We would be remiss if we didn’t congratulate Iran’s Olympic athletes, so congratulations to them. This week, the head of Iran’s Hemophilia Center reminds the world of the unintended consequences of the sanctions: blocked payments for life-saving medications. Girls and women are told they can no longer study a wide range of subjects from engineering to educational studies, while the Supreme Leader posts his first images using the popular social photo app Instagram. We get a reminder of Iran’s National Internet project, which is now scheduled to be unveiled in phases beginning in September. In another seeming reversal of long-standing cultural norms, polygamy is promoted on a television program in Qom province. Imprisoned journalists challenge heads of the Non-Aligned Movement to visit them in prison while in Iran for their summit, as more Baha’is are arrested throughout the country. Film star, Leila Hatami finds herself in the limelight again with an award for Arts and Letters from the French government. Iran’s Environmental Organization searches for solutions to growing pollution and the depletion of Lake Orumieh. Maybe they can find them at Iran’s first TEDx conference slated for January of next year.
The head of Iran’s Hemophilia Center has sent an open letter to the director of the Global Hemophilia Federation warning that the economic sanctions placed by the West to contain the Iran’s nuclear program have critically endangered the lives of hemophiliac patients by creating obstacles in providing them with their needed medicine. The main problem, according to the letter, is the blocks on Iran’s banking system. These blocks have made payments for medications nearly impossible.
The Hemophilia Center of Iran has a history of 45 years working as an NGO with no political record in its background.
Women may be able to represent Iran in any number of Olympic events, but Mehr News Agency reports that a new ban will prevent female students from pursuing an education in any of 77 university majors spread over 36 institutions of higher education around the country.The banned programs include subjects such as accounting, educational studies and consultation, repair of historic buildings, and pure chemistry. The report notes that the highest number of banned subjects is in the field of engineering, from civil engineering at Isfahan University to natural resources engineering at Shahid Raja’ie University in Tehran.
The Iranian Telecommunication Minister told Fars News that the “National Internet” will be launched in three phases the first of which will be implemented and launched this Septermber. Reza Taghipour has also added that “as for house Internet connections, the ISPs provide users with connections as per regulations” Taghipour has insisted that “there are things that are not defined in our network such as watching video clips.
Meanwhile, Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei decided it was time to join the “hippest of them all” and post his first photo sporting his black turban and cloak joined Instagram.
Big Love on State TV
Following Ayatollah Khamenei’s decision to stop family planning in Iran and the ensuing budget cuts (covered in our review of last week), Iranian state-run television’s local channel in Qom has aired a program depicting a “happy bigamous family” where both wives get on well with each other.
A comment under this report on Bahar News website reads [our translation]:
“Islam dictates that there should not be single men or women in the society. However, polygamy used to be frowned upon in the past.”
Another commenter responds:
“This is an offense to the status of women and reduces them to the level of a sexual commodity. It’s been so many years we have been moving backwards.”
Just before the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement to be held in Tehran, a group of Iranian political prisoners mainly comprising jailed journalists have sent a letter symbolically inviting the member heads of state to visit Iranian prisons. They began their letter by asking “Do you remember me?” and then continue, “I am the same journalist who interviewed you or took a news photo from you at the UN, or during an international or local event…I am now incarcerated in the horrifying prisons of Iran on the charge of being democratic, for defending human rights, for asking “where is my vote?” So if you are not embarrassed, remember to visit me during your visit to Tehran at Evin prison in Tehran, Rajaie Shahr in Karaj, Karoon in Ahwaz and in other prisons in Iran.”
Tehran Times reports that France has honored the celebrated Iranian actress Leila Hatami with an Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal. This happened a short time after a high ranking police commander in Iran criticized Hatami for the way she was dressed at international venues.
France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication awards the Order of Arts and Letters, established in 1957, to recognize eminent artists, writers and scholars for their efforts in promoting the awareness and enrichment of France’s cultural heritage throughout the world.
Last week news came from Iran confirming that more than ten Baha’i citizens were arrested in the cities of Isfahan, Shahin Shahr, Vila Shahr, Yazd and Arak.
The Iran Environmental Organization is preparing a proposal for Parliament to tackle the increasingly critical issue of airborne dust particles and pollution. The World Health Organization has rated four cities in Iran as among the ten most polluted worldwide. Much of the particulate in regions like Khuzestan is the result of dust storms originating in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
In related news, Radio Zamaneh reports that Iran is attempting to get Armenia on board to help save Lake Orumieh, which is drying up at an alarming rate. The two countries recently signed an agreement to cooperate on environmental projects.
Will TEDx be a success in Tehran? TED talks are known for their compelling delivery and big ideas. Now local organizers in Iran are trying to bring that combination to Tehran for a TEDx conference to be held in January of 2013. On the TEDx blog, the organizers discuss Iran’s past accomplishments, asking:
“[But] what about present day Iran? With much…mixed press coverage about Iran, what can Iranians showcase; what ‘good thoughts, good words and good deeds’ are taking place in present day Tehran and Iran? Who are the deep thinkers and leaders, from all different fields, from the sciences to the arts to business, with creative and stimulating ideas worth spreading?”
We’re asking ourselves that too. Watch this space for more information.
Do your part to lift the pain of sanctions on Iranian families.
Dear Catherine Ashton:
We, the undersigned, are concerned about the effects the implementation of sanctions are having on average Iranians. We are particularly concerned that items that are not sanctioned, such as medication and humanitarian goods are not reaching the people in Iran.
This is a time of great suffering in the region. We want to ensure that we are not further contributing to the suffering because of the denial of access to a payment channel for humanitarian items. We know the intention of the sanctions is to put pressure on Iran’s ruling elite. We worry that this is not the reality.
The brunt of the suffering falls on women and children and the most vulnerable in society. They suffer the consequences in very real ways. They lose their incomes, their homes, and their access to life-saving medication. Some of this suffering can be alleviated by facilitating the seamless implementation of the existing humanitarian exemptions. These include financial transactions related to medications, basic needs, and other items that are currently not sanctioned.
We ask the European Union to create a payment channel to accept transactions from Iran. This channel should be closely scrutinized. This will allow much needed financial transactions for medications and basic needs to take place.
It is crucial at this time when the people of Iran are desperately trying to make their own voices heard that we show we are listening. They went to the polls in an attempt to show their own government that they wanted reform and better relations with the outside world. We need to show we are listening.
Please help to avert a humanitarian disaster. Allow Iranians access to the international banking system to purchase medications and humanitarian goods.