Friday, June 23, 2006

A Leadership Camp

Contact: Azadeh Pourzand, Public Relations Coordinator, Iranian Alliances Across Borders
Only a Few Days Away: IAAB's Iranian-American Leadership Camp!

thompson island

Washington, D.C.--The IAAB staff is excitedly counting down the days to the first Iranian-American Leadership Camp, which will take place the week of June 25-30, 2006 on Thompson Island, Massachusetts. IAAB will be bringing together some of the brightest and most accomplished young members of the Iranian-American community for a week of friendship, learning, and fun!
We are thrilled to be able to provide the next generation of Iranian-American leaders with this unique opportunity. Our campers represent a wide variety of Iranian communities in the United States, and have been selected for their excellence in an array of fields, from mastering the art of the santoor to receiving honors in the sciences.
Campers will be working closely with IAAB's Leadership Camp team of accomplished Counselors and Staff from across the United States, representing numerous prestigious universities and diverse experiences. Our carefully selected team is trained in leadership building, peer mediation, advocacy, and health education and have all demonstrated their enthusiasm for leadership and the Iranian-American community this camp.
Nasim, a Counselor from Portland, Oregan, was particularly mindful of the necessity for community building amongst our youth. “Helping to develop Iranian-American youths into leaders ensures that our community will have the resources it needs to function, grow and prosper,” Nasim said.
The Camp will have a weblog ( that campers and staff will update regularly during the week. Stay in tune with us as the week develops.
If you have any questions/concerns about IAAB's 2006 Iranian-American Leadership Camp, please do not hesitate to contact us at 703-362-7003 or 617-680-7982.
For more information, please visit our website:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Yesterday was Father´s Day.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I have a phobia of anger. I am scared of making people angry and am scared of myself whenever I am angry. Anger scares me because it brings out the part of me that is even unfamiliar to myself. That is why I always try to forget the fact that I am extremely angry at those who sent my mother to prison, who kidnapped my father, tortured him with their creative methods and crushed his pride under their feet. I avoid remembering that I am angry at them.
However, a day like Father’s Day is like a trap in my way of escaping from the feeling of anger. Yesterday, I felt trapped. I was angry. I did not want to see my angry face in the mirror. The anger had conquered my body. To make myself feel better, I decided to walk around the streets of Buenos Aires. Every single movie theater, restaurant, cultural center and etc. would remind me of my beloved father, Siamak Pourzand. I kept on remembering the days that we would go from one store to another, one toy store to another. I remembered my father’s attempts to find barbies for me that resembled me, that had curly hair and dark skin. We would explore the toy stores for hours to find a Barbie that looked like me. He would seek children’s book from famous authors for me. He would drive around the city to find my favorite kind of bread. He would help me read the newspaper. And sometimes we would get into arguments just like two friends.
Yesterday was Father’s Day. I was angry. I was terrified of my own anger.

Dear Islamic Republic of Iran, “Happy belated Father’s Day! Give my father back to me!”

My Father Siamak Pourzand is now 75 years old. He was temporarily released from prison after a couple of years of cruelty and torture. When they released him, he was already in coma. He was taken to the intensive care of a public hospital in Tehran, chained to bed with two guards watching him all the times. Only when the international human rights organizations sent their representatives to the hospital, he was unchained. Since then, my beloved father has gone under multiple surgeries for his heart, bone problems due to the physical violations that took place during the time that he was disappeared and other health problems. He has no documents in hand which technically means that he is still a prisoner and that his conditional freedom could be taken away any time. Once in a while suspicious individuals call him or come to visit him while he is alone in his apartment. Except for my lovely aunt who is old and very sick, there is no other family member left in Iran. My father does not have his passport. He is reasonably terrified of going to the authorities and asking for his passport or other forms of travel documents. The government does not give his wife , my mother, Mehrangiz Kar any guarantee for safety to go back to Iran and see her sick husband after all of these years of hardship and separation. As the youngest member of the family I took the risk and went to visit him for 10 days last year. My trip to Iran was not a pleasant trip and due to cautionary reasons I still do not want to talk in details about that trip.
Yesterday was Father’s Day and I was angry. I want my father back.
Dear Islamic Republic of Iran, “Give my father back to me!”
Anger is a dangerous feeling. It reminds me of revenge. It reminds me of more violation which is something that my beloved parents have taught me to avoid.
Give my father back to me!
babaye man.jpg
Azadeh and Siamak Pourzand

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On Women's Demonstration

I translated this piece from Bahar's weblog

On Women’s Demonstration
I have stayed at home. I have a final exam tomorrow. My father didn’t let me participate in today’s demonstration. I am worried. I am sending Elnaz an SMS. She is not answering. Amir is saying that they are beating up our friends. He is saying that they are very violent. It reminds me of the way they were beating up people on International Women’s Day.
I talked with Elnaz. They have seriously beaten them all up. They have arrested some. I am nervous. They have arrested some of the students of my university…
(look how wildly they are pulling my friend away on the ground!)


According last news form our friends and from websits, radios, .... many of my collegues , arressted
by police and the others have beated too hard and some of them are wanted by court for tomarrow( such as Noushin ahmadi) and the mother and sisters of Parwin Ardalan (our website editor) have arrested by police , instead of Parwin!!...

I recieved this email from one of the active members of HerLand Magazine

Nobel Women's Initiative...statement for Peace

Download file

Women's Voice is Close!

I translated this piece from Asieh Amini’s Weblog.
Dear Asieh ,
You are not alone...

Women’s Voice Seems Very Close!

I arrived at the park at 5 p.m. Nothing seemed to be happening, but some things were indeed happening. The news was under the skin of the park. The news was sitting on the benches of the park. I, too, sat down. And then I noticed my surroundings. There were many people around talking in the groups of two or more. They came. They came with their sticks to beat us. They walked straight towards us. We were talking with Mrs. Moghaddam and others. They told us “to land”*. We said that we are not doing anything and that we are only sitting here. They said, “Get up”!
We said that that sitting in the park is not a crime. They said, “Get up before we proceed to using other methods!” And we did not have the opportunity to speak anymore. We had different objectives and both sides knew this pretty well. They said that they are being very serious and we asked, “Why?”
They kicked us out of the park. They beat us and kicked us out. We walked. Calm and peaceful. We walked around the park. They kicked us out. They beat us up. Someone yelled and said, “I am your mother. Shame on you!” The answer was the following: “ I do not have a bitch as my mother!” And then she pushed the older lady very harshly. We left. They took us. Around the square we were holding papers on which it was written, “Change the anti-woman laws!”, “We demand the rights of a complete human being!” and then we started to whisper collectively, “ We are women. We are humans. And yet we have no rights...” This time they started to beat us from all sides. Not only men were beating us. There were also women with chador (the garment) who were screaming: “Do not argue with the police!” and as soon as someone would start to argue, they would start to curse and kick them all over.
We walked around the square. They took our papers away and torn them into pieces. They pulled the crowd of young and old women who were yelling out slogans and took them to their assigned busses. The crowd resisted their forces. But there were many policemen and policewomen around. It was odd. All of a sudden it seemed as if everyone around us was a member of the moral police. We heard them over and over saying, “No worries. We are not strangers!” I do not really know how many of us were there. All I know is that it was not a small crowd and that we will increase in number.
The square was pact with people! I bumped into friends left and right. It was around that time when they took Jila away. They took her with handcuffs. They took her husband, Bahman, too. They also took her sister, Taraneh. Their busses were now full. They left. They took our friends away and we don’t know where to... In one of the minibuses they took 19 people and in the other one they took 9...They pulled Mosavi Khoini from the other side of the street and took him, too. Moosavi Khoini and his group of 111 people (Edvar Tahkim) had declared their support of the demonstration yesterday.

Then we heard some more names of the people who were taken by the moral police. But since I am not sure, I am not going to say their names. But I do know that they took many people. There are some that I didn’t even know before. Maybe they were students and maybe they were everyday women who had just joined the crowd.

Many of us including myself followed the previous plans and left the park at 6 pm. And we advised others to leave so that later participants don’t get blamed for the violence that was taking place.
My head hurts. And my one foot that was kicked hurts .I was beaten by their sticks on the back and it hurts .My hands that were pulled over and over hurt. Though, I don’t feel pain in my heart. There is an uproar in my heart and it is so strong that does not let me even feel the pain.
It was a good day. The voice of freedom was too close to not be heard.

* Asieh has used the English verb, “to land”. It probably means giving in to the police.

They Need Our Help!

I am usually very hesitant when it comes to making bold statements. But tonight is different. My head hurts, my body hurts, my brain hurts. I am worried.I want to scream at the
world and especially at us Iranians who live abroad. I want to tell them that SILENCE IS THE WORST. I think that if we do not use the freedom that we are given in the West to talk about what our countrymen are experiencing, we are helping the process of repression and violence in Iran. PLEASE speak out about what just happened to Iranian women at the demonstration for women's rights in Tehran. Tell the world that they were beaten, that they were arrested, that some of them are now disappeared, that the family members of some of the organizers were even arrested. Tell the world about the demands for which these women are fighting.Let the world know that Iranian women are being punished crucially for being women. Please do not choose to remain silent. That is the worst. Given the characteristics of our time SILENCE is a crime. We have responsibilities. We have to support any sincere movement that is born against all forms of discrimination and against violence. We have to use, if nothing, at least the freedom that we have in the West to speak out about the cruelty that is happening in our beloved Iran. True, we all have dear ones left in Iran and some other attachments that might hold us back from being able to speak out. But the least we could do is informing the world.
We shouldn't stop ourselves from thinking about what these Iranian women have to face tonight in unknown detention centers. On the contrary, we need to imagine, imagine the details of these women's conditions tonight.Yes, it is just like a nightmare. But guess what, what is our nightmare is now the reality of their lives and their families´ lives. They did not protest only for themselves. These woman have been dedicated enought to risk their lives. They NEED our help. SPEAK OUT!
*The photos are from Arash Ashoorinia´s website

Women's Rights Activists Beaten in Tehran

Associated Press Writer

June 12, 2006, 5:20 PM EDT

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iranian police with batons and shields beat women's rights demonstrators in a downtown Tehran square Monday, injuring one protester and detaining 20.

The injured woman was taken to a hospital with wounds to her face and head. Her identity and further details were not immediately available.

The protest by about 200 women was organized by a previously unknown group calling itself the Labor and Communist Party. An invitation delivered to The Associated Press on Sunday demanded equal rights for women and the nullification of a law allowing Iranian men to have four wives.

"We are women, we are human, but we don't have any rights!" protesters chanted.

Some 100 police, including female officers, attacked the demonstrators and dispersed them about an hour after the protest began.

Throughout most of the confrontation, female officers beat female protesters and male police beat male protesters there to support the women. Male police generally are not permitted to touch female suspects.

"I don't care about the police charging us with batons," said Laila, 21, who would not give her last name. "I would attend any pro-human rights demonstration in the future," she said.

None of Iran's state-run media reported on the protest.

"They won't report it (because) they don't like people who think about their quality of life," said Marzia, a 34-year-old protester who also would not give her last name.

In March, police attacked about 200 women's rights demonstrators at a Tehran park, beating women and their male supporters with batons.

Iran's Islamic law imposes tight restrictions on women. They need a male guardian's permission to work or travel. Women are not allowed to become judges, and a man's court testimony is considered twice as important as a woman's.

Despite such restrictions, Iranian women have more rights than their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and some other conservative Muslim countries. They can drive, vote and run for office.
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Note from our dear Lady Sun on Tomorrow´s Demonstration

Sunday, June 11, 2006
Lady Sun
Silence is the worst
The hell with football. I just got an email from one of the organizers of women’s demonstration on June 12 that she has been summoned by the intelligence authorities and she was asking that we don’t contact her. I read in the comment section of some Persian blogs that another activist is also summoned.

No weblog has written about it, and Herland, the organizing magazine of the demonstration, has not written anything about it. This is not good. Transparency and spreading the word are the most important factors in such moves. Organizers of the demonstration are being threatened by the authorities. Public should know about it; first to become aware of the probable dangers awaiting them; and second, to publicize it as much as possible to get the attention of the media and the international community.

Silence is the worst thing when people become threatened or arrested by the authorities. The authorities like this silence and they usually intimidate the people they have threatened or arrested not to publicize it. Ganji wasn’t killed because media was following up his story. Sina Motallebi and other bloggers were released because the international community and the media were covering their news, and some lobbying with more moderated members of the government took place. If these people are summoned by the intelligence authorities, people should be informed about it.

I have no role in tomorrow’s demonstration. The women’s website I worked for has topped working since a few months ago so I have no role in updating any news or photos about the demonstrations. We had some serious conflicts with the organizers of the demonstration. But I supported them and I sent lots of emails to different organizations and individuals, including Amnesty, to get their support. No matter what I think about this women’s group, they are organizing a protest for women’s rights in Iran, so I support them. But I wish they would open up their campaign, take the advice of people who have some experience in media or online campaigns, and would welcome the support of people who don’t necessarily think like them.

I wish I could tell them that they should have publicized the intelligence authorities’ threat. I wish I could tell them that they should all erase the hard of their computers, save some new files on their hard so that their previous information will not be retrieved. They should disable their blogs’ archives and erase their blogrolls. When Sina was arrested, they interrogated him about any single hyperlink he put in his blog. They asked him why he linked to site X or Y or why linked to blog X or Y. They asked him whether he had any illicit relationship with the female bloggers he has linked to. They took his computer with them and interrogated him about any single file in his computer. I hope the people who are summoned to the intelligence (and might probably, god forbids, get arrested) will take these security issues into matter.

They should assign some trusted people who live outside Iran to keep the track of their probable arrest. They should instruct them what to do if they get arrested. I just cross my fingers and hope that they know all this and they have prepared themselves and have organized a group to follow up the probable arrests. Also, I hope they will instruct the people who will participate tomorrow how to react if they will be beaten or arrested.

Herland published a piece yesterday which included some good instructions such as not chanting any slogans and not obstructing the traffic on Hafte Tir Square (the location of the demonstration.) They have insisted that people should not make any drastic move and they should be very peaceful. March 8 sitting was also peaceful but women were brutally beaten. So, I hope people will be ready for the same thing tomorrow no matter how peaceful their sitting will be.

Also, I hope they will have a journalist sitting at home at her computer, ready to cover the news live by getting the news through phone from other journalists attending the demonstration. A women’s website did it last year and it was quite effective.

Silence is the worst thing in these situations…

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Support Iranian Women's Demonstration

Support Iranian Women's Demonstration on June 12
A Collective Action Against the Legal Discrimination

My dear friends,

Last year, many of you endorsed this pro-women's rights demonstration waged by a coalition of Iranian women activists inside Iran. Your names stand distinctively in their documents published in Iran as supporters of women's rights in Iran. Would you kindly consider signing this appeal again (see below and also the attachment) for they want to stage another demo in the anniversary of that successful action which is considered a turning point in Iranian women's movement, hence June 12th (22nd of Khordad) has been designated as the Iranian Women's National Day. Last year it was evident that such international supports, especially by prominent human rights advocates can give women activists some protection and may help minimize the police attack and violence against them. Over 600 Iranian prominent women and men activists and journalists, including Shirin Ebadi, Simin Behbahani, Mehrangiz Kar, and Pouran Farrokhzad have already joined this call.

You can support this action either by adding the name of your organization or your own name and affiliation as an individual by emailing at:


We, the undersigned, would like to express our support for Iranian women in their continued struggle to gain equal rights under the civil and penal codes of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Specifically, we support Iranian women in their peaceful protest scheduled for June 12, 2006 demanding the end to all forms of legal discrimination and changes to the following laws: Banning of polygamy; equal divorce rights Equal child custody rights for mothers and fathers; Equal rights in marriage (like women's right to choose her own employment, travel freely, etc); Increase in the legal age of children to 18 years of age (currently girls are viewed as adults at 9 years of age and boys at 15 years of age, making them eligible to be tried as adults); Equal value placed on women's testimony in court; and Elimination of temporary work contracts which disproportionately and negatively impact women.

You can support this action either by adding the name of your organization or your own name and affiliation as an individual by emailing at:,06,04,12,39,37/,06,07,12,33,14/.

feeling at home

I have been here in Buenos Aires since February 28th. I have spent days and nights walking around, studying, partying, laughing and sometimes crying in this city. I already feel that I belong to this city.
Last night after having had Thai food with my friends, I decided to walk home which is an activity that I dearly love in Buenos Aires. Walking for hours and looking and observing and thinking...Walking in Avenida Corrientes, I was thinking about how much I will miss Buenos Aires. I have discovered a new self in this city. After having spent only a few months in Buenos Aires, every neighbourhood, store and corner reminds me of distinct feelings and memories. I already am a regular at certain cafes, restaurants and stores. The cashiers of the laundry place and the grocery store already know my face and my accent as if I had lived here forever. I already know how to get from Avenida Santa Fe to Belgerano to Callao to Corrientes to Cordoba to Porto Madero... I have already learned a lot about the dynamics of my classes. I have finally learned to understand the argentine logic. I have already learned about the strong sense of patriotism that exists in Argentina. I already know all about different argentine brands. Dulce de leche now brings a sweet familiar taste to my mouth.
Oh, Buenos Aires, que sé yo(what do I know?), you are now one of my many homes….


Friday, June 02, 2006

Shahra Razavi

This article was published in Clarin(one of the most respected newspapers in Argentina). In the midst of this tiring nuclear drama between Iran and the US , seeing an article about an amazing Iranian woman like Shahra Razavi made me feel proud and reminded me that as an Iranian woman abroad i have a long path ahead of me! thank you Shahra jan...
Shahra Razavi is Research Co-ordinator at UNRISD. She specializes in the gender dimensions of social development, with a particular focus on livelihoods and social policies.

LUCHADORA. La iraní Shahra Razavi, especialista en género de la ONU. (Martín Acosta)

12.05.2006 | | El Mundo

En Irán, las mujeres no han aceptado las leyes opresivas del gobierno

Lo dijo la iraní Shahra Razavi, de visita en Argentina, para participar de un seminario sobre "Igualdad de género".

Telma Luzzani

Las imágenes de Irán, sobre todo las que difunde la TV, suelen mostrar mujeres asustadizas todas tapadas de negro. Este estereotipo de opresión se derrumba de inmediato al entrevistar a la investigadora iraní Shahra Razavi, del programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo Social (UNRISD).

Razavi vino a Buenos Aires para presentar su informe sobre "Igualdad de género" en el mundo y en diálogo con Clarín trazó una radiografía política minuciosa de los distintos gobiernos de Irán y los cambios en la situación de la mujer.

"Antes de la Revolución Islámica de 1979, el gobierno era laico y modernizador pero extremadamente autoritario y elitista. Sólo una pequeña minoría urbana de clase alta disfrutaba esos beneficios. El padre del Sha Reza Palevi, en 1936, había ordenado que las mujeres no usaran más el pañuelo. Pero para la mayoría de las mujeres, como le pasó a mi abuela, no salieron más a la calle: les daba miedo y vergüenza de que los soldados las pararan por la calle y le hicieran sacar el pañuelo. No les gustaba salir sin nada, se sentían incómodas".

—Y en 1979 la Revolución Islámica lo volvió a imponer.

—Yo tenía 16 años y recuerdo que mi generación y la de mi madre protestaban en la calle por la imposición del pañuelo y para que no anularan la ley de divorcio y la de la custodia materna de los hijos. Especialmente en los 5 o 6 primeros años de la Revolución el gobierno fue estrictísimo: te paraban por la calle si no ibas apropiadamente vestida. Pero no era un régimen talibán que podía imponer lo que quisiera. La sociedad iraní es muy compleja y la gente no está dispuesta a aceptar mansamente las reglas.

—La idea que hay acá es que las iraníes están oprimidas.

—La "sharía" o ley islámica dice que la mujer no debe estar en cargos como el de juez. Y en los 80 hubo muchas mujeres cesantes. Pero si se observan los números de los últimos 20 años, vemos que las iraníes continuaron trabajando y hoy son una parte significativa de la fuerza laboral. Vemos que la edad del matrimonio aumentó y que hoy el 60% de los estudiantes universitarios son mujeres y que en el campo artístico, en el cine, tenemos mujeres muy destacadas.

—¿Y cómo se explica eso?

—Por un lado, porque el gobierno intentó imponer leyes opresivas pero la sociedad iraní es muy dinámica y no las acepta. Por otro, porque las clases pobres necesitan el sueldo de la mujer y la realidad social se impuso.

—¿Entonces la situación de la mujer iraní mejoró?

—Sí. En época del sha sólo un grupo pequeño de mujeres estaba concientizada sobre sus derechos. Con la Revolución Islámica y su concepto de "Estado de bienestar" se expandió la salud y la educación gratuitas. Eso dio como resultado una mayor y más extendida concientización de la mujer.

—¿Y con Jatami?

—Ese fue un período de gran significación en la historia contemporánea de Irán. Fue un gobierno progresista que peleó por reformar el régimen islámico y hacerlo compatible con la democracia y los derechos humanos. Pero su agenda neoliberal trajo consecuencias económicas y sociales muy negativas. Hubo tecnócratas y funcionarios muy corruptos.

—¿Y el gobierno actual?

—Que EE.UU. haya decretado que Irán es un país "villano" y lo hayan colocado en el "eje de mal" debilitó las fuerzas democráticas (que por otra parte están totalmente desunidas) e hizo que la gente se volcara a los slogans nacionalistas de las fuerzas más retrógradas del país. Cuanto más asustada está la gente por un virtual bombardeo de EE.UU., más se aferra al nacionalismo. Pero este gobierno, a diferencia del de Jatami, apunta a la justicia social a través de un gran número de subsidios. Por eso los indicadores sociales en Irán están bien: baja mortalidad, buena educación. Lamentablemente la agenda en relación a las mujeres es muy regresiva. Se quiere volver a los primeros años de la Revolución. Pero por ahora tienen toda la atención puesta en el tema nuclear.

Luego Razavi sintetizó a Clarín los resultados del informe global que leyó en el seminario organizado por María del Carmen Feijoo, del Fondo de Población de Naciones Unidas y que concluyó ayer.

"La buena noticia es que en los últimos 10 años se duplicó la presencia femenina en la política. La mala, es que las mujeres siguen ganando la mitad que los varones. Se necesita leyes específicas para cambiar eso.", sintetizó.

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