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My friends threw a great birthday party for me yesterday. The food, the cake, and the gifts were awesome. We drank so much that had to stay the night at my friend’s home.

I’m happy that I had my birthday yesterday, instead of today. Because I woke up today and saw the news about another arrest, and suddenly turning thirty lost its meaning. This time was Maryam Hosseinkhah‘s turn:

مریم سین خواه

Maryam Hossienkhah, Journalist, member of the Women’s Cultural Center, and an active member of the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested earlier today. A few days after the site of the Women’s Cultural Center, a leading women’s NGO, was shut down on order of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Judiciary, Maryam Hosseinkhah, an editor of the site of this organization as well as one of the eiditors of the site of the One Million Signatures Campaign, Change for Equality, was summoned to the security branch of the Revolutionary Courts on Saturday 17th of November. She was interrogated for over 2 hours on Saturday and was told that she is charged with disruption of public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of lies through the publication of untrue news items on the site of the Women’s Cultural Center and the One Million Signatures Campaign. Maryam Hosseinkhah was also ordered to return to the Revolutionary Courts for more interrogation today, Sunday November 18, 2007 at 9:00am. After arriving at Court today, an order of arrest of issued for Ms. Hosseinkhah, and to our disbelief she was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison at 2:00pm.

My homeland might be hijacked, but I’m glad that my sense of identity is greater than ever. I’m glad that I’m part of a social movement whose members are courageous and conscientious women like Maryam.

The government of Iran is just showing its fear and weakness by these arrests. History has proved that the governments can put pressure or even stop social activism for a while, but they cannot stop it forever.

Delaram Ali’s attorney told ISNA news agency today that the judiciary chief has stopped Delaram’s sentence and her case is sent for revision. This does not guarantee that she won’t go to prison, but at least she has a chance for now.

But, two young women in Iran’s Kurdistan are in prison. They are both members of one million signature campaign:

Hana Abdi Arrested in Kurdistan, Ronak Safarzadeh Still in Prison

Do you remember the rally by women’s rights activists in Tehran on June 12, 2006? Do you remember the pictures of policemen and policewomen beating the participants? Do you remember the pictures of a girl being dragged on the asphalt pavement of the streets whose hand was broken by the police? She was Delaram Ali, a young student in her early 20s. She is a young children’s rights activist who voluntarily teaches street children in the most impoverished areas of Tehran and who has traveled to Bam several times and lived in Bam for months (the city that was destroyed in an earthquake a few years ago) to teach and play with the tormented children who still live in camps. She is also a member of One Million Signature Campaign, a peaceful campaign that aims at educating and collecting signatures from one million Iranians about the gender discriminatory laws and the need to change them.

On June 12, 2006, more than 70 people were arrested. Some of them were released, some of them were sent to court. From those who had a trial, a few of them were sentenced to prison terms and lashing. Delaram was one of them.

Delaram Ali

Delaram got married two months ago. She has spent a big time of her life teaching poor children. Delaram’s hand was broken while being humiliated and dragged on the streets by the police on June 12, 2006, because she was exercising her constitutional rights to stand up in a square in town to peacefully show her dissatisfaction with discrimination and opression. Delaram is 24, but in a few days she should bear 10 lashes and spend the next 2 years and 6 months of her life in prison.

And guess what? She is just the first among many women’s rights activists who are sentenced to prison terms and lashing. You will hear about the rest of them soon. They will go to prison one by one, because the Iranian regime is deadly afraid of women’s rights activists in Iran. Because the stupid Iranian government think the women’s movement in Iran wants to overthrow the regime or is being led by the American government! The Iranian government is afraid of the women’s movement in Iran, because this movement is raising consciousness among at least half of the population. Well, of course the Iranian regime doesn’t like that! Awareness is dangerous. Awareness stops people from following stupid authorities like sheeps. Awareness raises questions. Awareness might cause people see that the emperor of religion is not actually wearing any clothes!

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I had never ever seen the government of Iran this much vulnerable and stupid. And of course I have never ever been this much disappointed in my life. Seriously, we are stuck in a rock and hard place. By we I’m talking about members of Iranian social movements. We have no place in this world. On one hand there is the threat of war and the US administration who is waiting like vultures to see discriminations in Iran to add to its alibis for attacking Iran (and yet add much more to the oppression of Iranian people). And on the other hand there is the dictatorship in Iran that is suffocating the activists and ordinary people. There is nowhere to refer to to seek help. There is no option that can help us get rid of this dictatorship peacefully. We are just stuck with this government forever. Any dissent is treated harshly. Students are imprisoned and tortured. Women’s rights activists are getting imprisoned. Bus drivers who strike for a raise in their salary end up with being beaten and imprisoned. I can go on and on. And yet there is no hope, no way, to get rid of this oppression…

For the first time I’m happy that I’m not in Iran anymore. I seriously am! Of course whenever I see an American police car I shiver, because I know being an Iranian can be enough for being considered as a terrorist, but still I feel safer here. It certainly feels bitter that I feel safer in a country which is not my homeland, but that’s a reality that I should eventually swallow.

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