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Hossein Derakhshan

Canada/Iran

Iranian-born Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan is a blogger, journalist, and internet activist. Since 2001, he has been based out of Toronto, Canada, running his award-winning weblog, Editor: Myself, which has been among the most influential blogs in the Persian language. Close.

Hossein Derakhshan

Canada/Iran

Iranian-born Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan is a blogger, journalist, and internet activist. more »

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Zainab Al-Suwaij endorsed by Amnesty International defends Haleh Esfandiari

Recently I've become quite suspicions of the human rights non-government organisations when it comes to their campaigns related to Iran.

Now it's quite revealing and equally disturbing to see a faithful supporter of Iraq occupation, involved in an Amnesty International event in New York.

First look at the announcement I received from a mailing list (See a copy on the Free Haleh campaign website):

Amnesty International

RALLY TO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN AND TO CALL FOR JUSTICE FOR DETAINED IRANIAN-AMERICAN SCHOLARS AND ACTIVISTS

THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT HAS RECENTLY BEEN ENGAGED IN A WIDESPREAD CRACKDOWN ON ALL FORMS OF DISSENT IN IRAN

In May the government of Iran arrested four Iranian-Americans: prominent U.S. scholars Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, journalist Parnaz Azima and activist Ali Shakeri. Esfandiari, Tajbakhsh and Shakeri remain in detention where they are subject to torture and ill-treatment. All four face serious charges stemming from their peaceful activism and scholarly work and could be sentenced to long prison terms.

JOIN AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, THE AMERICAN ISLAMIC CONGRESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH AS WE CALL FOR JUSTICE AND FOR THE RELEASE OF DETAINED PEACEFUL ACTIVISTS

SPEAKERS TO INCLUDE SHAUL BAKHASH, HUSBAND OF HALEH ESFANDIARI, AND ZAINAB AL-SUWAIJ OF THE AMERICAN ISLAMIC CONGRESS

WHERE: Ralph Bunche Park Isaiah Wall at 1st Avenue and 42nd Street across from the United Nations Plaza

WHEN: Wednesday June 27, 12 noon to 1 pm

Feel free to bring signs calling for freedom for the detained activists

For more information contact Sharon McCarter 202-691-4016 or Amnesty International USA 202-675-8755

Now let's see who Zainab Al-Suwaij is (Source: Harvard Gazzette):


"Now 33, Al-Suwaij grew up under the harsh rule of Saddam Hussein, took up arms against the Iraqi ruler, and today is working to bring democracy - and especially women's rights - to a country that is struggling both with Hussein's legacy and an age-old authoritarian tradition."

She has met with President George W. Bush at the White House and spoken to the Republican National Convention.

"Before becoming a peace-wager, Al-Suwaij was a warrior - and has the bullet scar on her cheek to prove it. When her classmates were forced to march holding pictures of Hussein, Al-Suwaij often sneaked away. At 20, during the 1991 Gulf War, she heeded the words of the first President Bush, who broadcast messages on Voice of America urging the Iraqi people to rebel against Hussein, promising that U.S. forces would support them. As an armed fighter, she helped to liberate provinces and to open the gates of a prison where there was a human meat grinder for those who didn't confess. The promised support from the United States never arrived, and the battle-scarred veteran went into exile in the United States.


President George W. Bush talks with Zainab Al-Suwaij during a meeting with Iraqi-Americans and free Iraqis who are living in the United States in the Roosevelt Room Friday, April 4, 2003. White House photo by Eric Draper. (Source: White House)

"Following the tragedies of Sept. 11 Al-Suwaij created the American Islamic Congress with the goal of promoting moderation and tolerance within and outside the Islamic community. After the American occupation of Iraq she has also spent 14 months there working to develop projects focused on improving the educational system - her schools for dropouts have a 97 percent rate of success - and empowering Iraqi women.

"Al-Suwaij credits her drive to organize for democracy to lessons learned from her grandfather, a Shiite ayatollah. 'My family is shocked. I am the first woman in my family who doesn't just stay home,' she said. 'My grandmother didn't believe it when she saw my photo with Bush in the Iraqi papers.'"

p. This is from her speech at the Republican National Convention after the occupation of Iraq, where she also personally endorsed by George W. Bush:
Living under Saddam Hussein, we could not gather as we do now to discuss things like democracy and freedom. We could only dream of a day when we could speak freely, and worship God in ways of our own choosing.

Instead, we lived under a murderer who used every weapon in his arsenal against us-- from tanks to torture chambers to poison gas.

[...]

But today, I come to tell you that Iraq enjoys a new day.

Yes, there is still bloodshed and uncertainty -- but America, under the strong, compassionate leadership of President Bush, has given Iraqis the most precious gift any nation has ever given another --- the gift of democracy and the freedom to determine its own future.

Already, the seeds of democracy are bearing fruit --- with popular elections recently held for local officials. And we know our children face a brighter future.

So as I grieve for the courageous Americans and Iraqis who were killed and injured during Iraq's liberation, I tell you proudly that their noble sacrifice was not in vain.

As Iraqis assume full sovereignty, they embrace the American people in friendship and gratitude.

I promise you: we will never forget what your sons and daughters did for us.

Thank you.

Interestingly enough, she has also founded Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance (HAMSA) that was behind a nasty campaign against Mohammad Khatami's speech at Harward, along with Boroumand Foundation. Luckily,

By a bit of more googling, I'm sure I'd find much more to thicken her impressive profile in supporting and facilitating US-backed regime change in the Middle East.

So I wonder how Zainab Al-Suwaij has ended up being endorsed by Amnesty International, with its impressive history to oppose the US invasion of Iraq and its condemnation of the occupation.

Call me a cynic or a paranoid agent of the Islamic Republic, but I can't just see all these connections and endorsements as an accident.

There is something fishy here, don't you think?

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