November 17, 2008

Guest lecture: Women in Afghanistan

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at California State University, Northridge is hosting Dr. Nancy Gallagher, University of California, Santa Barbara, to discuss:

Women in Afghanistan: Past History and Present Challenges

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 @ 7PM

Jerome Richfield 134

Dr. Nancy Gallagher is a professor of Middle Eastern and North African history and chair of the Middle East Studies Program at UCSB.  She is co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies.  Her recent book is Quakers in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Dilemmas of NGO Humanitarian Activism. She is currently working on two new books.

November 10, 2008

Momeni released on bail in Iran: facing charges

Momeni’s fellow students at California Sate University, Northridge celebrated the release of Esha Momeni today and posted celebratory announcements on blogs and social utility tools that have kept her supporters informed.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the excitement, word was just received that she was released on bail but will remain in Iran to face her charges.  She is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

Mostaghim and Daragahi report:

Esha Momeni, 28, a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen who was visiting Iran to research a master’s thesis, may not leave the country and must still stand before a political tribunal to face charges of “acting against national security” and “propagating against the system,” said Reza Momeni, her father.

Both are serious charges that can carry lengthy prison sentences.

In a brief telephone interview, Momeni said his daughter had lost about 15 pounds but otherwise appeared to be in good health. He said he had to put up the deed to his family’s Tehran apartment as collateral to win his Los Angeles-born daughter’s release.

“I hope she will go back to L.A. soon,” he said. “But for now, the authorities told us she is forbidden to go out. Tomorrow, we will be in court, and they will tell us what the next step will be.”

Posted on the CSUN website October 28, Mostaghim and Daragahi report:

Before her arrest, Momeni, a Cal State Northridge student, followed a path that differed from much of the rest of Southern California’s Iranian diaspora. While many Iranians fled their country to the United States after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, her family moved back to Iran from the U.S. in the early 1980s.

Reza Momeni, a U.S. citizen and father of five, was studying in Southern California at the time of the revolution. When war broke out between Iran and Iraq in 1980, he moved his family back home. He helped rebuild damaged sites, working in conflict-ravaged areas around cities such as Bandar Abbas and Bushehr.

Esha Momeni showed an early passion for the arts, learning to play the tar, a traditional string instrument, and delving into poetry and literature. She graduated from a Tehran college with a degree in graphics and in 2003 married a man her father described as a “male chauvinist” with emotional problems.

“She had a bad experience,” her father said. “Finally she managed to end her ordeal by divorcing him.”

The bitter breakup drove her from arts to activism, specifically women’s rights issues. She began participating in the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality, a group that connects activists in Iran with diaspora communities in the West.

Activist organizations, many of which advocate peaceful political and social change, greatly irk authorities in the Islamic Republic. Iran accuses them of being fronts for Western powers seeking to topple the government using the “velvet revolution” tactics that contributed to the downfall of former Soviet states.

A report issued this month by a United Nations human rights watchdog raised concerns about “an increasing crackdown in the past year on the women’s rights movement” in Iran.

“Women’s rights activism is sometimes presented by the Iranian government as being connected to external security threats to the country,” the report says.

November 7, 2008

Coming soon:Pray the Devil Back to Hell

The documentary chronicles the women’s movement in Liberia that helped put an end to more than a decade of civil war, rape and terror.  Never underestimate the power of the collective.

Bob Mondello reported on the upcoming documentary and interviewed Gini Reticker and Leymah Gbowee:

In telling their story, Gini Reticker’s passionate documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell uses testimony from women who joined forces, with parallel efforts in the Christian and Muslim communities, to fight back with moral rectitude as their sisters and daughters were being raped, their husbands murdered, their babies maimed.

Leymah Gbowee recalls turning a dream she had — of gathering women to pray for peace — into public activism. Other women recount horrific tales of the ways in which gun-toting 10-year-old boys brutalized whole towns.

And Reticker’s camera follows along as the women slowly, patiently create a national movement that engages in increasingly dangerous confrontations with a ruthless dictator — and ultimately, at peace talks, with brutal revolutionary warlords who are at least as dangerous as the man they’re all fighting.

Yes, we can.