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Letters

December 18, 2003

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* Real pressure from within

Dear Ms. Forouhar, [The longing]

I read your letter with great interest. I had watched the video of the service while you were still in Tehran. Your speech at the service was excellent. I admire your courage to go to Tehran and talk about tyranny and the separation of religion and state on the podium of Ershad lecture hall.

It was a daring gesture and an effective speech. I agree that the
international support is crucial for bringing pressure on the Islamic Republic on human rights issues. However, I believe that the real pressure for revealing the truth of these murders has to come from within. It is the people of Iran who have the most interest in resolving these cases.

The international community is much more effective for ongoing cases where they can build support among their own public. In cases like the "chair murder" international support helps but will not be able to force regime in revealing the truth. It is the Iranian society who has to come to terms with these murders and their perpetrators. It is the Iranian people who have to come to appreciation of sacrifices and contributions made by your parents.

The late Forouhars certainly have left a rich legacy and their brutal murder has left a dark spot on the conscience of the Iranian society.

Ali Akbar Mahdi
Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Ohio Wesleyan University

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* Slapping bootlickers

Shirin Ebadi's speech in Oslo [Restless limbs] is a slap in the face to all those monarchists and neo-con bootlickers who constantly post to this site proposing for US military intervention in Iran. Do Iranians want to regress back to the days of being ruled by despotic puppets installed by imperial powers? I think not.

Like most Muslims, we want to be masters of our destinies, weather we are ruled by despots or liberal democrats, it is up to us and only us to decide who we remove and who we support. Iran has a mature and intellectual reformist movement, we can not allow this to be hijacked by nefarious agendas.

Fascist neo-cons like the AEI (American Enterprise Institute) and daydreamers like Reza Pahlavi who dream of riding into Tehran on the back of a M1A2 Abrams tank over the bodies of our dead brothers and sisters offer Iranians nothing but more misery, strife and subjugation.

Ebadi has shown that Iran, unlike other countries in the region is not stagnated but on the contrary it is moving forward rapidly. If you are in doubt then I suggest you take a look at our neighbour Iraq, which is currently involved in a magnanimous battle for liberation against it's "liberators".

Isa 

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* Apologists come and go

Nima Khan, [Ripe for reinterpretation]

Much of what you state may be right, but I see no basis for your statement that what is being proposed differs significantly from the approach of constitutional monarchists, neo-conservatives, and the MKO. In fact in so far as you have group these three radically different ideologies and political approaches together I suspect you have some prejudice or bias.

Have you bothered to read the book "Winds of Change"? It is a short book akin to an essay. You can easily read it on a Sunday (or Friday if you are in Egypt.) It surprises me how many "intellectuals" never bothered to read Khomeini's book in 1978 and how those who claim to be in the political arena today refuse or can't be bothered to read "Winds of Change" when it is written by a leader with a clearly large, visible and vocal constituency.

Though I will be going to Oslo to congratulate Shirin Ebadi on her prize next week, if her approach is what you say, I must add that Human Rights without Justice and a system of Justice is meaningless. As the first woman judge in Iran for 1000+ years I am sure she knows this already. It is unjust to maintain, or promote, a political structure that started from day one abusing Human rights (read Khomeini's book and you see what I am talking about).

Further more, who determines what is Human Rights? Is a minimal amount of food, or medical care a human right? The base of legitimacy of a secular democracy is popular sovereignty. Not as you are correct in saying human rights. Within a legitimate political structure one can, and should pursue a bill of rights, including human rights. But popular sovereignty means Khatami, Khomenei, Rafsanjani (along with those riding on their coat-tails) and anyone else who does not represent Iranian national interest or Iranian identity to be sidelined.

So the game goes on, apologists come and go, and Iran and Iranians become weaker, poorer and unhealthier and unhappier. Islam was just fine and quite compatible with modernity whilst we had Muslim leaders like the Pahlavis. It no longer can be under the weight of selfishness and greed of the Tazi that talk the talk and walk the walk, but neglect to acknowledge Khomeini and the Valiyateh Faghi are against Koranic dictates and Shiite tradition. (See reply below)

Amir Khosrow

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* Human rights & democracy

Agha Khosrow,

In reply to above,

To begin with I have a "bias" against constitutional monarchists, neo-conservatives and the MKO only in the manner that their form of change comes from a top-down approach. I do not agree with the stances of these organizations on a variety of political agendas and believe that they have little to no popular support with Iranians in Iran. But of course these are my beliefs and subject to another discussion.

Of concern with my article [Ripe for reinterpretation], I believe these institutions think it is right for external powers to "create" democracy, or political institutions. Justification for these approaches come in your comment "The base of legitimacy of a secular democracy is popular sovereignty. Not as you are correct in saying human rights." Well then I must ask, what is democracy without human rights? and without the protection of vulnerable groups?

Democracy in that sense becomes nothing but the tyranny of the majority. Democracy by itself, dating back to the Athenian concept and certainly practices by a variety of democratic states, only implies that citizens are able to choose their leaders.

In the 18th and 19th century, that concept in America meant that white males had the right to vote. In various African democracies that concept is similarly extended with tribal preferences.

And in Israel, whereas a democracy exists, the non-Jewish constiuents are unable to be treated with the same equality as their Jewish brethern. But are we to gather that these states are and were legitimate because they were supported by popular backing? No absolutely not.

You are right that the concept of human rights is by no means simple, but it also by no means so vague that it has no definition. There are a variety of international instruments which countries, including Iran, have agreed to, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which holds as the basis for all other fundamental rights. Even in terms of the right to health and the right to food, as you have mentioned, there are minimum core obligations on all states which are clarified by a plethora of jurisprudence.

What's most important to understand, however, is this. By protecting universal human rights, democracy itself becomes a right, because it is a natural manifestation of other civil and political rights which guarantee (among other things) non-discrimination, the right to political participation, free speech, and so on.

However, unlike a top-down approach, a bottom-up approach (with human rights as a basis) allows for the development of democracy as well as the protection of vulnerable groups and institutions for the promotion of justice. For lest we forget that justice is a right also guaranteed as a derivative to the right to fair trial. In fact "justice" is the formulative basis for almost all human rights documents, see the preamble for the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Now, the issue about Ebadi which I find interesting, is that she recognizes, or at least I believe she recognizes, that forcing people with democracy, or human rights, will not work until it is also manifested from a grassroots level. That is unless the concept of universal human rights, democracy, and secularism, is also seen to be derived from Islamic tenets, then it will fail to take root within society. Lest we forget that one of the reasons for the Shah's overthrow was his tyrannical treatment of dissidents and alienation of religious institutions.

To summarize, your arguments suppose that through popular sovereignty, legitimacy and maybe human rights can be protected. I believe that only through a foundation of human rights can society be secured and democracy be allowed to manifest. Not as an institution in its own right. But as a model for the protection of all other rights.

Nema Milaninia

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* No good: Fundamentalist or reformist theocracy

Mr. Milaninia, [Ripe for reinterpretation]

Your wrote: " From Ebadi's various remarks it is clear that progressive Islam protects human rights but also advocates a secular approach with regards to political institutions."

I believe you totally disregard the international and especially the EU agenda regarding the IRI. 'Human Rights' as a movement is wonderful, but without some support from those other powers that have their own interests at heart, it will never be able to accomplish real change. As long as the IRI as a regime has international support, the Human Rights movement will create diversions but no results.

Ms. Ebadi falls right into the fold of those 'diversions', regardless of her hard work and good intent. There cannot be change for the betterment of the Iranian society under a fundamentalist or reformist theocracy - period !

S. Samii

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* Goosebumps

goh beh gooret...

I have been watching Shirin Ebadi's Nobel speech video online for the past 2 hours and couldn't get anything done. and I had goosebumps running up and down my spine.

Ramin

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* Why not in North Korea?

I had no idea we still had Iranian communists [anti-Ebadi demostrations]. Who are these people? What do they want? I know: they want silence and misery to cover Iran as surely as snow covers Siberia, and they want to live off the state as commissars, ministers, interrogators, propaganda agents... and basically never do another day's work in their lives and get paid for it (except for the interrogators who will earn every penny of their wages).

And why are these people in Oslo, Paris or London, which is where they usually are? Why are they not waiting in North Korea (no, it's a great place) or Cuba? Why must they put up with the appalling cafes, cinemas, bookshops, free press and the countless other novelties of capitalist cities?

The pretty woman in the first picture, downing her thumbs like the Emperor Nero, obviously has a weakness for the current 70s fashion revival. I thought she would be reading her Marx all day and helping the poor before she becomes paramount leader. And the sexual inequality thing will also end, we may be sure, when everyone in Iran is crushed to the same level of abject poverty and utter misery, right?

Still, it's one point for our side this week, and, let us be honest, we are relieved at the Iraqi Governing Council's decision to expel Saddam's former mercenaries. Many of them are young, they should shave and go fill job applications at Starbucks; I'm thinking of doing the same myself.

Alidad Vassigh

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* Strongest man and woman

2003 World's strongest man and woman are Iranians. This is a tribute to a great nation. Despite the hard times, this wonderful people have produced two great individuals who in their own way have demonstrated the never ending light of hope for this resilient nation of Iran.
 
Both of them in their own specific way are the best Iran has to offer and have won the world's recognition.
 
Hossein Rezazadeh, the world's strongest man, physically, has sown pride for every Iranian [Today and yesterday's champions]. Iran's history is full of legendary mystic heroes such as Rostam, Sohrab, Esfandiar, and Arash. We valued these great heroes in times of depression for our great nation.

They were followed by so many real heroes such as Pooria Valley, and Jahan Pahlevan Gholamreza Takhti . In this respect Rezazadeh is a gift from paradise to our people. He has brought honor to those great traditions and once again has placed Iranians love of sports and strength back in the main stage of the world.
 
Shirin Ebadi, the world's strongest woman, mentally, has given voice to more than half of Iran's population which has been stifled for years. She is the symbol of courage in dark times. She shows the strength that what we have all seen in our mothers, sisters, and daughters. She is the voice of the voiceless and persecuted.
 
These two are just the symbolic of Iranians strength physically and spiritually. We have survived many obstacles in our old history and always have contributed to the world in the most significant way.

Ali Nahid

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* Emotional slogans

Dear Mr. Bahrami, [Spare a thought for us -- first]

I would highly appreciate it if you would kindly read a bit more about my country and my nation. It would be highly helpful for you to live a bit longer in Iran and in another country where people have the luxury of being able to be their best.

Iranians who have chosen to live in Iran deserve the highest respect and those who have accepted major responsibilities deserve it even more. Good thing they are strong enough not to be affected by emotional slogans. We are so great in criticizing, regardless.

Mohamad Navab
Los Angeles

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* This small minority

Thank you Shirin [Ebadi], for letting the people of the world (including a lot of Iranians) know that the Persian culture is about humanity and brotherly (or sisterly) love!  [Restless limbs]

How sad, that such a great people and culture are overwhelmed by a relatively small number of non-Persians, in the name of a great religion! 

This small minority has not only trying to destroy our great culture and people, they are also destroying their own religion in the name of religion!
 
In hope of better days for our people in Iran and everywhere in the world.

Jaan Goldust

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* Shams in LA

I don't have a name for your pre-1979 drinks' list, but maybe you could use the attached image for the page.

Ardeshir

REPLY: This is the new version of Shams beer which went into production for consuption of LA Iranians in particular (I think). -- Jahanshah Javid

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* Mazeh vodka

Regarding pre-1979 alcoholic drinks,

Mix teddy bear with cashew nuts andchololate. Bah bah!

Mahbennz

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More letters (December 18, 2003)
Page 2, Page 3

Archive
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By subject
December 18, 2003

Chain murders
* Pressure from within
Shirin Ebadi

* Slapping bootlickers
* Apologists come and go
* Human rights & democracy
* No good
* Goosebumps
* Why not in North Korea?
* Strongest man and woman
* This small minority

* Emotional slogans
* I was there
* Very first movie

Mahdavi-kia
* Proud of you
Elections
* Total boycott
Khalkhali
* Pathetic double standard
Arab League
* Screwed: Arab culture
* So what ... Arabs?
* The ultimate irony

* Protects our interests

Patriot Act
* Ungrateful kind
* Believe in humanity
Alcoholic drinks
* Shams in LA
* Mazeh vodka
Qajar
* 135 years of suffering

* Prevent Zell-e Sultans
Christmas
* More than presents

Identity
* Rather a hypocrite

Diaspora
* Fish from that water
* Diasporic el limbos
Salari's twins
* Better in long run
Art
* You blew it, bro
Homosexuality
* "Turn into lesbians"
* Because threatened?
* Scapegoating queers
Nudity
* Set an example
* Holy mother of Jesus
Partow Nooriala
* Rich story
Shahrzad Sepanlou
* Fresh air
Music

* Back in the days
* Charges my soul
Saman's cartoons
* You're back :o)
Iraj Mirza
* Agar befahmand
Artist: Yektai
* Finding information
Cover photo
* Coincidence or...?

 

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