May 09, 2006

Mount Merapi and other explosive things

May 9 - Volcanoes fascinate me, and there's one on the Ring of Fire that seems likely to erupt - Mount Merapi. Lava began flowing down the slopes at 2 a.m. their time and residents have been urged to leave.

It last erupted in 1994, sending out a searing cloud of gas that burned 60 people to death. About 1,300 people were killed when it erupted in 1930.
Volcanoes are one of those nasty things that may give hints of restlessness -- but after they blow, it's often too late to respond.

I recently watched a documentary - probably on the Discovery Civilization channel - that pointed out that, as Mt. Vesuvius had not erupted for centuries, those in Pompeii and Herculaneum had no oral tradition or stories about the mountain that would have helped them understand the magnitude of the danger. They were used to earthquakes and behaved as though this was just another in a series of tremors, so went about their business rather than run for their lives. As history records, they waited too late and died horribly trying to flee Pompeii or while waiting for help on the beaches and, for those from Herculaneum, huddled in caves as they waited for it to "blow over." It did blow over - an intense pyroclastic wave with heat so intense their brains literally boiled away.

As many have pointed out in discussions of the nuclear threat from Iran's mullahs, it is instructive to remember that an earlier European response to Hitler would have averted not only much of the devastation of World War II but also the Holocaust. We have well-studied history and oral tradition but too many of us behave as though the undeniable threat is unprecedented.

Iran's mullahs, as was Hitler, have been very clear about their aims. When the worst happens, we will not be able to pretend that we were blindsided and it will be useless at that point to admit we were stupid.

That letter from Iran is not an overture to resolution of the problem -- it doesn't even address the problem -- but the appeasers among us are likely to use it to justify their weak-kneed response to the threat. See! They wrote a letter! This is an opening! It's not an opening -- it's a diversion. It's a token bereft of meaning but one intended to lull the foolish into a false sense of renewed hope that we can talk (Taheri writes a great dismissal of the Cheap Talk Approach here.)

At the very least, the measures the U.N. has approved are naive:

Representatives of the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France as well as Germany made the decision to tell Iran the pluses and minuses of its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program at a meeting after more than three hours of talks by their foreign ministers Monday did not produce an agreement on the resolution.

As a result of Tuesday's decision, representatives from the three European countries that had been spearheading negotiations with Iran will spend the next few days preparing a package of incentives and sanctions, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because there has been no official announcement.

The European Union was eager to become Syria's bestest new friend after the U.S. applied sanctions, and our experience with the U.N. Oil-for-Food program for Iraq demonstrates how many in the "world community" are willing to do business with rogues.

Besides, would Iran be in a better bargaining position with nuclear weaponry or without? Need I ask?

I remember how sharply President Bush was criticized when he included Iran in the Axis of Evil ... I haven't heard that particular one lately.

Vulcanologists stationed at Mt. Merapi have learned from it's history and that of other volcanoes. We should emulate them rather than the conventional wisdom of those who lived and miserably died when Mt. Vesuvius blew.

May 10 18:49 - Deborah Orin's column on the letter is titled Tyrant's Letter Lunacy. Heh.

Posted by Debbye at 04:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

I love April (but hate tax time)

Apr. 20 - Mark's youth team (he's a lowly coach) had some exhibition games on Saturday. They seemed to field and pitch okay, but don't have game sense, i.e., they don't seem to know what to do with the ball when they field it.

It ought to be simple. Before the ball is put into play, fielders need to have a notion as to what they will do if the ball is hit to them and what they will do if it's not hit to them, i.e., what position they will back up. It's not exactly hard to figure; after all, a 3-1 play is fairly routine (that's the first baseman tossing the ball to the pitcher for the out at first) and I know the kids have seen it several times.

And relay. It's a baseball fundamental, but kids don't get it - they want to be the hero who throws it into home from left field. They also don't get why trying to hit a legitimate home run (as opposed to a single and 3 errors) is selfish. The sorriest statistic in the world is "runners left on base."

And deeking out a baserunner? Dude, we call that a balk.

Strikes are fascist, ground balls are democratic. The truth and implications of that statement is crystal clear to me but very difficult to explain to those who don't already know it. Luckily I don't have to; Mark does. Heh.

I hate the way the concept "team work" has been bastardized. In a sports setting, team work is the magic that happens when the players have a winning attitude and bust their asses to win the game. The fielders do their utmost to retire batters and "passed ball" is regarded by catchers as grounds to commit suicide. Everything comes together and the bang-bang plays create an intensity and excitement that drives the entire team. Who doesn't love a clutch hitter?

Team work is that intangible thing that cannot be artificially created but comes straight from the heart - a stubborness and perseverance that marks those who strive to win.

In a work setting, though, team work seems to be code for "some people need to work harder to cover up for those who refuse to perform." If a company really wants team work they need to do as sports teams are supposed to do: bench or release players that won't or can't strive to win in order to keep that winning edge.

It's going to be an interesting season.


I managed to get a few consecutive days off work before Easter and resolved to do those things most easily deferred: my taxes, and washing the windows and curtains.

The windows and curtains really do need to be done. I haven't done them since Sept. 11 despite my earnest intentions. Somehow it always seemed more important to surf the news channels and internet to see if there had been another terror attack - and, too often, there had indeed been one.

But I found we had only a tad of window-washing solution, so I did my taxes - sort of. Mind, I was very well prepared. I had sharp pencils, the correct forms, my adding machine, scratch paper, all my receipts, and some cold beer in the fridge to celebrate the successful conclusion of this annual ritual. When I went to get my T-4, though, it wasn't where I had seen it less than 24-fraking-hours earlier.

I began to search, and boy did I search. I found all sorts of papers and mailers and stuff I meant to look at (some of it went back to the beginning of Gulf War II, which I guess is a commentary as to how long I've been shutting out everyday stuff) and, because I still suffered with a mild variety of the spring cleaning bug, I began to toss or file. Then I went through the newly bulging files; I'm not sure why I had baseball registration lists from 1997, but I can honestly say that now I no longer have them. Was I still procrastinating? Yes, because all the figures I needed were on my final pay voucher of 2005 so I finally bit the bullet and did my stupid taxes (and called work Monday morning to humbly request a replacement T-4.)

Then I noticed this weird smudge on a wall. You know what happens when you wash a smallish section of a wall, right? Right.

If anyone next to you has just fallen off their chair you are undoubtably sitting beside someone who knows me and how much I hate housework. It was all very well and good when the kids were little (and, come to think of it, spending most of my time trying to up clean the dirt they and the dog brought in from outside) but that was the in the pre-Internet era as well as those days when all history ended and life is much more exciting now - and considerably more dangerous.

Solutions seem harder to come by now (maybe because the Cold War strategy was conceived before I was even born.) Except for Iraq: that one is as simple as A-B-C. We keep faith with the people of Iraq. We don't flinch. We stick it out.

Iran, though, is hard. Those who discount the messages coming out of Iran as simple rhetoric simply haven't been paying attention. Bin Laden used to be dismissed too, until we learned to our shock that he meant business.

We can't go back to 1979 (which is why a long vacation would look good on President Carter right now) and have to deal with what is happening today. The U.N. will likely be useless - will there likely be a new Oil-for-Food program for Iran after sanctions prove to be a burden on the Iranian people? Puh-leeze.

And then there are those voices that are carefully implying that if we abandon Israel we'll end the "root causes" that caused Sept. 11 and the threat from Iran. But let's get serious: the root cause of barbarism is, you know, barbarism, and even the barbarians didn't occupy Rome until the Romans had lost the will to fight -- most clearly evidenced in that they had sub-contracted their fighting out to others.

Come to think of it, one of Bin Laden's grievances was on behalf of dead infants in Iraq which he attributed to the sanctions. Has he lifted the jihad now that the sanctions have been lifted? Or directed one to Saddam for diverting money from health care for his own personal gain? Of course not. There will always be grievances because there will always be those who will justify unbelievable acts of savagery for their own ends. But do we have to play along?

I would be willing to go on a bit of faith that the cartoon controversy was viewed by many national leaders as a skirmish and the feckless response was simply a feint, but something very precious was seen to be surrendered: the right to be irreverent, and without irreverence we lose our joy. No South Park? No Simpson's? Or, and this is really scary, no Monty Python?

Those who take themselves too seriously run the risk of ulcers and migraines, but I doubt waiting for the dour mullahs to develop life-style health problems is a useful strategy.

So the spectre of nuclear weapons in Iran - a country that has absolutely neither reverence for international relations much less a sense of humour - continues to pose a problem that challenges us all. I do feel certain we need to come up with a strategy that differs from those employed in both Afghanistan and Iraq and the best one I've heard thus far is to give more tangible support to the pro-democracy forces within Iran. It's a long shot, and I guess that even though I never would have characterized myself as a gambler I do remain, at heart, a liberal (in the classic sense) and I'm willing to gamble on my belief that the yearning for freedom remains the most compelling urge in the history of humanity.

Relying on the choice less hopeful is straight out of Tolkien - the quest to destroy the ring was one such choice, and Arvedui's claim of the kingship in Gondor was another. [That's an admittedly obscure reference; my fellow explorers in the the History of Middle Earth will undoubtably recognize it and others can find it in the Appendix of Return of the King where Earnil's ascension to the throne is discussed.]


Oh well, I'll do the stupid windows and curtains over the weekend but place the responsibility on Mark to remember to buy window cleaner. That might work, but I know I'll have to keep reminding him. And if it rains, maybe he'll have to cancel practice and then can help me take the curtains down!

Yeah, sometimes team work means cursing obstinate household fixtures together.

Posted by Debbye at 05:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 27, 2006

And then they came for Tom and Jerry

Feb. 27 - The cartoon controversy has just taken on a new aspect, according to Ace: Iranian Scholar: Tom And Jerry Cartoons A Jewish Conspiracy.

You just know they're priming the pump before they go after Mickey Mouse and Stuart Little.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by Debbye at 06:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2005

The perseverence of Stephan Hachemi

kazemi_zahra030709.jpg
Zahra Kazemi

May 24 - The fruitlessness of soft power has come to be symbolized by one outstanding example: the failure to achieve justice for Montreal photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who was murdered on or about July 11, 2003, in an Iranian prison for the unspeakable crime of photographing a vigil outside Evin Prison - the very prison in which she would later be tortured and killed.

Those of us who recognized immediately that Kazemi's death was linked to the struggle for democracy in Iran hoped - briefly - that the Canadian government would, by pressing Iran for answers to Kazemi's death, be able to assist their struggle. We were disappointed, because the Canadian government seemed to do more to protect the Iranian mullocracy than a Canadian citizen.

Their calumny was further revealed by later reports that she was defiant in prison and was subjected to unspeakable torture, but we did not get this information from the government which should have pressed the investigation but from British, American and Canadian news sources.

The lethargic response by the Canadian government, first by accepting the dubious explanation of the Iranian government and then by dithering, delaying, and finally mildly protesting was sharply challenged by the news media in Canada, which did not allow the story to die, and by Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi.

Coincidentally, 2 months after Jean Chretien stepped down as PM Khazakhstan News reported that he had been named special adviser to the board of directors of Calgary-based PetroKazakhstan, and the same item mentions a lucrative swap arrangement with Iranian oil refineries (read relevant excerpts here.)

Kazemi's son wrote a scathing letter to the National Post which can be read here.

And then there is this: The Canadian ambassador to Iran has been recalled twice as a response to Iran's failure to achieve justice for Kazemi, but relations with Iran are not only friendly but downright cozy - so cozy that the Canadian government planned to give an official from Iran - a known state sponsor of terror and a member of the Axis of Evil - a look at the workings of the Advance Passenger Information database in August, 2003, little over a month since Kazemi's death had been confirmed as due to torture (more information under extended entry.) (Link from lfg.)

Stephan Hachemi has been steadfast in his quest to achieve justice for his mother and again renewed his call for Canada to take action against Iran.

Canada's record is dismal, though. Thus far it is Iran 5, Canada 0.

CBC has provided their timeline, and I have a slightly different (and admittedly incomplete) one in the extended entry.

Tracking the Kazemi case:

Students in Iran held pro-democracy demonstrations on June 10, 2003, and for the following nine nights. The demonstrations were broken up by thugs on motorcycles wielding clubs and chains and it was estimated that over 4,000 people had been arrested. Canadian citizen and photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was arrested on or about June 24 for photographing people holding a vigil outside Evin prison where the demonstrators and student leaders were being held.

According to an eyewitness, she was defiant in prison:

When Ms Kazemi was first challenged, she was told to leave her camera and collect it the following day. She refused, ripping out the film to expose the frames. Her defiance ensured she was kept in prison.

"She was confronted by the authorities and asked to give the camera and the film," said Hamid Mojtahedi, a Canadian human rights lawyer with access to officials involved in Ms Kazemi's case. "She resisted."

According to the same eyewitness, she was still conscious when she was taken to the hospitalon or about June 27 but was not given medical treatment for 12 hours during which she lapsed into a coma. The official story was that she lost consciousness in the prison and was finally admitted to a hospital. Despite repeated requests by her son, Stephan Hachemi, and the Canadian government, Kazemi's body was not returned to Canada for autopsy and burial.

Bill Graham, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, was vacationing in Corsica at the time and in public statements at the time, seemingly accepted without question the Iranian official version that she fell, hit her head, and went into a coma.

The CBC was unrelenting in keeping the story going and urging further investigation into Kazemi's death. They ran a story on July 16, 2003, Iran admits beating killed Kazemi with an odd lead paragraph:

Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi died of a fractured skull, but it may have been an accident, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said.

Graham said he learned about her death in "an open and frank exchange" on the phone with Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, on Wednesday.

[...]

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Iran's vice-president, admitted Wednesday that Kazemi died as a result of being beaten.

But Graham said Foreign Minister Kharrazi told him that "she might have fallen or had an accident." He said that until it's known what happened, it's not possible to say what caused it.

Graham, speaking from France where he is on vacation, said the minister assured him that the perpetrators, if any, would be prosecuted.

Graham said Canada must be satisfied that the Iranian investigation is open and transparent.

"If crimes have been committed, we're pushing the Iranian government to punish those who committed the crime," Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said earlier Wednesday. But "we have to know all the facts" before acting, he added.

The CBC article deserves to be read in full to get the full sense of how unwilling the Canadian government was annoy Iran.

Yet according to a Globe and Mail April 1, 2005, article,

[Current Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre] Mr. Pettigrew added that Canada has known from the outset that Ms. Kazemi was murdered. "We do not accept the Iranian government's allegations that this was an accident. We never have."
On July 20, 2003, Kazemi's son, Stephan Haremi, continued to press for the return of Kazemi's body to Canada for an autopsy and burial and expressed his frustration at the passive behaviour of the Canadian government.

Reporters Without Borders joined the fight, as did Amnesty International. Yet the Canadian government refused to use the combined weight of these organizations to push for an immediate disclosure of the truth.

On July 22, 2003, the Canadian government "asked" that an inquiry be held into Kazemi's death.

July 23, Reporters Without Borders urged the Canadian government to take the initiative and cites other abuses of journalists in Iran and, on July 25, called upon the EU to break with Iran until officials responsible for Zahra Kazemi's death had been brought to trial.

Then, on July 27, it was reported that 5 people had been detained in connection with the death. Hachemi proposed the case taken before the ICC and dismissed the arrests as a "diversion" to throw the Canadian government off track." The day after Hachemi's call was made public, Graham suddenly seemed to understand what the case was all about:

"We wish to use the case both to open further democracy in Iran and also the protection of journalists," said Graham, whose son Patrick spent time in Iraq covering the war. But Graham has yet to speak with the Iranian foreign minister or confirm the reports surrounding the arrest of five security officials.
Only two persons were being detained in Kazemi's death. Then, for no apparent reason, Iran threatened to exclude Canada from the investigation altogether. (As the quote in the post notes, Canadian media suddenly became aware there was a power struggle between the mullahs and the reformists.)

Sept. 2, Canada asked the U.N. Human Rights Commission to take the Kazemi case after the charges against the two interogators were dropped.

On mid-September, a coalition including Stephan Hachemi made a series of proposals including turning the Kazemi case over to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

On Sept. 22, an intelligent agent was charged with the "semi-premeditated" murder of Kazemi.

On Sept. 30, the Canadian ambassador to Iran was set to return.

Oct. 2, MPs voted unanimously for Kazemi's body to be returned.

Oct. 8, the accused enters a not guilty plea.

By Oct. 29, the investigation in Iran was bogged down with accusations and counter-accusations.

Dec, 2003, Chretien leaves government, travels to China, joins PetroKazakhstan, which develops close relations with Tehran and China.

Jan. 8, 2004, PBS Frontline aired a story about Iran and included the Kazemi case in their investigations.

Feb., 2004, Chretien's ties to PetroKazakhstan and the Iranian oil deal is made public.

June 8, 2004, Stephan Hachemi bitterly thanks Chretien for all he did to bring Kazemi's killers to justice, citing Chretien's connection to PetroKazakhstan and upcoming visit to Iran.

July 18, the Canadian ambassador to Iran was recalled when the court for the Kazemi trial banned foreign observers. Shortly afterward, the proceedings ended with no information as to when they would resume.

Nov. 25, 2004, Canada announced it was "mending" relationships with Iran. According to the Globe and Mail article (cited below) the government first learned of the medical testimony that month.

The Mar 31, 2005, Globe and Mail quotes Zahra Kazemi's attending physician who describes her injuries:

In Ottawa yesterday, Dr. Shahram Azam — a former physician with the Iranian security police who last month received asylum in Canada — spoke in great detail about the gruesome injuries to which Ms. Kazemi eventually succumbed in July of 2003.

She had a badly broken nose, a smashed eardrum, broken fingers, a crushed toe, missing fingernails and toenails, a severe head injury, signs of flogging, and deep bruising all over her body, he said.

An examination by an emergency-room nurse revealed "brutal" damage to Ms. Kazemi's genital area, which the nurse said could only have been the result of violent rape. "Those injuries, extensive and severe as they were, could only have been sustained during torture, Dr. Azam said. "It was the first time I saw someone who was tortured," he said in Farsi, speaking softly but confidently. "It was shocking for me."

Dr. Azam's testimony is the first account by a medical witness that categorically contradicts the official Iranian explanation for Ms. Kazemi's death, which is that she died after fainting and hitting her head.

This is the same article in which Pettigrew asserts that they always knew Kazemi was murdered. (Link via excellent post at Let it Bleed.)

The Canadian ambassador to Iran has been recalled twice as a response to Iran's failure to achieve justice for Kazemi, but relations with Iran were not only friendly but downright cozy - so cozy that the Canadian government planned to give an official from Iran - a known state sponsor of terror and a member of the Axis of Evil - a look at the workings of the Advance Passenger Information database in August, 2003, little over a month since Kazemi's death had been confirmed as due to torture. (link from lfg.)

The Canadian government understood fully how outraged the public would have been:

Iran had requested that one of its officials, Seyed Abu Talib Najafi, be briefed on the workings of Canada's new Advance Passenger Information database, designed to identify potential threats to civil aircraft before they board.

According to e-mails obtained under the Access to Information Act, Customs officials were concerned about the visit becoming public. One e-mail said: "We should keep this as low-key as possible."

Two e-mails within Canada Customs suggested there were concerns: "What's our position about the requesting country? ... in view of the current situation with Iran."

Just eight days previously, the Department of Foreign Affairs had recalled Canada's ambassador to Iran because it had refused Canadian inquiries about the Zahra Kazemi case. Kazemi, a Montreal-based photojournalist, was beaten to death after being arrested for photographing a Tehran prison riot. Iran maintains her death was accidental.

Foreign Affairs told Customs officials its only concern was "whether [Najafi] will be able to get his visa in time."

In dozens of e-mails, there is no mention of Kazemi, and no one questions why Canada would help Iran, considered by some to be a brutal police state. As well, no one asks why a government with a known track record of sponsoring terrorist attacks might want information about a new passenger security screening procedure.

With just days to go before the visit, a flurry of e-mails reveals that there were last-minute concerns about Najafi's identity. Canada believed his first name was Nasser – only after he landed in Canada did they learn his actual name.

And in an e-mail sent after Najafi was already en route to Canada, Chrystiane Roy, Iran desk officer at Foreign Affairs, informed Customs that if Najafi already had a visa, "it would be too late to do any screening."

In the end, it was only the huge North American blackout of Aug. 14, 2003 that prevented the briefing session.

One might say the fortuitous black-out, although whther by divine intervention, Rovian/CIA/FBI nefarious doings or plain old good luck is up to you (although I'd ask you at least consider that the CIA/FBI might have done it - they could use a successful operation, deserved or no, to balance their blotted copybooks!)

The article concludes with another alarming note:

Instead, Rachelle May, now acting director general of the Canada Border Services Agency, took Najafi across the street for a coffee. In a report sent afterwards to Foreign Affairs, she writes, "He showed interest in Advanced Passenger Information." (Emphasis added)
It is ironic that on the same day that the publications ban on the Gomery Inquiry is being attacked that there needs to be an acknowledgement that it was in fact the CBC that kept the Kazemi story in the fore even as the Canadian government was downplaying it.


Those responsible for Kazhra Kazemi's death have never been brought to justice.

16:06 - Pieter has a round-up as well, and I should note that one blogger who played a major role in trying to stir some government action, Paul, moved sites in the meantime so the urls I used in linking his site have changed - thus the incomplete record of the early days. His posts are in at his new site in his July, 2003, archives but I didn't have time to weed them out. It was Paul, by the way, who coined "Screeching Bill Graham" in honour of the miserable role that wanker played in trying to downplay Kazemi's death.

Posted by Debbye at 04:38 AM | Comments (2)

April 11, 2005

Iran: Blame Canada

Apr. 11 - Thanks to the wise and patient government in Iran, we now know exactly whose fault it is that there has been no justice for Zahra Kazemi.

You see, Canada has been going about this thing all wrong:

Canada has demanded an international forensic examination to determine the cause of Zahra Kazemi's death.

"Unfortunately Canada has been following a wrong approach from the very beginning, and caused things to get more complicated," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a weekly press conference.

"From the very beginning, the Canadians should have accepted that Mrs. Kazemi is an Iranian citizen. Demands by the Canadians have to be answered by Iran's judiciary," he said.

Oh my, this is awkward. It's that moral equivalence multi-cult thing again, and Canada should never have poked it's nose in to what is clearly an internal Iran matter.

Maybe the Iranians figure that after Canada argued against regime change in Iraq and thus indirectly supported Saddam's right to murder his people she can't exactly argue that Iran doesn't have the right to murder theirs.

Time to update this: now the score is Iraq 5, Canada 0.

Apr. 13 - 00:30: This following is why the Kazemi case is important. She was killed in June, 2003. Chretien tried to downplay her death, but the news media, led by the CBC, kept it on the front burner (more credit to them.) Chretien left office in December, 2003.

In February, 2004, there are two curious items in Khazakhstan News:

Major Canadian-based oil company PetroKazakhstan plans to ramp its supply to the Tehran Oil Refinery (Iran) up to 21,000 barrels of oil per day in the next several months, the company announced in a statement this week.

"Over the next several months supplies [to the Tehran plant] will gradually reach their contract level of 21,000 barrels of oil per day (1 million tonnes per year)," according to the PetroKazakhstan press release.

PetroKazakhstan announced in 2003 that it had reached a swap agreement with the Tehran Oil Refinery. Under the agreement, PetroKazakhstan will supply the refinery with crude from its Kazakhstani field, while the Canadian company will receive a monetarily equivalent volume of light Iranian crude at Persian Gulf ports in southern Iran. The agreement obviates the need for PetroKazakhstan to transport its crude across at least part of the lengthy Central Asian export routes.

"The agreement enables the company to get maximum price for its crude oil while reducing destination and transportation costs," PetroKazakhstan said in its statement.

PetroKazakhstan sent its first shipment of 26,800 barrels to the Tehran plant in December 2003, Interfax noted. (Interfax)

[...]

Former Canadian Prime minister Jean Chretien has been named a special advisor to the board of directors of PetroKazakhstan, the company announced in a press release this week.

Chretien will advise the board on international relations issues, drawing on his ten years as Canadian PM as well as his earlier service in the Ministries of Justice, Finance and Energy and Mining. (Emphasis added)

Hmmm.

(By the way, Stephan Hachemi, Kazemi's son, expressed his outrage and disappointment in a letter to editor of the National Post.)

No. 528 on my list of reasons why I despise Jean Chretien!

To no one's surprise, Iran has rejected a Canadian demand for an international forensic team to examine the body of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who died in Iranian custody.

Maybe Canada will get mad, and recall the ambassador for the third time. Yeah, that'll show them!

More to the point, those who wish to stand pat on soft diplomacy may do so, but I'll see your soft diplomacy and raise you an armed Predator.

Posted by Debbye at 10:11 AM | Comments (12)

February 22, 2005

PM Martin at NATO Summit

Feb. 22 - From this morning, Martin quiet at NATO summit:

BRUSSELS (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin tiptoed around the edge of the limelight Monday prior to the NATO summit as U.S. President George W. Bush's attempted reconciliation with Europe took centre stage. [Aside: What. Ever.]

[...]

Prior to the gathering in Brussels, senior federal officials played up Canada's role as a potential intermediary between the world's only remaining superpower and a continent that is routinely alarmed with the unilateral bent of the Bush administration.

But there has been no evidence of any fence-mending diplomacy by Canada, as none of the prime minister's bilateral meetings during the summit include any outspoken opponents of U.S. foreign policy.

Nevertheless, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew insisted that Canada's role, although unseen, was still important.

"It is a very natural role for Canada to play a bridge between the United States and the European Union," he said.

"We have a lot of friends in Europe. We are highly regarded on the positions we've taken. At the same time, we are the United States' immediate neighbour, their best friend."

Indeed. See the post below on Frank McKenna, Canada's next Ambassador to the U.S., and his views on this bestest of friends relationship. Maybe it's just me, but I'd nominate Australia and Great Britian for best friend status over Canada.

From this evening: the Prime Minister broke his silence to address the delegates on Iran:

Prime Minister Paul Martin warned NATO leaders Tuesday that they should be prepared to stand up to Iran in order to check the Islamic republic's potential nuclear ambitions.

He told the 25 other alliance leaders at the end of their one-day summit in Brussels that the Islamic republic poses a "serious proliferation threat."

While "diplomacy and dialogue" remain a top priority, the prime minister said the world community "must be prepared to stand behind our words with stronger measures, if necessary."

Tougher measures could include UN-mandated sanctions, but U.S. President George W. Bush has repeatedly suggested he's prepared to use military action if diplomacy fails. (Bolding added.)

Right. Sanctions. Golly gee whiz, what Iranian product might possibly be subject to U.N. sanctions?

Given the results of a recent poll, Yanks "Slick" (sic) and Tired of U.N., I don't think U.N. imposed sanctions are going to be well received by either the American public or Congress. (NY Post link via Neale News.)

The PM was at least more candid than his "senior federal officials:"

Prior to the summit, federal officials played up Canada's potential role in bridging the gap between Europe and the United States, but Martin admitted he was largely on the sidelines.

"The truth of the matter is, to the extent there was a rift, I think it was healed by President Bush and the Europeans," he said. "Canada has a pretty good understanding of both sides and we'll continue to play the role."

Continue to play the role of being on the sidelines? Or play the role of having a good understanding of both sides? (To be fair, I think that could be a bit of sloppy journalism, although it's also possible that the writer was just as bewildered by that last statement as I.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:50 PM | Comments (3)

November 25, 2004

Canada "mending" diplomatic relations with Iran

Nov. 25 - Canada withdrew her ambassador to Iran last July to protest Iran's failure to bring justice to Zahra Kazemi's killers but it was announced that Gordon Venner will assume duties as Canada's ambassador to Iran.

Despite the request of her son, Stephan Hachemi, and Canada's backing of that request, Kazemi's body has not been returned to Canada and thus an independent autopsy was never performed.

Why resume diplomatic relations after Iran killed a Canadian citizen?

NDP MP Alexa McDonough said Canada is better served by having a diplomatic presence in Iran.

"It's certainly clear that the Iranian government has not satisfactorily addressed the Kazemi fiasco, but at the same time, when there's an empty chair there's no dialogue ..."

Jean Chretien was prime minister when Kazemi was "interrogated to death" (per Mark Steyn) and his outrage seems to have eased after he left office and vanished entirely when he decided to visit Iran:
Mr. Chretien, now a private citizen, will travel to Iran next month to meet top Iranian government officials.

But Mr. Chretien isn't there to seek justice for Ms. Kazemi. Nor will he speak for the dozens of Iranians rotting in jails for the crime of believing Iran should have the same democracy Canadians enjoy.

Instead, Mr. Chretien is going to Iran as a "special adviser" to the Calgary oil company PetroKazakhstan, which wants to ship Kazakh oil to China and Iran. His job is to convince the Iranians that this is a good idea.

He succeeded.

Posted by Debbye at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2004

Those missing explosives wrap-up (for now)

Oct. 28 - Okay, I had some dinner (it's a shift work thing) and have had time to try to let this thing settle. The fact remains that the IAEA inspectors cannot have inspected the explosives if the bunkers were sealed, so the repeated assertions that they "inspected the explosives" is simply untrue - the inspectors merely looked at the seals.

I'm willing to attribute the inaccurate assertions of "inspected the explosives" to careless wording by the New York Times and other news media, but if the ABC story that the bunkers were readily accessible without breaking the seals holds up and we remember the NY Sun article stating that the IAEA refused to destroy the explosives despite the urging of the inspectors, some of the statements in that NY Sun article suddenly seem more than speculative:

On Monday, a spokesman for the American mission at the United Nations questioned the timing of the release of the material on the part of Mr. ElBaradei. Rick Grenell told the Sun's Benny Avni the "timing seems puzzling."

After a behind-the-scenes battle inside the State Department this summer, the Bush administration opted to reject Mr. ElBaradei's bid for a third term as director general of the atomic energy agency.

At the time, Washington was collecting intelligence - disputed by some agencies - that Mr. ElBaradei was providing advice to Iran on how to avoid sanction from his organization for its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment programs.

Mr. al-Baradei has publicly urged the Iranians to heed an earlier pledge to suspend enrichment, but he has also opposed America's policy of taking Iranian violations to the U.N. Security Council. Mr. al-Baradei has announced he will nonetheless seek a third term. Nominations for the director general position close on December 31. [Emphasis added.]

The bolded portion of the article is a bombshell but really, why shouldn't we consider that possibility? The investigations into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program revealed a bureaucracy without accountability, and had coalition forces not liberated Iraq and removed the Saddam regime, we would never have known about the extent to which that program was corrupt, the inspections would have gone on until they declared Iraq disarmed, and the sanctions would have been lifted. Saddam would have resumed his quest for WMD (including nuclear capability) and the world would have been in mortal danger.

Suddenly Hans Blix is no longer merely irritating and Mohammed El Baradei is no longer merely pompous. They are two incredibly powerful men who literally had the world in their care and dropped the ball. The question is if it was due to negligence or corruption.

The case for war has suddenly, in retrospect, been altered. (No, I don't think the president lied, but I've always assumed that the government concealed information - not out of malevolence toward the American people but because that is the nature of being at war.)

Many of us who supported the war had some lingering hope for the inspection process but recognized that regime change, which is to say removing Saddam and his psychotic sons, was the only right thing to do. But now we are faced with the fact that Iran and N. Korea have or are close to having nuclear capability and it was done on the El Baradei's watch.

The mood of the American electorate as both El Baradei and Benon Sevan are revealed to be incompetent at best or corrupt at worst will not bode well for the U.N. The one poll that hasn't been conducted lately is to assess the confidence of Americans in the U.N., but the most recent ones had indicated growing disillusion with that organization, and that will be a consideration when voters cast their ballot for "American unilateralism with staunch and valiant allies" or "global test."

Five.More.Days. Judging by the past four days, it will be longer than a lifetime.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2004

Crackdowns in Iran and Canada

Oct. 15 - Go immediately and read about the arrest of six Iranian bloggers and internet journalists in Thoughtcrimes and then read these link-filled roundups of the threatened legal action by a political hack former Chretien aide Warren Kinsella against Canadian bloggers here and here.

The two items are not exactly comparable: the first involves arrest, jail, and all the other delightful aspects of incurring the mullah's wrath, and the other involves the threat of legal action to stifle criticism of a public figure who has an underdeveloped sense of taking responsibility for decisions which he may have influenced.

But Canada is supposed to be a free country. Normally, in a free society, some of the possible responses to Kinsella would have been "Bite Me" or "F**k off and Die" but the very real prospect of lawsuits and incurred legal fees has had the effect of stifling freedom of speech by threatening a lawsuit which should not make it onto the docket but well might.

The bloggers who removed their posts chose discretion, but the fact that they took the threat from Kinsella seriously (and, I might add, with good reason) exposes an underbelly of Canadian politics where deviating from the "correct" political line is increasingly deemed anti-Canadian.

The initial outrage is one thing, but will I and others have this affair in the backs of our minds when we write posts? Probably. It will affect each of us differently, but it seems to me that the fact that it will affect us at all is an attack on our freedom of speech up here.

I don't know how to make a google-bomb, but I think Warren Kinsella richly deserves one. Maybe by tomorrow morning I'll come up with a suitable label for him but as I'm stuck working tonight I'll have to, er, work on it.

Oct. 17 - 22:12: This kerfuffle is settled, as recounted by Jay and Sean, so no google bomb this time around. Nevertheless, I hope Mr. Kinsella has become aware that bloggers will unite from across the political spectrum (and around the world) to defend our freedom of speech as well as his.

I've read no updates on the more worrisome item that began this post, that of the arrests of six Iranian bloggers, other than this and this which specifies the charges against them (and which pre-date my post.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:26 PM | Comments (2)

October 10, 2004

Activistchat opens Iran Blog

Oct. 10 - Time to bookmark! Activistchat has begun it's own blog: BLOG-IRAN by Activistchat.com (Iran News & Views).

The ongoing struggle for freedom in Iran has been ignored by MSM since the February elections, but it continues nonetheless.

Read them. Support them. Be inspired by them.

Let freedom ring!

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2004

Unite for Freedom in Iran!

Toronto
Thursday, July 8 (18 Tir), 6-9 p.m.
Mel Lastman Square

Ottawa
Thursday, July 8 (18 Tir) 10 a.m.
In front of the Islamic Republic Embassy located at 245 Metclafe

The above are Canadian sites for demonstrations to be held internationally in solidarity with the people of Iran who yearn for freedom. Times and places for other cities are here, and there will be daily updates here.

July 5 - Roger Simon says it straight out:

How can you not sympathize with people whose home country is under the control of the Mullahs?
Michelle reminds us of what we owe to those who want freedom:
Our freedom is inextricably tied with the freedom of others. We must help all those who want to face the tyrants as our founding fathers did. In order to truly be secure in our freedom, we must make sure that others are also free. And we must, as a tribute to our forefathers who fought and died so we can live like this, help those who struggle to have what we have. If that means just showing support to anyone in any country that is willing to fight for basic human rights, we must do that.
I don't think I'm being overly presumptuous to believe that Canadians can also heartily support this struggle.

The anniversary of the brutal suppression of dissenters by the mullahs on 18 Tir is coming up. The violence after the frauldulent elections last winter was part of this ongoing struggle.

Canadian Zahra Kazemi died in the cause of freedom for Iran.

Iran remains a place of secret arrests and torture - last June, an inmate was hung from the ceiling by his hands for hours and the hands had to be amputated because they forgot about him.

There is a petition to sign here. It begins with a plea for unity on their behalf:

To: All Freedom-Loving Compatriots (Center, Right and Left)

A Plea For Support & Demonstration Attendance from all Freedom-Loving Activists around the world in our united fight against Terrorists, Islamofascists, and Fanaticism!

This is an invitation to join us in a worldwide demonstration against the Mafia Mullahs, Terrorists, Islamofascists, and Fanatics who intend to stop and kill the spread of FREEDOM, SECULARISM & DEMOCRACY around the World! Our unified presence in a worldwide demonstration will be the biggest blow to the Mafia Mullahs.

Please read it. Please sign it. Please set aside Thursday evening to support these brave men and women in Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 07:33 AM | Comments (3)

June 12, 2004

The feckless UN in Iraq, Serbia and Iran

June 12 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK) comes a report on Danish UN aid worker Michael Soussan who, in his testimony before a US Congressional probe into UNSCAM, blasted the UN's 'shameful silence' over the evils of Saddam:

To Mr Soussan's dismay, the most vocal critics worked alongside him at the UN. The genocide charge was levelled by an assistant secretary general in charge of humanitarian work in Iraq.

His colleagues blamed the Security Council - especially the United States and Britain - for the suffering of Iraqis, ignoring evidence that Saddam was stealing food from his own people's mouths.

They could hardly ignore the wickedness of Saddam's regime. Foreign UN staff could sense the terror in Iraqis they met, and saw for themselves the gilded excesses of the Ba'athist elite.

But somehow that wickedness was taken as a given, then promptly smothered in a warm soup of moral relativism.

"We have a notion of sovereignty at the UN that doesn't distinguish between governments that deserve sovereignty and those that do not. And that really skews our moral compass," Mr Soussan told The Telegraph.

"[My colleagues] devoted most of their moral outrage towards the United States and the UK," he said. (Emphasis added)

Can we say "easy targets?" Of course we can. And anyone who defends the USA will be accused of being brainwashed, bought-off, racist, or, worst of all, defying the international community. Small wonder these bureaucrats took the easy road even if they knew it was a lie. But that's not moral equivalence, that's just plain immoral.
Mr Soussan does not deny the pain caused by sanctions from the first Gulf war in 1991 to 1996, before oil-for-food sales began. A quarter of a million children died, by conservative estimates.

But during those five years, it was Saddam who refused offers to sell his oil and import humanitarian goods under UN supervision. "[He was] banking that images of dying babies would eventually force the international community to lift the sanctions altogether," Mr Soussan told Congress.

By 2000, there was no limit on the amount of oil Saddam was allowed to sell, and few limits on the civilian goods he was allowed to buy.

Iraq was under sanctions only "to the extent that they couldn't import military goods", he said.

Yet still Saddam claimed sanctions were killing 5,000 infants a month, parading tiny coffins in the streets to ram the point home. "The UN did not stand up to this propaganda. It cowered in the face of this notion that the sanctions were killing Iraqi babies," Mr Soussan said. (Emphasis added)

One of Osama bin Laden's justifications for declaring jihad on the USA was that we were responsible for the murder of Iraqi babies, something that has yet to be properly refuted in the international, and, more importantly, the Arab press.

The failure of the U.N. to take responsiblilty and tell the truth is responsible for much of the hatred of the world towards the USA, but we are supposed to "take it" for the good of an international community which has no values, no morals, but does have some dandy committees.

Iraqi babies no longer die due to malnutrition, watered-down drugs, expired pharmaceuticals and lack of equipment in medical facilities, but that fact has nothing to do with the U.N. and everything to do with action that was condemned by the U.N.

UN staff did not speak out when Saddam refused to buy high protein foods recommended by UN experts, or spent oil-for-food millions on sports stadiums, or broadcasting equipment for his propaganda machine.

The UN turned a blind eye to signs that Saddam was bribing cronies at home and abroad with black market oil vouchers, and was skimming billions from funds meant for food and medicine, demanding secret, 10 per cent "kickbacks" on humanitarian contracts.

The UN recently claimed it "learned of the 10 per cent kickback scheme only after the end of major combat operations" in 2003.

A lie, said Mr Soussan, recalling the hapless Swedish company that called in 2000, seeking UN help after being asked to pay kickbacks. The Swedes' plea was quickly lost in red tape and inter-office turf wars. After a "Kafka-esque" flurry of internal memos, the Swedes were told to complain to their own government.

So much for that which some call international law which is used as a club to beat upon democratic countries like the USA but not Ghana, Sudan or Congo.
Now top UN officials are under investigation. Mr Soussan hopes the shock will force a major debate on how to deal with rogue regimes.

"The oil-for-food programme was a deal with the devil. The problem is, that we didn't act as if this was the devil, we acted as if this was a legitimate regime," he said.

Again, that's not moral equivalence, that's outright immorality. At long last, the USA, Great Britain and other members of the coalition didn't deal with the devil, we removed him from power. Isn't that what moral people do when they confront evil?
If such major questions have to wait, a little more transparency would help, for starters.

"If the UN had just stood up once, held a high-level press conference, and said, 'We think the Iraqi government is cheating its people', then the UN would not be in the mess it is now," he said. "It would then be an accuser, rather than the accused." (Emphasis added)

The U.N. just can't catch a break this week, as it's failure in Serbia has been pushed back to the fore with the admission by Serbian officials that the Srebrenica massacre was carried out by Serbian security officials which in turn stimulated the memory of the failure of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers to protect those who appealed to them for help at the U.N. compound, a failure for which the Dutch government at the time apologized and then resigned.

Iran is piling on: they have rejected any further restrictions on their weapon programs and demands to be recognized as a nuclear power:

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi accused France, Britain and Germany -- who have drawn up a tough new document that accuses Iran of not cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency -- of bowing to pressure from the United States.
See what I mean? Iran, which is known for its violation of human rights and a known sponsor of terror, need only pull the anti-US card and millions of progressive, peaceloving people will line up to defend Iran's right to terrorize the world - and Israel - with a nuclear holocaust.

Some of those nuts live in the United States. One of those nuts in running for president: Senator John Kerry, who actually believes that we can pursue detente with North Korea and Iran as we attempted with the Soviet Union.

President Reagan's final gift to the USA may have been the timing of his death which not only coincided with D-Day, a major military offensive in the fight against fascism, but also led to the recollection that he defeated communism by his firm resolve to stand up to the Soviet Union and match them missile for missile rather than meekly pretending they were anything less than evil.

Detente failed. Unyielding principles won, and we were dealing with comparatively sane people in the Soviet Union. Would anyone dare to make the same claims about the North Korean or Iranian governments?

Canadians who are pretending to be terrified of social conservatives coming to power in Canada would, if they were honest, be lying prostrate on the floor in a cold faint at the mere thought of Iranian social conservatives but they aren't because it's all about the propaganda, not the reality.

Posted by Debbye at 05:39 PM | Comments (4)

June 08, 2004

Zahra Kazemi - All about the oil?

June 8 - Via Paul, Stephan Hachemi, Zahra Kazemi's son, has written a hard-hitting letter to the editor of the National Post which, given the short link life at the Post, I'm going to quote in full:

June 3, 2004

To former prime minister Jean Chretien:

Like many Canadians, I recently learned of your coming visit to Iran as a representative of a Calgary-based oil company. It is reported that the purpose of your trip is to conclude a deal with the Iranian government on behalf of this firm.

I write to congratulate you.

Your failure to ensure justice was served in the case of my mother, Zahra Kazemi -- who was murdered by the Iranian regime while you were prime minister -- has apparently paid off: You are now most welcome in Tehran.

Last June, my mother was arrested without cause by agents of the Iranian government, who then beat and tortured her to death. No doubt, you remember the case and so are well-informed of the systematic violations of human rights that take place in Iran, as well as the circumstances that surround the killing of my mother.

And yet, knowing this, you are off to shake hands with representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the executioners who less than a year ago had my mother murdered.

I can only thank you for doing this now, Mr. Chretien -- for you are demonstrating clearly what a charade Canada's fervent defence of human rights is. Despite your speeches about human rights when you were at the head of our government, you are now conferring your personal prestige on Iran's regime, and by extension its crimes against humanity.

Bravo, Mr. Chretien. I knew I could count on you to take the veil off your government's hypocrisy. The politics that you practice now show how your government favours "business as usual" before human rights. Congratulations.

Stephan Hachemi, Montreal.

I'm not bashing Canada here, because Sen. John F(reaking) Kerry has done something equally disgusting: his primarary Iranian supporter, Hassan Nemazee, is suing the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran for $10 million in damages a move which the SMCCDI regards as frivolous but could restrict their ability to keep the Democrats honest in their dealings with Iran.

Read the whole thing; it is disturbing and raises some questions that should be directed at Sen. Kerry.

Sen. Kerry has already indicated his willingness to treat with the mullahs of Iran, in a move which may be cynical (maybe it's all about the oil!!!!) or could be appeasement but which amounts to a flagrant dismissal of the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people. Small wonder US Old Media coverage of the Iranian elections and subsequent demonstrations received so little air time.

As Americans and Canadians, do we support tyrants or those who yearn for freedom? Are we appeasers of murderous despots or do we actually believe in those human rights we are so quick to claim to revere?

Those issues may not seem as urgent or important as bread-and-butter issues, but if we lose our freedom to work and raise our families without fear we will lose the true meaning of freedom.

Election campaign coverage has a way of obscuring issues by focusing on the sound bites instead of the substance of remarks, but President Reagan's death has reminded us that indeed there are pivotal events that can lead either to victory or become yet another missed opportunity.

Would I rather rejoice because millions of Iraqis are entering a new era of freedom or bewail the fact that the French are annoyed with us for ignoring their advice?

Posted by Debbye at 07:24 PM | Comments (2)

April 25, 2004

Marine Barracks bombing mastermind involved in Iraq, backed by Iran

Apr. 25 - There have been sporadic reports in the media about Iranian backing and funding of Muqtada al'Sadr and his aspirations, but this latest report has the markings of Stop! Look! Think!: Beirut veteran blamed over Basra attacks. Excerpts:

A leading Lebanese terrorist accused of blowing up the American embassy in Beirut in the 1980s is being held responsible for the increase in suicide bomb attacks against coalition targets in southern Iraq.

Western intelligence officials have uncovered evidence that the attacks are being co-ordinated by Imad Mugniyeh, a leading figure in Lebanon's extremist Hizbollah Shia Muslim terror organisation.

Washington has accused Mugniyeh of blowing up the American embassy and the United States marine compound in Beirut in the 1980s, killing more than 300 US officials and troops.

The link to the FBI was on the Telegraph web page.

Mugniyeh, who is now in his fifties and has a close relationship with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, has been based in Teheran since the end of the Lebanese civil war, and is also known to have close links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network.

Intelligence officials in Iraq have uncovered evidence that Mugniyeh has been helping to train the self-styled al-Mahdi army set up by Moqtada al-Sadr, the dissident Iraqi Shia leader.

Mugniyeh, the head of Hizbollah's external security apparatus, has deployed scores of Lebanese Hizbollah fighters in Iraq, and set up secret training camps along the southern part of the border with Iran.

The Hizbollah fighters are working closely with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, with whom they developed a close relationship during the 1980s when their terror tactics forced the Reagan administration to withdraw US forces from Beirut.

Attempts by Iranian hardliners to encourage attacks on coalition targets are being undertaken against the wishes of the Iranian government, which earlier this month sent a team of diplomats to Iraq to persuade Sadr to end his stand-off with American troops.

But at the same time as Iranian officials were negotiating with Sadr, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's hardline spiritual leader, was circulating a cassette tape in Arabic to a number of Iraqi mosques in which he called on the Iraqis to "unite and expel the occupiers to ensure the establishment of a new power based on Islam".

A commentary in the Washington Times, Iran's covert actions in Iraq, by Constantine C. Menges covers some more background (although it doesn't name Imad Mugniyeh) and concludes with this:

President Bush has spoken eloquently and often about the Iranian people's right to freedom. Now he needs to instruct his State Department to cease all its open and secret "dialogue and engagement" activities with the clerical regime. These legitimatize the dictatorship and discourage those in Iran who might otherwise act to bring about a democratic future.

Taking these actions now in Iraq and encouraging the Iranian people to liberate themselves this summer could result in two democracies. Otherwise, there is grave risk the removal of Iraq's Saddam Hussein will ultimately result in two Irans — two Shi'ite extremist regimes in the region.
Axis. Of. Evil.

Kerry wants to normalize relationships with Iran, which means abandoning the pro-democracy forces in Iran and granting the the mullahs legitimacy. He brings new meaning to the phrase "useful fool."

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, France

Apr. 19 - There were persistent rumours throughout last winter that a spring offensive would be launched against Syria, possibly in Lebanon. Many bloggers, including me, backed off when we suddenly realized that the rumours were probably true.

One of the older rumours asserted that WMD were hidden in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. My oldest complains that we Americans communicate as much by what we don't say as by what we do say; for example, I interpreted the president's joke about searching his office for WMD as saying Yes, we are still looking for them. I also interpret the fact that the administration has not said that there were no WMD in Iraq as asserting that intelligence still believes that they were there and the rumours and spin around WMD are a smokescreen to confuse the enemy.

Saddam's WMD weren't central to my support of the Iraq War; removing Saddam and Iraq's geographical position were. Nevertheless, finding them is a priority. The fact that Jordan hasn't released specifics about the chemicals that were to be used in the thwarted attack is suggestive but inconclusive and highly frustrating. Is the lack of specificity to hide intelligence or to produce rumours? Take your pick.

Despite the certainty stated by King Abdullah of Jordan that Assad was not involved in the thwarted terrorist attack, the firefights on the Syrian border with Iraq are extremely suggestive: either Assad isn't doing anything to stop them or he is passing information to both the Jordanians and the US.

I think it more likely he is trying to do both, but my view is skewed by the fact that I don't trust him.

Apr. 22 11:30 Further speculation that this could be connected to Saddam's missing WMD.

Wretchard concludes

Indeed, it is virtually certain that Al-Qaim, Ramadi and Fallujah and the road network from Baghdad constitute a single "front" centered on Syria, whose principal axis is the Euphrates itself. Operations in Fallujah cannot be understood without putting it in the context of the wider area.
Read the report on the front at al-Ramadi by Oliver North: Back in Iraq if you haven't already done so not only for a military analysis of what is happening there but also to restate what is a major strategy in Iraq: encouraging the people there to participate in their own nation building.

That practice is contrary to the politics of victimology. For all the modern psychobabble about "empowerment," our touchy-feely philosophers back away from actually allowing people true power over their lives. It's all very well to claim you feel my pain, but insulting when you're causing it.

The US media, with notable exceptions, continues bewail that the U.N. isn't going to take charge. The American people who follow the news, meanwhile, are watching the stymied independent U.N. investigation as well as the Senate investigation into the U.N. Oil for Food program and more questions about the viability of the UN are being raised.

[Aside: I noted that Glenn Reynolds has referred to it as UNScam.]

In the classic definition of conservative, those trying to preserve institutions and social attitudes despite their lack of relevance but strictly for preservation's sake are the conservatives. The U.N. is an excellent case in point, and the argument that it should be preserved "because we don't have anything better" is a classic conservative argument; a classic liberal response would be "let's build a better institution."

Do we need new definitions? Maybe liberal-conservative and conservative-liberals might fit the reality if not the emotional.

Sometimes I think the real war is between the Departments of State and Defense. Michael Ledeen has a brilliant essay in the Opinion Journal The Iranian Hand that notes revelations by the Italian intelligence agency

That the war being waged by Shiite militants throughout Iraq is not just a domestic "insurgency" has been documented by the Italian Military Intelligence Service (Sismi). In a report prepared before the current wave of violence, Sismi predicted "a simultaneous attack by Saddam loyalists" all over the country, along with a series of Shiite revolts.
The Italians knew that these actions were not just part of an Iraqi civil war, nor a response to recent actions taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority against the forces of Sadr. According to Italian intelligence, the actions were used as a pretext by local leaders of the factions tied to an Iran-based ayatollah, Kazem al-Haeri, who was "guided in his political and strategic choices by ultraconservative Iranian ayatollahs in order to unleash a long planned general revolt." The strategic goal of this revolt, says Sismi, was "the establishment of an Islamic government of Khomeinist inspiration." The Italian intelligence agency noted that "the presence of Iranian agents of influence and military instructors has been reported for some time." Our own government will not say as much publicly, but Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, have recently spoken of "unhelpful actions" by Iran (and Syria).

[...]

The editor of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah recently wrote a front-page editorial saying that Hezbollah and Hamas were working with Sadr, "backed by the ruling religious fundamentalists in Tehran and the nationalist Baathists in Damascus." No classified information was required for that claim, since Sadr himself has publicly proclaimed that his militia is the fighting arm of both Hezbollah and Hamas. Nonetheless, the State Department still doesn't believe--or won't admit publicly--that there's a connection between Sadr's uprising and Iran's mullahs. Just last week, State's deputy spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters that "We've seen reports of Iranian involvement, collusion, provocation, coordination, etc., etc. But I think there's a dearth of hard facts to back these things up."

One wonders what Foggy Bottom's analysts make of Sadr's recent visit to Iran, when he met with Hashemi Rafsanjani (the No. 2 power in the regime), Murtadha Radha'i (head of intelligence for the Revolutionary Guards) and Brig. Gen. Qassim Suleimani (the al-Quds Army commander in charge of Iraqi affairs). And what might they say about the fact that much of Sadr's funding comes straight from Ayatollah al-Haeri, one of the closest allies of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?

Ledeen is being rhetorical. We know how Foggy Bottom thinks: maintain the illusion of friendship and cooperation whatever the cost, including lives.
Above all, they [the American people] want to hear our leaders state clearly and repeatedly--as Ronald Reagan did with the "Evil Empire"--that regime change in Iran is the goal of American policy. Thus far, they have heard conflicting statements and mealy-mouthed half truths of the sort presented by Mr. Ereli, along with astonishing proclamations, such as the one by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in which he averred that Iran is "a democracy." (One wonders whether he will liken Muqtada al-Sadr to Patrick Henry.)
Fortunately, we don't have to rely on the State Department for news out of Iran. Feminists in particular might take note of this story from The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran which recounts the rescue of a woman who was taken into custody for "non-Islamic comformity."

The details of the evidence which led to the issuing of an arrest warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr in the murder of Abdul Majeed al-Khoei poses one glaring question: to what extent, if any, was Iran implicated in that murder? Al-Sadr has openly proclaimed his solidarity with Hezbollah and Hamas - based to the east and to the west of Iraq - and I think it more likely that his solidarity was a statement of fact rather than an attempt to form a coalition.

Mr. Armitage (and the State Department) might also read the open letter to Congress of March 11 before he pronounces Iran to be a democracy. As for Sen. Kerry's blunderous call to drop sanctions against Iran, he will probably try to flip-flop-flip on that too but certainly the pro-democracy forces in Iran won't be fooled.

I suspect that cleaning up State will be a post-election endeavour given Bush's victory, but the cost of allowing them to continue to set their own policies may turn out to be high indeed.

I include France in this because of a that French passports are missing: 10,000 in February (6,300 were stolen on Feb. 3 and 3,000 disappeared on Feb. 10.) The story also notes that

The Feb. 3 incident, the FBI said, also included the theft of 5,000 blank French driver's licenses, 10,000 blank car ownership certificates, 25 titres de voyages (Geneva Convention travel documents) and 1,000 international driver's licenses without any identification numbers.
There are reasons other than terrorist-related to steal passports, of course, and the number of French passports missing is minor compared to Canada's 25,000 annual rate.

Relationship to Iran? Possibly none, or possibly another dot to the French-built nuclear facility.

Aside: Stealth posting is a pain. I don't have the time necessary to paintakingly link everything from past events much less draw definitive conclusions from current events.

But I doubt I really need to connect things for most readers and do it more to clarify my own thoughts.

Disclaimer over. And I am so far behind in my (ahem) real work.

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004

Keeping Iran to the fore

Apr. 14 - A couple of days ago, Roger Simon wrote an impassioned post on the need to remember the dangers Iran poses to every country and the need to keep to the fore the struggle by Iranians against their mullocracies in It's Iran, Stupid! - A Message to the Blogosphere.

Yesterday, Roger linked to an essay by an Iranian, Dariush Shirazi, here which, among other things, questions why the world is so reluctant to support the efforts for democracy in Iraq.

On April 11, he also noted here the ties of Iran to the insurgents in Iraq and a NY Post editorial Iran, Hezbollah aid Crazed Cleric.

I'm bring this out of draft mode now because of a new post up on Roger's site about an uprising outside Tehran.

The Student Movement Coordintion Committee for Democracy in Iran has an entry on their page dated yesterday about it here.

More later.

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2004

Two fronts in Iraq

April 6 - A long, hard day. We said we would pay the price, and we knew it would include our tears. God bless the men and women who serve, and remember our allies: one Ukranian, one Salvadorean have been confirmed killed by enemy fire. (I'd also heard that 2 Spanish soldiers have been killed.)

The enemy's mistakes

Another mistake

Apr. 4 - Mustapha Yacoubi, close associate of Muqtada al-Sadr, arrested Apr. 3. Muqtada al-Sadr issues call to arms

In Najaf, two allied soldiers were killed, 20 Iraqis died and 210 were wounded after gunmen among 5,000 demonstrators opened fire at a base for Spanish soldiers.

In Amarah, near Basra, British troops were involved in fighting which led to four Iraqis dying.

Apr. 5 - Warrant for arrest of Muqtada al-Kadr issued by Iraqi judge for the Apr. 10, 2003, stabbing murder of Abdel-Majid al-Khoei killed outside a shrine in Najaf.
U.S. officials said the warrant against al-Sadr was issued months ago by an Iraqi judge and that Iraqis only now want to carry it out.
Apr. 6 - Marines lock down Fallujah

Taking car of some long, overdue business.

Apr. 6 - Fighting in Ramadi

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- As many as a dozen U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday in heavy fighting in the western Iraq town of Ramadi, the latest in a series of clashes with anti-coalition elements, Pentagon officials said.

The large-scale attack was mounted by suspected remnants of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, officials said.

Coalition forces fighting on two fronts
Backers of fiery anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked coalition forces in three cities — Italians in Nasiriyah, Britons in Samawah and Ukrainians in Kut — after a weekend of fighting that was especially intense in the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said U.S. troops have captured a number of people in Fallujah in the last 36 hours.

"They have photographs of a good many people who were involved in the attacks against the individuals and they have been conducting raids in the city against high-value targets," Rumsfeld said.

At the moment, about 135,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq — "an unusually high level," Rumsfeld said. American officials had expected to go down to about 115,000 troops when a series of rotations of new troops into and older troops out of the country was complete, Rumsfeld said.

Note: I wish I could remember which genius over a month ago mentioned that troop levels would be at an unusually high level. Good call.
The United States declared al-Sadr an "outlaw" after his militiamen battled coalition troops Sunday in Baghdad and outside Najaf in fights that killed 61 people — including eight U.S. soldiers.
New al Qaeda tape attributed to Zarqawi.

New al Qaeda tape takes responsibility for the Canal Hotel bombing Aug. 19, and attacks on

"the coalition forces in Karbala, the Italians in Nasiriya, the American forces in the Al-Khaldiya Bridge, the American intelligence in the Al-Shahine Hotel, the CPA in Baghdad, the CIA in the Al-Rashid Hotel, and the Polish military in Al-Hilla."
Portions call for religious warfare:
Al-Zarqawi was especially hostile toward the Shiite majority, calling them "idolaters" and traitors who allied themselves with "the enemies of Islam to seize control over Sunni Iraq."
Boasting about the death they have brought to Iraq taking credit for the bombing of the Mount Lebanon Hotel March 17 and the car bomb that killed Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr al-Hakim Aug. 29.
One theme of the tape echoed that of a letter U.S. authorities released earlier this year in which al-Zarqawi purportedly wrote to other al-Qaida leaders that the best way to undermine U.S. policy in Iraq was to turn the country's religious communities against each other.

Iraq's Shiite majority was suppressed under toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who favoured his own Sunni community. Saddam loyalists in heavily Sunni parts of the country and foreign fighters have been blamed for the bulk of attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

On the tape, the speaker said Shiite Iraqis were not true Muslims and were "the ears and the eyes of the Americans" in Iraq. He called upon Sunni Muslims in Iraq to "burn the earth under the occupiers' feet."

Beware the Tet Offensive Syndrome!

UPI editorialist Arnaud de Borchgrave agrees.

We're clearing some extremely bad characters out of Iraq. I fail to see that as being a problem.

Apr. 7 01:22: Expat Yank covers the view from the other side of the Atlantic.

And a new weapon has been unveiled by the Pentagon.

01:50: The British are also in the midst of troop rotations. 700 of 5,000 troops going into Iraq flew in today (Wednesday.) (Via Rantburg, who also has a good summary of Tuesday's events here.)

The Scotsman explains why the Iraqi elections should not be delayed.

Posted by Debbye at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2004

Nexus of Terrorism

Mar. 19 - I fell asleep on the couch shortly after No. 1 Son left last night. I wonder why? The real question: am I looking too closely, or are there signs that al Qaeda and other terrorists have started a major counter-offensive? Events in Syria and Iran indicate that the forces for freedom are also on the move.

Mar. 2 - Multiple attacks on Shiite commemoration of Ashura in Iraq.

Mar. 4 - Abdul Raouf Naseeb captured in Yemen.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahaman Khadr admits family closely connected to al Qaeda

Mar. 4 - Sunni and Shiite clerics march together in Iraq to protest terrorism.

Mar. 4 - Insurrection in Iran.

Mar. 4 - Abdurahman Khadr says he was a CIA agent in Bosnia.

Mar. 5 - Palestinian civil war begins?

Mar. 8 - Interim Iraq Constitution signed

Mar. 8 - Int'l Women's Day march in Iran attacked by security forces

Mar. 9 - North Korea issues rhetoric, withdraws from meaningful talks

Mar. 9 - Abu Abbas dies

Mar. 11 - Terrorist attack in Spain.

Mar. 12 - Millions of Spaniards demonstrate against terrorism

Mar. 13 - Uprisings in Iran

Mar. 14 - Elections in Spain, appeasers voted in.

Mar. 14 - Two terrorist attacks in Ashod, Israel, kills 10

Mar. 15 - Israel retaliates

Mar. 15 - New Spanish government announces they will withdraw from Iraq.

Mar. 15 - Polish government says Fine, we'll carry on without Spain

Mar. 15 - Uprisings in Syria, Iran.

Mar. 15 - Vandals in north Toronto target homes of Jewish citizens with anti-Semitic graffiti.

Mar. 16 - Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir (aka Kahlid Ali Hajj, "The Poet") killed in Saudi Arabia

Mar. 16 - Group with possible Chechen links threaten French over head-scarf ban

Mar. 17 - Mount Lebanon Hotel in Baghdad hit by car bomb

Mar. 17 - Renewal of violence in Kosovo.

**Mar. 17 - Spain goverment received communique dated Mar. 15 claiming to be from al Qaeda which declared a cease-fire with Spain.

Mar. 18 - Pakistan troops heavily engaged in battle in north, may have surrounded al Zawahiri.

Mar. 18 - Additional troops go into Kosovo in response to renewed violence.

Mar. 18 - British announce additional 650 (+-) British troops to be deployed to Kosovo which will be augmented by US and Italian forces.

**Mar. 18 - Second communique claming to be from al Qaeda threatens further attacks in retaliation for death of Khaled Ali Hajj (aka Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, The Poet) in Saudia Arabia.

**Mar. 18 - Attempted assassination of Jose Murat, Governor of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Mar. 19 - President and Vice-President of Taiwan shot by would-be assassins and a FARC plot to assassinate the president of Columbia has been thwarted.

Mar. 19 - First of British troops land in Kosovo; an additional 600 German troops are also to be deployed.

Mar. 19 - French restaurant in Bahrain stormed by Islamists angered by alcohol served. Cars of restaurant patrons hit with Molotov cocktails.

**Mar. 19 - Car bomb in Basra kills 3 people, angry residents catch bomber and kill him:

A man who left the vehicle shortly before the blast was caught by passers-by and stabbed to death, said police Lt.-Col. Ali Kazem. Two others spotted getting out of the vehicle were caught by members of the public and later arrested.
Three Iraqi journalists killed, nine wounded in by drive-by shooting, three US soldiers killed by mortar fire.

Mar. 19 - Plans for the Pakistan-India cricket match remain firm. (I see a major political message in this sports event.)

I left some things out, including the letter purporting to be from al Qaeda declaring a cease-fire in Spain and today's bomb threat targeting DC schools.

Do you suppose the seeming simultaneity is what Sec. of State Colin Powell meant when he used the expression a nexus of terrorism to describe the link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein during his UN presentation last year?

These events may be linked on purpose or they may have inspired one another, but anyone who understands that we are at war might also believe that terrorists are being flushed out into the open.

Others will doubtless say that the events are a direct result of US intervention in Iraq, but there were so many events which preceeded that war that I don't think it an adequate explanation.

**late additions to list

Posted by Debbye at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2004

Insurrection in Iran

Mar. 13 - Both Damian Penny and Roger Simon are covering the story of an uprising in North Iran.

Nothing on this in the mainstream media yet.

Posted by Debbye at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2004

Iran

Mar. 9 - Kathy has 3 links to the events of International Women's Day in Iran as well as an analysis of how women's rights there have been eroded here. There's a nice summation of Christianne Amanpour in the first one, and given that CNN already kept the truth about Iraq to themselves under the Saddam regime, I'm not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt in their failure to report much of what's happening in Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

Interesting Links

Mar. 9 - Some interesting links:

Paul has a new Mugabe Watch item that makes for hard reading about the abuses endured by girls Inside Mugabe's Camps of Horrors.

Ith firmly debunks those who, as "Families of Sept. 11," denounced the visuals of the devastation after the attack used by the Bush ads and guess what! There's a money trail straight back to the Kerrys. (And Glenn Reynolds has more links to the issue here.)

Kathy is tired of "-gate" being affixed to every scandal and links to an article that suggests the internal memos of the Democrats reveal the delays on approving judicial nominations were a deliberate obstruction of justice.

Jen has some news for the Saudi clerics who've issued a fatwa forbidding the faithful from watching or listening to the new US television station Al-Hurra because she knows human nature!

Rita links to a speech to the Senate that proves that Sen. Joe Lieberman has remained firm and true to his principles:

We cannot allow a singular quest for electoral victory to impede the more important quest for victory over terrorism, a victory that will enable the American people to feel fully secure again here at home, our soldiers to return from Iraq and the Iraqi people to enjoy the blessings of liberty which it is America's historic mission to advance and defend.

As important as our party's victory is for each of us, it is not more important than a victory against terrorism for all of us.

Andrea Harris is sick of the pretzel language we're stuck with and asks "Is it just me, or does the new habit of using the words "female" and "male" where the words "man" or "woman" used to be used grate on the ears of others than myself?"

The Essay doesn't suffer foolish salesmen gladly.

Roger L. Simon takes note of an International Women's Day parade in Iran that was attacked by regime forces.

Posted by Debbye at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2004

Insurrection in Iran

Mar. 4 - Caught this at Roger Simon's place: Project: FREE IRAN! - UPDATED News on Anti-Regime Riots & Civil-Disobedience

Mar 2, 2004
Thousands of Iranians seized, this evening and for the 2nd consecutive night, the religious ritual of Ashura in order to come into the streets and to show their rejection of the theocratic regime.

Slogans qualifying the regime as tyrannical and despotic were mixed to the noise of fire crackers and gave again a total different aspect than a religious mourning which the regime has based on it one of its ideological bases. Many slogans accused the regime to be the real mastermind behind the today's deadly explosions of Karbala and Baghdad as many Iranians still remember the scandal over the bombing of the 8th Imam of the Shi-a, in Mashad, which was in reality carried by agents of the Islamic regime instead of opponents who were executed few years ago for such charge.

Sporadic clashes leading to injuries and arrests, among the demonstrators and also the regime forces, rocked several areas of the Capital and also several provincial cities, such as Esfahan and Shiraz. Hand Made grenades and incendiary devices responded to the regime's men clubs, chains and tear gas which were used against young Iranians striving for freedom and an end to the promotion of the culture of mourning.

Several security patrol were damaged by the incendiary devices thrown by the crowd angered by the persistent repression and back warded ideology.

Most perimeters to Madar, Mirdamad, Zarab Khaneh Shahrak Gharb, Tehran Pars, Narmak, Vanak, Eslam Shahr, Dolat, Tajrish and Vali- e-Asr (former Vali-Ahd) were closed in the Capital due to the wide scale demos and sporadic clashes. The same security measure were instated by the regime's local forces in the cities of Esfahan, Abadan and Shiraz.

Has there been any mention of these demonstrations in the mainstream media?

Posted by Debbye at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Kerry and Iranian Elections

Feb. 24 - Michael Ledeen on the The Great Iranian Election Fiasco:

The regime clearly intends to clamp down even harder in the immediate future. Hints of this were seen in the run-up to the election, when Internet sites and foreign broadcasts were jammed, the few remaining opposition newspapers shut down, and thousands of security forces poured into the major cities. One wonders whether any Western government is prepared to speak the truth about Iran, or whether they are so determined to arrive at make-believe deals - for terrorists that are never delivered, for promises to stop the nuclear program, that are broken within minutes of their announcement, or for help fighting terrorism while the regime does everything in its power to support the terrorists - that they will play along and pretend, as Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has put it, that "Iran is a democracy."

For those interested in exposing hypocrisy, it is hard to find a better example than all those noble souls who denounced Operation Iraqi Freedom as a callous operation to gain control over Iraqi oil, but who remain silent as country after country, from Europe to Japan, appeases the Iranian tyrants precisely in order to win oil concessions.

Meanwhile, the only Western leader who consistently speaks the truth about Iran is President George W. Bush, and the phony intellectuals of the West continue to call him a fool and a fascist. Meanwhile, his most likely Democrat opponent, Senator John Kerry, sends an e-mail to Tehran Times, Iran's official English-language newspaper, promising that relations between the United States and Iran would improve enormously if Kerry were to be elected next November.

That last bit, the overtures by Sen. Kerry to the mullahs, is hardly in the spirit of the real JFK, John F. Kennedy.

Many people, both domestically and internationally, put themselves out on a limb when they denounced action in Iraq and called for policies of negotiation and containment for Iran and North Korea. The Democrat primary season is already full of those who would rather talk with those who openly call for our destruction than take a strong, firm stance (backed up by the proven willingness to use force) and those candidates ignore the biggest problem with their position: that the suggested containment is for countries that have developed sophisticated work-arounds for trade sanctions, and the suggested negotiations are with countries that have consistently violated treaties.

A fascinating aspect of the nuclear arms trade uncovered since Libya chose to disarm voluntarily is the far-flung international network set up to disseminate nuclear weapons technology and the success with which these programs operated under the noses of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I would like to see the remaining Democrat hopefuls address these issues and explain how trusting our defense and lives to their appeasement policies is safeguarding the future.

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2004

Iran's Election Aftermath

Feb. 22 - From the IHT, Eight Iranians are dead in two incidents between protesters and police in the aftermath of Friday's elections.

Four people, including one police officer, died in Firouzabad in the Fars province in southern Iran. After a crowd marching to the governor's office to demand a recount was fired upon and one person wounded, the crowd grew and three civilians and a policeman were killed.

An additional four were killed in Izeh in the Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran when police and demonstrators clashed in a protest over election results.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: From reports from the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran and Iran va Jahan: there were additional protests at election fraud in Dehdasht where between two and nine people are reportedly killed, and this link says that the outgoing MP in Izeh was beaten by the bodyguards of a judicial official after pointing out the cheatings, went into a coma and died (that adds considerably more context to the clashes there than the first link.)

A conscript soldier was reportedly killed in clashes in Firoozabad, Fars (it's not certain which side he was on and if his death was the one said to be of a police officer in the IHT article) but the article doesn't mention further deaths. The people have set fire to the banks in Estefan in response to financial fraud.

The reports state that the security forces are composed of those who support the hardliners as well as Afghanis and Iraqi refugees here and here.

(Links via Kthy at On the Third Hand.)

Pedram has written a wonderful movie version of the situation in Iran "Hollywood style" to respond to those who wonder why the Iranians don't just Get up & get rid of their tyrants. It's incredibly funny and sad and truthful.

Posted by Debbye at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2004

Iran Elections

Feb. 21 - Some reports from Iran:

A number of election day observations at iranFilter that indicate the pressure to have evidence that you voted stamped on your ID card was intense, there were a lot of police guarding the polls and some other things noticed that were out of the ordinary.

The eyeranian added updates during the day as well as a report on some jerrymandering that was caught out. Keep scrolling, he's got some interesting things to say on a lot of subjects.

IRVAJ English

One student preparing to take her university entrance exams was told that if she had a stamp, then the academic authorities would look upon her more favourably – she would be seen as having done her civic duty.

Some of those turning up for stamps, and others just making a stand, have submitted blank ballots. Even reformist candidates who had not been disqualified boycotted the election. It's a big movement.

Read the whole thing.

(Last link via Kathy)

Posted by Debbye at 02:44 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2004

Elections in Iran

Feb. 20 - Some quick hits about today's elections: Telegraph (UK) reporter David Blair compares attitudes toward the USA in Iran including something I didn't know:

Some of those who scaled the embassy walls in 1979 are now among the reformist politicians who have been disqualified from contesting today's parliamentary election.
Memories of the Embassy takeover doubtless plague Americans as well as our leaders, but from what I've read around the blogosphere, Americans are increasingly impressed by those waging the struggle for freedom over there and that's the best cure for past grudges.

Americans never met a freedom fighter they didn't take to heart. We're weird that way, if not always accurate in our assessment. But in Iran, actions - or in this case, inaction - are speaking louder than words as they could face prosecution for failing to vote.

But Eye on Iran notes that streets are empty and that there have been reports of police finding truckloads of fake Iranian ID booklets which may indicate an attempt to artificially inflate the number of votes.

Keep checking Iran Filter today for news about the elections, and keep some good thoughts for those in Iran who are facing one of their biggest challenges in recent years.

Just another quick point: we often forget that Iranian bloggers are working underground, and that if caught, they are jailed. How much we take our freedoms for granted here . . .

UPDATE: The BBC is reporting that polling hours have been extended because, according to the Persian government, too many people want to vote (or is that too few?)

UPDATE: David Frum issues a call to Pres. Bush to formulate policy and strategy for Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2004

Elections in Iran

Feb. 19 - Tomorrow are the Iranian national elections. The banning of thousands of candidates, including some sitting parliamentarians, has led to calls for a boycott of the elections, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi has announced she will not vote, the Council of Guardians has made threats against boycotters, and the Ayatollah Khameini has told Iranians to vote.

The office of the main reform party, the Islamic Iran Partipation Front, was closed and sealed and two newspapers which supports the reformers were also shut down today by authorities in Iran. hoder writes from Iran:

If we really needed one thing to stop the more traditional supporters of the reform from voting, that'd be it, the closure of two major papers.
He also expresses fear that shutting down the one paper, Yaas-e No, which was the only publication permitted to be published by the main reformist party, is a prelude to shutting down the party.

The outcome of the vote is pre-determined, but the question is how many will defy the Ayatollah and boycott the elections?

Michael Ledeen at the National Review has an interesting piece up, and some of the rumours parallel those we heard last summer during the student demonstrations - that the police wouldn't break up the demonstations - with stories that soldiers from the regular army joined demonstrators in Marivan in west Iran 5 days ago.

Not all legislators have been as weak-willed as President Khatami:

The other great lesson is that many Iranians, when pushed to the wall by the tyrants, do indeed have the courage to fight back. In an unprecedented step, more than 100 reformers issued a letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei, in which they used language more traditionally reserved for greater and lesser satans in Washington and Jerusalem. They surely know that punishment will be severe, but they did it anyway. One fine day such shows of courage will inspire the Iranian people to defend them en masse, fill the public spaces of the major cities with demonstrators, and demand an end to the regime.
Some of the letter's contents are here, and Bob expresses his admiration for those who signed the letter and hopes they will be remembered for generations to come.

After a rundown of some of the candidates, Ledeen includes a chilling piece of information:

The chief of staff of the armed forces has cancelled all leaves for all military personnel starting Tuesday for one week. All soldiers have been commanded to cast their ballots in the elections on Friday, as have all members of the revolutionary guards and all air force personnel.
The fact that they have been ordered to vote is one thing, but the real threat is that all leaves are cancelled so the military is effectively in a state of alert.

There is an inherent problem with sending in the army to quell civil demonstration: the soldiers have families and communities, and they are unwilling to fire on a crowd of civilians who may include people they know. Furthermore, many soldiers are sympathetic to the aims of the demonstrators and know that many reforms passed by Parliament were rejected by the Council of Guardians.

The earthquake in Bam angered a great many Iranians who understood fully that the death toll was so high because the government was not using the wealth of the nation to upgrade the homes much less the lives of its citizens, and there is deep suspicion that the explosion that killed so many yesterday was due to the aging brake system on trains that were poorly maintained.

The elections will be covered by bloggers according to Hosseim Derakhshan (you can read his call to blog here) and they will have a site in English here for what he is calling the 9/11 for the Persian blogosphere.

I find it wryly amusing that CNN has discovered that there are Iranian bloggers and their numbers include women. Too bad CNN doesn't read Instapundit or they'd know that was hardly news.

Posted by Debbye at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

Iran Train Explosion

Feb. 19 - The death toll has risen to 320 and injuries to 460 from the explosion that killed 182 firefighters and flattened homes in five villages after an unattended freight train rolled out of a station before dawn and, after traveling 31 miles and reaching speeds of more than 90 mph, all but 3 of 51 cars derailed when it came to a turn near Khayyam and jumped the track.

The train had caught on fire after derailing and burned for nearly 5 hours. It was nearly extinguished when fertilizer, gasoline and industrial chemicals which were aboard exploded. The explosion measured 3.6 on the Richter scale and left a 50-foot deep crater. The firefighters, rescue workers, Governor Mojtaba Farahmand-Nekou, and officials from the city of Neyshabur including the fire chief and mayor who were on the scene were killed instantly.

The AP article makes for difficult reading, and it's even harder when we remember the devastating Bam earthquake last December that killed more than 41,000 people.

More than 20,000 mourners lined the streets as the flag-draped body of their governor, Mojtaba Farahmand-Nekou, was driven through the nearby city of Neyshabur.

The cause of the derailment has not been established, but investigators are looking at negligence or brake failure.

The Toronto Sun has coverage here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

Iran Train Explosion

Feb. 18 - Grim news from Iran: 200 dead in a massive explosion and train derailment in northeastern Iran.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Runaway train cars carrying fuel, fertilizer and industrial chemicals derailed and exploded in northeastern Iran on Wednesday, killing more than 200 people, injuring hundreds more and devastating five nearby villages, the government news agency said.

Most of the known dead were fire and rescue workers, who died in the blast hours after the train cars derailed and caught fire. Officials in the city of Neyshabur - including the local governor, mayor and fire chief - were among those killed. (Emphasis added)

I emphasized that part because it serves as a reminder that fire and rescue workers around the world put themselves in danger so that others can be saved. Our losses on Sept. 11 are still of bitter memory, and it even flashes me back to Chernobyl, come to think of it.

Further down in the story, they are estimating that approximately 182 of the dead were firefighters.

Is it just me, or have those fire and rescue workers have truly earned their places in Paradise? The theory of jihad as a personal struggle which might involve actions like defusing land mines in Afghanistan, for example, says they did. May they rest in peace.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2004

Zahra Kazemi

Feb. 16 - A witness has come forward to provide more information about the events that led to Zahra Kazemi's death last July while under detention in an Iranian jail. Revealed: how photographer died after Iran prison beating reports on a segment of BBC programme This World and contends that she was still alive and conscious when taken to the hospital, but was not given timely medical attention that could have saved her life.

The guards remained with Ms Kazemi while she was seen by doctors, who ordered brain scans several times. However, no scan was done for 12 hours, by which time Ms Kazemi was in a coma.

According to the BBC's This World programme, the witness said the scan showed that Ms Kazemi's head "had been hit very hard, causing severe brain damage and bleeding".

In a situation like that, the witness said, "every second is vital". Iran's health minister, Masoud Pezeshkian, has admitted that had she been treated promptly, Ms Kazemi might be alive today.

Ms. Kazemi was arrested after taking a picture of families holding a vigil outside the prison for people insaide who had been detained during the demonstrations and subsequent crackdown that month.

There's also a recount of the actual arrest:

When Ms Kazemi was first challenged, she was told to leave her camera and collect it the following day. She refused, ripping out the film to expose the frames. Her defiance ensured she was kept in prison.

"She was confronted by the authorities and asked to give the camera and the film," said Hamid Mojtahedi, a Canadian human rights lawyer with access to officials involved in Ms Kazemi's case. "She resisted."

Read the whole thing.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:08 AM | Comments (0)

Iran elections and sales of enriched uranium

Feb. 15 - Iran has announced that it will be selling enriched uranium on the international market for peaceful purposes, of course. The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.

Also, over 500 candidates have withdrawn from the elections in Iran to protest the disqualification of thousands of candidates by the Council of Guardians.

The huge 67% turnout in 2000 in which the reformers took control of Parliament had led to smaller turnouts as voters have become more apathetic as promised reforms were passed by Parliament only to be vetoed by the Council. A large turnout would be seen as support for the Council of Guardians, but current predictions are for a 30% turnout (although if I'm reading this rightly, the predictions were made before today's withdrawals.)

The ayatollah has urged a strong voter turnout in the Feb. 20 elections.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2004

Iran Elections - Boycott Called

Feb. 3 - Although the reformers have held a majority in Parliament since 2000, laws passed to ease restrictions on speech and the press have been vetoed by the hardliners on the Council of Guardians, the judiciary and police remain under the control of the Council, critics have been beaten and jailed, and 3,600 of the 8,200 who filed to run in the Feb. 20 elections were banned by the Guardians. Although 1,160 of them were reinstated, the field of candidates remains constricted such that the conservatives have guaranteed they will hold a majority after the elections.

There are 290 seats in the Iranian Parliament, and 125 resigned on Sunday to protest the ban.

These events have prompted Iran's Leading Reform Party to Boycott Election. Islamic Iran Participation Front leader Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother of Iranian Pres. Mohammad Khatami, said ""We have no hope that free and legal elections will be held on Feb. 20. Therefore, it is impossible for the Participation Front to take part in the elections under current circumstances."

[It is unclear if the following quote was made at the same press conference as the previous quote]

"Unfortunately, at a time when the world is moving toward democracy and free elections, and we have good experience of democracy, at the 25th anniversary of our revolution, we do not see conditions appropriate for healthy competition," Mohammad Reza Khatami, the party leader, said on Monday. "The government cannot be called the reformist government anymore if it goes ahead with the vote."
The Interior Ministry has appealed for a seond time to postpone elections and review more candidates. 87 sitting members of Parliament are among those banned.

The office of Akbar Alami, an outspoken member of the reformist party and one of those who resigned on Sunday, was attacked Sunday by "hard-liners" who spray-painted slogans on the walls and severely injured an employee.

A student organization is applying for permission to hold a public demonstration on Wednesday to protest the ban.

Today's editorial in the NY Times looks at the Reformer's Endgame in Iran and notes that the anticipated conservative majority in Iran's Parliament will have more implications internally than externally:

On some international issues, that may not make much difference. The conservatives support more access for international inspectors of Iranian nuclear sites and have shown themselves open to some forms of pragmatic cooperation with the United States over Afghanistan and Iraq.

Inside Iran, however, crushing the reform movement would be felt acutely. The mullahs have failed to prepare their country for the modern world. A quarter-century after its Islamic revolution, Iran remains utterly stagnant. Its economy, supported by one of the world's largest oil reserves, is mired in corruption and mismanagement, and is failing to generate jobs and prosperity. The young are keenly frustrated. By shutting off the last safety valve within the political system, the conservatives are sowing the seeds of more radical forms of discontent.

An article from yesterday's Globe and Mail ends even more ominously:
Hardliners may have to resort to extraordinary measures - perhaps even relying on the elite revolutionary guards and other armed forces - simply to hold the elections in two weeks as scheduled.
UPDATE: Today's Telegraph (UK) closes with this:
The un-elected council, custodian of Islamic law in Iran, has already rejected the possibility of postponing the elections and threatens legal action against anyone deemed to be boycotting the polls.
UPDATE: The request to hold a demonstration to protest the banning of the candidates has been denied (Via InstaNews.)

UPDATE: Michael Ledeen thinks appeasers belong in the bottom circle of Hell with traitors. In this instance, I'd say he's being generous to call them appeasers. With the current restrictions that have been placed on the Feb. elections in Iran, a visit by US elected officials at this time is back-stabbing worthy of Brutus and Cassius. (Via Roger Simon.

Posted by Debbye at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2004

Council of Guardians bans candidates

Feb. 1 - Iran's Council of Guardians has refused to allow thousands of candidates to run in the national elections scheduled for late February. The reformists have accused them of trying to control the outcome and 117 lawmakers have resigned in protest from Parliament.

Each of those who resigned will address Parliament this week explaining why he resigned and Parliament will vote on whether to accept the resignations.

Some lawmakers have appealed to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene.

Posted by Debbye at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2004

The Council of Guardians lifts ban on some candidates

Jan. 30 - The Council of Guardians has reversed their ban of about 1/3 of the candidates for next month's elections, but it doubtful that they will budge further on the remaining 2/3 although appeals has been filed. Although there has also been an appeal to postpone the elections, that postponement would also have to be approved by the Council.

I'm getting an increasingly bad feeling about the upcoming elections. President Khatami and the reformists are unwilling to break with the Ayatollah Khameini, and although I can understand it, I fear it is going to kill them especially given the tactics of the Hezbollah enforcers that we saw during last summer's student demonstrations.

Posted by Debbye at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2004

Hutton Inquiry Findings, Mugabe, Cheney on Iran, EU coruption

Jan. 25 - Hutton will clear Blair over Kelly death which is to say Blair will not be personally criticized, but Alistair Campbell and Andrew Gilligan are among those who will be. So a BBC reporter can misrepresent Dr. Kelly's statements (who should never have been speaking to the BBC to begin with) and thus violate every ethical standard of journalism to put forward his own point of view and Blair was put on the defensive? And Campbell did wrong . . . how? By standing up for the truth. No chastisement can be harsh enough for that crime.

And journalists complain that people don't watch the news or read the papers. Maybe because they don't trust big media? Hmm?

Mugabe flown to South Africa because he collapsed. Money quote:

"We were ordered not to give any details of the president's illness in case it brought people out on to the streets," a senior member of the 'Green Bombers', the notorious youth brigade created by Mr Mugabe, told The Telegraph.
Paul claims he's trying to resolve issues with his video card (or something like that) but I say he's been sacrificing chickens again. Good work! Today Mugabe, tomorrow . . . oh, kind of a big field there. I vote for Arafat, but I'll let Paul decide.

Dick Cheney is taking a hard line on Iran's Council of Guardians.

"Democracies do not breed the anger and the radicalism that drag down whole societies or export violence," he said. "Terrorists do not find fertile recruiting grounds in societies where young people have the right to guide their own destinies and to choose their own leaders."
Ineptitude in the EU?:
The report, by the parliament's budgetary control committee, notes that "no Commissioner has so far accepted political responsibility" for the fiasco at Eurostat, from which at least £3.5 million disappeared in slush funds and fictitious contracts, although some have admitted mistakes. Much of the fraud took place before the current commission took office in late 1999, but MEPs are furious that dubious contracts ran on, unchecked, until at least 2002.
Ever wonder where the UN learned its bookkeeping methodology? And these poor commissioners might receive a vote of censure! Oh, the humanity!

Posted by Debbye at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2004

The Meatriarchy on Iran

Jan. 24 - The Meatriarchy has linked back to an older post of his with some well thought-out points which concluded that Iraq might be the Wrong Domino and that Iran might have had better potential as a Mid-East country that could become run by consensual government. He's re-raised the question here (and be sure to follow the link to read Clifford Le May's article.)

I've read all three articles more than a few times today and tried to understand my reactions, and I'm suddenly wondering if perhaps I suffer from Tehran Embassy Syndrome, something akin to Somalia Syndrome and one which probably has similar roots.

I supported the removal of the Shah of Iran (he was regarded a butcher by his people,) but was shocked when the US Embassy in Tehran was seized and those within held as hostages. I've supported the movement to bring democratic reforms to Iran, but am leery of the US becoming directly involved or even supportive. I was genuinely glad that the US sent aid after the Bam earthquake, but feel myself stiffen whenever the question of re-opening diplomatic relations with Iran is raised. (I'm talking about how I feel here, not what I think.)

Sometimes memories sit in a quagmire of feelings. For example, I've never had the heart to attack former President Jimmy Carter and I think it's because I vividly remember his face and demeanor when he appeared on TV to inform the American people of the disasterous attempt to rescue the hostages. He hurt, and we all hurt with him. We had abandoned our dead, something we never do. A low point of history indeed.

In many ways, the embassy takeover spelled the end of my political innocence, and it taught me that good intentions and high-sounding, lofty ideals weren't adequate when it came to dealing with people who hate us. After all, they struck at us and called us Satan when someone as benign as Jimmy Carter was president. I knew I needed to do some re-evaluation.

Again, my evaluation of Carter is based on the personal, not the political. I lived in Georgia when Carter was governor, and he always struck me as being a good, well-meaning man. It was harsh learning that sometimes someone being good was inadequte and in fact was a detriment for a President. Ethics were important, but so was strength. I never quite got on the Reagan bandwagon (I voted Independent for years) but couldn't deny the reality that the hostages were let go as Reagan was inaugurated.

That experience may form part of the reason why a great many of us 60's radicals are solidly in support of the strong stance taken by President Bush, and why we grasped the reasons to make an intervention in the Mid-East long before the arguments were even laid out by the current Administration.

So maybe I harbor a bit of a grudge against Iran - although not Iranians - not because of what they did but because of what we didn't do, and I'm not sure I'm alone in this.

So the points laid out in The Meatriarchy's posts have dogged me a great part of today and made me do a lot of thinking (he does that a lot; if you don't read him regularly, you should!) Read it and see what you think.

Posted by Debbye at 08:03 PM | Comments (1)

January 23, 2004

Al Qaeda in Fallujah?

Jan. 23 - Rantburg reports on the capture of a deputy, Husam al-Yemeni, of al Qaeda leader Abu Zarqawi and the suspicion that there is an al Qaeda cell in Fallujah.

Fox reports that another possible al Qaeda member, Hasan Ghul, was also detained in Iraq.

UPDATE: The Washington Times has more background on Ghul including his connection to Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.

Things are really getting sticky: the Iranian government has announced it plans to try 12 members of al Qaeda (although they won't release their names) but an allegation has been made by a witness that Iran was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks during proceedings in the German trial of Abdelghani Mzoudi who is being tried for as an accomplice in the attacks.

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has no problem with climbing out on a branch and sawing it off, but I've been rubbing my hands with anticipation since she trashed the Australians, and they are responding. Heh.

A Canadian citizen who lives in Minneapolis, Mohammed Abdullah Warsame has been indited for providing material support to al Qaeda.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

Elections in Iran

Jan. 23 - Mob leaves Iranian reformist leader injured:

A 200-strong gang of political radicals attacked a meeting of Iranian reformists yesterday in the first outbreak of serious violence since moderates were barred from forthcoming elections.

Members of the radical Islamic Hezbollah movement burst into a hall in Hamedan, western Iran. They disrupted a meeting called to discuss the disqualification of 3,605 predominantly reformist candidates from next month's general elections.

The violence erupted after a speaker accused the Guardian Council, the unelected clerical body that vetoed the candidates, of disregarding an order by the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the disqualifications to be reviewed.

"Some 200 people attacked the podium, broke the microphone and beat people," said one witness.

During the student demonstrations last summer, Hezbollah members were heavily involved in attacking demonstrators, including some in their dormitories.

It is noted at the end of the article that President Khatami does not intend to resign even though five of the vice-presidents and six cabinet ministers have done so.

Posted by Debbye at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2004

Elections in Iran

Jan. 21 - An unspecified number of Cabinet ministers and vice-presidents have resigned to protest the exclusion of thousands of candidates by the Council of Guardians in the upcoming national elections in Iran.

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who must approve the resignations, has also threatened to resign. He is is attending a conference in Switzerland at present.

According to Aljazeera, the ministers will continue to do their jobs awaiting the outcome of the Council's review of the ban.

The conservative political watchdog has barred 3605 of the 8157 people seeking to stand for the 20 February parliamentary polls.

"It is natural that they wait for the outcome of the work" of the Guardians Council, Abtahi said, without naming the cabinet members who had decided to resign.

Abtahi, an outspoken reformer who is also believed to be among those ready to step down, did not say whether the ministers and vice-presidents had set a deadline.

(Aljazeera links via Jack's Newswatch.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2004

US Relationship with Saddam

Jan. 15 - This is Part II of Darren Kaplan's The U.S. Relationship With Saddam--Fantasy vs. Reality Part II.

(Part I is here.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:35 PM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2004

Elections in Iran

Jan. 13 - It would appear that President Khatami is prepared to do the only principled thing left given the Council of Guardian's continued ban of hundreds of candidates from the upcoming national elections in Iran: Iran's cabinet may dissolve. If I'm reading between the lines at all accurately, Khatami recognizes that the upcoming elections will be a sham, and he and his supporters have decided not to provide window dressing to the conflict between the reformists and the Council any longer.

Khatami's reformist forces lost ground in last year's regional elections. There was reportedly a very low turnout, and many Western analysts felt that it was in reaction to the failure of the reformists to get meaningful legislation past the Council of Guardians.

For a little more background on the growing resistance to the Council's ban, read this and follow the links. Also, keep checking over at On the Third Hand for on-going analysis from someone who has been keeping on top of events in Iran.

I'd like to think that the Council is finding itself more and more isolated both within and without; recent events as the international response to the arrest of Iranian bloggers (which seemed to have surprised them) and their inadequate response to the horrendous earthquake of last month only heightened the growing discontent evidenced in last summer's student demonstrations.

I'm a deep-dyed in the wool cynic. When the Iranian government announced it would open its nuclear sites for inspection, I wanted to keep an eye on what the other hand was doing but didn't expect an internal move.

It would appear that thwarting the democratic process was the card they chose to play, but it does seem a desparate move given how successful they've been thus far at nullifying attempts at reform. I'm thinking there's a hidden piece of information for them to launch an attack on the democratic process in Iran, although it could also be good, old-fashioned hubris.

Or it could be the threat of democratic, consensual government in Iraq.

One suggestion: now would be a good time for the Canadian government to use some soft diplomacy to re-raise the issue of Zahra Kazemi's death and the laggardly investigation, and yes, I am quite serious. Soft diplomacy is but one tool among many, and doing something the Council doesn't expect (expecially from an unlikely source) would be one more pressure point on the beleaguered Council and would express international solidarity with Khatami's limited reform without being overly confrontational.

Posted by Debbye at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2004

Toronto aids Bam earthquake survivors

Jan. 3 - One of the things about living in a city like Toronto is that you always seem to know, within a few degrees of separation, someone who is directly affected by a disaster like Bam, so these catastrophes inevitably have a personal connection. GTA aid for Bam has been swift and enormous.

There's an onsite report on Canadian Red Cross activities in Iran here.

GTA residents can go to the David McAntony Gibson Foundation website, contact Rahul Singh at 416-998-7813, or telephone the Red Cross at 1-800-418-1111.

Posted by Debbye at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Bam earthquake update

Dec. 29 - Everybody wants to help victims of the Iranian earthquake. The article describes efforts being made in Toronto and encourages people to contribute to the Red Cross:

Last night a spokesman for the local Iranian community said an umbrella organization called the Bam Iran Earthquake Relief Committee has been formed in an effort to coordinate the fundraising efforts of over 25 Iranian-Canadian organizations.
Another article notes that concerns about the government and black marketeers have altered fundraisers strategies:
Mistrust of the Iranian government is "widespread through the Iranian diaspora across the world," said Sam Norouzi, a member of a Montreal coalition working to bring relief to people in the southern Iranian community of Bam, destroyed Friday in a strong earthquake.

Donated supplies shipped by families were sold through the black market during an earthquake in the early 1990s, he said.

This time, many members of the Iranian community in Canada are funnelling their money via the Canadian Red Cross to avoid a repeat of the situation.

Never give up hope! A young girl pulled alive from rubble. The article also notes that 3 men pronounced dead stirred in their shrouds.

According to this Fox report, a provincial government spokesman said that 25,000 bodies have been recovered. Aftershocks continue to tumble the few remaining walls and compares the city of Bam to a moonscape.

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2003

Relief efforts in Bam

Dec. 28 - Good round-up of international search-and-rescue efforts and delivery of supplies and aid (including safe drinking water) here.

Kitchener resident Mahmud Pouladuand is waiting for information about his father, uncles and other family members who lived in Bam and has some interesting criticisms of the Iranian government's response.

Toronto student Bahman Kalbasi is also waiting for word from Bam, and with other Iranian students here, are encouraging people to donate to the Canadian Red Cross. He revealed some I didn't know: the southeastern part of Iraq isn't a known earthquake zone as the north is, which surely deepened the suprise and lack of preparation when the quake hit. There is also information in the article about fund raising events being planned by Iranian-Canadians.

Little is worse than being thousands of miles away and the only thing one can do to help loved ones is to hope. My memory of those hours before I got through my family in SF back in '89 still make me shudder. I really hope Mahmud Pouladuand and Bahman Kalbasi get some good news.

UPDATE: That sounded incredibly fatuous. Sorry, it was meant sincerely. I just can't find encouraging words for people who desperately need to know how the people they love are. Maybe because there are no words.

One ray of hope for survivors:

Most of the thousands of homeless slept in tents or cars Saturday night, compared with a day earlier when most had only blankets against near-freezing temperatures.
Despite the attention focused on the US offer of aid and the Iranian government's acceptance of that aid, I hesitate to read too much into it. It is enough that both sides overcame distrust long enough to respond to the needs of so many victims of the earthquake, but I can't help feeling it is a small step forward.

Wow! Jack's analysis and terrific idea (it's been updated, check it again) hit the mark!

Posted by Debbye at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2003

Bam Earthquake

Dec. 27 - The dominant story today is the Iran earthquake (At least 5,000 die in Iran quake) and although international search and rescue teams have not yet arrived, this struck me simply because it is so universal a response:

Shocked Iranians mobilized to help. In Tehran, volunteers jammed a blood-donation center. In Fars province, neighboring Kerman, the government asked for donations of blankets and food and for volunteers to head to Bam to help in relief work.
According to this CNN report, international assistance has begun to arrive and highlights responses from Turkey, Russia, Spain, Britain and the United States. The UN is sending food, blankets and water purification units.

Canada's military Disaster Assistance Response Team has been put on stand-by awaiting possible deployment orders.

The above article states that help was coming from Germany, Russia, Italy, France and Switzerland.

UPDATE: US Rescue Teams from California and Virginia are loading equipment and ready to depart for Iran.

UPDATE: Michael of Discount Blogger notes that Iran is accepting help from everyone except Israel.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2003

Earthquake in Bam

Dec. 26 - Thousands Feared Dead in Iran Earthquake which hit in Bam in southeast Iran. Both Fox and CNN are speculating that the death toll may reach 10,000.

How can we read numbers like 4,000 dead and 10,000 feared dead with any degree of acceptance? Because they happen in Third World countries, of course, where people are building homes and other structures with less adherence to the kinds of rules and regulations we take for granted here.

Engineering techniques that protect us better from natural disasters is one value I'm happy to export.

Jack has a terrific idea for the US to offer troops for assistance in recovery efforts. I don't know that Iran would accept it, but it would be something they'd never expect.

Posted by Debbye at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)

December 24, 2003

Libya's WMD partners

Dec. 24 - I'm a little late posting this link, but wanted to note it: Libya's fatal blow to axis of evil:

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi took the decision to renounce all weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on Friday night, but while at first it was thought this only had implications for Libya it is now clear that his decision has scuppered a secret partnership between Libya, Iran and North Korea formed with the intention of developing an independent nuclear weapon.

New documents revealed yesterday show that the three were working on the nuclear weapons programme at a top-secret underground site near the Kufra Oasis of the Sahara in southeastern Libya. The team was made up of North Korean scientists, engineers and technicians, as well as some Iranian and Libyan nuclear scientists.

North Korea and Iran, originally dubbed by Bush as the axis of evil along with Iraq, avoided detection by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) inspectors by each member farming out vital sections of its projects to its fellow members.

Iran, which is now in the final stages of uranium enrichment for its program, is badly hit, having counted on fitting into place key parts of its WMD project made in Libya. North Korea may also be forced to scale back the production of nuclear devices as well as counting the loss of a lucrative source of income for its Scuds and nuclear technology.

If the claims in the report are true, this alliance raises a number of unsettling questions.

There are a couple of loose threads from past news reports. For example, a North Korean ship with 15 hidden Scud missiles aboard was intercepted by the Spanish Navy. Yemen claimed ownership of those Scuds, the ship was released, and the media dropped coverage, but I have to think that it raised several red flags in intelligence circles despite Yemen's promise not to purchase any more weapons from North Korea.

There is also this report on the $10 million Saddam paid to North Korea for missiles which were never delivered.

The biggest loose thread remains the failure to find WMD in Iraq, and although the debate has focused on whether they ever existed, the possibility remains that they were shipped out of Iraq (or, less frightening, are well-hidden and still there.)

The fact that Iraq was not included in this conspiracy could mean a lot or nothing, including the possibility that they were part of it but Khaddafi purposefully ommitted them (and that in turn could have been because British and US officials didn't want him to.)

Although it is exhilarating to live in interesting times, it is also frustrating because too many questions won't be answered for several years.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: ESR has a post on a report that Al Qaeda was targeting Gaddafi (aka Khaddafi) as another strong incentive for him to try to better relations with the US and UK.

Posted by Debbye at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

Iran and the IAEA inspectors

Sept. 13 - Seems like you just can't please some folks. Even after highly-respected retired weapons inspector Hans Blix gave Iran his usual "I don't see nuthin' suspicious" free pass, it seems Iran is warning the UN that an international crisis will occur if the IAEA refers the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council.

It seems Iran is not happy at the possibility of having sanctions imposed for non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

I don't know why it would bother them. It isn't as though others (cough*Saddam*cough) didn't find French, Russian, and German companies willing to do business and violate sanctions with enthusiasm.

And heavens knows the French and German economies need the boost.

Yeah, I hold a grudge. I hold certain grudges a long, long time, particularly when the US is likely to be demonized for whatever suffering may occur to Iranians because of sanctions even as certain countries and the UN reap mega-profits from the imaginative bookeeping that could occur.

We can save on letterhead expenses by calling it Oil-For-Palaces, The Sequel. Maybe I should send the Khatami government TotalFinaElf's telephone number, you know, just in case.

Who me, bitter?

Posted by Debbye at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2003

Justice for Kazemi elusive

Oct. 29 - The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi continues to be a political fight between the reformists and hardliners in the Iranian government. The official Iran report on Kazemi death highlights this:

TEHRAN -- Iran's reformist-dominated parliament accused hardline Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi yesterday of illegally detaining a Montreal photojournalist and then covering up facts surrounding her death in custody in July. Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian of Iranian origin, died July 10, about three weeks after she was detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during protests against the ruling Islamic establishment.

An intelligence agent charged with her alleged beating death has pleaded not guilty to "semi-premeditated murder."

The parliament holds Mortazavi responsible as the head of the Tehran prosecutor's office.

The reformists control the intelligence agencies, and the hardliners control the judicial agencies.
Parliament accused Mortazavi of covering up facts about Kazemi's death -- he said she died of a stroke -- and having no evidence when he accused her of spying and having no permission to work.

The report said Kazemi was beaten by judiciary officials in Evin prison, north of Tehran. It said 20 guards who witnessed and reported the beating were forced to change their reports.

The report leaves little option for the court but to summon Mortazavi for questioning in the trial.

One of the demands of the Canadian government has been for the return of Kazemi's body to Canada and her son, Montrealer Stephan Kachemi. This has not yet been done.

It's hard to tell how much pressure the Canadian government would have put on the Iranian government to pursue this investigation had not Kachemi, Reporters Without Borders, the Canadian media, bloggers and the Official Opposition kept this issue in the forefront, but it is important to keep the pressure on. Kazemi is one of several journalists who are imprisoned in the Middle East and, had she not been a dual citizen of Canada, her death would probably have been ignored.

We tend to take freedom of speech and freedom of the press for granted, and nothing highlights this more than the incessant whining by lefties that they are being "repressed" when, in fact, the fact that they aren't in jail proves that there is no repression except in their own minds, but, more seriously, their whining insults those who actually are being repressed, tortured and jailed for asking questions, taking the "wrong" photographs and speaking their opinions as free people.

The best way we can aid those who are being repressed is to keep the death of Zahra Kazemi an issue. I think that's the best tribute we can pay to her and her belief in freedom.

UPDATE: The story in the Daily Telegraph says: Yesterday, a parliamentary commission dealing with press freedoms, attacked Teheran's chief prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, who has a reputation for jailing journalists and closing down newspapers.

Posted by Debbye at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2003

Accused in Kazemi case enters plea

Oct. 8 - Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, who has been charged in the beating death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, entered a plea of innocence yesterday in Tehran.

Tehran Deputy Prosecutor General Jafar Reshadati said Tuesday that Ahmadi was the only interrogator who spent long periods of time alone with Kazemi, refused to answer some questions about her treatment and gave contradictory statements.

Reshadati told the court a prison doctor confirmed June 26 that Kazemi was in good health and had responded to questions in writing. Hours later, she was rushed to the hospital with fatal injuries.

"Now, the accused should explain how a healthy person in his control who responded to questions in 18 pages by her own handwriting is then transferred to hospital and finally dies," Reshadati said.

Ahmadi's lawyer, Ghasem Shabani, told the court the indictment was flawed and showed "serious and deep contradictions" with documents provided by the Intelligence Ministry.

Shabani requested and received more time to study the inditement. No date was specified for resumption of the proceedings.

The case is becoming another struggle between reformists and hard-liners in Iran: the Intelligence Ministry is controlled by the reformists, and the judiciary is controlled by the conservatives.

The Intelligence Ministry has said that Kazemi was beaten by a prison official, who would have been a judicial agent. They have threatened to "expose all the facts" if the charges are not withdrawn.

Canadian Ambassador to Iran Phillip Mackinnon attended the trial. He recently returned to Iran after being withdrawn by the Canadian government.

Kazemi's body has still not been returned to Canada despite the request of her son, Stephan Hachemi.

Reporters without Borders issued an appeal Sept. 26 for an independent enquiry including international experts.

Posted by Debbye at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2003

MPs unite in anger over Kazemi

Oct. 2 - Here's something you don't see everyday: MPs unite in anger over Iran. A motion by MP Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton - Lib) calling for a return of Zahra Kazemi's body from Iran was unanimously approved by the House of Commons.

Canadian Alliance MP Stockwell Day raised objections to the return of Cdn. Ambassador Philip MacKinnon to Iran.

Posted by Debbye at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

September 30, 2003

Canadian Ambassador returns to Iran

Sept. 30 - The Canadian ambassador to Iran, Phillip MacKinnon, will return to Iran with instructions to keep an eye on Iran's ongoing nuclear program, the investigation into the beating death of Zahra Kazemi and push for a public trial of the person accused of causing her death, and to press for a return of her body to Canada.

So now he's an expert on the development of nuclear programs. That's a lame attempt to sell his return due to an urgent reason.

Just last week the Canadian government was threatening to suspend foreign aid.

Doesn't it really mean that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is still hoping this issue just "goes away?" "Soft power" indeed. Canada is trying for a Guinness World Record spot as the Most Indifferent when her citizens are arrested and tortured.

Kazemi's death last July gained international attention in great part due to the efforts of her son, Montrealer Stephan Hachemi. There are two petitions at the Project Free Iran website addressed to world leaders which calls them to join in calls demanding that the current regime step down and that the UN oversee a referendum in Iran and free elections.

There is also a lot of news updates and analysis about Iran on that page. Good one to bookmark.

Among other things is the claim that over 120,000 political prisoners and freedom loving Iranians have been executed in Iran over the past 2 decades. Inasmuch as the number of those who were tortured and executed in Iraq under the former regime turned out to be much higher than we suspected, this isn't a claim that can be easily dismissed however much we might wish it weren't true.

Posted by Debbye at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2003

Intelligence agent charges in Kazemi death

Sept. 23 - An Intelligence Ministry agent has been charged in the death of Zahra Kazemi in Iran last July.

In a statement from the Tehran prosecutor's office Monday, veteran judge Javad Esmaeili charged the agent with the "semi-premeditated murder" of Zahra Kazemi.

The agent was one of two Intelligence Ministry officials charged in connection with Kaezmi's death last month. The prosecutor's office had rejected those charges Sept. 1.

At the time, Tehran's deputy prosecutor general, Jafar Reshadati said the original probe into the crime was incomplete and needed to be opened for reinvestigation.

The second agent linked to the case was acquitted, the prosecutor's office said in its statement Monday.

According to the statement, Esmaeili concluded that there was no government conspiracy behind the crime.

"The crime is attributed to one of the (Intelligence Ministry) interrogators and the reasons have been presented in the lawsuit against the accused."

Kazemi died in an Iranian hospital in early July, after reportedly suffering head injuries while in custody. The Montreal-based photojournalist had been arrested for photographing student-led protests outside a Tehran-area prison.

Initially, the hardline Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, was quoted as saying Kazemi had died of a stroke. But a presidential-appointed committee discredited his account, finding instead that she had died on July 10 -- from head injuries sustained while in custody.

Iran's investigation of the case has since exposed deep internal divisions within Iran -- between reformists, who loosely control the Intelligence Ministry, and hardliners who control Iran's police force, judiciary and security agencies.

I don't think I'm out of line if I ridicule CTV for contending that Kazemi's death exposed the internal divisions in Iran. The internal struggle in Iran between moderates and hardliners has been considered newsworthy for a couple of years now, and Iranian President Katami has publicly expressed frustration many times when even mild reforms have been approved by the Parliament but vetoed by the mullahs.

CTV, of course, is hardly the only Western news media that consistently underestimates the yearning for freedom in Iran (and other countries, I might add.) Most of us had already clued into the fact that Iranians were not totally supportive of the mullahs when they staged an imprompteau rally in sympathy with the Sept. 11 attacks, and Australian Tim Blair's post Compare and Contrast hits the nail pretty squarely on the head when he quotes Canadian Duncan Beatty(now living in California) who recently traveled to Iran:

Many of the people in the cabs in Tehran had the similar thoughts. "Tell George Bush to come and get rid of the mullahs for us." I was shocked by the openness of that statement. With one fellow I tried to discuss it with him in more detail to see if he really meant it or was just talking. I told him that if George Bush came and got rid of the Mullahs, it would not be to help the people of Iran; he would be coming for the oil. The fellow replied, "He can have the oil, its not doing us any good anyway and at least then we would be free."
The sweet air of liberty. Why does the media fear it so?

Posted by Debbye at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

Ottawa requests UNHRC to take up Kazemi case

Sept. 2 -- The investigation into the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi is to be reopened as Charges have been dropped in Kazemi file against the two interogators because the inditements were incomplete.

Meanwhile, Ottawa has asked the UN Human Rights Commission to take up the Kazemi case.
It's nice to know that that the UNHRC, chaired by LIBYA, and which voted to deny consultative status to Reporters Without Borders, will be on the case.

Posted by Debbye at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2003

Iran threatens to exclude Canada from investigation

Aug. 27 -- Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, a government spokesman for Iran, has said that there is no obligation for the Iranian government to inform Canada of what the investigation into the death of Zahra Kazemi has learned. The Iranian government has cited the fact that Kazemi was a dual citizen and on Iranian soil when her death took place 3 weeks after her detainment by authorities.

Although there have been reports that two people have been arrested for her death, the Canadian Office of Foreign Affairs has received no official notification.

UPDATE: According to this, Iranian officials have reversed their earlier decision to exclude Canada from the investigation. But if I'm reading between the lines correctly, various officials in Iran are actually reversing one another which is not exactly a shock to anyone who has followed the power struggle between the elected Parliament and the unelected mullahs who are determined to keep Iran an ayatollocracy.

It also comes as more details slowly emerge about the two women charged with the "semi-intentional murder" of Ms. Kazemi, whose mysterious death has not only strained relations between Iran and Canada, but has exposed a growing rift between the Islamic country's hardline judiciary and elected reformers.

The rift grew even larger yesterday, as Iran's reformist-controlled Intelligence Ministry vehemently denied that two of its employees were responsible for Ms. Kazemi's death.

On Monday, the prosecutor's office in Tehran announced it had charged two intelligence agents. The office did not name the accused, but human rights organizations have been told that both women were present during the initial interrogation that followed Ms. Kazemi's arrest on June 23.

Some reports have described the accused as medical workers -- one a nurse; the other a personal caregiver -- while others insist they were security agents.

But the Intelligence Ministry -- all but accusing the judiciary of a cover-up -- insisted that its office is innocent of any crime. A spokesman even threatened to reveal what really happened to Ms. Kazemi unless the charges are dropped.

"The government considers the Intelligence Ministry clean and clear of any charges," said Abdollah Ramezanzadeh. "This should be rectified. Otherwise we will announce all we know in defence of the prestige of the government and what we know as facts."

I don't know if that actually makes anything clearer . . . and no, Mrs. Kazemi's body has still not been returned to Canada.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

Iran threatens to exclude Canada from investigation

Aug. 27 -- Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, a government spokesman for Iran, has said that there is no obligation for the Iranian government to inform Canada of what the investigation into the death of Zahra Kazemi has learned. The Iranian government has cited the fact that Kazemi was a dual citizen and on Iranian soil when her death took place 3 weeks after her detainment by authorities.

Although there have been reports that two people have been arrested for her death, the Canadian Office of Foreign Affairs has received no official notification.

UPDATE: According to this, Iranian officials have reversed their earlier decision to exclude Canada from the investigation. But if I'm reading between the lines correctly, various officials in Iran are actually reversing one another which is not exactly a shock to anyone who has followed the power struggle between the elected Parliament and the unelected mullahs who are determined to keep Iran an ayatollocracy.

It also comes as more details slowly emerge about the two women charged with the "semi-intentional murder" of Ms. Kazemi, whose mysterious death has not only strained relations between Iran and Canada, but has exposed a growing rift between the Islamic country's hardline judiciary and elected reformers.

The rift grew even larger yesterday, as Iran's reformist-controlled Intelligence Ministry vehemently denied that two of its employees were responsible for Ms. Kazemi's death.

On Monday, the prosecutor's office in Tehran announced it had charged two intelligence agents. The office did not name the accused, but human rights organizations have been told that both women were present during the initial interrogation that followed Ms. Kazemi's arrest on June 23.

Some reports have described the accused as medical workers -- one a nurse; the other a personal caregiver -- while others insist they were security agents.

But the Intelligence Ministry -- all but accusing the judiciary of a cover-up -- insisted that its office is innocent of any crime. A spokesman even threatened to reveal what really happened to Ms. Kazemi unless the charges are dropped.

"The government considers the Intelligence Ministry clean and clear of any charges," said Abdollah Ramezanzadeh. "This should be rectified. Otherwise we will announce all we know in defence of the prestige of the government and what we know as facts."

I don't know if that actually makes anything clearer . . . and no, Mrs. Kazemi's body has still not been returned to Canada.

Posted by Debbye at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2003

Hapless and Screeching Bill Graham

Aug. 20 - Too bad for Foreign Affairs Min. Bill Graham that I read this after I was braced by Bill Whittle's glorious essay on Responsibility, so if you like the Minister, be prepared for some insultin'.

Both he and PM Chretien react to the bombing of the UN offices in Baghdad in ways that make me (temporarily) despair for this wonderful country:

Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking at a Liberal caucus meeting in North Bay, expressed condolences to Klein-Beekman's family and called it "absolutely unbelievable" that anyone would attack a UN office.

"These people are there to maintain peace and help people to build back their society ... It's so incredible that you're attacking the UN," he said. "The UN has only one mission -- to bring about peace, settle disputes, bring people together."

Yes, and the Canadian army wants to go only to places were it can spread peace and happiness. And everyone loves the UN - not. Has he forgotten that al Qaeda was stopped from bombing the UN HQ in NYC in the mid-90's?

The UN and its's peacekeepers have certainly not been safe as reported here, and although this may be the first time a successful attacks against a UN office was hit, it was mere months ago that 2 peacekeepers were killed in the Congo which prompted Canada, among other nations, to bolster the mission there.

The money quotes, though, were uttered by Bill Graham:

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham also found it troubling that the UN had been targeted by Iraqi dissidents.
More troubling than charges that the Saudis tortured Bill Sampson, and the Syrians are torturing Maher Arar? What about the murder of Zahra Kazemi at the hands of the Iranian government?

Furthermore, why does he assume this was done by Iraqi dissidents? Most of us recognize al Qaeda, and even analysts are cautiously accepting the Flypaper theory, calling Iraq a magnet for terrorists who have poured in especially from Syria and Saudi Arabia.

"It's an indication, I think, of desperation on their behalf. I think it's an indication also that we in the world community have to be determined to rebuild Iraq as a free and democratic country where this won't happen." (Emphasis added.)
September 11 happened in a free and democratic country, idiot. In fact, the aim of terrorism is to have such events happen in free and democratic countries, or haven't you noticed that al Qaeda has focused on countries like Indonesia and East Timor which are trying to become free and democratic? And what about Israel, which alone of the countries in the Middle East is free and democratic?

Is everyone out there hoping and praying that the international news media organs don't carry these remarks?

Posted by Debbye at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2003

Hapless Bill Graham

Aug. 11 -- Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said nothing noteworthy in his keynote address at a conference sponsored by the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs yesterday.

Well, maybe that's a bit harsh. He said Canada did all it could to help Bill Sampson and Mr. Sampson was released, he is still trying to get the Iranian government to release Zahra Kazemi's body, and that the Syrian Foreign Minister hasn't yet returned his call to answer allegations that Maher Arar has been tortured in a Syrian jail.

There was no mention in the article of Canadian Bruce Balfour who is currently being held in a Lebanese prison.

He is aware that Canadian troops are in Afghanistan, so maybe I should cut him some slack.

Posted by Debbye at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2003

Zahra Kazemi

Aug. 5 - Paul has an update on the Iranian investigation into the murder of Zahra Kazemi You can just taste that Iranian justice.... Yep. The Iranians have learned some things about due process from the West.

Posted by Debbye at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2003

Reynolds on Canada

Aug. 1 - I guess it was inevitable that the weirdness that passes for the Canadian government would finally be noticed by the Blogfather. In From the "Well, Duh" Department, Glenn Reynolds noticed that the burial of Zahra Kazemi generated a bigger diplomatic storm from the goofs in Ottawa than her murder.

He then links to an article about Chretien's efforts to free Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar. This is so very depressing.

Actually, it's a good thing he doesn't know the half of it. Stephan Hachemi, Kazemi's son, deserves most of the credit for his tireless efforts to obtain justice for his mother despite attempts by "Screeching" Bill Graham (TM Paul) to shut him up.

What is happening with the cases of Canadians Bruce Balfour, who is now in jail in Lebanon, and Bill Sampson, who's under a death sentence in a Saudi jail? They aren't generating a diplomatic breeze much less a storm.

Posted by Debbye at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003

Progress slow in Kazemi case

July 29 - From the Toronto Sun, Progress slow in Kazemi case:

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham provided little assurance yesterday that progress is being made in the investigation into the death of a Canadian photojournalist. "What we want to do is make sure that those who are responsible for this tragic death are apprehended and punished for it -- whoever it is," Graham said yesterday of reports the lead prosecutor in Iran was involved.

[...]

"We wish to use the case both to open further democracy in Iran and also the protection of journalists," said Graham, whose son Patrick spent time in Iraq covering the war. But Graham has yet to speak with the Iranian foreign minister or confirm the reports surrounding the arrest of five security officials. (Emphasis added)

By George I think he's got it! Finally. This is, and has always been, the crux of the issue. (Maybe he finally learned the difference between international laws and covenants and why calling on Iran to adhere to a law that doesn't exist or a covenant they haven't signed put Canada's case internationally on shaky ground.)
Graham is expected to meet with Hachemi who has called on the Canadian government to impose trade sanctions, charge the lead Iranian prosecutor with engaging in terrorist activity and involve the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Stephen Hachemi has been relentless in his pursuit of justice. Maybe whenever we start to whine "There's nothing we can do" we should stop short and remember him. He's pulling people together to fight a stone-walling Ayatollocracy (TM Paul), and everyone who believes in freedom of the press should be cheering for him.

Over at the Reporters Without Borders website they are calling on Canada to take the initiative:
Reporters Without Borders urged the Canadian government to take the initiative of setting up an international commission of enquiry and to pressure the Iranian government into accepting the commission.

"It is clear now that only an international enquiry will be able to identify who was involved," [Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert] Ménard said. "The Iranian regime clearly has no desire to shed light on this case and prosecute those responsible for this murder."

[...]

A total of 21 journalists are currently in prison in Iran, 13 of whom were arrested in the past 40 days. This makes the Islamic republic the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East. Thirteen of the detained journalists are being held by Mortazavi's staff and Revolutionary Guards in the same centre where Kazemi was interrogated.

These detainees are denied all rights (such as visits from their lawyer and family) and are kept in deplorable conditions. Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about their fate, especially as their relatives have referred to physical and psychological torture in a letter to President Khatami.

In another statement, they have issued a Call for European Union to break with Iran over journalist's death:
Reporters Without Borders called on the European Union today to break off the "constructive dialogue" it has conducted with Iran since 1998 until officials responsible for the death of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi earlier this month had been brought to trial.

It said it was "unthinkable" that such talks could continue while such a serious crime remained unpunished. It also called on the EU to back Canadian efforts to have Kazemi's body returned to Canada and for an international commission of enquiry to be set up. (Emphasis added)

[...]

A total of 23 journalists are currently imprisoned in Iran, making it the biggest jail for journalists in the Middle East. Thirteen of them are believed to be held by Mortazavi's department and by the Guardians of the Revolution, in the same place where Kazemi was interrogated. They are not allowed visits from family or lawyers and are held in very bad conditions. Reporters Without Borders is very worried about their plight. Their families have written to President Khatami saying they have been physically and psychologically tortured.

Speaking of Reporters Without Borders, there was a disturbing development at the UN last Thursday:

Reporters Without Borders's consultative status with the United Nations commission on human rights was suspended on July 24 for one year at the request of Libya and Cuba because activists with the organisation staged a protest during the inauguration of the commission's last session in March against the decision to let Libya chair the commission. (Emphasis added)

Reporters Without Borders insists that granting the chair to Col. Gaddafi's regime has been a disgrace to the commission.

[...]

Reporters Without Borders today publishes a report which details the excesses, shortcomings and accelerating decline of this commission, which dictatorships such as Cuba and China have taken over in order to strip it of all substance.

The reports proposes a series of reforms that are essential if the commission is to be rescued : limiting the right to vote to those states that have ratified the main international human rights covenants, naming an independent human rights expert to chair the commission, and abolishing the so-called "non-action" motions that have repeatedly been used to block debates.

The results of the vote on the suspension of the consultative status of Reporters without borders :

In favour (27) : Azerbaijan, Benin, Bhutan, Brazil, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Against (23) : Andorra, Australia, Chile, El Salvador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.

Abstentions (4) : Argentina, Ecuador, Japan, and Senegal.

Posted by Debbye at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2003

Hachemi calls for case to go before ICC

July 28 - From the Toronto Star, Take case to world court, Kazemi's son says.

MONTREAL - The son of slain photojournalist Zahra Kazemi wants the Canadian government to take the case to the International Criminal Court.

In a letter sent Friday, Stephan Hachemi and lawyer Marlys Edwardh asked Ottawa to charge Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran's chief prosecutor, under the Criminal Code with engaging in "terrorist activity" outside Canada in relation to a Canadian citizen.

"It would seem clear that his conduct was in whole or in part for political, religious, or ideological purposes, etc. to intimidate a segment of the public with regard its security," the letter states.

Hachemi and Edwardh also asked the government to consider imposing trade sanctions against Iran and to use the court to ensure Kazemi's body is brought back to Canada.

Hachemi dismissed reports that five security agents were arrested in Iran this weekend. He called the arrests a "diversion" to throw the Canadian government off track.

"The Iranians have done that in similar cases; they arrest a few implicated agents so they can cover Mortazavi and cover high-ranking officers," Hachemi said yesterday. The International Criminal Court has the power to bring his mother's body back to Canada, he added.

Good for him. Keeping the pressure on both the Canadian and Iranian governments is essential.

(via Neale News because you know I don't read the Toronto Star!)

Posted by Debbye at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2003

Security agents detained in Kazemi death

July 27 - This could be good news. From the Toronto Sun 5 held in Kazemi case:

TEHRAN -- Five Iranian security agents have been detained in the death of a Canadian photojournalist who died in police custody, the state-run Tehran radio reported yesterday. The officers were detained Friday after "comprehensive investigations" into Zahra Kazemi's July 10 death, the radio report said, quoting a statement released by Iran's judiciary.
But the propaganda war goes on:
Meanwhile, the Iran government summoned Canada's charge d'affaires yesterday to protest the shooting death of an Iranian teenager in a Vancouver suburb and the youth's father threatened to sue the police officer who pulled the trigger.
Maybe it's customary in Iran to use a machete to charge someone who's holding a firearm. What's that old joke about bringing a knife to a gunfight? Anyone charging at me with a machete is going to be shot. Period. We call it self-defense.
Gilles Poirier was summoned to Iran's foreign ministry to discuss the July 14 shooting of 18-year-old Keyvan Tabesh by a plainclothes officer in Port Moody, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. He did not elaborate.
UPDATE: This news may be premature. According to the CBC, Canada waits for Iran to confirm arrests in Kazemi case because they haven't received official confirmation of the arrests from the Iranian government.
Iran's state-run radio reported on the weekend that the men had been rounded up after "comprehensive investigations" into the fatal beating of Zahra Kazemi while she was in police custody. (Emphasis added)

All five had been "in close contact" with her during her detention, the report said. Their identities were not released.

Ottawa said it had not yet received confirmation of the arrests. A spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Department told CBC News that if true it would be "a welcome development."

Posted by Debbye at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2003

The Iranians sure know Canada

July 26 - I am really angry. From CTV.ca: Graham promises to investigate death of Iranian which was their response to Canadian inquiries about the death of Zahra Kazemi.

This is beyond outrageous and every city and province should condemn it:

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham rejects Iran's comparison of the death of an Iranian teenager in Vancouver (actually, Port Moody) to the killing of a Montreal photojournalist in Tehran, but said he is willing to hold an investigation into the death.
(Emphasis added)

This is so wrong. The Vancouver police are perfectly capable of holding their own inquiry, and "Screeching" Bill Graham (TM Paul) presumes to not only butt in but to implement measures in the inquiry:

Establishing a homicide investigation Putting the officer involved on leave Results of investigation will be reported to Crown attorney to see if charges should be laid Holding a public coroner's inquest into the circumstances of the death The opportunity for Iranian officials to be present during the investigation The body of the victim has been returned to Iran
I need a drink. No, really. Words of anger and outrage are choking me but I can't get them out and, after all, how does one sputter indignantly from a keyboard?

I wanted to be wrong when I wrote last Thursday in Counter Punch from Iran that Canada would meekly agree to an investigation.

Anytime a police officer is forced to shoot and kill someone there is automatically a local inquiry held, right? Such inquiries do not, however, fall under the auspices of the Federal government but under the local governments where the use of force occured.

I'm repeating myself because it is an important point; the Vancouver police will doubtless go along because of the international implications, but would it have hurt the Feds to tell Iran that they can attend the inquiry that the Vancouver police will hold? Would it have hurt the Feds to affirm the integrity of Vancouver? Are they really so stupid that they don't recognize that they have just maligned Vancouver?

Canada has just slapped Vancouver in the face by giving the impression internationally that the Feds have to get involved to ensure justice. Arrogant, say-anything-to-appease-at-all-costs idiots.

How do you say "Sell-out" in Canada?

Now for that drink before I get really angry.

Headline and link via Neale News

Posted by Debbye at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2003

Iran 4, Canada 0

July 24 - Iran understands how to play the game by Canadian rules: Iran accuses Canadian police of killing Iranian:

Wire services cited Iranian state radio accusations that police in Vancouver had 'attacked' three young Iranians on Tuesday, and killed one of them identified as Keyvan Tabesh.

A young Iranian emigre was, indeed, killed in Vancouver - although it occurred several weeks ago. Port Moody police say that a young man identified as Mr. Tabesh was shot dead by an out-of-uniform police officer as he ran at the officer waving a machete.

Mr. Tabesh was shot dead after his car was followed into a dead end by a police officer responding to a radio call. With no escape, Port Moody spokesman Constable Brian Soles told The Globe and Mail, two of the occupants of the car jumped out and ran at the policeman. Constable Soles said the officer fired his gun when he felt he was under attack.

Family members have apparently been told that the officer who shot Mr. Tabesh was off-duty; police have conceded that the man was not wearing his uniform and was not driving a marked police car.

"There may be an issue about whether the police officer identified himself," Constable Soles said. "He has a responsibility to do it, if he is able to."

In any case, he added, Mr. Tabesh was about to attack someone.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran suggested that there is a lack of freedom in the Canadian media, saying that controls are imposed by the Canadian government and that "the strong censorship of this story creates more ambiguities." (Emphasis added)

The spokesman called for "an explicit and transparent and satisfactory explanation" and the punishment of those responsible, a near-echo of Ottawa's demands in the Kazemi case.

I would say that the Iranian government has effectively employed four of Canada's biggest Achilles heels: the substitution of red-herrings and unsubstantiated accusations for political debate, a weak foreign affairs department, news blackouts in criminal justice proceedings and the attitude of Canadian media toward police agencies.

Even though the deaths of Zahra Kazemi and Keyvan Tabesh are linked only by the fact that both are Iranians killed by police, this accusation turns eyes back to Canada. Canada appears to be the pot calling the kettle black. A nice diversionary tactic!

Iran 1 - Canada 0

The Iranian government has just launched a propaganda war against Canada, and its up to the Foreign Affairs Dept. to mount an effective response. Since the only foreign government it routinely criticizes is the USA, do they have the tools and cajones to respond effectively or will they use Old Europe's model on how to deal with countries other than the USA? French Pres. Chirac just went on vacation but maybe he can be persuaded to lend his expertise in this matter.

Of course, Canada could try to enlist the support of American-based Iranian exiles to broadcast the facts of the Vancouver affair back into Iran, but Canada's good friend Cuba is jamming signals into Iran.

Iran 2 - Canada 0

Unlike American press (heh), information and testimony before and during trials is often blacked out to protect the privacy of the accused. This pious stance conflicts with openness in the judicial system and many Canadian journalists do feel that the suppression amounts to censorship and have stated such.

Iran 3 - Canada 0

The politically correct media and police oversight boards often take the approach that when the police use deadly force it was because they failed in some way to subdue a suspect. They don't, or can't, take into account the frame of mind of someone who is determined to avoid capture, wants to go down fighting, or is blinded by the desire to kill.

I'm betting Canada is going to meekly promise to look into this.

Iran 4 - Canada 0

It has gone international. From Reuters Iran Accuses Canadian Police of Killing Iranian:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran accused Canadian police on Thursday of the "criminal" killing of an Iranian, ratcheting up a diplomatic row that began with the death in Iranian custody of a Canadian journalist this month.

Iranian state media said Canadian police in Vancouver had attacked three young Iranians, killing one and injuring one of the others. It identified the dead man as Keyvan Tabesh and demanded those responsible be brought to justice.

Iran and Canada are at odds over the death in Tehran this month of Zahra Kazemi, 54, a Canadian photojournalist of Iranian descent. Canada recalled its envoy to Tehran over the incident and said it would review its ties with Iran.

"Why have Canadian police, who should safeguard the security of the people, committed this disgraceful crime which scared Iranian citizens living in Canada?" it quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying.

There was no immediate comment from Canada. (Emphasis added)

We should cut Canadian Foreign Affairs office some slack here given the difference in time zones. The Globe and Mail story was posted online at 6:03 a.m. EDT.

Iran's state media said the Vancouver incident happened on Tuesday. But Canadian media have reported that Tabesh, 18, was shot and killed by a policeman in the Port Moody suburb of Vancouver on July 14 after an apparent road-rage incident.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper in a July 18 article said Tabesh's parents, who live in Vancouver, had strongly criticized police for the shooting of their son. The newspaper said Tabesh was brandishing a machete when he was shot.

[...]

The official IRNA news agency quoted Asefi as saying Canadian media had censored the Vancouver incident. "The strong censorship of this story creates more ambiguities," it quoted him as saying.

Checkmate.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2003

Mark Steyn on Kazemi

July 23 - Mark Steyn has a new column at his website just for us in Canada SteynOnCanada. His latest is called "Playing Both Sides: The Western Jihadi" and includes:

A couple of weeks later, a Montreal photo journalist, Zahra Kazemi, was arrested by police in Iran [CORRECT] (sic) and wound up getting questioned to death. She had done what my wife recommended - contacted the Canadian Embassy in Tehran - and a lot of good it did her when she was arrested for photographing a student demo and beaten into a coma. By the time her son, frustrated by his government's unruffleable equanimity in the matter, got the story out to the media, it was too late. On hearing of her death, the Canadian Foreign Minister expressed his "sadness" and regret".

Would it have killed him to express a little anger and disgust? ... With a straight face, he passed on to reporters the official Iranian line that it could be just an "accident". According to Reuters, the unfortunate accident has "marred previously harmonious relations between Iran and Canada".

(Via Right On! Blog)

Posted by Debbye at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2003

Canada "asks" for inquiry into Kazemi's death

July 22 - At last, the kitten (TM (The Canadian) meows at the tiger:

Inquiry called into photojournalist's death:

OTTAWA (CP) - Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham called on the Iranian government Monday to take swift action against those responsible for the apparent beating death of a Canadian photojournalist after her arrest in Tehran.

"Those responsible for this horrific act must be prosecuted," Graham said after an Iranian government report said Zahra Kazemi, 54, had complained of punishment from her guards before she eventually died of a fractured skull.

"The treatment of Ms. Kazemi, as detailed in this report, was a flagrant violation of her rights under international human rights law and a breach of obligations that Iran owes to the international community," Graham said. (Emphasis added)

"We now ask the Iranian government to take the next step and proceed with the full and swift prosecution of those responsible." (Emphasis added)

Ask? ASK? Oh, that's right, it's a kitten talking to a tiger.
Kazemi died in hospital July 10, nearly three weeks after she was arrested for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison, the report said.
When was the Canadian government notified that she had been arrested, was being detained, and taken to hospital?

Would we even know about this if her son, Stephan Hachemi, not gone public?

After her arrest, she was interrogated by police, prosecutors and intelligence officials for 77 hours, then was taken to the hospital, the report said. She spent 14 days in the intensive care unit of Baqiyatollah Azam Hospital before she died. The hospital is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards, a hardline security force. (Emphasis added)
Would that be the same leather-clad motorcyclists that have been disrupting the demonstrations and kidnapped 3 students after they met with government officials? The ones even the civilian police fear?
She died from a "fractured skull, brain hemorrhage and its consequences resulting from a hard object hitting the head or the head hitting a hard object," said the report.

A translation by Canadian officials said there were no other signs of physical abuse and that the cause of death was a "blow to the head by a hard object and no sign of assault and battery."

[...]

Graham expressed frustration over delays in repatriating Kazemi's body to Canada, despite the "agreed-upon wishes of the family."

I'm so glad he feels empowered to express his feelings. Frustration is a feeling. So is outrage. How about a little outrage, Graham?
On Sunday, prominent reformist legislator Mohsen Armin accused government security agents of beating Kazemi to death, echoing accusations from her family and friends.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Monday any decision on whether the body should be returned to Canada will rest with the court.

This news report was filed Monday, July 21. The decision was made yesterday, or won't be made until July 28? Since CNN carried this story (without Graham's milquetoast response) on Sunday Report: Canadian photographer died after 'physical attack', I think they mean July 28.
Kazemi's son Stephan Hachemi, who lives in Montreal, called for an autopsy in Canada.

"There's no reason at all to keep the body," Hachemi said on Monday.

"Unfortunately, my mother has been detained while she was alive and now they still detain her while she's dead."

Posted by Debbye at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2003

Zahra Kazemi (cont.)

July 21 - There are overtones in this article about Stephan Hachmi's quest for justice for his mother, Zahra Kazemi (Son: 'Take action' in Iran killing) about the lack of government action that I find very disturbing:

MONTREAL -- Increasingly frustrated and impatient, the son of a Canadian journalist who died after she was beaten while in police custody in Iran said yesterday the federal government is being too passive about helping bring Zahra Kazemi's body home. "I don't like their strategy," Stephan Hachemi said in Montreal.

"I'm criticizing but I've gotten no results. That's the problem. They're saying, 'We're going to have justice', 'The prime minister is going to make justice.' Yes, bravo. I say ... I want them to walk the walk, they just talk the talk. Take action, take measures."

Hachemi, Kazemi's only child, said he's tired of being told by Canadian officials to be patient and to stop being so vocal in the media.

He accused the government of wanting the issue to fade from the public spotlight.

"All I'm asking for is for my rights to be defended," Hachemi, 26, said. "I'm still alive and it's my right to have my mother's body brought back and (the Canadian government) won't defend it. That's what a Canadian means to them. That's how they defend our rights."

Is Chretien worried that making a fuss will hurt his plans to become A Very Important Bureaucrat at the U.N.? Because there certainly aren't any valid reasons for not pressing this issue as hard as he can.

Zahra Kazemi is a photojournalist who was killed in Iran. The fact that she is a Canadian is an opening for this government to push for the human rights of all the journalists now in Iranian prisons, and since, according to the previous article in the Toronto Sun Online Next stop: PM at UN cites

The prime minister's efforts to push a plan tying foreign aid for African nations to their records on human rights and democracy has won him friends on that continent. (Emphasis added)
Chretien's shamlessness is blatant, and I deeply resent the fact that this self-serving hypocrite tars all the good and decent people in Canada.

Posted by Debbye at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2003

Paul means business

July 18 - Frozen in Montreal has an update on the ongoing investigation into the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in an Iranian prison (or was it in hospital?) That's The Problem with Ayatollocracies..., they never bother to hire anybody to do decent spin ...

He also has an insidious plan that's guaranteed to make the regime tremble.

Posted by Debbye at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

Vigil to be held for Kazemi

July 18 - The CBC is keeping the beating death of Zahra Kazemi on the front burner. A report filed today headlines Canadian beaten with shoe before death in Iran and further notes that "A prayer vigil will be held for Kazemi in Montreal on Saturday night."

The report provides no details on the vigil.

Posted by Debbye at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2003

Iran admits beating led to Kazemi's death

July 17 - From CBC News Iran admits beating killed Kazemi:

OTTAWA - Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi died of a fractured skull, but it may have been an accident, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said. "
OK, so there is a headline which contradicts the first sentence in the report. That proves I'm copying this from the CBC website, right?
Graham said he learned about her death in "an open and frank exchange" on the phone with Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, on Wednesday.
The dateline on this article is Wed., July 16. Did Graham learn about it a week ago or only yesterday? (Surely that bit of vagueness was unintentional.)
Graham, speaking from France where he is on vacation, said the minister assured him that the perpetrators, if any, would be prosecuted.

He's vacationing in France. Nah, too easy.

Graham said Canada must be satisfied that the Iranian investigation is open and transparent.
Or you'll do what?
"If crimes have been committed, we're pushing the Iranian government to punish those who committed the crime," Prime Minister Jean Chretien said earlier Wednesday. But "we have to know all the facts" before acting, he added.
Chretien wants facts, not proof. How many facts does he need before a thing is proven? He too is promising to act after we know all the facts, but what will happen if we don't know the facts? Since not enough facts means it will be unproven, does that mean we won't act? Is there a loophole here? Where's my aspirin?
Skeptical reporters repeatedly asked Graham how he could trust the Iranians, since democratic reformers led by President Mohammad Khatami are struggling with conservative Islamic militants.
Could some of those skeptical reporters possibly be from the CBC? (Not that I blame them for being actutely interested in this issue; any Canadian news agency should be alarmed at the limpid response of the Feds.)
Graham acknowledged there is a concern "whether or not the secret police and security services ... will follow the orders of the government," but Kharrazi left him with the impression that the government wants to ensure the law prevails.
NOTE: Ellipses! Did they Dowdize the quote? Heh.

We already know that there is an ongoing power struggle in Iran between moderate reformers and hardline Islamic mullahs. The elected, moderate reformers pass laws and the unelected mullahs strike them down. We also know that the hardliners have their own security forces which use weapons of fear and surprise, have fanatical devotion to the mullahs, wear nifty black leather jackets and face scarves, ride motorcycles, and kidnap people. Sheesh, even the Iranian civilian police are afraid to confront them.

Just how long has Graham been on vacation, anyway? I'll take Mel [mayor of Toronto] Lastman's rant at the W.H.O. over Graham's lily-livered, submissive behaviour any day. Mel may have been incoherent, but at least he was OUTRAGED.

Graham repeatedly said the Iranian investigation must be given time to run its course, which could take several days. If Canada is not satisfied, Graham said the government will act, though he didn't say what the government would do.
Again the ominous threat of unspecified action after an unspecified number of days/weeks/months/years.

Here's a simple question: where's the body? Despite repeated calls for Zahra Kazemi's remains to be returned to Canada for an autopsy, there have been conflicting reports as to whether she has already been buried.

Graham said the authorities have the body. Despite Iranian reports that the body will not be returned to Canada, Graham said "that's not what the foreign minister said to me."
So what did the foreign minister say to Graham? Either Graham doesn't say or the CBC doesn't report it.
He [Graham] said there appears to be a dispute between Kazemi's son and her mother. Hachemi wants his mother returned to Canada. His grandmother wants her buried in Iran.
Appears to be a dispute? How clear does the son have to be to make it clear that there is a dispute?
Graham said the body will stay with the Iranian authorities until the family works out what it wants done.
ASIDE: I feel cheated. There isn't a single death quote in the entire article. I wanted death quotes and ellipses.

Maybe Graham should read the CNN webpage which reports:

Kazemi's only son, Stephan Hachemi, who lives in Montreal, said Iran's government had acknowledged his mother had "been beaten to death."

Hachemi has demanded Iran return Kazemi's body to Canada and disputed a report from IRNA that Kazemi's mother, who lives in Iran, has requested she be buried in Shiraz.(Emphasis added)

"My grandmother wants exactly the same as I do, to have the body of Zahra Kazemi to be brought back to Canada," he said, adding that his grandmother was "under a lot of pressure" and was "forced" to make a "false declaration."

"It has been clear between us and all the members of the family that (Kazemi) won't be buried in the land of the people that murdered her," Hachemi said. "She belongs with me, her only child."

Well said! I doubt there is anyone in Canada who doesn't agree with him (what with Graham being in France and all!)

The CNN webpage also states:

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister John Manley earlier warned that the issue could be a "setback" for his country's neutral relationship with Iran.

What constitutes a "setback" in a neutral relationship? Is he saying that this issue could move Canada's relationship with Iran to something other than neutral, like maybe not-neutral? It's unlikely relations would become either hostile or friendly, right?

Paul Martin, who is in an undisclosed location, has been typically silent on this subject.

UPDATE: David Warren weighs in on the Zahra Kazemi case and points out the sad, sad truth about whether travelling under a Canadian Passport offers any protection:

I wish it did, but it doesn't. As long-time Canadian travellers know, if you get into trouble abroad, you go to the American embassy, or the British, or the Australian, whichever's nearest. The Canadian who uses his own embassy to do anything more than renew his passport, or perhaps collect mail, is inexperienced. He shouldn't be travelling in dangerous places.
No blogger in Canada (or the USA) should let the government off the hook on this.

The Canadian also adds his voice:

"The Bill Grahams in our government can huff and puff all they like but they are kittens amongst tigers - and the tigers know it!"

Posted by Debbye at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2003

Canadian photojournalist death due to beating

July 16 - Journalist was beaten:

TEHRAN (CP) - Iran confirmed Wednesday that Iranian-born Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi died of a brain hemorrhage due to blows she sustained.

Officials for Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham and his department also were unavailable for comment.

But Tanya Churchmuch, the Canadian president of Reporters Without Borders, said "an awful lot of lies were told over the last few days. It confirms what we really always knew."

Also Tuesday, Amnesty International joined calls by Iran's Islamic Human Rights Commission and other rights organizations for an independent investigation into Kazemi's death.

One would think Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham would at least comment on that if only to whisper his support for the investigation.
[President Mohammad] Khatami has said the closure of more than 90 newspapers without trial in the past three years and imprisonment of several dozens of writers and activists in mostly closed trials without jury by the hard-line judiciary were open violations of the constitution, but said he was "powerless" to stop them.
Zahra Kazemi was a Canadian citizen. That means her beating death while under detention is a matter for the Candian government to investigate and protest. The support of NGOs is welcome, but they shouldn't have to take the lead in this matter.

Posted by Debbye at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)