Phi Beta Cons

More Questions for Bollinger to Put to A’Mad

The following queries are from Akbar Atri, who until 2005 served in the leadership of Tahkim Vahdat: Office for the Consolidation of Unity, Iran’s most prominent student organization; the questions were emailed  to me by Larry Haas of the Committee on the Present Danger: 1. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly charged that the U.S. government is itself responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Given this official government position, what do you mean to convey with your visit to Ground Zero?
2. Both you and the Supreme Leader have advocated holding internationally monitored referenda in both the U.S. and the Palestinian Territories to freely determine the will of the people about their leadership and their political future.  Would you support a free and fair referendum in Iran, monitored by international observers, on the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic?
3. You are speaking today at a free university in a free country, yet you have launched a cultural revolution against Iranian universities.  During your presidency, countless politically active students have been intimidated, imprisoned, tortured and expelled or denied entry to university.  Over 100 of the most prominent and liberal minded of university professors have been laid off.  Strict control over university curriculum has been imposed.  University publications and websites have been shut down, meeting houses of the student organization Tahkim Vahdat have been closed nationwide, and university students have been prohibited from engaging in any activities independent of the government.  How do justify such violations of human rights?
4. In 2007 alone, over 120 Iranians, among them human rights activists and leaders of ethnic and religious minority groups, have been executed without due process.  Some have been stoned to death, and some have been executed less than ten days after their arrest.  How do justify such violations of human rights? 5. In large numbers, Iranian women nationwide are campaigning for legal equality and an end to discrimination using nonviolent, grassroots strategies.  Despite their peaceful approach, you have charged them with acting against national security and have employed all manner of violence against them; the Islamic Republic has intimidated, harassed, beaten, imprisoned and tortured them.  How do you justify such violations of human rights?
6. You and other government officials routinely call Iran an Islamic utopia, a land ruled by social justice.  Yet the country has the highest rate of heroin addiction in the world, staggering levels of unemployment, prostitution, depression and suicide.  According to your own statistics, about half of the population lives below the poverty line.  The country has had, since the revolution, one the highest rates of brain drain in the world.  How do you account for such realities?
 7. In 1988, under orders from Ayatollah Khomeini, over 4,450 political prisoners were summarily executed in Iranian prisons in less than one month.  Your interior minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, was one of three members of a committee designating which political prisoners would be executed.  Your ministers have been dubbed the “Cabinet of Terror.”  What is your opinion about these executions?  Why did you choose Pourmohammadi as your interior minister?  How do you account for his violations of human rights?
8. It has been said that you are implicated in a string of state sanctioned political assassinations, 89 outside Iran and over 300 inside Iran.  The killing of Kurdish leader Abdolrahman Ghassemlou and the 1992 “Mykonos” restaurant terror attack in Berlin are among the violent incidents to which are linked.  How do you justify such violations of human rights? 9. You have often declared Iran to be the freest country in the world.  Yet according to the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, women and ethnic and religious minorities do not hold equal rights.  Baha’is, in particular, are persecuted, denied a right to education, employment, and access to justice.  How do you justify such violations of human rights?
10. According to a group of Iranian human rights groups, the Islamic Republic holds at least 462 political prisoners today.  It is typical for these prisoners to be subjected to physical and psychological torture, lengthy interrogations, solitary confinement, inhumane prison conditions, and denial of medical care.  Some, like student activist Akbar Mohammadi, have died in custody from torture.  Amir Kabir university student activists Ahmad Ghasanban, Ehsan Mansoori and Majid Tavakoli are being routinely degraded and humiliated.  Allame Tabatabaie University student activist Abolfazl Jahandar is suffering from severe back injuries.  Mofid University student activist Saed Derakhshandi has his left hand paralyzed.  Labor activist Mansour Osanlou desperately needs medical treatment for his eyes.  Is this what you meant when you promised “compassion” and “social justice” during your presidential campaign?  How do you justify such violations of human rights?

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