Archiv für den Tag 11. Juni 2013

THE TEXT OF MY OPENING SPEECH AT THE HOPE CONCERT FOR THE PEOPLE OF IRAN

Text of the opening speech at the Hope Concert for the People of Iran
(The entire text is also available in فارسی / Farsi)
My name is Roxana Saberi, and I composed much of this piece in prison in Iran. I didn’t have a piano there, but in solitary confinement, I practiced by tapping my fingers on the wall of my cell.

I’m not a professional musician like the many talented artists you will hear tonight, but I wanted to share this piece with you, and to dedicate it to the hundreds of prisoners of conscience in Iran who are being punished for peacefully exercising their basic human rights.

These prisoners include journalists and bloggers, human rights advocates, student activists, and attorneys.

They also include two women who were my cellmates, members of Iran’s minority Baha’i faith who are serving 20-year sentences for practicing their religion.

These prisoners cannot hear our concert tonight, but there’s a great possibility that they will hear about it because news about events like this can travel through cement walls and steel doors.

I’d like to ask you to please close your eyes for a moment. Imagine you are in a prison cell, alone, accused of a crime you didn’t commit. No one knows where you are and you’re denied access to an attorney. And no matter how much you might dream that the raindrops on the roof are the footsteps of your saviors coming to rescue you, there is no escape.

Now imagine that you learn people outside prison not only know where you are, but they are also calling for your release. They are signing petitions, spreading the word on Facebook, and praying for you.  Even little children are praying for you!

These people are focusing not only on your plight but also on the reasons behind your imprisonment:  They are highlighting issues greater than yourself:  freedoms we’re all entitled to.

And you realize: You are not alone!  You don’t have to stand up to injustice by yourself anymore!  You feel empowered.  You feel hope.

Please open your eyes.

I felt this way in 2009, when I was in Tehran’s Evin Prison, facing a fabricated charge of espionage. When I learned – through my interrogator and later, my parents — that friends and strangers around the world were calling for my release, I realized something crucial:  When we don’t have a voice, we need others to speak out for us, and when we do have a voice, we have the responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless.

While we each have just one voice, together, our voices can make a difference.

Tonight we want to use our voices to make a difference—through music. Music can unite people across cultures, countries, and continents …

This evening’s artists speak different languages, but we don’t need to understand each other’s words to grasp each other’s plights … and to show solidarity with Iranians striving for human rights, freedom, and dignity. These Iranians are not only prisoners of conscience but also many who are outside prison. They want to write openly in their newspapers, surf the Web freely, to rally peacefully in the streets, to exercise their basic rights without fear and with hope that they can play a role in creating a better future for their country.

The proceeds from tonight’s concert will be donated to two non-profit organizations:  the Children of Persia, which helps needy children in Iran, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

We are broadcasting this concert live into Iran on the radio, TV, and the Internet.

The Iranian authorities will likely try to block people from watching and listening, but we have faith that many Iranians will still find ways to tune in.

And now I want to say a few words in Farsi for people in Iran:

:به عزیزانمان در ایران

در حالی که ممکن است مرزها و حکومتها ما را از هم جدا کند، همه ما در نهایت بخشی از بشریت هستیم و به عنوان  برادر و خواهر در کنار هم می‏ایستیم. هر چند فاصله‏ها ما را از هم دور می‏کنند، در غمها و شادیهایمان، در بیم و امید و از همه مهمتر در مهر و محبت با هم متحدیم. ما برای همبستگی با شما اینجا جمع شده‏ایم تا بگوییم که در تلاش مسالمت‏آمیزتان برای دستیابی به حقوق بشر، آزادی و کرامت انسانی تنها نیستید. هر یک از ما تنها یک صدا داریم، اما جمع صداهایمان می‏تواند تأثیری مثبتی بر جای بگذارد. این کنسرت به شما تقدیم می‏شود

 

 

Iran: election 2009/ 2013 – مستند «بیست و چندم خرداد…»

 
با گذشت چهار سال از انتخابات بحث‌برانگیز ریاست جمهوری سال ۱۳۸۸ در ایران، کماکان نقاط مبهم فراوانی در مورد پشت پرده این انتخابات وجود دارد. «بیست و چندم خرداد…» مستندی است که به بخشی از ناگفته‌هایی در این باره می‌پردازد. از دیدار محرمانه میرحسین موسوی و آیت‌الله خامنه‌ای گرفته تا جزئیاتی از چگونگی انتشار اولین بیانه اعتراضی مهدی کروبی پس از انتخابات.

 

Old War Haunts New Election

by Garrett Nada and Helia Ighani

A quarter century later, the Iran-Iraq War looms over Iran’s presidential election as if it happened yesterday. All six candidates participated in the grizzliest modern Middle East conflict as fighters, commanders or officials. Over the past month, the campaign has evolved into a feisty competition over who sacrificed and served the most in the eight-year war.
A leading candidate lost a leg. Another candidate commanded the Revolutionary Guards. A third liberated an oil-rich frontline city. A fourth brokered the dramatic ceasefire.

            During the final debate on June 7, candidates invoked their wartime experience during the “Holy Defense,” as it is officially dubbed in Iran, as a top credential for taking office. It clearly shaped the worldviews of all six, despite their disparate political affiliations as reformists, hardliners or independents.
            But experience during the 1980-1988 war is also emerging as an unspoken credential in facing the future, specifically a confrontation with the outside world over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The debate resonated with language of resistance that echoed from the war, which claimed up to 1 million casualties.
            Iran’s presidential contest illustrates how the war generation is now competing to take over the leadership from the first generation of revolutionaries. Four out of the six candidates were connected to the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s most powerful military organization. Over the past decade, the Guards have also played an increasing role in the economy and politics. Veterans won nearly a fifth of parliament’s 290 seats in 2004.
            The six candidates had vastly different roles. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Latest on the Race: Two Candidates Drop Out

Two candidates – one hardliner and one reformer  have quit Iran’s presidential race, leaving six competing in the June 14 poll. Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, a “principlist” hardliner and ex-parliamentary speaker, dropped out on June 10. Mohammad Reza Aref, a reformist and former vice president, followed on June 11. He received a letter from former President Mohammad Khatami advising him to step down. 
One reformer, two independents and three conservatives now remain in the running. The only candidate to gain from the smaller slate of candidates is Hassan Rouhani, who is now the lone reformist candidate. Khatami and other reformist leaders have declared their support for Rouhani, a cleric and former secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. Haddad-Adel did not officially endorse any other candidate. The following are excerpts from their withdrawal statements.

Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel
       “I announce my withdrawal from the presidential race to help promote the conservative victory… I hope that the conservatives win in the first round, but if it goes to the second round, the competition will be between two conservatives.
      “With my withdrawal I ask the dear people to strictly observe the criteria of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) when they vote for candidates… I advise the dear people to make a correct decision so that either a principlist wins in the first round, or if the election runs to a second round, the competition be between two principlists.”
Mohammad Reza Aref
      “At dusk on Monday… I received a letter from Mohammad Khatami… He said it would not be wise for me to remain in the race…In consideration of Mr. Khatami’s explicit opinion, and the experiences of two past presidential elections, I declare my withdrawal from the election campaign.”

 

WDR2| Präsidentschaftswahl Im Iran: „Überraschungen sind nicht möglich“

Ist die bevorstehende Präsidentenwahl im Iran überhaupt eine echte Wahl? Der iranischstämmige FDP-Politiker Bijan Djir-Sarai beantwortete die Frage auf WDR 2 mit einem klaren Nein.


FDP-Bundestagsabgeordneter Bijan Djir-Sarai
Bild 1 vergrößernDer iranischstämmige Bundestagsabgeordnete Bijan Djir-Sarai

Audio

  • Audioplayer schließen:XAudio:WDR 2 Gespräch mit dem iranischstämmigen FDP-Politiker Bijan Djir-Sarai (11.06.2013)

    Bijan Djir-Sarai, FDP-MdB / Helmut Rehmsen, WDR 2

Der Neusser Bundestagsabgeordnete Bijan Djir-Sarai zeigte sich auf WDR 2 überzeugt davon, dass es bei der Präsidentenwahl am Freitag (14.06.2013) keine Überraschungen geben wird. Dafür sorgten die religiösen Führer des Landes und der Wächterrat. Gemessen an den Verhältnissen etwa in Deutschland gebe es im Iran „keine echte Wahl“. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard’s Position on the Upcoming Presidential Elections as Described by their Daughter Zahra

 

by banooyesabz

June 10th, 2013 – [Kaleme – Haniyeh Rezaii] In an interview with Kaleme opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s daughter Zahra Mousavi denounces the continued pressure and restrictions imposed upon her family, discusses Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard’s position on the upcoming presidential elections, while once again expressing concern regarding the physical well being of her parents.

The full content of Zahra Mousavi’s interview with Kaleme is as follows:

When was the last time you heard from your parents? Do you have any update on their current condition?

One of my sisters was recently allowed a very short visit with our parents. If we take this past visit into account, in the past 7 months two of us have been allowed one visitation and the third sister two visitations with our parents.  As you can see our visitation rights continue to be restricted and we continue to grapple with the pressure imposed upon us by the security apparatus in Iran.  We are also deprived of all phone calls. They won’t even grant us the basic rights afforded to all prisoners under the law.  On the rare occasion that we have been granted visitation, it has been impossible to visit with our parents in a peaceful environment given the commotion associated with the unannounced and unexpected visitations, the extreme psychological pressure exerted on us and on our parents, the heavy presence of security officers and the watchful eyes of the security cameras.  Given the restricted nature of the visitations we generally have little time for extensive conversations, other than greetings and a brief dialogue about our lives. As a result we don’t have detailed information on their condition and well being. It is difficult to have a real conversation both for them and for us.

In your opinion, how are your parents enduring their house arrest?

Our parents are political figures. Their life together has always been a combination of a normal and loving existence intertwined with their political activities.  The ramifications of having a politically active life in countries with similar condition such as ours are apparent to all.  As a result, despite the fact that the level of corruption and injustice far exceeds what they could have imagined, our parents were nevertheless always mentally prepared for the potential consequences of their political activism.  Though they have always been in great spirits and their faith has only strengthened as a result of the difficulties over the years, their physical condition has however seriously deteriorated and this is one of our greatest concerns. We have endured the pain and anxiety of separation, the lack of news regarding our parents and the complex and cruel nature of the interactions with the security apparatus, but their physical condition is concerning to say the least.

Can you please expand upon this last point? What exact physical ailments are your parents suffering from?

My mother’s blood sugar has increased and the arthritis in her hands and shoulders is much more prominent. She is in pain and yet nothing has been done regarding her medical condition. My father was also supposed to go for a check up with the doctors who preformed his cardiac stent operation in May, but the security agents announced that they will take him to a hospital of their choice.  When my father went for his first check up and stress test to this hospital affiliated with the security apparatus, as a result of an apparent collusion between the security agents and the physicians, they did not shut off the stress test machine despite the fact that my father was not feeling well and the stress test was positive.  Given the circumstances of his last visit, my father did not feel comfortable putting his life in the hands of the aforementioned physicians and facility and did not agree to continue treatment there. As a result, he has been unable to complete his medical treatment. They are however providing him with the medicine that was prescribed by his former physician.  Despite our continued insistence to review his medical files we continue to be deprived of access to his files. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Iran: The real cost of sanctions

We look at the impact of increased sanctions against the Islamic Republic and ask who it really affects.

Video

The United States has unveiled aggressive new sanctions targeting Iran’s currency and car industry that are among the toughest yet. They are aimed at making Iranian money all but unusable outside the country.

Sanctions now make it harder for the compromise we need in a couple of months time when you have a new Iranian president – so they represent an absence of diplomatic nuance within Washington.

Shashank Joshi, research fellow of the Royal United Services Institute

 

The White House is increasing pressure on Tehran to stop it from developing nuclear weapons and „meet its international obligations“.

The latest measures mark the first time Iran’s currency, the rial, has been directly targeted by sanctions.

The sanctions apply to foreign financial institutions making what is described as significant transactions in the rial, and those holding significant amounts of the currency outside Iran. However, the meaning of ’significant‘ in this case, has not been made clear.

The sanctions also ban the sale of goods and services to Iran’s car industry, the second largest employer after the energy sector.

White House spokesman Jay Carney announced the measures: „The steps taken today are part of President Obama’s commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, by raising the cost of Iran’s defiance of the international community. Even as we intensify our pressure on the Iranian government, we hold the door open to a diplomatic solution. However, Iran must understand that time is not unlimited.“

Tehran has always insisted its programme is for peaceful purposes – for generating power and medical devices; but the US claims Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Virtual Election Gives Iranians Chance To Vote For Unofficial Candidates

By Charles Recknagel, RE/RL


A man registers for the Iran presidential election at the Interior Ministry in Tehran in May. He was one of hundreds who failed to make it through the strict vetting process. Now, a new Internet initiative aims to give voters more choice in a virtual online election.

Few would say that Iran’s presidential election offers a rich variety of candidates and positions. That’s because the candidates were carefully vetted ahead of the vote by the regime itself. All eight who passed had to demonstrate the highest loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his vision of national priorities.

But on June 7 a group of Internet activists hopes to give Iranian voters a taste of what an open election feels like by launching an alternative election featuring 20 candidates. The candidates not only include the officially approved eight, but 12 more, ranging from people who failed the official vetting process to reformist leaders and political prisoners.

The alternative online vote, dubbed „We Choose — Iran Free Elections,“ concludes on June 13 with an announcement of its results, one day before Iran’s official June 14 election is held. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

Latest on the Race: Foreign Policy Split

Garrett Nada

            Iran’s third and final presidential debate on June 7 was by far the most heated. In often fiery exchanges, all eight candidates lashed out at their rivals, raising their voices and charging opponents with failing the revolution. The debate exposed deep divisions on how Iran should deal with the international community, economic sanctions, Syria, and nuclear policy. The candidates include two reformists, four “principlist” hardliners, and two independents.
     The third debate was technically about foreign policy. But the two reformists kept bringing the discussion back to basic freedoms—or lack of them. “Freedom of speech is my first goal in domestic policy,” said Hassan Rouhani. Mohammad Reza Aref blamed the principlist camp for virtually all of Iran’s problems. He admonished the conservative candidates for standing by current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his early years in office. Both men also repeatedly endorsed the achievements of former Mohammad Khatami, a reformer who was president from 1997 to 2005.
            The United States came up often in the debate. Rouhani credited himself with preventing a possible U.S. attack after 9/11. He served as Supreme National Security Council secretary and chief nuclear negotiator from 1989 to 2005. He was particularly tough on current negotiator and candidate Saeed Jalili for failing to do a deal with the international community. Jalili countercharged that Rouhani’s weakness had forced Iran to temporarily suspend uranium enrichment in 2003.
      Even the principlists― Mohammad Gharazi, Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, Saeed Jalili, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Ali Akbar Velayati ― took shots at each other. Qalibaf (far left), a former Revolutionary Guards officer, highlighted his battlefield role during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. He accused Velayati, a former foreign minister, of sipping coffee with ex-French President Francois Mitterrand while Qalibaf was being shot at on the front.
            Jalili and Velayati, who are both widely considered close to the supreme leader, clashed over diplomatic strategy in one particularly unusual exchange. Jalili accused Velayati of being too conciliatory on Iran’s nuclear energy program. Velayati countered that Jalili had failed to get sanctions lifted or protect Iran’s rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. “Diplomacy is not a philosophy class,” charged Velayati. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags

What the world will learn from Iran’s election

By Robin Wright

The field of candidates may be limited, but the outside world can still learn a lot from Iran’s 2013 presidential poll. The election will provide three pivotal metrics about the Islamic republic now that the Ahmadinejad era is ending.

      First, the (real) turnout at the polls will indicate how many Iranians still have an interest in the world’s only modern theocracy. The government is quite obsessed with the number of people who vote to prove it still has a public mandate. Voting has become almost an existential issue for the ruling clerics.
      “A vote for any of these eight candidates is a vote for the Islamic Republic and a vote of confidence in the system and our electoral process,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a public appeal on June 4. He charged that the outside world was plotting to ensure a low turnout. Leaders clearly hope at least 60 percent of the estimated 50 million voters will turn out.
            Second, reaction to the results will signal whether the public deems the election process itself legitimate. It’s no small issue. Many Iranians believed the 2009 presidential poll was fraught with fraud—and that Ahmadinejad was not really reelected. The reaction sparked the greatest challenge to the Iranian regime since the 1979 revolution. It gave birth to a new opposition movement.
            Over the next eight months, millions turned out in cities across Iran to challenge the results—and to demand “Where is my vote?” The regime used brutal force, arrested thousands, and held Stalinesque trials to quash the new Green Movement opposition.
            In 2013, the regime has already witnessed signs of discontent even before the vote. On June 4, thousands reportedly turned the funeral for Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri into an anti-government demonstration in Isfahan. Taheri had been the Friday Prayer Leader in Isfahan. He had earlier criticized the regime for corruption, eventually resigning from the post. He also called the 2009 election “invalid.”
            At his funeral, supporters chanted “death to the dictator,” a reference to the supreme leader and a rallying cry from 2009. Others shouted “Free Mousavi and Karroubi,” the two reformist presidential candidates in 2009 and co-leaders of the Green Movement. They have been under house arrest for more than two years. Lies den Rest dieses Beitrags
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