Archive for June, 2009

Not giving up

June 29, 2009

I found this video on Twitter. Its a protest that took place in Tehran yesterday.

This morning, CNN removed its special “Iran coverage” section of its website. The global community seems more fascinated with Bernie Madoff and the rash of celebrity deaths. Ahmadinejad, who makes Madoff seem like decent person, continues to make a mockery out of the people of his country. Today he suggested that Neda’s death should be “investigated”.

Here’s the story from AP/Fox:

 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked Iran’s cleric-controlled judiciary on Monday to investigate the killing of Neda Agha Soltan, who became an icon of Iran’s ragtag opposition after gruesome video of her bleeding to death on a Tehran street was circulated worldwide.
 
Ahmadinejad’s Web site said Soltan was slain by “unknown agents and in a suspicious” way, convincing him that “enemies of the nation” were responsible.
 
The regime has implicated protesters and even foreign intelligence agents in Soltan’s death. But an Iranian doctor who said he tried to save her told the BBC last week she apparently was shot by a member of the volunteer Basij militia. Protesters spotted an armed member of the militia on a motorcycle, and stopped and disarmed him, Dr. Arash Hejazi said.

 

 An investigation seems legitimate if it meant that the Iranian government would summon and punish the Basiji and the other thugs roaming the streets–the thugs who, according to an Iranian doctor and many eyewitnesses, murdered Neda in cold blood–but instead it meas that the investiagtion will focus on whether or not “foreign agents” were involved in the killing. In other words, Ahmadinejad is harping on the same card being used by his puppet master, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, blaming the United States, Israel, and the UK for the hatred his countrymen feel for him. Well Mr. Ahmadinejad, I have news for you: when you steal an election and begin a campagin of killing when the people speak out, those people are going to hate you. It doesn’t take an international conspiracy involving MI5, the CIA, and the Mossad to make that happen. And I have more news: its going to take more than a few “Marg bar Amrika! Marg bar Israel!” chants from your dwindling crowd of supporters to help you maintain your grip of power. You can only keep the blood of the innocent hidden under your perverted interpretation of Islam and the false pretense of democracy for so long.

How many more people are going to have the die in vain while the world shrugs its shoulders and lets out a cold sigh of indifference?

More protests from far and wide

June 28, 2009

I’ve come to realize that I have devoted my blog to giving the Iranian people a voice these last few weeks. Blogs are not like the news, which has unfortunately found much more interest in celebrity deaths and the scandal involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Instead, blogs can stay focused on the most important things.

Amidst all this, the Iranian people are not giving up…and their supporters are not giving up either. On Thursday, I attended a rally in San Francisco’s Union Square for a third time. it was my third event in 3 days. Just two days earlier, Iranian-American City Councilman Ross Mirkarimi succeeded in pushing the city to adopt a resolution in support of the protesters in Iran.

The evening concluded with the release of hundreds of green and black balloons, which dispersed above the city. 

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Meanwhile, in Iran today, thousands of people rallied outside of the Khobr Mosque, shouting slogans against Ahmadinejad and Khamenei and demanding that their votes be recognized.

Here’s what happened. Remember, its impossible for news sources to verify what’s happening in Iran right now because of extreme reporting restrictions. But the eyewitness accounts of thousands of people taking part in this rally appear to be very true. Even in light of brutal government repression, which President Mousavi’s (that’s the fitting title) wife has termed “martial law”, the Iranian people are still trying to change their country for the better.

Here are a couple more photos from Thursday’s rally…

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I thought this was a really great photo…hats off to the designer of the sign.

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Roxana Saberi speaks out against Iran

June 25, 2009

I am glad to see the Roxana Saberi has not forgotten the many others who remain imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison. I wish that more international leaders were like her.

Sorry for the lack of posts…I have been attending many different rallies, including one in San Jose two nights ago where I had the chance to speak. I will update soon and post some photos of these spectacular rallies that are taking place all across the Bay Area.

I have been updating my Twitter regularly…as it is quicker and more efficient than blogging, at least at this moment in time.

Tehran protests reach the Bay Area

June 18, 2009

The reports that the rallies in Tehran are stretching more than 5 miles across the city may be incorrect. 8,000 plus miles might be more fitting. Over vast oceans, Iranians from around the world are joining with their countrymen and women who are fighting  for their rights in their homeland.

I spent Wednesday evening in San Francisco’s Union Square, standing with the Bay Area’s Iranian-American community to protest the “re-election” of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the brutal crackdown that is causing mayhem and suffering across Iran’s major cities. I was happy to see so many cars honk their horns as they drove past the gathering. Some occupants even yelled to us in support while motorcyclists revved their engines to show that they stand in solidarity with the Iranian people.  

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The message was very clear: Iranians from far and wide, all over the world, are not going to stand for what Ahmadinejad has done. Some protesters waved pictures of Mir Hossein Mousavi, declaring that he is the real president of Iran, not Ahmadinejad. . Chants echoed by the protesters included “Oh Iran, please stay well. Ahmadi, go burn in hell!”. I myself held up a sign with a message calling for President Obama to declare his support for Mousavi.

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Protesters also called on the UN for support, urging the world body to step in and intervene. Personally, I have little hope that the UN will do anything to help ensure that the will of the Iranian people is represented. After all, this is the same UN that brought Ahmadinejad in as the keynote speaker at a racism conference in Geneva (I have the link to his tirade in my post below). On my way to the protest, I walked past the United Nations Plaza and saw the UN flag flapping in the wind.

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After walking through the plaza and meeting up with the protesters, it reminded me that we all live in one world and need to work together to make it a better place. I’ve always thought that was the main message of the United Nations. Right now, the rest of the world isn’t doing enough to help Iran in its struggle for freedom. However, there was no shortage of American citizens who were ready and willing to stand with the Iranian people. Now if only our leaders had that same will…

I will be attending Thursday Night’s protest and hope to have many more photos to post. I urge everyone to follow the election unrest in Iran very closely.

 

Iran’s election reveals two fraudulent leaders

June 15, 2009

“Hope and Change” probably sounds like a great phrase for the millions of people who are revolting against the theocracy in Iran right now.

For 3 days now I have been following the elections in Iran and I am keeping close contact with some of my Iranian friends who are actively involved in the protests that have nearly brought life in Tehran to a halt. These protests are the most significant since 1979, and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the religious ruler of Iran who hailed the results as a divine victory from God, must be shaking under his robe. Ahmadinejad continues to slap his people in the face by saying the outrage that has set the streets alight is no different than the anger after a soccer match. But what can expected from someone who makes a fool of himself at a UN racism conference and mocks the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Most people I have talked to, even a hard-left European aquantaince I spoke to the other day, believe that Ahmadinejad is nothing short of a fraud, or Ahmadine-fraud, as the media has begun to call him. When the elections started, I felt almost certain that this would happen, because its what you can expect from a thuggish theocracy. That said, my anger is not only reserved for the Mullahs in Tehran, it lies with three of my own politicians who are milling around Washington and elsewhere in the world, grappling to find the right words–or more likely, the better way to keep alive the planned “negotiations” with Ahmadinejad and Khamenei as the legitimate rulers of the Iranian nation. These three would be President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One of my favorite authors, Christopher Hitchens, scorched Clinton in his most recent article about the elections in Iran:

Shame on all those media outlets that have been complicit in this dirty lie all last week. And shame also on our pathetic secretary of state, who said that she hoped that “the genuine will and desire” of the people of Iran would be reflected in the outcome. Surely she knows that any such contingency was deliberately forestalled to begin with.

I strongly recommend reading the rest of this article by Hitchens, who is far more experienced on the subject than I am and has traveled to Iran several times, including multiple visits to the mosques that preach the anti-American, anti-Israel diatribe that has allowed the Khomeinists to stay in power these last thirty years.

Anyhow, I am appalled by the lack of outrage expressed by President Obama. Apparently, there isn’t enough “Hope and Change” left over for the people of Iran, who are crying out for help and are being met with a muted response. Who could forget the speech Obama gave the night of his victory? I recall the President vowing to stand up to “those who would tear this world down.” So much for that I guess. At least, many Iranians must be thinking this as they are beaten, electrocuted, and even shot by revolutionary thugs armed with guns by the Iranian authorities.

As the protests rage, Iran holds the potential for a brighter future. My concern right now is that the millions of people marching against theocratic rule are lacking a strong leader who can redefine the meaning of “revolution”. Sure, Mir Hossein Mousavi would have been a better and more receptive leader than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but at the end of the day, he’s still part of the establishment and, according to Kenneth R. Timmerman, played a vital role in the creation of Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group that has brought much mayhem to Lebanon, the Middle East, and the world. Luckily, the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, suffered a humiliating defeat in Lebanon’s recent election. While mentioning this subject, I would like to quote Mr. Hitchens again, who, like me, cannot accept that a demagogue like Ahmadinejad was able to secure re-election while the tide turns on Islamic fundamentalism elsewhere in the world.

The obvious evidence of fixing, fraud, and force to one side, there is another reason to doubt that an illiterate fundamentalist like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have increased even a state-sponsored plebiscite-type majority. Everywhere else in the Muslim world, in every election in the last two years, the tendency has been the other way. In Morocco in 2007, the much-ballyhooed Justice and Development Party wound up with 14 percent of the vote. In Malaysia and Indonesia, the predictions of increased market share for the pro-Sharia parties were likewise falsified. In Iraq this last January, the local elections penalized the clerical parties that had been making life a misery in cities like Basra. In neighboring Kuwait last month, the Islamist forces did poorly, and four women—including the striking figure of Rola Dashti, who refuses to wear any headgear—were elected to the 50-member parliament. Most important of all, perhaps, Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah was convincingly and unexpectedly defeated last week in Lebanon after an open and vigorous election, the results of which were not challenged by any party.

Indeed. Hitchens’ summation certainly makes a lot of sense, and I wish that President Obama had the decency to say exactly that in a direct address to the people of Iran–not an address to reach out to the bloody and repressive theocracy, but an address to the Iranians, both young and old, who are tired of living under a country that is ruled by Sharia law and ravaged by unemployment and economic stagnation.

President Obama, you have a chance to stand up for everything you campaigned on. Face the reality that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are not, and will never be, trustworthy partners in peace. Iran, the United Sates, and the entire international community are at a crossroads that, with or without a good outcome, will be of historical proportions.

All of this, though, is just wishful thinking. The fact is, the situation in Iran, as well as the insanity that is threatening to plunge the Korean Peninsula into nuclear war, has revealed Obama to be a phony and a leader who is incapable of standing up for justice. His first 100 days have been dedicated to protecting the rights of mass murderers like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and he has been very vocal in his opposition to the “Previous Administration”, but sadly his concern for oppression and human rights doesn’t seem to apply to anywhere but his own country.

A potential new horizon

June 12, 2009

A friend of mine sent me this video from downtown Tehran…its a rally for Hossein Mousavi, who is challenging Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Some of my Iranian friends are casting their ballots as I write this.

This should be obvious

June 9, 2009

Last week I was at a seaside motel in Monterey and spent an hour watching Bill Maher. He made the most correct sum-up of the situation in North Korea I’ve heard in a while (he had John Bolton as a guest, and Bolton seemed to help Maher along), one that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cannot seem to understand. Maher said that North Korea is so dangerous and unpredicatable because the country is essentially “the retarded child that has been chained away in the basement its whole life.” While this may sound offensive to some people, its true. North Korea is a stunted, cult of a society that is never going to co-exist through dialogue…an apology from Barack Obama for everything that this horrible country (sigh) has done to “interfere” in the Korean Penninsula is not going to work either.

Here’s where things are heading…

From BBC News:

The families of two US journalists held in North Korea have pleaded with the authorities there to set the pair free.

In a statement, relatives of Euna Lee and Laura Ling said reports that the women had been sentenced to 12 years in a labour camp were “devastating”.

They were convicted of entering the North illegally while filming at the Chinese border in March.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the government was “pursuing every possible approach” to free the women.

Their trial was held amid growing tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme, but Mrs Clinton stressed that the two issues were “entirely separate”.

“Entirely Separate”? I don’t think she really believes this. I’m hoping that the Obama Administration is just trying to do what a government is supposed to do–protect its citizens. However, it might be more effective if Clinton would call North Korea out and make it obvious to the world that they are holding Lee and Ling because they are either looking for attention or trying to show force–or both. Iran tried to make a similar statement by holding American Roxana Saberi for several months in Iran’s most notorious prison.

Relatives of the two women being held are issuing similar appeals:

The families of Ms Ling and Ms Lee said they were worried about the “mental state and wellbeing” of the two women.

In a joint statement, the families said: “We ask the government of North Korea to show compassion and grant Laura and Euna clemency and allow them to return home to their families.

I am equally concerned about the “mental state and well-being” of the nutjob at the helm in Pyongyang who has decided to put to rest all doubts that his country can slip even further into isolation and despotism. I don’t think that Kim Jong Il is crazy enough to actually use an atomic weapon, particularly because it would mean the destruction of his entire country and himself. Instead, a regional conflaguration could erupt if he decides to intimidate Japan or South Korea by firing a missile over their airspace. In a panic, the Japanese or the South Koreans might shoot it down–or one of the American Trident Submarines operating in the waters of the Peninsula might fire back and Kim Jong Il will find himself in the center of the thermo-nuclear war he has been threatening.