Iran

Iran: demand release of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Amnesty International called for the release of Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, detained since June, and her husband Reza Khandan, who was arrested this week. Reza Khandan was charged with spreading propaganda against the system, colluding to commit crimes against national security, and promoting the practice of appearing in public without a veil. Her actual crime was representing women facing prison time for peacefully protesting against the Islamic Republic's compulsory hijab law. Khandan had raised concerns on Facebook about rights violations in Iran, and publicly campaigned for the release of his wife. Amnesty International director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther said, "These callous actions illustrate the lengths to which Iranian authorities will go to silence human rights lawyers, even targeting their families." (Photo: Center for Human Rights in Iran)

Iran

Trump administration reimposes sanctions on Iran

US President Donald Trump issued an executive order reimposing certain sanctions against Iran. In a press statement, the White House criticized the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of July 2015, signed by Iran, Germany, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the EU. The US withdrew from the JCPOA in May, prompting a legal challenge from Iran before the International Court of Justice. The White House stated that JCPOA "threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos." The administration claims Iran used funds obtained from the JCPOA to fund nuclear-capable missiles, terrorism, and to support conflict abroad. (Map: Myket.ir)

Iran

Drought sparks farmer protests in Iran

Farmers in central Iran have over the past weeks been turning to protests to push authorities to find a solution to the severe drought that is plaguing the county and causing once-fertile fields to turn to dust. Every day, farmers in Varzaneh, Isfahan province, have been holding a protest vigil at the town entrance, parking their long-idle tractors next to the now-dry canal that once irrigated their fields. Earlier this month, protests in the town of Abadan, Khuzestan province, were violently put down by security forces, who used tear-gas and bullets, leaving 11 demonstrators dead. The drought currently affects over 95% of Iran, and is the worst in decades. But protests charge the problems have been exacerbated by long mismanagement and corruption. (Photo: Iran News Update)

Iran

Iran: pre-emptive arrests shut down Azeri protest

At least 32 Azeri activists were arrested in the lead-up to an annual July protest at Babak Fort in Iran's East Azerbaijan province against discrimination targeting the ethnic minority. The arrests took place in several citiese, including Tabriz and Ahar, usually following home raids. Dozens more were summoned and threatened with arrest if they attended the ceremony. Babak Fort, also known as the Immortal Castle or Republic Castle, is a mountaintop citadel said to have been the stronghold of Babak Khorramdin, the leader of the Khurramite rebellion who fought the Abbassid caliphate in the ninth century CE. Babak is revered as national hero by ethnic Azeris and Iranians alike. Azeris, also known as Azarbaijani Turks, have for several years gathered at the citadel each July for the annual ceremony. (Photo: AzerTurk)

Iran

Iran: Sufi bus driver executed after ‘unfair trial’

Amnesty International issued a statement protesting the execution of Mohammad Salas, a 51-year-old man from Iran’s largest Sufi order, the Gonabadi Dervishes, saying it "was carried out despite serious unfair trial concerns." Salas was arrested outside a police station where thousands of Gonabadi followers had gathered to protest persecution of the dervish community. He was convicted of killing two police officers during the protest—on the basis of a "confession" coerced through torture and threats, and despite the fact that he had already been detained when the killings took place. Witnesses in his defense were barred from testifying. Gonabadi dervishes consider themselves to be Shi'ite Muslims, but are rejected as heretical by Iran's orthodox establishment. (Photo: Amnesty International

Iran

Ayatollahs blame Iran unrest on US —surprise!

In a perfectly predictable response, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the US of fomenting the latest irruption in the wave of popular protests that has swept the country since the start of the year. Just as predictable was US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's transparently bogus statement of support for the Iranian protesters. Somewhat more surreal was the spectacle of Rudolph Giuliani, addressing a Paris rally staged by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), political wing of the cultish armed opposition group Mujahedin-e-Khalq—once listed as a terrorist organization by both the US and EU. Giuliani of course had to invoke the dreaded "regime change" phrase at the NCRI rally. This kind of US "support" hurts more than it helps, allowing the ayatollahs to more easily portray protesters as pawns, dupes or agents of the West.  (Photo: Center for Human Rights in Iran)

Iran

Iran: new sanctions on Hezbollah-linked figures

The US Department of the Treasury issued new sanctions against Iran, targeting two individuals deemed to be Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi has been identified as a financier for Hezbollah, and Safi al-Din has been identified as Hezbollah's representative in Iran. The Treasury Department stated that the sanctions "show the convergence of Iran's support for terrorism with many facets of illicit criminal activity, including narcotics trafficking." The sanctions come after President Trump's decision to leave the Iranian nuclear deal and to begin reimposing sanctions against Iran. (Map: Myket.ir)

Iran

New oil shock feared in wake of Iran debacle

After all the talk we've heard in recent years about how depressed oil prices are now permanent, in the wake of Trump's announced withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal Bank of America is predicting that the price of Brent crude could go as high as the once-dreaded $100 per barrel in 2019. The report also cited collapsing production in Venezuela due to the crisis there. Brent prices have risen above $77 per barrel since Trump's announcement. Prices have jumped more than 8% over the past month and 15% since the beginning of the year. According to the analysis, investors fear that renewed sanctions on Iran could lead to supply disruptions. Although the report failed to mention it, the Israeli air-strikes on Iranian targets in Syria have doubtless contributed to the jitters.  (Photo: Shana)

Iran

US to withdraw from Iran nuclear agreement

President Donald Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 pact under which the US was to lift economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran agreeing not to develop nuclear weapons. The White House statement says the US will re-imposes all sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the JCPOA, including those instated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, and the Iran Freedom and Counter-proliferation Act of 2012. The sanctions are expected to go into effect in no later than 180 days. (Map: Myket.ir)

Iran

Iran: poet tortured in Ahwazi protest crackdown

Abdul-Al Duraqi, a poet and activist from the Ahwazi Arab minority in Iran, arrested during the most recent protests in the city of Ahwaz (Khuzestan province), has been hospitalized after torture sessions at the hands of his interrogators. Family members told the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) that Duraqi was transferred to hospital due to deterioration in his physical condition after severe torture. Duraqi is revered in his community for keeping alive an Ahwazi literary tradition in the Arabic language. Nearly 400 have been arrested in protests in Ahwaz over the past month. AHRO charges that the detained are being denied their due process rights. (Photo via UNPO)

Iran

Iran relents in draconian drug war —after protest

Some rare good news is reported from Iran, where a reform of the country's drug laws may save the lives of thousands now on death row. Some 5,000 people are currently awaiting execution for drug offenses in the Islamic Republic, and all of them could now have their sentences reviewed. News accounts of the reform did not note that it is the fruit of protests within Iran, as well as pressure from international human rights groups. It won little coverage in the West, but following a wave of executions, some 1,800 prisoners at Qezel Hessar Prison outside Tehran went on hunger strike. Some courageous prisoners' families organized to support them, calling for reduced sentences for drug crimes—even holding vigils outside the Parliament building. (Image: Middle East Eye)

Iran

Podcast: Anti-austerity and the utopian moment

Protests against austerity and the lords of capital are erupting simultaneously in Iran, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, China, Peru, Honduras, Argentina and Ecuador, recalling the international protest wave of 2011. Such moments open windows of utopian possibility, but those windows inevitably seem to close as protest movements are manipulated by Great Power intrigues or derailed into ethnic or sectarian scapegoating. What can we do to keep the revolutionary flame alive, build solidarity across borders, and resist the exploitation and diversion of protest movements? Bill Weinberg explores this question on Episode One of the long-awaited CounterVortex podcast. You can listen on SoundCloud.