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Iranian People Prepare for Anti-Establishment Protests

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On the cusp of the first anniversary of the November 2019 protests, Iranian officials and state-run media express their concerns about resuming nationwide demonstrations. For instance, in its October 27 edition, Resalat daily affiliated with the radical Motalafeh (coalition) party leaked its fears in a piece titled, “A word about November 2019.”

The daily points out that in November protests, known and trained individuals had participated in many hotspots. November 2019 paved the path for taking away Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force.

“2019 was one of the most important landmarks of the post-Islamic Revolution era. The route of developments in Iran and the region expose that there were ominous plans for fundamental changes,” Resalat wrote.

“Set of pressures had turned 2019 into a special year. Gasoline price hikes were a spark on keg powder, which had previously been ready. Three-fold increase in the gasoline price and rationing it had consequences. However, retracting the decision would bring more dangerous results,” the daily added.

Then, Resalat continues that “Since while ago, organized groups were activated to use disappointment environment and potential protests. November 2019 paved the path for these persons to appear in the scene with weapons and military equipment.”

“The November sedition [a term used by state-run media to demonize popular protests] was not supposed to be extinguished. It was a start point for a chain of more expanded unrest and disrupting the country’s security, intelligence, and law enforcement apparatuses. It was launched to create instability and insecurity inside Iran.”

“Less than two months later, Qassem Soleimani was assassinated by the U.S. in January… It seems that adversaries are implementing parts of a new conspiracy in the near future. In this respect, in addition to being aware and countering domestic and foreign seditions, notifying public opinion over these movements should be considered,” Resalat concluded.

The Future of Iran and the Region Without Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force

However, Resalat is not the only outlet to release their scare over the upcoming protests and society’s volatile conditions. “Reformist” figures are also deeply concerned about the people’s disappointment and complaints.

On the same day, in an interview with the “reformist” daily Etemad, Javad Imam reminded the November protests and their definite impacts on society. He sounded alarms about citizens’ outrage against the government’s mismanagement in different fields.

“Today, the pressures have been intensified in comparison to the pre-coronavirus era or even November 2019. Therefore, the scale of disappointment has increased,” he said.

Imam also mentioned the dire economic conditions. “Several people have lost their careers. Several employees experience sharp declines in their salaries. Meanwhile, we deal with rampant inflation, which increased disappointment,” he added.

The reformist expert also highlighted that the people no longer trust in “reformist officials” and counted President Hassan Rouhani’s failures. “On the other hand, the administration could not take a serious step about sanctions, budget deficits, and living pressures. It did even nothing in tax issue despite many merchants and employees yielded severe disadvantages.”

Imam also reminded the society’s volatile situation and the likelihood of new protests. “Salaries are not raised, but expenditures grew several times, and people must endure all these troubles. The likelihood of people’s reaction has increased,” he concluded.

Iran’s Government Faces Protests ‘On the Tarmac’

Wave of Arrests Makes Overcrowding Worse at Qezal Hesar Prison

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A massive wave of arrests in October has further increased the dangerously large number of prisoners in Qezel Hesar Prison in Karaj, Iran, with 2,000 detainees transferred there in just four weeks, according to Iran Human Rights Monitor. And this is just in one prison in one province. 

Why have there been so many arrests? 

The government is terrified that massive protests will form on the anniversary of the November 2019 protests, so the ayatollahs ordered mass arrests of those that might be involved under the pretext of protecting national security, decreasing tensions, or getting violent thugs off the streets. Of course, the truth is that this means anyone who an anti-establishment sentiment on social media, particularly young people, who authorities are especially afraid of. 

This includes 1,500 people in Zanjan Province, 5,550 people in Kermanshah Province3,000 people in Semnan Province, and 98 people in Lorestan Province. All of these were boasted by leading figures in the State Security Forces or the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). 

“The Razavioun patrols, which were created to provide security, started [a series of] preparations two years ago. Last year, these preparatory activities were completed, and this year they have been fully implemented,” said IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Yazdi.

“In other words, in coordination with our SSF brothers at Tehran’s Judiciary, we have launched the Razavioun patrols across the Province to create security … and in coordination with the prosecutor and with the help of SSF, the continuation of this task will be to develop and extend our activities at all levels and in all areas of the city to confront those who want to disrupt the people’s security,” he added.

Iran Protesters Given Major Sentences 

What does this mean at Qezel Hesar Prison? 

There are supposedly no political prisoners in the prison, but with a new total of 14,000 inmates, it may be impossible to tell. What’s certain is that the influx will make poor conditions worse. 

What are conditions like? 

  • Inmates must buy their own beds or wait years for one to be provided 
  • Prison food is badsmelling and low quality 
  • Complaints by inmates are ignored 
  • Prisoners are not given medical attention when sick 
  • Ill detainees are not held in quarantine during the pandemic 
  • Prisoners are forced to study the Quran, whether or not they are Muslim 
  • Many inmates are held in limbo 

Some 1,800 detainees sentenced to death are held on Ward 2, with just four halls to hold them all. These halls have large rooms (5X5 meters) that hold 40 prisoners and small rooms (4X3 meters) that hold 11. Given the lack of personal space, 15 prisoners must sleep on the floor in the large rooms and three in the small rooms. 

Many of the other prisoners are detained on drug-related offenses that bear heavy sentences, but the drug mafia controlled by the prison’s warden and guards still operates, buying drugs from outside and selling it to prisoners. 

Iran’s 2020 Budget, in Support of Suppression and Corruption

Iran Protesters Given Major Sentences 

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Iran’s Behbahan Court, in Khuzestan province, has sentenced 36 protesters including two women, arrested during November 2019 protests a total of 109 years in prison, 2,590 lashes, and a 33 million rials [$110] fine. 

The protesters were informed of their sentences on October 22, just days before the anniversary of the 2019 protests, during which Behbahan was a hotbed of protest. 

Iran Sentences January Protesters to Flogging and Prison 

Let’s look at the sentences of these women: 

  • Roghieh Taherzadeh was ordered to pay 33 million rials [$110] if she wanted to avoid three months in prison for the “crime” of insulting government agents while on duty 
  • Maryam Payab  was given one year in prison and 74 lashes for “disruption of public order” 

In related news, another protester – this time from Khorramabad, Lorestan Province – was sentenced to one year in prison. 

Fatemeh Khoshrou, 32, who was arrested on November 16, 2019, alongside 69 other citizens in Khorramabad, was told about her sentence via email. She was tried in absentia on October 5 by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Khorramabad on charges of: 

  • leading riots 
  • disrupting public order by taking part in illegal gatherings 
  • collaborating with hostile and dissident groups 
  • preparing and sending footage of illegal gatherings to operatives in Turkey 

Khoshrou was held in Khorramabad detention center for 18 days, where she was brutalized and put under pressure to make false confessions on TV, before being moved to Ward 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran. After 34 days under interrogation, she was transferred to Khorramabad Prison. She was temporarily released 10 days later, in mid-January, on a 100 million Tomans bail until her trial was convened and her sentence finalized. 

Female Political Prisoners Suffering in Iran

During the November 2019 uprising, some 1,500 peaceful protesters were murdered by special forces, including about 400 women. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had ordered the special forces to “do whatever it takes to stop [the protesters]”. 

Of course, these numbers are a conservative estimate because the government is well versed in trying to cover up its crimes and the Iranian Resistance could only uncover so many deaths. Never asked, this is undoubtedly one of the most horrific crimes of the 21st century.  

Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian opposition President, has repeatedly urged the United Nations and the European Union to take immediate action to save more protesters by dispatching fact-finding missions to Iran to investigate this, visit prisons, and secure the release of those arrested.
She called on the UN Security Council to declare the Iranian government, specifically Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, and IRGC Commander Hossein Salami, as perpetrators of crime against humanity. 

Tehran’s Non-Petrol Exports See Decline Alongside Oil Exports

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No one exactly knows how much crude oil the Iranian government extracts, produces, and exports. However, massive budget deficits, a significant shortage of foreign currency, and the national currency’s devaluation against the U.S. dollar show Iran’s oil revenues have drastically declined.

Recently, Tehran appealed to and even threatened South Korea to release its blocked money but received nothing as a result. In addition to South Korea, China—as Tehran’s strategic ally—has refused to release the Iranian government’s frozen assets.

Sharp Drop in Iran’s Imports/Exports

How Much Oil Did Tehran Export in 2019?

According to official statistics, Iran exported one-third of the oil that had been predicted in the 2019-2020 budget bill. Observers forecast that this value will decrease in the current year. However, the government has not yet provided details about the exported crude oil and condensate in 2019.

According to senior officials in President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, the oil revenue was roughly around $8-9 billion in 2019. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati, First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, and economic deputy Mohammad Nahavandian announced the same number in separated remarks.

“In 2019, the country’s oil revenue—and not just the administration—was $8.9 billion. Therefore, given the National Development Fund’s 20 percent stake and the National Oil Company’s 14.5 percent stake, the administration’s total and gas condensate exports were over $5.8 billion. In this context, Iran has exported 490,000 barrels per day (BPD) based on receiving $50 per barrel,” Donyay-e Eghtesad daily wrote on May 24.

Giving False Hopes Instead of Real Stats

In this respect, MPs questioned the administration’s representative about false estimations. Why did the administration close the oil presell amount on 1.5 million BPD despite the sanctions? MPs asked.

“‘If we close the budget plan on 500,000 BPD instead of 1.5 million, it means that we have succumbed to the U.S.,’ said the administration’s representative. In other words, in a radio program, an official of the Planning and Budget Organization explicitly acknowledged that the administration noted high figures in the budget bill to create hopeful space,” Fars news agency, affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), reported on May 24.

Furthermore, according to customs statistics, the government’s non-petrol income has reached $13.556 billion in the past six months, the lowest figure in the past decade. “In the past six months, non-petrol exports declined by 34 percent in comparison to the last year, which is the most severe drop in the span of two decades. The country’s imports also yielded a 21.66 percent decrease compared to the last year and have reached $16.783 billion. Therefore, Iran’s financial interaction was $30.349 billion, the poorest foreign trade in the past decade,” Mashregh daily wrote on October 10.

Significant Drop in Pistachio and Carpet Exports

Once upon a time, Iran had monopolized the pistachio and carpet worldwide market. However, the government has lost these privileges and failed its traditional clients.

“Regrettably, we are losing the pistachio position in global markets due to the dire export conditions… We can earn more U.S. dollars if the administration does not make trouble for [pistachio] exporters with insisting on its routines. However, the administration insists on its instructions,” Fararu website quoted Mehdi Seifoddini, secretary of Farmers’ Union in Kerman province, as saying on October 13.

Meanwhile, in 2018, Iran earned $238 million through exporting humanmade carpet. However, this industry met a sharp decline in 2019 and reached $73 million.

“In 2018, Iran’s carpet exports to the U.S. as the main intention for Iranian carpets, and our traditional market stopped. In this regard, the carpet export decreased around $200 million while we faced a drastic decline in 2019 and the value of carpet exports reached less than $100 million,” said Hamed Chaman-Rokh, member of the managing board of Manmade Carpet Exporters’ Union, in an interview with Jahan-e Eghtesad daily on September 10.

In conclusion, given the Iranian government’s insistence on irresponsible and costly policies inside the country and abroad, Iran’s non-petrol revenues fell in the fate of oil revenues. However, the ayatollahs still continue funding extremist proxies in the Middle East region, advancing their ballistic missile programs and nuclear ambitions.

Extending Iran’s Arms Embargo Is in Favor of Iranian Citizens

In this respect, the current ruling system that has cut Iran from the worldwide banking system and international commerce is the main barrier to its industry and development. They also stockpiled billions of dollars in personal accounts or financial institutions rather than aiding needy people who sell their organs or even their newborn babies to make ends meet. They also imposed the IRGC’s additional budget on the country, while many people are losing their lives to the health infrastructure’s weakness.

Iran’s Child Suicide Tragedy

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As suicide rates rise among disadvantaged people in Iran, the suicide rate among children and adolescents has risen too, and its nature and quality are more appalling than ever.

Children and adolescents who have committed suicide in recent days are mostly from poor families.

The severity of suicide among children and adolescents due to poverty is such that state media are forced to report it in some cases, despite the scandal and stigma it will leave on the system.

Iranian Children Dying from Poverty Increases

Such children have no hope for the future and see their future in the poor image of their parents and other close relatives, many of whom are not even able to provide the daily bread for their meals.

In Bushehr province, two children committed suicide due to the poverty of their families and the impossibility of getting a smartphone to participate in ‘Shad‘ online classes.

Education officials in Bushehr province denied that one of the children committed suicide because they did not have a smartphone, while Mohammad Mousavi’s mother said, “The school principal had said several times that he wanted to give a phone to three students, but that did not happen. There were no phones and the only reason for my son’s grief that caused this disaster was not having a phone.”

The governor of Nishapur reported the suicide of three people in the city, aged 15, 17, and 22, and two of them died.

Gradual Increase in the Price of Bread, Another Deceptive Step by Iran’s Regime’s to Loot the People

A 10-year-old child in Ilam, western Iran, hanged himself and died due to the poverty of his family.

In Parsabad Moghan in Ardabil province, a 16-year-old boy committed suicide with a hunting rifle and died.

In a village in Urmia, a 13-year-old girl committed suicide due to the family’s financial poverty, lack of a smartphone, and an inability to attend online classes.

The fact is that the Ministry of Health of the government and other relevant institutions never announce the exact number of suicides and deaths resulting from it, especially the suicide of children and adolescents.

Certainly, the cases of child suicide are more than the cases reported by the media.  “Statistics will not be announced unless made public. Of course, after a while, the noises fall asleep again. The government does not provide statistics, and many families do not report the cause of their child’s death as a suicide. Even for the coronavirus, accurate statistics are not provided,” Bartarinha website quoted a government-linked expert Mustafa Eghlima as saying on October 22.

This situation is due to the state’s political and economic institutional corruption, about which Tasnim news agency wrote:

“The presence of wealthy people in important centers of power, where macro-social and economic decisions are made, confirms that poverty, although measured by economic indicators with a social manifestation, is a phenomenon related to policy-making and politics.

“In such a way that some of those sitting on the path of management either own large capital or use it in the influence of the owner of capital, policies, and decisions are naturally laid out in such a way that the distribution of national capital and revenues is diverted from its fair form and is directed to the pursuit of specific and limited group interests.

“And what reaches the other strata, according to their relation to the center of the capital, becomes less and less to the point that some people reach a very small share, equal to zero.”

Iran: Shocking Poverty and Its Class Divide

Iran: Officials Admit to the Dire Economic Situation

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The economic situation of the Iranian people has deteriorated to the point that Iran’s leaders and state organizations have no choice but to acknowledge it. This condition is the cause of many social disorders such as addiction and suicide. 

“About 19 million people in Iran are marginalized and homeless,” said Abbas Akhoondi, the former Minister of Roads and Urban Development, in July 2017. Also, President Hassan Rouhani implicitly approved the statistic.

Meanwhile, in November 2019, Ali Rabiee, the spokesman for Rouhani’s administration, declared, “53 percent of Iranians do not own a car.” 

In December 2019, another of Rouhani’s ministers, Mohammad Shariatmadari, announced, “60 million Iranians are receiving subsidies.” This figure is equivalent to 75 percent of Iran’s population. 

Connex Sleepers, the Other Face of Marginalization in Iran

According to the July 2019 report of the Statistics Center of Iran tallied by the 2016 census, “51 percent of the people of Tehran are tenants.” 

“More than 70 percent of Iranian workers are minimum wage earners,” said Hadi Abui, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Workers of Iran, in April 2016.

In addition to the statements of the officials, the poor economic situation of the Iranian people has been a key topic in much of the state media. 

“There were about 38 million marginalized people in Iran,” Shoare-e-Sal daily quoted Fardin Yazdani, a housing economist, as saying in July 2020. 

Furthermore, back in March 2017, the Parliament (Majlis) news agency Khane-e-Mellat (ICANA) cited Shahab Naderi, a then-MP, as saying, “80 percent of the Iranian society is below the poverty line. 

In June 2016, Shahr Ara News website reported that the number of working children in Iran is “between 3 and 7 million“—a figure which is now significantly higher.  

The media also report that 3 million female-headed households are bearing the brunt of the hardships of life in the current miserable situation in the country. 

In September 2019, Bahar News website quoted Nasser Aslani, the Deputy Director of Supply and International Affairs of the Anti-Narcotics Headquarters, as announcing the existence of 4.408 million addicts in Iran. 

According to the Independent, in Iran, 13 people commit suicide every day. 

in June 2016, Radio Zamaneh website also listed the causes of suicide in Iran. “For years, official suicide statistics have not been published in Iran. But various studies show that more than 70 percent of suicides are of economic origin,” the website wrote. In other words, poverty is the cause of 70 percent of suicides in Iran. 

Iran and the Crisis of ‘Serial Suicides’

In such circumstances, the government has reduced the education budget. “Currently, the share of education in the public budget in the country is about 8.9 percent, while in the world this number is 14 percent. That is, the government decided to shift the education to the private sector and pay the minimum wage to 100,000 people in education,” the deputy chairman of the parliamentary education commission, Mahammad Vahidi, revealed in an interview with Tasnim news agency on October 25.

He also admitted that currently, 3.5 million students do not have access to the “Shad” application [an application created for online education because of the coronavirus outbreak], according to Tasnim.

There is rising homeless in the capital Tehran—700,000 people sleep in care houses. On Saturday, October 24, the advisor of Tehran’s mayor said that “Last year, we had about 490,000 people serving at night in Tehran’s care houses. However, this year, this number is expected to increase to 700,000 at night. Last year, 22,000 women spent the night, and this year 27,000 of our homeless women spent the night in Tehran’s care houses.”

Iran: Rural Women Are the Most Marginalized People

Another Veil of Crime Against Iranian Children

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One of the most tragic and catastrophic effects of the Islamic Republic’s era in Iran has been lowering the legal age of marriage. The Iranian government has snatched the lead from other authoritarian regimes in the gross violation of the rights of children and women, such that today Iranian girls and women look to the much better conditions in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and even the Persian Gulf countries. 

For some time now, the state has been using the marriage loan scheme to facilitate its backward and oppressive thoughts towards the children and women of this country. However, apart from the principled and theoretical opposition of this approach to human, moral, religious, and universal human rights principles, its catastrophic and criminal effect is also seen in the practical field, which the Iranian society will undoubtedly suffer from the damage of it for years and decades. 

Iran: Children Who Make Ends Meet Through Searching Garbage

Here we show some of the effects of this ‘legal crime’ on the body and soul of half of the Iranian people:  

History of Marriage Age Laws in Iran 

“In 1931, the Civil Code introduced physical talent for couples for the first time in articles. After that, in 1934, in Article 1041 of the Civil Code, the issue of minimum age was discussed for the first time. According to this article, 15 years for girls and 18 years for boys was the minimum age for marriage,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on May 13.

“The marriage of girls between the ages of 13 and 15 and the marriage of boys between the ages of 15 and 18 were also made conditional by the court. Years later, with the enactment of Family Protection in 1974, in accordance with Article 23, the minimum age for marriage for girls was increased to 18 years and for boys to 20 years; and marriage between 15 and 18 years for girls was conditional on a court order,” ISNA added.

In the same report, it is stated that back in 1982, some parts of the civil law were amended; Including Article 1210, which changed the age of childhood to the age of legal maturity. That means 9 lunar years for girls and 15 years for boys. Accordingly, Article 1041 was changed, and the minimum age for marriage was 9 lunar years for girls and 15 lunar years for boys. 

After much debate on this issue and public opposition and reactions to these reactionary laws, in 2002 the minimum legal age for marriage for girls reached 13 years and for boys 15 years; with the permission of the parents and, subject to expediency, at the discretion of the court. 

In practice, the law led to major legal, social, and family problems, and measures were taken to amend it, but the clerics and governmental institutions prevented its changes. 

In 2017, Article 1041 was once again challenged in the Parliament (Majlis). “According to the amendment submitted to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), the marriage of a girl before the age of 16 and a boy before the age of 18 was prohibited; Marriage between the ages of 13 and 16 in girls and 16 to 18 in boys was subject to the permission of the legal guardian and a court order, provided they were physically able to marry with a forensic opinion. However, this plan was rejected in 2018 by the Legal and Judicial Commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly,” ISNA wrote.

The intellectual foundations and public views of the current ruling system in the human and social spheres are so catastrophic and criminal that it cannot even be fully recounted in public media. 

During more than 40-year history of the Islamic Republic, the poor and impoverished sections of the society, as a result of the state’s miserable economic policies, have been forced to abuse their children as a means of livelihood and use the laws and facilities donated by the clerical government as a pretext for this legal crime. 

No child would want to go to the house of a man the same age as her father and grandfather and marry and have children instead of playing with her peers and toys and going to school and gaining the necessary knowledge and education during this period. but the domination of the religious fascism’s culture in Iran and the poverty and deprivation of the family have led these little children to such a catastrophic fate.

The Future of Iran and Its Children Is in Danger

The living and economic situation of families in Iran is so unhealthy, depressing, and mingled that the family is not anymore able to meet the right marriage age, and this has led the government to provide loans to facilitate the early marriage, and this misguided strategy led to the sale and purchase of girls from poor families who, for little money, who became accomplices to crimes against their children. 

Last year, the official IRNA news agency made a shocking report on the relationship between marriage loans and child trafficking. “With the increase in marriage loans to 30 million tomans in 2019, the number of children spouses and marriages of children under 15 has quadrupled in some parts of the country, and some families are actually selling their daughters to receive these loans. Statistics released by the Civil Registration Organization on the divorce of girls under the age of 13 show an increase in the phenomenon of child marriage in the country, and experts believe that this will have dire consequences in the future,” IRNA on December 31, 2019.

Furthermore, Arman-e Meli paper provided unexpected details, indicating how many children are in queues for marriage loans. “Statistics from the Central Bank also confirm this, and the number of applicants under the age of 15 for marriage loans in 2018, compared to the previous year, 2016, has increased about 70 times. Also, in the first five months of this year, the number of marriage loan applicants for people under 15 has increased almost 90 times compared to 2017. In the last decade, nearly 400,000 girls under the age of 15 have been married off in Iran,” Arman-e-Meli wrote on the same date.

On October 11, Massoumeh Ebtekar, President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy for Women and Family Affairs, expressed her concerns over the physical and psychological cons of children’s marriage.

“In our view, reaching the intellectual maturity of marriage is sufficient, but under 13 years it is really a child and has many physical and psychological consequences. In the current law, we do not have a base for the age of marriage, although in the notes it is restricted to the opinion of the judge and the experts, but in our opinion, there are problems in the field of child-marriage, which is evidenced by the statistics of 30,000 marriages under the age of 14 in one year. In particular, an increase in the number of marriage loans can inadvertently cause the sale and purchase of girls and children as marriages,” Tabnak website quoted Ebtekar as saying.

Iran: Children between 12 and 15 Forced into Marriage

Marriage Loans Are Very Embarrassing Events

“Lending websites are also full of 60 million marriage loans. Many of these sites do not allow you to talk directly with the seller. Most of the sellers are from the deprived areas of the country. If you are asking about their age class, they evade and respond that their marriage is legal and that they have been granted a marriage loan,” semi-official ILNA news agency wrote on December 29, 2019.

“One of the sellers is the father of the bride and says: His daughter and son-in-law start their business with the remaining 30 million. He does not say the age of his daughter and suffices as to say that ‘she could certainly have married the husband’, I gave her away. The groom says he cannot afford the 60 million loan installments, so he wants to sell her,” ILNA concluded.

Iran: Sick Old Woman Forced to Sleep Outside in Cold by Tabriz Prison Authorities

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Prison authorities in Tabriz forced a 60-year old woman in need of medical care for herpes zoster to sleep out in the yard as temperatures plummeted.

Shahin Solhjoo had initially been moved to the dispensary, then solitary confinement, after contracting herpes zoster, but prison guards scared of getting sick themselves, moved her back to the general ward after two days; a decision that makes no sense because if more inmates are infected then the guards would be more likely to get sick.

Then, the guards ordered Solhjoo, who is in grave pain from herpes zoster, to sleep in the yard; something that her fellow prisoners on the women’s ward objected to, saying that she should be taken to hospital, especially as she might also have contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19), so she’ll need an examination from a doctor and close supervision.

Prison authorities claim that they don’t have the money to take her to hospital, which is why they haven’t, but this doesn’t ring true.

First, it cannot possibly cost that much to take her to the hospital because she’s an elderly woman jailed for stealing a phone due to poverty. She would only need one guard and a driver at most.

Second, even if it did cost too much to transfer her to the hospital, why make her sleep outside in the cold rather than treat her in the dispensary?

Third, delay and denial of adequate medical treatment to ill or injured prisoners is a common tactic of the Iranian authorities, although illegal under international law and the covenants that Iran has signed up to. The idea is to increase pressure on the prisoner in order to break their spirit or get them to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

It isn’t surprising that Solhjoo got sick on the women’s ward of Tabriz prison. At least nine inmates there contracted the coronavirus in the last week of September and the guards failed to quarantine the sick people at all, using just a flimsy curtain to separate the sick from the well.

How the Coronavirus Has Affected the Women’s Ward at Evin Prison

Of course, anyone would get sick in the prison conditions. The food given to prisoners is low quality, smelly, and cannot be cooked because prisoners do not have a stove. Even the food sold at high prices in the prison store is low quality, so how are prisoners supposed to boost their immune system? The simple answer is that they’re not.

Connex Sleepers, the Other Face of Marginalization in Iran

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Most official statistics in Iran cannot be trusted, and each government institution has its own statistics. However, according to the most general statistics, more than 30 million marginalized people now live across the country.

Marginalized people are the unfortunate immigrants of the cities or those expelled from the major cities. They have settled on the outskirts of metropolitans in shantytowns in the hope that they will pay less for housing.

The state-run daily Eqtesad-e-Saramad reports on a new phenomenon among Iranians who live in slums:

“When the villagers and even the inhabitants of the counties went to big cities and metropolises like Tehran, they found that they could not afford to pay rent because of low wages and the employment slump. So, they went to the outskirts of the city.

“In the meantime, however, the Connex sleepers are a relatively new phenomenon. However, Connex sleeping is also a type of marginalization and temporary residence but based on the idea that any place that has a roof, can become a house. For the suburban population of the capital, it has more security and comfort than the slums.”

Homeless Citizens and Iran’s Housing Mafia

The paper then points out the disadvantages of this type of living, noting that the Connex sleeping is apparently a more affluent circuit than the slums: “The Connexes, therefore, are home to the more affluent marginalized population, which, of course, does not solve the housing problem for the homeless, and the numerous marginalization problems and harms for the dwellers of this shelters. This has become a scourge that contributes to various social ills.

“However, some officials are still in a state of denial, and they believe that this type of housing is not common in Tehran. But a warning from Massoud Rezaei, deputy chairman of the parliament’s social commission, about the danger of an outbreak of the Connex sleeping in the capital shows that the damage must be taken seriously.”

“In addition to all that has been said above about immigration and the problem of immigrant housing, this new phenomenon must be added to this issue. The Connex sleeping next to the tomb and the rooftop sleeping are now in vogue. Owners of Tehran housing agencies say this is a new way of living in Tehran.

“Sellers and installers of the Connexes also say the phenomenon is more prevalent in the suburbs. Some real estate consultants in Tehran report the limited existence of these blocks in the middle of the city, including District 22,” the outlet added.

“Currently, in District 22 of Tehran Municipality, the neighborhoods around it and around the ‘Persian Gulf Lake’ and the areas around Hashtgerd county, workers are experiencing rooftop sleeping. An issue that is the starting point of Connex living and suburbanization.”

But the inhabitants of these Connexes are betting on the losing horse while this outlet added: “The head of the Iranian Real Estate Advisors Association says: ‘Living in common spaces in these Connexes is not legal, and buyers can only use these Connexes on their own land.'”

“Hesam Aqba’i emphasizes that the condominiums do not have a title deed and that it is not legal to conduct transactions in the real estate consultants’ units to buy or mortgage and rent them.”

The daily then added: “Builders and sellers, however, say they have rented out most of the second-hand Connex units to the lower deciles of society at low rates. And usually, they do not rent these units from official bases. Of course, renting is rare in such cases, and everyone is looking to buy these mobile units.”

According to a housing market activist: “This phenomenon is seen in some areas of Tehran in the form of renting a trailer, but it is illegal to build a Connex on the roofs of houses and common areas. However, these illegal cases are not dealt with seriously in the city structure and can be easily solved by paying money from the owners.”

Iran: Shocking Poverty and Its Class Divide

EU Must Adopt a Firm Policy Against Tehran’s Terror Attacks

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Two years ago, on June 30, 2018, European law enforcement managed to foil a terror attack in Villepinte, suburb of Paris. In a joint operation, Belgian, German, and French authorities disbanded a terror squad commanded by a senior Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi.

Belgian prosecutors called the group a “sleeper cell,” which provided details and prepared a bomb attack against the Iranian opposition gathering. At the time, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a grand meeting with 100,000 supporters and hundreds of distinguished politicians, MPs, human rights defenders, and former officials from around the world.

U.S. House Stands with Iranians’ Desire for Freedom

They had attended the event to declare their support for the NCRI and its President-elect Maryam Rajavi for replacing the religious fascism ruling Iran with a democratic government, which is intolerable for the ayatollahs.

Following the attack’s failure, Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, tried to evade responsibility. Zarif described it as a “false-flag operation” on the eve of President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Austria while the foreign minister’s agent had been arrested with sufficient evidence.

The arrest of a diplomat on duty sounded alarms about the Iranian government’s exploitation of diplomatic privileges to target dissidents. In December 2018, the Albanian government expelled the Iranian ambassador and his deputy from its territory for involvement in a bomb plot against members of the main Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

Several of Tehran’s lobbies attempted to attribute the attack to rogue elements. However, in November 2019, Zarif rejected this theory at a Parliament (Majlis) public session. “We are not an institution to act by ourselves. Is it possible to do something in this country without reporting?” he said.

“Assadollah Assadi is not an exemption. He is the normality,” said former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who was a potential victim of the plot.

These malign behaviors prompted many prominent figures, particularly potential victims of Assadi’s plot in France to file a complaint against Tehran’s terrorist agent and his co-conspirators.

On October 22, several of them attended an online conference hosted by the NCRI and discussed the Iranian government’s terror activities on European soil. They demanded EU leaders shut down Iranian embassies as centers of coordination and logistic providers for terror attacks.

Potential Victims’ Remarks at the NCRI Webinar

“This terrorist plot was ordered and blueprinted in Tehran at the highest level of Iranian regime leadership, including the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS),” said Farzin Hashemi, a potential victim, and member of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee.

“In my seven-hour testimony during the investigation, I provided details of the decision-making and the enabling process of this operation… I stressed again that the decision for this operation had been made by Khamenei, Rouhani, Zarif, Alavi, the regime’s intelligence minister, and implemented only afterwards,” said Maryam Rajavi, the terrorists’ primary target.

“We are sure that it is indispensable that this diplomat represented a state,” said prominent human rights and international criminal law lawyer William Bourdon.

“It is a bit surprising that the secret agent is trying to invoke the Geneva Conventions. You cannot pretend to be a diplomat when you are caught trying to bomb a civilian population,” said criminal law lawyer Rik Vanreusel.

“This is one of the most important terrorism cases in the 21st century… The victims attacked in this case, the NCRI, has been the target of systematic attacks by the regime,” said international criminal law lawyer Christophe Marchand.

“I hope that the courage and skills of our lawyers are matched by those of the governments that are involved. The burden is now on all of us if we want to assure that no one else is a victim of state-sponsored terrorism,” said former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli as a complainant and potential victim.

“The decision to resort to terrorism is carried out by the regime’s Supreme National Security Council, where there are key centers of power, including the supreme leader, the president, the speaker of parliament, and the IRGC commander,” said former French intelligence officer Claude Moniquet.

“This is a historical test or challenge for the EU, whether they want to stand on their democratic standards or alongside a terrorist regime. This regime will fall,” said chair of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee and potential victim Mohammad Mohaddessin.

“I was the event’s moderator… Assadi violated each of the core principles of diplomacy,” said former MEP from Scotland Struan Stevenson.