Thursday, December 27, 2007

I am angry! Who cares?

by Cklara moradian

Who cares?

I am angry! At me, the girl who stares back at me in the mirror

by Cklara Moradian

“I am angry!” I typed in a search bar and I found numerous articles, poems, and vignettes of writers around the world who have begun their essays with this exact statement. In fact I’ve written a blog post with the same title in the past. Today I begin another rampage of thoughts in the same fashion and it is not the first time I have purged my anger unto a piece of paper and shouted in maddening rage. The anger has always been justified though because, well, let’s face it, it's been about ME. Who is to say I can’t be angry?

However, today I wanted to write about something other than myself. I wanted to talk about something greater than me, something of importance, something worth being angry about. So, in retrospect, why have I begun this piece so egocentrically? Is it human nature to be so self-absorbed? So self-centered? Or is it this individualistic, materialistic, “Me, myself and I”, consumer world we live in? Can I really be blamed for beginning an article about something important by using an “I” statement?

“I AM ANGRY?” Is it even important how I feel? What I want? What I write about? Does my anger even matter when Britney Spears’ 16-year-old sister is pregnant? Could I possibly have something provoking to say when Paris Hilton just lost all of her inheritance to charity? Can I possibly have something more enraging to be angry about when so and so just got engaged and the other couple from last year's wedding filed for a divorce? I mean who cares what I have to say? Everyone has so much to worry about already. JC Penny's “16-hour post holiday sale” is ticking down and Macy's has that “two days only end of the year, new year special” going on right now so why would anyone in their right mind be reading this instead? Who cares that I am angry? I bet you are angry too! For heaven’s sake, your central heater is too loud, or was it your refrigerator? And your laundry takes too long. I bet you're angry too, I mean isn't it outrageous that you didn't get an extra day off this year and that Hanna Montana tickets were sold out before it was supposed to go on sale?

Well I'm going to tell you what I’m angry about anyways because why would I care that you have your own problems? I’m going to express myself anyways because isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Aren’t Myspace, facebook, YouTube, blogcentral, etc. etc. all there to make us feel like we are expressing ourselves freely and someone cares to listen? I’ll probably put this up on my Journals on OkCupid so I can seem like a better catch and wipe out my competition. I mean isn’t that what it’s all about? This game, this race that we are running to be the best, the first, the biggest, the smallest, the richest, the most powerful, I don’t know, the youngest, the oldest? Isn’t it all about the winners? Aren’t they the ones who end up writing history?

Isn’t that why you’ve never heard of the girls whose breasts are cut and then ironed onto their chests in order to desexualize them? Wouldn’t you rather see pictures of a D-cup breast instead? Oh, you were saving up to buy some, how else are plastic surgeons and porn stars two of the biggest money earners in this country? They are the winners. You wouldn’t know the San Fernando Valley and Beverley Hills if it weren’t for them. Isn’t that why you’ve heard of the Holocaust but never about the genocides in Armenia, Kurdistan, Rwanda, Darfur, Cambodia? I mean you just upgraded to Cable. While you had dial-up and DSL it took too long to watch the videos shot by a cheap hand held camera by an unknown journalist who was trying to give you an image of what the circumcisions of 130 girls in a village in Africa looks like. The Victoria Secret show downloaded faster and let’s face it, it was full of eye candy. It wasn’t your fault, it never is!

I am angry! I want to shout it on top of Mount Everest and I bet just as many people will hear me then, as the number of people who will read this vignette when I put it up online.

My father always tells me “you can’t be angry at the ignorant but of those who know and look away.” Is that called oblivion? I am angry because half this world is oblivious to the fact that every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger? I mean your anorexic daughters and sisters are hungry too so why would you care? I am angry because your ignorance is not an excuse. Because isn’t this era called the information era? Shouldn’t you know more than ever, now that you spend at the least 12 hours a day online? I mean it wasn’t so hard for you to get the latest news about the release of the video games you play 5 hours a day, every day. How come you have no idea that more people die of suicide than those murdered or killed in war? So who cares that I am angry that my search results for “statistics on childhood sexual abuse” is not even 1/3rd the size of the search results for your favorite television show. I bet you are angry too that you didn’t get the new iPod during this holiday season. I’m not judging you. I mean, I myself have useless conversations on a cellular phone that costs more than what 300 people live on each day and I walk around wearing a Bluetooth headset to make myself feel important!

UNICEF just put out this statement: “Nearly one in four people, 1.3 billion - a majority of humanity - live on less than $1 per day, while the world's 358 billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world's people.” Is that just a random fact I copy and pasted?

I am angry because we couldn’t collect more than $100.00 for those hungry children you couldn’t care less about while we stood all day in front of a shopping mall in Calabasas where the shoppers drove no less than their pimped out brand new models of Mercedes Benz, BMW, Lexus and guess what? That’s the Middle class man’s car in those areas. Their 16-year-old daughters who all look alike drive Maseratis and hold $1,500 purses that “daddy” bought for them for Christmas. It’s much cooler, trust me.

I am angry! At you, no, not you the reader, but me, the girl who stares back at me in the mirror. I am angry because I sat down to write something worth reading and all I have done is given you facts and figures you should know already. I bet you’re angry too because I am making you feel guilty. I mean it’s all for a reason right? All this madness, sadness, and chaos? Maybe if I believed in your omnibenevolent God, I wouldn’t be so angry. Maybe then I could justify through the misuse of logic how an all loving and an all knowing, an all powerful God has decided that it’s justice for little kids in the Middle East to have to pick mine bombs as a job to feed their families while your little cousins, nephews, and nieces pick daisies and strawberries for fun. I am angry, and bitter, and all fired up but aren’t you tired of all these angry liberals? I mean you hear enough sarcasm on Saturday Night Live. You don’t need another self righteous hypocrite to tell you how unfair this world is. You don’t need to feel patronized, interrogated, and guilt tripped? You didn’t choose to be born in this country, or with a silver spoon, or ignorant. All you can do is feed yourself and your own family. Life is a struggle, you didn’t decide for the rest of the world to starve. It’s all for a higher purpose anyways, right?

Listen, I am angry! I am angry that I walk through Berkley, the supposed liberal heaven and I see Che Guevara on sale. Google him, I bet you’ve already seen his pictures amongst your little brother’s band shirts. No, Che isn’t a band. He was a guerrilla fighter against oppression, or to please others he was a terrorist and guess what? They sell him now! Capitalism prints his photos on bikinis and Adriana Lima proudly wears it on the catwalk for the pleasure of your senses. You can now pre-order Rebellion, Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Equality, and all your ideologies can be shipped free to the comfort of your door at no extra charge. And while you’re at it, why don’t you send Democracy to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Palestine and Afghanistan? They will gladly take your imposed ideas and wear it to their Intifada.

So now that our heroes and idols are sold on the shelves of our highly glamorous bourgeois malls, who are we supposed to worship? I mean this is a hero-worshipping land right? How many super hero movies were blockbuster hits this past year?

I am angry and let me tell you why. So us women, if we need a role model why don’t we idolize Angelina Jolie? I mean, she’s beautiful, sexy, a humanitarian, she even has an environmentalist boyfriend and a multi colored family. She deserves my respect for being a sexually liberated woman with her own opinions. What else can I strive to be?

So I am angry that for the first time in the history of the most powerful nation in the world, yes, The United States of America, we have a major female presidential candidate and she is not supported by the majority of her gender because she isn’t woman enough! What does that mean? And in other news, our other candidate, a man of color, isn’t black enough for our tastes! If those are the criteria by which we vote for our leaders, I now understand why Bush was selected president, the Jesus-loving, homophobic, hypocritical man IS indeed white enough!

I am angry that I know injured veterans who still swear by their military, and when they are trying to impress you they talk about how they marched with their over sized rifles in ROTC at the age of 14. I am angry because people dare talk about freedom and responsibility, they dare look me in the eyes and tell me that this war we are fighting is a “war on terror” and it’s about humanity. Since you happen to know the truth delivered to you by FOX news, since you seem to be convinced that our government is the best in the world, tell me then why in 1988 when Halabja was bombed with nerve agents Sarin, Tabun and VX, as well as mustard gas, when 5000 people literally dropped dead, and thousands are still suffering today, no one started looking for “weapons of mass destruction”. There is in fact half a page on the event on Wikipedia, your convenient reliable source of choice. That’s right. You didn’t even know about Halabja. You were watching The Young and the Restless while that happened. A decade later, the 3000 people who died on September 11, 2001 are forever remembered and the world is never the same again.

Tell me again, tell me how this war is justified so that I can tell you how many gallons of blood equals a barrel of oil. “Oh! She is one of those conspiracy theorists”, you’re probably thinking. I mean we all know our SUVs waste a lot of oil but we have Alaska, no need to go overseas. I am angry because you complain about gas prices while you’re driving your brand new Hummer and you’re not at all worried about global warming. Let Al Gore take care of that.

Tell me again how this war is about the people so I can tell you about the thousands of refugees this war has created, so that I can tell you about the tents and the cargo ships and the group shacks, not homes, they live in. Tell me it’s about the future, so that I can tell you about their living conditions, which even films labeled “Quentin Tarantino Presents” couldn’t envision. Tell me again how wonderful this freedom-loving, democratic, secular government is, so that I can tell you how the Kurds put their lives in danger to help our cause during the war only to see our lovely Condoleezza Rice shake hands with the prime minister of Turkey and watch them bombard the already ruined homes of the Kurds. When did betrayal become ethical? Thanks to the Patriot Act even torture can be considered lawful. Tell me again about civil liberties in this country so that I can tell you just how much respect our queer families receive. I am angry because human life isn’t measured equally. Your life is worth far more than the disposable human guinea pigs of Africa and Asia. While you’re at your baseball game and eating $8 hot dogs, little children in downtown LA, not Africa, but in LA, go to sleep hungry.

I am angry because it’s Saturday night and while you’re out with your buddies downing a 6-pack or on a date, all I’ve managed to accomplish is look like a pessimistic passive writer. I am not considered a brave, courageous, rebellious activist because if I were, I wouldn’t be here. I mean with my psychiatric history, thanks to the Virgina Tech. massacre, not only would I not be able to buy a gun, but quite easily they can claim an “accidental“ suicide as the cause of my death tomorrow morning. No, I’m not paranoid because I don’t think they are listening; I know! What am I complaining about? I mean there are men and women out there who are fighting in Iraq so that I can write propaganda and feed your illusions of freedom, so that I can make you feel like something is being done by someone. Go ahead, call me a bitch! Oops, was that politically correct? Let’s talk about freedom of speech for a second. I am angry because censorship has taken a whole new meaning. It’s not about approving a script or book before it’s published, there is a much better mechanism in effect. It’s called self-censorship. We’re all so afraid to say the wrong thing at the wrong time that we just don’t say anything at all. Well I’m so angry that I’m going to say it all. Racism exists and slavery is far from over! “Did she just say what I think she said?” Yes, I did. Next time you see your amigo go to work on Labor Day and pull off an 18 hour shift at minimum wage, you’ll know just what I mean. I am angry, no, not at you the religious fanatic, no, not at you, the cheerleader and sorority sister, no, not at you the baseball star, I am angry at these pseudo liberals who are outraged by the West Bank fences but end up volunteering to “protect” our borders from illegal immigrants and vote for their deportation. I am angry at these double standards. I am angry that you shout and riot about labels and stereotypes, yet right and left you call everyone names. I am angry that you’re willing to stand in line 12 hours, all night, in front of a retail store, but it hasn’t occurred to you to spend an hour with an ill child at a local hospital.

So all this said and done, what I am really angry about is that on Thursday morning my idol was assassinated. I bet you heard about the Pakistani leader who was shot; she did have quite a photogenic face. Although there hasn’t been half as much coverage on Benazir Bhutto’s murder as there was for Anna Nicole Smith’s overdose. I mean you don’t see Bhutto’s face by every grocery store checkout stand. I am angry because she was a woman worth looking up to, because she was a woman worth striving to be, but when she died and I called my friend in tears, she said: “Oh my God, who died?” Last month Bhutto told TIME Magazine that she is not afraid. I am angry because she wasn’t scared. She said in one of her interviews that her Mother’s Kurdish blood gave her the courage she needs to fight. I am angry that the same blood runs through me but I AM afraid. I wouldn’t walk through a country where every day a suicide bombing has cleared the streets in the past month. I am afraid but courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the ability to face it. I am angry because I don’t know what to answer when I ask myself: “Would I die for my people?” But a few years ago I was willing to die for my boyfriend; getting his name tattooed was the only thing off limits. I am afraid because this world is like a chess game and all they have to do when a piece is in the way is to eliminate it, terminate it, brutally, forcefully, violently, and ruthlessly silence it. I bet the western strategists who decided that she needed to be killed didn’t take into account the psychology of the region. I bet they didn’t realize that in those parts of the world the dead speak louder than the living. I bet they didn’t foresee the chaos that has overtaken Pakistan since. I bet they didn’t take into account our martyr-worshiping mentalities and didn’t realize death is powerless in the face of truth, that death is a catalysis, that it becomes a reason and ideas are bullet proof.

You want to silence people, give them drugs! Learn from the way the government is enjoying full access to one of the world’s largest opium supplies in Afghanistan and is pouring it in the streets of Iran, to dig the youth in their own self-destructive holes. They call it “the silent genocide” where I come from. Or what about the way our health care system is willing to pay for anti-depressants but doesn’t cover therapeutic sessions for your suicidal kids. I am angry because our kids are loaded on Zoloft and Prozac because our fast-food nation needs a quick fix for their blues. I guess we are all overworked and can’t afford British nannies like the ones on Nanny 911, to take care of them so instead we have 1000 channels that they can watch on a big screen TV to keep them occupied. Sure, the Simpsons and Family Guy can teach them family values. Next time their father decides to abuse them they can relate to Bart who is systematically, for your amusement, choked by Homer…

Benazir Bhutto's mother, My roll model was a Kurdish-Iranian

enazir Bhutto is the eldest child of the deposed Pakistani premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, who was of Kurdish-Iranian origin. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, a Sindhi and a key figure in Pakistan's Independence movement. Bhutto attended Lady Jennings Nursery School and then the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Karachi. After two years of schooling at the Rawalpindi Presentation Convent, she was sent to the Jesus and Mary Convent at Murree. She passed her O-level examinations at the age of 15. In April 1969, she was admitted to Harvard University's Radcliffe College. In June 1973, Benazir graduated from Harvard with a degree in political science; during her time at college, she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She attended Oxford University in the autumn of 1973 and graduated with an MA degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. She was elected President of the prestigious Oxford Unio.

Benazir Bhutto, my roll model is from Kurdish_Iranian Mother

Benazir Bhutto (1953–2007)

benazir bhutto obituary death assassination
Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto
Anthony Suau

Making a Martyr of Bhutto

The assassination of the charismatic politician plunges Pakistan into uncertainty, and possibly more instability

Where Bhutto's Death Leaves the U.S.

As Washington tries to figure out how to deal with Pakistan going forward, it also faces charges that it didn't do enough to support and protect the slain leader

Video: Benazir Bhutto, Nov. 2007

Benazir Bhutto speaks from inside her home in Pakistan, when she was under house arrest

Photos: Benazir Bhutto

The former Prime Minister is killed by an assassin

How To Welcome Back Bhutto

A supporter of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party chants slogans from a trai...

No Shortcut

After returning from exile last April, Opposition Leader Benazir Bhutto, 33, basked in the welcoming...

Bhutto, Musharraf: After the Break-up

Article Tools As breakups go, it was pretty spectacular. On Tue...

Bhutto at the Barricades

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty ...

She was a child of privilege, and took the mantle of power from her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the fiery and magnetic founder of the Pakistan People's Party, who himself would become a martyr for democracy when he was executed in 1979 by the military dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq. She inherited her bearing and physical presence from her mother Nusrat Ispahan, from a distinguished Kurdish family from Iran. Educated at Radcliffe and Harvard, she would also study law at Oxford. Her family and close Western friends knew her as "Pinky."

As a Muslim woman leader, Bhutto was almost an iconic figure in the West. But her actual career in office was one of great populist spectacles and little governmental achievement. It was a personna she parlayed. "I am not one of those leaders who sell lies and buy time," she told TIME in the mid-1990s. "No leader, no dictator could do what I have done."

However, in the final analysis, her career was an almost tawdry cycle of exile, house arrest, ascent into power and dismissal, much sound and fury and signifying little. Jailed and then exiled after her father's fall, Bhutto returned to campaign for office in 1986 after Zia's military government gave in to international pressure to slowly restore democracy. (Despite his dictatorship, Zia was a key ally of the West, supporting the Mujaheddin against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.) In a scene reminiscent of her second coming in October 2007, she was greeted in April 1986 by hundreds of thousands of frenzied supporters, who enveloped her motorcade and staged a daylong demonstration that was the largest display in memory of discontent with Zia's government. "Zia is a dog," chanted the demonstrators again and again. "We love Benazir."

Zia's death in a plane crash in August 1988 helped to further loosen the military strictures around the country, and Bhutto became Prime Minister by December of that year. As a ruler, Bhutto got few favorable reviews in Pakistan. Her government passed no legislation except a budget during its first 14 months in power. Much of its energy was squandered feuding with the opposition. Among the first acts of Bhutto's party after coming to power was a campaign to bribe and threaten legislators in Punjab. The goal: to overthrow Bhutto's nemesis, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Punjab's chief minister, a wealthy industrialist and a close associate of Zia's. Worse yet, her Cabinet stank with corruption scandals, including allegations against her husband Asif Ali Zardari and her father-in-law Hakim Ali Zardari, who was chairman of the parliamentary public-accounts committee. With so much fractiousness and scandal, Bhutto's first government lasted only until August 1990, dismissed by the country's President for "horse-trading for personal gain." Soon after, in November 1990, Nawaz Sharif, campaigning on an anti-corruption platform, became Prime Minister.

Bhutto returned to power in 1993, after Sharif was felled by his own corruption scandal. "This is my victory. It is a clear and decisive victory," she declared after a bitter name-calling campaign between herself and Sharif. But despite her claims, she did not have a working majority in parliament and had to wobble through her next few years in office as head of a fractious coalition, beholden to contentious blocs of power. At the same time, Pakistan owed huge amounts to the International Monetary Fund as part of servicing its enormous $28.6 billion in foreign debts. Bhutto had raised taxes, which raised the level of discontent in the country. But even so, her government did not collect enough revenue. In an effort to appease the IMF, Bhutto gave up the finance portfolio she had held since retaking the government. "The debt servicing is breaking our backs — debt that I didn't incur," she told TIME. "But as Prime Minister, I have to pay it back." Rumors soon spread that her government would be dismissed. "Rubbish," she said. But that is exactly what happened. Soon, Nawaz Sharif was Prime Minister again.

Sharif himself would be overthrown in a coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999. Musharraf would become an indispensable ally of the U.S. after Sept. 11, 2001, when he became the guarantor of the stability of nuclear-armed Pakistan against the tide of Islamic radicalism.

And that is where Bhutto's final chapter picks up — as the popularity of the Musharraf regime collapses and the world looks warily at the future of Pakistan and the threat of radicalism. In exile once again and with corruption charges against her, Bhutto struck a deal with Musharraf, who was under pressure to restore democracy. Washington smiled on it and Bhutto, now anointed as the West's favorite to restore democratic credibility to a moderate Pakistani government, returned to retake what she always believed was hers. Thousands showed up to welcome her and more than 100 died when that welcome-back parade was attacked by still unknown bombers. The last quarter of 2007 was filled with political maneuverings between herself, Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif, who had also returned from exile. After one more stint under house arrest while Musharraf imposed a brief emergency rule, she seemed set for another triumph at the polls. But in the end, the violent cycle of Pakistani politics claimed another victim. And once and for all, Benazir Bhutto will rally people to her cause without being able to deliver on its promise.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

"One Million Signatures

About "One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws"
Saturday 4 شهریور 1385

Iranian women’s rights activists are initiating a wide campaign demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign, “One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws,” which aims to collect one million signatures to demand changes to discriminatory laws against women, is a follow-up effort to the peaceful protest of the same aim, which took place on June 12, 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran. Preparation activities in support of this campaign commenced in June of 2006 and the campaign will be officially launched on August 27, during a seminar entitled: “The Impact of Laws on Women’s Lives.”

The collection of a million signatures in support of changes to the law is only one of several aims of this campaign. The Campaign will also aim to achieve the following:

1. Promotion of Collaboration and Cooperation for Social Change: This campaign intends to serve as catalyst in promoting cooperation between a wide spectrum of social activists in creating and advocating for positive social change.

2. Identification of Women’s Needs and Priorities: This collaborative campaign aims to develop connections and linkages with a broad base of women’s groups from different backgrounds. Direct contact between equal rights defenders and other women’s and citizens’ groups will allow those involved in the campaign to identify the everyday concerns of women, especially their legal needs and problems. On the other hand, this direct contact will increase awareness among the general population about the inequities that exist within the law.

3. Amplifying Women’s Voices: Through this campaign, the organizers hope to be able to connect with groups whose demands are left unheard. The campaign, relying on the needs identified by women themselves, aims to amplify the voices of women whose needs are often not addressed at the national policy level.

4. Increasing Knowledge, Promoting Democratic Action: This campaign is committed to increasing and improving knowledge through dialogue, collaboration, and democratic action. The campaign steadfastly adheres to the notion that real and sustainable change can be achieved only if it is community and needs driven and reflective of the desires and demands of the society at large. Changes to women’s status in society need to be based on the belief that legal problems faced by women are not a private matter, but rather symptomatic of larger social problems faced broadly by women. In other words, this campaign is committed to carrying out bottom-up reform and to creating change through grassroots and civil society initiatives, and seeks to strengthen public action and empower women.

5. Paying our Dues: The initiators of this campaign recognize that social change and the elimination of injustice are not easily achieved. It is through commitment to collaboration and hard work that we will be able to build the solidarity necessary to create change. Surely this solidarity and collaboration in pushing forth the objectives of the campaign will have a positive impact on the future of our country. The experiences of women’s democratic movements around the globe, and particularly, in countries within the region, have demonstrated that solidarity and commitment to the goals of collective action are key components to the successful elimination of discrimination. The struggle for equal rights in Iran will indeed be a lengthy, difficult and arduous process. The true path to achievement of equality will not be paved through existing power structures or a dialogue solely with men and women in positions of power. Rather, achieving the goals of this campaign will be based largely on a strategy which seeks to raise awareness among individual women and citizens about their identity and their status within society.

6. The Power of Numbers: The successful implementation of this campaign will prove once and for all that the demand for changes to discriminatory laws is not limited to a few thousand women, who have supported these types of efforts in the past. In fact, the successful implementation of this campaign will demonstrate that support for legal changes are broad-based and that a large majority of men and women are suffering from the inequities that are promoted by Iranian law. The Campaign will strive to demonstrate that women are, and have consistently employed a variety of means and venues to voice their objections to the laws, such as the writing of books, articles, production of films and other forms of artistic expression, and through social activism. Those women with fewer and more limited resources have demonstrated their objection through more difficult channels, such as recourse in the courts, running away from home, or more destructive means such as suicide, or self-immolation. In an effort to demonstrate the widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo, the Campaign will aim to highlight the many strategies used by women to challenge discrimination in the law.

7. Power in Plurality: The successful implementation of this campaign will also shed light on the fact that the demand for changes in the law is not only voiced by a specific group of women. In an effort to silence the voices of women calling for change, critics claim that demands for legal change are expressed by a particular group of women, who are out of touch with the realities of ordinary Iranian women. These critics wrongly claim that only elite and socially and economically advantaged women seek changes to laws, in direct opposition to the real needs and sensitivities of the masses of Iranian women. These claims are indeed incorrect, as discriminatory and unjust laws negatively impact the lives of all women, whether they are educated or not, live in upper class neighborhoods or poor communities, are married or single, live in rural areas or in cities, and so on. The Campaign will work to address some of these issues.

Timeline: This campaign will be ongoing. The first phase of the Campaign will focus on the collection of one million signatures demanding changes to discriminatory laws. It is a fair assessment to claim that the first phase of the Campaign will be carried out over one to two years, after which the campaign will move into its next set of phases focused on proposing new laws.

The Demands of Campaign are not in Contradiction to Islamic principles: The demand to reform and change discriminatory laws is not in contradiction to Islamic principles and is in line with Iran’s international commitments. Iran is a signatory to the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and as such, is required to eliminate all forms of discrimination. Based on these commitments, the government of Iran needs to take specific action in reforming laws that promote discrimination.

On the other hand, these demands are in no way contradictory to the foundations of Islam. In fact, the changes being demanded by this campaign have been a point of contention and debate among Islamic jurists and scholars for some time. Ayatollah Sanei’i and Ayatollah Bojnourdi, to name a few, have for years called for a revision and reform of laws which are discriminatory against women, and have explicitly stated that such reforms are indeed not contradictory to the basic beliefs of Islam. A million signatures supporting changes to discriminatory laws, will demonstrate to decision-makers and the public at large that a large segment of the Iranian population is in support of revising discriminatory laws against women and that these demands are not limited to a small segment of society. This campaign will also demonstrate to law makers that Iranian women are serious in their demands to change current laws.

Implementation of the Campaign: This campaign will rely largely on face-to-face education and contact to achieve its goals. It will be implemented through the following strategies:

1. Collection of signatures through door-to-door contact and dialogue with individual women.

2. Collection of signatures in places and events in which women gather, and where dialogue and discussions with groups of women can be carried out. Public locations, such as parks, universities, production centers, factories, health centers, religious gatherings, sports centers, and public transportation centers (metro, buses, etc), where groups of women can be accessed, will be identified by members of the Campaign for the purpose of initiating dialogue about the law and collecting signatures in support of changes to discriminatory laws.

3. Implementation of seminars and conferences with the intent of raising the profile of the campaign, promoting dialogue, identifying supporters and collecting signatures.

4. Collection of signatures through the internet. The internet will be utilized to share information about the campaign, including legal educational materials, and those interested in supporting this effort can sign petitions related to the Campaign.

Volunteer Education: In order to successfully implement the Campaign a large number of volunteers will be recruited. Volunteers will receive legal education as well as information on the campaign. Several committees have been established within the campaign, including the “Education Committee” which is charged with implementing educational workshops for all volunteers. All those interested in cooperating with the campaign and collecting signatures will be provided with training on legal issues and laws; the aims and strategies of the campaign; face-to-face and door-to-door education techniques; public education and outreach techniques, etc. All volunteers interested in becoming involved in face-to-face education must participate in the workshops.

It should be noted, that volunteers don’t necessarily need to be experts in women’s legal issues. These workshops implemented by the “Education Committee” will provide an overview for the lay person with respect to legal rights of women.

Scope of Activities: The activities of this campaign will not be limited to Tehran, and women’s rights activists in the provinces are strongly encouraged to participate in this campaign. Groups and individuals based in the provinces can participate in workshops in Tehran and begin campaign activities in their provinces. Larger numbers of women and women’s rights groups interested in receiving training and/or participating in this campaign can request special workshops to be held in their respective provinces. Additionally, Iranians based outside Iran can submit signatures in support of the demands of the Campaign by mail or email.

Minimum Age for Signatures: Women and men signing on in support of the demands of the Campaign must be at least 18 years of age. Signatures will be collected in special forms developed for this purpose, and will also be published on the web.

Support for the Campaign: Participation in this campaign is purely voluntary. Volunteers are asked to support the Campaign through a contribution of 5,000 tomans (roughly 6 USD). These funds will be the major source of support for the activities of the campaign. In order to create change, women have often had to rely on their own limited resources, financial or other, such as time and energy. Women have always managed to rely on their capacities and their beliefs to create change. The success of this campaign, too, will benefit from women’s immense commitment.

Contact Information: Those interested in supporting or joining this effort should feel free to contact us, through the following means:

• Web address: • Email address: • Address: Iran – Tehran - P.O. Box: 14335-851

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More on Du'a Aswad honor killing . Stop honor killing

Four arrested in "honor killing" in northern Iraq
• Two suspects were members of girl's family
• The 17-year-old was dragged from home and stoned to death
• Cell phone video of killing broadcast worldwide

More on CNN TV: Anderson Cooper examines the global reality of honor killings: why they happen and why nobody stops them. Watch tonight, 10 ET, on CNN.
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BAGHDAD, IRAQ (CNN) -- Authorities in northern Iraq have arrested four people in connection with the "honor killing" last month of a Kurdish teen -- a startling, morbid pummeling caught on a mobile phone video camera and broadcast around the world.

The case portrays the tragedy and brutality of honor killings in the Muslim world. Honor killings take place when family members kill relatives, almost always female, because they feel the relatives' actions have shamed the family.

In this case, Dua Khalil, a 17-year-old Kurdish girl whose religion is Yazidi, was dragged into a crowd in a headlock with police looking on and kicked, beaten and stoned to death last month. (Watch the attack, and what authorities are doing about it Video)

Authorities believe she was killed for being seen with a Sunni Muslim man. She had not married him or converted, but her attackers believed she had, a top official in Nineveh province said. The Yazidis, who observe an ancient Middle Eastern religion, look down on mixing with people of another faith.

Each year, dozens of honor killings are reported in Iraq and thousands are reported worldwide, said the United Nations. The practice has been condemned around the world by governments and human rights groups. A yearly vigil protesting honor killings is held in London, England.

Two of the four arrested are members of the victim's family, police in Nineveh province said Thursday. Four others, including a cousin thought to have instigated the killing, are being sought.

The killing is said to have spurred the killings of about two dozen Yazidi men by Sunni Muslims in the Mosul area two weeks later. Attackers affiliated with al Qaeda pulled 24 Yazidi men out of a bus and slaughtered them, a provincial official said.

The violence ratcheted up tensions between Yazids and Muslims in Bashiqa, the victim's hometown, a largely Yazidi city in Nineveh province.

Provincial officials don't think much could have been done to stop the honor killing, but at least three officers are being investigated and could be fired.

"The climate, the religious and social climate is such that people can do that in daylight and that authorities do not intervene," said the spokeswoman for the Organization of Womens' Freedom in Iraq, Houzan Mahmoud.

Also, the top police official in Bashiqa is being replaced.

Opening and closing remark for international conference on Kurdish women for peace and equality

Soraya Fallah International Conference on Kurdish Women for Peace and Equality

Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am privileged to speak today as the Chairperson of this historic conference, as it is indeed the first International Conference on Kurdish women for peace and equality and I am honored that so many incredible people have dedicated their amazing attributes to help bring about this moment. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate all the women in the world on March 8th and wish them continuous success on the road to gender equality. I welcome each and every one of you to this conference and hope that we can achieve what we set out here to do and to each take with ourselves treasonable memories and accomplishments beyond description. To see our dreams shaped into reality, surpassing our expectations and nearing our aspirations is truly a moment of happiness for me and for all those involved in this project. This Conference is dedicated to the memory of our beloved Soraya Serajaddini and we hope this can live up to her dreams and the dreams of all our sisters who have fought for our cause. The human rights movements, the women rights movement, the Kurdish rights movement, have all contributed greatly to the growth of Kurdish women and as stated in the Conference Press release Kurdish women are in an era where they are far more active and liberated than ever before. The fact that Mr. President Masoud Barzani opened this ceremony and Kurdish Regional Government financially and morally sponsored this event shows that there is substantial hope for the growth of Kurdish women. I want to sincerely thank them for giving us that hope. Through their hard work and dedication, Kurdish women are enjoying a glimpse of equality; however they still suffer, are demoralized, inhumanly attacked and violated, restricted, discriminated against, belittled and abused far more than their male counterparts and in the light of the new democratic opportunities we hope to trigger discussions and speeches that could empower these amazing women of tolerance and strength.
When Kurdish National Congress of North America and I set out on this journey we had to answer numerous questions to ourselves and we had to realize that countless times before us men and women have set aside valuable moments of their lives and with their talents and intellect spoke and discussed the matters of human rights and the issues facing those least privileged. Numerous conferences such as the United Nations’ Beijing Conference have been formed to discuss the issues women face everyday around the world. We had to wonder to what extend will our attempt at this discussion, our assembly of distinguished scholars, artists, and politicians be more affective than theirs? How much reason do we have to believe that our efforts will make a difference in the lives of our subjects? Why did we feel the need for yet another gathering in the name of ideas and beliefs that are aspired for every day of our lives, in every corner of our mother earth? To answer such questions would have been to question the mere existence of the suffering and tragedy faced by those whom we are here to speak of and fight for. As long as suffering, injustice, inequality, violence, and physical and psychological deprivation exist there is room for more talk and more discussions and the necessity for continuous efforts by those capable, for those silenced individuals. It has been through dialogue and gatherings that change has taken shape; ideas and the exchange of them have been the catalyst for action. Should we speak? Should we discuss? Should we gather to reflect upon the problems of our people is not the question, can we truly see ourselves as leaders, representatives, and activists if we did not?
Yes, panels have been established in the past to discuss the issues that women face in Kurdistan but that does not mean just as many changes have taken place, that does not mean that we have no more room or urgency to speak of these issues again. Issues that cost this society valuable lives of incredible women on the account of ignorance and apathy, issues ranging from lack of social support and medical and mental assistance, which has led many women to horrific incidents of self mutilation and suicide, to gender inequality on a macro and micro level, honor killings, polygamy, female genital mutilation, public stoning, to issues of the lack of representation in the power force, lack of opportunity in the educational and economical arena and gender discrimination in the job market.

As a Kurd, regardless of gender, one faces difficulties beyond imagination, but to be born a Kurdish woman, despite its honor, is quite a challenging combination. To come to grips with the reality that all odds are against you and there is a rooted lack of compassion for your existence makes this reality intensively painful to accept. Born to a stateless nation statistics and knowledge of a your existence is lost under the dominant state authorities who have no interest in allocating resources to your development and growth and this again is another brutal reality to come to grips with. Although this reality is somewhat different in the state borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, the fundamental common ground is being born to a stateless nation and that by itself creates a vast ocean of similarities in deprivations and discrimination.
The atmosphere of freedom and relative democracy in Southern Kurdistan creates space for Kurdish women and human rights activists to organize themselves and form defense groups to campaign for a better life. In the last 2 decades dozens of Kurdish women’s rights groups have emerged with remarkable strength. Kurdish women have succeeded in raising awareness about their rights and they have brought taboo issues into the pubic arena; they have made themselves heard nationally and internationally. In the Southern Kurdistan Kurdish women participate in politics and important decision making although the numbers are still very few. They bear arms along side their fellow male fighters, as well as work in the professional offices and hold high posts.
Unfortunately, this success does not apply to all the other areas of Kurdistan. Many Kurdish women are still ruled and pressured under male dominant households. Their struggle; however, is far beyond just a patriarchal system. Kurdish women are not just unequal to the males in their society, but they are also not equal to other residing females of the state they are ruled under. In Iran, Turkey and Syria, even if a Kurdish woman can step out of the norms of the society and receive a university education, they are rarely, if ever, permitted to work along side the other women of the dominant race. This creates a highly suffocating atmosphere for Kurdish women who are trying to break the chains of political, social, and economical restrictions.
Another major factor in the struggle of the Kurdish women is the role of religion that has rooted itself in the Kurdish culture. Although the Kurds do not necessarily consider themselves highly religious, Islam, the predominant religion, has influenced their lifestyles. Therefore, Kurdish women have yet another obstacle before them that they are struggling to overcome in order to step out of the roles that are strictly imposed on them. In the course of the struggle for democracy in Kurdistan, the heroic and historic role of Kurdish women has been that of devotion, strong defense of human rights and legendary sacrifices. Despite such faithfulness in the struggle for justice and per severance in their demand for gender equality, the plight of the Kurdish Women remains one that has gone unnoticed, unanswered and unrecognized by the continuously male dominated society of the region and by the world at large.
Our goal is to create an event where men will be engaged in addressing the most challenging issues facing women today in Kurdish society, in the hopes of moving closer to the goal of ensuring the rights and equality to which women are justly entitled. The most important and fundamental improvement we seek for Kurdish women is that their rights become laws: discussed, passed, and implemented in Kurdistan to ensure their safety and growth.
I thank you again for your presence, at this conference. Your attendance adds great value and honor to our discussions and to the objectives of this Conference.

Closing remark
Closing remark for International conference on Kurdish Women for peace and Equality
By: Soraya Fallah
Chairwoman of the Conference

This has been a wonderful opportunity to get together on International Women’s Day to discuss the issues that are close to the heart of Kurdish women. I thank you all for participating in this conference. It has been a fabulous time of fellowship and sharing. I would like to mention some of the sponsors and supporters of this conference, whose help we could not have done without:
-Kurdistan Regional Government,
-Ministry of State for women Affairs (KRG),
this conference could not have taken place without the hard work of two
Conference Coordinating Committees: local committee are: The local committee are: Dr. Jinan qaasim; Dr. saman Shali, Mrs. Shirin Amedi, Mrs. Ronak Raouf, Mrs. Khan Latef, Mrs. Ferda Cemilogu, Mrs. Hamno M. Nakhshabandi, and Miss Sliva Cigerxwin and United State Committee are:Mr. Azad Moradian, Mrs. Jualian Ditty, Dr. Asad Khalany, Dr. Pary Karadaghi, Miss. Clara Moradian, Mr. Tom Ver Plog, Mrs. Elahe Amani
Also,I should let you know that the following organizations are supporting the conference.
-Kurdish Human Rights Watch (KHRW),
-Global Operation and Development (GO&D),
- Kurdish American Education Society (KAES),
-Coalition of Women from Asia and the Middle East (CWAME),
-The Women Intercultural Network ( WIN),
-Women committee of Xabat Organization(Sazmani xebat Komitey jnan,
-Women’s freedom Organization of Kurdistan –Nina
-Al Shrooq society for Iraqi women,Kirkuk
-Kurdish National Assembly of Syria,
-Kurdish American Committee for Democracy in Iran,
-Women Law Network in Kurdistan Region –Iraq, and the
-Voice of Kurdish- America (VOKRADIO.COM).
Message of goodwill from all different organizations and individuals:

Some US. Senators such as Senator Feinstein, Senator Kennedy, and other senators, and all the other organizations and individuals who sent messages of good will and success for our conference such as :
KDPI (Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran),
Komale, Party of Iranian Kurdistan
And technical support Christopher Flick, designer of Conference logo,
All our Kurdish sisters from another country, all researchers who sent their amazing research about Kurdish women and could not participate.
There are many individuals that I can’t name them all, I should heartily thank Dr. Saman Shali for his nonstop work , supporting me, and his high respect for women’s rights.
Finally, the usual disclaimer is proper here. Even though the editorial board has reviewed the papers, the views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily the opinions of the Kurdish National Congress.
At the end I should ask you please submit all your suggestions and resolution on the notebook you received because the committee will submit their recommendation to the KRG and the parliament.
I thank you again and look forward to see you in another conference.

International Conference on Kurdish Women for Peac

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