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Pegah is free! September 12, 2007

Posted by dorigo in news, politics.

Great news: Pegah Emambakhsh, the iranian lesbian who had sought asylum in Britain, has been freed yesterday evening. She is now officially a refugee, and she is awaiting for a permit to live in Britain. For once, we witness how a strong popular reaction can change even an allegedly definitive decision by a government.

It is unclear whether the change of direction of the british government was directly a result of the strong public pressure or an indirect effect, maturated through the letter of Hans-Gert Poettering, the president of the european parliament,  to Gordon Brown. Poettering officially asked Brown to deal with the case with the maximum urgency, to avoid an extradition which would mean a certain death.

One must not get discouraged at the thought that despite this small victory of reason over realpolitik, millions of women and men are still oppressed in various parts of the world because of their sexual preferences. One step at a time, the world will change – if we keep walking.  



1. Louise - September 12, 2007

Thanks, every little bit of good news is still good news. There are still another 68 million in chains back home. Did you know that barely 51% of Iranian citizens are Persian? Or that Iran must impoirt over 40% of its gasoline? The name “Iran” is a corruption of “Aryan,” imposed on Persians in the 1930’s to please German allies.

2. dorigo - September 12, 2007

No, I did not know that… I will try to become less ignorant on the issue. I once had the good habit of reading some essays on history during summer vacations, but the blog gulped much of my reading time lately 😦


3. Kea - September 12, 2007

On the other hand, Iranian women are better educated in the physical sciences than women from the U.S.

4. dorigo - September 12, 2007

Awwwwww, Kea! I might agree , but I would rather not have this discussion here! (nervously clipping fingernails with teeth)

Cheers 😉

5. Kea - September 12, 2007

No need to discuss: here is a Physics Today article worth reading. And I’m pleased to hear that Pegah is OK.

6. dorigo - September 12, 2007

Hey Kea, thank you, the article was very interesting to read!


7. Matteo Martini - September 13, 2007

” The delegation from Iran reported the highest level of women undergraduate physics majors: 56%. Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland award among the lowest proportions of physics PhDs (8-10%) to women, while Australia, France, India, and Poland award the highest proportions (20-30%). ”
I would have thought it were the opposite!!

8. Yasaman Farzan - September 13, 2007

Dear Louise and Dorigo,
My name is Yasaman Farzan and I am a female particle physicist
working at IPM, Tehran.
I also happen to be from the ethnic minority of Azeris.
Although I am aware that my country (specially its judiciary system)
suffers from many many shortcomings, I do not feel a bit like being
in chains here at my home country.

The information you gave about the name of our country is also completely false.
In fact “Persia” was the name that Greeks had given to us.

From Ancient times, we have called our land “Iran”.
The following piece of Poem from Ferdosi, the great, (a poet
who lived 1000 years ago ) is a clear witness to it:

“Agar sar be sar tan be koshtan dahim
beh az aan ke keshvar be doshman dahim
darigh ast IRAN ke viran shavad
konam palangano shiran shavad.”

An established historian once told me the name “Iran”
dates back to far earlier times but I do not remember his exact

In fact, Persia which means the land of persian (Fars ethinicity) has to do
with ethnicity. That is while “Iran” is a name identified with nationality.
As an Azeri minority
I hate my country to be called Persia although I have not slightest feeling against Fars (Persians) or any other ethinicity.

In the end, as it is our tradition, I invite you to visit our country
and our institute to see things for yourself.
This is not “North Korea”. In our institute, we every year receive several visitors from Europe specially from Italy.

See you,

About that controversial post of yours, let me teach you a trick that Iranian men use all the time. In these case to end the debate you may
just add:
“Of course, through a brother’s eyes!!!”

9. dorigo - September 13, 2007

Dear Yasaman,

thank you for your comment, and for the information about the origin of the name of your country.

I agree, you should not feel in chains, but I think you realize that in the West the way minorities such as gay and lesbians are treated is used as an indicator of the degree of democracy and freedom of a country. Italy has its troubles, USA too, but when it comes to women’s rights we tend to look down on countries like Iran, and this attitude is not completely unjustified.

I will take your advice on how to deal with those issues, the trick you mention is great. However, with the most fundamentalist bigots that plagued my comment column in the post on Lisa Randall two weeks ago, it would not help – they would still start crying.


10. Louise - September 14, 2007

Dear Yasaman:
Thank you. Hearing from a woman in physics is always encouraging. Given the number of women getting science degrees in other nations, the odds are good that a big breakthrough will come from outside the mainstream.

“In the end, as it is our tradition, I invite you to visit our country
and our institute to see things for yourself.”

As readers of my blog know, I have travelled to many parts of the world. I would be happy to visit your Institute, preferably for a long stay. Seeing the research at IPM would be fascinating. If you wish, I can talk about my work that may have an impact on cosmology.
At present, my knowledge of the nation is limited to numbers and statistics. The official name has been “Iran” since March 21, 1935 by decree of Reza Shah Pahlavi. As you imply, the naming dispute arouses strong feelings. I would enjoy talking about this matter too.
I understand is that modern Iran is a diverse country with many ethnicities and religions, even a thriving Jewish community. If I visit you at ICP, I will talk with many people, take many photos and write many blog posts. Hopefully that will promote understanding between peoples. I also invite you to visit the US or Australia.

11. Count Iblis - September 14, 2007

For the Iranians to accept gays in their society would take a sort of consensus in which the conservatives can perhaps “agree to disagree” with the liberals. The conservatives form the powerbase that keeps the system as it is

Current Western policies regarding Iran are only making things worse. Sanctions against Iran will lead to more anti-Western feelings among conservatives, increasing the polarization in society.

12. Fred - September 15, 2007

… hmm Count Iblis,

Are you implying that conservatives from both sides of this particular aisle are butting heads? Who would have thought …?

13. dorigo - November 20, 2007

The person who just left a long comment in this thread needs to understand that this blog is not the place for insults. I appreciated the first part of the comment, where he or she explained the roots of the name “IRAN”, but then the text became angry, racist, and insolent.
If that person is interested in a civil discussion, he needs to restrain his or her impulses.

Best regards,

14. Great Bretain the XXIst century: bombs to Iraq, lesbians to Iran « A Quantum Diaries Survivor - March 7, 2008

[…] Emambakhsh, the woman who sought asylum in Great Britain, and who https://dorigo.wordpress.com/2007/09/12/pegah-is-free/risked to be deported to Iran last August ? Her asylum request has been turned down, and she is now […]

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