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TV INTL English: Iraq, Woman on death row in Iran

TV International English

* Iraq is the new version of democracy, Interview with Mohsen Ebrahimi, May 22, 2005

* Four years on death row, Sohaila Sharifi

* In this week’s TV International English programme of May 29, 2005 (, Maryam Namazie interviews Hamid Taqvaee on the presidential ‘elections’ in Iran; Shiva Mahbobi on honour killings and domestic violence and Homa Arjomand on Quebec’s legislature rejecting Sharia law.

* Iraq is the new version of democracy

Interview with Mohsen Ebrahimi

May 22, 2005

Maryam Namazie: Condoleezza Rice was recently in Iraq in order to encourage the ‘newly elected’ government to include more Sunnis in the drafting of the constitution because she claims it will end the ‘insurgency’. Is this a step forward in your opinion?

Mohsen Ebrahimi: It is not even a tiny step towards ending the bloodshed created by both the US military and Islamic forces. As was obvious from the beginning, the presence of the US military in Iraq has acted and will continue to act as a breeding ground for the flourishing of Islamic terrorist groups. Ms. Rice should explain to the Iraqi people how the participation of one or more Islamic factions in the drafting of the constitution will lead to a constitution that benefits Iraqis as citizens. She doesn’t even bother to talk about this because the human needs of Iraqis are not on the agenda at all. I think the whole idea of a constitution as a denomination of the political interests of Islamic and tribal gangs will intensify the ongoing bloodshed. In fact, with this step, i.e., the establishment of a tribal-religious identity for Iraq’s political system, the US is creating new waves of factional fighting. With such a situation, even if the US military decides to leave Iraq today, Islamic groups will continue killing innocent people in their internal fights to grab the biggest share of political power.

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Maryam Namazie: Some say that it is an important step because Sunnis should be represented in the government like the Shias or Kurds are; isn’t that what democracy really is – a government representative of the people, for the people, by the people?

Mohsen Ebrahimi: The political system they are trying to inflict on the Iraqi people does not even fit the usual definition of democracy, a so-called government for the people, by the people. The Iraqi people are not considered in this kind of democracy as individuals with their human needs and political views. They have no political role to play at all. They have been replaced by religious gangs and tribal and nationalist factions. And these factions don’t represent the Iraqi people; they represent a world-wide Islamic and tribal movement or Islamic-tribal terrorism. This is the new version of democracy pre-cooked for the people in the Middle East. This is the New World Order’s version of democracy. In this version, democracy doesn’t mean a government for the people by the people, but it means a government for the interests of religious and tribal factions via their gangs. And this is against the will of the Iraqi people who have nothing in common with these tribal-religious gangs.

Maryam Namazie: You are saying that Iraqi people are not tribal-religious folk. You have written an article about this as well. But the reality – some would say – is that a large number of people voted in these elections whether you like it or not, whether you consider them elections or not. So in a sense, isn’t this what the majority has chosen? Shouldn’t you respect that decision?

Mohsen Ebrahimi: The majority of people in Iraq are desperate, bound and gagged individuals caught in the crossfire between the US military on the one hand and the notorious Islamic gangs on the other. How can such a majority go to poll stations and express their perspective about Iraq’s political future? The so-called election, which took place in Iraq, was everything but an election! In Iraq, even a basic precondition for a free election did not exist and doesn’t exist now. I am alluding to a civil society with political parties and a secure and free environment. It is unimaginable to expect people to express their free political desires at gun point and in a shattered society.

Maryam Namazie: The UK government is rethinking its position towards Hamas and Hezbollah in the Palestinian territory because it seems that they are going to get a large number of votes, and one of the things that the foreign office has said is that it is hypocritical to encourage democracy but refuse to accept the outcome even if it means working with a group one finds distasteful. Now isn’t that what you are doing; you encourage people to vote, to have a say and then when you don’t like the outcome, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to then call it a tribal-Islamic democracy?

Mohsen Ebrahimi: First of all, I should say that the US and British governments should not worry about hypocrisy as they have had innumerable hypocritical relationships with various governments all along. We know that they have done their best to topple any government in any corner of the world if those governments did not fit into their political agenda. They have done that before; they are doing it right now. They did it for Allende in Chile and they are doing it against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela because they don’t like his agenda, because they consider him a leftist. He came to power via elections but the US government is doing anything it possibly can to topple him. No one should take it seriously that the political elite in the UK have suddenly turned from hypocrites to honest politicians. The fact is that Iraq has turned into a political quagmire and they are desperately trying to pull out from it. Their embrace of Hamas and Hezbollah under the name of respect for democracy is a new step, of course hypocritical step, towards this end.

With regards to Hamas and Hezbollah, I would like to emphasise a few significant points:

1. Even if Hamas and Hezbollah get a majority of votes, we can still identify them with their true identity: they are part of the Islamic movement with an Islamic agenda. A majority vote doesn’t change these factions’ political agenda and identity.

2. As I mentioned before, in a shattered and desperate society, majorities of people are not able to express their true desires. Such a situation can be easily exploited by reactionary groups. And this is exactly what is happening in Palestine now. As a result of Israel’s policy backed by the United States, people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been living under constant harassment of the Israeli Army; they have been deprived of basic human rights and they are suffering from huge unemployment. Hamas and Hezbollah are abusing such a situation.

3. As a final point, the majority in Palestine will be in a position to have a political say only if Israel’s troops leave the West Bank and Gaza Strip and all political groups have an equal opportunity to compete for political power free of fear of Islamic gangs.

Maryam Namazie: If you don’t accept the elections in Iraq and have explained why the elections in Iraq were not fair given the circumstances there, what then would you consider a precondition to have real elections in Iraq?

Mohsen Ebrahimi: 1. The US military as well as religious and tribal factions must be swept away from the political scene so that people would feel secure to speak out and articulate their true desires. Until they are present, people cannot speak out; they cannot express their true will and aspirations.

2. The political parties - from left to right - must have an equal opportunity to express their programmes and perspectives about the political future, the economy, and every aspect of social life in Iraq. These are two basic pre-conditions for a real election.

The above is an edited transcript of a TV International interview on May 22, 2005. TV International can be seen via internet on

* Kobra Rahmanpour: Four years on death row

Sohaila Sharifi

Kobra Rahmanpour is only 22 years old, but has been in prison and on death row in Iran for over four years of this short life. On one occasion, she was awakened to be hanged, though thanks to international pressure, the authorities failed to find enough rope to hang her – so they claim!

Not that the rest of her life has been any better. She had grown up in a very poor family that had not been able to provide the mere necessities for its members. Even though she had been a bright child, she had to give up school and all her ambitions and hopes of any future and marry a man older than her own father in order to help her family survive. In her husband’s home she was treated as a slave and subjected to all kinds of maltreatment and abuse. According to Kobra, on the last incident before her arrest, her mother in law attacked her with a kitchen knife and Kobra killed her in self-defence.

The fact that Kobra Rahmanpour has killed a human being does not justify the inhumane treatment she has received from the Islamic Republic of Iran. She might have killed someone out of desperation and in fear of her own life, but what the Iranian government and the judicial system is about to do to her (and would have done long ago, were it not for international protests) is so much worse. They are planning the murder of a human being calmly and legally.

If there was any justice in Kobra’s world, she wouldn’t have had to kill her mother in law. She wouldn’t have had to marry her abusive husband, she wouldn’t have had to face poverty, and she wouldn’t have had to give up school. Instead she would live a happy, creative and healthy life, she would go to school and finish her studies, fall in love and marry someone she loved and be treated with respect and dignity.

Kobra has been lucky enough (if such a word has any significance here!) to be heard of by organisations like ours before it was too late. (16 year-old Atefe Rajabi was hanged before we heard about her case). The international campaign led by the Organisation for Women’s liberation has so far managed to postponed her sentence and keep her alive. We have tried to raise awareness about her life and her misery all over the world; we have collected thousands of signatures and have managed to win people’s solidarity and interest in her case. Our activists have arranged meetings with international bodies in order to generate international pressure on the Islamic regime in Iran. We have managed to get some European governments to formally protest against the Iranian authorities. There had been stalls and demonstrations and meetings held by our organisation all over the world. On April 20, Parvin Kaboly and Mahin Alipour met with some Swedish MPs to discuss Kobra Rahmanpour’s fate. They have promised to inquire about her and to write to the Iranian authorities. In Holland, our colleagues arranged a meeting with some senior members of the Socialist Party in parliament and again they have managed to win their sympathy and get them to act quickly to save Kobra. Mina Ahadi has focused attention on the case of Kobra Rahmanpour in Germany and so on.

Kobra Rahmanpour’s whole life has been punishment for crimes she had never committed. For being born in a poor family and for being a women in a country where sexual apartheid rules, and now her life is in danger, because she tried to defend it.

Only a strong, international outcry will save her.

Sign our petition today and save Kobra’s life!

* Visit TV International English site to see programme of May 29, 2005 on in which Maryam Namazie interviews Hamid Taqvaee on the presidential ‘elections’ in Iran; Shiva Mahbobi on honour killings and domestic violence and Homa Arjomand on Quebec’s legislature rejecting Sharia law.

TV International English is a weekly hour-long news analysis and commentary programme that focuses on the Middle East and rights and freedoms from a progressive and Left standpoint. Watch TV International English every Sunday from 11.00 - 12.00pm Tehran time (7.30-8.30pm London time). The programme is broadcast on Satellite: Telstar 12, Centre Frequency: 12608 MHz, Symbol Rate: 19279, FEC: 2/3, Polarization: Horizontal. It can also be viewed on its website: To see previous programmes, click on archives. To see a segment of a programme, first download the programme; after which you will be able to rewind and fast forward as needed.

If you are interested in helping Maryam Namazie and TV International English by transcribing interviews and suggesting issues for discussion, please contact her directly on


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