The Iranian authorities’ threat to expedite the execution of 10 men on death row in retaliation for going on hunger strike is deplorable, said Amnesty International as it called for the death sentences to be commuted immediately.
One of the 10, Saman Naseem, was sentenced to death in 2013 for engaging in armed activities against the state after he allegedly participated in a gun battle while he was a child during which a member of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed. The 10 men are among 24 prisoners from Iran’s Kurdish minority who have been on hunger strike since 20 November 2014 in protest at the conditions of Ward 12 of Oroumieh Central Prison, West Azerbaijan Province, where political prisoners are held.
“It is truly deplorable that the Iranian authorities are playing games with the lives of these men in such a manner. Resorting to death threats and other punitive measures to quell prisoners’ hunger strikes only serves to underscore how rotten Iran’s criminal justice system is,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
(London) – The United Nations agency charged with combating illicit drug trafficking should withdraw its support for counter-narcotics police operations in Iranuntil the death penalty for drug offenses is abolished, six rights groups said in a letter published today. The groups made the plea after Iran’s judiciary hanged 18 alleged drug traffickers within 24 hours on December 3, 2014, bringing the number of drug offenders executed in the country during 2014 to at least 318.
HRANA News Agency – Mohammad Mousavi-Bodjnordi, who heads Iran’s civil rights watchdog and is considered close to President Hassan Rouhani,told the state-run Fars News agency that Iran’s Baha’is minority have no civil rights in the regime because their beliefs are contrary to Islam.
“The Baha’i belief is contrary to Islam. In Iran, Baha’is have no civil rights and in particular, they do not have the right to study.” Civil rights are defined as in line with the beliefs of Ayatollah Khomeini, Mousavi-Bodjnordi said.
Mohammad Mousavi-Bodjnordi is a member of “combatant clergy” a clerical body that descibes itself as ‘moderate’.
Hassan Rohani appointed him to the group tasked with defining “civil rights.”
Earlier this month, a senior regime cleric also called for all Baha’is to be expelled from the southern city of Rafsanjan because they are ‘unclean’ and doing business with them is ‘forbidden.’
HRANA News Agency – Two Sunni prisoners of conscience in Iran who had been transferred to hospital on Tuesday after a deterioration in their condition were prevented from receiving medical treatment by officers in charge of their case.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Jamshed Dehghani and Ghasem Abesteh were transferred from Rajai Shahr prison to the Imam Khomeini hospital in Tehran on 16 December 2014.
However, the officers accompanying them prevented them from receiving medical treatment once they arrived at the hospital, and the two men were transferred back to prison without explanation.
Amir Hekmati, a former Marine who began a hunger strike and wrote to President Obama this week in despair over his prolonged incarceration inIran, also has protested to Iranian officials over the apparent paralysis of his case, untreated lung infections, and the prison’s cold cells, power blackouts and vermin.
In a letter to the ministers of justice and intelligence, Mr. Hekmati also said that he had been warned by the authorities at Evin Prison in Tehran, where he has been held for more than three years, to quit the hunger strike or he would be placed in solitary confinement.
OIAC- Staff- The Associated Press indicates that Rouhani took just this approach in commenting on the persistently low oil prices, now down to about 65 dollars per barrel after having been 110 dollars in June.
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Rouhani unambiguously called the decrease a “conspiracy against the interests of the region, the Muslim people, and the Muslim world.” His commentary also turned vaguely threatening when he said “Iran and people of the region will not forget such conspiracies, or in other words, treachery against the interests of the Muslim world.”
A senior member of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) warned on Friday that the Iranian military had the ability to target aircraft carriers using supersonic missiles.
“We can easily target hostile aircraft carriers with our supersonic missiles and we have advanced technology that would leave our enemies in awe,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, the IRGC deputy commander, said during a speech carried by the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
His remarks come a day after senior commanders in Iran’s armed forces announced large-scale military maneuvers in the south of the country, stretching from the north of the Indian Ocean to the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Arabian Gulf.
(Reuters) – Syrian businessmen and trade officials say they are worried the economic lifeline provided by Iran is under strain from plunging oil prices, despite public messages of support from Syria’s strongest regional ally.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has relied on oil-producingIran to help him fight a nearly four-year-old civil war and also prop under a currency under pressure.
“If it had not been for Iranian support we could not have survived the crisis,” a senior Syrian trade official said from Damascus, requesting anonymity.
“It was Iranian support that has been the most important. In return, we are promising them more and more, and opening more and more doors for them to invest in Syria,” he said.
Iran- Nuclear Activities
Iran nuclear diplomat gets key post as head of foreign oil deals
(Reuters) – Iran has appointed a backstage strategist in nuclear talks with world powers as chief of foreign petroleum contracts, the oil ministry said, a job that will hinge largely on any settlement of its atomic dispute with the West.
Amir-Hossein Zamaninia is a veteran diplomat who was sidelined under hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before resurfacing as adviser on the nuclear negotiations revived by moderate President Hassan Rouhani.
Zamaninia will replace former Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs Ali Majedi, who left three months ago to become ambassador to Germany, the ministry said on its website.
IAEA to get more money for Iran nuclear deal monitoring
(Reuters) – Several states pledged on Thursday to back a U.N. nuclear agency request for 4.6 million euros ($5.7 million) as soon as possible to pay for its monitoring of an extended, interim nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.