Support for Iranian Opposition

March 4, 2011

While Libya has become the focal point in international media covering the events on Arab St. one should not forget Iran either. DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources reveal that the two prominent opposition leaders, Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were secretly hauled out of their homes in sacks Thursday, Feb. 24 and taken to the infamous Parchin prison in Tehran. Their wives have also disappeared. Their families deny official claim the two leaders are at home.


Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority) has send a letter to EU leadership to intervene more actively to pressurize the Iranian government so that it respects human rights in Iran. As the letter includes in my opinion good background information as well a draft for action plan of this possible intervention I hereby publish the letter mentioned below:



سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران(اکثریت)

Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority)

http://www.fadai.org/english.htm international-relations@fadai.org

 

R.nr 138 1st March, 2011
I.G.e.v
PB 260268
50515 Cologne
Germany

Tel:0049/221/37770

Behruz.khaligh@fadai.org

 

Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council

Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

Mr. Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament

Ms. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Dear Sirs,
Dear Madam,

 

According to family members of two Iranian opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and some other reports, the above-named persons have been arrested and jailed on the eve of a nationwide protest on 1 March 2011. Their children have not seen in public or the two, since just before the Feb. 14 protests which they had called for. The reports indicate that both men and their wives, Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard and Mrs. Fatemeh Karroubi, are now incarcerated at Heshmatieh prison in Tehran. Today, Mr. Mehmanparast, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared the issue to be an internal affair, which only confirms the arrest and nothing more.

We, the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority), are concerned about the latest developments in the attitude of the Iranian regime to the symbolic figures of the “Green movement”. A violent escalation against them could degenerate into a more widespread bloodbath of political opponents and civil society activists in Iran. Only today, there were demonstrations and protest actions in Teheran and some another cities in Iran, resulting in more killings and arrests. The need for action is urgent.

We now ask the European institutions to intervene more actively to pressurise the Iranian government so that it respects human rights in Iran. We call in particular for an urgent and concerted diplomatic initiative aimed at the immediate release of Messrs. Moussavi and Karroubi and their wives and the lifting of contact restrictions imposed on them; aimed also at confirmation that their physical integrity, which seems now seriously threatened, is being safeguarded.

This initiative could include in particular:

– Summoning simultaneously Ambassadors of the Islamic Republic of Iran accredited to the countries of the European Union to demand the immediate release of Messrs. Moussavi and Karroubi and their wives and the lifting of contact restrictions imposed on them; also, to protest strongly against violations of human rights in Iran;

– Demarche by European Union Ambassadors accredited to Iran along the same lines;

– Announcement of a visit to Iran by the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iran and / or the Sub-Commission on Human Rights of the European Parliament including a request to visit Messrs. Moussavi and Karroubi;

– A proposal by the European Union addressed to UN bodies, including the Council for Human Rights, which is meeting in Geneva in March 2011, to appoint a Special Reporter for Human Rights in Iran;

– A proposal by the European Union to the Security Council of the United Nations to adopt targeted sanctions against members of Iranian security forces responsible for violations of human rights, including the Basij;

– Adoption by the EU of autonomous sanctions along the same lines.

The human rights situation in Iran is more dangerous today than at any time since June 12, 2009. The people of Iran expect the international community, including the European Union, to support them in preventing a surge of violence by the regime and to ensure that human rights and the demands of justice and freedom are respected at last.

Yours sincerely,

 

Behruz Khaligh

Head of the Political and Executive Committee

Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaïan (Majority)

 

Note (AR)

The Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas (OIPFG سازمان چريکهای فدايي خلق ايران) was originally a radical Marxist-Leninist movement in Iran in 1971. The group fought against the Shah regime and later after the 1979 revolution, against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. OIPFG has had many internal divisions, e.g. in 1979 some separatist formed sc Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas while former OIPFG cadres formed the Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran. Majority of the organization members did not believe in armed struggle any more and at the new political atmosphere recognized the Islamic Republic as an anti-Imperialist state. OIPFG was divided into OIPFG (Majority) and Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas (Minority). OIPFG (Minority), which broke away from the main organization, was pursuing a more radical line. On 1981OIPFG (Majority) supporters announced that the group would cease to conduct guerrilla warfare and was renamed Organization of Iranian People’s Fedaian (Majority).

Some of my earlier Iran articles:

 

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Is there life in EP after Elections?

April 3, 2009

Have women’s rights in Afghanistan anything to do with Elections of European Parliament? Question came to my mind when I participated with my article –“Karzai’s administration “Worse than Taliban” into blogging campaign related to Elections 2009. The same could be said most of issues in electoral campaign. Both the voters as well candidates have foggy picture about the role EP in EU, about de facto power of EP in relation to its power de jure. Besides the public discussion is dominated by easy on-liners for media and comments about celebrity candidates on the other hand and integrating EU, EC and EP into a harmonious whole.

The electoral campaigns are mainly focusing to market a candidate and/or party to potential voters – the actual work in EP will be obscured and the whole idea of politics as dealing with mutual or particular reference group interests is forgotten.

My article

My “irrelevant” article referred the new law in Afghanistan which junked the women rights even behind those which were applied during Taliban regime. I asked how is this possible while EU is throwing billions of its taxpayers money to develop civil society in Afghanistan and I was afraid that the case is not unique in EU missions worldwide.

I criticized the gap between high flown aims and destructive practice, between progress in reports and backward development on the ground, which issues I earlier have handled in cases of Bosnia and Kosovo. I also proposed actions which could improve the practice.

EP and Afghan women

If EU is one of the main players developing Afghanistan so does EP have any role with this work? I cursorily checked EP actions with case and even if I got only small fragment of the whole the answer is yes – EP has had varied approaches to this topic. Here few examples:


  • EP has made many previous resolutions on Afghanistan e.g. that of 8 July 2008,
  • EP delegation made visit to Afghanistan from 26 April to 1 May 2008 with the purpose of examining the conditions of implementation of Community and international aid, and to the relevant mission report,
  • EP has appealed to all EU States and to the international community to ensure that all humanitarian assistance and future rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes integrate a gender perspective, that they actively attempt to promote the participation of both women and men, and that women benefit equally with men from those programmes;
  • European Parliament made resolution of 15 January 2009 on budgetary control of EU funds in Afghanistan (2008/2152(INI))
  • EP gets reports and has discussions on EU Aid effectiveness
  • European Parliament Resolution on Gender Aspects of Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding has been made(2000)
  • The Country Strategy Papers (for Afghanistan) and the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2007 – 2010 are adopted by the Commission in agreement with Parliament,
  • EP recalls that gender equality and women’s rights are recognised as vital issues, both in the Afghan Government’s national development strategy and in the CSP 2007-2013, which establishes that the gender dimension will be an integral part of planning in the above-mentioned three focal areas (P6_TA-PROV(2009)0023 A6-0488/2008),
  • EP calls on the Afghan Government to ensure that the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA), which was recently adopted, will receive satisfactory funding and be implemented in cooperation with civil society and women’s organisations; calls also on the Commission to ensure that its gender equality actions are transparent and harmonised with other actions of this type undertaken by the other donors in Afghanistan; calls, in this connection, for the Commission to submit a report analysing the extent to which gender equality has been taken into account to date in the programming of the overall financial assistance allocated by the EU (P6_TA-PROV(2009)0023 A6-0488/2008),
  • EP calls on the Commission and the Afghan Government, in view of the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 respectively, to continue to encourage and provide adequate funding for actions to promote the political emancipation of women, especially in the regions, given that in the last provincial council elections there were not enough women candidates to occupy the 124 seats designated for women in the provincial councils (P6_TA-PROV(2009)0023 A6-0488/2008),
  • EP Committee on women’s rights and equal opportunities has handled the Afghanistan gender question,
  • A View – Gender Aspects of Conflict Resolution – was given from The European Parliament,
  • In the European Parliament, the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) has approved a working document ‘Gender Mainstreaming Action Plan’ (23 March 2007). The document aims to bring the Parliament towards the “dynamism of the Council in the field of gender mainstreaming into ESDP” by gender mainstreaming in the SEDE itself. It also wants the SEDE to scrutinise gender issues in ESDP and missions, as well as to initiate a report on ‘The gender impact of ESDP operations’ by the end of the parliamentary term in 2009.

Candidates differ

Celebrities, athletes, entertainers, talk show hosts and populists are dominating headlines in EP electoral campaign giving real but deplorable one-sided image about issues related to EP. However there is a small amount of candidates who are focusing also to substance and topics which they like to highlight in EP if selected there.

I e.g. have a dialogue with one candidate who is designing her (Yes indeed a woman candidate who has more guts and brains than most of her fellow competitors) Policy program. Her campaign includes also Balkan questions, 3rd world etc., she also knows those issues due the fieldwork experience in Balkans and Asia. I be that this kind of MEPs could de facto place in EP to influent also Afghan women problems.

Those 5 % of MEPs who take their job seriously can have their say in issues where EP strictly does not have the ultimate decision power “de jure”. They can raise these issues via various forms in EP as well through national governments.

On the bottom line my wish is that during electoral hype also voters taka into consideration the time after Elections.


Karzai’s administration “Worse than Taliban”

April 1, 2009

I almost got stroke while reading yesterday a headline “Worse than the Taliban – new law rolls back rights for Afghan women” in the Guardian. Not due the act itself but because it reflects the substance and outcome of EU’s civil crisis management mission. First I thought it was April fools’ joke but it wasn’t and unfortunately the case is not so unique example among EU’s capacity building efforts in different missions.

On 31.3.2009 foreign ministers of 73 states had Afghanistan conference in Hague, Netherlands, to continue support for security and development projects in country.

The new law

So how are human rights and civil society developing in Afghanistan with EU’s help. Summarizing what really happens there the abstract below gives picture of one aspect (Source and full story in the Guardian):

Hamid Karzai has been accused of trying to win votes in Afghanistan’s presidential election by backing a law the UN says legalises rape within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands’ permission. The Afghan president signed the law earlier this month.

The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex. A briefing document prepared by the UNDP Fund for Women also warns that the law grants custody of children to fathers and grandfathers only. Senator Humaira Namati, a member of the upper house of the Afghan parliament, said the law was “worse than during the Taliban”. “Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam,” she said.

Some female politicians have taken a more pragmatic stance, saying their fight in parliament’s lower house succeeded in improving the law, including raising the original proposed marriage age of girls from nine to 16 and removing completely provisions for temporary marriages.

EU’s development efforts

EU is doing capacity building activities in Afghanistan through supporting ISAF –operation (military peacekeeping), implementing its own EUPOL Afghanistan mission (building civilian police in accordance with international standards) and giving EU Aid for humanitarian purposes and development projects.

To contribute effectively to the stabilization of Afghanistan as well as responding to the immense development needs and challenges of the Afghan people is a major external priority for the European Union (EU). Since 2002 the European Commission (EC) has contributed more than 1.4 billion EUR to Afghanistan. EC aid has been used for humanitarian purposes as well as to support priority reconstruction and development efforts. (Source EC/EuropeAid)

The aims and targets of EU assistance are defined in Country Strategy Paper/Afghanistan (CSP/AFG). Human rights, gender and the environment are highlighted as key issues that affect a wide range of policy areas. These policy areas will be mainstreamed in all focal and non-focal areas. In public administration, increased female representation in all tiers of the public administration will be an important consideration … programmes will aim to promote the effective participation of women in local decision-making where this is possible…the CSP also aims to focus on human rights at a range of levels in its sector programmes.

Financing backward progress

EU seems to throw billions of its taxpayers money to development in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended. Unfortunately this is not exemption. In Bosnia-Herzegovina ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards in Kosovo the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between aims and practice the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use there Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

Implementing the list above could produce positive news – real not only in oriented progress reports to Brussels – in future from Afghanistan as well from other mission regions.  The minimum demand anyway should be that EU actions are not worsening the situations on the ground.


Living in multi-ethnic Kosovo province

September 22, 2008

One news headline on Serbianna pages popped up to my eyes yesterday.  I quate

Ten oxygen bottles required by the Hospital Center in Gracanica after they were seized by Kosovo separatists who demanded recognition of Kosovo in exchange for life of Serbian babies.

So this is real live in multi-ethnic “independent”/UN protectorate Kosovo with “European perspective”.  This news – not first of that kind – are showing me at least few aspects about Kosovo problematic

  • The Great (Western) Powers do not see or care about impact of their shortsighted policy (e.g. hesitated recognition of Kosovo independence)
  • The high level governments and organizations with their nicely formulated statements and ideas about human rights etc. are far away from the facts on the ground
  • The people who are suffering about high level policy have no role with designing this policy nor can they have some influence to that



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