Why and how to tighten the screws on Iran

Two years ago, nuclear negotiations concluded between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations, with the U.S. at its head. The resulting Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the Iran nuclear deal, has accomplished little in the time since.Some may argue that the agreement succeeded in slowing Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. But the restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program are limited,
as is the access that international inspectors have to the country’s illicit facilities.
Meanwhile, in areas unrelated to the nuclear agreement itself, the Iranian regime’s behavior has only gotten worse over the past two years. Anti-Western rhetoric has been backed up by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has, among other nefarious activities in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, deliberately sought out close encounters with American warships, boasted of new Iranian military equipment, and declared readiness for war.
These and other provocations justify the Trump White House’s efforts to enforce a harder line on Iran policy than had been established in the lead-up to JCPOA. That is why the president’s signature on H.R. 3364, titled “Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017,” presents a step in the right direction.
Tehran officials, attempting to discourage the Trump administration from intensifying sanctions, have insisted such measures as violations of JCPOA, even though non-nuclear sanctions are unaffected by the terms of the deal. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and other officials, claim Iran is prepared to restart and escalate full-scale enrichment of nuclear materials. This assertion already implies that nuclear improvements never halted despite an Iranian facade of following the JCPOA’s restrictions.
In June, the National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed details of the escalation of the Iranian missile program, proving the nuclear threat to be real. The opposition coalition identified more than 40 sites for missile development, manufacturing, and testing, all of which were under the control of the IRGC. What’s more, at least one of those sites was known to be collaborating with the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known by its Farsi acronym SPND, the institution tasked with weaponization activities related to the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Such revelations clarified what should already be common knowledge: Iran’s nuclear activities cannot be isolated from other Iranian issues. Myopic focus on the nuclear issues distracts from the Tehran regime’s terrorism sponsorship, regional intervention, and human rights abuses.
If the IRGC continues to acquire more wealth through its large-scale control of the de-sanctioned Iranian economy, combined with continued lack of access to the nuclear sites of SPND, Iran will undoubtedly deliver a nuclear weapon.
To its credit, the US has taken steps toward addressing the underlying problem of the IRGC’s expanding control over Iranian affairs. Soon after taking office, President Trump urged the administration to review designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization. With the new Iran sanctions bill now signed into law, the administration should expand all anti-terror sanctions to the whole of the IRGC, including its affiliate entities and associated financial and economic arms.
This is a meaningful start to a new Iran policy that is comprehensive in its aims and in its enforcement. Toward that end, the US should work with the UN and EU to evict the IRCG from the combat zones in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. This will help protect the West and its allies, as well as empower the Iranian people, who are seeking regime change and are more than capable of bringing it about on their own, under the right circumstances.
Those circumstances are very much attainable, without serious sacrifice from Western powers. But to achieve these conditions, different paths must be taken than the one that has been pursued throughout the implementation of the JCPOA.
The Iranian regime must be more isolated and financially handicapped. It must also be subject to pressure not just over its nuclear program but also over a range of current and past crimes, including illicit missile testing, its escalation of regional and sectarian conflicts in the Middle East, and the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.
The U.S. should single out all major human rights violators of the Iranian regime, including dozens involved in the horrific 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. Many of the perpetrators of the crime currently hold key positions in the Iranian regime.
These pressures will make a profound difference in the future of Iran. And if they succeed in diminishing the power and influence of the IRGC, they will bolster the Iranian people, their organized opposition, and the prospect of the emergence of a truly democratic Iranian government.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, the deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is credited with exposing Iranian nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002, triggering International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. He is the author of “The Iran Threat” (Palgrave MacMillan: 2008). He can be reached at Jafarzadeh@ncrius.org .
Originally published on the washingtonexaminer
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#iran, #iran-deal, #joint-comprehensive-plan-of-action-jcpoa, #nuclear-deal

Iran: Judiciary official opposes adoption of VAW bill

VAW

“The bill on combating violence against women (in Iran) has been drafted from a merely sexual perspective.”

Making this comment on August 24, 2017, legal deputy to the Judiciary, Zabihollah Khoda’ian, expressed his opposition to the adoption of the VAW bill. He justified his view by the fact that 70 out of 100 articles of the bill are “criminalizing”, “setting prison sentences for even the slightest tensions between couples.”

If adopted, the VAW bill is going to be named “provision of security for women against violence”, and it mostly focuses on domestic violence overlooking pervasive violence committed against Iranian womenevery day at the workplace, in the streets and public places, and in prisons by the so-called law enforcement and plainclothes agents, Revolutionary Guards and Bassij, as well as government and private sector employers and employees.

According to Hossein Ashtari, Commander of the State Security Force, an average of 2000 women are forcibly and violently arrested every day across Iran and mistreated and humiliated in detention centers for not fully observing the compulsory veil.

At the same time, hundreds of rights activists are tortured and maltreated in Iranian prisons.

As for domestic violence, Tehran’s forensic officials declared in January 2017, that after road accidents and street fights, the main reason for referring to the Coroner’s Office in Tehran is harassment by husbands. On the average, 52 women refer to the Coroner’s Office every day.

This is only “less than 35 per cent” of the cases of domestic violence which are reported. According to Mohammad Ali Esfanani, spokesman of the legal and judicial committee in the parliament, in December 2014, “out of 180 complaints, 128 are not interested in following up their complaint.”

In 2014, Rouhani’s deputy on women and family affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi revealed that 32 volumes of books containing the outcome of a national research done on domestic violence against women “have been lost” and no copies of them can be found “in the Ministry of Interior or the directorate for women and family affairs.”

#human-rights-violations, #iran, #iran-crackdown, #iran-womens-rights, #misogynism-of-mullahs, #women

The World’s Shame: Iran’s Hunger Striking Political Prisoners are Largely Ignored


By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Human rights record has deteriorated markedly in Iran according to human rights organizations including Amnesty International.
For example, most recently, on July 30, inmates in Ward 4, Hall 12 of Iran’s Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison were made subject to a violent and unexplained raid that led to more than 50 persons being transferred to Hall 10, where conditions and treatment are even worse than the prisoners had been experiencing up to that time. Hall 10 had been newly renovated ahead of the raid, apparently with the explicit intention of putting more pressure on the prisoners of conscience that the Iranian government was planning to transfer there. In their new surroundings, the prisoners are subject to 24-hour video and audio surveillance, even inside private cells and bathrooms. Windows have been coveredover with metal sheeting, thereby reducing airflow during summer in a facility that was already known for its inhuman and unhygienic conditions. In additional, the raid saw the confiscation or outright theft of virtually all of the inmates’ personal belongings, including prescription medications. Since then, prison authorities have denied the prisoners access to medical treatment and have even blocked the delivery of expensive medications purchased for them by families outside the prison.
According to Amnesty International, withholding medical treatment is a well-established tactic utilized by Iranian authorities to exert pressure upon political prisoners, especially those who continue activism from inside the nation’s jails or strive to expose the conditions that political prisoners and other detainees face. The former residents of Hall 12 certainly fit this description, as evidenced by their response to the raid and worsening conditions. Despite the fact that their newfound stress and lack of sanitation already threatened to have a severe impact on their health, more than a dozen of the raid’s victims immediately organized a hunger strike and declared that the protest would continue until they were transferred back to their former-surroundings and had their belongings returned to them.
In subsequent days, several of this initial group’s cell mates joined them, and at last count, 22 detainees were participating in the hunger strike, the vast majority of whom are serving sentences for political crimes like criticizing the government’s policies or supporting the country’s leading banned opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. The core group of hunger strikers has been starving themselves for approximately a month now, and their health conditions have predictably deteriorated. Heart, kidney, and lung ailments have been reported, among other health problems in Iran’s prisons, and the prisoners appear to be rapidly approaching the point at which they may start dying as a result of their protest. Nonetheless, neither the Gohardasht authorities nor the Iranian judiciary have shown any sign of responding to their demands or publicly addressing the severity of the crisis. What is much worse, though, is the fact that the international community has not proven to be much more attentive to the hunger strikers’ dire circumstances.
Notwithstanding calls to action by such human rights groups as Amnesty International, there has been virtually no push by Western governments or the United Nations to put pressure on the Iranian regime to save the lives of the Gohardasht inmates. This is particularly disappointing in light of the recent shifts in Western policies toward Iran, which come after years of conciliation and neglect for human rights while the United States and its allies focused their attention narrowly on the nuclear issue and prospective trade deals. During that time, various human rights activists rightly criticized the world community for putting certain matters of Iran policy on the back burner even though they had an absolutely immediate impact on the lives and safety of potentially millions of Iranian citizens. It has been widely reported that Tehran has been cracking down with escalating intensity on journalists, activists, and other undesirables, and thus swelling the ranks of its political prisoners.
The Gohardasht raid is a clear indication that this trend is still ongoing, but the resulting hunger strikes are an equally clear sign that Iranians as a whole have not capitulated to the pressure yet. Unfortunately, in absence of a coordinated international response, this situation also promises to be a sign that for all their resilience in the face of violent repression, the Iranian people have precious little outside support that they can rely on. Every global policymaker and every prominent human rights activist has a responsibility to prove this conclusion wrong. Organizations like the National Council of Resistance of Iran have vigorously responded to the hunger strikes by calling for the United Nations high commissioner on human rights and the special rapporteurs on torture and on human rights in Iran to issue public statements and initiate a coordinated strategy that will impose serious penalties on the Iranian government if it does not address the plight of the Gohardasht hunger strikers. Some organizations that claim to be advocate of promoting Iran’s situation and Iranian people’s rights have ignored the issue and human rights violations.
There is desperate need for international inquiries not only into this but also into various other human rights crisis throughout the Islamic Republic. In fact, while the Gohardasht situation is particularly urgent, once an adequate international response is made, it should only serve as the template for many more such inquiries, some of them into human rights abuses that are happening at this very moment and some of them into crimes against humanity that no one in the mullahs’ establishment has ever answered for. In the summer of 1988, some 30,000 political prisoners were hanged simply for suspected loyalties to anti-theocratic resistance groups, mainly the PMOI. The incident was largely ignored in Western media, and despite a handful of statements over the years, no serious inquiry has been launched to identify the locations of the secretly buried victims or to pursue charges against those responsible, many of whom retain positions of influence to this day.
Although 1988 marked the single worst act of repression against Iran’s population of political prisoners, the Gohardasht hunger strikes highlight the fact that the overall pattern of repression remains unchanged, while the ruling clerical establishment remains as indifferent to human suffering as it ever has been.
It goes without saying that the international community as a whole is better than this; but that community must act accordingly, to protect and promote human rights, and intervene when Iran’s political violence threatens to claim new victims.

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Dr. Majid RafizadehPresident of the International American Council and board member of the US-Middle East Chamber of Business and Commerce and Harvard IR.


Source: The World’s Shame: Iran’s Hunger Striking Political Prisoners are Largely Ignored

#dr-majid-rafizadeh, #human-rights, #hunger-strike, #iran, #mek, #political-prisoners

Fatemeh Amini, Symbol of perseverance and steadfastness

fatemeh_amini_eng

There are people who make up cornerstones on which a long history of resistance is built for millions to follow.

There are grim wills that make the enemy fall on its knees and overcome its cruelty and savagery.

There are humans that look on to the horizons, calmly sing the beautiful song of life and then become eternal.

Fatemeh Amini was one such human being.Fatemeh Amine 1

Fatemeh was born in the city of Mashhad (northeastern Iran) to a religious family who were political and progressive. She, too, started her political activities against the Shah’s dictatorship in 1962 when she was studying at Mashhad University’s School of Literature. Soon, she and her friends founded the Association of Progressive Women.

Fatemeh graduated from university in 1964 and began teaching in girls’ high schools in Mashhad. At the same time, she tried to familiarize them with social and political issues.

In 1970, Fatemeh moved to Tehran where she got to know the newly founded People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), and after a short period of active involvement, she became a member of the group.

In 1971, the Shah’s secret police (SAVAK) launched a major campaign to discover and clampdown on dissident groups, including the PMOI. A large number of the group members were arrested and imprisoned.

In the very difficult conditions that ensued, Fatemeh secretly but persistently continued her activities. However, she was also arrested in March 1975.

To have an open hand in torturing her, SAVAK had a news published in the daily newspapers indicating that Fatemeh Amini had been found dead after falling from a mountain.

So, Fatemeh was flogged and tortured for days and months until she was paralyzed, but she put up a staunch resistance and did not give any information to SAVAK.

Finally, she was killed under torture on August 16, 1975.

Fatemeh Amini was the first PMOI woman to be killed in struggle, but she did not die as thousands of young women followed her example in the subsequent years.

#fatemeh-amini, #iran, #mek, #pmoi, #the-peoples-mojahedin-organization-of-iran, #women

Iran: Repeated summoning of Farzaneh Jalali to Intelligence Department

Farzaneh Jalali

Farzaneh Jalali

Women and children’s rights activist, Farzaneh Jalali, has been repeatedly summoned to the Intelligence Department of Kermanshah, western Iran, to be interrogated.

Ms. Jalali’s lawyer, Mostafa Ahmadian said, “The verbal summoning of his client has been illegal and the interrogations have made her upset.”

Ahmadian asserted, “Unfortunately, my client has cooperated (so far), but I have asked her to ignore such calls until she receives written summon or emails based on legal standards.”

“My client is under pressure from many respects and I am not legally allowed to speak about them,” Ahmadian added.

Mostafa Ahmadian also declared that his client’s case has been declared inaccessible which is illegal and for this reason, he is not informed of the content of the case and the reasons based on which Ms. Jalali has been charged with “action against national security.”

Farzaneh Jalali is a women’s rights activist from Kermanshah. For her activities, she was deprived of college education. On February 24, 2017, she was arrested by security forces and taken to the detention center at Naft Square of Kermanshah. On March 13, 2017, she was released from prison on a heavy bail of 300 million toumans.

Ms. Jalali is a graduate of social anthropology from Tehran University, a former member of the students’ Islamic Association, and former editor of the university’s Sobh Daily. Despite the fact that she had passed the graduate school’s admission test with the sixth highest scores in 2010, she was deprived of continuing her education due to her student activities.

Over the past years, she has been active with regards to women and children’s rights. She was active in gaining support for the students burned in the fire incident at a girls’ school in Shinabad Village, West Azerbaijan Province. She has also written and published a number of articles in defense of women’s rights and violations of their rights.

#farzaneh-jalali, #human-rights, #iran, #iran-womens-rights, #women

Why Trump Must Not Re-Certify The Obamabomb Deal

Why-Trump-Must-Not-Re-Certify-The-Obamabomb-Deal

Why Trump Must Not Re-Certify The Obamabomb Deal

Washington DC, Center for Security Policy, Aug. 23, 2017 – The Center for Security Policy today published an extraordinarily topical and timely Occasional Paper concerning one of the nation’s most pressing national security questions: Can the United States in good faith certify that Iran is complying with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) when the next deadline is reached in October 2017 and, if so, should it?
This analysis, entitled “Why President Trump Must Not Re-certify Iranian JCPOA Compliance,” was written by the Center’s Vice President for Research and Analysis, Clare Lopez. It lays out the factual basis for concluding that Mr. Trump neither can nor should provide such a certification since Tehran is explicitly and demonstrably in material breach of the JCPOA on multiple specific counts.
This conclusion is particularly compelling given the unrelentingly jihadist nature of the Iranian regime, which codified in its 1989 constitution the Islamic Republic’s explicit dedication to global Islamic conquest. In addition, the mullah-led government in Tehran’s faithfully follows that totalitarian doctrine’s dictates to deceive non-Muslims – a reality evident in Iran’s long record of violations of the provisions of other international accords and treaties to which it is a signatory. Notably, Iran was caught in 2002 for having violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty when its clandestine nuclear weapons program was revealed to the world for the first time.
Since then, many more revelations about the Iranian nuclear weapons program have come to light. For example, the International Atomic Energy Agency itself has documented a long list of Possible Military Dimensions to the Iranian nuclear program that seems to confirm the validity of its assessment that Iran had an advanced nuclear weapons program – and possibly even nuclear warheads – by November 2011. Additionally, what amounts to a joint venture between Iran and North Korea with respect to nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development prompts grave concerns with regard to the sharing expertise on warhead miniaturization and Electromagnetic Pulse technology.
In releasing Ms. Lopez’s paper, Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney observed:
Clare Lopez is a veteran of the CIA’s clandestine service with deep knowledge of the lengths to which the Iranian regime has gone to pursue its nuclear ambitions – and mislead the United States and others about the actual status of its weapons, missile and centrifuge development programs. Her insights into this behavior make clear that those programs are not just deeply problematic from a national security perspective. They amount to showstoppers with regard to any further presidential certifications, especially with respect to the JCPOA being consistent with the national security interests of the United States.

Source: Why Trump Must Not Re-Certify The Obamabomb Deal

#iran, #iran-deal, #nuclear-deal, #trump

Women’s Rights in Iran Lag Far Behind Rest of the International Community

Within the world of the theocratic regime that rules Iran, the role of women is primarily relegated to the home. Women have limited to no access to the public and political spheres. Those who try to achieve more for themselves find that they are now putting themselves directly in opposition to the regime of the mullahs.

One such instance is the case of Safieh Gharebaghi, a civil rights activist and female rights activist was summoned to the Zanjan Pubic and Revolutionary Court on August 6. At that point, she was charged with “spreading propaganda against the government”, “disrupting public opinion”, “publishing lies and spreading rumors”, and “supporting the sedition”. Although she is out on bail now, her case is still waiting to be tried.

She is just one activist among hundreds that are being targeted by the regime, because the ideas they spread are contrary to the key tenets of the fundamentalism proscribed by the mullahs.

Part of the control that the regime attempts to exert involves morality patrols and specific police meant to address how women look, act, and spend time with in a public setting.

Recently, the Prosecutor of Qom said that a special female (Islamic Guidance) patrol team was allocated to inspect women’s public centers.

“The Special Qom Presecutor Patrol Team, with the management of female judges, will inspect women’s centers, including studios, swimming pools, women’s gyms, and beauty salons,” said Mehdi Kaheh. “This team has so far inspected more than 45 beauty salons and 10 swimming pools and has given each place legal notices regarding their offenses with a timeframe. If they do not amend the mentioned affairs, they will be legally and judicially dealt with.”

Keep in mind that these are not health and safety infractions, but infringe on the basic freedoms of choice that all individuals deserve. But at the same time, while resources are being put to controlling the movements of women, social challenges are impacting women negatively.

For example, in Tehran, 700 women were found among the homeless population, which numbers over 15,000. Additionally, women who have limited opportunities for employment are being left as the sole guardians of their families. This puts them in the position of trying to take care of their families with poverty as a constant threat.

All of these issues are impacting women and their lack of a political voice is making the social constraints even worse. What the opposition offers to the Iranian people is a gender equality and a restoration of basic human rights and freedoms. Regime change is the only way to restore the rights of women within this country, setting a model for the rest of the region.

via Women’s Rights in Iran Lag Far Behind Rest of the International Community — The Media Express

#human-rights, #iran, #iran-crackdown, #iran-womens-rights, #women