December 18, 2003
* Real pressure from within
Dear Ms. Forouhar, [The
I read your letter with great interest. I had watched the video of
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
the separation of religion and state on the podium of Ershad lecture
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
people of Iran who have the most interest in resolving these cases.
international community is much more effective for ongoing cases where
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
to come to appreciation of sacrifices and contributions made by your
The late Forouhars certainly have left a rich legacy and their
brutal murder has left a dark spot on the conscience of the Iranian
Ali Akbar Mahdi
Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Ohio Wesleyan University
* 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
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.
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".
* Apologists come and go
Nima Khan, [Ripe
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)
* Human rights & democracy
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?
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
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
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
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
To summarize, your arguments suppose that through
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
in its own right. But as a model for the protection of all other
* No good: Fundamentalist or reformist
Mr. Milaninia, [Ripe
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 !
goh beh gooret...
I have been watching Shirin Ebadi's Nobel speech video
the past 2 hours and couldn't get anything done. and I had goosebumps
* Why not in North Korea?
I had no idea we still had Iranian communists [anti-Ebadi
Who are these people? What do they want? I know: they want silence
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?
in the first picture, downing her thumbs like the Emperor Nero,
obviously has a weakness for the current 70s fashion revival. I
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
level of abject poverty and utter misery, right?
one point for our side this week, and, let us be honest,
we are relieved at the Iraqi Governing Council's decision to expel
former mercenaries. Many of them are young, they should shave
go fill job applications at Starbucks; I'm thinking of doing
the same myself.
* 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.
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.
* Emotional slogans
a thought for us -- first]
I would highly appreciate it if you would kindly read a bit more about
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
able to be their best.
Iranians who have chosen to live in Iran deserve
highest respect and those who have accepted major responsibilities
deserve it even more. Good thing they are strong enough not to be affected
emotional slogans. We are so great in criticizing, regardless.
* 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
(or sisterly) love! [Restless
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.
* 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
REPLY: This is the new version of Shams beer which went into production
for consuption of LA Iranians in particular (I think). -- Jahanshah
* Mazeh vodka
Mix teddy bear
with cashew nuts andchololate. Bah bah!
letters (December 18, 2003)