Iran- Human Rights (Women, Minorities, Ethnics)
At least ten prisoners are in danger of execution in Karaj Central Prison for drug related offences. Close sources say the prisoners are scheduled to be executed on the morning of Saturday August 27.
Iran Human Rights (AUG 26 2016): At least ten prisoners in Karaj Central Prison (west of Tehran) have been transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for their executions. The prisoners were reportedly able to have visits with their families for the last time. According to close sources, the prisoners were transferred on the morning of Wednesday August 24 and are all sentenced to death for drug related offences. Their execution sentences are reportedly scheduled to be carried out on the morning of Saturday August 27 at this prison.
Four prisoners were recently executed on Moharebeh (enmity against God) charges. One of the executions was carried out in public in southern Iran.
Iran Human Rights (AUG 23 2016): Three unidentified prisoners were reportedly hanged at Gorgan Central Prison (Golestan province, northern Iran) on the morning of Wednesday August 17, and one prisoner was hanged in public in the city of Jahrom (Fars province, southern Iran) on Sunday August 21.
According to an official state-run Iranian news source, the prisoners executed on Wednesday were between the ages of 18 and 21 and had been allegedly involved in the rape of two women, including an Australian citizen. The prisoners were reportedly sentenced to death by the Golestan criminal court for Moharebeh (enmity against God) and their sentences were confirmed by Iran’s Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, reports emerged that Iran was in the midst of a new crackdown on social media users, with hundreds of group administrators having been summoned, detained, or otherwise intimidated by authorities over supposedly “immoral” content. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reported that at least 450 people had been caught up in the latest action, an apparent follow-up to the sting known as Operation Spider II, which regime authorities publicly acknowledged in May.
The earlier crackdown disrupted social media groups and launched criminal cases against dozens of people accused of supporting Western infiltration and undermining Iran’s Islamic identity through their contributions to a Western-style modelling industry in Iranian cyberspace. It was not immediately clear on Wednesday how many people were expected to face charges over the latest crackdown, or whether the number of affected individuals could be expected to grow in coming days and weeks. But the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boasted that 450 people had been questioned or warned about their activities just over the past few weeks.
The disabled mother of an Iranian Christian prisoner has asked authorities to release her son, who is being held in Rajaei-Shahr prison for his faith, explaining that because she is visually impaired she has not even been able to visit him.
Mohabat News reported on Tuesday that the prisoner, Ebrahim Firouzi, is one of several people being held in Iran because of their Christian faith. Firouzi recently refused to attend his appeals court hearing because officials did not allow him to access his defense documents, though the hearing was postponed for another four months because the appointed judge was not present.
Iran- Terrorism Activities (Middle-East)
Four of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels “harassed” a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid Washington’s concerns about Iran’s posture in the Gulf and in the Syrian civil war.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that two of the Iranian vessels came within 300 yards of the USS Nitze in an incident that was “unsafe and unprofessional.”
The vessels harassed the destroyer by “conducting a high speed intercept and closing within a short distance of Nitze, despite repeated warnings,” the official said.
The announcement shows that the country is becoming more confident in asserting itself and declaring its intentions.
In a surprising moment of transparency and clarity, one of Iran’s former most senior military leaders confirmed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or Pasdaran in Persian, had established a “Shia Liberation Army” (SLA).
Speaking to the Mashregh news agency, which is close to the Pasdaran and the Iranian regime, retired General Mohammad Ali Al Falaki said that the new army’s primary objective would be to fight in Arab countries and would recruit heavily from non-Iranian Shia Muslims across the world.
One of the great hypotheticals of Barack Obama’s presidency involves the Iranian uprising that began on June 12, 2009, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced the winner of contested presidential elections. What if the president had done more to help the protesters when the regime appeared to be teetering?
It’s well known he was slow to react. Obama publicly downplayed the prospect of real change at first, saying the candidates whom hundreds of thousands of Iranians were risking their lives to support did not represent fundamental change. When he finally did speak out, he couldn’t bring himself to say the election was stolen: “The world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was.”
Iran- Nuclear Activities
Iran said on Sunday that a person close to the government team that negotiated its nuclear agreement with foreign powers had been arrested on accusations of espionage and released on bail.
The disclosure, reported in the state news media, appeared to be the latest sign of the Iranian leadership’s frustration over the agreement, which has failed so far to yield the significant economic benefits for the country that its advocates had promised. Iranian officials have blamed the United States for that problem.
Despite the relaxations of many sanctions under the accord, which took effect in January, Iran faces enormous obstacles in attracting new investments and moving its own money through the global financial system.
Last week, opponents of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran found a new focus for their criticism when it was revealed that the White House had given the all-clear to Iranian plans for the construction of two new nuclear power plants. While last summer’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ended up allowing Iran to retain a portion of its preexisting nuclear enrichment capability, Western policymakers with a more hardline track record on Iran had hoped that the Islamic Republic would be forced to give up the entirety of its nuclear program, not just those aspects or quantities that designate the immediate danger of a nuclear weapon.
For these critics, the plans for additional nuclear power serve as another reminder that Iran is effectively being permitted to actually expand its nuclear capabilities over the long term. The construction plans and the Obama administration’s acknowledgment of them comes only weeks after it was revealed that supplementary international nuclear agreements would allow Iran to install more advanced nuclear enrichment centrifuges years before the JCPOA is set to expire.