News from Iran – Week 37 – 2012

Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour
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Prisoners’ News

A- Transfers

Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour

  • Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour, defrocked cleric, transferred to Yazd Prison.
  • Human Rights activist Navid Khanjani has been transferred from Evin to Rejaei Shahr prison.
  • Hossein Ronaghi Maleki transferred to Tabriz prison quarantine in preparation for transfer to Evin.
  • Isa Saharkhiz transferred from Evin to Rejaei Shahr prison.
  • 6 of the earthquake volunteer aid workers arrested in Azerbaijan have been transferred to Evin 350:
    • Navid Khanjani
    • Sepehr Saheban
    • Esmaeil Salmanpour
    • Saeed Shirzad
    • Hooman Taheri
    • Masoud Vafabakhsh.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Samin Ehsani summoned to Evin to purge her sentence.
  • Rashid Esmaili member of Policy Council of Advar Tahkim (Alumni Society ) was arrested by IRGC agents.
  • Soleiman Mahmoudian arrested in Saqez and sent to Saqez prison.
  • Mehran Malaveisi arrested in Marivan and sent to Saqez prison.
  • Journalist/Human Rights activist Shiva Nazarahari sentenced to 4 years + 74 lashes reported to Evin to start serving her sentence.
  • Hamed and Jamal Sheikhi arrested in Marivan and sent to Saqez prison.

C-Liberations

  • Popular poet Mohammad-Reza Ali-Payam (Haloo) released on 100 million toman bail.
  • After 3 years imprisonment, journalist Masoud Bastani is released on furlough.
  • Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani released, acquitted of apostasy.
  • National-Religious activist Alireza Rejaei has been released from Evin on a 3 day furlough.
  • Abdollah Shahbazi, jailed Iranian historian, released.
  • Ali Tase released from Marivan prison after 2 months detention.
  • Obeid Zarei released from Marivan prison after 2 months detention.
  • These aid workers were released from custody:
    • Morteza Esmailpour
    • Danial Hasani
    • Esmail Salmanpour
    • Saeed Shirzad
    • Bahram Shojaei

D-Other News

Mohammad Tavassoli

  • After writing a letter to the Chief of the Judiciary, former Tehran mayor Mohammad Tavasoli summoned to court on a case that was closed 3 years ago.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Farzad Ahmadi, a labour activist and tailor, sentenced to 4 months in prison in Sanandaj.
  • Court of Appeals has upheld a 3 year sentence of Maryam Alangi. Her husband Mohsen Dogmechi died in prison last year.
  • The Appeals Court in Tehran has upheld a 5 year sentence for the Child Rights activist Samin Ehsani.
  • Court of Appeal has sentenced Zahra Mansouri to 2 years in prison and 5 years suspended.
  • Amanollah Mostaghim’s 5 year sentence upheld by Appeals.
  • Shahnaz Sagvand, wife of jailed worker Ali Nejati on trial, charged with spreading propaganda against the system through an interview with Foreign Media.
  • Gonabadi Dervish, Nosrat Tabasi, sentenced to 5 years in prison.
  • 11 people who were transferred from Ghezel Hesar prison to Evin Ward 240 were hanged, among them 5 Afghans.
  • A man was hanged in public on Monday in Shahrood.
  • Verdicts have been issued for 40 people involved in the bank fraud case. 4 have received the death penalty and 2 have received life in prison.


University – Culture

  • Gender Segregation forces girls to drop out from school in the villages of Yasuj due to lack of accommodation.
  • Qaraati: Iranian Universities should be equipped with “temporary marriage” headquarters.
  • Iran censures text messages containing the word “dollar” following collapse of its currency.


Iranian Economy

  • $1 = 2305 Toman on Saturday, 2430 on Sunday, 2600 on Monday, and 2500 (Euro 3250 ) on Tuesday.
  • Black Market estimated to account for 21% of Iranian economy.
  • Two manufacturing factories in Arak and Esfahan closed in one week; 600 workers lost their jobs.
  • Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Mines: 38% decrease in car production in the first 5 months of the year.
  • Iran’s Central Bank went bankrupt.
  • Iran surpasses Bolivia to become number one in the world in inequality in distribution of wealth.
  • Rent prices increase by a staggering 60% says Iran’s Census Bureau.


Iran  Abroad

  • Sierra Leone takes 10 Iranian ships off register.
  • Iran seeks to reopen London embassy; UK refuses.
  • Egypt denies in talks to buy Iranian oil.
  • Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, slammed Bahrain’s imposition of jail terms on 13 leading opposition figures in the kingdom.


Politics in Iran

  • The Majlis has set up a special joint friendship group to boost parliamentary ties with Syria, Egypt, Palestine and Morocco.
  • Protest against the American film caricaturing Mohammad in front of the Swiss Embassy.
  • 100 teachers in Hamadan protested deceptive announcement of Minister of Education claiming 15% rise been implemented.


Miscellaneous

  • Iran ambulance personnel get equipped with teargas.
  • Iranian Paralympians take home 24 medals.

News from Iran – Week 26 – 2012

Iran Oil Tanker Under Malta Colours [Photo: Reuters/Tim Chong]
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News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

  • Imprisoned journalist Bahman Ahmadi-Amouei was taken to court and put in solitary after return to Rejaei Shahr.
  • Political prisoner Arjang Davoodi transferred to solitary confinement.
  • Mitra Homayoun, workers’ rights activist, transferred to Rasht; she is being denied visits and contact with a lawyer.
  • National-Religious activist Saeed Madani was transferred back to Evin 209 one day after transfer to 350.
  • Journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian transferred to hospital.
  • Saeed Marzban, workers’ rights activist, transferred to Rasht; he is being denied visits and contact with a lawyer.
  • Kurdish prisoner on death row Zaniar Moradi transferred to hospital.
  • Seyyed Mostafa Tajzadeh taken to hospital for hemorrhage in one eye, then back to solitary in Evin, against doctors’ advice.


B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Protests following the execution of 4 Arab-Iranians in Ahvaz resulted in the arrest of at least fifteen people: Mansour, Naser and Reza Bavi, Esmaeil Dehimi, Rahim and Razi Silavi, Adel, Ali, Hakim, Hossein, Jasem, Jomeh, Kazem, Mohammad and Naser Haydari.
  • Mahmoud Bagheri, teacher and unionist, begins serving his 9 years sentence in Evin.
  • Baha’i Taher Eskandarian was arrested in a raid of his home in Semnan. Home searched, items confiscated.
  • Vahid Rastgo was arrested in Tabriz in a raid of his home, home searched, computer & items confiscated.
  • Reza Setayesh-Efza, student of Azad University in Karaj and political activist, arrested at night.
  • Arrests of cyber activists across Iran by security forces.
  • 363 people arrested during large-scale operation by security forces, to increase public safety levels in city of Mashhad.


C-Liberations

  • Javad Alikhani student activist freed after serving his time.
  • Blogger Hanieh Farshi has been released on bail on medical furlough.
  • Fereydoun Seidi-Rad on furlough for 5 days.


D-Other News

  • After 2 years, Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand is allowed to meet his wife in person.
  • Imprisoned blogger Ronaghi Maleki develops a kidney infection due to lack of post-surgery care. Function of his one remaining kidney is seriously impaired.
  • Number of people imprisoned in Iran grew by 100,000 over the past 5 years.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Political/civil activist journalist Rouhollah Kalantari has been exonerated of all charges by Appeals Court.
  • Political activist Dr. Hani Yazerlou has been sentenced to 1 year in prison and 15 years exile to Iranshahr.
  • Two citizens of Khorasan province in Iran are sentenced to death for repeated consumption of alcohol.
  • Two public hangings in Tehran on Thursday.


University – Culture

  • Shaghayegh Agahi, Baha’i student, expelled from Tehran University.
  • Music concert is cancelled due to organisers not segregating men and women.
  • Iran holds first contemporary art auction, which earned a total of $1.7 million.


Protests

  • 48 Khavar textile workers launched a strike against their pat being delayed for 11 months. The workers protested in front of the Gilan Province administration.


Iran Oil Tanker Under Malta Colours [Photo: Reuters/Tim Chong]

Economy in Iran

  • $1 = 1877 Tomans on Saturday, 1924 on Sunday, 1876 on Monday, 2000 on Tuesday, 2060 on Thursday – a new high
  • The price of eggs rose 10.1% in the past week.
  • Price of mineral water jumps 40%.
  • Jaber Ibn Hayyn, a pharmaceutical company, has laid off more than 90 employees because of shortage of raw materials.
  • Iranian oil tankers change names, flags as EU ban looms.
  • Japan’s Mitsubishi has renewed its contract to import oil from Iran.
  • The Indian Minister of Food has announced that if Iran were to request, India could export 3 million tons of grain to Iran and thus pay off a part of its oil debts to Iran.
  • China’s GMC truck production line launches in Iran.
  • Delays by Chinese firms in completing their projects have cost Iran $1Billion in losses.
  • Vice Président of Shomal Drilling Company, Bahman Ashtari, announced the purchase of three pieces of offshore drilling equipment from China, and the import of five additional pieces of drilling equipment for the Persian Gulf within a year-and-a-half.
  • Iranian firms cannot pay $2.5Billion in debt to Turkey.
  • Iran signs up 11 tankers to small Pacific nation of Tuvalu.
  • Over the past year, Iran exported 80 tons of shrimp to Italy and Spain.


Iran  abroad

  • Syrian president Bashar al Assad speaks on Iranian TV.
  • Head of UN observer mission in Syria meets with Iranian ambassador.
  • Head of Iran’s Red Crescent Society, Abolhasan Faqih, said that “Iran’s Red Crescent Society operates 29 medical centers in different countries and has inaugurated two new medical centers in Bolivia and Tanzania in recent weeks”.


Politics in Iran

  • Merchants who broadcast the call to prayer (azan) from their shops will get a tax break!
  • 4 people killed and 18 injured in clashes between residents of 2 villages outside of Khoy and Revolutionary Guards.
  • Four clothing stores were closed due to non-compliance with Islamic values and use of unconventional mannequins in Ghazvin.
  • Four tailor shops were closed due to use of illegal magazines and sale of prohibited item in Ghazvin.
  • Two stores for the sale of cosmetics and care products were closed in Ghazvin.


Miscellaneous

  • Anti-riot forces attack park to prevent youth from playing watergames.
  • Flood Destroys 60 Homes in Tabriz.
  • River diversion dries up Ahvazi land in Khuzestan.

#Iran’s South American Connections

Touching reunion - Ahmadinejad with Chavez in Caracas
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Useful summary from Just the Facts following Ahmadinejad’s visit to Latin America last week helps to provide some of the detail for this post. His trip to attend the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil and solidify relationships in the region was a chance to assess how Iranian foreign policy is evolving in response to the changing political scene in Latin America. During his visit, Ahmadinejad made stops in Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.

In his 2011 Worldwide Threat Assessment (PDF), Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper noted that Iran continues to reach out to Latin America as a way to diminish its international isolation and bypass international sanctions. So far, Iranian relations with Latin America have only developed significantly with leftists governments that oppose U.S. leadership in the world, particularly Venezuela, Bolivia, and other ALBA members, as well as with Brazil.

Touching reunion – Ahmadinejad with Chavez in Caracas

The U.S. State Department reacted to the recent trip with characteristic rhetoric, saying Ahmadinejad was “looking for friends in wrong places.”

Bolivia

  • The relationship between Bolivia and Iran has been increasingly friendly over the past few years. In 2007, trade and energy agreements were signed between the two countries and then extended in 2010. Bolivian President Evo Morales was also publicly reported praising Iranian investment by FARS news agency in 2007 and stated that his country “relies very much on Iran’s aids.”
  • On this trip, Ahmadinejad was keen to highlight the similarities between the two countries. According to Ahmadinejad, both Iran and Bolivia have a colonial past and will progress by “work[ing] together against greedy governments, and states that want to stop others from developing, and from exercising freedom.” President Morales responded: “There is a permanent aggression against you, your government and the Iranian people, but I want to tell you that you are not alone because we are with you in your fight against imperialism.”
  • An agreement was reached between Ahmadinejad and Bolivian President Evo Morales for the Iranian military to train ten counter-narcotics intelligence officers as per a new Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) between the two countries.
  • The trip has also renewed multiple economic and agricultural agreements between the countries, including the construction of a cement factory and housing projects, among others, according to the Argentina Independent.
  • The head of Iran’s Red Crescent Society, Abolhasan Faqih, said that Iran’s Red Crescent Society recently inaugurated a new medical center in Bolivia.

Brazil

  • Under President Lula da Silva, the relationship between Iran and Brazil became cordial, as Time reports, with Ahmadinejad visiting the country in 2009 and Lula returning the visit in 2010, to facilitate nuclear talks without US or EU powers, according to the BBC.
  • This relationship has changed with President Dilma Rousseff’s election in Brazil, as she has distanced her country from Iran as CNN noted earlier this year. Rousseff has cited Iran’s poor human rights record as a reason for her distance, which runs contrary to her priorities for her own country.
  • President Ahmadinejad was in Brazil for two days to take part in the Rio+20 Summit, though he also hoped to use the opportunity to reinvigorate ties with the Brazilian government. However, after a series of snubs by the Brazilian government, the success of the trip has been deemed a failure back at home in Iran. According to the Daily Telegraph, many Iranians are angry with the way in which President Ahmadinejad was treated and one Iranian MP criticized him “for failing to abandon the trip when he saw that he, and by extension, Iran, was being treated disrespectfully.”
  • The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Ahmadinejad’s time in Brazil was instead spent in meetings with Brazilian elites, a meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and another with the former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, as well as addressing the Rio+20 Summit.

Venezuela

  • Venezuela has probably had the closest ties with Iran of any country in the region in recent years. Since 1999, President Hugo Chavez has visited Tehran 13 times.
  • This relationship seems stable; Ahmadinejad’s visit occurred one week after President Chavez confirmed that Venezuela was building unmanned drones with Iran’s help, as Reuters recently reported. Venezuelan-Iranian relations have most recently been demonstrated through reports that Iran has unrestricted access to a Venezuelan port, where Venezuelan workers are denied access. This has been reported in El Nuevo HeraldDie Welt and the Miami Herald, all citing confidential sources that allege the goal is to ultimately build a missile base, although at the moment it remains under a veil of secrecy.
  • Although the meeting does not appear to have produced any new agreements, in his opening remarks at the presidential palace in Venezuela, Ahmadinejad offered to “always stand by the Venezuelan nation and their brave president Hugo Chavez”. In addition, the two presidents focused their meeting on reviewing current agreements including their “mutual investment of about $5 billion in factories to make cement, satellites, food, tractors and bicycles.”

Cuba

  • The relationship between Venezuela and Cuba is such that Iran seeming benefits by association. The Associated Press reported that Venezuela’s state-owned oil company will join efforts to look for oil in deep waters off Cuba’s coast:
    • State-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, is next in line to drill after Malaysia’s Petronas completes its work, according to Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s oil minister and president of the company. He said Venezuela has budgeted an estimated $40 million for the project. Spanish oil company Repsol said last month that it would stop searching for oil off Cuba after hitting a dry well drilled at a cost of more than $100 million. “Repsol unfortunately didn’t have success in its well,” Ramirez said, “but that same platform is being used among all the companies that are participating there.”
  • ING bank has recently been forced to pay $619m as part of the deferred prosecution agreements reached with the Justice Department and the New York County District Attorney’s Office, for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA), and for violating New York state laws by illegally moving billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Cuban and Iranian entities.

Ecuador

  • Another country with close ties to Venezuela, and the smallest member of OPEC, Ecuador said on 23 May that it planned to buy about $400m in oil from Iran, despite US pressing for tighter sanctions.
  • Although not on Ahmadinejad’s itinerary – he visited in January, Ecuador received a visit from his deputy for international affairs, Vice-President Ali Saeedlou, at the end of May, reportedly to deliver a presidential invitation to the Non-Aligned Movement’s August summit in Tehran. Agence France Press says Saeedlou told reporters, after meeting with President Rafael Correa, that the two has also talked about increasing trade and technology exchanges.
  • In addition to the usual grandstanding we see whenever IAEA talks are in progress, Iran was perhaps attempting to exploit the relationship difficulties between Ecuador and the US following a diplomatic spat last year, in which ambassadors from both countries were expelled:  Saeedlou arrived on the same day the new US Ambassador resumed his post in Quito.

News from Iran – Week 25 – 2012

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
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News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

  • Javad Alikhani ends his hunger strike after return to general ward.
  • Imprisoned Mahabad Payame Nour University student Jamal Ghadernejad was taken to hospital.
  • Farshad Ghorbanpour ends his hunger strike after return to general ward.
  • Death row Kurdish prisoner Samkoo Khorshidi was moved from Saghez prison to Sanandaj prison.
  • Saeed Jalalifar ends his hunger strike after return to general ward.
  • Reza Joshan exiled to Damghan.
  • Saeed Matinpour ends his hunger strike after return to general ward.
  • One week after kidney surgery, blogger/HR activist Hossein Ronaghi Maleki is back in Evin prison.
  • Arash Saghar ends his hunger strike after return to general ward.


B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Massive arrests in Karaj, 59 workers’ rights activists, all transferred to Rejaei Shahr prison. Among them: Mitra Homayooni, Vafa Ghaderi, Reyhaneh Ansari, Khaled Hosseini, Mahmoud Salehi, Saeed Moghaddam, Cyrus Fathi, Ghaleb Hosseini, Mohammad Abdipour, Jalal Hosseini, Alireza Asgari, Masoud Salimpour, Abbas Andriyany, Sediq Amjadi, Fattah Soleimani, Maziar Mehrpour, Mohmmad Molanai, Vahed Seyyedeh, Jalil Sharifian, Sediq Khosravi, Yusuf Ab Kharabad, Faramarz Fetrat Nejad, Jalil Mohammadi, Nezam Sadeghi, Afshin Nadimi, Hussein Pilooti, Rahman Ebrahim Zadeh, Abbas Hashem Poor
  • Amin Abolhasani, Abadeh Manouchehr Zare and Ali Shafiee, Gonabadi dervishes, arrested in Kovar.
  • Implementation of 2 years prison for Michael Azimi, student of late Hoda Saber.
  • Omid Ghaderi-Eghdam, Yaghoub Khezri and Jamal Ghaderinezhad from Miandoab, arrested and sent to prison.
  • Kurdish Tehran University post-grad student Diako Khayat arrested in Mahabad
  • Amir Sheibanizadeh arrested and sent to Vakilabad prison to serve his sentence.
  • Vahid Zardi, an actor newly converted to Christianity arrested in Mashhad.
  • Tehran police declare: 170 thugs and hoodlums arrested, they will be displayed in various parts of the city as a lesson to others.


C-Liberations

  • Imprisoned journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouie denied family visits.
  • Political prisoner Mohamadreza Motamednia has been released at the end of his sentence.


D-Other News

  • French Trade Unions CFDT, CGT, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA condemned on Tuesday “the suppressive wave” in Iran against workers’ rights activists, and called on Iranian authorities to “respect workers’ rights”.
  • Mansour Mohammadi, Kurdish prisoner, is on hunger strike in Bandar Abbas prison
  • Nasrin Sotoudeh vows to launch hunger strike next week if denied visitation with family.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Foad Ahmadnejad sentenced to 6 months.
  • Shohreh Azami-Kasaei sentenced by appeals to 8 months.
  • Ali Naami Sharifi, Abbas, Abdolrahman and Jamshid Heydarian, Arab political prisoners were hanged in Karoon prison.
  • Zahra Nik-Aein’s 7-year sentence reduced to 23 months by appeal court.
  • Keyvan Rahimian sentenced to 5 years in prison.
  • 4 year sentence for Alireza Rajaee.
  • Journalist Isa Saharkhiz has been sentenced to 1.5 additional years on an 11 year-old case.
  • As part of their sentence, 2 men convicted of theft were lashed 74 times each in public in Vaneshan village (Central Iran).
  • 4 public executions in Tehran on Wednesday.
  • 1 execution in Ahar on Thursday.


University – Culture

  • In past two months 621 domestic and foreign sites under surveillance by cyber police.
  • Students of Naft University in Ahvaz were attacked, beaten, and their exams were canceled.
  • Iranian Ney virtuoso Hassan Kasaii dies at 84.
  • Tehran University Chemical Engineering master’s degree student Shaghayegh Aghah has been expelled due to being a Baha’i.
  • Press TV is back on the Astra staellite.
  • The Iranian Cultural Center and the branch of Iranian Studies Foundation in Moscow were opened.


Protests

  • Truck drivers of Iran’s largest cement factory continue their strike.


Economy in Iran

  • 10,000 workers write a letter to Minister of Labour.
  • The unemployment rate reaches 65% in Iranian Kurdistan.
  • $1 = 1810 Tomans Monday, 1825 Tomans Tuesday.
  • Bank Tejarat sues the European Union over an asset freeze imposed on the state-owned Iranian bank.
  • Rise in food prices compared to one year ago: dairy 44% – vegetables 55% – fruit 41% – herbs 94% – red meat 37% – chicken 73%


Iran  abroad

  • Iranian and British foreign ministers meet.
  • The Japanese parliament approved insuring ships carrying Iranian oil.
  • Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi, Vice President of Executive Affairs Hamid Baghaei and Vice President for International Affairs Ali Saeedlou will be accompanying Ahmadinejad, scheduled to arrive in Bolivia on June 19 to meet with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales before attending the Rio+20 Summit on sustainable development in Brazil.
  • China asks Iran to pay for shipping costs of the oil it wants to export.
  • Ahmadinejad met with both the UN Secretary General and former Brazilian President Lula da Silva on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Summit.
  • 3 Iranian banks, including Pasargad and Bank Tejarat, have applied to the Turkish banking regulator for a banking license.


Politics in Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


  • Ahmadinejad will quit political scene in 2013.
  • MP calls for expulsion of Saudi ambassador.
  • Larijani brothers accused of embezzling over 342 hectares of land in best locations around Tehran.


Miscellaneous

  • According to official records, within the last year 75 boys/girls  under the age of 10, 3929 boys/girls aged 10-14, were married in Tehran
  • 500 suicides in one year in Hamedan alone.
  • Iran says Flame virus is contained.
  • The Central Bank of Iran site has been under cyber attack.