18th of Tir Anniversary

1999 student protests in Iran

Sunday, the 8th of July 2012 marked the anniversary of the 1999 crackdown on demonstrations of Iranian students. You can read more about the demonstrations and the resulting crackdowns on page 10 of Arseh Sevom’s 2010 report: Attack on Civil Society (pdf).

Many consider the 1999 demonstrations as a turning point that paved the way for later developments within non-violent movements in Iran. The events of that time also led directly to the strategies used to control later protests. In the 2010 report, we wrote:

“A strengthened and more professional Basij militia, under the control of the IRGC and acting on their behalf, answered the rise of the student movement with a renewed mission to protect the nation against the perceived domestic threat posed by liberalizing influences.”

For an illustrated review of “18th of Tir” events click here.

Ahwazi Arabs in Iran Face Execution

Four Ahwazi Arabs, three of them brothers, were executed in Iran in June of 2012 after taking part in opposition protests. The four made a video before their execution, which was smuggled out of the prison. One of the four, Ali Sharifi states:

 “Thousands of families are living in poverty in the vicinity of Iran’s largest steel plants, which employ people mostly from outside Ahwaz. The area has high unemployment and rampant drug abuse as well as poor health and social amenities, but suffer as a result of pollution from the oil and gas industries. Agriculture has been destroyed in Ahwaz due to river diversion projects and sugar cane plantations.” (Read more at Ahwaz News Agency)

The video can be viewed on Al Arabiya.

Sunday six more were handed death sentences.

Today, Arseh Sevom joined 15 other organizations to condemn execution of four Ahwazi Arabs and the death penalty in Iran:

 We, the undersigned, condemn the execution of the four Ahwazi Arab political prisoners, and urge human rights defenders and organizations to reflect the voices of those on death row in Iran and act immediately to save their lives. We welcome the recent joint statement by the UN Special Rapporteurs condemning the executions and urge the United Nation’s Human Rights Council to react to these executions by issuing a statement. We also urge the UN General Secretary Bang Ki Moon to give urgent attention to the issue of the arbitrary executions in Iran.

(Read the full statement.)

Trial of Activists for Removing Embassy’s Flag

Last week four Iranian activists in France were tried on the charge of removing the flag and sign plate from the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The action was taken in response to the 2010 execution of five prisoners of conscience at Evin prison in Tehran. The French based “Independent Committee of Anti-Iranian Citizens Repression” warned against the extension of the Islamic Republic’s repression beyond Iran’s borders. Part of the statement reads [our translation]:

“The Islamic Republic must not dare to repeat such actions and spread its atmosphere of threat and intimidation against liberal Iranians outside the country. It is only the unity among all Iranians and the support of liberal forces from various countries that can stop spread of repression atmosphere that is dominant over Iran beyond the borderlines of the country.”

The campaign is defending the rights of the protestors.

Arseh Sevom has a report on this story on our Persian website.

Disabled Demand Rights

Protesting lax protection of the rights of the disabled.

Last week a group of disabled people gathered in front of the Iranian Welfare Organization demanding their rights. Based on the first article of the Comprehensive Disabled People Protection Law, the Iranian government is obliged to protect the rights of disabled people.

A more complete report is available for Persian readers on our website.

Bad Hijab Leads to Drowning?

Shargh newspaper in Tehran quoted an Iranian Navy commander announcing a joint operation between the NAJA (The Iranian Police also known as the disciplinary force) and the Navy to combat what he described as “insecurity, bad-hijab, audio pollution, pestering females” Colonel Hooshang Hosseini of Mazandaran province in the North of Iran has reportedly said “we hope that this way we will manage to lower the number of drowned as well as the instances of bad-hijab.”

Get Out of Jail Free

The head of Iranian Judiciary Foirce, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, announced plans to cease imprisoning men who are not able to pay dowries promised to their wives (in Persian: mahrieh) “due to insolvency.”

Many men are currently behind bars for failure to pay dowries to their spouses. This report states there were some “5000 imprisoned bride grooms” in Iran on the charge only in 2010.

There has been long term discussion of this in Iran, with many fearing that women will lose what little protection they receive under Iran’s discriminatory family law with reform of this law.

Whistle Blowers

Kaleme, an opposition website) quoted chairman of the Iranian House of Industry and Mines, Hadi Ghanimifard, as saying that all factories around the country plan to sound their whistles for one minute on July 15th to protest the economic situation in the country.

The plan follows another non-violent initiative which used social media and text messages to call for a boycott on the purchase of dairy products to protest the sky rocketing prices of dairy products.

Forgive Us Afghan Friends!

Afghan Friends, Forgive Us

As we covered last week, Iranian authorities have told service and goods providers to ask the for the papers of “foreign nationals.” This came after news that Iran, with the tacit approval of the UN’s committee on refugees, will start repatriating Afghan refugees, banning them from a number of cities.

Since then, many Iranians have voiced their opposition with the way people are discriminated against based on their ethnicity and nationality. Here is an example of a Facebook page entitled “Asking for forgiveness from Afghan friends campaign.”

A post on this page reads [our translation]:

Years ago Afghan friends found refuge with us because of their tough situation.

During the past three years, the Iranian people have found refuge in many countries.

One day they shall return to Iran and bring souvenirs [and values] such as what they will have collected from universities, from technology, from civil culture, from immigration rights and… 

What will Afghans take from our country, unpaid construction labor?  Deprivation of the right to education? Lack of civil rights? Denial of marriage rights? Delinquency grounds we have imposed on them? And punishment for Afghans and not only for the one who commits the felony. … punishment for them, for our guests….

I feel sick because of all these inhospitable hosts. Shame on them.

Apple Did Not Listen, Will You?

The Iranian-American girl who was reportedly denied purchase of an iPad has posted a video message to the U.S. President, Barack Obama. The 19-year-old Sahar Sabet’s message reads in part:

“Mr. President, what happened to me wasn’t the product of bigotry by a single person. It was the product of policies and sanctions that are hurting the ordinary Iranian people. And now Iranian- Americans are also feeling the effects of sanctions. These policies are pressuring businesses like Apple to profile us.”

Protesting Sanctions in Front of the UN in NY

Last week, a group marched on the UN in New York to protest sanctions. Speaking to BBC Persian, one of the protesters, Ali Abdi, said: “Sanctions first and foremost hurt the people of Iran, not those who govern them…People who don’t get isolated by the world community are better equipped to deal with democratic change. Read more on BBC.

The organizers have formed a new organization called Havaar which they call an “Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression.”

95 Year-Old Activist Faces Travel Ban

The oldest Iranian political activist, Ahmad Sadr Haj Seyed Javadi, 95 has been banned from leaving the country.

“Our Colleagues and Colleagues of the Intelligence Ministry Take Care of It.”

The Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Reza Taghipour, has testified before the Iranian Parliament that due to the large extent of phones they monitor, it is not possible to obtain legal warrants for all the telephone calls (contrary to constitutional stipulations). As a result, he stated, “our colleagues and colleagues of the intelligence ministry” take care of — what he called — “monitoring jobs.”