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    The Imperative of Holding Iran Accountable for Human Rights Abuses

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    As the Iranian government flagrantly violates the Iranian people's fundamental human rights, the world is responsible for bringing criminals to trial
    As the Iranian government flagrantly violates the Iranian people’s fundamental human rights, the world is responsible for bringing criminals to trial

    By Pooya Stone

    On September 12, Iran executed the 27-year-old wrestling champion Navid Afkari despite a massive solidarity campaign to spare his life. This gross violation of human rights prompted the international community to focus on the Iranian government’s record in abusing the minimum rights of its citizens.

    Earlier, on September 2, Amnesty International shed light on harrowing torture and ill-treatment exercised against the citizens who were detained during the November 2019 protests.

    “Widespread torture including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care. Hundreds subjected to grossly unfair trials on baseless national security charges. Death sentences issued based on torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” AI wrote in its revelation.

    On September 5, Aida Younesi, sister of jailed elite student Ali Younesi, exposed the authorities’ attempts to compel his brother to make televised confessions. “[Ali] was told to accept allegations in televised confessions to have his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment,” Younesi tweeted.

    Also, in August, Iranian authorities hanged Mostafa Salehi, who was detained during anti-establishment protests, in Isfahan Central Prison. The judge and the Supreme Court sentenced and upheld the death penalty against Salehi based on a confession extracted through torture. “I must execute you at all costs. I made an honored word to superiors to hang one person from Kahrizsang city [Salehi’s hometown],” told an interrogator him.

    Furthermore, since the beginning of 2020, Iran’s judiciary has executed over 100 persons across the country. In August alone, authorities hanged at least 28 prisoners under different excuses. However, Iranian officials use the death penalty to terrify society and diminish the spirit of protests.

    “[The Iranian] government executed a young man – after brutally torturing him – to intimidate Iranian protesters,” tweeted the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on September 16.

    In this respect, the Iranian opposition argues that it is essential that the international community hold the Iranian government accountable for its numerous crimes against its own people. Turning a blind eye to the ayatollahs’ human rights violation is considered a green light to them to intensify suppression against citizens, particularly protesters.

    On September 16, former vice-president of the European Parliament Dr. Alejo Vidal Quadras described the execution of Navid Afkari as a terror act. “These executions in Iran are not a matter of the general death penalty. It’s pure terror, the regime wants to ensure its survival,” Dr. Quadras said in a webinar summit hosted by the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

    Tehran Efforts to Defend Navid Afkari’s Execution in a Ridiculous Manner

    In such circumstances, the civilized world, especially rights organizations and activists, bear a profoundly consequential responsibility for the Iranian people. Europeans and the U.S. government must hold the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) accountable for their malign behavior inside Iran and abroad, opposition activists say.

    The 41-year appeasement policy toward Iran merely incited the ayatollahs to further embolden their oppressive apparatuses and abuse their citizens’ rights, activists point out. Giving infinite impunity to Iranian officials has also encouraged them to cross geographic boundaries and use terrorism as a means to blackmail other nations.

    In this respect, the world must recognize Iranian citizens’ struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and the rule of law. The United States’ recent sanctions against human rights abusers send a strong message to the Iranian people. It obviously addresses Iranian youths and women who seek a free and democratic Iran that you are not alone.

    European states must follow the United States’ act, the opposition argues. This is the time for performing effective and practical measures against gross violations of human rights in Iran. It would bring peace and stability to the Middle East region and the world further than sparing the lives of innocent people who are on death row right now.

    Iran: Human Rights Situation for August 2020

    Iranian Protester Dies in Custody

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    Following the execution of wrestling champion and political prisoner Navid Afkari, Iranian authorities killed another Iranian protester Nader Mokhtari in custody
    Following the execution of wrestling champion and political prisoner Navid Afkari, Iranian authorities killed another Iranian protester Nader Mokhtari in custody

    By Jubin Katiraie

    An Iranian protester, who was beaten into a coma by security forces, has died in custody.

    Nader Mokhtari, 35, died on Saturday in Kahrizak detention center, Tehran. His body has not yet been handed over to his family, who are being put under pressure to remain silent about his death and the cause of death.

    He fell into a coma after being beaten with batons by state security forces in the November 2019 protests in Karaj and for a month, his family didn’t know where he was until they found him comatose in a hospital in Tehran.

    Protests Increase Three-Fold in Iran

    Mokhtari came out of the coma in March, just before the Persian new year, and, despite his critical condition and opposition from doctors and relatives, security forces moved him to Kahrizak Prison where he was held in the prison’s health center.

    At least 1,500 protesters were slain in the streets by security forces in a three-day period in November, with thousands more injured or arrested or both.

    In early September, Amnesty International published a report into the arrested protesters, citing torture, unfair trials, and death sentences issued based on “confessions” extracted under torture.

    Iran Human Rights Monitor said: “[This] emphasizes the need for an international delegation to visit prisons and detention centers of the clerical regime and to meet with the prisoners, particularly the detained protesters.”

    In related news, there is concern over the fate of four political prisoners in Sheiban Prison, Ahwaz, who has been moved to an undisclosed location, which is common before executions. Prison authorities have failed to inform their families of their whereabouts and fate, which amounts to forced disappearances and is banned by international law.

    Ali Motiri, Ali Khasraji, 27, Hossein Silavi, 31, and Ali Mojadam, 39, were all moved in secret last Thursday, even though only three of them – Motiri, Khasraji, and Silavi – had their death sentences confirmed by the Supreme Court, following an unfair trial based on confessions to murder extracted under torture.

    Mojadam, meanwhile, was convicted of, basically, not supporting the regime but there is no information on his case or the verdict.

    All four of these political prisoners had taken part in a protest in April over the failure of prison authorities to take merchants to stop the spread of the coronavirus. They were beaten and shot by security forces and new cases were opened against them.

    Iran Issues More Execution Sentences

    Following that, Mojadam reported on April 15 that he’d been interrogated under torture at the Intelligence Department of Ahwaz detention center.

    Tehran’s Desperate Reaction to the Reimposition of UN Sanctions

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    Tehran whistles in the dark to conceal the snapback’s impacts, but neither its forces nor economic partners can hear
    Tehran whistles in the dark to conceal the snapback’s impacts, but neither its forces nor economic partners can hear

    By Jubin Katiraie

    On September 21, the UN sanctions were reimposed on the Iranian government based on an appeal provided by the United States as one of the signatories of UN Security Council resolution 2231. Initially, Iranian authorities, including President Hassan Rouhani, expressed their joy about European officials’ objection to the move. However, their happiness did not last long.

    On July 20, 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2231, endorsing the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran benefited billions of dollars in credit and cash as economic relief in return for stopping its nuclear activities. The deal was also considered a foundation for further negotiations over controversial topics such as the Iranian government’s malign behavior in the Middle East and provocative ballistic missile program.

    At the time, Iranian authorities claimed that they had cemented the core of the Arak heavy water facility and repurposed the Natanz uranium enrichment site to a research center. Notably, the Iranian government had denied the existence of both locations before the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed them and other suspect activities by Tehran toward obtaining nuclear weapons in 2002.

    However, the ayatollahs deceived the international community and continued their activities despite signing the accord and receiving reliefs. In July 2019, Hassan Rouhani officially announced that his government would not obey the terms of the agreement anymore and will surpass restrictions as much as needed. Simultaneously, Iran suspended the UN Atomic Watchdog’s access to two controversial sites and accused an inspector of espionage.

    Previously, on January 22, 2019, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi openly admitted to breaching Iran’s obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. “The leader [Khamenei] warned us that they were violators of agreements… There are tubes where the fuel goes. We had bought similar tubes, but I could not declare this at the time,” said Salehi in an interview with the TV Channel Four.

    “When they told us to pour cement into the tubes… we said: ‘Fine. We will pour.’ But we did not tell them that we had other tubes. Otherwise, they would have told us to pour cement into those tubes as well. Now we have the same tubes,” he added.

    Now, Tehran seemingly pays the price of its treacherous behavior and atomic ambitions. In this respect, triggering the dispute mechanism (snapback), which automatically restores all suspended UNSC resolutions, has placed the Iranian government in a dangerous position.

    The reimposition of international sanctions on the Iranian government takes place while the country is experiencing a heavy economic crisis. In such circumstances, the oil price has dropped, the national currency has been sharply devalued, the coronavirus outbreak has deteriorated financial power, and systematic corruption, embezzlement, inflation, and high-prices have almost waned the country’s economic sector.

    In this context, Iranian officials sound alarms about the dire conditions and potential risks. “Walking away from the JCPOA and NPT—if it was necessary—would seize the opportunity of using the snapback mechanism from the U.S. and Europe. Unilaterally remaining in the JCPOA gives the enemy this chance to raise the case in the UNSC based on articles 36 and 37, and paragraphs 10 and 11 of resolution 2231. With Russia and China deprived of their veto right, the snapback would all we get from the JCPOA,” said Ebrahim Karkhanei, former Chairman of the Parliament (Majlis) Nuclear Committee, in an interview with Keyhan daily on September 21.

    Iran in Fear of the Trigger Mechanism

    On the other hand, Parviz Sorouri, former MP, warned about remaining in the JCPOA and reckoned that the European states and the U.S. follow a similar roadmap. “Europe and the U.S. pursue a common goal in a strategic plot against the state’s red lines. It is ‘limiting the country’s defense-regional power.’ Europeans believe that a half-dead, spent, and ineffective JCPOA is better than a dead deal,” Hemayat Online website quoted him as saying on the same day.

    Also, Foad Izadi, a close analyst to the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, rejected Rouhani’s claims about the JCPOA’s achievements. “We have no extended nuclear abilities. Five years ago, we handed over ten tons of enriched uranium due to the JCPOA. We had Arak, Fordu, and Natanz [facilities], and 19,000 centrifuges. What do we want to receive with three tons of uranium?” he wrote in a piece in Resalat daily on September 21.

    Resalat daily also mocked Rouhani’s claims about Europe’s objection to the U.S. reimposition of sanction: “It is impossible to fill your pocket with an insignificant objection by Europeans and the UNSC and praise it as a victory. It is right that Europeans did not trigger the dispute; however, they previously set their guns on barrage status against us.”

    The snapback sanctions affected the Iranian bankrupt economy in an unprecedented way. For instance, Tehran Stock Market (STM) lost over 57,000 units in two days alone. An Iranian economic media reported that “the stock market experienced a dramatic fall” and added “stock markets have been shut down and the scale of trade has significantly dropped,” according to Tejarat [business] News website on September 21.

    Iranian authorities have realized the impact of snapback despite their ridiculous remarks and congratulations. They hoped the U.S. presidential elections would rescue them from their terrible condition. However, the reimposition of sanctions has pushed Iran’s economy to the point of no return. Today, the government faces not only a sharp decline in exporting crude oil and condensate but also deals recession in all aspects of financial activities.

    These parameters will create a hyper social crisis, paving the path for the fed-up people to flood into the streets once again and clearly demonstrate their rage and fury against the corrupt ruling system. In this respect, the ayatollahs do not hide their concerns and frequently warn each other over upcoming protests. They openly say that “we face a volatile society,” and the “Nitrate of Disappointment” awaits us.

    Iran’s Government Faces Protests ‘On the Tarmac’

    Trigger Mechanism and Iran Regime’s Reactions

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    Iran sanctions
    Iran sanctions

    By Pooya Stone

    Before and after the announcement of the return of UN sanctions by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, colorful reactions were expressed by Iran’s leaders and figures of this regime. The essence of these reactions is: Anger, despair, fear, being hopeless about the result of the US Presidential elections, and of course hole threats and ridiculous showoffs.

    Calling the IRGC chief General Hossein Salami to the scene is just one of these showoffs that we are witnessing now and of course in the upcoming days and weeks. Which of course is intended for domestic consumption only. As Salami threatened the US and said: “We will blow you away and destroy you,” and comments just like that.

    The regime’s diplomatic apparatus, as well as President Hassan Rouhani to strengthen the morale of the regime’s forces, say that the United States has failed politically and legally and has not been able to reach a consensus in the Security Council. At a cabinet meeting on September 20, Rouhani, while apparently afraid the consequences of the trigger mechanism, launched a carnival of thanks to members of the UN Security Council, claiming the victory of the regime.

    “I would like to thank Indonesia as the former President of the Security Council and Niger as the current President of the Security Council for their resistance to the illegal actions of the United States, as well as Russia and China as friendly countries that have stood firm against the irrationality of the United States, they stood both in the previous periods and in this period. I must also thank the other members of the Security Council, the European countries, the other countries, and all the 12 to 13 countries that have supported Iran and stood up to the United States.”  (Mashregh News, 20 September)

    But despite Rouhani’s irrational comments, the speaker of the parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf warned the entire regime and that they should not ignore the essence of the issue with these optimisms.

    “We should not rejoice in these legal and political failures of the United States and forget that our oppressive enemy will step forward step by step in escalating sanctions if this negligence continues to reshape the sanctions system.”

    Then warning about the ‘starving army’ he added: “We should not retard the country and the livelihood of the people because of the West.” (State-run daily Javan, 20 September)

    Disappointment with the outcome of the US election, he added: “We must prioritize the people, and we must take advantage of the clear experiences of the Iranian people and know that America’s enmity with this nation is deep-rooted and that whether Trump becomes president or Biden, there will be no difference in the main policy of hitting the Iranian people.

    “So, we need to focus on strengthening the Iranian nation and declaring real victory when our economy and people are strong and feel that tangible changes have taken place in their lives.” (State-run daily Javan, 20 September)

    Despite Rouhani’s claims about the isolation and Legal Failure of the US government, the state media are showing something else and clearly said that Europe’s superficial agreement with the UN Security Council is a kind of completion of the pieces of a puzzle for a complete siege of the regime.

    “In the meantime, there is a danger that should not be overlooked. The ‘scuffle of the US and the Security Council members’, about the multilateral sanctions, should not distract us from the main US-European game against our country. This joint play does not rely on the presence of Trump or Biden in the White House.” (Resalat, 20 September)

    Kayhan daily, which reflects the viewpoints of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on 20 September wrote: “Europe’s opposition to the US implementation of the trigger mechanism is merely a show of opposition. Because the European members of the JCPOA in the past months and before the United States have been in the forefront in starting the implementation of the trigger mechanism.”

    To get out of the crisis, the hypotheses at the forefront of this regime could include the following:

    1. Carrying out a passive policy of patience and waiting and, according to the state media, avoiding ’emotional and reactive actions.’ And staying in the status quo while still waiting for the outcome of the US election and jumping from one pillar to another in the hope of a way out.
    2. Relying more and more on the JCPOA and to rejoice in the rift between Europe and the United States, with the support of Russia and China. The same thing that Hassan Rouhani repeated, fearing the consequences of the trigger mechanism.
    3. Decreasing its JCPOA’s commitments and increase enrichment activities and the amount of enriched uranium to have the upper hand. This policy will not work anymore because of the return of the UN sanctions, part of which is the suspension of enrichment, reprocessing, and heavy water-related activities.
    4. Going overboard, dismantling the IAEA cameras, ending the IAEA’s inspections, and leaving the NPT, options that some of the regime’s MPs are calling for.
    5. Handling a terrorist adventure to get out of the crisis. In this case, it paves the way for military action within the framework of UN sanctions for its opponents.

     

    Read More:

    Iran Desperately Plays Its Latest Atomic Cards

    Water Crisis in Iran Felt Most by Poorest

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    Sistan and Baluchestan is Iran's most deprived province in water supply, according to Iran's Ministry of Energy estimates
    Sistan and Baluchestan is Iran’s most deprived province in water supply, according to Iran’s Ministry of Energy estimates

    By Jubin Katiraie

    The water crisis in Iran is being felt most harshly by the deprived people living in the south, central, and east Iran, and is largely due to the destruction of water infrastructure by regime-linked institutions.

    Alongside the many other crises facing Iran, not least the coronavirus pandemic, this is the result of the regime prioritizing its illicit activities over its people and exploiting natural resources for hoarded wealth.

    In Sistan and Baluchistan province, southeastern Iran, people are forced to dig ditches to collect rainwater, which has resulted in some people falling to their deaths in the deep ones or collecting water from lakes where crocodiles sometimes attack and kill them.

    Essa Kalantari, head of the regime’s Environment Organization, said in 2017: “Not even a foreign enemy ruling this country would have been able to destroy natural resources and the environment, as what has happened in the past years. We have experienced any kind of ecological disaster within the past four decades. Prior to this, many of the country’s environmental indicators, such as water were in a good position.”

    Other regime officials have said similar things. The CEO of the Water and Sewerage Company in Lorestan province saying that only half of the villages there are even linked up to the water and sewer systems, while the MP for Ahvaz, southwest Iran, noted that 800 villages don’t have drinking water even though they are near five large dams and seven rivers.

    This information and more shows that the people are facing problems because of the regime’s mismanagement and building dams that actually prevent water from getting to where it needs to be, causing flooding in some places and droughts in others over a very short period.

    Not only does this affect the drinking water, but also the water for farmers who now cannot grow crops, creating a food shortage. It is also having an economic effect on the poorest people in the country who now have to purchase potable water, which is supplied by regime-linked companies at exorbitant prices.

    The regime has refused to help, either quashing protests or making false promises that are never fulfilled, which has meant that the issue and all other crises are turning Iran into a powder keg, ready to explode.

    The state-run Ebtekar daily wrote on September 6: “It seems that Hassan Rouhani, for obvious and hidden reasons, has distanced himself from society and people as much as he could. But neither he nor his advisors notice that this behavior is the final nail in the coffin of the people’s trust. They do not understand, or they ignore, the devastating consequences of this action. It is good for the president’s all security entourage to remember that since November 2019 until now what strange things have happened in our society.”

    Read More:

    Poverty in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province

    60 Million Iranians Below the Poverty Line

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    Iran poverty: Tehran cemetery children selling flowers
    Iran poverty: Tehran cemetery children selling flowers

    By Pooya Stone

    An Iranian economist has said that due to the regime’s mismanagement of the economy, some 60 million Iranians now live below the poverty line.

    Ibrahim Razaghi told state-run website Tabnak that a systematic “lack of supervision over the economy” has led to “extreme poverty, widespread unemployment, the inability of many people to pay their rent, and that the rich were getting richer”. This, he said, is “the most important threat to Iran”.

    Razaghi noted that some 30 million Iranians are unemployed, which is almost a third of the country, and that even those in work are not making enough to live on, with 60 million Iranians living under the poverty line, so the economic situation is “very bad”.

    Indeed, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Center of Workers’ Unions, Hadi Abavi, said that while the poverty line is 10 million tomans, those in full-time employment can make as little as 2 million tomans based on the minimum wage, which means that many Iranians are working for over 40 hours a week at second or third jobs.

    On Monday, Abavi said: “The government must do something for workers.”

    Razaghi said that the regime had “practically abandoned the economy”, which lead to a sharp increase in prices of basic goods, like eggs and butter, with near-daily price fluctuations. He called this “illogical” and said that it is “not clear” what the government is doing to control these prices.

    There have been numerous reports from Iran recently that indicate that impoverished Iranians are unable to afford food staples and that these goods are having to be rationed.

    Razaghi advised that the regime was making it easy for “some people”, read the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), to import goods without any supervision, which has caused prices to soar. He asked why the Central Bank is not intervening and said that the regime’s actions demonstrate that it is intentionally raising prices.

    In another report, an Iranian researcher and economist Ehsan Soltani announced that the true inflation rate in Iran was 60%, which is far beyond the regime’s official announcement of 30%.

    Soltani told the state-run ILNA News Agency on Sunday that Iran’s Center for Statistics was hiding the truth because they were under pressure from the regime. He further advised that the inflation rate would perhaps soar to over 70% in the second half of the Persian year, which would be the period September 21-March 20.

    Read More:

    Poverty in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province

    What Is the Iranian Cyber-Army’s Mission?

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    Iran authorities strengthen their efforts to dominate cyberspace as the people openly express their will for changing the current political system and collaborate their anti-establishment protests
    Iran authorities strengthen their efforts to dominate cyberspace as the people openly express their will for changing the current political system and collaborate their anti-establishment protests

    By Jubin Katiraie

    Conventional wisdom has it that authoritarian states use propaganda to pave the path for suppressing dissidents and executing extreme measures. They use media outlets and social media to whitewash their crimes and disguise victims as offenders. To achieve their goals, authoritarians have form armies of fake accounts who merely reiterate their message in social media. In this respect, millions of unemployed people are good targets for recruitment and improving propaganda operations with minimum capital.

    Fake armies are usually known as “anonymous” experts, sources who spoke on the condition of “anonymity,” or an official who prefers to remain unknown due to the issue’s sensitivity. However, the question is why these reliable sources cover their identity while they repeat officials’ comments in other languages?

    State-backed propaganda missions have drastically intensified inside Iran and abroad in parallel with the escalation of the Iranian people’s protests. For instance, in a coordinating operation, Iran’s cyber-army attempted to demonize hundreds of thousands of protesters who peacefully took to streets. Cyber agents openly supported the execution of detained protesters and rudely expressed their happiness for hanging Mostafa Salehi and Navid Afkari.

    Government-linked accounts explicitly repeated authorities’ false accusations and said, “Detainees of the November 2019 protests have been sentenced to death due to their involvement in an armed robbery.” Also, they compare the situation of Iran under the religious dictatorship with the status of democratic countries like France or the United States.

    “Events like the November 2019 protests are taking place everywhere around the world; they are naturally happening in France or the United States,” they post on messaging apps. However, they intentionally avoid saying the whole story. They do not say that protesters in other countries are not being shot systematically. Furthermore, even Iranian state media affirmed that many police officers and security agents had been tried for using excessive force against demonstrators.

    However, Iranian authorities have never prosecuted any police officer for targeting barehanded protesters during the November protests or even shooting down a commercial airliner in January. Instead, they captured many citizens and bystanders and tortured them to extract televised confessions about things they had never done. Afterward, they sentenced the poor detainees to inhuman sentences to terrify society.

    Once again, they deliberately circumvent the truth to insinuate their audiences that protesters deserve merciless punishments. They would truly like to style rights groups and activists as defenders of implementing the death penalty. Then, Iran’s cyber army blamed activists for controversial behaviors.

    The Iranian government’s cyber agents simultaneously paved the path for the execution of protesters. They trended ‘#Execute’ on Persian-language Twitter and demanded the implementation of the death penalty against protesters, arguing that death-row demonstrators had committed murder, invasion of privacy, armed robbery, and bombing attacks.

    All the while, Babak Paknia, the lawyer of Amirhossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi, three youths arrested during the 2019 protests, rejected all accusations and announced there is no relevant evidence to his clients’ cases. “As the lawyer of the case, I say that there is no charge of murder, invasion, armed robbery or bombing in the case; The video published in cyberspace, which is stolen from a store, has nothing to do with the case of our clients. If you have no faith, at least be honest,” Paknia tweeted.

    However, the ayatollahs’ anonymous soldiers extended their propaganda operations in other aspects. To justify and conceal crimes committed by authorities and security forces, they assault Kurdish porters (Kolbars) and even charity organizations.

    “Kolbars were shot and killed due to smuggling cargo or drug” and “Managing boards of non-profit charity organizations are in touch with the enemies and demonize the country’s situation under the guise of charity activities” are seen in Persian-language posts on social media as a part of the Iranian cyber army’s mission.

    In addition to the mentioned misinformation campaigns, Iranian authorities constantly spread fake news about dissidents. For instance, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the intelligence department of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are annually printing and producing hundreds of books, movies, and TV series, as well as publishing thousands of articles to demonize the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organization.

    As a part of the ayatollahs’ misinformation campaigns, cyber agents are tasked to circulate these allegations in social media apps to disturb the organization’s reputation among citizens. These activities have been amplified in the past years. This shows the growth of the opposition’s popularity among the people, especially between the young generation, which has prompted forty members of the Parliament (Majlis) to submit a plan for banning all messaging apps.

    The continuation of Iran’s propaganda missions despite the country’s dire economic condition and efforts to shut down social media and launch a state-control network apparently reveals authorities’ concerns about cyberspace. Earlier, the supreme leader had highlighted security threats imposed by social media. “If I was not the leader of ‘the Islamic Revolution,’ I definitely became the head of the country’s [department] for cyber affairs,” Khamenei said in November 2014.

    He had also compared the importance of cyber activities with the entire Islamic Revolution, saying, “The cyberspace is as important as the Islamic Revolution.” The Iranian government never accepts its failure in the domination of cyberspace. However, these remarks and plans for restricting messaging apps clearly exposed Iran’s oppressive apparatuses cannot confront Iranian netizens. During the November protests, a week of internet blockage also showed the truth that the government has not been able to suppress citizens who use any means to express their objections and coordinate their efforts and anti-establishment activities.

    Read More:

    The Shadow Army of Iran’s Regime Extends Its Activities in Germany, Authorities Warn

     

    Iran Regime’s Vicious Suppression of Protesters

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    Iran, protest in 2018, archive image
    Iran, protest in 2018, archive image

    By Pooya Stone

    The Iranian regime is attempting to stop any dissent by imposing heavy sentences on protesters, warning in state media that nationwide protests, bigger than was ever seen before, are coming, which is why they must punish peaceful protesters with long prison terms, floggings, and even executions.

    Human rights activists, eyewitnesses, and former detainees report that arrested protesters are routine:

    • Harassed
    • Tortured
    • Beaten
    • Flogged
    • Given electric shocks
    • Suspended from the ceiling
    • Mock executions
    • Waterboarded
    • Sexually abused
    • Denied medical care
    • Prevented from contacting their families or lawyers
    • Interrogated in solitary confinement

    Iran Human Rights Monitor produced a brief report on the abuses levied at protesters, including children, who merely exercised their right to freedom of expression.

    Execution

    Two protesters were recently executed: Mostafa Salehi, 33 and a father-of-two, and Navid Afkari Sangari, 27, and a champion wrestler. They were killed for taking part in protests, no matter what bogus charge they were tortured into confessing to.

    But there are ten more protesters on death row, including Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, Mohammad Rajabi, Mohammad Keshvari, Hossein Reyhani, Hadi Kiani, Mehdi Salehi Qaleh Shahrokhi, Mohammad Bastami, Majid Nazari Kondari, and Abbas Mohammadi.

    Flogging

    In the past year alone, the regime has handed down 28 flogging sentences to protesters, numbering 1270 blows in total.

    This included:

    • Vahid and Habib Afkari Sangari, who was sentenced to 74 lashes each and long prison terms
    • Ali Azizi and Aliyar Hosseinzadeh flogged on June 8
    • Moradi, Tamjidi, and Rajabi sentenced to 222 lashes in total as well as their death sentences
    • Morteza Omidbiglou who was given 222 lashes along with a long prison term and forced labor
    • Mohammad Eghbali Golhin sentenced to 74 lashes, 11 years in prison, and one year in exile
    • Fatemeh Kohanzadeh, sentenced to 50 lashes, prison, and forced labor
    • Keyvan Pashaei, Ali Azizi, Amin Zare, Salar Taher Afshar, Aliyar Hosseinzadeh, and Yasin Hassanpour, sentenced to 20 lashes, eight months in prison, and a 15 million rials fine each

    Iran Human Rights Monitor said: “[We] call on the international community, and in particular human rights organizations, to strongly condemn the killing and execution of protesters by the Iranian regime. The UN Security Council must place the dire human rights situation in Iran on its agenda and send an international delegation to visit the prisons in Iran. They must meet with the prisoners, especially those arrested during the November 2019 uprising.”

    Read More:

    Iranian Authorities Confiscate the Late Mostafa Salehi’s Home and Properties

    More Protests Across Iran Reported

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    Protests spread across Iran this weekend, featuring people from all walks of life. (Image: Archive)
    Protests spread across Iran this weekend, featuring people from all walks of life. (Image: Archive)

    By Jubin Katiraie

    On Sunday, contract workers expelled from the Sports Affairs Department in Gachsaran’s Oil and Gas Exploitation Company protested outside the governor’s office demanding their return to work and reminding us that they had not been paid for three months before they were fired.

    One protester said: “For several weeks now, a group of sports coaches, whose only source of income was coaching in this company, have been fired under various pretexts, including company officials saying they are no longer needed. Each of them has more than ten years of work experience and their status is left in limbo so far.”

    Meanwhile, over 200 employees and contract workers from the Abadan Refinery protested outside the company’s head office in Abadan over the refinery’s job classification plan. They said that the adjustment plan measures over contract workers’ payments were not implemented and they are also demanding an increase in wages based on work experience and specific duties.

    The labour representatives who attended decision-making meetings were chosen by politicians, so they cannot be trusted to represent the workers.

    On Saturday, workers of the Khalkhal Water and Sewerage Department in Ardabil, gathered in Khalkhal to protest the eight-month delay in receiving their wages, to which the local head of the regime’s Labour Union and Social Welfare Office threatened to fire them.

    On Friday, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) shot and killed Hassan Khandeh-pour, who was married with three children and wounded another civilian, known only as “Arab”, in the Gader Mountains near Oshnaviyeh, where the two were grazing their livestock. The IRGC took Arab to an IRGC detention centre in Naqada and stole 410 sheep. This will no doubt lead to protests.

    The Iranian parliament warned on Sunday that deteriorating economic conditions for workers will lead to further protests, with MP Ali Babaie admitting that all workers are below the poverty line.

    MP Anvar Habibzadeh said: “Along with the difficult novel coronavirus situation, recession, inflation and unemployment are all rampant. Unbridled inflation has spread to people’s essential goods. People send me hundreds of messages daily complaining about skyrocketing prices. Dear colleagues, with these devastating prices, how can a worker feed his family”?

    “The country’s economic growth has been negative for eight years. The government that claimed would solve people’s problems is now desperate for a solution. The country’s revenues have decreased by 34% since 2013. People’s purchasing power has decreased to one-third of the previous year and prices skyrocket suddenly and continually. Agricultural inputs such as corn, soybeans, etc. increase 10 times overnight, construction inputs increase more than 10 to 20 times, and poultry and meat prices skyrocket,” said Kamal Alipour, one of the regime’s MPs, on Sunday.

    Read More:

    Iran’s Government Faces Protests ‘On the Tarmac’

    Fear Engulfs Iran’s Entire Establishment

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    : Iran’s economic sanctions after the trigger mechanism (snapback)
    Iran’s economic sanctions after the trigger mechanism (snapback)

    By Pooya Stone

    Iran’s Friday prayer leaders as one of its main speakers about the government’s situation showed last Friday the authorities’ fear about the upcoming events. While many state-run media are trying to show a strong position of the clerical establishment and show that the authorities do not care about the UN ‘snapback’ mechanism, the reality is so bitter that its prayer leaders are forced to show their concerns.

    At first, in various cities, they demonstrated the authorities’ fear of social conditions and their critical situation.

    Cleric Ibrahim Hosseini said in Saveh, fearing the consequences of the execution of Navid Afkari, said: “Should he be rewarded for taking part in the overthrow against the system, or should he be doubly punished?”

    Cleric Qasem Hashemi in Shahinshahr said: “Distorting the image of the armed forces among the Iranian nation and creating security holes is one of the plans of other enemies of the Iranian nation before next year’s elections.”

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    Mohsen Mahmoudi in Varamin undermined the policies of the Rouhani government and said: “What kind of economic situation is this, and why is the government not accountable and only chanting slogans, by what logic can this economic situation be justified? People condemn this wrongdoing and will not forgive those who have deliberately plundered the people.”

    Ali Vahdanifar in Dehdasht expressing concern over the anger of the people said: “The patience of the revolutionary nation has its limits. If the goals of the leadership are not considered, the revolutionary nation will define its task with the liberals, the Westerns, and those who are begging the West.”

    In Lavasanat, cleric Saeed Lavasani said: “Activation of the trigger mechanism means the defeat and complete death of the JCPOA, which means the path that we went for seven years and put all the facilities of the nation on it, now we must return that way.

    “The mechanism of the Security Council is such that it allows the United States to take such an action, which, although China and Russia have formally opposed it, implicitly acknowledges that a new legal challenge is emerging in the Security Council that will lead to long discussions, of course, it is not in our interest.”

    Cleric Hassan Dehshiri in Ardestan said: “The upcoming US and Iranian presidential election has enemies with plans that put the issue of security, livelihood, health, and unity on the agenda to shake (the system).”

    Cleric Ali Khatami in Zanjan said: “The enemy has a plan for the next year and is desperate to strike at the system. We must be vigilant and not allow the enemies and ill-wishers of the system to achieve their goals.”

    “Today, oil sales, financing, and imports are in trouble, and debtors like China, Turkey, and North Korea are not paying their debts to the country,” said Dori Najafabadi, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s representative in Markazi province.

    “The Islamic Republic is in a state of war and the wants to overthrow the system with intense pressure and sanctions from the United States and non-Americans,” he added.

    Iran Policy Summit Calls for Sanctions to Hold Regime Accountable

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