Mordad 5 1400 - July 27 2021
Iran: Angry Khuzestan residents rise against decades of neglect

For a week now, the province has been in the spotlight in Iran. On the evening of 15 July, people took to the streets in a number of cities in the province, including Ahvaz, Abadan, Hamidiyeh and Shadegan, Khorramshahr and Mahshahr, to protest against the lack of water and frequent power outages. The protesters chanted slogans such as "The river is thirsty," "I am thirsty," and "We give our lives and blood to the Karun"... -MEE 7/26/21

In His Own Words: Iranian Musician Mehdi Rajabian On Why He Is Willing To Risk Jail For His New Album, 'Coup Of Gods'

Mehdi Rajabian is a musician. And like most musicians he feels the need to create music so strongly he can't do anything else. The difference between Rajabian and musicians in the U.S. or the U.K. or most other places around the globe is that Rajabian, an Iranian musician, is risking imprisonment to share his art. As he says in his self-penned essay, "We are proving that no power can stop making music, even if it means my life, or going back to jail." -Forbes 7/26/21

Iran accused of using unlawful force in water protest crackdown

Iran is using unlawful and excessive force in a crackdown against protests over water shortages in its oil-rich but arid southwestern Khuzestan province, according to international rights groups. Amnesty International said it had confirmed the deaths of at least eight protesters and bystanders, including a teenage boy, after the authorities used live ammunition to quell the protests. -Guardian 7/23/21

Former presidents condemn crackdown on protests

Two former Iranian presidents, Seyyed Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, lambasted the brutality of the anti-riot forces in cracking down on demonstrations against water shortage in Iran's Khuzestan province. The protests in the southeastern oil-rich province began on 16 July in Ahwaz, the provincial capital, before spreading to other cities. According to officials, two civilians and one policeman were killed during the week-long unrest. -MEE 7/23/21

Iran Releases Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh For Five-Day Health Treatment Leave

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, whose health has "seriously deteriorated" since her arrest three years ago, has been granted a five-day treatment leave from prison. Sotoudeh will undergo various medical examinations, according to a post her husband, Reza Khandan, wrote on his Facebook page, "Nasrin has come home on treatment leave for five days," he wrote in the post 7/22/21

Mobile internet disruptions seen in Iran amid water protests

Mobile phone internet service in Iran is being disrupted a week into protests in the country's southwest over water shortages, a monitoring group said Thursday, unrest that has seen at least three people killed. Internet-access advocacy group attributed part of the disruption to "state information controls or targeted internet shutdowns." It identified the outages as beginning July 15, when the protests began in Khuzestan amid a drought affecting the oil-rich region neighboring Iraq. -AP 7/22/21

Violence intensifies in water-crisis protests in Iran's Khuzestan

Iranian authorities have said one police officer was shot dead by "agitators" in Iran's Khuzestan province, where six nights of protests over water shortages have turned deadly. State media reported that another police officer in Bandar Mahshahr was wounded after taking a bullet to his leg on Tuesday night, as videos and reports out of the oil-rich southwestern province indicated that violence had not ceased. -Al Jazeera 7/21/21

The International community must save Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali before it's too late

We, the undersigned organizations, call on the European Union, European state governments, and the United States government to act immediately to secure the release of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, an internationally recognized scholar of disaster medicine wrongfully sentenced to death and in dire need of medical care. -International Observatory of Human Rights 7/21/21

Video shows Iranian police opening fire during water protest

Iranian police opened fire late Sunday night amid protests against water shortages in southwestern Iran, a video showed, the latest unrest after days of demonstrations that have seen at least one person killed. The video from the Human Rights Activists News Agency by Human Rights Activists in Iran showed the shooting in Susangerd, which has been an epicenter of demonstrations in Iran's restive Khuzestan province. -AP 7/19/21

UN appeals for $850 million to help war-torn Afghanistan

The U.N. humanitarian chief in Afghanistan appealed for $850 million Thursday to help the war-torn country cope with the impact of the Taliban offensive, protracted malnutrition for a third of the country, a severe drought, and the return of 627,000 Afghans this year, most of them deported from neighboring Iran. -AP 7/16/21

After US denied deal, Iran says prisoner swap talks ongoing

Iran's government spokesman said Tuesday that talks with the United States about a prisoner exchange are still ongoing, two months after Washington denied an Iranian report that deals had been struck. The official IRNA news agency quoted Cabinet spokesman Ali Rabiei as saying the swap negotiations are based on humanitarian interests. 7/13/21

U.S. sanctions, COVID-19 pose double damage for Iranians

Reza's type 2 diabetes has always worried him, but raging COVID-19 has become another source of distress alongside the difficulties of acquiring the drugs he needs for survival. Since the U.S. sanctions have been affecting Iran's import of medicine from abroad, getting the everyday insulin shots has increasingly become a troublesome issue for Reza, who only wanted to be identified by his surname. -Xinhua 7/12/21

Iranian Judiciary Assumes Sweeping New Powers Over Lawyers

In a sweeping grab of new powers over the Iranian Bar Association (IBA) that grants the Iranian judiciary the right to issue and revoke law licenses, the country's judicial establishment, now led by human rights violator Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, has effectively destroyed the independence of Iranian lawyers. -CHRI 7/12/21

Armed Afghan women take to streets in show of defiance against Taliban

Women have taken up guns in northern and central Afghanistan, marching in the streets in their hundreds and sharing pictures of themselves with assault rifles on social media, in a show of defiance as the Taliban make sweeping gains nationwide. One of the biggest demonstrations was in central Ghor province, where hundreds of women turned out at the weekend, waving guns and chanting anti-Taliban slogans. -Guardian 7/9/21

First ID cards issued for children of Iranian mothers, foreign fathers abroad

The first identification cards for children born to an Iranian mother and a foreign father living abroad were issued on Monday, IRINN reported. Under a new nationality law, which was amended in 2019, Iranian citizenship is granted to children under 18 years with Iranian mothers. -Tehran Times 7/7/21

Photos: Severe water shortage in Golestan, Iran

People living in Golestan Province suffer from severe water shortages. These photographs show different neighborhoods of the province in which people struggle to get drinking water. Currently, people get drinking water using two water tanks available in the morning and evening. -Hadise Pasandi, ISNA 7/6/21

Iran oil workers strike for better wages as economy suffers

Thousands of workers in Iran's vast energy industry have gone on strike over the past week to press demands for better wages and conditions at oil facilities, Iranian media reported Wednesday. The widespread demonstrations underscore the mounting economic pressures on the country as it struggles to secure relief from crippling sanctions. -AP 7/1/21

Sonita: How an international human rights rapper found a home as a Bard student

Sonita Alizada's eyes are bruised, her scratched cheeks dripping blood. Stamped in the middle of her forehead is a barcode, just below a sparking tiara with a white veil attached. Wearing a wedding dress and holding a bouquet of flowers, she raps. "I scream to make up for a woman's lifetime of silence, I scream on behalf of the deep wounds on my body" -Katelyn Cordero, Poughkeepsie Journal 7/1/21

Iran's supreme leader appoints new hard-line judiciary chief

Iran's supreme leader on Thursday appointed a hard-line cleric sanctioned by the West as the country's new judiciary chief, state media reported, replacing the president-elect who previously held the powerful post. The new chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi, 64, takes the reins from Ebrahim Raisi, who will ascend to the country's highest civilian position after his election victory earlier this month. 7/1/21

Iran says executing child offenders not a rights violation

Iran's use of the death penalty for crimes committed as minors does not mean it violates human rights, a senior Iranian official has insisted to AFP in response to UN criticism. The Islamic republic executes convicts for crimes they committed while under-age "three to four times" a year, argued Majid Tafreshi of the state-run High Council for Human Rights. -AFP 6/30/21

America wants to be known in Mideast as Champion of Free Speech, so Why is it Censoring Iranian Websites?

The Bureau of Industry and Security, an agency of the United States Department of Justice, in a statement on Tuesday 22 June announced that it had seized 33 websites and news outlets used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), and another three run by the "Iran-backed" Kata'ib Hezbollah in Iraq for allegedly engaging in "disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations". -Farhang Jahanpour, Informed Comment 6/30/21

What America's seizure of websites says about the 'rules-based' order

This week Peter Beinart, writing in the New York Times, took aim at one of the Blob's favorite terms: the "rules-based order." The Biden administration often invokes the term, typically in reference to the threat allegedly posed to that order by China. The problem, Beinart notes, is that no one ever bothers to explain what rules constitute the order-what rules America is supposedly abiding by while its adversaries violate them... -Robert Wright and Connor Echols, Responsible Statecraft 6/29/21

US and Israel Vote 'No' as 184 Nations Condemn American Blockade of Cuba

Peace and human rights advocates joined the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday in their annual condemnation of the United States' disastrous economic embargo against Cuba. For the 29th straight year, the members of the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution demanding an end to the 60-year U.S. economic blockade on Cuba. -Common Dreams 6/29/21

U.S. Website Seizures Targeting Iran Cast Wide Net Over Dissident and Religious Broadcasters

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice seized and censored 33 websites as part of a retaliatory action on the grounds that they violate U.S. sanctions on Iran. Some of the websites belonged to Iranian propaganda networks. Others were Shiite Muslim religious outlets that appeared to have nothing to do with - or were even at odds with - the Iranian regime. -Matthew Petti, Intercept 6/28/21

Concerns rise in Iran over internet access

A group of Iranian lawmakers are working on a draft bill that could further restrict access to the internet, a reformist newspaper said Sunday. The bill calls for "organising social media" and the banning of virtual private network (VPN) software used widely by Iranians to bypass internet restrictions and blocks imposed on several social media websites, according to Etemad. -AFP 6/28/21

US seizure of Iran-linked websites 'shortsighted', analysts say

Just like its abandonment of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, another unilateral move by the United States once more promises to affect life in Iran for the worse, this time in terms of internet freedom, analysts say. In a surprise move on Wednesday, the US Justice Department seized 36 websites with links to the Iranian state for engaging in "disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations". -Al-Jazeera 6/25/21

Canada blames Iran's 'disregard for human life' in downing of Boeing

The Iranian missile fire that shot down a Ukrainian Boeing airliner last year stemmed from a mixture of recklessness, incompetence and disregard for human life on the part of Tehran, an official report by Canadian experts released Thursday said, though it found no evidence the strike was premeditated. -AFP 6/25/21

Top UN Official: Human Rights Situation in Iran is of "Serious Concern"

In the latest report on Iran by the UN Secretary-General, the world's top diplomat stated that the rights situation in Iran "remains of serious concern" and that "impediments to the rule of law and weak justice and accountability mechanisms result in impunity, perpetuate existing [human rights] violations and increase the risk of future violations." -CHRI 6/24/21

Press Freedom Advocates Condemn 'Reckless' US Shutdown of Iranian News Sites

Anti-war and other progressive activists joined press freedom advocates in roundly condemning the U.S. move, with Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the women-led peace group CodePink, incredulously asking, "I thought [U.S. President Joe] Biden was trying to make peace with Iran?" Journalist Rania Khalek tweeted that "if a country did this to U.S. media outlets it would be seen as an act of war." -Common Dreams 6/23/21

US blocks websites linked to Iranian government

US law enforcement seized the websites of two Iranian state-controlled news groups, Press TV and Al-Alam, and of the Al-Masirah TV channel of Yemen's Huthis, statements posted on the websites showed Tuesday. Each site displayed a single page with a statement that it "has been seized by the United States Government" and making reference to US sanctions laws, accompanied by the seal of the FBI and the US Department of Commerce. -France24 6/23/21

Deadly traffic: the fuel drivers caught up in Pakistan-Iran border tensions

As the two countries crack down on smuggling, those forced to cross the border 'for survival' face a perilous journey. The business of transporting fuel between Iran and the province of Balochistan has gone on for decades. Each day more than 1,000 Zamyads used to make this journey, selling to 1.5 million people in the Makran region of Balochistan. Iranian fuel also reaches five million people in other regions where Pakistani oil companies have no petrol stations. -Guardian 6/22/21

'We have more in common than what separates us': refugee stories, told by refugees

Robin Hammond has spent two decades crisscrossing the developing world and telling other people's stories. From photographing the Rohingya forced out of Myanmar and rape survivors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to documenting the lives of people in countries where their sexuality is illegal, his work has earned him award after award. -Guardian 6/21/21

Israel spy on Iran nuclear scientists: 'We offer them a way out'

The outgoing chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence service has offered the closest acknowledgement yet his country was behind recent attacks targeting Iran's nuclear programme and a military scientist. The comments by Yossi Cohen, speaking to Israel's Channel 12 investigative programme Uvda in a segment aired on Thursday night, offered an extraordinary debriefing by the head of the typically secretive agency in what appears to be the final days of PM Benjamin Netanyahu's rule. -Al-Jazeera 6/11/21

Iran elections: Voters plan boycott over lack of choice

With just a week to go before Iran holds its presidential elections, a key phrase has been circulating among much of the electorate: "There is no way I will vote." Across the Islamic Republic, there appears to be a surge of apathy towards the 18 June poll, with many planning to stay home rather than take part in a process which they see as unfair, unrepresentative and unlikely to produce any substantial change in their lives. -Saeid Jafari, MEE 6/11/21

Iranian Kurds in Iraq hopelessly seek asylum, UN assistance

On May 18, Behzad Mahmoudi, a Kurdish asylum seeker from Iran, set himself on fire in front of the United Nations office in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq. Four years ago, the 26-year-old fled his home city of Boukan in western Iran, hoping to find a better future away from the persecution and discrimination many Kurds in Iran say they face. -Dana Taib Menmy, Al-Jazeera 6/9/21

The short life and long journey of Artin, found dead on Norway beach

The authorities in Norway did not have much to go on when they found the body on the shore on New Year's Day. But the baby boy was wearing a jacket - navy blue with white stitching. And that helped them solve the mystery of what had happened to 15-month-old Artin Iran Nezhad, who had last been seen weeks before and hundreds of miles away. -Diane Taylor, Guardian 6/9/21

Iran Election: Political Prisoners Dying Under Candidate Raisi's Watch

Another political prisoner has died in state custody two weeks before Iran's Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, who is ultimately responsible for the care of prisoners, runs for president. "The reported death of Sassan Niknafs in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary reveals the mounting human toll of the Iranian judiciary's policy of imprisoning individuals for criticizing the government," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran. -CHRI 6/8/21

Iranian press review: Reformist election candidate warned not to cross red lines

Iran's Guardian Council, the constitutional body responsible for vetting candidates for elections, has warned the only candidate close to the reformist camp in June's presidential poll that he will be disqualified if he crosses any red lines during the campaign. Khatami's remarks came after Abdolnaser Hemmati, a candidate who leans towards the reformists, criticised the country's mandatory hijab law for women during an interview broadcast on state TV. -MEE 6/4/21

A Family's Anguish and Cautious Hope After Dad Is Imprisoned in Iran: 'Missing a Huge Chunk of Our Family'

For most of the last three years, Bahareh Shargi's watch has been set to Iranian time. And when she checks the clock hands ticking away, the Washington, D.C., mother of two imagines how her husband of 32 years is managing life as an American captive overseas. -People 6/3/21

Who should I hold responsible for the death of my son in Iraq?

Who should I hold responsible for the death of my son, killed in action while serving in Iraq 14 years ago this month? A Washington-based law firm, Sparacino, has stepped up to offer a straightforward answer to that question: I should blame Iran. My wife and I recently received a letter from the firm inviting us to join a lawsuit against the Islamic Republic that will "empower us to attempt to seize Iranian assets on your behalf should any opportunities emerge." -Andrew J. Bacevich, Responsible Statecraft 5/31/21

Iran indicts French tourist detained on espionage charges

Iranian authorities indicted a French tourist on charges of spying and spreading propaganda against the system, his lawyer said Sunday. It was the latest in a series of cases against foreigners amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West. Benjamin Berier was arrested in May last year after taking pictures in a desert area where photography is prohibited and asking questions "in the media" about Iran's obligatory Islamic headscarf for women. -AP 5/31/21

Iranians with rare disease dying under US sanctions

After the United States under former president Donald Trump withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in May 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, Molnlycke stopped exporting the Mepilix product to Iran... According to The Hague-based Iranian Centre for International Criminal Law (ICICL), nearly 30 Iranian EB patients - mostly children - have died since Molnlycke stopped selling its dressings to Iran. For EB survivors, the pain has increased by 70 percent. -Al-Jazeera 5/28/21

Doing human rights in Afghanistan right this time

On May 8, 2021, explosions targeting the Sayed ul-Shuhada school in Kabul killed 90 people, most of them girls from Afghanistan's Shia Hazara community. The horrific attack confirmed the fears of many Afghans that, as the war intensifies and U.S. troops withdraw, there could be more such atrocities. How to prevent a catastrophic deterioration of the human rights situation is the critical question for U.S. policy in Afghanistan now. -Patricia Gossman, Responsible Statecraft 5/28/21

Family of Iranian Americans held in Iran worry they will be left behind again

Babak Namazi, whose brother and father are detained in Iran, is living in fear that his family members could be left behind again as the Biden administration is engaged in a diplomatic effort to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. Namazi's deep concerns are not unfounded -CNN 5/28/21

Iran sentences activist to 30 months jail, flogging

Iranian rights activist and journalist Narges Mohammadi, released from jail in October, has been handed a new sentence of 80 lashes and 30 months in jail, her lawyer said Thursday. Mohammadi, 49, a campaigner against the death penalty, was spokeswoman for the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran -- founded by lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi -- when she was arrested in May 2015. -AFP 5/28/21

Iran: Growing harassment of journalists as presidential election campaign begins

The Islamic Republic of Iran has intensified judicial pressures and harassment of independent and critical journalists as the campaign for the presidential election begins. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the use of the judiciary to harass and prosecute journalists for simply doing their job and calls for Iranian media workers to be able to cover the election without facing harassment. -IFJ 5/27/21

Iran's leadership accused of fixing presidential election

Iran's leadership has been accused of a transparent fix after most prominent reformists were barred from running in next month's presidential elections, leaving one of the most politically constrained fields in the 41-year history of the republic. Delaying the announcement to the last minute, the country's 12-strong Guardian Council - the body that vets candidates - barred most reformist or centrist candidates, leaving a field of seven, largely made up of hard-liners. -Guardian 5/26/21

Iranian journalist Najaf Mehdipour imprisoned with no charges disclosed

Iranian authorities must immediately release journalist Najaf Mehdipour, known as Kaveh, and stop arbitrarily arresting members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On May 18, authorities in the eastern city of Darreh Shahr, in Ilam province, arrested Mehdipour, a freelance journalist, at his home and the following day transferred him to a local prison... -CPJ 5/26/21

Nasrin review - this is what a superhero looks like in the real world

This clandestinely shot documentary about Iranian human-rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh reveals what superheroism looks like in the real world. As significant as the tireless work in lawyer's cabinets, drab constitutional courts and prison visiting rooms is her symbolic importance: her sinewy persistence and true courage in standing up to Iran's dogmatic regime have the potential to ignite such qualities in others, and unlock the collective action needed to shift this sclerotic society. -Guardian 5/25/21

The Saudi blockade on Yemen is a war crime, and only civilians suffer from it

On Wednesday, Senator Warren sent a letter asking President Biden to take action to pressure Saudi Arabia to end its blockade of Yemen. "We request that you leverage all influence & tools available, including the potential impact on pending weapons sales, U.S.-Saudi military cooperation, and U.S.-Saudi ties more broadly, to demand that Saudi Arabia immediately & unconditionally stop the use of blockade tactics. The current commercial fuel import standoff must end today and be decoupled from ongoing negotiations." -Annelle Sheline, Responsible Statecraft 5/24/21

Iran stunned by case of couple who drugged and dismembered son

An Iranian couple have been arrested for drugging, murdering and dismembering their film-maker son, Babak Khorramdin, 47, and also confessed to killing their daughter and son-in-law in the same way years earlier. The case has stunned Iran, where it has been splashed across the front pages of newspapers with headlines including "Society in shock" and "Occupants of terror house". -Guardian 5/24/21

'End the Occupation': Progressives Say Cease-Fire Far From Enough to Secure Justice for Palestinians

While welcoming the cease-fire agreement that brought about a desperately needed pause to Israel's 11-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, progressive lawmakers and Palestinian rights advocates stressed Thursday that an end to the bombing in itself will neither rebuild the devastated territory nor remedy decades of harm inflicted by the brutal Israeli occupation. -Common Dreams 5/21/21

Iran rejects Canadian court ruling that Tehran liable for downed Ukrainian plane

Iran said on Friday a provincial Canadian court has no jurisdiction to rule on a claim for damages over the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane downed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards last year. The Superior Court of Justice of the Canadian province of Ontario ruled on Thursday that Iran owes damages to families who sued over the crash, which killed 176 people, 138 of them with ties to Canada. -Reuters 5/21/21

Film director murdered and dismembered 'by parents angry he wasn't married yet'

A film director was murdered and dismembered by his parents in an honour killing after he returned home to Iran, it is claimed. Babak Khorramdin's parents confessed to killing him and doing the same to their daughter three years ago and their son-in-law ten years ago, Iranian media reported. The severed body parts of Mr Khorramdin, who was formerly based in the UK, were found in rubbish bags and a suitcase in aTehran suburb, said police. -Mirror 5/20/21

'US-Made Bombs Are Devastating Gaza': Sanders Resolution Aims to Block $735 Million Weapons Sale to Israel

Joining his progressive allies in the House, Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday introduced a resolution of disapproval against the Biden administration's proposed sale of advanced weaponry to the Israeli government, which continues to unleash deadly airstrikes on the occupied Gaza Strip amid global calls for a cease-fire. -Common Dreams 5/20/21

Mapping Israeli occupation

For the fourth time in 13 years, Israel has launched a major military offensive on the Gaza Strip. In its latest assault that began on May 10, at least 220 Palestinians, including 63 children, have been killed in Gaza. At least 12 people have died in Israel, including two children. According to Human Rights Watch, Israel is "committing crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution" against the Palestinians. -Mohammed Haddad, Al-Jazeera 5/19/21

Global Solidarity Protests Against Israeli Apartheid as Palestinians Stage General Strike

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel took part in an historic general strike Tuesday and were joined by the international community who staged solidarity demonstrations to denounce the latest attacks by the Israeli military which have killed at least 212 people, including 61 children, and wounded thousands more. -Common Dreams 5/19/21

Amnesty International Calls for ICC War Crimes Probe of Israeli Strikes on Gaza Homes

Citing a "shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians" demonstrated by the Israeli military's ongoing attacks on civilian homes in the densely populated Gaza Strip, Amnesty International on Monday implored the International Criminal Court to "urgently investigate" such bombings as possible "war crimes or crimes against humanity." -Common Dreams 5/18/21

A card exempted a gay man from serving in Iran's military. It may have cost him his life

Alireza Fazeli-Monfared's future was brutally cut short last week when members of his family allegedly murdered him due to his sexual orientation, according to his partner and a LGBTQ rights group. The 20-year-old Iranian had hoped to escape the country, where he felt stifled by the Iranian regime's restrictions on homosexuality, and had dreams of modeling or becoming a make-up artist, his partner Aghil Abiat told CNN. -Gul Tuysuz, CNN 5/18/21

Iran: How transgender people survive ultraconservative rule

Iran's state subsidizes gender reassignment surgery while prohibiting homosexuality. A long and continuing history of activism has helped transgender people bolster their community despite the discrimination they face. -DW 5/17/21

Sanders Says US Must 'Take a Hard Look' at Nearly $4 Billion in Annual Military Aid to Israel

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Sunday that lawmakers must "take a hard look" at the nearly $4 billion in military aid the U.S. sends to Israel on an annual basis as the Netanyahu regime continues its devastating assault on Gaza and attempts to forcefully expel Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem. -Common Dreams 5/17/21

Biden Claims Israeli Attack on Gaza Is Not an 'Overreaction' as Onslaught Intensifies, Death Toll Mounts

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based advocacy group, said in a statement earlier this week that "the United States is complicit in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity against Palestinians who, for decades, have been struggling for freedom and the right to remain on their land with dignity. With its unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support of the Israeli apartheid regime, the U.S. bears responsibility for the everyday violence of Israeli oppression and belligerent military occupation, and for allowing the Israeli military and security forces to wield deadly force against Palestinians with impunity." -Common Dreams 5/14/21

Iranian nurse braves difficulties, dangers imposed by COVID-19, U.S. sanctions

Despite having been pregnant for three months, Maliha Gharib Shah still worked on the frontline against COVID-19 on Wednesday, when people across the world were marking the International Nurses Day. As the coronavirus continues to run rampant through Iran, Shah, a nurse at the heart ward of Imam Hossein Hospital in Tehran, said, "I have to help my colleagues tide over these trying times." -Gao Wencheng, Xinhua 5/13/21

As Biden Blasted for 'Green Light' to Israel's Gaza Slaughter, House Dems Praised for Urging US Peace Push

As President Joe Biden faced withering criticism on Wednesday from human rights defenders for a sympathetic phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that some called a "green light" to continue Israel's latest deadly assault on Gaza, a group of 25 Democratic U.S. lawmakers was praised for attempting to help save hundreds of families in occupied East Jerusalem from ethnic cleansing. -Common Dreams 5/13/21

Berlin winner There Is No Evil tells four stories to condemn the death penalty

In his novel If On A Winter's Night A Traveler, Italian writer Italo Calvino observed, "The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death." That statement is insightful enough and broad enough to apply figuratively to any form of art. But Mohammad Rasoulof's There Is No Evil, which won the Golden Bear (or top prize) at Berlin last year, puts a literal spin on it. -Roxana Hadadi, AV Club 5/13/21

Iran detained at least 8 Kurdish journalists starting in mid-2020; 3 remain behind bars

Iranian authorities must stop imprisoning and harassing Kurdish and other minority journalists, and should allow all members of the press to cover the news freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Since May 2020, Iranian authorities have arrested dozens of activists and students in a crackdown on perceived pro-Kurdish movements in the country, according to reports. -CPJ 5/13/21

Iran: UN experts welcome release of Arash Sadeghi

UN human rights experts* welcomed the release of Iranian human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, who was released from Raja'i Shahr Prison this month after five-and-a-half years in detention. Mr. Sadeghi received prison sentences totalling 15 years by a Revolutionary Court on multiple charges, including publishing "lies in cyberspace", "propaganda against the system" and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. -OHCHR 5/12/21

Iran attacked: Is Revolutionary Guard looking the wrong way?

At a moment when Israeli agents and its allied operatives appear to regularly penetrate Iran and freely target its nuclear program, the episode highlights the fixation of the IRGC's intelligence branch instead on domestic activists and dual citizens it accuses of espionage, providing a window into its threat priorities. -Scott Peterson, CSM 5/12/21

Biden Administration Reportedly Blocking UN Cease-Fire Statement as Israel Bombards Gaza

As the Biden administration stands in the way of the U.N. Security Council statement, Israel is reportedly refusing to accept a cease-fire offer proposed by the U.N. and Egypt as the Netanyahu regime ramped up its bombardment of Gaza, killing civilians-including children-and destroying residential buildings in what observers are calling blatant war crimes. -Common Dreams 5/12/21

Horrific Killing Of Young Gay Man Puts Plight Of Iran's LGBT Community In Spotlight

His name was Alireza Fazeli Monfared and he was only 20 years old. Fazeli Monfared was homosexual and due to the difficulties he faced because of his sexual orientation, was about to flee his native Iran for Turkey. But he was reportedly killed by his family members before he could leave the southwestern province of Khuzestan after they accused him of dishonoring the family. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 5/12/21

Protecting Afghan women's rights after US troops withdraw

Afghan women are understandably anxious about their future after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, a concern underscored by an attack on a high school for girls near Kabul on Saturday. Women made huge leaps in the rights and opportunities they enjoy under the protection of international forces since 2001, particularly in education and the workforce. Given the Taliban's terrible record of repressing women, combined with the impending withdrawal of U.S. troops, activists fear women's rights will decline rapidly in Afghanistan and become an afterthought in U.S. foreign policy. -Nazila Jamshidi, Responsible Statecraft 5/11/21

"Unbearable": Reza Khandan, Husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, on the Ground in Iran's Qarchak Prison

The little girl is three years old. She approaches my wife Nasrin Sotoudeh who is sitting in a corner of the prison yard and asks, "Aunty, can you tell me the Rolling Pumpkin story?" Sonbol is a beautiful girl with golden hair, born here at Qarchak prison. Her mother was pregnant when she was arrested for bank robbery. Now they live in a place the inmates call "the end of the world." -Reza Khandan, Ms. Magazine 5/11/21

Hassan Rouhani criticises Iranian election criteria

Iran's outgoing president has criticised a sudden narrowing of the eligibility criteria for those hoping to succeed him as registration formally opened for candidates in the 18 June vote. Dissidents and critics claim the campaign is just a charade and helps provide legitimacy to an autocratic regime but the tensions over who can stand - and the move by a powerful unelected body to exert greater control - has revealed the tensions in Iranian society over the outcome. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 5/11/21

Sheikh Jarrah: Clashes, scuffles, conflict - western media's euphemisms for Israel's violence

Let's imagine some creative wartime reporting: "On April 26, 1937, the inhabitants of the Basque town of Guernica 'clashed' with German warplanes dropping high explosives and incendiary bombs. The town was pulverised in the course of the 'scuffle', and up to 1600 people perished". Obviously, the above lines would never be written by any non-delusional person, since the nature of the power relationship between human bodies on the one hand and bomb-spewing airborne monstrosities on the other is quite clear. -Belen Fernandez, MEE 5/11/21

Joint Letter: Biden Admin Urged to Prioritize Iranian Human Rights Concerns

We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to prioritize human rights as you shape your administration's foreign policy toward Iran. As the United States works to return to JCPOA, we hope that you will make good on your pledge to put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Efforts to seek improvements in Iran's egregious human rights record should take place parallel to negotiations on security matters, recognizing fully that U.S. national security interests cannot be met if the human security of the Iranian people is left unaddressed. -CHRI 5/11/21

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