On Calle Tullumayo.

Iranian Rights Defenders Warn of “Devastating” Consequences of War

It was with much alarm that we learned that the US President ordered a military strike against Iran last week. Minutes before the launch, when military planes had been deployed and navy ships were in position, the strike was suspended when the President abruptly ordered US forces to stand down.

This close encounter was the latest in a series of dangerous brushes with military conflict within the increasingly unstable US-Iran relations.

We have joined other allies, over 100 human rights defenders and activists inside and outside Iran to make our voices heard: War against Iran will have devastating human rights consequences for the people of Iran and we oppose it.

In a joint statement signed by some of Iran’s bravest activists and organized by United for Iran and the Center for Human Rights in Iran, we have detailed some of the likely consequences of war and how it would undermine decades of efforts to improve the quality of life, human rights, and civil liberties in Iran.

Most of the activists who have signed the letter live inside and outside Iran and have spent decades opposing the Iranian government’s oppressive and corrupt policies. Many have paid a high price for their action, including imprisonment and exile, in standing up against the Iranian government. They include student activists like Zia Nabavi, journalist Issa Saharkhiz, and women’s rights lawyer Mehrangiz Kar, as well representatives of some of the leading international human rights organizations like Guissou Jahangiri, Executive Director of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

While the US-Iran relationship has deteriorated since 2015 after the US unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement, I believe the way out is diplomacy and respect for international law and human rights.

In Solidarity,

Firuzeh Mahmoudi
Executive Director, United for Iran


Joint Statement:

We, the undersigned Iranian and international human rights organizations and advocates, express grave concerns over the rising tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms. We urge all parties and international actors to take immediate and clear steps to prevent a conflict.

The impact of any military action in Iran, as we have seen in neighboring countries, would be devastating. It would likely lead to accelerated human rights and humanitarian crisis and could only serve to destabilize an already troubled region. Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits. 

We have a deep understanding of the problems in Iran, including human rights challenges and corruption within some government sectors. We have dedicated our lives to strengthening the rights of women and girls, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, workers, journalists, university students, LGBTQ people, artists, and political prisoners in Iran. We have fought for the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial, socio-economic rights of the Iranian people, and an end to discrimination. We have consistently opposed Iranian authorities in their abuse of power and oppressive policies. It is from this perspective that we warn against the threat posed by military conflict. 

We also fear that military action against Iran will be disastrous for millions of ordinary people and could lead to the type of violent sectarian civil conflict seen in neighboring countries. The instability of these conflicts and the extent to which they pit groups of people against each other has led to immeasurable human rights abuses. 

Many Iran-based human rights defenders have expressed dismay that broad economic sanctions imposed by the US and the specter of war have already made their work more difficult. Many of them are struggling to make ends meet in a depressed economy, while their activities have become increasingly risky in a heightened security environment. The threat of war has strengthened support for the Iranian state’s security approaches and has been used as a pretext to crack down on activists. Minority communities, who have little space for civic activism, suffer the brunt of crackdowns at such times. Many Iranian human rights defenders fear that an actual military conflict would give the Iranian security forces an opportunity to finally put a complete stop to their advocacy efforts. 

These concerns reflect some of the likely outcomes of any military confrontation in Iran, underscoring the need for peaceful and legal solutions to any tensions between states.

We urge all parties to show maximum restraint. We ask that the United Nations Secretary-General, the European Union, and the government of Japan, as well as countries in the region that have stepped in the past to foster peace, to intervene to prevent the outbreak of war and deepening human rights and humanitarian crisis. 


(Signatories here)

Who are you?

Valentino at the garden gate. 

Tamam Shud case

Image of the unknown dead man found on Somerton Beach, Adelaide, on the morning of 1 December 1948.

Wikipedia: The Tamám Shud case, also known as the Mystery of the Somerton Man, is an unsolved case of an unidentified man found dead at 6:30 am, 1 December 1948, on the Somerton Park beach, just south of Adelaide, South Australia. The case is named after the Persian phrase tamám shud, meaning "ended" or "finished," which was written on a scrap of paper found months later in the fob pocket of the man's trousers. The scrap had been torn from the final page of a copy of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám, authored by 12th-century poet, Omar Khayyám. Tamám was misspelt as Tamán in many early reports, and this error has often been repeated, leading to confusion about the name in the media.

Following a public appeal by police, the book from which the page had been torn was located. On the inside back cover, detectives were able to read – in indentations from handwriting – a local telephone number, another unidentified number and a text that resembled an encrypted message. The text has not been deciphered or interpreted in a way that satisfies authorities on the case.

The case has been considered, since the early stages of the police investigation, "one of Australia's most profound mysteries." There has been intense speculation ever since regarding the identity of the victim, the cause of his death and the events leading up to it. Public interest in the case remains significant for several reasons: the death occurred at a time of heightened international tensions following the beginning of the Cold War; the apparent involvement of a secret code; the possible use of an undetectable poison; and the inability of authorities to identify the dead man.

In addition to intense public interest in Australia during the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Tamám Shud case also attracted international attention. South Australian Police consulted their counterparts overseas and distributed information about the dead man internationally, in an effort to identify him. International circulation of a photograph of the man and details of his fingerprints yielded no positive identification For example, in the United States, the FBI was unable to match the dead man's fingerprint with prints taken from files of domestic criminals. Scotland Yard was also asked to assist with the case, but could not offer any insights.

In recent years new evidence has emerged, including an old identification card possibly identifying the Somerton Man as one H. C. Reynolds and an ongoing DNA analysis of hair roots found on the plaster bust >>>

Off to school

Mother taking the kids to school near Laguna Acopia, south of Cusco.

Iranian Americans express fear of war

Sarah Sakha graduating from Princeton in 2018.

NBC: Escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington have rattled Sarah Sakha, 23, an Iranian American who recently graduated from college in the U.S. and got a job at a nonprofit in New York.

She fears for the safety of relatives and friends in Iran. She worries that few Americans recognize the perils of another military conflict in the Mideast, or what she describes as "Iraq 2.0."

Alarmed by the flurry of news alerts, she has broken down crying at work.

"The constant emotional stress and terror I feel as a first-generation Iranian American is undeniable," Sakha said. "I think it's especially terrifying how things can change overnight, literally."

Sakha is among nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. of Iranian ancestry, many of whom are closely following developments as the U.S. and Iran head toward a possible clash.

President Donald Trump on Friday said the U.S. was "cocked and loaded" to retaliate against Iran for downing a U.S. surveillance drone. But he said he called off the strike minutes before it was set to launch when he heard 150 civilians could die, he said.

In an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd on Friday, Trump said a plan was "ready to go subject my approval."

As the crisis mounts, several Iranian American civic organizations and advocacy groups are on high alert, with some calling for the U.S. and Iranian governments to exercise caution before the situation spirals into violence.

The National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based group that advocates for improved relations between the two countries, pleaded for "restraint."

"Both Trump and his inner circle and Iran’s leadership should recognize that the U.S. and Iran have entered an escalation spiral. Adding fuel to the fire risks stoking this crisis to the point of no return," Jamal Abdi, the group's president, said in a statement.

"The night is always darkest before the dawn. We urge all leaders to put their countries’ best interests in mind and firmly step away from the path to war," Abdi added.

The American Iranian Council, a public policy group that focuses on diplomacy surrounding Iran, released a similar statement this week, faulting both the U.S. and Iran for stoking tensions.

"AIC calls on both countries to immediately cease their aggressive and escalating rhetoric," the group said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether any major Iranian American advocacy groups planned to organize aid to families in Iran, many of whom have been separated from loved ones in the U.S. by the Trump administration's travel ban or struggled under tough economic sanctions on their country.

Dealing with the icy relationship between the U.S. and Iran is nothing new for many Iranian Americans. They saw the nuclear accords under President Barack Obama give way to more openly hostile rhetoric from Trump, who has accused the Iranian regime of doing "bad, bad things.*

Ali Ghambari, founder of the Iranian American Community Alliance, a Seattle-based nonprofit, said he would not be surprised if American groups provided financial assistance to Iranian nationals during a hypothetical conflict.

Ghambari, 60, who has lived in the U.S. since 1979, said he was grateful that Trump was "not moving fast" on a standoff with Iran. He added that he would prefer a diplomatic resolution.

But not all Iranian Americans were averse to the U.S. taking a hard line against Iran.

At a gathering in front of the White House on Friday, dozens of Iranian Americans rallied for regime change in Tehran, with some calling for the overthrow of the ruling government.

Ahmad, an Iranian-American man who did not want to provide his full name because of concerns about his family's safety, said he blamed the Iranian regime for the deaths of his brothers, including one he says was tortured in state prison.

He said he did not expect that will be a war. But the U.S., he added, will "have to take firm action."


At Q’eswachaka, south of Cusco.

Picaso the llama

In front of the Marriott Hotel.

Kate Millett in Iran

Whisper Tapes 
Kate Millett in Iran
by Negar Mottahedeh

Kate Millett was already an icon of American feminism when she went to Iran in 1979. She arrived just weeks after the Iranian Revolution, to join Iranian women in marking International Women's Day.

Intended as a day of celebration, the event turned into a week of protests. Millett, armed with film equipment and a cassette deck to record everything around her, found herself in the middle of demonstrations for women's rights and against the mandatory veil.

Listening to the revolutionary soundscape of Millett's audio tapes, Negar Mottahedeh offers a new interpretive guide to Revolutionary Iran, its slogans, habits, and women's movement—a movement that, many claim, Millett never came to understand.

Published with the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and the women's protests that followed on its heels, Whisper Tapes re-introduces Millett's historic visit to Iran and lays out the nature of her encounter with the Iranian women's movement.

About the Author

Negar Mottahedeh is Associate Professor of Literature at Duke University. She is the author of #iranelection: Hashtag Solidarity and the Transformation of Online Life (Stanford, 2015), among other books. 

Gucci Poochi

On Calle Marques.