What does Just Access mean?
We chose to call the campaign “Just Access” as a way of summarizing the objectives. What the campaign asks for is a legal and fair solution to some of the problems average Iranians are having obtaining basic humanitarian goods and other non-sanctioned items. This current campaign focuses on the unintended effects of economic sanctions on people living in Iran. Our objective is for the European Commission to create a payment channel allowing the purchase of non-sanctioned items, such as medication and humanitarian goods.
What is the aim of this campaign?
The aim of the Just Access campaign is to allow international payments for life-saving medications, basic needs, and other non-sanctioned items.
Why should I support this campaign?
The brunt of suffering due to sanctions is falling on those who are most vulnerable in society. Many suffering from cancer and chronic diseases are left untreated. Some of this can be alleviated by allowing international money transfers.
In addition, ensuring that legal channels are open, should put pressure on the Iranian government to reduce shortages. This is especially true for medication and medical procedures which have become prohibitively expensive for many.
Economic sanctions in their present form hurt potential forces for change in Iran. Because they are so broad, economic sanctions take the focus off the repression of civil society and put it on the economic harm inflicted by the West.
Which items are not sanctioned?
Medication, basic needs, personal communications devices, and some information technology are among the non-sanctioned items.
What types of sanctions does Iran face?
There are many different types of sanctions against Iran. There are sanctions targeting human rights abusers. Those sanctions are intended to limit their capacity to engage in international trade. There are sanctions against the military, which are designed to limit the capacity of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. There are sanctions designed to prevent Iran from weaponizing its nuclear program. There are blanket economic sanctions, which are less targeted and affect all of society. The way those final sanctions are implemented is causing much pain and suffering.
How long has Iran faced sanctions?
This is a complicated question. The United States has sanctioned the sale of many items to Iran for decades, along with forbidding American citizens and American companies from doing significant business with Iran. The European Union has also imposed a number of sanctions that are designed to target human rights abusers. Since 2010, the United Nations and the international community have imposed sanctions as well.
In March 2012, Iran’s Central Bank was cut-off from access to international banking. This has caused a lot of unnecessary suffering.
Why is Iran facing sanctions?
That’s a good question. The expressed reason for the sanctions issued by the UN is Iran’s non-compliance with its safeguards agreement as reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors.
In 2012, the EU Council ordered SWIFT to disconnect all sanctioned Iranian banks from the international banking system.
Does the campaign ask for the total end of sanctions?
At this stage, we are not calling for a total end to sanctions. Instead, we are asking for a payment channel to be created to accept payment from Iranian banks for non-sanctioned items. This request is not without precedent. During the Yugoslav wars, the European Community created a payment channel to handle transactions for non-sanctioned items.
I know that sanctions aim at stopping the Iranian nuclear program. Is this campaign in support of the Iranian nuclear program?
No our campaign emphatically does not support the Iranian nuclear program. It is in support of the people suffering in Iran.
Why don’t Iranian people have access to these items? Isn’t it the Iranian government’s fault if people have no access to non-sanctioned items?
The reasons for lack of access are multiple. The Iranian government should ensure that more hard currency is made available for medication and basic needs.
But when organizations, institutions, and individuals cannot use international banking for making payments it complicates matters and makes it much more difficult for needed items to reach the population. It reduces transparency and opens the door for smuggling and illegal sales.
If I sign this petition, am I helping the Iranian government?
Allowing payment for items that are NOT sanctioned will not strengthen the government. This will put more pressure on the government to meet the needs of the population.
Does your organization support the Iranian government?
No. We (Arseh Sevom) are non-political. We do not work for a government or to strengthen any government. Our objective is to work towards a strengthened civil society.
If the sanctions are approved by the US legislation, why target the EU?
The European Commission has ordered SWIFT to stop working with Iran’s banks. The Commission can help alleviate pain and suffering in Iran by assigning one payment channel to accept transactions for non-sanctioned items such as medicine and humanitarian goods. That payment channel can be closely monitored to ensure that the transactions remain within the law.
I know the United States has recently loosened the humanitarian items licensing policy. Is this campaign aware of this?
The licensing policies may be easier, but banks are unwilling to take risks with Iran. People born in Iran who live in Europe and the United States know this from personal experience. They have even had their personal bank accounts frozen or closed by banks over-reacting to the new sanctions laws. Books with the word “Iran” in the title have been blocked by Paypal. In general, banks are overly cautious. This is why we recommend creating a payment channel to accept transactions.
Isn’t the protection of human rights of Iranians suffering as a result of concerns about international security?
There are many who believe this to be the case. Many people have argued that the focus on the nuclear issue is coming at the cost of protecting human rights.
Why a petition?
We know what we are asking isn’t sexy or simple. We want to show politicians that there is support for providing access to medication, humanitarian goods, information technology, and other non-sanctioned items. It’s just and fair.
The Iranian Minister of Health stated that many of the problems with the distribution of medication are administrative. Why should we support this campaign?
It’s the policy of the Iranian government to both minimize the effects of the sanctions AND use the effects of the sanctions to blame the West for human rights abuses.
We acknowledge that many of the problems with distribution and access are the fault of the Iranian government.
The Just Access campaign seeks to ensure that everything that can be done to minimize the harmful effects on Iranian citizens is done. At this stage, we are advocating for a bank to accept payments for non-sanctioned items.
How can I help?
You can sign the Just Access petition.
You can write letters to your EU representatives.
You can print the petition and ask friends and strangers to sign and then mail it or scan a copy and email it to us. (Download a pdf of the petition)
You can share your stories dealing with the sanctions.
a: having a basis in fact or reason : reasonable
b: conforming to a standard of correctness : proper
c: acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good : righteous
d: merited : deserved
e: legally correct : lawful [/one_half]
a: permission, liberty, or ability to enter, approach, or pass to and from a place
b: permission, liberty, or ability to approach or communicate with a person or thing
c: freedom or ability to obtain or make use of something
(Our definitions are taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which you can find online.)