Saturday, April 29, 2006


A couple of bloggers have recently referred to the obsession about our inalienable right (OID) that has turned into jokes, the best one so far is here, and a number of them are here.

So I thought I should add a few photos I saw yesterday, on Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit to Zanjan:

Starts with a banner, saying OID:

Then on the hills:

Then it goes a little further, as these children are saying: "An independent representative (added: to the Majlis) is OID

Of course, the best and funniest (and earliest) is here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Douste, my friend

For the past year now, France, and particularly its Minister of Foreign Affairs, have taken a pretty strong stance on Iran. Very different from the wishy-washiness we had previously seen from them and in stark contrast with the position they held on Iraq.

The interview given to Rooz (the original French is here) is interesting because it is coming from a country that is "highly regarded" in Iran. Furthermore, Philippe Douste-Blazy himself stated that he chose the Internet media because they "have a very large audience in your country" and then went on to try to dispel some of the misinformation that is spread in the country about our "inalienable right"

And then Mr. Douste-Blazy clearly indicated that France's economic interests will not prevent it from being at the forefront of the promotion of human rights in Iran. One might be sceptical, hoping that the interview is not only lip service and that this and this will not take precedence over human rights concerns.

Let's say I have a soft spot for good-looking French doctors. However, one must admit that Douste is doing far better than one of his predecessors who, in a Op/Ed on Iran published today, together with other former FMs, indicated having "met with influential Iranian officials during the past few months" but did not even care to mention human rights...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'll be there when you get there

I finally got round to reading Mohsen Sazegara's Policy Focus, published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Mr. Sazegara's main point is that Iran is moving towards democracy, inevitably. Well, given that he does not give any time frame, I guess we can all agree with him: it will happen, eventually.

I found the piece more descriptive than analytical, and had hoped for a little more “meat”:

For example, Mr. Sazegara lists the various existing Iranian political groups; but of course, aside from the Islamists, they are all outside Iran. It would have been interesting to know how much support he thinks each of them have inside the country. (To his credit on this, he does not make any difference between the Islamists, so none of that Reformists-versus-Conservatives business. In fact, he writes that despite the liberalist slogans of some, none of them have cooperated with non-Islamist groups and that they have either kept quiet or even joined in when non-Islamists have been suppressed.)

And then he does not speak of the lethargy that has engulfed the country, or rather, he dedicates one sentence to it, and says that it will come to pass. Again, no time frame, and a little too much optimism.

Finally, although he mentions, as he should -- he is one of the persons behind the referendum after all, that no real change can take place within the framework of the actual Constitution, after reading the piece the feeling left was that all he was really saying was: Soroush and more Soroush. And there, I still have to be convinced…

Monday, April 17, 2006

Big bad wolf

The motto is: rather than leaving it up to your wild imagination, discover Iran by understanding who Iranians are -- and this through 7 women.

One of them is a great artist, the other one a little too much for me. I thought the books of two of them were more about themselves than about Iran, and have yet to think much of a third one's regular Op/Eds. Never heard of the last two (shame on me...)

But it could be interesting, if you are in New York next Wednesday...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good? Friday

I was talking about Easter to someone who had recently come out of Iran, and when I indicated that in fact it was the martyrdom of the Christ, she was very surprised. She commented that all she saw was about happiness -- mainly chocolate-coated, how could it be? Not quite like Ashura.

I must admit that by just uttering the word "martyrdom" -- as I thought this was the most appropriate one in Persian -- I felt awkward. Crucifixtion, sacrifice, yes, martyrdom ... not a Christian concept, it seems.

Which made me finally look into why Friday is "good" when it was in fact the day that Christ was put on the cross.

I tried to explain that I thought that the Church wanted to look more positively and focus on the resurrection of Christ on Easter Monday. But why eggs and bunnies?...

I guess we were neither in Southern Europe nor in the Phillipines, perhaps the hotter the weather, the hotter the fervour...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Morning dew

Last week end Shabnam Tolouie had three performances in Paris: a play called "L'Entretien". I heard goods things about it. But it is very impressive in any case, because the play was in French. How talented must one be to be able to succesfully go on stage merely 18 months after having left Iran...

All the links are in Persian, I am afraid. The only film she is known for outside Iran is this and the only (small) bio I could find is here.

(two days later....)

The entry on Wiki is with a different spelling... sorry...

Friday, April 07, 2006


sorry... candidate. Iran is candidate to a seat in the newly created UN Human Rights Council.


I guess being so well versed and experienced in the human rights violations against its own people, it finds itself in a very good position to be able to judge if others are promoters or violators of human rights.

I am not going to link to all sorts of reports, I have done it in previous posts, here and here.

I only hope that other governments will be offended by this candidature, which ultimately shows how little respect the IRI has for the UN, let alone for human rights, to dare make such a move when six months ago, the same General Assembly that will now have to elect it adopted a resolution confirming it is a gross human rights violator by 75 votes in favour.

(So please don't even mention again Mr. Zarif and his nagging.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

NGOs, the Iranian way

Last Sunday, Omid Memarian posted his Op/Ed regarding the $ 75 million issue on his blog. And when talking about Iranian NGOs, he said: "The traditional sector is religious, well-organized and quite cohesive. Financed by the regime itself, it has access to far more extensive resources than the meager sums being offered to the modern civil society by the US, and it encompasses the most passionate supporters of the regime."

Sadly, it is a known fact that outside of the country, Iranian civil society is either represented by the very properly veiled, if not tchadored, ladies of the Network of Women's NGOs in the IRI, one of which, I understand, has a specialty in filming all the others... or by the Organization for Defending Victims of Violence, whose head once admitted having been a former interrogator.

I was recently talking to the Brussels representative of a major human rights NGO, and this person was telling me that the EU is finding itself in a "catch 22" position: there are funds allocated to helping Iranian NGOs and yet the "genuine" NGOs refuse this money. So the EU ends-up funding the likes of ODVV for lack of a better choice.

NGOs jeopardizing their already precarious situation by receiving funds from abroad is not an issue limited to Iran. There are plenty of such cases throughout the world. The most recently publicized one was Russia; Egyptian NGOs have been struggling with the issue for many years, etc. There are ways to go about it, but perhaps this Iranian sense of being "unique" takes us back to another blogger's recent post...