The St. Petersburg Times
December 5, 2008
Artist on the run
By Sergey Chernov
Artist and poet Babi Badalov feels that his life is threatened both in his home country Azerbaijan and in Russia because of his politically conscious art and because he is openly gay. Growing nationalism and increasing attacks on people from the former Soviet republics also means that Russia is not entirely safe for someone from Azerbaijan. Badalov thought he had found a new home in Cardiff, Wales, where he had been based since December 2006, but earlier this year the U.K.’s Home Office denied his application for political asylum.
“[In Britain] I mixed with many people who applied for asylum—Afghans, Iranians, Somalis, people from all over the world. We went to the Refugee Council together, lived at the hotel together. There is such a word used there—‘chance,’” Badalov said during a recent phone interview from Helsinki, Finland.
“You never know what will happen, everybody says it’s all up to ‘chance,’ that it’s a ‘lottery.’ You can have a solid case and still be denied asylum. Some other person can come [to the U.K.] just for the hell of it and receive [asylum].”
Badalov, who was one of the best-known artists in the St. Petersburg independent art scene centered at the Pushkinskaya 10 art squat in the 1990s, recently spent several weeks in the city, en route to Western Europe from Baku, Azerbaijan. While in town, he opened an exhibition of his work called “The Persian Ambassador,” which runs through December 28. Continue reading
Iran: Save the life of Farzad Kamangar
Please join with the thousands of trade unionists and human rights defenders around the world who are mobilising in defence of Farzad Kamangar, an Iranian Kurdish teacher and trade unionist who is at risk of execution.
Education International received information from reliable sources that on 26 November Kamangar was taken from his cell 121 in ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison in preparation for execution by hanging. However, the latest information is that he is still alive and was able to meet with his lawyer on 27 November for the first time in over two months. His situation remains precarious nonetheless.
Kamangar, aged 33, was sentenced to death by the Iranian Revolutionary Court on 25 February 2008 after a trial which took place in secret, lasted only minutes, and failed to meet Iranian and international standards of fairness. His lawyer, Kahlil Bahramian, said: “Nothing in Kamangar’s judicial files and records demonstrates any links to the charges brought against him.” Indeed, Kamangar was initially cleared of all charges during the investigation process.
Education International, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Transport Workers Federation, Amnesty International and LabourStart are appealing to the Iranian authorities to commute the death sentence and ensure his case is reviewed fairly.
To sign a letter calling on Iranian President Ahmadinejad to commute Farzad’s death sentence and conduct a fair review of his case, follow the link at the top of the post.
Russia: Stop attacks on auto workers union
Alexei Etmanov (pictured), the leader of the Ford-Vsevelozhsk trade union and co-chairman of Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA) has been the target of two brutal attacks on November 8 and 13. An anonymous caller following the first assault contacted the union and warned Etmanov to stop his union activities or “we will take away your life,” the caller said. No one has been charged for the crimes and an investigation has been suspended. Other members of ITUA have been assaulted, including the leaders of the local trade union organisation of Taganrog automobile plant, Alexei Gramm and Sergei Brizgalov. Those incidents were not investigated either.
The International Metalworkers Federation is carrying out a campaign to protect the leaders of ITUA, demanding that the Russian authorities conduct a complete investigation of all cases of the assaults and to punish the guilty ones – both those that took part and those who ordered the crimes to be committed.
Please follow the link at the top of this message to sign the petition in support of Russian auto industry unionists.
Petition: Free the Tarnac 9
The following petition was published under the title “No to the New Order” in the November 27th edition of Le Monde. To add your name to the petition go to this site (in French).
A recent operation by the French police, intensively covered by the media, ended in the arrest and indictment of nine people under anti-terrorist laws. The nature of this operation has already undergone a change: after the revelation of inconsistency in the accusation of sabotaging French railway lines, the affair took a manifestly political turn. According to the public prosecutor: “the goal of their activity is to attack the institutions of the state, and to upset by violence – I emphasize violence, and not contestation which is permitted – the political, economic and social order.”
The target of this operation is larger than the group of people who have been charged, against which there exists no material evidence, nor anything precise which they can be accused of. The charge of “criminal association for the purposes of terrorist activity” is exceptionally vague: what exactly is an association, and how are we to understand the reference to “purposes” other than as a criminalization of intention? As for the qualification “terrorist”, the definition in force is so broad that it could apply to practically anything – and to possess such and such a text or to go to such and such demonstration is enough to fall under this exceptional legislation.