Omid Memarian

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Meeting Akbar Ganji....

I met Akbar Ganji tonight. It took long one hour and half. He was so tired. Many of journalists, politicians, intellectuals, students met him during the last two days. He smiled. “I was thinking about you when I was writing the Second Manifest of Republicanism” Said Ganji to us. He has mentioned about our case two times in his lon article. I and 3 friends of mine were two weeks close to his saloon in the Evin prison. We talked about some common people in Evin prison who we knew them like some jailers. Ganji believes when somebody talk about his period in the detention, can provide himself a good protection. “I have told to the other political prisoners to talk about the situation that they had publicly but some of them have not accepted”. He gave us an advice to talk about all that happened for us in details for the people. “it is not effective to talk about the details to the high rank politicians or the governmental clerics. It is important to talk with people by media.” We talked about many things. I think he is more radical than he was. That’s the result of prison. There is no curtain for the people who have the experience of the prison here. No one can imagine what happen….I hope to write more about this meeting in the coming days.

Iran tests new solid fuel rocket with 2,000 km range

Bloggers of Iran
Blogging has gone international in a big way. And in. Iran, blogging means that news, ideas and rumors are bypassing traditional censors.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Ganji is in Danger!

Human Rights
Akbar Ganji is the longest-serving political prisoner in Iran’s journalistic community, jailed for expressing his opinion in defense of freedom and the professional rights of journalists. He was convicted by high-ranking judiciary officials in the Islamic Republic for criticizing government officials, and has so far spent more than sixty-one months in prison. Since his imprisonment, Ganji has published “The Republican Manifesto,” a work that outlines plans for achieving an open and democratic society, and has invited the people to engage in civil disobedience. These actions have brought him further wrath from the officials of the judiciary, who are abusing their legal powers to silence his voice, so much so that even his attorney, Dr. Nasser Zarafshan, has been sent to prison.
At 7 PM on Thursday, May 19th 2005, Ganji went on an indefinite hunger strike to protest his unfair and illegal treatment, including the refusal to grant him medical leave. This is while he is severely ill and is in dire need of special medical attention. We Iranian journalists and bloggers are extremely concerned about Ganji’s health, and we call on human rights organizations to take immediate measures to pressure Iran’s judiciary to release and treat him. In the present circumstances, international human rights organizations and freedom-loving people all over the word are responsible for the protection of Akbar Ganji’s life

Iran: Judiciary Stonewalls on Journalist's Death(New York, May 25, 2005) -- The Iranian judiciary continues to delay investigations into the role of its agents in the death of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, Human Rights Watch said today.

Iran says US, Israel are the real nuclear threats
Iran lawmakers want nuclear development

Iran highlights Hezbollah role in defending Lebanon against Israel

Pakistan assists IAEA probe into Iran’s nuclear program

Friday, May 27, 2005

Akabr Ganji is so sick

Today I went to Akbar Ganji’s Home. Some of the journalists were there too. Abdullah Noori the former MP and Minister of Interior came to meet the Ganji’s Wife and his family too. He is one of the inflectional reformists who spent about two years after the conservatives interpolated him in the parliament. “I don’t know why they send people to the jail because of their opinions and ideas.” He said. “We can not do anything for him. He insists on his ideas and they are angry of him.” He added. Akbar Ganji has been more than 1800 days in the jail until now. Last week, He started hunger strike. His wife was so disturbed about his situation. “I will join him with hunger strike at the front of UN office in Tehran if he advises me.” Ganji is so sick in the jail now. “He has lost 9 Kg in the last two months.” She added. My whole report will publish in shargh newspaper. However I know most of it is not printable. Mr. Noori said he is going to vote for the upcoming president election. “There is no reason to vote. Because, nothing will change by election.” He says.

I am so sad for Ganji. I hope he release as soon az possible.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Moeen will attend in the upcoming presidency election. Two major reformist parties in their last meeting announced that they don't believe in supreme leader's order for solving the conflicts between the governmental institutions. However a gap has appeared between the reformists. Some of the reformists believe that by attending in the election, the legitimacy of the conservatives will increase. That’s a difficult for judgment.

How to say a “Big No”?

Dr. Moeen and some reformist journalists are going to hold a meeting about the upcoming election and the situation they have faced. Many of Iranian political activists believe that the reformist have been deceived by the decision of the guardian council to disqualify the reformists candidates. The guardian council which is responsible for the qualification announced that they have disqualified Dr.Moeen and another reformist candidate by governmental TV instead of MOI. A day after that supreme leader issued a letter to the guardian council and asked them to revise their decision. They approved Dr. Moeen because of the leader order. And so, Dr. Moeen who talked he is not going to perform the leader others has to obey. The conservatives insist that is was really the leader order but the reformist say because of the relation between guardian council and the leaded, the leader’s letter is an internal letter between two part of the a conservative institute.
But I think the important point is following the reform process. Moeen is a single chance to continue the reformist way that has started a few years ago. To stay at home and criticize the authoritarian government has no effect of the society. The only way to weakening the fundamentalism is to expand the gaps and create new area and sphere for breathing the freedom. To have any effect on the social changes there is no way unless attaching to the exist chances to change. How ever it’s not too much. The reform is young enough to leave it alone. It need a continually support. We have to persuade people to say their big “no” with giving their votes to the reformist candidate who believe in the power of people and civil society. There are many ups and downs of reform and changing the society. However, sometimes to leave the social sphere is the best way to say “NO”. Perhaps in the future we think about this option. But now, I am doubtful to say boycott the election as the last way. What do you think about it?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Qualifying and disqualifying; To BE or Not to Be!

The Guardian Council disqualified the reformist candidates at their first day of 4 for day’s time to study the qualification of the candidates. It was for the first time that the Governmental TV announced the the names of qualified and disqualified candidates. They had 4 days for their announcement but they are going to send a message for the society.

They knew that their decision to disqualify the reformist candidates make strong noises in the society and like the other similar cases the possibility of interfere of the high rank clerics is so high. So they want to speak publicly how they think. A day after that the supreme leader issued a letter to guardian council to revise about their decision, now they are going to approve the reformist candidates and specially Dr. Moeen. What does it mean? Is it a good message?

Many of Iranian social and political activists believe that’s a critical point for the reformists to show their honesty to the people. A few weeks ago Mohammad Reza Khatami the brother of president Khatami and the Secretariat General of Mosharekat Party, publicly said that they don’t believe in Governmental order to solve any problem. He mentioned that they are opposed to this method of governing.

So here they are! No that’s a point to choose, one way is to stand on their beliefs that have talked about it in public as redline, and the second is to accept the governmental order abut qualifying their candidate and attend in the election and compete. Now, people are looking. Many people have not decided to vote .the number of people who are not interested for voting is increasing. An influential Survey institute has said that the minimum of the participants in the coming election estimate to 35%. And the maximum will be 55%. But the distribution of votes in the large cities and the small one is so different.

This survey mentions that the people who don’t like to vote are the people who are educated and we can consider them as the social middle class. And in another part, they have said that the middle class is not hopeful abut the next president and what he can do. They are hopeless about any serious changes that increase the quality of life and improve the ignored rights. I have written a report of this survey and an exclusive interview with the head of the researcher group. I think there many interesting points in it.

Friday, May 13, 2005

To vote: The Strategy of Fear!

“We can not imagine all the power on the conservative’s hands”. A young man says during the bloggers’ meeting with Dr. Moeen, a pro-reformist candidate for the coming presidency election. He mentioned the dark period of 90th decade which many journalists and intellectuals killed or kidnapped and stopped their profession. Dr. Moeen believes that it is better to emphasis on his wealth and professions. But it seems no one can forget the mysterious years that fear was inspired all over the society. At the end he accepted that the youth is a real alarm. So they try to promote the “Fear Strategy” in the Society.

It means any votes to the reformist’s candidates, who representative by Moeen Now, is because of the fear and dread of the conservatives who are strongly against the open society. A few months ago, in the last picture they drew, more than 21 journalists, bloggers, and IT technicians arrested and tortured and confessed under the pressure against the reformists. “They believed that nobody follow us so they did whatever they wanted. One of the arrested journalists told me a few days ago. “They guess that they have an extremely power and nobody is required to answer about what they do.” He added.

I can imagine why some people believe at the “Fear Strategy”. They know the effects of fundamentalists on their normal life. They want to live peacefully. Conservatives have closed more than 80 magazine and newspapers during the last years and put many journalists in jail. For the next time, me as a journalist, who has the terrible experiences in the solitary confinement, I think about voting seriously. For many people the results of the coming election have no direct effect of their life, but for intellectuals, journalists, social activists, let’s be realistic, that’s a terrible condition. Then, what is our choice? Vote or not? How much does is cost? What is the significance on voting? And many unanswered question. So the number of people, who are decided to go voting, depends of many aspects. One of these aspects is “Fear Strategy”. I am going to talk the other aspects later...what's your idea? to vote or not to vote?

Iran Works to Get Out the Vote, but the Disillusioned Aren't Biting
By Nahid Siamdoust, Special to The Times
Fearing low turnout, the regime has begun an ambitious campaign to get citizens to the polls. Meeting with university students in the southern province of Kerman, Khamenei this week stressed a theme that has become a constant in his speeches: "Participation in the elections is not only a right, but a religious duty."

Blair Warns Iran on Nuclear Obligations (AP)

200 volunteer in Iran for bomb training(AP)
Farifax Digital
More than 200 young men and women have volunteered at a meeting in Iran to carry out suicide bomb attacks against Americans in Iraq and Israelis.
The meeting was organised at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, south of Tehran, by the Headquarters for Commemorating Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement, a shadowy group that has sought volunteers for attacks in Iraq and Israel since last year.

The days before election are so hot. However the number of people who have not decided to vote is high. But coming Rafsanjani to the scene has mixed up the conservatives. So I think in the coming days they will start to destroy his face. The gap between Rafsanjani and conservatives such as Larijani and Ghalibaf is more than the gap between him and the reformists. Last day I went to International Book Exhibition of Tehran. I talked with many friends. The People who were really concerned when I was in the jail.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Presidency Election; Vital Point !

The coming presidency election is a vital point in the living of Islamic Republic. For the Iranians the elections have been always something more than voting. To understand the meaning of the voting, we have to pay attention between the lines. This property is so strong in this election. If EU likes to postpone its negotiating about nuclear energy until they become aware of the result, is a message. Because, if somebody selected by people or a fraction of people who can not be representative for the major groups, the possibility for lobbying and negotiating for the Iranian team will decrease strongly. It means they can force Iran to do thing that they want more. So if you hear in the news that Iranian insists to finish the discussion as soon as possible and befor the election is becasue of that and so never surprise!

At this time many of politicians have registered for the candidature. But the major candidates are Dr.Moeen which comes from the reformists, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, who comes from a parto reformist groups and at the same time a part of conservatives. And also, Dr. Ali Larijani and Mr. Ghalibaf which representative the conservative side. Larijani is so close to traditional conservatives and ghalibal is come from the neo conservatives. Larijani has strong relation with clerics and the revolutionary generation but ghalibaf is the second generation of conservatives. There are some more candidates like Mr. Karroobi, the former chief of parliament, Dr. Rezayee, the former commander of Sepah, a revolutionary military force and Mr. Ahmadi nejad who the present mayor of Tehran.

But the actual competition is between Moeen, Hashemi and Ghalibal (or Larijani).
I personally think the actual competition will be between Moeen and Rafsanjani.
Today Rafsanjani announced that he is going to attend in the election. And the play has started now. The biggest play during the 27 years ago.

Bloggers, Baghi and rafsanjani...

There are some Iranian bloggers in the jail now. One them is Mojtaba Saminejad Which is under 25 and nobody knows that what he has done. Many bloggers has asks the officials the release him or sending him to the jail immediately.
I have written a comment in my blog in Farsi about him. I hope the officials read the comments that the bloggers have mentioned about him and the people like him. At His last meeting with his lawyer, there was chain on his legs. It is not understandable that how a writer can be dangerous like that to keep by chain?

Today, also Akbar Rafsanjani announced that he is going to attend in the coming election. Emad BAghi, a researcher who has written some articles about the serial killing in Iran and has spent two years in the jail, must go to the jail tomorrow. Is this a message to reformists? Nobody knows. But it is not good for the Rafsanjani’s propaganda during the election.
A part of conservatives which is against the Rafsanjani will try to make a black face of him. Rafsanjani has not drawn a real border between himself, conservatives and reformist yet. Still Intellectuals and middle class are uncertain to vote. But experts believe that coming Rafsanaji make disqualifying the Moeen, reformist candidate much harder. However, there is no rule in the fundamentalist’s way of policy making. Now, they have started to produce the uranium circle in Isfahan. I think the Iranian officials are trying to put the Americans at the dead end street to clear its position before the election.

Monday, May 09, 2005

A conference in Tehran:
“Environment, Peace and Dialogue among civilization”

Today a conference on “Environment, Peace and Dialogue among civilization” held in Tehran. It was wonderful. Because some people who were specialized in peace building, conflict resolution, human security and these kinds of issues were in the conference. Especially someone who talked about “Building peace through Environmental Cooperation” was so interesting. I have written a comment for tomorrow for Shargh newspaper about the role of dialogue in the process for peace building and the role of keeping the resources.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Unprecedented Attack on the Islamic Republic's Security Services

A few days ago the Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Shahroodi has strongly objected to the police treatment in detentions and their behaviors with prisoners. He has said that the prisons under the control of police in Iran are something like the American do in Abu Ghraib. Here is some links about it. After we attended in a meeting with Ayatollah Shahroodi and described for him all that happened in the solitary confinement, he became so angry. He interfered in our case directly and now they have stopped to follow the about 17 persons of the accusers. However political activists are not optimist about this decision. They mention many cases during the last years that the judiciary has been involve without any interfering. They believe that these kinds of orders are only because of the election and some competition and so other causes. However, at this time I try to be optimist.

Iran's top judge attacks police(BBC)
The head of Iran's hardline judiciary has launched an unprecedented attack on legal processes in his own country.
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi criticised police interrogators for extracting confessions....

"Iranian police can be as bad as US soldiers"
LONDON, May 5 (IranMania) - The head of Iran's hard line judiciary has launched an unprecedented attack on the Islamic republic's security services, comparing their treatment of detainees in some cases to the US abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib."Sometimes they do some things like put a bag over the head, which resembles what the Americans do to terrorists in Abu Ghraib," Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi was quoted as saying by Iranian dailies...

Presidency Candidates and Bloggers

I have been so active during the last months. However, we are waiting for fine or shocking news about our case in the court. Last week I was invited to Hamedan for the
First Students Weblog Festival as one of the jury. A week before, my book published in Tehran. “Communication Skills for NGOs”. Now, I am working on some reports for the newspaper I work with; Shargh.
The Iranian society is getting closer to the election period. At this time there are many candidates for the coming presidency election. But the main candidates are Aliakbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the foremer president and one of the influential clerics, Dr. Moeen, former science and technology minister and also Ghalibaf (the head of Police), Ahmadinezaj (the present mayor of Tehran), AliLarijani (Former chief of the national governmental TV and supreme leader adviser) and some other candidates.
During the last weeks some of the candidates have tried to hold meetings with bloggers and journalists. Candidated like Moeen, Hashemi and Ahmadinejad.
I have been invited to the Moeen’s meeting with bloggers. Bloggers asked him many questions even about the political and social taboos, limitations, bad governance and some doubtful actions by the officials specially in human rights issues. It was an absolutely open meeting that I have ever had with candidates. I wonder any of other candidates can hold such an open meeting with journalists or bloggers. However, the candidate uses everything to gather the votes. Everything!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Final round; Four Journalist at the court

6 months ago after spending 2 months in the solitary confinement with about 20 technical web assistants, journalists and also women activists, the Investigation committee of judiciary which was established after our confession about torturing and molestation during the detention period, announced that the prosecution of 17 persons at our file will stop. Mr. Karimi Rad the spokesman of judiciary said to the press last week. But the remained accusers must go to the court. I am one of the four journalists. The judiciary officials told me in an informal meeting that they are going to finish our case as soon as possible but they are under a strong pressure. Because informing that all the 21 arrested people are innocent is like drinking a cup of poison for them. I have been so optimist to follow the judiciary efforts against all that happen by police and prosecutor. But I think they can not leave us with any support. After our meeting with Ayatollah Shahroodi the head of judiciary, he asked us not to interview with press about details of our case because it would draw a black picture of Islamic regime. We accepted. But now, we feel they are not capable enough to finish the game that they have started. What will happen next? We don’t know. We are watching the next step. Then decide about the possibilities that we can do.
However, I my self have lost my confidence to them. They are really powerless to follow the justice.

Last week I went to Hamedan for the First Student Weblog Festival as one of the jury. It was very interesting for me to talk with bloggers and also old friends. Six months ago I arrested exactly when I came back from Hamedan. I attended in a NGO conference there.
So this city means lots of things for me.

I tried to write again in English a few months ago it didn’t happen until now….