October 24, 2008

Grad student jailed in Iran

One of our grad students at California State University, Northridge, Esha Momeni, has been arrested and jailed for a stated “traffic offense.”  Momeni, a graduate student in the Department of Communication Studies, had been in Iran for several months conducting research via video interviews for her master’s thesis on women’s movements. According to reports, Momeni is a member of Campaign for Equality which seeks to campaign on behalf of Iranian women.  She is not the only member that has been arrested in connection with the mission of the campaign.

As reported in the Bloomberg Press today:

Esha Momeni, 28, a graduate student at the university’s Northridge campus, was taken into custody Oct. 15 in Tehran on “suspicion of committing a traffic offense” while driving on the Moddaress Highway, the human rights group said in a statement.

Police then searched her family’s home in Tehran and confiscated her computer and footage of interviews she conducted, Amnesty said. She was taken to Evin Prison, and authorities told her relatives she would be released quickly if they didn’t publicize her arrest, according to Amnesty.

When officials at a branch of the country’s Revolutionary Court told the family no information on her case would be released until an investigation is completed, relatives decided to make details of the arrest public, Amnesty said. Momeni has not been charged with any crimes and is at risk of being mistreated or tortured, the group said.

“We’re tracking reports and official statements and will continue to monitor the situation,” Nicole Choueiry, a spokeswoman for London-based Amnesty International said today in a telephone interview.

University president, Jolene Koester, issued this statement:

I am deeply concerned that one of our graduate students, Esha Momeni, has been arrested and detained by Iranian authorities while conducting research as part of her Master’s degree requirements in Mass Communications at California State University, Northridge. My understanding is that her thesis project focused on women’s issues in Iran.

Ms. Momeni is a U.S. citizen. She is a student invested in learning and understanding current conditions in the country of her family’s origin.

Anyone who values knowledge and the role of academic inquiry in shedding light on the human condition should be concerned. We are in support of the efforts of the U.S. government in their efforts to secure Ms. Momeni’s immediate release and are in the process of contacting the following individuals and organizations to obtain their assistance: Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative Brad Sherman, the Department of State, and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee.

The university has taken action by contacting the Iranain ambassador to the UN, Congressman Sherman and Senators Boxer and Feinstein.

October 22, 2008

Eleanor Smeal to John McCain

Eleanor Smeal, president of The Feminist Majority Foundation, posted an open letter to John McCain on the Huffington Post today.

Dear Senator McCain,

This week you have lashed out against the “Feminist Left.” I understand your frustration. You see that women are not flocking to the McCain/Palin ticket and you don’t understand why. Allow me to illuminate you.

The truth is, Senator McCain, your candidacy is the worst for women in recent history. You thought that women would vote for you once you put a woman on your ticket. But women aren’t fooled by this tactic. Women, Senator McCain, vote on issues important to us, not on whether or not the candidate wears a skirt.

The problem, Senator McCain, is your voting record, platform, and policies. You have consistently voted wrong on issues that directly impact American women’s bank accounts, personal liberties and health.

• You voted 19 times against increasing the minimum wage (the majority of minimum wage earners are women) – before you finally voted for it because it included business tax cuts. You voted to gut the Family and Medical Leave act – and you oppose expanding its coverage.

• You oppose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would restore women’s ability to fight wage discrimination in the courts – telling women our problem was that we needed to get more education and training.

• You voted NO on the Violence Against Women Act and NO on funding for the Office of Violence Against Women.

• You voted NO on starting the Army’s Breast Cancer Research Program which has funded hundreds of millions in breast cancer research. You voted NO on reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and supported Bush’s veto.

• You oppose a woman’s right to choose, and your running mate Sarah Palin opposes legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

• You voted to terminate federal funds for family planning and you have ducked questions on contraceptive insurance discrimination.

• You have stated that you admire the voting records of Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and John Roberts, and have stated that you would like to put Justices like them – Justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade – on the Supreme Court.

We have compared the votes and platforms of Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin on women’s issues and the record is clear. No matter how you look at it – Obama/Biden score close to 100% and McCain/Palin approach a zero on women’s rights and issues.

If credit should be given for consistency, you deserve such credit when it comes to voting against women’s interests. Twenty-six years of voting against women’s rights and issues and you think women, when given a clear choice, won’t notice?

October 21, 2008

Thanks, FMF. No on 4, California!

Feminists for Obama/Biden