Iran- Human Rights (Women, Minorities, Ethnics)
Iran Human Rights (APR 10 2016): On the morning of Saturday April 9, five prisoners were reportedly hanged at Rasht’s Lakan Prison (in the provine of Gilan, northern Iran) on drug charges.
The prisoners had reportedly been transferred out of their wards on Thursday April 7 and taken to solitary confinement cells in preparation for their executions.
According to close sources, Rashid Kouhi (pictured above), Seyed Javad Mirzadeh and Hossein Farhadi are the names of three of the prisoners who were charged for drug offences. Iran Human Rights is in the process of investigating the identities of the two other prisoners.
A group of political prisoners in the notorious Gohardasht prison in Karaj issued a letter on Saturday April 9 condemning Mr. Matteo Renzi’s decision to travel to Iran. The Italian Prime Minister is scheduled to travel to Tehran on April 13 and 14 along with his economic team.
In a letter addressed to Renzi, these prisoners asked him not to go to their oppressed country in order to prevent having a black spot in the history of bilateral relations based on his personal decision.
Referring to Iran’s human rights violations and repeated resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council, political prisoners said that unforgivable and painful point is the appeasement of the western governments toward the Iranian regime. These governments are very committed to human rights in their own countries but “when it comes to oppressed nations like ours, they have no commitment because of oil and dollars, and instead they embolden them with economic contracts and trips and shaking their bloody hands.”
Last Friday, IranWire published an article on the threat posed to free speech and civil rights by the theoretical Iranian National Internet, or halalnet. The report referenced and elaborated upon an article that had previously appeared at the website for the human rights group Article 19. Both sources emphasized that the Iranian regime is serious about closing off the Iranian internet from the rest of the world, and that this would be a globally significant step in the curtailment of free speech.
Iran- Terrorism Activities (Middle-East)
There used to be a time when the Islamic Republic showed some discretion with regards to its regional hegemonic and ideological ambitions, or skirting and breaching international laws. At least the ruling clerics of Iran preferred soft power and were more covert about these issues.
But not anymore.
Iran’s partial discretion was limited to the period before the nuclear deal was reached between P5+1 and the Islamic Republic, and before President Obama began pursuing appeasement policies with the ruling clerics in order to secure the agreement.
Iranian army brigade dispatched to Syria; at least 30 student Basij forces killed
Mehr News Agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s Minsitry of Intelligence and Security, an official from Iran Azad University stated that at least 30 student-members of the Basij paramilitary forces have been killed in Iraq and Syria, in an interview on April 5th.
Mohammad-taqi Tabatabaei, the general secretary of Azad University, said of the recent deaths, “Given this number of martyrs from Azad University, a commemoration for the martyrs will be held in May at this university.”
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon said Tuesday that there was “no doubt” Iran was continuing to fund terrorism in the Middle East.
Testifying at a Senate hearing on recent Iranian missile tests and their effect on Iran nuclear deal implementation, Shannon told Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) “we are seeing it” all over the region.
“In regard to whether or not Iran continues to fund terrorism-related activities or destabilizing activities in the region, there’s no doubt that that’s true, and we are seeing it,” Shannon said. “Whether it’s in Syria, whether it’s Lebanon and Hezbollah, whether it is in Yemen with what they’re doing with the Houthi rebels, and we continue to do what we can through authorities that we have … to sanction when possible and to counteract the activities of Iran in the region.”
Although Jafari and Rouhani appear to be at odds with each other over the practical value of negotiations, the president has previously joined the IRGC commander in praising the country’s missile program and vowing to increase its stockpiles of long-range, large payload ballistic missiles.
These reports indicate that at the same time the Iranian regime is bragging of its military strength via its official propaganda, it is also quietly working to compensate for actual deficiencies by finding other ways to harm Western infrastructure.
U.S. Navy ships in the Arabian Sea intercepted and seized an arms shipment from Iran likely bound for Houthi fighters in Yemen, the military said in a statement on Monday.
The weapons seized last week by the warships Sirocco and Gravely were hidden on a small dhow and included 1,500 AK-47 rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, and 21 .50-caliber machine guns, according to the Navy statement.
The weapons were seized on March 28 and are now in U.S. custody. The boat, which the Navy described as stateless, and its crew were allowed to leave once the weapons were taken.
“This seizure is the latest in a string of illicit weapons shipments assessed by the U.S. to have originated in Iran that were seized in the region by naval forces,” the military said in the statement.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited with ministers from several Gulf Arab states as part of a world tour focused on regional security issues and international cooperation. His visit to the Arabia Peninsula comes at a time of historic division between the US and its traditional allies in the Middle East, many of which are concerned that a US policy of reconciliation with Iran is encouraging the growth of Iranian power in the region.
These concerns were expressed once again during Kerry’s visit, which CNN describes as paving the way for a summit in Saudi Arabia later this month, where US President Barack Obama will meet with executives from members states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Voice of America News specifically detailed remarks made by Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa while Kerry was visiting the island nation that serves as the base for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Iran’s foreign minister said Sunday the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program is “not open to negotiation” with the United States, seemingly spurning an overture from Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry said Thursday during a visit to Bahrain that the U.S. and its regional allies were “prepared to work on a new arrangement to find a peaceful solution” to the dispute over recent Iranian ballistic missile tests.
The missile tests are not covered by the U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, agreed to this summer; however, the U.S. and its allies contend the launches go against a U.N. Security Council Resolution. Iran denies the launches violate the U.N. resolution.
Iran- Nuclear Activities
Iran has yet to see the economic growth it wants from President Obama’s nuclear deal, and it’s demanding additional concessions – above and beyond the agreement – in return for nothing. Specifically, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants the United States to end sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s funding for terrorism and illicit weapons so Iran can gain access to the U.S. financial system, where the majority of international business is conducted.
Minister Zarif’s remarks came after Secretary of State John Kerry had said in Bahrain that his country is ready to negotiate with Tehran about its missile capability.
Kerry’s words have drawn a barrage of fiery responses from other senior Iranian officials, including commanders of the Islamic Revolutions Guards Corps (IRGC) over the past few days.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Estonian counterpart Marina Kaljurand in Tehran on Sunday, Zarif noted that Iran’s missile program is not related to the JCPOA and Americans are aware of this.
“Secretary Kerry and the U.S. State Department know well that Iran’s missile and defense capabilities are not open to negotiation.”
He added if such issues truly matter to the U.S. administration, it should halt “the selling of weaponry which are used to slaughter the defenseless Yemeni people or employed by the Zionist regime.”
After a recent surge in threatening behavior by Iran and reports that it may soon be given access to the U.S. financial system, the House Intelligence Committee opened an investigation into whether Obama officials misled Congress about the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action, or JCPOA). The “historic” deal, they said, would help bring Iran into the “community of nations” and lead to improved relations between Iran and the United States.
fter a recent surge in threatening behavior by Iran and reports that it may soon be given access to the U.S. financial system, the House Intelligence Committee opened an investigation into whether Obama officials misled Congress about the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action, or JCPOA). The “historic” deal, they said, would help bring Iran into the “community of nations” and lead to improved relations between Iran and the United States.
Iran’s recent ballistic missile launches “violated the intent” of a United Nations resolution, a top State Department official said Tuesday, though he avoided calling the tests a violation of the resolution itself.
“I believe it violated the intent of [U.N. Security Council Resolution] 2231,” said Thomas Shannon, under secretary of State for political affairs.
“Whether our international lawyers will say it violated 2231, this is why we use the word inconsistent. But from our point of view, these launches are prohibited, and we’re going to do everything we can to stop them.”
Why is Iran enjoying increased privacy and freedom to conduct missile tests after signing the nuclear agreement?
Iranians are famously savvy negotiators, so recent revelations that, under the U.S.-led global nuclear deal, Iran has far more leeway than we had thought to hide its nuclear progress and test ballistic missiles shouldn’t surprise us.
When the U.S. government announces economic sanctions against a country, the job falls to the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control to make a list of companies and individuals U.S. citizens cannot do business with. But Mossack Fonseca, the law firm whose records were leaked in the Panama Papers, is not beholden to those restrictions.
An analysis of the files by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found the names of at least 33 companies and individuals on the office’s sanctions list. The reasons the U.S. has tried to hamper the finances of the listed entities include close ties to dictators, human rights violations, and suspected terrorist links.