Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best time to be forgotten

Although it might have looked as if I had taken long holidays, I am proving the assumption wrong by posting twice (for now) between Christmas and the Gregorian New Year!

However, I have come to realize that this is probably the best time of the year for human rights violators to perpetrate their worst crimes: not many will be there to raise their voices. The other day, I sent an email to the three persons in the Iran team of a big (if not the biggest) human rights organization. A few minutes later I received three similar responses: on holidays until 7 January 2008...

Well, at least Reporters sans frontieres is still alert, but is anyone else worried for Emad Baghi?

Friday, December 28, 2007

A little visit

OK, I know, I have not been blogging for nearly a month now -- call it blogger fatigue, depression about the state of the world, rivalry of Facebook, or a combination thereof. So much had been written about the National Intelligence Estimate and so little about the adoption of the UN General Assembly's resolution on the human rights situation that it seemed pointless to blog about either.

But tonight, I have seen one of the best films of the year. It's not about Iran, and not about human rights. It's about Egyptians and Israelis, peacefully. It's poetic, profound, with a great sense of humour. It's a must see.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

No words

I just saw the photos of Zahra Baniyaghoub's funerals and the pain of her relatives is heart wrenching, and there is nothing more to say.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fart and the temple

As can be seen, I have been reading Mr. Abtahi's blog fairly regularly and although his unfailing support of Mr. Khatami is a little unnerving to say the least, I recently had to admit that I enjoyed some of his posts.

Well, clearly now, they are after him, and I am not surprised because he has been quite critical of some of the political stances taken lately.

For those who cannot read Persian, Mr. Abtahi has been accused by an ultra-conservative site of having his blog designed and run by Baha'is. And in order to make their accusations look credible, the authors of the article included a number of links. Out of curiosity, I tried all of them... and (of course) none of them led to anything that might remotely suggest any link to the alleged designers.

Moreover, there is this box on the side of the article that without showing any name indicates "Age:24" and then what can be assumed to say "Children: no", "Ethnicity: Middle-Eastern", "speak: Persian" (which is not correct English, by the way...), and "Religion: Baha'i" . Now, the form being in English, I really wonder where in the Western world would any form ask for one's religion?...

But my final question is: so what? And even if Mr. Abtahi's website designers are Baha'is, what does it have to do with the way the site is designed or run? Are they running subliminal messages so that everyone reading the blog are going to become hypnotized and convert? Is Mr. Abtahi less of a Muslim cleric because of his webmasters' alleged religion?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Relativity

I must say, I was a little disappointed with the analysis around Mr. Larijani's resignation. It is strange how when one ultra-conservative is replaced by an even more ultra-conservative he suddenly becomes "conciliatory"... Not to mention the fact that the conservative then becomes a moderate.

But a few days ago, I was nicely surprised by Omid Memarian's piece for OSI.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Red and orange

It is the time for harvesting:

Pomegranites

and saffron

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A sober reality check

Once again, I am too late for my posts... Last week, Mrs. Ebadi was in Paris saying how US sanctions were bad and Mr. Ganji wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post finally explaining why US money was so bad. But then, a friend sent me this and it takes us away from all the rethorics of human rights to what day to day life means in Iran ... particularly if you try to stand up for your rights, whether you be a woman, or part of any other group that would make you less good than the average.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Little stones


It had been too many years since I last tasted Sangak... my favourite -- while watching PBS' programme on Iran.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In perspective

Not having been able to access the internet regularly these days, I was planning to write about the Iranian ridiculous and misplaced pride and my receiving many emails boasting about Doris Lessing being Iranian (right...) but now I have heard that Emad Baghi has been imprisoned...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Useful Dialogue (for once)

Having missed a connection ended-up in one good thing: I flew Air France and therefore got a chance to watch an excellent French film, Dialogue avec mon jardinier (Conversation With My Gardener in English). Simple and yet profound, hitting to the core in impressionistic touches.

I don’t know if the DVD would be available anywhere else than in France … if not, perhaps you might want to book a flight.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Next?

There was indeed much of a hullabaloo at the visit of our President, but after all, it can be summed up in one word: denial. We knew about his first denial, now at Columbia he informed us that there are no homosexuals in Iran, and during his UN press conference he enlightened us with the fact that the Baha'is don't have a Prophet.

Clearly, after all that everyone will believe him when he says that Iran is not trying to get the bomb.

Above and beyond Mr. Ahmadinejad's gesticulations, the issue remains what is going to happen to our country. Initially, Mr. Abdi's recent interview made me quite depressed, then today I read Abbas Milani's excellent piece -- remarkably, they are saying the same thing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

An unhealthy (re)visit

A couple of weeks ago, Ms. Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was in Tehran, attending a Conference organized by the Non-Aligned Movement on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity. Those poor diplomats who fought tooth and nail nearly 15 years ago to maintain the universality and indivisibility of human rights at the Vienna Conference, against an Iranian proposal led by no less than Mr. Zarif himself, must really feel let down. One wonders who advises Ms. Arbour. She should know better than allowing herself to be manipulated into what is no small victory for Iran and its likes.

Moreover, I have a question: Did the High Commissioner take this opportunity to condemn the violations in Iran? Well, publicly, she couldn’t really; it would have upset her hosts... However, in her report at the Human Rights Council last Thursday, she indicated that she had raised a few points with her Iranian counterparts (she met with Mr. Mottaki, it seems).

At least the EU (through its Portuguese Presidency) and Canada used the opportunity to say that they were worried about the human rights situation in Iran. Don’t know why it was only the latter who got the brunt of Iran’s response.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Just an ordinary president

When I first started reading Ray Takeyh's Op-Ed, I thought he had learned from Haleh Esfandiari's lessons but no, he remains consistent in advocating Détente with Iran.

However, I was really glad that
finally someone was openly saying (to the West) what we all knew: the Islamic Republic of Iran's policy is consistent, whether we have a Rafsanjani, a Khatami or an Ahmadinejad as president.

So I will slightly change Takeyh's conclusion and suggest that rather than raising the spectre of a dangerous and uncontrolled man perhaps one should look at the quite systematic policy of the country's rulers.

PS: for those interested, the text of the poem chanted by Shajarian in my previous post can be found at the end of this article

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mourning

Due to a passing, this blog has not been updated. It will eventually resume.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Roots

Last week this photographer/blogger posted this:



Well, after all my grandfather was from Gilan...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

In all fairness

Has any election in Iran not been rigged? And at some point wasn't Mr. Abtahi Vice-President for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs? One part of me resisted writing this (thus the delay) precisely because of the above-mentioned reasons, and yet, this time I have to say I enjoyed his post.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Baghe Anar (ter)


Although someone told me that my blog is a little confusing, because in the middle of serious matters, all of a sudden there is a photo of a pomegranate tree, I still felt that I needed to keep you abreast with the developments: a few weeks ago I returned to the garden and there it was, a beautiful and bright flower -- probably turned into the beginning of a fruit by now...

PS: for those who kindly email me: I respond to each and everyone of them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Relativism

Today, the Spokesman of the Iranian Judiciary announced that Kian Tajbakhsh (along with Haleh Esfandiary) is accused of spying and acting against Iran's national security.

Mr. Tajbakhsh was collaborating with the Open Society Institute. But if having contacts with OSI is tantamount to spying, then perhaps someone else will also be in trouble when he returns to Iran...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

To all the Iranians

Marjane Satrapi has won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Persepolis. Clearly, I have not seen the film but being a fan and having read the books I can imagine that it is a very well deserved prize.

Most likely, the IRI will not think so.

And yet, when asked to comment about the controversy in a press conference, she tried not to fuel the fire by saying that the film is humanist and could have been set anywhere in the world.

Other Iranians in Cannes have made veiled comments, which were subsequently unveiled...

Tonight, Ms. Satrapi herself added to her first comment by saying: Although, as I said, this film shows events that could happen to anyone in the world -- that one's life be affected by a revolution, a war... this particular story happened in Iran and I dedicate this award to all the Iranians.

Thanks Marjane!

PS: Kiarostami's contribution to the film in honour of the 60th Anniversary of the Festival was about women. Every single one of them would have been stopped in the street for bad hijab...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Great Pretender


I am sorry...

This was the first comment that was left on this photographer's blog, responding to the question posed on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the 2nd of Khordad, what was your image of the next ten years at the time you were voting for Khatami?

The next comment is "Oh my! these people have no memory..."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Well, yes... but no, really...

It seems that our dear Minister of Foreign Affairs doesn't quite seem to be able to make up his mind, one days he says a thing and the next he really meant something else.

Of course, he was under pressure, having to match the statement Mr. Larijani had made the day before.

But we have to raise our hat to the man who prompted all this by saying: "Talk about adding Palestine to the map and not cancelling Israel."


PS: You will note, however, that at the end of the day, both Mottaki and Larijani agree that is it either the "claim" or the "bi-product" of Western media

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Stormy weather

A few days ago, first hail



and then rain

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The hard way

Thanks to this blogger, I found out about the site in support of Ms. Haleh Esfandiary's release. Very quickly set up and quite sophisticated. I don't think I have seen such a high quality site put together for any Iranian prisoner of conscience before, not even for Mr. Ganji.

I once heard Ms. Esfandiary speak at Asia Society in New York, on women's rights. That evening she said that Iranian women are protected by the Constitution...

We all hope that Ms. Esfandiary will be released very soon, Evin is no place to linger in, and I hope that when she returns to the US safe and sound she will take on the defence of those who will (unfortunately) still be suffering from human rights violations in Iran and who will not have the benefit of such public attention.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Naivete?!

So, the cat is finally out of the bag: Switzerland was working on a proposal to settle the nuclear issue. This explains why it has been turning a blind eye on Iran's human rights. Unlike all other Western countries, it recently abstained on the vote at the Human Rights Council and it did not co-sponsor the resolution at the UN General Assembly.

Trying to be a broker is not a bad thing per se, but not at the cost of human rights, particularly when we know what generally happens to Swiss proposals regarding Iran.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cover that bosom... *

They are making a statement:

and paying for it...

and so did the owners of these satellite dishes:
but Nikahang has an advice...


* Molière, Tartuffe, Acte III, Scene II

Thursday, April 19, 2007

This could happen to you ...

... and to me too !!!

Some of us were getting really worried about the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the murders in Kerman and the fact that it seemed to have gone totally unnoticed. Last Sunday, the BBC had a piece on it and on Monday, Mr. Abtahi also commented about it, and that seemed to be it.

Finally today, the New York Times covered it quite thoroughly.

Basically, if you are found "morally corrupt" then anyone in the IRI has the right to kill you and will be pardonned.

Dubious to say the least...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Once the dust has settled

Ten days have passed since my last post and I am still hung up on the British soldiers!!!

Well, not really... but these past days I read a couple of pieces that I found quite interesting. Firstly, an editorial in Baztab which reveals the thinking of some people within the system, and then another piece in the Washington Post with a different angle than mainstream.

A little bit of reading for the day and no analysis on my part

Saturday, April 07, 2007

What to do...

I have never been particularly impressed with the Op-Eds that Ray Takeyh has published these past years, and the one he recently wrote with Vali Nasr was of the same vein. However, his more comprehensive piece for Foreign Affairs is actually quite interesting. Meanwhile, I also recommend Karim Sadjadpour's analysis.

Interestingly, both men are each advising one side to take a more sober look at where they stand. I wonder if the combination of the two would work... (wishful thinking)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"S" for speech

The Human Rights Council ended its 4th session last Friday, but unlike during the first session, this time the participation of some Iranians went almost unnoticed.

A number of NGOs complained
at our dear Minister of Foreign Affairs presence, but aside from that, quite a few Iranians spoke during those three weeks. Altogether four men including Mr. Mottaki (here, here and here for the others) and a women as far as our government representatives are concerned, and two NGOs (Organization for Defending Victims of Violence and Baha'i International Community).

[you will need to scroll down on the list of webcasts]

See and hear for yourselves.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Nostalgia

Thanks to this blogger, I found many of Dariush's songs on YouTube.

Perhaps it is because I recently saw a friend I had not seen for a long time, but listening to those songs brought back a lot of nostalgia and memories and -- sadly -- I felt the following had to be posted:



buye gandom male man, har tchi ke daram male to -- the smell of wheat is mine, all that I have is yours. The song was at the time of the Shah and granted Dariush some time in prison, I believe. The video seems to have been revisited, since it also shows a few clerics -- says quite a bit about our country and its successive leaders, doesn't it?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Outspoken insights

I remembered being quite depressed by Abbas Amanat's opinion piece in the New York Times last May -- I had expected more from him than once again indulging in the usual middle-eastern rhetoric of blaming others rather than doing a little introspection.

Well, on the contrary, Ahmad Zeidabadi never ceases to impress me, please read his piece in Rooz (although, and quite unfortunately, the English translation never renders the full content of the Persian).

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Women and human rights activists

When most in Iran do not dare to come out and speak of human rights, these ladies demonstrate, write a petition open for signature, create a website, are prosecuted, and demonstrate some more and get arrested some more.

Their courage is remarkable, particularly as we all know too painfully that torture and rape is not unheard of in Iranian prisons.

Here's a remarkable piece written by one of them and translated by another, just a week ago.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Under the Skin of the City

When I saw this title on ISNA's photo gallery, I was drawn because of the lasting impression the film had left on me. And then, once again in a span of a week, I was too taken not to write about it, and yet, I can only put links to the photos of drug addicts taken in Southern Tehran.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Delos made in Iran...

... or more precisely Azerbaijan?

Robert Sole is a specialist of Egypt, but this time he decided to dedicate his column in Le Monde to Iran. The original story was relayed by Reuters: the island of Arezou (on the Urumiyeh lake) will be for women only.

The cycladic island of Delos (which also happens to be the birthplace of Artemis) was created from the body of Asteria fleeing Zeus' ardour, thus protecting her chastity.

The difference is: it was her own choice.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Where have you been, Arth?

I know... I am really sorry I missed these guys, and the release is a year and a half old, but it is so brilliant that there is no way I cannot post it.

Some months ago, a video from young Iranian rappers was all over the web, but Kiosk is something else... I think it is the first time I hear anyone singing the Blues in Persian. And the lyrics... most impressive.

Of course, this omission is due to the fact that I do not read Iranian.com, and it really seems that I should, as I fully agree with Behrouz Bahmani: the best lyrics are in the two songs "roozmaregi" and "zorbaye malayeri".

Well, I guess I have found some Noruz presents!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

No comment

"Even if access and use of the nuclear energy requires closing down of other activities for 10 years, it is worth paying such a price", says our President.

Our country is in such great shape...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Too painful not to post...

... and yet I could not put the video itself on the blog either, so here's the link.

The other gory part, I hear, is that apparently one of the two "interrogators" is now a broadcaster in an IRIB weekly programme.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where do you really stand?

I have just come across Javad Zarif's website, although it must be quite recent, if one looks at the dates of the articles posted. As a good friend of mine remarked, you will notice that there is not one photo with Mr. Ahmadinejad, although we all have seen how Mr. Zarif was dutifully passing notes to the President during the latter's press conferences at the UN GA both in 2005 and 2006.

I have mentioned a few times how unimpressive (to say the least) Mr. Zarif's statements and letters are, and his latest Op-Ed in the New York Times is unfortunately in the same vein.

He is soon to be replaced, I hear, and will no longer be the IRI's Permanent Representative to the UN in New York. I wonder if any paper will publish his pieces after that.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Recognition

Seems that my favourite Iranian artists are one by one making the headlines lately, first Bahram Beyzaie, then Marjane Satrapi and now Farhad Moshiri, who's painting "broke the prices record in the history of Iran's art sale" (along with two others).

I prefer his old work, the numbers and the jars, but hey, he deserves the recognition.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Baghe Anar (bis)

I went back to the garden and checked the lone pomegranate...



and as you can see, it was no longer there.

On the other hand, the oranges were reaching out to the cacti.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A story not to tell

What I admire most in Marjane Satrapi, aside from her talent, is her audacity. She has consistently broken Iranian taboos and written about things that should not be spoken of, of all the hypocrisy: like revealing that as an adolescent, she did drugs, like talking about "reconstructed" virginities. I know that many Iranians were offended.

And now she is making a film. The NY Times piece is already archived, but there is a good article and also a short video, both in French.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Future... what future?

In the past few days, a couple of analysis or criticism of Iran and its political structure, taking a look at its not-too-bright future, have been published in Rooz. The first one was by Ahmad Zeidabadi followed by the report of a conference given by Akbar Ganji (the English translation skips parts of the original Persian version, so I recommend that you read them here and here, respectively, if you can).

Interestingly, one states that "the real solution is in the hands of the country’s leaders" while the other "called on the people not to sit in their houses and expect changes, which otherwise would only make matters worse" but I agree with both articles.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Do as I say, not as I do

I read Mr. Abtahi's post last week but did not have a chance to react before now:

Isn't it strange that the "Head of the Interreligious Dialogue Institute" does not even realize what he is writing, and that when threading on thin ice, perhaps he should watch his steps in order not to crack it.

In order to cover-up for the recent attack on Christians because they are trying to "convert" Muslims in Iran, Mr. Abtahi tells us that "the present world is the world of dialogue among religions and their cooperation", and that although it is easier for Muslims to accept Judaism and Christianity, as they existed before Islam, the Christians, thanks to the Vatican II Council, have accepted to have a dialogue and cooperate with Muslims.

With all this thirst for dialogue among religions, I think one should ask Mr. Abtahi how he feels about the Muslim accepting the Bahais, who came after Islam? And why they are not included as partners in his Institute.

Of course, he does not accept comments on his blog, but I will email him the link to this post... and will let you know if he responds.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Baghe Anar


Yesterday, I was walking in a garden and noticed this pomegranate, hanging by itself on a leafless tree, having resisted the winter...