Arseh Sevom–Wow, is Iran ever in the news. Nuclear negotiations, prisoners of rights, fertility treatments, and sanctions relief all feature this week. What we didn’t include could fill an entire newspaper. Arseh Sevom congratulates physicist Omid Kokabee on the award of the Andrei Sakharov Prize from the American Physical Society and calls for his immediate and unconditional release from prison. We are watching other developments with interest.
Arseh Sevom – There are times when the sword is mightier than the pen and on January 29 it was so. Two Ahwazi Arabs were executed without warning, without the chance to say goodbye to loved ones. Their crime: “enmity against God.” This review looks at politics, sanctions, apologies, and executions.
Arseh Sevom –We cherish the small victories: the small acts of solidarity, defiance, kindness. Maybe seeing musical instruments on television seems trivial, but we see it as a win. A small win, yes. But one nonetheless. The rest of the news isn’t quite as rosy: the economy remains disastrous for Iran’s working class. Promised liberalization of society is stalled. Still, the current Iranian administration works to connect Iran with the rest of the world. “The last six years have taught us that no country can succeed alone,” Iran’s president tell the World Economic Forum. Yes, and no country can thrive without space for dissent, celebration, and basic rights. We’ll be looking for more small wins in the months and years to come.
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.
Arseh Sevom—In this season of celebrations, we begin by wishing all our readers happy holidays. A Citizenship Rights Charter has been presented to the people of Iran. The charter, like the constitution of Iran, guarantees nothing in the end. It’s as substantial as a dream. Meanwhile, the interim nuclear deal seems to be doing little to change the economic reality for Iran’s population. An EU Delegation visited Iran for the first time in six years. Their meetings with Sakharov Prize Honorees Nasrin Sotouden and Jafar Panahi has led to protests from hardline factions.
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.
Arseh Sevom–Trust, but verify: that is the message of the recent nuclear agreement with Iran. The completed agreement sent hopes of better times soaring in Iran where a whole generation has felt itself sacrificed to hardline policies and the results of sanctions. If trust can be built in the wake of these negotiations, there is an opportunity for the international community to engage Iran on its human rights record. That is the next step.
Arseh Sevom – It’s been more than 100 days since Hassan Rouhani took office. Despite slow progress on human rights, many exiled activists are planning to return. Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear negotiations are about to restart, and Iran’s top negotiator is working to get his country’s message out via social media. Over 25 NGOs and civil rights organizations wrote a letter asking UN representatives to vote to hold Iran accountable for continuing human rights violations. The message: human rights are not negotiable.
Arseh Sevom — Can you excuse us for hoping for change even though we know that political prisoners and prisoners of conscience face malicious neglect and execution to this day? Like many in Iran, we were hoping for a quick positive outcome to the nuclear negotiations. Like others, we are enjoying the fashion spread in Fashionable, Sexy, Haute and Naughty Magazine. We enjoy hearing more of Iran’s political figures call for the filtering of social networking to end and look forward to the day that the most interesting news out of Iran is what a friend ate for lunch.
Arseh Sevom- This week’s review is unfortunately focused on the treatment of political prisoners in Iran. Events of the past months demand this. The season marking the anniversary of the taking of the American Embassy seems to endanger Iran’s homegrown activists more than it hurts the US with the chanting of “Death to America.” At a time when Iranians are hoping for change, and especially at this time, it’s necessary to put pressure on Iran’s government to improve the conditions for all of its prisoners and urgently for its political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
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.
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?