Monday, March 10, 2008


UN Special Rapporteur calls for restoration of water supply destroyed by bomb in Iraq
Media centre, United Nations websiteThe Special Rapporteur on the right to food to the Human Rights Council, Jean Ziegler, issued the following statement today: Geneva, 6 March 2008: -- I am deeply concerned about information I continue to receive concerning the deteriorating situation in Ashraf City/Camp Ashraf (Iraq) and its surrounding area, following an explosion on 8 February 2008 that destroyed the water pumps in Zorganieh, which supply the area. That pumping station provided drinking water and irrigation for Ashraf City and its surrounding area, covering more than 20,000 persons. The explosion has caused water and food shortages for the local population, which relies on local food supplies already severely affected by water scarcity. The situation is made more critical by increasingly hot weather. Some of the reports I have received allege that the explosion may have been intended to increase pressure on over 3,000 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) confined in Camp Ashraf in Diyala province. The camp remains under the control of the multi-national force under the demobilization agreement the Iraqi authorities signed with the PMOI in May 2003. In July 2004, the United States Government recognized PMOI members as Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, meaning that they should not be deported, expelled or repatriated, or displaced inside Iraq. The rights to food and to drinking water are protected by international human rights law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of everyone ’to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food’, and other international human rights instruments, to which Iraq is a party, further spell out the protection of these rights. The Iraqi authorities have failed to protect the inhabitants of Ashraf City and its surrounding area from the actions of third parties which are impeding enjoyment of the rights to food and water and creating a critical humanitarian situation. The competent authorities must restore urgently the water supply to all the inhabitants of the region affected by the explosion in the water pumping station; the affected population must be protected from violation of their rights by third parties. I call on the Iraqi authorities to take immediate measures to guarantee the rights to food and water of the inhabitants of Ashraf City/Camp Ashraf and its surrounding area.

The Washington times reported on Friday that the activists of the People's Mujahedin in Iran claim they were involved in a series of student demonstrations that have led to a crackdown by authorities. "Of course we are forced to work as individuals and can’t act under the banner of the organization because that would be costly and many are frightened to do so," said Ali, a member of the organization involved in the protests. Nine consecutive demonstrations at Shiraz University continued yesterday, with more than 3,000 students, Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the group, said in a telephone interview from Paris. " We are men and women of fighting, dare to fight and we will fight back, " students chanted at Shiraz University, according to the spokesman. "To the commander of garrison, this is the final warning: The student movement is ready for the uprising." In January, more than 2,000 students in Tehran University demonstrated against the government with chants of "Down with despotism." The Washington times added. Security forces raided the rally, injured 60 students and arrested more than 40. The People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran also has been involved in a nationwide campaign urging Iranians to boycott the upcoming Majlis (parliamentary) elections scheduled to take place next Friday. The latest wave of protests began Dec. 7 when hundreds of students participated in a two-hour demonstration outside Tehran University last year, demanding the freeing of activists jailed by the government in an ongoing crackdown. The students broke one of the gates of the university, but no direct clashes with police were reported. Officers said they had confiscated concussion grenades, illegal books, pamphlets and alcoholic beverages from the detainees, according to Tehran radio. On the day of the protest, activists in the People's Mujahedin, a literal translation of the Iranian name Mujahedin-e-Khalq or MeK, sent updates on the protest to an organizing member in a remote location, who identified herself as Shirin, 24. She then relayed the news in English over e-mail in three updates to an international press list. The next day, two more updates were sent, each containing photographs and video of the march. "My friends undertook these activities under a very high-risk situation when widespread arrests are being made throughout the country, students protesting Ahmadinejad are being identified, harassed and arrested and [MeK] families are in jail under torture," Shirin said in an e-mail interview.


Iran Focus, an Iranian website in English reported on March 6th that Iran’s police chief has vowed to keep “repeat offenders” in prison throughout the entire Persian New Year period which lasts until April 3 even if their jail terms expire. Brigadier General Ismaeil Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the commander of Iran’s State Security Forces, on Wednesday said, “With the cooperation of the judiciary, repeat offenders who are arrested will be incarcerated until the end of the holiday period”. His remarks were carried by the government-owned news agency Fars. “Among the steps we are taking is increasing police patrols, and arresting and detaining repeat offenders”, said Ahmadi-Moghaddam, who is himself a relative of hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In 2007, the government announced that any individual arrested during the fire festivities which precedes the New Year will languish in jail for the entire holiday period. The Persian New Year which coincides with the arrival of spring is celebrated on March 21. Commenting to reporters with regards to police action on the night before the last Wednesday of the year, when Iranians have traditionally held fire festivals, Ahmadi-Moghaddam said that this year “disturbances, damage, and dangerous activities all count as our red line”, adding that State Security Forces would be vigilant to deal with trouble-makers. Despite a massive crackdown to prevent last year’s “fire festival” from turning into scenes of anti-governments protests, many Iranians took to the streets to defy the government ban and celebrate the last Tuesday of the Persian year with a big bang. During the traditional Persian fire festival, known as ‘chaharshanbeh souri’ – literally, Feast of Wednesday – people jump over bonfires to “drive away evil”. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, however, Iran’s theocratic leaders have made strenuous efforts to stamp out the festivities which date back to over 2,500 years ago, but to no avail. In recent years, there have been extensive clashes between festive crowds and the security forces deployed to prevent street celebrations.

Protests Flare up at 2 Iranian Campuses Students Demand End to Ban on Activists, Ouster of College Head
Washington Post reported from Tehran: Hundreds of students at two Iranian universities have mounted protests in recent days to decry the expulsion of student activists and call for the resignation of a government-appointed campus president. ’The students are against the banning of their friends,’ said Rashid, a 25-year-old graduate student in Tehran who refused to give his family name out of fear he would be arrested. He said he was recently expelled from Allameh Tabatabai and later beaten by security guards when he tried to visit the university. Hundreds of students have also been demonstrating at the main university in Shiraz for more than a week, demanding that the chancellor, Mohammad Hadi Sadeghi, step down. The university head, a former Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, was put in charge after Ahmadinejad in 2006 instigated a nationwide purge of university professors and chancellors considered too liberal or secular. The students, who also call for better food and housing, say Sadeghi was appointed without the consultation of faculty members. Student leaders say other protests have taken place recently in the cities of Kerman, Esfahan and Shahrud. ’There has been a wave of threats by the university security forces and the intelligence ministry against both students and their families by telephone,’ a demonstrator in Shiraz said in a phone interview. She also asked not to be named out of fear of arrest, and said that security forces have tried to intervene with force but that the protests in Shiraz were continuing. During the interview, slogans could be heard. ’We are fighters, men and women,’ students shouted. ’Fight us and we will fight.’ Clips of their protests have been posted on the YouTube Web site.