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Posts Tagged ‘oppression’

The Stoning of Soraya M.

Posted by Richard on June 26, 2009

With Iran and human rights so much in the news, it's appropriate that director Cyrus Nowrasteh's The Stoning of Soraya M. is opening this weekend in select theaters across the country. The film is based on the acclaimed international best-seller of the same name by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam, and the story is true. It was runner-up to Slumdog Millionaire at the Toronto 2008 Film Festival, and critics are heaping praise on it. Jeffrey Lyons thinks female lead Shohreh Aghdashloo's performance is "a serious Oscar contender" (she was previously nominated for The House of Sand and Fog).

Hugh Hewitt:

The movie is beautiful and deeply moving, and the film's opening would have been an enormous story even had Iran not erupted in a long-suppressed general demand for freedom from tyranny.  Stoning is an abhorrent practice, but one that still goes on in Iran, as recently as March of this year, according to Radio Free Europe, when a 30-year old man was stoned to death for adultery.
 
Some apologists for the Mullahs point to the official moratorium on stoning that Iran adopted early in the decade, but ignore that the practice still goes on and that the law permitting the penalty has not been repealed.
 
Much more to the point, though, is the fundamental evil of a law code that consigns all women to a second-class status and through which the worst sorts of cruelty are not merely not punished but even endorsed.
 
“The Stoning of Soraya M” does not portray the Iran of Tehran or the other industrialized cities.  It is a poignant picture of rural and remote Iran, the Iran we have been told again and again supports Ahmadinejad against the urban elites that have been pouring into the streets of the major cities for the past 10 days.

Every American who sees “The Stoning of Soraya M” will emerge from the theater far wiser about what is driving the revolt of the people in Iran.  These demonstrators want their freedom from theocracy.
 
That theocracy reaches down into every aspect of every life, and its totalitarian demands for control over every aspect of life make it the cousin of every repressive police state that stained the 20th century. 
 
Americans cannot deliver aid to the demonstrators, but they can attend a movie that outrages the Mullahs.  A large box office for “The Stoning of Soraya M” sends a message to the Mullahs that won't be mistaken: Americans support the end of their medieval rule. 
The Stoning of Soraya M. is opening at these theaters either this weekend or in early July. If one of them is near you, go see this film.

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Tiananmen in Tehran II

Posted by Richard on June 25, 2009

I invoked the memory of Tiananmen Square last week. I may have been premature. Apparently, the suppression of dissent in Tehran became a true massacre today.

Guns, clubs, and axes. Axes!

They were especially targeting the women, because women are "the greatest threat to the regime."

These are the monsters with whom we're supposed to resolve our differences by sitting down with them and talking??

I'm beyond outrage. I'm beyond grief. I'm beyond words. Go. Look. Think.

(HT: Vodkapundit)

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Appalled and outraged … at last

Posted by Richard on June 23, 2009

More than a week after every major European leader (aren't we supposed to take our cues from the Europeans?), President Obama has finally strongly condemned the brutal repression of dissent in Iran. He's ten days late, but better late than never:

After days of criticism from Republicans, Mr. Obama opened a White House news conference saying he was "appalled and outraged" by the threats and confrontations in the streets of the Iranian capital. He declined to confirm whether a U.S. offer of direct talks with Iran will still stand, instead saying he would wait to see how the postelection crisis there "plays itself out."

"In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to the peaceful pursuit of justice," Mr. Obama said. "The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost."

Very good, Mr. President. Very good indeed. Now why was that so difficult? 

It wasn't as forceful as Reagan's support of the Solidarity movement in 1981, but it's a start. Now if only the Iranian people had a Lech Walesa to lead them instead of that mullah-approved sorry excuse for a "reform candidate," Mousavi.

UPDATE: The Spirit of Man and Foundation for Democracy in Iran (June 23, Update 1) had very different reactions than mine. I wasn't aware that Iranian diplomats had been invited to an Independence Day barbecue at the White House and that the invitation still stands. Now I'm appalled. I take back my mild praise — it appears to be undeserved.

UPDATE 2 (6/24): The Independence Day invitation wasn't to a White House event, but to numerous July 4th events at American embassies and consulates around the world. Apparently faced with growing outrage and disbelief, the White House has finally rescinded the invitation. It wasn't exactly an act of great moral courage, since exactly zero Iranian diplomats had accepted the invitation. 

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What you can do to help the people of Iran

Posted by Richard on June 16, 2009

The struggle for freedom and democracy continues in Iran (as it always will, anywhere and everywhere that the human spirit yearns to be free). Winston of The Spirit of Man is asking for your help:

I have been asked by so many people today again about how they can help the people of Iran in their quest for democracy and freedom. I have had calls from as far as Holland. This is what I think any decent human being can do to help further the cause of liberty in Iran:

In the United States: Get on the phones. Call your US Congressmen/women and demand they issue statements in support of the Iranian people. Remind them of Iran Freedom Support Act of 2005. Make sure to be polite and courteous. Call your senators and demand they be tough with the regime.

In Canada, UK, Holland & other European countries: Call your respective Members of Parliament. Demand they press their respective governments not to negotiate with the Iranian regime. Be polite and ask them kindly to issue statements in support of the people of Iran's quest for democracy and liberty. You can call or write to your media and ask them to cover the Iranian regime's brutal crackdown of the peaceful protests in any way they can. This is a media war. This is the information war. All of you regardless of your location can spread the word. The regime fears nothing like information. That's all I can think of now but if you've comments or suggestions, please share them with me.

You can find local pro-freedom rallies arranged by Iranian expats in your town/city and show up as a sign of support. Trust me, it is very heart warming for Iranians to see you care. All of us need to be encouraged and I am sure your presence provides that for those who are fighting the regime. Thank you!

So far, no luck finding any information about rallies in the Denver area, but I'll keep looking. If I find one, I'll be there!

Yesterday:

“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

President George W. Bush
Second Inaugural Speech
January 20, 2005

Today

Obama repeated Tuesday at a news conference his "deep concerns" about the disputed balloting. He said he believes the ayatollah's decision to order an investigation "indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns."

But at the same time, Obama said it would not be helpful if the United States was seen by the world as "meddling" in the issue.

Times have changed. How sad. How shameful.

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Tiananmen in Tehran

Posted by Richard on June 16, 2009

They shot pro-democracy demonstrators in Tehran yesterday. The Mousavi campaign called off a protest rally today because they were warned that riot squads would be using live ammunition. And vote counts allegedly leaked by someone in the interior ministry put Ahm-a-doin-a-jihad in third place:

The statistics, circulated on Iranian blogs and websites, claimed Mr Mousavi had won 19.1 million votes while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won only 5.7 million.

The two other candidates, reformist Mehdi Karoubi and hardliner Mohsen Rezai, won 13.4 million and 3.7 million respectively. The authenticity of the leaked figures could not be confirmed.

No one actually knows how many have been killed, beaten, and arrested, or in how many other cities the demonstrations have been taking place. Foreign journalists (and Iranians working for them) are essentially under "house arrest," ordered to cover these events by watching the state-run TV reports from their hotel rooms.

So much for the wishful thinking of President Obama, who seemed so sure last Friday that his Cairo speech had changed the world, but who this week has decided to "withhold comment" (as Biden put it):

The clenched fist of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in his suspect return to power, has not only delivered a blow to freedom-seeking Iranians; it is also knocking the Obama administration for a loop — primarily because the president has chosen not to stand with Iranians who seek "a future of peace and dignity."

The administration was obviously rooting for Ahmadinejad to be beaten by his chief rival, former Iranian prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi. The president on Friday, the day of the election, spoke of "a robust debate taking place in Iran" bringing with it "new possibilities" and "the possibility of change."

How naive those words sound in retrospect. Presidential wishful thinking has crashed head-on into Islamofascist reality.

Europeans have condemned Iran's repressive regime, but apparently the Obama administration — true to its post-modernist, morally relativist, politically correct intellectual roots — doesn't want to be seen as taking sides between a brutal theocracy and people yearning for their basic human rights. It doesn't want anyone to think we might meddle in Iran's affairs — in this new era of hopenchange, the U.S. only meddles in the affairs of pro-Western democracies like Israel.

This brutal repression of Iranians' desire for freedom and democracy is unfolding less than two weeks after the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, with its iconic image of a lone brave man standing in front of a line of tanks. Yesterday's big demonstration (and the shootings) took place in Azadi (Freedom) Square — a fitting location with a more meaningful name than Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace).

Tehran 24 has striking pictures and video from the last few days. Among many from Saturday, this compelling image reminiscent of Tiananmen stood out:

defiant woman in Tehran

 My thoughts are with this courageous woman and all the brave freedom-loving people of Iran. I'd like to think that behind the scenes, stealthily, the U.S. is providing at least some support to the pro-democracy forces — but with this administration, it's highly unlikely.

For more news and commentary on Iran, check out The Spirit of Man and the Foundation for Democracy in Iran. The latter has called on Obama for support (emphasis in original): 

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran has written to President Barack Hussein Obama, urging him to stand up for America's principles and avoid the error made by President Clinton in 1999, when he washed his hands of the student uprising in Iran, claiming that America could do nothing."Mr. President, America can do much, as you and your supporters said repeatedly during your election campaign. For starters, America should continue to hold up the beacon of liberty that Iranians look to with such longing – not put it under a shroud," the letter states.

The FDI does not call on the United States to support any particular group or party inside Iran, but instead calls on the president to "assert America’s moral authority in defense of freedom."

Above all, the letter calls on President Obama "to refuse to recognize the imposter regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and to muster world opinion to neutralize him behind an international cordon sanitaire until he crumbles from isolation and neglect. Download a PDF of the letter.

I hope they're not holding their breaths. By Obama's reckoning, America has no moral authority, and championing liberty and human rights for Iranians would be "imposing our way of life" on the government thugs descending on that brave woman above.

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A grim anniversary

Posted by Richard on January 1, 2009

I almost forgot that this January 1 is a grim anniversary. Investor's Business Daily remembered (emphasis added):

New Year's Day marks 50 years of communist rule in Cuba. The Castro oligarchy will trumpet its survival and celebrate. But the reality, up close, is that it's the longest-running failure in the New World.

Spare us the fireworks and media-parroted claims of Fidel Castro's dictatorship bringing universal health care and education to Cuba. The real story is that a prosperous Cuba was turned into ruins in just five decades.

Its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is a mere 5% of what it was in 1958, the year before Castro took over, according to Jorge Salazar-Carillo of Florida International University.

"It's a major failure," Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told IBD. "Cuba … now imports 84% of its food. Cuba produced 7 million tons of sugar in 1952. This year, it's 1.5 million tons. This is the result of economic policy of collectivization, killing of individual incentive, inefficiency, constant changes of policy."

As usual, the essential source for all things Cuban is Babalu Blog, so just hit that home page and keep scrolling — lots of analyses of how the mainstream media have been covering the story. 

But let me call your attention in particular to this post by Humberto: 

"Cuban mothers let me assure you that I will solve all Cuba's problems without spilling a drop of blood." Upon entering Havana on January 7, 1959, Cuba's new leader Fidel Castro broadcast that promise into a phalanx of microphones. As the jubilant crowd erupted with joy, Castro continued. “Cuban mothers let me assure you that because of me you will never have to cry."

The following day, just below San Juan Hill in eastern Cuba, a bulldozer rumbled to a start, clanked into position, and started pushing dirt into a huge pit with blood pooling at the bottom from the still-twitching bodies of more than a hundred men and boys who'd been machine-gunned without trial on the Castro brothers' orders. Their wives and mothers wept hysterically from a nearby road.

On that very day, the U.K. Observer ran the following headline: "Mr Castro's bearded, youthful figure has become a symbol of Latin America's rejection of brutality and lying. Every sign is that he will reject personal rule and violence."

A grim reminder of what these monsters — and their apologists — are really like. RTWT.

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