• Support a Democratic, Secular, Republic and Non-Nuclear Iran

The Iran Regime Hit With Severe New Sanctions

Blog

  • The Iran Regime Hit With Severe New Sanctions


    By Staff Writer

    On Wednesday 16th May, the Treasury of the United States and its Persian Gulf Allies made a common decision to impose new sanctions on senior leaders of Hezbollah (who depend with the regime of Mullahs) including their deputy and other connected entities.

    Reuters News reported more on this topic: “This is Washington’s third sanction of the week, since the United States pulled out of its nuclear deal with (the regime of) Iran.. for the past several days, Trump’s government has been trying to eliminate the sources behind Iran’s international activities, such as its support for Hezbollah”.

    In January 2016, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrollah, gave special thanks to the president as well as the supreme leader of Iran (also referred to as ‘Vilayat-e-Faqih’) for their full support of their organisation and said: “we are transparent about Hezbollah’s budget and acknowledge that all that we eat or drink, all that we earn or spend, and all our missiles and rockets, are provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran”. He continued: “we are very transparent, maybe more so than the rest of the world, in that we honestly reveal the source of Hezbollah’s budget, in terms of its income, food, and weapon; we are supported only by the Islamic Republic of Iran, not other banks or entities. We have money for as long as Iran has money. How much clearer can we be! I’d like to thank Iran’s government, especially Ayatollah Khamenei and the president, for their ongoing and solid support over the years. (ISNA News Agency, 24th January 2016)”.

    The sanctions from the US, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the Emirates, have been imposed on 10 leaders and agents of Hezbollah, as well as 4 affiliating entities”. The cooperation of Qatar in these sanctions has especially been noticed, as it proves effective in fighting the terrorism and interference of the Iranian regime. On the day that these sanctions were decided, the foreign minister of the United States also released a statement about its phone conversation with the foreign minister of its counterpart, Qatar: “(in this conversation) the foreign minister approved the request of the prime minister (of the United States), and agreed that the tensions (between the countries) of the (Persian) Gulf … must be reduced and eventually eliminated; because (the regime of) Iran benefits from this tension.”)

    The US Treasury also commented on the sanctions against Hezbollah, which were announced on Wednesday, and stated: “the Department of Treasury, as well as the Counter Terrorism Centre together imposed sanctions on the senior leaders of Hezbollah…Today, the 7 members of the Counter Terrorism Centre have taken significant measures against the senior leaders of Lebanon’s Hezbollah which is supported by (the regime of) Iran”.

    The minister of the Treasury pointed out in his statement: “The decision made (by the United States) last week against the listed terrorist entities, aims to end America’s cooperation in Iran’s Nuclear Deal, and to resume its non-nuclear sanctions on Iran’s regime. Our decision is in response to the malign and destabilising activities of (the regime of) Iran in its surrounding area, including its support for the Hezbollah”.

    The statement specifies: “These sanctions, which were decided (on Wednesday) last week, target the currency-exchange network between Iran and Emirates; a network that allows the transfer of millions of dollars to the ‘Quds’ force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran. The sanctions also target the Head of the Central Bank of (the regime of) Iran as well as the Balad Bank in Iraq; which form another pathway for the transfer of millions of dollars to the ‘Quds’ force; (the money the ‘Quds’ force receives is used) towards the enrichment and support of the extreme and violent orders of Hezbollah”.

    The Treasury of the United States also commented on its sanctions on the senior leaders of Hezbollah: “these leaders are the deciders of Hezbollah in terms of religious, military, and strategic affairs; these leaders are also the controllers of affiliating institutions that contribute to management, design, and policy-making (of this group). If these leaders reach a dead-end (in other words, if they fail to reach an agreement), the supreme leader (of the regime) will have the final say”. This statement also includes a list provided by the Gulf countries, in which the agencies and institutions that affiliate with Hezbollah are mentioned along with their histories of terrorism.

  • Human Rights Watch Calls on Iran to Halt Death Sentence of Protester


    16 May – Human Rights Watch has said that the Iranian judiciary should halt the execution of a member of the Gonabadi Dervish community and release all Dervish members who have been arbitrarily detained since February 2018.

    On February 20, the Iranian authorities arrested over 300 Dervishes (by some counts as many as 430) after clashes between the Shia religious order and the Iranian police, during which Mohammad Sallas was accused of killing three police officers by driving a bus into a crowd of security officers.

    The clashes, which left dozens more injured, began after the authorities cracked down violently on a peaceful protest by the Dervishes, who simply wanted members of their community released from prison and for the Iranian government to stop spying on their leader, who is now under house arrest.

    Sallas, 46, was sentenced to death on March 18, following an unfair trial that didn’t meet international standards for legal proceedings as no lawyer was present and the so-called investigation took all of 48 hours. Sallas also reported being beaten by the police to the extent that he received head injuries.

    He said that he never meant to kill anyone and that he made a desperate choice out of anger and frustration.

    Despite this, his sentence was upheld by Iran’s supreme court on April 24.

    Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Iranian authorities repeatedly punish minority communities for protests seeking treatment as equal members of society. Iran should end its crackdown on its minority groups and immediately halt the execution of Mohammad Sallas and grant him a fair retrial.”

    Many of the arrested Dervishes are still being held on vague charges, which is often how Iran treats prisoners of conscience, and activists revealed, on May 14, that 11 Dervish women are being held for disobeying the police and acting against national security.

    The Iranian authorities have also taken to pressuring the families of the imprisoned to say that the initial protests weren’t peaceful and threatening the family of Mohammad Raji, a Dervish who did in custody, against speaking out.

    Many family members also report that the detainees are not being given access to their lawyers or their families, even via the phone. Additionally, several of those injured on February 20 have not received access to medical treatment, including Ahmad Barakoohi, Nima Azizi, Mohsen Noroozi, and Mehdi Mahdavi, who have serious eye injuries, and Shokoufeh Yadollahi, who has a head injury.

    Human Rights Watch said that while attacks on the police are criminal acts, this does not give Iran the right to detain an entire group of protesters. Instead, the detainees should be charged with a recognisable crime or immediately released.

  • Teacher Protests Throughout Iran Faced With Security Force Brutality


    11 May – Incoming reports indicate a number of teachers being “beaten and detained” during a protest by retired and employed teachers in Tehran, “in the aftermath of crackdown by security forces.”

    The protest took place on Thursday May 10th, in front of the Planning and Budget Organization in Tehran, and held in front of the Education Department in other cities throughout the country.

    According to reports, agents arrested 6 people at the protest in front of the “Plan and Budget Organization” in Tehran, whose location and fate is still uncertain.

    At the protests organized by the Coordinating Council of Teachers, Teachers throughout Iran held posters protesting the lack of budget needed for necessary training and wages below the line of poverty.

    Teachers oppose the privatization of education and demand fair wages, stating that Iranian government has shown time and time again that they have no regards to education.

    According to incoming reports, in addition to basic demands, including increasing educational budgets and fair salaries for teachers, teachers also voiced their opposition to the education system which is practically endangering “free and quality education for all children”.

    Declaring that the government’s strategic plan to implement the privatization of education, is increasingly depriving children of impoverished families of literacy and education.

    In the resolution of the teachers’ protest it is stated, “The lack of attention to the lives and livelihood of retired and employed teachers and the lack of attention to the quality of education in schools shows that education is not a priority for state institutions and government officials. The Coordinating Council is protesting against this situation and warns officials of the consequences of continuing its negligence. “

  • Foreign Social Media Networks Banned in Iranian Schools


    On Sunday 15th April, it was reported by state media in Iran that the ministry of education would be banning the use of foreign social media in schools. It is apparently part of an effort by the government to encourage the use of domestic social networks.

    Clearly is it an attempt by the government to limit the influence from foreign social media applications in a country where the people are oppressed in many areas of life.

    The people of Iran are very keen on social media applications, especially the young people, like their peers across the world. However, the Iranian stablishment sees this as a major threat as it is exposing to the people to other ways of thinking and living. It is via these types of apps that the Iranian people can see the freedom of expression that many others in the world can enjoy without fear of punishment or arrest.

    Telegram is an extremely popular chat application that has around 40 million users in Iran. Another popular app is Instagram. It is used by many Iranian companies to communicate information to clients, as well as being used as a personal social app.

    The Iranian government has already blocked several social media platforms, in particular Twitter and Facebook. However, this does not mean that they are not popular in Iran because they are. The tech savvy people of Iran are able to bypass the government blocks with the use of a VPN (virtual private network).

    At the end of last year, the people took to the streets in large numbers to protest against the Iranian official’s mismanagement of the country’s resources and the widespread corruption. The Telegram app was used during the organisation of the protests and the government decided to temporarily ban it (it described the use of the app as being “counter-revolutionary” and condemned the foreign intervention that was spreading unrest).

    So that it can exert even more control on the people, the Iranian government is trying to develop domestic networks. The government is very dubious of all foreign services and wants to keep an eye on the people with its own service.

    The government is telling the people that conversations with the domestic applications will be private and will not be monitored. The Supreme Leader himself even said that the government must ensure that the people’s privacy and security on the internet is guaranteed.

    There have also been media campaigns about the new domestic apps that have tried to reassure the people that service will continue even if other messaging apps are banned.

    Yet, the people of Iran cannot be so easily fooled. They are very aware that they will have no security or privacy on the domestic apps. The people will not willingly give up one vestige of the very little freedom they currently have. If Telegram or any other applications that are widely used in Iran are banned, one thing is certain, this will not stop the people finding a way around it.

  • Iran: Sufi Clashes With Government Lead to 300 Arrests


    22 Feb – Over 300 Sufi protesters were arrested during overnight clashes with the police in Tehran on Monday night.

    The Sufi group Gonabadi, known locally as Gonabadi dervishes, held their protest in front of a police station in northern Tehran to demand the release of the members of their faith and the removal of security checkpoints around the house of their leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh.

    When Iranian police tried to disperse the protestors, who were marching towards Tabandeh’s home, things turned violent and, according to police spokesperson Saeed Montazer Almehdi, five members of Iran’s so-called security forces were killed, including two members of the paramilitary Basij force.

    A video circulating on Iranian social media claims to show the moment when cars ploughed into the security forces, but this video could not be independently verified.

    The Sufi’s Majzooban Noor website reports that at least one protester was killed and several injured when the police opened fire into the crowd. It also says that the actual figure of Sufi detainees is much higher than reported, adding that several members were arrested at the airport.

    Sufism is a denomination of Islam that has between two and five million followers in Iran, although there are no official statistics. Iran regards them as heretics and subjects them to intense and routine harassment.

    Iran has been criticized often for its treatment of religious minorities.

    Last year alone, the Iranian Sufis were a subject of concern for:

    • A UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, who said that the Sufi “continue to face arbitrary arrest, harassment, and detention and are often accused of national security crimes”

    • The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, who said in a report that Sufis are often targeted for not conforming to Iran’s interpretation of Islam and face horrific abuses, including attacks on their prayer centres and community cemeteries as well as harassment, arrests, and physical assaults.

    Hemin Sayidi, a London-based Iranian expert, said that the Sufis’ clashes with Iran could be another example of nationwide anti-government protests that have resulted in at least 50 protester deaths and over 8000 arrests.

    Sayidi said: “These protest movements, be it in the name of poverty or religious oppression, indicate that people are weary of the current oppressive rulers.”

    This is not the first time that the Sufis and Iran have clashed over the religious minority’s rights and freedom. In both 2006 and 2007, the Iran’s decision to close a Sufi shrine led to protests by the Sufis and a crackdown by the government forces.

  • Husband of British Aid Worker Taken Hostage by Iran Desperately Tries to Meet With Iranian Officials


    22 Feb – The husband of the British-Iranian charity worker held on bogus spying charges in Iran has written to the Iranian embassy in London to try to arrange a meeting with a visiting Iranian official.

    Richard Ratcliffe, who has not seen his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and their baby daughter, Gabriella, since the pair visited family in Iran in 2016, wants to meet with Abbas Araghchi, the deputy for legal and international affairs in Iran’s foreign ministry, in order to bring his family home.

    Ratcliffe said: “If we manage to get this meeting, I will obviously be much more hopeful. If we don’t get the meeting, I will be keen to know what happened when [Araghchi] met with the British officials. I haven’t given up hope, but so far there is no evidence that the meeting is going to happen.”

    False Charges and Ransom Demands

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked with the Thompson Reuters Foundation, is currently serving five years for the false charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

    She has always denied these charges and many believe that this is just another example of Iran taking a dual-national hostage to extract a ransom from the other nation.

    The idea is that Iran will charge the dual-national with a vague national security charge and then ask the other country for more trade deals, better political relations, or even an outright cash payment.

    In late 2017, Iran demanded £400 million, a British bank account for their embassy, and increased trade between Europe and Iran in order to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

    It is unknown just how many dual nationals are being held on bogus national security charges in Iran, but current estimates are between 12 and 30 people, including a former UNICEF worker from the US, a Princeton doctoral student, and a Swedish disaster medicine expert.

    Protest

    On Wednesday, February, 21, human rights activists and ordinary people sympathetic to Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s plight held a protest outside the Iranian embassy in solidarity with the Ratcliffe family.

    Ratcliffe said: “I was very touched and pleased that they have come. Knowing that she is cared for and we are cared for is very important. I think it is important for [Nazanin] to know that she is not alone.”

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent eight-and-a-half months in solitary confinement and her physical and mental health is suffering greatly because of this imprisonment.

    She was promised a temporary release in order to spend time with her daughter, but Iran changed the plans at the last minute.

  • Iranian Regime Still Executing Children


    09 Feb- According to Human Rights Watch, three child offenders were executed in Iran last month. Despite numerous human rights organisations calling on Iran to immediately put an end to this practice, the regime still continues to use the death penalty on children who committed a crime before the age of 18.

    Human Rights Watch named the three young people that were executed in January as Amirhossein Pourjafar, Ali Kazemi and Mahboubeh Mofidi. They were executed for crimes they allegedly committed when they were 16, 15 and 13 years old respectively.

    Amirhossein Pourjafar had signs of a “conduct disorder” according to his lawyer and he had spent time in a mental institution during his time in prison. Despite this, he was still executed.

    Ali Kazemi was executed in Bushehr prison on 30th January for an alleged murder charge from when he was 15-years-old. The authorities had previously promised to halt the execution according to the Imam Ali Society (an NGO in Iran that deals with social problems with a focus on children). His lawyer, Shahriar Khoramdel, said that judges involved with the trial would not allow him to be seen by a forensic doctor to see if he was able to understand the nature of the crime committed.

    Mahboubeh Mofidi was executed on the same day in Nowshahr prison in Mazandaran province. She got married when she was 13-years-old and she was sentenced to death for allegedly murdering her husband at the age of 17.

    Sarah Leah Whitson, the organisation’s Middle East director, said: “Iran seems intent on erasing any positive impression gained from modest reforms to its drug execution laws last year by hanging several child offenders in a bloody start to 2018. When will Iran’s judiciary actually carry out its alleged mission, ensuring justice, and end this deplorable practice of executing children?”

    Despite being a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Iran continues to execute child offenders. Iran’s penal code amendments also state that child offenders should not be executed for certain crimes. Article 91 of the code gives judges discretion to not impose the death sentence if the child was too young or immature to understand the consequences and nature of the crime being committed.

    Amnesty International has indicated that between 2014 and 2017, there have been at least 25 individuals executed in Iran for crimes that they committed when they were minors.

    Human Rights Watch calls on the Iranian regime to put an end to the death penalty and to move towards abolishing all forms of capital punishment in the country. Whitson said: “Iranian authorities often claim they are treated ‘unfairly’ by the international community for their human rights record, but they only hurt their case when they have the shameful distinction of leading the world in executions for crimes committed by children.”

    As well as carrying out executions, Iran continues to use medieval methods of punishment such as the amputation of limbs and lashing. There is no place for such cruelty and the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its actions.

  • Iran Human Rights Abuses Soared in January


    07 Feb – Human rights abuses in Iran are plentiful, but this January has seen them soar as a result of the Iranian Regime’s crackdown on the protesters who called for regime change.

    Iran Human Rights Monitor published a special report on the violations that the protesters were subjected to, but this article will do its best to cover both that and the unrelated human rights abuses.

    Crackdown on protesters

    Iran’s government started its crackdown with the first demonstrations, using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.

    Deaths

    At least 50 protesters were gunned down in the streets, while 12 have died under torture in prison. Some bodies were secretly buried by the Regime, with the families either unaware or threatened into secrecy, while some were dumped in front of their homes or in public places as warnings.

    Of those who died under torture, the Regime has claimed that they committed suicide, despite clear signs of torture on the bodies.

    In response to this, Iranian MP Mahmoud Sadeghi tweeted: “According to the relatives of one of the detainees who died in jail, he had told his family during a phone conversation [prior to his death] that the authorities had forced him and other prisoners to take pills that made them sick.”

    Arrests

    At least 8,000 were arrested, some at the protests, some afterwards, and some who were never even at the protests, but were rounded up in case they joined the protesters. Of those arrested, 35% were students and 90% were under 25.

    There are at least 15 people arrested or summoned during the protests who haven’t been seen or heard from since, including students, teachers, and engineers. Their families have attempted to find out their fates and have staged protest rallies outside of various prisons but their requests were met with tear gas and air shots by the prison authorities.

    Other human rights violations

    Of course, unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings are just the start of Iran’s human rights abuses during the protests. Others include the vicious beating of protesters, the extracting of false confessions under torture, the denial of adequate medical treatment to protesters, the arresting of lawyers representing the protesters.

    Human rights violations not directly related to the protests

    Executions

    In January 2018, there was a total of 17 executions, including one public, five secrets, and three of juvenile offenders (Iran is one of the last countries to sentence children to death), despite appeals from international human rights organisations.

    There are also two political prisoners who are at risk of imminent executions, but it is reported that they are being held to convince one of their fathers to hand himself in.

    Arbitrary murders

    The Iranian security forces opened fire without warning on at least three occasions in January, killing four men and wounding a fifth. They also deliberately ran over a motorcyclist and killed him.

    Deaths in custody

    Two people have died in prison in Iran. One Abdul Rahman Narui was tortured to death and one Abdolghodus Amiri committed suicide after the Regime denied him adequate medical care.

    Inhuman punishments

    The Iranian Regime carried out at least one amputation and issued seven flogging sentences in January. Some of the sentences also included jail terms, forced exile, forced labour, and even executions.

    Many of these punishments were levied out for things, like having a secret relationship, drinking wine, and hunting during the offseason.

    Arrests

    Hundreds of arrests have been reported in Iran in January based on religious or ethnic (30) social (17), and arbitrary (146) grounds. Arbitrary arrests include 36 people attending a mixed gender party, 21 underground singers, six people involved in modelling, and two musicians.

    Mistreatment of political prisoners

    The political prisoners have been wildly mistreated in prison with threats against their lives, the cancelling of all leave (including medical) because they refused to disavow the protests, the vicus beatings of Sunni prisoners in Rajaie Shahr Prison, and the raid in Central Prison.

    They are also denying adequate medical care to many, including those under torture.

    This is just a summary and the full list of crimes against the Iranian people by the Regime can be found here.

  • Iran’s Protests Will Continue Until Democracy Is Realised


    29 Jan – The widespread protests across Iran have now been suppressed by the Iranian Regime’s so-called security forces but it is far from over. As such, the international community should be wary of writing this off as an anomaly and preparing to condone the Regime again.

    These anti-regime protests that so disturbed the Regime didn’t spring up out of nowhere. In fact, they are the continuation century-long struggle for democracy and freedom in Iran and it should be expected that the protests will occur again and again until democracy is realised in Iran.

    There are many reasons for the Iranian people’s suffering under the Regime for a failing economy to mass human rights violations to inherent corruption and the international community should oppose the Regime for it.

    In the West, there is much talk of the so-called reformists in the Regime. Those with more moderate views who seek a better relationship with the international community, but this is merely a smokescreen. There are no moderates in the Iranian Regime.

    The Iranian people highlighted this themselves during the protests, revealing that the moderates are executing Iranians for low-level crimes while putting more money into the military at the expense of the Iranian people. The Iranian Regime is made up of squabbling factions but they are fighting over power not policy.

    Ultimately, it does not make sense for the international community to call for peace, while working with the mullahs who are ultimately responsible for the violence.

    The Resistance is not over

    Iran is a rich country that has been robbed by the mullahs and their lackeys and the only positive aspect is that the Iranian people are fighting back.

    Reza Fiyouzat wrote on counter Punch: “[The Resistance] was not crushed. I cannot be crushed. Not for long; in any given decade, or two or three, we have risen up again and again since 1905; all of those major upheavals were also marked by smaller upheavals and recurrent unrest dispersed in between. Those in charge claim fantasies of having crushed the ‘sedition’, but that’s just hopeful thinking made into statements that history shreds on a regular basis.”

    Fiyouzat explains that the demands of the people during the 1979 revolution, which was hijacked by the mullahs, have not been met and the Regime will soon be unable to ignore the Iranian people who are coming together to address all of the many, many problems of the Iranian Regime.

  • Protesters Are Being Tortured to Death in Iran

    19 Jan – The names of six young Iranians, who were killed under torture by the Regime authorities during the recent protests, have been released.

    The body of Seyed Shahab Abtahi, 20, was left on his father’s doorstep with signs of baton blows clearly visible, just 10 days after his arrest in the city of Arak.

    Shortly before that, street vendor Vahid Heidari, 22, who the Markazi police falsely claimed had been arrested on drugs possession charges, was also killed by baton blows while detained.

    The authorities claimed his death was a suicide at Arak’s 12th police precinct, despite the fact that detainees in Arak were transferred to Arak’s central prison and then onto the Basij garrison in the Moghavemat square or the Arak Intelligence Building, which is adjacent to the Basij garrison, because of the sheer numbers of protesters that were detained.

    There were 396 people arrested during the uprising in Arak and other cities of Markazi Province, according to senior regime officials.

    Another protester, Hossein Qaderi, 30, who was arrested in the Sanandaj uprising died under torture in prison on January 17. The Regime has claimed that he was a drug offender rather than a protester- as if that justifies torture and death- but not even the prison clinic will confirm their lies.

    Sarou Ghahremani, 24, was arrested on January 3, and also died following torture in Sanandaj Prison.

    Hassan Torkashvand, 23, was protesting in Karaj when he was directly shot by repressive forces on December 30. He died of his injuries in hospital.

    Worse still, the Regime is attempting to cover this up by refusing to allow families to hold funerals, withholding bodies, and threatening loved ones.

    Over 40 Iranian MPs have written to the parliamentary speaker asking for an independent inquiry into the suspicious deaths but asking the Regime to investigate themselves is like asking a killer to look for bloodstains.

    Shahin Gobadi, a member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), wrote on Al Arabiya about the secret torture and killings of Iranian political prisoners during the protests.

    He wrote: “Killing under torture in prison is unquestionably a crime against humanity. The Iranian Resistance calls on the UN Security Council, its member states, and all international human rights advocates to take decisive measures against these crimes. It also calls on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate the situation of prisons and unconditional release of recent detainees.”