Trade Unionist Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison and Young Gay Man to be Executed by Ahmedinejad Regime

October 31, 2007 at 1:09 pm (anonymous, class, Free Speech, Iran, left, LGBT, TWP, unions)

Osanloo sentence ‘appals world opinion’

30 October 2007

Commenting on news that Iranian trade union leader Mansour Osanloo has been sentenced to five years imprisonment ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said: “We have just heard that an injured, victimised trade unionist has been condemned to jail on charges that would be laughable if they weren’t so serious.”

“For two years Mansour Osanloo has fought back against the Iranian regime’s brutality. Now they are trying to crush him with spurious accusations of endangering national security and criticising the regime. We know – the world knows – that Mansour’s only crime in their eyes is to have asserted his right to belong to a trade union.”

He continued: “This sentence appals world opinion. Mansour has been an example to us all and to see him treated this way – beaten, arrested, rearrested, intimidated and nearly blinded – brings shame on the government of Iran. We have tried to reason with them and detected at least some sympathy for what he stands for, but that has now clearly been overruled by the hardliners.”

“The international trade union movement, including across the Islamic world, has fought all the way for Mansour and his colleagues and we will continue to do so. We will be alerting them now, along with the International Labour Organization, before planning a new wave of protests.”

He concluded: “If the government get away with this then they will hand out the same treatment to Mansour’s deputy, Ebrahim Madadi, and all of the 17,000 members of the union will be at risk.”

Mansour Osanloo, 47, is the President of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) trade union, which has been violently repressed by the Iranian authorities. Osanloo has been made a particular target for imprisonment and brutal attacks. He is currently being held in Evin prison in Tehran. See www.freeosanloo.org for further information. A short film on the Osanloo case can be seen at www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/osanloo-film.cfm ENDS

For more information contact ITF press officer, Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.
Email: dawson_sam@itf.org.uk

International Transport Workers’ Federation – ITF:
HEAD OFFICE
ITF House, 49 – 60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7403 2733
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7375 7871
Email: mail@itf.org.uk
Web: www.itfglobal.org

Hat tip to previous commentators

 

Amnesty International URGENT ACTION

Iran: Death penalty/imminent execution: Makwan Moloudzadeh

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/125/2007
26 October 2007

UA 278/07 Death penalty/imminent execution

IRAN Makwan Moloudzadeh (m), aged 21, child offender

Child offender Makwan Moloudzadeh, an Iranian Kurd, is believed to be at risk
of imminent execution. He has reportedly been convicted of lavat-e iqabi (anal
sex) for the alleged rape of a 13-year-old boy. Makwan Moloudzadeh was aged 13
at the time of the alleged offence. His death sentence has been passed to the
Office for the Implementation of Sentences and he is due to be executed in
public, near his home.

He was reportedly arrested on 1 October 2006 in Paveh, in the western province
of Kermanshah. He was detained in Paveh Prison and later transferred to
Kermanshah Central Prison. Following interrogations in Paveh during which he
was reportedly ill-treated, he was tried by Branch 1 of the Kermanshah Criminal
Court and on 7 June 2007 he was sentenced to death. The witnesses and the two
people who had pressed charges against him withdrew their claims after the
trial. Under Iranian law, children (boys of up to 14.7 years) are to be flogged
for lavat (“homosexual acts”).

However, the judge relied on ‘elm-e qazi, the “knowledge of the judge” to
determine that penetration had taken place and that Makwan Moloudzadeh could be
sentenced to death. Makwan Moloudzadeh lodged an appeal on 5 July, which the
Supreme Court rejected on 1 August. Several witnesses have withdrawn their
testimonies and signed notarized written statements to that effect.

During his trial, Makwan Moloudzadeh reportedly maintained his innocence.
Previously, however, he was reportedly ill-treated during interrogation and
“confessed” during interrogation that he had had a sexual relationship with a
boy in 1999. He is reported to have gone on hunger strike for 10 days to
protest against his ill-treatment in detention. Prior to his trial and
conviction, on or around 7 October 2006 Makwan Moloudzadeh was reportedly
paraded through the streets of Paveh riding on a donkey, with his head shaved.
People in the street shouted abuse and threw things at him.

Article 1210(1) of Iran’s Civil Code sets the ages of 15 lunar years as the age
of criminal responsibility for boys, and nine lunar years for girls. Makwan
Moloudzadeh was reportedly born on 31 March 1986 and, at the age of 13, was a
minor under Iranian law at the time of the alleged offence. According to
Article 49 of Iran’s Penal Code: “Children, if committing an offence, are
exempted from criminal responsibility. Their correction is the responsibility
of their guardians or, if the court decides, by a centre for correction of
minors.”

Furthermore, in this case the judge used the customary practice of “judge’s
knowledge” to override Article 113 of Iran’s Penal Code which states, “If a
minor has anal sex with another minor, each will receive up to 74 lashes unless
one of them was forced to do so [in which case he will not be punished].”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
International law strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty against
people convicted of crimes committed when they were under the age of 18. The
Committee on the Rights of the Child has raised concern about child offenders’
criminal responsibility being determined by judges, using subjective and
arbitrary criteria such as the attainment of puberty, the age of discernment or
the personality of the child. As a state party to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran
has undertaken not to execute child offenders. However, since 1990, Iran has
executed at least 24 child offenders, with a further two reportedly put to
death on 17 October 2007. At least 78 child offenders are on death row in Iran;
at least 15 Afghan child offenders are reportedly under sentence of death. For
more information about Amnesty International’s concerns regarding executions of
child offenders in Iran, please see: Iran: The last executioner of children
(MDE 13/059/2007, June 2007)
http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde130592007

 

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Mansour Osanlou back in jail despite doctor’s recommendations

October 29, 2007 at 10:28 pm (anonymous, class, Iran, left, TWP, unions)

Please see the e-mail below which I received from the Osanlou campaign today:

ILRW – Mansour Osanlou, the president of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Vahed) Union’s board of directors was shortly transferred to a Tehran hospital on October 28, 2007 where he underwent a critical eye surgery last week. Mr. Osanlou was taken back to Evin prison on Friday October 26, 2007 against doctor’s recommendation to remain in hospital in order to receive necessary medical care following his lengthy eye surgery. Mansour Osanlou was kidnapped by security forces and put in jail on July 10, 2007, a few days before a scheduled operation on his left eye. He was denied the urgent medical care since his imprisonment.

Posted on October 28, 2007

Iran Labour Rights Watch
http://iranlabourwatch.net/DisplayArticle.aspx?ID=545

NB. His surgery took place on 20 Oct 2007, according to other sources.

Please sign the petition if you have not done so already and tell Ahmedinejad what you think of his imprisonment of this prominent activst:

http://itfglobal.org/solidarity/osanloo2sign.cfm/formbuilder/43/p/1

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The Curate’s Egg

October 29, 2007 at 12:52 am (hitchens, religion, science, secularism, voltairespriest)

Yeah, we know you don’t like Christopher Hitchens. But he still has odd moments of brilliance. Take a look at this.

(Hat-Tip – Grumpy old Will)

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‘Today': 50 years old…precisely

October 28, 2007 at 11:13 pm (Jim D, media, politics)

I’m old enough to remember Jack de Manio. And his side-kick Monty Modlin (who did the ‘funnies’, about haunted building sites, pubs with exceptionally rude landlords, talking animals – that sort of thing): if you don’t know what I’m on about, then:

1/ You’re probably a lot younger than me;

2/ You don’t listen to the ‘Today’ programme on BBC Radio 4.

Although, come to think of it, point#2 may be wrong: ‘Today’ has changed an awful lot over the years, and those who’ve only known it in its present Humphrys / Noughtie incarnation probably wouldn’t recognise the ‘Today’ of the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, which was much less concerned with politics, and to a modern ear would probably seem dominated by trivia. The fact that Jack de Manio was frequently pissed (at that time of the morning!), regularly announced the wong time (thereby causing national panic), and on one occassion left listners in complete silence for two minutes before announcing, “I’m terribly sorry, I was on the loo”, gave the programme a certain charm, but didn’t exactly make for agenda-setting broadcasting.

It was the arrival of the outstanding political broadcaster Brian Redhead in 1975, that began the process of establishing ‘Today’ as the national institution and force in politics that has become.

Redhead was also responsible for one of ‘Today”s great moments: in 1987 he was interviewing the then-Chancellor Nigel Lawson, who lost his temper and said, “You’ve been a supporter of the Labour Party all your life Brian.” Redhead didn’t miss a beat, and simply proposed a minutes silence to allow Lawson to apologise and in memorium to his failed monetary policy. Lawson was stuffed, good and proper.

Other high points (and I should point out that I am indebted to the Independent‘s Ian Burrell for this):

1995: Johnathan Aitken accuses John Humphrys of  interrupting then-Chancellor Kenneth Clarke 32 times during an interview; the next time Humphrys interviews Clarke, Humphrys gives him a calculator, saying he “might want to keep count of the number of interruptions.”

1997: Newsreader Charlotte Green dissolves into giggles while delivering an item about Papua New Guinea’s chief of staff Jack Tuat…

1998: A Tony Benn interview about US missile strikes is announced, but what listeners then hear is…a Mongolian throat singer. Then-editor Rod Liddle recalls: “That was the biggest mistake during my time, a pre-recorded interview with Tony Benn. It was introduced with ‘And earlier today Tony Benn had this to say…’ and then someone somehow hit the wrong button and it was Mongolian throat warblers. What you heard was ‘Wa-wa-hoo, wa-wa-hoo.’ Needless to say, Benn thought it was a ‘conspirashy to make me look stupid’.” 

2003: Andrew Gilligan’s report on the Government’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – in a live phone interview at 6.03 am. Perhaps not a “high point”, in that it lead directly to the Hutton Report and indirectly to the death of  Dr David Kelly…but nevertheless, history has broadly vindicated Gilligan and ‘Today’ and shown Blair and Alistair Campbell to have been liars.

…and a low point;

2006: Carolyn Quinn interviews Flemming Rose, the Dutch newspaper editor responsible for publishing the cartoons that caused uproar in the ‘Muslim world’. Rose attempts to explain why he did what he did, but Quinn prevents him from doing so with a series of interruptions on matters of little importance…a disgrace. You can still listen to this shameful piece of broadcasting here

But whatever the highs and lows, ‘Today’ is an essential part of my life. I grew up with it. It probably played a major part in getting me interested in politics (now there’s something to answer for), and I can do no better than to echo Monica Ali:

“I could fill a page with all its faults…and one with all its virtues. But neither are really relevant. Like the rising of the sun and the lapping of the waves, the Today programme simply is.”

P.S. I almost forgot: how about a campaign to get rid of  ‘Today”s shameful piece of religious propaganda, ‘Thought for the day’?

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No Room For Critical Voices: Welcome to the New Stop the War Coalition

October 28, 2007 at 1:42 am (Free Speech, good people, Iran, LGBT, SWP, thuggery, TWP, women, youth)

I will preface this report on the conference by saying that the following are my impressions and my impressions alone. I have tried to provide direct quotes as I wrote them down during the discussion in an attempt to ensure accuracy. I hope they will be useful in providing one account of the conference and what was done to fight against the exclusion, abuse and shutting down of dissenting voices regarding the Iranian regime and other important issues. I was very disappointed overall but took heart from the principled stands of numerous Left groups and think there is still a lot of work to be done within the StWC to defend the best traditions of the labour movement and oppose tyranny and oppression in Iran whilst also opposing imperialist aggression.

I arrived around 9am and met the folks from HOPI and began to try and help hand out leaflets including to our four strong contingent from my university. I made the decision to sit with my uni contingent throughout which actually gave an interesting perspective as most of the opposition to the exclusion (CPGB, AWL, etc.) were sitting to the left of the stage and the majority were sitting in the middle and to the right of the stage.

The affair was rather similar to SWP organised events that I had participated in the past with panel after panel of speakers with no time allotted for discussion except when it came to resolutions.

However before this began, Andrew Murray decided to take a motion to allow a separate vote on the exclusion of HOPI and Communist Students on the basis that they were both against the aims of the StWC (a blatant falsehood) and a front-group for the CPGB – a very odd claim as the CPGB was accepted as an affiliate so even if it were a group solely made up of CPGB members, the logical conclusion would be to exclude the CPGB as an organisation as well which did not occur.

Ben Lewis and Yasmine Mather both spoke for about 5 minutes each in defence of Communist Students and HOPI respectively before being lambasted by Murray – including the use of an old article that Yasmine had written which had been specially translated for the conference – or so we were told by Murray himself.

In any case, all of this went rather smoothly despite being a contentious issue. The vote was about 40 or so voting with CS and HOPI and the remaining 300 or so who were there voting with the majority. This was very disappointing but not surprising. Revo, PR, members of the SYN, the AWL and others took the principled stand and voted against exclusion and this in and of itself was a positive step. It showed that organisationally, if not numerically, a good number of the Left groups represented there voted against the exclusion, whatever their differences with CS or HOPI. Now perhaps that’s because they believe they might be next – and indeed the dodgy reasoning behind the exclusion means that any far left group that is deemed by Murray and others to not be supporting the “correct line” of the coalition can be booted out. I’m afraid that this is not the last time we will see bureaucratic manoeuvring of this sort and it severely limits the room for critical voices to be heard within the organisation.

Murray claimed adamantly that the exclusion was not based on HOPI’s principled stand against the Ahmedinejad regime, however one of the platform speakers during the discussion on Iran made it clear that the “line” was that so-called lies about Iran would need to be eradicated within the movement.

The most disturbing part of the conference for me was when Somaya Zadeh from Campaign Iran spoke. She began by saying that she was going to go over the “facts” about the regime as opposed to the “lies” that the media tells. She began humbly enough with the easy ones. Obviously one agrees that the idea that Iran would give support to the Taliban is “laughable” if one knows anything about the history of the area. Less convincing was the contention that Iran was not seeking to get nuclear weapons. Then she openly defended Ahmedinejad about the comments on Israel saying that he was actually talking about “internal regime change” – this was echoed later by Galloway. Zadeh went on to quote Khomeini saying “Iran will never attack another country” and that she believed this was true.

She went on for a time at great pains to prove that Iran was not “anti-Semitic” with the contention that “Iranian Jews are actually quite privileged”. By this point I am sure I wasn’t the only one who was well aware that this was becoming nothing more than an apology for the Iranian regime.

“Lie Number 5″ we were told “Is that Iran is an undemocratic country”. This was met with laughter and heckling from a number of people in the crowd at which point Zadeh began to be rather flustered – asserting her statements more forcefully. When she claimed that Iran was actually democratic as evidenced by the 82 percent victory Ahmedinejad secured a member of the CPGB shouted out “You’re an apologist for the Iranian regime!” Somaya replied in her defence that she was an “Iranian refugee” and therefore knew more about the situation than others. Members of the majority applauded furiously.

What happened next and what followed was utterly appalling. Zadeh’s next contention was that although there were “problems with homosexuals” that “sex changes are allowed”. This was met with a lot of heckling, myself included. It was incredibly offensive to anyone on the room who is a supporter of LGBT rights to hear such nonsense being spewed. Suddenly and rather loudly Zaid Maham (Ed. this was corrected due to someone pointing out his correct name and organisation in the comments) who is in Oxford Stop the War yelled at the HOPI contingent, students and SYN activists who were seated not far from him to “Shut up!” A number of people were somewhat taken aback but he then continued shouting “You stupid bloody bigots! Fuck off!”

Instead of being ejected for such offensive behaviour, Andrew Murray as the chair merely said “Everyone please let’s calm down over there”. I was very appalled. Further I spoke to one of the young women who was yelled at who is an activist and said she was offended by the implication that people could not be openly LGBT but could get a sex change – so that was ok. She was rather shaken up, sitting outside and said to me “I don’t want to go back in there until the voting is over. I can’t believe that guy said that to us!” She thought the guy was out of line and wanted him to apologise. I told her she should try to speak to someone and she went up to Chris Nineham. He said to her “What are you talking about? I didn’t hear anything.” When she tried to explain he said to her “It’s not our problem, why don’t you go speak to him yourself” and then quickly walked away.

This was disingenuous. Everyone had heard what had happened unless they hadn’t been in the room. Further, the abusive Maham later put a resolution to the conference from Oxford StW and was obviously known to the “leadership”.

Eventually she did speak to Andrew Murray who told her that they objected to the term “bigot” but that there was nothing they could do. It appeared that they could’ve cared less that young female and LGBT activists felt they had to sit outside or leave the room in disgust (as others did) at having to listen to these blatant untruths about Iran and then be verbally abused for opposing them.

The next speaker from CODIR was much better and actually highlighted the problems with the regime to the applause of myself and a number of others – but not John Rees who had enthusiastically responded to Zadeh from Campaign Iran.

A number of resolutions were passed including a good one by Andy Newman on campaigning amongst young people who are being recruited (though I was glad his constant refrain of ‘young men’ was corrected by an SYN activist who pointed out that many women are recruited as well). Sofie Buckland earned an enormous amount of my respect for standing up to a crowd of jeering, heckling men – so much so that it was difficult to hear her and Murray had to call for order – and opposing the resolution on Palestine because of its inclusion of support for “boycotts” and “sanctions”. While I didn’t agree with her statement about “anti-semitism” I thought Murray’s use of the chair to deride her for using the term while having said nothing to Maham about his behaviour was a bit cheap.

From the comments of a number of floor speakers for and against various resolutions who were supporting the line of the majority it was possible to come out of this conference making the following conclusions:

*Any attack on Iran must be opposed, but opposition to the regime is not to be discussed in the coalition

*Apologies for the Iranian regime will be tolerated and any attempt to refute these will be met with accusations that you are supporting the “lies” peddled by the media

*Abusive shouting will be tolerated so long as you are on the side of the majority

*Any failure to agree with the majority line on a variety of issues may mean that your organisation may be denied affiliation at the next conference

This is what we now have to work with comrades – Welcome to the New Stop the War Coalition……

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“I hardly knew him”

October 27, 2007 at 11:33 pm (good people, Jim D)

…And I didn’t know him at all. But it still felt as though I’d lost a friend. Howard Jacobson, in the Independent (who “hardly knew him“), has these words of wisdom:

Don’t leave it – that’s the lesson. Gather them up in your arms when the opportunity’s there, because you never know which opportunity is your last”.

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A real working-class hero

October 27, 2007 at 5:52 pm (left, Respect, SWP, voltairespriest)

Behold the image of the man to whom this blog is about to come out in support of, in a critical but unconditional fashion. Detailed statement coming shortly. Meanwhile, Go Johnny Go Go Go!

Or, in the words of George Galloway, “Fuck off, off you go!”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Respect: Stand with the SWP!

October 27, 2007 at 12:17 am (Galloway, Respect, SWP, voltairespriest)

This’ll sound weird coming from me. But I felt the need to add a little personal note to Jim’s excellent post (with which I largely agree) about the recent crisis in the “Respect” coalition.

I have all sorts of problems with the SWP. I think their political instincts suck. I think many of their cadre members are utter wankers. I think their organisers hold a lot of responsibility for their own party’s parlous current state. Indeed, one of said organisers, Ger Francis, has actually joined the sick political lash-up behind Galloway and is currently protesting (laughably for those of us who know how he has worked in the past) about “democracy” in Respect being abused by the SWP. But at last the SWP have stood up, and they’re at least now willing to show some kind of commitment to a politics that believes in changing the world, rather than one that believes in the best way of brokering deals with corrupt and reactionary political forces.

Well done, SWP. I sincerely hope you kick the machine’s collective arse.

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Hak on Fishheid

October 26, 2007 at 7:50 pm (blogging, blogosphere, Blogroll, Jim D, politics, thuggery, twat)

While we’re on the subject of excellent blogs, I must apologise for missing the fourth anniversary of what is probably my favourite.

And she’s excelled herself today, with this expose (how the bloody hell do you do accents on here? – JD), of the prominent Scots politician she calls Fishheid McMoonface, and his recent communication with the Burmese State Peace and Development Council (links all on Hak’s site); she makes me laugh out loud whilst making a most serious point about the propensity of a certain type of populist, bourgeois politician in the West to suck up to the vilest  of dictatorships, if it suits his purposes .

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Good left wing blogger alert!

October 25, 2007 at 9:36 pm (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, blogging, jazz, left, liberation, socialism, voltairespriest)

Yes, that’s a rare thing to be able to say. Denham encountered this woman’s blog today (read it Stroppy, you’ll love it), and it struck him as a drop of the good stuff. I totally agree with him, so welcome therefore Medusa to the Shiraz blogroll. Quality politics, quality music. What more do you want? Stop reading this post and go read her!

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