Thursday, 20 August 2009

The face of Abbas Kargar Javid — man accused of killing Neda Soltan

August 20, 2009
The man accused of killing Neda Soltan has been identified as Abbas Kargar Javid, a pro-government militiaman, after photographs of the Basiji’s ID cards appeared on the internet.

The identification challenges the Iranian regime’s claim that foreign agents shot the young woman, who became a global symbol of resistance to the Government of President Ahmadinejad.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

International Publishers Association Calls for the Immediate Release of Publishes List of Arrested Iranian Journalists, Publishers & Writers

Source: International Publishers Association
Geneva, 31 July 2009
Following the massive wave of arrests targeting bloggers, journalists, publishers and writers, the International Publishers Association (IPA) publishes a list of some of those under arrest (see Note for Editors), and demands their immediate release.
IPA also calls on the Iranian authorities to drop the investigation of Arash Hejazi, the publisher who provided the first aid to Neda Agha-Soltan, killed during the street protests on 20 June 2009.
Publisher Arash Hejazi (Caravan publishing) is pictured on video trying to help 26 year old Neda Agha-Soltan during her last moments. On 29 June 2009, Mr. Ahmadinejad called for a probe into Neda's "suspicious" death, and sent a letter to judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi requesting a serious investigation to help identify "the elements" behind Neda's killing. A few days later, Iran's police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, declared that Arash Hezaji, Paulo Coehlo’s publisher in Farsi, who was present at the death of Neda during opposition street protests in Tehran, was under investigation by both Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and by the international policy agency (Interpol). Since then, Interpol has denied any knowledge of the case.
Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, Chair of IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, declares: “A climate of terror has taken over Iran since the 12 June elections. Massive arrests have been targeting journalists, bloggers, writers and publishers as a way to stifle freedom of expression. Ahead of Iran’s review by the United Nations Human Rights Council, IPA is urging the Iranian authorities to release immediately all the journalists, bloggers, writers and publishers who have been engaged in non-violent demonstrations, thus exercising their right to freedom of expression. In addition, IPA is also calling on the Iranian authorities to drop the investigation of Arash Hejazi, the publisher who provided the first aid to young Neda, killed during the street protests on 20 June”.

Iran is now being described as the second largest prison for journalists worldwide following the wave of arrests among the intellectuals, including publishers, since the June street protests. The following is a list of named arrested journalists, writers, and publishers since the protests of last month:
Ahmad Zeidabadi - Journalist
Maziar Bahari - Journalist
Said Leylaz - Journalist
Homa Rousta - Actress
Jila Bani Yaghub - Journalist
Issa Saharkhiz - Journalist
Keivan Samimi - Magazine Publisher
Abdolreza Tajik - Editor
Mojtaba Pourmohsen - Journalist
Mehdi Khazali - Publisher (Hayyan)
Kambiz Norouzi - Secretary of the Legal Committee of the Iranian Journalists'
Alireza Beheshti - Editor in Chief (Kalameh Sabz newspaper)
Shokoufeh Azar - Journalist
Behzad Basho - Cartoonist
Hengameh Shahidi - Journalist
Mahsa Amrabadi - Journalist
Masood Bastani - Journalist, Blogger
Misagh Bolhasani - Poet
Mohammad-Reza Yazdan Panah - Journalist
Majid Saidi - Photographer
Satiar Emami - Photographer
Said Movahedi - Photographer
Mehdi Zaboli - Photographer
Shadi Sadr - Journalist
Arash Hejazi - Writer, Publisher (Prosecuted)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Hunted Evolves Faster than the Hunter: The Problem of Censorship in Iran

The Hunted Evolves Faster than the Hunter: The Problem of Censorship in Iran

By Arash Hejazi

Publishing Perspectives, August 3rd, 2009

My name is Arash Hejazi. I am an Iranian doctor, novelist and founder and editorial director of the Tehran-based Caravan Books Publishing House. Sadly, I’m now better known for my association with the brutal murder of Neda Agha Soltan — as the doctor who tried to save her life and then went out into the world to tell her story. Neda’s death was a brutal and horrible experience for me.

Before this terrible incident I was known primarily to others for my literary work, publishing writers ranging from Paulo Coelho (which I translated from the Portuguese myself) to Nobel Laureate J.M.G. Le Clezio. I was known as a free speech advocate and fought against censorship. I say ‘I was’ known for these things because I cannot return to Iran and am now being prosecuted in my own country for telling the truth. The Iranian intelligence services are looking for me and I cannot return...

Read the rest at Publishing Perspectives, August 3rd, 2009

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Neda Agha Soltan’s alleged shooter

Images of three cards that have been attributed to the shooter of Neda Agha Soltan were published on the internet. I am here confirming that the photo of the individual that appears on this card completely matches the particulars that I recall of the individual who was seized by people a few minutes after Neda was shot, and who was shouting “I didn’t mean to kill her.” However, on that day, his beard had been shaved off, but he had his mustache. But in order to be 100% certain, since sometimes an innocent person is wrongly accused, we should consider another form of proof about this individual.

Because after people seized the shooter, they took his shirt off his body, and on the shooter’s back, I saw some old scars. These scars resembled the traces of wounds produced by a cutting instrument or something sharp.

Please note: I have only identified the owner of the photos. I can’t confirm his personal details. Furthermore, don’t discount the possibility of human error.
I hope that this information can help in bringing this case to justice, and likewise I call on my fellow-citizens to avoid all violence. This information is valuable insofar as it assists in the arrest of this individual. As for the rest, let the law take its course. This individual has the right to be fortunate enough to select an attorney and to defend himself. When people take the law into their own hands, they can cause unintended harm [literally “burn both the good and the bad together.”]

Again, I emphasize: do not allow anger to stain your honor in any way.

With hope for better days,
Arash Hejazi

BBC's interview with Arash Hejazi on Neda Agha Soltan's death

A note for future generations

My fear, however,
is of dying in a land
where the wage of the grave-digger
is higher than the price of human freedom.
Ahmad Shamlu, Iranian contemporary poet

After my June 25th interview on BBC regarding my personal observations on Neda Agha Soltan’s brutal murder, I read in the press on July 1st that a warrant had been issued by Iranian government for me to be arrested.
As I mentioned in my interview with BBC, such a desperate move towards concealing the truth regarding this cruel crime was to be expected from an administration that is built on lies and injustice. I predicted in the aforementioned the interview that they were going to denounce what I said; that they were going to put so many things on me. This administration, instead of trying to find the real murderers of this innocent girl and several other victims and accept responsibility for its inefficiency, is trying to blame every other single soul, country or body that has done nothing wrong.
Pressure is being put on my friends and family in Iran who had nothing to do with this incident. My 70 year old father who is a university professor and a distinguished member of the academic society has been questioned without even knowing what he had to do with any of this.
I just did what every decent human being would have done at the same situation. I tried to save a victim, and when the truth about the circumstances of her death was being distorted by the Iranian State media, I testified for what I had witnessed.
I have lived my life in such a way that does not leave regrets for me. As a trained physician, I was one of the first doctors that travelled to Bam after that terrible earthquake, just to be there for those innocent victims who were on the verge of losing their hopes.
This time, I was there for another innocent victim, by mere accident, without having a clue on what I was going into. But this time, this victim was not killed by a natural disaster. It was greed and lust for power that shed her blood.
I am also a writer, and if you read my novels, my articles and my speeches, you will realise that I have always advocated human rights and have always paid a price for it.
I have always tried to live a truthful and honest life and have never betrayed my values.
I believe what I did in trying to save Neda and tell her story was the right thing to do. I believe, as my dear friend Paulo Coelho says, that god is the lord of the valiant. I believe that the truth shall set us free. I did everything according to my conscience and if I have to pay a price for it, so be it. But I have the right to defend my honour and dignity.
I swear by god who is my witness and I swear by my honour, that I told the truth and nothing but the truth about what I saw.
The Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Republic of Iran were founded on what Iranian people still stand for today. People relied on these beliefs when they fought against tyranny and then when they sacrificed so much blood to defend their country against the invasion of another tyrant, ruling Iraq with iron fist.
However, this lie undermines every other statement of this specific administration of Iran; this administration that has distorted the history of WWII, claims that freedom of press and speech is openly practised in Iran, claims that Iranian prisons hold no political prisoners, claims that there are no censorship practised on books, information, media and the press of Iran, and pretends that it respects civil rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom to protest and equal rights for Iranian citizens, regardless of their gender, race and religion.
In the past twenty days, the world has witnessed through the tearful eyes of the brave Iranians that all these claims have been nothing but lies. I am sure the world will not believe this new lie and will understand that a doctor, writer and publisher has done nothing but what his conscience has dictated, in rushing to help those who needed help, and telling the truth.
Neda was not the only person slain in Iran during this turmoil. Have all those people, innocently murdered, been victims of an international conspiracy? Why aren’t the murderers of the other victims being prosecuted? Or perhaps one should blame the recklessness and inefficiency of the uncontrolled armed militia who failed to wisely handle the legitimate protests of Iranian citizens towards injustice.
I am just a witness. Why prosecute a witness instead of prosecuting the murderer? Have not enough blood been already shed? Should I have remained silent against this gruesome crime, out of fear? Is this the message we are preaching for our next generations?
I believe that no decent global citizen will ever fail to support me and thousands of other Iranians who were beaten, imprisoned, prosecuted and slaughtered, only because they wanted to be a free nation and join the world in the path towards prosperity and justice and share their rich culture and their history of bravery.
I am proud to be part of this. I have done what every decent person would have done, and for that I am being threatened; just as all these martyrs did what every free soul would have done, and for that they were murdered; murdered by a dark hatred towards anything they stood for: freedom, truth, and justice.
Arash Hejazi
July 2nd 2009