Recommended readings by Iraj Seif

Iraj Seif is an Iranian economist and blogger.

His recent articles include:

– The risk of famine in Iran:  http://www.viewpointonline.net/risk-of-famine-in-iran.html

– A dangerous game in Tehran (about the conflict between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad: http://www.viewpointonline.net/a-dangerous-game-in-tehran.html

– The political economy of contemporary Iran: http://iranistudies.blogspot.com/2011/09/political-economy-of-comtemporary-iran.html

More articles on http://iranistudies.blogspot.com/

Former IAEA analyst debunks Iran report

In this article on Bloomberg, Robert Kelly, who now regrets being part of the IAEA’s Iraq Action Team, debunks the latest report purporting to show that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Of the three pieces of ‘evidence’ which are not out of date, referring to Iran’s previous weaponisation program, two are entirely unverifiable, and one an obvious forgery.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-11/iran-nuclear-weapons-charge-is-no-slam-dunk-commentary-by-robert-kelley.html

Sentence against Panahi upheld

Bad news: A Tehran appeals court has upheld a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban against Panahi.

At the moment Panahi is still free. His lawyer Farideh Ghairat says: “We have no news. The verdict has not been confirmed to us.”

The government-run newspaper Iran wrote on Saturday: “The charges Panahi was sentenced for are acting against national security and propaganda against the regime.”

Student Ali Ajami on hunger strike

Ali Ajami, a 23 year old student activist has been on hunger strike for 6 days now along with 5 other political prisoners in Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj. He was arrested in February 2010 at his parents village near Sabzevar. During his arrest the regimes thugs violently attacked his family. After spending months in solitary confinement in Evin prison he was sentenced to four years in prison, later reduced to two years of prison in exile. He was moved to Raja’i Shar prison and hasn’t seen his family in 7 months.

The hunger strike started after Ali was attacked by the guards in the hospital of the prison and was very badly injured. The hunger strikes in Raja’i Shahr are also in solidarity with those on strike in Evin prison.

 

Eighteen political prisoners on hunger strike in Iran

Persian2English – June 25

18 political prisoners in Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons have raised serious concern after launching hunger strikes.

12 of the political prisoners, who are held in Evin, began an indefinite hunger strike six days ago in protest to the deaths of two activists, Haleh Sahabi and Hoda Saber. Their names are: Emad Bahavar, Ghorban Behzadian Nejad, Bahman Ahmadi Amouie, Abdollah Momeni, Hassan Asadi Zeidabadi, Amir Khosrow Dalirsani, Abolfazl Ghadyani, Feizollah Arabsorkhi, Mohammad Reza Moghiseh, Mohammad Davari, Mohsen Aminzadeh, and Mehdi Eghbal.

According to reports, Abdollah Momeni and Abolfazl Ghadyani had been transferred to the prison’s clinic.

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* Haleh Sahabi was a temporarily-released political prisoner murdered on June 1st at her father’s funeral after a raid by security forces. Her body was buried beside her father at night under heavy security presence.

**Hoda Saber, another political prisoner went on hunger strike in prison to protest Sahabi’s death. On June 12th, ten days into his hunger strike, he died from an alleged massive heart attack. According to follow-up reports, prison authorities delayed his transfer to hospital. There are also reports that he was badly beaten while he was on the hunger strike.

The Iranian authorities have not named, arrested, or charged any persons responsible for the deaths of Haleh Sahabi and Hoda Saber.

Mansour Osanloo back in prison despite serious illness

Mansour Osanloo, the imprisoned founding member of the Syndicate of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), who had been hospitalized for the past few days for his heart condition was returned to prison again on Saturday, 21 May, despite his dire condition. “Because prison conditions are dangerous for Mansour’s health, I tried very hard through the Prosecutor’s office to have him come back home from the hospital, and to remain under house arrest [instead]. I even offered to look after the forces [watching Osanloo], just so that Mansour would return home, because according to his doctors’ diagnosis, he must be on a proper diet, eat fruits and vegetables, and stay in a stress-free environment. None of these would happen in prison,” Parvaneh Osanloo, wife of the labor activist, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“I talked a lot on the phone with the Office Manager at the Prisons Organization, but, unfortunately, I neither heard a positive nor a negative answer, and on Saturday he was returned to prison,” said Parvaneh, regarding her request on behalf of Mansour. “He was hospitalized on 1 May, but ultimately the medical team decided that he should receive heart physiotherapy and drug treatment, because open heart surgery at his age and in his condition is very dangerous and it will be a lot harder for him to be in prison post-surgery”.

“Since Saturday when, despite my efforts, Mansour was returned to prison, we have not heard any news from him because the prison phones are disconnected. I’m requesting his quick release. The doctors have determined that he needs a stress-free environment and continuous treatment. He also needs to see his physician regularly so his medications are controlled. Worst of all is that because the telephone is disconnected, the authorities should at least maintain contact with us, so that we can learn about our loved ones’ conditions,” added Parvaneh.

Mansour Osanloo was arrested by security forces near his house in March 2007. After his trial on charges of “acting against national security” and “propagating against the regime,” he was sentenced to five years in prison. He is currently in Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj. Due to clogged arteries, the Medical Examiner has voted three times for an end to Osanloo’s prison term, but the judicial authorities have not reacted to this observation. He has been hospitalized several times during his prison term, most recently at a private hospital in Tehran on 1 May, though he was returned to prison after 20 days. (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – May 25, 2011)

Executions and repression intensify in Iran

With the continued threat of war, the sanctions siege and the dual political and economic crisis within Iran the repression of opposition forces is continuing and intensifying.

On Tuesday May 17 two brothers, Mohammad (27) and Abdollah (29) Fathi, were executed by the Islamic Republic. After being torture they were sentenced for being involved with anti-revolutionary groups, armed robbery and Mohareb (waging war against god). Their father, Bijan Fathi, said that their confessions were “obtained under severe torture” and they were “deprived of all their basic lawful rights”.

Below is the video of their funeral:

Left-wing student and activist Mohammad Pourabdollah who has been in prison since February 12 2009 has been moved to the infamous Ghezal Hesar prison in Karaj a city to the west of Tehran. It is a prison known for its barbaric treatment of prisoners and the housing of violent thugs and rapists. He has been charged with propoghanda against the state and being a threat to national security. Pourabdollah was initially sentenced to six years but was reduced to three years on appeal. He has spent months in solitary confinement enduring methodical physical and mental torture.

He was moved along with ten other political prisoners to a prison where in March up to 150 prisoners were injured and a minimum of 14 killed when prison guards attacked prisoners. This is a common move by the theocratic regime that puts political prisoners and those on false charges in the wings and prisons of often violent prisoners.

On the same day of Pourabdollah’s arrest comrade Alireza Davoudi was taken from his home into secret detention. He would never be released alive. The Ayatollah’s thugs murdered comrade Davoudi on July 29 2009 by torturing him to death.

These moves come at a time when the regime is stepping up the murder and brutalisation of political prisoners. Habib Latifi, another left-wing student, is at risk of execution after his death sentence was upheld by Iran’s supreme court. The comrade was arrested in October 2007 during a massive crack down against left-wing students. He is accused of conspiracy against national security and insurgence. A massive campaign was launched to stop the execution which was originally scheduled for December 26 2010. This campaign has been reignited with hundreds of people in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj have signed a letter asking Ali Khamenei to pardon Latifi.

Hands Off the People of Iran is for the release of all political prisoners and an end to executions. Mass action in Iran backed up by grass roots international solidarity is desperately needed to push back the repression and end executions. There can be no liberation from the imperialist forces whose sanctions are causing unemployment and poverty on a massive scale. We are opposed to all sanctions and any military action directed against Iran.

Iran continues clamp down on student activists

Iranian authorities are continuing to clamp down on student activists by restricting their activities and throwing more activists in jail.

As student organizations are faced with severe limitations on their activities, close to 70 student activists are currently in Islamic Republic prisons on various security and political charges.

Ashkan Zahabian, a student at Fardowsi University in Mashhad and a member of Takim-e Vahadat, Iran’s largest student organization, was arrested yesterday for the third time since the controversial re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which triggered widespread protests across Iran in 2009.

In Tehran, officials seeking to arrest activist and Amir Kabir university student Pedram Rafati have raided the home of his parents over the past two days.

Rafati was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards in June 2009 and sentenced to two years in prison.

Daneshjoo News also reports that new charges have been brought against Bahraeh Hedayat, Mehdieh Golrou and Majid Tavakoli, three prominent student activists who are already serving harsh sentences in Evin Prison.

They were reportedly taken to court from prison and sentenced to an extra six months in jail.

The new charges stemmed from the announcements they issued to student activists marking National Student Day in Iran.

… Payvand News – 05/04/11 … —

 

May Day statement of seven workers organisations in Iran

On the occasion of the International Labor Day on 1 May, seven Iranian labor organizations have published a statement, objecting to the violations of Iranian workers’ most basic rights. “While all over the world, the workers’ show their joy and passion and will to fight on 1 May, and their free million-strong protests against their living conditions shake the world, Iranian workers are not only deprived of the social rights to establish organizations and street protests, they are exposed to the most severe attacks on their lives and livelihood”, the statement expresses. The statement briefly describes the current state of affairs for Iranian workers and illustrates the many problems they currently face.

The seven labor organizations are the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Iran Free Trade Union, the Committee To Restart The Paint and Decoration Construction Workers Syndicate, The Committee To Restart the Mechanical Metal Workers Syndicate, Center For The Defense of Workers, The Committee To Pursue Building Labor Coalitions, and The Coordinating Committee To Help Establish Labor Organizations.

“Any objection or demand of rights by the workers is answered with arrests and prison; the so-called ‘Targeted Subsidies’ plan which have been started by the ruling capitalists with the help of international capitalist organizations, is further destroying the lives and livelihoods of millions of workers’ families, and no one has the right to freely express their opinion about this; with the dizzying rise in the prices of energy and factory closures, every day hundreds and thousands of workers join the other unemployed millions, and the unemployment insurance laws are changed to the detriment of the workers simultaneously; hospitals and government medical centers collect co-payments from workers and new obstacles are created for retirement benefits; the construction workers’ insurance is made ineffective in the labyrinth of office hallways; and while they have taken measures which would increase the prices of basic staples at an alarming pace, they have insultingly reduced the minimum wages of workers by 9%,” says the statement, describing the current conditions of Iranian workers.

“From our viewpoint, all these actions will result in nothing but further desperation for earning a livelihood and imposition of poverty and an increasing state of misery for the millions of labor families who are unable to provide a minimum livelihood under the current circumstances. But we, the workers, will not be mere observers of the gradual deaths of ourselves, our spouses, and our children. We shall not tolerate the daily attacks on our lives and livelihood, and will persevere united and seamlessly against poverty and misery and the imposed deprivation of social rights,” said the seven labor organizations.

“We, the Iranian workers, express disgust at the the existing situation, and call on everyone all over the country to raise their demands in a united and sweeping way,” express the labor organizations, asking for immediate action on the following demands:

1. The unconditional freedom to set up independent labor organizations, to strike, to protest, to demonstrate, and to have freedom of belonging to political parties, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and a free press are our inalienable rights and while all government-made organizations must be eliminated from the work and living environments, these demands must be formally recognized as indisputable social rights of the Iranian workers and general public.

2. We will not stand for a society in which a minority holds wealth and huge capital, and the majority have no dinner at night. In our opinion, the 9% wage increase, especially in view of the plan to cease subsidies and the accelerated increase in living expenses, is an insult to human decency and the workers’ right to live. We consider such wages an increasing imposition of poverty and absolute misery on millions of labor families. We reject the current manner of determining the wages and emphatically demand a cessation of the plan to cut subsidies and that wages are determined by the workers’ real representatives according to the highest standards of life for today’s human beings.

3. We demand the elimination of the temporary and blanket contracts and the elimination of contractors and [we demand] direct group contracts, providing workers with job security, and observation of the highest standards of hygiene and safety inside work and living environments.

4. The outstanding wages of workers must be paid immediately and without any excuses and the failure to pay them must be treated as a crime which may be pursued in the judicial system, and the related damages must be payed to the workers.

5. Dismissing the workers and making them unemployed on a variety of excuses must end and all those who have been dismissed or who have reached working age [but are unemployed] must be able to have unemployment benefits sufficient for human living.

6. Though today Iran’s Social Security Organization is an organization with astronomical wealth supplied by the efforts and funds of Iranian workers, the organization is involved in a cycle of profits and profit-making, only concerning itself with reducing medical services and receiving co-payments from sick workers. We consider social security insurance as the inalienable right of all members of the society and demand this organization to be managed in the hands of representatives of workers from all over the country.

7. While we condemn any attack on worker and public protests, we demand the revocation of death sentences and immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned workers and members of other social movements, and an end to the judicial proceedings against them, and an end to the existing security atmosphere.

8. We demand that all laws that are discriminatory to women be revoked, and that the total and unconditional equality of men’s and women’s rights is guaranteed in all social, economic, political, cultural, and family realms.

9. We demand that all retired individuals have access to a comfortable life, free of economic concerns, and that all discrimination in the retirement wages of the retirees is eliminated and that they are all covered by social security and medical insurance.

10. Child labor must end. Children and their parents must have complete and full social security, access to uniform and free education, welfare, and medical coverage, regardless of their family’s economic and social status, their gender, ethnic, racial, and religious ties.

11. We consider the demand for change an inalienable right of all human beings all over the world and through assertive support of people’s struggles and protests in all Middle East countries, we strongly condemn any government crackdown on public protests or plots to change the directions of the people’s demands, and any kind of intervention in the fate of the people of the Middle East.

12. We are a part of the international labor force and condemn the deportation and imposition of any discrimination on the refugee workers from Afghanistan or any other country.

13. We appreciate the international labor and public support of the Iranian workers’ struggles, and we assertively support the protests and demands of workers all over the world and consider ourselves united with them. Now, more than any other time, we emphasize the international solidarity of workers for release from the hardships of capitalist system.

14. First of May must be made a national holiday and included in the official calendar of the country, and all limitations and bans on holding ceremonies on this day must be removed.

Iranian hunger strikers sew their lips together in protest at UK deportation

The Guardian – Four Iranians, including a 17-year-old boy, are on hunger strike and have sewn their lips together with fishing wire in protest at plans by the British government to send them back to Tehran.

The men, who are among six protesters to have not eaten for 16 days, say they were beaten, tortured and in one case raped after taking part in anti-regime protests that swept Iran in 2009. They claim that although their lives would be in danger in Iran they have been “ignored and dismissed” by UK authorities since they sought refuge in the country last year.

“We have sewn our mouths because there is no other way,” said Keyvan Bahari, 32, who has scars across his back and arms from what he said was 12 days of being slashed with razor blades by the Iranian authorities when he was a student. “Nobody in the UK hears us or cares what we say so we have no other option but to do this.”

Bahari, a former champion wrestler who ran his own training centre in Tehran, said the media and government in the UK and US had encouraged him and tens of thousands of other young people to stand up against the regime but had now “washed their hands” of the protesters.

“When I was back in Tehran, I was seeing Obama and British officials on our illegal satellite TVs, encouraging us day in day out to continue our protest,” said Bahari, who is one of three men camping on the pavement outside Lunar House immigration centre in Croydon. Speaking with difficulty through his sewn-up lips, which are already sore and infected, he said: “They said that they will support us but now that I’m stuck in here and need help, they are nowhere.”

The men say they are taking liquids, but doctors say that even so, they could deteriorate quickly, especially if they have pre-existing medical conditions.

Mahyar Meyari, 17, lying in the small tent next to Bahari, recalls how he was raped after being arrested following a demonstration on al-Quds day in 2009. “I was blindfolded and taken to an unknown place where I was kept for a week. I was kicked on the head by batons many times … and even raped,” he said before breaking down.

Mahyar paid a smuggler to get him out of the country but says he did not know where he was being taken before he arrived in the UK 16 days later. “I can’t explain how I feel here, I can’t believe what’s happening to me,” said Mahyar, who does not speak English. “When I claimed asylum with the Home Office, they first didn’t believe that I’m 17 years old, they said I was lying. There’s a culture of disbelief in the Home Office, everybody thinks you are lying by default.”

The men’s asylum claims were all turned down, although some are still involved in appeals. They say they feel let down by the legal system and the lawyers appointed by the Home Office to represent them.

“I’m very discontent about my legal representation,” said Bahari. “I saw my lawyer more as a Home Office officer than a lawyer there to protect my rights. He was more looking after the rights of the Home Office.”

A government spokesman said the UK Border Agency “takes every asylum application it receives seriously” adding the men were given “every opportunity to make their representations to us as well as a right to appeal the decision to the courts”.

He added: “They all had access to free legal advice as well as a designated UK Border Agency caseowner who considered their case on its individual merits.”

However, the men say they have had very little contact with the Home Office since they began their protest and campaigners – and fellow Iranian activists – say asylum seekers are fighting a culture of disbelief across the government.

“The people who are supposed to interview asylum seekers in the Home Office, they do not interview these people, they interrogate them,” said Akbar Karimian, an Iranian activist who has been helping the group. “They search for an error or a mistake in their testimonies so that they can find a contradictory evidence to reject their claim. You imagine that the officers in a refugee organisation of this government are there to help these vulnerable people, but they are there to find a way to send them back.”

Campaigners say the UK hunger strike is a sign of the increasing desperation among Iranian asylum seekers. One man died after setting himself alight in Amsterdam this month and 25 Iranians sewed their lips together in Greece in an attempt to secure refugee status. The Medical Foundation, which is preparing a report on Meyari’s condition for his next appeal, says 293 Iranians were referred to the organisation for help in 2010.

Lying in the tent, Mahyar said the UK hunger strikers, like many fellow Iranians, were prepared for drastic action. “I prefer to die here than going back to Iran. I’ll continue this protest until somebody comes here and asks me why I’m doing this, until somebodycares about what has happened to me.”