Hossein Derakhshan at PostGlobal

Hossein Derakhshan


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


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

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Human Rights Archives

January 30, 2007 1:20 PM

Calling Hacktivists for Disrupting Ahmadinejad's Pre-emptive War Against Persian Websites And Blogs

The press deputy at the Ministry of Culture in Iran has announced that all Iranians who hold a blog or a website should register them within two month.

Based on a recently written law in Ahmadinejad's cabinet, which surprisingly has not received enough media attention, any type of online content (in Persian language, I supposed) unregistered websites or blogs are going to be filtered after the deadline.

There are many noteworthy details about this new regulations that I have to talk about later, but I think it is outrageous, unconstitutional, and impractical -- very hard to enforce. (Will elaborate later.)

The registration is to be done in a website, titled "Samandehi," which means "giving order" or "regulating" in this context and is the title of the law too. So you should fill out a form with your name, birth certificate number, address, telephone, email address and your submitted website's address. Then they send you an automatic email and give you a username and password for possible future changes.

But the funny thing is that when I did that for hoder.com they automatically sent an email to info@hoder.com which actually doesn't exist as an email address. They didn't even use my main email I'd given.

Basically, it's quite a primitive way of gathering information in a database and there is so much room for abusing the forms and filling out the forms with totally false information.

So now, since I think this is totally outrageous and unconstitutional, because it denies the basic rights of free expression, explained by the articles 23 and 24 of the Islamic Republic constitution:

Bq.. Article 23
The investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.

Article 24
Publications and the press have freedom of expression except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public. The details of this exception will be specified by law.

p. You can even use the article 22 to argue that websites are private properties, like people's homes, and the government can't regulate them pre-emotively:

bq.. Article 22
The dignity, life, property, rights, residence, and occupation of the individual are inviolate, except in cases sanctioned by law.

Anyway, legal discussion aside, I think I'm not going to comply with such outrageous and blunt violation of my basic rights as an Iranian citizen and I will encourage everyone to either ignore it or disrupt it using the concept of Hacktivism.

The best way to disrupt it could be submitting valid-looking misinformation for known websites and blogs to confuse the authorities, and also to fill the database with spam.

If you've got better ideas, please share it and spread the word. We must disrupt this outrageous violation of free speech and individual rights in Iran.

January 30, 2007 1:35 PM

Beware Freedom House's Gozaar Project

If the secular women rights activists wanted to guarantee that the Islamic Republic sees their great "One Million Signatures" campaign as a covert Amercian project to destabilize Iran through organizing and mobilizing women, being promoted by Gozaar, a Freedom House project with the Dutch government's money, was exactly what they should have done.

The project (whose website is already filtered in Iran) now is definitely seen by the intelligence service as a security threat, despite the good intention of many genuine activists involved in it. What a huge mistake.

Gozaar single-handedly has put the entire group of Dutch-funded projects in jeopardy. Having any association with them, in the eyes of the Islamic Republic, means trouble. Avoid it if you believe in genuine change from within, as opposed to nonviolent regime change.

January 30, 2007 1:47 PM

How Akbar Ganji Helps Buildup for Military Action Agaianst Iran

The problem I have with people like Akbar Ganji is that, while they clearly reject the military option for regime change in Iran, the alternative approach they are advocating, i.e. the human rights argument, still ultimately falls into the same agenda of regime change. It serves the same people with the same aim.

They fail to see that their human rights discourse has always been used by the Americans to press countries they don't feel comfortable with, such as Cuba, Iran, China, Syria, Venezualla, etc. -- and very recently Russia.

You can never attack a state before de-humanizing it and this is what the Americans did in before invading Iraq Iraq and it is what they are doing with Iran these days. Look how many totally false and exaggerated anti-Iranian stories are flying around by the Anglosaxon media:

  • "Iran forces Jews to wear badges": turned out to be an ugly lie spread around by a new-conservative Iranian journalist, hyped by the right-wing Canadian newspaper, National Post
  • "Iran executes teenage gay men": turned out they were not only gay, but also they had raped and murdered a few teenage boys at the the gun point.
  • "Iran arrests any blogger who criticizes the state in their blogs": turned out all the people claiming to be arrested for their blogs, were arrested for other reasons such as involvement with foreign-supported NGOs or working with American-run opposition media, but then the authorities later had found some of them had something called blogs. So they used them to add to their charges and frighten them even more. This needs an essay. It sheds light on the way the whole campaign works.
  • "Iran stones women for having sex outside marriage": turned out the judiciary has ordered a stop to the inhuman act for quite a while and the rare cases that have happened in the past decade, mostly in small cities, have been the result of a broken and inefficient hierarchy in the judiciary.
  • "Iran executes teenage girls for having pre-marital sex": turned out the girl was seen as a prostitute by the Iranian prosecutor and her execution was unusually pushed forward by a local judge in order to cover up his own involvement, using his personal connections, defying the standard procedures of appeal etc. He had also hidden the fact that the girl was not 18 years old yet, which is the legal age in Iran. The dodgy BBC documentary that made the case popular, repeatedly shown in the whole world, bluntly paints that irregular proccess as a policy of executing teenagers for pre-martial sex.
  • "Iran blocks all Western media websites such as the New York Times": turned out to be a technical mistake for 48 hours which was carelessly publicized by a press freedom watchdog, Reporters Sans Frontier, before they correct their mistake in a small note. Even Israeli news websites in English or Hebrew are all open and accessible in Iran.

What is the purpose of this nasty anti-Iranian campaign, run by watchdogs and the media, which is mostly constructed within the human rights discourse, simply because the democracy discourse doesn't really work in Iran with all these elections and high turnout and surprising results.

What Ganji et al fail to understand (or maybe they do, in which case they are total traitors) is that they are still indirectly helping the required buildup for a military attack, by pushing for more money and more resources for such nasty campaign to even have a higher impact on the public.

No matter what you feed the American human rights discourse, the output usually benefits the Americans more than the real victims.

This also has a philosophical aspect which has to do with the idea of universality of human rights or democracy that I don't want to get into now.

And also there is a business side to it, especially for the large community of exiled Iranians that I also want to get into either. Maybe later.

June 20, 2007 2:11 PM

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



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.



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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