Iranians Arrested after Celebratory World Cup Video

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Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 16:42 p.m. DST, 09 July 2014

Ali karimi and Nakamura Shunsuke during their the World Cup 2006 qualifying match in Tehran, Photo by  MEVA_SLS

TEHRAN, Iran — For the second time in the past few months, Iran authorities have arrested those involved in making a celebratory music video. Last month, six individuals were arrested and since released for filming a music video to the Pharrell Williams song “Happy”.

This week, three individuals have been arresting for filming a music video entitled “Gole Iran” by the London-based Ajam Band in support of Iran’s World Cup football team. VICE News reports that those arrested are two 23-year-olds, who can be seen in the video, and a 26-year-old photographer.

Like in the video that the young Iranians made to “Happy”, Iranian authorities have issue with the women in the videos being shown not wearing headscarves. The official IRNA news agency of the state released a quote from police chief Colonel Rahmatollah Taheri, who called the World Cup music video “vulgar”, according to Associated Press.

For this reason, the World Cup video was also condemned by Iranian authorities because it is illegal for women without scarves to be in—and especially dance in—public. In this World Cup video, both men and women can be seen dancing and singing in various locations in Iran, including the city where the arrests were made, Sharoud. They are shown waving Iran’s flag and playing musical instruments.

Iran has been known to censor websites in the past, but with the arrests made from the highly-viewed “Happy” video and “Gole Iran” videos it appears that Iranian authorities are making examples of viral videos to Mahsa Alimardani, an Iranian-Canadian internet researcher, specializes in human rights criticized the arrests telling Mashable, "They're trying to make a point about the world cup festivities, and this is the only way they can scare people. It's really ridiculous."

The punishment of the makers of the video echoes sentiments of the country’s hardliners who are aiming to steer the country away from what they consider Western “decadence”. However, the country’s more moderate president Hassan Rouhani has sought for more cultural and social tolerance in Iran. Despite this, internet censorship apparently still has a presence as this is the second public arrest made over a harmless YouTube video.

There are thirteen credited individuals in the making of “Gole Iran”, including the seven members of Ajam Band, who wrote the song played in “Gole Iran”. Aside from the seven-member band, there are six that were responsible for the directing, editing, filming, and graphics, according to VICE News. The roles of the individuals arrested in making the video remains unknown. In the case of the “Happy” arrests, the detained parties included the dancers and the film’s director.

The video published days before the World Cup commenced garnered 30,000 views on YouTube and now has over 300,000 views. Agence France-Press said the video aired on satellite television in Iran, which is watched illegally by many of its people. Iran was eventually knocked out of the competition June 25 after impressively holding their own against semi-finalists Argentina. Amir Jahnashai, the founder of an Iranian opposition television channel in London tweeted, “The entire Iranian nation today supports our football team. Such solidarity should be present in all fields,” as was the message of “Gole Iran”.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Action Needed on Iranian Hostage Situation

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Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 14:41 p.m. DST, 16 September 2013

Omid Dana, Iranian Dissident in danger of execution, Photo by Robert Reed Daly

CAMP ASHRAF, Iran - On 1 September 2013, Iraqi soldiers led by a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard entered Camp Ashraf in Iraq and proceeded to kill 52 members and take 7 hostage of the Iranian dissident movement, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI).

With ties growing stronger every day between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, an attack on the unarmed residents of Ashraf appears to have only been a matter of time, as the other PMOI camp, Liberty, has already been targeted several times.

After eleven days of pressure, Iraq, a staunch ally of Iran’s government, finally admitted on September 12th to having the hostages in custody. Several human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, have released statements urging action to be taken as the hostages are at risk of being sent back to Iran to face execution at the hands of the Revolutionary Guard.

Furthermore, the remaining residents in Camp Ashraf, many of whom were injured in the raid, are being moved to Camp Liberty, which further exacerbates the ongoing refugee situation there. This tense situation has the potential to explode into further violence if further action is not taken by the international community promptly. Otherwise, the Iranian and Iraqi governments may feel emboldened to continue these threatening actions.

This incident comes at a critical time in terms of the global agenda as President Obama has given the Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power the mandate to press forward on human rights, as well as Iran being on the agenda of next month’s UN General Assembly meeting. With attention shifting towards Iran in the midst of Syria’s chaos, Rouhani and his leaders should be pushed to explain the attack, ensure the release of the hostages, and assure freedom from persecution for opposition groups.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Twelve Rules for Being Human

The 2011 Light of Peace Ceremony, Photo by World Peace Initiative

The 2011 Light of Peace Ceremony, Photo by World Peace Initiative

Life and maturity, willpower and reason, knowledge and virtue, station and rank, piety and reverence have all been entrusted to human beings by God. The failure to fulfill one's duties toward any of these therefore amounts to a betrayal of that trust.

Accordingly, to neglect health is to betray life; to be capricious is to betray maturity; to be obsessive is to betray willpower; to be narrow-minded is to betray reason; to be base is to betray virtue; to remain ignorant is to betray knowledge; to be oppressive is to betray station and rank, to engage in debauchery is to betray piety; to be blasphemous is to betray reverence. . . ." ~ Ostad Elahi

These simple truths of life and living can be found in almost every culture and faith. Whether a person belongs to organized religion or not, there is some calling in each of us that desires to achieve success in life.

Although, success is seen increasingly with respect to the accumulation of wealth, most people desire personal growth, for just as many seek to go to "heaven" or move forward on the karmic wheel by learning all the lessons this life has to offer before leaving the world and all whom we encountered in it, better.

There is no single attribution for the list of inspirational life lessons below; however, it is purportedly handed down from Ancient Sanskrit.

Twelve Rules For Being Human

1. You will receive a body – You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours the entire period.

2. You will learn lessons – You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called LIFE. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think of them as irrelevant and stupid.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons – Growth is a process of Trial and Error and Experimentation. The “Failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately “Work.”

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. – A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it then you can go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end – There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6. “There” is nothing better than “here” – When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”

7. Others are merely mirrors of you – You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something that you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make your life is up to you – You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9. Life is exactly what you think it is – You create a life that matches your beliefs and expectations.

10. Your answers lie Inside You - The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

11. You will forget all this.

12. You can remember it whenever you want.

India and Iran Thwart US Sanctions

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 10:04 AM EDT, 26 March 2012

Dr. Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India

NEW DELHI, India - Three years ago, on 13 April 2009, Shri M. Hamid Ansari, the current Vice President of India, released a book titled, "Challenges and Strategy: Rethinking India's Foreign Policy" authored by Ambassador Rajiv Sikri of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

In the book, Sikri seems to have anticipated the United States’ move to initiate economic sanctions against Iran and outlined a roadmap for India to respond to this eventuality.

At that time Ambassador Sikri was the “Secretary (Deputy Minister) in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, in charge of India’s relations with Central Asia, Caucasus, East Asia, ASEAN, the Pacific region, the Arab world, Israel and Iran.

He also served as Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan and as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in Paris.” (Source: Foundation for Non-Violent Alternatives)

In his book, Sikri postulated India’s position in the world would continue to ascend in terms of its economic prowess, scientific acumen, and human capital. China, in addition to its continued role as banker to a number of countries, most notably the United States; is another emerging economy that continues to realize growth through its strategic receptivity to business innovation.

In fact, according to The National Intelligence Council (NIC) of the United States, both China and India are expected to achieve parity with the U.S. within the next 10 years. Having prognosticated this over 3 years ago in his book, Sikri proposes that India’s role during this period of rapid growth should also include increased “stability in the littoral states.”

He opined that increasing freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, security of sea lanes, and the availability of an interdiction capacity to safeguard Indian shipping will go a long way toward India becoming a major player in the region. The effect of this level of engagement would be the development of more dynamic political relationships with all the states of the Persian Gulf.

Also, in 2009, Sikri correctly deduced that in the future India would find itself in conflict with American strategic policies. In a chapter titled ‘U.S. and Nuclear Issues,’ he emphasized the importance of India as a sovereign nation to determine its own foreign policy strategies. As such, its commitment to continue to trade with Iran despite America's imposed economic sanctions demonstrates their determination to enact policies in the best interest of the nation.

By following this protocol, the government ensures its continued growth and development that will ultimately result in an increased standard of living for India's estimated 1.2bn people. (Population Figure from World Bank)

According to Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University and a retired career officer in the United States Army, Iranians have every reason to view the U.S.government with suspicion and hostility. The history of tensions between the U.S. and Iran is nearly 60 years old.

In 1953, under President Dwight Eisenhower, the CIA and British MI-6 collaborated to overthrow the democratically elected Iranian government and installed a puppet leader, an action undertaken without any concern for the Iranian people, but in pursuit of near-term strategic interests.

In his book "The Limits of Power, The End of American Exceptionalism," Bacevich postulates that the current Iranian ‘nuclear’ crisis is a cover for more convoluted motives similar to the political machinations of the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. It started when Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein, led the Egyptian Revolution which resulted in him becoming president in 1956, a position he held until his death in 1970.

Under his leadership, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal Company, an act that was untenable to Britain which had colonized and ruled Egypt for decades. Consequently, Britain enlisted the support of the U.S., France and Israel to regain control of Egypt through military aggression, ostensibly on behalf of the international community. Because they did not succeed in toppling the government, Nasser and his rule came to embody anti-imperialist efforts in the Arab World and Africa, a nationalist and political movement now known as Pan-Arabism or Nasserism.

With regard to nuclear disarmament and preemptive strikes, the U.S. has a long history of taking military action against any country that possessed equal armament, military might and therefore constitutes a direct and imminent threat. By this yardstick, North Korea, qualifies, because its nuclear program is well-developed, they are an isolated and hostile government, and its government currently possesses long range nuclear weaponry that could potentially threaten the U.S. and its allies.

In fact, on Monday, 26 March 2012, the Nuclear Security Summit met in Seoul to discuss the issue of nuclear terrorism. In attendance were President Barak Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev, as well as leaders from 53 nations and organization who gathered to discuss methods to prevent terrorist groups from acquiring nuclear bombs or highly enriched uranium that could be used to build a nuclear bomb.

Though North Korea was not on the agenda, its planned long range missile launch scheduled for this week was hotly debated, and Summit leaders agreed that some preemptive action should occur if peaceful negotiations failed. By contrast, Iran possesses no such weaponry, and like the phantom ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which were the pretext by which George Bush justified the war in Iraq; the likelihood of discovery of any significant cache of weaponry in Iran is highly speculative.

It is true that there are a number of radical and virulently racist voices within the Iranian government, but unlike Kim Jong-il, and his successor Kim Jong-un, it appears that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad posturing obscures Iran’s inability to enforce any threats. In fact, Bacevic equates this current incitement by American strategists with regard to Iran, as the same mindset by which arm chair war mongers successfully manipulated previous American presidents into a nuclear war crisis with the Soviet Union until “cooler heads prevailed.”

These same voices instigated the open-ended 10-year war in which the U.S. has been mired in Afghanistan and more recently Iran with the intent to enrich military contractors without regard to the loss of thousands of lives by thousands of American soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqis. In fact, these two conflicts didn’t yield a single victory until President Obama directed a change in strategy to include targeted assignations like the one which killed Osama bin Laden.

India and Iran number among China, India, Russia, Europe, and maybe Brazil operate in a world in which the U.S. no longer the sun against which all other countries must resolve. According to Bacevic the new geopolitical landscape will be multipolar, and America must mature and accept its role in this new governance paradigm. President Obama in a recent speech stated that ‘American Exceptionalism’ must evolve in order to survive. This new reality does not negate other countries’ sovereign rights to pursue strategies which are in their best interests and compromise shall become the order of the day.

As Tehran and New Delhi plan to hit $25bn in annual bilateral trade over the next four years, it remains to be seen if India will back down in its support of and continued trade with Iran. In any event, the Indian government has taken a stand, flexed its muscles, and stands poised to assume its rightful place in a 21st century multipolar order.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Al Khalifa's Vendetta Against Bahraini Medics

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:14 PM EDT, 21 March 2012

A Wounded Shiite Bahraini DemonstratorBAHRAIN – On Tuesday, 20 March 2012, the Bahraini attorney general concluded his summation in the government’s case against the medics who defied an injunction against treating wounded Arab Spring protesters last year.

Although, the prosecutor initially suggested that the charges against the 20 medics would be drop, they changed course last week with an announcement that the government decided to pursue charges against 5 of the healthcare workers. The remaining 15 cases would be transferred from a military to an as yet unspecified professional tribunal.

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, the justice minister, directed the public prosecutor to release a statement clarifying the government’s intent to prosecute the defendants for violating an injunction against treating wounded protesters. The majority of the wounded were Shi'a, which leads some observers to believe that these trials may be motivated by sectarian agendas.

The predominantly Sunni government did not provide an explanation for the choice to pursue the indictments and trials against the medical workers, despite initial claims that they would bring no charges against the doctors. It is also unclear what methodology drove the decision to try five medics while referring the remaining cases to a tribunal.

The Bahraini government’s decision to prosecute these doctors drew international condemnation, and human rights groups were vociferous in their assertion that the medical workers were being punished simply because they helped civilians during the bloody crackdown by state security forces during the anti-government demonstrations.

Last September, the military court sentenced each of the doctors to 15-year jail terms for the crimes of sedition, incitement to overthrow the government, stockpiling weapons, and taking hostages. These charges arose out of an incident when 20 doctors and other medical staff refused to stop treating the injured protesters and subsequently barricaded themselves in Salmaniya hospital.

After the militia agreed to let them leave, the medics disbanded peacefully and were of the understanding that the matter was concluded. However, they were subsequently charged and their cases referred to a military court. In the face of worldwide criticism, their cases were moved to a civil court  where the charges were dismissed. The presiding judge in the current case provided no explanation for why the initial charges were never dropped, nor why the defendants had not been informed of their continued indictments.

Bahrain is a pivotal ally to the United States, hosting the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, providing an observation point for America in the Middle East, and aiding its efforts to monitor Iran and its nuclear program. Michael Posner, the US assistant secretary of state, said last month that Bahrain should seek "alternatives to criminal prosecution" in the case.

Murder of the Equal Sex

In the Middle East and North Africa women rights are coming to the forefront as they begin their modern-day suffragette movement amidst the recent uprisings - now known as the “Arab Spring”.

Suffragette “derived from the word "suffrage", means the right to vote,” however; women across the Middle East are fighting for more than the right to vote, they want to be involved in the running of the country and they wanted to be treated as equal human beings while remaining cognizant of the inherent differences between men and women.

This struggle for equality that women in the Middle East are currently engaged in is reminiscent of the early British and American women's rights movement. Within each movement these brave women sought basic human rights which initially conflicted with the cultural and societal norms into which they were born. However, at the same time, these women did not seek to relinquish their relationship to these societies' but sought to achieve greater autonomy to enable them to participate as fully functioning members their societies.

As women in Saudi Arabia assert their civil rights through driving which is forbidden to women by Saudi Arabian law, women in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa are participating in similar acts of disobedience.  Prohibiting women from driving is an archaic interpretation of Qu'ranic law designed to keep women hidden from other men and society at large.

A consequence of this legislation is that it prevents a woman from removing themselves or their children from potentially dangerous situation should they find themselves married to an abuser.  They are also unable to transport themselves to and from work or to perform basic chores such as grocery shopping, etc.  Read more about this movement on the blog Saudi Jeans.

On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2011, Egyptian women participated in a “Million Woman March” aimed at reminding the nation that they should have a voice in its future. Nehad Abu El Komsan, director of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, expressed disappointment with the fact that the new prime minister’s cabinet includes only one woman. “If we're not involved in building the constitutional and legislative future of this country now, then when? Why do we see women, who were almost 50 percent of the protesters in Tahrir, not represented in decision-making rooms?”

In the case of the Egyptian Women's revolution some incidents of rape and harassment were reported but no loss of life. By contrast when Neda Agha Soltan was shot to death in the streets of Tehran two years ago after the rigged 2009 presidential elections of Iran, millions of people watched in horror as this young woman bled to death on the street amid mayhem and fleeing protesters.

Ironically, a few days short of the anniversary of Neda’s death, another senseless killing occurred. Haleh Sahabi, another Iranian humanitarian and democracy activist, died from wounds inflicted following her father’s funeral. Haleh, 54, was a member of Mothers for Peace and a campaigner for women’s rights.

Haleh was originally arrested on August 5, 2010 with numerous other activists. Released on a two-week pass to attend the funeral of her father, the police used this opportunity to incite a disturbance in which Haleh Sahabi was thrown to the ground, kicked then beaten to death.

Women have sacrificed selflessly throughout history. We have died in defense of children, family, principles and country. We have suffered under the tyranny of slavery, endured the unimaginable abuses of ruthless laws, fought to justify our worth within patriarchal systems, and been forced to be complicit in perpetuating this injustice through the sell of our daughters into sexual enslavement and domestic abuse.

Today's struggles for equality, a voice and participating role in determining our destiny is not new, but the fact that this revolution has found root in Middle Eastern societies bound by century old mores and customs, makes the bravery of these women more even more remarkable.

The struggle shall continue but in the meantime women around the world shall continue to suffer and die because of their sex.