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Arseh Sevom–While the war in Syria may become an international war soon, Iran and America have been engaged in some pre-diplomatic word games. Will Ta’amol, the Persian word for mutual action, enter the language the way that the Russian word Glasnost (openness) has? A European Court ruling has challenged the inclusion of seven Iranian companies on the sanctions list. Rouhani is looking at tourism (Glasnost?) as a way of growing Iran’s feeble economy, and a Singaporean photographer may prove to be the new industry’s unofficial spokesperson. Workers in Iran suffer the combined effects of bad policy and economic sanctions. Finally, Iran’s foreign minister tweets Rosh Hashana wishes.

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The Editor. September 3, 2013

Iran — Fearing the Tyrant Not the Change

Arseh Sevom–The final post of a three-part series summarizing the Hivos report, The Green Movement: Seizing the State or Democratizing Society, examines the long struggle for democracy in Iran and the stunted growth of its civil society. Editor Shervin Nekuee states that “The most essential question these citizens have to deal with is whether they are capable of preventing the arrival of yet another tyrant…” Civil Society activist Sohrab Razzaghi says, “The fundamental issue is that the idea of a civil society is not yet considered a social project among Iranian intelligentsia and social forces [...]”

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The Editor. September 2, 2013

#Iran — I Want My Google Play

Arseh Sevom — Budget shortfalls have wreaked havoc on the state of Iran’s healthcare, which is facing more than one billion euros of debt. Since sanctions were loosened on personal electronics, Iranians can now buy iPhones and Androids. Social Media is not just for opposition anymore as Iran’s politicians find their way on to Facebook and Twitter. Membership in the World Trade Association (WTO) is still a distant dream for Iran as is freedom for the leaders of Iran’s Green Movement. Somehow, however, Iran has found a way to fulfill the dream of a base on Antarctica.

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Arseh Sevom–The presence of women in the public demonstrations of the Green Movement before and after Iran’s 2009 presidential elections was undeniable. They were on the front lines, in public, advocating for change. Their voices were strong during the nightly chants from Tehran’s rooftops. The non-hierarchical structure of the womens’ movement and its long history building coalitions among people with different political ideologies was key for the dispersed leadership of the Green Movement. While the women’s movement may have contributed to the discourse on non-violence, violence is unavoidable for a resistance movement writes author Ammar Maleki in his contribution. He writes, “Civil resistance avoids violence, but it never escapes it; if that were the case then it would never be resistance.” In this short piece, chapters two and three of the Hivos report, The Green Movement: Seizing the State or Democratizing Society, are summarized. This is part two of a three-part series.

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The Editor. August 26, 2013

What is the Green Movement Dreaming About?

Arseh Sevom — In a recent Hivos report examining Iran’s Green Movement since the 2009 presidential campaign until now, researchers and activists reflect on different aspects of the movement. This is the first of several posts summarizing the content of the report.

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Arseh Sevom –For many civil society actors in Iran, the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the international community have multiplied the hardships they face from their own antagonistic government. Sometimes it can feel as though all the doors around you find are locked. Over the past couple of weeks, a new sanctions have been imposed by the US congress. A group of political prisoners wrote an open letter to Barak Obama asking for an end to the sanctions. Iranians who want to study certain fields in the US have been met with closed doors due to the most recent round of sanctions. The costs of medications and medical treatments have soared over the past few years in Iran, while the value of the currency has plummeted. In an interesting development, confirmation hearings for President Rouhani’s cabinet nominees were broadcast on Iranian state television. Finally, Iran marks sixty years since a coup organized by the CIA and the British ousted Iran’s Prime Minister.

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The Editor. August 12, 2013

Iran Sanctions — More Pain, Less Gain?

It seems that the least productive U.S. congress in more than 50 years, agrees on one thing: loading sanctions upon sanction on Iran. The new laws seem to be counter-productive, are hurting ordinary Iranians, and harm chances for negotiations. Iranian researchers are cut off from scientific publishing. Patients are finding it more and more difficult to not only find medication, but get coverage for it with their insurance as well. Arseh Sevom’s Peyman Majidzadeh provides a round-up in his current overview, expressing his concern and frustration with the contradiction between the expressed intentions of the imposed sanctions and the harsh realities that result.

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The Editor. July 29, 2013

Desperately Seeking Birth Control in #Iran

Narges Bajoghli recounts her problems gaining access to safe contraceptives in Iran. She writes, “I knew that Western sanctions against Iran had made it difficult if not impossible to procure many vital medicines…But I never thought there would be shortages of medicines as routine as birth control.”

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In a new series, Arseh Sevom summarizes reports on civil society throughout the world. This post looks at the 2012 publication of Defending Civil Society. This report notes that the space for civil society throughout the world seems to be shrinking even as consensus on the need for an independent civil society is growing.

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Arseh Sevom believes that the interference from governmental bodies and security forces is the primary cause for the problems facing one of the biggest NGOs in Iran. What has happened to the members of House of Cinema in the past few years is a violation of their rights as recognized by the international community and by article 26 of Iran’s own constitution. Over the past few years, members of the House of Cinema have been under pressure from security forces. Now, security forces have locked them out of their own building.

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The Editor. July 18, 2013

House of Cinema Attacked

July 15, 2013 was another in a long list of bad days for Iran’s beleaguered House of Cinema. On the order of the Ministry of Culture, the building that houses the organization was broken into and shut down by the police.

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Post image for Iran Elections: Celebration Now, A Long and Unpredictable Path Ahead

In the run-up to the elections, there were threats against the families of BBC reporters. The Internet in Iran was slowed to a crawl. The Iranian Cyber Army launched botnet attacks against a number of media sites including BBC, Radio Farda, and Radio Zamaneh. Pundits predicted a win for Saeed Jalili, calling him the Supreme Leader’s favorite.

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