PSA: Petition for the immediate release of Esha Momeni

by matttbastard

Via For Esha, the One Million Signatures Campaign has started a petition calling for the immediate release of imprisoned graduate student and womens rights advocate Esha Momeni:

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi,

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei,
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi,

We, the undersigned, have heard with great alarm of the arrest in Tehran, on Wednesday October 15, 2008, of Esha Momeni, a graduate student in film and communication at California State University, Northridge. This arrest was made by Tehran traffic police on the pretext that she had made an illegal turn, but we have since been informed that she has been transferred to Section 209 of Evin Prison and kept in solitary confinement.
We wish to make clear that at no time has Ms. Momeni been involved in any activities contravening the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She had returned to Iran for an extended visit mainly for the purpose of seeing family and friends, and also in order to carry out research related to her MA degree at California State University, Northridge. Ms. Momeni, a women’s rights defender and a volunteer of the California branch of a grassroots campaign called the “One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws”, decided to make her Master’s thesis project a personal exploration of the shared experiences of everyday Iranians. This included interviews with some members of the Campaign. The activities of the Campaign are peaceful and merely aimed at reforming the Iranian laws in areas that discriminate against women; the Campaign has no political objectives.
Those who are privileged to know Ms. Momeni are fully aware of the sincerity and passion for justice which she brings to the promotion of a truer image of Iran outside the country, and we are therefore dismayed that she should have been arrested and detained despite not having engaged in any unlawful activities.
We, the undersigned, therefore demand Ms. Momeni be released immediately and without conditions so that she can return to complete her education. In addition we urge you to:
1.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Esha Momeni;
2.Assure that while in detention she is granted immediate and regular access to her family, a lawyer of her choice, and any medical treatment necessary in light of her medical condition (kidney stones);
3 Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Iran.
Yours sincerely

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Please add your voice here. Make sure to take note of the caveat offered by For Esha:

We request you not to sign petitions organized by organizations other than the One Million Signatures Campaign. While such petitions may mean well, they often contain inappropriate language and factual errors and as such are more likely to endanger Esha than help bring about her release.

And please forward the official petition to as many people as you can.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

PSA: Free Esha Momeni

by matttbastard

Update: Be sure to sign the official petition calling for Momeni’s release.

Change For Equality:

Esha Momeni, women’s rights advocate and a member of the Campaign from California was arrested on Wednesday October 15, 2008, while on a visit to Tehran. Momeni who is a photographer and graduate student was arrested in an unusual and illegal manner after being pulled over on Moddaress highway, by individuals who identified themselves as under cover traffic police on the pretense that she had unlawfully passed another vehicle while driving. Esha was arrested and taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence and Security Ministry.

Prior to her transfer to Evin, security officials searched her home and seized property, including her computer and films which were part of her thesis project. The security officials had an arrest warrant and court permission to search the home and seize property.

While Esha’s friends and colleagues were insistent about announcing the news of her arrest immediately, based on requests from her family this news was announced with delay. Security forces had promised Esha’s family that she would be released quickly if news of her arrest was not published.

Esha’s parents went to the Revolutionary Courts today, on the fifth day of her arrest, to follow up on the case of their daughter. Court officials told the Momeni family that they should not come to the courts again, and that their questions will not be answered until the investigation of Esha’s case comes to a close.

Esha Momeni is a graduate student at the School of Communications, Media and Arts at California State University, Northridge. Esha had come to Iran two months ago to visit with her family and to work on her Masters thesis project, focused on the Iranian women’s movement. To this end, she had conducted video interviews with members of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Tehran.

Women’s rights activists object to the unusual manner in which Esha was arrested, as well as the irresponsible treatment of her family members by security forces. Further they strongly object to the unjustified and unwarranted arrest of this women’s rights defender.

A weblog in support of Esha pressing for her release has been established, which includes interviews with her professors… . The weblog as well as the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality, will continue to provide news on developments about Esha’s case. Take a look at the blog For Esha.

Take action now–please write to the following contacts:

* Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: info@leader.ir / istiftaa@wilayah.org / webmaster@wilayah.org;
* President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.649.5880, E-mail: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir;
* Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98.21.879.6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567 / +98 21 3 390 4986, Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com / info@dadgostary-tehran.ir;
* Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.390.1999, Email: matbuat@mfa.gov;
* Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran, His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani, C/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827
* Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int;
* Ambassador Mr. Ahani, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 15 A. 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: iran-embassy@yahoo.com.

– [express] concern at the arrest of Esha Momeni, and [urge] on the authorities to treat her humanely in detention, and protect her from torture or other ill-treatment;

– [ask] the authorities to ensure that while in detention she is granted immediate and regular access to her family, a lawyer of her choice, and any medical treatment she may require;

[express] concern that her arrest was apparently in connection with her peaceful activities in support of equal rights for women in Iran and in the context of her graduate research;

– [urge] the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally if she is not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly

h/t Vanessa @ Feministing (via Feminist Daily News); more from CNN, DKos, Melissa Wall, and David Blumenkrantz. Also see this article on the 0ne Million Signatures Campaign, written by Momeni in 2007.

Previous Change for Equality PSAs:

Background: More on the still-ongoing One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality from Change For Equality (more here) and Ms. Magazine.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add your name.

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Update: Be sure to sign the official petition calling for Momeni’s release.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Just When You Thought PETA Had Run Out of Misogynist Publicity Stunts…

by matttbastard

Once again, PETA makes me want to call up Beck and say ‘hey, fuck MTV–HERE’S some real freebase inspiration for ya!”

Srsly, WTF?!

This morning PETA sent a letter to Ben and Jerry’s asking them to replace cow’s milk with human breast milk. PETA argues that breast milk is better for the health of Ben and Jerry’s customers, but they don’t take into consideration that mothers may prefer to reserve their milk for their infants.

Look, I realize this is but a modest proposal on PETA’s part. But even Jon Swift (no, not that one) would be hard-pressed to avoid doing some serious armchair psychoanalysis of whichever fluff-drunk puppy-worshipper came up with this latest epic misogynistic FAIL.

Jill nailed it earlier this year:

Animal liberation theory does intersect with feminist theory, and our cultural understanding of animals and food (and animals as food, and women-as-meat) is heavily gendered. But PETA is promoting animal rights at the expense of women’s rights — and that’s not only simplistic, but it’s bad for everyone involved.

Signed. On.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

PSA: Day of Blogs 2008

by matttbastard

Cara of The Curvature and Feministe is participating in today’s Day of Blogs blogathon. RAINN is the very worthy organization that is benefiting from her tireless efforts.  Go check it out–Cara will be updating every 30 minutes until 9am EDT Sunday morning.

(Full list of participants here.)

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Insufficient Evidence to Prove a Negative

by matttbastard

Via Polly Jones, the ultimate judicial Catch-22–drunk teen rape “sex” not a crime: Justice Peter McIntyre claims victim was too drunk to prove she didn’t consent:

Having sex with a drunken 14-year-old he had plied with alcohol was not a criminal offence by former Calgary man, a judge ruled yesterday.

Justice Peter McIntyre said there was insufficient evidence the girl didn’t consent to having sex with Trevor Byron Niebergall.

But McIntyre did find Niebergall guilty of sexual assault for placing his genitals on the girl’s face after she passed out — an act the offender captured on his cellphone camera and showed to co-workers.

McIntyre said the fact the teenage complainant didn’t remember her sexual encounter with Niebergall at a December 2005 New Year’s Eve party did not mean she hadn’t consented.

He noted one witness said she appeared to have the capacity to consent when she and Niebergall went to a washroom in his brother’s apartment, where they had sex. And the Queen’s Bench judge said the girl willingly consumed large amounts of alcohol supplied by Niebergall even after he made lewd sexual comments.

[…]

“The accused’s lewd comments towards her did not compel her to leave,” the judge said. “The complainant was not forced to consume alcohol — she drank … beer willingly and then switched to alcohol. It is not at all clear why she drank so heavily.”

[…]

McIntyre said because the girl drank so heavily and had little recollection of events at the party, he could not accept her claim she didn’t agree to have sex.

“Her evidence was not reliable after she started drinking,” he said

I have much more to say about this at Shakesville.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

PSA: Re-instate Malalai Joya — May 21st Day of Action

by matttbastard

Via The Canadian Peace Alliance:

Reinstate Malalai Joya!

On May 21 there will be an international day of action in support of suspended Afghan MP Malalai Joya. Joya was suspended for speaking out about the record of human rights abuses by members of the warlord dominated Afghan Parliament.

The Canadian Peace Alliance is calling on members and supporters to organize events or to send letters demanding that that Joya be re-instated to the Afghan Parliament. We are also calling on the government of Canada to immediately call for her to be re-instated to the parliament to which she was duly elected.

The case of Malalai Joya speaks volumes about the nature of the new Afghan government, currently being supported by more than 2500 Canadian soldiers. She is a tireless defender of women’s rights and has organized a grassroots movement for peace and democracy in Afghanistan. That movement which can lay the foundation for real democratic development is being silenced by the Afghan state.

Please take the time to fax or e-mail a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier, the Afghan ambassador to Canada, Omar Samad, and the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and demand that they re-instate Malalai Joya.

Step 1
Cut and paste the following e-mails into the address line: pm@pm.gc.ca , maxime.bernier@international.gc.cacontact@afghanemb-canada.net , president@afghanistangov.org

Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
pm@pm.gc.ca
Fax: 613-941-6900

Foreign Minister, Maxime Bernier:
maxime.bernier@international.gc.ca
Fax: (613) 996 3443

Afghan Ambassador Omar Samad:
contact@afghanemb-canada.net
Fax: 613-563-4962

Afghan President Hamid Karzai:
president@afghanistangov.org

Step 2
Include some background information in your letter or refer to the articles listed below.

Background Information:

Joya has been a thorn in the side of the NATO-supported government by being an outspoken critic of the human rights abuses of the warlords that dominate  the parliament of Afghanistan. In the elections of May 2005, more than 60 per cent of those elected to parliament were from known warlord groups, many of whom are responsible for war crimes committed during the civil war from 1992 to 1996. An international campaign to have the warlords held to account  failed when the parliament decided to offer immunity for all past war crimes.

Joya has been threatened and attacked for her stance. In 2006, President  Hamid Karzai cut her security funding, proving that women’s rights are not a concern for his government despite assertions to the contrary from the  Government of Canada.

In an interview with the Guardian, Joya said: “When I speak in parliament they threaten me. In May they beat me by throwing bottles of water at me and they shouted, ‘Take her and rape her.’ These men who are in power, never have they apologized for their crimes that they committed in the wars, and now, with the support of the US, they continue with their crimes in a different way. That is why there is no fundamental change in the situation of women.”

Even before her suspension, Malalai Joya faced censorship, abuse and constant threats including assassination attempts because she spoke the truth about the situation in her country. She denounced the overwhelming control of warlords, drug lords and war criminals in the Afghan government backed by the US and NATO. She spoke up for real democracy and women’s rights, for disarmament, for the warlords to be brought to justice, and for peace in her country. For this, she has been silenced, and the governments of the NATO countries currently occupying Afghanistan have maintained a shameful silence.

For more information on Malalai Joya: http://malalaijoya.com

Read the Human Rights Watch statement about Malalai Joya’s suspension
http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2007/05/23/afghan15995.htm

Recent Headlines:

‘Corruption eats away at Afghan government’
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080502.afghan03/BNStory/International/home

‘Ousted female Afghan lawmaker fighting to return to parliament
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/04/05/asia/AS-GEN-Afghan-Lawmaker-Ousted.php

‘Despite Taliban’s fall, Afghanistan faces familiar troubles’
http://www.projo.com/education/content/AFGHAN_SPEAKER_03-19-08_QG9E9TJ_v98.372f652.html

‘Canada should change its policy on Afghanistan’
http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2008/03/03/malalai-joya-canada-should-change-its-policy-on-afghanistan.html

Step 3
Send your e-mail or fax.

Step 4
Sign the on-line petition for Malalai Joya: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/ReinstateMalalaiJoya

Please take video and photos of your event and send them to Malalai Joya’s defense committee at mj[at]malalaijoya.com.

To have your May 21 action listed, email Friends of Malalai Joya – Canada at malalai.joya[at]yahoo.ca.

Please let us know about your efforts by cc’ing the Canadian Peace Alliance cpa@web.ca

Canadian Peace Alliance- www.acp-cpa.cacpa@web.ca – 416-588-5555

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Today: C-484 Rallies

by matttbastard

Via Birth Pangs:

Edmonton, AB
Saturday, May 3, 2008
12:00pm – 2:00pm
Gazebo Park (beside the Farmers’ Market)
104 St & 83 Ave
Come out and rally against Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill!
Co-hosted by University of Alberta Women’s Centre Collective and CJSR’s Adamant Eve.
There will be food, music, button-making, information for further action, and speakers!
Speakers:
Linda Duncan
Dr. Rebecca Stringer
Medical Students For Choice
Email:
fightbillc484@gmail.com
Ottawa, ON
Saturday May 3rd 2008
12:00pm – 3:00pm
Human Rights Monument
Elgin Street at Lisgar Street
Email:
opposebillc484@gmail.com
Toronto, ON
Saturday, May 3, 2008
12:00pm – 3:00pm
QUEEN’S PARK SOUTH
COLLEGE ST AT UNIVERSITY
All are welcome!
Come out and show your solidarity.
ANYONE WHO WANTS TO SPEAK AT THIS EVENT IS INVITED TO DO SO.
Contact opposebillc484@yahoo.com to inform the organizers.

Apologies for the short notice–hope everyone in the aforementioned locales can make it out and help kick the ass of the Kicking Abortion’s Ass bill!

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Why You Should Be Worried About Bill C-537

by matttbastard

Professor Connie Rudnick interviews Lynn M. Paltrow, Executive Director, National Advocates of Pregnant Women, on the hidden anti-contraception agenda of anti-choice activists.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

All I Really Needed to Know I Learned From Conservative Private Members Bills

by matttbastard

crime scene!

Via Fern Hill, JJ points out the following little educational tidbit contained in Bill C-537, the latest piece of stealth anti-choice legislation to be privately introduced by yet another one of those fetus-fetishizing MPs lurking in the Conservative backbench (hidden agenda wha?):

This enactment protects the right of health care practitioners and other persons to refuse, without fear of reprisal or other discriminatory coercion, to participate in medical procedures that offend a tenet of their religion, or their belief that human life is inviolable. …‘human life’ means the human organism at any stage of development, beginning at fertilization or creation.

Huh. And to think that all these years I was under the mistaken impression that life didn’t begin until 40. Well, that’s the last time I’ll ever internalize a pithy (if catchy) life lesson given by a lying so-and-so like Sophie Tucker (who quite obviously felt that the lives of anyone 39 and under held little-to-no value [insert hyperbolic Godwin violation here]).

Go read Alison, Fern, pale [edit: and Prole], the regina mom, Laura @ we move to canada, 900 ft Jesus, and my fellow genteel purveyor of bipartisan comity, Canadian Cynic, for more details on this latest incremental assault on reproductive freedom–and then commence to agitatin’.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Misplaced Empathy

by matttbastard

Via Daisy: Brand-spankin’ new Feministe contributer Cara highlights a story that FRIDA has followed in detail (h/t cripchick), all about “KEJ”, a disabled Illinois woman whose legal guardian was petitioning to have KEJ sterilized against her will (for KEJ’s own good, of course *cough*). Thankfully, a state appellate court recently ruled in KEJ’s favour, affirming her right to bodily autonomy. Score one for the good guys, right?

Right?

Well, hold on, tiger. According to some oh-so-enlightened commenters, maybe we’re being too hasty in championing the reproductive liberty of a disabled woman. Cripchick selects the following gems (and deserves some kind of an award for not justifiably engulfing the original thread in an inferno of righteous magma):

“…Who exactly IS supposed to raise a child born to a woman who is truly incapable of doing so on her own? I realize that abuses have been and may still be rampant, and many disabilities do not affect a person’s ability to parent, but honestly, if this woman gets pregnant, who’s on the hook for raising that child? The aunt, who is already caring for KEJ?”

– Comment 4, by Ruth

Who in the world is going to raise that child? Our tax dollars? Relatives dragooned into service through state power or shame? What if the disability is congenital and the child needs as much or more care than the parent? I agree with your basic point, that forced sterilization is something to be avoided. But people who are emotionally, or physically, or financially incapable of providing a decent quality of life for their children shouldn’t reproduce.”

– Comment 8, by felagund

“…I do think it would be unfair to push that child on someone else (the mother’s parents or private caretakers). It’s unfair to the others, and it’s unfair to the child. It’s like giving a puppy to your friend, but your friend doesn’t have the time/patience/love/etc. to take care of it and pushes it off on her roommate, who grudgingly obliges because her roommate doesn’t want the puppy to be unhappy and starve to death. That’s not how children should be brought up!”

– Comment 14 by danakitty

cripchick nails it:

Many commenters on the Feministe thread have rightfully pointed out how close the argument that disabled women should not be mothers is to the long history of policies and policing based on the idea that poor women should not be mothers. By talking about who will raise or pay for the child we are already talking about class— class and disability, like race, are very much tied together. I believe there are certain aspects of disability (poverty, housing, employment) that can somewhat be canceled out by class and white privilege (look at Christopher Reeve) but recognizing this does not give people the right to determine who are “good” parents and “bad” parents. Though the discussion is on disability, it is very much about criminalizing a perceived poor woman for wanting to have children.

[…]

The ableism in these threads always scare me. Partially because it’s on feminist blogs, partially because the internet allows people to say what they really feel. KEJ’s case is a victory but I’m still left to question whether we’re making any progress.

I’m sure many people reading this remember the disturbing-yet-perversely-enlightening trainwreck that occurred at Alas, a Blog a while back over The Ashley Treatment. The ablism being expressed by many commenters who I normally have respect for was utterly disheartening. One couldn’t help but note the cruel irony of watching people who would in any other case unequivocally stand up for a woman’s bodily sovereignty suddenly balk at the notion–all because the person in scenarios such as these who many able-bodied individuals automatically relate to is the able-bodied caretaker, rather than the disabled woman.

And, once again, the empathy has unfortunately (but not surprisingly) been entirely misplaced. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the “I’m not for forced sterilization but…” peeps have chosen to let their privilege (and, I would contend, ablist squick) blind them to the basic principles of bodily autonomy that are so obviously at stake here.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers