Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Arrest of a Courageous Woman and Friend

Usually, I confine my posting on political matters to my Apolitical Deconstruction blog. However, I am going to make an acception in this case, as the subject of this post really hits me close to home! This past Sunday (March 4), 33 Iranian women were arrested while conducting a peaceful demonstration in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran. They were expressing their solidarity with 5 other women who had been arrested during a previous peaceful demonstration conducted this past summer. One of the women arrested on Sunday is my friend Parastoo! Here is Parastoo's picture that she displays on her Orkut page:

Here are a couple of articles that provide an excellent discussion of the details of the women's arrest: 1.)
BBC News article; 2.) article written by Syma Sayyah, a writer and social activist living in Tehran.

Would you please consider signing the petition calling for the release of these women?
Here is a link to a web page containing the petition.

Finally, if you feel really motivated to take action (like me!!), you can send lots of emails to Iranian officials. The relevant email addresses are listed at
this Amnesty International page, along more detailed info on the situation.

Here is a copy of the email that I sent to all the officials named on the Amnesty page:

Your Excellency,

I am an American who has had the honor to become friends with a number of very outstanding Iranian people. I have great respect for Iran and her ancient culture.

It has come to my attention that 33 Iranian women were arrested on March 4, 2007 while conducting a peaceful demonstration in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

I am very concerned that at least one woman, Nahid Ja'fari, was reportedly injured during her arrest, when police allegedly hit her head against a police van, breaking one or more of her teeth. I respectfully ask that she and the other women be granted access to medical attention, their families, and lawyers.

It is my understanding that Article 27 of the Iranian Constitution says, "Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam". In accordance with your own laws and Constitution, I respectfully ask that these 33 women be released immediately and unconditionally.


Thank you my friends for caring about Iranian women's rights!

Update (March 9, 2007): I read that 30 of the 33 women arrested have been released, including my friend Parastoo! I am not 100% sure, but I believe that their families had to post a large bail to get them out of the prison. The three women who are still imprisoned are considered as the "ringleaders" of the peaceful demonstration. This article gives more information on the release of the 30 and the three women still in custody, including their pictures and brief biographies. Finally, Parastoo gave this brief interview after her release that describes the arrest of the women demonstrators and her interrogations in the prison. If you have not signed the petition yet, please do so, as it may help the three women still in prison. Thanks!


Blogger Kyubai said...

it is a disturbing event indeed and I hope that your freind will be released soon I've signed the petition and I'll try to spread the word.

3/08/2007 4:06 AM  
Blogger aNarki-13 said...

This is terrible.
I signed the petition, and will put up a link for it.
prayers to your friend.

3/08/2007 9:20 AM  
Blogger Treasure of Baghdad said...

I hope they release her soon.

3/09/2007 12:55 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hi Kyubai, Anarki, and BT! Thanks so much to you all for caring! I just learned that 30 of the women (including Parastoo!) have been released, apparently after large bails were posted by their families. I added an update with two more links. Thanks again my friends! :)

3/09/2007 1:05 AM  
Blogger Dr O2 said...

Hey Dave howdie?? me not in regular connection distance!!

How is everything??? you doin fine??

yeah heard that! I was very sorry abt it! This is a real shortcoming! all governments do such things though! they wanna keep peace! Remember in US the mother of the killed soldier who was arrested for the peaceful demo?

Governments! we elect them, they jail us!!!

3/09/2007 10:03 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hey Omid, thanks for stopping by! :) How is everything? Well, I'm still alive, kicking, and occasionally stirring up trouble. ;) Sure I remember Cindy Sheehan. Her arrest was just a minor inconvenience for her. The arrest of these Iranian woman, though, could have far more serious consequences for them! I have heard so many horror stories of Iranian women being abused by the legal system. For example, if an Iranian woman divorces her husband, she has no legal right to see her children. Female children as young as 8 years old can be put to death, while male children under the age of 15 are excluded from this penalty (I'm not exactly sure of these ages, but I know that a wide descrepancy is codified in Iranian law). Women can be stoned to death for adultery, while men face a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all. I'm certainly not in favor of adultery, but this horrible double standard is immoral, as far as I am concerned!

Hey, sorry about the lecture. I'm just very passionate about women's rights! I hope everything is going well for you during your military servitude!

3/09/2007 2:50 PM  
Blogger Kyubai said...

Congratulations for the realease of your friend and I hope that it will never happen again...

3/11/2007 9:20 AM  
Blogger aNarki-13 said...

Thank God for their release:
i read the interview.. sounded like something out of Big Brother.
Parastoo is a smart lady, VERY smart.
they didn't have anything on her, and she didn't help them have anything.

here's hoping that the remaining 3 will be freed soon.

i noticed i haven't put a link. i am again terribly sorry.

3/13/2007 10:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

Kyubai, thanks! As for happening again, I think it is likely. The women's movement in Iran is young, but the women are brave and determined! I just hope none of them will be physically harmed while in police or prison custody! A few years ago, the Canadian/Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was murdered (her head was severely beaten) during interrogation while in the same prison that Parastoo and the other demonstrators were taken to. It was a very tragic crime and no one has been brought to justice yet!

Anarki, I am thankful for their release too! However, it is possible they may still face a trial for their peaceful and lawful demonstration. I am waiting to hear more about that. According to the Iranian constitution, they did nothing illegal! We will see if Iran is a country of laws or still a country of religious lunacy! Btw, I heard a few days ago that one more of the women was released. I hope the remaining two are being well treated! No need to apoligize my friend! Thank you very much for caring! :)

3/13/2007 8:16 PM  
Anonymous mariamusic said...

I, too, was moved when I read about women's protest in Tehran. I thought it was a very courageous act. I, also, thought your act was bravery Daivd.


3/13/2007 11:43 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hi Mariam, thanks for your comment. I'm not sure what I did that was brave, but I am happy to try and help these remarkable and courageous women! Their cause is truly a civil rights struggle. I hope that their message will spread and attract more supporters!

3/14/2007 1:19 PM  
Blogger Tamara said...

Thank you for your concern, David. You're very sweet.

May this new year open a new door, or at least a window, of hope for everyone....

Good wishes to you,

3/20/2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hi Tamara, thanks for your encouraging words. :) I hope the new year will be a good one too! My good wishes to you, as well! :)

3/21/2007 12:35 AM  
Blogger Naj said...

Hi david,

Not all those arrested women seem to be pleased with "outsider's" support though.
Check this out

3/21/2007 10:45 PM  
Anonymous mariamusic said...

Hi David,

To me, sending a letter like your email to the Iran's officials was a bravery acttion.

I appreciate that you care. Iranian women have a long history of being discriminated, and I wish it comes to end some time soon.

3/22/2007 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Amir said...

Hi David,
I found out about Niki's letter to empress Farah because of your comment on her site. I just wanted to let you know that if you are interested, there is a host of open letters to her, the most famous of which is from Ulrike Meinhof, the leader of the German 70s leftist-terrorist outfit, the Red Army Faction. For some reason terrorists and those who sympathize with them have a liking for writing to the empress. I guess as Shah said, ingratitude is the prerogative of the people. Receiving letters from terrorist is her majesty's.

3/25/2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hello Naj, thanks for visiting my blog. I checked out the link and left you a comment, as you know. :)

Thanks Mariam! :) I wish the same thing!

Hi Amir, welcome to my blog. :) Well, I imagine that empress Farah is none to fond of receiving letters from terrorists! If her husband had been a more benign ruler, I doubt she would have to worry about her mail, nor would Iranians have to worry about autocratic Mullahs!

3/26/2007 12:17 AM  
Blogger Naj said...

Hi david, just wanted to thank you about dropping me the address of Khodadad.

3/29/2007 8:13 AM  
Blogger Naj said...

Wonder what you think about this Laleh Esfandiari case!

Well okey she is working for one of those dubious organizations, but her writings are benign. The "Reconstructed Lives" was almost banal too!

Maybe they are trying to set up a center for women studies in Evin and bring all different feminist factions together ;)

5/16/2007 9:53 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hi Naj, I am not familiar with the case of Laleh Esfandiari. Could you give me a link so that I can read up about her? Thanks.

5/17/2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Naj said...

hi David,
Actually I am not very familiar with Haleh Esfandiari case. I have read one of her books, she works in Wilson Woodrow Institute in Washington and is the head of ME studies or something. She doesn't have much publication; and the one book I read was rather dull.

Google her up to see how insignificant her intellectual contribution to the world is (which in my opinion makes her a perfect candidate to be appointed to ME studies ;) )

5/19/2007 7:17 AM  
Blogger David said...

Naj, I read a statement released by the Woodrow Wilson Institute on May 10 regarding Haleh Esfandiari. It seems to me that the Iranian Intelligence Ministery arranged to have her passports stolen, late in December of last year, so that she could not leave Iran. Then for four months, between January and April, they repeatedly called her in for long interrogations, trying to get her to confess to things that she and the Wilson Institute had not done. Finally on May 7th, she was taken from the Intelligence Ministery to Evin Prison and has not been heard from since. I would say this is very serious. She is an American citizen. I hope she will be released!

5/21/2007 1:38 PM  

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