The Potency of Creative Women

In spite of all the persecution they’ve suffered, women continue to have an inherent resilience that’s of great importance to our sad, sick world.

Film is one of the most powerful creative arts. In this arena, we can see the same pattern of persecution followed by a rebounding strength:

From Wikipedia: Women’s cinema “Alice Guy-Blaché made the very first feature film La fée aux choux in 1896.”

From Traction: 2007 Celluloid Ceiling Report “Women accounted for 6% of directors in 2007, a decline of one percentage point since 2006. This figure is almost half the percentage of women directors working in 2000 when women accounted for 11% of all directors.”

From Women In The Director’s Chair: Film & Entertainment Industry Facts “There are 39 film festivals solely dedicated to showing the work of women directors throughout the world.”

I want to introduce you to two short films made by young women—resilient, potent, strong women.

As a man, I’ve learned to realize the critical importance of women, not just in film but in all walks of life, from being the first educators of children to being the leaders of a new culture of fairness and justice.

So, without further ado, Indymedia Presents, in cooperation with OurMedia and ReelGrrls, Two Films: one serious, one shocking.

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“The progress of humanity depends on men and women working together; therefore, both must be equally developed. Women, given equal opportunities for education, have already proven to be the equals of men in intellectual and creative capacity. Men must encourage and facilitate the full development of women, as women must support men in their development towards this new condition of society.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Mar 15, Women and the Peace Process

Here’s the full document, written to the 37th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments.
Let’s have a conversation !

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Religious Minority in Iran

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About three weeks ago, I posted a story about the arrest and detainment of the leadership of the Baha’i Faith in Iran. It was published here to highlight the plight of people denied the basic human right of Belief.

Six days ago, the Universal House of Justice, the world governing body of the Baha’i Faith, sent a letter to the believers in Iran.

I’m posting it here as an example of how religion can support human rights:

TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN

(Department of the Secretariat)

3 June 2008

To the believers in the Cradle of the Faith

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

Almost three weeks have passed since the recent arrest of the members of the distinguished body termed the “Friends in Iran”. No reliable information regarding their circumstances or whereabouts is available. This lack of news and the fact that these dear ones are deprived of access to their families and to legal counsel to defend their rights are causes of deep concern to the Bahá’ís of the world and to all those who seek justice and equity.

What is a source of comfort to our grief-stricken hearts is the courage and steadfastness you have manifested in the face of this crisis. You continue to discharge your spiritual obligations in unity and resolutely adhere to the Divine Teachings. Relying on heavenly grace, you are exerting efforts to protect and safeguard the interests of the Faith. The support that the press and other mass media have given to the oppressed believers in Iran, the advocacy of their cause undertaken by social activists, and the sympathy voiced by Iranian intellectuals evoke our hope and deep gratitude.

Observe how an increasing number of Iranians, who in honouring their ancient traditions, value human rights, believe that the time has now passed for ignorant prejudices to cause division and discrimination amongst people, and recognize that the true exaltation of the nation of Iran is to be attained through unity in diversity. Rest assured that the Iranian people will exert themselves to fulfil such a vision. How regrettable that a small band of those, their hearts darkened by the clouds of prejudice, have yielded to hatred and animosity, are incapable of comprehending the truth that Bahá’ís have no intention but to serve the world of humanity and to assist in the establishment of a spiritual civilization, attribute to you baseless conspiracies, persecute you for your religious beliefs and practices, and seek to inflict harm upon you. Yet, you recall the counsels of Bahá’u’lláh, Who asserts: “That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race.”

Strive, then, to exemplify these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “It behoveth the loved ones of the Lord to be the signs and tokens of His universal mercy and the embodiments of His own excelling grace. Like the sun, let them cast their rays upon garden and rubbish heap alike, and even as clouds in spring, let them shed down their rain upon flower and thorn.” Despite the current crisis, pay no heed to oppression and cruelty and, inspired by the Divine Teachings, act in the opposite manner. Focus your thoughts on being a source of good to those around you.

Exert every endeavour to serve your fellow citizens—heirs to a culture rich and humane—who themselves suffer from many an injustice. Avoid all divisiveness and conflict, consort with everyone with kindliness and sincerity, and engage with your compatriots in the discussion of ideas and the exchange of thoughts on matters with which they are anxiously concerned. Ignite in their hearts the flame of hope, faith, and assurance in Iran’s glorious future and in the bright destiny of humankind which you well know is sure to come to pass.

We supplicate in the Holy Shrines for the protection of the believers in the Cradle of the Faith.

[signed: The Universal House of Justice]

Human Rights Abuse That’s Closest To My Heart…

Carl Jung, a respected psychologist, wrote a lot about synchronicity: the meaningful relationship of events that appear to have no causal connection.

I felt the meaningful relationship between

1: my blogging (on May 14 & 15) about human rights and

2: the facts of the following story.

The “closest to my heart” part of the title of this post is due to my belonging to the Baha’i Faith, as do these persecuted people…

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Personal diary of John Barnabas (aka Barney) Leith

Baha’is arrested in Iran – grave news

The six of the seven members of the Friends in Iran, the informal group that coordinates Bahá’í activities in Iran in the absence of the formal Bahá’í administration, were all arrested in the early hours of this morning (14 May).

The Universal House of Justice, the world governing council of the Bahá’í Faith, has just sent a message advising us of this grave and distressing news.

Officers of the Intelligence Ministry in Tehran entered the homes of Mrs Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr Afif Naeimi, Mr Saeid Rezaie, Mr Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr Vahid Tizfah, conducted extensive searches and took them to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

The seventh member of the group, Mrs Mahvash Sabet, Secretary of the Friends in Iran, has been held in custody since 5 March 2008.

Such dire action on the part of the government has not been witnessed since the heart-rending events in 1980 and 1981, when all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly (the national Bahá’í governing council) of Iran were abducted on 21 August 1980 and disappeared without a trace, following which the reconstituted National Assembly was again ravaged by the execution of eight of its members on 27 December 1981.

Since that time, the Bahá’ís in Iran have not been able to elect their Assemblies and their activities have been coordinated by small informal groups, known as Friends.

This is yet more evidence, if evidence were needed, that the government of Iran is determined to extinguish the Bahá’í Faith in the land of its birth.

You can read more about the ongoing persecution of the

Bahá’ís in Iran here.

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Here’s a bit of response from the U. S. State Department:

Arrests of Leadership of Iranian Baha’is
We strongly condemn the May 14 arrest of six leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community– Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm–by Iranian authorities and the continued imprisonment of a seventh leader, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet. This is a clear violation of the Iranian regime’s international commitments and obligations to respect international religious freedom norms. We urge the authorities to release all Baha’is currently in detention and cease their ongoing harassment of the Iranian Baha’i community.