Monday, April 25, 2016

Kurds rally with Armenians to commemorate genocide

By Ava Homa 

Kurds rally with Armenians to commemorate genocide

Kurds rally with Armenians to commemorate genocide
Kurds were present among the protestors, including Ezidis from Phoenix, and non-Kurd members of the Rojava Solidarity Committee Los Angeles, holding signs to declare solidarity with Armenians.
LOS ANGELES, United States (Kurdistan24) – On Sunday, an estimated 60,000 protestors rallied before the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles to commemorate the 100+1 anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Kurds were present among the protestors, including Ezidis from Phoenix, and non-Kurd members of the Rojava Solidarity Committee Los Angeles, holding signs to declare solidarity with Armenians.
The Kurdish American Education Society, Kurdish Community of Southern California, Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group and Kurdish National Congress of North America joined the Armenian Genocide Committee to support the 2016 Rally for Justice.
Armenians perceive the killing of a million and a half by Ottomans as an act of genocide. Turkey says half a million Armenians died when they rebelled against their rulers after World War I.
Kurdish political groups and NGOs have apologized for the fact that throughout the Kurdish-populated regions, some Kurds participated in the genocide of the Armenians. However, other Kurds opposed the genocide, and in some cases even helped hide or adopted Armenian refugees.
Southern California has the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia. According to US census data, over 200,000 people of Armenian descent live in Los Angeles.
Vazgen Barsegian, an Armenian activist, told Kurdistan24, “It was very emotional for me seeing my fellow Kurdish brothers and sisters sincerely joining our struggle and demanding justice. I grew up in Van with Kurdish people, so seeing my fellow Kurdish brothers and sisters marching by my side meant a lot to me.”
A Kurdish activist, Cklara Moradian, told Kurdistan24, “Building connections between our communities [Armenian & Kurdish] is crucial, not just because we share such intertwined histories of survival, but so that moving forward we can raise our voices in unison against the atrocities being committed by Turkey today.”
Moradian added that Kurds’ presence “was about showing up, visibly, to give our support. In the future, we hope to collaborate on more movement building, social and political. I deeply believe that we can more effectively fight for the recognition of each of our unique individual struggles when we rise in solidarity with each other.”
One of the organizers of the rally, Mikael Matossian, said, “The truth is clear: the Armenian Genocide is not a solely Armenian issue, but a human one. The oppression felt by our ancestors in 1915 mirrors the experiences of other ethnic minorities who also have weathered imperialism, colonialism, and genocide."
“The repressive tactics of the Ottoman Empire have carried on into the modern Republic of Turkey, targeted toward Kurds and Armenians there. Motivated by this shared struggle against a common enemy, Kurdish and Armenian activists united today to call on the Turkish government to end its currently racist and xenophobic-motivated policies, and deliver justice to the Armenian people in the form of recognition and reparations," he added.
Soraya Fallah, Kurdish Human rights activist, says atrocities that happened 100 years ago are continuing today. "During the Ottoman Empire, Armenians were killed, years later Kurds were killed and today in the 21st century still Kurds are killed and massacred in Erdogan’s self-declared empire,” she stated.
"If there is no recognition, establishment, and mechanism of prevention, genocide will repeat and continue; the way we still see it today," Fallah continued.
She added that the rally was very powerful. “It is amazing to see a nation transforming their mourning to the power of a movement for justice and unity and endowing their identity to their children and new generation!” Fallah declared.
Solin Rojihalat, one of the organizers of the contingent told Kurdistan24, “I had the pleasure to simply witness a person with Greek and Armenian flags dancing to the Armenian 'Hay Qajer;' the Kurdish 'Lo Berde' of the same melody. A few Armenians took pictures with some of our friends in the Kurdish contingent.”
“We want to find each other. Whether we’re planets that orbit the same sun or we’re simply earnest people with a desire to know one another, we catch sight of one another and know that we're here together," Rojihalat said.
In a statement to mark Armenian Remembrance Day on April 24, President of the United States Barack Obama called the massacre the first mass atrocity of the 20th century and tragedy that must not be repeated. But he refused to use the word "genocide," a term he used before becoming president in 2009.

Reporting by Ava Homa
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Happy International Women's day 2016

Beauty: duty and crime for Iranian women


Beauty: duty and crime for Iranian women
Young fashion in Iran. (Flickr/Stefanie Eisenschenk)
International Women’s Day offers another opportunity to recognize "the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women." The media often portrays two contradictory images of Iranian women. The first is that of the oppressed woman, stoned and silenced—like Sakineh Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning in 2009. The other extreme is a less familiar image, that of the empowered woman, educated and strong—like Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
Like all stereotypes, neither of these images accurately depicts women in Iran today. The majority of the women in this country live somewhere between these two extremes. That is, most women in Iran are neither subjected to stoning nor are they empowered through education.
According to recent statistics, Iranian women have taken up education in droves. However, despite the fact that 65 percent of university graduates in the country are females, most positions available to them are secretarial. And women who manage to find higher-paying jobs in Iran are pressured to quit after marriage. So, with few protections against harassment and discrimination, Iranian women are dependent on male family members and vulnerable to exploitation and violence.
Instead of stones thrown at women as punishment, acid is being thrown at women today to “keep them in their place.” In October, across the populous and religious city of Isfahan, 25 women had been victims of acid attacks—for no discernible reason other than their failure to live up to Iran’s strict dress code. The anonymous assailants claimed that they were defending the hijab.
Under the law, women in Iran are required to be wholly covered except for their hands and faces. However, a growing number of educated urban women are finding holes within the law and pushing the boundaries of the country’s dress code. Women may wear a headscarf, but they also leave some stylish hair uncovered. Or they may cover their bodies, but also wear tight overalls that show off their curves. For others, their exposed faces are often completely made up.
The conservative clerics in Iran consider the dodging and bending of the dress code laws to be a threat and, as a result, the Iranian parliament passed a law in October that protects individuals who “enjoin good and forbid wrong.” In other words, “correcting” the behaviour of women who do not follow the appropriate Islamic apparel is encouraged. Incidently, the spate of acid attacks against women began after this law was passed.
And yet, while modest attire for ladies is mandated, Iran is also a culture that equates feminine identity with beauty. A woman’s value is measured against an ideal of a small, pointed nose and full lips, of full breasts and buttocks. It is against such standards that women are judged as marriageable or unmarriageable. Defined by their bodies and forced to be economically dependent, it is not surprising that most women in Iran have few prospects other than marriage.
Women in Iran are turning to plastic surgery to obtain the desired lips, breasts and buttocks in an attempt to increase their chances of marriage. In fact, Iran has become the nose job capital of the world. The Iranian newspaper Etemad reports that every year, 200,000 Iranians reduce the size of their nose.
For Iranian women, beauty is mandatory yet illegal. An Iranian woman has to cover up, yet she is also expected to be beautiful. She is expected to be educated but has to excel at household duties. These paradoxical expectations subject women to constant scrutiny, judgement, ridicule and animosity.
While women in Western countries also face strong pressures to have the right body, Iranian women face the added risk of being attacked for trying to do so. Iranian women have little recourses in the justice system. An Iranian woman still cannot work or travel abroad without her husband’s permission. Women also often don’t retain custody of children following divorce. Furthermore, women are not considered to be reliable witnesses in a court and a woman can only inherit half of what a man can inherit.
Women's rights groups were hopeful that discrimination against women would ease under President Hassan Rouhani, but they have seen few improvements. According to the Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, Iran ranked 130 out of 136 countries in 2013. Just 3 percent of Iran’s parliamentarians are women. Even influential ministers such as Maryam Mojtahidzadeh, head of the women's ministry, talk about ‘complementary’ roles for women—not equality.
There are some signs of hope. Ashtiani’s sentence was commuted and she was freed last year. And despite the obstacles faced, women’s workforce participation is slowly growing; women make up 13 percent of the paid workforce. Meanwhile, women like Parwin Zabihi, an activist in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhalat), and Soraya Fallah, a Kurdish activist in Los Angeles, continue to push for improvements and international pressure aims to ease the difficulties experienced by women in Iran.

Reporting by Ava Homa
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
source: http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/38b36735-0c10-4cb9-b366-c92dde5ce10c/Beauty--duty-and-crime-for-Iranian-women

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

An open letter to senator Barbara Boxer of California about the escalating violence in Kurdish cities and towns in Turkey

An open letter to senator Barbara Boxer of California about the escalating violence in Kurdish cities and towns in Turkey


Dear Senator Boxer:
We are writing to express our concerns and outrage at the reprehensible violence perpetrated against Kurdish people in Turkey. As you are well aware, the predominantly Kurdish areas of the country have been the scene of ceaseless and senseless violence since July and our government has done nothing to stop the escalating violence that has claimed many lives.
Ever since July when the Turkish government unilaterally ended a two year old cease fire, many Kurdish provinces and cities including Sur, SIlopi, Cizre, and Şırnak, Silvan, Nusaybin have been under curfew; some such as Hakkari and Şırnak, have officially been declared as “special security zones”. The latest report by Human Rights Watch provides a grim picture of civilian deaths, untreated injuries, indiscriminate shootings, ill treatment of detainees and the reign of terror in war torn areas. According to Women’s Initiative for Peace in Northern Kurdistan (a community organization of women activists in Southeast Turkey who advocate for human rights, peace and social justice), 140 civilians, 20 of whom were women and children, have been murdered and thousands have been forced to flee. The city of Sur, with a population of 24000 before the onset of the clashes is almost deserted now. The sieged residents denied of basic necessities such as food, water, electricity, phone service are imprisoned in the their homes and those who venture out on the streets are targeted by the Turkish security forces. According to first hand testimonies reported by HRW, the injured are denied medical help and detainees are “ ill-treated” in violation of European Conventions on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and detainees. Schools have been shut down and student dormitories turned into military headquarters. Even historical sites such as mosques and churches in the city of Sur, known as a “living” museum are not immune from the destruction and bombing of the security forces who are using heavy weaponry.

Any call for peace and freedom is silenced with inflammatory rhetoric, inciting violence, and even murder. The prominent president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, and defender of human rights, Tahir Elci was recently assassinated in broad daylight for speaking up against the belligerent discourse of the Turkish government and calling for peace. It is lamentable that our government has not raised its voice against such flagrant violations of human rights but has provided Turkey with lethal weapons despite its flagrant suppression of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Turkey despite its ostentatious claim to have joined the fight against the Islamic State has been crushing voices of dissent, political opposition, critical media, and the Kurdish struggle for human rights and peace. Furthermore our unconditional support for Turkey in turn has grave consequences for human rights and peace activists as such a policy undermines the global struggle against the Islamic State terrorism.

As a courageous and conscientious woman you have always championed full commitment to American values of freedom. You co-sponsored resolution 65, condemning the murder of Armenian journalist and human rights advocate Hrant Dink. You have indeed helped restore the American image in the world as an apogee of fundamental freedoms. The US support for Turkey with its disturbing record on human rights is damaging our values and credibility in the world. In the wake of alarming and intensifying acts of violence against civilians, we urge you to consider Women’s Initiative for Peace in Bakur (Northern Kurdistan) to press Turkey to immediately end the pervasive violence in the besieged cities. Our government has the responsibility and authority to pressure the Turkish government to resume the peace process before the escalating violence claims more lives from all sides.


Sincerely
Soraya Fallah

 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Seminar and Fundraising event on Rojava(western Kurdistan)

This event was great. Thanks to Niroj Kurdish cuisine
http://www.nirojcuisine.com/desserts/
Paul Z. Simons, writing under the pen name, El Errante, is the author of a series of recent dispatches from the liberated territories of Rojava in Northern Syria. Simons has just returned from a region besieged by war yet is also in the midst of one of the most far reaching social experiments of the 21st Century: the ‘Rojava Revolution.’ The liberated territories of Rojava are a thriving example in new forms of democratic practice and of a people who are overturning traditional, coercive institutions in favor of direct democracy and the empowerment and enfranchisement of women. Simons talks about his experiences including crossing international boundaries under false pretenses, attending commune meetings in Kobane, high-velocity detours around ISIS sympathetic villages, and the camaraderie of the YPG militias. Simons had full access to the various revolutionary organizations and militias and will discuss their mandates and implementation issues associated with realizing a new society. Paul Z. Simons’ report is part adventure, part journalism, and part political analysis, of the Rojava Revolution.https://www.facebook.com/events/1676473659275548/
















Wednesday, December 16, 2015

International human rights day by UNAUSA-SFV chapter


http://www.sfv.una-socal.org/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1497206593913248/









By some accounts, Iran is the most misunderstood country in the world. So many Americans presume that Iran is a backward nation, probably filled with poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and sadness, where the population is subjugated by a government that is restricting all their behaviors. This is a biased and prejudiced misrepresentation of the values of the Iranian citizenry.





Thursday, December 10, 2015

Program on International Human Rights day and 16 days campaign against violence


International Human Rights day and 16 days campaign against violence in LosAngeles

Alongside with some other women who gets really exited when I raise my voice for rights of women and speak against violence, I was able to hold a program for human rights day. I ordered pamphlets in two languages from Center for Women’s Global Leadership Rutgers for 16 days campaign which is from Nov 25-Dec 10.
It was an exiting moments to see those faces that really wanted to partake in this event.
 See the pictures.  
I talked about human dignity, all the declaration’s articles, what is the fundamental about human rights a few minutes of history.
I called for action and we decided to name this year” Elderly’s Rights’ Day”.
No to violence against elderly, no to abuse, yes to happiness, and rights of human health 
We called ahead (from last week) to wear orange and yellow.

 See the pictures.  










The Universal Declaration of Human Rights



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 General Assembly resolution 217 A as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.


Preamble

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.
 

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.
 

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.
 

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.
 

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.
 

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.
 

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.
 

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.
 

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.
 

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.
 

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.
 

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.
 

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.
 

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.
 

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.
 

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.
 

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.
 

Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.
 

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.
 

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.
 

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.
 

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.
 

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

-------------------------


Introduction

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.
This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.
"Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always." aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear -- which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago. For more this year's theme and the year-long campaign, see the website of the UN Human Rights office.
Follow #HumanRightsDay
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon/><span class=On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all.

-- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Marginalized women share ethnic subjugation with their men


Since the 1910-era Constitutional Revolution, women in Iran have struggled to achieve gender equality, to no avail. In the 1930s, women had 14 magazines discussing their rights, and by the 1970s had gained some freedom of education and occupation.

But these small achievements were taken away when Ruhollah Khomeini usurped power in Iran in 1979.

After a century-old movement, women are still officially subhuman in the eyes of the state. They are denied the right to divorce their husbands and gain custody of their children.

They are also unable to work or leave the country without their husband’s permission.

Throughout history, Iranian rulers have established power over Iran by subjugating the female body. Reza Shah, the Pahlevi Dynasty’s first Shah, ruled Iran from 1925 to 1941. He forcibly removed the hijab from women in an attempt to westernize the country.

Since 1979, the Islamic Republic has forced the hijab back onto women in order to Islamicize the country. At the micro-level, individual males in Iran have also exerted control over women’s bodies to prove their authority.

The failure of the Iranian women’s movement is due to many pressing obstacles, including life under a theocratic government that severely suppresses any challenge to its “divine” rules. Thus any activity must be undertaken with extreme caution.

The contradictory perspectives of religious women activists vs. secular ones has also been a major reason for the failure of the Iranian women’s movement.

While one group believes “genuine” Islam can be emancipating for women, the other considers secularism as the first step out of male domination.

Urban and rural women are also divided. Middle and upper-middle class women seek occupational and educational rights, while for poorer women, health issues and welfare are women’s primary needs.

However, an unacknowledged source of division among feminists in Iran is the ethnocentrism of the dominant group.

Most women activists are either unaware that ethnicity and feminism intersect or are simply too afraid to discuss this important subject, which has become taboo.

Iran has long strived to assimilate ethnic and religious minorities within its borders, including Kurds, Baluch, Aazeris, Turkmans, Baha’is and Jews. Discussing the individuality of these groups frightens Iranians, who believe that diversity would endanger their land by instigating separatist outlooks. In their denial of diversity, women activists have turned into agents of patriarchy and reproduce national chauvinism.

Since they are under extensive pressure to assimilate, the majority of feminists have tied their cause to their centrist views. This is true even of some feminists born and raised outside of the capital.

They strive to help the mainstream voice become the only voice addressing women’s plight. Moreover, since they feel it is the only powerful voice acknowledging the plight of women, they feel they should give the mainstream their allegiance and attention. Thus they fail to observe or acknowledge the simultaneous oppression that women outside of the center experience.

This blind spot is as common among Iranians abroad as it is among those in Iran. Shortly before International Women’s Day 2015, I was approached by a board member of a Toronto-based Iranian women’s organization. She wanted me to join the group. Her call came as a pleasant surprise and I expressed my appreciation of her group’s attempts to invite the voice of a minority into their organization. But it turned out that she was not aware of my Kurdish roots.

“We will contact you later,” she said, and hung up, never to call me again.

While conducting research and interviews for this article, I approached the same board member to comment on ethnicity and feminism in Iran. I asked her to offer common grounds that activists could/should find to strengthen their fight. She responded that she had guests over and therefore had no time to answer my question. Two other Persian feminists also refused to comment because of time constraints and one never responded.

An eminent Iranian feminist based in Europe, however, did respond. “I am so sorry,” she wrote, “but I am not interested to waste my time and energy to promote something that does not show minimum respect to what I believe in as feminist ethics.” She ignored requests to clarify what she meant by “something” and did not explain why discussing ethnicity and feminism would go against feminist ethics.

However, not all the feminists I approached were hostile to discussing the intersection of race/ethnicity and feminism. Activist Torkaman Gamichi was more interested in facilitating a discussion about the situation of Turkish women in Azerbaijan Province than in pretending that only women in Tehran have the right to gender equality.

She pointed out the difference in priorities between the dominant feminists and the marginalized ones.

“While the center-oriented activists are fighting to get Iranian women into sport stadiums, I am fighting to stop the virginity examination for new brides,” said Gamichi. It is still a common expectation in Azerbaijan Province that a young woman acquire a certificate of chastity from a gynecologist who examines her hymen.

But of course, such a campaign is not marketable. Women in the capital no longer have to deal with the humiliation of hymen examination and so it is not a pressing matter for them. Also, this is more of a cultural problem than a political one because the government does not require the examination. Moreover, giving this issue a voice would mean airing the dirty laundry of an already demonized nation that tries too hard to show the world it is westernized despite its fanatical government.

“I have nothing against a woman’s right to watch sports in stadiums,” Gamichi added. “I only want the center-oriented feminists to understand that Turkish women are under chronic, discriminatory cultural mandates to be obedient and to be chaste.”

Kurdish villages in Iran have one of the highest ranks of women’s self-immolation in the world. For these women, who struggle with strict patriarchy, poverty and geo-political and domestic violence, the dramatic use of fire becomes their loudest cry for help and their only act of control over their bodies. Yet Iranian feminists never acknowledge this tragedy by speaking about it in the media.

Soraya Fallah, a Los Angeles-based activist who was incarcerated in Iran, said that even in Iranian prison, Kurdish women suffer more severely than their Persian counterparts.

“I was not allowed to address my visitors in Kurdish, my mother tongue,” Fallah said. “I could not communicate to my mother, whose Farsi is limited. I was not allowed to tell my husband – in my own language – that I loved him.”

Farsi is the only official language in Iran. It is the language of Persians, who constitute half of Iran’s population of 70 million citizens. Prisoners are not allowed to speak in any other language.

“I was allowed a five-minute cold shower every week,” Fallah said. “Most prisoners in Tehran were allowed more frequent showers, even those who were held in solitary. There was no toilet inside the cells where I was held. There was no TV or access to newspapers. Prison memoirs of my fellow activists reveal that the prisoners in Tehran were given these basic amenities. The prison facilities in Kurdistan were old and run down.”

Dr. Roya Toloui, cofounder of the Kurdistan Feminist Party, believes that ethnic and gender discriminations are interconnected and cannot be separated.

“I often wonder if I am a feminist first and then a Kurd, or vice versa?” Toloui mused. “A major difference between me and a Persian feminist is that she can have the freedom to separate gender issues from ethnic oppression.”

Marginalized women share ethnic subjugation with their men.

“Men who are oppressed themselves tend to be more violent with their female family members,” Touloui said. “Kurdish women in Iran suffer from a tangled knot, a combination of ethnic, political, economic and gender oppression. A Persian feminist doesn’t have to worry about lacking the right to education in mother tongue.”

Provinces such as Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Lorestan and Kurdistan – which are located near the borders of Iran and are home to non-Persian ethnic groups – flounder. For the children in these regions, the first grade of elementary school is often a traumatic experience, since they have to learn literacy along with a new language.

While marginalized activists acknowledge that all women in Iran are subject to discrimination, they believe that focusing only on the situation of the dominant group means turning a blind eye to the realities of life for millions of women who live outside of Tehran or in its slums.

Bell hook’s Feminist Theory: From Margin to Centre and Wini Breines’ The Trouble Between Us: An Uneasy History of White and Black Women in the Feminist Movement examine in detail the gap between privileged and underprivileged women activists. Some of the points raised in these books and others like them can be eye-opening for Iranian feminists.

But, as long as dominant Iranian feminists fail to see the ethnocentrism in their own backyard and the simultaneity of oppression for the underprivileged, the century-old struggle for women’s rights is bound for failure.
http://ava-homa.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Education under fire -Soraya Fallah story





http://vimeo.com/40349485

ANGELS OF IRAN | FOR KURDISTAN: THE SORAYA FALLAH STORY from Education Under Fire on Vimeo.

A profile of Iranian-Kurdish human rights activist and researcher, Soraya Fallah, with her daughter Cklara Moradian. Soraya was imprisoned four times, and tortured so severely that she miscarried in solitary confinement. As Cklara, her daughter, says, "My parents are my heroes. They are incredibly resilient. Very few people have gone through as much as they have and have come out of it so strong and so passionate."

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: David Hoffman
PRODUCER / DIRECTOR: Jeff Kaufman
EDITOR / FIELD AUDIO: Daniel Kaufman
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Colin Trenbeath
Thanks to good friend of mine Mr. Jano Rozbiani for helping on Editing this film

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran joins Amnesty International, United4Iran, Education Under Fire, The Boroumand Foundation, Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, the Baha’i national communities of the United States and Canada, and other organizations in supporting these new Angels of Iran videos and the DRIVE TO 25 initiative calling for action to end the violations of human rights in Iran.

http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2012/04/angels-of-iran-4/

Jeff Kaffman the producer during Education under fire conference 


Monday, August 17, 2015

Los Angeles support the Kurdish resistance -EventDay covered by VOKRadio


Front of the Turkish consulate to tell Turkey and the world: No to intervention in Syria! No to repression of the Kurdish freedom movement! And freedom and self-determination to all peoples!
please see the photos by VOKRadio
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1024698507550217.1073741849.266472210039521&type=3&pnref=story