Children Learn Their Rights, Activists Under Pressure, Dogs Arrested

Arseh Sevom — It was hard not to be concerned over the state of civil society in Iran last week with the arrest of human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, the sentencing of Mansoureh Behkish who is a member of the Mourning Mothers, and the ongoing battle against free speech and free information. The one positive story was the rights workshops for children caught up in the juvenile detention system in Tehran.

“Don’t let my brother die. Not again!”

“Imagine how my mother must be feeling — after the loss of her first son to the prisons of the Islamic republic just over a year ago, then mourning the death of her daughter — on the day we went to Evin prison to tell my second brother, Hamid Ghassemi, that an official had told us his death sentence had been confirmed,” Parvin Ghassemi told exiled journalist, Masih Alinejad. “They based [my brother’s] death sentence on a questionable email print-out.”

In 2008,  Captain Alborz Ghassemi was arrested on espionage charges. Hamid Ghassemi — who is a Canadian citizen — was visiting Iran at the time to see family. He followed up on the arrest of his brother, visiting military intelligence several times, before being arrested himself on the same charges. According to Kalameh (in translation), evidence in the case of both was fabricated. The captain died in prison.

Ghassemi’s sister said judicial authorities did not notify her brother’s lawyer of the verdict before informing the family at Evin prison.

The Battle Over Humanities

Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, has repeatedly expressed his discontent with the spread of such “Western disciplines.” This past week the higher education minister, Kamran Daneshjoo, echoed those views attacking the humanities for “corrupting morals  and destroying social values.”

“Sorry! Your Field is Saturated.”

Tehran’s daily newspaper, Jamejam, reported that the head of the Supervisory Bureau of the Ministry of Science Research and Technology, Mohammad Reza Ameri, announced that, “according to higher education planning the share of students studying humanities and social sciences must be decreased to 36%, […] since many of these fields have now reached the saturation level.”

According to the same report, 45% of university students are now enrolled in the humanities and social sciences.

“Illegal” Books Turned into Paste in Qom

In related developments, the Ministry of Guidance and Islamic Culture announced that 6,386 “illegal” books were discovered and turned into paste in Qom. Qom is a center for clerical studies, a pilgrimage city, and a center for printing presses. The books turned to paste had been printed without official authorization. For more on the pressure on publishers, click here.

Nine Dead Per Day

According to a recent report by the Iranian forensic medicine organization a total of 3,593 lost their lives to drug abuse during the last Iranian year: nearly 10 people per day. The report adds that this represents a 1.7 percent decrease when compared with the previous year.

Activist Arrested on the Charge of “Membership in a Human Rights Group”

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