This week marked the third anniversary of the demonstrations following Iran’s flawed 2009 presidential elections, which brought the Green Movement to the world stage. In 2009, millions of Iranian citizens took to the streets of Tehran and other major Iranian cities to protest what they saw as a rigged election. Many had a simple question to ask through their peaceful demonstrations, “Where is my vote?” The rest is history.
The Islamic Republic crushed the protests with mass arrests and violence. Several lost their lives in the process. The families of those killed during the protests are now struggling to achieve justice.
The anniversary was commemorated in many countries around the world. United4Iran released an online compilation of music from various musicians, entitled Azadi: Songs of Freedom. It can be listened to for free here.
The twitter tag #RememberIran was used to share memories of the start of the movement. (You can read more from Al Jazeera and on our own post #RememberIran.) EA Worldview has been looking back at its own coverage of the events of three years ago.
The opposition council, The Green Path of Hope Coordination Council released a statement on the third anniversary [translation ours]:
“The Green Movement is a movement and not a party. This means hierarchical leadership employed by most political parties is not suitable. Movements make use of specific organizational efforts tailored for specific situations. Movements try to expand the base of the pyramid and bring it closer to the top to pave the way for participation of its affiliates and prepare for more respect for plurality and richer diversity.”
Last week there were reports of a mass arrest of labor activists in Karaj. On Friday 15th of June at 12 noon, 60 members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Forming Workers’ Organizations as well as a number of labor activists, were arrested by intelligence forces in Karaj, near Tehran. The detainees were sent to the notorious Rajaie Shahr prison.
According to the committee, nine of detainees are still in custody but the remaining were released on bail. The name of the 9 detainees are: Mitra Homayooni, Reyhaneh Ansari , Cyrus Fathi, Alireza Asgari, Maziar Mehrpour, Faramarz Fetrat Nejad, Jalil Mohammadi, Saeed Marzban, Masoud Salimpour, and Maziar Mehrpour.
A statement from the Coordinating Committee posted on its website reads [translation ours]:
“The annual meeting of the Coordinating Committee to Help Forming Workers’ Organizations was raided at a time when Iranian laborers’ dismissal, unemployment, unpaid salaries, lack of right to form an independent organization, and other countless social maladies, are still troubling them. Do not labor activists have the right to defend workers’ rights against extensive invasion of capitalism against their lives and jobs? How can capital holders exploit laborers and violate their rights at ease and without the slightest concern, and labor activists deprived of the mere right of divulging this injustice? … Once again, we condemn the security forces invasion of the committee gathering and the arrest of 60 activists. We ask of all workers, all labor organizations and all domestic and international human rights defense entities to follow up the case and demand the release of the Coordinating Committee in Karaj.”
On the occasion of the 101st International Labor Conference (ILC), Amnesty International once again called on Iranian authorities to “unconditionally and immediately release trade unionists. The statement reads:
“As a member of the ILO, Iran has an obligation to respect, promote and to realize the principles and rights set out in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up and to strengthen its application of the fundamental rights contained in the ILO Core Conventions. This includes the right to form and join trade unions, the right to strike, and the right to collectively bargain, … With the responsibility of membership of the ILO’s Governing Body comes the responsibility on Iran to uphold the highest standards of labour rights, to meet fully its obligations as a member of the ILO and to cease intimidating and imprisoning those seeking to exercise these fundamental rights.”
The statement specifically mentions these seven names: 1) Ali Nejati 2) Reza Shahabi 3)Rasoul Bodaghi 4) Shahrokh Zamani and Mohamad Jarahi 5) Behnam Ebrahimzadeh 6) Fariboz Raisdana 7) Ali Akhavan.
A new website called “Remember Iranian Women” was launched last week. Among the first posts of the website, a short video clip soon went viral. The video shows prisoner of conscience, Nasrin Sotoudeh, meeting her two children during a cabin visit at Evin prison in Tehran.
While the Iranian Alliance of Motion Pictures Guilds (Khane-ye Cinema) [House of Cinema] insists that it is a legal entity with all the rights to continue operations, the Iranian Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance is quoted in Fars News as describing the organization as “illegal”.
Mohammad Hosseini stated, “Members of the cinema industry must form their own guilds just like other guilds in the country and hold elections…meanwhile there are some activities such as holding educational courses, organizing movie critique and analysis sessions and etc. that do not fit within guild activities.” The Islamic Republic Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance has also announced that “a new organization is planned to be founded according to a new statute.”
A photo posted on Fars News shows a defaced sign leading to the House of Cinema in Tehran.
Pro-regime director Farajollah Salahshour, who has the record of directing heavily funded TV series for the Islamic Republic Broadcasting Service (IRIB), slammed the House of Cinema, accusing its members of being traitors,
“It has been 33 years of nothing other than betrayal and filth from the House of Cinema and its supporters.” Salahshour added, “It’s stupid to think we can attract the elements of the House of Cinema and lay out red carpets for them, as we shall never forget the sedition* of 2009, the Berlin Conference, their relationships with foreign embassies and entities such as Soros foundation.”
(*‘Sedition’ is the term used by the Islamic republic and its loyal forces to refer to the protests that followed the 2009 presidential elections.)
Reports from Iran indicate that the head and the prosecutor of the special clerical tribunal have been changed to figures known to be more hardline.
Apparently the move has been at the directive of Ayatollah Khamenei’s office to further contain the dissidence posed by opposition clerics.
Master ney player, Hassan Kasaie, passed away on Thursday, June 14. Less than 12 hours later, at four in the morning, his body was buried in secret. The section of the cemetery in Isfahan where he was buried had been apparently closed to new additions for years. The late Maestro Kasaie’s son told reporters that “special circumstances” forced the family to consent to these arrangements.
Since the protests of 2009 there have been similar stories of celebrities or well-known figures buried in the wee hours without any prior notice, including the cinema star and director, Iraj Ghaderi, veteran actress, Hamideh Kheirabadi (Nadereh), and humanitarian and democracy activist, Haleh Sahabi. (More on the story from the Persian-Dutch Network…)
Iranian students in the Netherlands received worrying letters from the Immigration and Naturalization Office telling them their visas would not be processed until the government made an assessment of the ramifications of the new sanctions levied against Iran. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uri Rosenthal, has since stated that visas for study and short stays would be handled as usual, but consideration of other visas will be suspended. This includes visas for PhD research and all work.
An online petition has been issued: Stop the Unjustified Embargo of Residence Permit Applications for Iranian Nationals.
UPDATE: EU Parliament member Marietje Schaake has shared her attempts to get some clarity on the situation in the Netherlands. Her questions are posted on her site and can be accessed by clicking here.
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.