frandroid: camilo cienfuegos in a broad-rimmed hat (anarchism)
The G9 and G20 are meeting in Toronto at the end of June... If you have ideas for cool topical slogans for signs or t-shirts, my inclination to take the Friday off to protest will be much higher than if I don't sport cheap photography bait.

The future of the world rests in your hands!!
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Catching up to the news after a few days of Christmas and sleepover over at our shack...

Death Toll Rises to 10 as Clashes in Iran Intensify
There were scattered reports of police officers surrendering, or refusing to fight. Several videos posted to the Internet show officers holding up their helmets and walking away from the melee, as protesters pat them on the back in appreciation. In one photograph, several police officers can be seen holding their arms up, and one of them wears a bright green headband, the signature color of the opposition movement.
Protests and clashes also broke out in the cities of Isfahan, Mashad, Shiraz, Arak, Tabriz, Najafabad, Babol, Ardebil and Orumieh, opposition Web sites said.

It's always good news when orders are not being carried out. Keep an eye open.
frandroid: A faroher, emblem of the Zoroastrian religion (faroher)
[ profile] richardhetu, La Presse's indefatigable blogger, posted about Rafsanjani's Friday Prayers sermon at Tehran University. He linked to the New York Times' reportage, The Guardian's analysis and Tehran Bureau's updates of the situation on the ground, outside the prayer hall.

Largest protest held in weeks. Rafsanjani recognizing the legitimacy of the "crisis" and trying to position himself as neutral broker, reminder people that both the "islamic" and "republican" parts of the country are indispensable. Protesters were warning Rafsanjani not to betray them before speech; came away satisfied (13 out of 20, according to one protester). All call and response chants, the usual "Death to America", "Death to Israel", etc. were responded by the crowd with "Death to Russia"! Apparently, the nightly chants were louder tonight than they had been in a while. State TV exceptionally did not broadcast the prayers and sermon live, but there was brief coverage of the protest, a first since the crisis started.

There is still hope.
frandroid: A faroher, emblem of the Zoroastrian religion (faroher)
So we ended up going to the Toronto protest in solidarity with the Iranian protesters on Sunday. The protest was at Queen's Park from 2pm to 4pm. We ended up there around 3pm. The front lawn of the provincial parliament building was fairly occupied, I would say that there were a few thousand people. At that point, most of the speeches were either in Farsi, or badly amplified anyway, so I couldn't understand much. From time to time, there would be some people chanting "Marg bar dictator" (Down with the dictator), and "Natarsid! Natarsid! Mah hameh bah ham hastim!” (Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, We are all together!), although mostly the former. There was also a lame "Iran, Iran, Iran" cheer going on. Can't people be more original than this? Finally, very tellingly, not once did I hear Allaho Akbar.  It's good enough for the rooftops of Tehran, but Torontonian Persians seem to have better slogans than them!

You could see a fairly good contingent of socialists/communists, with signs that were more vitriolic, "Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran". One interesting thing is that even though there were tons of Iranian flags, the only version you could see was the monarchist or pre-revolutionary flag, with the lion in the centre, as opposed to the Islamic Republic's flag, with the Farsi text along the coloured borders and the swords in the centre. A lot of people had gotten t-shirts pressed or made their own t-shirts with various slogans along the lines of "Where is my vote?"

Eventually the speakers were done but many protesters decided to stay. The communists decided to do some sloganeering of their own, in complete rejection of the Islamic republic but not touting any program of their own (Other than on some flags, which said Freedom, Equality, Socialism). I accompanied them for a bit with their "Marg bar joomheira islami", "down with the terrorist state", etc. not really convinced but for the sake of yelling something, anyway. A larger part of the protest had moved further south, away from the communists, but they were also saying "Down with the islamic republic".

I thought later on that people's slogans should really have been about the elections and asking for democracy. That is the basis of what's missing in Iran. Maybe many Iranians do want to live in an Islamic republic after all? Maybe (hopefully!) not forced veiling and stoning of adulterous women, but still living under a version of Islam's moral code? Moussavi's extremely reformist statement did come from a position of trying to coopt/split security forces, and of course he is a former ultimate insider, having been the Prime Minister under Khomeini as Supreme Leader and Khamenei as President. But it also made me think that the first priority should be to have a democratic process, both at the level where you elect free parliamentarians (not supervised by an unelected veto-er) and have a free press, but also at the level of popular organization. Everything else flows from there.

The Danger of Hijacked Rallies
State-run TV in Iran is showing demonstrations in other countries such as the US, however with some serious editing. They are not broadcasting the majority of people standing and shouting in solidarity with people in Iran. Rather, they show images of demonstrators who shout, “Death to the Islamic Republic,”
In Paris on June 20, the National Council of Resistance of Iran helped bus in several thousands from all across Europe to hold a rally where the leader of NCRI, Maryam Rajavi spoke. Busing in people from out of town. sound familiar? Just today, June 21, in Washington DC, a rally organized by monarchists – though attended by many non-monarchists – featured Reza Pahlavi, the son of deposed Shah. Many sat down when he arrived, while others moved to the periphery obviously uncomfortable with his presence. Like a celebrity, he spoke for five minutes about democracy in Iran interrupted by cries of “We love you” and was ushered away. “I sensed he was being very opportunistic,” remarked an onlooker.

If one truly aims to help the people in Iran, then one should follow the people lead and not try to hijack their movement by imposing one’s own agenda. Demonstrations outside of Iran should be filled with unity, peace, and reflection for the brave Iranian people fighting for basic freedoms, and void of flags and slogans that undermine their cause with the burden of past political divisions.

After the protest, by sheer coincidence, we had to get to Finch station to get something else. That part of the city is home to many Iranian businesses, so we decided to go try Persian food. There were many people driving around, having decked their cars with many monarchist flags, honking and cheerfully yelling out loud. It felt more like a world cup match victory celebration than a worried protest in support of brave Iranians facing off against the Basij. Some of these seemed to have made it quite well in life, driving cars that I can't afford.


Now that Ayatollah Khamenei has become inexorably connected to Ahmadinejad’s power grab, many clerics are coming around to the idea that the current system needs to be changed. Among those who are now believed to be arrayed against Ayatollah Khamenei is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shi’a cleric in neighboring Iraq. Rafsanjani is known to have met with Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s representative in Iran, Javad Shahrestani.

A reformist website, Rooyeh, reported that Rafsanjani already had the support of nearly a majority of the Assembly of Experts, a body that constitutionally has the power to remove Ayatollah Khamenei. The report also indicated that Rafsanjani’s lobbying efforts were continuing to bring more clerics over to his side. Rafsanjani’s aim, the website added, is the establishment of a leadership council, comprising of three or more top religious leaders, to replace the institution of supreme leader. Shortly after it posted the report on Rafsanjani’s efforts to establish a new collective leadership, government officials pulled the plug on Rooyeh.

Meanwhile, the Al-Arabiya satellite television news channel reported that a "high-ranking" source in Qom confirmed that Rafsanjani has garnered enough support to remove Ayatollah Khamenei, but an announcement is being delayed amid differences on what or who should replace the supreme leader. Some top clerics reportedly want to maintain the post of supreme leader, albeit with someone other than Ayatollah Khamenei occupying the post, while others support the collective leadership approach.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Joe Fiorito: Sometimes price of freedom is gloriously inconvenient. Another good column in the Star profiling some of the Tamil protesters. I think the "they're not Tamil, they're Canadian" premise a little facetious (why not say "also" Canadian?), but Fiorito only has the best of intentions. hat tip to [ profile] culpster.

Read the whole article here )
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Totally go read [ profile] sabotabby's rant about the "can't they protest nicely without us having to pay any attention to them" crowd.

Tamils have the "right" to protest--we'll give them that because we are oh-so-generous and believe in abstract rights that cease to exist as soon as they inconvenience us--but said protests must conform to the tame and ineffectual standards of the impotent Canadian left.

Let's be honest here. White people in Canada, including the government, did not give a flying fuck about the plight of the Tamils until Tamil-Canadians escalated their protests. White people in Canada still don't give a flying fuck about the plight of Tamils, so this concern troll talk about alienating Canadians and losing support is bollocks. They never had that support, or any hope of gaining it, no matter how saintly and impeccable their behaviour.
What it comes down to is that white people hold brown people to a different ethical standard than they hold themselves to. The death toll in Sri Lanka now stands at around 8,500 over the past few months, and Tamil-Canadians have responded with peaceful protests. When a few thousand or so Americans and a handful of Canadians died on Sept. 11, 2001, the response was anything but non-violent. It was a brutal, bloody rampage against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq (who, like the Canadian commuters, had nothing to do with the murders). We demand not only pacifism from our fellow human beings in the face of their suffering--though we, the pasty-faced we, are anything but non-violent ourselves--but worse, we demand utter passivity.

She also links to this excellent Royson James column. Yes, the usually irritating Royson James.
frandroid: The letter "L" followed by Mao's face, making the LMAO acronym. (mao)
China ready to discuss Tibet

But the decision to talk also reveals a "dilemma" the Chinese Communist Party leadership is now facing, caught between the burgeoning forces of Chinese nationalism on the one hand, and the demands of world civil society on the other. "This will definitely be seen as a climbdown by many people in the nationalist movement," Hughes predicted.

What is this? The "nationalist movement"? Who is the biggest promoter of nationalism in China but the Chinese government? Mao was so successful in part because of his deft use of nationalism (in the light of an anti-colonial struggle) to rally the Chinese people to his side. The "nationalist movement" is not something that is exogenous to the government.

If the Chinese government is afraid of nationalist fervour preventing them "climbing down" on Tibet, they only have themselves to blame. The only kind of demonstrations that have been allowed in China for years have been those that have stoked nationalism, in the face of perceived anti-Chinese actions abroad, in particular the visits to the Shinjuku shrine by the Japanese leaders.

Anyway, if the Chinese government is willing to acknowledge that the Dalai Lama is human after all, it's a good first step, and a vindication for all the violence of the pro-Tibet movement in recent weeks. Violence that pales greatly, it must be said, by the nearly 60-year campaign of cultural genocide by the Chinese government against Tibet, with thousands imprisoned and killed.

(This is no laughing matter, but this is also my only Chinese icon.)

*** ETA:
With a little more than 100 days until the opening ceremonies, the government is keen for its citizens to welcome Westerners, and everyone from around the world.

Of course, the government itself is the not most welcoming to foreigners right now, greatly limiting visas to pre-Olympics visitors.
frandroid: large crowd of indian women (south asia)

Free Burma!

I'm a day early, but whatever. Maybe it'll be the 4th by the time you read this.

Burmese military arrests more dissidents [from CBC]

I posted a note on my Facebook, linking to various articles providing background on the big international players in this struggle (or rather, against this struggle). has a petition. Schmetition, I say, but I signed it anyway.

It's interesting that it's aimed at China (at least, it's aimed at Hu Jintao in particular, not "the Chinese"). Ahh, China, the easily found source of all our troubles. Why not India (partnership on Nagaland insurgency)? Thailand (largest source of external income for Burma)? even Russia? Russia has vetoed the UNSC motion of Burma along with China. Also, there already are rumours that China is weighing behind the scenes on the Burmese generals, whereas Russia is probably doing jack all. Anyway. Don't fall in the easy [China = Evil] trap. It's not paradise, but it's not hell either. One must take into account that China's relationship with Burma has largely to do with the threat that the U.S. creates for China around the Strait of Malacca, its only sea passage for oil and goods. It is because of this choking threat that China has sought a safe passage though Burma for oil and goods.

Once again, I'll be working during the next Toronto protest (Oct. 6, 6pm, Chinese consulate, 240 St. George St.), so I won't be going. Maybe you will? Please post pictures.
frandroid: INGSOC logo, from Orwell's 1984 (totalitarianism)
Blood and batons spur Pakistan row

This is a good article that summarizes the current row between Pakistan's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mohammed Ali Durrani Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who had traditionally supported Musharraf, against the government, which has tried to tame down the judge. The Chief Justice has been supported by most of the country's lawyers and now protests are escalating.


Jan. 25th, 2007 03:38 am
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
fuck this city of wimps up the ass: Toronto issued a cold alert. Get this: temperatures on Wed dropped down to... -13°C! It might even get down to -19°C tomorrow! Horror and damnation! We might have to put on an extra layer of clothing! There are no risks of rapid freeze burns!

Now that's family support! Families from both sides encouraged rape victim to marry her rapist! And I thought Madhya Pradesh wasn't such a backwards state... :P

Protests to become more heated up: U.S. unveils new heat-ray gun. Can we use mirrors to point it back at them?


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