Sunday, 9 May 2010

Farzad Kamangar executed

I signed into my blog this morning and thought of removing the "I'm supporting the Socialist Campaign to Stop the Tories and Fascists" logo, which has been there throughout the election campaign. Nah, I thought, leave it for a few days more, people might find it interesting, and the site it links to has analysis of the election results.

I looked at the picture of Farzard Kamangar, a Kurdish Iranian teacher, imprisoned and sentenced to death, allegedly for terrorist offences, but actually because he was a fighter for Kurdish rights and, for a while, a militant teacher trade unionist. There was no question of me removing that!

I thought about Pauline Levis, who lives in Barnet, who has waged a long, dogged and ultimately successful battle for the right of Behnam Askari and his family to stay in the UK and not be deported back to Iran where he faced likely persecution. She stuck at it for years. Whatever else Pauline did, Behnam's campaign was there for people to sign up to.

I hoped in a small way to do that with the Kamangar logo at the top of my blog. Whoever visited, I thought, might take the time to click through and send a message to the evil Ahmedinejad.

Pauline's Facebook page this morning conveys the news that it's too late. Farzad Kamangar, along with four other Kurdish political prisoners, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam-Huee and Mehdi Eslamian, has been executed.

I went to an inspiring talk yesterday up at the occupied Middlesex Uni admin building, where students and staff are battling to save their philosophy department from the axe. The talk was by Ali Alizadeh, a veteran of the student battles in Iran around 1999. He spoke about the 2009 protests against the stolen election.

We had a bit of a debate about the meaning of elections in Iran and in the UK. To my mind, he implied that in the UK we have become complacent about our democratic freedoms. Whether he's right or wrong about that, this depressing news about Kamangar reminds us of how people around the world are dying to win the sort of democratic rights that we enjoy.

Read more about Kamangar and the circumstances of his death here. Then enjoy this poem, which the poet dedicated to Iranians' fight against repression:

Cut the rope

Cut the rope I

cut the rope from
the neck of the convicted
and bind the judge

Cut the rope II

put the judges to court
and give them a fair trial
for their death sentences

Cut the rope III

life is sacred
no one may steal the right
to breathe freely

Bjarne Kim Pedersen

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