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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the most “engineered” of election campaigns since the inception of the Islamic Republic, candidates are surprised to find themselves censored. The Revolutionary Guards reorganizes to face the challenge posed by elections, warning that Ahmadinejad supporters could be the source of unrest in the upcoming elections. “Vision” meetings are held to “guide” voters to the correct candidate. Prisoners of conscience are called back to prison from furlough. This is how an “ultra-democracy” handles election campaigning.
Iranian-American journalist and peace activist Roxana Saberi, who will present the HOPE Concert at the Velodrom in Berlin on June 7, announces the concert at a press conference on May 21, 2013. On June 7, Iranian-American journalist and peace activist Roxana Saberi, who was arrested in Iran in 2009 and freed after international outcry, will [...]
Arseh Sevom — With only a few weeks until the elections, it’s no surprise that our review focuses on recent developments. The disqualifications of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjan and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s former chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie were big news, if not entirely surprising. The electoral field is now dominated by hardliners loyal to Supreme [...]
We also learned that every once in awhile what we do, no matter how small, makes a difference. We are just one of many forces influencing civil society. We are not the only one or the most important one. We are not alone. There are others fighting for human rights, advocating for the marginalized, addressing issues of poverty, volunteering to clean parks and beaches, rebuilding homes destroyed by earthquakes, and participating in the life of society.
The International Electoral Education Council (IEEC) is currently focusing on upcoming elections in several countries, including the June 14 elections in Iran. One of the programs being undertaken by the IEEC is the study of Iran’s Out of Country Voting (OCV) process. They have created documents to assist individuals and organizations interested in informal electoral observation at polling stations outside of Iran. The Handbook for Iran and a Methodology and Checklist for observation prepared by the IEEC in both English and Persian.