International Issues Women's Issues

Esha Momeni, CSUN Graduate Student Held in Iranian Prison


On Wednesday, October 15—just over a week ago—Esha Momeni
was driving along the Moddaress highway in Teheran when she was pulled over by men who said they were undercover traffic police. The officers told her she had overtaken and passed another car, which was illegal, they said.

Esha is a 28-year-old graduate student at CSUN. She and her parents are Iranian Americans living in California, but Esha holds dual citizenship. Esha is getting her master’s degree in communication and had been in Iran for two months to finish her thesis on the Iranian women’s movement. She had been spending the day interviewing a group called the One Million Signatures Campaign, when the so-called traffic stop occurred.

The “officers” took her to her family’s home where they seized her laptop and the videos of interviews she’d conducted with women activists. Ominously, they already had a search warrant with them. In other words, the stop was anything but the spontaneous occurrence it had first appeared to be.

Then Esha was taken to Iran’s notorious Section 209 of Evin Prison where she has been held since, without being allowed access to friends or family.

This area of the Iranian prison system has an unusually menacing reputation. For instance, it is here where supposedly seditious writers and dissidents are usually taken. Some come out. Some do not. It was in Section 209 that Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in Iranian custody on July 11, 2003, after showing signs of being brutally raped and tortured.

Esha’s friends and schoolmates wanted to spread the word of her imprisonment right away. But Iranian authorities told her family that, as long as they didn’t go to the press, Esha would be released in a few days. Now a week as come and gone without her parents being allowed to see her, said Anayansi Prado, a filmmaker and friend told CSUN’s school newspaper, The Daily Sundial

So friends and such organizations as Amnesty International have begun speaking out.

Esha’s boyfriend, Hassan Hussein, has put up a website about Esha and her situation that he updates with any news plus statements from friends and professors.

The LA Times has a story in today’s paper, which tells a little about Esha’s background.

Here are some clips:

Momeni was born in California while her father was a civil engineering student at Cal State Los Angeles. Her family moved back to Iran when she was a child, Northridge officials said. A painter and musician, she earned an undergraduate degree in graphic design at Azad University of Tehran in 2002 and came to the Northridge campus two years ago.

Dave Blumenkrantz, a Northridge journalism professor who also serves on Momeni’s thesis committee, recalled that he and other faculty members had asked her to consider dropping her trip to Iran in light of possible dangers even though her project is more related to art and photography involving women than to anything overtly political.

“Concerns were raised,” Blumenkrantz said. “She said, ‘Thanks for the advice, but this is something I really want to do.’ She was not talking about it in a militant way, but her mind was made up.

“She’s just brilliant and very talented,” he said. “She is an original thinker.”

Esha’s friend and mentor, filmmaker, Anayansi Prado, said that the last time she talked to Esha, she believed her phone was being tapped.

According to Prado, Esha has not been charged with anything, but friends and family are extremely worried.

“I am very surprised by her arrest,” said her professor, David Blumenkratz. “I am certain she was doing nothing wrong. I’m sure all my colleagues in the world would be surprised to hear that a young communication and Art student has been arrested for no apparent reason.

CSUN Campus President Jolene Koester said that the university is contacting U.S. officials for help in Esha’s case.


  • Police: McCain volunteer made up robbery story…

    PITTSBURGH (AP) – A McCain campaign volunteer made up a story of being robbed, pinned to the ground and having the letter “B” scratched on her face in a politically inspired attack, police said Friday.
    Ashley Todd, 20-year-old college student from College Station, Texas, admitted Friday that the story was false and was being charged with making a false report to police, said Maurita Bryant, the assistant chief of the police department’s investigations division. Police doubted her story from the start, Bryant said.

    Todd, who is white, told police she was attacked by a 6-foot-4 black man Wednesday night.

  • Comes via Street-Hassle,

    Mayella Violet Ewell: “I was sittin’ on the porch, and he come along. Uh, there’s this old chifforobe in the yard, and I-I said, ‘You come in here, boy, and bust up this chifforobe, and I’ll give you a nickel.’ So he-he come on in the yard and I go in the house to get him the nickel and I turn around, and ‘fore I know it, he’s on me, and I fought and hollered, but he had me around the neck, and he hit me again and again, and the next thing I knew, Papa was in the room, a-standin’ over me, hollerin’, ‘Who done it, who done it?'”

    -Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

  • I wonder if McPain would bite off Obama’s nose in public if it was worth a few year’s cancer treatments to him? Just imagine – Obama speaking, and then the hideous, demented Cain-man just stumps over to the man’s podium, leaking fluids, and lunges forward. . .SNUTCH! And then he’d chew it with his mouth open, like a big evil schoolchild. Hell, I’d pay big, big bucks to see that sh*t. Let’s get a collection up – we know McPain is for sale, and we know he likes rough play.

  • I have no words for this…(backwards B-what an idiot…notice how nicely done it is too…what a whacko!)

    $22,800 FOR TWO WEEKS OF MAKEUP. The stylist, Amy Strozzi, was apparently paid more than any other McCain staffer during that period. Putting lipstick on a p-i-g is expensive. The money would have been better spent on tutors for Willow and Piper and a nanny for Trig so that they could travel with Palin yet not have to be lugged out everywhere with her.

  • Palin: Bush a major obstacle. . .
    President Bush’s unpopularity is the No. 1 problem for the GOP ticket, Sarah Palin said in an interview airing Friday on “NBC Nightly News.”

    GREEN, Ohio – President Bush’s unpopularity is the No. 1 problem for the Republican presidential ticket, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said in an interview airing Friday, breaking sharply with the president as the campaign enters its final days.

  • Who could this multiple personality “menudo-menso be”, who post comment after comment and links to Street-Hassle? He seems to have WoodyPhobia and PalinPhobia or maybe he just drinks too many ramos gin-fiz cocktails in the morning.

  • CNN anchor Rick Sanchez Calls Out Fox Over “Mutilation” Hoax. McCain Aide Gave Reporters Incendiary Version Of Story. Sanchez dug the knife in a bit deeper when it came to Hugh Hewitt, the conservative radio talk show host who appeared on CNN Thursday and blamed “that side” (i.e. the Democrats) for engaging in “extraordinarily” disturbing acts.
    REPORTERS: MCCAIN AIDE PUSHED OBAMA MUTILATION HOAX, Ashley Todd Story Pushed By McCain Campaign Aide, Say Reporters.
    John McCain’s Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established — and even told reporters outright that the “B” carved into the victim’s cheek stood for “Barack,” according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

    John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”

  • Next time someone decides to carve a letter into someone elses body, please don’t use the letter “B” (and written Backwards too!), use the letter “O” for crying out loud.

  • This Is Not a Test. Sitting on an aircraft-carrier deck in 1962 didn’t prepare John McCain for the presidency. In the last few days, Sen. John McCain has told crowds that he’s “been tested” when it comes to dealing with international crises, and as proof he cited the big enchilada of crises, the showdown over Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962. “I had a little personal experience in that,” McCain said in Ohio. “I was there.”
    But where was “there”? Was McCain a White House fellow or a junior aide in the Pentagon, watching, albeit from a distance, while President John Kennedy or Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara grappled with the dilemmas?

    No, he was the pilot of a naval attack plane on an aircraft carrier in the Caribbean. As he put it at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, “I sat in the cockpit on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise, off of Cuba. I had a target.” Then he added: “My friends, you know how close we came to nuclear war. Americans will not have a president who needs to be tested. I’ve been tested, my friends.”

    As a 26-year-old Navy lieutenant in October 1962, John McCain was prepared to follow orders, fly his plane along a predetermined path to a preselected target, drop his preloaded bombs, and fly back. Again, this is not to be minimized. But neither does it constitute being “tested” to be-either then or 46 years later-the president of the United States.

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) began airing a new ad telling Minnesota voters that she “may not always get [her] words right,” but she comes short of making an official apology for referring to Barack Obama and other Democrats as anti-American. “Once again our nation is at a crossroads, and it’s a time for choosing. We could embrace government as the answer to our problems, or we can choose freedom and liberty,” Bachmann says in the ad. “I may not always get my words right, but I know that my heart is right. Because my heart is for you, for your children and for the blessings of liberty to remain for our great country.”

    This is incredible. This ad reinforces everything Bachmann said on Hardball with Chris Matthews. She needs to go down in flames. The worst type… non-repentant. Defeating her will be one more step in breaking the backs and crushing the spirits of the hard Republican right who wrap themselves in the banner of morality and freedom in order to squeeze votes out of an ignorant populace. Bachmann needs not only defeat but humiliation. We need to rub salt in their wounds!

  • Welcome to Don Quackers circus which includes his endless rants by multiple personalities, can’t say you weren’t warned.

  • Joe da Plumber all but came out o’ da water closet fo’ Sen. John McPain on Friday, saying his famous exchange wiff Sen. Barack Obama made him “scared fo’ America” an’ dat he don’ trust da Democratic presidential candidate on taxes.
    “When I wuz face ta face wiff him, muh ma fuckin honest first impression wuz dat I expected sumfin mo’. I had heard so much about ‘his presence’ in da media dat I wuz surprised ta find dat he seemed very average,” Mr. Wurzelbacher wrote in uh live online chat on The Washington Times Web site.

    “My gut feeling as he answered muh ma fuckin questions? I wuz scared fo’ America,” he wrote in response ta uh reader who asked “When ya wuz face ta face wiff Obama, what wuz ya thinking an’ how did it feel?”

    He also said Friday he would consider running fo’ Congress in 2010, challenging longtime Rep. Marcy Kaptur in da Toledo-area district.

    Now ain’t dat special?

  • There’s a simple to activate website that transfers your composition into “ebonics” type script. The above poster obviously used the facility for his offensive post, because from what we’ve seen emrge from his piehole in the past it’s quite plain that he lacks the ability to make the transition unassisted. Many of us here have seen his meltdown elsewhere. Be aware.

  • Palin allies report rising campaign tension…
    Sources close to her say she will disregard her handlers.
    Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign’s already-tense internal dynamics.
    The emergence of a Palin faction comes as Republicans gird for a battle over the future of their party: Some see her as a charismatic, hawkish conservative leader with the potential, still unrealized, to cross over to attract moderate voters. Anger among Republicans who see Palin as a star and as a potential future leader has boiled over because, they say, they see other senior McCain aides preparing to blame her in the event he is defeated.

    “These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves,” a McCain insider said, referring to McCain’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, and to Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush aide who has taken a lead role in Palin’s campaign. Palin’s partisans blame Wallace, in particular, for Palin’s avoiding of the media for days and then giving a high-stakes interview to CBS News’ Katie Couric, the sometimes painful content of which the campaign allowed to be parceled out over a week.

    “A number of Gov. Palin’s staff have not had her best interests at heart, and they have not had the campaign’s best interests at heart,” the McCain insider fumed, noting that Wallace left an executive job at CBS to join the campaign.

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