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I wrote this three days ago, but I was hesitant to publish it because I couldn’t express myself as well as I wished. But then I thought who cares! This might show how confused and frustrated I am that I can’t even write a clear post about how I really feel. Let it be!
Nine years ago, on this day, Khatami was elected for the first round of his presidency. We were happy; we thought our dreams would finally come true. But it was just a dream!
Some Persian blogs have written nostalgic posts about Dovvome Khordad (May 23, 1997) today, but you can see bitterness in almost all of them. Nikahang who has criticized the “reformists” vigorously in the last two years have written that he would vote again for Khatami had he returned to nine years ago, but this time he would bombard Khatami’s government with his criticism to make them understand what responsibility really means. Dreamland has written:
“Khatami couldn’t reform this sick ugly situation with the support of 22 million votes. The future of this country is undetermined, but our nine-year experience tells us not to be hopeful for Iran’s freedom and prosperity. Our fathers never saw Iran’s freedom and prosperity; our generation might not see it either.”
Today I reviewed my own writings about Dovvome Khordad, and what I have written in the past about the reform movement in Iran. I have to confess that I’m not optimistic any more. Until even last year I would passionately talk about the need for a gradual change (reform), but now I don’t think that would ever happen. I see no solution for this fucked-up situation Iran is in. I honestly think even a regime change might not make it any better. We have no unity. Each opposition group is thinking about its own agenda and none approves other groups. Anybody who thinks differently from us should be eliminated. And there is no group who has the support of the majority. We act like terrorists of each other’s personality. Even those active in social movements are like this; students’ movement, women’s movement…
And then there are the supporters of a war on Iran who think a US attack on Iran will change the regime and bring democracy. What democracy when the possibility of a civil war is so high, much higher than what happened in Iraq? There are different ethnic minorities in Iran, many of which have been oppressed all these years (as well as religious minorities). Meanwhile, there are some suspicious groups that try to take advantage of the ethnic minorities’ dissatisfactions to invoke an ethnic war. If a war happens, all these groups will riot, and god knows when peace will ever come back to Iran.
So all this prevent me from getting nostalgic for the ninth anniversary of Dovvome Khordad. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I wish I would be able not to think about these issues, but I can’t help thinking and thinking and coming up with no solution…
It seems life is much easier without blogging. I had peace of mind not following up blogs in the past couple of days! My summer classes have started. I had to take two prerequisite undergrad courses this semester. In summer I don’t have an assistantship and since I’m on student visa I’m not allowed to work out of campus either and I haven’t found a job on campus so far. So, I had to pay for the classes (as well as the rent) out of pocket (I saved a small amount of money last year which hopefully would be enough for summer’s rent; my husband will pay the rest!).
I took one of the classes (statistics, yak!) in a community college which is much cheaper. The other class is reporting. Every week we have to write one local news report about our city. I’m horrible at the local news because I honestly know more about Boston and Berkeley than the city I live in! It’s because when I’m in town, I’m mostly studying and don’t have time to get involved with the town. But when I travel, I’m usually on vacation and have more time to explore the cities I travel to. I know it’s kind of stupid. I study too much because my self confidence is low and I think I know much less than other students. On my free time, I’m usually so tired that I either lie in front of TV or sleep! Well, of course I sometimes go to cinema and I’m online most of the time!
Now this summer I should explore the city, learn about the municipality and the city council, find the phone numbers of people who can be referred to as the sources of the news, etc. If I were in Tehran, I didn’t have that much problem, because I knew Tehran inch by inch (a little exaggeration!), but the situation is totally different in the small town I live here (I still get lost sometimes here!!).
We have two instructors for the reporting class. One of them is the legendary Mike Foley. He’s the coolest guy I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s 60, has an earring, and dances around the class while giving his interesting lectures. Three of the people who have worked for him have received Pulitzer Prize! I feel so lucky to be in his class.
So, this summer term, instead of being an online resident, I should get more offline. It’s a big challenge for me to see if I can become a news reporter in this small town. Sometimes I get very nostalgic, remembering Cappuccino – our e-zine that was closed two years ago. It was much easier for me to write reports for Cappuccino and I was never alone in doing so. We were usually a group to write the reports or do the interviews. Good old days that will never come again…
PS. Our project in Iran is going well. We had to postpone our first workshop for a month, but everything else is going very well. I’m very excited to see the results and whether our online network in the provinces is going to work or not. If the project works, I will have so much to write in my thesis as well! (I’ll tell you more about the project in a few months.)
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned for the 28-year-old political prisoner Valiollah Feiz-Mahdavi who, according to current reports, will be executed on May 16 2006 by the Iranian regime…
PUBLIC – Index: MDE 13/049/2006
10 May 2006
UA 129/06 -Death penalty/imminent execution
IRAN – Ne’mat (m), aged 17
A 17-year-old boy, known only as Ne’mat, is facing imminent execution. The Supreme Court has rejected his appeal, so he could be executed at any time. The Head of the Judiciary has the power to order a stay of execution and a review of the case. Iran is a state party to international treaties that expressly prohibit the death penalty for crimes committed by those under the age of 18.
Now that’s what I call absurd: someone who could somehow (I don’t know how) get a hold of Iranians for Peace password, deleted all the posts of that blog, changed its password, and put a picture of George Bush on it. Under the picture was also a quote by Bush saying: “As Iran’s people move towards a future defined by greater freedom, greater tolerance, they will have no better friend than the United States of America.”
I don’t think putting that picture and sentence was a big deal. But I just don’t get it why! And why deleting all those posts written by many people all around the world against war on Iran? I’m seriously thinking that people have lost their minds these days! They do things that make absolutely no sense! If somebody wants to promote Bush and his ideologies, that person can easily open a blog in blogger in 5 seconds! And Iranians for Peace does not have so many readers anyway. Why should it be so important for someone to waste his/her time, find the password of that blog (perhaps through hacking softwares), and delete all those posts, while that blog hardly had 20 visitors per day?!!
Anyway I could retrieve the blog and some of its posts back. But most of the posts are gone. I’m just left with the question “why” about so many things these days!
Hoorah! This semester is finally over. I just emailed my last paper to my professor. It’s now about 30 hours that I haven’t slept. It was the most frustrating final term of my whole life. First, all those ruthless allegations by that American blogger followed by an Iranian blogger whom I assumed was a “friend;” and then the recent problem that happened to me and my friends which was even worse than the first one. I still don’t believe that I made it. Next semester at the time of exams I will disconnect myself from the whole world! I’m so tired that I think I won’t recover for days. All my bones and muscles ache. My throat is hurting because I have resisted crying and I have been smoking a pack a day (to be honest sometimes more than a pack.) I seriously want to quit smoking. If the condition I was in, in the last two weeks, would continue, I’m sure I would get seriously sick. I want to quit smoking, cook the whole week, clean our house which is literally a sh*t hole now (!), swim, sunbathe, and go out! I’m tired of this futon and laptop I’ve been sticking to for two weeks. But at the same time I should work my a*s off to meet the deadlines of the project I’m working with my friends in Iran. I think more than anything our project – which is an online network for Iranian women in provinces of Iran – was negatively affected by all these stupid stuff. Wow, what horrible two weeks I passed! I don’t know when I’m going to recover.
*Update: I got straight A’s! :D I was expecting A for two of my classes, but not the one that I put its paper here yesterday. I wrote it just in three days (well, we can say five days because I didn’t sleep for two nights!) and I even didn’t have time to proofread it. But it seems its professor liked my paper. It was a good ending for all the drama!
I’m writing my last paper for this semester on feminist activism and the Internet. Until last week I was so optimistic about this issue that I decided to write my thesis on Iranian’s women’s movement and their activism on the web. But since last week something has happened that have made me totally disillusioned about Iran’s women’s movement and their activism on the Internet. Now it’s so difficult to write my paper and I only have two more days to finish it.
Instead of my previous approach and what I wrote in my proposal for this paper, I’m now criticizing and questioning the idea of feminist activism on the net. You can find a lot in “third wave” feminism’s literature on cyberfeminism. This literature is very optimistic, encouraging feminists to overcome their fears of technology and enter the world of cyberspace, where gendered boundaries and patriarchal ideologies are less visible and less influential. “Third wave” feminism considers many activities by women, such as women entering the information technology fields or corporations as feminist activism. They assume that women who enter these domains change the gendered environments from within. But I don’t think so! I think the internalized power structures extend into cyberspace and feminism. It’s not even a matter of patriarchy. It’s all about power and vanity! A democratic cyberspace is yet another myth, because democracy is a myth! Cyberspace is yet another space where power relations shape and enhance. It doesn’t make a difference whether you are a man or a women, whether you are a patriarch or a feminist, whether you are online or offline! When your goal is to reach power, when your agenda is to become famous, and when you are selfish, when you hide your intentions behind beautiful claims about human rights, women’s rights, and democracy, it doesn’t matter where you are or what group you are associating with!
Now I think there is nothing special about feminist activism on the net! I think about writing papers on feminist activism itself, questioning the concept of feminist activism, questioning feminism itself!
Sorry if I don’t make that much sense. I’m so upset and disillusioned, and here’s the only place where I can shout and won’t be the only person to hear the echo of my voice.
Another arrest… Ramin Jahanbegloo’s arrest reminds me of Sina Motallebi’s arrest, except for the fact that Sina was a friend and I don’t know Jahanbegloo very well. But the way they are intimidating jahanbegloo’s family not to publicize his arrest reminds me exactly of Sina’s case. I couldn’t write about Sina in my Persian blog on that time, since I was worried if they find out Sina was a friend of mine it would cause him more problems! Not that I’m anyone special, but I just knew how they make up things. When I met Sina in Holland two years ago, he told me that my phone number on a piece of paper was in his pocket at the time of his arrest and he chewed that so that they won’t find it! And at those times that we, bloggers who knew Sina, were trying to do something for him, signing petitions, contacting international news agencies, crying (!), etc., a group of bloggers called me and pretended they are a friend of Sina and asked me to close my blog and remove my archive since the interrogators have asked Sina about my blog! Right before Sina’s arrest he recommended to me that I remove my archive from the Web for a while and wait to see when the pressures on bloggers were going to diminish. So, when those bloggers called, I believed them! And I closed my blog and removed everything from the web for a while, shaking and worrying whether something might happen to me! It took me a year to find out that phone call was fake, and find out who made that phone call. It took me a year to find out how cruel people can be and how they can easily play with your mind!
Anyway, these days something has happened that made me close my Persian blog again. I wish I could do something for Jahanbegloo in my Persian blog – which had much more readers that this blog – but it’s closed, same as the time Sina was in jail. Just a coincidence I guess!
Those bloggers who knew jahanbegloo are writing about what a great intellectual he was, how important his role was in gathering young Iranians in Toronto and Tehran to read and discuss philosophy and other humanity subjects. I just know a little bit about his works on nonviolence theory (which is one of my favorite theories). I hope people start talking about Jahanbegloo more, no matter what they think about him. He is just an intellectual who thinks, and talks, and tries to teach. He has never acted in a way to endanger Iran’s homeland security or whatever. His field is “thinking” and “teaching” and “thinking more.” He should not be in prison because of thinking and talking. His family does not talk much about him because they have been told that silence would help Jahanbegloo’s release. But everybody knows now that how absurd this is. Hadn’t we, blogs and media, publicized and protested Sina’s arrest, he could have stayed much longer in jail; and Sina’s family had been told to keep quiet as well. We know that, so we should not keep quiet, even if his family keeps quiet.
I’ve heard that AP and AFP have not published news about him because of his family’s wish to keep quiet. But that’s the worst thing for now. Please, please, ask international news agencies to write about him if you know any. Silence is the worst thing for him now. Nobody should be in jail for thinking and talking. He is accused of being a spy; he’s arrested by the worst intelligence group of IRI. We should not keep quiet.