Iran is a large country (big as 5 western US states) surrounded by Iraq & Turkey on the west, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian sea, & Turkmenistan on the north, Afghanistan & Pakistan on the east, the Persian Gulf & Oman sea on the south. 18th largest country in the world & population 70 mill. It holds the worlds second biggest natural gas, & oil reserves, is the second largest exporter of crude oil. Most of its revenue is from its oil export (over 60%). After that, it has some agricultural exports, & is largely a scattered village agricultural economy & semi modernized. It is rich in mineral reserves, it is semi arid, it has large cosmopolitan cities, Tehran is the capital & all government organizations is located there, it is a centralized government with a sophisticated military & police structure, It’s a developing country. It has a majority Persian ethnic followed by Azari (Turkish), arab, Kurdish & turkomen & luri, baluchi, armenian ethnic minorities. It also has a large jewish population, Christian, Zoroastrian & bahai, & sunni moslem religious minorities. The most active & organized minorities to stand up to oppressive social conditions are kurd & turkomen. Iran’s national language is Farsi/Persian, national religion shia islam, government is a republic with a supreme leader & council of experts who are more powerful than the president, president has 6 vice presidents & 22 ministers in his cabinet. Women are second class citizens. Legal system is sharia law.
Short history of modern Iran:
The dawn of western colonial endeavors left the region weak & economically drained but Iran did not become a direct colony, despite stupid monarchs & outdated government & army. It basically teetered on the brink of failure & lost many of its national treasures & territory to the Russian & British Empire. The weak & corrupt Qajar dynasty (Iran had always been a monarchy, part of an empire or had other form of hierarchical government structure) led to the constitutional revolution & it became a constitutional monarchy 1906, but that did not stop Reza Khan to usurp the throne 1925 with a military coup & establish a brutal absolute monarchy, during which Iran’s national treasures continued to be pillaged by the British (oil industry, telegraph, railroad, post, taxations of certain kinds) & during WWII in 1942 the allies occupied Iran & booted Reza Shah (pro Nazi) & installed his 21 yr old son, Mohammad Reza Shah in his place. People were discontent & many uprisings were squashed until Mossadegh became prime minister & the nationalization movement of 1951-53 & with his leadership Iran briefly experienced a modicum of democracy & national pride to nationalize the oil. Soon after, the US successfully staged a coup & re established the shah’s dictatorship & took the lion’s share of the oil industry. This repression led to uprisings & the 1979 people’s revolution which ousted the shah & an interim government was formed which was supposed to be a coalition of some of the factions of the leadership of the revolution which did not last long & the most regressive & opportunist Moslem wing of the revolution (led by Khomeini) took hold of power & established the Islamic Republic of Iran, killing its opponents, & creating a government of terror. 1980-1981 was marked by mass executions of rival communist & nationalist factions, the brain drain, & war ensued w/Iraq, which enticed by the US attacked the oil rich & Arab south west border. 8 years of war, economic embargo & haphazard & trial & error economic strategies led to a depressed & somber 20 years post revolution which effectively overturned all the hopes & gains people had made in 1979. Eventually people did rise up again, & the years after the turn of the millennium, was marked by sporadic & increasing worker strikes, student demonstration & women’s right advocacy. Iranians have been struggling for a free independent Iran for a long time.
For more in-depth information about Iran, its relationship to US & its history & culture:
All the Shah’s men Steven Kinzer
Persopolis Marjan Satrapi
List of more books & reviews: http://www.meforum.org/1669/iran-in-books
Articles w/permission to distribute: www.opendemocracy.net
Recent arrests: hundreds possibly thousands have been arrested in Tehran alone; if you add up all the provinces then it is going to be very many.
Prison conditions: near starvation, withholding bathroom use, solitary confinement, sleep depravation, psychological torture, flogging w/wire, beating, rape, mock execution, & threatening & forced confessions & forced signing of made up confessions, forced confession on TV are used widely.
To contact volunteers of solidarity with mothers in mourning in Iran:
mothers in mourning of Iran, weblog from Iran, this is the blog that has news of their gathering and their demands and memorial to their children, they gather every weekend in laleh park in Tehran to silently protest. http://mothersoflaleh.blogspot.com/
good article about the mothers in mourning:
The dead & detained
web memorial, light a candle
Recent death toll: since june 12th 2009 :120+
kianush asa memorial:
European & … companies who sell torture devices to Iran
Companies sell spying equipment to Iran:
Human Rights organizations on Iran:
Online petitions: to support the mothers:
about labor in iran: www.labornotes.org/blogs/2010/01/interview-iran-labor-activists-face-repression