"True, much of the dated advice ... is now amusingly camp,
but the potential thrill of being single still saturates each page."
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Samanthapettai, near the temple town of Madurai, faced near devastation on the December 26 when massive tidal waves wiped it clean of homes and lives.
Most of the 200 people here are homeless or displaced , battling to rebuild lives and locating lost family members besides facing risks of epidemic,disease and trauma.
Jubilant at seeing the relief trucks loaded with food, clothes and the much-needed medicines the villagers, many of who have not had a square meal in days, were shocked when the nuns asked them to convert before distributing biscuits and water.
Heated arguments broke out as the locals forcibly tried to stop the relief trucks from leaving. The missionaries, who rushed into their cars on seeing television reporters and the cameras refusing to comment on the incident and managed to leave the village.
Disappointed and shocked into disbelief the hapless villagers still await aid.
"Many NGOs (volunteer groups) are extending help to us but there in our village the NGO, which was till now helping us is now asking us to follow the Christian religion. We are staunch followers of Hindu religion and refused their request. And after that these people with their aid materials are leaving the village without distributing that to us," Rajni Kumar, a villager said.
The incident is an exception to concerted charity in a catastrophe that has left no one untouched.(ANI)
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By Brian Whitaker
Tuesday January 25, 2005
In the Guardian Unlimited
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is a controversial Islamic scholar who approves of wife-beating and believes in traditional family values. The Mormon church, having abandoned polygamy more than a century ago, believes in traditional families too.
With that much in common, they have joined forces to "defend the family" and fight progressive social policies at the United Nations.
Other members of the holy alliance include Cardinal Alfonso Trujillo, who campaigns against condoms on behalf of the Catholic church, and Mahathir Mohamad, the dictatorial former prime minister of Malaysia who sacked and jailed his deputy for alleged homosexuality.
They all met in Doha, the capital of Qatar, last November for what was officially described as a conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UN's Year of the Family. In reality, it brought together some of the world's most socially conservative religious forces.
Opening the conference, Sheikha Mousa bint Nasser al-Misnad, the wife of Qatar's ruler, announced that the well-being of the family was in peril. She warned against trying to "redefine the concept of family in a manner contrary to religious precepts" - though there was little danger of anyone at the Doha conference doing that.
In common with many Muslim states, Qatar rejects basic family rights legislation such as the international Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), using "religious precepts" as an excuse.
Qatar is a small but rich Gulf emirate that looks both east and west, and its relations with the United States are simultaneously warm and frosty. It provided a temporary home for Centcom's military headquarters during the invasion of Iraq while, from a studio just a few miles away, al-Jazeera television - owned by the Qatari government - criticised the war and broadcast tapes from al-Qaida.
In preparation for its family conference, the government of Qatar appointed the World Family Policy Centre to arrange a series of preliminary meetings in Mexico City, Sweden, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Strasbourg "to collect the best scholarship on the current state of marriage and family life" and make recommendations.
The Doha conference website gave few clues about the organisation that had been assigned to this important task beyond saying it was based in Utah. In fact, the World Family Policy Centre is an offshoot of Brigham Young University - run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons).
A week after the Doha conference, the government of Qatar put forward a conservative resolution on the family to the UN General Assembly which was approved without a vote, much to the dismay of the European countries and several others.
"For the first time at the UN, we had the anti-family powers scrambling by surprising them," the Mormon magazine, Meridian, crowed.
"Anti-family" and "pro-family" are code words embracing a number of issues.
"Pro-family" (as the conservatives call themselves) usually means anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-gay and iffy about sex education. The "anti-family" side (as the conservatives delight in calling their opponents) usually take the opposite view on all of that and strongly support women's rights as well.
The Doha conference, and the resulting UN resolution, provided a striking example of growing cooperation between the Christian right (especially in the United States) and conservative Muslims - groups who, according to the clash-of-civilisations theory, ought to be sworn enemies.
It was the religious right who swept George Bush back into the White House for a second term and the Mormons played a bigger part than most.
Almost 90% of America's 4 million Mormons voted for Bush last November and Utah, where the Mormon church is based, gave him the biggest majority of any US state. Indeed, Bush was so sure of winning Utah that he didn't even bother to campaign there.
Among the Mormons' Muslim allies, Qaradawi believes that "resisting the invaders" of Iraq is a religious duty. He has been banned from the US since 1999 on the grounds that he advocates violence and more recently has been accused of supporting suicide bombers.
Last year, his visit to Britain aroused much controversy, mainly because of his statements about wife-beating and the death penalty for sodomy. Less controversially, in 2001 he visited the Vatican as a guest of the Pope.
Regarded by some as the foremost Islamic scholar of his day, Qaradawi is dean of the College of Shariah and Islamic Studies in Qatar but has become famous throughout the Arab world for his appearances on al-Jazeera television. He also supervises IslamOnline.net, one of the largest Muslim websites, to ensure that none of its content "violates the fixed principles of Islamic law".
IslamOnline, which is owned by a religious organisation based in Qatar, gave extensive coverage to the Doha conference. The website also has a special section called "The family under attack" where it makes common cause with various Catholic groups and United Families International, a US organisation which preaches sexual abstinence to the AIDS-hit countries of Africa and blames condoms and sex education for the spread of HIV.
Under Qaradawi's supervision, IslamOnline frequently attacks "western" values but also urges Muslims, especially those living in the west, to work with non-Muslims "in all laudable and beneficial projects", for example, "to make our streets free of drugs, alcoholism, prostitution and homosexuality".
"We must never have any hesitation or reservation about cooperating with our non-Muslim neighbours for such causes," it says.
By the standards of traditionalist Islamic scholars (and ultra-conservative Christians too), Qaradawi's views on social issues are sometimes unexpectedly liberal. He believes wife-beating should be done "lightly" and then only as a last resort; he supports voting rights for women, and accepts abortion under certain circumstances. Rather adventurously, he also says there is nothing in Islamic law to prohibit oral sex, though it is a disgusting western practice resulting from westerners' habit of "stripping naked during sexual intercourse".
But Qaradawi's relative liberalism on these matters does not stretch to homosexuality, which he describes on IslamOnline as an abominable, depraved, unnatural, foul and illicit practice. It is also a "crime" against women - and lesbians are as guilty in that respect as gay men.
According to IslamOnline, sexual orientation is a "choice" and gay Muslims have no option but to sort themselves out by conjuring up mental pictures of pain and suffering in the fires of hell. By going through this exercise repeatedly they "will eventually come to abhor and shun this behaviour altogether" and will then be ready for marriage.
Under the heading "Are we being misinformed?", IslamOnline has a series of articles discussing homosexuality in "an Islamic and a scientific light". Almost all their scientific content comes from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (Narth), a fringe psychiatric organisation in the US which promotes "sexual reorientation therapy" and enjoys support from the religious right. IslamOnline has no fewer than 26 links to Narth's website, and a news item on Narth's website reciprocates by welcoming IslamOnline's "very useful contribution to the on-going dialogue".
(Narth's views, incidentally, are rejected by all the main professional bodies in the US, including the American Psychological Association - with 150,000 members - which says homosexuality is not an illness and warns that attempting to "cure" it can be harmful.)
The idea of forging an international Christian-Muslim alliance to fight liberal social policies began to develop in 1996 when an event known to "pro-family" activists as The Istanbul Miracle occurred. It happened at a UN conference in Turkey called Habitat Two. Richard Wilkins - now head of the Mormons' World Family Policy Centre - was there and, according to his own account, helped to perform the miracle.
"The Istanbul conference," he wrote, "was convened - in large measure - by a worldwide, well-organised and well-funded coalition of governments, politicians, academicians and non-governmental organisations that were eager to redefine marriage and family life.
"Natural marriage, based on the union of a man and a woman, was described by professors, politicians and pundits as an institution that oppressed and demeaned women. The constant claim was that 'various forms of the family exist', and all 'various forms' were entitled to 'legal support'. The 'form' most often discussed by those in charge of the conference was a relationship between two individuals of the same gender."
Wilkins challenged all this with a four-minute speech on traditional family values which also castigated sex education in schools. He was hissed by some of the delegates as he returned to his seat but afterwards, he recalled, "I was approached by the ambassador from Saudi Arabia who embraced me warmly".
Wilkins gave the Saudi ambassador a list of suggested changes to the draft Habitat agenda, and The Istanbul Miracle was born.
"Thirty-six hours later, the heads of the Arab delegations in Istanbul issued a joint statement, announcing ... that its members would not sign the Habitat agenda unless (and until) certain important changes were made," Wilkins wrote.
As a result, the draft was altered to define "marriage" as a relationship between "husband and wife", and references to abortion were changed to "reproductive health".
International arguments about the family have raged ever since. The UN has said several times that "in different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of family exist". This is a statement of fact as much as anything, but it is anathema to religious conservatives who dislike the idea of unmarried couples living together, and especially those of the same sex.
The UN points out that ideas of what a family is have changed over the last 50 years. Worldwide, there has been a shift from extended families to nuclear families as well as an increase in the number of cohabiting couples and one-person households. Family structures have also been changed by lower fertility rates, higher life expectancy, migration and, especially in Africa, HIV/AIDS. The UN therefore urges its members to take these changes into account when developing social policies.
Qatar's resolution in the General Assembly last month was part of the conservatives' ongoing struggle to turn back the clock, and once again Wilkins seems to have worked a miracle in getting it approved.
Just before the UN debate, Wilkins sent out an SOS "to pro-family government and non-government contacts throughout the world", according to the Mormons' Meridian magazine.
"You responded to the SOS by answering our alert to email targeted UN missions that could make the difference on the resolution," the magazine told its readers. "Even though it was over the weekend, with only one day's notice, you responded by sending more than 70,000 emails."
In the General Assembly, the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and New Zealand all dissociated themselves from Qatar's resolution.
The New Zealand representative pointed out that it was highly unusual for the General Assembly to pass resolutions based on conferences (such as that in Qatar) to which not all member states had been invited. The debate was being used, he said, to attack a long-standing international consensus on the diversity of family structures and the advancement of women and children's rights. It was also seeking to promote one model of the family, at the expense of others.
The family debate certainly divides the world, but the divisions are not between east and west, nor do they follow the usual dividing lines of international politics. The battle is between liberal secularists - predominantly in Europe - and conservatives elsewhere who think religion has a role in government.
On this issue, with a president who sounds increasingly like an old-fashioned imam, the United States now sits in the religious camp alongside the Islamic regimes: not so much a clash of civilisations, more an alliance of fundamentalisms.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited
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GOOD LUCK NEXT SUNDAY TO IRAQ AND DEMOCRACY!!!!
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Bambi has been granted a stay of execution pending the outcome of the case in which her current caretakers and the state Department of Natural Resources are fighting over her future.
A court hearing was scheduled for Tuesday to decide whether an injunction should be issued to prevent the DNR from either removing Bambi from the farm of Mike and Ilene Smith of rural Columbus or killing the doe, who is about 1 1/2 years old.
But attorney Gary A. Schmaus, who represents the Smiths, wrote to Dane County Circuit Judge John Albert that discussions between himself and Assistant Attorney General P. Philip Peterson had been fruitful and the parties "have reached a temporary resolution of the issues that would have been addressed in that matter, and as a result there is no necessity to have a hearing."
Bambi, as the Smiths' grandchildren named her, and her mother and sister were all apparently hit by a car. The mother died while Bambi and the other fawn survived and managed to crawl into an enclosure on a farm. That farmer called Ilene Smith, who tended to the two injured fawns. One of the fawns died; the other was named Bambi by the Smith grandchildren.
The DNR is adamant that new rules established in the wake of the discovery of chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin make it impossible for the Smiths to keep the deer, while the Smiths say the animal has been with them for well over a year and is now a family pet.
Bambi enjoys life in a fenced enclosure she shares with a sheep named Curly.
The Smiths claim in their lawsuit that they complied with several suggestions by the DNR to make their possession of Bambi legal, and say the DNR has since said the deer would be killed or moved to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center in Walworth County.
\ E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2004
A 16 year girl hanged in public for having the courage to defend herself in court
Boston, MA - The Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) has just been informed that a 16 year old girl, Atefeh Sahaleh Rajabi, was hanged in public on August 15, 2004. Atefeh was hanged in her hometown of Neka in northern state of Mazandaran, Iran. She was charged for having an unlawful relationship with a young man.
Despite her family’s efforts to obtain a lawyer, Atefeh was denied one by the order of the clerical judge. In her own defense, she told the judge, Haji Rezai, that he should punish the main perpetrators for moral corruptions and not the victims. Atefeh was condemned to death by both the local clerical judge and Iran’s Supreme Court in Tehran. The young man involved in the act only received 100 lashes and was set free.
After her execution, the local clerical judge said her punishment was not execution but he had her executed for her “sharp tongue”. Atefeh was given a more severe punishment because of her gender and courage to talk back to the fundamentalist rulers in Iran’s court system. The charges against her were unfounded and the court had no proof of the young couple’s relationship.
WFAFI condemns this misogynous act by Iran’s fundamentalist rulers and the clerical judges. Even though Atefeh was denied a lawyer for her defense and thus had no fair trial, she was punished for defending herself courageously.
WFAFI holds the leaders of Iran’s fundamentalist regime responsible for Atefeh’s murder. Those who commit such crimes against women should be brought in to justice. Violence against women in Iran is institutionalized and Atefeh’s case should not be forgotten. We call upon all women’s rights activists and human rights advocates to support the Iranian women in their struggle to end such atrocities in Iran.
P.O.Box 15205, Boston, MA 02215
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Subject: [fpn_atrocities] Atrocities: News from
Women Against Fundamentalism in Iran
January 15, 2005 VOLUME 8
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
The tsunami tragedy in Asia occurred on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran. While the shock and sorrow of this loss is still incomprehensible, the world community can not lose focus on the aftermath and rise of human trafficking in those areas. Let us hope the current post-disaster situation in Asia will take the lessons from Bam in to account.
The Iranian women and girls from Bam can only offer their painful stories and the promised aid that never reached them due to corruption within the fundamentalist regime. According to the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the $1 billion aid pledged to the ancient Silk Road city of Bam, where some 31,000 people died, never arrived.
The misogynous characteristic of the fundamentalist regime in Iran displayed itself in post-disaster human trafficking, government corruptions and the institutionalized socio-political and economic discriminations against women. Unfortunately, the world community has chosen not to see the Iranian
regime for what it is. The women and girls in Iran will never be safe and secure under this tyrannical regime and that is why they are taking matters in to their own hands to end this regime. Women's rights and human rights should be recognized as one of primary pillar of world policy towards
Iran.The world community should recognize the just cause that Iranian women
are fighting for and support their struggle to achieve democracy and equality in their homeland.
Amnesty International - December 17, 2004
According to reports, Hajieh Esmailvand was sentenced to five years imprisonment, to be followed by execution by stoning, for adultery with an unnamed man who at the time was a 17 year old minor. Although the exact date of her arrest and trial are not known, it is reported that she has been
imprisoned in the town of Jolfa, in the north west of Iran, since January 2000.
The Iranian Penal Code is very specific about the manner of execution and types of stones which should be used. Article 102 states that men will be buried up to their waists and women up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning. Article 104 states, with reference to the penalty
for adultery, that the stones used should "not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones".
[WFAFI update December 24: Due to international pressure and outcry, the Iranian regime has temporarily stayed the execution by stoning of Hajieh while her case is studied by the "judiciary pardons
commission". Her partner, identified only as Ruhollah G, has been sentenced to hang and is still awaiting execution.]
Peyk-e-Iran Website - December 18, 2004
Fereshteh Ghazi, an Iranian woman arrested for her opposition to the Iranian regime, was released on bail due to deteroriating health conditions. Ms. Ghazi was arrested in September and faced serious torture and beatings by the Revolutionary Gaurds. She has suffered a broken nose and ribs. Ms. Ghazi
refused to sign a letter of regret denouncing her ciritcism of the regime and has been deemed as a "threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran". Her temporary release has been limited to medical treatment and she is no allowed to speak to media or any reporter.
Aftenposten Norway - December 20, 2004
Iran's ambassador to Norway refused to meet the local head of Amnesty International on Monday. Amnesty is among those taking up the case of a young, retarded Iranian who's been sentenced to death. The 19-year-old, known only as "Leyla M," was forced into prostitution by her own mother at
the age of eight.
By age nine, she already was pregnant, and she's been repeatedly abused, raped and even sold as a sex slave throughout her young life. An Iranian court has since convicted her of immoral behaviour and
sentenced her to death by stoning and hanging. Both Amnesty International and Norway's own embassy in Teheran are among those mounting protests.
Petter Eide, secretary general for Amnesty in Norway, had an appointment to
meet Iran's ambassador in Oslo at 11am Monday.
Eide planed to deliver a petition with thousands of signatures protesting the pending execution of
Leyla M. The ambassador refused to open the embassy's doors to Eide, complaining that reporters were present. When reporters moved down the street, Iran's embassy remained closed. "We were told that the police could come and deliver the petition on our behalf, but we can't use the police as
messenger in a situation like this," Eide said. Around 100 people demonstrated outside the embassy in Oslo earlier on Monday, protesting the planned execution.
Reuters News Agency- December 21, 2004
The U.N. General Assembly has criticised Iran for public executions, torture, arbitrary sentencing, flogging, stoning and systematic discrimination against women. Sponsored by Canada, the human rights
resolution was adopted on Monday by a vote of 71 in favour, 54 against with 55 abstentions in the 191-member assembly. The resolution also said there was a "worsening situation with regard to freedom of opinion and __expression and freedom of the media and noted the "targeted disqualification" of reformists in Iran's parliamentary elections. Iran made no comment on Monday. But in November when an assembly committee passed the draft resolution, Iranian envoy Paimaneh Hasteh called the charges baseless.
She accused Canada of introducing the measure in response to a domestic outcry over the death of Kazemi.
Zanan-e Iran Website- December 23, 2004
A female reporter working with Iranian state-run media committed suicide.
The reporter worked in the news department of the Iranian state-run was only
21 years old and is said to be under a lot of pressure both at work and at
home. Her half-dead body was discovered 15 minutes after her suicide
attempt. She was taken to the hospital and was rescued.
State-run ISNA news agency- January 2, 2005
Head of the Women's Assembly of the Islamic City Councils expressed profound concern over the rise in the number of women inmates giving birth to children in prisons, ISNA reported.Sediqeh Qannadi warned that the society would witness a growth in social disorders and the number of street children, unless prompt action was taken to rein in the dilemma.
"Preliminary studies reveal that wanted and unwanted pregnancies are on the rise even
among inmates with life imprisonment. Reports suggest that most women sentenced to life imprisonment in Mashhad, Yazd, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchestan become pregnant," she explained. "Assertions by judiciary officials that the birth rate in prisons has declined are far from reality."
The Washington Times - January 5, 2005
Iran's increasing meddling in Iraq and its defiance in its nuclear weapons program pose the greatest challenge to peace and security in Iraq and the whole Middle East, as we enter 2005. The Iranian clerics have never been so close to realizing their decades-old dream of erecting a sister Islamic
Republic in Iraq. The deterioration of human rights in Iran has revealed new depths of barbarity, where pregnant women and children are routinely executed and floggings and amputations are an almost daily public spectacle.
Appeasement is not the way to contain or change this evil regime. Nor is it the path to avoid another war. A nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime will not spare the EU, either. Iran's missiles already can reach southern Europe. The mullahs are now rushing to develop a third-generation missile system
able to reach Paris, London and Brussels. For once, we should side with the millions in Iran whose cry is for freedom and regime change. A modern, secular and democratic Iran would not only be the key to regional peace and security, but also a long-term ally as we try to spread democracy across the
Middle East and the world.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty - January 10, 2004
Iranian deputies are considering designs for a national dress. The idea was
first proposed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a way of
countering the influence of Western fashion. Supporters -- including
Khamenei -- point out other countries have a national dress and that it
reinforces pride. Detractors say the ideaa is not likely to catch on among
young people -- and may simply be a way for officials to tighten enforcement
of existing Islamic dress codes for women.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Violence Against Women in Iran: The Toleration of Routine Aggression
WFAFI Research Committee
December 20, 2004
In addition to institutionalized violence against women in Iran, majority of women and young girls face domestic violence at home at the time that they still live with their parents. The father and other elder male members in the family are among the first who commit the aggression against the women
and young girls.
According to the latest statistics, two out of every three Iranian women have experienced discrimination and domestic violence from the father or other male members of the family. For the vast majority of Iraninan women, married life is the beginning of horror, pain, and humiliation; she is the victim of her husband and his family members.
81 out of 100 married women have experienced domestic violence in their first year of marriage. Even women with an ouststanding job and prestigious social standing are subject to the violation. In most of the cases, this abuse leaves permanent physical and psychological damage upon them for the
rest of their lives.
Without saying a word and with much pain yet no support, cimes against women in the private sphere has gone unnoticed. 90 out of 100 women suffer from a severe case of depression, from which they
ultimately commit suicide and 71% of those women experience nervous breakdowns. Their methods of suicide include setting themselves ablaze.
This is the only way of escaping from segregation and humiliation. Each month, only in Ilam, 15 girls set themselves ablaze, fighting against oppression or depression. It is our responsibility to fight the oppression against women. Female victims need to believe that they should not be blamed. Our active participation in the organization to defend women's rights and opposition to Islamic fundamentalism is the least we can do to end the pain and suffering of victims of violence in both private and public
spheres in Iran.
Violence against women, inhuman and brutal punishments such as stoning as well as complete elimination of women from the political and social arenas represent some aspects of the modus operandi of fundamentalists leading to institutionalized violence. We believe that the struggle for equality, safty and security cannot be separated from the fight against fundamentalism in Iran.
Tank girls: the frontline feminists
December 28, 2004
As the coalition bombs hit the flat salt plains on the north-eastern border of Iraq, members of a little known, female-led Iranian army huddled in a bunker. While the earth shook, showering dust on their neatly pressed khaki headscarves, 25-year old Laleh Tarighi and her fellow combatants tried to
Eighteen months later, recalling the terror of being attacked by British and US bombers during the invasion of Iraq last year, Tarighi, a former pupil of Parkside and Hill Road School in Cambridge, says:
"We were puzzled more than afraid. We knew our officers had sent messages to the Pentagon insisting that we were neutral and shouldn't be attacked. We were only in Iraq to overthrow the Islamic fundamentalist regime across the border in Iran."
It is hard to imagine that Tarighi was once a typical British teenager who loved going to the cinema and socialising in cafés. Few of her friends knew that when she was a child in Iran, her father had been
executed for being a member of the Iranian resistance, and that her mother was a high-ranking commander in the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA).
After A-levels, Tarighi had planned to study media at university, but then, aged 18, she decided to leave the comfort of the home she shared with her aunt to join her mother in the NLA in a military camp on the Iran-Iraq border. The NLA is the military wing of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a female-dominated, Iranian parliament-in-exile whose aim is to topple the Islamic fundamentalist regime and replace it with a secular, democratic government.
The NCRI is led by a charismatic Iranian, Maryam Rajavi, 53. Security around her is tight for fear of assassination attempts, and she very rarely appears in public. Her organisation has kept a
low profile until it recently started sharing intelligence reports on Iran's nuclear programme with America and Europe. But, in spite of this co-operation, the NLA is still considered a terrorist organisation by the West.
The coalition forces in Iraq have restricted its 3,800 combatants to their camps, and their weapons have been confiscated. Women make up 30 per cent of the NLA, but 70 per cent of the officers are female. The British Army has just one female brigadier, while in the Navy there are four female
Rajavi has long encouraged female participation in the army. She argues that, as misogyny is the mainstay of the Iranian government, who better to strike at it than women? Her female recruits, many of whom had been tortured and imprisoned in Iran, train alongside men in all aspects of
frontline battle, including hand-to-hand combat and armoured vehicle operation. With the backing of wealthy Iranian exiles, they are preparing for the day when the order comes to march east over the frontier to liberate their land from the mullahs.
Tarighi is one of hundreds of sons and daughters of Iranian exiles in Europe, America and Canada who have volunteered to join the army since its inception in 1987, when Saddam Hussein allowed the NLA to build its camps along the Iranian border. Until Saddam's fall in March last year, the NLA had been able to build up its military force under the watchful eye of its host.
When Tarighi arrived in Iraq in 1997, she was still sporting a stud in her tongue and wearing
trainers - very different to the army's uniform for women of khaki headscarves, combat trouser-suits and boots. It was not her first visit to the NLA camp at Ashraf; when her mother fled with her daughter in 1987, they escaped to this camp, where they lived for four years. The Gulf War in 1991
meant that all the camp's children were evacuated to foster-carers in the West. "I grew up in Cambridge from the age of 10.
My life was pretty much there," Tarighi says. "After I passed my A-levels, I decided to spend a gap year in France before going off to university. "But I got news that my mother had sent me a letter, care of the NCRI headquarters in Paris. It was the first letter I'd received in a long time, and it was very affectionate.
I talked to NCRI members and decided to go and join my mother. We hadn't seen each other for eight years. I knew her immediately I saw her, but she didn't recognise me. I looked like any other British girl, and she wasn't too pleased about my tongue stud. "At first it was difficult living back in the camp, and I missed a lot of things, especially, believe it or not, the English weather. I love rain, and there wasn't a lot of it in Iraq.
But it was the friends I made in the camp, and the support and encouragement I
received, that carried me through. I did marching drills and learnt to fire a Kalashnikov. I had never seen a gun in England. I didn't join the NLA for my mother, but for Iran. The regime murdered my father, and my grandmother had been in prison there many times. Resistance is in my blood."
Ashraf is 14 square miles of impeccable tidiness. The first impression is of a holiday camp rather than a military base. Eucalyptus trees line long driveways, men and women tend gardens, and there's the smell of bread from the bakery.
Since Tarighi arrived at the camp in 1997, a swimming pool and an exhibition room have been built. But in that time the cemetery, decorated with plastic flowers, has expanded. In the past 18 months, 40 soldiers have been killed in coalition attacks and, after these assaults, by Iran's Revolutionary
Guards, who then found it easier to slip across into Iraq. The NLA tanks and artillery that once patrolled and guarded the base have disappeared; in their place, American military police guard the entry checkpoint with tanks and patrol the base in armoured Humvees.
The growing danger meant that Tarighi left the camp soon after the bombing. Now she works in NCRI offices around Europe, still hankering for her army life. But another British girl, Sharobeh Barooti, 19, stayed on. She is one of several hundred combatants with European passports or residency rights who remain at Ashraf.
Born in France, Barooti is an only child whose parents are in the Iranian
resistance. She doesn't know where they are, although she receives occasional letters. Barooti moved to the UK in 1991 to live with an aunt and uncle, but by the time she was 15, at Edgware High School in north London, she knew she wanted to join the NLA. "I had heard a lot about the Iranian
regime from my aunt and uncle, and I began to feel I should do something.
I went to the NCRI office in London and told them I wanted to join. They gave me information and arranged for my travel to Baghdad." She dropped out of her GCSE studies and travelled to Iraq, where she was met by officials of the People's Mojahideen of Iran (PMoI) - the most significant group within
the NCRI - and escorted to Ashraf camp. Sitting in the camp's library, she recalls that her friends thought she was mad. "After all, families are not torn apart in Britain, people aren't tortured, and women can achieve anything," she says. "In Iran, women's lives are limited and they are
punished for the smallest things. "When I arrived here, it was the hardest thing to obey different rules. It was so different from my life in London.
For a year, I thought about the future I could have had in Britain and compared it to my future here. I had thought about travelling the world and opening an art gallery." Several weeks after the fall of Saddam, the US General Ray Odierno of the 4th Infantry division entered Ashraf camp to negotiate the disarming of the NLA. He found himself in a room lined with cream Regency furniture and Persian rugs, drinking coffee from white and gold china cups and eating homemade sweetmeats with a group of female army commanders considered to be terrorists by his government.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton had declared the PMoI and NLA to be terrorist organisations, as
a goodwill gesture towards Iran's newly elected President Mohammed Khatami. Recently, the NLA's potential to be used as a bargaining chip by Washington has been noted as tensions rise over Tehran's meddling in Iraq. But on his visit the US general, clearly impressed, said that he thought the terrorist
status of the NLA combatants should be reviewed.
The disarmed NLA keeps up its training on computers, and the US military police in the camp are their
sole protection against attacks by the Tehran-backed groups now moving freely around Iraq. "If the Americans don't protect them, there will be a bloodbath," says Capt Ismael Ibrahim of the Iraqi National Gathering party.
Only in July, when the NLA came under the protection of the Fourth Geneva Convention (relating to the protection of civilians in wartime), did its members feel safer. They no longer face the possibility of being handed over to Tehran by America in exchange for high-ranking al-Qa'ida members. As
Captain Ibrahim says: "I think in a few years the US may think of doing to Iran what they have done to Afghanistan and Iraq, and will try to use the PMoI and NLA."
This is not what the resistance likes to hear, but in the long term this thinking could help the NLA and PMoI lose their terrorist tags. In May 2000, Britain included the PMoI in a list of 21 terrorist
organisations under the Terrorism Act. A year later, the European Union added the PMoI to its list. Mojgan Parsai, the secretary general of the PMoI, said in October: "From the outset, the terror label on the PMoI lacked a legal basis. We are blacklisted in the framework of commercial and political deals with Tehran."
Her comments came as France, Germany and Britain were reported to have promised Iran that if steps were taken to halt work on completing its nuclear fuel cycle, the European side would continue
to regard the PMoI as a terrorist organisation. At a conference of
human-rights lawyers in Paris last month, Bill Bowring, professor of human rights and international law at London Metropolitan University, said: "Under the definition of the Terrorism Act, Greenpeace and Amnesty International should be on the terrorist list. It was a completely arbitrary decision to
include the PMoI on the list."
Also at the conference was the Danish human-rights lawyer, Anne Land. Earlier this year, she visited Ashraf camp. She is aware that the NCRI is accused by its critics of being a cult, and
that some consider both the NCRI and the NLA to be militarily and politically ineffective.
"The real importance of this army has been overlooked," she says. "In Iraq, many women were able to go to school and university, to work and to wear what they wanted. Now, they are being intimidated in the streets for not covering their bodies, or for just being outside their homes.
Groups of men strongly influenced by Iranian fundamentalists, who are apparently supporting some political and religious groups in Iraq, are making their lives miserable. "The presence of a
female-dominated army prepared to fight the mullahs and Iran's Revolutionary Guards is a powerful symbol to all women in the region. Its effectiveness is not in its military might. The fact that the army exists at all is a huge threat to all male-dominated fundamentalist regimes. It shows what women can
The women in Ashraf say they don't want to leave until they have overthrown the regime in Iran. Unfortunately, they don't see their courage as having a wider, inspiring influence beyond Iran," Land says. It was the treatment of women in Iran that moved Barooti and Tarighi to join the NLA.
"My aunt used to tell me how Revolutionary Guards would stop women in the streets and wipe off their lipstick with the blade of a knife," Barooti says.
Tarighi says she cannot forget the harrowing pictures of a young woman her own age buried to her neck and stoned to death by a crowd.
"Why am I a terrorist because I fight for my sisters' rights?"
European Parliament resolution censures Iran rights violations
January 13, 2005
>Strasbourg, Jan. 13 - The European Parliament adopted a resolution by majority vote today condemning human rights violations in Iran in the second such move over the past six months. The toughly-worded resolution denounced practices such as execution of juveniles and stoning carried out by the Iranian regime. Parts of the resolution read, "the European Parliament S
strongly condemns death sentences against and/or the execution of juvenile offenders, pregnant women and mentally handicapped persons".
The EP resolution also expressed deep concern over "the worsening situation with regard to freedom of opinion and _expression and freedom of the media, especially the increased persecution for the peaceful _expression of political views, including arbitrary arrests and detention without charge or
The European Parliament censured "the campaign by the Judiciary against journalists, cyber journalists and webloggers leading to the closure of publications, imprisonment and according to reports widespread torture and forced false confessions."
The resolution also pointed to the fact that "Iran is still not a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Parliament recently rejected draft
legislation on gender equality," and called on Iranian authorities to "give evidence that they do implement their declared moratorium on stoning" and demanded "the immediate implementation of the ban on torture."
The resolution also noted with concern the finding by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Ambeyi Ligabo that "the Iranian Press and Penal Code do not conform to the permissible restrictions listed in the Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
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This is interesting on many levels but most of all to me because it relates to a Wisconsin case that points up the futility of assuming the Democracts are any better on women's issues than the Republicans. Here, our Democractic Governor Doyle was asked to pardon a woman who HAD ALREADY SERVED 12 YEARS because she delivered a child conceived by rape and left it to die in a cardboard box. The courageous governor appointed a panel to cover his ass and they recommended that he deny her a pardon. Here is the reason they gave.
They said she refused to accept responsibility for her actions.
Do you think that is BECAUSE SHE KNOWS SHE WAS SUFFERING FROM A MENTAL CONDITION SHE COULD NOT CONTROL? Which was her entire defense for the last 12 years.
These things always remind me of the techniques of the inquisition where they threw witches in the water and if they drowned they were innocent and if they lived they were guilty. So the state burned the "witches" who lived.
Doyle left her to rot in jail - the media never talks about what happened to her rapist. They never say why she did not get an abortion. And they do not compare her sentence with the many men who are convicted of killing children.
In Wisconsin rapists are allowed to sue the mother for custody, block adoption and raped children untill recently were not allowed to sue the church because "it would entangle the state excessively in religious matters". I think there has just been some sort of relaxation of that last rule.
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno, Nevada, casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.
Darlene Jespersen, who had worked for nearly 20 years at a Harrah's Entertainment Inc casino bar in Reno, Nevada, objected to the company's revised policy that required female bartenders, but not men, to wear makeup.
A previously much-praised employee, Jespersen was fired in 2000 after the firm instituted a "Beverage Department Image Transformation" program and she sued, alleging sex discrimination.
The Lambda Legal Defense Fund, a gay rights group that backed Jespersen's suit, had argued that forcing female employees to have different standards than men was unlawful under rules, known as Title VII, against discrimination on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
The ruling found, however, that the casino's appearance standards were no more burdensome for women than for men.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Sidney Thomas backed the reasoning of the plaintiff. "Harrah's fired Jespersen because of her failure to confirm to sex stereotypes, which is discrimination based on sex and is therefore impermissible under Title VII," he wrote.
I wonder if the other arguments were made in the briefs submitted to the court.
WHY don't women wear make-up? Because intelligent, health conscious women know cosmetics are POISON - red dye and other chemicals, laden with bacteria. They age the skin prematurely and look truly hideous on aging women.
And they are tested on animals who are tortured brutally in the "beauty" industry. Rabbits blinded and poisoned, skin ulcerated and worse.
Beyond that, cosmetics make women look like whores or clowns because their purpose is to create gender differences where none exist. The casinos want the whore image so they can sell their booze to the type of man who likes women smeared with paint so their humanity is obscured. That way it is easier to turn her into a masturbatory fantasy.
Without makeup and different hair styles, faces are often gender neutral. This scares those who need to find gender differences in order to maintain their world view. And their erection.
This woman hating decision has to be appealed to the Supremes to expose institutionalized misogyny if for no other reason.
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