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The Editor. April 17, 2014

The Day I Became a Feminist

Arseh Sevom–Feminism is essentially the idea that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. “The notion of freedom for men is not reality in Iran as long as women are not equal” Safoura Elyasi writes. She spoke to several Iranian male activists about their relationship to feminism. One told her: “A lot of people think that women are not currently in the right situation to be treated equally, so we should not extend equality to them. Equality needs to be in the act. It’s related to power. This idea that women are not ready for equality so they should not have it is flawed. In addition to civil actions, we need underlying cultural changes.” In part one of a two part article, we hear from three different men.

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The Editor. March 19, 2014

Nasrin Sotoudeh: Equality Will Prevail

Arseh Sevom — In this exclusive interview with Arseh Sevom editor Mohammad Reza Sardari, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh discusses the very personal impact of her struggle for equality and justice. She tells of a young son who lost his childhood. “I grew up all of a sudden,” he tells her. In 2013, she was released from prison after serving three years of a six-year sentence for her activities defending the rights of her clients. In this interview, she reminds all of us that there is a price worth paying for the achievement of justice and equality.

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“Few things illustrate the bone-headedness, short-sightedness, and sheer chauvinism of the political structure of the United States better than the extent to which its ideologues are willing to go to score cheap domestic political points with narrow interests in the pursuit of a sanctions regime that has clearly run its course.” Those were the words sent to the students of the online course “Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World” this morning. A U.S. Treasury spokeswoman reminds us that Coursera needs to apply for a license to operate and that the office of the treasury has a history of approving educational licences.

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The Editor. January 14, 2014

#Iran — Where’s My Gold?

Arseh Sevom – Anyone who has every read Joseph Heller’s classic novel depicting the insanity of war and military life, Catch 22, won’t be surprised by speculations of unscrupulous profiteering in the name of country and honor. Iran’s Babak Zanjani — deal-maker extraordinaire – seems to have walked right off the pages of Heller’s book. He’s a billionaire many times over thanks to international sanctions against Iran and his clever manipulation of his position as the Islamic Republic’s bagman. Recently he began a new stint as a prisoner in Iran’s Evin Prison.

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The Editor. December 12, 2013

#Iran — Free Expression, Dream or Reality?

Arseh Sevom— The nuclear agreement may represent a step away from international isolation, but Iran’s people still have a long way to go before breaking down the barriers to dissent and free speech. Read more in this week’s review.

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The Editor. November 7, 2013

Azerbaijan: Re-establishing Civil Society

Arseh Sevom–In part two of Arturo Desimone’s interview with the civil society activist “O” in Azerbaijan, we read about the struggles to create capacity for critically analyzing the actions taken by the government. Education, O, argues is something that cannot be left to the government. “I think we have to start now with realism,” O states, “actually depicting the sufferings as they are, in their immense intensity and contrast, in all their extreme dimensions.”

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The Editor. October 21, 2013

#Iran: Let’s Make a (Nuclear) Deal

Arseh Sevom — Nuclear negotiations are eclipsing other news in Iran. There are hopes that an agreement can be reached and that at least some of the sanctions will be relaxed. Attention to foreign relations seems to have left the Rouhani administration with little time to address domestic issues. This has led to a number of unfulfilled promises and a slow pace of change domestically. The application of economic sanctions continues to overreach their mandate, with internet freedom suffering. Wishes did not come true when it comes to the release from house arrest of Green Movement leaders. And theater goers in Tehran eagerly anticipate the opening of The Hills Are Alive, based on The Sound of Music.

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The Editor. October 14, 2013

Azerbaijan: Rebuilding Culture from the Ruins

Arseh Sevom — In the first of a two-part article documenting his conversation with Azeri opposition member “O.”, Arturo Desimone uncovers a movement struggling to reclaim its heritage of critical thinking. It does this through education, translations, and social movements. After ninety years under Soviet Rule followed by authoritarian rule rife with human rights abuses, O. describes a society in need of reconnecting to its own culture and in learning again to question, think critically, and create its own Enlightenment.

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Pay no attention to the executions behind the curtainArseh Sevom — In this week’s overview, we learn that the short term political aims of sanctions have long term effects on the most vulnerable. Improved relations may actually lead to some ease in US sanctions. This would most likely only sanctions that are the result of executive orders. Sanctions signed into law by the US congress are unlikely to be changed. Over 100 tons of illegal drugs were seized in Tehran. We are not talking about recreational drugs here, many of them were difficult to find treatments. In a carnival-like atmosphere, the Iranian military destroyed equipment for over 800 satellite connections with tanks and bulldozers. Despite the kinder, gentler face Iran is showing the world, executions continue at a record rate and Internet freedom is at an all-time low. Will the Iranian government start thawing relations with its own population next?

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The Editor. September 30, 2013

#Iran — Is Rouhani The One

Arseh Sevom—Could Hassan Rouhani be The One? Since Rouhani’s inauguration, a number of prisoners of conscience have been released, a more than thirty year freeze in relations between the US and Iran defrosting, and hopes raised. Some of the sanctions have been eased and tons of medications are being cleared through customs. After his return from the US, Rouhani faced both support and opposition at the airport and at least one shoe was thrown in anger. The times they are a-changing…maybe. And, in the case of Iran’s women’s Kata team, who were disqualified for wearing too much hijab, they are not changing soon enough. In the case of Iran’s women’s Kata team, who were disqualified for wearing too much hijab, they are not changing soon enough.in the case of Iran’s women’s Kata team, who were disqualified for wearing too much hijab, they are not changing fast enough.

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The Editor. September 18, 2013

#Iran — The Smell of Change

Arseh Sevom — As we were getting ready to post this week’s review, we heard the good news that Nassrin Sotoudeh and eight other political prisoners had been released from prison. Author Pejman Majidzadeh’s nose must really be filled with the smell of change now. In this week’s review, he introduces the JUST ACCESS campaign against the unintended effects of economin sanctions. The US Treasury department has issued two new general licenses for humanitarian aid and amateur athletic events. We read of a letter exchange between Obama and Rouhani. Iran’s beleagured House of Cinema has now been reopened. The case of the house-imprisoned Green Movement leaders is finally going to court. The Supreme Leader hints at better relations between the US and Iran. Iranians wonder what happened to two billion dollars in oil revenues.

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The Editor. September 15, 2013

Just Access Campaign Launches

Read more about the Just Access campaign…

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