Farvardin 9 1399 - March 28 2020
Covid-19 cases in Iran rise to 32,322, death toll hits 2,378

The US has once again extended a waiver allowing Iraq to import Iranian electricity and natural gas, but at the same time intensified its sanctions against Iran despite the coronavirus pandemic which is infecting more and more Iranians. Morgan Ortagus, a US State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday that "Iraq is permitted to engage in financial transactions related to the import of electricity from Iran" under a US-issued sanctions waiver. -Press TV 03/27/20

Commentary: Trump's Refusal to Relax Iran Sanctions in the Era of COVID-19 Threatens Everyone

In my 15 years as an advocate for the rights of the people of Iran, I have never been more concerned for the lives of so many people. Iran's 85 million people are dying from the coronavirus at a rate some officials say is as often as 1 every 10 minutes. In the worst-case scenario, 3.5 million people could die, according to a study from Iran's prestigious Sharif University. -Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI 03/27/20

'I won't survive': Iranian scientist in US detention says Ice will let Covid-19 kill many

Dr Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor, was acquitted in November on federal charges of stealing trade secrets related to his academic work with a university in Ohio. Although the US government lost its case on all charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has kept him indefinitely detained since the trial. Now he's speaking out about the "inhumane" treatment that could cost him his life. -Sam Levin, Guardian 03/27/20

The Ghoulish Opposition To Sanctions Relief For Iran

The Trump administration has gone out of its way for years to make humanitarian channels as difficult to use as possible, and even now the limited Swiss channel is inadequate for Iran's needs in the middle of the pandemic. Iran hawks know all of this, and in their more unguarded moments they exult in the horrors they have unleashed on the Iranian people, so no one should take their protestations seriously when they argue for keeping murderous sanctions in place. -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 03/27/20

In Iran, false belief a poison fights virus kills hundreds

"Other countries have only one problem, which is the new coronavirus pandemic. But we are fighting on two fronts here," said Dr. Hossein Hassanian, an adviser to Iran's Health Ministry who gave the higher figures to the AP. "We have to both cure the people with alcohol poisoning and also fight the coronavirus." -AP 03/27/20

The nationalist response to the coronavirus

The Trump administration instead evidently sees Iran's suffering from COVID-19 as an opportunity to turn the screws of "maximum pressure" even farther and make Iranians suffer even more. In a policy that has reverted to a sort of malevolent autopilot, the U.S. response to the pandemic's hit on Iran has been to pile on still more sanctions punctuated with more verbal attacks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 03/27/20

US extends Iraq waivers but intensifies Iran sanctions as COVID-19 breaks records

The fresh US sanctions were imposed on the same day the novel coronavirus infected a record-high number of people in Iran. According to Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, 2,926 new cases of infection were confirmed in the 24 hours to Friday noon. He said 144 people also died in the 24-hour period, increasing the death toll to 2,378. The spokesman said the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 32,332. -Press TV 03/27/20

Iran Reports Record Number Of New COVID-19 Cases As Travel Ban Imposed

Stepping up its fight against the new coronavirus outbreak, Iran has begun banning people from leaving their cities and requiring those who are already on Persian New Year trips to return to their hometowns at the earliest opportunity. Iran has announced 157 new deaths from the coronavirus, raising the official toll to 2,234, as a ban on intercity travel came into effect amid fears of a second wave of infections in one of the world's worst-hit countries 03/26/20

'80 hours for 80mn campaign': Pressing US to ditch Iran sanctions amid outbreak

Amid a worldwide outcry against the United States' illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran, a popular campaign has been launched to pressure Washington into temporarily lifting the sanctions that are obstructing the Iranian people's efforts to curtail the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The '80 hours for 80 million campaign' has been launched on the New/Mode advocacy platform to promote this cause. 03/26/20

Without international aid, the coronavirus crisis in Iran will spread throughout South Asia

Saadi Shirazi, one of the prominent Iranian poets of the medieval period, once wrote, "Extending a hand in the hour of need is the mark of a true friend." Iran is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and economic sanctions simultaneously, and all its friends are in trouble. Then who can help? Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a tweet on March 22, called on the United States to temporary lift sanctions on Iran "till the COVID-19 pandemic is over." -Fatemeh Aman, Responsible Statecraft 03/26/20

AOC, Bernie Sanders, and other lawmakers send letter to Trump administration asking for Iran sanctions relief amid COVID-19 crisis

Nine members of Congress have signed on to a letter asking the Trump administration to suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran amid the COVID-19 crisis. The letter comes amidst a wider effort by activists to raise awareness of the issue and pressure the Treasury Department to take immediate action. 03/26/20

Zoroastrians In India Send Second Relief Shipment To Iran

The New Delhi Parsi Association has sent its second relief cargo, including medicine and medical equipment, to coronavirus-hit Iran, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-linked Fars news agency reported. Followers of the Iranian monotheist prophet, Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, (c. 1500 BC - 1000 BC) in India are called Parsis, or Parsees. The Parsis moved from Iran to India during the 7th century AD to flee persecution from Muslim Arabs who had conquered the Persian Empire. 03/26/20

American Navy Veteran Held In Iran Requests Humanitarian Evacuation For Treatment

The family of an imprisoned U.S. navy veteran in Iran who was allowed to go on a medical furlough said on Wednesday that he has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and called on the Iranian government to allow him to go home for medical treatment. In a Tweeter thread on March 26, the Free Michael White campaign said since being released on furlough, White has had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 including fever, fatigue, cough and shortness of breath. 03/26/20

Iran academics, management experts write to Rouhani, urge emergency measures against COVID-19

A group of Iranian academics and management experts have raised concerns over the widespread outbreak of a new coronavirus in the country, presenting the government with a list of emergency preventive measures that could be taken to stop further spread of the disease. In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, a number of university lecturers in the field of management studies as well as members of Iran's Management Association underlined the need for urgent and decisive preventive measures to curb the virus called COVID-19. -Press TV 03/26/20

Zarif slams Pompeo for spreading 'third-rate propaganda,' hatred amid coronavirus pandemic

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has blasted his American counterpart Mike Pompeo for keeping up a "third-rate propaganda" barrage against Tehran even at a time when the world is busy fighting a deadly coronavirus pandemic. "Even a pandemic won't stop @SecPompeo from spouting 3rd-rate propaganda," Zarif tweeted on Wednesday after the top US diplomat claimed that the government of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was "mishandling" the outbreak of the highly-contagious virus called COVID-19. -Press TV 03/26/20

Ex-F.B.I. Agent Who Vanished on C.I.A. Mission to Iran Is Most Likely Dead, U.S. Concludes

The retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, was said to be the longest-held American hostage in history. A scandal erupted inside the C.I.A. over his disappearance. Trump administration officials have concluded that Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007 on an unauthorized mission for the C.I.A., died while in Iranian custody, his family announced on Wednesday. -Adam Goldman, New York Times 03/26/20

Iran tightens protective measures, introduces travel bans to rein in coronavirus spread

Stepping up its fight against the new coronavirus outbreak, Iran has begun banning people from leaving their cities and requiring those who are already on Persian New Year trips to return to their hometowns at the earliest opportunity. Presenting its daily COVID-19 update on Wednesday, the Iranian Health Ministry said the number of deaths had increased by 143 to 2,077 since Tuesday. 03/25/20

Ease sanctions against countries fighting COVID-19: UN Human Rights Chief

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday called for an easing of sanctions against countries such as Iran to allow their medical systems to fight the disease and limit its global spread. Michelle Bachelet said humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be authorized for essential medical equipment and supplies to avoid the collapse of any national healthcare system. 03/25/20

Calls Grow For U.S. To Lift Iran Sanctions Due To Coronavirus Crisis

There are increased calls for the United States to suspend economic sanctions against Iran, which some believe hamper Tehran's ability to contain the deadly outbreak of coronavirus that has officially killed nearly 2,000 people. The United States has offered to help Iran but has shown no desire to ease crippling sanctions reimposed on Tehran shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump exited the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 03/25/20

Iran expert says corruption 'No. 1 national security threat in Iran'

Al-Monitor contributor and economic analyst Bijan Khajehpour highlighted corruption as a major reason why the Iranian government was so slow in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic during an exclusive webinar today with Al-Monitor President Andrew Parasiliti. "If I were in charge of Iran, I would clear corruption as the No. 1 national security threat in Iran," said Khajehpour. -Bryant Harris, Al-Monitor 03/25/20

Iranian expert on COVID-19: We are in the same boat

Bobby Naderi is a journalist and current affairs commentator based in Iran. In this video, he shares his personal experience and observations during the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, and calls on the U.S. to lift sanctions to soften the suffering of Iranians. -CGTN 03/25/20

In Iran, Coronavirus Is Suffocating an Already Strained Experimental Music Scene

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, the devastation it leaves in its wake is, for the time being, incalculable. In addition to the rising deaths, there are overloaded medical facilities, widespread layoffs, and countless impacts on everyday life: weddings on hold, kids home from school, festivals postponed, nightclubs closed until further notice. The ultimate effects of the disease are likely to be as much cultural as they are economic. -Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork 03/25/20

Iran's President Rohani claims number of coronavirus patients, deaths decreasing

President Hassan Rohani claimed on Tuedsay that the number of patients and deaths related to coronavirus is decreasing and this is promising. Speaking at a meeting of the National Task Force for Combating Coronavirus, the president said the number of the coronavirus-related patients being admitted at hospitals in different provinces is declining and the death toll is also slowing. 03/24/20

How Trump Sanctions on Iran Will Worsen the Pandemic

The toll of the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, which killed as many as one million people in the 1980s, is feared to pale in comparison to that of the coronavirus epidemic: Iranian researchers have estimated that the outbreak, which has already killed more than 1,500 people in the country, will peak around late May and could result in 3.5 million deaths. -Narges Bajoghli and Mahsa Rouhi, New York Times 03/24/20

Human rights groups call on Trump administration to end Iran sanctions amid COVID-19 crisis

Last week, over 25 groups called on the Trump administration to end its sanctions on Iran amid the COVID-19 crisis. The virus has been particularly calamitous for Iran: at the time this piece was written the country had 21,638 confirmed cases and 1,685 people had been killed by it. U.S. sanctions have no doubt worsened the situation, as they've weakened Iran's economy and thus made it more difficult to secure goods. 03/24/20

Collective punishment has always been the stated goal of Iran sanctions hawks

The coronavirus pandemic's impact in Iran, which already claimed over 1,800 lives and infected more than 23,000 people, is one of the world's more troubling examples of widespread infection, with insufficient medical resources to treat the victims and a staggering anticipated death toll. While public health experts and human rights advocates all point to the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" sanctions regime against Iran as contributing to the public health crisis, sanctions advocates in the Trump administration and at two ultra hawkish think tanks claim that the "humanitarian trade" sanctions exemption is sufficient to address Iran's medical needs. -Eli Cliftonn, Responsible Statecraft 03/24/20

Trump thinks Iran is on its knees. But COVID-19 may have given it an unprecedented path to the bomb

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believes the coronavirus has made Iran ripe for some bombing. Weakened by both sanctions and the pandemic, a window of opportunity exists to strike it militarily, he reportedly told President Donald Trump. But paradoxically, the pandemic may also have given Tehran an opportunity it neither desired nor faced earlier on. Trump's sanctions have already begun to shift Tehran's nuclear calculus. 03/24/20

Trump's callous sanctions risk tipping Iran over the nuclear precipice

Displaying the sort of unthinking bellicosity that has characterised his tenure as US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo chose last week - a time of unprecedented global turmoil - to impose yet more unilateral sanctions on Iran. This was akin to pouring petrol on a burning building, then waiting to see how big an explosion ensues. -Simon Tisdall, Guardian 03/24/20

COVID-19: Iran Deaths Jump To 1,812

Iran has again rejected the United States' offer of humanitarian assistance, with President Hassan Rohani saying that Washington should lift sanctions if it wants to help Tehran fight the coronavirus outbreak. "American leaders are lying.... If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions.... Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak," Rohani said in a televised speech on March 23. 03/23/20

New European Limits on Medical Gear Exports Put Iranians at Risk

As the world grapples with shortages of the medical equipment needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission has announced a new regulation that will establish export controls for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a category of goods that includes the face shields, gloves, masks, and other protective gear that help medical professionals limit their exposure to bacteria and viruses. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Bourse & Bazaar 03/23/20

MSF sends hospital and medical team to treat COVID-19 patients in Iran

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has sent a 50-bed inflatable hospital and an emergency team to Isfahan, in central Iran, to treat patients critically ill with coronavirus disease COVID-19. The inflatable hospital has been shipped by air from MSF's logistics hub in Bordeaux, France and is to be set up in the compound of Amin hospital in Isfahan. The unit is equipped to treat critically ill patients requiring constant medical supervision and care. 03/23/20

End US sanctions against Iran so that we can fight coronavirus with all our might

As Iran celebrates its new year, black death banner announcements hang from Tehran's eerily deserted squares. The virus has ravaged its way across the country in recent weeks, reportedly killing 1,135 and infecting more than 17,000 (many believe these figures underestimate the scale), making Iran one of the most impacted countries in the world, alongside Italy and China. The contagion has unfolded against the backdrop of an economic crisis that has made Iranians uniquely vulnerable. -Azadeh Moaveni and Sussan Tahmasebi, Guardian 03/23/20

Will Iran's economy collapse under coronavirus crisis?

There is no doubt that the current coronavirus crisis will undermine the Iranian economy and lead to a major contraction in the country's gross domestic product. Some early estimates project a contraction of up to 3%, though it is too early to offer a reliable assessment. The Iranian government has already announced a number of measures to support vulnerable social classes as well as businesses that will be hit hard by the current economic downturn. -Bijan Khajehpour, Al Monitor 03/23/20

In Letter to Foreign Colleagues, Iranian Artists Urge Action against US Sanctions

A group of Iranian artists engaged in various fields have written a letter to their colleagues in the foreign countries to raise awareness about the urgent need for collective action against the coronavirus epidemic and call for action against the US sanctions that have impeded Iran's battle with COVID-19. -IFP 03/23/20

The Coronavirus Through The Eyes Of 5 Iranian Photographers

With more than 20,000 reported cases as of Saturday afternoon, Iran has become one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has affected Iranian leadership, and data show the spread is far worse than reported. As the crisis worsens, NPR talked with a group of independent documentary photographers about their experiences on the ground. -NPR 03/23/20

IRAN: Leaders Highlight Iranians' 'Sacrifices' As Country Celebrates Subdued New Year

In messages marking the Persian New Year that falls amid a deadly coronavirus outbreak, Iran's supreme leader and president both acknowledged that the past year had been difficult. In his televised address on March 2, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country's citizens have made "exemplary" sacrifices in the battle against the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has infected 19,644 people and killed 1,433 in Iran as of March 20 -- making it one of the worst-affected countries in the world. 03/20/20

Helping Hands: Iranians Unite To Help Those Suffering From Coronavirus

Facing one of the world's worst outbreaks of coronavirus, Iranians in local communities are coming together to help those affected as the country battles a disease that has claimed the lives of nearly 1,300 people and infected more than 18,000 across the country, according to official figures on March 19. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 03/20/20

Persian New Year traditions transformed by coronavirus in Iran

The Persian New Year, or Nowruz, is a time of coming together in Iran. Alongside family, friends and strangers, Iranians take part in two weeks of rituals that include the spring equinox. Poetry is read and loved ones join one another in dance. Locals jump over bonfires to ward away sickness. Homes are cleaned, tables are symbolically rearranged. It's part of a string of customs to herald the spring and celebrate rebirth. This year, COVID-19 has transformed these traditions. -Tamara Qiblawi, CNN 03/20/20

'It was like a scary movie.' Coronavirus has forced Iran to take a hard pause

I HEAD OUT to take pictures of the coronavirus crisis in Tehran. In Iran we are used to crises and we adjust quickly to new realities. I put on latex gloves, place a mask over my mouth and nose, and pack a sterilizer in my camera bag. The new normal. Streets that would normally be bustling with people and cars are deserted. I try to breathe through my mask. It's suffocating. I feel as if I've stepped into some dystopian future. -Newsha Tavakolian, National Geographic 03/20/20

Trump administration piles on sanctions as the rest of the world helps Iran confront COVID-19

As Iran confronts a crisis that could kill millions of its citizens, much of the rest of the world, except for the United States, is coming to its aid. China, the original source of the novel coronavirus, has sent medical experts and planeloads of supplies to Iran, the third most affected country after China and Italy. Iran's neighbors, and sometime rivals, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, have also provided cash and goods, setting aside their other differences with the Islamic Republic. Britain, France, and Germany, the so-called E3, stepped forward, pledging $5.6 million... And what of the world's greatest power? -Barbara Slavin, Responsible Statecraft 03/20/20

While coronavirus ravages Iran, U.S. sanctions squeeze it

Iran has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, and things may get far worse... Under current circumstances, the researchers said, infections would not peak until late May. The death toll could be as high as 3.5 million. That figure might seem enough to stop anyone in their tracks. But this week, the United States announced that it would be expanding its sanctions on Iran, as well as on entities that aided the Iranian government in its trade in petrochemicals and other restricted activities. It's a strategy that worries allies and enemies alike. -Adam Taylor , Washington Post 03/20/20

Iraq, Iran, and the spectre of US sanctions

The Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign now appears to have Iraq in its sights, aiming to increase the economic pain experienced by Iran. European capitals should be alarmed at this new US trajectory - not least given the fragility of the Iraqi government and its efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group (ISIS). -Ellie Geranmayeh, Sajad Jiyad, ECFR 03/20/20

The immoral cruelty of the Trump administration's refusal to grant Iran sanctions relief amid its COVID-19 crisis

There is a growing consensus that - to prevent Iran from spiraling out of control from the coronavirus epidemic and causing untold harm to the Iranian people - the Trump administration must immediately relent in its use of sanctions and allow Iran the ability to combat the epidemic through the purchase of necessary medical supplies overseas and the provision of a robust social safety net for the average Iranian facing economic catastrophe. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 03/19/20

UK presses US to ease Iran sanctions to help fight coronavirus

The UK is privately pressing the US to ease sanctions on Iran to help it fight the growing coronavirus outbreak. Official figures published by the Iranian health ministry on Wednesday said 1,135 have so far died in Iran and 17,361 have been infected. A total of 147 were recorded as dying in the past 24 hours, a new daily record. The Iranian embassy in London appealed for sanctions to be lifted and warned the country's hospitals were badly overstretched.-Guardian 03/19/20

COVID-19: Iran Surpasses 1,000 Deaths With Highest 24-Hour Rise Yet

Iran's death toll from the coronavirus has reached 1,135, with 147 deaths over the past 24 hours -- the highest 24-hour rise yet -- state TV reported on March 18, as President Hassan Rohani defended his government's response to the outbreak. Iran has been the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, with a total of 16,169 confirmed cases, roughly 90 percent of the region's cases. 03/18/20

The Coronavirus Is Killing Iranians. So Are Trump's Brutal Sanctions.

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT is run by sociopaths. How else to explain the Trump administration's callous disregard for the lives of ordinary Iranians in the midst of this global coronavirus crisis? How else to make sense of U.S. officials doubling down in their support for crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, despite the sheer scale of the suffering? -Mehdi Hasan, Intercept 03/18/20

Will the Trump administration block Iran's request for an emergency loan to combat COVID-19?

For the first time in 60 years, Iran has requested a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), seeking emergency financing to support its efforts to combat COVID-19. On March 4, the IMF announced that it would make available up to $50 billion in financial assistance through its Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), a facility targeting "low-income and emerging markets." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Responsible Statecraft 03/18/20

Nasrin Sotoudeh: "If We're Going to Die, Let Us Be by Our Families' Sides"

At least three political activists in Tehran's Evin Prison have joined prominent imprisoned human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh's hunger strike demanding "freedom for all political prisoners" amid the country's deadly COVID-19 outbreak, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan told CHRI that his wife is aware of the dangers of going on hunger strike amid a deadly viral outbreak when Iranian prisons are lacking crucial medicines and sanitary supplies and that she had started the hunger strike only as a "last resort." -CHRI 03/18/20

COVID-19: Iran Warns Virus Could Kill 'Millions' As Death Toll Reaches 988

Iranian state television has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could kill "millions" in the Islamic republic if the public keeps ignoring health measures as the death toll spiked to almost 1,000. The warning was broadcast on March 17 in the afternoon, after the Health Ministry said 135 more people had been killed by the new coronavirus over the past day, a 13 percent spike that pushed the death toll to 988. 03/17/20

Iran needs sanctions relief

Most critics of U.S. sanctions miss this fundamental point: U.S. sanctions are doing much more than preventing Iran from importing the medicine and medical goods that it may need to tackle the virus. U.S. sanctions are proving a prohibitive bar to Iran providing the basic goods and services necessary for their people to survive this catastrophic epidemic. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 03/17/20

President Trump Should Ease Sanctions on Iran Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Right now, Iran is experiencing perhaps the worst outbreak of the coronavirus outside of China in the world. Over 800 have died, with more than 14,000 confirmed cases in the country. This major outbreak was due to two factors: government negligence in responding to the threat, and crushing U.S. sanctions that have greatly harmed Iran's public health sector. -NIAC 03/17/20

Iran has temporarily freed 85,000 prisoners, including political ones, amid coronavirus

Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners in response to the coronavirus epidemic, a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said only those serving sentences of less than five years had been freed, while political prisoners and others charged with heavier sentences linked to their participation in anti-government protests remained in jail. -Reuters 03/17/20

Metro Bank hit with fresh lawsuit by Iranian customers

Embattled lender Metro Bank has been hit with a fresh lawsuit by a group of Iranian customers who say their accounts were unfairly suspended without notice or explanation. The group of 17 claimants, who are expected to seek at least 1.5m pounds in damages, include dual British-Iranian citizens, Iranian citizens living in the UK and several UK-based businesses including an engineering firm and a consultancy. -Guardian 03/17/20

In search of junub, the hippie spirit of Iran's south

Among Iranian youths, junub carries much more meaning than just its literal definition of south. It has long been synonymous with an adventurous trip, a breath of fresh air and a sense of freedom. When winter cold comes to most of Iran, in its southern provinces young Iranians scatter around the remote beaches and mountains of the Persian Gulf islands. Here, they enjoy the company of other open-minded Iranians and relative safety to pursue their personal freedoms, engage in creative activities, exchange ideas and form long-term connections that last far beyond the beaches of Hormoz or Hengam. -Mykolas Juodele, Guardian 03/16/20

Reckoning with an Uncertain Future in Iran, and Outside It

My mother loves anecdotes, witty sayings, and little old tales that teach a life lesson. A favorite comes from her father, whom she loved dearly. The saying shows the imprint of a life lived in the Iranian countryside, under the rule of mercurial authorities: When you go to fill your water jugs, dip both in the stream at the same time. Otherwise, by the time one is filled, they might not let you use the stream anymore. -Ali Araghi, New Yorker 03/16/20

Iran's ambassador to UK reveals bilateral talks over 400m pounds debt

The Iranian ambassador to the UK says the British government is taking a new approach to the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, adding bilateral talks were taking place over the payment of an outstanding 400m pound debt owed by the UK to Iran. Hamid Baeidinejad said the two sides were looking at novel ways for the debt to be paid. -Guardian 03/16/20

Rohani rejects rumors about lockdown in Tehran, other cities as Iran's coronavirus deaths hit 724

President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed rumors that Iran is planning to put Tehran and other cities under quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak. Rouhani also said after a meeting with members of the government economic bureau as well as representatives of the private sector that talks were underway with neighboring countries to facilitate cross-border trade. 03/15/20

Cartoonist Jamal Rahmati uses Shahnameh characters to make animations on defeating coronavirus

has used characters from Persian poet Ferdowsi's magnum opus, the Shahnameh, to make an animation series named "The Seven Adventures of Coronavirus". "Rustam and Zakariya against Corona", the first part of the seven-episode comedy series, was released on Saturday. 03/15/20

Amid Coronavirus Chaos, U.S. and Iran Edge Closer to War

IF YOU LISTENED closely this week, behind the terrifying clamor of Covid-19 sweeping across the planet, you might've heard the sound of war nearly breaking out again between the United States and Iran. On Wednesday, the birthday of assassinated Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a barrage of rockets slammed into the Camp Taji airbase north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The attack killed two Americans and a Briton, while wounding 14 others. -Murtaza Hussain, Intercept 03/15/20

Bush and Obama eased sanctions on Iran during humanitarian crises, why isn't Trump?

The coronavirus is fast spreading around the world and Iran is now one of the main epicenters of this pandemic. The dire situation has now compelled Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to send a letter to United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, asking for the immediate lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran, saying they have made it virtually impossible for Iran to import medicine and medical equipment necessary to identify and treat coronavirus patients. -Negar Mortazavi, Responsible Statecraft 03/15/20

More Artists Summoned to Prison Amid Iran's Rising COVID-19 Death Toll: "They Want to Create Fear"

In addition to renowned filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, three members of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA)-Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi and Keyvan Bajan-have been summoned to prison as other inmates are being reportedly released to prevent more COVID-19 outbreaks, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. "I'm sure it upsets them very much that I made a new film without their permission," said Rasoulof in an interview with CHRI. "But it would be very childish for them to enforce a sentence in the middle of all these problems they're facing with the spread of the coronavirus." -CHRI 03/13/20

Iranians devastated by prospect of New Year under quarantine

The run-up to Persian new year should be one of the busiest periods for shopkeepers in the vaulted streets of Tehran's grand bazaar, the centre of commerce in the Iranian capital. But in the days before Nowruz, the biggest celebration in the Iranian calendar, there is scarcely a customer in sight. -Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times 03/13/20

How hawks are trying to shatter the Iran nuclear deal once and for all

If you visit the State Department's Iran page, you'll see an ominous clock counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the expiration of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran. The clock, and the embarrassing propagandistic script that accompanies it, reflects how far the State Department has fallen from the days when it laboriously worked to craft a deal to constrain Iran's nuclear program and open a window to resolve additional longstanding concerns with Iran's regional activities. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 03/13/20

Biden's vision for U.S. Middle East policy - a view from Europe

Former Vice President Joe Biden's remarkable resurgence as the probable Democratic presidential nominee has invited fresh scrutiny of his foreign policy views - not only in the United States, but across the world, including in Europe. When Biden recently presented his foreign policy vision, there were encouraging ideas about a return to diplomacy as a first, not last, resort of statecraft. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 03/13/20

Iran asks IMF for $5B in emergency funding to battle coronavirus as cases spike

The Central Bank of Iran has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $5 billion emergency funding to fight a coronavirus pandemic as the number of infections keeps growing in the country. The epidemic has so far killed 429 people in Iran and infected 10,075. In an Instagram post on Thursday, Abdulnaser Hemmati, governor of the Central Bank, said he had written to the IMF's head, Kristalina Georgieva, last week to stress Iran's "right to benefit from the fund's $50-billion Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI)." 03/12/20

Iran's Political Prisoners Remain in "Limbo," Untested for Coronavirus Despite Symptoms

One week after judicial officials announced they had released tens of thousands of prisoners to prevent more coronavirus outbreaks, peaceful political prisoners in Mashhad's Vakilabad Prison are in limbo and remain untested for COVID-19 even as they exhibit symptoms, according to their relatives. One political prisoner's relative told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that her father was being kept in a ward with other inmates who officials "suspected" had coronavirus despite the prison clinic doctor recommending that he be released on furlough. 03/12/20

Iran's First Vice-President, Three Minsters, Khamenei Aide Ill With Coronavirus

Iran's Revolutionary Guard affiliated Fars News Agency on March 21 published a list of senior officials and politicians who have tested positive or died from coronavirus (COVID-19). First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri is included among those who have tested positive and in isolation. 03/12/20

US Congress votes to limit Trump's war powers against Iran

The United States House of Representatives approved on Wednesday a War Powers Resolution aimed at limiting President Donald Trump's ability to wage war against Iran. The passage of the resolution was yet another rebuke of the president over his decision to order the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January amid escalating tensions with Tehran. -Al-Jazeera 03/12/20

Reading Richard Rorty in Tehran

When the American philosopher Richard Rorty arrived to deliver a lecture in Tehran on a summer night in 2004, he was surprised to discover that he could not get into the room. Some 2,000 enthusiastic Iranians, many of them students, had crammed into the venue's 200-seat auditorium to hear his talk on philosophy and democracy: sitting in the aisles, blocking the stairwell, and standing on the street outside. -Samuel Thrope, Nation 03/12/20

The Iran nuclear deal is facing a new threat

A March 3 report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is withholding access to two sites connected to its nuclear program and failing to cooperate fully to resolve questions relating to nuclear material has created a potentially problematic situation for states committed to preserving the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Peter Jenkins, Responsible 03/12/20

Amid uncertainty, Afghan youth cling tight to what they've gained

Young Afghans were hopeful for peace, but are concerned by political instability in Kabul and wary of a return to Taliban rule. All the uncertainty is raising anxiety among young Afghans, many of whom were children in the late 1990s, when Taliban rule forbade women from working and girls from attending school. -Scott Peterson, CSM 03/12/20

Calls for President Rohani to take helm of Iran committee fighting coronavirus

Calls have been growing for Iran's President Hassan Rohani to personally take charge of a crisis committee formed to manage the nationwide fight against a coronavirus epidemic that has gripped several provinces. In a statement addressed to President Rohani on Tuesday, a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) outlined a set of emergency measures that the government could take to promote its efforts to rein in COVID-19, as the novel coronavirus is called. The epidemic has so far killed 354 people in Iran and infected 9,000 others. Some 2,959 people have also recovered. 03/11/20

Battling Coronavirus, Iran's Health Workers Complain Of Severe Shortages

Iran's health workers are on the front lines of the country's battle with the coronavirus, which according to official figures has claimed the lives of 291 Iranians and infected more than 8,000. But many of them lack protective wear to keep them safe while treating infected patients. The situation is said to be particularly dire for health-care workers in the northern province of Gilan, one of Iran's coronavirus epicenters, where at least five doctors and three nurses have died recently of the COVID-19 disease. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 03/10/20

Iran Says Tens Of Thousands Of Prisoners Released As Coronavirus Deaths Hit 237

Iranian authorities have released about 70,000 prisoners because of the new coronavirus outbreak in the country, judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said, as Iran reported 43 new deaths from the disease in the past 24 hours. Iranian authorities have closed schools and universities, suspended major cultural and sporting events, and reduced working hours across the country to slow the contagion. 03/9/20

U.S. "maximum pressure" on Iran hurts the women it claims to help

On 21 May 2018, less than two weeks after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched Washington's "New Iran Strategy" before an audience at the Heritage Foundation. In his remarks, he insisted that Iranian women's long struggle for inclusion and equality matters dearly to Washington. As if to prove the point, the U.S. State Department's social media feeds since that day have interspersed announcements of new choking sanctions with twinkling reminders of Iranian women's potential -Azadeh Moaveni & Ali Vaez, Responsible Statecraft 03/9/20

'Radioactive' director Marjane Satrapi reveals why she chooses not to work with US producers

Iranian-French filmmaker Marjane Satrapi, the first woman to be nominated for an animation Oscar with her film Persepolis, has called for more female role models on screen. "Women are half the population of the world so half the stories should be about us, but that's not the case," she said to an audience of rising writers and directors at the Glasgow Film Festival on Friday. "And the stories that are made about women have us as the cheated-on girlfriend or old and looking for love." -Screen Daily 03/9/20

As Tensions Rise With Iran, So Does Interest in Art It Inspired

The Iranian artist Shirazeh Houshiary works out of a luminous studio in a leafy corner of southwest London. Her misty abstract paintings evoke the galaxy, the cosmos, the afterlife. To make them, she floods the canvas with water, pours pigment over it and draws tiny marks over the dried surface. "Abstraction is one of the most sophisticated ways of coming to feeling, like a piece of music: You have tone, color, rhythm, so many things that touch you right inside," she said... -Farah Nayeri, New York Times 03/9/20

Jailed Iranian Activist Nasrin Sotoudeh Writes a Plea for Peace on International Women's Day

On this International Women's Day, as a deadly virus sickens my country, I throw my hands down and as a citizen, in a gentle voice, I ask the government to end their animosity with the world, to look at the world through the eyes of peace and to trust life and human beings. I ask human right activists to help us in our peaceful endeavor. I specifically extend my hand to American citizens. Our governments have been rivals for years, with little regards for us... -TIME 03/7/20

Political Prisoners Excluded from Mass Release as COVID-19 Spreads

Iranian authorities have excluded peaceful political prisoners from the mass prisoner release that was announced by Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi in late February 2020 to control the growing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the country, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. Political prisoners have been forced to remain in the country's overcrowded jails even as inmates around them have been transferred out due to suspected coronavirus infections or exhibited symptoms of it, sources with detailed knowledge of prison situations throughout the country told CHRI on the condition of anonymity. -CHRI 03/7/20

Hawkish Group Targets Medicine Sales to Iran Amid Coronavirus Crisis

DESPITE A MASSIVE coronavirus-related public health crisis, an anti-Iran pressure group with close ties to the Trump administration is urging major pharmaceutical companies to "end their Iran business," focusing on companies with special licenses - most often under a broadly defined "humanitarian exemption" - to conduct trade with Iran. -Eli Clifton, Intercept 03/6/20

'Suicide Prevention Committees' To Form In Iranian Universities

An official of a university in the Iranian capital Tehran has said that the Ministry of Science has ordered universities to form committees to prevent suicides and "harmful behaviors" in all universities. Gholamreza Latifi, Student Affairs Deputy of Allameh Tabatabai University told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on Wednesday that his university has already formed such a committee. 03/5/20

THE RUMI PRESCRIPTION: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life

A compelling cultural, spiritual and literary memoir, THE RUMI PRESCRIPTION is inspired by and sprinkled with new original translations of one of the finest mystic poets of all time. It is at once a smart and tender father-daughter story, an intriguing tale of spiritual pilgrimage, a delightfully eccentric self-help manual, and an inspiring account of hope and survival through the healing power of love and poetry. 03/4/20

Iranian Instrument maker Zolfaqar Beitaneh picked as Living Human Treasure

The South Khorasan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (SKCHTHD) has selected dotar maker Zolfaqar Beitaneh as a Living Human Treasure. The 58-year-old master, who lives in Ferdows, South Khorasan Province, has also skills in crafting a kind of reed flute, which is used in the folk music of Khorasan. 03/4/20

IAPAC Proudly Endorses New Slate of Iranian American Candidates

Today, the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) proudly announces its support for a new slate of Iranian American candidates running for federal, state, and local office. The latest list of endorsements includes Alan Khazei and Sima Ladjevardian for U.S. Congress, Kimi Abernathy for Tennessee State Senate, Ahsha Safai for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC), and Nima Rahimi for San Francisco DCCC. 03/4/20

Banned Iranian Director Mohammad Rasoulof Wins Top Prize At Berlin Film Festival

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival for his film titled There Is No Evil, which he made despite being forbidden to do so by the government in Tehran. Rasoulof was not present at the February 29 ceremony to receive the Golden Bear award for the film, which tells four stories loosely connected to the use of the death penalty in Iran and dealing with personal freedom under tyranny. 03/1/20

Hawks' feigned push to restart diplomacy with Iran is actually an effort to kill the nuclear deal

As the Trump administration's term in office nears its end, U.S. hawks are gearing up for a final showdown in hopes of dealing a death blow to the remains of the JCPOA - the nuclear deal between the U.S., other major world powers, and Iran. News of agreement between Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) - both opponents of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran - on a legislative vehicle that would craft the outlines of a "new" nuclear accord indicates that the showdown may well take in the halls of Congress. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 02/26/20

Census 2020 "Write in Iranian" Campaign Launch

Today, Pars Equality Center (Pars) announced its Write In Iranian campaign for the upcoming 2020 Census. Pars is partnering with the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) in an effort to increase awareness among the Iranian American community about the importance of participating in the upcoming census. 02/19/20

Iranahayer Exhibition: Iranian-Armenian artists display works in Tehran

The Mehrsun Art Gallery in Tehran is showcasing a collection of works by a group of prominent Iranian Armenian artists in an exhibition entitled "Iranahayer". Armenian Ambassador Artashes Tumanyan, Music Museum of Iran Managing Director Ali Moradkhani and Iranian Artists Forum director Majid Rajabi-Memar attended the opening ceremony of the exhibit on Friday. 02/16/20

How Iran's millennials are grappling with crippling US sanctions

As someone who has studied the lives of Iran's working classes, I know just how damaging economic warfare has been. It's hit young Iranians, who comprise a large portion of the population, particularly hard. High rates of inflation - on the order of 38.6% over the past 12 months - and a youth unemployment rate of 28.6% have drastically reduced their ability to purchase basic goods and feel any semblance of financial security. -Manata Hashemi, The Conversation 02/14/20

"Stop Trying to Destroy Me and My Family": Writes Iranian American Businessman from Tehran's Evin Prison

In a letter from Evin Prison in Tehran where he has been held since October 2015, Iranian American businessman Siamak Namazi asked Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi why his requests for furlough have been repeatedly denied while those around him continue to be allowed to go on temporary leave. "For the past four years, while enduring punishment for a crime I did not commit, I have been trying to restore my rights with the help of almighty God within the laws of our beloved country," wrote Namazi in a letter that was published in Persian on February 7, 2020 02/9/20

Sanctions and domestic constraints cripple Iran's startups

The Iranian startup ecosystem is deteriorating after a boomlet lasting from 2012 - 2016 as sanctions and domestic restrictions create new challenges and force businesses abroad. The startup environment started to take a structured shape in Iran from 2012 - 2013 thanks to the initiatives taken by a number of universities, visionary individuals and the return of foreign-educated Iranians and the diaspora. -Mohsen Tavakol, Atlantic Council 02/7/20

The Amazing Windcatchers of Yazd: Talk by Dr Susan Roaf - March 4, 2020 in London

We take so much for granted when we look only at the visible structures of buildings, but windcatchers demonstrate that their invisible attributes may often be more important. Their story in Yazd reaches out in many directions, showing how one apparently simple design feature links us to many aspects of the physical, historic and political past of the whole region. 02/6/20

Pars Equality Center CY 2019 Achievements

Pars Equality Center's mission is to catalyze social, civic and economic integration of immigrants from Persian-speaking and other countries into American society. As a community-based social and legal services organization, Pars Equality Center is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to helping the Iranian-American and other Persian-speaking communities realize their full potential as informed, self-reliant, and responsible members of the American society. 02/5/20

"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness" wins grand prize at Sundance Film Festival

"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness" directed by Iran's Masud Bakhshi received the "World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic" award at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday February 1st, 2010. Filmmaker Massoud Bahkshi brings aesthetic energy and dramatic intensity to a story that unfolds over a few hours and almost entirely within the studio. 02/3/20

Winner of the Farhang Foundation's 2020 Nowruz Banner Design Competition: Setareh Feylizadeh

This year's winning design was awarded to Iranian artist Setareh Feylizadeh from Paris, France. "Participating in a competition such as this, especially one which connects us to our roots, cultures, and traditions, has been so rewarding." said Feylizadeh. "The ultimate prize of winning this competition is the chance to connect with another community of Persians in another part of the world by spreading the message of Nowruz, which bonds us together and brings us closer to one another. 01/24/20

Iranian Female Sprinter Farzaneh Fasihi Dreams Of Reaching Olympics

Female sprinter Farzaneh Fasihi, dubbed the Wind Girl, comes close to fulfilling her dream of reaching the Olympic Games. Fasihi has recently secured her place at the 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships, running 7.29 second time in the 60 meters event. She has become the first Iranian woman to participate at the World Athletics Indoor Championships. 01/21/20

Sanctions, Scarcity, and the Depressing Reality of Iranian Healthcare

When I visited Iran this summer, severe panic attacks, depression, and anxiety-longstanding byproducts of post-traumatic stress disorder-caused me to seek out a trauma therapist. After weeks of contacting Iranian pharmacies, hospitals, charities, and relief organizations, my prescriptions for Zoloft, Xanax, Ativan, and Clonazepam remained unfilled. Since the United States exited the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA) and imposed new sanctions, this kind of shortage has become commonplace. -Younes Mahmoudieh 01/18/20

2020: Millennium of Persian Poet Ferdowsi

Anniversaries are important; they celebrate legacies and signify presence and continuity. This year, 2020, marks the 1000th anniversary of Ferdowsi's death. This renowned Persian poet died at age 81 in 1020, more than five centuries before Shakespeare was born. Ferdowsi has not only endured for a thousand years but has also defined the very identity and language of his own country - Iran. This is, indeed, a great achievement for a poet or for any person, for that matter. -Rasoul Shams 01/13/20

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last updated on Fri Mar 27 11:01:21 EDT 2020