Farvardin 9 1399 - March 28 2020
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 3/27/20

'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 3/27/20

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 3/27/20

'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. 3/26/20

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 3/26/20

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. 3/26/20

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. 3/25/20

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 3/25/20

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 3/25/20

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 3/24/20

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. 3/24/20

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 3/23/20

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 3/23/20

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 3/23/20

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 3/20/20

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 3/20/20

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 3/19/20

As Coronavirus Death Toll Continues to Rise in Iran, Global Calls Mount for US to Lift 'Immoral' Sanctions

As the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise in Iran, one of the world's most impacted countries, global pressure is mounting on the Trump administration to ease economic sanctions that Iranian officials and other critics charge has hampered the government's ability to manage the public health crisis. -Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams 3/19/20

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 3/18/20

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 3/18/20

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 3/17/20

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 3/17/20

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 3/17/20

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 3/17/20

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 3/15/20

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 3/13/20

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. 3/12/20

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 3/12/20

US shamelessly denies blocking Iran-bound food, medicine: Foreign Ministry

Tehran says the United States has blocked the entry of foodstuffs and medicine into Iran through its unlawful sanctions, but shamelessly denies doing so. Asked about the impact of US sanctions on Iran's fight against the virus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, "The oppressive and illegal American sanctions, which [have been imposed on Iran] within the framework of the 'maximum pressure' campaign, have affected public welfare and health in Iran." -Press TV 3/11/20

'World must push US to lift sanctions as Iran fights coronavirus'

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has called on Muslim nations and other countries to take a stand against America's unilateral sanctions against Iran and push for the swift lifting of the restrictive measures, which are hampering the country's fight against a coronavirus outbreak. Larijani expressed dismay at the inhumane anti-Iran bans in letters addressed to the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the head of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, and the speakers of the parliaments of Muslim and Asian states. -Press TV 3/10/20

European Film Community Protests Mohammad Rasoulof's Imminent Arrest

Figureheads from the European film industry have gathered to protest the imminent incarceration of Iranian film director Mohammad Rasoulof, whose film "There Is No Evil" won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale, which he was unable to attend because of a government ban on travel. -IndieWire 3/10/20

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 3/9/20

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 3/7/20

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 3/7/20

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 3/6/20

Families Urge Judiciary Chief to Include Jailed Conservationists In Mass Prisoner Release

The families of eight conservationists imprisoned in Iran on trumped-up charges have called on Iranian Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi to release them on furlough along with the some 54,000 other prisoners who were released in March 2020 after rights organizations expressed serious concerns for their safety amid the country's deadly COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. 3/6/20

Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Renowned Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof Summoned to Prison

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) strongly condemns the Iranian judiciary's decision to put internationally acclaimed filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof in harm's way by summoning him to prison when thousands of prisoners are being released to prevent coronavirus transmissions. "Yet again we're witnessing the cruel lengths judicial officials will go to stifle peaceful criticism of state policies," said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi. "Filmmakers and free speech advocates everywhere should loudly call for this absurd sentence to be rescinded." 3/5/20

US would lift medical sanctions if its virus help offer were genuine: Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani has rejected as insincere the United States' offer of help to Iran in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic, saying Washington should first lift its sanctions on medical supplies if it really seeks to help the Islamic Republic. "Our people know well that you are lying, that you are not telling the truth," Rouhani said addressing the United States, during a cabinet session in Tehran on Wednesday. -Press TV 3/4/20

Iran Judiciary Says All Political Prisoners Free Of Coronavirus

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman on Tuesday denied reports that some political prisoners including British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe have contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) in prison and said all of them are in "perfect health". In a live interview on the state-run television on Tuesday Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff and other political prisoners including Neda Naji, Hengameh Shahidi and Zia Nabavi are in perfect health despite some reports. 3/3/20

Sanctions-hit Iran struggles to make cancer drugs

As the new coronavirus spreads in Iran, many people have struggled to find medicine -- an issue linked to sanctions reinstated by the United States in 2018 after it withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal. -AFP 3/2/20

'I'm not a terrorist': Iranian Canadian who lost wife in Iran plane crash denied entry to U.S.

When Iranian-born Canadian citizen Farzad Alavi was denied entry to the U.S. on Jan. 10, he said a border officer told him the reason was his past mandatory military service in Iran - which the officer claimed effectively linked him with terrorists. "They're telling me I'm a member of a terrorist organization. It's very, very difficult for me to digest," said Alavi. -Sophia Harris, CBC News 3/2/20

Grave Concerns for Prisoners in Iran Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) is extremely concerned by reports that prisoners in Iran lack access to medicines as well as hygiene and sanitary products amid a rapidly rising death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in the country. "We're receiving disturbing reports that Iranian authorities are neglecting their domestic and international legal obligations to protect prisoners from contracting COVID-19 during this health crisis," said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi. -CHRI 3/1/20

Coronavirus: Citing Crowded Prisons, Husband Of Renowned Attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh Calls for Iranian Release of Political Prisoners

Reza Khandan, a women's rights activist and the husband of prominent imprisoned human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, has called on Iranian authorities to release his wife and other prisoners to the extent possible to protect them from contracting the potentially deadly COVID-19 coronavirus in overcrowded prisons and detention centers. -CHRI 2/27/20

Amid Coronavirus Outbreak In Iran, Political Prisoners Should be Granted Furlough, Say Relatives

Relatives of prisoners of conscience who were imprisoned in Iran after publicly calling on the supreme leader to resign have called on Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi to allow their loved ones to go on furlough (temporary leave) to protect them from contracting the potentially deadly coronavirus. The families also called on officials "to put all prisons under quarantine in order to stop the spread of this dangerous disease among the prisoners." 2/26/20

U.S. Sanctions Hamper Iran's Battle to Contain Coronavirus

Iran is racing to curb the rapid, deadly spread of the new coronavirus, but these efforts are complicated by tight economic restrictions imposed by the United States and frustrations among an increasingly embattled population. Concerns that Iran is ill-equipped to handle the burgeoning health crisis have been compounded by Iran's trade isolation that has resulted from sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump's administration. -Tom O'Connor, Newsweek 2/25/20

Ailing Iranians suffer as sanctions hit medical supplies

Aged 49, Iranian diabetic Parviz Sadeghi appears closer to 70 with deep wrinkles surrounding his clear blue eyes and sunken cheeks testifying to shortages at a time of intensifying medical crisis. After a six-hour wait, he is relieved but exhausted as he emerges from a pharmacy in the capital Tehran with insulin -- an increasingly scarce necessity, as US sanctions bite. -Digital Journal 2/25/20

Trump's Muslim ban: Iranian-Americans are treated like the enemy within

"I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you," US President Donald Trump said on Twitter in Farsi last month, presumably talking to the Iranian people. My reaction as an Iranian-American was one of sheer rage. This is a president who issued a ban targeting Iran and other Muslim countries, imposed devastating sanctions on the people of Iran, and threatened to bomb Iran's cultural sites. His administration has detained and deported Iranian students with valid visas, and treated Iranian-Americans, including US citizens, as suspects. -Azadeh Shahshahani, Middle East Eye 2/21/20

Trump's new proposal for allowing more humanitarian trade with Iran is only making it worse

Now, the Trump administration - itself faced with growing public concern over the effect of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian people - is touting a humanitarian channel put in place through coordinated efforts with the Swiss government to ensure the Iranian people's access to humanitarian goods. However, a discerning look at this channel indicates that the net effect may well cause further distress to Iran's access to humanitarian items. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 2/21/20

US sanctions 'targeting' patients, say doctors at Iranian cancer hospital

Medical staff at Iran's top cancer hospital tell FRANCE 24 their patients are paying the price of geopolitical strategies as the country's health system struggles to cope under crippling US sanctions. The economy tops the agenda as Iran heads to the polls in Friday's general elections. -France 24 2/20/20

"Torture" and "Sexual Threats" Detailed in Letters by Jailed Former UN Environment Consultant

A female former UN Environment consultant's complaints of physical and psychological torture at the hands of her male interrogators were ignored by Iranian judicial officials, and forced "confessions" obtained as a result of torture were used to imprison her and seven fellow wildlife conservationists, according to her newly published letters from Tehran's Evin Prison. -CHRI 2/20/20

Why is the Justice Department trying to defend the officers who killed Bijan Ghaisar?

THE TRUTH about the death of Bijan Ghaisar, the young accountant shot to death by U.S. Park Police officers in 2017, has not become less true in the 26 months since he died. Ghaisar's killing was unwarranted, unjustified and unjust. That fact remains unchanged despite the meandering two-year FBI investigation, despite the Justice Department's gutless decision last year against prosecuting and despite the legal mumbo-jumbo now emanating from federal officials. -Editorial Board, Washington Post 2/20/20

Iran elections to be dominated by hardliners as young people refuse to vote: 'It's a joke'

This week will see 7,148 candidates vetted by Iran's unelected religious and legal authorities compete for 290 seats across 31 provinces. Much of the country's youth, particularly in the capital Tehran, plan to stay at home, foreshadowing what's expected to be the lowest voter turnout in years. -Natasha Turak, CNBC 2/19/20

Why Iran's reformists are likely to lose parliamentary vote

Apart from a few campaign posters in Tehran's main squares, there is little sign a parliamentary election is set to take place in Iran on Friday. The key vote will determine the direction of the country as it grapples with a worsening economic crisis and a punishing "maximum pressure" campaign by the United States, but there is little interest in the vote among Tehran's eligible voters. -Al Jazeera 2/19/20

Iran Sentences Eight Environmental Activists On Charges Of Spying For U.S.

Iran's judiciary says it has issued prison sentences for eight environmental activists, including an Iranian who also has British and U.S. citizenship, on charges of spying for the United States and acting against Iran's national security. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili says an Iranian appeals court issued "final verdicts" in their cases on February 18. -RFE/RL 2/18/20

PAAIA Launches Campaign to Combat Increasing Discrimination Against Iranian Americans

Amid mounting tensions between the U.S. and Iran that have resulted in renewed discrimination of Iranian Americans, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today launched Iranian Americans Are American to reaffirm that Iranian Americans are, first and foremost, American. This campaign launches as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admitted to inappropriately targeting Iranian Americans and breaching agency protocol last month when they detained hundreds of Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canadian border simply because of their national origin. 2/18/20

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 2/14/20

Iran Election Campaign Starts With Thousands Barred From Standing

The weeklong campaigning for Iran's parliamentary elections kicked off with more than 7,000 candidates vying for the 290 seats in the legislature, state TV reported on February 13. The February 21 elections are widely seen as a contest between hard-liners and conservatives after most pro-reform and moderate candidates were disqualified. -RFE/RL 2/13/20

Trump's Threat to Iran's Cultural Sites Hasn't Gone Away

Think about the cultural sites around the world that are important to you. For most Americans, these sites would include the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Rushmore, among others. Imagine if these sites were targeted and destroyed by our enemies, nations that decided to throw off the yokes of the laws of armed conflict and destroy sites that are a testament to American values. -Anisha Hindocha, Inkstick 2/13/20

Between Trump and Tehran, the Iranian people continue to suffer

The clerical government in Iran celebrates another anniversary this week. It's both an occasion for critics to call attention to the Islamic Republic's perpetual legitimacy crisis, and for neutral observers to puzzle over the revolutionary government's tenacity. Tehran's opponents are correct in pointing out that its legitimacy crisis is at its deepest since 2009. Yet, there is little to indicate that the Islamic Republic is about to fall - or that it will be replaced with a democratic system if it does. -Trita Parsi, Middle East Eye 2/13/20

Iran Moves to Silence Journalists, Activists Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

The intelligence arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is summoning journalists, raiding their homes and confiscating their electronic devices in a renewed campaign to silence criticism of state policies ahead of Iran's parliamentary elections later this month. "Muzzling journalists, detaining activists, and disqualifying parliamentary candidates will not silence dissent in Iran, as the recent protests have shown," said the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) Hadi Ghaemi. -CHRI 2/12/20

Commissioner: Officials overzealous in Iranian border stops

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said Tuesday that border officials in Washington state "got a little overzealous" when they detained Iranian and Iranian-American travelers at the U.S.-Canada border last month. As many as 200 people of Iranian descent were held up for as long as 12 hours as they crossed the border from Canada into Washington state the weekend of Jan. 5-6, following a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. -AP 2/12/20

Iranian-Americans in the Age of Trump, the Travel Ban, and the Threat of War

I was born and raised in the United States to Iranian parents and, like many children of immigrants, grew up with a sense of alienation from my fellow Americans. Though raised in the most populace location of the Iranian diaspora in Southern California, my hyphenated identity seemed to be in conflict with itself as Iran was consistently vilified in U.S. media and politics. But rather than attempt to hide my identity, I became determined to move beyond the surface politics to understand more about Iran and, ultimately, to try to bridge the divide between my country of heritage and the country I called home. -Assal Rad, Common Dreams 2/11/20

Detained Protestors in Iran: Beaten, Tortured, Forced to "Confess"

Detainees held in Iran since the November 2019 street protests-including juveniles-are being beaten, forced to make self-incriminating statements and held in inhumane incarceration conditions, and their families are not being informed of their whereabouts and condition, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned from first-hand accounts in Iran. CHRI calls upon the Iranian authorities to exercise appropriate oversight in all detention centers and immediately -CHRI 2/11/20

Absence of US sanctions on Iran's healthcare is 'a lie'

Washington claims imports of medicine are exempted, but the ground reality says the opposite, as tens of thousands of Iranians in need of emergency medical care are slowly inching towards death. A few months ago, Zahra, a 48-year-old Iranian woman living in the northeastern city of Mashhad, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her disease is one of the most common cancers in Iran where patients have for years been relying on imported drugs for medical treatment... -Maysam Bizaer, TRTWorld 2/10/20

"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 2/9/20

Iranian actors call on Rouhani to allow cinema legend to come home

Iranian actors are calling on President Hassan Rouhani to allow legendary Iranian actor Behrouz Vossoughi to come home from self-exile in the United States, but the requests on behalf of the iconic actor have fallen on deaf ears. With more than 90 cinematic and television films, Behrouz Vossoughi is arguably Iran's most versatile actor. At the age of 82, he still has many fans across the country - most of whom are currently raising their voices to ensure the model-turned-actor-turned-exile comes back to Iran after 40 years in the United States. -Rohollah Faghihi, Al-Monitor 2/7/20

Iran's journalists - twofold victims of state lie about Ukrainian jet crash

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) deplores the harassment of dozens of Iranian journalists, who have been interrogated, threatened, searched and forced to close social media accounts for daring to protest about the fact that they have been discredited as information sources because they reported a state lie as the truth. 2/7/20

Lawmakers say CBP admits breaching protocol targeting Iranian Americans

Customs and Border Protection admitted to inappropriately targeting Iranian Americans and breaching agency protocol last month when travelers were held at the northern US border, according to lawmakers who met with government officials about the incident. Last month, reports surfaced that Iranian Americans were detained at the Blaine crossing in Washington state in the wake of the US killing of a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani. -Geneva Sands, CNN 2/6/20

Iranian intelligence agents raid homes of 4 journalists, confiscate equipment: CPJ

Iranian authorities should cease raiding journalists' homes and should return all material confiscated in recent raids, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On January 26 and February 3, intelligence agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran's political paramilitary force, raided the Tehran homes of journalists Maziar Khosravi, Yasaman Khaleghian, Moloud Hajizadeh, and Yaghma Fakhshami, according to news reports and a person familiar with the cases who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal. 2/6/20

Dissidents Sentenced to Prison for "Insulting" Supreme Leader Facing Additional Charges

Dissidents who were sentenced to prison in Iran after calling for the resignation of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are facing additional charges, an attorney representing some of them told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). On February 2, 2020, Judge Hadi Mansouri of Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province, sentenced eight people to prison terms ranging from 1-26 years on the charges of "forming an illegal organization" against the country's security and "propaganda against the state." -CHRI 2/6/20

Iran finds 3 editors guilty of defamation and spreading false news

Iranian authorities should immediately drop the false news and defamation charges against the editors of three news outlets, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Yesterday, Branch 6 of Tehran's Media Court, which is under the judiciary, found three local editors-in-chief--of the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), the Bultannews news website, and the energy news website NeftEMA--guilty of "spreading false news and defamation," according to reports by the official judicial news agency Mizan.. 2/5/20

Sanctions Are Not an Alternative to War

It was September 2017, and I was back home in Iran. A few weeks earlier, I had received a phone call that my father had fallen critically ill. He had for a year successfully managed a rare, incurable neural disease. Soon, he was hospitalized after a series of extensive brain hemorrhages and, while in the ICU, would develop a pulmonary infection that would ultimately claim both of his lungs. Treatment was not out of the question, but he urgently needed drugs that were distributed by European and American companies. -Keyvan Shafiei, American Prospect 2/5/20

Two Iranian Students Heading To Boston Colleges Challenge Removal From U.S.

Two of at least 10 Iranian college students who have been denied entry since August to study in the United States have filed civil rights complaints with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), saying they were wrongfully deported and mistreated by federal officials at Boston's Logan International Airport. Separate complaints were filed with requests for the agency to investigate the conduct of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials who the two said illegally denied them entry into the country. 2/4/20

Eight Dissidents In Iran Sentenced To Prison For Demanding Khamenei's Resignation

A court in Iran's second-largest city, Mashhad, has sentenced eight dissident political and civil rights activists to a total of 72 years in jail for calling for the resignation of the country's Supreme Leader. The eight individuals, along with six others, wrote an open letter in 2019, calling on the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down. -Radio Farda 2/4/20

Iranian Americans fear 'othering' as U.S.-Iran tensions escalate

Activist Hoda Katebi rarely takes a break from organizing. As tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalated in recent weeks, she became even busier. On a recent Sunday afternoon, the 25-year-old Iranian American sat in her Chicago apartment shifting between monitoring her Twitter feed, taking phone calls and texting via encrypted messaging: She and other organizers had word that an Iranian student was being detained at O'Hare International Airport. "This past week, I think I slept one night," she said. -PBS 2/4/20

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