The Canadian parliament acknowledged the massacre as a crime under international law at the beginning of June 2013. The Canadian government is the first to accord this status and CODIR has called upon the UK and other EU governments to follow suit and add to the pressure upon the Iranian government.

    Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, stated that the Iranian regime must get the message that this condemnation will only be the first of many from the international community.

    "It is simply not acceptable for this crime to have been ignored by the Iranian government for so long and for the international community not to have demanded action. We welcome the stand taken by the Canadian parliament and look forward to other government's following the same path", he stated.

    The Canadian position follows on from the findings of the Iran Tribunal, set up in 2007 by families of those executed by the regime and former political prisoners, to investigate crimes committed by the Iranian government. The tribunal published its final judgement on the 5th February 2013 after taking evidence from almost 100 witnesses.

    The verdict of the Tribunal indicates that:

    • The Islamic Republic of Iran has committed crimes against humanity in the 1980- 1989 periods against its own citizens in violation of applicable international laws;
    • The Islamic Republic of Iran bears absolute responsibility for the gross violations of human rights against its citizens under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; and,
    • Customary International law holds the Islamic Republic of Iran fully accountable for its systematic and widespread commission of crimes against humanity in Iran in the 1980-1989 period.

    CODIR has welcomed the position of the Canadian government as one which supports the demands of the Iranian people, rather than seeks to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran.

    "Given the unjustified campaign of international sanctions against Iran, which are not supported by the people of Iran, it is good to see practical support for a demand which is in the Iranian people's interests," said Mr Ahmadi.

    With the election of a new president, Hassan Rouhani, and talk of a new relationship with the West, the Iranian government's response to the pressure to acknowledge the massacres could be a litmus test of its attitude towards human rights in the Islamic Republic.

    As it stands there has been no full list of the names of all victims of the atrocities published. There has been no clear explanation of the judicial processes which resulted in death sentences and who ordered the executions. There is no clear picture of where and when many of the victims were buried.

    For 25 years the families of the victims of this crime have been seeking justice, pressing their case with governments and international bodies, in the first instance to have the massacres recognised as crimes against humanity.

    CODIR will continue to maintain its pressure upon the UK government and international bodies, especially the United Nations, to build upon the position taken by the parliament in Canada. The momentum to press home this breakthrough must be sustained until a proper investigation into the 1988 massacres is ordered and the families of victims have justice.

    Published in Iran Today, Volume 25, Issue No. 2, September 2013

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    Call for the opening of a new chapter in the treatment of trade unions in Iran


    Joint Appeal
    1st August 2013

    Iran has announced that the inauguration of the new President, Dr Hassan Rouhani, will take place on 4 August 2013. For the first time in the life of the Islamic Republic, Iran has invited leaders and dignitaries from across the world, including the UK, to attend its presidential inauguration ceremony as international guests. We hope this welcome will be matched by an improvement in Iran's respect for its international obligations.

    We the undersigned, as representatives of national and international organisations concerned with trade union, human and democratic rights, have long been calling on the Iranian authorities to recognise and respect the fundamental right to form and belong to independent trade unions and to engage in trade union activities as specified under the terms of international labour conventions. We believe that genuine and independent trade unions are one of the cornerstones of modern democratic societies and serve as reliable vehicles for ensuring popular sovereignty, progress, stability and social justice.

    We who have been concerned about the fate of trade unions and trade unionists in Iran for many years would like now to call upon President-elect, Dr Hassan Rouhani, to use his inauguration to make a commitment that Iran will turn over a new leaf in respect of human and trade union rights during his presidency.

    We urge the Iranian authorities to end the repression of trade unionists by immediately and unconditionally releasing those imprisoned for their trade union work, dropping charges against others currently facing trial for similar reasons, and ending other repressive measures which marginalize trade unions and their members. In particular, we call for the release of trade unionist and prisoner of conscience, Mr. Reza Shahabi, Treasurer General of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) and trade unionist and prisoner of conscience, Mr. Ali Nejati, the former leader of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company (HTSCC) Trade Union.

    We also call on the new President to commit to signing and fully implementing the terms of relevant international conventions and protocols and, in particular, International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions 87 and 98: the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (1948); and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (1949).

    Signed by:

    - TUC (Head of European Union and International Relations, Owen Tudor)
    - UNITE (General Secretary, Len McCluskey)
    - UNISON (General Secretary, Dave Prentis)
    - RMT (General Secretary, Bob Crow)
    - Pancyprian Labour Federation (PEO- Cyprus) (International Secretary, Pieris Pieri)
    - ICTUR (Executive Secretary, Daniel Blackburn)
    - Amnesty International (AI UK Trade Union Campaigns Manager and AI Global Trade Union Adviser, Shane Enright)
    - CODIR (General Secretary, Noel Harris)

    Thursday 1st August 2013

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    Embargo until 00.01hrs 2nd August 2013


    Press Release
    1st August 2013
    International campaigners call on new president of Iran to end trade union repression

    Before the ink dries on the documents confirming Hassan Rouhani as the new president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, representatives of trade union and human rights organisations are calling on him to demonstrate that his approach will break with the past by freeing all trade union leaders imprisoned in Iran and legalising the work of independent trade unions in the country.

    Rouhani's confirmation ceremony will take place this Sunday, 4th August and the Iranian regime is looking to use the opportunity to raise its profile in the international arena. For the first time in the life of the Islamic Republic, Iran has invited leaders and dignitaries from across the world to attend its presidential inauguration ceremony as international guests. Activists are hoping that this welcome will be matched by an improvement in Iran's respect for its international obligations.

    Noel Harris, General Secretary of the British based solidarity organisation, CODIR, highlighted the significance of the joint appeal entitled: "Call for the opening of a new chapter in the treatment of trade unions in Iran". He welcomed the range of organisations which have signed up to the appeal and the widespread desire to keep the pressure on the Iranian government for its human rights violations.

    "By signing this appeal, trade unionists are sending out internationally a clear signal to the Iranian government. That message is that action to tackle human rights abuses and the persecution of trade union activists is more vital than words and posturing," said Mr. Harris.

    "The media have tried to emphasise the positives in Rouhani's election by highlighting his carefully-worded statements designed deliberately to hint at reformist intentions. Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Until trade unionists and labour activists in Iran can operate in accordance with accepted International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, we cannot accept that the regime has made any significant change."

    Jane Green, National Campaign Organiser for CODIR added,

    "Fear of arrest, intimidation and imprisonment is the everyday reality for trade unionists in Iran at present. All signatories to the appeal are united in their condemnation of the Islamic Republic's track record on the suppression of trade union activity and human rights in general. The appeal calls on the President Elect to end the repression of trade unions by immediately and unconditionally releasing those imprisoned for their trade union work, dropping charges against others currently facing trial for similar reasons and ending other repressive measures which marginalise trade unions and their members."

    CODIR's call for action has brought together major UK trade unions including the TUC, UNITE, UNISON and the RMT, as well as the Pancyprian Labour Federation, Amnesty International and the International Centre for Trades Union Rights (ICTUR).


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Mothers appeal for clemency for sons


    Press Release
    26th July 2013
    For Immediate Use

    Before the ink is even dry on the confirmation of Hassan Rouhani as the new president of Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to carry out barbaric and meaningless executions.

    In a joint letter to the people of the world, the mothers of four Arab youths, inmates in Shadegan prison on death row, have requested that the people of the world do all they can to force the Iranian government to stop the execution of their sons. The following are excerpts from their letter, which was provided to the Abroad Activists Peace Campaign.

    "After four years of crying, last week we received news of the death warrants confirmed for our young sons: Ghazi Abasi, born in 1982; Abdolreza Amir Khanav, born in 1987; Abdolamir Majdami, born in 1980; and Jasem Mogaddam Payam, born in 1985. They were charged as "combatant" and "corrupt on earth", and received the death sentence.

    From the time of their arrest until the day of their formal court hearing, without any knowledge of their location, our sons have suffered severe physical and psychological torture at the Ahwaz's Security Office. They were forced to admit to fabricated charges, written in a language different from their own.

    With this letter, we request the urgent assistance of all men and women in the world, to prevent the execution of our sons. We are grateful for your assistance."

    Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant general Secretary of the British based solidarity organisation, CODIR, condemned the regime's decision to go ahead with these executions, stating, "By threatening to execute these four innocent young people the Iranian regime is sending the wrong signal both to the Iranian people and to world public opinion. This comes just 10 days before the inauguration of the new president Rouhani. Iran holds the world record for the number of executions taking place in the country. The new president should add Iran to the list of countries where the death penalty is abolished."


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Solidarity group calls for urgent action over prisoner's death


    Press Release
    27th June 2013
    For Immediate Use

    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has today called for urgent action to protest at the death in custody of Iranian trade unionist Ashfin Osanloo.

    Authorities inside Iran claim that Osanloo died following a heart attack on the 20th June in the Rajai-Shahr prison in the city of Karaj. Suspicions around the cause of death have been aroused as Osanloo, formerly imprisoned in the Evin prison in Tehran, left there in relatively good health in June 2012. He has been imprisoned since December 2010, being sentenced in May 2011 on charges of "propagating against the state" and "acting against national security". Osanloo was held for an initial five months in solitary confinement, without access to a lawyer and was subject to repeated beatings and torture.

    In spite of this, at the time of his death Afshin's sister emphasised in an interview, that he did not have any health problems. Rajai Shahr is a notorious high security prison in which there have been numerous questionable deaths of political prisoners in the past few years.

    Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, emphasised the need for the plight of political prisoners to be highlighted and for trade unions in particular to show solidarity with those imprisoned.

    "We have heard much about hopes for reform since the presidential election in Iran recently," said Mr. Ahmadi, "but the real measure of reform in Iran will be the unconditional release of political prisoners and trade unionists who have done nothing but carry out their legitimate trade union activity. If the election of Hassan Rouhani is to make a difference we should see no more deaths in custody like that of Afshin Osanloo."

    Friends and former cell mates of Osanloo in ward 350 of Evin prison, who were witness to the pain and suffering he was subjected to, have sent a message of condolences to his family and stress that they hope "not to ever see such tragedies again in the future".

    Afshin Osanloo was 42 years old. He was a younger brother of Mansour Osanloo, the former president of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company. Mansour Osanloo left Iran a few months ago after years of imprisonment.

    CODIR is urging messages of protest to be sent to the Iranian leadership to both Ayotollah Ali Khamenei and president elect Hassan Rouhani calling for,

    • a full independent investigation in to the death of Afshin Osanloo;
    • the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

    Messages should be addressed to:-

    Leader of the Islamic Republic
    Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
    Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
    Email: info_leader@leader.ir


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Change or more of the same?


    What can the new president deliver? An assessment the potential for reform in post election Iran
    23 June 2013

    Over a week since the presidential election in Iran, the initial euphoria is beginning to die down. Jane Green considers the election outcome and whether or not the victory of Hassan Rouhani is likely to change the lives of the Iranian people.

    To say that the outcome of the presidential election in Iran on the 14th June was unexpected is an understatement. It certainly was not the result predicted by most pundits and the public at large did not anticipate Rouhani's victory. The clerical leadership had played a sophisticated political game. They allowed a range of candidates to stand who were mostly acceptable within the context of their overall strategy, while preventing the pro-reform camp and wider spectrum of progressive opposition from fielding candidates.

    The election of Hassan Rouhani was welcomed by thousands coming onto the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities. Both for those who had refused to participate in the election and those who cast their vote for Hassan Rouhani, the election result represented a clear rejection of the regime's policies. While the euphoria was in part about the election of Rouhani, it had more to do with the desire of many Iranians for reform. Within the very strict limitations of the electoral system in Iran, Rouhani was the only candidate who appeared to promise reform, hence the shift of support his way in the final days of the campaign.

    The shift towards Rouhani was impressive enough for him to secure 51% of the vote and the presidency on the first ballot. Commentators had predicted that a run-off with the conservative backed Saeed Jalili, leading to a second round vote would be the best that could be hoped for. In the event, Jalili trailed in third, the hardline vote was split and Rouhani squeezed through the middle.

    Of course, many were reminded of the 2009 election, with reformist candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi being the most likely winner until the regime stepped in to rig the outcome in favour of incumbent hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The outcome of the regime's actions at that time was a mass outpouring onto the streets of Iran and the growth of the Green Movement in response to the stolen election. Given the level of ongoing opposition since 2009, the regime may well have calculated that a similar imposition would not work a second time. The ongoing threat of intervention from the US and popular dissatisfaction with the regime's policies due to sanctions, means that the clergy have been reluctant to gamble on imposing their most preferred candidate again.

    Rouhani himself has described his win as follows:

    "This victory is a victory of wisdom, a victory of moderation, a victory of growth and awareness and a victory of commitment over extremism and ill-temper"

    This clearly aims to fuel the notion that he is a genuine candidate of reform, representing the people against the establishment.

    However, little is ever as it appears in the world of Iranian politics. With the economy in free-fall and relationships with the West at an all time low over the issues of the nuclear programme and economic sanctions, the clergy look to have decided to cut their losses and go with the popular vote. After all, although the six presidential candidates did display varying signs of difference on policy matters, all had been selected with the approval of the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the outcome was always going to be a pro-regime president.

    The more hard-line clergy in Iran have also had to accept that the reform movement has made some impact, so the appearance of a limited degree of accommodation may have been regarded as politic. With a directly pro-reform candidate having been forced to stand down in the contest, former presidents Khatemi and Rafsanjani came out in favour of Rouhani during the campaign, even though Khatemi recognised that "Rouhani does not consider himself as belonging to the pro-reform camp." However, for the people of Iran, the opportunity to prevent an even more hard-line candidate succeeding Ahmadinejad was clearly seen as the short-term priority, even if Rouhani promises little else than the more efficient management of the existing regime.

    For the regime itself, there can be little doubt that Rouhani is largely considered to be a safe pair of hands. His CV includes having been Khamenei's representative and the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years, a position he maintained even after the electoral coup of 2009.

    Rouhani has stated that he will lead Iran towards moderation and detente in the international arena as well as proclaiming the need to increase production and employment. With the existing sanctions in place from the West, the two go hand in hand. Given the wider regional considerations, including current action in Syria and the apparent need of the West to demonise Iran, the extent to which Rouhani can engineer any detente will inevitably be limited. However, this is Rouhani's main mandate from the regime. Delivering on the lifting of sanctions, heading off the threat of military intervention and improving relations with Iran's conservative and Arab neighbours is seen by the regime as vital for the long term sustainability of the Islamic Republic in its current form.

    Also, the extent to which the ruling clergy will allow any genuine reform is questionable. In any event, there is nothing in either the programme or declarations of Rouhani that would suggest that the legalisation of free and independent trade unions, the freeing of all political prisoners or greater freedom for women is to be on the agenda any time soon.

    The election outcome in Iran may well be read as an unexpected defeat for the more hard-line factions within the establishment. Whether that makes it a vote which will result in genuine reform is much more open to question. There is still time for the voices of the Iranian people to be heard on the streets in coming months. It will be interesting to see if they continue to proclaim Rouhani's victory so loudly.

    CODIR, and those campaigning for human and democratic rights inside Iran, will watch closely to see if Rouhani is at all responsive to popular demands for change. Campaigning on issues of peace, democracy and human rights will continue, however, until all political prisoners are released, executions are ended and the Islamic Republic allows free and democratic trade union activity in Iran.

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    Iranian Teacher Saved from Execution


    15 June 2013

    As reported by the alternative media recently, the death sentence of Iranian teacher, Abdolreza Ghanbari, was reduced to 15 years in jail and exile. HRANA (Human Rights Activists' News Agency) reported on Tuesday 10 June that after the Supreme Court of Iran revoked the death sentence of this Iranian Teacher last January, under pressure from human rights activists around the world, his case was referred to the Revolutionary Court of Iran (branch 1) for a further review. Earlier this month (June 2013), Judge Nasser Seraj of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Mr. Ghanbari to 15 years jail and exile in Borazjaan, one of the cities in the south of Iran, which was a "popular" destination for many political prisoners during the Pahlavi regime prior to the 1979 revolution.

    Ghanbari, who is still jailed in Ward 350 of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, was arrested on 27 December 2009 during the popular uprising known as the Green Movement. This followed the rigged presidential election in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was controversially awarded the presidency. On 30 January 2010, Ghanbari was unfairly tried, charged with "enmity against God" and sentenced to capital punishment by Judge Salavati at Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court. The sentence was upheld on appeal and his request for a pardon from the Amnesty and Clemency Commission was rejected at the end of February 2012. Ghanbari was a high school teacher and university lecturer for 14 years before he was arrested and jailed. While he was in prison, his dismissal from the Ministry of Education was handed to him.

    Last March the international campaign that CODIR (Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights) initiated to save Ghanbari's life brought significant international pressure upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to revoke his death sentence and give him a fair trial. At the time, Ghanbari was awaiting execution after his final appeal against his sentence was rejected.

    The campaign launched by CODIR to stop the execution of Ghanbari won the backing of many human rights and trade union organisations including Amnesty International, Labour Start, UNISON, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the University and College Union (UCU) in the UK, the Canadian Teachers' Federation and the global union, Education International.

    There are still many teachers in jail or on bail on provisional politically motivated charges. A few days ago, in an open letter to the Head of Judiciary, the Professional Association of Iranian Teachers said the following: "Unfortunately the inappropriate trend of issuing harsh sentences to professional activists in the teaching community continues. After awarding unbelievably long jail sentences to Rasoul Bodaghi and Mahmoud Bagheri and sentencing Ali Akbar Baghani to 6 years in jail and 10 years in exile and Esmail Abdi to a 10-year provisional term, we now witness the strange sentence of 5 years in prison given to Mahmoud Beheshti. This, when added to his previous sentence of 4 years, amounts to a 9 year term." The Association goes on to object to the notion of "illegal association" in the sentences "when there are no court orders or legal documents to prove this allegation and basically the Association has never been convicted in any court." Finally, the open letter asks the Head of Judiciary to "kindly try to eliminate the security attitude towards professional associations".

    CODIR continues to defend the right of teachers to organize their own union, freely express their opinions, and campaign for their professional rights without harassment and discrimination.

    CODIR demands an end to the harassment and repression of teachers, trade unionists and human rights campaigners.

    CODIR campaigns for the release of all the political prisoners in Iran, including those who have been arrested and imprisoned after the 2009 fraudulent presidential election.

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    Massacre of Iranians in 1988 recognised by Canadian Parliament


    Press Release
    19th June 2013
    For Immediate Use


    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has today welcomed the Canadian government's recognition of a crime against humanity committed by the Iranian government in 1988.

    The Canadian parliament earlier this month acknowledged the massacre of almost 5,000 Iranian political prisoners as being a crime against humanity under international law. The Canadian government is the first to accord the massacre this status and CODIR are calling upon the UK, other Commonwealth and EU governments to follow suit and add to the pressure upon the Iranian government.

    Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, said today that the Iranian regime must get the message that this condemnation will only be the first of many from the international community.

    "It is simply not acceptable for this crime to have been ignored by the Iranian government for so long and for the international community not to have demanded action. We welcome the stand taken by the Canadian parliament and look forward to other government's following the same path", he stated.

    The Canadian position follows on from the findings of the Iran Tribunal, set up in 2007 by families of those executed by the regime and former political prisoners, to investigate crimes committed by the Iranian government. The tribunal published its final judgement on the 5th February 2013 after taking evidence from almost 100 witnesses.

    The verdict of the Tribunal indicates that:

    • The Islamic Republic of Iran has committed crimes against humanity in the 1980- 1989 periods against its own citizens in violation of applicable international laws;
    • The Islamic Republic of Iran bears absolute responsibility for the gross violations of human rights against its citizens under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights; and,
    • Customary International law holds the Islamic Republic of Iran fully accountable for its systematic and widespread commission of crimes against humanity in Iran in the 1980-1989 period.

    CODIR has welcomed the position of the Canadian government as one which supports the demands of the Iranian people, rather than seeks to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran. "Given the unjustified campaign of international sanctions against Iran, which are not supported by the people of Iran, it is good to see practical support for a demand which is in the Iranian people's interests," said Mr Ahmadi, "A gathering international campaign would certainly test the credentials of the newly elected government in Iran. CODIR will continue to raise the profile of the campaign for justice for the victims of the 1988 massacre."


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Iranian people urged to speak through protesting not voting


    With elections in Iran scheduled for the 14th June the international community is beginning to focus attention upon the outcomes. Jane Green considers the implications of the election for the people of Iran.
    11th June 2013


    TThe ruling clergy in the Islamic Republic of Iran have once again denied the Iranian people the opportunity to vote in free and fair elections by loading the outcome in favour of candidates who support the existing theocratic regime.

    With 700 candidates having expressed an interest, the Guardian Council, the body which vets all candidates, have narrowed the field down to eight men. High profile exclusions include former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, defeated by current president Ahmadinejad in 2005, and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, favoured by outgoing president Ahmadinejad but not the ruling clergy.

    Reaspected reformists candidates defeated in the disputed 2009 election, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, remain under house arrest and are therefore in no position to participate in the current poll.

    Those on the approved list include hardline conservative Saeed Jalili, the Islamic Republic's chief nuclear negotiator; Muhammad Beqer Qalibaf, the present Mayor of Tehran; and Ali Akbar Velyati who served as Foreign Minister from 1981 - 1997 and is currently Ayatollah Khamenei's adviser on international affairs. Velyati is known for his anti-American views.

    In addition to the control exercised by the regime over who can stand in the election the mood inside Iran has darkened further, with a crackdown on internal dissent intensifying as the election gets closer. Two men were recently executed on charges of espionage and waging war against God, while known activists have been routinely rounded up for questioning on the flimsiest of pretexts.

    The authorities in the Islamic Republic clearly fear a repeat of the widespread protests which followed the 2009 election, which resulted in thousands of Green Movement activists demonstrating on the streets of Tehran and many major cities in Iran. Following those protests at least 1,900 remain imprisoned awaiting sentence with recent estimates suggesting that Iran's jails are holding 2,600 prisoners of conscience.

    A number of influential forces and individuals in the pro-reform camp in Iran have questioned participation in the election as in their view the regime has already fixed the next president. It is already clear that a number of candidates will withdraw from the election race in order to support the chance of their allies to succeed. However without a credible pro- reform candidate it will be impossible to advance a progressive programme action.

    With sanctions still crushing the Iranian economy and blighting the lives of ordinary Iranians the regime's attempt to exclude any alternative voices from the election does not augur well for either the economy or the Iranian people. The regime has effectively launched a coup d'etat in advance of the election bringing into question the ability of the regime to truly proclaim itself a republic, when it is in reality a religious autocracy.

    While the clergy retain their grip on the armed forces and Revolutionary Guards within Iran they will sustain their position, at least in the short term. However, increasing opposition from trade union activists, the peace movement, youth and women's organisations has eroded the credibility of the regime with even some of its more traditional supporters. In addition the aging and out of touch clergy is governing a population almost 50% of whom are beneath the age of 30 years old and not wedded to the interpretation of Islamic ideology perpetrated by the country's leadership. This is especially true of women, who are a highly educated section of the population in Iran but are denied career opportunities upon leaving university.

    The view of opposition forces within Iran is that the election is a sham. Rather than voting, protests against the 'election' should be held in order to demand the unconditional release of all political prisoners; the release of opposition leaders under house arrest; and the non-intervention of the security forces in quelling protest.

    In effect, rather than the opportunity to elect a government which may take Iran in a new direction, the elections need to be seen as a platform for giving voice to the key demands of the people and exposing the plans of the reactionary leadership of the country. Whatever the ruling clergy may like the world to think, Iran does not speak with one voice. The voice of the present government, or that of the government elected on the 14th June, is not the voice of the Iranian people. The voice of the Iranian people may well be heard on the 14th June but it is likely to be on the streets, rather than through the ballot box.

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    PRESS RELEASE - Urgent call to free imprisoned teacher in Iran


    For immediate release
    14th February 2013


    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has today called for the immediate release of Mohammad Tavakoli, Secretary of the Kermanshah Teachers' Guild Association. Mr Tavakoli was arrested last week after being called to present himself for questioning at the intelligence section of the Kermanshah Revolutionary Guard. Kermanshah is a provincial capital in Western Iran, 525 kilometres from the Iranian capital, Tehran.

    Mr. Tavakoli teaches at one of the Kermanshah's zone two district schools. Prior to his arrest he had been harassed on a number of occasions by the security forces for his trade union activities. In August last year he was threatened by the security forces for publicising news of teachers' pay cuts. Mr. Tavakoli has previously stated, "During their last contact with me, the security officer told me that the Kermanshah Teachers' Guild Association is illegal. They added that if you continue your activities, you will be dealt with severely."

    It would appear that with his recent arrest the security forces have made good on their promise. Tavakoli and others had reported that they had been beaten by "unknown individuals" in August last year and his situation is consistent with the ongoing intimidation of teachers and other trades union activists by the regime in Iran.

    Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, said today that the Iranian regime must get the message that this arrest is condemned in the strongest terms.

    "It is simply not acceptable for individuals to suffer arrest, intimidation and worse for simply raising legitimate trade union issues," he stated. "The pay, terms and conditions of teachers in Iran are deteriorating at a time when the Iranian economy needs its young people to be educated and for its skills to be homegrown. This is the sort of issue which Mr. Tavakoli was raising and should not be considered a threat to the regime. The fact that it is a threat is a measure of the regime's weakness and uncertainty, not its strength."

    According to a report from the Haranah News Agency on Wednesday, three days after the arrest of Mr. Tavakoli, his interrogators had not allowed him to contact his attorney.

    In a range of cases dating back at least to 2006 verdicts of dismissal, imprisonment and even execution have been imposed on teachers in Iran. This is in spite of the fact that, according to Articles 26 and 27 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, membership of different religious, trade and political communities should be considered as a basic right for Iranian people. The international human rights conventions, to which the Iranian government is a signatory, also insist on it.

    Sadly, government officials in Iran do not take responsibility for their international commitments or the national laws of their own country. Demands for basic rights, even seeking appointments with Parliamentary deputies, have led to violent confrontations between teacher activists and security officials. The judiciary continue to characterise the teachers' legitimate demands as threats to society and have opened files for them on cases in the Islamic Revolutionary Court.

    CODIR once again calls for the immediate release of Mohammad Tavakoli and all other imprisoned trade union activists from detention. The Iranian theocratic regime should be pressed to guarantee that it will fully observe all its obligations under the terms of ILO Conventions Numbers 87 (1948) and 98 (1949) concerning Freedom of Association.


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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    PRESS RELEASE - Solidarity organisation demands freedom for journalists


    For immediate release
    30th January 2013


    The leading solidarity organisation in the UK, campaigning for the release of political prisoners in Iran, is demanding that the Iranian government release fourteen journalists who have been arrested this week. CODIR, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights, has been raising concerns about human rights issues in Iran for over thirty years, including the regime's persistent intimidation of the media. Iran's judiciary has shut down more than 120 newspapers and jailed dozens of editors and writers since 2000. The current arrests are seen by CODIR as a significant stepping up of pressure on the limited freedom of the press in Iran.

    The journalists are accused of working with so called 'anti-revolutionary' Persian language media organisations based outside of Iran. The regime's security forces raided the offices of a number of Tehran based publications last weekend, searched and videotaped premises, then went on to search the homes of some of the journalists. Some had phones and press permits confiscated.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, criticised the arrests and condemned the lack of freedom for journalists working in Iran, stating,

    "Journalists in Iran face major restrictions on legitimate activity, including criticising the authorities and reporting truthfully on human rights issues. These arrests are not only part of the regime's attempt to silence particular journalists but to sustain a climate of fear throughout the press and media. In these circumstances the Iranian government hopes to continue with its crackdown on all forms of opposition and hide its true colours from the outside world."

    Many journalists in Iran have suffered harassment, detention and imprisonment in recent years with harassment also extending to their families. Many were arrested following peaceful protest activities following the disputed June 2009 presidential election and remain in prison, often suffering inhumane treatment.

    Iran's Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance has claimed that the arrests are unrelated to the work of the journalists but this is not borne out by the reality of the Iranian government's actions over the past 30 years, says CODIR.

    "The government has consistently claimed that sections of the media in Iran are orchestrating a 'soft revolution' supported by Western governments", said Mr Ahmadi. "This leads the authorities to act with outrageous ruthlessness at the merest hint of criticism and the latest arrests are an example of that. The Iranian government must be urged to release at once the imprisoned journalists and all political prisoners in Iran."

    Mr Ahmadi went on to state that the main reason behind the recent arrest of journalists in Iran was undoubtedly the regime's wish to spread fear amongst the opposition before the forthcoming presidential elections. "The presidential election campaign has already started in earnest and the regime's rulers are intent on sending a clear message that no dissent will be tolerated. The arrests of these journalists and a number of high profile executions in recent weeks are intended to frighten potential protesters, spread fear and pacify the opposition."


    ENDS

    Background

    The names of those arrested
    on Sunday and Monday are: Akbar Montajebi (Aseman Weekly), Emily Amraei
    (Bahar Newspaper), Motahareh Shafie and Narges Joudaki (Arman Newspaper),
    Pouria Alemi and Pejman Mousavi (Shargh Newspaper), Sassan Aghaei, Javad
    Deliri and Nasrin Takhiri (Etemad Newspaper), Saba Azarpeik, Keyvan Mehrgan,
    (Shargh), and Hossein Taghchi.

    Milad Fadai Asl, the political editor of Iranian Labour News Agency and Soleyman Mohammadi, a reporter from the reformist Bahar newspaper, were reportedly arrested by security forces on Saturday night and taken to Tehran's Evin prison.

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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    "Hotel Evin" where checking out is not easy


    23rd January 2013
    Members of the Iranian Parliament this week visited the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, declaring it fit for purpose. Jane Green looks at the realities of life in Iran's jails especially for political prisoners.


    Evin Prison in Tehran has for nearly thirty years been a notorious centre for the punishment, torture and execution of opponents to the Iranian regime. Human rights organisations, both inside and outside of Iran, have cited examples of savage tortures and the maltreatment of prisoners on many occasions over the years and urged the Iranian government to desist in its mistreatment of political prisoners in particular.

    It is remarkable then that a member of the Iranian Parliament's (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee delegation could comment, after a six hour visit to Evin Prison that, "This wasn't a prison. It is Hotel Evin".

    It is not the first time that Evin has been given some innocuous label to disguise the atrocities behind its walls. In the 1980s, the notorious prison governor, Lajavardi, described it as the " Evin university" in which all inmates would learn new ways. But learning was through torture not through books and every graduate was broken.

    Only recently political prisoners' activities revealed that torture in Ward 350 of Evin prison was the cause of blogger Satar Beheshti's death. This has led the Iranian government to increase its repressive measures in Iranian prisons. One such repressive action is to banish political prisoners to prisons where hard-core criminals are being kept or to prisons located in distant cities, making family access almost impossible.

    In a recent letter to Amoli Larijani, Head of the judiciary, 39 political prisoners from Ward 350 of Evin prison have written, to highlight the case of Abolfazel Gadiani. On 14th January 2013 Abolfazel Gadiani was removed from Ward 350 of Evin prison to the Gezel-Hesar prison. Prior to the revolution, in the era of the Shah, Mr. Gadiani was a political prisoner in the Gezel-Hesar prison. However, this is now a prison which mainly houses drug-traffickers and dangerous prisoners thus increasing the threat to Mr Gadiani's safety.

    Given the high number of intellectuals in Ward 350 prisoners had organised over 60 hours of educational lectures in approximately 35 different academic disciplines. During the last two months, in an attempt to disrupt the prisoners' educational activities, Javad Moemeni, Ward 350's Interim Head, had ordered the removal of educational material that prisoners had prepared themselves.

    The unified resistance of the prisoners however has had some success and, following the prison warden's intervention, the previous conditions in Ward 350 of Evin prison have been restored.

    CODIR has recently highlighted the case of Reza Shahabi, the Tehran Bus Workers treasurer, who went on hunger strike for three weeks over his mistreatment in Evin and the lack of medical resources available to address major surgery which had been undertaken on his neck and spine. Shahabi was finally allowed five days bail to address health issues which had been exacerbated by beatings in prison.

    In November last year CODIR also highlighted the case of female political prisoners who were subject to abusive and degrading treatment in Evin Prison, with regular body searches and the arbitrary removal of personal items amongst the issues raised. Nine of the women went on hunger strike.

    The protest followed closely upon that initiated by human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who went on hunger strike on the 17th October 2012 following issues with visiting rights for her family. The case of Ms. Sotoudeh had been previously highlighted by CODIR as an example of the poor treatment of female prisoners by the Iranian authorities. Ms. Sotoudeh had recently been the recipient of the prestigious Sakharov Prize for her work in the field of human rights.

    These are only some of the more recent examples of the realities of life in prison for political prisoners in Iran. Over the past thirty years many more examples could be held up to show that, far from boasting hotel conditions, Evin Prison is only fit for closure and its notorious reputation confined to the history books.

    Jane Green is CODIR's National Campaigns Officer. For information on CODIR's activities and ways to become involved in its campaigns visit www.codir.net and contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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    PRESS RELEASE - Support urged for trades unionist on hunger strike in Iran


    For immediate release
    27th December 2012


    A trades unionist imprisoned since June 2010 by the Iranian authorities is now into his second week of hunger strike to protest against mistreatment by the prison authorities in Tehran.

    Reza Shahabi, the Treasurer and Executive Board member of theTehran and Suburbs Bus Company trades union, went on hunger strike on 17th December 2012 to protest against mistreatment by jail guards as well as prevention of his medical treatment by the judicial authorities. Shahabi last went on hunger strike two years ago, protesting against his imprisonment.

    Shahabi, who had undergone major surgery of his neck, was deemed to be in need of at least "two months rest at home". Doctors stated that he was "incapable of withstanding any further punishment," but was nevertheless sent back to Ward 350 of notorious Evin prison in Tehran on 14th August, 2012. Since then, his health has deteriorated significantly.

    In addition, Shahabi has had to endure verbal abuse and physical intimidation from his jail guards. Shahabi was taken to hospital on 15th December, 2012 but the jail guard accompanying him refused to allow him to be properly examined and forced Shahabi, with threats of beating and assault, to go back to prison.

    As a result of such treatment Shahabi has announced that he will refuse to take his medication or eat until he is allowed to be transferred to a hospital outside prison for complete treatment.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, JamshidAhmadi, condemned the ongoing persecution of Shahabi, in particular, and the members of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company trade union and other Iranian trade unionists in general.

    "Reza Shahabi's health deteriorated significantly after severe beatings and mistreatment following his arrest", stated Mr.Ahmadi,"The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are directly responsible for any consequences resulting from the continued imprisonment and mistreatment of Reza Shahabi. The Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company has more than seventeen thousand employees, of which a significant number are members of the trade union. All Executive board members of this union have been persecuted, dismissed and many jailed since the formation of the union in 2005. This systematic intimidation of workers must be highlighted and stopped."

    Members of the union have been active recently in protests against unpaid wages, the unequal treatment of employees and demanding the dismissal of the Tehran Bus Company Managing Director. Many of the union's members, including its president Mansour Osanloo and deputy president Ibrahim Madadi,have spent years in prison for defending the rights of the workers of the company.

    The International Transport Workers Federation, to which Shahabi's union is affiliated, has called for his immediate release.

    Although several Iranian trade unionists, including some from Shahabi's union, have been freed after international trade union campaigns, he remains in jail and had his six-year sentence confirmed in April 2012. Over the summer, Amnesty International added their weight by focussing on the cases of Reza Shahabi and three other jailed Iranian trade unionists with a postcard protest in the UK and Turkey.

    CODIR, as a matter of urgency, calls for

    • the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran;
    • an immediate end to all manifestations of abuse of human rights
    • the Iranian authorities to agree to implement the terms of ILO conventions 87 and 98 guaranteeing trade union rights and freedoms and the right to belong to a trade union and be active within it
    • human rights and trades union organisations to protest against the arbitrary actions of the Iranian government; and
    • human rights and trades union organisations to highlight the case of Reza Shahabi in particular and to demand his immediate release.


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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    PRESS RELEASE - Support urged for female hunger strikers in Iran


    For immediate release
    4th November 2012


    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has added its voice to the call for female political prisoners in Iran to be protected from degrading and abusive treatment. The call follows the decision of nine political prisoners, in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, to go on hunger strike last week following body searches by the Prison Security Section.

    Personal belongings were confiscated from the nine women who have gone on hunger strike until they receive a formal apology from the prison authorities; guarantees that similar incidents will not happen in the future; and their belongings are returned.

    Given the Iranian regime's record of the poor treatment of political prisoners CODIR are particularly concerned that the women receive proper medical care and attention and are not subject to further degrading treatment.

    "We are firstly calling upon the prison authorities to meet the immediate demands of these women and recognise that they are being held for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. They really should be released immediately and unconditionally", said CODIR National Organiser, Jane Green today. "However, we also need to be assured, if their protest continues, that they will have access to appropriate medical assistance should they require it."

    In addition, during the last few weeks, wardens have refused to transfer political prisoners to the hospital and treatment centre as well as initiating body-searches while entering and leaving the prison.

    Women involved in the hunger strike include Bahareh Hedayat ( Student movement leader), Nazanin Bayhagi, Jilla Baniyagoob (journalist and women rights campaigner), Shiva Nazar-Ahari (Human rights and womens rights campaigner), Mahsa Amr-Abadi, Hakimeh Shakari, Jilla Karam-Zadeh Mcvandi, Naseim Soltan Baigi and Raheleh Zakabi.

    The current protest follows closely upon that initiated by human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who went on hunger strike on the 17th October 2012 following issues with visiting rights for her family. The case of Ms. Sotoudeh has been previously highlighted by CODIR as an example of the poor treatment of female prisoners by the Iranian authorities. Recently Ms. Sotoudeh has been the recipient of the prestigious Sakharov Prize for her work in the field of human rights.

    "There is the danger of a pattern emerging here", continued Jane Green, "Female prisoners are being targeted because they are seen as being more vulnerable. In CODIR we will continue to press for the release of political prisoners while those who are in prison should at least receive humane treatment. That is not the case in Iran today."
    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Iranian people hope to buy time


    As foreign policy comes to the fore in the US presidential election, Jane Green assesses the likely outcome for the Iranian people of the US vote.
    29th October 2012


    With the elections in the United States imminent, foreign policy issues are beginning to register with the candidates. This is particularly true in relation to the policy of the US towards Iran. The press in the Unites States has recently indicated that secret negotiations between US and Iranian officials have resulted in an agreement to hold one-to-one negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme, following the US elections on 6th November.

    While White House sources deny such a deal the New York Times recently indicated that reports of the agreement have circulated amongst a small group of diplomats associated with Iran. Quite how such a deal would play with a new administration should Barack Obama be defeated however remains an open question.

    The final debate in the US presidential race concluded with the convergence of the two candidates on foreign policy issues being the most significant outcome. Many of Romney's more hawkish views were tailored to fit with Obama's generally more moderate foreign policy line. There was no sign however that Romney would roll back Obama's policy of drone attack assassinations as an arm of foreign policy or that either candidate would draw back from the role of world policeman which the US has designated for itself.

    In relation to Iran there was certainly no indication that any concern for the Iranian people was to the fore, with talk of a tough line against the existing leadership being the main issue and addressing the capability of the Iranian government to develop its nuclear capability being top of the agenda. Romney did display some geographical confusion when he claimed that Syria was Iran's "only ally in the Arab world" and that it represented Iran's "route to the sea". The fact that Iran has a 1500 mile Gulf coastline of its own and shares no border with Syria seemed to be missing from Romney's briefing pack.

    While a Romney victory would undoubtedly send out a range of negative signals internationally and herald a potentially more volatile foreign policy for the US, on this performance alone the message from both candidates was pretty much, 'steady as she goes' on foreign policy issues.

    Further credence is given to reports of closer US / Iranian links by the fact that Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, remained in New York following the UN General Assembly last month. Speculation that Salehi was looking to open lines of communication with the US were fuelled by the fact that his report went directly to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Khamene'i, bypassing President Ahmadinejad, further widening existing divisions within the Iranian leadership.

    Recent UK press reports suggest that global powers will launch a new diplomatic push after the US elections, aimed at defusing the Iranian nuclear crisis in the next few months. The aim is to avoid the eruption of a new Middle East conflict next year. Reports suggest that a new proposal will be put to the Iranian government with the incentive of reducing sanctions if Iran limits the extent to which it enriches its uranium supplies.

    The discussion will follow on from talks over the past year in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow which have failed to reach agreement on the nuclear issue and have resulted in the increasing sanctions pressure from the US and EU upon Iran.

    A Western diplomat is quoted by one source as stating that, "If Iran is prepared to do enough, sanctions will be on the table.... if it's ready to take genuine steps we're ready to respond. This could include sanctions relief - but only for the right moves by Iran. Sanctions are biting in Tehran and we're not going to lift them without making solid progress on our concerns." This approach suggests that the West recognises that the Iranian government requires a quid pro quo if it is not to lose face at home and be seen to be backing down over the nuclear issue. With Iranian presidential elections scheduled for May-June 2013 the factions jostling for position in Iran will no doubt have one eye upon the domestic agenda when negotiating over the sanctions issue. There has even been talk in Western circles of a comprehensive settlement that would allow Iran to continue producing uranium at low levels (under 5%) of enrichment but under stricter international monitoring and controls. How this might play with the Israelis may be a factor in whether such a position flies but even talk of such a deal indicates the possibility for movement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated the "red lines" for Iran on nuclear enrichment at the UN General Assembly in September and even indicated that the line would be reached "by next spring, at most by next summer", implying that Israel might then take military action in a bid to destroy Iranian nuclear sites and set back the programme. A report published recently by the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington said that Iran's centrifuge plants would need between two and four months to make enough weapons-grade uranium for a single warhead. If Iran builds up its 20% uranium stockpile, the ISIS report said a weapon could be ready in less than one month, giving Israel and the west much less time to respond and increasing the chance of a pre-emptive strike. However, it would take several times longer to build even a small nuclear arsenal, and Iran itself has set back that timetable by converting about a third of its 20% stockpile into oxide fuel, which would be harder to turn into weapons-grade material. It should also be noted that Tehran insists it has no intention of breaking with observance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to try to make a weapon. Jim Walsh, an expert on the Iran nuclear programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: "This period between the US elections and the Iranian elections is the last best chance to turn this thing around... I think the Iranians are ready and the Americans are ready. It's a question of the whether the optics and politics can be made to line up this time." Certainly for the people of Iran the coming months are crucial. The biggest danger is a Romney presidential victory which leads to a major policy review. This would almost certainly overlap with the Iranian presidential elections or, worse still, give Israel the green light to take pre-emptive action. Romney is already on record giving unconditional backing to the Israeli government's dangerous plans in relation to Iran. An Obama victory, it is assumed, would at least allow a window for negotiations amongst the major players ahead of the Iranian presidential campaign. The possibility of relief from sanctions, as the first step towards pushing for full democratic control of their country, would certainly be a relief in the short term for the Iranian people.

    Jane Green is national campaign officer of CODIR, the solidarity campaigning organisation active in the UK and across Europe and North America. For further in formation on CODIR's activities and political developments in Iran please visit www.codir.net or conatct: codir_info@btinternet.com

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    PRESS RELEASE - Iranian regime condemned for forcing human rights lawyer into hunger strike


    For immediate release
    22nd October 2012


    The leading UK organisation calling for solidarity with the people of Iran has condemned the Iranian regime for its treatment of imprisoned human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh. The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has called for the Iranian regime, as a minimum, to review the visiting times allocated to Ms. Sotoudeh's family.

    Up to now, Ms. Sotoudeh's husband and two children have visited her in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran on Sundays. Her son Nima's kindergarten has recently scheduled extra-curricular activities for Wednesdays. The school authorities have indicated that his attendance in those activities will be mandatory. In what appears to be a coordinated approach, the prison authorities have changed Ms. Sotoudeh's visiting day from Sundays to Wednesdays. Responding to the changes, Ms. Sotoudeh has announced that if she is unable to see her child on Wednesdays, she will go on a hunger strike.

    Ms. Sotoudeh was controversially arrested following the disputed 2009 presidential elections, on charges of "acting against national security", "anti-regime propaganda" and belonging to the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights. On 3rd September 2010, Ms. Sotoudeh was transferred to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, today condemned the latest move by the regime to punish Ms. Sotoudeh, stating, "The coordinated change of visiting day is another attempt by the prison authorities to break the spirit of this courageous human rights defender. Ms. Sotoudeh has served a considerable length of her prison term in solitary confinement. She has been banned from working as a lawyer for 20 years and barred from leaving Iran for 20 years. She is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately."

    In addition to serving as a defence lawyer for the Centre for the Defenders of Human Rights, Ms. Sotoudeh was also active in the One Million Signatures Campaign, launched in 2006 as the Campaign for Equality. The main goal of the Campaign for Equality has been to force amendments to the Iranian constitution in order to remove its anti women discriminatory articles. The Campaign gave basic legal training to volunteers who travelled around the country to promote equality. Several of the Campaign members have served prison terms as a result of their activities to support the rights of women.

    CODIR supports the demand for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran and calls for human rights and trades union organisations to protest against the arbitrary actions of the Iranian government.


    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. A number of major trade unions in the UK including UNISON, RMT, Scottish TUC and scores of regional and local branches of trades unions are affiliated to CODIR.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    Iranian economy already on war footing


    As Iran faces the worst economic situation since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980's Jane Green considers the impact of economic crisis and sanctions upon the Iranian people.



    Although millions of Iranians receive a monthly government payment to compensate for a cut in subsidies, the value of this is diminishing as the currency value collapses. Over the past three months the rial has lost 57% of its value and is down 75% compared to late last year.

    A basket of shopping which cost 120,000 rials only a month ago will now cost 300,000 rials, a stark illustration of the extent to which ordinary families are having to tighten their belts and bear the brunt of the government's economic policy and the sanctions regime.

    The Iranian national currency hit an all time low at the beginning of the month with the rial dropping by 15% to its lowest ever level against the dollar on the 1st October. By midday trading it took 34,500 rials to buy $1 compared to 29,600 rials at close of trading at the weekend. Since July, when the latest US and EU sanctions came into effect, the prices of basics such as chicken, milk, cheese, bread and yoghurt have been rising daily.

    The mismanagement of the economy, which has perpetuated the economic crisis and generated high unemployment, has been a feature of Iranian life for many years. The government has been able to mask the consequences of this, up to a point, due to the high price of oil which generates 80% of the country's export revenue and most of its foreign currency. However this very dependency has meant that the embargo has had a major impact.

    In an attempt to fight back the Iranian government launched a counter offensive with an appeal to non-aligned nations in India last week. Energy Minister, Majid Namjoo, urged non-aligned nations to develop a new structure of international relations and to resist sanctions imposed by the Western powers.

    India itself has major power shortage issues and imports large amounts of Iranian oil. While it has been trying to reduce the total, under US pressure, trade between the two countries is significant. With the current sanctions regime in place however, Indian diplomats privately play down their trade links with Iran.

    At a meeting of EU foreign ministers next week it is no secret that Britain, France and Germany hope to tighten already tough sanctions on Iran. While fears of an imminent Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities appear to have subsided, at least until after the US presidential election, there can be no guarantee that the volatility of the situation in Iran may not tempt the Israelis to strike while they see an opportunity.

    While the US elections in November mark the next key watershed before any major international diplomacy is likely to be initiated, they are bookended by the Iranian presidential elections scheduled for June 2013. This period is a window of opportunity which some Western powers recognise as one in which serious negotiating with the Iranian regime, rather than sabre rattling, may have to take place. Iran is a potentially significant market as far as Europe is concerned and there is a growing recognition in the EU that the impact of sanctions is not a one way street, especially in a period of poor economic growth.

    For the Iranian people the position remains one of uncertainty and fear. Living once again in what is effectively a war economy the threat of military aggression remains a fear, while the impact of economic aggression is a daily reality. For those in the peace and democratic movements across the world, who are concerned with the plight of those in Iran, ending sanctions and stepping back from the threat of military action remains an urgent requirement.

    Jane Green is CODIR's National Campaigns Officer. For information on CODIR's activities and ways to become involved in its campaigns visit www.codir.net and contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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    CODIR at TUC 2012 Congress


    Campaign for Peace and Workers' Rights in Iran!



    CODIR supporters and affiliates took the message of CODIR's campaign for peace, human and democratic rights to delegates of the 2012 TUC Congress gathered in Brighton. A delegation of CODIR supporters distributed a copy of the latest issue of Iran Today featuring articles on the condition of Iranian workers, threats of war and military conflicts and the need for solidarity with Iranian political prisoners. All delegates also received a specially designed CODIR leaflet wishing them a successful Congress and calling on them to express solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In the discussion of the General Council's Report, Alex Gordon, CODIR's president and the National President of the RMT union made a powerful plea to the TUC to seriously consider becoming more involved in campaigning for human and democratic rights in Iran.

    Addressing the Congress, Alex Gordon called on the TUC to oppose all threats of war on Iran and to widen the campaign for solidarity with Iranian workers and trade unionists. Praising the work of CODIR, the RMT national president pointed at a catalogue of denials of workers' rights by the regime in Iran.

    The following is Alex's statement to the 2012 TUC Congress during the debate on Iran.

    TUC General Council Report - Global Solidarity 5.3 - Iran:


    President, fellow delegates,

    Alex Gordon, President, National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers:

    RMT wishes to raise a number of points under Chapter 5.3 in relation to Iran.

    RMT is affiliated to CODIR (the Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights) the main solidarity organisation in the UK supporting the movement for Peace and democratic rights in Iran and developing better understanding amongst trade unions in the UK. We welcome reference to the work of GUFs along with the ITUC and Amnesty International to highlight the persecution of independent trade unions in Iran.

    In particular, Reza Shehabi, Treasurer of Sherkat-e Vahed - (Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company) sentenced to six years' imprisonment for "gathering and colluding against state security" and for "spreading propaganda against the system". Reza Shahabi has been convicted solely for his peaceful trade union work, and he is a prisoner of conscience.

    Reza is in extremely poor health after numerous hunger strikes in protest against conditions in which he is being held. In February 2012 he complained that one side of his body was numb. It was not until 30 April that prison authorities sent him to hospital. Since his operation, Shahabi's body has developed infections and his condition is worsening by the day. Doctors' recommended at least "two months rest at home" and say he is "incapable of withstanding any further punishment". He was sent back to Ward 350 of Evin prison on August 14, 2012.

    Iran's prison and judicial officials are directly responsible for the critical state of Shehabi's health and worsening of his condition. These officials have acted contrary to all doctors' recommendations and will be held responsible for their actions.

    According to his lawyer, Reza Shahabi's name was on the list of prisoners to be pardoned, but that process has been abandoned, without explanation. This TUC must demand that Reza Shahabi be immediately released and given proper medical treatment.

    Having welcomed the GC Report's brief mention of Reza Shehabi's case and that of three other imprisoned trade unionists RMT is concerned however that the impact of the threat of a new war and of economic sanctions on the life of Iranian workers is entirely missing from the Report.

    Iran's economy is currently collapsing under the pressure of imposed economic sanctions, factories are closing down due to lack of spare parts and shedding thousands of workers.

    Payment of wages is very erratic. A large number of workers are not getting paid for periods between 6 and 18 months.

    Unemployment is widespread. Poverty is spreading.

    Iranian workers are protesting against these conditions, but due to repression and the fact that the regime doesn't allow independent and genuine trade unions to operate, they are isolated from each other and their protests easily contained.

    The Iranian regime is using the threat of foreign intervention as an excuse to increase repression of workers. Trade unionists and worker activists are constantly harassed. The raid on the annual general meeting of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organisations in the city of Karaj on 15th June, the arrest and detention of 60 trade unionists and the beating and maltreatment of them while in custody is just one example.

    The 60 arrested were delegates from different provinces including Kurdistan, Tehran and Gillan. The Coordinating Committee is a well known independent labour organisation in Iran, formed in 2005 with open support and signatures of thousands of workers; it is not a clandestine group, many of its members are nationally and internationally well-known, like veteran labour activist Mahmoud Salehi who was beaten viciously during the raid as were Mohammad Abdipour and Jalal Hosseini.

    The repression by the Islamic Republic of Iran is part of their overall strategy of repression of struggles in Iran by workers' against ever-increasing poverty, mass unemployment, discrimination, repression and the government's austerity and neoliberal policies. The regime tries to legitimise this appalling behaviour by pointing to bellicose comments by Israel, the USA and western states.

    A number of progressive writers and human rights activists have been arrested in recent months. As reported in the new edition of Iran Today, Fariborz Raisdana (prominent university professor and an economist) and Ms. Manijeh Najm-Araghi of the Iranian Writers' Association leadership were arrested recently and are still in custody. The leadership of the Association of Iranian Teachers have been placed under pressure to deny that there is any link between them and Education International, the education unions' GUF.

    The campaign for trade union and democratic rights in Iran is crucial as it directly contributes to the development of a real popular peace movement in Iran and to assist Iranian people to remain the sole masters of the destiny of their country and its future development.

    Trade unionists, civil society actors and human rights activists need our practical and campaigning solidarity in Iran and the greatest act of solidarity that this TUC could perform is to make it clear that the British trade union movement opposes war mongers threatening military intervention in Iran.

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    PRESS RELEASE - Solidarity organisation calls for a halt to the threat of war


    For immediate release
    23rd August 2012


    Concern has been expressed by Europe and North America's leading solidarity organisation with the people of Iran, about the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran in the near future. The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has expressed concern about comments emanating from the Israeli leadership recently which appear to assume that an attack upon Iran is only a question of time.

    Last week Israeli President, Shimon Peres, was widely reported in the international media as stating in an Israeli television interview that, "It is clear to us we cannot do it on our own. We can only delay [Iran's progress]. Thus it's clear to us that we need to go together with America. There are questions of co-operation and timetables, but as severe as the danger is, at least this time we're not alone."

    Peres' comments were condemned by the office of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as being out of touch with government thinking, suggesting that the Prime Minister is still contemplating unilateral action against Iran.

    While the differences expose conflict at the heart of the Israeli establishment, CODIR are concerned that the choice maybe one of the devil or the deep blue sea for the Iranian people, who appear to be threatened whatever the outcome of the Peres/Netanyahu face off.

    "It is incredible that a major player in the Middle East, such as Israel, is allowed to make these comments without significant condemnation from the international community," said CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, today. "Whether we consider the comments of Peres that an attack will happen at some point with US support, or those of Netanyahu that Israel may go it alone, the Iranian people are in imminent danger. No one can ignore the threat to peace in the Middle East and internationally that such an Israeli adventure would pose. This is something which the international community should be speaking out about loudly and clearly to protect the people of Iran from a war no-one wants and from which no-one will benefit."

    CODIR has consistently campaigned for a political solution to any differences between parties in the Middle East and actively supported the rights of the Iranian people to determine their own future, free from external interference. CODIR opposes any war waged on Iran under any pretext and believes that it would be a disaster for the region and would seriously undermine the struggle of the Iranian people for democracy, human rights and social justice.

    With the presidential election in the United States only three months away CODIR are concerned that Iran will become a political football as the election looms. Many observers believe that the current speculation about a possible Israeli strike this autumn is aimed at forcing a public statement in the coming weeks from President Barack Obama on America's willingness to take military action against Iran.

    "The only statement we want to hear about Iran is one that unequivocally rules out action by the US or Israel which threatens the Iranian people", continued Mr Ahmadi. "Political and diplomatic action to resolve differences is the only way forward and the only way which will not result in the deaths of many innocent Iranians who are themselves looking to change the existing regime in Tehran."

    CODIR will continue to work with international human rights and peace organisations to make representations to the relevant government and the United Nations in order to head off conflict.
    ENDS
    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    PRESS RELEASE - Solidarity organisation condemns arrests


    For immediate release
    17th June 2012


    The arbitrary arrest of 60 members of a committee dedicated to upholding workers rights has been condemned by the major UK solidarity organisation campaigning for human rights in Iran.

    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has been informed that on Friday 15 June at noon, 60 members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organisations and a number of other labour activists, were arrested by government agents acting without arrest warrants in the Iranian city of Karaj.

    Reports from Iran indicate that the detainees were transferred to Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. Although some of those detained were subsequently released, a number of those taken in are still being held without charge in what is seen as a bid to frighten trade unionists and their leaders.

    Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, Jamshid Ahmadi, has condemned the arrests and warned that further similar actions are likely to take place in the build up to the presidential election in June 2013.

    "Ever since the stolen election of 2009 the regime in Iran has been running scared of any opposition because they know how much anger there is beneath the surface of society in Iran. Workers merely attempting to organise to improve their terms and conditions, a basic human right in any democracy, are seen as a challenge to the regime," said Mr Ahmadi. "With presidential elections scheduled for next June we have grave fears that this sort of action by the regime will only increase as the regime attempts to intensify the climate of fear in the country."

    CODIR has joined the members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organisations in condemning the arbitrary arrest of its members and other workers' activists. CODIR demands the immediate release of all trade union activists and a halt to the arbitrary arrest of any workers. It further calls for respect for trade union rights in Iran and supportstrades union organisations in protesting against the actions of the Iranian government.

    According to the news from Tehran those known to have been detained on Friday 15th June included Ms. Mitra Homayooni, Ms. Vafa Ghaderi, Ms. Reyhaneh Ansari, Khaled Hosseini, Mahmoud Salehi, Saeed Moghaddam, Cyrus Fathi, Ghaleb Hosseini, Mohammad Abdipour, Jalal Hosseini, Alireza Asgari, Masoud Salimpour, Abbas Andriyany, Sediq Amjadi, Fattah Soleimani, Maziar Mehrpour, Mhommad Molanai, Vahed Seyyedeh, Jalil Sharifian, Sediq Khosravi, Yusuf Ab Kharabad, Faramarz Fetrat Nejad, Jalil Mohammadi, Nezam Sadeghi, Afshin Nadimi, Hussain Pilooti, Rahman Ebrahim Zadeh, Abbas Hashem Poor.
    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    CODIR calls for freedom of all political prisoners in Iran!


    The solidarity organization says that the Islamic Republic's political prisoners are hostages held to terrorize the nation.


    In a statement issued today, 2nd June 2012, CODIR pledged its full support for campaigns launched by Iranian political prisoners and their supporters to secure the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran. CODIR called on trade unions and human rights organizations internationally to give their full backing to the campaigns by expressing solidarity with the victims of the Iranian regime's reign of terror and demanding an immediate end to the detention of all those held on political grounds.

    The arrest and imprisonment of trade unionists, women, students and political and human rights activists is commonplace in Iran. Their cruel abuse in captivity has been used as a tool by the Iranian theocratic regime for repressing the people. The regime's level of brutality in its treatment of political prisoners has always been a measure of the strength of peoples' opposition.

    The detention of two prominent members of the Iranian Writers' Association, Dr Fariborz Raisdana and Ms Manijeh Najm- Araaghi, are the most recent examples of such abuse.

    The Iranian Writers' Association has been consistently critical of the regime's censorship and violation of the freedom of expression.

    Following his speech criticising the government's decision in November 2010 to remove subsidies from most basic goods and services, Dr. Fariborz Raisdana, a left-leaning economist and social and political activist,who had been detained and imprisoned several times previously, was first detained in relation to this matter in late 2011. Following the payment of bail, he was released after a month but, on 20th May 2012, was rearrested and sentenced to a year's imprisonment. Praised by the World Bank and the IMF and hailed as the cornerstone of the Ahmadinejad government's economic policy, the removal of subsidies that Dr Raisdana was criticizing, has devastated the Iranian economy and national production.

    In support of and in solidarity with Dr. Raisdana, a large number of Iranian social and political activists have signed a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights requesting the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Iran. Their letter states: "We condemn the Islamic Republic's dictatorial actions and request that all international human rights organisations, especially the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, take resolute action to demand the freedom of all political prisoners in Iran."

    On 27 May 2012, Ms Manijeh Najm Eragi, a writer, translator, women's rights activist, and the secretary of the Iranian Writers' Association was transferred from court to Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. Charged with "propaganda against the regime", she had been convicted and sentenced to a year in prison.

    Included in accusations against her was her attendance at ceremonies commemorating the lives of Mohammad Moktary, Mohammad Jafar Poyandeh and the accomplished poet, Ahmad Shamlu, all of whom had been brutally murdered by the regime. Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Ja'afar Poyandeh were prominent members of the Iranian Writers' Association. In opposition to Ms Najm Eragi's detention, more than 400 women's rights activists, writers and political and social activists signed a statement demanding her immediate and unconditional release.

    In another initiative, four political prisoners from Rajaei Shahr Prison sent a letter on 1 May 2012 to the Chief Prosecutor, Mohsen Ejeehi, warning him of intensifying pressure on political prisoners during the past eighteen months. In their letter, Massoud Bastani, Rasoul Bedagi, Keyvan Samimi and Heshmatolah Tabarzadi stated that, "according to the prison infirmary, prohibition of daily telephone calls to our families, has caused an increase in the use of anti-depressants."

    They highlighted the fate of a fellow prisoner. "Mansour Radpour's death from a stroke" they said, "was a predictable tragedy concerning which his family and cellmates had warned the prison authorities repeatedly". Mr Radpour, who was held in the Special Security Section of Rajaeih Shar Prison, had been a strong wrestler and capable head-chef for the political section of the prison.

    In another signed statement, more than 350 women's rights activists, human rights activists and social and political activists have protested against the detention of Ms Narges Mohammadi and demanded her release. According to the statement: "On Sunday 23rd April 2012, Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist and Vice-President of the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights, was transferred to the Evin Prison to begin her six year sentence. "The unjust ruling against this brave woman, a human rights supporter, was based on unfounded accusations of unlawful assembly and conspiracy to act against national security; membership of the Human Rights Supporters' Centre and propaganda against the regime. She was unlawfully arrested and detained and, in an undisclosed and unjust court, was sentenced to six years of prison."

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    Decision time looms for West on Iran


    2nd June 2012


    The first round of talks between the Western P5+1 group and Iran this year were held on 14th April in Istanbul. Both sides called the talks positive and constructive, announcing their readiness for a second round in Baghdad in May. Since April the conflicting groups in the Iranian regime, around President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayotollah Khamenei, have been disputing the stance to be taken in Baghdad. Negotiations in Baghdad, on the 23rd/24th May, did not result in a definitive outcome but did end with agreement to hold further talks in Moscow on the 18th June.

    While the western powers have been pushing for an absolute commitment from Iran that it will not enrich uranium to the level of 20%, deemed to be suitable for weapons development, the Iranians have pushed for the relief of the sanctions regime which has been imposed by the UN and EU. The fact that lifting sanctions became the Iranian goal, as articulated by negotiator Saleed Jalili, was a victory for the faction around the Supreme Leader, AyotollahKhamenei. The Ahmadinejad camp had been insisting, contrary to all of the evidence, that sanctions are not hurting the country.

    As well as wanting the sanctions regime to be lifted Iran wants to avert war and may be persuaded to make certain compromises. However, the dispute going on within the ruling factions, as to the extent of compromise they should make and whether the US can be trusted, may well continue at least until presidential elections in June 2013. The regime also needs time to reassess the end game for its nuclear programme, given the serious harm that sanctions have done to the economy and the extent to which Iran is isolated in the West.

    However, the Western position is somewhat complicated by the joker in the pack, in the form of Israel, which has taken an increasingly belligerent position in relation to the possibility of an attack upon Iran. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said that a military strike against Iranian facilities is not out of the question, telling Army Radio that "a nuclear Iran is intolerable and no options should be taken off the table," in relation to the use of force. Barak claimed that the only way Israel could see Iran develop its civilian nuclear industry is if it shuts down all of its uranium enrichment sites and uses imported fuel.

    The continued aggressive stance of the Israelis belies not only their own 'secret' nuclear programme but also their ongoing defiance of the international community in relation to the illegal occupation of Palestine in contravention of UN resolutions. The extent to which the Israelis are acting with the tacit collusion of the West however was made evident when the UK media announced in May that Prime Minister, David Cameron, was to seek legal advice on the role the UK could play following any Israeli strike upon Iran. Presumably the advice could only be, 'it is illegal, it contravenes all norms of international behaviour, do not get involved'; we shall see.

    With a US presidential election looming, and the promise of troops coming home from Afghanistan, a new intervention in Iran is hardly likely to go down well on the US domestic front. The Israelis launching a pre-emptive strike would certainly put Obama on the spot, as any reluctance to back them would be pounced upon by his Republican opponents to suggest the President is 'soft' on Iran. Any concession on the nuclear front would no doubt be presented in the same way. If some concessions from Tehran do not emerge from Moscow the position of Obama could become more difficult.

    The internal battle in Iran will only intensify in the period up to the presidential election in 2013. In Israel, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, is toying with the dissolution of the Israeli parliament with any election already being discussed as a possible referendum on Iran. President Barack Obama faces an election campaign in November and is conscious of the potential for Iran to become a major issue. The outcome of the June talks in Moscow could be decisive for all three campaigns.

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    PRESS RELEASE - United States set to increase the drive to war


    For immediate release
    16th May 2012


    Peace and human rights organizations across the world are today urging the United States government not to pass a resolution which they say will increase the chances of war with Iran. The resolution before the US House of Representatives (H.Res.568) ostensibly deals with the views of the House on "preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability". Campaigners however claim that the framing of the resolution will significantly lower the threshold for going to war; undermine diplomacy; and take peaceful options off the negotiating table. In the UK CODIR (Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights) is concerned that the vote on the resolution is taking place just a week before the US and Iran resume negotiations that many in the pro-war camp want to sabotage.

    CODIR claims that the resolution effectively calls for a military attack on Iran when it obtains a "nuclear weapons capability" - an undefined term that, by some interpretations, could already apply to Iran, not to mention Brazil, Japan, the Netherlands, and any country with a civilian nuclear program.

    "We should not stake questions of war and peace on such shaky foundations," stated CODIR Assistant General Secretary Jamshid Ahmadi today. "Given the resolution's unambiguous statement ruling out containing a nuclear-capable Iran, this resolution could be construed by this President, or a future President, as an authorisation for launching military action against Iran that would have devastating consequences."

    CODIR Honorary President, Alex Gordon, of Britain's largest specialist transport union RMT said:

    "Once again, in the run-up to a US Presidential election, we hear the beat of war drums from Capitol Hill. Bellicose posturing for a US domestic electorate is a luxury the peoples of the world and the Middle East cannot afford. The last decade witnessed dire results of US-led wars of intervention in Iran's neighbours, Afghanistan and Iraq. Now is the time to support workers, trade unionists and others in Iran struggling for equality, rights and political freedom, not ramp up military tension with coded calls for western military attacks on Iran. Trade unionists in Britain and all those who support peace will continue to speak out against the warmongers and enemies of workers' and human rights worldwide." Campaigners are arguing that at the absolute minimum, the resolution should clarify that it is not an authorisation of force and does not provide a legal authority for the President to initiate war against Iran.

    Mr. Ahmadi expressed further concern that there appear to be many in the US who are keen to see war as a first option to contain Iran, even though there is little likelihood of the Islamic Republic developing weapons capability without US knowledge.

    "The presence of international nuclear inspectors in Iran and U.S. intelligence gathering operations make it nearly impossible for Iran to build a nuclear weapon undetected," he said. "US and Israeli intelligence has been clear: Iran has yet to decide whether to actually build a bomb. Our aim must be to use diplomacy to implement the verification measures to guarantee Iran cannot take this step."

    CODIR has drawn attention to the negotiations scheduled for the 23rd May with Iran's Supreme Leader for the first time publicly endorsing negotiations and signaling that Iran is prepared to make key concessions to cap its enrichment in accordance with US national security interests. Campaigners fear that the bill could undermine those talks by signaling to Iran that the US is committed to war.

    Mr. Ahmadi concluded,
    "Serious diplomacy is the only way to prevent war, prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon and destruction of such weapons in other countries of the region including Israel, and put mechanisms in place to effectively address human rights abuses in Iran. Congress should support diplomacy, not undermine it."
    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    PRESS RELEASE - World Trade Unions in Solidarity with Iranian Workers


    For immediate release
    1st May 2012
    As the people of Iran mark 1st May, International Workers' Day, the celebration of which is banned in their country, trade union organisations across the world have expressed their solidarity with Iranian workers and trade unionists.


    On the eve of May Day, world trade union leaders have expressed their solidarity with the struggle of the Iranian workers and trade unionists by endorsing a May Day statement. The trade union leaders from Britain, Canada and Cyprus who supported the statement include:

    • Brendan Barber, General Secretary, Trade Union Congress, TUC, Britain
    • Dave Prentice, General Secretary, UNISON, Britain
    • Christine Blower, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, NUT, Britain
    • Sally Hunt, General Secretary, University and Colleges Union, UCU, Britain
    • Alex Gordon, National President, Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), Britain
    • Daniel Blackburn, Executive Director, International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR)
    • Pambis Kyritsis, General Secretary, PEO, Pancyprian Federation of Labour, Cyprus
    • Paul Taillefer, President of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, Canada.

    The statement highlights how workers in Iran are now confronting the unprecedented collapse of the economy and the brutal repression of a regime targeting organised labour. With inflation officially running at more than 20% and rising, with official unemployment at almost 15%, in a country with no welfare system, there is mass hardship. Any attempt by workers' to protest is met with suppression and punitive measures.

    According to media reports, the Iranian economy is also severely affected by current economic sanctions. Many factories are being forced to close; lack of imported spare parts and raw materials has either closed workplaces or forced them to operate under-capacity. Tens of thousands of workers have already been laid off. The health and well being of ordinary people is being put at risk due to the inadequate supply of medical equipment and medicines. The prices of daily basic necessities and housing have soared due to the devaluation of national currency and uncontainable inflation. Economic sanctions are only affecting ordinary people and must be lifted.

    Those who in any way attempt to resist suffer greatly. Teacher trade unionist, Abdulreza Ghanbari, is on death row and a number other teachers are being held. In the past month, Reza Shahabi, the leader of the transport workers in Tehran, was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment purely for engaging in trade union activities. Zabihullah Bagheri, a trade union activist from Isfahan, was recently arrested. Ali Nejati, the leader of the sugarcane workers in Hafttappeh, is being held in custody.

    There are scores of other trade union leaders and activists serving harsh prison sentences for the sole 'offence' of being trade unionists and campaigning for workers' rights, improved wages and conditions of service.

    The trades unions supporting the May Day call to action are united in calling upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to:-

    • Lifts the death sentence on Abdulreza Ghanabri;
    • Release immediately Reza Shahabi, Ali Nejati and Zabihullah Bagheri and all other trade unionists imprisoned for their trade union activities;
    • Halt the sacking of trade unionists and workers' activists because of their trade union activities;
    • Removes all obstacles preventing Iranian workers from setting up independent trade unions and joining trade unions in accordance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 concerning Freedom of Association; and
    • Lifts the ban on the right of workers to celebrate May Day and organise May Day events - with immediate effect.

    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    PRESS RELEASE - Solidarity with the working people of Iran on May Day 2012


    For immediate release
    30th April 2012


    On the occasion of International Workers Day, 1st May 2012, when workers across the globe will take to the streets in solidarity, there has been a particular call to remember the plight of workers in Iran.

    CODIR (Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights) is drawing attention to the fact that Iranian workers are unable to organise legally into effective trades unions; suffer poor pay and working conditions as a result, in spite of the wealth of the country; and are often imprisoned and tortured for their beliefs.

    CODIR points to the twin threat to Iranian workers of the monetarist economic policies of the government, which have led to widespread factory closures and unemployment, and the international sanctions imposed by the EU and the United States which exacerbate further the position for the working people of the country.

    "The sanctions campaign against Iran is not hitting the higher echelons but is crushing the ordinary people of Iran", said CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, "the prices of daily basic goods and housing have soared due to the devaluation of the national currency and uncontrollable inflation. We need to end the sanctions and press for negotiation with the regime."

    The solidarity organisation also states that inflation in the Islamic Republic is officially running at more than 20% with official unemployment at almost 15%, in a country with no welfare system. This means that there is mass hardship yet workers' protests continue to be met with suppression and punitive measures.


    Those imprisoned for their activities to address social justice include teacher trade unionist, Abdulreza Ghanbari, who is on death row. A number of other teachers are also being held. In the past month, Reza Shahabi, the leader of the transport workers in Tehran, was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment purely for engaging in trade union activities. Zabihullah Bagheri, a trade union activist from Isfahan, was recently arrested. Ali Nejati, the leader of the sugarcane workers in Hafttappeh, is being held in custody. There are scores of other trades union leaders and activists serving harsh prison sentences for the sole 'offence' of being trade unionists and campaigning for workers' rights, improved wages and decent conditions of service.

    CODIR has campaigned tirelessly for workers rights and against human rights abuses in Iran for over thirty years. On the occasion of May Day 2012 the organisation not only re-dedicates itself to continuing the struggle for the rights of the Iranian people but specifically demands that the regime:-

    • Lifts the death sentence on Abdulreza Ghanabri;
    • Releases immediately Reza Shahabi, Ali Nejati and Zabihullah Bagheri and all other trade unionists imprisoned for their trade union activities;
    • Halts the sacking of trade unionists and workers' activists because of their trade union activities;
    • Removes all obstacles preventing Iranian workers from setting up independent trade unions and joining trade unions in accordance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 concerning Freedom of Association; and
    • Lifts the ban on the right of workers to celebrate May Day and organise May Day events - with immediate effect.

    "These are all demands which would be perfectly reasonable and acceptable in a free society", said Mr Ahmadi, "we expect the Iranian government to, at the very least, comply with the norms of international behaviour and honour international conventions. The Iranian people deserve no less."
    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    PRESS RELEASE - Solidarity organisation condemns the rush to war
    Issued by CODIR on 11th April 2012 2012


    For immediate release




    The conditions and the pace at which the Islamic Republic of Iran is being made to negotiate over its nuclear energy programme means the likelihood of conflict in the region being escalated to a fullscale war footing will increase, according to the Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR).

    In a statement issued in advance of the up and coming P5+1 meeting of the permanent UN Security Council members and Germany, on 15th April, CODIR has condemned the comments of US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, last Saturday. Mrs Clinton stated, after attending a security conference in Saudi Arabia , that, "We're going in with one intention: to resolve the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear programme. Our policy is one of prevention, not containment. We are determined to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    "We enter into these talks with a sober perspective about Iran's intentions. It is incumbent upon Iran to demonstrate by its actions that it is a willing partner and to participate in these negotiations with an effort to obtain concrete results."

    CODIR are concerned that the Secretary of State is in danger of being seen to be too closely associated with the Israeli and Saudi Arabian regimes for any of her statements on behalf of the US government to be taken serioulsy in Tehran.

    "The language of the United States sounds increasingly like the language of ultimatum", said CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi. "There is no evidence that Iran is an imminent threat in terms of the level of its nuclear programme, which it continues to claim is for peaceful civilian purposes. However, the US continues to convey the impression that there is an immediate danger emanating from Tehran and this can only stoke tensions in an already sensitive part of the world."

    CODIR are also concerned that Mrs Clinton's remarks follow closely upon the anouncement by President Barack Obama that the US is to proceed with penalties which will choke off Iran's oil revenue while working with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to safeguard oil supplies.

    CODIR regards the struggle for peace in the region as being indivisible from that of the struggle for democracy in Iran itself. Inside Iran , officially, the unemployment rate is almost 15% while the number of those living under the poverty line is more than 20% of the total population. A new super rich minority, which has its roots in the Islamic clergy and has been involved in the highest echelons of the military and state apparatus, controls state power. The regime's political, economic and social outlooks are frighteningly backward and reactionary.

    The Iranian economy is in tatters because of the economic sanctions imposed so far. CODIR is concerned that it is the Iranian people who are paying the price for the sanctions to date and will be the main victims of any conflict.

    The demands to be made of Iran at the P5+1 meeting in Istanbul, to shut its underground nuclear facility at Fordo, to stop enriching uranium to 20%, and to hand over the estimated 100kg of uranium already enriched to that level, echo those pressed upon Barack Obama by Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu at a White House meeting last month.

    "The framing of these demands reinforces the impression that the P5+1 meeting could be a case of the Israeli tail wagging the UN Security Council dog," said Mr. Ahmadi, "Ironic given their own track record in obeying UN demands", he added. "CODIR will continue to press the case for peace in the region and for negotiation to be the only way to make progress. Far from Istanbul being seen as a 'last chance' it should be the opportunity for peace in the Middle East to be at the top of the UN agenda and give hope to the people of Iran and the wider region."

    CODIR has called on all anti-war and peace organisations world-wide to oppose the drive to war against Iran. CODIR believes that all disputes over Iran's nuclear programme should be resolved through negotiation, within the framework of the IAEA and in accordance with the UN Charter.
    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    PRESS RELEASE - Worldwide pressure brings hope for teacher in Iran
    Issued by CODIR on 30th of March 2012


    For immediate release




    A campaign to save the life of an Iranian teacher, Abdolreza Ghanbari, initiated by the Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has brought international pressure to bear upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Abdolreza Ghanbari is awaiting execution after his final appeal against his sentence was rejected.

    Ghanbari, was arrested at his workplace after anti-government demonstrations took place on 27th December 2009 to mark the Ashoura religious commemorations. Held in Evin Prison since his arrest, Ghanbari was tortured, ill-treated and denied access to a lawyer. Ghanbari was tried unfairly before Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on 30th January 2010 and sentenced to death for 'moharebeh' (enmity against God) for alleged links with the banned opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). The sentence was upheld on appeal, and his request for a pardon from the Amnesty and Clemency Commission was rejected at the end of February 2012.

    The campaign launched by CODIR on the 5th March 2012 has won the backing of many human rights and trade union organisations including Amnesty International, Labour Start, UNISON, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the University and College Union ( UCU ) in the UK, the Canadian Teachers' Federation and the global union, Education International.

    CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, has been encouraged by the response to the campaign so far but has urged more trades union and human rights groups urgently to back the campaign.

    "This case once again shows the Islamic Republic's contempt for the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights", he said. "We urge human rights, labour and trade union organisations around the world to step up the pressure and to continue to write to the Iranian government expressing their outrage at these arrests and demand to stop the execution of Mr. Ghanbari . This is now a desperate situation. We can't stop our campaign until a stay of execution is secured. "

    Alex Gordon, National President of RMT, Britain's largest specialist transport union and honorary President of CODIR said:

    "The global campaign launched by CODIR for freedom of Abdolreza Ghanbari and an end to persecution and oppression of trade unionists by the Iranian regime has attracted massive worldwide support.

    "The eyes of trade unionists are on Iran. CODIR will ensure that the campaign for workers' rights, peace and the right for the Iranian people to determine their own future free from state oppression or foreign interference continues to gain support."

    The demands of teachers and other trades unionists around the world have focussed upon urging the Iranian authorities to:-

    • Stay the execution of Prof. Abdolreza Ghanbari and revoke the death sentence;
    • Drop all charges against all detained trade unionists and release them immediately;
    • Compensate the individuals for the damages suffered as result of detentions;
    • Register the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers' Trade Associations (CCITTA) and allow it to hold trade union activities and reach out to members;
    • Stop the harassment and repression against teachers, unionists and human rights defenders;
    • Comply with the international labour standards and respect the rights of Iranian workers to freedom of association, assembly and expression;
    • Engage in a peaceful dialogue regarding the professional concerns of teachers in Iran .

    CODIR is urging organisations to write to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to outline these demands and most urgently address the question of the fate of Abdolreza Ghanbari .

    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    PRESS RELEASE - Pardon denied for teacher sentenced to death
    Issued by CODIR on 5th March 2012


    For immediate release




    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) is calling for pressure to be placed upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the case of Abdolreza Ghanbari, a school teacher and university professor of Persian literature, who has been sentenced to death.

    Mr. Ghanbari was arrested on the 27th December 2009 following demonstrations against the regime in which he did not even take part. His wife, daughter and witnesses have made it clear that Mr. Ghanbari was at home during the time of the demonstrations but they have been denied the chance to present their evidence, as Mr. Ghanbari was sentenced by Tehran's revolutionary court charged with "waging war against God."

    A request for pardon made to the Commission of Justice in Tehran was rejected this week meaning that the path is now clear for the state to proceed with Abdolreza Ghanbari's execution.


    Mr. Ghanbari has been incarcerated in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran where he was beaten, interrogated and forcibly made to confess to unproven charges against himself. The Iranian regime has accused Mr. Ghanbari of possessing suspicious e-mail, having had contacts with outside TV stations, and colluding with forces hostile to the regime.

    Abdolreza Ghanbari has no known political connections. He was previously involved in teachers' trade union activities until the union was eventually dissolved in 2007. Other than this, Mr. Ghanbari is known only for his teaching and cultural activities, trying not to do anything that may warrant the attention of the authorities.

    The case of Abdolreza Ghanbari is one of many that particularly involve teachers in Iran.

    Just recently, in an open letter to the Tehran Attorney on March the 2nd, the Teachers Trade Association of Iran described the situation of one of its incarcerated members, Rasoul Bodaghi, pointed out the conditions of other imprisoned teachers, and demanded their temporary release in time for the Iranian New Year (March 21st).

    Rasoul Bodaghi, is an Education Management professional, a Social Sciences teacher, and a board member of the Teachers Trade Association. He was arrested on 1st of September, 2009, and after 10 months was finally tried, charged with action against the national security. On August 3rd of 2010 he was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment and banned for five years from social and cultural activities. He has been in prison now for two and a half years without even some time off to attend his mother's funeral. Mr. Bodaghi is married with three daughters, two of them under 6 years old. After his detention, his pay was also stopped and later he was fired from his job.

    In May of 2011, Mr. Bodaghi went on hunger strike, during which he was transferred to solitary confinement in Gohardasht prison. His demands were:

    • Full implementation of prisons' statute, including visits, access to phone and the right to furlough
    • Ending any and all forms of pressure on the families of political prisoners
    • Immediate improvement of prisoners' welfare and conditions

    The Teachers Trade Association has also drawn attention to the cases of other teachers including Ali Pour-Soleymani, Mohamad Davari and Abdullah Momeni all of whom are serving time in prison under harsh conditions.

    Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, Jamshid Ahmadi, has said that the solidarity organisation is appalled at the treatment of detained teachers in Iran. "The cases of Abdolreza Ghanbari and Rasoul Bodaghi in particular are a clear example of the Iranian regime's lack of tolerance of the intellectuals in its society and its failure to address even basic human rights. These cases once again show the Islamic Republic's contempt for the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We urge human rights, labour and trade union organisations around the world to write to the Iranian government expressing their outrage at these arrests and the demand to stop the execution of Mr. Ghanbari."

    Alex Gordon, National President of the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT) and Honorary President of CODIR said:

    "We demand the immediate release of Mr. Abdolreza Ghanbari into the safety of his family. Yet again the Iranian regime has demonstrated its contempt for the rights of workers to organise freely and independently in trade unions and its appalling record of victimising innocent trade unionists in violation of International Labour Organisation conventions and internationally recognised standards. Abdolreza Ghanbari and Rasoul Bodaghi will not be forgotten victims of a vicious, anti-worker regime. Their names and the struggle for their freedom will be an inspiration to those who support the rights and freedoms of Iranian workers all over the world."

    ENDS

    PLEASE SEND APPEALS immediately and before 15th March 2012 to:

    Leader of the Islamic Republic
    Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
    The Office of the Supreme Leader
    Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
    Islamic Republic of Iran
    Email: info_leader@leader.ir
    Twitter: "Call on #Iran leader @khamenei_ir to halt the execution of Abdolreza Ghanbari"
    Salutation: Your Excellency

    Head of the Judiciary
    Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
    [Care of] Public Relations Office
    Number 4, 2 Azizi Street
    Vali Asr Ave., above Pasteur Street intersection
    Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
    Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com (Subject line: FAO Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani) or
    larijani@dadgostary-tehran.ir

    And copies to:
    Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights
    Mohammad Javad Larijani
    High Council for Human Rights
    [Care of] Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
    Email: info@humanrights-iran.ir (subject line: FAO Mohammad Javad Larijani)
    Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    The people vs the state


    Elections prepare ground for presidential showdown
    As the Islamic Republic of Iran attempts to rally voters to turn out for parliamentary elections on the 2nd March, Jane Green considers the increasingly belligerent positions being taken by both the regime and the West and the potential consequences for the Iranian people.
    29th February 2012



    The parliamentary election in Iran, scheduled for this Friday, has got precious little to do with a genuine exercise in democracy or with offering an opportunity for a popular alternative to emerge. The political opposition is completely barred from the election. Almost all political groupings of reformist, democratic and left orientation have called for a boycott of the sham. Friday's parliamentary election will be followed by a presidential election planned for June 2013. The one is in many respects a rehearsal for the other, with many observers seeing the March elections as a showdown between supporters of President Ahmadinejad on one side and conservative clergy close to Ayotollah Khamenei on the other. Much of Ahmadinejad's rhetoric of late has been aimed as much at positioning his supporters in the internal power struggle in Iran, as it has been about the international situation.

    Khamenei himself has acknowledged the sensitivity of the poll this week stating that, "To some extent, elections have always been a challenging issue for our country," going on to ask people, "to be careful that this challenge does not hurt the country's security".

    This is clearly a coded warning to any reformist and opposition groups not to 'rock the boat' especially in the face of the external threat from the US, EU and Israel. According to confirmed reports from Iran, nearly 600 candidates for Friday's election, including a group of current MPs in the outgoing parliament, have been barred from standing. They are deemed to be either "non-conformist", "not reliable" or "too independent and outspoken"!

    The leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran have just marked the 33rd anniversary of the February 1979 revolution, with all of the contradictions that brings. Contrary to what it would have the world believe, the anniversary is a difficult time for the leadership of the Islamic Republic. On the one hand it gives them the opportunity to position themselves as the inheritors of the mantle of 1979, a genuinely popular uprising against the oppressive Shah and his Western backers, who had drained the economy of Iran to line their own pockets.

    The present rulers of the Islamic Republic know that the rhetoric of anti-imperialism and a strong independent Iran still has resonance. This sense of purpose was fired in the US hostage debacle of 1980 and the ill judged fratricidal Iran-Iraq War of 1980 - 1988, in which the then Western backed Saddam Hussein attempted to stop the Iranian revolution in its infancy. Saddam failed but the hardline religious elements in Iran, originally part of the broad based coalition for change, were able to exploit the situation created by the war to consolidate their position around a distorted fundamentalist interpretation of the goals of the revolution.

    Those who argued the case for secularism and democracy in Iran found themselves, imprisoned, executed or forced into exile. It is this aspect of the revolution which gives the current Iranian leadership problems. The desire for democracy is one which has never left the Iranian people but found little means of expression until the 'stolen' presidential election, in June 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was returned to office amidst widespread allegations of vote rigging.

    Since then the tensions, which had previously simmered beneath the surface of Iranian society, have burst into the open and onto the streets, in the form of the Green Movement, trades union, youth and peace activists, all of whom call for a return to the true ideals of the Iranian revolution, of peace, justice and democracy.

    In order to counter this groundswell the leadership of the Islamic Republic is prepared to engage in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the West over its nuclear programme, access to the straits of Hormuz and its human rights record.

    In his address to a rally in Tehran to mark the anniversary of the revolution recently president Ahmadinejad stated,

    "God willing, the world will witness the inauguration of great achievements in the nuclear sphere in a few days,"

    He went on to state that Western powers were using the nuclear issue as a "pretext" to work "against the development of the Iranian nation".

    "They say that they want to talk to us. We have always been ready for talks. Well, they should be within the framework of justice and respect. I clearly declare that if you (the West) use the language of force and insult, the Iranian nation will never yield to you," he said.

    Ahmadinejad's remarks must be seen in the context of recent action on both sides which has escalated the tensions in a delicately balanced exchange.

    President Barack Obama recently said that the United States would work in "lockstep" with Israel to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons, going on to state that Israel's government was "rightly" very concerned about Iran's nuclear programme. No comment was forthcoming on the widely acknowledged 'secret' of Israel's nuclear capability, a significant factor in sustaining instability in the Middle East.

    While the US and EU believe tough action is needed in the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme there is nevertheless a risk of damage to the shaky economies of the developed world. Iran is an important oil producer and exports around 2.3m barrels a day. Even though there are guarantees in place from Saudi Arabia to make up any shortfall in Iranian oil supply, this would use up virtually all of the spare capacity from the world's biggest producer. The last time that happened, in 2008, oil prices climbed to almost $150 a barrel. Prices are currently running at around $110 a barrel. A leap to $150 a barrel would, without question, lead to a deep global recession in 2012.

    It is clear then that the stakes are high for all sides in the dispute. The threat of loss of supply may be enough to trigger recession in the West, while the reality of choking off the gulf certainly would result in recession.

    The possibility of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations, making it one step removed from a direct US intervention, has long been considered a tactical option. Many observers in the US think that such an attack is now more likely.

    Solidarity organisations have pledged to continue to do all they can to support the people of Iran and work is ongoing to link the peace movements across the globe to do everything they can to avert a conflict. The ordinary people of Iran would certainly be the first victims of sanctions, or a war, but many others may follow.

    Jane Green is a National Officer of Iran Solidarity Campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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    Sanctions force Iranian Industry to the verge of collapse!


    22 February 2012



    "Closure and Bankruptcy of More Than Sixty Manufacturing Plants in Bousher" is the heading of an article dated 19th February 2012 in Ilna, an influential authorised news agency in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The article details some of the remarks made by Mr. Mohammad Esmaeil Doshman-Zabary, the Head of the Coordination Centre of the Islamic Labour Council, the government sanctioned workers organisation that brings representatives of the employers, workers and the Ministry of Labour together.

    In the interview, Mr. Doshman-Zabary suggests that to avert bankruptcy, the Council has recommended to the State's banks that some manufacturing plants should be assisted with preferential loans. He states that,

    "Lack of cash, delayed debt payment to the banking system and the anarchic importing of goods are the most important difficulties of these manufacturing units."

    He goes on to highlight some of the issues in the manufacturing sector, pointing out that,

    "Manufacturing plants were shut down in earlier years; however, after 2010, the number of closures has increased." He added, "Some of the city authorities, including the city government of Gonaveh, Bousher, Borazjan have started laying off a large number of their service workers."

    According to Mr. Doshman-Zabary, implementation of the "targeting of the subsidies" policy and the anarchic importing of commodities has hurt a large number of manufacturing plants and has increased the unemployment rate. Targeting of the subsidies and reform of the Labour Law are corner stones of the economic plans of the unpopular and reactionary government of Ahmadinejad, which have been hailed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as necessary to restructure the Iranian economy.

    Mr. Doshman-Zabary emphasises the crisis in the sector by listing a range of plants that have closed such as Etemadieh Textile, with about 100 workers; the Gahr Paint Production, with more than 50 employees; the Polymer Complex with a collection of plants under it and more than 700 workers; the Sadra Naval Industries, which employed 3500 workers in the past; and the Shafagh Sack Textile with 200 workers.

    In an earlier article, on 15th January 2012, speaking to Ilna concerning the alarming rate at which poverty is increasing in large cities, Mr. Mohammad Reza Emadi, a labour expert indicated, "Considering that the poverty-line in large cities has been estimated to be at one million two hundred thousand Tomans (equivalent to US $660), more than 80 percent of the workers employed at the manufacturing plants earn the minimum wage set by the Supreme Labour Council."

    One dollar is currently traded at approximately 1800 Tomans. At present, the official minimum wage is 330000 Tomans (equivalent to US $183). However, especially in small cities, a large number of workers employed with temporary contracts receive much less than that figure.

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    The war that must not be


    Morning Star
    by Liz Payne a member of the Central Executive Council of CODIR
    20 February 2012



    One thing we can be sure of is that the intensifying war propaganda against Iran in Europe and the US has nothing to do with creating democracy, protecting human rights or supporting the interests of the people of Iran.

    Neither do the West's threats of sanctions, belligerent statements and military manoeuvres in the Gulf.

    What the above do have to do with is the US and its allies' pursuit of their "vital" interests at whatever cost - access to oil, control of the vital supply routes by land and water that cross the region and with the rival economies of Russia, India and China in mind, strengthening their presence in the heart of the Middle East.

    Protracted attempts to secure these goals through Afghanistan and Iraq have not been successful, so now it's Iran's turn.

    The publication of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report in early November gave the US and its Nato allies the excuse they were looking for.

    It could be construed, said Washington, that nuclear research in Iran might point to military purposes.

    This was only a pretex. If there was any genuine worry about the development of nuclear weapons in that part of the world, Israel and its nuclear arsenal would be the prime focus of condemnation - but not a word.

    If the US and its allies were serious about countering Iran's bellicosity, five Iranian scientists would not have been assassinated in two years.

    Attacks such as these by Iran in London, New York or Jerusalem would without doubt be taken as tantamount to declarations of war.

    The "response" of the West to the IAEA report was immediate and well rehearsed.

    The US would bar financial institutions that traded with Iran from the US market.

    EU foreign ministers would agree an oil embargo.

    Saudi Arabia would promise to make up the shortfall - a lucrative scheme for Riyadh at 431,000 barrels a day.

    And Iran's response? Do it and we'll close the Strait of Hormuz.

    A highly provocative and dangerous tit-for-tat ensued. Just a single spark might set the Middle East and far beyond ablaze.

    The US has warned Iran not to cross the red line of closure of the strait, while Britain threatened military action.

    US, British and French warships sailed to Hormuz, Iran warned of military retaliation if they returned and it doubled its defence budget.

    The Iranian navy conducted major exercises, promising further manoeuvres shortly.

    General Ali Fadavi warned that these would be like nothing seen before - "large-scale war games at sea."

    Whatever Iran does, the US and its Nato allies will be "conflict-ready and waiting," as was always the intention.

    Out of the headlines and with the world's eye on Syria, the US is busy conducting a mass build-up of ships and supplies in the Gulf, most heading for the US Fifth Fleet and its base in Bahrain.

    Military/security equipment for "external defence" is on its way to the Bahraini government from the US, clearly destined to service the US operation and to keep the protesting Bahraini people in check.

    Whatever happens, there will be no regime change in Bahrain. So much for democracy and human rights, once again.

    Then there was a hiccup. In late January the IAEA inspectors returned to Iran and got on well, they said.

    They would consider all information brought out of Iran and return to continue their work shortly.

    Getting along nicely with no nuclear weapons in sight wasn't what the US had hoped for.

    With its nuclear pretext in jeopardy, its war propaganda machine got into top gear fast. "Iran will have a nuclear bomb in a year!" US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned, in a blatant contradiction of other statements and reports the US had issued.

    The threats and posturing of the US, Britain and the EU may well have enabled them to jockey themselves into a desired position, but the advantage has definitely not been one-sided. The crisis-ridden dictatorial regime in Tehran has also benefited.

    "Enemies at the gates" have distracted attention from its many internal problems, not least an economy in tatters, a government bankrupt of solutions and runaway inflation that doubled last year and is now at 20 per cent and rising.

    The regime's leaders have been paying for their recent catastrophic decision to remove subsidies on food and fuel, which left huge sections of the population angry and desperate.

    Now the regime has the perfect excuse to call for national unity and use war hysteria to suppress the rising tide of dissident voices.

    Predictably, arrests of journalists, students and peace campaigners and the intimidation of political opponents are in full swing.

    Suppression of opposition is especially critical to the regime as it is holding parliamentary elections at the beginning of March.

    This will be the first test of its capacity to cling on to power since the election of June 2009, when huge street protests erupted over the stolen vote that falsely gave President Ahmadinejad a second term of office.

    Then the regime only held on to power by brute force - curfews, mass arrests, torture and executions.

    Since then there has been the Arab Spring and the regime is edgy and frightened.

    The government has already issued appeals for voters to unite behind it to face down Western and Israeli threats.

    The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has given a sinister warning about not allowing Iran's security to be threatened by elections, and the names of hundreds of candidates - some of whom are serving in the current parliament - have been removed from electoral lists.

    The regime is also going into the election as an increasingly fractured entity. Chasms are opening up between position Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

    It has even been claimed that the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz has as much to do with the coming vote as to talking big to foreign enemies.

    The most hawkish military-backed elements seek to gain credibility by squaring up to external adversaries. Who knows what else they might do to prove themselves?

    Whatever it is, we can be sure that the US and its allies will be waiting.

    As Tarja Cronberg, chairwoman of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with Iran said recently, "Iran is being pushed into a corner."

    It is the Iranian people who will suffer most from sanctions, threats and war. They should not be made to pay either for the belligerence of the US and its allies or for the provocative positions of the Iranian government.

    The interests of the people of Iran are not served by war and the Iranian people have made it clear that they have no interest in conflict.

    What is in their interest is to be able to determine their own future without fear and repression from a dictatorial regime and without intervention of any kind from any foreign power.

    A free and democratic Iran is of course not in the interests of either the US and its allies or the current regime, and this is why our solidarity is so important to them.

    If we cannot draw back from the impending and potentially global war, the people of the Middle East, Europe and the US will all suffer too.

    In Britain we will pay with our taxes, our jobs, public services and with our hard-won rights and freedoms. Many will also pay with their lives.

    The only winners will be the military-industrial complexes, the arms traders and their financial backers.

    We would do well to remember that all major economic recessions in the capitalist world were "solved" by a drive to war.

    This time it isn't looking any different.

    But conflict is not inevitable. People can prevent it by standing together now.

    All of us - especially the people of the US and Europe - should put pressure on their governments to stop steering the world to the brink of disaster and rather to do everything possible to keep the channels of serious dialogue open with Iran.

    You can find out more about the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights, its campaign and how to support it at www.codir.net

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    Stop the Drive to War!


    Toronto, Canada- The Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity (TAPS) and the Committee for the Defense of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) held a rally on Saturday, February 4, at Dundas Square, Toronto.
    4 February 2012




    CODIR has been unequivocal in its condemnation of any external interference in the affairs of the Islamic Republic, stressing that it is for the people of Iran to determine their own future. Human rights, peace and trades union organisations must show solidarity in assisting the people of Iran to establish a truly democratic state. The possibility of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations, making it one step removed from a direct US intervention, has long been considered a tactical option and CODIR insist that the sanctions campaign makes such an attack more likely.

    Mr. Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, had urged "...the peace movements across the globe to do everything they can to avert a conflict," stating that: "...the ordinary people of Iran will certainly be the first victims of sanctions or a war but many others may follow."

    CODIR had declared its full support for the demonstrations taking place on Saturday 4th February in many cities across the world.

    TAPS also mentioned in the joint invitation that "almost exactly 9 years ago, many of us [in Canada] were preparing for massive mobilizations against a US-led invasion of Iraq. Underneath all of the political speeches and media panic about weapons of mass destruction, we knew the real reason behind the war drive: oil.

    "Now, in the case of Syria and Iran, we are confronted by the same speeches about WMD, the same portraits of megalomaniacal dictators, the same efforts to soften public opinion in favour of war. And, again, we are confronted by the same underlying issue: oil.

    "We need to show our solidarity with the people of Syria and Iran by doing what we can to prevent a US and NATO-led aggression. We must stand up and protest this drive to war. "Please join us and raise your voice against war, and for a Canadian foreign policy that is based on peace."

    TAPS leaflet titled "No Time to Waste", that was distributed on the day of rally, along with CODIR's latest press release on peace demonstrations, denounces the plan of Stephen Harper, Canada's Prime Minister, in preparing the public for another war, and dispatching a Canadian warship to the waters off Iran. The leaflet concludes that we don't have to take the path of war; "we can take a different path, the path of peace", and "we need to mobilize once more, to prevent another disastrous war!"


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    PRESS RELEASE - Sanctions are no solution says solidarity organisation


    For immediate use
    2nd February 2012




    The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) toady condemned the EU move to impose sanctions upon the Islamic Republic of Iran as effectively a declaration of war upon the Iranian people. The organisation, which has campaigned for thirty years against human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic, has been a prominent voice in insisting that dialogue is the only way forward in the current crisis. The sanctions imposed by the EU are seen as a provocative escalation of an already unstable situation which could be a precursor to military intervention by the West. CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, made clear the position of human rights and peace organisations in relation to Iran stating, "We condemn the Iranian regime for its human rights violations, its ongoing repression of religious minorities and the regime's persecution of human rights activists. However, embargoing Iranian oil through the de-facto ban on trade with Iran 's central bank ultimately has a negative impact upon the ordinary people of Iran ." CODIR is also concerned that the reality of Western sanctions and the threat of military intervention will hand the regime a propaganda coup ahead of parliamentary elections in March. "These sanctions are a boost for the Iranian regime in advance of the elections in March." said Mr Ahmadi . "There is no proof of a nuclear weapons programme, only secret service suspicions and allegations. What we really need is the escalation of human rights dialogue and serious negotiations for a nuclear-free Middle East." CODIR are unequivocal in their condemnation of any external interference in the affairs of the Islamic Republic, stressing that it is for the people of Iran to determine their own future. Human rights, peace and trades union organisations must show solidarity in assisting the people of Iran to establish a truly democratic state. The possibility of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations, making it one step removed from a direct US intervention, has long been considered a tactical option and CODIR insist that the sanctions campaign makes such an attack more likely. "We will continue to do all we can to support the people of Iran ", said Mr Ahmadi , "and we are looking to the peace movements across the globe to do everything they can to avert a conflict. The ordinary people of Iran will certainly be the first victims of sanctions or a war but many others may follow." CODIR has declared its full support for the demonstrations taking place on Saturday 4th February in many cities across the world.

    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK , the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran 's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran .

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

    Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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    PRESS RELEASE - Solidarity organisation calls for a halt to the slide to war


    For immediate use




    The ongoing killing of Iranian scientists has been condemned as a provocation to war by a leading solidarity organisation campaigning for peace in the Middle East. The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) last week pointed out that the assassination of 32 year old chemist, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, was the fifth time a scientist associated with Iran's nuclear programme had been killed in the past two years.

    CODIR claims that if such actions had taken place on US or British soil they would have been seen as tantamount to a declaration of war. CODIR has warned that there are elements within the Iranian regime which will see these actions in the same way and may foolishly and disastrously respond accordingly.

    CODIR is calling for peace activists in the United States, the UK and across Europe and the Middle East in particular to put pressure upon their governments not to press for conflict with Iran but to keep the door open for dialogue. The solidarity organisation believes that the Iranian people should not be made to pay for the provocative positions taken by the Iranian government or the belligerence of the United States and its allies.

    "The interests of the people of Iran are not served by war," said CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, today. "It is only the leaders of the theocratic regime in Tehran, who see war as a distraction from their serious internal problems, and the United States, which sees it as a further chance to consolidate their influence in the region, who would regard war as an option." He continued, "The Iranian people, through their progressive intellectuals, peace activists, progressive forces and labour organisations have made it clear that they have no interest in conflict." While the US has been keen to distance itself from the assassinations, the Israelis, in the person of the Israeli military spokesman, Brigadier General Yoay Mordechai, have expressed the view that they are "definitely not shedding a tear." Experts in the intelligence community suggest that the killings have all the hallmarks of an Israeli operation.

    The possibility of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations, making it one step removed from a direct US intervention, has long been considered a tactical option and CODIR insists that the assassination campaign and its consequences could make such an attack more likely.

    "We will continue to do all we can to support the people of Iran", said Mr Ahmadi, "and we are looking to the peace movements across the globe to do everything they can to avert a conflict. The ordinary people of Iran would certainly be the first victims of a war but many others would follow. We call for peace and respect for international law at all times."

    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK , the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran 's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran .

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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    Escalating conflict with Iran could spur disastrous war


    People's World
    by: JANE GREEN
    january 13 2012



    With 10 days of naval exercises by Iran having just been completed, including the testing of long-range ballistic missiles, the naval commander for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, has announced further activities next month. Fadavi has said that the drill in February will be "different compared to previous exercises held by the IRGC".  

    The exercises, coupled with the warning that Iran could close the strait of Hormuz, the narrowest point in the Persian Gulf, through which a fifth of the world's traded oil passes, has now encouraged the United States and Israel to announce that they are to carry out extensive joint maneuvers in the region. The U.S. and UK have said they will act to keep the shipping lanes open. Philip Hammond, the British defense secretary, said during a visit to Washington: "Disruption to the flow of oil through the strait of Hormuz would threaten regional and global economic growth. Any attempt by Iran to close the strait would be illegal and unsuccessful."

    The planned U.S./Israeli maneuvers will involve thousands of troops and will test multiple Israeli and U.S. air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets. Israel and the U.S. have developed the Arrow anti-ballistic system, which is designed to intercept Iranian missiles in the stratosphere.

    At the end of January, it is anticipated that European Union foreign ministers will agree to impose an embargo on Iranian oil imports. The action follows a report in November by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which supported western allegations that Iran had worked on nuclear weapon design.

    While the U.S. and EU believe tough action is needed in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program there is nevertheless a risk of damage to the shaky economies of the developed world. Iran is an important oil producer and exports around 2.3 million barrels a day. Even though there are guarantees in place from Saudi Arabia to make up any shortfall in Iranian oil supply, this would use up virtually all of the spare capacity from the world's biggest producer. The last time that happened, in 2008, oil prices climbed to almost $150 a barrel. Prices are currently running at around $110 a barrel. A leap to $150 a barrel would, without question, lead to a deep global recession in 2012.

    It is clear then that the stakes are high for all sides in the dispute. The threat of loss of supply may be enough to trigger recession in the West, while the reality of choking off the Persian Gulf certainly would result in recession.  

    In Iran, parliamentary elections are scheduled for March this year with a presidential election planned for 2013. The one is in many respects a rehearsal for the other, with many observers seeing the March elections as a showdown between supporters of President Ahmadinejad on one side and conservatives close to Ayatollah Khamenei on the other. The fact is that all independent, left and progressive forces have already openly protested about the conditions in which the parliamentary elections are taking place by announcing their decision to boycott them altogether.   

    Khamenei himself has acknowledged the sensitivity of the poll in March, stating that "To some extent, elections have always been a challenging issue for our country," and going on to ask people "to be careful that this challenge does not hurt the country's security".

    This is clearly a coded warning to any reformist and opposition groups not to "rock the boat," especially in the face of the external threat from the U.S., EU and Israel.  Although more than 5,000 candidates have put their names forward for the parliamentary elections, the Council of Guardians of the Constitution, the body of conservative clerics and lawyers in charge of vetting all candidates before elections, will publish the names of those approved by the regime. In the past, the Council has blocked many, including former MPs, from running. It was indeed announced this week that 500 of the 5,000 candidates registered for the March election have already been disqualified. This includes about 20 outspoken and independent MPs serving in the current outgoing parliament.

    The election is the first significant test of the regime's ability to bring people to the polls and control the outcome in its favor since the 2009 presidential election, which saw widespread vote-rigging and the "election" for a second term of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the face of well-documented opposition claims that they had outpolled the incumbent president. In 2009 the regime responded by deploying brute force to silence the mass protest movement. Nearly 100 protesters were killed and thousands of activists were imprisoned. The opposition candidates have been detained since that time and denied any right to speak openly on any issue.

    The recent announcement that Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, an Iranian-American born in Arizona in 1983, is to be sentenced to death for confessing to being a CIA agent will do little to improve relations between the U.S. and the regime. With U.S. Congress financial sanctions aimed at Iran's oil trade, due to come into effect in June, the stage is set for ongoing drama in the Persian Gulf and the potential for wider economic and military impact if all sides cannot be brought to the discussion table.

    No one can be in any doubt that this situation, if not resolved, could lead to a major conflagration of unimaginable proportions and with consequences that will reverberate throughout the Middle East and across the world. Everything possible must be done to ensure that a military conflict is prevented, including the withdrawal of U.S. and British naval forces from the Persian Gulf.

    Photo: The aiircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush passes through the Strait of Hormuz, Oct. 9, 2011. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Betsy Knapper.

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    International Solidarity with the Struggle of the Iranian People for Peace and Progress!


    For immediate use




    In an unprecedented development, leaders of 72 Communist and Workers' parties meeting in Athens for their 13th annual conference adopted a statement in opposition to US and EU threats against Iran. The sponsoring parties of the statement, which include influential Communist parties such as those from Cuba, South Africa, the Russian Federation, Brazil, India and Cyprus, condemned the jingoistic propaganda emanating from the US, EU and Israeli administrations and expressed their "serious concern about future developments in relation to Iran". They declared "their solidarity with the working class of Iran in its complex struggle for peace, sovereignty, democracy and social justice" and warned that "threats of external imperialist intervention serve only to strengthen the hands of the most reactionary sections" of the ruling regime.

    The text of the statement and the list of parties supporting it are published below:

    Statement in opposition to the threats of military intervention in Iran

    The participants of the 13th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties taking place on 9-11th December 2011 in Athens, Greece express their solidarity with the working class of Iran in their complex struggle for peace, sovereignty, democracy and social justice.

    We view with grave concern the moves by the NATO powers, following their intervention in Libya, to extend their programme of regime change across the entire Middle East. The policies, statements and concrete actions adopted by the US, the EU and Israel in the region all indicate an active intent to shift the balance of power across the entire Middle East in favour of imperialism. Communists believe that Imperialist policies in the Middle East are designed to guarantee the control of the massive energy resources and untapped markets of this geopolitically strategic region for monopolies and oil transnationals.

    The recent heightening of tensions in relation with Iran following the Israel's threat of a nuclear strike against that country, the publication of a damaging Atomic Energy Agency's report on Iran's nuclear programme, the new series of punitive economic and financial sanctions adopted by the UK, Canada, the US and supported by other EU countries, the withdrawal of the British diplomatic mission from Iran and the ordering out of the Iranian diplomatic mission in London is a serious concern about the future developments in relation with Iran.

    We therefore reiterate our opposition to all such interventions against sovereign countries as violations of the United Nation's founding charter. Communists believe that it is the right of the Iranian people themselves to determine the direction of future developments in their country and to achieve peace, democracy and progress. Threats of external imperialist intervention strengthen the hands of the most reactionary sections of the ruling class.

    We resolutely condemn any intervention in Iran by imperialist states and their allies, which are trying to advance their plan for the creation of a "Greater Middle East".

    We believe that it is the right of the Iranian people themselves to determine the direction of future developments in their country and to achieve peace, democracy and social progress.

    The Parties supporting:

    1. CP of Albania
    2. PADS, Algeria
    3. CP of Azerbaijan
    4. CP of Australia
    5. CP of Bangladesh
    6. WP of Bangladesh
    7. WP of Belgium
    8. CP of Brazil
    9. Brazilian CP
    10. CP of Britain
    11. NCP of Britain
    12. CP of Bulgaria
    13. CP of Canada
    14. SWP of Croatia
    15. CP of Cuba
    16. AKEL, Cyprus
    17. CP of Bohemia and Moravia
    18. CP in Denmark
    19. CP of Denmark
    20. CP of Egypt
    21. CP of Finland
    22. French CP
    23. CP of Macedonia, FYROM
    24. UCP of Georgia
    25. German CP
    26. PPP, Guyana
    27. KKE
    28. Hungarian CWP
    29. CP of India
    30. CP of India [Marxist]
    31. Tudeh Party of Iran
    32. CP of Ireland
    33. WP of Ireland
    34. Party of the Italian Communists
    35. Communist Refoundation Party
    36. Jordanian CP
    37. Lebanese CP
    38. Socialist People's Front, Lithuania
    39. CP of Luxembourg
    40. CP of Malta
    41. CP of Mexico
    42. NCP of the Netherlands
    43. CP of Norway
    44. Palestinian CP
    45. Palestinian People's Party
    46. CP of Pakistan
    47. Paraguayan CP
    48. CP of Peru [Patria Roja]
    49. Peruvian CP
    50. Philippine CP (PKP-1930)
    51. CP of Poland
    52. Portuguese CP
    53. Romanian CP
    54. CPSU
    55. CP of the Russian Federation
    56. RKRP-RPC
    57. Party of the Communists of Serbia
    58. NPC of Yugoslavia
    59. South African CP
    60. CP of Spain
    61. CP of the Peoples of Spain
    62. Party of the Communists of Cataluna
    63. CP of Sri-Lanka
    64. CP of Sudan
    65. CP of Sweden
    66. Syrian CP
    67. Syrian CP [Unified]
    68. CP of Turkey
    69. CP of Ukraine
    70. Union of Communists of Ukraine
    71. CPUSA
    72. CP of Venezuela

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    PRESS RELEASE - Concern for peace and human rights as tensions mount


    For immediate use




    Human rights and peace activists in the UK and across the world have expressed concern about the mounting tension between the USA and Iran recently.

    In the past few weeks Israel has been sending out signals that it may bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. While this in itself is provocative it is widely believed that the intention of the Israelis is to ensure that pressure remains upon the US and the world community to isolate Iran.

    In response to this pressure the House Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress is currently considering a bill which will restrict anyone in the US government having any contact with any representative of the government of Iran. Such a move would be unprecedented in wartime but is unheard of in peacetime.

    The bill, if passed, would effectively prevent the US government from engaging in diplomacy with the Islamic Republic of Iran other than in circumstances which posed an "extraordinary threat to the vital national security interests of the United States".

    The bill comes against the background of comments made at last weeks' G20 summit by Barack Obama and Nikolas Sarkozy that pressure must be kept upon Iran over the nuclear issue. UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, also stated in relation to Iran that "Britain would not take any options off the table..."

    At a time of such sensitivity for the world in general, and the Middle East in particular, human rights and peace campaigners fear that the ground for war against Iran is being prepared. Following events in Libya and the current crisis in Syria the possibility of seeing Iran as the next regime change 'issue' to address in the region cannot be ruled out.

    "Diplomacy is the core of the system of international relations", said CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, "A system in which states can simply cease to speak to each other can only end in bloodshed. Diplomacy is the route to prevent war. Cutting off communication cannot bring about any mutual understanding or compromise."

    Mr Ahmadi further added: "There is an urgent need for the formation of a popular and united movement for defence of peace, democracy and social justice in Iran. However the repressive policies of the theocratic regime against the progressive movement in the country have made the formation of a popular front for peace and against the foreign aggression impossible. When the left and progressive forces, trade unions, the youth, student, and women movements are under the vicious attack of the regime, how could a dynamic mass movement take shape to defend the integrity and sovereignty of the country? "

    CODIR has consistently expressed concern about both the fate of political prisoners in Iran but also the impact of external intervention upon the Iranian people. The human rights group has consistently campaigned against abuses of human rights by the Islamic Republic but also argued for the fate of Iran to be in the hands of its people, not the governments of Israel or the United States.

    CODIR will continue to raise concerns about the threat of war in the region and press for ongoing diplomacy through the United Nations to resolve any issues between Iran and other countries.

    ENDS

    Contact Information:-

    Postal Address:
    B.M.CODIR
    London
    WC1N 3XX
    UK
    Website: www.codir.net
    E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

    Further information for Editors

    CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK , the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran 's prisons.

    CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran .

    In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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    Power Struggle at the Heart of the Theocratic Regime!
    21st August 2011


    With less than two years to go before the next presidential election in Iran the power struggle to determine its outcome is in full swing. Jane Green considers the implications for the Iranian people and the consequences for peace in the region.




    Uncertainty and instability are not usually associated with autocratic regimes such as the Islamic Republic of Iran. The 2009 presidential election, which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reinstated for a second term, changed all of that as thousands of Iranians poured onto the streets in protest at an election result which was widely seen as being rigged.

    For the clergy and the revolutionary guards, the real power in Iran, Ahmadinejad was seen as a safe pair of hands. Having tolerated eight years of the reform minded president Khatami from 1997 - 2005, the hard line taken by Ahmadinejad in his first term was enough to satisfy the clerics that a further four years was necessary, whichever way the Iranian people actually chose to vote.

    Opposition candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi subsequently suffered threats and harassment. They are now effectively under indefinite house arrest. Their supporters in the Green Movement, along with others in the political opposition and trades union movement, have been subject to regular violence, imprisonment and, in some cases, execution.

    Yet two years into Ahmadinejad's second term all is not well. In April the president disappeared from office for a full 11 days after his decision to sack intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi was overturned by Ayotollah Khamenei. Having sacked the Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, in December last year, in spite of Mottaki being a favourite of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad thought that he had a free hand in re-shaping his government.

    Of course there can be no such freedom under the Iranian system where the Supreme Leader has the final veto. The extent of presidential power is still reliant on the support of the religious zealots at the heart of Iran's power structures. Undeterred, Ahmadinejad recently attempted to streamline his Cabinet with the merger of eight ministries into four. The move was formally blocked by Khamenei, assisted by parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani. Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad has sacked three ministers and taken temporary control of the oil ministry.

    Needless to say this move has been unpopular in the Iranian parliament and has put Ahmadinejad is on a collision course with both the parliament and the religious establishment. The dispute has reached the point where Ayotollah Khamenei has appointed a mediator, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, to resolve the dispute between the president and parliament. Shahroudi will chair a five member panel made up of hardliners known for their opposition to any reforms within the ruling system.

    As Ahmadinejad is unable to stand again it is widely believed that his preferred successor is his current chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. However, Mashaei is deeply unpopular with the religious establishment because of his views on the importance of promoting pre-Islamic Persian history as part of the culture of Iran, suggesting that the country should be an 'Iranian republic' rather than an 'Islamic Republic'.

    Such talk is seen as the precursor to reducing the role of the clergy in the constitution to a largely symbolic one, with increased powers for the presidency. While on the surface Mashaei's position has the veneer of modernity he is nevertheless a deeply conservative politician. His current positioning is widely seen as an attempt to woo those disaffected by the outcome of the 2009 election, by positioning himself as a modernising voice within the Iranian system.

    Whether Mashaei gets to test his views with the voters remains to be seen however. In recent weeks at least 25 people close to the president and Mashaei have been arrested by the security forces and are facing charges ranging from revolutionary 'deviancy' to espionage.

    More recently it has appeared that current parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, may be positioning himself as the hardline candidate. In relation to the recent dispute between the president and parliament Larijani has backed the role of Ayotollah Khamenei in settling any differences stating,

    "We at the Majlis (Parliament) sometimes pass something but when we realise that the leader has a different view, then we change our position. I think this is one of the positive aspects of the Majlis, in that when it understands the views of the leader, it acts on it."

    This sounds very much like Larijani offering himself as the safe pair of hands the Ayotollahs will be looking for in 2013.

    While the struggle for position in the 2013 presidential race goes on, the Iranian people are already the losers before the official campaign begins. Flying in the face of reality president Ahmadinejad praised Iran's economic development in a speech on the 28th February in which he asserted that,

    "Iran is one of the few countries in the world where no one goes to sleep hungry."

    However, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Iran report (Dec 2010) high inflation will be a factor in Iran's economy for the next four years. The current inflation rate is 15% which Ahmadinejad has responded to by keeping the exchange rate artificially high. The outcome of this strategy is that the price of foreign goods remains more stable than those produced in Iran, meaning that Iranian produced goods remain on the shelves. The reality has been that the doubling of the price of bread and the quadrupling of gas prices, has pushed many ordinary Iranians further in to poverty and, in spite of Ahmadinejad's pronouncements, hunger.

    The instability of the next two years is not likely to help Iran's position on the international stage. The threat of external attack, whether from the US or Israel is never far away. There has already been speculation that an Israeli attack on Iran could happen before the September meeting of the UN Security Council, which is scheduled to discuss the issue of Palestinian statehood.

    While political moves are played out in Iran's ruling circles the economy continues to be in freefall, the international position of the country is uncertain and the lives of the Iranian people are a daily struggle against unemployment and inflation. The removal of subsidies on fuel, food and other daily essentials has led to recent unrest with labour protests over delayed salary payments and rising unemployment. This is where the hope for the Iranian people lies, in their own hands. Action by the people in Egypt and Tunisia is showing what is possible. Iran's leaders are well aware that, for all their manoeuvring, the people may yet decide the election outcomes in ways that may not be to the liking of the establishment.

    Jane Green is a National Officer of Iran Solidarity Campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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    Islamic Republic defiant as executions escalate
    27th July 2011


    With executions running into the hundreds and the Iranian regime refusing access to the UN special rapporteur on human rights, the Islamic Republic is heading for yet another clash with the international community. Jane Green considers the regime's thin grasp on legitimacy in view of recent developments.




    The decision of the United Nations in June to appoint Ahmad Shahid, the former Maldivian foreign affairs minister, as special rapporteur for human rights in Iran was roundly condemned by Tehran.

    According to the Tehran Times, the state English-language newspaper, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Iran's secretary general of the high council for human rights, said: "The western-engineered appointment of a special rapporteur for Iran is an illegal measure." Larijani went on to elucidate the position of the Iranian government further by stating that, "This unilateral action makes no sense and if they want to send a special rapporteur to Iran, they should take the same measure in the case of other countries."

    The abuse of human rights has been a long standing characteristic of the way in which the Islamic Republic of Iran deals with its internal opposition. For many years political activists have found themselves in Tehran's notorious Evin prison and others across the country. Many have never returned, falling victim to secret executions.

    The Iranian regime has always been able to find a 'reason' for these actions once it has been forced to admit to them. Crimes against the Supreme Leader, the Islamic State or spying for foreign powers have usually figured prominently.

    Over the past two years however the character of executions in Iran has changed. Secret executions continue but there has been a growth in public executions across the country. Following the stolen election of 2009 any legitimacy to which the Islamic Republic previously laid claim evaporated. In a country where the reliance upon force has always been a key factor in maintaining its power base, the regime is moving towards the use of force as the only mean by which it can sustain its role.

    This is a dangerous position as other leaders in the region are finding out. Hosni Mubarek has gone from office in Egypt and Bashar al Assad could go the same way in Syria. Neither has the benefit of being able to base their claims to legitimacy upon a popular revolution led by the people, as the Iranian leaders can.

    While the legitimacy of this claim on the part of the Islamic Republic's leaders is eroded daily, the rhetoric has remained powerful within certain quarters of the Iranian society for many years. The 'defence of the nation' in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88, along with the sustained opposition of both the US and Israel, has allowed the regime to play the 'defenders of the faith' card to the limit.

    However, the people's tolerance of the regime's excesses is now being severely tested. According to Amnesty International over 500 people were executed in Iran on drug related charges in 2010, with over 300 more executions up to June 2011. While UN guidance on executions states that they should be used, if at all, only for crimes with lethal or other extremely grave consequences, most executions in Iran are for alleged "drug trafficking" and "rape". While the severity of these crimes, especially rape, should not be underestimated, questions have been raised as to whether the judicial response in Iran is proportionate. There are also doubts about whether those executed are all "drug traffickers" and "rapists" or whether the regime is trying to get rid of its opponents under this pretext.

    There is a growing sense that the use of execution as a judicial tool in Iran is an expression of the regime's 'power'. The fact that executions in public are growing in number underlines the view that there is an element of public warning about the process. While on the one hand the execution of drug pushers and rapists is designed to be 'populist', there is nevertheless a clear message that the regime will not deal with other forms of transgression lightly.

    At the same time there is no let up in the arrest, harassment and intimidation of political activists in Iran, or their arbitrary torture and execution.

    The wave of international outrage at footage released recently by Amnesty International, of executions in Kermanshah, is further evidence that the Islamic regime's brutalisation of society does not know any limits. The sheer volume of killings has also led to questions about the legitimacy of the judicial process and whether international norms of justice have been applied. Given the track record of the Islamic Republic, this is unlikely to be the case.

    In relation to ongoing executions in secret Iranian Nobel laureate and international human rights lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, has been leading calls for the Iranian regime to admit to secret executions stating that,

    "If these executions took place legally, if the judiciary was fair, the relevant court would have made (the appropriate) announcement and informed public opinion of its work."

    This combination of mass public and secret executions was the motivation for the UN to intervene and appoint its special rapporteur. As things stand it would appear that Ahmad Shahid is not likely to be allowed to conduct any investigation directly inside Iran. For those campaigning against the abuse of human rights in the Islamic Republic it remains vital that the spotlight is trained upon the regime and that all possible pressure is brought to bear from the international community to stop both public and secret executions in the country.

    Jane Green is a National Officer of Iran Solidarity Campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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    PRESS RELEASE - Nineteen Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Iran
    Issued by CODIR on 24 June 2011


    For immediate release




    CODIR has today called on labour and progressive movements and people across the world to join the movement of solidarity with a group of prominent political prisoners who are on hunger strike in Iran against the maltreatment and murder of political detainees.

    The 19 hunger-strikers include a former deputy foreign minister, a number of well known progressive journalists, a former general secretary of the student movement in Iran and several reformist politicians.

    Twelve political prisoners in section 350 of the Evin prison began their indefinite hunger strike on Saturday 18 June in protest against the murder of two political prisoners, Haleh Sahabi and Hoda Saber, earlier in the month. On Thursday 23 June, six further political prisoners from Rajaei Shahr prison in Karaj joined the hunger strike.


    Mohsen Amin Zadeh, a former deputy foreign minister during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, who was on temporary release from prison when the hunger strike began, was called back to Evin prison after attending Hoda Saber's funeral. Before returning to prison, he announced that he also would join the hunger strike. Emadoldin Baghy, one of the first political prisoners to hunger strike, was released after serving his term. He has vowed that he will nonetheless continue to hunger strike until the demands of the protesters are met. Mohammad Javad Mozafar, another of the political prisoners on hunger strike, has been given three day's temporary leave from the prison to attend a relative's funeral. He too has indicated that he will stay on hunger strike during his temporary release. However, Mehdi Karimian Eghbal, another political prisoner, has also joined the hunger strike in place of Emadoldin Baghy until he returns to custody.

    According to reports from Iran, the physical condition of prisoners on hunger strike in Evin prison is deteriorating and on Wednesday 22 June, on the fifth day of their hunger strike, Abolfazl Ghadyani (who also has a heart condition) and Abdullah Momeni were transferred to the prison infirmary. As a result of the hunger strike, Mohsen Amin Zadeh's blood pressure has increased severely but the prison authorities have refused to transfer him to the prison infirmary or an outside hospital.

    In their statement, after describing the brutal ways in which Haleh Sahabi and Hoda Saber were murdered, the twelve political prisoners wrote of Saber's detention and treatment:

    "Two points make his (Saber's) martyrdom a big challenge to the legitimacy of the current system. First, his detention for ten months without conviction or any legal ruling, completely arbitrary and tyrannical...Second, casual and malicious conduct in dealing with the effects of the hunger strike, along with the beatings, which, as described in the testimony of the political prisoners in section 350, caused his oppressed martyrdom."

    "The testimony of the political prisoners" refers to a letter signed by 64 political prisoners in Evin Prison immediately following Saber's death, describing the verbal abuse and beatings that he received in the prison infirmary immediately preceding his death.

    CODIR campaigns against the abuse of human and democratic rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian theocratic regime has been condemned internationally for its complete disregard for international norms relating to the treatment of political dissent and promotion of personal rights and freedom.

    CODIR therefore calls for:

    • the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran
    • an end to the maltreatment, abuse and torture of political detainees in Iran
    • an end to the extra-judicial murder of political opponents of the regime
    • abolition of the death penalty in Iran
    • respect for all international conventions governing human and democratic freedoms, freedom of press and the activities of political and trade union organisations.

    CODIR asks that letters of protest be sent as a matter of urgency to all Iranian embassies and consulates against the inhuman conditions and practices in respect of political detainees in the Islamic Republic of Iran and calling for the demands of the hunger-strikers to be met immediately and in full.

    ENDS

    Notes

    1. Names of the original twelve political prisoners on hunger strike: Bahman Ahmadi Amooei - Hasan Asadi Zeidabadi - Emadoldin Baghi - Emad Bahavar - Ghorban Behzadian Najad - Mohammad Davari - Amir Khosrov Dalir Thaani - Fizollah Arab Sorkhi - Abolfazleh Ghadyani - Mohammad Javad Mozzafar - Mohammad Reza Moghiseh and Abdollahe Moemeni.
    2. 2. Names of the six additional political prisoners who joined the hunger strike:
    3. Keyvan Samimi - Isa Saharkhiz - Masoud Bastani - Ali Ajami - Ja'afar Eghdami and Heshmatollah Tabarzadi.

      For further information on the above release and on the launch of CODIR's campaign, contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      A regime on borrowed time
      Another Victim of Theocratic Regime's Brutal Repression, hunger striking political prisoner, Hoda Saber, dies!


      By Jamshid Ahmadi
      16 June 2011




      As protests in opposition to repressive regimes across the Middle East continue to make the headlines, the ongoing struggle for human rights in Iran continues. Widespread arrests, coupled with the death in custody of opponents of the regime and political activists, remain the order of the day in Tehran.

      Hoda Saber, a prominent Iranian politician and a member of the Meli-Mazhabi Council, the progressive national-religious organisation in Iran, died on the ninth day of his hunger strike in Evin prison on Saturday 11th June. He was in prison on political charges.

      Mr. Saber was one of the editors of the respected monthly, Iran Farda (Iran of Tomorrow). He was first imprisoned eleven years ago and spent a month in jail. On that occasion, he was released after providing bail. Three years later, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and ten years "denial of civil rights." Later, the appeal court reduced his term to five-and-a-half years.

      Hoda Saber and Amir-Khosrow Dalir Thaani, together with a number of other progressive political prisoners, started a hunger strike on 2nd June to protest at the murder of Haleh Sahabi by the regime on 1st June. Haleh Sahabi was a women's rights campaigner, an active member of the Mothers for Peace and an official member of the Meli-Mazhabi Council. She was murdered while on temporary leave from prison when the regime's security forces attacked her father's funeral which she was attending.

      According to reports from Iran, Hoda Saber complained of severe chest pains at 4.30 p.m. on Friday 10 June. However, the prison authorities in section 350 of Evin Prison ignored his screams for six hours. Then, at 10.30 pm on Friday night he was rushed to the nearby Moddaress Hospital where he died on Saturday of a heart attack.

      According to a testimony published on Monday 13 June, 64 political prisoners who had seen Hoda in Evin prison have testified that when he first complained about his health in early hours of morning on Friday 10th June, he was transferred to the prison's hospital. But when he was returned to his cell two hours later he was in pain, in a state of shock and very agitated. He told the other prisoners that while in the hospital, he had been physically and emotionally mistreated, insulted and then thrown out. Later on the day when his conditions worsened, the prison officials after extensive delays agreed to transfer him to Moddares hospital outside Evin.

      As was the case with Haleh Sahabi, to prevent any independent autopsy, security forces have denied Hoda Saber's family access to his corpse. Security forces moved his body to pathology where he was formally identified by his sister. Reports from Tehran indicate that following the release of the news of his death, many family members, friends and civil activists gathered outside Moddaress Hospital in protest. Hoda Saber's body was then driven away in an ambulance as his widow, relatives and friends pleaded with the hospital staff to give them his body.

      The treatment of both Hoda Saber and Haleh Sahabi is, sadly, not unusual in Iran. The victimisation of human rights activists continues to be a key part of the strategy of the Iranian regime to keep the population in fear following the upsurge in opposition following the events of the June 2009 presidential election. With the Iranian economy in freefall, the lives of the Iranian people remain blighted by unemployment, inflation and uncertainty. The removal of subsidies on fuel, food and other daily essentials continues to result in unrest.

      The driving down of the minimum wage combined with the elimination of subsidies has put immense strain upon ordinary Iranian families. However, the launch of the so-called 'grand economic surgery' was combined with a wave of arrests of political and social activists and journalists in Tehran and other cities which began on 19 December last year. The latest arrests, resulting in the deaths in custody, are an extension of that process.

      The combination of economic austerity measures and the clampdown upon activists across Iran are no coincidence. The government has remained deeply unpopular since the stolen election of June 2009. It is clear that the leaders of the Islamic Republic are taking no chances as they bow to the pressures of the IMF and World Bank to tighten up on the limited social programmes available to ordinary Iranians.

      As the economic crisis in Iran worsens there is growing evidence that the population is turning to more open ways of expressing their anger against the regime's policies. As the repressive machinery of the state moves into higher gear, with the approach of the parlimamentary election next March and the 2013 presidential election, the means of opposition will also diversify. The winds of change are blowing across the Middle East from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen. Clearly the flame of resistance still burns on the streets of Iran as the current cuts bite. Having shown the way in taking to the streets following the 2009 election, the people of Iran may yet feel inspired by events elsewhere to once again put pressure upon their leaders.

      Against this background the solidarity of labour movement activists in the UK is more vital than ever. CODIR strongly condemns the regime's murderous disregard for the safety and security of political prisoners in Iran and their inhumane treatment. CODIR calls for an end to the detention of any person on political grounds and calls for the release of all political prisoners in Iran.

      Jamshid Ahmadi is Assistant General Secretary of Iran solidarity campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Another Victim of Theocratic Regime's Brutal Repression!
      Hunger striker political prisoner, Hoda Saber, dies!


      13 June 2011




      Hoda Saber, a prominent Iranian politician and a member of the "Meli-Mazhabi" Council, a progressive national religious organization in Iran, who was in prison on political charges, died on the ninth day of his hunger strike in Evin prison on Saturday 11 June. Hoda Saber and Amir-Khosrov DalirThaani, together with a number of other progressive political prisoners, started a hunger strike on 2 June to protest at Haleh Sahabi's murder by the regime on 1 June. Haleh Sahabi, a women's rights campaigner, active member of the "Mothers for Peace" and an official member of the "Meli-Mazhabi Council", was murdered while on temporary leave from prison, when the regime's security forces attacked her father's funeral which she was attending.

      According to reports, Hoda Saber, who was on hunger strike, complained of a severe chest pain at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, 10 June. However, the prison authorities in section 350 of the Evin Prison ignored his screams for six hours. Then, at 10:30 on Friday night he was rushed to the nearby Moddaress Hospital where he died on Saturday of a heart attack.

      As in the case of Haleh Sahabi's death, to prevent any independent autopsy, security forces have denied Hoda Saber's family access to his corpse. Security forces transferred his body to pathology, where he was formally identified by his sister. Reports from Tehran indicate that following release of the news of his death, many of his family members, friends and civil activists gathered outside Moddaress Hospital in protest. Hoda Saber's body was then driven away by ambulance as.Mr Saber's widow, relatives and those gathered with them pleaded to hospital staff to give them his body.

      Mr. Saber was one of the editors of the respected monthly "Iran Farda" (Iran of Tomorrow"). He was first imprisoned eleven years ago and spent a month in jail. On that occasion, he was released after providing bail. Three years later, he was sentenced to ten years in prison, and ten years "denial of civil rights." Later, the appeal court reduced his term to five-and-a-half years.

      In a letter to the President and Chief of Judiciary six years ago, Mr. Saber wrote: "On the morning of 14th of June 2003, I was surrounded and detained by a team of five security officers near my house and in front of l astonished local passers-by. However, two days after my detention, I received a so called arrest-warrant requiring my signature. The form indicated that I had been present at the university's disturbance, and was detained on the spot."

      CODIR strongly condemns the regime's murderous disregard for the safety and security of political prisoners in Iran and their inhumane treatment. CODIR calls for an end to the detention of any person on political grounds and calls for the release of all political prisoners in Iran.

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      Political Prisoner, Women's Rights Activist, murdered by the security forces


      3 June 2011




      According to reports released by Iranian and international media, Haleh Sahabi, a political prisoner who was on temporary leave because of her father's deteriorating health condition, was murdered by the regime's security forces on 1st June 2011 during her father's funeral. She collapsed and later died at the hospital after receiving body blows from the security officers who were attempting to divert the funeral procession and remove posters bearing the photos of Mr. Sahabi a long standing opposition political leader. To seize Haleh's corpse and prevent any independent autopsy being arranged by her family to establish the cause of death, security forces had surrounded her family's house and in the afternoon, without her family's knowledge and consent, they transferred her body to the cemetery for burial. Overnight, the security personnel buried her body without allowing for any arrangement for a funeral.



      Haleh Sahabi was 56 years old and for decades was an active participant in Iranian politics as a women's rights activist and an active member of the "Mothers for Peace" organisation. She was an official member of the "Meli-Mazhabi Activists Council", a progressive nationalist religious organisation in Iran. For over five decades, her father, Ezzatollah Sahabi, had been a prominent leader in the progressive nationalist movement in Iran. Ezzatollah Sahabi was a prominent political figure and member of the revolutionary council formed during the Iranian Revolution.

      According to a report in the non-governmental Kaleme website, Mr. Ahmad Montazeri (son of the late Ayatollah Montazeri, a prominent politician and religious figure) who was present at Mr. Sahabi's funeral; "One of the security personnel was trying to grab a large framed picture of Mr. Sahabi from Haleh's hands. After she resisted and protested, he hit her hard with his elbow and caused her to collapse. Immediately, she was transferred to hospital, in the company of a doctor, though unfortunately subsequently passed away".

      Two years ago, during a demonstration in opposition to the re-inauguration of president Ahmadinejad, Haleh Sahabi was detained with a bloody face having been badly beaten with a baton. She was sentenced to two years imprisonment. Following her father's recent stroke and deteriorating health, she was given temporary leave from prison.

      According to the latest reports published on the "Rahesabz" website, during the funeral service on Thursday, having created an atmosphere of fear, beating the mourners and attempting to break up the procession, the security personnel, riot police and plain-clothed militia arrested several of the mourners and transferred them to undisclosed locations.

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      Hunger Strike enters its 3rd week


      Iranian Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike are in Critical Conditions
      3 June 2011




      In April 2011, in a letter to Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, a number of political prisoners from the city of Karaj's Rajaei Shar Prison requested that a UN special 'raporter' for the investigation of prisoners' conditions and also human rights abuses be dispatched to Iran. In their letter, political prisoners also described their planned hunger strike to protest at the prison's appalling conditions and the prison authorities' denial of all means of communication between the prisoners and the outside world.

      Describing their planned hunger strike, the political prisoners wrote, "In the first week, we will start our political protest with one day of hunger strike on Sunday 17 April. In the second week, we will continue our protest with a two-day hunger strike on Sunday 24 April and Monday 25 April. In the third week, coinciding with May Day, Teachers' Day and International Newspaper Carrier Day, protesting about the extreme pressure and oppression of workers, teachers and newspaper reporters and expressing our solidarity with them, we will continue our hunger strike for three days on Sunday1 May, Monday 2 May and Tuesday 3 May." In their letter to Mr. Ban Ki-moon, while stressing their determination to achieve a positive response to their demands, Rajaei Shar political prisoners added, "If the government continues with its arbitrary approach and refuses to respect peoples' legal rights detailed in the International Bill of Human Rights, from Sunday 22 May, we will continue this protest action as an indefinite hunger strike until we have achieved all our demands."

      According to the prison authorities, Tehran and Karaj's Public Prosecutor, Abbas Ja'afari Dowlatabadi, had directly ordered that the political prisoners in this special security section of the prison be denied any telephone contact and visits from their family members.

      For twenty-one days of the last forty-five days, these political prisoners have been on hunger strike. On Wednesday 1 June, on the eleventh day of their "indefinite hunger strike", the physical condition of Majid Tavakoli, a student activist, became very grave. In addition to Majid Tavakoli, Seyed Mehdi Mahmoodian, Isa Saharkhiz and Kivan Samimi are also in a critical condition.

      According to the latest reports, the prison warden, Mahammad Mardani, had demanded that Rasoul Badaghi, another political prisoner, end his hunger strike. However, following Badaghi's refusal to do so, Mardani ordered Badaghi's water and tea rations to be cut as well. As a result, Badaghi lost consciousness and was transferred to the prison hospital. After being treated in the hospital, he has been transferred to a solitary cell.

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      Ruling circles sharpen knives as the economy bleeds


      25 May 2011




      Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's six years as president of Iran have been characterized by many things, one of which has been the personal idiosyncrasies of the president himself. In April the president disappeared from office for a full 11 days after his decision to fire intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi was overturned by Ayotollah Khamenei. Having fired Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in December last year, in spite of Mottaki being a favorite of Khamenei, it is clear that Ahmadinejad thought that he had a free hand in re-shaping his government.

      Of course there can be no such freedom under the theocratic system in Iran where the Supreme Religious Leader has the final veto. The extent of presidential power is still reliant on the support of the religious zealots at the heart of Iran's power structures. Undeterred, Ahmadinejad recently attempted to streamline his Cabinet with the merger of eight ministries into four. While the move was formally blocked by Khamenei, assisted by parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, Ahmadinejad has nevertheless sacked three ministers and taken temporary control of the oil ministry.

      Needless to say this move has been unpopular in the Iranian parliament and has meant that Ahmadinejad is on a collision course with both the parliament and the religious establishment.

      With the presidential election only two years away, and Ahmadinejad unable to run again, much of the current activity is about positioning for the 2013 vote. It is widely believed that Ahmadinejad's preferred successor is his current chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. However, Mashaei is deeply unpopular with the religious establishment because of his views on the importance of promoting pre-Islamic Persian history as part of the culture of Iran, suggesting that the country should be an "Iranian republic" rather than an "Islamic Republic."

      Such talk is seen as the precursor to reducing the role of the clergy in the constitution to a largely symbolic one, with increased powers for the presidency. While on the surface Mashaei's position has the veneer of modernity he is nevertheless a deeply conservative politician. His current positioning is widely seen as an attempt to woo those disaffected by the outcome of the 2009 election, by positioning himself as a modernizing voice within the Iranian system.

      Whether Mashaei gets to test his views with the voters remains to be seen however. In recent weeks at least 25 people close to the president and Mashaei have been arrested by the security forces and are facing charges ranging from revolutionary "deviancy" to espionage. To add to his increasing isolation, Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor Ayotollah Mesbah Yazdi recently distanced himself from the president, suggesting that Ahmadinejad had been "bewitched" by Mashaei. It has even been suggested that the president's power base in the Revolutionary Guard is under threat due to his perceived challenges to the current system.

      Given the role that the Revolutionary Guard played in both the rigging of the 2009 election in Ahmadinejad's favor and the subsequent crackdown on demonstrators, it would seriously undermine the president's position if their support were to be withdrawn. Quoted in the Washington Post recently, Suzanne Maloney, an Iranian affairs expert at the Brookings Institute in Washington, said:

      "The Revolutionary Guard is interested in the defense of the system rather than the defense of an individual. It would never sacrifice itself or its influence to stand by anyone seen as challenging the system. Ahmadinejad has cast himself in that role."

      With parliamentary elections scheduled for early 2012 there will be some opportunity to test the political water before the presidential vote. Ahmadinejad will be looking to strengthen his position in the parliament but will face an uphill struggle given the negative impact of his economic reforms upon huge sections of the population. Also, the fact that he is in clear dispute with the Supreme Leader will mean that traditionally conservative voters may think twice before backing candidates who support the president.

      Ahmadinejad has bolstered his position by having members of his family and close circle in key government ministries and by awarding them lucrative contracts for economic projects, notably the multi-billion-dollar oil and gas pipeline to India and Pakistan. The president will also be watching closely the health of the Supreme Leader. Khamenei is 72 years old and not in the best of health. A power vacuum in the clergy may be Ahmadinejad's best opportunity to consolidate his position.

      While the political moves are played out in Iran's ruling circles the economy continues to be in freefall and the lives of the Iranian people remain characterized by unemployment, inflation and uncertainty. The removal of subsidies on fuel, food and other daily essentials has led to unrest, with labor protests recently over delayed salary payments and rising unemployment. This is where the hope for the Iranian people lies, in their own hands. Action by the people in Egypt and Tunisia is showing what is possible. Iran's leaders are well aware that, for all their maneuvering, the people may yet decide the election outcomes in ways that are not to the liking of the establishment.

      Jane Green is a National Officer of Iran Solidarity Campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Hunger Strike of the Iranian Political Prisoners in the Second Week of their Planned Strike


      25 April 2011




      According to a report on "Daneshjoonews" [a student internet news outlet], a number of political prisoners from Karaj's Rajaei Shar prison who previously in a letter to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, had requested that a "Special Envoy" be sent to Iran to investigate the conditions of the prisoners and human rights in Iran, started the second day of their hunger strike in the second week of the planned strike. According to the reports, in the past two days and as planned in the timeline that was previously outlined in the letter to Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, the political prisoners continued their hunger strike to protest the prison's appalling conditions and the denial of all means of communication with the outside world to the prisoners.

      Describing their hunger strike, the political prisoners wrote in their letter: "After the experience of the hunger strike on Sunday April the 10th, we, the political prisoners and civil and political activists, will start our political protest in the first week with one day of hunger strike on Sunday, April 17th; in the second week, we will continue our protest with two days of hunger strike on Sunday April 24th and Monday April 25th. In the third week, which coincides with the May Day, Teachers' Day and World's Press Freedom Day, we will protest against the oppression of and extreme pressure on workers, teachers and journalists and will express our solidarity with them. In this 3rd week, we will continue our hunger strike for three days on Sunday May 1st, Monday May 2nd and Tuesday May 3rd."

      Today, April 25th, the political prisoners are in their second day of hunger strike in their second week of protest.

      While stressing on their determination to persevere until their demands are fulfilled, Rajaei Shar political prisoners added: "If the regime continues its autocracy and refuses to respect peoples' legitimate rights based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as of Sunday, May 22, we will continue this protest action as an indefinite hunger strike until our demands are fulfilled."

      Mansour Osanlou, Rasoul Badaghy, Majid Tavakoly, Issa Sahar Khiz, Keyvan Samimi, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi and Mehdi Mahmoudian are among the signatories of this letter.

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      Opposition grows as regime increases repression


      The extent to which the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran is becoming detached from the real world grows with every pronouncement made by President Ahmadinejad. Jane Green reports for CODIR on the continuing opposition to the regime on the streets of Iran's cities and in the existing civil society.
      24 April 2011




      Having announced in November last year, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that the Iranian economy was "booming" President Ahmadinejad more boldly proclaimed recently that unemployment in Iran would be eradicated in two years. With official unemployment at 14.6%, and much higher according to unofficial estimates, this is indeed a wild claim.

      Flying in the face of reality however has not been a problem for Ahmadinejad who praised Iran's economic 'development' further in a speech on the 28th February in which he asserted that,

      "Iran is one of the few countries in the world where no one goes to sleep hungry."

      Workers in Khorammabad were quick to pick up on the president's words when he visited their town on the 1st March. Ahmadinejad was faced with banners proclaiming that the local factory workers were indeed hungry and that they had had enough of Ahmadinejad's 'official optimism' about the economy.

      It is unlikely that those workers will have had access to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Iran report (Dec 2010) which would have told them that high inflation would be a factor in Iran's economy for the next four years. The current inflation rate is 15% which Ahmadinejad has responded to by keeping the exchange rate artificially high. The outcome of this strategy is that the price of foreign goods remains more stable than those produced in Iran, at Khorammabad or elsewhere, meaning that Iranian produced goods remain on the shelves.

      These are facts which the factory workers in Khorammabad would not need the EIU report to understand. They would also fully understand the doubling of the price of bread and the quadrupling of gas prices in recent weeks, pushing them further in to poverty and, in spite of Ahmadinejad's pronouncements, hunger.

      Protests in the major cities of Shiraz and Isfahan, as well as the capital Tehran, have underlined the growing discontent in recent weeks. Al Jazeera reported that 'silent' protests in Shiraz on the 27th March were broken up by the regime's feared Basij corps on motorcycles.

      The official IRNA news agency reported that Faezeh Rafsanjani, the daughter of ex-president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, had been among those arrested for participating in the protest. Fars news agency reported that she was released shortly thereafter.

      Arrests took place in the Azerbaijan province during the traditional spring festival on 2nd April while Amnesty International have indicated that seventy Azerbaijani citizens were arrested in Tabriz and twenty others at Uremieh at the same time.

      While tackling any open signs of protest with its usual display of brute force and arrest the government is also taking measures to restrict the development of Iran's civil society. As online news agency Rooz reported recently,

      "The Majlis, Iran's parliament, is in the process of approving a bill that according to civil activists aims at eliminating independent civil institutions and replacing them with government organization. According to the provisions of this bill not only are individuals who plan to establish non-governmental or civil organizations required to be fully cleared and approved by the Ministry of Intelligence and supervisory committees, but even organizations that already have operational licenses and have been active need to reapply for new permits. If the latter are not approved, the supreme supervisory committee will annul their current permits and ban their activities."

      The approval or otherwise of civil society organisations has, until now, been the provenance of the judiciary in Iran, thus restricting the ability of the security forces to interfere. The current bill, in moving responsibility to the supreme supervisory committee, would create the basis for a pseudo government operated civil society.

      According to Sohrab Razzaghi, managing editor of Arseh Sevom (Civil Society), the bill would be "yet another nail in the coffin" of civil society in Iran. In relation to civil associations in Iran Razzaghi went on to say that the bill would,

      "...deny them their freedom and would result in the elimination of all the achievements that people have gained in this respect by the government. The implementation of this bill would end the life of the country's independent civil society and in its place create an obedient and quiet dependant society." Arseh Sevom, along with Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and eight other civil and human rights organisations, have issued a statement expressing concern over the bill. Former MP, Mousavi Khoeiniha, sees the bill as part of a wider push to neutralise opposition in the build up to the 2013 presidential elections, "The recent Majlis election and the issues that have come up since are concerning for the regime", he said, "so they are planning for the upcoming Majlis and presidential elections and believe that civil society institutions will cause them problems then."

      There is little doubt that as the economic crisis in Iran worsens the population is turning to more open ways of expressing their anger against the regime's policies. As the repressive machinery of the state moves into higher gear, with the approach of the 2013 presidential election, the means of opposition will also diversify.

      Solidarity with the Iranian people will be more vital than ever to ensure that the tactics of the regime are exposed and that the true voice of the people of Iran, both on the streets and in the organisations of civil society, is heard.

      Jane Green is a National Officer of Iran Solidarity Campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      May Day 2011: International Workers Day - Call for Global Action in Defence of Workers Rights in Iran



      22nd April 2011




      While the world celebrates the gains of organized labor on May 1st, the Iranian labor movement continues to be viciously suppressed by Islamic Republic of Iran, and many of its rank and files still languish in the prisons. Mansour Ossanloo, a union leader and organizer has been imprisoned for the past four years solely because he executed his right to organize a rally and protest and demand the workers' overdue wages. So are other prominent union activists such as Ebrahim Madadi, Reza Shahabi, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, Rasoul Bodaghi, Abdolreza Ghanbari and Gholam Reza Gholam Hossieni, who are in prison for the similar reasons.

      The Iranian worker today faces deteriorating working conditions and declining living standards. Unions are forcefully discouraged, labor laws are routinely undermined, collective bargaining not permitted - in short, their drive to achieve economic justice and a better life is stifled. Even the simplest collective action or protest is quashed and its organizers punished.

      We invite our fellow citizens of the world, labor unions, human rights organizations, and NGOs active in related fields, to join us on this memorable occasion to condemn the oppressive and inhumane anti-labor policies and practices of the Islamic Republic of Iran and to bring pressure on its government to abide by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as a part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

      Actions such as letter writing campaigns to the UN Special Envoy investigating Human Rights conditions in Iran, organization of rallies demanding the release of political/labor prisoners, dissemination of information about the oppressive condition of workers and labor leaders in Iran, and any other type of support they can muster, would be helpful to the cause of freedom and justice in Iran.

      Following is a summary of the Iranian workers' demands:

      *Immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned workers
      *Abolishing (Revision of) anti-labor laws
      *Recognition of the right to protest, organize and strike according to International Laws
      *Abolishing Child labor and equal protection of children under the law
      *Equal pay compensation for working women, and abolishment of discriminatory laws and practices against women
      *Immediate payment of overdue wages (Some factories and institutions are 6 months behind)
      *Unemployment benefits for all unemployed workers

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      Workers' House of Iran does not represent Iranian workers!


      The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran claims that the rights of workers are protected through the Islamic Labour Councils and the Workers' House. Below we attempt to expose the reality behind the rhetoric of the anti-worker regime in Iran.
      5th April 2011




      The basic principles of trades unionism across the world are that trades unions should be free, voluntary associations, independent of the state apparatus. It is generally recognised that trades unions have an internationalist role, usually reflected in their affiliation to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as the body which represents the common concerns of trades unionists across the world.

      It is also vital that the state itself subscribes to the principle of free and independent trades unionism as part of the democratic structure of civil society. This recognition must be manifest both in theory, i.e. through recognition in the constitution or labour laws and in practice, through the way in which the state deals with labour issues and industrial relations.

      In Iran the history of labour representation has been one of decades of struggle for recognition; imprisonment, torture and execution by the state; and the need to combat bogus workers organisations which are little more than tools of the state.

      Historically, the main bodies, which are officially recognised in the Islamic Republic of Iran are the Islamic Labour Councils and the Workers' House. Both have official state recognition but both are flawed in relation to their ability to act as independent representatives given the restrictions imposed by the Islamic Republic.

      Iran's constitution (Articles 26 and 27) recognises freedom of association and assembly. In addition, Iran's civil law requires ratified international treaties to be recognised equivalent to domestic laws. Yet Iran's Labour Law explicitly contradicts these legal obligations. Section 6 of the law addresses workers organisations in such vague terms that for nearly twenty years since its adoption, Iranian workers have not been able to freely associate with independent organisations.

      The law explicitly encourages workers to associate with Islamic Labour Councils, which are tripartite organisations (workers, employers and the government representatives) effectively controlled by management in workplaces. It also stipulates that only one of the above organisations may exist in a given workplace. These legal restrictions on membership and pre-definition of the permissible types of organisations are in direct breach of international standards and the Iranian constitution.

      It should also be noted that Islamic Labour Councils are explicitly defined in Iran's Labour Law as ideologically-centered entities. They are not focused on promoting workers rights and are incompatible with the concept of independent unions. Furthermore, workers' membership in these Councils is subject to a vetting process, controlled by the Labour Ministry. According to Article 138, the Supreme (Religious) Leader is entitled to appoint a representative in each type of workers organisation. The law even forbids the formation of these organisations in large industries, such as the petrochemical industry, unless the cabinet issues a special directive. Article 191 empowers the Supreme Labour Council to propose labour-related legislation to the cabinet, by-passing the parliament. Using this loophole, rug-weaving workshops and workplaces with under five employees are exempt from the provisions of the Labour Law.

      Workplaces with less than 10 employees are exempt from the operation of the Islamic Labour Councils. The labour code also prohibits the operation and setting up of Islamic Labour Councils in large key national corporations such as the National Oil Company, the Steel Complex in Isfahan and others. Considering the character of the work places in Iran, this in effect means that most workers in the country are not even allowed to set up the Islamic Labour Councils, as weak as they are, let alone free independent trades unions.

      After the February 1979 revolution, workers took over the offices of the Workers' Organization of Iran and renamed it Workers' House. This was a centre for activities of independent workers shoras (councils) and trade unions. However, the organisation was soon taken over by state agents and ceased to have any independent role in representing workers and their interests. Many activists were black-listed, arrested and put on trial with trumped up charges. Some were executed. Many were expelled from their workplaces. Between 1980 and 1990 all workers activities were banned due to the war situation in Iran.

      Workers' House?

      Currently the Workers' House President is Mr. Hassan Sadeghi, once a national leader of the Islamic Labour Councils in the country. General Secretary is Mr. Ali Reza Mahjoub, who is also a member of the Labour and Social Affairs Commission of the Parliament. Mahjoub is closely associated with Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and advocate of privatisation and the economic adjustment policies of the IMF. Workers' House has campaigned against the formation of any independent trades union and has made a number of presentations to the government arguing the incompatibility of trade unions with the country's reactionary stance towards trade union rights. From the ILO's standpoint, the Workers' House has yet to establish its role as a free and independent workers' organisation that can be acknowledged by the international community of genuine and progressive trade unions.

      The Workers House has failed to campaign in any shape or form for ratification of important ILO Conventions 87 and 98 or other important pro-workers internationally accepted conventions. As the "safety valve" of the government, Workers' House organises an annual, official, and risk-free ceremony on May Day. This is designed so that workers do not air genuine issues but speak about things officials like to hear. At best the Workers House should be treated as a "yellow" organisation operating in some workplaces in Iran.

      The need for independent, free trades unions in Iran is now greater than ever. Iran is a country with a population of nearly 75 million. A significant part of this population is under thirty years old. The country is rich in mineral resources and is one of the world's largest producers of oil and gas. According to official government statements unemployment is currently above 15%. The country's labour force is about 24 million. About 3.6 million people are unemployed. Youth unemployment is the highest, 50 percent for the age cohort between 15-24 years.

      For those in work the situation is not particularly good. The official minimum wage is $330 per calendar month while the government's own figures indicate that the poverty line in Tehran is $813 per month and in provincial towns $650. In effect all of those paid at the minimum wage, or even twice that rate, fall below the poverty line. The Central Bank of Iran recently calculated that a monthly income of $1060 is the minimum needed for people to pay for rent and to afford basic goods. In reality, because of the lack of any legal protection and the existence of loop holes, many workers on short- term contracts (now accounting for about 80% of all contracts) are paid as little as anything between $80 to $250 monthly.

      According to several conventions of the International Labour Organization(ILO), of which Iran is a member, workers in each country are entitled to legal protections such as freedom of association and protection of the Right to Organise (Convention 87); the right to organise and to collective bargaining (C98); the abolition of forced labour (C29, C105); the abolition of child labour (C138, C182); the prohibition of employment and occupation related discrimination (C100, C111); and standards regulating wages and conditions of work (C1, C14, C95, C106, C131, C132, C155). These conventions constitute and elaborate a minimum set of internationally accepted standards.

      As a member of the ILO, Iran is obligated to respect and institute these standards. Iran has ratified 13 ILO conventions but not the core conventions relating to freedom of association (C87) and the right to organise (C98). Nonetheless, in its 1998 Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the ILO states that "All members, even if they have not ratified the Conventions in question, have an obligation arising from the very fact of membership in the Organisation, to respect, to promote, and to realise" these core conventions (emphasis added). The ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association is charged with investigating complaints relating to its observance by member states.

      For some time workers in Iran have been actively seeking to form independent unions that aim at implementing international labour standards. Their movement gained strength starting in 2001, when several attempts were made to launch independent organisations. The goal of the Iranian workers movement is to educate workers and raise their awareness of their rights, as well as to advocate for legal reforms to make the Labour Law congruent with international law.

      Three notable examples of recently established independent organisations are, the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (SWTSBC); Teachers trade associations; and the Coordination Committee for Establishment of Trade Unions. Security and intelligence forces have routinely and violently attacked peaceful gatherings and meetings organised by these entities.

      In 2005, during an attack on a workers meeting, Mansour Osanloo, a leading trade union activist of SWTSBC, suffered serious injuries including knife wounds. Osanloo had stitches in his neck and tongue as a result. In January 2006, security forces arrested nearly a thousand members of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company. The homes of leading members were attacked, families beaten and the wives and children of the leading members detained, to prevent a planned strike. Since then, most members of the Syndicate's central council have been targets of prosecution and imprisonment. The Syndicate's leader, Mansour Osanloo, is currently serving a five- year prison sentence, while he suffers from eye injuries due to earlier beatings, and is in danger of going blind. Fifty-four members of the Syndicate have been fired from their jobs and are prosecuted in courts for their peaceful activities.

      Iran's first independent trade unions were founded more than a century ago. Today, Iranian workers are still unable to form independent trade unions, a right denied both within Iran's labour code and de facto repressed by the government in action. The government routinely arrests and prosecutes workers demanding their most basic rights, such as demands for wages unpaid, sometimes for periods as long as 36 months. Freedom in Iran will not be possible without the freedom of workers to organise and demand their rights. Trades unionists from across the world must unite in their support for the working people of Iran and support their demand for justice in the workplace as the first step towards a just society.

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      Arrest of Mousavi and Karoubi increases the stakes in Iran


      For immediate use
      Press release
      28th February 2011




      Mir Hussein Mousavi and Medhi Karoubi, candidates in the controversial 12th June 2009 presidential election in Iran, and leaders of the opposition Green Movement, have been arrested according to reports coming out of Iran today.

      The two men have been under effective house arest since the 14th February, when protest returned to the streets of Iran and the Green Movement once again called for the resignation of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

      The arrests have been widely expected as opposition groups feared that the regime in the Islamic Republic would move to suppress the opposition following the success of popular movements across the Middle East in ousting unpopular leaders. The suggestion by the Ministry of Intelligence last Thursday, that Mousavi was colluding with banned organisations to subvert the Islamic Republic, had been widely interpreted as a precurser to further action.

      CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, immediately condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the two leaders.

      "It is clear that the regime is inventing pretexts on which to arrest these men because of the influence they have with the popular movement", he said. "Events across the region have the leaders of the Islamic Republic worried as they can see the outcomes of popular protest in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Mousavi and Karoubi should be released immediately and be allowed to play a full part in the true democratisation of society in Iran."

      CODIR has further stated that the attempt to link the leaders to banned organisations in order to justify their arrest and wider political suppression should be condemned by the international community.

      "We fear a repeat of the situation in 1988," continued Mr Ahmadi, "when the regime executed thousands of political prisoners in order to terrorise the opposition into submission. The record of the Islamic Republic on human rights is bleak. They are not beyond repeating such tactics."

      CODIR has protested against the upsurge of suppressive measures in Iran and has called on the Iranian regime to stop its repressive practices. It has called on international public opinion to condemn the persecution of political detainees in Iran .

      Mr. Ahmadi, went on to state, "that it is only through a united and effective international campaign against the persecution of the opposition in Iran that the current arrests can be stopped.

      CODIR is calling upon all democratic individuals and organisations, in particular the labour and trades union movement, to write protest letters to the Iranian diplomatic missions and Embassies to demand that the Iranian regime,

      • End the persecution of political prisoners in Iran

      • Immediately and unconditionally release Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi

      • Respects the international conventions guaranteeing freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other basic human rights

      Letters should be sent to:-

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK , the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran 's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran .

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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      Middle East giants awaken


      Two giants of the Middle East are beginning to awaken and the outcome of events in the coming weeks has the potential to reshape the region for the coming century. Jane Green considers the implications of democratic change in Egypt and Iran.
      27th February 2011




      Egypt and Iran have historically been two of the Middle East's major powers. As centres of economic, scientific and religious power they have played dominant roles in the region for centuries. In recent times they have both been subject to domination by British interests, Iran for its oil, Egypt for its natural resources and strategic position in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

      Egypt was declared an Arab Republic in 1953, with British forces eventually being expelled from the country by 1956, followed by the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by President Nasser. Iran, although not directly occupied by the British, did attempt to assert itself in 1953 when the government of Mohammed Mossadegh nationalised the oil industry. The outcry from the West led to a US/UK inspired coup to overthrow the democratically elected government and support the Shah.

      While Egypt developed a more independent path under Nasser, Iran under the Shah was a reliable Western ally. Following Nasser's death Egypt shifted to a more pro-Western position under Anwar Sadat, from 1970 onwards, culminating in the peace treaty with Israel in 1979 for which Egypt found itself expelled from the Arab League. With the assumption of power by Hosni Mubarak in 1981 the position of Egypt as a key Western ally in the Arab world was consolidated.

      Iran by this time had travelled in the opposite direction. The popular revolution which overthrew the Shah in 1979, and promised so much, had been usurped by Islamic fundamentalists. The United States was the Great Satan and Iran was fighting a debilitating Western prompted war against its neighbour Iraq.

      For thirty years both countries have been dominated by anti-popular, autocratic regimes. In the case of Egypt, as a bulwark against Palestinian independence, in that of Iran as the bete noire of successive US presidents and the inspiration for Islamic fundamentalism across the region. Both countries now see the possibility of decisive change.

      Popular opposition in Iran to the 're-election' of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 was as widespread as it was unexpected in a country which did not tolerate mass popular demonstrations. The birth of the Green Movement, with 'defeated' presidential candidates Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, along with his wife, Zahra Rahnavard in the forefront, has provided a rallying point for decades of pent up frustration amongst the Iranian people.

      On Monday, 14th February, the Iranian government suffered a major psychological blow following the resurgence of street demonstrations. Since the presidential election of June 2009, in spite of massive waves of arrests and executions, the popular movement has continued to oppose the regime. The regime's internal and international propaganda has attempted to portray the Green Movement as a foreign orchestrated "grand sedition", but to no effect.

      Since 14th February there have been widespread arrests. Detainees have been transferred to the notorious Kahrizak prison for torture. The regime is now targeting the leaders of the so called "grand sedition" and calling for their execution. Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi have been accused by Ayotollah Khameini's senior advisers of having direct contact with foreign organisations. During the last two weeks they have been completely isolated with their houses surrounded by plain clothes security agents, posing as "defenders of Islam and the revolution", imposing a news blackout.

      Reports from inside Iran suggest that the lives of Mousavi and Karoubi are in serious danger because of their courage in supporting the demonstrators and not submitting to the will of the "spiritual leader". Iran's theocratic dictatorship is now aiming to decapitate the popular movement in an attempt to eliminate any possibility of leadership and organisation. Human rights activists across the world should be ready to respond to any news of further actions against these leaders of the Green Movement.

      Events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world have undoubtedly inspired the Iranian protesters to take to the streets once again. If the mass protests of the people of Egypt could remove Mubarak after 30 years, the same could be true of the Ahmadinejad regime and the conservative clergy backing it. Iran's ruling elite are keenly aware of the indirect threat posed by the popular uprisings across the region.

      There are other parallels between the two countries. As well as the ongoing sense of injustice about the lack of democracy there are day to day economic issues which have contributed to the instability of the regimes. Ahmadinejad's recent neoliberal economic "shock therapy", which removed and restructured subsidies, is causing widespread price increases resulting in growing hardship and discontent. Mass unemployment and economic hardship were also key factors in motivating the people of Egypt.

      Both countries, having significant levels of industrialisation, have a working class base capable of wielding major industrial power and advancing demands for greater economic justice through their trades union structures. While much of this organisation is clandestine, due to the nature of the respective regimes, it is nevertheless disciplined and has the potential to play a decisive role in the outcome of current developments.

      Faced with a mounting internal threat the Iranian regime is resorting to blame outside forces for the internal crisis. It is unfortunate that recent comments by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in support of Iran's demonstrators play directly into the hands of the regime. Past evidence suggests that these comments will be recalled in the regime's interrogation and torture chambers. They will be repeated in televised forced confessions and in the show trials of political activists.

      In spite of this, the extent of external interference will be a key factor in determining how far reaching changes in either Egypt or Iran can be. US policy in the Middle East is being forced to shift away from direct support of lifelong dictators. The US is also reshaping itself to influence the leaderships and the organisations behind the growing mass protests. The policy makers are well aware of the grassroots nature of these protests and their direct connection with mass economic deprivation.

      The West's key policy objective is to limit the desire of the masses to force fundamental socio-economic changes that would threaten the West's "vital interests". In Egypt the widening protests, developing into labour strikes will be considered as a threat to western interests. Similarly in Iran the growing awareness and organisation among its labour movement is rarely discussed by mainstream politicians and the western media.

      The people of the Middle East are striving for a national united front against the ruling dictatorships and for a transition to real democracy for social justice. The crucial developments in Iran and the wider region can and should have progressive global effects. The people of the region need the sustained, consistent, genuine support of progressives in the West as they seek to carve out a path to democracy and self determination.

      A decisive shift towards real democracy, driven by the people, in Egypt and Iran would change the map of the Middle East dramatically. Not only would the basis for Islamic fundamentalism be weakened, the case for Palestinian autonomy would be greatly enhanced and the voices of Zionist fundamentalism in Israel reined in. These are outcomes which would not only benefit the people of the region but the people of the world. They are outcomes not only to be desired but to be worked towards.

      Jane Green is a National Officer of Iran Solidarity Campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Grand economic surgery and economic terror combine


      As the Iranian government pushes through reforms to deregulate the economy and eliminate subsidies on basic commodities, Jane Green looks at the impact upon the day to day lives of the people of Iran.
      29th January 2011


      Mr. President, we have not get paid for 5 months, how about you?

      The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in December slashed subsidies on food, water, electricity and fuel. They say the subsidies have been too expensive costing them around $100bn annually. Petrol prices will rise from 10 cents per litre to 70 cents. Electricity prices will jump from around $5 per month to $20. The cost of natural gas will rise from around $30 per month to $150.

      The cutbacks have been described as the "biggest surgery" to the nation's economy in 50 years. The cuts come as the Iranian economy continues to strain under international sanctions imposed earlier this year by the UN, the US and the EU over Iran's its nuclear programme.

      The cuts have been combined with a wave of economic terrorism unparalleled even for the Islamic Republic as the government attempts to drive down the minimum wage and arrest trades unionists arguing for improved terms and conditions for the workforce. The 'grand economic surgery' was announced just as negotiations with the Supreme Labour Council to set the minimum wage for the coming year were due to proceed. The minimum wage for 2010 had been set at $303 per month even though the acknowledged poverty line is set at $1000 per month. Trades unions have argued that the minimum should rise to at least $2000 per month, based upon the needs of a family of four, while the government is seeking to drive it down from its $303 level.

      A joint statement issued by six major trades union organisations in Iran has pointed out that the minimum wage "...has never been sufficient to cover living expenses and with the continual annual inflation increases workers and their families have fallen deeper into poverty." The statement goes on to demand that the minimum wage should "...be determined according to inflation and consideration of a respectable living cost for a family of four." The driving down of the minimum wage combined with the elimination of subsidies will undoubtedly put immense strain upon ordinary Iranian families.

      However, the government is not prepared to stop there. The launch of the 'grand economic surgery' was combined with a wave of arrests of political and social activists and journalists in Tehran and other cities on 19th December last year. Those interned included the writer Faiborz Raeis Dana. No reason has been given for the arrest. Also arrested were Lotfollah Meisami, Executive Director of Iran's Outlook, and Mohammad Sadegh Javadi Hesar, editor of the banned daily Quds. Both were put on trial and found "guilty".

      The trades union of the Haft Tapeh (Sugarcane) workers has strongly condemned the sentencing of Reza Rakhshan, Interim Chair of the Board of Directors of the union, to six months in jail for manufactured charges of "propagating lies and false statements." Rakhshan is the latest in a line of trades unionists from Haft Tapeh who have served six month sentences for carrying out their trades union duties.

      The case of popular film maker Jafar Panahi has received international attention. Panahi was sentenced to 6 years discretionary imprisonment in addition to being banned for 20 years from making films, writing scripts, conducting interviews or leaving the country. The climate of fear and intimidation was further heightened by the execution of more than 20 detainees over the recent weeks by order of the Islamic judicial authorities.

      The combined austerity measures and clampdown upon activists across Iran are no coincidence. The unpopularity of the government has not been in question since the stolen election of June 2009 and it is clear that the leaders of the Islamic Republic are prepared to take no chances as they bow to the pressures of the IMF and World Bank to tighten up on the limited social programmes available to ordinary Iranians.

      As the winds of change blow across the Middle East from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen it will be interesting to see if the flame of resistance is reignited on the streets of Iran as the current cuts bite. Having shown the way in taking to the streets following the 2009 election the people of Iran may yet feel inspired by events elsewhere to once again put pressure upon their leaders. As the cuts deepen and the economic prospects darken, they may have little to lose.

      Jane Green is a National Officer of Iran Solidarity Campaign, Committee for Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR). For further information on Iran and CIDIR's activities please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      CODIR condemns double executions in Iran






      On Tuesday 28th December the Iranian authorities hanged a man sentenced to death on charges of allegedly spying for Israel, the official IRNA news agency reported.

      The reports stated that Ali Akbar Siadati had been accused of providing Israel with classified information on Iran's military capabilities, including details about military manoeuvres, bases, operational jet fighters, military flights, air crashes and missiles.

      Separately, it was also reported that another Iranian was hanged on Tuesday for membership of an exile opposition group.

      IRNA reported that Ali Sarami was hanged on Tuesday in Evin having been convicted of membership of an exiled opposition group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation. It said he had been arrested several times since 1982 for membership of the group but had continued his activities each time subsequent to release. He was detained in 2007 for the last time and was then sentenced to death.

      CODIR believes that the victims were denied access to legal due process and did not have access to defence lawyers or an opportunity to effectively contest the charges leveled against them.

      In condemning the execution of the two latest victims of the regime on humanitarian grounds, CODIR once again calls for an end to all executions in Iran and freedom for all political prisoners held by the regime.

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      Urgent Action! Free Dr. Fariborz Raeesdana!






      The security forces of the Iranian Islamic government have arrested Dr Fariborz Raeesdana, the prominent left economist, social activist, writer and translator. Dr Raeesdana is a well known campaigner for workers' rights and a member of the Writers' Association of Iran (WAI).

      In a statement released earlier this week the WAI said:

      Doctor Fariborz Raeesdana, economist, writer, translator and member of the secretariat of the WriterS' Association of Iran, was arrested on 18th December when plain cloth security forces raided his home.

      In a country whose "representative" at the UN Human Rights Commission recently stated that Iran is the freest country in the world:

      • an economist is arrested less than two hours after an interview in which he had criticised the government's "economic adjustment plan and the elimination of subsidies"
      • journalists are kidnapped from their workplaces
      • a defence lawyer is incarcerated for defending political prisoners and her gradual death from starvation (due tot hunger strike) is watched with utmost indifference and
      • workers are imprisoned for months for the crime of defending trade union rights.

      The Writers' Association of Iran, which on the basis of its charter believes that the right to freedom of expression, without any condition and no exceptions, is the inalienable right of every Iranian citizen, demands unconditional freedom for Fariborz Raeesdana and all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

      Raeesdana was arrested by security forces at his home only a few hours after the implementation of the government's policy of removing subsidies had begun.

      Dr. Raeesdana is a committed intellectual who, in the protest movement struggle that has engulfed Iran since June 2009, has been defending the rights of working people and has made defending the human rights of the citizens his mission.

      Grave concerns for the safety and security of Dr Raeesdana are being voiced across the world. CODIR therefore demands that the Tehran regime guarantees that he is not ill treated. CODIR also calls for the immediate release of Dr Raeesdana and appeals to all campaigners for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression internationally to do likewise.

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      Cash for influence in Afghanistan: it's U.S. versus Iran


      Last week has been a revealing one in terms of the vying of both the US and the Iranian governments for influence in Afghanistan . Jane Green assesses the longer terms implications of the 'bags of money' wars.




      Afghan President Hamid Karzai is an unstable and at times unreliable ally for the West and his NATO backers and is a doubtful candidate for the mantle of leading the Afghan nation to "democracy." The admission that Karzai has been accepting bags of money from the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is just the latest in a long line of embarrassing episodes.

      The money, Karzai openly admits, is to help run the presidential office. "It's basically a presidential slush fund," an official in Kabul said of the Iranian-supplied money. The payments illustrate the degree to which the Iranian government has penetrated Karzai's inner circle despite his presumed alliance with the United States and the other NATO countries, which have sustained him with military forces and billions of dollars since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

      The situation is such that the New York Times last week quoted a NATO officer as saying that Iran's intelligence agencies were playing both sides of the conflict, providing financing, weapons and training to the Taliban. Iranian agents also financed the campaigns of several Afghans who ran in last month's parliamentary election, the NATO officer said.

      The Iranian intelligence services have developed the ability to assassinate opponents and attack American troops inside the country. "I am very concerned that they have a lethal capability and presence inside Afghanistan and Kabul," the NATO officer said. What is not openly admitted is the fact the Iranian regime's influence over developments in Afghanistan dates back to Autumn 2001 when it permitted NATO fighter aircraft to use Iranian air space to bomb Taliban positions deep inside their eastern neighbor's borders.  The Tehran regime was then quietly assisting the U.S. effort to remove the Taliban, one of Tehran's arch adversaries in the Islamic world, from power.

      While the United States adopted a tone of self-righteousness about Iran attempting to buy influence in Kabul, Karzai blithely put his foot in it further, stating, "The United States is doing the same thing. They are providing cash to some of our offices."

      The fact is that Iran's interests in Afghanistan are similar to those of the U.S. in wanting to have a capable government that exerts authority over the country and prevents problems from spilling over the border. However, the U.S. is in a difficult position, not wanting to be seen to be co-operating with the Iranians over Afghanistan, while still pressing for concessions on the Iranian nuclear program.

      It is clear that the Iranian theocratic regime is playing a longer game by seeking to extend its influence in the region. Iraq is an interesting parallel. The West, having toppled Saddam and established the most fragile of democratic structures, can only watch in despair as Shia groups supportive of Iran's theocratic regime are likely to hold the balance of power in the new Iraqi government. At some point the pressure to withdraw from Afghanistan will build in the West, as it becomes increasingly clear that the "war" is unwinnable. A government led by Hamid Karzai may be the best on offer, already compromised by Iranian cash; a more Iran-friendly government still could emerge, given the deeply held Muslim makeup of the country.

      The outcome of this power play is by no means certain. It does however give the lie to those seeking to paint Ahmadinejad and his government as one with anti-imperialist credentials. The shadow boxing in Afghanistan may be with the U.S. but the Iranian leader is not primarily concerned with the rights of the Afghan people, any more than he is over the fate of the people of Iran. His primary objective is the extension of the geo-political influence of the Islamic regime in the region and the establishment of a wider Islamic caliphate with Iran at the center.

      Progressive and peace-loving forces across the world are right to be concerned about the NATO mission in Afghanistan and the consequences for the citizens of their countries. They should not however be fooled into thinking that the course adopted by the Iranian regime offers an alternative. Not until the people of Afghanistan, Iran and the rest of the region are able to have their say will there be hope for a lasting solution to the problems of the Middle East.

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      CODIR Calls for the immediate release of Nasrin Sotoudeh


      Iran's human rights lawyer has been on hunger strike since 25th September in protest against her illegal arrest and treatment!
      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      17th October 2010




      Nasrin Sotoudeh,a prominent lawyer, defence attorney and civic society activist has been on hunger strike for more than three weeks in protest against her arrest and detention. She has been arrested and subjected to inhumane treatment simply because she has agreed to defend the cases of victims of abuse committed by the regime in Iran.

      Nasrin Sotoudeh, who represents Isa Saharkhiz (prominent Iranian journalist), Keyvan Samimi (political activist and a journalist), Shirin Ebadi (Iran's Nobel Peace Laureate), and several other journalists, civil society and political activists, was arrested on 4 September. She also represents the families of Meysam Ebadi and Ahmad Nejati-Kargar, two of the individuals who lost their lives during protest demonstrations against last year's election results.

      Nasrin Sotoudeh is known in Iran for her advocacy of human rights, being a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign for removing all gender discriminatory articles from the Constitution. In past decades she has courageously accepted to act as defence lawyer for many activists of the women's, trade union and human rights movements and the under-privileged. In some instances her advocacy of justice for the victims of human rights abuses in Iran has meant that she has had to face the authorities head-on.

      Nasrin Sotoudeh is known as an outspoken critic of the theocratic regime for the way that its penal system has dealt with youth offenders. She has defended a number of high profile cases and campaigned against the execution of minors (children under 18 years old). This is expressly prohibited by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Iran is a signatory.

      Prominent lawyer and co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, Mohammad Ali Seifzadeh, has stated, "It is the duty of the bar association and every human rights defender to pursue the case of Ms. Sotoudeh and secure her release as soon as possible."

      The news of Ms Sotoudeh's hunger strike and reports about the pressure brought upon her by the regime to coerce her into accepting the allegations against her has alarmed campaigners for human rights in Iran and around the world.

      Nasrin Sotoudeh's legal team has voiced its concern for her well-being and described her treatment as "an insult against lawyers and the legal profession," while emphasizing the illegal nature of her arrest.

      Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent lawyer, stated that Nasrin Sotoudeh's arrest was "illegal". "According to the law" he said, "legal malpractice is actionable only through the special administrative court for lawyers, meaning categorically that a case brought against a lawyer must be initiated by the bar association's disciplinary committee."

      Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, speaking on Sunday, strongly condemned the action of the Iranian regime. He said, "We are seriously concerned about Ms Stotoudeh's safety, health and well-being. We believe that she has been targeted by the regime for the prominent role she has played in defending victims of human and democratic rights in Iran."

      Mr. Ahmadi, further added, CODIR believes that Ms Sotoudeh is being punished in such brutal manner so that no other lawyer dares to stand in defence of human rights activists. The fact is that in order to silence the critics, the regime continues to use violent suppression. It is its response to the peaceful and legitimate activities of those who are brave enough to speak out.

      CODIR is calling on all democratic individuals and organisations, in particular the labour and trade union movement, to write protest letters to Iranian diplomatic missions and embassies in all countries to demand that the Iranian regime:

      Jane Green is the National Campaign Officer of CODIR (Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights). For further information on Iran please visit: www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

      • Immediately releases Nasrin Sotoudeh

      • Ends the persecution of those who engage in legitimate protest and political activities in Iran

      • Immediately and unconditionally releases all political prisoners from detention

      • Respects international conventions guaranteeing human rights

      Letters should be sent to:-

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK , the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran 's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran .

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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      Arrest over Friday prayers condemned


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      7th October 2010


      CODITR LOGO

      Ibrahim Yazdi, the secretary general, and Hashem Sabaghian a member of the Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI) central council, were arrested last Friday along with Ali Asghar Gharavi, Ghafari Farzadi and Ahad Rezai, members of the Isfahan , Tabriz and Zanjan offices of the political party on charges of holding an illegal Friday prayer in Isfahan .

      Mr. Varyadi, Abbas Moslehi and Haghighi of the FMI were also arrested.

      Immediately after the arrests, IRNA the state-run Iranian news agency, claimed that these political activists were arrested because of an "illegal Friday prayer meeting organised by a veteran Wahabi in Isfahan ."

      Ghafari Farzadi, the head of the Tabriz branch of the FMI was one of the detainees whose family members said they had no news of his status. Amin Farzadi, the son of Ghafar Farzadi said, "Unfortunately I have had no news of my father since Friday and do not know where he is and what his condition is. My father suffers from a prostate illness and so we are very concerned about him not receiving his medicine on time. He had gone to attend a memorial event after which we have not heard from him."

      Khalil Yazdi, the son of Ibrahim Yazdi said, "This is the first time we have heard that Friday prayers are illegal. We have never had illegal Friday prayers and it is unfortunate that one needs a permit to even say your prayers in the Islamic Republic. In no other place in the world do they do this. Even in America and Israel , engaging in prayers needs no permits. Even in Russia Muslims can easily hold their prayers."

      It is no coincidence that this is the third time that Ibrahim Yazdi has been arrested and imprisoned after last year's disputed presidential elections.

      The arrests were made by plain-clothesmen who did not present any identification or warrants. When asked, they simply said that they were from the Ministry of Intelligence. Some introduced themselves as Basij force members (militias under the command of the Islamic Guards Corps). They locked up everybody in the house and then distributed interrogation sheets, asking those present to fill them out.

      According to witnesses, the agents said, "You have been illegally holding Friday prayers and we are assigned to stop this because this causes societal insecurity."

      Such action on the part of the security forces is part of the wider context of political repression in Iran since the 12th June 2009 presidential election. The crackdown on the opposition is reaching every area including political and religious groups.

      Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, this morning strongly condemned the action of the Iranian regime, stating,

      "The regime has found itself unable to overcome the political crisis in the country and is afraid of even the most innocent of gatherings. By persecuting political and religious groups the government hopes to be able to frighten the opposition spreading in Iranian cities and towns. The regime continues to use violent suppression as a response against peaceful and legitimate activities, even to the extent of breaking up Friday prayers."

      CODIR has protested against the upsurge of suppressive measures in Iran and has called on the Iranian regime to stop its repressive practices. It has called on international public opinion to condemn the persecution of political detainees in Iran .

      Mr. Ahmadi, went on to state, "that it is only through a united and effective international campaign against the persecution of political prisoners in Iran that the current atrocities can be stopped."

      CODIR is calling upon all democratic individuals and organisations, in particular the labour and trades union movement, to write protest letters to the Iranian diplomatic missions and Embassies to demand that the Iranian regime,

      • End the persecution of political prisoners in Iran

      • Immediately and unconditionally releases all political prisoners from detention

      • Respects the international conventions guaranteeing human rights

      Letters should be sent to:-

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK , the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran 's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran .

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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      Iran: One Year After ....


      Editorial
      30th August 2010




      In a country where political parties of the left are banned, trades unionists have no right to organise, religious minorities are persecuted and human rights abuses are routine, no election can be described as free and fair. What passes for Parliamentary democracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran requires the vetting of all candidates, their approval by the clergy and no dissent from the core values of the Islamic Republic.

      Against this background it is remarkable that on Friday, 12 June 2009 the people of Iran came out in their millions to reject unequivocally the return of Ahmadinejad in the country's presidential election. Thirty years after bringing down the Shah's notorious regime and demanding that its tyranny be replaced by a peaceful, democratic and just society, it was crystal clear to the majority of voters that the aspirations of the February 1979 Revolution had been callously and unequivocally betrayed by the theocratic regime and the current president during his first four-year term leading up to the election. There was an overwhelming demand for change and the reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was informed of his landslide victory on Saturday, 13 June.

      In the face of outright rejection by the people, the clergy turned swiftly to coercion in a frantic bid to shore up their candidate whatever the cost. While Mousavi, having gone through the usual vetting procedures for candidacy was no radical, the extent of the opposition to Ahmadinejad nevertheless gave the clergy pause for thought. The expectations raised by the relative 'liberalisation' of 1997- 2005, under President Khatami, may not be so easily contained a second time. With these considerations in mind and, despite all evidence to the contrary, the regime massively falsified the count and changed the votes of Mousavi, the real winner, with those of Ahmadinejad.

      People from all strata of society - women, youth and students, workers and trades unionists, artists and intellectuals - reacted swiftly and by 15 June, more than three million had taken to the streets of Tehran and other major cities in protest, demanding to have their votes recognised, the true result declared and their candidate installed as president. The Green Movement was born.

      From that day on, the regime outlawed all opposition. Candidates who had stood against Ahmadinejad were confined to their homes and those close to them harassed and intimidated. Protesters were attacked and killed in the streets. Hundreds were arrested then physically, sexually and psychologically tortured, or murdered, in a relentless bid to silence every last voice for change. Whatever the regime brought out of its arsenal to suppress and terrorise, still more people came forward to defy the government - international footballers, journalists and editors, roof-top protesters, street protesters - telling the world what was going on in their country and vowing never to stop until the government had met their demand that their wishes, expressed in the 12th June election, be acknowledged, respected and implemented.

      Fourteen months on and the regime has not succeeded in silencing the voices demanding change. Any mention of the movement for change is outlawed. All opposition media are banned. Trades union activists, workers, student leaders, women's movement campaigners, writers, artists and professors continue to be held as political prisoners in atrocious conditions. Many have died but more voices replace them, daily telling the world how the regime is bankrupting Iran's economy, mismanaging the country's rich resources, enriching its cronies from a 'redistribution' of state assets. Such hard-won constitutional rights as exist, are being rescinded and whole sections of the population are being pushed into absolute poverty.

      It is ironic that, had the clergy allowed the real result of the election to stand, and Mousavi to assume the presidency, their credibility in the country could hardly be less than it is now. In a deeply conservative society the clergy have been able to portray themselves as the defenders of the ideals of the 1979 revolution and retain some degree of support. Since the 12th June 2009 that facade has been stripped away and the regime is seen to be hanging on through brute force alone.

      Since 12th June 2009, the Iranian people have not only continued an unwavering campaign in Iran but have also showed the world exactly what the regime of Ahmadinejad is about and why they want to change it. Now, more than at any other time, the people of Iran need international solidarity to support them in their struggle to ensure that their just demands are met.

      The way for all those bravely united behind the demand for change to achieve their vision of a country free from violence, poverty and dictatorship is not from any foreign intervention in their affairs on any pretext. Nor is it from a theocracy or any self-serving government of the rich and powerful. It is only through the democratic choice of the Iranian people that a future of peace and justice can be built.

      Our role is to support the Iranian people in their struggle against dictatorship. We should listen to and voice our support for their demands; campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners; demand an end to executions and inhuman treatment of detainees; and demand that the perpetrators of human rights abuses to be brought to justice. We should support the establishment of democracy in Iran and the right of its people, and only its people, to determine its future.

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      Political prisoners in hunger strike protest in Iran


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      5th August 2010


      Paris Hunger Strike

      Hunger strikers in Iran's notorious Evin Prison, in the capital Tehran, are approaching their third week without food in protest at being transferred to solitary confinement, inhuman prison conditions and their violent treatment in prison.

      In total seventeen political prisoners have been on hunger strike since the 26th July. Those involved in the protest include student leader, Abdullah Momeni, writer Keyvan Samimi and journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amooei.

      On Wednesday this week, the 10th day of the hunger strike, relatives protested in front of the Office of the Prosecutor General in Tehran to demand the release of their loved ones and improved conditions for them. They were carrying the photographs of the prisoners and posters demanding their release. The security forces attacked the gathering of the families and tried to disperse them. The security forces were grabbing the posters, tearing them and manhandling the families. Some were beaten up.

      Such action on the part of the security forces is part of the wider context of political repression in Iran since the 12th June 2009 presidential election. The crackdown on the opposition is reaching every area including political and religious groups.

      According to confirmed reports, Hoda Saber, an activist of the National-Religious Movement, has been missing since Saturday July 24th and the security-police and judiciary authorities of the regime in Iran have not yet taken the responsibility for his arrest.

      On Sunday July 25th the National-Religious website posted this news and wrote: "Hoda Saber, a National-Religious activist has been missing since he left his workplace, most likely he has been abducted. He was summoned to prison 3 weeks ago on the phone to serve his sentence. However, his lawyer had contacted the court and requested to serve him a written summons. No written summons has yet been served."

      Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, this morning strongly condemned the action of the Iranian regime, stating,

      "The regime has found itself unable to overcome the political crisis in the country and continues to target political prisoners in revenge. By persecuting political detainees the government hopes to be able to frighten the opposition spreading in Iranian cities and towns. The regime has chosen violent suppression as a response against peaceful and legitimate protest demanding basic human and democratic rights."

      CODIR has protested against the upsurge of suppressive measures in Iran and has called on the Iranian regime to stop its murderous practices. It has called on international public opinion to condemn the persecution of political detainees in Iran and called on the regime in Iran to stop executions.

      Mr. Ahmadi, went on to state, "that it is only through a united and effective international campaign against both the persecution and execution of political prisoners in Iran that the current atrocities can be stopped."

      CODIR is calling upon all democratic individuals and organisations, in particular the labour and trades union movement, to write protest letters to the Iranian diplomatic missions and Embassies calling on the regime to halt the persecution of political prisoners and to demand that the Iranian regime,

      • End the torture and execution of political prisoners in Iran

      • Immediately and unconditionally releases all political prisoners from detention

      • Respects the international conventions guaranteeing human rights

      CODIR has said that it is against these and any other executions and rejects capital punishment under any circumstances.

      Letters should be sent to:-

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

      Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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      From state manipulation to personal dictatorship - Iran, one year after the election


      The passing of the first anniversary of the 12th June 2009 election, which returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office, has been marked by an intensification of the crackdown on opposition voices in Iran. Jane Green highlights the current state of the struggle in Iran and the prospects for the regime.
      4th Aug, 2010


      Mass protest against election result in Tehran, June 15, 2009

      In June this year Amnesty International published From Protest to Prison - Iran One Year After the Election, which reviewed a year of arrest and detention of those who have spoken out against the government and its abuses.

      As Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International's interim Secretary General stated,

      "The Iranian government is determined to silence all dissenting voices, while at the same time trying to avoid all scrutiny by the international community into the violations connected to the post-election unrest."

      The report focuses upon some key examples of arbitrary arrest and detention including:-




      • Banned student Sayed Ziaoddin Nabavi serving a 10-year prison sentence in Evin Prison. A member of the Council to Defend the Right to Education, his sentence appears to be linked to the fact that he has relatives in the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran, a banned group, which the authorities claim was responsible for organising demonstrations.

      • Around 50 members of the Baha'i faith have been arrested across Iran since the elections, continuing to be unjustly cast as scapegoats for the unrest.

      • Iran's ethnic minority communities have faced arrest and detention, during and following the election. Four Kurds were among five political prisoners executed in May without the notifications required by law, in what was a clear message to anyone considering marking the June election anniversary with protest.

      As Claudio Cordone has stated, the position of Amnesty International is very clear,

      "What we are calling for is very simple: the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and for others to be tried promptly on recognisably criminal offences, without recourse to the death penalty, in proceedings which fully meet international standards for a fair trial."

      Iran has one of the highest rates of executions in the world. To date in 2010, Amnesty International has already recorded over 115 executions.

      The report reinforces facts which have been highlighted by CODIR, Amnesty and other human rights organisations over the past year and presents a damning indictment of the Islamic Republic's failure to address basic human rights issues and the demands of civil society.

      The intransigence of the regime was further highlighted in July with the international outcry which followed the sentencing to stoning of Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani, who had been accused of adultery. Commuting the sentence to death by hanging has not stemmed the tide of protest.

      In a further development the lawyer defending Ashtiani, Mohammed Mostafaei, has been missing following his release from judicial questioning. The authorities have further responded by detaining the lawyer's wife and brother in law, prompting fears that they have been arrested to put pressure upon Mostafaei.

      Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director, has been quite clear about the intentions of the regime stating,

      "Mohammad Mostafaei is a thorn in the side of the Iranian authorities and we fear that he is being persecuted in an attempt to stop him carrying out his professional activities as a defence lawyer and in support of human rights."

      As Amnesty International has pointed out, there is a longstanding pattern of harassment and imprisonment of human rights lawyers in Iran. In 2002, Nasser Zarafshan was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, partly on trumped-up charges of possessing a firearm and alcohol offences.

      Abdolfattah Soltani was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in 2005 for disclosing public documents and "propaganda against the system". The sentence was overturned on appeal on 2007 but he was arrested again in 2009 and held for two months before being released on bail. Mohammad Olyaeifard, is serving a one-year prison sentence imposed for comments he made criticising the judiciary after the execution of one of his clients, juvenile offender Behnoud Shojaee.

      Other Iranian human rights lawyers such as Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and Shadi Sadr, recipient of various international human rights awards, now work outside of Iran, fearing to return.

      In addition to this pattern of persecution against the legal profession the regime's campaign against journalists continues with the ongoing internment of Abdolrezo Tajik who, at the end of July, had been held for 50 days without charge. The International Federation of Journalists has issued a call for Tajik's release and IFJ General Secretary, Aidan White, has stated,

      "The failure to produce evidence that he has broken the law and the fears that he is being abused in jail should be enough to indicate that there is a terrible injustice here. If there is no case to answer he should be freed immediately and all the allegations of ill treatment must be investigated."

      This ongoing pattern of suppression reflects a regime which continues to resort to force to cover up its contradictions. Intolerance of open debate and free discussion are symptomatic of the tyranny which is Iran today.

      The latest pronouncements from the leadership of the theocratic regime reinforce this picture. In late July the office of the Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Ali Khamenei, issued a statement which in effect states that everyone must obey Mr. Khamenei. For his authority to make such a statement Khamenei referred back to the Prophet Mohammed stating,

      "An injury to the obedience to the faqih and the supreme leader is an injury to the Islamic regime itself, and I would not tolerate it from any person or group. Fortunately today, with God's blessing, all individuals and groups following the line of the Imam are committed to their obedience of the faqih and the supreme leader. We hope that conditions for their disobedience never emerge."

      This movement towards personal dictatorship reflects the lack of confidence the regime has in its structures for government. It also demonstrates the extent to which the regime has been affected by the events following the 12th June 2009. The clerical establishment has been shaken and society in Iran is increasingly forming into two clear camps; those in favour of the medeival clericalism represented by Khamenei and those broadly in favour of the principles of the Green Movement, seeking modernisation, peace and democracy.

      This contradiction will not be resolved overnight and it is clear that the Iranian people, in spite of their suffering under the theocratic regime, may yet be in for a long haul before they achieve their goal. It is equally clear however that international solidarity in support of the Iranian people is more vital than ever and external pressure combined with the resolve of the Iranian people themselves will eventually move Iran into the twenty first century.

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      URGENT APPEAL - Further political prisoners in danger in Iran


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      19th June 2010




      Outrage has been expressed by the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) at the recent arrest of a number of workers and student activists in Iran.

      The arrests follow the familiar pattern, established by the regime since the disputed presidential election of 12th June 2009, of arrest, trial without representation and severe sentences for those campaigning for peace and democracy.

      CODIR has received information that in recent weeks a number of pro- reform activists have been arrested and given unusually harsh sentences including long term prison sentences.

      Alireza Akhavan, an active member of the Centre for Workers' Rights in Iran was arrested by the security forces in the early hours of 4th June 2010 in Tehran. He is detained in wing 209 of the notorious Evin prison. The security forces searched Akhavan's house and confiscated a number of items including his writings, computer and other belongings. Akhavan is a well known figure in the protest movement in Iran with links to both the women's rights movement and the worker's rights movement.

      According to further reports from Iran, Saeid Torabian, a member of the Tehran Public Bus Drivers Union was arrested on 9th June at 9am. His house was searched and his computer and mobile phone were confiscated and taken away for examination by the security services. Torabian is a well known leader of the Bus Workers union who has been arrested a number of times for his high profile campaigning in defence of worker rights.

      Since 7th December 2009, after his speech at the University of Amir-Kabir on the occasion of the Student's Day, Majid Tavakkoli, a member of the Islamic Student Association of the University of Amir-Kabir, has been detained and transferred to Evin Prison. Prior to his latest detention, he had been detained twice, in 2007 and 2008, and up to now he has spent almost two years in prison. He has recently been handed down an 8.5 year prison sentence.

      On 19th May 2010, section 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Justice, sentenced two of the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat's Central Council members to a total of 16.5 years in prison. Daftar Tahkim Vahdat (Office for Consolidation of Unity (OCU)) is the nationwide organisation of the Iranian University Students. The OCU's two Central Council members, Ms Bahareh Hedayat and Mr Milad Assadi, were sentenced to 9.5 and 7 years in prison, respectively. The charges brought against them included propaganda against the system, acting against national security, insulting the Supreme Religious Leader and insulting the President.

      Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, strongly condemned the action of the Iranian regime, stating,

      "The regime has found itself unable to overcome the political crisis in the country and is targeting political prisoners in revenge. By arresting activists the government hopes to be able to frighten people from engaging in legitimate protest in Iranian cities and towns. The regime has chosen violent suppression as a response against peaceful and legitimate protest demanding basic human and democratic rights."

      CODIR has protested against the upsurge of suppressive measures in Iran and has called on the Iranian regime to stop its human rights abuses. It has called on international public opinion to condemn the continuing arrests in Iran and call on the regime in Iran to stop executions.

      Mr. Ahmadi, went on to state, "that it is only through a united and effective international campaign against the arrest and execution of political prisoners in Iran that the current atrocities can be stopped."

      CODIR is calling upon all democratic individuals and organisations, in particular the labour and trades union movement, to write protest letters to the Iranian diplomatic missions and Embassies calling on the regime to halt all arbitrary arrests and executions and to demand that the Iranian regime:-

      is calling upon all democratic individuals and organisations, in particular the labour and trades union movement, to write protest letters to the Iranian diplomatic missions and Embassies calling on the regime to halt all executions and to demand that the Iranian regime,

      • Release from prison student leaders Bahareh Headyat, Milad Asadi, Majid Tavakkoli and activists Alireza Akhavan and Saeid Torabian

      • End the torture and execution of political prisoners in Iran

      • Immediately and unconditionally releases all political prisoners from detention

      • Respects the international conventions guaranteeing human rights

      CODIR has said that it is against these arrests and rejects capital punishment under any circumstances.

      Letters should be sent to:-

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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      Iran's neoliberal agenda!


      By Jamshid Ahmadi
      Assistant General Secretary, CODIR
      11 June 2010




      On the fist anniversary of the fraudulent election that secured Ahmadinejad's second term as president, Iran is once again under the international media spotlight. Barely three days after the UN Security Council imposed devastating fourth term sanctions on Iran, the fundamentalist regime has clamped down on its seething population and banned the anticipated mass protest demonstrations planned for Saturday 12th June, the anniversary of the election. As the world public struggles to balance its total opposition to the UN sanctions and threats of military attack by the US and its allies with its abhorrence of the theocratic dictatorship and the adventurous and ill thought pronouncements and actions of the Ahmadinejad and his courtiers, this article exposes the true anti-popular roots and intentions of the regime and its continuing impoverishment and subjugation of the Iranian people.

      As seen from the outside, Iran's Islamic regime is superficially characterised by its anti-western foreign policy and particularly by its verbal attacks against the US and Israel. There is a spectrum of opinion that interprets the regime's belligerent stance as "anti-imperialist" or rather "anti American". However, the vast majority of progressives rightly recognise that beneath its sloganeering facade lies a theocratic and reactionary regime fronted by Ahmadinejad's illegitimate government. Less noted is the regime's neo-liberal economic doctrine and its impact on the majority of the population, the working people and the poor.

      Since the ending of Iran-Iraq war in summer 1988, the first peace-time government under Hashemi Rafsanjani, with the support of the spiritual leader (Ayatollah Khameneie), embarked on an IMF-based restructuring of the economy. Rafsanjani's era, dubbed as the "Restructuring Epoch through Economic Adjustment", was based on the free market mechanisms of privatisation, deregulation of the labour market, floatation of the currency and deregulation of prices. This soon left Iran's economy shattered with 49.5% inflation, $34 billion national debt and $22.5 billion trade deficit. At the same time, the rich got richer while the standard of living of the majority of Iran's population fell massively and structural poverty grew.

      In spite of this, neo-liberal economic theory became predominant within various factions of the regime and those in power ignored the mass impoverishment they were creating. Eight years of Reformist government, from 1997, led by President Mohammad Khatami, continued on the same damaging neo-liberal path trying to create investment incentives and a secure climate for private capital in conjunction with deregulation of labour market. However, increased private sector investment was largely concentrated on non-productive activity, chiefly the import of goods and property speculation and the free market orientation resulted in more and more painful economic hardship for working people and increased unemployment. These grave consequences of neo-liberal economics massively discredited the reformist forces in the eyes of ordinary Iranians and Reformists' efforts to promote democratic changes and civic society paled into insignificance compared to the deepening poverty suffered by the majority of the people. The Reformists' unwillingness to confront economic-political corruption and the way in which the rich continued to get richer further fuelled people's mistrust.

      Ahmadinejad, representing one of the most socially reactionary and economically conservative groupings within the regime was able to capitalise on the adverse and unpopular consequences of the Reformists' neo-liberal policies and in 2005, backed by the spiritual leader and the 'Islamic Guard Corps', was able to rig the election. At the same time, the Reformists, having lost credibility with the poor and marginalised, were unable to confront the new government.

      At the outset, Ahmadinejad's populist slogans and attacks against the Reformists' economic plans proved popular among the marginalised and poor and certain disorganised sections of the working people and his propaganda enabled him to pose as the people's champion, promising to alleviate chronic poverty, fight corruption and challenge the supper rich. However, it soon became clear that this rogue champion of the people had no intention of reversing the regime's neo-liberal economic plans. Unrestrained privatisation and deregulation of the labour market continued at an even faster pace and workers' protests were crushed. Behind the smokescreen and his bogus anti-American and anti-corruption ranting, Ahmadinejad intended only to re-brand the regime's neo-liberal economic orientation not change it.

      Since Ahmadinejad's first term in office there have been no significant increases in productive investments. The economic growth continues to be based solely on the export of crude oil and a form of parasitic capitalism which is engaged in speculation. The net result has been increasing hardship for working people and the poor. The key difference of Ahmadinejad's economic programme with the one operating before is solely the shifting of the dominant economic beneficiaries within the regime's elite. His free market based economic policies are designed to maximise profit and divert it towards new leading groupings in power.

      Given Iran's under-developed and warped capitalist framework, the adoption of the neo-liberal economic model has been likewise distorted. However, Milton Freidman would have immediately recognised and admired certain fundamentals that are doggedly pursued by Ahmadinejad's government. Growing privatisation of key public assets and the development of a 'small government' that shrugs off direct responsibility for national economic development but strictly enforces a non-unionised and cheap labour workforce are examples to note. What is missing in Iran from Freidman's neo-liberal model is a totally open competitive market. This is not because of Ahmadinejad's 'anti-capitalist' outlook but because the open market has been deliberately avoided in order to preserve the interest of the oligarchs within the Islamic regime's ruling circles. The 'Islamic Guard Corps' is the key political supporter of Ahmadinejad and its high command has been the main economic beneficiary of the massive privatisations under Ahmadinejad. The Guard's high command, along with its associated cronies in the regime, is now the powerful and the dominant oligarch in Islamic Iran. It will do anything lawful or unlawful to expand its economic empire, including using intimidation and direct force.

      It was during Ahmadinejad's first term in office that, with the active support of Ayatollah Khamene'i, the constitution was amended to require the government to privatise key state assets through Tehran's Stock Exchange. The lucrative parts of the oil industry, mines and the national telecommunication infrastructure have been the key areas targeted by the commanders of the Islamic Guard. Wherever possible Ahmadinejad's government has created single bidder tenders with the Islamic Guard or one of its umbrella organisations as the only contender. To justify this wholesale privatisation, Ahmadinejad described it as "giving people's affairs back to people" and dubbed the privatisation as the distribution of "Justice Shares" where ordinary people can become share owners! This is reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher's "share owning democracy" where, as intended, few shares at all ended up with the people.

      I dealing with the government's economic problems and in particular the growing budget deficit, during the last 12 months Ahmadinejad's government has embarked on its extremely rightwing "economic shock therapy" which it has dubbed the "great surgery"! Ahmadinejad's plans aim to remove all major price subsidies and instead use this money to provide "cash payments" to the disadvantaged. This is one of the main planks of neo-liberal economics advocated by the IMF. This dangerous plan was even opposed by the parliament that is dominated by the supporters of Ahmadinejad's rigged election. The legislation had to be forced through with the help of the spiritual leader. All experts are warning that the resulting massive inflationary rise will hurt the working people and the poor. It should be noted that Iran lacks the necessary infrastructures in order to be able to divert the so called "cash payments" towards those in need. Ahmadinejad's government, like its predecessors, sees neo-liberal economics as the remedy to all Iran's economic problems, while at the same time allowing the regime to protect the economic interests of its elites. Like its predecessors, Ahmadinejads government sees the workers of Iran as a dangerous force that needs to be contained in terms of its economic demands, desire to get organised and political activities. The brutal crackdown by the Islamic Guards on those protesting against the illegal election of Ahmadinejad and continuing imprisonment and execution are not the actions of a state protecting itself against foreign interference. It simply represents the actions of a dictatorship using brute force to protect the political power and massive economic interests of its new oligarchs.

      Jamshid Ahmadi is the Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. For further information on Iran please visit: www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      We struggle for progressive change! (Part 2)


      Following the publication of the first part of the CODIR's interview with Jelveh Javaheri, one of the well known activists of the Iranian women's movement, we are pleased to publish the second instalment of that interview. In this part Jelveh answers a number of important questions about the state of the women's movement inside Iran. We encourage all supporters of human and democratic rights to study this important interview. For the first part of this interview and a short biography of Jelveh Javaheri please visit the following link: http://www.codir.net/editorial.html#51
      22nd May 2010




      7. What is the central slogan of the women's movement at the current time?
      In my opinion, the women's movement does not have a central slogan. However, the course of post-election actions indicates that some of the women's movement activists are more than anything pursuing non-violence and citizens rights, and as such, their slogan is to avoid violence. There are many groups that are after the elimination of discrimination against women. Their slogan remains that of equality between men and women and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Nevertheless, there is no solid boundary between these groups and in general the slogan of equality and the elimination of discrimination could be seen implicitly among most of these groups.

      8. Is the One Million Signature Campaign still active?
      Yes it is active, but somewhat in shadow. Since 2 years ago, the pressure on the Campaign has been such that even if a meeting was organised over the phone, police and security forces would appear at the location of the meeting and interrogate the owner. This situation practically forced the large body of the Campaign to split into smaller groups. The organising tasks were split between these groups. This situation intensified after the recent elections. Nonetheless, we have been able to advance our work during this period by keeping a low profile and without media publicity. Whenever the connection between these groups was cut off or weakened, the Campaign moved more sluggishly but was able to restore its actions through reviewing and re-assigning tasks. This model, i.e. making the groups smaller and networking amongst them, had a significant impact on the continuation of the Campaign. I believe the Green Movement could utilise this model too because any one of these groups has an institutional role and after the completion of the Campaign goal, they will remain in place. Even today they could get connected with other networks. This is what happened when the mothers in the Campaign approached and expanded to Mothers of Peace and Mourning Mothers.

      9. Were there any 8th March celebrations this year in Iran?
      I wrote an extensive article about this subject. Prior to the 8th March a number of activists of the women's movement were trying to promote their demands in one way or another. However, on this day we were not able to publicise our demands as loudly enough as we should and act appropriately according due to the atmosphere after the election. This day could have become one of the protest days after the election, with its women-specific slogans, in which case it would have helped both the Green Movement and the women's movement. For whatever reason, this unity did not exist among women, and even the Green Movement did not consider this day in the list of its days of protest. That was how the opportunity of International Women's Day was wasted amidst the current Green atmosphere. Perhaps this was a reminder to think about re-uniting the movements.

      It is true that the ambiance has changed. However, if we are thinking of completely abandoning the previous actions and starting fresh movements all over again, we will not only lose the experience we have gained in the past, but would not be able to properly organise our new actions. We will jump from one branch to another. I believe that the post-election events to a certain extent drove the women's movement into some sort of disarray. Many of the activists of the women's movement believe that, considering the new circumstances, the demands have to change. However, I think that demands must be pursued consistently in order to get results otherwise, if we keep shifting direction like this, we will have to go back to square one every time. In my view, the demands could be broadened but the previous demands will remain until they are attained. In particular, the demand to change discriminatory laws, which I believe is both a strategic demand which has the potential to mobilise the public and is also urgent, since the existence of such laws leads to broad violence against women and their lack of independence. Therefore, our demands should not change so swiftly and become isolated from the everyday lives of women. The modes of action, however, should be adjusted and it is these modes and methods that should be kept up to date.

      10. What is the status of Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Iran today?
      I can definitely assert to the fact that during Ahmadinejad's administrations, NGOs were gradually silenced. Right from the inception of Ahmadinejad's administration, NGOs were put under pressure. First it was the state order that the permits of NGOs must be re-validated. One had to live in Iran and go through the NGO registration and the obtaining of permits during Khatami's government in order to understand what it means to renew the permit during Ahmadinejad's. I was active in one of these NGOs during Khatami's term. In those days, when the talks about the expansion of civil society and NGOs as wings of the state was going on, it took us two years to get our permit, and it was only a year after that it expired, only because the members of the central council of this NGO attended a peaceful gathering and demanded a change in the laws. The order to revoke our permit came directly from the Intelligence Department; even during the interrogations later on, they alluded to this fact. As such, during Ahmadinejad's administration, the permits of NGOs that were able to register, were revoked and those NGOs were simply shut down. In this period, the remaining NGOs are either dreadfully neutral and do not criticise any policies, or are state-related and in fact only carry the name of NGO.

      11. What images of women do the mainstream media in Iran, including TV and radio stations, portray? What layers of women are the main audiences or targets of this state propaganda?
      The policies of the mainstream media in Iran are somewhat different from each other. For instance, radio stations have better programmes than TV. Nevertheless, the unified policy of state media has become so misogynistic. Nowadays, polygamy is freely publicized on Iran's TV. Women are encouraged to stay at home [become housewives]. Divorce is considered a social problem and not a phenomenon. Female characters portrayed are far from characters of everyday life. The policies of radio and TV and newspapers such as Keyhan are very misogynistic, and in my opinion, very anti-man too. One of the recent ideas promoted by the state is pre-marital education and issuance of the marriage certificate. Imagine that during this education they portray a woman as delicate, subservient, with nice body shape, and a man as burly, rough. It is hard for us to imagine that such images are taught so explicitly. Many objected to these policies, even from the inner circle of the regime, but it had no bearing.

      12. How is the relationship between the women's organisations with other civil movements, like the youth and student movements?
      In recent years, the women's movement and its organisations have had very good relationships with the students to a large extent, simply because about 70% of students are females. Many of these students live outside their home city, which has a significant impact on their independent thinking and actions. During the reform years, many of these students were members of women's NGOs or they helped organise women's organisations in universities. Establishing the Women's Commission of Tahkim Vahdat" [Bureau for Consolidation of Unity, a major national student organization] was just one example. They organized a student movement with female demands, such as protesting against gender quotas in universities. In particular, after 12th June 2005, the women's movement organised joint actions with the student movement. On the day of 12th June, 2006, a large number of student activists, including Bahareh Hedayat were arrested. A number of them became involved in the One Million Signature Campaign too and absorbed numerous students to this civil movement. It must be noted though that due to their struggle on two fronts, i.e. academic freedoms and the elimination of discrimination against women, these students are under double coercion.

      13. In one of your commentaries, you pointed out the silence or relative passivity of the women's movement. In your opinion, how could this be overcome? What are your recommended approaches for strengthening and harmonising the ranks of the women's movement?
      I believe joint actions must be organised. Despite the wide-spread range of demands of the women's movement at the moment, I still think that this movement is pursuing specific demands and goals. For this reason, if it could focus on the common points, it would certainly be able to organise very broadly. For instance, on the topic of protest against the so-called Family Protection bill, I believe a collective demand could be agreed upon and this could be, as I mentioned previously, organised around the change in discriminatory laws, along with proposing alternative laws. For example, some have placed the stress upon labour laws; some on family laws; some on the laws and regulations governing universities; or supportive laws to eliminate violence against women; and have demanded equality and the elimination of discrimination in each of these areas. They are all engaged in other activities too, but they could jointly act together around legal issues. I believe this will make the women's movement and its networks stronger and will link these networks together. In this case, we could become stronger in the field of interest of others too, e.g. in the field of the labour laws we will stay beside the labour movement; on the university laws and regulations we will stay alongside the student movement; and on the topic of elimination of violence we will go along the Green Movement in certain paths. In my opinion, this movement has the capability of tying the movements together, as it is present in all of them, one way or another.

      14. Do the Iranian women's organisations have friendship and collaboration with the women's organisations in other countries or with international organisations? How is international support and solidarity with the demands of Iranian women?
      I believe this collaboration and relationship exists, and its history goes back to the years before the [1979] revolution. During the Constitutional Revolution [1906] many groups had this kind of relationships and after that, during the Pahlavi regimes, some groups, like the Union of the Women Lawyers of Iran, took part in international groups or had relationships with them. In the 1980's, when many of the activists of women's movement left Iran, they could make contact with feminist groups outside of Iran, and after the 80's and the end of Iran-Iraq war, this relationship extended inside of Iran. They became the connecting bridge between Iranian feminists and the feminists all around the world. Currently, and particularly after the launch of One Million Signature Campaign, this rapport has expanded. Since many of the Campaign groups are active outside of Iran, including in England, the US, Italy, Australia, France, Germany, Austria this relationship has been inevitably maintained. At the time of the arrest of activists of the women's movement inside Iran, we witnessed the support of many feminist and human rights groups from all over the world. These groups supported the goals of the Campaign too. In fact, this support is inevitable, because the problem of women is not an Iranian issue, but a global issue. Patriarchy is also a global phenomenon that could be overcome only through the wide-ranging support of the international women's movements for each other across the globe.

      15. Do you have a message for CODIR and its readers and human rights, democracy and peace activists?
      To follow on from my previous comments, I believe human rights, peace and democracy are global matters. We could not achieve these goals except with broad supports for each other. These three could only be sustained when they are sustained across the world. The threat is when we see that far or near countries around us are in overt or covert war, are suffering from despotism, or are directly suffering from violence. Under such circumstances, the society that we are living in will also inevitably suffer from these issues. At the end, I would like to thank you for caring about the domestic issues of Iran and publicizing them in the media.

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      Further political prisoners in danger of execution in Iran


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      18th May 2010




      Further outrage has been expressed by the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) at the announcement of further executions planned by the Iranian authorities following those last week of five political prisoners accused of 'actions against national security and links with counter revolutionary groups'.

      CODIR is very concerned to learn that the Iranian press has quoted the Tehran Prosecutor General as confirming the planned execution of a number of other political prisoners who were arrested last year during the protests after the June 2009 presidential election, including a 70 year old man and his son.

      Over the past few days a number of prominent pro- reform activists and leaders have been arrested. Some prisoners have been given unusually harsh sentences including long term prison sentences.

      The regime's leaders now openly speak about the arrest of defeated presidential candidate Hossein Mousavi, and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a university lecturer, on charges of treason and "being at war with god" because they have criticised the execution of five political prisoners last week.

      Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, this morning strongly condemned the action of the Iranian regime, stating,

      "The regime has found itself unable to overcome the political crisis in the country and is targeting the political prisoners in revenge. The widespread preparation for protests across Iran on the anniversary of the fraudulent presidential election on 12th June has made the regime nervous. By executing political detainees the government hopes to be able to frighten the popular protest spreading in Iranian cities and towns. The regime has chosen violent suppression as a response against peaceful and legitimate protest demanding basic human and democratic rights."

      CODIR has protested against the upsurge of suppressive measures in Iran and has called on the Iranian regime to stop its murderous practices. It has called on international public opinion to condemn the execution of political detainees in Iran and call on the regime in Iran to stop executions.

      Mr. Ahmadi, went on to state, "that it is only through a united and effective international campaign against the execution of political prisoners in Iran that the current atrocities can be stopped."

      CODIR is calling upon all democratic individuals and organisations, in particular the labour and trades union movement, to write protest letters to the Iranian diplomatic missions and Embassies calling on the regime to halt all executions and to demand that the Iranian regime,

      • End the torture and execution of political prisoners in Iran

      • Immediately and unconditionally releases all political prisoners from detention

      • Respect the international conventions guaranteeing human rights

      CODIR has said that it is against the atrocities committed by the theocratic regime in Iran and any other executions and rejects capital punishment under any circumstances.

      Letters should be sent to:-

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      Head of the Judiciary
      Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
      Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
      Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx First
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      And copies to: Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827 (please keep trying) Also send copies to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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      Challenge to Anti-Women Laws in Iran (Part 1)


      CODIR has recently interviewed Jelveh Javaheri on her views on the social and political developments in Iran since the rigged presidential elections of June 2009. In this issue we publish the first instalment of the interview with her.
      15th May 2010




      The Iranian women's movement is one of the key sections of the popular movement for democratic change in Iran. Women have played a leading role in the events since 1997.

      Jelveh Javaheri, is a journalist and one of the founding members of the Campaign for Equality (Taqeer Baraye Barabari) which campaigned to collect One Million Signatures demanding an end to discrimination against women enshrined in Islamic Republic of Iran's legislation. She has been arrested on a number of occasions and incarcerated in the notorious Evin Prison.

      She was also one of the co-founders of Hastia Andish Center, a leading women's NGO, which focuses on promoting women's rights through education.

      CODIR has recently interviewed Jelveh Javaheri on her views on the social and political developments in Iran since the rigged presidential elections of June 2009. In this issue we publish the first instalment of the interview with her.

      1. What is your assessment of the strong presence and role of women in the Green Movement?

      This is not the first time that women have had a strong presence in political and social struggles. Women's presence was very strong during the Constitutional Revolution. This was also the case during the 1979 revolution. Perhaps this was why after the victory of the revolution many of the policies of the Islamic Republic with regard to women were contradictory. On one hand the political leaders, particularly clerics like Ayatollah Khomeini, wanted to mobilise women for the goals of the regime, while on the hand were trying to restrain women. In another words the contradictory policy that was pursued with respect to women, stemmed from their broad presence on one hand, and the need to mobilise them, on the other.

      In the Green Movement the presence of women is very noticeable too and could not be ignored. It is of course stronger than the presence in the 1979 revolution. In my view, this condition has developed over time and it is because of the growing awareness of women and the gap between their demands and the realisation of these demands. Another form of this presence was seen in the presidential elections of 1997, when women rushed to the polling stations hoping to get closer to their demands. In all of the following elections this presence at the polls was very evident as women have had tangible demands. However, not only have their demands not been responded to, they have been openly or covertly curbed too.

      This deep gap and disconnect, created between the realisation of women's demands and their real demands, has meant that Iranian women have been in continuous struggle through their daily lives in these years. As a result, the social movement of women has broadened its struggle during the past years because their issues have become broader and deeper than before. These social and individual struggles have both given hope for change to women and developed the will to resist, such that they have a strong and significant presence along with the Green Movement that is seeking change.

      2. How is the relationship between the Green Movement and the women's movement? How is the gender struggle and the struggle for equality intertwined with the democratic struggle to deepen both and not desert the independent demands of women?

      Democracy is the outcome of achieving the rights of women, human rights, environment, etc. As a result, during the struggle to gain their rights, women will inevitably engage in the democratic struggle too. They also have to separately pursue their own specific demands and we should not think that if we are moving on the way of democratic struggles we will necessarily attain the women's demands too.

      Many of the activists of the women's movement state that the demands of people have broadened and radicalised, that women's movement, particularly the One Million Signature Campaign, could not respond to the expectations of people any more. Yet some believe that due to the security pressures, circumstances for this type of work has become difficult and people may have become disappointed in change. I don't think this way. I believe that the protests after the presidential elections of 2009 in the form of the Green Movement have created a dynamic and active space that could prepare more fertile circumstances for discussions about the rights of women in the society.

      Hand in hand with the strong presence of women in these broad popular protests, the factor of discrimination against women has been repeatedly brought up and emphasized. For instance, Neda Aghasoltan was a symbol of not only the discrimination against women but also the courage and resistance of women. Anyway, I believe that today the people are more attentive to their destiny. At the same time, the struggles of women over the past years has resulted in the fact that the presence of women in popular struggles reminds people of the discrimination against women. On the other hand, practically nothing has changed in the state of women, i.e. demands like the change in discriminatory laws are still on the table. Therefore, with a timely and proper approach, this powerful potential of people for collective action could be utilised, and particularly women, who are ready to make a change in their destiny, could be drawn to this movement.

      Under current circumstances, the social movements could raise the voice of their protest even higher by working together. Inevitably, this will not only help these movements expand but will also add to the diversity and dynamism of the current atmosphere and bring forward more tangible demands related to various social groups such as women, workers, students, etc. These are the demands for which people had entered the democratic struggle. If these collective actions work together, their outcome could help develop democracy. In reality, today a common point has been created between various social movements in Iran that ties all of us for common action. In fact, we all want to attain democratic means such as civil institutes, free gatherings, and people-oriented media.

      3. Do you think that the previously tried forms of struggle, like the experience of the One Million Signature Campaign or other campaigns that resulted in raising the gender issue in society, must be revisited in the current situation and replaced by alternative methods?

      In my opinion, both yes and no. Particularly in relation to the One Million Signature Campaign the previous activism could still be continued, because in my opinion, in the absence of people-oriented public media, talking face to face with people still is very efficient. We saw that this method was adopted by the Green Movement too and was even employed prior to elections. During the protests after the elections, many people notified each other of rallies through one to one communication. However, because we should never move in a hollow space, new tactics must also be employed in the new atmosphere.

      4. The hundred-year old movement of women has been successful in publicising the gender-related demands among certain social strata. How do you see the demands of working people and the possibilities of organising them to raise their awareness?

      Unfortunately not much significant work has been done in Iran about the working women. The reason might be that due to the sensitivity of the Islamic Republic to any form of labour-related organisations, no organisation has been formed to deal with the matters related to female workers which they themselves could steer. Even if such an organisation was set up, it would not be able to develop a broad and steady movement. Although in such movements as the One Million Signature Campaign the goal was to go among various classes and groups of women and to depict their pain and suffering through face to face action, but the demands of working women was not directly raised. The Campaign tried hard to engage various social forces and was successful in raising its legal demands, which were class-neutral demands, to working women, but was not able to organise them around these demands. I believe it is necessary to have independent movements developed by the working women and other social forces, including women of other classes, should fully support this effort. In other words, somehow the practical awareness must be developed among working women.

      5. What are the urgent demands of Iranian women at present? Whether in conjunction with the recent post-election events or in general, what is the status of women's organisation in Iran in terms of the scope and extent of activities? What would be the challenges facing women activists in the new Iranian year?

      The question about the urgent demands of Iranian women at present is not a question that could be easily answered. I think that the demands of activists in the women's movement may not necessarily have priority in the demands of Iranian women. Up until the recent elections, and particularly in the last few years, the activists of the women's movement had been emphasising certain specific demands, such that you could identify various groups by their demands. For instance, those who put emphasis on changing the discriminatory laws, such as the One Million Signature Campaign, protestors against the Family Law, and No-Stoning Campaign; those who were striving to heighten the political participation of women, such as the coalition of reformist women; those who called attention to the laws related to gender segregation that systematically ban the presence of women in public events, such as the coalition against gender discrimination in universities and the campaign for the right of women to enter stadiums; and those who fought to eradicate honour-related family violence among Kurdish women, such as the committee against honour violence.

      Among all of these efforts, the one demand that seems to have dominated over these years amongst various groups of women was the demand to change the discriminatory laws. For example, at the same time that students groups were pursuing the trade demands of female students, they also joined in alliances that were pursuing the change in discriminatory laws and made efforts to spread these demands among scholars. The coalition of reformist women attempted to build up the religious renascence views and enhance the political involvement of women in order to further impact on decision making about the change in the discriminatory laws. Also, the committee against honour violence paid due attention to changes in discriminatory laws related to honour killings, while it struggled against existing traditions and conventions among Kurds, and most of its members also participated in the One Million Signature Campaign.

      It seems like these groups have somewhat changed after the elections. I believe that after the elections, the women's movement, like other movements, somehow did not have adequate coherence. Maybe if this movement had adequate coherence after the elections, it would have had favourable results and achievements. This lack of coherence could be attributed to a certain degree to the unfamiliar circumstances and the excitement of events on one hand and on the other hand the widespread security atmosphere preventing the formation of organisations in the years prior to the elections. It seems that at this moment the activists of the women's movement more than anything need democratic means to express and pursue their demands. This way, some may draft their demands mostly around attaining and establishing these means like the reformist women. Some many resort to collective action to achieve their demands and in doing so, inevitably seek democratic means, like the One Million Signature Campaign.

      6. What do you think about the intensification of some legal restrictions against women such as passing the so called "Family Protection" law in the judiciary committee of the parliament, reducing the working hours of women, etc?

      This tendency is now picking up pace. In fact, after the ninth government (Ahmadinejad's administration) took office, we witnessed all kinds of plans to practically keep women at home. This trend was faced with broad protests in the past few years but today it appears that the government and conservative forces are trying to take advantage of the current chaotic circumstances and push this trend ahead faster. First and foremost, educational institutes such as daycare centres, schools and universities are targeted, along with the laws related to the family and employment of women. That is, by promoting the Islamisation of educational institutes once again, and at the same time changing the laws towards more discrimination against women, the government is moving faster than ever toward tighter controls over women, and keeping women at home. Besides these changes we witness a grave invasion against feminism and equality-seeking movements of women in universities and through the state media, in a manner that equates these movements to the "masculinisation of women" and portray them as destroyers of the family. But in essence, it is the plans of the state and parliament that destroy women and in the long run drives families into crisis. to be continued...

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      Five political prisoners executed in Iran


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      9th May 2010




      The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) is calling for international condemnation of the execution by the Iranian authorities this morning (9th May) of five political prisoners accused by the theocratic regime of actions against "national security" and "links with counter-revolutionary groups".

      Opposition forces in Iran allege that the trumped-up charges levelled against these five victims are identical with charges fabricated by the regime to justify harsh treatment, including execution, of its political opponents. CODIR has in the last two years campaigned for the release of Farzad Kamangar and Shirin Alam Hooli.

      Farzad Kamangar was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials along with two other members of the Kurdish minority, Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili, in Tehran around July 2006. The three men were sentenced to death on 25 February 2008 after being convicted of 'moharebeh' (enmity towards God), a charge levelled against those accused of taking up arms against the state, in connection with their alleged membership of the armed group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The trial took place in secret, lasted only minutes, and failed to meet Iranian and international standards of fairness.

      Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili also received additional sentences of 10 years' imprisonment for forging documents. Under Iranian law, they must serve their prison sentences before being executed. The death sentences of all three men were upheld by the Supreme Court. Ali Heydariyan and Farhad Vakili were executed this morning along with Farzad Kamangar, an active member of his local teacher's union.

      Also executed were Mehdi Eslami and Shirin Alam Hooli.

      It is noteworthy that all five victims had repeatedly rejected the allegations of being involved in terrorist activities. In the case of Farzad Kamangar, a teacher and journalist, his main "crime" was that during a short visit to Tehran he had stayed in the house of Ali Heydaryan and Farhad Vakili whom he knew. The authorities alleged that they had discovered explosive materials from a car belonging to Ali Heydaryan and Farhad Vakili. Farzad's crime in effect was that he was in the wrong place at wrong time.

      Shirin Alam Hooli was a twenty eight year old Kurdish woman who had been sentenced to death in Iran for her alleged support for PJAK, a militant opposition group. Convicted of 'enmity against God', since her arrest she had routinely and repeatedly been subjected to torture and degrading treatment to confess to supporting PJAK. She had no access to legal representation during her long and gruelling interrogation period. Her rights as an accused were never observed.

      Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, this morning strongly condemned the action of the Iranian regime in executing these 5 political detainees.

      "Fearing the eruption of a new wave of popular protests on the first anniversary of the fraudulent presidential election of 12 June 2009, the regime has attempted to inculcate a climate of fear and terror in Iran" he said.

      "The regime's rush to execute these prisoners, in the face of international concern about the sharp deterioration in the human rights situation over the past year, is a disgrace. Instead of engaging in dialogue with international human rights agencies such as Amnesty International and the UN Commission on Human Rights about their concerns, the regime is intensifying its murderous activities against the opposition. It seems that the theocratic regime wants to prove that it intends to ignore completely international public opinion. This is a very dangerous tactic."

      Mr Ahmadi added: "CODIR calls on all democrats and advocates of human rights across the world to condemn today's executions and demand an end to these barbaric acts, by writing to the Embassies and diplomatic missions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in every country."

      CODIR has said that it is against these and any other executi ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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      CODIR addresses Peace Conference in New York






      On the weekend before the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, scheduled for 3rd May - 28th May 28 at the United Nations in New York, the 2010 people's International Conference for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World, was held on April 30th and May 1st 2010 in New York City, United States. The conference was organised by the International Planning Committee of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and the Mission and Social Justice Ministry of the Riverside Church. More than 800 delegates from around the world participated in the plenary sessions and workshops of the conference.

      The main banner on the table of the plenary speakers read: No Nukes, Fund Human Needs. As well as the many delegates from the host nation, Japan, France and Britain, NGO representatives from Canada, Germany, Korea, Israel, India and Russia were amongst the participants. The prestigious speakers included Tadatoshi Akiba the mayor of Hiroshima, Socorro Gomes the president of the World Peace Council and Ban Ki-moon the Secretary General of the United Nations who addressed various sessions of the conference.

      On the second day of the conference, the participants welcome the bearers of the "Abolition Torch". The organisers of the conference also co-organised the "International Day of Action" rally, march and music festival, on 2nd May, in New York city. The festival called for the abolition of nuclear arms and for world peace. It aimed to send a message to the world and the leaders who will attend the UN for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review that:

      • We want a Nuclear Free Future!
      • Fund Human Needs, Not War!
      • End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!
      • Protect the planet instead of destroying it with war and nuclear proliferation!

      On the second day of the conference films and documentaries about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima were screened. The Declaration of the Conference International Planning Committee was also released on the second day. For more information about the conference, speakers and workshops, see http://peaceandjusticenow.org

      Nazar Habib, CODIR's representative at this important conference, attended two of the workshops as a panellist and speaker, Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East and National Struggles Against the Violence of Global Imperialism. In the second workshop which was sponsored by the US Peace Council and the World Peace Council representatives from Canada and Israel were among the panellists. CODIR's representative spoke about the two bitter experiences of the people of Iran. The first of these was the 1953 coup d'ètat against the popular movement of Iran and the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosadegh, staged by US and British intelligence services. The second was the war that was imposed on Iran shortly after the popular revolution of 1979, launched by Saddam Hussein's regime, provoked by imperialist forces. The tensions around Iran's nuclear policy while the naval fleet of the US and NATO, including nuclear submarines, are patrolling around the Persian Gulf, was also briefly mentioned. All of these events highlighted the struggle of the Iranian people for independence, democracy and social justice.

      The Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East was co-sponsored by CODIR. Issam Makhoul of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestine and Israel Studies and a previous member of Knesset, and Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies (Washington, DC) were among the other panellists (and co-sponsors) of this workshop. The full text of the speech of CODIR's representative delivered in this workshop follows.

      Greetings!

      This conference is taking place at a time when the Middle East and the world are gripped by a deep multi-faceted crisis. This is a crisis whose main victims are not only the ordinary and working people of the world but also the opportunity for sustainable peace and progress. As far as the Middle East region is concerned, the continued presence of occupying forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the tensions in and around nuclear Pakistan, the chronic crisis in Palestine and Lebanon, and the real possibility of a new military conflict involving Iran are the political realities in this region. Despite the change of administration in the US, and the statements of President Barack Obama about a change of course, the people of this region are still suffering, mainly because of the aggressive and war-mongering polices of the Israeli government backed by the US.

      We certainly hope that during the course of this international conference a better understanding would be achieved of the direction of events in and around the Middle East and the factors influencing the worrying situation in this sensitive area of the world. These include:-

      • the accumulation of nuclear weapons by a few Asian states and Russia;
      • the aggressive policies of the US administration and its allies in the region (in particular Israel);
      • the role that a number of reactionary regimes in the region are playing; and
      • the strength and ability of the democratic forces to influence the international balance of forces on the peaceful future of the region.

      The controlling role of the US in some of the countries of the region enables it to gain access to oil and gas reserves and gives it crucial geo-political control over a region that is the connecting bridge between three continents. Many of the countries in this region are in the best position for the transport of vast oil and gas reserves to the East and West. By having complete control over the production and price of oil, the US could potentially put pressure on its economic rivals like China, Russia, Japan and the European Union.

      The events of recent decades have demonstrated time and again that the US administration is not a force for peace and development in the Middle East. The wars that devastated Iraq and Afghanistan; the continued US support for the Israeli government; the occupation of the Palestinian people and their lands; and the threats of further military attacks and interference aimed at pressuring countries like Iran are examples that can not be overlooked. The US administration has exploited every possible excuse to justify its military presence in the region and continued support for its strategic allies in the region such as Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and others.

      The only weapons that peace activists have are their plans, policies, solidarity, and their power to mobilize people. In our policies we should elaborate on the links between the struggle for peace and progress with the fight for democracy and human rights.

      As peace-loving forces, we are also democrats. Peace can be best maintained under democratic conditions, and our campaign for democracy and human rights could be most successful under peaceful conditions. However, the history of the Middle East is full of examples of imperialism's plots and aggression and repression by tyrannical regimes. The key to understanding the reality of the situation in the Middle East is to understand the vicious circle of imperialist adventures, the devastating and irresponsible policies of local dictatorships against their own people, and the manner in which these two lend a hand to each other to build tense circumstances which they both benefit from.

      In our view there is a clear and distinct difference between our understanding of imperialism and its policies and those of the Islamic fundamentalist forces. The theocratic regime of Iran, dreams about an Islamic empire whose mission is to wage and win the war between "Islam and the Infidels". They think of war as a "blessing" which is why Iran continued the war with Iraq unnecessarily for about 6 years after Saddam's forces were forced out of Iran about a year and a half into the 8-year war. For us, struggle against imperialism goes hand in hand with the struggle for peace, democracy, social justice and building a world free from aggression and war. Our struggle, however, can only succeed through building peaceful, mass movements for an alternative world order and not through military adventurism or acts of terror.

      Let me briefly touch specifically on the situation in Iran. The consequences of corruption, and adopting devastating and repressive policies by the Iranian regime, have been poverty and hardship for ordinary working people. It is important to know that in Iran not only the state and various branches of power have been militarized, but the economy is also in the hands and under the control of military or para-military groups, particularly the Revolutionary Corps. A fundamentalist expansionist regime that lacks the support of the ordinary people, is faced with discontent by the people, is militarized in every aspect of life. It will do anything to stay in power, from brutal repression to calculatedly creating tension and risk of war in order to avert social progress. The provocative rhetoric of the heads of the regime about Israel and the catastrophe of the Holocaust should also be looked at in this light. Due to its irresponsible and belligerent foreign policies, the political and diplomatic position of the regime is very weak in the international scene.

      On the other hand, since domestic national production is ruined and the country heavily depends on oil revenue and foreign imports, the sovereignty of the country is being played in the hands of regional powers. In reaction, the regime brings into play its military might and the national oil money to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and also to gain the support of other fundamentalist groups, as it has done for years in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, etc. We believe that such a regime could irresponsibly spark the flames of war at any time. The dynamics of these policies for the people of Iran are reflected in the uncertainty which is now facing the regime. Following the 12 June presidential election last year protests have swept the country. These protests have demanded change, freedom, an end to repression and the recognition of human rights in Iran. They have been met with violence, repression and imprisonment for many. Such a response is that of a regime which does not have confidence in itself and can only resort to the use of the state machinery to hold on to its power.

      The voices of the outside world, making themselves heard in support of the ordinary people of Iran, can add to that pressure for change upon the regime. The voices of delegates to this conference are vital in this respect, to ensure that the Iranian people know that they are not alone in the stand they are taking against the anti-democratic practices of the clerics.

      Our position against Imperialist Intervention

      In recent years the world has witnessed the constant stand-off between the US administration and the Iranian regime over the issue of nuclear weapons. It is imperative to reiterate that the issue of nuclear crisis and the resulting international tensions, and escalation of friction in the Persian Gulf region truly concerns the national and patriotic forces in Iran and international peace movement. Recognizing the national right of a country, including the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, CODIR has always asserted its strong opposition to any foreign interference in Iran's domestic affairs. We have, at the same time, stated that promoting and taking advantage of these policies by the theocratic regime of Iran is just a disguise to suppress the rights of people and to distract public opinion from the escalating domestic problems. The aggression of the US and its allies in the region, which have led, under various guises, to a total military occupation of two neighbouring countries, and its unprecedented military presence in the Persian Gulf, are other concerning issues that cannot be neglected.

      The progressive and peace-loving forces have a unique responsibility to not only oppose the US plans for the Greater Middle East but to mobilize the people on a broad anti-intervention program directed at building the foundation for peace, democracy, development and social justice. Clearly the struggle to put an end to the military adventurism of US and its allies in our region is important. In particular an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan; the return of occupied territories by the Israeli government as per UN resolutions; and to avoid another destructive war imposed against Iran or any other nation are important duties of the peace activists and progressive forces of the world.

      The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights pledges its support for this struggle and its noble goals and is conscious of its responsibility in these critical moments. We are also determined to continue our struggle for creating the widest support for the struggle of the Iranian people for peace, human rights, democracy, and social justice.

      Long live international Solidarity
      For Peace and Democracy

      Thank you for your attention.
      1-May-10

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      GREETINGS ON MAY DAY 2010


      Support the struggle of the Iranian people for peace, freedom and democracy!
      1 May 2010




      Around the world, for over one hundred years, workers and their trade unions have celebrated May Day - International Labour Day. It is the day on which workers internationally show their shared commitment to justice and freedom. Since the first International May Day in 1890, it has been celebrated in public gatherings but also in jails and prisons - for there are still governments which forbid unofficial gatherings on the first of May.

      On this May Day, as we celebrate the achievement of workers across the world, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) continues to seek your support for the imprisoned, oppressed and disenfranchised people of Iran.

      For years, workers attempting public May Day demonstrations in Iran have been harassed, beaten, and jailed. For many years, workers and labour rights supporters seeking to organise May Day gatherings have been sentenced to public whippings.

      Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, leaders of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, are currently serving five-and three and a half-year sentences, respectively, solely for their union activity. Osanloo has been harshly treated and denied essential medical treatment. Just weeks before the establishment of the union in 2005, activists including Osanloo were attacked severely by company thugs and members of government sponsored organisations. Further examples include the attack on the trades union of Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Company, whose leadership has been sacked from their jobs and are imprisoned, as well as attacks upon the teachers union.

      Since the presidential elections on 12th June 2009 major protests have swept across the cities of Iran as people take to the streets to make known their opposition to the Ahmadinejad government. The immediate demands of protesters centred on the outcome of the election itself in which Ahmadinejad, against all the odds and the opinion of most observers, was declared the winner.



      The outrage which was triggered at the flagrant manipulation of election results by the authorities however, has now become a more generalised demand for change in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      The imprisonment of trades unionists, peace activists, students and women's rights activists is nothing new for the Islamic Republic, such activities have been going on since the early 1980's, and have seen the regime condemned by progressives across the world. The recent protests however have seen this process intensified with as many as 5,000 people arrested and imprisoned following the protests last year.

      In Iran today the voices of the ordinary people are not heard and every attempt is made to silence those who speak out.

      On this May Day we ask you to add your voice to the pressure from the international community to,

      • condemn human rights abuses in Iran;
      • demand the release of all trades unionists and other political prisoners;
      • demand free and fair elections; and
      • demand the freedom to set up independent trades unions.

      Postal Address: B.M.CODIR, London,WC1N 3XX UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      What is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR)?

      CODIR has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran. CODIR works closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons. In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

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      Iran's Youth Seek Radical Change! (Part 2)


      CODIR recently interviewed Soheil Asefi, a well known, young Iranian journalist, campaigning for democracy and social justice in Iran. In this extensive exclusive interview, that will be published in two parts, Soheil Asefi speaks about the reality of life in Iran today. In the following pages, we publish the first part of this interview. CODIR encourages all those supporting the campaign for peace, democracy and social justice in Iran to read this facinitating commentary.
      10th April 2010




      CODIR: University students in Iran have had a substantial role in the political events of the recent 80 years. The movement that led to the revolution of February 1979 had significant and vital ties with the universities and university students. The left revolutionaries had a stronghold in universities at the time of the February revolution. Could the same be said about the developments of recent months?

      S. A.: As far as I know through my close contacts with Iran, in all the days of the recent months, all the left forces were present on the stage. There is no systematic and organised presence though, and there are still debates among the left activists over this movement, and what is actually known as the Green Movement. Regrettably they have not concurred over a common denominator yet. A number of leftists fully support the Green Movement whereas some other groups would like to go along with it while keeping their distance and independent flag. There are some that totally oppose it. There are also left political prisoners, from Mansour Ossalu and Ibrahim Madadi, two trade unionists who are in jail because of pursuing their trade union rights, to women activists like Aliyeh Eghdamdoost who is in prison only because she attended the peaceful demonstrations of women. Recently a great number of left activists who were arrested and some were released on bail, like Omid Montazeri who is a left student activist and was said to have been sentenced death and later on his sentence was reduced to six years in prison. Despite the unprecedented clamp down on left political parties and organisations in Iran during the last 31 years the left is still present at all levels of society and the regime's fear from their presence and their potential power is very evident in the recent events. Official authorities of the Islamic Republic have repeatedly warned against the presence of Marxists in the recent movement. But they (left) always do what they have to do, even under circumstances that their organisation and assembly becomes almost non-existent. They make use of their past historic experiences, and that's the secret of their survival.

      CODIR: The extreme leftist from one side, and reactionary right forces from the other side, both maintain that the policies and actions taken or being taken by Ahmadinejad have an "anti-imperialist" or even "socialist" nature. Part of this is the result of close relations between the Iranian government with Latin American states and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. As a young writer and a progressive thinker, what do you think about this matter? How do you see the nature of policies introduced by Mr. Ahmadinejad?

      S.A.: This is a very rudimentary question. This is the subject that has provoked extensive debates and discussions among the Iranian left forces on one hand, and between these forces and the extremist neo-liberal forces in Iran on the other hand. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, uni-polarization on one hand, and competition among the great powers of the world over the global markets on the other hand, there has been some ambiguity about the global scene for some of the progressive forces of the world. As you pointed out in your question, those two mentioned forces take advantage of this situation for their own goals and contrary to the reality of the situation in Iran. Unfortunately, at the peak of the struggle of the Iranian people, the voice of the progressive and left forces of the world did not resonate as it should have in support of the popular movement in Iran. In some cases we witnessed such cliché and superficial characterisation of the existing situation that made the conscious Iranian activists deeply sad, e.g. all of these events are 'velvet' and are steered by the great Western powers, particularly the US, that the Ahmadinejad government is elected by the masses and is in confrontation with the US. Surely, the right also drew on these sometimes and claimed that your global friends are friends of Islamic fascists.

      For instance, over the time that I have been living in Germany, as a journalist in exile that has always been radical and independent, various media have interviewed me many times, except the few left press that are published here. This is because the perspective of part of the global left about various developments, especially in Iran, is unfortunately not a realistic and objective look at the political scene in Iran. Yes, the Islamic Republic has been in dispute with the US from the day it was created and established but this hostility stems from their deeply reactionary and anti-modern nature. In fact, it was behind the slogan of "Down with USA" that they crushed thousands of anti-imperialist and left forces in an organised manner, and this suppression of left forces in various areas is still going on.

      Under the pretext of the threat of the Islamic Republic, Americans have deployed military forces to a large part of the Middle East in the past 30 years. This game, being a critical game for political Islam, was created directly by imperialism at a certain point in world history and cost the Iranian people big time. We have to see a country which is independent and raises the flag of opposition to the US and imperialism, that will move forward and promote the interests of working people and to expand democracy. Today, we are talking about a country that claims the most opposition to the US but the use of the term "imperialism" and "syndicate" is banned in it. Imperialism has a clear economical definition. This is a complicated situation and in this complexity, it is difficult to say where Bolivia or Venezuela stands and what other countries in the Americas are doing.

      The closeness between the head of the Iranian government and Latin American countries and Hugo Chavez really shocks and deeply saddens the progressive and left forces in Iran. They have tried many times to have their voice heard by those who claim to strive for "another world", and so far this effort has been practically fruitless. This amity with the present president of Iran and their support for him and Iran's regime, which is under the control of mullahs, is shocking to us. What they do is unbelievable and is not consistent at all with the basic pillars of today's civilisation and democracy, socialism, and our views and beliefs, which they claim to believe in too. Though they talk about opening new ways to fight imperialism in the world of socialism, regrettably they follow the outdated and obsolete approach and thesis of "the enemy of my enemy, is my friend."

      Their policy makers must know better than in today's world, there are two forces in struggle with imperialism:
      1. The camp of progressive, peace-loving and justice-seeking forces, which includes them and us;
      2. The camp of regressive forces, remainders and remnants of slavery and feudalism era who want to take the people of the world back to the Stone Age.

      The Iranian regime and the friend of theirs, Ahmadinejad, are in the first ranks of the second camp. A review of all the events of the recent months in Iran, and the economic plans of this coup government, which are pursuing the prescriptions of the World Bank and the IMF against the interests of the people and especially the working class, indicate the real orientation and nature of Islamic regime. Despite the fact that Khatami had a strong inclination toward neo-liberal economy, the Khatami government was not able or did not want to control all negative aspects of the "structural adjustment" policy. Even at that time there were clear and evident indications that the competition, i.e. militarised capitalism, was taking shape and rising to power. When this capitalism took the power, it put the plan for elimination of subsidies on its agenda for several reasons.

      One justification was that since the 3rd Development Plan the preparations were made for "targeted subsidies" [i.e. elimination of subsidies], and some sort of stabilisation and shift was planned. Here it is also necessary to recognise the roots of the specific policies of those governments in neo-liberalism. The other pretext in favour of the government was the interpretation of Article 44 of the Constitution (dealing with ownership in macro economy) and the role of this Article in favour of the government. [With the executive order of the Islamic Supreme Leader] the 9th government [1st terms of Ahmadinejad in office] gained a solid support in terms of high military and political power, and from the clergy and also ideologically. Therefore, it got the opportunity to implement these changes and reforms. The other reason was that the Ahmadinejad government itself was very keen on making these changes. The militarised capitalism has its own needs and necessities, one of them is the elimination of subsidies. The ultimate goal of neo-liberal and neo-conservative capitalism (which eventually is the economic model of the Ahmadinejad government) is to eliminate the subsidies, because it wants to convert labour to a commodity and release it in the market, and not taking any responsibility to protect wages and the standard living of people. These responsibilities are considered barriers for the foreign investments which the government is seeking with a staggering hunger. We clearly see that with regard to development plans and economic studies they constantly recommend getting the approval of a foreign consultant in any way possible, even by paying extra money. In many cases they know that a foreign consultant does not even have ten percent of the information or analytical knowledge of a domestic consultant, but they insist on getting its approval. This is because they want to open the doors for foreign capital. Foreign capitalism does not like unions and syndicates; does not like subsidies. It just wants to take advantage of cheap labour and run its business. It wants to take advantage of unemployment, and reduced wages.

      Anyway, in my opinion, if any of the previous governments and even any of the religious reformist candidates had assumed power at the current situation, it would have been facing a deep economic crisis. I believe Ahmadinejad's government is the most extreme right-wing government that Iran has ever seen.

      CODIR: Could the current movement in Iran be considered as a movement of the middle classes as opposed to and in contrast to the interests and demands of the working people and working class? Why is that some groups outside of Iran, in keeping with accusations of the regime and its propaganda system against this movement, regard this movement as similar to the developments in Ukraine and Georgia, in favour of the US and therefore take a hostile position against it?

      S.A.: You may call it a middle class movement, but whether in the present stage it is against the interests and demands of the working class of Iran or not, there is no reason or proof or analysis that confirms it. In developing countries like Iran, the middle class plays a central role and has a significant weight. As it develops and grows, this movement could and should attract the working class to it, but that a wider discussion. The course of this movement in the current stage is very important in drawing the working class to it.

      What I have noticed with regard to the interaction of Americans with the popular movement of Iran in the recent months is that they do not try so much to exploit these developments in an organised manner. They try to intervene through steering and directing, and support propaganda. For a long time, they have been employing certain individuals under various titles. There are various think-tanks that finance these individuals. There are also "Green Movement" businessmen. They may drag certain segments of the middle class, who may not have a high political knowledge, plus a number of sincere but uninformed political activists inside and outside of Iran to follow them. However, in my opinion, the objective developments in Iran are much more convoluted and complicated than the intentions of these individuals. Some of them have been part of the Islamic Republic's regime. Some of them have now left the country and are mostly residing in the US and Britain, serving the interests of ultra right-wing. Under the guise of reformists they present themselves as guardians of the "Green Movement" and declare that the whole world is green.

      I believe that the Green of the people of Iran, in fact the rainbow spectrum of the demands of the people of Iran, is far from the Green of the "Green Movement" businessmen who are alien to the laws of social development and think of Iran as the scene to implement their velvet revolution theories. They are financially and morally supported by the above-mentioned centres and would like to inflict their theories upon the discontented people of Iran and execute those theories. In my opinion, there was no connection between the two presidential candidates and the US. This is the truth. What happened in Iran was different from the events in Ukraine or Georgia. In Iran, we are talking about a historical background of struggles, and then there is a government of a regime with the characteristics that were mentioned before. Overall, despite the intentions of some individuals or reformist political groups, to organise and execute a velvet revolution, knowing the circumstances in this society and this regime I don't believe that such methods could ever be executed in this form in Iran.

      There are many complexities. My final conclusion is that from the point of view of American system, Iran's government is a conforming government in the economic arena, but on the political stance, which is important at the global level, Iran is defiant. I give you a few examples. For the West, the price of oil is not as important as the security of oil. We saw that the price of oil soared to as high as $140/B. But if the security of oil is at risk, then the West will step in. Who puts the security of oil at risk? Iran? We don't know.

      The other argument is that the US has attempted to approach Iran in friendship a number of times. One instance was the scandal of MacFarlane and Iran-Contra. This has happened many times and later on it became known that some things were happening behind the scene. One of the reasons for what happened to Tudeh Party of Iran after the revolution had to do with this. This party was the victim of such behind-the-scene developments. Uncovering the clandestine networks of Mujahedin and Fadaian organisations was not an easy job. I don't believe that they were identified merely by mullahs and doomed to that destiny. This is not conspiracy theory or like the reasoning that the Iranian right-wing employs in an attempt to smudge the historical facts; today, there are numerous facts to make us believe this.

      CODIR: What is the role of the working people in this protest movement? Does the current movement encompass the slogans and the working people of Iran? What is the role of left political forces and the socialist and left intelligentsia in this movement?

      S.A.: As I mentioned earlier, in these past month many of left political forces and socialist intellectuals stood beside the people and accompanied them everywhere, and as in the past, paid dearly for it too. Although the media is not available to them for these efforts to be visible as they should be, the proof is in many names that you may hear in the news. In my opinion, the socialists and the working class must consciously move shoulder to shoulder with this movement without giving up their own ideals, with their own banner and not under the flag of any Green (or any colour for that matter) political tendency that would be making the same mistake as in the February revolution. This was the large-scale strategy of some progressive political groups and they dearly paid for it too. I believe that the objective at the current phase is democracy and transition to a secular system, and particularly such democracy that the people take part in its making. Therefore, I believe that the left and democratic forces in Iran could accomplish their task by advocating their own class and trades union demands in a democratic movement. Socialist and democratic tasks could both be pursued at the same time. If there is going to be confrontation or hindrance, let it be from the other side. Let them ask us to break away our course from the lefts, workers and working people who have a history of struggle in this country. I think when a democracy-seeking, democratic movement is formed, the veteran and powerful left, socialist, democratic, and labour movement has to assume its historic task in that movement. They should not side with those who are the real enemies of the working people and whose hearts are somewhere else but at this stage are in opposition to the regime. These progressive forces must diligently find the common points and accompany the movement in specific ways, and leave their mark on it, however small it may be.

      I believe that social activity through awareness and gaining experience in action, and particularly learning from historical lessons, would help the fresh leadership of this movement and impact upon its direction. I don't believe in a calculating "common front" view to say that for now let's go together and will have our dispute later. A discrete analysis, and demands that satisfy the needs of all in the society and are democratic must be pursued right from the beginning. The working class has been fighting for freedom for a long time now. For instance, one of their demands has been to have organised trades unions. What did the Bus Transit workers (VAHED) want? In the first place, they wanted a union. What do Metalworkers want? What do the workers of Alborz Rubber want? Their own union! Parallel to this, they want a decent living too. They have economic demands too. Similarly, the modern middle class that have participated and engaged in the Green Movement, besides its democratic demands which they took to the streets under the pretext of elections, could have trade demands too, and in fact it does. Teachers in the streets could say "where is my vote?" don't just put anybody over my head and make him a minister. I would like him to be someone with whom I can engage in free and effective negotiations, and tell him my priorities. I suppose economist narrow-mindedness and dogmatic and calculating views are a factor too, particularly among a large part of religious reformists and their cohorts inside and outside of Iran. This is not a tendency that would have standards and criteria and analysis.

      CODIR: How do you see the future of the current developments in Iran? What is your view point?

      S.A.: The fact is that after the recent events, the Islamic Republic has completely lost its legitimacy. The people learned quite a few things in this process. Awareness has become institutionalised. When I talk to people in Iran, despite the disastrous economical and social conditions that worsen every day, the people are very fearless and hopeful. I cannot foretell the type and fashion of the change process in Iran now, but I believe that this process of change, even if it drags for a longer time, will raise the awareness of the society about certain concepts. I hope that this historical transformation will lead to a relatively stable democratic situation and course and the establishment of secularism.

      I don't believe that the regime intends to retreat. I don't know how far the militarised capital will go in dispute with other parts of the regime. Will the regime give concessions to the West and US to secure its survival? I don't know, and due to the structure and nature of the Islamic Republic I am not too sure or optimistic about realisation of their plans and their survival. Anyway, I think that now they intend to do so. For instance, passing the "Economic Plan" bill with such a rush was to complete a puzzle that was laid out years ago and if this piece of puzzle was not completed, the plan would have remained unfinished. Monopolising the power and capital in the hands of a bunch of military people must accompany the elimination of subsidies for the labour force, and instead, those who serve to protect the status quo must be rewarded. I am concerned yet optimistic about the future outlook. What I expect from the progressive forces and our friends across the world is solidarity with the popular movement in Iran, and to put as much pressure as possible on the governments to consider the disastrous situation of human rights in Iran when dealing with Islamic Republic. Nuclear energy is not of concern to the people of Iran. It would be great if in the course of solidarity with the people of Iran, particular discussions, dialogues and also actions are organised and held by the left forces around the world so that left and democrat forces of Iran could participate in them and have their views voiced by the media. This is a very serious void. The voice of the left and progressive forces of the world has not been in concord with the democratic struggle of the Iranian people. They must open their eyes and have an active presence in public. This is what we can and must do at this moment.

      CODIR: Are you familiar with CODIR's activities? Do you visit CODIR's site? What do you think about the contents of CODIR as a defendant of the democratic rights and freedoms in Iran?

      S.A.: Yes, I have occasionally followed CODIR and have always been glad that a progressive group in Britain is vocal and on the side of the struggles in my country through raising awareness and media work. These types of activities must be expanded at this stage. There must be a more powerful presence in the scene by getting help from Iranian democrat activists and international and Iranian left forces. There is a lot to say and many untold points. Thank you for this opportunity.

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      Iran's Youth Seek Radical Change!


      CODIR recently interviewed Soheil Asefi, a well known, young Iranian journalist, campaigning for democracy and social justice in Iran. In this extensive exclusive interview, that will be published in two parts, Soheil Asefi speaks about the reality of life in Iran today. In the following pages, we publish the first part of this interview. CODIR encourages all those supporting the campaign for peace, democracy and social justice in Iran to read this facinitating commentary.
      10th April 2010




      CODIR: Mr. Soheil Asefi, thank you for accepting CODIR's invitation for this interview. To begin with, could you please briefly talk about yourself and your views? When and why did you leave Iran?

      S. A.: Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to speak on behalf of some of the forces whose voices are not reflected in the mainstream mass media. First and foremost I define myself as an independent journalist who has paid for his radical and independent views. From the age of 15 I started working with cinema and cultural publications. Over time I wrote for the politics and culture pages of numerous papers in Iran. There are no dissident and independent publications in today's Iran. For some time there was the possibility of writing for some of the religious reformist papers. Under circumstances when independent research and analysis of the contemporary history of Iran was rare, numerous articles of mine were published in the history, politics and culture pages of the high-circulation daily "Shargh", and were well received. This reaction, and the overwhelmingly positive reception of people in Tehran and other cities of Iran, highlighted the thirst for information and knowledge following the thirty-year old pressure and suppression by religious rule over Iran. It was at this stage that we witnessed the emergence and growth of most of the left student media, and also a new chapter with a presence in virtual media and the ability to speak in new ways.

      As asserted by those who worked closely with me, those articles drastically changed the atmosphere in the Iranian newspapers. I remember that during the peak of my works, the person who is referred to as a reformist by the religious reformists, i.e. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, referring implicitly to the articles that were printed in some of the country's newspapers as "analysis of history", was quoted to say that "this is indicative of an awakening of those who used to say that this 'revolution' in ours and is not Islamic." With ever increasing pressure, including warnings from the office of the head of the country to the publishers of these reformist newspapers about their contents, including my articles, the prospect of my collaboration with printed media in Iran diminished. This happened at a time when the "religious reformists" themselves never tolerated my company, even though my articles were always laid-out on the front page due to their journalistic nature. For some time, and through censors, I was allowed to write in this or that section of their papers. However, the hysteria of "religious reformists" against independent, radical and left groups, led to a point that I had no chance to write for printed media anymore.

      I then had no choice but to start up my own paper. But where? In the virtual space! My Weblog whose title was my own personal name, i.e. Soheil Asefi, was launched. This was at a point in time when Weblog publishing in Iran was very young. This Weblog was filled with many articles about the politics and culture of Iran and the world. From time to time, some pieces that were published in the printed media were also reflected in this Weblog. Also, quite a number of links to the news sites in various Farsi and global media were posted which according to our web-meter, were visited daily by hundreds of Farsi-speaking visitors from all over the world, including the remote rural areas of Iran. Working for the electronic daily "Rooz" (RoozOnline) was the next step. This daily was published by a few reformist journalists in and out of Iran. During my collaboration with this electronic daily, many articles, reports and interviews with various authorities and members of the Islamic parliament about current issues were published. These were concurrently published in my own Weblog too. This project was also disrupted after the security forces raided my house and confiscated my computer, my rough drafts and archives. They even took my poems and my university writings; I was a screenplay student.

      Four days later I was detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Then there were many days of solitary confinement and interrogation while a large archive of 10-years of professional journalistic work was on the interrogator's table in the infamous detention center 209 of the Intelligence Ministry within the notorious Evin prison. Interrogators in the Islamic Republic, who call themselves "experts", questioned me word by word about every single one of my pieces and writings and wanted to know about my "motivation" to do "this"! I had to answer for every word in my pile of articles. I had to explain the reasons for my opposition to the executive order [of the Supreme Leader] on the Article 44 of the Constitution, which deals with the privatisation policies of the regime. The "experts" or interrogators interrogated me for several days on two fronts, i.e. the left and the media. They were always unhappy that I did not cooperate with them. I told them many times that I am not their "co-worker". I spent the entire period of my detention, which involved torture and mostly psychological torture, in solitary confinement.

      At that point in time, and despite the political strains in the new government, many of my "reformist" and so-called "liberal" or "neutral" colleagues who currently are in jail or free on bail or outside the country, still had their publications and were active, but never tolerated my presence and company. It is interesting that in prison it was indirectly proposed to me to be at least a "reformist". This situation continued with assigning bail for me and sending me to the general ward of the prison alongside the financial and drug criminals, etc. My bail was originally set at 500 million toomans (~$500,000) which was unprecedented for a journalist. Later on, with the efforts of my family and my mother Nahid Kheirabi, who herself is a journalist and political activist, and the pressure from media, my bail was reduced to 100 million toomans (~$100,000) and the collateral was the house that belonged to my father Shahrokh Asefi, who was educated and lived in Europe for many years. He was a young engineer from the ambitious revolutionary generation who returned to Iran after the revolution; he earned this house with his work.

      When I was temporarily released, I had lost 11 kilos. After 60 days in solitary confinement, although I was in good spirits, my general health was not very good. I was still banned from writing and the university administration told me that I could not continue my studies and graduate (I had one semester left to graduate), after about 4 years incurring financial and other costs. Eventually, after so much fighting back, I managed to get my bachelor degree in cinema. However, continuing my education, professional journalistic work, and even my daily life became impossible. To continue my education and work, about a year and a half ago I left Iran for Germany. Presently, I reside in Germany under the "Writers in Exile" program that is run by the German P.E.N. Centre and the Human Rights Office of the city of Nuremberg. From time to time I write a column in a local newspaper. I am trying to continue my professional work as a journalist who is the voice of his nation.

      CODIR: A powerful protest movement has been going on in Iran in the past few months that has entirely overshadowed the developments in Iran. It seems that the youth and students have a significant role in this protest movement. What is the reason for this weighty role of the youth in these events?

      S.A.: Well, as you may know, more than 70% of the Iran's population today is made up of young people. These youth, very much like the youth their age anywhere else in the world, have their needs and demands that are not fulfilled by the framework of Islamic Republic. The students, too, have always been in the forefront of the struggle of the people of Iran for democracy and social justice in the past 50-60 years or so. A significant part of the discontent against the rule of the Ayatollah's consists of women and the youth, as you may have seen in the pictures that were sent out from Iran. At present, 65% of Iranian students are women, and the number of female professors is also high. The laws of the Islamic Republic however, value each woman as half of a man. The rules and regulations that were set in place by the theocratic regime, after the revolution of 1979, instituted discrimination in areas like testifying and marriage. Therefore, considering this situation and the everyday violation of their basic rights, it is natural that women and young people are at the forefront of protests. In the 21st century these youth and women are demanding their basic rights and step into the struggle for these rights.

      CODIR: You yourself, and all the youth that participate in the current protests against the Islamic regime were born in the years after the revolution of February 1979 and during the years of the Islamic Republic. Do you see these protests as a movement to restore the achievements of the revolution, or do you believe that this protest movement is the continuation of that revolution? Basically, from the perspective of the youth, what do you think is the nature of this protest movement?

      S.A.: The youth my age are from the generation who in their formative years became familiar with concepts such as "revolution" only in the educational text books of the Islamic Republic and the atmosphere that dominated the society. Naturally we do not have positive feelings toward these terms. In essence, we do not even know the real meaning of these terms. The political tendency that essentially opposes any kind of radicalism and fundamental changes has been condemning any sort of progressive thinking. In the midst of the suppression by the theocratic regime and the collapse of the East Bloc this tendency has promoted its own objectives. I can tell you that the majority of today's young generation in Iran is not much aware of the history of the world developments, for instance, the reasons behind the 1979 revolution and the developments after that.

      I briefly mentioned in my answer to your previous question that the generation that you see in the streets, is seeking to regain its violated basic rights. The right to choose outfits, life style etc. are among the most basic human rights that potentially 70% of a society with Iran's background is deprived of. If we call the recent movement the "movement of joy" we have not gone too far. This is a movement whose demand is to fill the gap that has been created by the ruling regime in the past 31 years. This movement desires another kind of life, human life based on the criteria declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that has no place in the models of the Islamic Republic. The image that some of today's youth have from the previous regime sometimes consists of yearning for the lost social freedoms and life style, but this is just on the surface. The reality is one of years of resistance for this generation in pursuit of the most basic social rights, during a regime whose culture stems from Shiite weeping and grieving; from the time that it found itself in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war years; to the years of imprisonment, executions, and harassments and arrests in the streets; until today when it is mourning for many in its generation who were shot in streets or were killed or harmed in prisons under torture or rape.

      I remember the time when I was lying in my cell and was thinking about outside. In response to my cynical question about the number of mullahs in Iran the interrogator said "there are as many mullahs in Iran as the number of your hairs!" I remember the dreary days after freedom, when the society and particularly my generation was so politically inactive. I would have never dreamed and believed in that cell that only two years later I would witness such scenes of people, and the younger generation in particular, in the streets. What happened? The answer to your question is here: in my evaluation, this is undoubtedly a movement to revive the three historic slogans of freedom, independence, and social justice. These have always been in the core programme of change-seeking forces since the Constitution Revolution, and every single time were defeated. You could see these three historic components during the February revolution too, and today once again you can see it in the minds of a generation that has been the target of the ruling regime to estrange it from revolutionary concepts.

      In 1988, during the massacre of political prisoners who were revolutionary radicals- a great potential for change, any one of whom could have played an alternative role in the future of Iran- not only were the prisoners physically eliminated, but as I mentioned earlier, all kinds of books about political philosophy were also published and promoted in the Islamic Republic that essentially refuted any form of aspiration and radicalism as being "ideological". I remember one of my interrogators telling me repeatedly that Marxism is "good" in the sense of "justice" and so on, but you know that today is capitalism's time! This blend of contradictions in the present system of Iran is the real image of what is happening there today. I see the recent protest movement as the logical extension of the real concept of the unfinished revolution of February 1979. On a historic basis, I know and believe that the slogan of "Where is my Vote?", chanted repeatedly by people during the events of recent months after the election, is a historic reference to the same search for the revival of the progressive slogans of the February 1979 revolution. It might be that a large number of people, particularly the young generation, are not able to analyse this movement of theirs in this manner, but I believe that their movement follows the same logic that I have mentioned.

      CODIR: What are the main demands of the protest movement? Does this movement have an organised leadership? How do you see the role of Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karrubi in this movement?

      S.A.: In order to answer your questions, I have to quickly mention the events that happened prior to the presidential election and continue at present. A pseudo-election was held in Iran. As was the case in all of these past 30 years, there was no democratic process, unlike the process in liberal democracies. The more radical candidates of the religious reformist faction were all disqualified and only three were allowed; previous president, Mohammad Khatami, who fully abided by the Supreme Leader; the ex-speaker of the parliament who was known for being conservative and obeying the Supreme Leader; and the last Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic who in the past years was always quiet and did not come into sight.

      Over some election games, Mohammad Khatami withdrew, and the remaining candidates of the religious reformists were then Karrubi and Mousavi, i.e. two of the closest individuals to Ayatollah Khomeini. One was the Prime Minister during the war with Iraq, which was a dark time for social conditions. In this period, thousands of militant activists and political prisoners were mass executed in a national catastrophe. The other candidate had always had key positions in the regime at various periods, and during the Khatami presidency, he was known to be the brake against reformists. There was also another candidate, Mohsen Rezaei, an ex-commander of Sepah (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) who in today's structure of power sides with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and was not taken very seriously.

      As well as the social and cultural pressures, the psychological atmosphere that developed amid the presence of the most extremist factions of religious fundamentalists in the Ahmadinejad government was a factor in the election climate. These religious conservatives wanted to eradicate all the openness gained during the religious reformist government. This was balanced by the deep abhorrence of a large section of people, especially the urban middle class, of Ahmadinejad and his intention to return the society to the situation of the 1980's. On the other hand, great sections of the population were disappointed with the in-system reforms and the trend that Khatami had represented.

      The "system", at this time tried to heat up the cold process of elections by arranging televised electoral debates. The dire political and economic position of the Ahmadinejad government was a good opportunity to bring part of the silent population to the stage with the hope of reform through Mousavi and Karrubi. Holding a high turn-out election would pull the desired rabbit out of the hat, which I believe was the election of Ahmadinejad, who was very close to the main foreign macro-policies and domestic nuclear policies of the regime and also close to Ayatollah Khamenei. However, the entire scenario did not happen as such.

      The people's demands which I referred to previously as the logical continuation of the February 1979 revolution, upset the equations once again. Election campaigns turned into colorful festivals to announce the participation of a large section of the urban middle class in Iran, who up until then were living in depression and a gloomy atmosphere. Masses, and the youth in particular, in Tehran and a few other large cities of the country took to the streets and stayed out late to chant and cheer in a festive mood. As part of my job, during this time I followed every moment of developments in Iran. Among these people you could see people with green symbols that represented Mir Hussein Mousavi's campaign. Out of these people, many wanted to vote for him, and some did not want to vote for anybody. There were others that did not carry any green symbol, and may have wanted to vote or not to vote. This variety, this rising up for change, that incidentally became the election motto of one of the candidates, i.e. Mehdi Karrubi, was the very nature of the protest movement that is going on in Iran. For the first time ever during the election campaigns, Mr. Karrubi's team, which consisted of a number of religious and semi-religious neo-liberal reformists, introduced a package of well developed and detailed programmes for various strata of people. All of this was happening at a time when neither of the two reformist candidates, nor Ahmadinejad, had any structured economic plans or ways out of the crisis except the prescriptions of the IMF.

      However, the popular demands had led to an uprising and the media propaganda had raised the bar for people's expectations. The election was held with a large turn-out. A large section of the silent minority who were disappointed with Mohammad Khatami came to the polls again if only to repulse Ahmadinejad. Contrary to what many expected, in the very first hours after the election, the desired candidate of the Supreme Leader and militarised capital was pulled out of the polls as the landslide winner. The religious reformists claimed that the election was fraudulent and an election coup had been perpetrated. Once again there was a reason to go to streets for the same people who had chanted and cheered in the streets. A huge rally was held that attracted people from various strata of the population, not only the middle class but also a large section of the less fortunate in the south of Tehran. Neither Mousavi nor Karrubi had called for this rally.

      In reality, it was after that million-strong presence of people that these two woke up from the shock of this turn out and joined the people. The rally was pushed to violence and I believe you all know about the stories of killings, arrests and tortures. That demonstration, in which all chanted with one voice in the streets: "don't fear, don't fear, we are all together", was never repeated again! The reformists had no specific and horizontal plan to organize this huge popular potential for realising change, and they themselves were afraid of this massive presence of people who poured into streets like a revolution. This movement went on. Referring to the green symbol used by Mousavi, it was called "The Green Movement". A diverse spectrum of people, particularly from the middle class in Iran and abroad, participated in this movement. It was suggested that there was no distinct leadership, that Mousavi and Karrubi were the symbolic leaders. As ever the opportunists got to work to take advantage of the media that had, to no avail, tried to contain that popular Green that I described, exclusively for them.

      The "Green Movement" became a business in Washington and London and Paris where some claimed to be the representatives of the religious reformism. Some demanded their own share and some denied the essence of the movement and dreamed of their imaginary revolutions. All of this was going on outside of Iran, more than inside Iran, and among various political activists. I believe that in this chaos the demand and objective of the popular movement in Iran is to get rid of the principle of Supreme Leadership and move to some sort of secular system based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This may not be your final objective, or mine but it is the interim and basic target under the current situation against a system that has continued its rule in the most sensitive area of the world, based on its own rationale for 31 years, has suppressed revolutionaries and its opposition in the harshest way possible. This is a regime that has seen nothing but the continuing and systematic violence of human rights right from the beginning and the creation of extensive economic and social crises.

      As I see it, Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hussein Mousavi and their supporters, as part of the existing regime and within the framework that they are defined, have done their job- with whatever motivation they may have, under circumstances that due to systematic suppression in the past 31 years in Iran, means no other serious alternative is left. In essence the slightest presence of opposition to the Islamic Republic is not tolerated but these individuals have stepped up the movement for transition to another phase, with their own terms. Let's also not forget that a large portion of population is traditionally religious, and remember on what specific course and against which regime we are moving. But whether these individuals want or are able to act accordingly, I am not sure at all. What structured and detailed plan is there? Unfortunately none! This is the very vacuum of democrat alternatives under current circumstances that hurts. Some analysts, however, believe that based on similar experiences in other nations over different periods and phases, these kinds of movements will dictate their own reactions and we have to wait for more divisions in the body of the Islamic Republic regime. Personally, although I do not reject Mousavi and Karrubi, I am not their supporter and have no specific expectations from this political faction.

      CODIR: What are the main demands of the youth in this protest movement?

      S.A.: The demands of the youth are those I mentioned earlier. They want jobs. They want a free space to breathe and to have the basics of a human, decent life. Their movement is the movement of joy. It is the movement for change and to reject the devastating legislated inequalities enforced in the present regime. Maybe after dealing with these demands that are their basic rights, they will think of freedom and that there are other more profound concepts too. The existing situation is very natural in the current circumstances in Iran; 31 years of friction between the ruling culture and the youth who today, thanks to information technology have access to everything in the world and demand fundamental changes. They don't want mullahs anymore.

      CODIR: In developing countries the youth that take part in social movements are normally very ambitious, they want class and gender equality, social justice and preservation of the environment, and are in solidarity the working class. Could the same be said of the demands of the youth movement in Iran?

      S.A.: I guess in my response to your previous question I tried to picture the current scene of events in Iran and speak about the demands of the youth and the reality of what is happening in Iran. Regrettably, 31 years of the Islamic regime in Iran has made a large part of the young generation estranged from these concepts. There are, however, ambitious and idealistic young people among this generation. They have flourished. They have grown. Some are rising from the ashes of their parents, but their views are more dynamic about the world. The new generation of the left and ambitious movement in Iran continues its own way despite the disarray and the exploitation of some groups of this movement. Like any other movement in Iran, this movement lacks the necessary organisation. This part of the young generation of Iran is informed and knows about its counterparts all over the world. It exists in the shape of journalist, student activists, labour activists, women activists and environmental activists. Its approach essentially has an eye on the demands of the working class of Iran. It is active in NGO's, which until recently were scarcely present. It is concerned with the rights of children, women, gays, the environment and is active in these areas. It makes the effort to raise the awareness of society about these matters. Due to the unprecedented extent of suppression, particularly in the past few months, many of these activists were incarcerated, sentenced to long prison terms, are out of jail with hefty bails, or were forced to leave the country. However, some activities are now pursued underground and more seriously. Last year during HumanitÉ Festival in Paris, when I saw the passion and mood and spirit of solidarity, and the wonderful change-seeking youth from all over the world, I thought of my friends and ambitious youth who are imprisoned in Iran or are continuing their work in Iran under repression. The media must be the voice of the struggles and demands of this component of the young generation of Iran.

      to be continued...

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      Urgent appeal against death sentence


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      9th February 2010




      The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) is calling for urgent action to prevent the execution of a young woman imprisoned in Tehran since April 2008.

      Shirin Alam Hooli is a twenty eight year old Kurdish woman who has been sentenced to death in Iran for her alleged support for PJAK, a militant opposition group. Convicted of 'enmity against God', since her arrest she has routinely and repeatedly been subjected to torture and degrading treatment to confess to supporting PJAK. She has had no access to legal representation during her long and gruelling interrogation period. Her rights as an accused were never observed.

      CODIR has access to Hooli's account of her imprisonment smuggled out of Evin Prison. In describing the circumstances of her arrest she states,

      "The arrest was made by uniformed and plain clothes members of Sepah who started beating me as soon as we arrived at their headquarters without even asking one question. In total I spent twenty five days at Sepah. I was on hunger strike for twenty two of those days during which time I endured all forms of physical and psychological torture. My interrogators were men and I was tied to the bed with handcuffs. They would hit and kick my face and head, my body and the soles of my feet and use electric batons and cables in their beatings. At the time I didn't even speak or understand Farsi properly. When their questions were left unanswered they would hit me until I passed out."

      Strenuous efforts were made by her interrogators to break her hunger strike including intravenous feeding. Regular beatings have been a feature of her prison term, often blindfold and handcuffed. One glimmer of hope was the prospect of hospital treatment for her injuries. However, as Hooli makes clear, her trip to hospital was for entirely different reasons,

      "The next day they took me to hospital in handcuffs and blindfold. The doctor put me on a bed and injected me. I lost my will and answered everything they asked in the manner they wanted and they filmed the whole thing. When I came to I asked them where I was and realised I was still on a hospital bed and then they transferred me back to my cell."

      Forced confessions and torture have been a regular feature of prison life in the Islamic Republic of Iran and CODIR has campaigned consistently to force Iran to observe its obligations under international conventions. CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, said that the treatment of Shirin Alam Hooli was a shocking indictment of Iran's approach to human rights.

      "It is ironic that we have received this news so close to the anniversary of the revolution", he said. "At a time when the Iranian Government will be urging people to celebrate its 'achievements' the reality of its approach to opposition is made clear. Shirin Alam Hooli has not even had access to the basic rights of defence counsel, surely the minimum expectation in any justice system?"

      CODIR have launched an urgent appeal to prevent the execution of Shirin Alam Hooli and are urging letters and e mails to be sent to the leaders of the Islamic Republic

      • demanding that all those detained, must be protected from torture or other ill treatment, allowed access to their families, lawyers and any necessary medical treatment and should be brought before a judge without delay so they may challenge the lawfulness of their detention.

      PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      Head of the Judiciary
      Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
      Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
      Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx First
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      And copies to: Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827 (please keep trying) Also send copies to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

      Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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      Unjust hangings in Iran condemned


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      31st January 2010




      The Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) has condemned the execution of two men who were hanged on Thursday after being convicted in unfair trials of "enmity against God" and being members of Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran (API), a banned group which advocates the restoration of an Iranian monarchy. The deaths of Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour are the first executions known to be related to the post-election violence that erupted across Iran in June and has continued since. However, Arash Rahmanipour's lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, says he could have played no role in the election protests as he was arrested before the disputed June election and has been imprisoned ever since. Sotoudeh claims her client was forced to confess in a "show trial" after members of his family were threatened. Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani was accused of illegally visiting Iraq where he was alleged to have met US military officials. The two men's lawyers were not informed of their clients' executions, as is required by Iranian law. According to the Iranian authorities, at least nine other people are currently on death row in Iran after being sentenced to death in similar post-election 'show trials'. CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, condemned the killings as a form of state terror against the opposition. "These executions are clearly designed to send out a message", he said. "The Iranian authorities want the opposition to know that the Islamic Republic will bend even its own rules to prevent the voices of the Iranian people being heard. The government of Iran is prepared to terrorise its own population rather than negotiate with the opposition over the disputed election." Mr Ahmadi added: "The regime is trying to frighten people about the consequences of continuing their protest demonstrations, especially given the approaching anniversary of the Revolution which is likely to be a focus for discontent." According to Iranian officials, over 40 people have died in demonstrations since the election, which were violently repressed by the security forces. Human rights organisations believe the number to be much higher. More than 5,000 people have been arrested, many of whom were tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Scores have been sentenced to prison terms, and in some cases flogging, after unfair trials, and at least 11 have been sentenced to death. With the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution approaching on 11th February, CODIR is concerned that further executions may occur in order to increase the pressure upon the opposition.

      CODIR adds its voice for the call to please write immediately:-

      • demanding that all those detained, must be protected from torture or other ill-treatment, allowed access to their families, lawyers and any necessary medical treatment and should be brought before a judge without delay so they may challenge the lawfulness of their detention;

      • calling for anyone held solely for their peaceful participation in demonstrations to be released immediately and unconditionally, and for others suspected of criminal offences to be tried promptly and fairly without recourse to the death penalty;

      • calling on the authorities to ensure the policing of any further demonstrations meets international policing standards, including the use of firearms only as a last resort where strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and urging that an impartial investigation be conducted into the deaths of all those killed.

      PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 19 FEBRUARY 2010 TO:

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      Head of the Judiciary
      Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
      Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
      Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx First
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      And copies to: Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827 (please keep trying) Also send copies to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

      Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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      Urgent action required to free political prisoners


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      15th January 2010




      Amongst those arrested were Leily Afshar, a 29 year old photographer who was pulled from her car by plainclothes officials near an anti-government demonstration; Atieh Yousefi, a women's rights campaigner arrested in the city of Rasht; and Reza al-Basha, a Human rights organisations around the world are combining to call for the release of hundreds of people believed to be held incommunicado following mass arrests in Iran on 27th and 28th December 2009. The arrests followed protests against the regime which took place on the Shi'a Muslim festival of Ashura which took place on the 27th December. Syrian national studying in Iran who works as a part time reporter for Dubai TV.

      Leily Afshar has been permitted one phone call to her family in which she confirmed that she was being held in the notorious Evin Prison section 209. Atieh Yousefi was allowed to meet her family on 1st January. It is not known where Reza al-Basha is being held.

      The three are amongst hundreds of prisoners detained without charge or trial by the government of the Islamic Republic, with little or no access to their families, lawyers or appropriate medical treatment.

      These arrests follow a long pattern of arrest and detention without charge or due process following the disputed election of 12th June 2009 which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad installed as the Iranian president for a second term. Protests against the election outcome have increasingly become expressions of discontent with the regime and have met with violent responses by the security forces.

      The wave of arrests at the end of December was the most extensive yet. Opposition website Jaras suggests that at least 1300 were arrested across Iran and human rights groups calculate that at least 300 prisoners involved in the protests are being held in Evin Prison in Tehran. Jaras also notes that since the demonstrations over 180 journalists, human rights activists and members of political parties linked to Mir Hossein Mousavi and former president Khatami have been detained.

      Speaking on Behalf of the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR), Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, expressed his outrage at the actions of the Iranian government.

      "It is simply not acceptable that the government of Iran is able to act with impunity and round up opponents in this manner", he said. "The regime is adopting a strategy of both silencing opposition activists and arresting the journalists who can tell the real story of what is going on in Iran. Ensuring that word of their actions reaches the international community is vital. We must make it clear that their behaviour is not acceptable and that people around the world will continue to speak out in solidarity with the Iranian campaigners for peace, democracy and social justice."

      Mr. Ahmadi pledged the ongoing activities of CODIR in support of the campaign for the unconditional release of those arrested in the demonstrations in December and all prisoners held without charge in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR adds its voice for the call to please write immediately:-

      • stressing that Leily Afshar, Atieh Yousefi and Reza al-Basha, and all those detained, must be protected from torture or other ill-treatment, allowed access to their families, lawyers and any necessary medical treatment and should be brought before a judge without delay so they may challenge the lawfulness of their detention;

      • calling for anyone held solely for their peaceful participation in demonstrations on or following Ashura to be released immediately and unconditionally, and for others suspected of criminal offences to be tried promptly and fairly without recourse to the death penalty;

      • calling on the authorities to ensure the policing of any further demonstrations meets international policing standards, including the use of firearms only as a last resort where strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and urging that an impartial investigation be conducted into the deaths of all those killed.

      PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 19 FEBRUARY 2010 TO:

      Leader of the Islamic Republic
      Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei
      The Office of the Supreme Leader
      Islamic Republic Street - End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran,
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: info_leader@leader.ir
      via website: http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/index.php?p=letter (English)
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      Head of the Judiciary
      Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
      Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
      Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, 1316814737
      Islamic Republic of Iran
      Email: Via website: http://www.dadiran.ir/tabid/75/Default.aspx First
      Salutation: Your Excellency

      And copies to: Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani Bureau of International Affairs, Office of the Head of the Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave. south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran Email: bia.judi@yahoo.com Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827 (please keep trying) Also send copies to diplomatic representatives of Iran accredited to your country.

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

      Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

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      Ahmadinejad, Phoney Champion of People


      By Jamshid Ahmadi
      Assistant General Secretary, CODIR
      13th January 2010




      The Iranian people are paying a heavy price for daring to resist the outcome of the rigged election of Ahmadinejad in June 2009. In the months since the fateful election, the theocratic regime has been quickly moving towards a full- blown military dictatorship. It is threatening further oppression through mass arrests and summary executions aimed at creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, while demanding allegiance to the spiritual leader (Velayte-Faghi).

      Exploiting the distaste of international public opinion for the disastrous interventions in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan, the regime is trying to blame "foreign forces" for its troubles. Ahmadinejad and his main backer, Ayatollah Khamenei, try to present themselves as champions of "anti-imperialism" and advocates of national liberation struggles in Palestine, Lebanon and elsewhere. What they are trying carefully to hide is the true nature of their political, economic and social policies.

      During the past three weeks, since 27th December 2009, nearly 2000 people have been arrested for being associated with the million strong protest movement. Amongst those arrested are well known political figures such as Ibrahim Yazdi, the leader of Iran's Freedom movement and the country's first Foreign Minister after the 1979 Revolution, a number of journalists, scores of women activists and all key cadres of the Office for Consolidation of Unity (Dafter Tahkim Vahdat), Iran's strongest University Students' organisation.

      This is at a time when the government, headed by Ahmadinejad, is attempting to implement a neo-liberalist "economic shock therapy". This programme intends to remove all major price subsidies and replace them with "cash payments to the needy".

      Many critics of Ahmadinejad's economic plan, amongst them well-known economists and academics, including prominent supporters of the rigged presidential election, have expressed fear and serious doubt about the impact of these policies on the economy and the poor. They argue that the lack of accurate socio-economic data and the necessary infrastructure makes it completely impossible to distribute the so called "cash handouts" equitably.

      Chronic structural corruption will funnel this massive fund towards the black market and the shadow economy, exposing the working people to massive price rises. The risk of a major social backlash is very real and even the Majlis (Islamic parliament), which is dominated by the conservative hardliners, is reluctant to rubber stamp Ahmadinejad's economic plan. The government however, with the support of the spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and backed by the Islamic Guards Corps' high command, is bulldozing away the resistance and is trying to implement the plan at any cost.

      Ahmadinejad's insistence on passing the plan through the Majlis is in part because Iran's economy is very weak and his government is hard pressed to balance the budget in spite of massive oil revenues. Also, the annual multibillion dollar size of the fund, which can be generated by eliminating price subsidies, is an irresistible source from which to siphon off money. Contrary to its claim for honesty and probity, the Ahmadinejad government is highly corrupt. The president has held sway over an administration that generates astronomical wealth for certain factions within the regime. It is notable that during his first term, his government pursued a large-scale privatisation programme under the banner of "downsizing government". The net effect has been rising unemployment, widespread poverty and rampant inflation in aid of wealth generation for a band of new rich fat cats. This process in turn has led to an enormous expansion of the political and economic powerbase of the elite within the Guards Corps and Basijis militia.

      The Guards Corps has become a major economic powerhouse which has been absorbing key strategic assets under the guise of privatisation. The militarisation of the ruling regime during Ahmadinejad's administration, combined with "economic shock therapy", is analogous with the rise of South American juntas. Jailing of trade unionists, journalists, women and student activists is now a daily occurrence. The rigging of the election and subsequent oppression are part and parcel of this process.

      The regime's deafening propaganda is trying to portray Ahmadinejad and his government as an anti-capitalist force and a people's champion. In Iran, Ahmadinejad's populist and empty gestures have now been exposed for what they blatantly are. This has led to a massive and growing popular movement against dictatorship.

      The Iranian masses and their progressive organisations are campaigning for peace, democracy and social justice. They need the widest international support of the labour and trades union movements. The clerical regime is continuing with its posturing - claiming conspiracies, seeking scapegoats and responding with its customary iron fist.

      There are many comparisons in the history of world politics, but whatever subtleties of difference there are, the theocratic regime in Iran has clearly demonstrated that it is on the wrong side of history. Supporters of the movement for peace, independence, freedom and liberty in Iran across the world should not be dragged to that side with it.

      Jashid Ahmadi is Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights. For further information on Iran please visit: www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Regime seeks to choke off information flow


      Iran's leaders have announced measures to tighten their grip on the control of information in the country and extend the climate of fear through mass arrests. Jane Green continues her assessment of the rapidly unfolding events in the Islamic Republic.
      6th January 2010




      The leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran has this week reinforced its two pronged strategy of attempting to choke off information and arresting key activists in an attempt to gain control of the situation in the country. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) this week (5th Jan) issued a press statement condemning the recent arrests of journalists and media union leaders following recent demonstrations at the end of December.

      IFJ General Secretary, Aidan White, stated,

      "There is systematic repression and brutal intimidation of media and journalists under the cloak of restoring public order."

      At least 12 journalists, including Association of Iranian Journalists General Secretary, Badralsadat Mofidi, and Vice President Mashaalah Shamsolvaezin were amongst those arrested along with Syrian reporter Reza al-Basha who works for Dubai TV.

      The IFJ has also spoken out against the severity of sentencing describing as "absurd" the seven year and four month jail term and 34 lashes handed down to Iranian journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amoui.

      Aidan White vowed that,

      "The international community of journalists will stand by their colleagues in Iran. The government will not restore order or end this crisis without respect for the rights of people to protest and of journalists to tell the story"

      However, while the IFJ has been speaking out against the suppression of free expression in Iran the regime has been moving steadfastly in the opposite direction. On the same day as the IFJ statement the Intelligence Ministry in Tehran announced a ban on contacts with foreign organisations. The prime targets include think tanks, universities and news media, including the BBC.

      The regime is accusing foreign governments of waging a 'soft war' against the Islamic Republic. The regime has also prohibited "irregular contact" with foreign embassies and citizens. Internally the reformist website Rab-e Sabz has been banned as "counter-revolutionary."

      These measures are a clear indication that the information reaching the outside world is shaking the regime and the combination of suppressing journalistic activity while actively closing down media outlets is aimed at stemming the flow of information that does not carry the official government line.

      The media clampdown follows hard on the heels of the regime's consistent targeting of human rights activists and organisations, most recently the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), which has seen a further wave of arrests in the past two weeks.

      CHRR is an independent organisation that monitors human rights violations in Iran. It has been active over the past four years and played an influential role in reporting on violations of the rights of political prisoners, children, women and students.

      Three prominent members of the organisation, Shiva Nazar Ahari, Koohyar Goodarzi and Saeed Haeri were arrested on the way to the funeral of Ayotollah Montazeri in Qom on the 20th December 2009. On 2nd January 2010, Parisa Kakayi and Mehrad Rahimi were summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and arrested, resulting in incarceration in Evin Prison's notorious section 209.

      According to reports members of the committee are under huge pressure to confess to having co-operated with the anti-regime Organisation of Mojahedin Khalgh. CHRR protest that these accusations are groundless as such co-operation would compromise the independence of CHRR.

      Numerous other examples of CHRR activists being arrested and threatened could be cited but these few examples give an indication of the lengths to which the regime is prepared to go in order to terrorise existing activists and scare off new recruits. The closure of the CHRR website is a further indication that the regime is attempting to squeeze out alternative sources of information.

      In this situation the work of CODIR along with other human rights, peace and solidarity organisations is vital in ensuring that the voices of the Iranian people are heard by the outside world.

      Pressure upon the UK and EU governments must be redoubled in calling for the immediate release of political prisoners in Iran; an end to human rights abuses; and to allow representatives of Amnesty International and the UN Commission of Human Rights to visit Iran and examine conditions at first hand.

      Jane Green is the National Campaign Officer of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. For further information on Iran please visit: www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Urgent appeal to prevent further human rights abuses in Iran


      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use
      6th January 2010




      Human rights organisations are calling on governments across the globe to demand an immediate end to the flagrant violations of human rights being perpetrated by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      Following demonstrations on the 27th December 2009 over 2,000 people have been arrested by the Iranian authorities. Those arrested were engaged in legitimate protest to the regime's failure to acknowledge the defeat of Ahmadinejad, its preferred candidate, in the 12th June 2009 presidential election in Iran.

      However, as a consequence of exercising the freedom to assemble and protest, many people are being subject to the most inhumane treatment, with the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) contemplating the implementation of even more draconian measures to silence those opposed to the present government.

      CODIR (Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights) has learned that in recent days:-

      1. A bill drafted with the support of 36 conservative and ultra reactionary members of parliament is calling for the reduction of the period between someone being sentenced to death for political opposition and his or her execution, from 20 to just 5 days. The architect of the bill is Ruhullah Husseinian, a conservative clerical leader who has a history of opposition to the followers of reform in the country.
      2. Prisoners are being kept in harsh and inhumane conditions. They are denied blankets and proper clothes in the middle of a bitter winter. Shiva Nazar Ahari, a human rights activist and blogger, who was arrested on her way to attend the funeral of Ayatollah Montazeri in Qom, is denied blankets and has been restricted in her access to toilet facilities.
      3. Since the 27th December demonstrations in Iran a large number of women activists have been arrested and arrests continue. They include Mansoureh Shojaee, Zohre Tonekaboni, Badrulsadat Mofidi, Mahin Fahimi, Leyla Tavassoli, Noushin Ebadi (sister of Shireen Ebadi), Nasrin Vaziri, Niloofar Hashemi Azar, Atieh Yousefi, Bahareh Hedayat, Nafiseh Asghari, Maryam Zeya, Mahsa Hekmat, Parisa Kakaei, Forough Mirzaei and Sara Tavauli. Women activists who were arrested at the protest demonstration on 27th December, including Azar Mansouri, Sommayyeh Rashidi, Zahra Jabbari, Kobra Zaghe Doust and Mehdieh Golrou, are still in prison. Reports indicate they are being treated with indescribable violence.
      4. There are persistent calls from the religious leaders aligned with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad for opponents of the regime and participants in the anti government demonstrations to be hanged.
      5. According to reports received from Iran on 3rd January 2010, a number of followers of the Bahai' faith were arrested and incarcerated in the notorious Evin prison in North West Tehran. Amongst them is Zhinoos Sobhani, a well known human rights activist. Baha'is have been harassed and persecuted across Iran. This represents a worsening of repression of the already persecuted Baha'I faith. In the 1980s Bahai leaders and followers were arrested and many executed and adherents are still not allowed to work in public services and as civil servants.

      In response to the above new evidence of an increase in human rights abuses Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, expressed concern that the regime is trying to start a new wave of terror in order to regain control and force the protesters from the street.

      "It is simply unacceptable that the regime feels it can respond in this way", said Mr Ahmadi, "There have been major concerns expressed across all levels of Iranian society about the outcomes of the June election. Even senior sections of the clergy, including former presidents Rafsanjani and Khatemi, have expressed their doubts in public."

      Mr Ahmadi went on to express the view that the institutionalised violence of the regime would not bring about a solution to the present problems in Iran.

      "The Iranian regime must find a way of engaging in dialogue with the opposition about the issues they raise", he said. "Without any platform for negotiation, protest will inevitably end up on the streets and the authorities only appear to be able to address that response with the use of force."

      In response to the recent human rights abuses CODIR has issued a set of demands for action as follows:-

      CODIR demands immediate action by the government of the United Kingdom and governments of the European Union to protest to the Iranian authorities e.g. Iranian Embassies across the world, calling on the regime to:
      • Release of all those arrested immediately
      • Cease all executions in Iran
      • Allow representatives of Amnesty International and the UN Commission of Human Rights to visit Iran and examine conditions at first hand
      • Lift all censorship on newsmedia, restore access to the worldwide web and free communications channels with immediate effect.

      ENDS

      Contact Information:-

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

      Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Arrests continue as regime's legitimacy crumbles


      As the number of arrests in Iran following the security force inspired violence of 27th December continues to rise, Jane Green considers the tactics of intimidation now being employed by the regime and the crisis of legitimacy facing the Islamic Republic.




      Latest reports in the Western media suggest that 1,000 activists were arrested in clashes in Tehran alone last Sunday during the festival of Ashura, the most significant festival in the Shia calendar. This unprecedented round up of protesters has been followed by pronouncements form the Iranian regime that the protests were simply the work of "foreign enemies". Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, is said to have threatened Britain with "a slap in the mouth" for alleged involvement in the activities.

      Quite how "foreign enemies" have the capability to mobilise hundreds of thousands on the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities is not made clear by Mr. Mottaki. Nor is it made clear why the relatives of known oppositionists have now become targets for arrest and assassination by the regime. Following the killing by security forces of Ali Mousavi Khamane, nephew of reformist opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, on Sunday, a wave of arrests have followed.

      The sister of Nobel Laureate, lawyer and peace activist, Shirin Ebadi, was arrested in Tehran on Monday night. Noushin Ebadi, a lecturer in medical science at Tehran Azad University, has no history of political activism. Her arrest is a clear attempt to put pressure upon Shirin Ebadi, currently in London, to end her opposition to the regime.

      Similarly, the arrest of Shahpour Kazemi, the brother of Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zehra Rahnavard, is clearly aimed at increasing the pressure upon Mousavi and his family following the murder of his nephew on Sunday. Other recent arrests include those of Ibrahim Yazdi, the leader of the nationalist Iran's Freedom Movement, and the first Foreign Minister after the 1979 revolution; Mohammad Moein, son of former higher education minister Mostafa Moein; and the brother and nephew of former interior minister, Abdollah Nouri.

      The international Committee for Human Rights in Iran has compared the regime's tactics to those "consistent with the tactics of criminal gangs."

      These arrests, along with the retreat to blaming foreign intervention for opposition activities, highlight the lack of control over events exercised by the leaders of the Islamic Republic. The protests following the stolen election of 12th June have increasingly brought the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic itself into question, as opposition to the Ahmadinejad government becomes more generalised opposition to the clerical regime. It is interesting to note that the protesters have repeatedly called for a return to the ideals of the popular 1979 revolution for democracy and against the pro-US Shah's regime.

      While initially drawing its support from the intelligentsia, professional classes and the universities, the popular Green Movement in Iran is now drawing in wider sections of the population in Tehran and other major cities. Even amongst sections of the ruling elite, including clerics such as Hashemi Rafsanjani and former president Khatami, there is increasing recognition of the need for change in order to save the credibility of the Islamic Republic. Such breadth of opposition does not yet have a single point of unity around which to rally, but it is a range of opposition it would be foolish of the regime to ignore.

      The coming weeks will certainly provide the regime with some significant tests. The 40th day after the death of Ayotollah Montazeri, traditionally an occasion for further mourning, falls at the end of January, closely followed by the anniversary of the 1979 revolution in February. Other significant events and anniversaries will follow including International Women's Day (8th March), International Worker's Day (1st May) and the anniversary of Ahmadinejad's 're-election' on the 12th June.

      There can be little doubt that the commanding heights of economic and political power in Iran remain in the hands of the clerical elite with the backing of the armed forces and the Guards Corps. Whether that power can claim a popular democratic legitimacy however has been severely tested since the 12 June and is likely to face further tests in the months ahead. It may be too soon to predict a second revolution In Iran, but the theocratic regime that came to power as a result of 1979 revolution is certainly facing its most significant and lasting crisis to date.

      Jane Green is the National Campaign Officer of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. For further information on Iran please visit: www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      PRESS RELEASE - For immediate use


      28th December 2009




      Ibrahim Yazdi, the leader of the nationalist Iran's Freedom Movement, and the first Foreign Minister after the 1979 revolution, was arrested early this morning. The arrest follows on from those of Mehdi Arabshahi, a leader of the Tahkim Vahdat, the powerful national student movement, and Mohammad Moein, the son of Mostafa Moein, a former minister of higher education and reformist candidate at the 2005 presidential election. Many others have also been arrested. The authorities have confirmed the arrests of 300 opposition activists yesterday.

      There are widespread fears that the regime will attempt to arrest more leaders and activists of the protest movement in the coming days. Pressure is mounting upon the regime, following recent protests on the festival of Ashura on 27th December.

      Reacting to this, Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR (Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights), stated today (Monday) that,

      "The theocratic regime, caught by surprise by the numerical strength and radical slogans of the protest demonstrations in recent days, is resorting to extremely suppressive measures. The regime has ordered the disabling of the mobile phone networks and today the Internet system is malfunctioning."

      CODIR is calling on people across the world to protest against the killing of demonstrators in Iran. Mr Ahmadi stated,

      "We call for the release of all those arrested and an end to all attempts to intimidate protesters demanding democracy and human rights. We also call for an immediate reinstatement of the communication network."

      Mr Ahmadi further called on the labour and trade union movement in Britain and across the world to protest to the Iranian regime about its brutal policies.

      "We should remind the theocratic regime in Iran about its obligations under the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Iran is a signatory."

      ENDS

      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

      Amongst CODIR's supporters are Tony Benn, Rodney Bickerstaff (former General Secretary of UNISON), Ken Cameron (former General Secretary of FBU) and Louise Richards (former Chair of the International Section of UNISON).

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Regime change by the people, for the people!


      Recent events in Iran have further exposed the divisions within the ruling clergy and the desire of the Iranian people for change. Jane Green continues her series of articles on post election Iran with an assessment of recent events and the prospects for 2010.





      The death of reformist cleric Ayotollah Hosaein Ali Montazeri on 19th December has sparked a run of protests in Iran which have both caught the authorities off guard and surprised the opposition by their scale. Official reports suggest that the turnout at Montazeri's funeral on 21st December was up to 500,000 people. Opposition sources claim that the numbers were nearer to one million. Either way, this convergence upon Qom, a city with a population of only 700,000 is significant.

      Montazeri had been one of the pillars of the 1979 revolution in Iran but fell out with Ayotollah Khomenei, whom he was designated to succeed, over the Islamic Republic's human rights record and specifically the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988. Montazeri questioned the legality and necessity of the execution of political prisoners. Montazeri was put under house arrest in1997 for criticising the current Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Ali Khamenei. Earlier this year he made clear his opposition to the manipulated outcome of the June 2009 election, which returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency by a 'landslide' and sparked the current wave of nationwide protests in Iran.

      In this context, the death of Montazeri has helped to re-ignite an already volatile situation. On key occasions since the June elections the Iranian people have taken to the streets to demonstrate their opposition to the regime. These have included the ceremony to swear in President Ahmadinejad on the 5th August; Quds Day on the 18th September; the 4th November anniversary of the US Embassy occupation; and, most recently, Students Day on the 7th December.

      The protests on the 7th December included students waving Iranian flags without the Islamic Republic's emblem and burning posters of Ayotollah Ali Khamenei. Security forces used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the protests and attempted to suppress news of the events by sealing off universities, blocking internet and mobile phone communications. In spite of these measures images of the protests reached Western media and showed widespread violence against protesters.

      Even without the death of Montazeri further flashpoints were inevitable. The 27th December is the festival of Ashura, the most important day in the Shia calendar, and the opposition once again took to the streets. The resulting clashes were the bloodiest yet with the security forces firing live ammunition at protesters. Latest estimates suggest that up to 15 people are reported dead, including Ali Mousavi, the nephew of reformist movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. You Tube footage showed police motorcycles burning in the streets, crowds freeing protesters from the Basiji militia and police being stripped of their uniforms and weapons.

      The events of the 27th December may yet be significant for three further reasons. Firstly, the unprecedented use of force by the security services undermines the claims of the state to be upholding Iran's religious traditions. The festival of Ashura commemorates Imam Hossein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and regarded as a martyr in the fight against oppression. Secondly, unlike in previous demonstrations where many protesters covered their faces, images from the 27th December show many people with their faces exposed indicating a growing level of defiance on the part of the opposition. Thirdly, reports suggest that some members of the security forces refused to obey orders when asked to fire on protesters.

      If true, this final point is perhaps the most significant as the identification of the security and armed forces with the cause of the people would signify a major shift in the balance of power. While it may be too early to proclaim such a shift in the power balance in Iran, the fact that protests have not subsided following the June election and that they have increasingly focussed upon the authority of Ayotollah Ali Khamenei will give the authorities cause for concern. Such a shift begins to raise questions about the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic itself, not just the government.

      How this balance changes will be the critical factor in determining the fate of Iran into 2010 and in particular the fate of the Islamic Republic. The ongoing response of the Iranian people to continued repression should be matched by an equal level of solidarity in the labour, trades union and peace movements across the world to ensure that Iran moves in the direction of genuine democracy. With the hovering threats of both Israel and the United States casting their shadow, it is vital that regime change in Iran is by the people, for the people and not imposed by external forces to meet an external Western agenda. Moving into 2010, this will be the main task of those across the world looking to support the true voices and the actions of the Iranian people.

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      CODIR Calls for the immediate release of Atefeh Nabavi


      Atefeh Nabavi has been sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment.




      Atefeh Nabavi , a female student activist , that had been arrested on 15th June during the protest demonstrations after the presidential election, has been sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment, at the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Ghomi .

      Atefeh Nabavi had been charged of "Having relationship with the Iranian People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran" and "Participating in the illegal demonstration on 15th June" by district 12 of Revolutionary Court last week. However the Judge dropped the charge of having relationship with the PMOI but she was convicted of the charges such as "disturbing the public order" and "Cahoot and collusion against the regime through participating in illegal demonstration".

      Nasrin Sotoodeh, the defence lawyer of this student activist, commenting on the heavy sentence passed for her client said: this is the example of an unfair sentence. It is not rational or compatible with any legal norm and practice that Miss.Nabavi being condemned because of her family's political background.

      Sotoodeh stated: Against all the judical rules, the investigations and cross examinations in the court session was about Atefeh Nabavi's family background and the Judge totally ignored the principle of "crime and punishment being personal".

      Sotoodeh added: Because of the fact that this sentence is unfair, I hope that the appeal court will take into consideration the legal reasoning of this case and declare the innocence of Miss.Nabavi. Because it is not rational that a society condemns its intellectuals to a 4 year imprisonment just for participating in a silent demonstration with the slogan of "where is my vote".

      Atefeh Nabavi was transfered to the section 209 of Evin Prison after being arrested and then after 95 days, moved to Methadon Quarantine for addicted prisoners of the public section.

      The passing of the heavy sentence of 4 years imprisonment for this political prisoner has taken place in the circumstances that Iranian courts in recent years hadn't issued heavy prison sentences against women activists.

      Committee of Human Rights Reporters considers the issued sentence against Atefeh Nabavi as an unfair and illegal one and calls for the special attention of the international human rights organisations to her dossier. Issuing of such a sentence indicates that the government will now start to issue heavy sentences against women activists.

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      Intelligentsia under attack


      The suppression of dissent within the intelligentsia in Iran continues apace following the 12th June elections. Jane Green considers the latest attacks upon journalists, theologians and academics in Iran and the impact upon civil society.




      In mid September Iran's supreme national security council issued a directive banning newspapers from publishing any news regarding the 12th June presidential elections or the two candidates most critical of the results, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.

      As outrageous as such a move may seem it was merely the latest in a long line of steps taken by the regime to suppress opposition views. The process started before the elections when the state run radio and TV networks effectively boycotted opposition campaigns, while applauding that of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When even this tactic failed to deliver the desired outcome Yas, the newspaper supporting Mousavi, was shut by Tehran's prosecutor general while Etemad Melli, the official paper of Karoubi's National Trust party was also closed.

      Following the elections many journalists who held views close to those of the opposition candidates were arrested. Many of them, including Issa Saharkhiz, Ahmad Zeidabadi, Saeed Leylaz and Mohammed Atrianfar are still behind bars.

      Journalists however are not the only target of the regime. Prominent theologians are being targeted through the arrest of their children. The association of Qom Theological Centre's teachers and researchers is a clerical group close to reformers which issued a statement following the elections questioning the legitimacy of the outcome. The group has subsequently issued several statements protesting against show trials, deaths, tortures and arrests which have followed the elections in June.

      The children of prominent members of the group have been arrested and held without charge on the basis of warrants issued by a special clerical court in Qom. Not surprisingly the arrests followed closely upon a further statement from the group calling upon the public to continue their protests. The statement stated specifically that,

      "The clergy is displeased with the recent events and shall stand alongside the Iranian nation."

      Inside sources, wishing to remain anonymous, have steed in relation to the arrest of the children of these senior clerics,

      "These acts are aimed at pressuring the fathers and are in fact kidnappings, especially as other types of pressure had been applied to these clerics with the goal of changing their position regarding recent events."

      According to this source, these clerics had been contacted by the authorities and warned against publishing their statements. The arrest of their children is a new type of pressure being applied.

      Not content with the attacks upon journalists and theologians, the regime is also directing its fire towards academics, especially in the field of the social sciences. Five prominent university professors at Alameh Tabatabai University, particularly those in the field of human rights, have been relieved of their positions. The most prominent case is that of Dr. Mohammad-reza Bighdeli, an accomplished professor of international law in Iran. Dr. Bighdeli is recognised as a leading authority in his field in law schools across the country and his book on international law has been reprinted 25 times. He will not be allowed to teach from the new academic year.

      Dr. Bighdeli is known to have opposed the forced admittance of students not properly qualified for courses. One young woman, the daughter of a prominent cleric, held an honour's degree in the recitation of the Qu'ran but had not taken a single course in the master's programme for international law.

      At the same university Dr. Ali Azmayesh, professor of criminal law and international criminal law, has also been removed from his post. Dr. Hossein Sharifi Tarazkhoohi, a human rights professor acknowledged to be among the leading translators in the field of human rights in Iran has been barred from teaching.

      These examples, from across a range of professions, demonstrate the Iranian regime's inability to deal with open debate about the way forward for Iran as a society and underlines once again the shaky hold which the current regime has on power in the Islamic Republic.

      International pressure to highlight the fate of the intelligentsia in Iran must continue, in order to ensure that the voice of opposition to Ahmadinejad is heard and that the Iranian people are given a real chance to determine their fate.

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      Student Apartheid!





      With universities having just re-opened in Iran the authorities fear that the momentum of protests since the 12th June elections will continue. Mazdak Javaan outlines the issues facing the regime and its fear of student activism.

      The term "student apartheid" was used recently by the Daftar Takhim Vahdat (DTV), Iran's largest student organisation, to describe the attitude of the Iranian regime to its students. The comments follow an increase in the arrest, interrogation and banning of student activists from continuing their higher education in the period leading up to universities re-opening in September.

      The fear of the authorities is such that serious consideration has been given to closing universities for a semester. However, as DTV secretary Mehdi Arabshahi states, the fact that the regime has backed off from this course of action does not mean that all is well,

      "...I believe they are pursuing a different approach which is that they have summoned 20 students to disciplinary committees at every university and at some universities, such as Zanjan and Hamadan, they have issued default judgements that bar students from continuing their education for a semester even though the students weren't aware of any such decision against them."

      According to Arabshahi, student activists from Tehran University have also been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence and pressured to remain silent.

      A DTV statement in September condemned the action against activists. The release of the statement coincided with the sentencing of eight students in the city of Babol to 33 months in prison, 60 months probation and a 25 year suspension from pursuing higher education. Such tactics make it clear that the regime has in effect initiated a regime of intimidation against student activists with the threat, not only of prison, but an end to career opportunities for any young person daring to become active. DTV went on to say,

      "Student apartheid practices, which were vehemently denied by the administration and its Ministry of Sciences until now, have become a regular occurrence and enjoy the full legal backing of the judiciary."

      The new student year did however start off badly for President Ahmadinejad when plans to speak at Tehran University were thwarted. An increased security presence alerted students to the prospective visit and, by the time of the announcement, protests calling for the "coup government to resign" were well underway.

      At the last minute the visit was cancelled and the few students who did gather in the auditorium at Tehran University were met not by the president but the Minister of Science, Kamran Daneshjoo. This was the second year in succession that a planned address by the president at the university has been cancelled due to the level of protests.

      The news of the cancellation this year led to Green Movement activists marching in the streets inside the campus and around the main university. The positive response to the protests from passers by resulted in the police closing streets to traffic around the university while Green Movement supporters condemned the governments slogans of creating an 'Islamic University' and 'Islamicising the social sciences'.

      Such responses are indicative of the ongoing opposition to the regime in Iran. Young people in particular, who were at the forefront of protests following the stolen election in June, are being targeted by the regime. The cynical attempt by the regime to choke off the protests off the young through the use of terror and intimidation has only increased the vehemence of opposition.

      Solidarity with those imprisoned for legitimate protest must be stepped up. CODIR calls upon all organisations interested inhuman rights in Iran to highlight the particular plight of students and young people by making their views known to the Iranian Embassy in London.

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      CODIR interviews Dr. Naser Zarafshan, the prominent lawyer and the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Writer's Association, in Tehran.





      Zarafshan: " Developments in Iran are not from the same type of changes that occurred in the past two decades in the Central and East Europe, or in some countries of the Central Asia. Here everything is different and moves on a different path. This difference is intrinsic to the economical, social, political and cultural structure of our society."

      CODIR: The situation in Iran is very complicated and may be difficult to grasp for those who follow the developments indirectly from outside the country. If you don't mind, please first describe the context of the broad demonstrations of the people in Iran in the past 2-3 months.

      Zarafshan: I have said it in several occasions that various and diverse factors and forces, with different motives and goals had bearing on the shaping of the events in the months of June and July. These forces entered the scene in various stages and each pursued its own goals. In other words, what happened was not a unified and organized homogenous movement stemmed from a unified plan, and as such, the analysis of the events of these months would remain complicated and fuzzy and hard to understand, until these various factions and factors are recognized and distinguished and the role and intentions of each one is analyzed separately. At least three different factors, three distinct sources must be considered that impacted the shaping of these events, and their action and interaction resulted in forming the recent developments. 1. A power struggle within the ruling class, between the Leader and Hashemi Rafsanjani, which has spread among their followers and supporters, and has now reached to a point where they don't even try to hide it. This power struggle has been going on for a while, but it intensified and surfaced recently. Nevertheless, whatever it is or has been, in essence it is related only to the power circles and it has been going on in those circles, and has nothing to do with the people and their problems. Although the escalation of power struggle and opening cracks in the ruling system might have created the essential grounds for increased presence of people and escalation of their movement, yet these people have been equally suppressed and sacked in the past thirty years by both of these factions of power. Naturally, this faction or the other makes no difference to the people. What these two sides of the power struggle want is different from the wishes of the people. Both sides of this power struggle would like to save the system, but would like to have a bigger share of power and bigger gain for themselves, whereas people are after change and progress. 2. Uprising of people and layers of the middle class in particular, who took advantage of the moment and poured into the streets to express their mounted dissatisfaction and suppressed demands. This wave became more powerful and widespread day by day, although it did not have any pre-determined strategy and organization. In societies like Iran, in which there are no party or trade unions or any other real and independent social organizations to formulate and express the people's demands through established political channels, it is natural that people would take advantage of opportunities and occasions like an election to express their discontent and demands. In such moments, people posses this historic sharpness and wit to use a member of the system itself and move behind that individual, e.g. in the context of elections, as this form of movement is safer and less costly. Yet, they mean to express their discontent and demands. However, some of the political forces and intellectuals and educated "right" could not even apprehend this smartness and wit of the ordinary people and have engaged themselves in the Green fever. A larger part of them who are more active in exile, understand this difference, but since they each are affiliated with one of these two sides of the power struggle, knowingly and opportunistically try to surf the waves of the people's protests and exploit it to attain their own demands. 3. Besides the two above-mentioned factors, there are of course the alien powers, and in particular the US and its actions and the network of its agents, and this is not surprising. Using their money and media resources, they have been working for years on developing the network of their people and spreading neo-liberal propaganda, and providing powerful financial and media support for them. Denying the existence of these factors is far from reality. The events of the recent months are not homogenous and have shaped based on the various factors mentioned above.

      CODIR: Regime supporters and some of those who would like to justify the policies of Ahmadinejad point out that in the previous presidential elections (the 9th elections in 2005) he was elected with the votes of the poor and under-privileged layers of the society, and his policies are in support of the working people. Is this really the case? What is the social base of Ahmadinejad?

      Zarafshan: This is not only what the regime supporters and those who justify Ahmadinejad policies say. The reality of today's situation in Iran is that for whatever reason (which in itself is yet another topic for discussion) the major force that supports Ahmadinejad and the conservatives relates to the working people and lower classes of the society. Denying this reality is self-deceit. We are supposed to talk about the existing conditions and not the desired conditions. The core and centre of the rallies and demonstrations in the recent months was in Tehran, and the scene of clashes was "mid-town" and "up-town" of the city. Nothing is happening in the parts of the city where the poor live (Fallah, Khazaneh, Nazi-Abad, Khani-Abad, Javadiyeh, Raah-Ahan, Shoush, Khorasan Square).

      CODIR: In their reports of the recent development in Iran, some of the Western media claim that most of the demonstrators are form the well-off and middle layers of the society. Is this true? Do the slogans of the demonstrators only reflect the issues of the well-off layers of the society? Did the working class participate in these actions which were unprecedented in the recent decades?

      Zarafshan: In general, that is a true statement. So far this movement has been mainly a movement of the middle class, without any solemn participation of the working class and other poorer strata of the society. And that is why the conservatives have been able to suppress it. During the events of past June and July, public employees, Bazaar (grand merchants), and small businesses were several times called to go on strike, but no one even responded to these calls. Needless to say that calling workers to go on strike was not responded either, and could not be responded. Today, the middle class has evaluated its power in practice and is aware of the limits of its power for change. With what has happened, now the middle class must revisit its point of view, its position with regards to other classes, its view about the social development and its pre-conditions. As long as such a review has not happened, the state of affairs will remain the same. Part of the political forces of the middle class of Iran is strongly anti-left and holds an anti-people view. This part, which in the past two decades has been mainly the media and proponent of neo-liberal and right views in Iran, essentially has its hopes solely in the "top" and in give-and-takes within the power circles, in the developments in the region, and in the influence of the external factors - the US in particular- and does not believe in people, in organizing them, and in their role. A large part of the educated individuals of the middle class, media, and Diasporas are also either under the influence of this same illusion, or promote it consciously. Developments in Iran, however, are not from the same type of changes that occurred in the past two decades in the Central and East Europe, or in some countries of the Central Asia. Here everything is different and moves on a different path. This difference is intrinsic to the economical, social, political and cultural structure of our society. Any change in Iran is only possible through a collaboration of all popular forces, which of course include most of the middle class too. The events of the recent months, and its outcome, require an honest and serious review and examination. In particular, our intelligentsia seriously needs a good house-cleaning!

      CODIR: It seems that the protesting people are still prepared to take part in protest demonstrations. How do you see the future of this movement? Will it abate and the regime will take the full control? Or not, and it will advance to higher levels? What would you think at this moment of time?

      Zarafshan: Not only people are still prepared and have the motivation to protest and resist, but also will this resistance and protest extend and deepen as we move further ahead, and will find its way to survive and sustain. In particular, the concurrent growing of economical crisis, inflation, and depression, which expands more every day, will further grow the struggle and resistance of the people deeper. This economical crisis is essentially the result of the very economical structure of Iran, and its signs appeared in the country prior to the global financial crisis. The global financial crisis and its consequences only exacerbated our domestic crisis. Anyway, the major developments are ahead of us, not behind us.

      CODIR: Thousands have been arrested in the recent weeks. Detention of journalists and political and social activists has increased. Censorship has expanded even more. There are several reports about torture and ill-treatment of detainees. A few have been killed under torture. What is the reason for the harsh reaction of the regime?

      Zarafshan: It is clear. They have sensed the seriousness of danger, and the think tanks of the power ringleaders do not know any other solution to the problem but suppression.

      CODIR: Show trials of the tortured and victims of the recent repressions have started. What do think about the way the regime acts and its impact on curbing the protest movement? What do think about the regime measures to take confessions from the detainees under torture and duress? Are these confessions legitimate?

      Zarafshan: People of Iran have seen these trials many times in the contemporary history, and particularly since the August 1953 coup. They are well aware of the extent of authenticity of these confessions and the statements made in these shows. It is mind-boggling why in Iran, developments and changes in minds and beliefs happen only in prisons and in detention, and it is rarely seen that someone goes through a change in beliefs in such a short time outside of prison and under normal conditions. But not all that have been said these days in this regards should be related to the pressures exerted to individuals in prison and the conditions of interrogations. There were many others who suffered similar treatment and perhaps even worse during the political ups and downs of the past sixty years and did not change their minds and positions. In this case, besides the conditions of prison and interrogation, there exists a more deep-rooted reason: some positions and political beliefs and convictions inherently cannot resist and defy any more than this, and this is not fully related to the holder of those beliefs but is a reflection of the nature of those beliefs.

      CODIR: The Committee for Defense of the Iranian People Rights (CODIR) has made concrete attempts to mobilize the international solidarity with the protest struggle of the Iranian people, particularly among the left and the trade union forces. In your opinion, what other arenas and measures should be explored and considered?

      Zarafshan: The most fundamental deficiency, and hence the most urgent task in Iran, is to organize people towards developing true and independent organizations, especially within the grass root and the working people. From this point of view, strengthening the international solidarity of the left forces in defense of ideological boundaries and interests of people is one of the most urgent grounds of work. I congratulate you for this and wish you greater than ever success.

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      Iranian election, and its consequences


      One month on from the 'stolen' election in Iran of 12th June, opposition to the outcome of the poll shows little sign of falling away. Continuing her series of articles on the Iranian election, and its consequences, Jane Green reports for CODIR.




      In the month since the presidential election in Iran opposition tactics have gone through a number of distinct phases. The initial mass demonstrations and protests were a spontaneous outburst of opposition to a clearly indefensible election outcome. With pressure from the security forces pushing the masses from the streets protests took the nightly form of proclaiming Allahu Akbar (God is great) in a symbolic defiance of the regime. This form of opposition continues, as does limited street protest. More recently however the focus has shifted towards splits within the ruling circles in the Islamic Republic.

      The extent of such divisions was evident last Friday (17 July) when prayers at Tehran University were addressed by former president, Hasemi Rafsanjani. While Rafsanjani's words fell short of direct denunciation of the regime, or the election outcome, they sailed very close. Rafsanjani is reported to have stated,

      "People have lost their faith in the regime and their trust is damaged. It's necessary to regain people's consent and restore their trust in the regime. Everyone has lost."

      The significance of Rafsanjani's address was underlined by the fact that 'defeated' election candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi were present. Indeed, the authorities were sufficiently worried by Rafsanjani's presence that they did not broadcast the address live on state TV, usually common practice on such occasions.

      Friday prayers in Tehran have traditionally been a conservative bastion. Last week's address however resulted in opposing camps trading slogans during the gathering and provoked clashes before and after the session. Of twenty arrested after the meeting women's activist and human rights lawyer, Shadi Sadr, was among them.

      The arrests last Friday come at the end of a month of increasingly punitive action on the part of the regime resulting in a growing number of 'disappeared' activists about whom little or nothing is heard. The Centre for Defenders of Human Rights has been a particular target over recent weeks. Mohammed Ali Dadkhah and Abdolfatah Soltani, two attorneys who have represented many political prisoners and journalists, have been arrested recently. Feizollah Arabsorkhi, of the Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution's central committee, was arrested last week without any warrant being produced or any indication to his family as to where he would be detained.

      Student activists, most recently Hasam Salamat, Ali Taghipour and Nima Taghavi, continue to be detained. Information is now coming to light about the storming of student dormitories two days after the election by Basij militia. Police are alleged to have broken locks, arrested 133 students and killed five.

      The five who died were Fatemah Barati, Kasra Sharafi, Mobina Ehterami, Kamibiz Shoaee and Mohsen Imani. They were buried without their families being informed. Their families were warned not to talk about their children or hold funerals.

      Pro-government media continue to report so-called 'confessions' from detainees. However, in a further reflection of the split position of the regime ayotollah Bayat Zanjani stated that,

      "...confessions that are extracted today using strange, puzzling and unfortunate methods, lack any kind of legal or moral legitimacy and cannot be used in a court of law. Those who extract these confessions will be responsible and accountable to God."

      Bayat Zanjani's position was further reinforced by the influential Association of Researchers and Teachers which called upon the judiciary to immediately release those arrested during peaceful rallies and to identify and arrest those responsible for the beatings and murders at Tehran University. The student group Advar-e Tahkim Vahdat added its voice to those demanding answers stating that,

      "The directors, writers and executers of these dangerous plots must know that lost credibility cannot be restored through discredited confessions extracted in hidden facilities, which lack any legal or moral value."

      The failure of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to take a neutral position, instead aligning himself directly with Ahmadinejad, is seen by many as having undermined the regime's credibility. Rafsanjani's intervention is widely seen as an attempt to restore legitimacy to the Islamic Republic and step back from the brink to which the election has taken the country to over recent weeks.

      Rafsanjani has called for the release of prisoners, freeing the media and dialogue between the opposition and the regime. He has made it clear that the opposition is positioning itself to challenge the current custodians of the Islamic Republic. How the existing leadership respond to his call in the next few weeks will be decisive for the immediate future of Iran.

      Jane Green is CODIR's national campaign organizer. For further information on Iran and/ or solidarity with the struggle for peace, democracy and human rights in Iran please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Tehran's "gilded youth" are not alone!


      By Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary, CODIR




      While reporting of the events following the 12th June election in Iran has helped to highlight the anti-democratic nature of the Islamic Republic, some usually progressive voices seem to be misreading the signs.

      Seamus Milne's assessment of the current situation in Iran ('These are the birth pangs of Obama's new regional order' Guardian 18th June 2009) is alarmingly wide of the mark given Milne's usual clarity and incisiveness in assessing the political climate.

      Indeed, it sad to see Milne fall into the trap of believing the Islamic Republic's propaganda by asserting that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a "solid base among the working class, the religious, small town and rural poor." The outrage being expressed on the streets of Iran's major cities is not simply a reflection of the grievances of "Tehran's gilded youth". Nor is it merely an expression of the outrage felt at the 'stolen' election of 2009.

      Life under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been well documented by CODIR over the past four years. Nevertheless it is worth reiterating some of the major issues and their impact upon the lives of the Iranian people over that period.

      Firstly there is the issue of privatisation of state assets. By order of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, Article 44 of the Iranian constitution was revoked in 2007, opening the way for wholesale privatisation of state industries. The move was welcomed by the IMF in a statement which said,

      "Recently the government has been pursuing privatisation more seriously. According to the executive order issued by Ayotollah Khamenei regarding Article 44 of the Constitution, more than 80% of state-owned enterprises must be privatised in the next 10 years."

      The impact of privatisation in both developing and developed nations is well documented. Sold as a panacea for 'failing' industry, it is often a precursor to asset stripping and lining the pockets of the super rich. Ahmadinejad has already shown his capacity to act in this way. Ahmadinejad, following the examples of the Arab Kingdoms, uses oil revenues to cultivate tribal loyalties and enrich those around him. His Interior Minister, Sadegh Mahsooli, a long time friend from the years in the revolutionary guards, is a multi-billionaire.

      Ahmadinejad has also presided over the massive increase in imported consumer goods into the Iranian market to the detriment of domestic production. This process has been accompanied by significant increases in Iran's foreign debt. Business Monitor International expects Iran's foreign debt to increase from $23.5bn in 2006 to $31.6bn by 2012, an increase of $8.1bn, in spite of increasing oil revenues over the same period.

      Such figures clearly add up to growing hardship and poverty with an estimated 15m people, or 20% of the population living in poverty, according to Ali Asgari, Economic Deputy of the President's Office of Planning and Strategic Control. This situation is further exacerbated by the numbers of workers who are on temporary contracts. According to Ministry of Labour statistics 80% of workers in factories and manufacturing are working under temporary contracts for periods of between 2 months and 6 months. The struggle against temporary contracts is one of the key areas in which trades unions in Iran are fighting. Inevitably the less stable the workforce, the more difficult it is to organise and the more fearful the workforce is likely to be.

      The current demonstrations for change are by no means sudden or isolated. The period of the Ahmadinejad presidency has been characterised by regular expressions of dissent from trades unionists, women and student activists all protesting for greater democratic freedom in the country. The continued imprisonment of Mansour Osanloo, ongoing attempts to discredit Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, opposition to the women's One Million Signatures campaign have all contributed to a growing sense of frustration in Iranian society to which the recent elections have given vent.

      Ahmadinejad's international posturing has isolated the regime further on the world stage and opened up the prospect of an Israeli first strike against the country. The peace movement inside the country is acutely aware of the capacity of the West to mobilise and use force as shown by the occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. While there has been a general acceptance that Iran should be allowed to peacefully develop nuclear energy, the peace movement has opposed the use of this issue by the regime to attempt to rally the population in the face of international opposition. Such tactics are a transparent attempt to distract attention from growing domestic problems by focusing upon an external threat.

      The press in Britain would do well to focus upon the realities of the lives of women, students and trades unionists in Iran when assessing the situation there. The fact that protest is embracing broad sections of Iranian society, including youths, "gilded" or otherwise, is not a cause for scepticism but a reflection of the realities of Iran today. Support for the Iranian people their struggle to change that reality is needed now more than ever.

      Jamshid Ahmadi is the Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights.

      For further information on events and developments in Iran contact codir_info@btinternet.com or visit www.codir.net

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      Calm in Iran belies the gathering storm


      The deployment of massive force by the repressive machinery of the Islamic Republic has forced protestors off the streets in recent days. However, this should not be seen as an indication that opposition to the 12th June election outcome has subsided; on the contrary. Jane Green reports for CODIR.




      An apparent calm has settled over the cities of Iran in recent days. Apparent, because it is the calmness enforced by the barrel of a gun, as the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij Militia occupy the streets; enforcing the word of Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei; enforcing the election outcome giving Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in office.

      However much the Iranian elite proclaim the outcome of the election to be fair and just these actions are not those of a regime at ease with itself. Contrary to the popular view of the Iranian Revolution in the West, the movement which overthrew the Shah in 1979 was broad based, anti-imperialist and progressive. The present leaders of the Islamic Republic, who hi-jacked the original revolution to install an anti-democratic theocracy, are all too well aware of the revolution's original momentum.

      That awareness is in part what brought hundreds of thousands out onto the streets of Iran to protest following the 12th June election. That awareness is why the cities of Iran echo with the cry "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) once darkness falls. The phrase is a reference back to the revolution of 1979 and the unifying call of the opposition to the Shah. That it should be taken up again in the context of a hi-jacked election will send a chill down the spines of many of the Guardian Council. They are aware of the power of such symbolism. They are aware that they are losing their grip on the hearts and minds of the Iranian people.

      Signs of desperation are already beginning to show. Ayotollah Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University last Friday that the judiciary should "...punish leading rioters firmly without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson." The Ayotollah further suggested that Neda Soltan, whose death captured on video was beamed around the world, was a victim of protestors, not the security forces.

      Arrests of journalists and opposition supporters continue apace. Recent reports suggest that 457 individuals had been arrested following demonstrations in Tehran alone. Leaders of the Islamic Iran Participation Front have been rounded up, including Mohsen Mirdamadi and Safai Farahani. The Islamic Revolution Mojahadein, another reformist party which supported Mousavi, has suffered a similar fate while the National-Religious group has also reported members 'missing'.

      The count of journalists arrested stood at 32 this weekend. In addition, all the employees at the Kalameh Sabz (Green Word) newspaper, which belongs to Mir-Hossein Mousavi, have been arrested. Security forces have also arrested all journalists who worked for Kalameh, one of two websites belonging to Mousavi.

      Badro-Sadat Mefidi, secretary of the Association of Iranian Journalists, commenting on the arrests said that,

      "...the initial attempt of a group of plain clothesmen to break into the offices of the newspaper was foiled. But they returned hours later with a warrant from the prosecutors office and that is when they rounded up all the journalists..."

      Such determined activity by the security forces is by no means an indication that the regime is showing a united front. Majlis (Parliament) Speaker, Ali Larijani, recently criticised the actions of some administration supporters resulting in Ahmadinejad supporting deputies to the Parliament accusing him of turning the "Majlis into the enemy's fifth column." Larijani had called for a fact finding committee to investigate attacks upon Tehran University by paramilitaries and had been critical of "certain members of the Guardian Council's support for a particular candidate."

      The vitriol directed at the Majlis Speaker is measure of the discomfort felt by many in the Ahmadinejad camp. The full extent of conservative tension was revealed by reports reaching the Western press this weekend that jailed reformists had been tortured in an attempt to force 'confessions' of a foreign led plot against the regime. Such tactics are a further reference back to the counter revolution of the early 1980's when many in trades unions and on the Left were tortured and forced to 'confess' on TV to actions against the State. According to opposition websites the current wave of 'confessions' are aimed at implicating candidates Mousavi and Karoubi in a conspiracy.

      Further reports suggest that former president, Ayotollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, is poised to move against the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, through his power base in the Assembly of Experts. The 86 strong Assembly has the power to remove the Supreme Leader and indications are that Rafsanjani will suggest that a small committee of senior ayotollahs take over the role. The potential barrier to Rafsanjani is hardliner Mohammed-Taqih Mesbah Yazdi, an Ahmadinejad supporter and advocate of the present constitutional arrangement.

      It is clear that the tension in Iran, although less visible on the streets than in the initial days following the election, has by no means dissipated. The voices of the people are heard every night; we should respond with our solidarity.

      Jane Green is the National Campaign Officer of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights.

      For further information on events and developments in Iran contact codir_info@btinternet.com or visit www.codir.net

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      Electoral Coup d'etat in Iran!


      By Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary, CODIR




      The people of Iran woke up Saturday morning to find not only that the election had been stolen from the popular opposition candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, but that any means of protesting against the electoral fraud and challenging the hardline right in Iran had been closed in what is being described in Tehran as a coup d'etat. Mousavi, now under house arrest, was yesterday informed of his clear victory in the elections. There would be no need to go to a second round he was told. He was asked to kerb the most jubilant celebrations of his supporters in the interests of keeping the streets calm. This turned out to be a pretext to enable Ahmadinejad and his military backers to seize power. The falsification of the result of the 12th June presidential elections and the seizing of power by the defeated theocrats has shocked the population and plunged Iran into an unprecedented political crisis.

      Supporters of Mousavi have taken to the streets in their thousands in Tehran and other major cities, leading to clashes between the military-security forces and demonstrators. Arrests during the night across the country saw up to a hundred key opposition figures incarcerated, together with the many activists pulled off the streets, and the regime has today taken down communication systems in order to paralyse the opposition. SMS messaging and the e-mail connections are down.

      Reaction to the crisis has been instantaneous. A fatwah has been issued by one of the grand ayatollahs, Ayatollah Sane'ei, declaring what has been done by Ahmadinejad and his backers as 'haram' (forbidden by God) prohibiting anyone from cooperating with the 'government' of Ahmadinejad. Sane'ei's house was immediately surrounded by the regime's security forces.

      Clear evidence is emerging of massive irregularities in the election. Whole-scale swapping of ballot boxes has been reported in all major cities. This was hardly a surprise. Prior to the election, the regime clearly stated that it would never allow a reformist government to come to power and it wasted no time in declaring Ahmadinejad the outright winner, despite the 'landslide for change' declared to Mousavi himself yesterday and widely reported in the international media. Protesters in Iran are arguing that the regime has violently interfered with the electoral process. The alleged 65% of the poll that Ahmadinejad claims flies in the face of reports from all independent observers and journalists from across the globe covering this historic election from Iran. The evidence on the polling day was that millions voted for Mir Hossein Mousavi, with exit polls showing him to be the winner by around the same percentage of votes as Ahmadinejad is claiming.

      Hossein Mousavi, under house arrest, insists that he will not accept the result and declares what has happened to be 'a charade'. The confirmation of the rigged result by Iran's Supreme Religious Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei shows exactly what he, and the military-security infrastructure controlled by him, is prepared to do to prevent the wishes of millions of Iranians being recognised.

      This election and its aftermath clearly mark a turning point in the way the regime deals with its opponents and demonstrates that even the so called "insider critics" are no longer tolerated and will not be allowed to have any political influence over the direction of events in the country. As this goes to print the names of the arrested - former ministers, politicians and journalists included, are coming through. The international community must not dismiss this as yet another disputed election but recognise it for the illegal seizure of power that it is and campaign tirelessly for the voice of the Iranian people to be heard and respected and for Iran to become open to greater democracy and change...just as those who voted hoped!

      Jamshid Ahmadi is the Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights.

      For further information on events and developments in Iran contact codir_info@btinternet.com or visit www.codir.net

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      A dangerous Charade!
      Theocratic regime steals the election!


      Having followed the build up to Iran's elections for the past year through a series of articles for CODIR, Jane Green reflects upon the initial days following the announcement of the election result.




      The fact that Iran is not a democracy and that all candidates in the recent Presidential election were 'cleared' to stand by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, should not blind us to the significance of the election outcome and the response of the people to it.

      As an exercise in mass engagement the 10th Presidential election in Iran puts many in the West to shame. It has been clear from the nightly rallies in the major cities across the country that the Iranian population are desperate to make their voices for change heard.

      Over the four years of the Ahmadinejad government many have had time to reflect. The reformist period of the Khatami presidency, 1997 - 2005 is remembered as something of a liberal oasis in the 30 year existence of the Islamic Republic. Not that Khatami was by any means perfect. Iran's prisons still housed political prisoners, trades unions were unable to organise freely and women's rights remained restricted. However, the Khatami years did see a relaxation of the stricter social mores in Iran, a more critical press, less belligerence in foreign policy and the prospect, however slight, that reformist gains once consolidated would be hard to take back.

      Indeed, it is the latter point in particular which exercised the hardline clerics and security forces prior to the 2005 elections. Further steps in the direction of reform might have meant that the genie would truly escape the bottle and that the Islamic Republic's sham democracy would have been exposed as a hollow charade. In a theocratic dictatorship the President cannot exist or act independently of the Supreme Leader.

      The rigging of the 2005 election to bring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office was a well timed manoeuvre. The reform process had run out of steam. After two terms Khatami was both tired and frustrated. There was no energy left for a final push on the real power in the Islamic Republic and no real indication that mass support would have been strong enough to effect it.

      The apathy of many voters combined with a populist, 'man of the people' approach in the conservative rural heartlands gave the security forces enough leverage to ensure that Ahmadinejad was safely 'elected' and that any steps towards liberalisation were halted.

      True to expectation, the president has delivered on behalf of the reactionary forces in Iran. The imprisonment of women's activists, students and trades unionist has been stepped up. Iran flouts international conventions on human rights. Oil revenues have been wasted as a resource rich country is plunged into periods of darkness through electricity rationing, mass unemployment and rampant inflation. Economics, proclaims the president, is for donkeys.

      The international face off with the US/Israeli alliance has not, it is true, been entirely of Ahmadinejad's making. The situation has been exacerbated however by his failure to negotiate and achieve a balance which does not give the US or Israel the excuse for a first strike.

      The fear of war, social conservatism and economic uncertainty has combined to persuade many Iranians that change is necessary. The limitations of Iran's electoral system do not permit that change to be significant and Mir Mousavi is by no stretch a social or economic radical. The desire for change in Iran is such however that even such an unlikely candidate as Mousavi, conservative by nature, can become the focus for major expressions of dissent and discontent with the status quo.

      There can be little doubt that the proclaimed result of the 2009 election, Ahmadinejad 63%, Mousavi 34%, has been rigged. Apart from the very unlikely eventuality of the other two candidates polling a mere 3% between them, all indications from within Iran and external observers suggested a Mousavi victory or, at the very least, a close outcome. That voters should turn out 2:1 in favour of Ahmadinejad frankly beggars belief.

      The extent of the demonstrations on the streets of Tehran and in other major cities suggests that this is a view shared by many in the country. Four more years as an international pariah, an economic under achiever and as a byword for the most restrictive social conservatism is not what most Iranians want. The ruling clerics have been out of touch with the aspirations of many in Iran for many years. The younger generation in particular desire less social restrictions. Workers demand the right to organise. Women demand respect and equality. The 2009 elections may have finally let the genie out of the bottle and however hard they wish, Iran's rulers may not be able to force it back in.

      Jane Green is the National Campaign Officer of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights.

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      Face-to-Face approach, the symbol of struggle in the One Million Signature Campaign


      Interview with Ms. Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani




      Introduction: On 12 June 2006, the anniversary of the Solidarity Day of Iranian Women, a peaceful gathering of women's groups took place at Haft-e-Tir Square in Tehran. One week prior to this gathering, the educational booklet called the "Effect of Laws on Women's Lives" was distributed across Tehran by participating women. The booklet explained the legal discrimination that the participants in the gathering sought to change. After this gathering, which was organized to protest against the discriminatory laws, various groups of women got together to pursue the resolutions of the gathering. After three months (from June to August) conferring with each other and exchanging ideas, these women founded "The One Million Signature Campaign". This collective campaign was officially launched on 27 August 2006 in Tehran. The campaign started with a gathering of 54 people and with 118 signatures of supporters and activists of the campaign from various groups and schools of thought. Since then, and despite all the ups and downs, the number of activists and members of the campaign has been increasing steadily and the campaign has continued to grow until today. The campaign aims to collect one million signatures in support of a petition addressed to the Iranian Parliament asking for the revision and reform of current laws which discriminate against women, such as equal rights in marriage; equal rights to divorce; an end to polygamy and temporary marriage; an increase in the age of criminal responsibility to 18 for both girls and boys; rights for women to pass on nationality to their children; equal "Dieh" (compensation for bodily injury or death) between women and men; equal inheritance rights; reform of laws that reduce punishment for offenders in cases of honor killings; and equal testimony rights in courts. One of the main aims of the Campaign is to educate Iranian citizens, particularly women, about the negative impact of these discriminatory laws on the lives of women and society as a whole. Many international organizations, especially human rights organizations, have expressed their support for the Campaign. The most important and helpful type of support comes from independent human rights and women's rights organizations around the world. The One Million Signatures Campaign has been awarded the prestigious Global Women's Rights Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF). Ms. Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, the notable Iranian journalist, women's rights leader and community activist, answered a few questions about this campaign in an interview with CODIR.

      CODIR: Beside other traditional approaches used in social movements, one of the approaches that the One Million Signature Campaign (OMSC) has taken to reach its goals, is direct dialogue with people and women in particular. Could you please explain this approach and why you chose to practice it?

      Noushin Ahmadi: As you mentioned, one of the methods we use in our campaign and in other coalitions in the women's movement, is direct dialogue and "Face-to-Face" with people. In choosing this name for this method, we were inspired by a poem written by a great equity-seeking Iranian woman, Tahereh Ghorattol-ain, who was executed for her heroic fights and her equity-seeking ideas and ideals. She writes in one of her poems: when I cast sight face-to-face / I will delineate your sorrow point-by-point, in every detail. You can see how this term (Face-to-Face) that Tahereh has left as a legacy for the generation after her matches our goals in the women's movement. Those demands and pleas are no different from Tahereh's humane and noble goals and fully conform with them. In response to the second part of your question, however, I have to say that in recent years, the activists of the OMSC and the defenders of equal rights in Iran, have turned to pragmatic approaches in their efforts to have the discriminatory laws changed and to draw the attention of public opinion towards the existing laws which deprive us, women, of our human and equal rights. The reason for our attention to this approach, in addition to intensification of bans and escalation of censorship of women's news, was our significant and lasting street experience including a few peaceful gatherings in the city parks and squares. We organized and held a few gatherings and demonstrations on the city streets in Tehran in recent years, and naturally, we gained very useful and valuable experiences. It was the pursuit of this process that ultimately led us to "face-to-face dialogue with people", which is a new move in the framework of the women's movement. Education and dialogue is aimed at action towards social changes. Now, 3 years after the launch of this pragmatic approach, it has attracted the attention of other activists in civil society and is being institutionalized. In other words, this approach is being legitimized and is finding its place beside other approaches and techniques of struggle in the country. CODIR: Now, 3 years after establishing this approach, could you please elaborate on the characteristics and advantages of this approach for our readers? Noushin Ahmadi: One of the numerous positive and gratifying characteristics of this pragmatic philosophy is, in fact, acceleration in evolving openness in the public atmosphere of society, that is, expediting the process of pluralism and more openness in the tight texture of social relations. The diverse experience of the past 30 years has shown that opening of the public space in society could not be achieved only through philosophical and cognitive discussions in small circles. It could not transform the complex and wide-ranging texture of the public domain. Such universal philosophical anecdotes are usually repeated again and again in response to ontological mysteries and queries, and have nothing to do with everyday life. Therefore, these discussions fall short of making a change in the social texture and objective associations in society. In fact, such philosophical dialogues, without penetrating the texture of the daily life of people, and being far from social practice, cannot have any practical impact on the situation of our women. Therefore, under the current circumstances in Iran, any pluralism or openness in our social and legal relations will have to go through the "practice" gate. This means a transformation in the shape and structure of struggle. It means not getting stuck in repeating dialogues that regrettably have become clichéd because they have become disconnected from the everyday life of people.

      CODIR: Changing the discriminatory laws against women, which is one of the main demands of the Campaign, certainly involves legal work and requires legal expertise. How did you manage to integrate this aspect of work with the "Face-to-Face" approach? How have these two aspects of work interacted with each other?

      Noushin Ahmadi: Before I answer this question which might spark sensitivity, I have to state quite clearly that I by no means oppose the legal and expert arguments of lawyers. Quite the opposite, I totally agree with that. The professional and expert activity of lawyers is an important part of the social struggle of women. This is true not only in Iran, but also in a majority of countries around the world in which women's movements have had successful accomplishments. However, the problem started when in Iran, due to certain conditions - which is not possible to elaborate on in this short interview - the professional and expert work of lawyers dominated all the facets of women's struggle. As a result, other non-specialized methods and approaches in civil activism, which are really vital in any social movement, did not get a chance to manifest themselves.

      CODIR: How, and with which mechanisms were these restrictions and restraints imposed? Did the lawyers prevent the expansion of the activities of the women's movement, or were there other reasons?

      Noushin Ahmadi: You see, lawyers were by no means the barrier. On the contrary, in my opinion, their presence, efforts, resistance and struggle was very valuable and useful - although it usually did not extend beyond the professional and specialized scope of their work. However, our hands were really tied in Iran and we were limited, because in the area of critiquing the discriminatory laws discussions about "law" and "rights" had become a highly specialized domain and highly professional in nature. Criticizing in this area was inevitably limited to the positive and effective circle of a specific group of legal experts. It was no one's fault. Alright, in this specialized and narrow sphere, criticizing the laws could not be expanded and publicized across society. It looked like only the lawyers could step into this area. Hence, the laws were criticized and challenged by only a small portion of the society. The active organizations that opposed the laws were structured in a hierarchal or pyramid form, at the top of which, unavoidably, sat a lawyer.

      This hierarchal form existed in Iran through the history of women's legal struggles, since the legal battle of Mehranguiz Manuchehrian (about 50 years ago). This form dominated over all the legal movements and protests of women up until the launch of OMSC. In fact, half a century ago, at the time when Dr. Mehranguiz Manuchehrian was active, this pyramid form was considered a new, effective and successful form in women's legal battles. However, up until the launch of OMSC, the one-dimensional and old fashioned nature of this model became a barrier in public critique of the laws. In other words, since this model had cast a shadow over the public aspect of the women's legal movement, inadvertently it was preventing the challenge of the laws by the women's movement. Change was necessary to allow the movement to become a public and widespread one and to advance as a means for the broad mobilization and participation of women. The dominance of this structure over the social and civil struggles of women, despite its positive and lasting function, had not only restricted the fight for changing or reforming the law and legal rights into the hands of a few elite women, but its structural limitations did not allow the broad participation of the young generations both in terms of age and social privileges. The youth did not even show an interest in joining these small hierarchal structures and working with them. Fortunately, with the introduction of OMSC and utilizing the "Face-to-Face" method, as a result generalizing the protest against the laws across the general public, the dominance of this form of legal struggle was over and it became just one option beside other models. This success has freed the energy and potential of the women's movement and attracted the young generation to legal protests more than ever. It will also have a profound impact on critiquing and discarding the traditional beliefs of activists. It can convince many activists that if the laws are for all people, then all people should have the right to participate in overturning and reforming them. It will let the judgment of activists about the fairness or unfairness of these laws be voiced and heard by public opinion and by the authorities. It should be noted that a significant part of this victory is undoubtedly the result of the democratic and collective work and viewpoint of lawyers working in the Campaign (such as Shirin Ebadi, Mehranguiz Kaar...). In fact, it was due to their commitment and devotion to the demands of their country that women eventually broke the dominance of their expert merits in this process.

      CODIR: Within the open and plural relations that currently exist in Iran's women's movement, diverse political and ideological orientations coexist, the reflection of which is naturally observed in the Campaign. Ms. Ahmadi, does the Campaign engage in ideological encounters and challenges during its activities? Has this ever created problems for the Campaign and its activists?

      Noushin Ahmadi: This question is again one of those that may spark sensitivity. Answering questions of this nature is truly difficult for me. Yet, to speak of my own experience in order to answer your question, I have to say that in the past twenty years, we thought that generalizing and repeating clichéd terms in debates, such as laicism, secularism, socialism, humanism and suchlike, could free our social relations from the dominance of all kinds of "red lines" and violence, making it more moderate and institutionalized. However, an institutionalized society can only exercise and enjoy institutionalization through its objective relations in everyday life, not by repeating slogans that have now become stories of despair.

      Now we are witnessing that the young generation of the women's movement, relying on its real life experiences, has decided to distance itself from abstract debates. It seeks to consciously lift itself to the lively current of daily life, pay attention to pragmatic philosophy and put this course to test with self-esteem and full preparation. In fact, the young activists of women's movement, in the Campaign alliance and other alliances, having this tool (Face-to-Face approach), will knock on the people's doors in the cities and towns of their residence. They use any opportunity and chance they get, at the market and on the streets, in taxi and on the bus, in student dormitories, in residential buildings, and at any place in their daily life that they can, to have a dialogue with citizens and to get them involved in this breath-taking civil struggle. We have all experienced time after time that the core discussion and interaction of the activists with citizens is mainly free from any type of religious-ideological argument and largely hinges around expressing common pains and problems. In fact, instead of creating contradictory and challenging situations by engaging in ideological debates, and discussing whether "left" or "Islamic" or "nationalist" ideology" or even the "human rights" ideological argument could solve women's issues better, the women's movement has now promoted itself to engage in the challenges of resolving everyday problems of women. In other words, it has returned the women's movement to where it belongs in principle. Therefore, instead of taking shelter behind political and religious-ideological lines, it moves beyond those borders and cliches. It has also consciously changed its dialogue to common pain dialogue in the daily life of people. In this way, it has aimed for a profound - yet gradual - reform and openness in the cultural and social texture of the society.

      The common problems of Iranian women are tied to tangible matters of everyday life, the solutions of which are non-ideological and earthly. That is why discussion and the exchange of ideas with our citizens about the necessity to change and reform the discriminatory laws inevitably draws in the very context of life, the institutional nature of relations, and departs from over-the-top stories and perfectionist and absolutist discussions. Even the experience of some of the Campaign activists at the time they were arrested (when they debated with the police) shows that they, too, did not engage in religious-ideological challenges and discussions when confronted with the equity- and right-seeking detained activists. Rather, they mostly argue that collecting signatures and surveying people is a political venture and directed by the US. I would like to emphasize that even police officers and sergeants do not engage in ideological discussions although this does not apply of course to court sessions in which they bring up Sharia laws and Islamic principles. However, revolutionary court is not part of the daily life, but it is a place for the ideological debates by the holders of power.

      Security and intelligence authorities have repeatedly emphasized this point during the hearings that they have no problem with the demands of the Campaign. The clear meaning of this statement is that they do not see the demands of women to be in eternal contradiction with Islamic principles, or any of the official or unofficial religions. CODIR: So what is it that the security forces and the revolutionary court have a problem with in the Campaign activity and see it as a risk to national security? What is it in your activities that could be considered detrimental to the political system? This is when you, yourself, have on several occasions clearly stated that your activities are totally non-violent, non-political and within the framework of the laws of country.

      Noushin Ahmadi: Believe me, I have asked myself this question many times. If they are telling the truth and do not have any problem with the content and subject matter of the 100-year old demands of this movement, then to which part of this popular and self-developed movement are they opposed? What kind of contradiction and paradox this is that on one hand they are not opposed to our demands, but at the same time, suppress us, take us to court, incarcerate us, and create a thousand barriers in the way of our peaceful and legal activities. Recently they declared that membership of the Campaign is deemed illegal. What is the risk of collecting signatures from people, for presentation to the legislature, to the security of the country? What is it that makes it a criminal act?

      As one of the members of the OMSC, I have thought very much about this paradox and finally reached a not very certain" hypothesis. That is, that decision makers and the security services have a problem with the methods and strategy of this newborn movement, that is with the icon of this struggle: the Face-to-Face approach. Now, if we assume that this hypothesis is correct to some degree and generalize it cautiously, we may arrive at this conclusion. They may think that if this specific and non-violent approach is not prohibited and suppressed, it has the capacity to practically engage millions of Iranian citizens with the rightful demands of women and involve a large number of people in this cause for building the future.

      Imagine that if one day such broad involvement takes shape, what a powerful impact it would have on the whole democracy-seeking process in Iran. This collaboration is happening outside the circles of power and beyond the context of official ideologies. It engages with outsiders and with the voluntary participation of people. It will therefore have a colossal and multifaceted impact on the democratization of the cultural and social texture of society. In fact, this new approach (Face-to-Face) and the broad participation of people could help reduce existing boundaries in society. These boundaries, whether ideological, gender-related, ethnic, or religious...etc. are the main sources of violence in our country. Furthermore, this multifaceted impact will also lay the grounds for an understanding the objective and institutionalized logic of the development of society.

      CODIR: Among the many facets and areas of activities that you named, if we want to identify one main symbol for the Campaign's work, what would that symbol be?

      Noushin Ahmadi: You ask a very important question. In my opinion, if we want to highlight one facet of the Campaigns functions as a new symbol for struggle within Iran's women's movement, this symbol or icon of struggle is the approach that the women's movement in the Campaign has chosen in order to make changes in the real texture of everyday life of women. The symbol of struggle in the Campaign has even gone beyond the civil goals and its broad demands - i.e. equal rights and legal equity - and by relying on the Face-to-Face approach has now expanded its capacities. Almost all of the members and activists of the women's movement now admit that changing and reforming the legal system and all the discriminatory laws, are integral and strategic parts of the legal battle of the Campaign. At any step of the way, if any of these laws are changed by anyone or any power or faction in any context or with any motivation, it would certainly be welcomed, because the activists of the Campaign are not after gaining any personal or partisan benefits and do not intend to place themselves on one side of the table in the existing tensions between governments. Also, they do not wish to take any side in particular among the ruling factions. Therefore, any small change, regardless of who drives it and with what incentive, is indeed a gain for women. Albeit, the legal battle of women to change all the current unjust laws will continue steadily for years. The major and multifaceted effect of Face-to-Face approach should not be underrated, because undoubtedly the distinct characteristic of the Campaign compared to other activities is in fact this same new face-to-face approach and involvement of citizens in the Campaign. This is an approach or path that any small change or reform in laws knowingly made in its course, will inevitably change the balance of power in favor of women, as it is achieved with the practical involvement of the citizens themselves. In fact, the campaign intends to show, that with gradual and collective action of citizens, that gaining rights will never be achieved without direct involvement in one's destiny. The true essence of all change lies in determination for collective participation. Iranian women can characterize and have the right to define their human position and historic right through their direct and collective presence.

      It is not clear why this pivotal and clear point has been neglected by female activists who criticize the Campaign. Let me emphasize right here that the Campaign symbol goes even beyond echoing and repeating human rights a thousand times by the elite. The symbol of our struggle in the women's movement inside the country is to gain the rights and respect that is founded in the practical and active participation of women themselves. Yes, the symbol of the One Million Signature Campaign is not simply human rights for women and by the elite. It is important to gain human rights - even it is half-done - but with the presence and participation of the women themselves.

      CODIR: A significant portion of Iran's society still carries traditional beliefs. What effect has this characteristic of society had on the Campaign's work and what has been the approach of the Campaign in dealing with this matter?

      Noushin Ahmadi: Through practicing the democratic and multi-faceted Face-to-Face dialogue, the activists of the women's movement, and the youth in particular, have got a chance now to make the most of tradition in order to transform its essence. When they hand the educational booklets to diverse groups in society, along with traditional snacks and dishes (nuts and Aash or potage), this shows an innovative and smart use of traditions that for centuries have promoted fate for any change in the life of women. Nevertheless, the women's movement makes the most of these same traditions and purges them of any negative content and fate-related superstitions. It uplifts them to serve as a means to expand the boundaries of collective action.
      CODIR: With many thanks and wishing success for the Campaign and its tireless activists.

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      PRESS RELEASE: Release the 1st May detainees


      10th May 2009




      Human rights and trades union organisations across the globe are combining to call for the release from prison of participants in the May Day rally in Tehran this month.

      The May Day rally in Tehran, which was organized by independent Iranian labour organisations in Laleh Park in Tehran, was attacked by Iranian government security and intelligence forces. Many participants have been beaten and arrested. Some activists, who were not attending the event, were arrested from their homes and taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

      Some of the imprisoned are labour and social activists including Ms. Maryam Mohseni, Ms. Fatemeh Shahnazari, Ms. Laleh Mohammadi, Ms. Afsane Azim Zadeh and Messrs Behrouz Khabbaz, Jafar Azimzadeh, Fayeq Kayxosravi, Mansour Hayatqeybi, Gholamreza Khani, Saeed Youzi, Mehdi Farahani shandiz, Habib Sadeqi, Shahpour Ehsani-rad, Nikzad Zangeneh, Amir Yaghoubali, Masoud Loghmani, Kaveh Mozafari, Pouya Poushtareh and Taha Valizadeh who were arrested during the demonstration and Jelveh Javaheri, (an activist of the women's movement) who was arrested from her home.

      Every May Day thousands of workers, students and women gather in Tehran and other cities across Iran to protest against the authoritarian theocratic regime ruling the country. Since the early years of its rule the regime has done what it could to put an end to this tradition and stop May Day being marked as a celebration of international workers' solidarity. The authorities usually ban demonstrations and rallies organised by non- governmental trade unionists and workers organisations. Participants at May Day events in Iran regularly face arrest, torture and even the threat of execution for exercising a right that is regarded as basic in most other countries of the world.

      The arrests of the 1st May 2009 are the latest in a pattern of ongoing harassment by the Iranian government. The regime has sought to suppress the voices of many peace and trades union activists, resulting in prison sentences for Mansour Osanloo and the ongoing smear campaign against lawyer and peace activist Shirin Ebadi.

      CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the importance of putting pressure upon the Iranian government.

      "We are within a month of the presidential election in Iran", he said, "and the regime will be more sensitive than usual to pressure which can be applied form the outside world to highlight its record on human rights. In spite of the media clampdown in Iran information does reach the ordinary people. The action of the regime in arresting these activists is not popular but people feel powerless unless they see that there is wider support. That is why we are calling upon the international community to join us in demanding the release of all of those unjustly imprisoned on the 1st May and the release of all other peace and trades union leaders imprisoned in Iran."

      CODIR are calling for individuals and organisations to send messages demanding the release of political prisoners in Iran to the Iranian consulate in London: -

      Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
      16 Prince's Gate
      London SW7 1PT

      Tel: 00442072253000...
      consulate@iran-embassy.org.uk
      ENDS








      Further information for Editors

      CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights. It has been established since 1981 and consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      CODIR has worked closely with the trades union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran's prisons.

      CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.
      In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and other peace movements internationally and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.

      Postal Address:
      B.M.CODIR
      London
      WC1N 3XX
      UK
      Website: www.codir.net
      E-mail: codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Organised Labour Challenges Theocratic State


      14th April 2009
      With less than two months to go before the presidential elections in Iran, labour unrest may yet be a factor determining the outcome. Jane Green, in her latest article assessing the build up to the June poll, highlights the ongoing struggle of the workers of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company.




      The news that workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company were forced once again to resort to industrial action this month will come as little surprise to those familiar with the pattern of industrial relations in Iran.

      The company is based in the South Western province of Khuzistan, near the city of Shush, and has been a major employer in the area for nearly 50 years. The present unrest began over a year ago when workers protested in May 2008 at the lack of pay for the previous two months. In a statement issued on 1st May 2008, the workers at the company outlined a list of demands to safeguard production and maximise job security. These included opposition to privatisation; payment of wages on time; halting the sale of agricultural land to private companies; and giving full contracts to temporary workers.

      Tension has been mounting in the industry due to the increased level of sugar imports allowed by the Iranian government over a two year period. Normal import levels of sugar for Iran are around 700,000 tons to top up domestic production of 1.9m tons. However, over an 18 month period, 3m tons of sugar has been imported, 1m tons of which was imported by the government's own trading organisation which has responsibility for market regulation.

      In addition, the government decision to cut back raw sugar export tariffs from 130% to nil has further fuelled the import bonanza and crushed domestic production. Most sugar refining factories have their whole annual yield stocked. Farmers have had to cut cultivation of sugar beet and cane by 30%, while an estimated 200,000 workers across the sector have not been paid for months.

      With the presidential election looming it is not difficult to see how the question of industrial unrest and the associated collapse in living standards may yet be a vital factor in the campaign.

      Following a two week long strike in October 2008 the workers at Haft Tapeh formed an independent trades union and were immediately successful in securing back pay for workers. The present dispute has arisen due to a combination of factors. Lack of pay for the last two months has once again forced workers to take action. Also, on 8th March 2009, the 7 Tapeh workers' trades union president, Ali Nejati, was arrested along with seven members of the union's executive. While the Company have said that they will consider the question of back pay and the union's other demands, Nejati and other union members remain imprisoned.

      Latest reports suggest that Nejati has been detained by the Intelligence Ministry, in the city of Ahwaz, and is being charged with "activity against national security" as a result of his trades union activity. Such action is consistent with the approach of the Islamic Republic to trades union action. Two of the leaders of the Tehran Public Transportation Workers Union, Mansour Osanlou and Ebrahim Madadi, have recently begun prison sentences for "taking action against national security." It is not surprising that organisations expressing support for the Haft Tapeh workers have included the Tehran transport workers as well as workers at Iran Khodro, Iran's largest car maker.

      Such solidarity, along with any trades union action in Iran, must be seen in the context of the state's fierce opposition to independent trades union activity and the active promotion of tame company unions to fake compliance with International Labour Organisation conventions. However, the growing number of trades unions forming in Iran, and subsequently taking action, suggests that the government strategy is not succeeding.

      It is in recognition of this growing momentum inside Iran that CODIR renews its call for international solidarity with the workers at Haft Tapeh and demands an end to the imprisonment of Ali Nejati and members of the union's executive board.

      Consistent with its position over many years, in defence of the rights of the Iranian people, CODIR further condemns the attacks of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran upon all independent labour organisations and demands the release of all imprisoned trades union activists.

      Jane Green is CODIR's national campaign organizer. For further information on Iran and/ or solidarity with the struggle for peace, democracy and human rights in Iran please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Campaigning for gender equality in Iran!


      6 March 2009
      On the occasion on International Women's Day on the 8th March, Jane Green considers the current plight of Iranian women and the attempts to recover their contribution to the history of Iran.




      During the past 100 years, Iranian women have overcome many obstacles imposed on them by various governments and restrictive traditions. The recently published Iranian Women's Calendar provides a glimpse into the hidden history of Iranian women, a history that has not only remained unfamiliar throughout the world, but one that has yet to receive its due attention in Iran.

      It has not yet been a hundred years since the establishment of the first all-girls school in Iran. The women who participated in founding such schools and contributed to women's education are honoured in this calendar. Those women who committed their energies to publishing women's writings and to founding the first women's organisations are accorded a place in the calendar. The calendar introduces and celebrates those women who have broken new ground in their intellectual and professional lives. They are writers, poets, journalists, activists, and women who dared to make their way into exclusively male arenas. It is hoped that this calendar, in giving exposure to women's activities, will contribute to them being given their rightful place in history.

      One of the most recent contributions made by the Women's Movement in Iran has been the One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws' campaign which began in 2006 and was awarded the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom in January 2009. The prize was founded in 2008 to help mobilise international solidarity, reaffirm women's rights, guarantee the protection of those who risk of their lives to defend the ideas of equality and peace.

      The aims of the One Million Signatures campaign have been to address key areas of discrimination in the Islamic Republic. As the campaign organisers state, "Iranian law considers women to be second class citizens and promotes discrimination against them. It is noteworthy that legal discrimination of this type is being enforced in a society where women comprise over 60% of those being admitted to university. It is generally believed that laws should promote social moderation by being one step ahead of cultural norms. But in Iran the law lags behind cultural norms and women's social position and status."

      The One Million Signatures Campaign started with a peaceful demonstration on 12 June 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran. The break-up of this demonstration by authorities signaled the beginning of a new phase of the systematic repression of women's rights activists.

      While the group leading the campaign seeks to work within the existing system and regulations, and insists it is in no way a group in direct opposition to the government, it has met with serious repression from the authorities.

      Peaceful demonstrators have been arrested, detained and persecuted with prison sentences having been imposed on many of them. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to harass and intimidate women's rights activists involved in the campaign and prevent them from traveling.

      As well as the existing discriminatory laws the campaign is having to direct its energies towards the prevention of more regressive legislation from the current regime. For example, campaigners thought they had scored a victory last year when the notorious article 23, which would have permitted polygamy in Iran, was withdrawn from the so-called 'family protection' bill. However the Majlis (Parliament) is now considering reinserting the article back into the bill. In a less visible but equally important move the government is also seeking to change the wording of the marriage contract in Iran to further disadvantage women. Current marriage contracts contain a clause about alimony, in which a man guarantees to pay a certain amount of money to his wife. At present women can invoke this clause any time at will and the husband is under a legal obligation to pay the alimony.

      This provision assumes significance in the context of Iranian divorce law. In Iran, the right of divorce belongs to the husband. A divorce can only be granted at a wife's request under exceptional circumstances such an exceptional cruelty or mental illness on the part of the husband. The demand for alimony is therefore a tool that women can deploy in order to be freed from an unhappy marriage, the wife demanding that the husband agrees to a divorce in return for her foregoing her alimony demand.

      The new term in the marriage contract however says that payment can be made "whenever the husband is capable" of making the payment as opposed to the previous "whenever the wife demands it" wording. Clearly such a change consolidates the balance of power in favour of men in the wedding contract and reinforces discrimination against women.

      These examples are only a small part of the structure in place in the Islamic Republic aimed at preventing the full participation of women in civic society and the establishment of equal rights in law.

      On the occasion of International Women's Day CODIR re-affirms its support for the Women's Movement in Iran and urges the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to abide by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, and respect the rights of women's rights activists to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and to freedom of opinion and expression.

      Jane Green is CODIR's national campaign organizer.

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      IRANIAN TEACHER UNDER SENTENCE OF DEATH


      20 January 2009
      by Linda Sherwood of Iran Today editorial Board




      When representatives of Iranian teaching unions gathered in Tehran to discuss how best to celebrate World Teachers' Day (5 October , they were greeted by intelligence agents who refused them access to the buildingand illegally detained them in police stations around the city. 22 teachers were released after 16 hours in custody: others were detained longer and several were beaten.

      Despite protests from teaching unions around the world, the Ministry of the Interior has upheld its ban on teacher trade union activities. The authorities continue to hound teachers and the most urgent and disturbing case is that of 32-year old Farzad Kamangar who, on 25 February 2008, was sentenced to death for "endangering national security" following a sham trial lasting only a matter of minutes, in the Tehran Revolutionary Court. Farzad appeared before a single judge and was not allowed to speak in his own defence. The initial investigation had found no evidence against him and his lawyer has said "Nothing in Kamangar's judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.".

      Two other men Ali Heydariyan et Farhad Vakili , allegedly members of the PKK, were also sentenced to death. As they had been given 10 year jail sentences for falsifying documents they must serve the time in prison before being executed.

      Farzad, a Kurd had worked for 12 years as a teacher in Kamyaran. He was a member of the Kurdish Teachers' Trade Association and was its public relations officer until it was outlawed. He was also actively defended human rights, minority rights and women's rights.

      Farzad was also charged with "enmity against God". His lawyer has protested that the trial did not meet the minimum legal requirements and there is no evidence against him. He has been held in a number of locations - Sanandaj in Kurdistan, Kerminshah, Evin Prison and Rajaishahr Prison in Karaj.

      It was thought that he would be hanged on 26 November 2008 when he was taken from his cell in Evin prison. Prison officers are said to have told him he would be executed and made fun of him calling him a martyr.

      Farzad is known to have been tortured regularly and there are fears for his health as when he was last seen in the clinic of Evin prison in December it was obvious that he was not in good health. He had low blood pressure and severe pain due to chin inflammation yet he was refused medical treatment. He is kept in a cell of 6 square metres with 7 other prisoners: although visits from his lawyer or his family had been banned it seems he is now allwed family visits but only in the presence of his interrogators. The threat of the death penalty continues to lie over him.

      Farzad Kamangar is just one of the thousands of trades unionists currently imprisoned in Iran. He is one of thousands of Kurds persecuted by the Iranian government. He is one of thousands of teachers who are harrassed by the authorities because they want to pursue their profession of informing and educating in defiance of the Islamic regime which would rather the people remained ignorant of their rights.

      Farzad's case had been taken up by Education International and Amnesty International. You can help by writing to President Ahmadinejad to protest against the injustice of the death penalty and request a review of his case.

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      CODIR calls upon all democrats to defend Shirin Ebadi


      5th January 2009
      The ongoing campaign of intimidation and persecution of peace and human rights activists by the state in Iran shows no sign of letting up, if recent events are anything to go by.




      The New Year in Iran has started where the old one left off for Nobel Peace prize laureate and human rights lawyer, Shirin Ebadi. Five government agents, posing as tax agents, raided Ms. Ebadi's offices earlier this week. This follows last week's raid upon the offices of the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, when a gathering to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was disrupted and the offices were closed down.

      The harassment of Ms Ebadi is part of an ongoing campaign by the Iranian regime in an attempt to discredit the Nobel laureate and undermine the campaigns for peace and human rights in Iran with which she is associated. In recent days groups of pro- regime zealots have gathered in front of Ms. Ebadi's house, writing slogans against her on the walls, accusing her of being a US agent. The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued last week, condemned this intimidation. Ms. Ebadi fears that the Iranian regime is trying to force her to leave Iran but she is adamant that she has no intention of doing so.

      The violation of Ms. Ebadi's office by the state raises serious questions about the confidentiality of client files and the basic functioning of the justice system in Iran. The reported transfer of tax records to the Tehran tax bureau appears to be little more than a further attempt by the regime to smear Ms. Ebadi.

      It can be no coincidence that the latest events occur when the publication of the latest report on human rights in Iran, by the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, is imminent. The fact that such reports have had an impact at the United Nations, helping to support resolutions against the violation of human rights in Iran, is significant.

      CODIR has actively supported the emerging peace movement in Iran; consistently opposed human rights violations; supported the activities of the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights; and condemned the ongoing harassment of human rights activists in general and Ms. Shirin Ebadi in particular.

      CODIR:-

    4. Condemns the ongoing harassment of the peace movement and human rights organisations by the Iranian government;
    5. Calls for the freedom of such movements to express their views to be acknowledged and permitted by the Iranian government without fear of intimidation;
    6. Calls for an end to the harassment of Shirin Ebadi and the dropping of all unsubstantiated allegations against her;
    7. Calls for peace, political party and trades union organisations in Britain to write to the Iranian Embassy expressing concern about the current violations of human rights in Iran in general and the treatment of Shirin Ebadi in particular.

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      In Defence of Human Rights in Iran - On the occasion of 10th December 2008


      10th December 2008
      "The campaign reminds us that in a world still reeling from the horrors of the Second World War, the declaration was the first global statement of what we now take for granted - the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings."

      Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

      The launch of Human Rights year in December 2007 by Ban Ki-moon was the beginning of a high profile international campaign to highlight the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which falls on the 10th December 2008. While the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory to the Declaration, the reality of life in Iran suggests that the Islamic Republic is merely paying lip service to its obligations rather than taking them seriously. Jamshid Ahmadi reports for CODIR.





      The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains thirty articles covering a wide range of issues designed to be "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", opening with the famous first sentence of Article 1,

      "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

      It would be easier to try and identify the few articles with which the Islamic Republic of Iran comes close to complying rather then enumerating those many articles it breeches. Nevertheless, a few examples serve to illustrate the gap between the aspirations of the UN Declaration and the reality of life in Iran.

      Article 19 of the Declaration reads as follows:-

      "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."

      Even a cursory knowledge of the recent range of press restrictions and crackdowns in relation to freedom of speech give the lie to the Islamic Republic putting this article into practice. The inability of reformist candidates to gain airtime in elections and the wholesale closure of press outlets critical to the government has been an ongoing characteristic of life in Iran under President Ahmadinejad.

      Only last month further press restrictions were initiated. The Cabinet issued a directive to government departments announcing new measures to centralise the dissemination of information. In addition the "content and style" of any interviews given to the media must conform to guidelines established by the information council. In effect, any direct access to government officials has been denied and journalists must rely on official reports and government approved interviews.

      The right to freedom of opinion and expression is further undermined by the increasing filtering i.e. blocking of websites which are deemed to contain "immoral and anti-social content." The legal advisor to the country's attorney-general announced recently that a further 5 million websites had been 'filtered', a move described as a "precautionary measure" by the regime. According to the official news agency IRNA, the government regard websites as more dangerous than satellite channels and reported the call from some quarters for the creation of a "cyber police".

      Article 23 (2) of the UN Declaration states,

      "Everyone without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work."

      while Article 23 (4) of the Declaration states clearly that,

      "Everyone has the right to form and join trades unions for the protection of his interests."

      To say that both of these articles are more honoured in the breech than in the observance in Iran is a massive understatement.

      Sex discrimination is endemic in the Islamic Republic, from the inequality in pay for women; their status as possessions of men under the law; to the restrictions on women's dress which are regularly enforced. In one day alone in April 2007 the police force in Tehran arrested 117 women in an "operation to boost public security with an emphasis upon moral values." Files are held on women deemed to be inappropriately dressed and subsequent arrest can lead to prosecution and prison.

      While women constitute the bulk of attendees at institutions of higher education, with 65% of registered students, the Iranian parliament last year passed legislation to enact stricter rules for admitting women to universities.

      The situation for trades unionists in Iran is no better. Prominent trades union leader Mansour Osanloo has been imprisoned for nearly two years for his role in standing up for the rights of his colleagues in the Tehran Bus Company. The arbitrary arrest and intimidation of activists remains commonplace in the Islamic Republic.

      Article 9 of the UN Declaration states that,

      "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."

      A flavour of the reality of life in Iran is given by the recent quarterly report of the Centre of Defenders of Human Rights in Iran. To quote from the report,

      "Among dissident political-social activists, at least 9 were summoned to courts, 75 were ?arrested, and 22 had received jail sentences. Among writers and journalists, at least 2 had ?been summoned to courts, 7 had been sentenced, 16 had been tried, 2 publications were ?banned, and 1 website had been filtered (i.e. denied access). Regarding student activities, ?there were at least 50 cases of summons to courts or university disciplinary committees, 4 ?students had been arrested, and 2 students had been barred from continuing their higher ?education. Regarding women's movement activists, 4 individuals had received prison ?sentences. Regarding the death punishment and flogging, 41 adults, 4 adolescents under ??18 years of age were hanged while the flogging sentence of 6 individuals was carried out ?in public.?"

      On the 60th Anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights it is clear that our efforts to expose the violations of basic human dignities in the Islamic Republic of Iran must be redoubled. Freedoms taken for granted in other parts of the world continue to be routinely abused in Iran. The repression must stop; democracy and freedom for the people of Iran must remain our goal.

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      Ahmadinejad leads Iran into the darkness


      18th November 2008
      With economic crisis gripping the capitalist world some in the ruling elite in Iran are taking the opportunity to highlight the benefits of the system in the Islamic Republic. But do such claims stand up to scrutiny? Jane Green investigates.




      Major cities across Iran, the country with the world's third largest oil reserves, spend two hour blocks in complete darkness, depending upon their place in the recently published 'blackout timetables'. In Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan, life regularly comes to a halt, quite literally as traffic light systems cease to function and hospitals lose power.

      The impact of President Ahmadinejad's economic policies upon the poor across Iran is all too evident. With official unemployment at 10% and inflation at 30% making ends meet is a daily struggle in the country's rural areas as well as the inner cities. The spectre of a five fold increase in electricity prices led to the removal of deputy energy minister Mohammed Ahmadian recently but has done little to address the issue of blackouts.

      The danger for the ruling clerics, still largely backing Ahmadinejad for a second term in next June's presidential elections, is that discontent is now spreading to the relatively articulate middle classes. At a recent Persian music recital in Tehran, featuring renowned world music star Houmayoun Shajarian, the lights went out. Thousands of people clapped in the darkness, singing the pre-revolution national anthem. The star's equally famous father, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, took to the stage to denounce the government. Such open displays of dissent are not characteristic of civic life in the Islamic Republic.

      The electricity crisis follows on from winter power cuts in which the National Iranian Gas Company warned that consumption needed to be moderated or further cuts would follow. While the electricity crisis is having its impact upon the domestic and cultural life of the country it is also hitting the economic sector. Without air conditioning many offices cannot function effectively and manufacturing, already swamped by cheap Chinese imports, is virtually at a standstill.

      The degeneration of life in Iran was characterised by the Daily Telegraph recently, in a feature by Colin Freeman, looking at life in Ahmadinejad's home village of Aradan. The president's pledges of jobs and higher living standards are not in evidence. However, opium, heroin and other narcotics are readily available prompting one resident to observe that "people are turning to drugs because there is nothing else for them." The drug problem is estimated to affect 60% of the population of Aradan and an estimated two million of Iran's 70 million population.

      In the face of such realities Ahmadinejad is content to declare the current international economic crisis as "the end of capitalism", while predicting that it may be time for Iran to lead the world on the question of economics. However, the fact that Tehran's stock market has been less affected by the current crisis is due to the fact that foreigners no longer invest there. In addition any Iranians with savings have long since ensured their 'safety' in Dubai rather than investing in Iran. The current drop in oil prices from $150 a barrel to $60 at present will further deplete government income.

      To add to Ahmadinejad's economic difficulties the president was forced to back off from the imposition of a 3% sales tax on what he saw as 'luxury goods'. This move hit at the heart of Tehran's middle class merchants trading in carpets, gold and jewellery, resulting in an unprecedented strike last month. Akhava Fathi, one of the affected gold dealers, was quoted as saying,

      "The situation has got really bad under Mr Ahmadinejad. Inflation is unbearable, and we are seeing fewer and fewer customers buying jewellery, and more coming in to sell it because they are hard-up or have lost their jobs."

      The fact that Ahmadinejad backed down and the tax was withdrawn is an indication of the power of the merchants. While not the most progressive section of Iranian society they nevertheless occupy a pivotal position, as the late Shah found to his cost, when the power of the merchants helped to tip the balance against him before the 1979 revolution.

      As the momentum builds towards the 2009 poll the president looks increasingly isolated. His promises to the poor have been exposed as hollow. Oil revenues have been squandered resulting in an energy crisis. The liberal press, universities, trades union and women have long been isolated by the present government. Internationally, Iran has been subject to UN sanctions and taken to the brink of military confrontation. The case for change is compelling. `

      Jane Green is the National Campaign Officer of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights.

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      Candidates jostle for position as election looms


      30th October 2008
      With only eight months to go before the June 2009 presidential election in Iran both the conservatives and reformists have yet to finalise their candidates. Jane Green, as part of her series of articles analysing the build up to voting day, considers the potential runners.




      Speculation about the candidacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for an attempt at a second term in office has been fuelled recently with reports that the president is ill. Following recent cancellations of speeches and Cabinet meetings the Tehran rumour mill has been rife with comment. Ahmadinejad's appearance at a religious ceremony recently, allegedly looking tired, did little to dampen speculation about his health.

      Rumours have been running at such a pitch that Ahmadinejad was compelled to pronounce on state television "We are human, like all others, and catch colds. No, I am not ill."

      For some this was merely evidence that the president 'doth protest too much', especially as his close colleague and MP, Mohammed Ismail Kowsari, had recently been quoted as saying,

      "The president will eventually get well and continue his job. Every human being can face exhaustion under such a workload."

      Whether real or imagined, the debate around Ahmadinejad's 'illness' has opened up discussion on the right around potential presidential candidates. Every president since the 1979 revolution, with the exception of the first incumbent, Abolhassom Banisadr, has been re-elected for a second term. Until recently Ahmadinejad could have reasonably assumed that his candidacy, if not his re-election, was safe.

      However, the speed with which his illness has been pounced upon suggests that the president's position is not so secure. Even the right have been shaken by the president's failure to deliver on key campaign promises. Official unemployment is now at 10%. Inflation currently stands at 30%. This does not make for a record which is easily defended especially with oil revenues at record highs. Ordinary Iranians see no benefit and poverty is on the increase.

      On the international front Ahmadinejad's maverick international policy, based upon brinkmanship rather than diplomacy, has brought three lots of UN sanctions against Iran. In addition the threat of intervention by the US or its Middle East proxy Israel cannot yet be ruled out. Recent US action in Syria underlines once again that, for the US, the international rule of law largely means compliance with its wishes.

      Even the usually compliant Iranian media have been reporting a downturn in the president's popularity recently. According to a survey conducted by the Majlis (Parliament) Strategic Research Centre, the president's popularity ratings are the lowest since his election in 2005. The survey, based upon 40,000 respondents from across the social spectrum in Iran found 83% of respondents stating that they would not vote again for Ahmadinejad. Conversely, a staggering 70% stated that they would vote for former president Seyyed Mohammed Khatami if he runs in the elections.

      Potential alternative candidates from the right have been openly discussed in Iranian political circles. These include Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Majlis (Parliamenr); Mr. Qalibaf, the Mayor of Tehran; former Interior Minister, Mr. Pourmohammadi; and Labour Minister Mr. Jahromi.

      Such division on the right would appear to be good news for the reformists in Iran. However, although there is an upsurge of support for Khatami at this early stage there remain conflicting views in the reformist camp. There is certainly a strong view that Khatami is the candidate most likely to defeat the right. Ali Mazroui, president of the Iranian Association of Journalists and central committee member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, expressed confidence in the prospect of a united reformist candidate recently, giving tacit backing to Khatami, stating,

      "In the light of conditions and necessities present in society the only person that can compete with Mr. Ahmadinejad and defeat him is Mr. Khatami."

      However, some concern has been expressed that the lack of media outlets for the expression of reformist views will hinder Khatami or any other reformist candidate. Morteza Kazemian, in a recent review of the Iranian press for Rooz, concluded that the internet may be the only guaranteed vehicle for the reformist message. Given the relative lack of access to this medium in Iran this may not prove to be enough.

      The situation for the reformists is further complicated by the fact that other candidates have also thrown their hats into the ring. The Etemad Melli Party have nominated Mehdi Karoubi, while Hassan Rohani, closely associated with the Servants of Construction Party is also a potential contender. This is despite strong evidence that the only candidate able to mobilise popular backing is the former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami.

      At present such diversity can still be presented as healthy debate amongst the reformist camp. The time will soon come however when unity around a single reformist candidate will be essential if Iran and its people are to be saved from four more years of religious fundamentalism and economic collapse.

      Jane Green is the National Campaign Officer of CODIR, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights.

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      Ahmadinejad - telling tall tales while losing the plot


      7th August 2008
      Continuing her series of articles analysing the situation in Iran, in the build up to the 2009 presidential elections, Jane Green considers the latest musings of the Iranian president and the real state of the economy in Iran.




      As Iran struggles to win the confidence of the West to head off a military attack, the ordinary people of the country struggle daily with rising prices and growing unemployment. It can only be with a sense of profound amazement that the Iranian people greeted the recent pronouncements of their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

      In two days at the end of July Ahmadinejad turned reality on its head. In a meeting with senior economics officials from the private sector, to discuss the proposed economic reform package, the president boldly claimed, "We can quickly rank first in the world economy." Echoing the Khomenei inspired mantra that 'economics is for donkeys', Ahmadinejad went on to accuse previous administrations of "obsessing too much with expertise" in their consideration of economic planning.

      Claiming, nonetheless, that experts and economics activists agreed with the regime's economic strategy, Ahmadinejad went on to proclaim, "We have to, hand in hand, place our dear Iran on top of the world."

      Clearly Ahmadinejad and his advisers had not been informed of the latest public opinion poll published by internet news site NoAndish. Although not claiming to be 'experts' the Iranian people are nevertheless the victims of the regime's actions. When asked about the new economic reform package 71% said they 'do not consider the plan beneficial to the public.'

      The most telling symbol of Iran's economic failure is the situation regarding gasoline. Three years ago the oil minister boasted that Iran would be moving towards self-sufficiency in domestic gasoline needs. However, in the middle of June a supplementary budget was presented to the Iranian parliament requesting $7.5 bn to import gasoline and diesel; the budget for the current fiscal year stands at $3.5bn.

      Ironically, in a country which is OPEC's second biggest oil producer, the justification for the request for additional funds is the growing price of oil on the international market. The reason so much gasoline is imported is the weak refining capacity in Iran. Essential investment in refining which could move the oil rich nation towards self-sufficiency in its gasoline needs has not been forthcoming.

      Ahmadinejad may be under the illusion that he is leading the country but it is clearly some time since he looked over his shoulder. Should he do so he may find that many of his compatriots are a long way behind him. However, the president's detachment from reality does not end in the realm of domestic politics.

      Speaking to a group of clerics in Kahgiloie va Bovir about his trip to New York last year, Ahmadinejad pronounced that, "The world is with us." More amazingly still, the president claimed that one of the US presidential candidates had told him, "Your words have resonance here". It is possible to believe a great deal of US presidential candidates, but to suggest that any, in the present political climate, would give Ahmadinejad such an endorsement is stretching credulity to its limits.

      In the build up to the 2009 elections Ahmadinejad wants to present himself as an international statesman capable of playing a leading part on the world stage. Ironically of course Ahmadinejad's words do often resonate. His claim to be on a "global mission "has an uncanny resonance with the simplistic jargon of the "war on terror" and the characterisation of states as being part of an "axis of evil". These are resonances that the world can do without and that the people of both the US and Iran, in their respective elections, would no doubt be relieved to be freed from.

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      Defend Shirin Ebadi!


      CODIR calls upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to guarantee the safety of Shirin Ebadi.




      Concern for the life of Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi has been expressed in the strongest terms recently by the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and the Iran based Centre for the Defence of Human Rights.

      The source of these concerns is the recent accusation aired by Iran's official news agency (IRNA) that Ms. Ebadi and her daughter have joined the Bahai religious sect. The significance of such an accusation is that the Bahai sect has been denounced by the Iranian state. To suggest that Ms. Ebadi has an association with the Bahai implies that she is consorting with 'enemies of the state' and therefore likely to be subject to the treatment characteristically meted out by the Iranian regime to those who oppose it.

      The source of the accusation appears to be a tenuous connection relating to Ms. Ebadi's daughter who is a student at Canada's McGill University. IRNA's claim is that because Payam Akhavan is a faculty member of the law school at McGill, Ms. Ebadi's daughter must have converted to Bahaism. The article also accuses the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights of being affiliated to Bahaism. The centre and Ms. Ebadi will be taking legal action against IRNA for slander and defamation.

      However, reliance upon the Iranian judiciary can be no guarantee for the safety of Ms. Ebadi. According to Article 226 of the Islamic Penal Code:-

      "Murder of any person is subject to 'Ghesas' (retaliated punishment) only if the victim did not deserve death based on the Sharia, and if the victim deserved death the murderer must prove that in court, according to set criteria."

      According to this standard a Muslim's conversion to Bahaism is enough to make them deserve death. The danger to Ms. Ebadi is reinforced by Article 295 of the Islamic Penal Code which allows for murder on suspicion that a person is deserving of death.

      This context underlines the danger to Ms Ebadi and the provocative nature of the IRNA story. By implying that Ms. Ebadi's death is not only necessary but would go unpunished, IRNA is clearly attempting to frighten the Nobel Prize winner into abandoning her human rights work or even leaving the country.

      Since winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 Shirin Ebadi's profile has been high within Iran. As the key public figure in the recently established National Peace Council Ms. Ebadi has been a prominent voice in denouncing a prospective US/Israeli attack on Iran. Clearly such a position is one with which the regime cannot disagree and does not provide a basis from which the regime can openly criticise Ms. Ebadi.

      The IRNA accusations are little more than an attempt by the government of the Islamic Republic to discredit Ms. Ebadi, and by implication the National Peace Council, by alternative means.

      CODIR calls upon all forces campaigning for peace and democracy in Iran to denounce the false accusations of IRNA and to demand that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran guarantee the safety of Shirin Ebadi.

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      Corruption allegations "chipping away at regime's foundations"


      Recent corruption allegations in Iran have exposed the extent of the rift within the conservative factions running the Islamic Republic. Jane Green considers the current corruption debate in Iran and its possible consequences.




      It is perhaps not surprising that a regime which is politically corrupt, due to having been elected as a consequence of violence and intimidation, should find itself mired in a debate about personal corruption and sleaze. While the democratic legitimacy of the Ahmadinejad administration has always been in doubt the fig leaf of moral legitimacy which the clerics have attempted to claim is now being stripped away.

      The current debate has been sparked by the arrest of Abbas Palizdar, a member of the Iranian parliament's (Majlis) Investigative Committee, for disclosing evidence of economic corruption within the judiciary. However, it is interesting to note both the allegations made by Palizdar, significant in themselves, but also to consider his motivation behind making such allegations.

      The most prominent examples of corruption Palizdar has cited include the unlawful takeover of four large mines by a high ranking cleric in the Guardians Council, entrusted with vetting candidates to the Majlis, the presidency and the Experts Assembly on Leadership; In short, ensuring that candidates for office are free from 'economic corruption'. A further example is the seizure of a company with a market value of $600m, by a former head of Iran's judiciary, who paid a mere $10m to control the enterprise before selling it on at the market price.

      While such allegations are indeed revealing there is a strong suspicion inside Iran that the motivation behind them is, in itself, suspect. Former Majlis representative, Akbar Alami, suggested recently that Palizdar's accusations are made "with the motive of supporting Ahmadinejad". This view is echoed by Hossein Bastani, writing in the journal Rooz, who suggests that "in this expose whenever it is time to see details about the key allies of the president, the revelations end and so either names are not mentioned or details are not provided."

      This sense that Palizdar's 'revelations' are largely aimed at eliminating opponents is gaining ground in Iran and, in Alami's words "is chipping away at the regime's foundations, like termites."

      The inter-factional nature of the corruption debate was emphasised with the intervention of the right wing daily Keyhan, widely regarded as the mouthpiece of the clerics within the Iranian regime. In a vitriolic editorial editor-in -chief Hossein Shariatmadari all but accused Palizdar of being an enemy agent, suggesting he was part of a "four member gang" which included Majlis representative Fatemah Ajorlu. Further allegations by Shariatmadari included the suggestion that the alleged "gang" had "stolen and hidden military documents including military purchases, maps of garrisons.." and that "present evidence shows that the issue at hand is not normal and the possibility that hidden and uncovered hands played a role in its planning and development is strong."

      The in fighting in the regime at such a high level is a clear indication of its weakness and lack of direction. Such disarray is further compounded by the economic crisis into which Iran has been plunged by the high school approach to economics employed by the administration. In spite of record level oil revenues the regime has failed to take strategic advantage of this boon and has merely flooded the economy with money, thus boosting inflation and pushing up prices.

      Tragically for the ordinary people of Iran, it may be that things will get worse before they get better, as the current factional infighting is unlikely to cease before the presidential elections in 2009. The importance of showing solidarity with the movements for peace and democracy inside Iran, struggling to support the Iranian people, is more vital now that ever.

      Jane Green is the national campaign officer of CODIR- Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights.

      For more information please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      Iran at the Crossroad


      While the world focuses upon the misdemeanours of Robert Mugabe and the prospect of a gerrymandered presidential election at the end of June, little attention has been paid to the outcomes of recent parliamentary elections in Iran and their consequences for the Iranian people. Jane Green assesses the fallout from the recent Parliamentary elections and looks ahead to the presidential contest in 2009 in Iran.




      Reformists, critical of the recent parliamentary elections in Iran, have condemned the process as one in which "only 10% of the people believe in the integrity of the election results." Majid Ansari, a former deputy to president Khatami and a cleric associated with the reformist camp in Iran, went on to say that "warning bells have been struck" with regard to the credibility of the electoral process in Iran.

      Citing his own situation to demonstrate electoral irregularity Ansari revealed that, based on information provided by the Interior Ministry, he (the reformists' main candidate) was given zero votes in 140 ballot boxes. This in itself would be strange but one of the boxes was from the district where Ansari's own family members were known to have voted for him. In Islamshar, where Ansari had a strong body of support, zero votes were counted for him in the entire city!

      Ansari has accused the regime of ensuring such outcomes by removing Interior Minister Pour-Mohammedi during the course of the elections. Ansari speculates that the Minister was not willing to comply with such flagrant breaches of the electoral process, hence his unprecedented departure.

      Such criticisms are also evident in the critique of the social and economic situation which is being developed by opposition sources in Iran. The largest reformist political party, the Participation Front, suggests that economically the country has reached the critical point and in a recent statement suggests that one must "seriously be concerned about the country's economic condition and people's livelihoods in the present year."

      The economic warning was issued shortly after the Central Bank had hesitated to issue the monthly inflation figures in May. Nevertheless the conservative Tabnak website reported inflation rates of 30%, breaking the monthly record for the past 12 years. Those hardest hit by such stark economic realities are the poor, those in rural areas, young people and women. In short, the most vulnerable groups in Iranian society, those who Ahmadinejad claimed to represent.

      Reformists point to the present crisis as being rooted in the regime's policies of allowing uncontrolled imports, tying the economy too closely to oil revenues at the expense of other exports and protecting the mega-profits of a few at the expense of the many. The present situation will be further exacerbated, according to the opposition, by the over-estimation of oil revenues, described as "fairy tale" at over $200 billion per annum, and the consequent inability of the regime to exercise control over inflation.

      While the economy is showing clear signs of collapse the social policies of the regime continue to demonstrate a tendency towards medievalism. As successive Parliaments have restricted the intake of reformist candidates social legislation has become increasingly conservative in character. The recent parliament, for example, reversing hard won gains of the Khatami period, introduced the family support and the penal law bills. These have been described by Abdolkarim Lahiji, Vice-President of the International Federation of Human Rights, as "the worst bills that can be suggested in a country in the opening years of the 21st century." The family support bill was not passed in the last Parliament due to the concerted extra-parliamentary action of women's groups and organisations.

      However, the new Parliament is considering a revised bill which will permit multiple wives and 'temporary marriages'. Similarly, in a new penal code bill there is a proposal to prescribe the death penalty for heresy. This would add to existing punishments such as lashings and amputation of body parts allowed for in the existing penal code.

      Such schisms in the social and economic fabric of Iranian society are echoed in the splits within the ruling elite itself. Ayotollah Khamenei has recently criticised a speech made by president Ahmadinejad in the city of Qom, in which the president made accusations against other state officials. The ayotollah regarded this as "hurting the credibility of the state." Given the uncritical support that Ahmadinejad has enjoyed from the clergy up to this point such a rebuke is not to be taken lightly.

      It may be that Khamenei's comments are a belated recognition by the clergy, with a presidential contest looming, of the paranoid nature of Ahmadinejad, who increasingly blames the country's plight on the activities of banking, oil and other mafia networks rather than his own idiosyncratic economic policies. In his most recent outburst Ahmadinejad even accused members of his own cabinet as being accomplices in obstructing his policies.

      With only a year to go before presidential elections the cracks are beginning to show in the conservative coalition which installed Ahmadinejad as president. Not only do foreign policy pronouncements turn out to be at best erratic, at worst reckless provocation, the domestic production which has been central to Iran's economic strength and stability is increasingly under threat. As ever, in such a situation, it is the ordinary people of Iran who are losing out as the fear of war, economic hardship and social deprivation become real for greater numbers of the population.

      The period between now and the 2009 presidential election will be one in which international solidarity with the Iranian people will be more vital than ever. The knowledge that the world is watching will not only put pressure upon the regime to rein in its violations of human rights, it will give the Iranian people hope that with united action inside and outside the country Iran can change and democracy can prevail.

      Jane Green is the national campaign officer of CODIR- Committee for the Defence of Iranian People's Rights.

      For more information please visit www.codir.net or contact codir_info@btinternet.com

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      CODIR addresses World Peace Council Assembly


      The Assembly of the World Peace Council (WPC) was held in Caracas, Venezuela on 8th -13th April 2008. This was the first time that the Assembly had met in South America. Discussions were held in two parts; the Assembly meeting from the 8th-10th April, with a World Peace Conference from the 11th - 13th April. The 13th April was dedicated to the solidarity of the people and their struggle for sovereignty and against any foreign interference.




      265 delegates representing forces struggling and campaigning for peace and democratic change in 76 countries from across the world were in attendance. CODIR was invited as a guest to the Assembly and Jamshid Ahmadi, Assistant General Secretary of CODIR, attended. Dr Naser Zarafshan, representing No War on Iran, was also a guest of the WPC and participated at the Caracas Assembly and the subsequent World Peace Conference.

      The Assembly discussed the report of the outgoing executive committee and after debate and amendments a final political declaration was adopted. In relation to Iran the final declaration said: US administration applies "double standards" for nuclear weapons in order to legitimize the aggression against Iran, although the alleged weapon programme of Iran stands thoroughly exposed with the latest National Intelligence Estimates by the official US agencies. WPC demands that the nuclear arsenal of USA and Israel be first brought on the agenda and measures be taken against the nuclear threat that these countries cause for humanity. The Middle East ought to be a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone with the elimination of the nuclear arsenal of Israel. "The WPC condemns the aggressive attitude of the imperialist countries, first of the USA, towards Iran and Syria and calls all peace organizations and people to stay on alert in view of a probable attack on these countries. The WPC supports the movement of the Iranian people against war and military threats by the USA, EU and Israel. It declares its solidarity with the struggle of the Iranian progressive forces for peace, democracy and social justice. The WPC demands economic sanctions on Iran be lifted ..."

      The World Peace Conference saw four separate panels of expert speakers presenting on themes ranging from issues of international solidarity to the threat of nuclear proliferation. CODIR Assistant General Secretary spoke as part of the second panel alongside speakers from Cuba, Venezuela, Columbia, Palestine, Nepal and Serbia. In a passionate speech Mr. Ahmadi exposed the dangers of the continued military threat in the world stating that,

      "In today's world military threats and expansionism are readily deployed to protect the interests of the imperialist military-industrial complex. Sabre rattling disguised as diplomacy has, especially in the period of the Bush/Chaney presidency, become the hallmark of US/British foreign policy, often distorting and manipulating the United Nations Assembly to justify expansionist, aggressive and anti democratic ambitions."

      In relation to the situation in the Middle East in particular Mr. Ahmadi stressed the ongoing suffering of the people as a result of the machinations of the West, stating,

      "The peoples of the Middle East are currently suffering in an unprecedented way, from the policies of imperialism and its allies. Taking advantage of the unique conditions prevailing at the beginning of the 21st century, imperialism has placed the goal of an irreversible and strategic change to the geopolitics of the region at the top of its agenda. The strategic policy of the US with respect to the Middle East, is to take economic and military control of the region and to ensure that this control is irreversible and permanent."

      In relation to the recent attempts to force Iran into halting its nuclear programme Mr Ahmadi was scathing about the new found democratic credentials of George Bush, pointing out that, "if the US was genuinely concerned about such issues, it would have objected to the covert expansion of nuclear capacity by both Israel and Pakistan". The resistance of the people of Iran to foreign intervention and to foreign interference was a key theme of the address as Mr Ahmadi recalled the experience of many in Iran of the devastating eight year Iran-Iraq war, from 1980-88, which affected almost every family in both countries.

      The significance of new movements in Iran itself, including the newly formed movement for peace were covered as key examples how the Iranian people are finding ways to voice their concerns regarding the present regime,

      "Since last year prominent figures of the democratic movement in Iran, have taken significant steps to form a broad anti-war alliance. A number of reputable and well-known political figures in the country, such as Shirin Ebadi, the Noble Peace laureate, and prominent lawyer, Dr Naser Zarafshan have spear-headed the efforts to organise the peace and anti-war movement in the country. These efforts have already gained the broad support of popular-social movements."

      Finally, Mr. Ahmadi stressed CODIR's belief in the need for consolidated international action to prevent the threat of war and to support those struggling against repression in their own countries, stating,

      "We believe that the key is to articulate the inherent relationship between the anti-imperialist struggle and mobilisation for the struggle for democracy, human rights and social justice. In order to prevent yet another tragic military adventure in the Middle East, we must force George Bush and his allies to act within the framework of procedures in the UN Charter and in accordance with international law."

      Over the course of the 5 day visit to Caracas, CODIR's Assistant General Secretary, met with many delegates from various countries and discussed the concerns they share regarding the dangers of the current world situation and US threats. This exchange of views and experiences was invaluable, both to learn of the particular issues facing people across the globe, but also to ensure that the issues facing the Iranian people were given an international audience.

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      Behind Iran's sham elections


      Over the past year CODIR has been monitoring the build up to the 14th March parliamentary elections in Iran. Jane Green, for CODIR National Council, reports on the outcomes of the election and its implications for the politics of the Islamic Republic.




      The predictability of the outcomes of recent parliamentary elections in Iran has long been discussed, as the various manoeuvres by the Council of Guardians of the Constitution (CGC) to manipulate the selection process began in earnest at least a year ago. For a president and a regime which regularly proclaims its popular appeal, the election has been a further indictment of the lack of trust, in either people or the electoral process, in the Islamic Republic.

      Openness, democracy and accountability do not require manipulation if they are to have any meaning. The recent elections effectively confirm that such concepts do not have any currency in Iran today. The actions of the regime are those of leaders both out of touch with and fearful of the voice of its own population. Indeed, there has been little, if any, attempt to disguise this sad reality.

      The Executive Boards, which determine the 'suitability' of candidates, had initially permitted only 96 of nearly 3000 reformist or independent candidates outside of Tehran. At the second stage of the process this was reduced to 24 candidates. A third stage saw some higher profile candidates who had repented their reformist credentials reinstated. However, the fact of such a centralised selection process brings into question the legitimacy of the elections at all. Any normal democratic process would leave candidate selection for competing parties to determine free from external interference.

      Iranians people made their feelings emphatically clear - voters stayed away from the polling stations. In Tehran, only 30 per cent of the electorate turned out.

      Not content with pre-election manipulation there is widespread evidence to suggest that pressure was applied in certain areas to ensure that the 'correct' candidates were elected. It is alleged, for example, that workers in state owned factories were forced to vote for government candidates. Workers in Saipa, Iran Khodro and Pars Khodro auto assembly plants were provided with ruling party campaign material and 'encouraged' to vote. In rural areas briefings were organised to convey the "Supreme Leader's wishes" suggesting that it was a religious duty to vote for administration candidates.

      Such actions to limit the opportunities for reformists were entirely predictable but it appears that the regime has also attempted to silence other hard line critics. The hard line Broad Coalition, in opposition to the administration backed United Front, complained to the Council of Guardians (CGC) of vote rigging and election fraud. The final outcome of the regime's manoeuvres was such that Interior Minister, Mostafa Pour Mohammedi, was able to announce that "of those elected to the Majlis, 71% are principalists and support the country's current policies."

      The position of the regime has clearly been to prevent a return to the Khatami period when reformists dominated the Parliament and a hint of liberalisation was in the air in Iran. The hard line response to that situation was to engineer the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president in 2005. As the 2009 presidential election comes into view, the characterisation of the Khatami period as an 'historical error' which presented threats to the 'system' is being raised more loudly in hard line circles. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, has asked for reformist candidates to 'recant' their past deeds. Such language is clearly designed to convey the impression that the popular desire for reform, made explicit in the Khatami period, is an aberration which should not be tolerated.

      The desire of the ruling clique to maintain their grasp on all of the institutions of the Islamic Republic is reflected in the comments of Chief Commander Jafari of the Guards Corps (Sepah) who has been quoted as stating,

      "Sepah is categorically fundamentalist and will be on the side of fundamentalists....How could you be the guardian of a revolution with all of its political charge and not be political?...The fact is that we entered Sepah for ideological and political reasons and all of the founders of Sepah and its commanders have come to Sepah with revolutionary and political-religious holy war (Jihad) motivations."

      None of this should come as any surprise. However, it does underline the fact that the presidential election in 2009 is likely to be even more closely manipulated than the recent parliamentary charade. The March elections have been described in opposition circles in Iran as a 'puppet show', an apt characterisation of a process in which the strings of the key players were all being pulled elsewhere.

      The popular desire for reform remains strong in Iran, especially amongst the young, who feel increasingly constrained by the political and social diktats of an ageing clergy out of touch with modern realities. A tremendous amount of effort has been mobilised by the conservatives to maintain the status quo in the recent elections. Whether the people of Iran will tolerate being hoodwinked into accepting a second term of Ahmadinejad in 2009 however, remains to be seen.

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      Elections, not selection!


      With parliamentary elections in Iran scheduled for March this year the regime is once again looking to ensure that only the safest of candidates make it onto the ballot paper and into the Parliament (Majlis). Jamshid Ahmadi, CODIR's Assistant General Secretary, surveys some recent developments in Iran.




      IT WILL come as little surprise to close followers of events in Iran that manipulation, threats and intimidation are coming to the fore as the elections for the new parliament draw ever closer. Unable to convince by the power of argument or to demonstrate the benefits of the regime in practice, the unelected supreme council inevitably resorts to other means to sustain the illusion of democracy in Iran. Through the powerful medium of the Friday prayers across the country and on the pages of the hardline daily newspaper Kayhan, every effort is being made to smear reformist candidates.

      The main focus of the current attack is to characterise reformists as traitors co-operating with the enemy and perpetrating an ideology propped up by the United States. In a normal democratic situation, the reformist press would counter such accusations. However, the wave of press closures leading up to the elections has effectively emasculated any opposition voice in the media, leaving the conservative Kayhan as the only vehicle through which election debate can be conducted. The reformist Mojahaden-e Enghelab group has written to Supreme Leader Ayotollah Ali Khamenei outlining their sense of frustration and suggesting that they "cannot accept the forthcoming elections as fair and transparent."

      The lack of media outlets for reformist candidates is compounded by the recent interference by President Ahmadinejad in the operation of parliament itself. Soheila Jelodorzadeh, a member of the minority reformist faction, has criticised Ahmadinejad for writing to parliament accusing it of passing illegal legislation. As Jelodorzadeh points out, constitutionally, Iran is a parliamentary democracy in which the parliament is above all other institutions. The role of the president is to execute the legislation that it passes.

      Given that the Iranian parliament is far from a reformist-dominated body, Ahmadinejad's intervention is a further indication of the regime's increasing paranoia. If the hardline-dominated legislature cannot be trusted, then who can?

      Debate continues among reformist groups over which tactics to adopt in relation to the election process. Should a boycott be instituted or does participation, even with all of the barriers, at least present the possibility of some reformist voice in parliament? It seems that reformist groups may decide to engage in "elections, but not selections" and that, rather than a boycott, "conditional participation" should be encouraged on the condition that elections are "free, clean and just."

      A Committee for the Defence of Free, Clean and Just Elections has been set up by prominent political, social, religious and academic personalities for this purpose. It has formulated 23 rules, underpinned by a commitment to non-interference in the electoral process, as means by which to measure the fairness of the elections. In addition, the Iran Freedom Movement has called for a process of "international monitoring" of the elections, a step rejected by the left and progressive forces, which fear Western interference. But, while such developments are clearly important, it is difficult to see how they will have an impact without the participation of candidates from reform parties. Present estimates suggest that 95 per cent of candidates from reformist organisations have been blocked, meaning that the elections are unlikely to meet the "free, clean and just" test before they even reach the starting line. A large number of prominent MPs from the previous parliament and even ministers during ex-president Khatami's eight-year government have also been declared uneligible as candidates.

      The official purge of candidate lists by the government comes on top of an unprecedented and sustained wave of attacks on the democratic student, women and trade union movements since early 2007. The final irony in the current election debate is that hardliners are attempting to play George W Bush as their trump card. Having commented that he supports democrats and reformists from Beirut to Damascus and from Baghdad to Tehran, Bush's words are being cited as "evidence" that reformists are no more than Western stooges. With just over a month to go until the elections, the war of words will no doubt continue and there is every indication that the Islamic establishment will pull out all of the stops to maintain the status quo.

      No doubt the forthcoming anniversary of the 1979 revolution in February will provide another opportunity to appeal to the more conservative elements of Iranian society. As the Shah found to his cost, however, the tide of reform cannot be stemmed indefinitely. With presidential elections looming in 2009, the debate on the future direction of Iran will not end in March.

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      Jan 15

      In Defence of Human Rights in Iran


      The 8th July became famous as Student Day in Iran following the death of a student on that day in 1999, when students in Tehran demonstrated against the closure of a newspaper. The image of one student, Ahmad Batebi, became famous around the world following the publication in the West of a photograph of him holding the bloodstained shirt of a fellow student. Jane Green considers whether the treatment of students and political prisoners has moved on since that period.




      In a recent interview with Iranian newspaper Rooz online, Ahmad Batebi reveals how he became involved in the events of 8th July 1999, events which resulted in him spending the next nine years in prison. The picture Batebi paints is one of a studious young man concerned about the obvious injustice he saw around him and being prepared to act.

      Batebi reveals that he head been arrested three times before the events of 8th July 1999. Firstly, on 6th March 1998 for participating in a protest in support of political prisoners; secondly, during a student demonstration on 3rd May 1999; and thirdly, during further student protests on 25th May 1999. Batebi's actions at this time were no different to those of thousands of other students, prepared to speak out against the injustices of the Iranian regime and defend the right to free speech. There is certainly no indication that his actions warranted any special attention. However, the famous 'bloodied shirt' photograph changed all of that. As a result of the abuse suffered in prison Batebi has problems with his kidneys, back and head.

      In spite of his experiences over the nine years he spent in the notorious Evin Prison Batebi comes across as a young man (he is only 29 years old) still able to be philosophical about life and prepared to look for the positives and possibilities in Iran's future. Asked if he will leave Iran he responds,

      "No, I prefer to stay here. I have a lot of things to do. I can't just get up and leave. I like to study and I like to see the world and experience new things."

      The publication of the interview with Batebi precipitated a flurry of letters to Rooz from students who had suffered at the same time in the notorious ward 209 of Evin Prison and the torture ward of 'Komiteh Moshtarak' prison in central Tehran. Former students have highlighted physical beatings, video confessions and psychological torture as being typical of methods used against prisoners alleged to have committed crimes against the state.

      One prisoner in particular has not emerged with the same degree of equilibrium as Batebi. Writing to Rooz, he states,

      "When these methods of physical torture failed, they would resort to psychological torture. They would keep me undisturbed in my cell for months, while I could hear the yelling and screaming coming from the tortures of my parents. Or they would play audio tapes of torture of my friends. At one time the recordings of torture of men and women were so effective that they almost had their intended effect on me. Which is why I am now undergoing psychological treatment."

      It would be bad enough if these experiences were confined to the past but the evidence from Iran under the regime of Ahmadinejad suggests that human rights abuses of students and other political prisoners continue to be the rule rather than the exception. Imprisoned journalist Emaddedin Baghi, for example, remains in a poor state in Evin prison without proper access to his family and uncertain access to medical care. Baghi's wife, Fatemeh Kamali, has not been able to ascertain the exact state of her husband's health in spite of repeated attempts.

      With the elections to the Majlis (Parliament ) coming up in March the question of the treatment of political prisoners is beginning to gain ground in the limited forums for political debate allowed by the regime. There remains hope, expressed by such figures as dissident cleric Hasan Yousefi Eshkevar, that the elections may bring some limited gains for the reformists and pave the way for further change in the Presidential elections scheduled for 2009.

      While the pressure from inside Iran mounts it is imperative that international solidarity with the Iranian people continues to be a priority of the labour, trades union and peace movements in the West. Both the Parliamentary and presidential elections over the coming year will increase the sensitivity of the regime to criticism. Ensuring that human rights and the treatment of political prisoners remains high on the political agenda is vital.

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      Jan 2

      New Year, new hope for Iran?


      As we move into a New Year the prospects of averting an all out US attack on Iran are certainly much better than at the beginning of 2007. Jane Green assesses the shifting international balance and the prospects for a negotiated solution in the Middle East.




      Whatever the unexpected may bring, and the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan underlines the impact of the unexpected in international politics, there are some 'expected' events in 2008 which will affect the political balance between the West and Iran.

      In November 2008, the United States will elect a new President, to take office in January 2009. As the primaries unfold, and candidates jockey for position, foreign policy has been high on the agenda. The commitment to withdraw from Iraq is now universal amongst Democratic contenders. It is virtually impossible for a credible Republican to associate themselves with the Bush foreign policy record.

      By implication, the likelihood of a US President committed to withdrawal from Iraq means that the prospects for direct military action in Iran must recede. Such a prospect is given added credence by the report of the US intelligence agencies, published early in December 2007, that Iran has not been pursuing a nuclear weapons development programme for the past four years.

      The national security estimate brought together the work of 16 intelligence agencies and stated that,

      "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons programme suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005."

      Having been sucked into direct political culpability over the 'weapons of mass destruction ' debacle in Iraq it is clear that intelligence agencies are making it known that any invasion of Iran will be based upon political, not intelligence, estimates. With one year of the Bush presidency still to run a strike upon Iran is not yet out of the question. However, the countdown to Bush leaving office will give hope with each passing day that such an outcome can be avoided.

      Also weighing in the international balance is the reluctance of UN Security Council members Russia and China to endorse new sanctions, let alone military action, against Iran. It is also likely that the EU will need to come off the political fence in 2008. Having hedged its bets to see which way the wind is blowing over the past year, the EU will need to shift its weight decisively against the military option and in favour of a negotiated settlement. From a purely pragmatic point of view this will position the EU more strongly in discussions with a future democratic Iran. The other major 'expected' event in 2008 are the elections to the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) scheduled for March. As ever in the Islamic Republic, the scope for manipulation, intimidation and violence is high in relation to the electoral process. The ongoing crackdown against even the most liberal dissent underlines the fact that the Iranian electoral system will not function freely and fairly in any generally accepted sense.

      However, the fact that the Ahmadinejad regime feels the need to employ such heavy handed tactics is an indication of the government's weakness rather than its strength. Ahmadinejad's recent pronouncements that those disagreeing with the regime are 'traitors' sound increasingly paranoid, while the ongoing suppression of the liberal press; warnings to women over un-Islamic dress; clamp-down on student activities in all universities and arrest of many student activists; closure of bookshop cafes; and the crackdown on Western CDs and movies are not the signs of a regime that is at ease with itself. On the contrary, there is every indication that the Islamic republic is increasingly out of touch with a young population, less wedded to the values of the 1979 revolution and keen to share in the nation's oil wealth.

      It may be a distorted measure but any signals that the March elections can send regarding the unpopularity of the Ahmadinejad regime will still be important given that presidential elections are scheduled for 2009.

      Perhaps the third 'expected' area in 2008 will be the need for continued international pressure upon the government of the Islamic Republic to free political prisoners; lift the restrictions on association and assembly; and to comply with the norms of international human rights obligations. We should not be lulled into supposing that any receding of the threat of direct military action will inevitably ease life for the mass of Iranians in 2008. In spite of bold promises to the poor Ahmadinejad has squandered oil revenues, investment in industry is lagging, while unemployment and inflation spiral.

      As activists in the UK we have a responsibility in CODIR to continue to raise the issues of democracy and human rights in Iran with the labour, peace and trades union movements. The campaign for peace and human rights will remain a priority in 2008. Let us hope that the indications for more positive outcomes can be built upon and that in a year's time we can look back upon steps towards a free and democratic Iran.

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      Dec 10

      On the Occasion of 10th December CODIR calls for Respect of Human Rights in Iran!






      On the 10th December 1948, fifty nine years ago today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations "as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations...". The General Assembly called upon all member countries to publicise the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories." As pointed out in the preamble: "Member States have pledged themselves to achieve...the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms...".

      Iran, being one of the signatories to the Declaration, has always been obliged to observe respect, dignity, tolerance, peace, equality and justice both nationally and internationally, as reflected and detailed in the 30 Articles of the Declaration. These include such phrases as, "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government", "freedom and equality in dignity and rights of all human beings", the right "to be presumed innocent until proved guilty... to form and join trade unions", the right to freedom of "thought...opinion and expression...peaceful assembly and association...". Article 2 makes it clear that "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, ... political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs..." Finally Article 30 asserts that "Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein."

      A look at the conduct of the current Iranian regime in the past 29 years reveals that it has constantly been in violation of the basic human rights of the people. Particularly, in the last 2 years or so, since the government of Ahmadinejad took power, suppression has been escalated against basic freedoms. Women activists demanding the equal rights of women with men in the family and society at large have been attacked; labour activists seeking the freedom to form and join trade unions have been imprisoned; youth and students struggling for the right to work and education that is "equally accessible to all on the basis of merit" irrespective of religion, political or other opinion, arrested; journalists exercising their "right to freedom of opinion and expression...without interference", closed down; and members of the general public asking for "the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well being...including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services..." are denied and deprived of their basic rights. Student, labour, women's rights, peace and political activists and intellectuals are "arbitrarily arrested and detained". They are regularly "subjected to torture and cruel...punishment" (e.g. stoning). Printed and electronic media are forcefully shut down, censored and journalists are prosecuted. The "privacy, family, home..." of people is interfered with and attacked. Not "everyone has the right to equal access to public service" in the country as they need to be approved first by the Supreme Leader.

      What is happening today in Iran is extreme disregard for basic human rights. The Iranian regime is explicitly violating international law and even the basic rights in the country's constitution. These violations have been condemned time after time by international and human rights organisations and by progressive and freedom-loving Iranians and around the world.

      Realising the significance of observing human rights for the development of a nation, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR) strives to campaign for, and to raise international public awareness of peace, human rights and democracy in Iran, first and foremost based on the UN declarations.

      CODIR seeks the solidarity of peace-loving, progressive, and democratic individuals and with the struggle of Iranian people for their basic human rights.

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      July 23

      Pre-election pressure stepped up






      Preparations for the March 2008 Majlis (Parliament) elections in Iran are well underway, but not in the usually understood sense. Jane Green reports on the Ahmadinejad government's attempts to manipulate the election outcome well in advance.

      With government supporters unable to sustain popular support the forces of political manipulation are once again to the fore in the Iranian electoral process. Government candidates fared badly in the December 2006 council elections and on a level playing field would expect to be trounced in the Parliamentary poll next year.

      Anticipating such an outcome steps are being taken to minimise the government's embarrassment. For example, recently introduced restrictions will prevent candidates from exhibiting posters bearing their photographs. It is suggested that dry policy statements and a limited biography will be the only publicity permitted. The move is widely seen as one which favours sitting candidates, known to the electorate, and will limit the efforts of new candidates to be more known to voters.

      It is unlikely that pro-government candidates will be denied access to state media and will therefore be able to sustain higher visibility in the campaign period. The government has also introduced rules requiring state and government workers to resign eight months in advance if they want to stand in the election, a move widely seen as limiting participation.

      These moves coincide with the widespread clampdown on student organisations, trades union arrests and the government's paranoid assertions that journalists are threatening a coup d'etat. Such assertions would be laughable if they did not have such serious consequences, including widespread restrictions on the press and the closure of news agencies even mildly opposed to the regime.

      In a recent interview, Mousavi Khoeni, president of the Alumni Association of Iran predicted further oppression ahead of the Majlis elections. Commenting on the recent arrest of students marking the 1999 student uprising Khoeni stated,

      "..this is a warning for other groups and organisations and we expect such confrontations to become even more severe as we get closer to the elections."

      Similar views have been expressed by the former editor in chief of a number of reformist dailies, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, who regards the Ahmadinejad administration as having "reached a complete dead-end, particularly when it comes to the press." Shamsolvaezin suggests that the government may have bitten off more than they can chew in their attempts to restrict press freedom and sounds a note of cautious optimism when he suggests,

      "Take a look at Iran's recent history, whoever has begun a war with the press has been toppled. Journalists might suffer some occasional setbacks but they will be triumphant in the end."

      Certainly, the government strategy is one which is very much limited to the use of the stick without any prospect of the carrot, given the ongoing pressure upon Iran's economy. The US has recently stepped up pressure upon EU firms to cease trading with Iran. While the policy is not winning widespread support in Europe at present, the potential for the US to utilise its economic weight to press its case should not be underestimated.

      The Iran counter-proliferation bill, currently going through Congress has as its goal "zero foreign investment" according to Tom Lantos, chairman of the House foreign affairs committee. Whether such a position is immediately achievable may be debateable but by the time of the March elections the situation may look quite different.

      Disinvestment, international sanctions, the threat of war, added to continued student arrests and restrictions on press freedom is hardly an appealing election manifesto. Nevertheless the regime persists in a strategy which to all rational intents and purposes appears to be doomed; evidence, if it were needed, that the Iranian people are not dealing with a rational regime.

      This article was published in the Morning Star on Thursday 26 July.

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      July 4

      Protest rally wins release of Iranian union's Vice President




      Ebrahim Madadi set free earlier today

      A protest rally by members of the Tehran bus workers' union has won the release of the union's Vice President. Ebrahim Madadi had been arrested yesterday after a renewed bout of anti-union repression by the Iranian regime.

      Members of the ITF-affiliated union, Sandikaye Kargarane Sherkate Vahed, held a protest rally in Tehran in front of the Ministry of Justice this morning calling for Madadi's release. Shortly after the rally, all charges were dropped and Madadi walked free.

      He had been arrested yesterday at 13:00 during one of his regular visits to the Western Tehran Labour Department. There he planned to discuss the dismissal of 40 workers. He was refused entry into the premises and was subsequently held by Bharestan station police for alleged "public disorder".

      During an earlier visit on 10 June he was beaten severely by seven men after the Vice Director of the office refused to deal with the cases. His injuries required hospital treatment.

      In a message of solidarity, which was sent to the rally, ITF General Secretary David Cockroft and ITF Inland Transport Section Secretary Mac Urata confirmed their backing for the call to release Madadi.

      The attack against the union took place in the wake of the return to Iran of the union's President Mansour Osanloo; he had been visiting the ITF and the International Trade Union Confederation last month. Osanloo has himself twice been detained over the past year and a half.

      Osanloo commented: "Madadi's release now gives us much hope. It has made us more determined than ever to continue our struggle."

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      Feb 5

      Imperatives for a Peaceful Alternative in the US-Iran Standoff!






      Jane Green of CODIR's National Committee reviews a series of recently published articles which point to a shift in emphasis in the reporting of the situation in the Middle East, and Iran in particular, amongst the more liberal broadsheets.

      It was not very long ago that CODIR had cause to initiate a debate with the Tehran correspondent of The Guardian for his uncritical reporting of the alleged popularity of President Ahmadinejad, in spite of the evidence to the contrary provided by CODIR and sources within Iran.

      However, the reality of the potential military escalation in the Middle East appears to be bringing a section of the western press to its senses.

      In The Guardian (Fri 26/01/07) David Hearst reported on the Israeli strategy to isolate Iran economically, with a view to softening up world opinion for a military strike. Using its extensive contacts in the United States, the Israeli government is looking to apply pressure on major US pension funds to stop investment in companies that trade with Iran.

      This economic pressure upon Iran is coupled with the growing tendency of Israel to over emphasise the capability and potential of Iran's nuclear programme. Israel appears to acknowledge the limits of Iran's access to weapons producing technology but is nevertheless prepared to play the 'Islamic threat' card in justifying its own military response. Reporting on a conference of military analysts near Tel Aviv Hearst quotes the claim voiced at the conference that Israel faced an "existential threat" from the Iranian uranium enrichment programme.

      The Guardian further reported (Sat 27/01/07) on President Bush's authorisation to US forces in Iraq "to kill or capture Iranian agents". The objective of this strategy is described by Bush, without a hint of irony, as being "necessary to curb outside influence in Iraq."

      The article reports that the increasingly hawkish stance of the Bush administration was emphasised in the recent State of the Union address in which Bush shifted the emphasis of the war on terror from the Sunni militants of al-Qaida to all Islamic 'extremists'. Characterising Shia and Sunni 'extremists' as two sides of the same coin Bush stated,

      "They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale."

      This sweeping generalisation of the 'Islamic threat' echoes the strategy of Israel and is seen by the US as further justification of a potential military strike upon Iran.

      The Observer (Sun 28/01/07) featured an extensive two page spread covering both the international situation and the growing domestic crisis in the Islamic republic. Foreign Affairs editor, Peter Beaumont, summarises as follows,

      "Despite Iran being presented as an urgent threat to nuclear non-proliferation and regional and world peace - in particular by an increasingly bellicose Israel and its closest ally the US - a number of Western diplomats and technical experts close to the Iranian programme have told The Observer it is archaic, prone to breakdown and lacks the material for industrial scale production."

      As Beaumont goes on to point out, the reality of the situation is that Iran is struggling to both access and master nuclear technology. Even if the US and Israeli claims that Iran is aiming to build nuclear weapons were true it appears unlikely that any threat is 'imminent'. In any event this is a claim consistently denied by Iran who insists that the nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes.

      The double page spread also features an item by Tehran correspondent Robert Tait highlighting the growing discontent with Ahmadinejad's failure to deliver on the basic economic issues for the Iranian people. In addition the growing opposition within Parliament accuses the President of "leaving Iran vulnerable to sanctions or military attack." The UN Security Council resolution giving Iran 60 days to suspend uranium enrichment, or face the possibility of further embargoes, is cited as evidence of the failure of Ahmadinejad's adventurist approach.

      Finally, the senior political commentator of The Observer, Henry Porter, devotes his weekly comment (Sun 28/01/07), under the title "They're broken men, so don't let them take us to a new war", to the similarities between Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad. Porter suggests that both men are using the international stand off to divert attention from their diminishing support base at home, stating that

      "There is a sense of embarrassment among sophisticated Iranians about their President's pronouncements, which surely rings a bell with the Americans."

      Porter suggests that the "slow drumbeat for a first strike" is already underway, with the hawks in the West being supported by the right-wing press, such as the Daily Telegraph, running articles with vague sources such as 'European defence officials' to justify the drive to war.

      This flurry of press activity is not only indicative of the growing threat which the increasingly volatile pronouncements of the US represent, but also underlines the need for an alternative to be articulated.

      CODIR has been at the forefront of the campaign to oppose intervention in Iran and to oppose the present regime. Military intervention by the US or Israel will not help the cause of the Iranian people. If anything Ahmadinejad and his supporters will see such action as justification for their stance.

      Supporting the democratic opposition in Iran, which is calling for a change in foreign policy; constructive dialogue with the International Atomic Energy Agency; and opposition to foreign intervention in Iran is the only way to ensure a stepping down from the threat of greater conflagration in the region.

      For trades unionists and democrats in Britain it is imperative that pressure is applied to the UK government to support the call from the head of the UN inspectors, Mohamed ElBaredei, for a time out period of negotiations in which sanctions would be suspended. Negotiation with the existing Iranian regime must be preferred to military action.

      In addition support for those in Iran, workers, women and intellectuals, who are calling for greater democratisation in order to have the true voice of the Iranian people heard has to be the priority. Urgent action is imperative if the threat of war is to be averted.

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      Nov 2

      Iran's prominent academic: "US is posed to attack Iran"




      Professor Abrahamian

      As the international pressure upon Iran in relation to its nuclear power programme continues, concern grows about the ongoing threat to regional instability and world peace posed by the foreign policy of the Bush administration.

      In a recent interview granted to CODIR, Ervand Abrahamian, Professor of Middle East History at Columbia University New York added his voice to the growing body of academic opinion opposed to the increasing belligerence of the United States.

      On behalf of CODIR, Jane Green considers Professor Abrahamian's comments and the implications for human rights inside Iran of the external US threat.

      In common with many observers Professor Abrahamian sees the actions of the Bush administration since 9/11 as a move towards consolidating the strategic economic and energy interests of the US, stating that US strategy,

      "...has been to incorporate the Middle East like Central America into the US imperium."

      Certainly the desire to have tame oil rich regimes in the Middle East would both address the longer term energy demands of the US and provide greater options for bases in the ongoing 'war against terror' which the Bush administration has proclaimed since 9/11.

      However, the attempt to see the conflict in terms of an historical antagonism between Christianity and Islam, which permeates much of the Bush 'good versus evil' rhetoric is not, suggests Prof. Abrahamian a strategic issue for the US. Indeed as he points out,

      "The Bush problem with Iran is that it does not toe the US line. Iran is no more a theocracy than Saudi Arabia but the US has few problems with the latter."

      The recent visit to Saudi Arabia by Michael Hayden, the Director of CIA, aimed at giving reassurances over the protection of the Kingdom's oil installations are the latest manifestation of the closeness of this particular relationship.

      On the prospects for a negotiated settlement between Iran and the US Prof. Abrahamian suggests that,

      "There is a possibility of a peaceful settlement only if the US agrees that Iran can have an independent but peaceful programme with verifications."

      The likelihood of such a compromise is however regarded as remote due, in particular, to the depth of the US commitment to Israel. This is one area of foreign policy which Prof. Abrahamian does not see as being likely to change with a change in administration, given the extent of dependence of both Republicans and Democrats in the US upon the pro-Israeli lobby.

      The extent to which the US has entrenched its position is, according to Prof. Abrahamian, such that any offer by Iran, short of meeting completely the US demand to halt the nuclear cycle entirely, will be unlikely to succeed. Indeed the professor even suggests a possible timescale for action against Iran, stating that,

      "The decision has been made in Washington that Iran under no conditions is permitted to have a nuclear programme that could possibly in the future produce weapons. Washington is willing to risk everything to carry out this decision. In fact, it seems that it has given Israel this guarantee - which means that before Bush leaves office he will implement the policy."

      Although the leadership of the Islamic Republic is banking on the hope that Iran's developing economic ties with the EU, China and Russia will shield it from attack Prof. Abrahamian is not convinced, suggesting that the regime needs to reject provocative international positions and seek to win over international public opinion.

      Indeed, Abrahamian leaves little doubt that should the US decide to carry out air attacks upon Iran, the Islamic Republic's growing economic relations with the EU, Russia and China will afford little protection, in spite of the 'regret' which may be expressed over such a course of action,

      "Russia, China and the EU do not provide 'protection' to Iran - any more than they did to Iraq"

      In response to questions concerning action Iran can take to avoid the escalating conflict and the prospects for democracy in Iran, the professor regards external factors such as winning over world public opinion and combating the 'axis of evil' campaign as major factors. Giving the UN substantial assurances he suggests,

      "...may not prevent American air attacks but it may well further isolate the US in world public opinion."

      Professor Abrahamian's comments underline the growing concern with US foreign policy in the region. For human rights activists, concerned with the scope for internal opposition to the Iranian regime, they confirm long held fears. The current international crisis is useful to the Islamic Republic as an excuse to clamp down upon opposition within the country in order to promote 'national unity' against the threat of external attack.

      The campaign to persuade world public opinion of Iran's peaceful intentions would be greatly assisted by the restoration of freedoms of expression and assembly, which the regime currently only allows its supporters, to the full range of democratic opinion inside Iran. Until this happens, the full weight of international opinion which could be brought to bear upon the aggressive policy of the US will inevitably be compromised by the ongoing internal repression carried out daily by the Iranian regime.

      CODIR welcomes the comments of Prof. Abrahamian which add weight to the voices calling for the US to hold back from action against Iran. In addition to the strategy of opposing the drive to war we will continue to suggest the need for a two pronged strategy; oppose the external threat to Iran and uphold the rights of the Iranian people to peace, human rights and democracy.

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      Oct 13

      Ahmadinejad, phony anti-imperialist hero, and Bush, fake champion of democracy



      By Nima Kamran

      Ahmadinejad & Bush

      Iran's nuclear issue has preoccupied the international community for more than two years. Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration is tightening its oppressive, suffocating grip on every aspect of life in Iran. Workers, women, youth and progressive intellectuals are daily experiencing the brutality of Islamic rule.

      Last month, protesting locked-out workers and their families were set upon by "Islamic law enforcers" in Babolsar. Many were arrested and beaten up for daring to ask for their jobs back and for payment of unpaid wages. The government is amending the labor law to remove any remaining protection for workers and their right to organize independently. Fired trade unionists of Tehran's Public Transport Company (Sherkat-e- Vahed) are starving due to lack of any severance pay or unemployment benefit.

      Also last month scores of student activists at Tehran's Amir-Kabir Technical University were expelled from their courses for daring to support the activities of their independent-minded student association. A number of leading student activists have been arrested in recent weeks and are evidently being coerced under torture to confess their "crimes."

      But the treatment the media is receiving currently deserves close attention. Shargh (East) daily, one of the few remaining reformist newspapers, was recently ordered to replace its editor after publishing a cartoon. The cartoon depicted a chessboard with a white knight facing a black donkey with its head surrounded by a halo. Under pressure the paper actually agreed to remove the editor but nonetheless it was closed down. The cartoon's apparent reference was to Ahmadinejad's claim that last year, while he was addressing the UN General Assembly, a halo had formed around his head and for 27 minutes the audience listened watching him without blinking! In the weeks since the closure of Shargh two other independent publications have seen the same fate.

      The issuing of formal threats against press freedoms and gagging orders by the regime's conservative press watchdog are normal and reoccurring events in Iran. Recently the Ministry of Islamic Guidance requested all newspapers to use state-owned web sites as their only sources of information. The recent closure of Shargh and the other publications is seen by many observers as the start of a wider offensive to crush and silence all voices of dissent.

      The nuclear issue is being used by Iran's theocratic regime to divert public attention from its real sinister internal agenda, and to whip up religious and nationalistic sentiments. The blatant violation of international laws by U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Middle East in turn helps Ahmadinejad to portray himself as an anti-imperialist champion. The theocratic regime's anti-Western stand is based on a reactionary and medieval mindset that is opposed to modernity, progress and democracy. It is in effect based on the regime's fight against non-adherence to Islam and heresy, and has nothing to do with the struggle against capitalism.

      Last month at the UN General Assembly, Ahmadinejad, along with two democratically elected leaders, Chavez of Venezuela and Morales of Bolivia, rightly condemned and rejected Bush's brutal imperialistic foreign policy. However, it is important to note that, unlike Chavez and Morales, Ahmadinejad was not democratically elected and he presides over a brutally oppressive and economically corrupt apparatus.

      More importantly, Ahmadinejad's denunciation of the existing world order does not stem from a desire to create a different world based on democracy, gender equality and social justice. Twenty-seven years of theocratic rule in Iran have clearly demonstrate this reality. The regime fundamentally rejects basic human rights and individual freedoms in the name of its divine rule. Ahmadinejad and his sponsors preside over a highly lucrative and extremely corrupt and distorted form of a capitalist system in Iran.

      Ahmadinejad's "anti-imperialist" show is a sham, as George Bush's claim to champion the cause of democracy in the world is nothing but a false pretence. Both are trying to capitalize on each other's appalling, inhumane, dangerous policies and backward world outlook. The U.S. neo-conservatives and the theocratic regime in Tehran share a common interest in disenfranchising the people from the democratic process. Both enforce and justify their policies on the basis of fundamentalist and reactionary versions of Islam and Christianity. Their confrontation has nothing to do with tackling key issues such as eradicating poverty, disease and exploitation or the very real dangers facing humanity because of climate change.

      Ahmadinejad and Bush together are a threat to peace, democracy and civilization. All those who believe in a better world should oppose the dual danger they pose.

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      August 21

      Sarah Reed reports for CODIR on the upsurge of human rights violations in Iran by the Iranian regime


      The workers gathering

      As world opinion focuses on Iran's nuclear issue and the situation in Lebanon, the Iranian regime is intensifying its human rights violations against its own population. In a concerted effort to kill protest and dissent the regime has ruthlessly suppressed any attempt by the Iranian people to challenge the regime or even raise legitimate concerns.

      Latest in a series of violent regime reactions was the attack on bus workers outside the Ministry of Labour in Tehran. The workers had gathered at the Ministry while their workers syndicate representatives met with government officials to raise concerns about their dismissal from a bus transportation company. However, while discussions progressed inside, police approached workers outside to tell them that they did not have a permit to 'assemble'. The warning was a prelude to a police attack on the workers which resulted in six arrested for the gathering of workers. Furthermore, three of the workers' representatives who had attended the Ministry to talk with officials were also arrested.

      Unconstitutional
      According to article 27 of Iran's Constitution public gatherings and marches may be freely held provided arms are not carried and they are not detrimental to the fundamental principals of Islam. Nothing in the gathering of bus workers contravened that article. Despite this they were subjected to violent dispersal and arrest. This case shows yet again that the Iranian regimes' words and deeds do not match. The right to freedom to assemble is one which is recognised in international law, but it is clearly not recognised for many groups of citizens in Iran. Only groups gathering to support the regime are granted permits to assemble. Those who are considered even mildly critical do not receive a permit and are denied their constitutional rights to assemble.

      The violent suppression of peaceful gathering of workers, students, women and the knee jerk reaction of the regime to any perceived criticism of itself or government official exposes a regime that is far less popular than some Western media sources would have us believe. In reality the regime's heavy handed and violent tactics are resulting in an increasing catalogue of evidence for human rights campaigners.

      Tragic
      The latest in the growing catalogue of human rights abuses is the tragic death in custody of Iranian student detainee, Akbar Mohammadi. Mohammadi was originally arrested in 1999 on charges of participating in street revolts in Tehran and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment. Rumours that the current Iranian administration were to release Mohammadi and fellow students had been fuelled in recent times with the granting of prison leave. However, Akbar Mohammadi was re-arrested two months ago, demonstrating that the regime in fact had no intention of a permanent release for these prisoners. Akbar Mohammadi began a hunger strike in prison in protest at the conditions that he had been subjected to. Regime control of the media was used to restrict knowledge of Mohammadi's protest. The regime has always been keen to minimise negative publicity and has prison guards on watch to ensure hunger strikers don't die. However, the system failed this time and Akbar Mohammadi has become the first political prisoner in Iranian detention to die while on hunger strike. The tragic death of Akbar Mohammadi again highlights the need for the world's attention to be drawn to the plight of political prisoners who are languishing in the prisons of the Islamic regime.

      Prominent Iranian dissident, Akbar Ganji, recently visited London to highlight the human rights abuses that are occurring daily in Iran. Akbar Ganji was himself only recently released from six years of detention following international pressure are a sustained hunger strike protest. Akbar Ganji also warned, however, that Iranian liberals and democrats alike do not want to see such human rights abuses used as a pretext for the military invasion of Iran by America and its allies. He stated "we are looking for a way for Iranian freedom seekers to lead dialogue with the world's peace lovers. We want to open a third front, as because of the confrontation between extremists who are governing both in Iran and America, the cloud of war has overshadowed Iran, the region and the world. Freedom is the first victim of war".

      Clearly an end to war in the region and an end to human rights abuses in Iran are essential prerequisites towards freedom for all peoples in the Middle East.
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      August 8

      The Dual Threat Facing Iranian People


      The death in custody of Akbar Mohammadi, a former student activist in Iran, and the little attention it received from the media internationally, exposes the dual threat faced by the Iranian people. Amnesty International said last week that Western governments were focussing on Iran's nuclear programme and the regime's link with the Lebanese "Hizbullah" but ignoring its human rights abuses.

      Mohammadi, who died in suspicious circumstances on Sunday 30th of July after 9 days of hunger strike, had been arrested and sentenced to death in July 1999 for participation in a student demonstration. The sentence was later reduced to 15 years imprisonment. During the last days of his life, Mohammadi was on hunger strike. His lawyer said that the authorities had breached both international convention and Iranian law by denying him access to his client. Mohammadi's body was hurriedly buried without post-mortem. Fellow students attending his funeral were arrested. His parents have been threatened in order to silence them.

      Mohammadi's life and death as a political prisoner provide a vivid example of the treatment of Iranian dissidents. Human rights observers are now concerned about the fate of other imprisoned advocates of human and democratic rights. Among them are Ahmad Batebi, a student activist arrested in 1999, Ramin Jahanbegloo, a university scholar arrested in May this year and Mansour Osanlo, a trade union leader arrested in December.

      Iranians live in an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and repression. The people are threatened by a regime that is prepared to embark on any action to ensure its own survival.

      The death of Akbar Mohammadi occurred against a backdrop of increasing hostility directed towards Iran by the US and its allies and characterizes the dual threat facing the Iranian people - internal and external.

      The inhuman and systematic violence unleashed in Lebanon by Israel is not an isolated skirmish. Neither is it the start of the 3rd world war as predicted by US conservative, Newt Gingrich. The theocratic regime in Iran portrays the current situation as a wholesale attack on Islam by the US. The reality is that Israel's military campaign has the full and active backing of George Bush and Tony Blair. They have both demonstrated their capacity for justification of suffering in pursuit of their "vital interests" and of death and destruction as "collateral damage".

      They are both busy leading the so-called "war on terror". Bush and Blair; the self-appointed champions of democracy in the Middle East, have systematically named Iran as the main source of trouble and instability in the region. Therefore the external threat faced by the Iranian people is very real and growing by the hour and the Bush administration has a range of options (military and economic) short of full military assault, all of which carry grave consequences for the people of Iran.

      The internal and external threats facing the Iranian people are interlinked and ought not to be considered in isolation. The theocratic dictatorship rightly considers the Iranian people as the main threat to its survival.

      The regime's oppression attempts to keep the Iranian people as passive observers, fed with populist slogans - thus unable to question the regime's dangerous policies, while the growth of the popular movement against the ruling dictatorship remains the only possible legitimate and progressive driver that could lead to a "regime change" in Iran. But this would be a highly undesirable outcome for the US hegemony of the Middle East.

      The pursuit of issues such as "nuclear proliferation", "war on terror" and the "greater Middle East plan", deliberately ignore the struggle of the Iranian people for peace and democracy.

      The phoney champions of democracy in the Middle East; personified by Bush and Blair, share a common interest in removing the Iranian people from any participation in the process that determines the future of Iran. Consequently they promote the idea that the Iranians are incapable of influencing their fate and thus attempt to justify an external intervention.

      Any progressive movement that seriously opposes US aggression against Iran must be aware of and driven by the dual threat (internal and external) faced by the Iranian people.

      Importantly, any one sided campaign that, under the pretext of opposing the US policy of hegemony in the Middle East ignores the suffering of the Iranian people and their role in any future development, is in danger of alienating the peace and democratic forces in Iran, themselves key components of establishing peace and democracy in the country.

      The situation in the Middle East, particularly with respect to Iran, is complex and this requires a sophisticated and multifaceted campaign capable of opposing imperialist aggression and the ruling reactionary regimes.

      By Jamshid Ahmadi

      Assistant General Secretary
      Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People's Rights (CODIR)
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      June 20, Iran Today Editorial

      Why should Europe oppose the US war!


      The tone of US rhetoric regarding the alleged plans to develop nuclear weapons in Iran has uncanny echoes of the 'weapons of mass destruction' debate before the invasion of Iraq. Jane Green, of the editorial board of Iran Today, considers some of the facts behind what appears to be yet another piece of US fiction.

      The right of Iran to develop nuclear power is recognised by the European Union under article IV of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which acknowledges the right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy in conformity with treaty obligations. The Iranian government has consistently denied that the resumption of the uranium enrichment programme is aimed at the development of nuclear weapons.

      Indeed, Iran has argued that it is doing no more than it is permitted to do as a signatory to the NPT. So why the sense of impending crisis and the rhetoric of war?

      The source of conflict between Iran and the United States goes back to the 1979 revolution in Iran. The overthrow of the western backed Shah ended ready access to Iranian oil which the West had been able to exploit for almost 100 years. Moreover the regime in Tehran was virulently anti- Western in general and anti-US in particular. The US embassy hostage crisis in 1980 consolidated the Western view of the Islamic republic as a 'terrorist' regime while triggering the growth of Islamic opposition groups throughout the Middle East.

      The western response, ironically, was to encourage Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in 1980 in an attempt to undermine the new republic. A bloody eight year war ensued and though neither side could claim victory the fact that Iran emerged undefeated heightened the regime's credibility in the Islamic world. In particular, growing Islamic movements such as Hamas in Palestine and Hizbollah in Lebanon found the Islamic Republic a source of both ideological and material sustenance.

      Under the reformist regime of Mohammed Khatami, which lasted from 1997 to 2005, the faint possibility of a rapprochement between Iran and the West existed. However, the election in August 2005 of ultra conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has extinguished any prospects there may have been for such a development. As far as the West is concerned Ahmadinejad's anti-Western, anti-Israeli rhetoric has upped the stakes. The characterisation of the Iranian President as a threat to the West parallels much of the rhetoric directed at Saddam Hussein preceding the invasion of Iraq. Not surprisingly, the threat posed by Iran's development of nuclear technology is as illusory as the fabled 'weapons of mass destruction' in Iraq.

      Middle East specialist Thomas Stauffer and specialist in Middle East energy, William O'Beeman have suggested that: "The testable part of the claim - that the Bushehr reactor is a proliferation threat - is demonstrably false...The Iranian reactor yields the wrong kind of plutonium for making bombs."

      In addition the nuclear power plant project is a partnership with Russia, the terms of which stipulate that the fuel pins must be returned to Russia, common practice across the world for Russian export reactors. As significantly, the weapons capability issue is contradicted by the type of reactor being developed in Iran. Of the two types of reactor, heavy water and light water or 'pressurised', the reactor at Bushehr is of the latter type. This is the wrong kind of plant for extracting weapons grade plutonium.

      In reality both the Bush and Ahmadinejad regime's are using the present crisis for similar objectives. For Bush the 'threat' of Iran helps keep alive the 'war on terror' and diverts attention from the increasingly deteriorating situation in Iraq. In Iran, Ahmadinejad's position is far from secure. The momentum for reform reflected in the election of Khatemi in 1997 and 2001 has not subsided and suspicions remain about the validity of the election outcome in 2005. The nuclear energy issue allows Ahmadinejad to present a façade of anti-Western unity which masks significant divisions in Iranian civil society.



      Both regimes are engaged in a dangerous game of brinkmanship which seeks to divert attention from bigger problems. However, should the current face off tip over the brink it could spark a conflict which would stretch across the region from Lebanon to South Asia. For this reason the European Union, including Britain, should refuse to countenance military threats against Iran and engage in dialogue over nuclear energy development. Threats against Iran only help the regime and make it harder for the Iranian people to resist oppression. The most effective way to help the people of Iran is to oppose any talk of attack and support the movement for democratic change.

      Jane Green
      is a member of the National Executive Council of CODIR and serves on the editorial board of Iran Today, CODIR's quarterly bulletin.
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      June 11, Iran Today Editorial


      The dangerous confrontation and brinksmanship between the theocratic ruling regime and the US neoconservatives is a serious threat to the people of Iran and the world. Due to lack of democratic rights the Iranians are unable to exert any influence towards the policies pursued by the regime.

      All policies in Iran are decided behind closed doors and their key objectives are exclusively to safeguard the political, economic and fundamentalist interests of the ruling oligarchy. This includes the reckless confrontation with the US around the nuclear issue which has nothing to do with promoting the genuine and immediate national interests of Iran.

      According to international law Iran is entitled to peaceful use of nuclear technology which on face value is vigorously defended by the regime in defiance of the US. However, the Iranian people are entitled to many other vital and basic human rights which are denied and heavily crushed by the regime. It should be noted that the US and Britain were the sponsors of the Shah's brutal dictatorship which from 1953 till 1979 also deprived the Iranians of their right to democracy.

      The existence of a democratic oil rich state would be contrary to the vital economic interests of the US. The case of Venezuela under the democratic administration of Chavez is an obvious example. In the 21st century the American economic model requires ever more energy via the import of cheap and plentiful oil from the Middle East. Thus it is highly unlikely that the pro-business rightwing neoconservatives have suddenly shifted US policy in favour of the people whilst sacrificing the interests of big business. Any suggestion by the Bush administration regarding the rights of the Iranian people or democratic transformation of the Middle East is merely a self-serving hypocrisy and charade.

      Twelve months after the rigged election of Ahamadinejad, the regime has tightened its grip by creating an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship. Intellectuals are often harassed, the continued detention, without trial of Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, a renowned scholar is one of the better known cases amongst many others.

      Direct decrees from Iran's "National Security Council", have been issued to the editors of newspapers preventing any objective or critical reporting of official foreign policy pursued by Ahmadinejad's government. In particular there have not been any discussions or objective analysis of whether nuclear electricity is an economic imperative for Iran. No public discussion is possible in Iran to consider the environmental and security risks surrounding the nuclear industry.

      Independent trade union activities are brutally crushed; a recent example is the vicious physical attack by the security forces against the families of striking bus drivers in Tehran on 28 of January; the leader of Tehran bus drivers union Mansour Osanlo has been imprisoned without trial or legal representation and is believed to have been tortured.

      Students in Iran are also under attack. During the last few months a number of universities have been protesting against a crack down by the security forces. These are normally carried out by plain clothed agents, (Baseejies) which physically assault any protesting students. In recent weeks several hundred student activists have been arrested and a direct decree from the "National Security Council" has forbidden the media from reporting mass arrests.

      It is obvious that neither the ruling theocracy in Iran, nor the Bush administration is concerned about the Iranian people. The logical conclusion cannot be anything other than the dangerous standoff on the nuclear issue is being used as a pretext for each side to achieve their longer term economic objectives and prolonging their own political survival.



      Recent events in Iran are complex and contradictory, however the social and political landscape is riddled with contradictions between modernity and conservatism. This is a growing confrontation between progressives and reactionaries which is gradually being shaped by various sections of society. Any outside intervention, whether military or economic sanctions would be detrimental to the Iranian people's ability to bring about the much needed political and socioeconomic fundamental changes and rid itself, by themselves of the oppressive dictatorship.

      The imposition of the Shah's dictatorship by an Anglo-American led coup d' etat nearly 53 years ago is a reminder of the bitter legacy of "regime change" forced on the Iranian people by outside forces. The people of Iran don't need another externally led "regime change" in their struggle for democracy, but they certainly need support from the international anti-war movements, as well as all those concerned with the promotion of genuine human rights, independence and democracy.
      By Jamshid Ahmadi
      , Assistant General Secretary of CODIR
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