News from Iran – Week 32 – 2012

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News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

  • Mohammad-Amin Agooshi, Iraj Mohammadi, Mohammad Pouladkhani transferred from Urmiah prison to Zahedan.
  • Afhsin Heiratian, Peyman Kashfi, Foad Khanjani, Didar Raoufi, Azizollah Samandari, Sharokh Taeef, Baha’i, transferred from Evin to Rajaei Shahr.
  • Member of Painters Union, WorkersRights activist Shahrokh Zamani moved to Tabriz prison.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Member of Gonabadi Dervishes, Abdolghafour Ghalandari, was arrested in Bandar Abbas
  • Furlough extension was denied for student activist Bahareh Hedayat, she returned to Evin.
  • Student activist/journalist Ali Malihi is back in prison after a short furlough.
  • Khosro Pakar, Kurdish citizen of Maku, was arrested last month.
  • Blogger Mohammad Hassan Roozitaleb arrested after post alluding to Larijani brothers as ‘Brothers Dictatorship”.
  • Secretary General of Advare Tahkim (Alumni Association) Dr. Ahmad Zeidabadi is back in Evin after a short furlough

C-Liberations

  • Shahab Deghani and Sarang Etehadi, Baha’i, released on bail from Evin.
  • Pro Ahmadinejad blogger Ahmad Shariat, arrested 18 days ago, has been released.
  • Political prisoner Jalil Taheri released from Evin after serving his 1 year sentence.
  • Nahid Zahraei, Baha’i, free on bail.

D-Other News

  • At the urging of physicians, hospitalized political prisoner Abolfazl Ghadiani ended his hunger strike.
  • Faezeh Hashemi (Rafsanjani’s daughter, sentenced to jail) flees Iran.
  • Hossein Ronaghi Maleki’s medical furlough has been extended until August 20; he has a 7th surgical operation.
  • Political prisoner Ali Moezzi refuses to attend his court hearing on account of being a “kangaroo court”.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Islamic Appeal Court upholds the six year prison term for detained Christian Farshid Fat’hi.
  • Mohammad Mahmoudi, Kurdish political prisoner, sentenced to 5 years.
  • Kurdish political prisoner Bakhtiar Memari has been sentenced to death on Moharebeh charges.
  • Baha’i Shahram Mokhtari has been sentenced to 4 months in prison+32 months suspended sentence.
  • Student activist Mohammad Hossein Mozafari has been sentenced to 1year suspended for 5 years + 5 year ban on political activities


University – Culture

  • Female applicants no longer allowed in engineering at Chamran University of Ahwaz.
  • Over 600 degree programs in 60 Iranian universities have become segregated by gender.
  • Babak Ferdowsi, the flight director with the mohawk that became the Star of NASA’s Curiosity landing.


Protests

  • Teachers and education professionals rallied in front of Parliament protesting employment conditions.


Economy in Iran

  • In Lorestan province, 27 delis and grocery stores were closed.
  • 1,333 business units were closed down in Azerbayejan Sharghi province without the framework of an improved social security plan.
  • 1 $ = 2022 tomans on Sunday, 2100 on Monday, 2210 on Tuesday, 2100 on Wednesday
  • Iran government purchases 200 Mercedes Benz S-500 for NAM summit in Tehran / More than $20M.
  • 358 Iranians among top buyers in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.


Iran abroad

  • Iran regime reports 4 dozen people kidnapped in Damascus. 3 of them reported killed during regular army assault against FSA. Iran admits that some are ‘retired’ members of IRGC.
  • EU Council takes 5 Iranian bank managers off sanctions list.
  • Iranian, Turkish foreign ministers talk Syria.
  • Standard Chartered Bank accused of scheming with Iran to hide transactions.
  • Iran’s security chief, Jalili, set to meet Syrian president Assad after Lebanon visit.
  • Iran, excluded from other meetings on Syria, hosts its own.
  • After 48 years, citizens of Turkey will need a visa to enter Iran.


Politics in Iran

  • MP Sobhaninia: If Mortazavi is not dismissed from his position, Labor and Social Welfare Minister will be impeached.
  • Five days of official holiday for Tehran during the NAM summit!
  • Governors General for Hamedan and Sistan-Baluchestan replaced.


Miscellaneous

  • Despite environment & grassroots protest, Gorgan Council to destroy part of Naharkhoran forest to build a museum.
  • 116 suicides recorded due to Aluminium phosphide poisoning.
  • Iran wins its first gold medal at London 2012 thanks to wrestler Hamid Sourian.
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How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter

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Social media has been often touted for the role it played in the popular uprisings that have spread across the Arab world since December 2010. Despite the buzz, you may be surprised that only 0.26% of the Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the Syrian population are active on Twitter.

Of all the countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter is most popular in Kuwait, where 8.6% of the population is active users, defined as those who tweet at least once per month. Facebook’s more popular throughout the region. In its most popular country, the U.A.E., some 36.18% of the population is on Facebook.

Khaled ElAhmad (who goes by the Internet alias Shusmo) created these two infographics, exploring Facebook and Twitter trends in the Arab world, using Visual.ly. His data comes from a Dubai School of Government report on Arab Social Media.

Take a look through the two infographics, which also show growth of the social networks by country and overall membership stats. Did you expect more people to be active social media users? How do you think your country’s habits compare? You can also check out infographics on how China and India do social networking.

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via How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter [INFOGRAPHICS].

#Syria expels diplomats, deploys chopper gunships as UN dithers

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According to this report from Reuters, the Syrian government on Wednesday 6 June 2012 expelled diplomats from 17 Western countries including the United States, Canada, France, the UK and Turkey; a gesture which reciprocates last week’s Syrian diplomat expulsions after the Houla massacre. Meanwhile, helicopter gunships are reported to be supporting Syrian Army troops as they continue to attack rebels, mainly in and around the town of Haffeh in Latakia’s coastal region.

One potential glimmer of hope comes from Syria finally agreeing yesterday to allow increased humanitarian aid into Syria. The United Nations refugee agency claims over 78,000 Syrians have fled to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Latest figures say over 500,000 have been displaced and up to a million people need urgent humanitarian aid. Turkey reports an increase in refugees entering the country from Syria, with 2,700 new arrivals in the first 5 days of June .

This news comes along with the appointment of former Agriculture minister Dr Riad Hijab as Prime Minister, tasked with creating a new government.

Army: AQAP driven from South #Yemen towns

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Video: Mosaic Middle East News Summary 16 May 2012

Covers Yemen, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Bahrain Sudan

Yemen Post Staff report from Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A security official told the government-run 26 September website that the army troops assisted by tribal militias managed to kick out the terrorists from three towns in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan.

He said the army troops and the tribal fighters expelled al-Qaeda militants from Lawdar, Modia, and al-Wadea after two days of fierce clashes.

The unnamed official pointed out that the militants fled to mountainous areas after they lost great number of their fighters and weapons.”In the couple of past days, approximately 60 militants have been killed. Also some army troops and tribal men were killed in the clashes,” the official said.

He noted that the army troops are currently chasing the terrorists in order to arrest them and force them to stand trial for their crimes, calling on the al-Qaeda militants to turn themselves in willingly to the authorities.

According to the official, all Modia inhabitants showed their support for the tribal militias and the troops.

For his part, Abyan governor hailed the progress in the battle against the terror organization affiliates, saying the troops and the tribal militias showcased fantastic bravery and determination to eradicate the terrorists.

The governor said eradicating the rest of the militants is a national duty and stressed that a great number of the militants were killed.

Meanwhile, the US administration said that the fighting against al-Qaeda gained momentum after the former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh left office in November 2011.

Also on Wednesday, 16 May 2012, Reuters reported heavy fighting as the Yemen army advanced on militants in the  south

Yemeni troops, backed by local tribesmen, captured a strategic mountain that controls access to cities long held by al Qaeda-linked militants amid heavy fighting that has killed at least 24 people, residents and local officials said.

The fighting is part of an army offensive against Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group that has seized swathes of territory in Yemen’s south during a year of political upheaval that toppled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saeed al-Dhailie, a spokesman for a committee set up to mobilize residents against Ansar al-Sharia in Lawdar, said local fighters had managed to capture the Yasouf mountain, a strategic vantage point above the city, after heavy fighting.

“This morning the army, assisted by armed tribesmen from Lawdar, succeeded in driving al Qaeda militants off Yasouf mountain,” Dhailie told Reuters.

“Aerial and artillery attacks by the army started after the dawn prayer. Then we moved up the mountain, official forces and tribesmen side by side. By 11 a.m. we had driven al Qaeda away and recaptured the mountain,” he said.

Dhailie said the militants were using Soviet-era heavy machineguns known as Duskas and heavy artillery looted from army camps they had raided in recent months.

“It’s bloody. Al Qaeda are fighting to the death,” he said.

Local officials and residents said 16 militants were killed in fresh clashes outside Lawdar, including a local commander of Ansar al-Sharia known as Samir Salem al-Moqayda. Ansar al-Sharia has been trying to capture Lawdar for weeks, without success.

They said eight Yemeni troops and members of the popular committees have also died in the fighting and five more were wounded.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporters, have been alarmed by the growing strength of the militants near shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

Yemen’s interior ministry said security services in Taiz had received information that 20 members of Ansar al-Sharia were present in the province, which until now has seen no militant activity.

“The security apparatus in the province of Taiz has discovered the presence of 20 militants from Ansar al-Sharia in the Mawiyah district. Security is working to pursue these elements and arrest them,” the ministry said on its website.

The United States has stepped up air strikes against suspected members of al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing since President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was elected in February after months of protests that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

Military sources said troops were also closing in on the militant stronghold of Jaar and the Abyan provincial capital of Zinjibar. Residents of Jaar said dozens of families were fleeing the town in anticipation of further violence as the army drew nearer.

The Yemeni delegation of the Red Cross urged all sides to protect non-combatants, expressing concern at reports civilian areas had been targeted. Six civilians were killed in a Yemeni air force strike on Tuesday.

News from Iran – Week 18 – 2012

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News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

Mostafa Daneshjoo, Lawyer for Iran’s Sufi minority

  • Incarcerated Gonabadi Dervishes’ lawyer Mostafa Daneshjoo has been hospitalized.
  • Political prisoner Mashallah Haeri, 60, hospitalized
  • Political prisoner Mohammadreza Motamednia on hunger strike was hospitalized Sunday due to poor health.
  • Gonabadi Dervish, Hamid Reza Moradi sent to hospital in critical health condition then back to Evin 350.
  • Political prisoner Mohammadreza Motamednia on hunger strike was hospitalized Sunday due to poor health.
  • Alireza Rejaei was moved back to Ward 350 after one week of interrogation in Ward 2-A (IRGC) solitary and arraigned on new charges.
  • Student activist Kaveh Rezaei transferred to drug addicts’ ward in Rejaei Shahr prison.
  • Incarcerated labor activist Reza Shahabi has been taken to hospital.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Mahmoud Reza Allameh, political activist, was arrested on 21st April in Sari.
  • Activist Ali Doniari was arrested in Ahvaz on April 29th and sent to Sepidar prison to start serving 6 months sentence
  • Amir Kazemi Tabrizi citizen arrested for displaying a billboard in Turkish language.
  • Saman Nassim arrested in Marivan and sent to Mahabad prison.
  • Gonabadi Dervishes member Mohammad Ali Shamshirzan was arrested at his work in Kovar.

C-Liberations

  • Greens supporter Moazedin Eilati was released from Tabriz prison after completing his 15 months sentence.
  • Mozhgan Emadi, Yekta Fahandaj, Mozhdeh Falah, Kambiz Habibi, Sam Jaberi, Sina Sarikhani, Farshid Yazdani, and Iman Rahmatpanah, Baha’is, released from Shiraz prison.
  • Majid Enayat, Shahram Ghaedi, Rouhollah Hosseinian, Enayat Jafari,  Fariborz Parsi Nejad, Keyhan Amiri, and Maryam Del-aram released on USD30,000 bail each in Isfahan.
  • Meysam Hojati, Pastor Hekmat Salimi, and Shahnaz Zarifi released on USD50,000 bail each in Isfahan.

D-Other News

  • Ali Moradi, Kurdish political prisoner in Bandar Abbas, sentenced to 30 years, on hunger strike to protest lack of medical treatment.
  • Mousavi’s daughters urge political prisoners Mohammadreza Motamednia and Mohammad Ali Velayati to break their hunger strike.
  • A prominent Iranian literary translator Soleimani Nia halts hunger strike.
  • After 50 days on hunger strike, Mohammad Ali Velayati has ended his hunger strike
  • Over-crowding at 5 times the capacity in Amol Prison ( built for 150 holds 850).


News of injustice in Iran

  • Reuters bureau chief in Tehran, Paris Hafezi, summoned to court over ninja story.
  • The Revolutionary Court in Mahabad has sentenced Ebrahim Isapour to death on Moharebeh charges.
  • Gholam Reza Khosravi death sentence upheld by Supreme Court.
  • Political activist Meisam Mashayekh has been sentenced to 2 years suspended sentence.
  • Khabat Mohammadzadeh from Sanandaj sentenced to 8-years.
  • The Revolutionary Court in Mahabad has sentenced Sirvan Nejavi on Moharebeh charges.
  • Student environmentalist Sahand Nobakht sentenced to 1 year in prison + 3 years suspended.
  • Houshang Rezaei sentenced to death on Moharebeh charges.
  • Bail has been set at 50million Toman for student activist Amir Sheibanizadeh. Family says they can’t afford the bail.
  • Four people hanged in Shahroud on Monday.
  • Report of a homosexual man being hanged but no name or location provided.


University  – Culture

  • Sex change film from Iran wins award in US film festival.
  • Iran identifies cyber attackers on Oil Ministry.
  • After the oil ministry, Iran’s ministry of sciences under cyber-attacks.
  • Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi plans short trip to Iran to support Afghans.
  • Ministry of Science orders Dr. Hossein Vale and Mohammad Saeed Kashani, two senior philosophy lecturers from Beheshti University to be dismissed.
  • Tehran bikers promote environment-themed movie “The Orange Dressed”.
  • The Islamic Association of Students of Shahid Abbaspour University was suspended.
  • More than 10 publishers absent from Tehran Book Fair.
  • Google eliminates “Persian Gulf” from google maps.
  • Pouya Muhammadi-Dehaj student in orthodontics, expelled from Esfahan University because he is of Baha’i faith.
  • Iran to change all textbooks according to religious concepts during 6 years; said Minister of Education.
  • Iran is scheduled to hold the 12th International Radio Festival and the 4th International Radio Forum in the northern province of Gilan.
  • Revolutionary Court suspends publication of Nasime Bidari.


Protests

  • Shushtar workers rally to protest against job insecurity on Labor Day.
  • Security forces and plainclothes agents attacked workers gathering with pepper gas and batons in Sanandaj-Kurdistan province.
  • Workers of the Khuzestan pipe factory gathered in front of the governor’s office to protest not having been paid for 25 months.


Economy in Iran

  • Iran Buys 70,000 Tons of Brazilian Corn.
  • Tabriz match factory laying off workers.
  • 12 shops shut in Qazvin by police.
  • 1 USD =1700 tomans; gold coin=680,000 tomans on Saturday – 1 US Dollar : 1705 Toman on Sunday.
  • 14 to 20% reduction in consumption of dairy products in Iran due to high inflation.
  • New minimum wage in Iran is below the poverty line.
  • Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Mashaei ordered illegal transfer of Steel Company to Aria Group.
  • Iran allocates $22 billion for importing basic goods including rice, cooking oil, sugar, and meat.
  • 19 businesses in Ardebil province, mostly cafes and restaurants, shut down by internal security forces this week.
  • IMF pressured to suspend Iran, close central bank account.
  • Child labour; 3.4 million children deprived of education in the country.
  • 40 trading premises shut in Malard and Shahriar.
  • Cooking oil factory closure makes 200 men jobless.
  • Iran has imported $286 billion of goods over the past 5 years.
  • Iran has signed a new contract with Spain, worth EUR 1,600,000, despite international sanctions against the Iranian oil industry.
  • The Poliaklil Factory of Isfahan has not paid its workers for more than a year.
  • Construction workers on Gotvand dam have been laid off without getting paid.
  • Sharp price increases in Iran: Dairy products up 51.6%; fresh vegetables, 91.1%; beef, 45.4%.


Iran  abroad

  • Guam joins international condemnation of Iran’s Human Rights abuses.
  • Iran hosts third international Persian Gulf conference.
  • Canadian Embassy in Tehran has stopped issuing visas. People seeking visas to Canada must go to their Embassy in Ankara.
  • Iran expresses willingness to mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  • Implementation of free trade agreement between Iran and Syria commences.
  • Iranian Vice President visits Lebanon.
  • No Country Ready to Shelter MKO Terrorists.
  • Iranian plot to kill Saudi envoy in Cairo foiled.


Politics in Iran

  • Callous border security guns down 70 couriers in Kurdistan.
  • Arrest of Ali Akbar Heidari Fard, one of the three suspended judges of Kahrizak camp, after he disturbed the peace by firing a handgun at people queuing for petrol.
  • Ahmadinejad and Minister of Youth and Sports will likely not attend the 2012 Olympics because of fingerprint demands for visa – Saudi soccer players fingerprinted at Imam Khomeini International Airport.
  • Qom Lecturers Society urges the government to look into high prices; “weak strata of society will be faced with serious difficulties, if the high cost of living continues”
  • Religious police on motorbikes monitor bad-hejab women in Tehran.
  • Café Honar which belongs to the famous cinema actor Shahab Hosseini in Lavasan was closed by the government.
  • Kahrizak arrest: Ali Akbar Heydarifard, deputy to former Tehran Prosecutor, sent to Evin.
  • Iran to give 100 licenses to mosques to launch Preschools.
  • Iran imported weapons worth over £350 million in space of 3 years despite being the target of UN arms embargo.
  • Judiciary Chief accused the government of violating the law.


Miscellaneous

  • 500% rise in deaths resulting from addiction in “holy” city of Qom.
  • Death of Kurdish tradesmen in border regions.
  • Iran, China to cooperate in traditional medicine, acupuncture.
  • Another part of Oud-Lajan, one of Tehran’s oldest and most colorful neighborhoods destroyed by fire.