Bahman 5 1401 - January 25 2023
Iran's EB kids innocent victims of Swedish company's compliance with US sanctions

Iranian EB children are suffering from a rare skin condition that can only be relieved by using a Swedish company's bandages. The Swedish company Molnlycke has halted shipments to Iran in compliance with the US sanctions against the country although the UN's international court of Justices had announced that humanitarian goods are exempt from sanctions. -Press TV 12/31/21

Out of sight, out of mind: Afghanistan vanishes from US news

New data shows stunning plunge in coverage, just as the humanitarian crisis - much of it caused by Washington sanctions - peaks. Despite unprecedented levels of hunger and starvation for which U.S. sanctions bear important responsibility, Afghanistan has once again virtually disappeared from the most important single source of world news for most Americans. -Jim Lobe, Responsible Statecraft 12/29/21

French tourist imprisoned in Iran since 2020 begins hunger strike

Benjamin Briere, a French tourist jailed in Iran on spying charges since spring 2020, has begun a hunger strike, his lawyer and sister said in a statement on Monday. ADVERTISING French authorities remain in close contact with Briere, visiting him on Dec. 21 and contacting him on Monday, a French foreign ministry spokesperson said. -France 24 12/28/21

Christian Prisoners In Iran Get Rare 10-Day Holiday Leave

Iran's judiciary has granted Christian prisoners 10 days' leave to spend the holidays at home with their families, in a rare move toward members of the Islamic republic's Christian minority. "The decision is to mark the New Year 2022 and the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ," the judiciary's Mizan Online website said on December 26. 12/27/21

Iran: UN independent experts condemn secret execution of Kurdish prisoner

Two UN-appointed independent rights experts condemned the arbitrary execution in the strongest terms on Wednesday, of an Iranian Kurdish prisoner as a sign of "clear disregard for their obligations under international human rights law". -UN News 12/23/21

Iran passed restrictions on contraception and abortion. Will that distract protesters from the economy?

While the United States is focused on the question of abortion and the future of Roe v. Wade, another conversation on women's reproductive rights is taking place across the globe in Iran. Last month, the Iranian government announced new laws further limiting abortions and restricting access to contraception. But, as in the United States, this is not the first time we have seen a government flexing its muscles by attempting to control women's bodies. -Pardis Mahdavi, Washington Post 12/21/21

Another Ethereum Education Initiative Canceled Over Iran Sanctions Fears

Gitcoin, a crowdfunding platform, discontinued a campaign aimed at helping Farsi-speaking students learn Ethereum coding, in another sign U.S.-based cryptocurrency companies are becoming extra cautious about obeying sanctions. The grant's suspension followed blockchain startup ConsenSys' removal of 50 Iranian students from its smart-contract programming course. -Coindesk 12/21/21

Afghanistan's academics despair months after Taliban takeover

Four months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, academics say they feel marooned, and abandoned by the international community. With limited prospects for research, many scientists have left or are still trying to find routes out, so they can continue their careers. -Nature 12/17/21

Amid a crackdown, Afghan refugees in Iran fear the 'unthinkable': Being sent back

Unlike most of his compatriots, Jamal Papoli didn't have to worry about being stuck in Afghanistan when the Taliban sped to power in August. Papoli had quit his homeland years ago to set up shop as a stonemason here in neighboring Iran, just outside Tehran. But instead of relief, what the 30-year-old father of two feels these days is fear. -Los Angeles Times 12/16/21

Iranian women at risk as execution numbers rise

More than a dozen women have been executed this year in Iran, activists say, raising concern over a rigid judicial system that automatically seeks capital punishment for a killing without taking into account the circumstances. ADVERTISING Most of the women executed in Iran in recent years have been hanged for murder, the majority of cases over the killings of a husband or partner, rights activists say. -AFP 12/15/21

Teachers Across Iran Protest for Fair Pay, Release of Jailed Colleagues

The government of Iran should allow teachers to exercise their right to public protest without the threat of violence or arbitrary arrest, said the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in a statement today. Teachers should be allowed to voice their legitimate demands for fair pay and the release of their unlawfully jailed colleagues. -CHRI 12/14/21

Iranian animal lovers decry ultraconservative push to ban pets

"No, my cat is not dangerous," says Iranian animal lover Mostafa, outraged by a proposal from ultraconservative lawmakers to ban pets. The 25-year-old, who runs a pet supplies shop on busy Eskandari Street in downtown Tehran, is stunned. "Crocodiles can be called dangerous, but how can rabbits, dogs, and cats be dangerous?" he asked incredulously about the bill introduced a month ago. -AFP 12/14/21

The struggles of an Iranian tourist - according to Ali Maleki, a well-known Iranian tourist

These days, you may be thinking about traveling to Europe or beyond, but you find yourself faced with obstacles when applying for a visa. Most people who have attempted to obtain a visa say the same story; applying for a visa in different embassies has many struggles from being treated inappropriately by some of the officials to using brokers who misuse their authority and make huge profits. -Vanguardngr 12/14/21

For this American family, the Iran nuclear talks are personal

Emad Shargi's daughter says her dad has always been stoic during his ordeal as an American citizen unjustly held in an Iranian prison. But recently, she heard something different. "Whenever I tell him, 'Oh, I wish you were here, I wish we could do this together, like when I cook something and I wish he could taste it, he always says, 'Whatever will happen will happen, everything will be fine ... don't worry about me'," Ariana Shargi said. -CNN 12/10/21

Iran threatens sanctions against US over treatment of Black Americans

The Iranian government vowed today to impose sanctions on the United States over racial and policing issues. Secretary-General of Iran's Human Rights Office Kazem Gharibabadi said the Islamic Republic will publish a list of American entities and individuals involved in human rights abuses. They will then be subject to sanctions from Iran, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. -Al Monitor 12/10/21

Free Arbitrarily Detained Right to Health Defenders in Iran

We, the undersigned civil society and human rights organizations, call for the immediate release of prominent human rights defenders Mehdi Mahmoudian, Arash Keykhosravi, and Mostafa Nili, who have been arbitrarily detained by the Iranian authorities since August 14, 2021. We also call on the international community to urge Iran to end these arbitrary detentions in keeping with its international human rights obligations. -HRW 12/9/21

Nazanin Boniadi Created a Dress That Symbolizes Freedom for Iranian Women

Nazanin Boniadi has long been driven by a desire to help others. She's equally known for her acting credits as she is for her activism. Boniadi is a U.K. ambassador for Amnesty International, a member of the think tank Council on Foreign Relations, and a former volunteer at the northern France refugee camp Care4Calais. Now, she's turning her attention to the fashion world with a new collaboration with a fellow Iranian American, designer Amir Taghi, on a dress and a shirt with a powerful message. -Vogue 12/8/21

Desperation drives thousands of Afghans a day across borders

Over the course of an hour on a recent night, the bus waiting in the Herat station filled with passengers. Mostly young men, they had no luggage, just the clothes on their backs, maybe a bag with some bread and water for the long road ahead of them. That road is leading them to Iran. -AP 12/8/21

Witnesses say Iranian police 'intentionally targeted' heads and eyes of protesters in Isfahan

Iranian security forces carried out a violent crackdown on November 26 on farmers who had been peacefully protesting the redirection of a vital river in the town of Isfahan for several weeks. Dozens of protesters lost an eye or sustained head injuries. Photos and eyewitness accounts, including those by our Observer, support the theory that security forces aimed and fired directly at people's faces. -France 24 12/7/21

Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran

669,492 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan in 2021, of which 15% are families, 21% are women and 59% are children. Afghans continue to make their way to Iran informally through unofficial borders. UNHCR is aware of 23,964 Afghans who arrived in Iran from 1 January to 27 November, though the numbers are much higher. -Relief Web 12/3/21

Iran doubles down on abortion and contraception restrictions

Iranians long had degrees of access to free contraception at public health facilities, part of family planning policies aimed at limiting population growth. In recent years, policy shifts have whittled away such programs. The changes have culminated under a new law - meant to address an emergent demographic shift - which critics have decried as a major setback for women's and reproductive rights. -Miriam Berger, Washington Post 12/2/21

Iranian water protests a 'wake-up call' for regime

Farmers demanding water for their crops, protesters with blood pouring down their faces and riot police shouting at them to disperse - in recent weeks the scorched riverbed at the heart of the historic city of Isfahan has been the site of Iran's biggest ever environmental protest. Riot police patrolled Isfahan this weekend after clearing the dried up river Zayandeh Roud of thousands of demonstrators who had made a camp there. -Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times 11/30/21

Iran riot police arrests scores in Isfahan water protests

Iran's riot police were deployed in force in the city of Isfahan on Saturday, a day after dozens were arrested during protests over the drying up of a river. Security forces fired tear gas on Friday at demonstrators, who threw stones, during a protest in the dry bed of the Zayadneh Rood river that crosses the city, Fars and ISNA news agencies said. -MEE 11/28/21

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters in Iranian city

Police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of people in a central Iranian city who were protesting to demand government action over a drought, media reported. Some videos on social media appeared to show police and protesters clashing in the dry bed of the Zayandehrud River. The video corresponded to known features of the area, though original posters of the material could not be immediately reached by The Associated Press. Other videos showed similar unrest in nearby streets of Isfahan. -AP 11/26/21

Two Years After Iran's Deadly Crackdown On Protests, Victims' Families Still Fighting For Justice

For the past two years, Mahboobeh Ramezani has been grieving the loss of her son while calling for justice over his death at the hands of Iran's security forces. Pejman Gholipur was shot and killed during a November 17, 2019, protest in Tehran triggered by a sudden rise in the price of gasoline. He was 18. Ramezani has kept her son's bloody clothes as evidence that he was murdered. -RFE/RL 11/26/21

I was forced to marry an older man at 12-years-old. By 14, I was a mother. This is my story.

'The Heartbeat of Iran' is a new book by award-winning journalist Tara Kangarlou. It features a collection of 24 stories of everyday Iranians living inside their homeland - from the story of a transgender woman in Tehran, to the country's first female race car driver, or a blind environmental activist in the country's poorest state of Sistan and Baluchestan. Here, Tara shares the story of Mina Khanoom, who was forced into child marriage within the rural and conservative communities of Iran - a practice that exists to this day. -Glamour 11/22/21

'It's My Decision': Iran's New Population Law Blasted For Restricting Access To Contraceptives, Abortions

Gouya, a 43-year-old woman in Iran, decided that she will not have children. But her right to choose is now being threatened by the state. Authorities have approved new legislation that imposes further restrictions on abortions, bans the free distribution of contraceptives by the public health-care system, and provides added state benefits to families with more children. -Golnaz Esfandiari & Elahe Ravanshad, RFE 11/19/21

"White Torture": Why We Must Oppose Solitary Confinement

Narges Mohammadi, vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran, has been held in solitary confinement on and off from 1998 and 2020 for her human rights advocacy. On Tuesday night, Mohammadi was arrested by Iranian security forces during a ceremony honoring a victim of Iran's deadly response to November 2019 protests. She was taken to the notorious Evin prison. -Ms. Magazine 11/18/21

Freed after 8 years in prison, Iranian journalist must now spend 2 years in internal exile

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Iranian judicial system's unrelenting persecution of Soheil Arabi, an award-winning journalist who was released from prison yesterday after being detained for nearly eight years but who must now serve two years of internal exile in a remote southern city. -RSF 11/18/21

Iranian musical rebel risks prison (again) over new album

A haunting cello melody cuts through a somber bass background like a sharp saw biting into ancient, hardened wood. "Whip on a Lifeless Body," the dark opening track of "Coup of Gods," the latest album by Iranian composer and producer Mehdi Rajabian, plumbs the deepest meaning of music -- and may turn out to be the renegade Middle Eastern artist's last cry of protest. -Nikkei Asia 11/17/21

UN experts call on Iran to repeal 'anti-abortion' population law

Leading United Nations experts have called on Iran to repeal a newly implemented law that they say violates women's human rights under international law. The Youthful Population and Protection of the Family law came into effect on Monday in an effort to encourage higher childbirth rates as Iran faces a looming crisis due to its ageing population. Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has long supported the idea of increasing Iran's current population of about 85 million by tens of millions over the coming decades. -Al Jazeera 11/17/21

Thousands of Afghans deported from Iran to Taliban rule

Iran is sending tens of thousands of Afghan migrants back to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan every week despite the threat of famine, aid agencies and witnesses say, with many Afghans alleging they have been mistreated by Iranian authorities. ADVERTISING During decades of conflict, millions of Afghans have crossed into their western neighbour seeking to escape violence and a shattered economy. -AFP 11/11/21

Iran: Population Law Violates Women's Rights

Iran's new population law further violates women's rights to sexual and reproductive health and puts women's health and lives at risk, Human Rights Watch said today. Iranian authorities should immediately repeal the provisions that restrict human rights. On November 1, 2021, Iran's Guardian Council approved the "rejuvenation of the population and support of family" bill, which outlaws sterilization and free distribution of contraceptives in the public health care system unless a pregnancy threatens a woman's health. -HRW 11/10/21

Humanitarian needs in Iran rise as 300,000 Afghans arrive since Taliban takeover

The Norwegian Refugee Council calls for more funding and responsibility sharing, as 4,000 to 5,000 Afghans flee across the border to Iran daily. "Thousands of exhausted women, children and men are crossing from Afghanistan into Iran every day in search of safety. Iran cannot be expected to host so many Afghans with so little support from the international community. There must be an immediate scale up of aid both inside Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries like Iran, before the deadly winter cold." -NRC 11/10/21

Iran bans newspaper that linked supreme leader to poverty

Iran's judicial authorities reportedly banned a newspaper Monday for publishing a front-page graphic that appeared to show Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's hand drawing the poverty line in the Islamic Republic amid widespread anger over the nation's cratering economy. The semiofficial Mehr news agency said Iran's media supervisory body shut down the daily newspaper Kelid after it published a front-page article titled "Millions of Iranians Living under Poverty Line" on Saturday. -AP 11/8/21

For the Women of Afghanistan, the War Isn't Over

I know, I know. It's the last thing you want to hear about. Twenty years of American carnage in Afghanistan was plenty for you, I'm sure, and there are so many other things to worry about in an America at the edge of... well, who knows what? But for me, it's different. I went to Afghanistan in 2002, already angry about this country's misbegotten war on that poor land, to offer what help I could to Afghan women. -Ann Jones, Nation 11/5/21

Lawmakers demand answers for detention of Iranian Americans at US-Canada border

Two U.S. congresswomen are demanding that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) send a formal apology and release records in connection with the January 2020 detainment of Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canada border. House Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) requested in their letter Tuesday an apology from USCBP and the renunciation of the hours-long detainment of the Iranian American travelers at the U.S.-Canada border. -The Hill 11/3/21

Iran's parliament moves forward with troubling bill to further restrict internet

The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern today that Iran's parliament is moving ahead with a restrictive internet bill, despite objections from citizens and international observers. The legislation, the Cyberspace Users Rights Protection and Regulation of Key Online Services Bill, was undergoing review by a parliamentary subcommittee in October, according to local news reports and the Iran-focused Filterwatch, a project by the U.K.-based digital rights group Small Media -CPJ 11/2/21

If Biden actually wants to help Iranians, there's an easy way to do it

Last Monday, the Biden administration published its 2021 sanctions review, intended to guide the administration's use of sanctions moving forward. In the report, the administration claims it must begin "calibrating sanctions to mitigate unintended economic, political and humanitarian impact." Sound familiar? -Mani Mostofi, Business Insider 11/1/21

The impact of sanctions on medical education in Iran

Iran has been targeted by waves of unilateral and multilateral economic sanctions for four decades. While in recent decades these have exempted humanitarian transactions, a well-established body of research shows that the sanctions have gone well beyond the intended economic impact on targeted industries to affect various aspects of livelihood. -Orkideh Behrouzan & Tara Sepehri Far, Johns Hopkins University 10/27/21

Afghanistan on 'countdown to catastrophe' without urgent humanitarian relief

The combined shocks of drought, conflict, COVID-19 and an economic crisis in Afghanistan, have left more than half the population facing a record level of acute hunger, according to a new UN assessment published on Monday. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), revealed that the lives, livelihoods and access to food for 22.8 million people will be severely impacted. -UN 10/26/21

Iranian women journalists, imprisoned journalist's mother jailed arbitrarily

Two women freelance journalists and a jailed photojournalist's mother have been ordered to begin serving prison sentences in the past month in Iran. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the systematic use of imprisonment to harass all those associated with the provision of independent news and information, including women. -RSF 10/25/21

Iran: The painful choices of being pregnant and unmarried

"I had to get rid of our unborn baby. It was the toughest decision of my entire life," says Mitra, a 27-year-old interior designer living in Tehran with her partner. Mitra and Mohsen, a 32-year-old doctor, moved in together under an arrangement known as a "white marriage" - a form of cohabitation between a man and a woman which, like sex before marriage, is illegal under Iran's strict Islamic laws. -BBC 10/25/21

Husband of detained British-Iranian aid worker held in Iran starts hunger strike

Richard Ratcliffe plans to spend the night in a tent outside the Foreign Office, a week after his wife lost her appeal on a second jail term in Iran. In an online petition with more than 3.5 million signatures, Ratcliffe said he began his hunger strike, his second since 2018, to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government to "take responsibility" for his wife's fate. -AFP 10/25/21

Over-compliance with US sanctions hurting Iran's 'butterfly kids'

Over-compliance with United States-imposed sanctions against Iran is harming the right to health, and people with a rare skin disease are among those affected, many of them children, experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council said on Tuesday. These patients suffer from epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a severe and life-threatening skin condition, which causes extremely painful wounds. Many are children, who are often referred to as "butterfly kids" because of their fragile skin. -United Nations 10/20/21

Anoosheh Ashoori told he has lost legal bid for Tehran jail release

Anoosheh Ashoori, the British-Iranian dual national held in Evin prison in Tehran for more than four years, has had his request for conditional release and an appeal against his 10-year sentence thrown out. Ashoori was informed by prison authorities that his last legal recourse within Iran was gone last Saturday, the same day that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told she had lost her appeal against a one-year further sentence for alleged propaganda activities against the regime. -Guardian 10/20/21

'Maximum Psychological' Pressure: Iranian Rights Lawyer Tortured, Drugged During Detention, Attorney Says

Payam Derafshan was confined in a dark, windowless room inside a safe house run by the feared intelligence branch of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The human rights lawyer was then transferred to Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where he was drugged with unknown substances that triggered violent convulsions. During one seizure, Derafshan bit part of his tongue off. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 10/20/21

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe loses appeal on second Iran jail term without court hearing

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British citizen detained in Iran, has lost an appeal against a second jail term in Iran, her supporters said on Saturday. The 43-year-old British-Iranian aid worker was sentenced to five years in jail in 2016 over charges of plotting against the Iranian government. In March, after serving her initial sentence, she was sentenced to another year in jail and a subsequent year-long travel ban. -MEE 10/18/21

Iran's Emboldened Workers Press New President for More Concessions

In the third week of September, teachers in dozens of towns and cities across Iran took to the streets, calling on the new president, Ebrahim Raisi, to fully implement existing labour laws. The authorities responded quickly and positively, promising to work on an implementation plan. But the teachers are not ready to back down. In an interview conducted for this article, a leader of the main teachers' union said his organization will continue to use a "carrot and stick" approach to ensure that the Raisi administration makes good on its promises. -Zep Kalb, Bourse & Bazaar 10/15/21

Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of journalists imprisoned in Iran

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about the treatment of journalists imprisoned in Iran, who are being denied their most basic rights, including essential medical treatment, visits from their families and phone calls with them. Those who try to denounce prison conditions end up paying a price in the form of arbitrary punishments. -RSF 10/14/21

Iran's president calls for tighter internet control

In a meeting with the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi called for "digitizing" the government while also expanding controls over the internet. Raisi said that the council can "take significant steps in making up for its ineffectiveness and in the management of cyberspace." -Al Monitor 10/14/21

Bipartisan Letter Urges Biden to Support Internet Freedom in Iran

Late last week, 21 Members of Congress sent a letter calling on the Biden administration to eliminate sanctions that help block Iranians from accessing a free Internet. NIAC chapters across the country urged their Representatives to sign on to the letter, which was backed by both Republicans and Democratic legislators -NIAC 10/13/21

Human Rights Lawyers, Activist to Be Illegally Tried as Their Legal Team is Denied Case Files

The ongoing detention of Iranian defense lawyers Mostafa Nili and Arash Keykhosravi as well as civil rights activist Mehdi Mahmoudian, who were all held in solitary confinement for 23 days while being denied legal counsel and phone calls to their relatives, is a violation of Iranian law and all international standards of due process. In addition, the defendants' legal teams have been denied access to their case files, another blatant violation of fair trial standards, thereby preventing them from preparing a proper defense. -CHRI 10/13/21

To be an Afghan child worker in Iran

"We must have the right to work!" a boy shouted when, at an introductory course on children's rights, the teacher asked her students to think about the rights they need. This was several years ago, and the child who shouted was one of the many working migrant children learning to read and write at our centre near the Grand Bazaar in Tehran. At the time his remark came as a surprise to the teacher and to all of us at the Nasserkhosro Child House. We all imagined that the most important thing for these children is to quit working and start living like other kids do. -Sahar Mousavi & Ghazaal Bozorgmehr, Open Democracy 10/11/21

Iranian Authorities Surveil Her Every Move. Yet This Tehran Based Director Agreed to Talk to Us

The Iranian authorities have been persecuting Mahnaz Mohammadi for 14 years. She fights for women's rights, makes films that expose the oppression of Iranian women, presents her films at international festivals, and isn't afraid to tell the world what outrages her in Iran. But every few years the authorities lose patience and decide that Mohammadi has gone too far. -Nirit Anderman, Israel's Haaretz 10/7/21

'I've wasted 18 months of my life': Canada has left these students in study-permit limbo

Few graduate students have the experience and know-how in radiation and computer engineering that University of Saskatchewan professor Li Chen needs for his research. In January 2020, through a network of academics in his field, he recruited Peiman Pour Momen, who had a master's degree and appeared to be a perfect fit. Momen was in Iran. -Toronto Star 10/7/21

Iranian-born scientist sues University of Alabama at Birmingham for discrimination

An Iranian-born research scientist alleges that a former University of Alabama at Birmingham co-worker harassed her for nine years because of her ethnicity and even threatened her with a pistol but that the school failed to stop the abuse even after she repeatedly complained. "Our country does not need your kind," Fariba Moeinpour says she was told. -Corky Siemaszko, NBC News 10/6/21

Son demands Iran free ailing father for urgent medical care

The son of an Iranian-American man who has been detained in Iran for more than five years called for his father's immediate release on Monday so that he can receive emergency and potentially life-saving surgery. Baquer Namazi, 84, requires an operation within days to clear up a severe blockage in the main artery that supplies blood to his brain, according to his son, Babak, and the family's lawyer, Jared Genser. -AP 10/5/21

Iran clamps down on teachers demanding fair pay

Aziz Ghasemzadeh is a spokesman for the teachers' union in Iran's northern province of Gilan. Last week, he was arrested while he was doing an interview on his phone with a Persian-language broadcaster. The phone's camera was still on and captured footage of the arrest at his parents' home; you can hear his mother's voice pleading with the officers not to take her son away. However, Ghasemzadeh's hands were tied, and he was blindfolded before being whisked away. 10/5/21

Margaret Atwood and JM Coetzee demand release of jailed Iranian writers

Nobel laureates JM Coetzee and Orhan Pamuk are among the signatories to a letter demanding the release from prison of the Iranian writers Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi. The writers began a collective 15-and-a-half-year sentence at Evin Prison in Tehran in September 2020, on what writers' association PEN America said were "spurious" national security and propaganda charges. -Guardian 9/30/21

Afghan women barred from teaching or attending Kabul University

Women will no longer be allowed to attend classes or work at Kabul University "until an Islamic environment is created," the school's new Taliban-appointed chancellor announced Monday, in the latest move excluding Afghanistan's women from public life. "As long as real Islamic environment is not provided for all, women will not be allowed to come to universities or work. Islam first," Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat said on his official Twitter account. -CNN 9/28/21

In the grip of hunger: only 5 percent of Afghan families have enough to eat

As the harsh Afghan winter looms closer, recent surveys conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) have revealed that only five percent of families have enough to eat every day, while half reported they had run out of food altogether at least once in the past two weeks. -World Food Programme 9/28/21

Iran's president denounces US sanctions as 'crimes against humanity'

Iran's new ultra-conservative president has used his debut on the international stage to deliver a sustained assault on US, denouncing sanctions as "crimes against humanity" and hailing what he called the end of Washington's hegemony. "Sanctions are the US new way of war with the nations of the world," President Ebrahim Raisi told the UN general assembly in a pre-recorded address from Tehran. -Guardian 9/22/21

Empowering women in Iraq and Afghanistan: Is this the actual question?

At a time when the voices of American and British officials, and the official media in the West in general, are loudly denouncing the lack of support for Afghan women in the recently formed Taliban government, and the failure to allocate a percentage of political representation to them, in any other position, the absent Iraqi women live like their Afghan counterparts, in the shadow of the silence of the same parties. -Haifa Zangana, MEMO 9/22/21

Lack of Accountability Perpetuates Deaths of Prisoners in Iran

The torture and inhuman mistreatment of detainees and prisoners in Iran are among the most serious violations of human rights in the country's prisons. In many cases, prisoners or detainees have died from injuries inflicted upon them in custody and yet the government has never acknowledged responsibility on a systemic level, allowing the perpetrators to go unpunished. -CHRI 9/22/21

Iranian women fear setbacks in hard-earned rights under Raisi

Ebrahim Raisi's pick for Iran's vice president for women and family affairs has raised eyebrows across the country, with many fearing the appointment of Ensiyeh Khazali is a harbinger of potential setbacks for women's rights under the hardline president. Khazali, the only female member of Raisi's cabinet and former dean of Iran's first women-only public university, has previously made controversial remarks in support of early marriage of girls and her objection to UNESCO's 2030 sustainable development agenda. -MEE 9/21/21

Why Iran is hesitant to help the Afghan refugees?

Since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021, the number of Afghans seeking asylum in Iran in search of safety and economic opportunity has increased dramatically. In this regard, Fatemah Awan, a non-resident senior fellow at the Middle East Institute argues as the Taliban secured control of the border, many of those who entered Iran have been detained and returned so why Iran is not willing to help the Afghan refugees? -Global Village Space 9/21/21

About the only job women can do for the Kabul government is clean female bathrooms, acting mayor says

Female employees in the Kabul city government have been told to stay home, and only women whose jobs cannot be done by men are allowed to come to work -- the latest restrictions imposed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The order, announced by Kabul's acting Mayor Hamdullah Nohmani on Sunday, effectively means women are now barred from government work in the Afghan capital. -CNN 9/20/21

PEN America To Honor Three Imprisoned Iranian Writers And Free Expression Advocates At Gala

This year, PEN America is honoring imprisoned Iranian writers Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi with the 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. These celebrated writers who have been imprisoned by the Iranian authorities for their writing, their defense of free expression, and their peaceful opposition to state censorship. -PEN America 9/17/21

Iran: A decade of deaths in custody unpunished amid systemic impunity for torture

Iranian authorities have failed to provide accountability for at least 72 deaths in custody since January 2010, despite credible reports that they resulted from torture or other ill-treatment or the lethal use of firearms and tear gas by officials, said Amnesty International following yesterday's reports of yet another suspicious death in custody. -Amnesty International 9/17/21

Iranian photojournalist Majid Saeedi arrested while covering Afghan refugee camps

Iranian authorities should immediately release photojournalist Majid Saeedi, drop any charges against him, and let him work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On August 25, security forces in the city of Khoy, in West Azerbaijan province near the border with Turkey, arrested Saeedi, a photographer for the state-run newspaper Shargh Daily, while he was photographing camps housing Afghan refugees... -CPJ 9/14/21

Who do they think they are? Israel tells US to ease off Saudi, Egypt human rights

Israeli officials warned the United States not to hold Saudi Arabia and Egypt accountable for human rights abuses, or else risk driving them into the arms of China, Russia, and Iran. This would contradict President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken's pledge to "put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy." -Annelle Sheline, Responsible Statecraft 9/13/21

#SanctionsStory: The Human Impact of Sanctions on Iran

We asked Iranian Americans to share their #SanctionsStory about the impacts on their loved ones abroad. Listen to what they have to say below then take action to urge Congress to provide Iran with humanitarian relief. -NIAC Action 9/10/21

Iran Air's Interesting Airbus A330 Diversion

Yesterday morning, an Iran Air A330 on its way to Hamburg entered a holding pattern waiting for the heavy fog parked over the airport to lift. However, a little over one hour later, the plane lifted back up to 30,000 feet and took off for... Milan. How come? -Linnea Ahlgren, Simple Flying 9/8/21

Women stage protest in Taliban-controlled Kabul

A group of Afghan women activists staged a small protest in Taliban-controlled Kabul Friday calling for equal rights and full participation in political life, CNN has confirmed. In spite of the risk, a group called the Women's Political Participation Network marched on the street in front of Afghanistan's Finance Ministry, chanting slogans and holding signs demanding involvement in the Afghan government and calling for constitutional law. -cnn 9/3/21

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