Esfand 9 1399 - February 27 2021
NIAC Applauds Reintroduction of the NO BAN Act

NIAC Action issued the following statement after the reintroduction of the NO BAN Act, which would guard against any President issuing discriminatory immigration orders: "President Biden fulfilled his promise to end the Muslim ban on day one, but Trumpism and xenophobia remain strong forces in American politics. Just as Biden wiped away the ban, a successor administration could reimpose it without further action. That is why Congress needs to pass the NO BAN Act quickly and send it to President Biden for his signature. 2/26/21

Lawyer: French tourist detained in Iran on security charges

Iran has detained a French tourist for nine months, his lawyer said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of detentions of foreigners at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the West. The detainee's lawyer, Saeed Dehghan, described the charges against the French tourist held in Iran as "paradoxical," involving murky security-related accusations. He identified the male tourist only as a 30-something French citizen named Benjamin, declining to give any further details. -AP 2/25/21

Lawmaker: Three people killed in clashes in southeast Iran

Three people were killed over two days in clashes in the southeastern Iranian town of Saravan near the border with Pakistan, the semiofficial ILNA news agency reported. An angry mob stormed the district governor's office Tuesday, a day after shootings of fuel smugglers at the border left at least two people dead. -AP 2/24/21

Experts accuse Iran of rights violations in shooting down Ukraine airlines flight

Iran committed multiple human rights violations in shooting downing Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Flight PS752 last year and in the aftermath of the deadly attack, two independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council said on Tuesday. -UN News 2/24/21

The Future of Iran Depends on Instagram

A battle is raging inside the corridors of power in Iran. Not over sanctions, not over the country's nuclear programme, but over Instagram. The Facebook-owned app, along with WhatsApp, is one of the few Western social media apps to not be outright blocked in Iran, with Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and YouTube only accessible via VPNs. -Mohammed Rasool, VICE 2/23/21

Family of US citizens held in Iran press for their release

The families of United States citizens detained in Iran are pushing President Joe Biden's administration to secure their release before talks about returning to a 2015 nuclear deal. Iranian authorities have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, including several US citizens, in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Rights groups accuse Iran of trying to use the detentions to win concessions from other countries, though Tehran dismisses the charge. -Al Jazeera 2/23/21

Iran's Political Prisoners Are Dying Due to Denial of Medical Care

The death of prisoner of conscience Behnam Mahjoubi, who died on February 21, 2021, after untreated medical conditions that included serious neurological issues, reflects the continued crisis in Iran's prisons, where prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, are denied proper medical treatment. 2/23/21

White House says U.S. communicating with Iran over detained Americans

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday the United States had begun to communicate with Iran over the country's detention of American citizens, calling the matter a "complete and utter outrage". Sullivan told CBS News' "Face the Nation" that it was a "significant priority" of President Joe Biden's administration to get those Americans "safely back home." -Reuters 2/22/21

Iranian women's ski coach barred from going to world championships by husband

Samira Zargari, the coach of the Iranian women's Alpine skiing team, has been barred by her husband from travelling to Italy for the world skiing championships, according to reports in the Iranian press. The squad left for Cortina d'Ampezzo, where the championships are being held, on Wednesday, but without Zargari, who was replaced by another athlete, Marjan Kalhor. -Guardian 2/19/21

Iranian journalist Nooshin Jafari begins 4-year jail term on propaganda and insult charges

Iranian authorities should immediately release Nooshin Jafari and stop imprisoning members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On February 16, police arrested Jafari at her home in Tehran and took her to the city's Qarchak Prison to begin serving a four-year sentence -CPJ 2/19/21

Iranian skier makes appeal for women's rights in her country

Iranian skier Forough Abbasi accomplished one goal Thursday merely by completing her giant slalom run at the skiing world championships. It made no difference to her that she crossed the finish line nearly 25 seconds behind American favorite Mikaela Shiffrin, the first-run leader. Still, Abbasi was just getting started. -AP 2/18/21

Sepi Shyne Paves a Way as the 1st Queer Iranian Elected Official

Sepi Shyne made history in November as the first out LGBTQ+ Iranian-American elected to public office in the U.S. Now, as a member of the West Hollywood City Council, where she's also the first queer woman of color to serve, she's fighting for social justice and inclusivity as well as changing the narrative around Iranians and Iranian-Americans. -Trudy Ring, Advocate 2/18/21

They Thought, Why Not Iran? The Decision Upended Their Lives.

In 2017, an Iranian-American couple drew up a list of cities in the United States and Europe where they could settle now that both their daughters had left for college. An extraordinary idea struck the couple, Emad Shargi and Bahareh Amidi Shargi. Move to Iran. They had an attachment to the language, culture and traditions of a homeland they had both left as children. They had traveled to Iran several times over the years and felt a welcoming vibe. -Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times 2/18/21

'We just want to play': Iran gamers battle reality of US sanctions

Iran's millions-strong legion of gamers revel in online worlds, but they have to fight daily real-life obstacles imposed by US sanctions in their quest to level up and keep playing. "It's a problem between governments and a pain for the consumer," said 24-year-old gamer and game journalist Amir Golkhani. "We have no political demands. We just want to play," he told AFP. -AFP 2/17/21

48 hours of border chaos: Inside a CBP crackdown on Iranian Americans

Hours after a U.S. military drone killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the most powerful men in Iran, the head of field operations for the border in Washington state gathered her senior staff on an emergency conference call. It was the first Friday in 2020 - still a holiday for many - and director Adele Fasano spoke from home about the email she'd just received from U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters advising "heightened vigilance" following the airstrike. -Lauren Gardner, Politico 2/16/21

Iranian Immigrants Place Hopes In Biden To Reverse Muslim Travel Ban

President Joe Biden says he is reversing the barriers to immigration the Trump administration imposed on several majority-Muslim countries, and the White House is reviewing just how to undo those complex restrictions. Among those most often rejected for visas in the last three years are Iranians, according to State Department figures. That has disrupted life for them and, in some cases, relatives already in the U.S. NPR's Peter Kenyon has this report. 2/15/21

The Impact of the Iran Nuclear Deal on Poverty in Iran

The Iran nuclear deal is once again becoming a focus of foreign policy discussions because of President-elect Biden's desire to rejoin it. A renewed deal and the sanction relief that would come along with it, could help the millions of Iranians who live in economic turmoil. Even a "freeze-for-freeze" policy - a temporary easing of U.S. sanctions in exchange for a temporary ceasing of nuclear activity on Iran's part, could help to stabilize the economy, especially in the wake of the disruption that COVID-19 has caused. -Brooklyn Quallen, Borgen 2/12/21

British-Iranian anthropologist who fled Iran accused of sexual abuse

A number of women have accused a prominent British-Iranian anthropologist who recently fled Iran of being a sexual predator who should not be allowed to continue working with women, or with the vulnerable groups that are a focus of his research. Kameel Ahmady, known for work on child marriage, female genital mutilation and LGBT communities in Iran, denies the allegations of sexual assault and harassment, which led to his suspension from Iran's Sociology Association. -Guardian 2/12/21

After U.S. Immigration Battle, Musician Kayhan Kalhor Returns To Iran

When Kayhan Kalhor first left Iran, at age 17, he walked - more than 2,500 miles, to Italy. He carried only two items with him: a small backpack and his main musical instrument, the kamancheh. This was during the Iranian Revolution. Kalhor was the only one of his family - who are of Kurdish descent - to leave the country. -Julia Gunther, NPR 2/11/21

Iranian Professor Jailed After Attending Training Course In Prague

A Revolutionary Court in Iran has sentenced a law professor to seven years in prison after convicting him of "cooperating with an enemy state." The U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported on February 8 that Reza Eslami, a professor at Tehran's Shahid Beheshti University, had been also banned from teaching and leaving the country. 2/9/21

36 Human Rights Groups Appeal for Release of Kurdish Detainees and Other Minorities in Iran

We, the undersigned 36 civil society and human rights organizations, call for the urgent attention of the international community to an ongoing wave of arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, and enforced disappearances by the Iranian authorities, targeting scores of people from Iran's disadvantaged Kurdish minority in the provinces of Alborz, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Tehran, and West Azerbaijan. -CHRI 2/5/21

Iranian family hoping to reunite in Kentucky now dealing with pandemic roadblocks

Fatemeh Alamdari has been fighting with the U.S. immigration system for years. In 2014, Alamdari won the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery, a program established by the Immigration Act of 1990 which gives 55,000 immigrant visas every year. The lottery granted visas for Alamdari and her two children, but not for her husband, Farshad Amirkhani. -LEX18 2/4/21

Iran: Human rights experts condemn execution of Baloch minority prisoner

United Nations independent human rights experts on Thursday, condemned the hanging of a prisoner from the Baloch minority in Iran, voicing fear that a "disturbing" recent increase in executions of community members "will continue". -UN News 2/4/21

Academic jailed in Iran pulls off daring escape back to Britain

A British Iranian dual national sentenced to nine years and three months in jail in Iran for co-operating with "a hostile state power" has smuggled himself out of Iran, escaping over the country's treacherous mountainous border, and is now living in London. In an interview with the Guardian, Kameel Ahmady explained he felt had no option but to flee after spending nearly 100 days in Evin prison, including a brutal spell in solitary confinement while he was being interrogated. -Guardian 2/3/21

How Iran lured a dissident from France to execution

In October 2019, Iranian dissident Ruhollah Zam was running a widely followed news site based in France, accompanied by his family and benefitting from refugee status as well as security in his country of exile. But just over a year later, on December 12, 2020, Zam was hanged in Iran, an execution that prompted international condemnation. -AFP 2/2/21

Local Iranian-American Optimistic About Reversal of Travel Ban on Muslim Nations

In his flurry of initial executive actions, Pres. Joe Biden reversed the "Muslim travel ban" implemented by the Trump administration. On Tuesday, NBC 7 spoke with an Iranian- American man in San Diego who's hopeful for the change but also feeling the effects of the damage already caused, which has kept families apart. -NBC 7, San Diego 1/27/21

Iran's president criticizes prosecution of telecom minister

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday criticized Iran's hard-liner dominated judiciary over last week's prosecution of the countrys telecommunications minister. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi was released on bail after he was summoned for prosecution. Judiciary officials cited his refusal to block Instagram and impose limitations on the bandwidth of other foreign social media and messaging systems. -AP 1/27/21

Iran blocks Signal messaging app after WhatsApp exodus

Iran's government has moved to block Signal after Iranians flocked to the messaging platform following privacy concerns from Facebook-owned WhatsApp. Starting on Monday, Iran-based users reported issues in connecting to the open-source Signal, which has been chosen by many as a more secure way of encrypted communication since a new privacy policy issued by WhatsApp earlier this month brought more scrutiny on the app's data collection practices. -Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera 1/26/21

Sanctions, visas, and the pandemic: One Iranian student's bumpy path to SF State

Visa interviews at consulates surrounding Iran - which has no United States embassy of its own - are hard to come by during the pandemic, but Hasti Jafari Jozani managed to nab one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in October, in a process that required her to quarantine there for two weeks. So when her visa was granted to study at San Francisco State University this spring, after she had already deferred fall admission and a prestigious scholarship, she jumped with joy. -Ida Mojadad, San Francisco Examiner 1/25/21

Petition to U.S. President Joe Biden: End Sanctions on Iran

In violation of legal bans on collective punishment, U.S. sanctions on Iran harm ordinary people, not the Iranian government. These crippling sanctions have robbed the people of their livelihood, violating individuals' right to health, making the Coronavirus pandemic more lethal, and causing unnecessary suffering and death. Many members of the U.S. Congress have expressed their urgent concern. -Action Network 1/22/21

These Photos Capture What Life's Been Like in Iran Under Trump's Sanctions

As Donald Trump's term as president ends, people around the world are anticipating what the incoming administration of President Joe Biden means for them. Nowhere is that more true than in Iran, where 80 million people have been labouring under the reality of economic sanctions for years. -Mohammed Rasool, Vice 1/22/21

The effect of US sanctions on Iran was global - and a global effort must end them

For nearly three years, the fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal has hung precariously in the balance. The Trump administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018, arguing that a policy of economic coercion, dubbed "maximum pressure", would deliver an improved agreement. But all it achieved was the hollowing out of the existing one. Europe, which has played a key role in preventing the JCPOA's total collapse, now must seize the opportunity to help revive and even strengthen it. -Ali Vaez, Guardian 1/22/21

Iranians demand a COVID-19 vaccine, not politics, from their leaders

When Iran's supreme leader banned U.S. and other Western-made COVID-19 vaccines this month, he did so even as his country's pandemic death toll nears 60,000 and its total caseload surpasses 1.3 million, making it one of the Middle East's worst-hit country and the 16th-most afflicted nation in the world. Khamenei's decision has sparked outrage, with a group of opposition politicians and activists insisting that a decision on the quality of available vaccines "should be the sole domain of the country's experts" -Los Angeles Times 1/21/21

Joy, Relief, and Healing as Biden Ends Trump's Racist Muslim Ban in Day One Executive Order

Muslim, African, and Arab Americans, and people around the world Wednesday celebrated President Joe Biden's rescinding of the racist Trump-era travel ban that mostly targeted immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries. The lifting of the so-called Muslim ban was one of numerous executive actions taken by Biden shortly after his inauguration and fufills a campaign promise he made to end the prohibition on "day one" of his administration. -Common Dreams 1/21/21

"Suffering" Iranian Retirees Joining Nationwide Protests Against Chronic State Failures

On January 10, 2021, Iranian retirees gathered in front of government buildings in at least 19 cities including-Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, and Yazd-to protest the government's lack of response to their demands. The protesters, who receive retirement checks from the State Welfare Organization's (SWO) pension fund, chanted slogans against state policies and officials at well-organized rallies. -CHRI 1/21/21

Iran's telecom minister appears before prosecutor

Iran's judiciary released the country's telecom minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi on bail Wednesday after he was summoned for prosecution by Iran's general prosecutor, state TV reported. The office of the general prosecutor had summoned Jahromi for prosecution over his refusal to block Instagram and other foreign social media messaging systems, according to earlier reports. It was unclear how much bail money Jahromi posted or when he might have to appear again. -AP 1/20/21

Iran jails U.S. businessman, possibly jeopardizing Biden's plans for diplomacy with Tehran

Only weeks after the U.S. election and three days after an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated, Iranian authorities convicted a U.S. businessman on spying charges, a family friend said. The man, Emad Shargi, 56, who is Iranian American, was summoned to a Tehran court Nov. 30 and told that he had been convicted of espionage without a trial and sentenced to 10 years, a family friend said. -CNBC 1/18/21

Iran Deems Signal 'Criminal Content,' Removes From Local App Stores

Iran has ordered the removal of the private encrypted messengering application Signal from local application stores after it reportedly was deemed "criminal content" by the Islamic republic's filtering committee. Iranian media reported on January 14 that local app stores Cafebazaar and Myketappstore confirmed the removal of the Signal app. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 1/18/21

Iranian government submits 'violence against women' bill to parliament

The Iranian government has submitted a long-awaited bill for the protection of women against violence to the parliament. The bill titled, Protection, Dignity, and Security of Women against Violence, had been under review since September 2019. It criminalizes any act or behavior that causes "physical or mental harm" to women "as a vulnerable gender". 1/15/21

A Malevolent Decision That Will Kill Countless Yemenis

The Foreign Policy report characterizes this as a "victory" for Pompeo's "anti-Iran strategy," but like all other so-called Pompeo victories this one is empty and comes at a high price in the blood and suffering of innocent people. Designating the Houthis doesn't hurt Iran in the slightest, but it will kill countless innocent Yemeni civilians as outside aid and trade are cut off. We know from other sanctions regimes that it is the sick, the poor, children, and the elderly that suffer most from these policies. -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 1/14/21

Athletes Appeal to Save Life of Wrestler on Death Row

On January 9, 2021, a press report was published in Iran about the imminent execution of 29-year-old wrestler Mehdi Ali-Hosseini for a murder he allegedly committed five years ago. He was scheduled to be executed on January 10 but was granted a week to seek a pardon from the victim's family and escape the gallows, his brother Hamzeh Ali-Hosseini told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA). -CHRI 1/14/21

Swedish trial paves the way for accountability for Iran's human rights violations

On November 9, 2019, an Iranian national arrived in Sweden and was arrested by local authorities for his suspected involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran during the summer of 1988. The arrest has the potential to become the first step towards accountability for an event that is often described as one of the darkest chapters in the history of the forty-one-year-old Islamic Republic. -Aida Samani, Atlantic Council 1/14/21

I was diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic and can't stop thinking about sanctions against Iran

After studying how U.S. sanctions have wreaked havoc on the Iranian people and working with diplomats in Europe, rather unsuccessfully, to lessen the damage, I can attest to the fact that Iran's public health emergency began long before the pandemic. It is no secret, as international media has been riddled with horrific stories about cancer patients and others in Iran dying preventable deaths over the last few years because the healthcare system has been strangled by onerous U.S. sanctions. -Sahil Shah, Responsible Statecraft 1/11/21

A year on, questions haunt Iran's downing of Ukrainian plane

When Navaz Ebrahim learned that a Ukrainian plane had fallen from the sky near Iran's capital, she didn't realize her older sister was on the flight. They had just spoken on the phone. Niloufar had promised her, like she always does, that everything was going to be alright. -AP 1/8/21

Iran's Rouhani demands justice for downed plane victims

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said those involved in last year's missile attack that brought down a Ukraine passenger plane outside Tehran should face justice. "There is no doubt that the judiciary will prosecute all the perpetrators," Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting Jan. -Al Monitor 1/7/21

Advancing developer freedom: GitHub is fully available in Iran

All developers should be free to use GitHub, no matter where they live. At the same time, GitHub respects and abides by US law, which means government sanctions have limited our ability to provide developers in some countries the full range of GitHub services. Today we are announcing a breakthrough: we have secured a license from the US government to offer GitHub to developers in Iran. -Nat Friedman, GitHub Blog 1/6/21

Factbox-Countries where Iranian oil and gas revenues are blocked

Iran has been unable to obtain tens of billions of dollars of its assets in foreign banks, mainly from exports of oil and gas, due to U.S. sanctions on its banking and energy sectors. -Iran has repeatedly asked the countries for access to the blocked revenues, even offering barter deals. But its efforts, including attempts to buy humanitarian goods and medicine which are exempt from U.S. sanctions, have mostly failed. -Reuters 1/6/21

Border agency ordered to share memo directing questioning of Iranians, others

A federal court ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to produce records showing its Seattle field office purposely targeted people of Iranian, Lebanese and Palestinian descent for questioning after a U.S. drone killed a high-ranking Iranian military leader in January. -Politico 12/31/20

Jab Wanted: Iranians' Fears Skyrocket That They Won't Get Access To COVID-19 Vaccines

Amid the launch of mass COVID-19 vaccination drives in the West, there's growing concern among Iranians that they could be left behind. They fear U.S. sanctions and what some regard as the Iranian clerical establishment's failure to prioritize the well-being of its citizens. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 12/24/20

Three Baluch Prisoners Executed, Three Others in Imminent Danger of Execution

Three prisoners were recently executed in Iran, two in the central prison in Zahedan, capital of Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan Province, and one in the central prison in Dozap, also in the province, all of whom were accused of membership in militant Sunni Muslim groups. -CHRI 12/24/20

Zam: The family that picked their son over the revolution

"Goodbye, my son; a son who was a father, a husband, a brother and a comrade; a comrade to the very end," wrote prominent reformist cleric Mohammad Ali Zam in an Instagram post. He was the father of dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was brutally executed on December 12. -Arash Azizi, Atlantic Council 12/24/20

Major Humanitarian Organizations Call for Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for Iranians

A coalition of major human rights and humanitarian organizations released a statement today, calling on the US government to ensure that Iranians would have access to "safe, effective, and affordable Covid-19 vaccines." It noted that US sanctions on financial transactions with Iran "appear to be already impeding the transfer of funds to the Covax Facility, the effort of the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to manage global vaccine distribution." 12/23/20

Woman sets self on fire after city demolishes shelter, Iranians outraged

The demolition of a single mother's shanty at the hands of Iranian authorities and her despairing self-immolation have recharged an uproar over the Islamic Republic failing the needy citizens it once promised to raise from poverty. -Al-Monitor 12/23/20

Israel-linked assassinations: How much is the U.S. really involved?

Less than a month ago, Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was murdered in a storm of bullets and explosions outside Tehran. Common speculation has Israel as the assassin. A senior Israeli official, involved in the tracking of Fakhrizadeh, told The New York Times that the world should thank Israel for assassinating him and that Israel "would continue to act against the Iranian nuclear program as necessary." -Ted Snider, Responsible Statecraft 12/21/20

Daughters of detained British-Iranian nationals share pain of missing parents

Two daughters of British-Iranian nationals being held in Iran have come together for the first time to make a film discussing how much they want their parents back with them for Christmas. Elika, daughter of Anoosheh Ashoori, is shown sharing her emotional pain with Gabriella, the daughter of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 12/21/20

Iran, despite sanctions, has routes to vaccines

Although Iran faces crushing U.S. sanctions, there are still ways for Tehran to obtain coronavirus vaccines as the country suffers the Mideast's worst outbreak of the pandemic. After earlier downplaying the virus, Iran has since acknowledged the scope of the disaster it faces after 1.1 million reported cases and over 52,000 deaths. Getting vaccines into the arms of its people would be a major step in stemming the crisis. -AP 12/21/20

PEN America and Ms. Magazine Present: 'Nasrin Sotoudeh, The Mandela of Iran'

To mark the theatrical release of the documentary NASRIN, join PEN America and Ms. Magazine for a special online conversation on Monday, December 21 at 3pm ET featuring an introduction by Margaret Atwood and opening remarks by PEN America's Karin Deutsch Karlekar; followed by a discussion moderated by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof with human rights advocate Kerry Kennedy, Iranian artist and activist Parastou Forouhar, Nasrin filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross; and a message from Nasrin's husband, Reza Khandan. 12/18/20

New Directive Allows Iranian Judiciary to Control Lawyers Through Disciplinary Body

In a new assault on the already diminished independence of the legal profession in Iran, a new directive has been issued by the judiciary that allows it to investigate complaints against lawyers, sidestepping the Iranian Bar Association's own tribunal for such investigations and effectively asserting judicial control over any attorney in Iran. -CHRI 12/18/20

Canada Questions Iran's Probe Into Downing Of Ukrainian Passenger Jet

An independent Canadian report published on December 14 has questioned Iran's investigation into its own military's downing of a Kyiv-bound passenger plane that killed 176 people. Iran is not conducting the probe properly and many questions remain unanswered, the report said, in the latest complaint over Iran's handling of the aftermath of the disaster. 12/16/20

Europe Says "No Business as Usual" with Iran After Hanging of Dissident Journalist

Major European countries have pulled out of a planned Europe-Iran Business Forum that was scheduled to begin today, December 14, in protest over Iran's execution on December 12, 2020, of the dissident journalist Rouhollah Zam. The ambassadors of France, Germany, Austria and Italy all canceled their participation in the online forum, which was due to feature keynote speeches by Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union, and Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. -CHRI 12/15/20

Iran president says Israel was behind killing of scientist

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Monday claimed that Israel was behind the killing of a scientist who founded the Islamic Republic's military nuclear program in the 2000s in an effort to start a war in the last days of President Trump's administration. Rouhani's comments in a news conference marked the first time he has directly accused the Jewish state of carrying out the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh late last month. -AP 12/15/20

How US Sanctions Have Contributed to the 50K Dead of Coronavirus In Iran

The US financial and trade blockade of Iran, which has strangled its economy, has also taken a heavy toll on the country's coronavirus response. Nick Paton Walsh, Jo Shelley, Ramin Mostaghim and Scott McWhinnie at CNN did a great story on this heartrending travesty. -Juan Cole, Common Dreams 12/14/20

Iran Sentences British-Iranian Academic Kameel Ahmady To Eight Years In Prison

Iran has sentenced British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady, who studies child marriage and female genital mutilation, to eight years in prison. The researcher's lawyer, Amir Raesian, said on December 13 that his client had received an eight-year sentence for "collaborating with a hostile government." 12/14/20

Two Decades Later, Still No Justice For Iran's 'Chain Murders' Of Intellectuals

On November 20, 1998, journalist and translator Majid Sharif left his mother's home in Tehran for a run. He never returned. A few days later, his mother identified his body at a morgue. Sharif was found dead on a street in the capital. His death certificate said he died of a heart attack. -Golnaz Esfandiari & Fereshteh Ghazi, RFE 12/14/20

Iran summons EU envoys for protesting reporter's hanging

Iran on Sunday summoned the German and French envoys to Tehran after the European Union condemned the execution of an Iranian journalist whose work helped inspire nationwide economic protests in 2017, Iranian state media reported. IRNA said an Iranian Foreign Ministry official summoned the ambassadors because of EU statements on the exiled reporter Ruhollah Zam, 47, who was hanged on Saturday. -AP 12/14/20

In an Iranian intensive care unit, doctors grapple with Covid-19 and US sanctions

Retired teacher Khalif Farahani struggles to speak, but his emotions pierce the breathlessness of the virus's impact on his lungs. "Sanctions, it is cruelty (from) America", he said. He caught the virus on a park excursion, he added, but even in this condition is "better than before." -CNN 12/10/20

Iran says US sanctions hinder access to COVID-19 vaccines

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that U.S. sanctions are making it difficult for Iran to purchase medicine and health supplies from abroad, including COVID-19 vaccines needed to contain the worst outbreak in the Middle East. President Donald Trump's administration has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran's banking sector and its vital oil and gas industry since unilaterally withdrawing the U.S. from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. -AP 12/9/20

Iranian journalist Kayvan Samimi begins 3-year prison sentence over protest coverage

Iranian authorities must release journalist Kayvan Samimi from prison and cease jailing members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Yesterday, authorities arrested Samimi at the Evin Prison Sentence Enforcement Office, in Tehran, and took him to serve a three-year sentence at Evin Prison -CPJ 12/9/20

Iran: UN calls for accountability on 1988 prison massacres marks turning point in three-decade struggle

A group of UN human rights experts have written to the Iranian government warning that past and ongoing violations related to prison massacres in 1988 may amount to crimes against humanity and that they will call for an international investigation if these violations persist, a push for accountability welcomed by Amnesty international on the eve of International Human Rights Day. -Amnesty International 12/9/20

'Insane and Pathological': Head of Iran's Central Bank Says US Blocking Covid-19 Vaccine Purchases

The head of Iran's central bank on Monday accused the U.S. government of actively blocking the country from purchasing stocks of coronavirus vaccine through the World Health Organization's COVAX program. Abdolnasser Hemmati said on Instagram that it should be "recorded in historical memory" that crippling U.S.-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic are preventing the country from buying vaccines against the potentially deadly virus through COVAX, the WHO-led global initiative to fast-track development, production, and equitable worldwide distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. -Common Dreams 12/8/20

Iran upholds death sentence against France-based journalist it caught last year

Iran said on Tuesday its Supreme Court had upheld a death sentence against a high-profile dissident journalist who was captured last year in what Tehran calls an intelligence operation, after years in exile in France. Ruhollah Zam, whose Amadnews social media feed had more than 1 million followers, was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017. -Reuters 12/8/20

Iran Supreme Court To Retry Three Men Sentenced To Death Over 2019 Protests

Iran's Supreme Court has said it will review the cases of three young men sentenced to death over links to anti-government protests in November 2019. "The case will be reviewed in another tribunal," the court's website said on December 5, without providing further details. 12/7/20

Iran's top banker says US blocking COVID-19 vaccine purchase

The United States is actively trying to prevent Iran's efforts to buy a COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX, a global initiative undertaken by the World Health Organization, according to the chief of Iran's central bank. Abdolnasser Hemmati on Monday said it must be "recorded in historical memory" that Iranian efforts to buy a vaccine through COVAX have been hampered due to money transfer issues arising due to the sanctions imposed by the US against Iran. -Al Jazeera 12/7/20

'I don't know what Iran wants': Mariam Claren's fight to free her mother

The story is, at one level, a familiar one. A German-Iranian dual national is suddenly arrested at her Tehran apartment by police officers on the basis she is a "security threat". No one is given access to her in Evin prison - no lawyers, German diplomats or family, save one very brief phone call a fortnight later in which she confirms she is alive. The German foreign office says it is doing its best, but points out it has no consular access since she is a dual national, a status not recognised by Iran. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 12/7/20

Iranian Authorities Go After More Members of Writers Association

In yet another blow to the Iranian Writers Association, an independent group formed in Iran in 1968 to fight state censorship that is now banned, the authorities in Iran have gone after two more members of the association, arresting and detaining the poet Amin Moradi and prosecuting Arash Ganji, who is currently free on bail. -CHRI 12/7/20

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