Arseh Sevom — This week the mother of Neda, the young woman whose death was captured on camera during the demonstrations following the 2009 presidential elections, reminds us of international women’s day. (h/t United4Iran). Ban Ki Moon makes a statement for an end to violence against women and children. Iran’s sociologists report on growing sexual freedom in Iran, while 250 female activists complain about the treatment of the daughters of Zahra Rahnavard and Mir Hossein Mousavi. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran issues a report, which is immediately branded biased by Iran’s media. A new cinema organization is launched, this one state sponsored and with a director who has worked hard to close the independent House of Cinema. A letter to Assad from the Physician’s Association leads to a takeover by the Revolutionary Guards. Another letter from well-respected economists warns of increased instability if the country’s economic problems aren’t addressed. Crime is on the rise, and the former Tehran Prosecutor appears before the court in the defendant’s chair. The death of Hugo Chavez is cause for (another) day of mourning in Iran.
Womens Day Marked by Calls to End Violence Against Women
All over the world, there has been a push to end violence against women and children. In a statement issued earlier this week, Ban Ki Moon stated:
“Women need to live free of fear; girls need to safely enjoy their right to education. These are basic rights…Too many women and girls face intimidation and physical and sexual abuse – often from those who should care for and respect them most – fathers, husbands, brothers, teachers, colleagues and supervisors. We need to change attitudes and behavior. We need to change laws and ensure that they are implemented. Perpetrators should be punished. The shame of violence should lie with the abuser, not the victim.”
The Independent Association of Writers, currently banned in Iran, issued a letter protesting patriarchy and violence against women. [fa]
It’s a Sexual Revolution
The Organization of Iranian Sociologists has released a report interpreting new data on abortion, marriage, and divorce. They report that 30% of all abortions are performed on unmarried women. According the their report, that statistic combined with a rise in the divorce rate and a decrease in the rate of marriage shows that sexual freedom has staked a claim in Iran.
The organization recommends more freedom for young people to choose their own partners.
Iran Emrooz has more [fa].
No Way to Treat a Lady
A public letter signed by 250 women activists [fa] protests the treatment of the three daughters of Mir Hossein Moussavi and Zahra Rahnavard. After the pair were allowed to visit their parents, who have been under house arrest for more than two years now, they were harassed by security forces and threatened to keep quiet about their experiences.
EA WorldView has a translation of an interview with the three women describing the pressure they are under.
In the interview Narges Mousavi described the ransacking of her house by security forces:
On Monday as I was getting ready to go to work with my son, a car stopped us and several men and a woman stated that they have a search warrant, taking us back to our home. I felt very unsafe. I wanted to scream so people would know what was going on when one of the men pushed me inside the house. I injured my hand and was very distressed by his behaviour. One of them lifted his hand and said: “I will slap you so hard that all your teeth will fall out.” This all took place in front my 4-year-old son…They threatened to kill me in front of my child. When they were searching the house one of the men told me that if it were up to him, he would push me out the window of the building.
HIV/AIDS on the Rise
Iran Emrooz [fa] reports that HIV is on the rise in Iran. Dr. Abbas Sedaghat, head of HIV/AIDS control in the Ministry of Health, reports that 24,000 cases have been registered this year alone. He estimates a total of 90,000 living with AIDS in Iran.
Human Rights Report
The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Dr. Ahmad Shaheed, presented a 24-page report on the situation in Iran. The report [en] is rigorously researched and presents a bleak view of the situation for those vulnerable to state harassment.
Dr. Shaheed reports that the government of Iran has commented on the report claiming
“that allegations about legal iniquities are ‘groundless’ since the country’s Constitution guarantees that all Iranian citizens are equal regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity or race. It also suggests that claims of due process violations are ‘fabrications’ since the country’s body of laws forbids mistreatment of detainees and the use of coerced confessions; establishes a legal process to remedy violations; and provides for access to legal counsel.”
Dr. Shaheed holds that the claims are true, but optimistically posits that Iran’s legal system has all the fundamentals required to respect human rights and international agreements.
During his tenure as Special Rapporteur, Dr. Shaheed has not been given a visa to visit Iran. As expected, Iranian state media has responded by calling the report biased.
Close the Envelope Please
Whether it is preventing directors from making films or protesting the decisions of international festivals and awards committees, film has been in the news lately when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the past month, Iran held its annual Fajr film festival, this time hosting a conference on Hollywood. The controversial film Argo was awarded best picture at the Oscars, and Jafar Panahi won yet another award.
For Iran’s filmmakers, critics, and actors, the closure of the independent House of Cinema still burns. A group wrote a public letter of complaint against Near the end of February 2013, the state-sponsored Iranian Cinema Organization, led by the controversial Javad Shamaqdari who was the Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs and a leader of the opposition to the House of Cinema.
Arseh Sevom has more on the Oscars, the House of Cinema, and Jafar Paanahi’s award online in Iran: All’s Not Well in the World of Cinema.
Water Policy Leads to Violence
Protesting against the water policy that has left the region without enough for crops, farmers burned several buses in an agricultural region in Isfahan province. There were a number of non-fatal injuries. The farmers protest that water is being diverted from their region to the province of Yazd. Their crops are suffering and their earlier letters of protest had gone unanswered. Anonymous videos were uploaded to YouTube:
Crime is Rising
Crime is on the rise in Iran. Meat, bread, jewelry – Everything is disappearing from the shelves. Armed robberies are now making the news for the first time in years. Many in Iran complain that shoppers buying meat are stalked and robbed by thieves on motorbikes.
An unprecedented armed robbery in a small town in Kermanshah left one dead. Radio Zamaneh [fa] has more.
Here Comes the Judge
Radio Farda [fa] reports that when former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was called to appear in court to answer for the killing of prisoners in Kharizak Detention Center, he demanded to sit with the judge. No doubt feeling that it was his rightful place despite the fact that he was appearing as the defendant.
The proceedings were closed. Fathers of two of the victims were present during the proceedings, and they could be seen in tears during parts of the testimony.
The Physicians Association Under Control
The independence of yet another organization has been challenged by Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). In spite of the objections of Ahmadinejad [fa], the IRGC has taken control of elections in the formerly independent Physician’s association. The IRGC is sensitive because of a September 2011 letter the association wrote to Assad telling him to remember that he is a doctor and that he should not be engaged in killing his people.
To Whom It May Concern: We’re Doomed
In a letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [fa], 34 economists expressed their concerns about the economic situation in Iran. They discussed the effects of the sanctions, the mismanagement of the economy, and expressed concern for the stability of the nation. The economists noted that urgent action was required to address the looming economic disaster, noting that oil revenues are high yet the funds are being squandered.
Death of Chavez
The death of Hugo Chavez has hit Mahmoud Ahmadinejad quite hard, so a national day of mourning has been called in Iran to commemorate the death. In a letter published on his website [fa], Ahmadinejad expresses his condolences and certainty that Chavez will be resurrected with Jesus. This has been met with criticism and ridicule as are many of Ahmadinejad’s statements.
The cartoonist Maya Neyestani drew Ahmadinejad painting Chavez into a banner for Ashura. You can see it on Rooz Online.
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.