September 12, 2012

Iran Civil Society Review — Gold Up, Rial Down

Weekly review

It was a week beginning with gold medals for Iranian Paralympic athletes in Paralympics London 2012 and ending with record increases in the cost of dollars in Iran.

Iranian Paralympic athletes earned 24 medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 10 of them gold. This left them in 11th place.

Siamand Rahman – Photo by Matthew Lloyd:Getty Images

Gold Goes Up, The Rial Goes Down

Mesghal.com reports that the rial has hit a record low with a trading price of 24,520 rials per dollar on September 11, 2012. This compares to the official bank rate of 12,260 rials per dollar.

Fars News reports the street rates have skyrocketed because Iran’s Central Bank has not issued dollars to customers for about three weeks now. It quotes the  head of parliament’s planning and budget committee, Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam:

“Unfortunately the government has made the biggest mistake in history by not injecting dollars to answer the demand of the foreign exchange market.”

5-year chart of the cost of buying dollars with the Iranian Rial

Closed Embassy

The big news of the week for many Iranians both abroad and inside Iran was the closure of the Canadian embassy. This means that two of the largest populations of migrant Iranians — in Canada and the United States — live in countries with no direct diplomatic ties with Iran. This greatly complicates travel and relations between the two.

On September 7, 2012, Canada closed its embassy in Tehran, Iran.

The Canadian government cited Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and failure to comply with UN inspectors as the reason for the move.

Execution Suspended

The death sentence for Gholamreza Khosavi Savadjani was suspended. But sources say he is still in danger of execution.

More than 200 political, social, and human rights activists, had condemned the execution, requesting that international human rights institutes and countries that respect human rights join them. He had been convicted of enmity against God for for cooperating with a television station abroad affiliated with the Mojahedin-e Khalq,

Pastor Acquitted

Pastor Youcef Naderkhani, who was sentenced to death for apostasy, was acquitted in a retrial. Ann Harrison of Amnesty International comments: “We welcome the acquittal of Yousef Naderkhani but he should have never been arrested, let alone charged and tried…His trial at the end of September 2011 on the charge of apostasy – which is not even an offence in Iran’s current Penal Code – put the lie to Iran’s claims that it tolerates religious minorities.”

Four-Year Term for Shiva Nazar Ahari Starts

Human rights activist, Shiva Nazar Ahari, introduced herself to Evin prison on Saturday, September 8, 2012 to serve her 4 year prison sentence.

She was arrested for the first time on the anniversary of 11 September in front of the University of Tehran in 2002.

Nazar Ahari is one of the founding members of Human Rights Reporters committee and was arrested again after the controversial 2009 presidential elections. She was arrested again when traveling to take part in the funeral ceremony of Ayatollah Montazeri. She has spent 100 days in solitary confinement. In September 2010, she was released temporarily on a 500 million toman bail and the appeals court in Tehran sentenced her to 4 years prison and 74 lashes.

Women Forbidden from Watching Volley Ball

Radio Zamaneh reports that thousands of Iranian women who had intended to watch the September 9th volley ball match between Iran and Japan at the Azadi complex in Tehran were forbidden entry by the police. They gathered in front of the stadium before being dispersed.

Only two days earlier, women were present to cheer on the Iranian team in a previous match, but a female reporter and photographer were prevented from entering the stadium.

No to Compulsory Hijab 

Uploaded to the campaign’s Facebook page

More than 26,000 have joined the “No to compulsory hijab” campaign on Facebook since Arseh Sevom began reporting on the campaign briefly after it began on the 10th of July (here and here). Unveil women’s right to unveil was launched by the Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates. Hundreds of women and men have shared their photographs since. Fred Petrossian at Global Voices has more details about the  campaign and the history of the struggle against compulsory hijab in Iran.

AIDS and Sex in Iran

Mehr News reports that Iran’s health minister, Marzih Vahid Dastjerdi, announced that sexual transmission has become one of the leading reasons for the spread of AIDS in Iran. Earlier, the leading causes of AIDS were infected blood and intravenous drug use.

Dastjerdi stated that  9.1% of those infected with HIV in the first three months of the year were infected by sexual transmission.

The health minister added that youth in Iran don’t have enough information about risky sexual behavior and prostitution is widespread.

Art and the Suffering of Animals

Gariz or Aesthetics of Pain – Ehsan Mirhosseini

Animal rights watch reports that the artist Ehsan Mirhosseini will exhibit work responding to environmental issues in an exhibition entitled “Gariz or Aesthetics of Pain.” The exhibition will be held from September 13 – 20 in Tehran’s House of Artists.

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