Omid Memarian

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Here is a complete report on the Womens network in the persian language countries(Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikestan) that is published in Shargh newspaper . My report  is in Farsi.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

here is a report that deals with the State of journalism in iran today. I have prepared it for the AOIJ. Here is the begining. to countinue the report you can click here.

The State of Journalism in Iran
 Prepared by:Association of Iranian Journalists (AOIJ)
Iran, by some, has been classified as the largest prison for journalists in the Middle East.  This statement accurately describes the current atmosphere of journalism in Iran.  During the last few years, many well-known Iranian journalists have left the country and some have chosen other professions in a quest for safety.  And, many have been sentenced to serve months and even years in prison. 
A cursory examination of the profession of journalism in Iran shows that journalists who choose to cover a number of topics, deemed as sensitive, risk their safety and freedom, as such, many choose not to write about these issues. Some of these restricted topics, which include both political and social issues, are indeed identified as restricted and announced as such by the judiciary and other conservative institutions, with oversight and other powers over the press, allowing them to check, limit and censor their freedoms accordingly.  However for many other topics deemed sensitive by conservative forces the lines remain murky and journalists are often left on their own to test and figure out the limits on free speech.  For those who cross redlines or push limits too far, whether intentionally or by accident, the price is high.  Because the distinctions between the restricted and allowed topics are murky and laws remain ambiguous, journalists are subject to arbitrary harassment on a variety of grounds, interrogations, accusations, legal charges and even jail sentences.  Political limitations and illegal interpretations of laws, in favor of political factions, play into this process. 
Last year was indeed a very difficult year for the Association of Iranian Journalists (AOIJ).  Those journalists covering political issues, especially the reform process and issues related to democracy, were especially targeted and suffered the brunt of the conservative back lash against the press. (To be countinued...)

Friday, July 23, 2004

An Iranian Candidate for the US congress
"Qumars" has written to me about an Iranian Candidate for the US congress
...Goli Ameri who is running for Congress in the United States, Oregon.  If she wins, she will be the first Iranian American inCongress. She's republican and has kept quiet aboutany concrete intentions toward Iran. She gets a lot ofsupport from Iranians in California and she's beendeemed the "top challenger" by the Republican party.It would be nice to know what she thinks.(Click here)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Parliament Cooperating with the World Bank
Interview by: Omid Memarian
Published in Jahan-e- Sanaat ( World of  industry)
28th July 2004
Christian Poortman, Vice President of WB for MENA Region, accompanied by high ranking Bank officials, attend the inaugural ceremony of the Persian-SpeakingGender & Development Network, sponsored by the Bank on 18 July.  In his one week stay in Iran He also met with number of Ministers and MPs during and believes that the cooperation with the Bank is in agenda for the new Parliament.
  Iran resumed its relation with the Bank during the course of Rafsanjani Presidency. What is your key mission in your cooperation with Iran?
 Fighting with poverty is our main task which is pursued in our projects in Iran. However, the machinery differs in each country. In Recent years we have developed and concluded our economic assessments in Iran where we should have comprehensive understanding of economic challenges to further develop the international cooperation. Iran in its turn should learn the international mechanism to take advantage of economic opportunities. Tackling the poverty is the key issue. 
  - In some developing countries, there is negative perception of bank policies on development projects. This might be the result of what is happening with Latin American countries, e.g. Argentina. 
This might not be an accurate conclusion of the Banks activities in most countries. The Bank has good relation with the governments and carries out projects which are beneficial to people (e.g. South East Asia). Those who are happy do not express themselves but unsatisfied countries speak up. Nonetheless our policies are based on studies on economic infra-structure and facilities which in some cases the policies might not be in line with the political context. People usually do not like the bad news regardless of benefits in the long run. Privatization is one of our major policy which proved to increase productivity followed by economic boom, depending to the infra structural condition and regulations. However, privatization is followed by price increase and short term unemployment which entails good management. Governments are not ready to risk on what generates short term un-satisfaction. Consultation is provided by the Bank, but it is up to the government to decide. We have carried out projects on water & Sewage and were among the primary organizations initiated working in Bam. we hope undertaking projects would at least develops realistic and positive understanding of Banks policies in Iran.
 -US has influenced Banks Policy to the extent that WB is considered to be an American entity. 
Perhaps, The main reason is due to the location of the Banks Head office at Washington and the fact that the major share holder of the Bank is US. However 180 other countries are among the share holders and can influence the decision makings. Therefore we are an international institution composed of multinational and multi cultural member staff.  
-It appears Iran’s request for credit was hampered due to US ban. Is this true?
Since last years…  we provided more than 1 billion USD worth of credits to Iran. Therefore US rejection is possible but there are also other members have a say, when projects have technical justifications, they are approved. The indication is the growth of the amount of credits provided by the Bank.
  -Do you consider political situation a major factor influencing decision making in the Bank? Being democratic or otherwise? 
As it is mentioned in the Letter of Association of the Bank, endorsed by all members including Iran, WB is an economic entity with no political connotations. The credibility of the countries and nature of the projects are prioritized. The feasibility of economic projects is our major concern. 
 -As a high ranking WB figure, what is y our assessment of cooperation with Iran? 
In recent years we were studying economic situation to have better understanding of the context. We initiated some projects; however the slow pace of the procedures of implementation is disappointing. The process of calling for Tender to be according to the banks regulations where Iranians are not so familiar should be outlined as to be causing constant delays. Yet we are now on the right track and hope that the significance of this cooperation is highlighted.
- Political changes brings about economic changes specially in Iran where these two are tightly linked;what changes are to be expected in your policies towards Iran after recent political alteration? 
following several meetings with MPs and Ministries we come to the conclusion that no major economic policy changes are in agenda towards cooperation with The Bank. The new officials are also favoring Banks projects in the framework of the 5 year development plans. 

Monday, July 19, 2004

Look at this article. I wondered....US really has increased the pressure on Iran....
"The Iran Factor
Tehran may have facilitated terror by giving safe passage and ‘clean’ passports to Al Qaeda members, says the panel investigating the attacksThe Iran Factor..."

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Iranians votes in the US presidency election
The elction of presidency in US is getting closer to the hot days. in iran the papers  wrote about the Bush programs for Irantoday. they mentioned that president Bush will countinue the pressures against Iran if he can start the second period of presidency. But what is the Iranians veiw about this event? I  was chatting with an Iranian man in the US who was interested  in politic I in Iran however he is the US citizen at the present time about the Iranian votes in the next presidency. He told me that the Iranians will follow and support President Bush by their votes. Because he looks at the Iran changes seriously. Consider that there are more than 3 milion individuals of Iranians in US. But In Iran a similiar atmosphre is creating. Perhaps, two or three years ago it was unblieveable for everyone that a tndency to President Bush apear in some part of iranaian society. But despite all bad news and all that happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and also other negative facts, Some of Iranians believe that  bush administration will push all the force on iran to change its behavior in the political atmoshpher. how ever a big contraversy exist in this situation...
Bill Smith a congressman in US  in his speech that is available in the website of congress has critisized the American strategic policies against Iran and has called iran as a dangerous country. "They are not only trying to  destroy the exixstence democracy in iraq, but also they are in the way that will will support the Islamic Radicalism." said Bill Smith. (Shargh newspaer,today tehran).
So the play will start. Conservatives who had tried to establsi h a normal relation with the US officials during the last months, will try to rearrengment their policies again. Or perhaps this is a cat and mouse play and these kind of talking is only for the public....However I dont think so......

  Two Papers Banned again ….

Vaghaye Newspaper which I had a weekly page on civil society in it, banned yesterday. Jomhooriat newspaper forced to stop publishing. I lost another paper to work with. Forced migration to another paper......The court has banned Vaghaye because of its "action" against the national security by publishing articles and comments.
 Let’s just concentrate for a minute to see what has happened to the security of the country which is threatened so badly to the extend, that by writing short comments or articles it deserves to be shut dawn. The question is what kind of a country we have that by writing articles the security of it becomes so vulnerable and fragile. God save the people…. 

Friday, July 16, 2004

Advertiser drops Whoopi after Bush sex joke 

 The style of High ranks Amusements and the story of women’s dress in Iran: 
 Falling Short on Vision!  

Three years ago when all the attentions of the world was focused on Afghanistan and the war between US and Taliban and Bin Laden, the neighbor  was dealing with the uprising of youth after matches of national football team. At that time I wrote a comment in a paper and talked about the amusements of the Iranian administrators in the world today. When all the players in the region were trying to bargain and to achieve more precious result for their people in these kind of events, the most important discussion in the supreme council of security in Iran was talking to find out a solution for the usage of alcohol by the youth and the other citizen. At that time, the society was wounded by scourges of the Islamic agents in the public on the body of people who didn’t observe the Islamic rule (and it is better to say the rules of people who are representative of less that 15 percent of the whole).  Iraq was going to inter to a big crisis, the Kurdish region were blazing by ethnical passions, and the Arab neighbors was defendant the Aboomosa island and the Azerbaijan brought up some issue about their right in Caspian sea(Khazar lake)more than the approved agreements ….. Dangers were all around the country.
At this time the Islamic regime was thinking about the reaction of youth to the result of football matches! At the same time the authorities were avoiding girls not to use non Islamic dresses. They attacked to the shops and arrested many girls that their sin was only showing a piece of their hair. They send them to the police stations and clashed with them as prostitute. How ever, even they mustn’t do it even with the prostitutes…. At the same time the thought of the …. who had all the power in their hand could not fly over their noses. As they have done during the two decade. So many opportunities for the nation burned. The rights in Caspian see, Afghanistan, Iraq and even in international level.

 Now, only two or three years after that, the main anxiety of the conservatives is how to come up with women who don’t observe Islamic dress and use the dresses who like it and don’t wear the ordered dresses. During the last weeks the conservatives women MPs who have interred to the parliament about six month ago, talked about establishing the new regulations for women. This regulation will show the women how to wear dress in public. Some conservative’s magazines like Yalesarat that belongs to fundamentalists strongly blamed the reformist who made weak the beliefs of Islamic regulations about covering. They mentioned that during the last years reformist had released people in this field and requested from the police and the court to confront with this broad violation of Islamic law. At the same time the best interests of the country was being threatened by the nuclear programs and the reaction on international forces. And again the cooperation council of Arabic countries approves a statement against the Aboomoosa Island. They said this island is belonged to Emirates. But the authorities we were engaging with the crisis of Hejab (Islamic was for wearing) and the ways people wear dress. The authorities had to deal with nuclear programs, human rights cases, economical crisis and so on. But the main focus was on the Hejab.
So don’t you want to ask me why? That’s a very complicated question. In my context I can feel it inside completely. But it is a little to describe for the others who have the common background with me or with the Iranian society. But to make a long story short, let me tell you  what happened for the functions of the Islamic system that after more than two decade dwindle only to avoid women not to show a piece of their body or their hair? The symbols of the idealogic political system during the last years has changed or destroyed. Let’s continue it more, later. In my position now, I prefer not to talk about it. But please think about it and remember the similar historical periods with the same qualifications. But be sure that something has changes that can not go back to the past. In Persian we use a proverb in this situation that say you can not gather the poured oil. And when you try to gather it, it will be impossible and every one laughs you and the judge of history too…..   

What is happening for the journalists and intellectuals who are leaving the country... new waves of has started again...more than ten journalists and writer have left country during the last 9 months. What does it mean? it means.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Poelpe who are not seen in Islamic Japan
Long distance from my homeland, near the Persian golf, there are many people who live under the hot sun. Bandarabbas one of the deprived provinces of Iran with a long largeness of sea and resources, have to live poorly…people who live in the weather which is most of the moths of the year over 45 centigrade .
I went there to hold a seminar for the NGOs who are trying to play a role in their social life. The story began when we held 3 workshops in Tehran last month. We invited many of NGOs for registration in it by our website. Two young people from Bandarabbas registered for the workshop. It was full. But we managed in a manner that they could attend in it. It was amazing and unbelievable that how two young boy and girl travel from this long distance, with no help for their tickets and staying costs. It meant that they were really serious. They were full of will. But as a journalist I could read between the lines, between their eyes and their reactions. Big grief in their eyes, but poise in their face and a request. After the workshop I gave them some books and training booklet. But there was a request as well. The girl started but the boy asked him to stop. “There is something to say to me and I felt it in the last hours. What is it?” I said. But it was not comfortable for them to talk. “It is not possible for my fellow citizen and member of our group in Bandarabbas to attend in this kind of workshops because of the high costs. I wish we could hold a similar workshop in my city. So many of us could attend and use.” She said. “But it is impossible for us to pay any money.” He added… I said that it has no problem and we can talk about it more because we have some services with no money and only because we are following to establish a network all over the country… they told me that they will follow it later. …But we had not this service. I asked our director and he said that it is up to me. So I told them I am ready to hold a one day workshop there. When I reached there were 30 individuals there. The workshop was about communication skills in NGOs….I really saw how the lack of effective communication don’t let them to use the existent recourses and mobilize people well…..anyway… During the class I asked them to talk about their success in their area….and they said some stories. They told me how they could mobilize the resources of benevolent people in Bandar to build more than 30 schools (with one or more room) in the remote areas especially in villages…how ever government had helped them in some cases…but the tendency to participate was interesting. One of the participants said something that I will add it to my book about communication skills with handicapped. I will mention her name probably in my book. …. …I used to go to provinces a few years ago for some consultant processes to establish networks of NGOs. But this one day trip was different for me. I remembered a sentence of Bahonar who is the deputy chairman of the parliament when he mentions that they are trying to change Iran as an Islamic model of Japan. What a big joke! Not only in this province that the rate of unemployment is over 30 percent but also in more than ten provinces the situation of people in not in a good manner and most of them live under the poverty line. Sociologists believe one of the biggest problems in the way of conservatives or any other political forces in Iran in the early future, is to confronting with “poor movement”. The poor movement is growing up more and more. ….like the same I wrote about the Kurdistan before in another comment before …..It will challenge the Islamic regime in their way to build Islamic-Japan… Perhaps I write about the “Poor movement” more lately….

Thursday, July 08, 2004

UNESCO Sets Deadline for Iran to Trim Down Isfahan Building

Micheal Moores weblog

During the last days the leader talked about the ways that Iranian must dress and the ways they can not. Leader mentioned that we have not to imitate from the west….He said that some of her agents are working on some Iranian models of dress to present the society….No judge! The big problem of Iranian society is getting solved.

I will run a website for myself. During the last days I was really busy and whenever I tried to write something in the blog, I failed. But there are many things to talk about. Nest Monday I will go to Bandar Abbas city that is one of the most deprived places in the country. I will hold a workshop about communication skills in NGOs. During the last days they have called me for several to set the program. I love going to the provinces for holding workshops and training course. Kind people with talented youth.