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U.S. Treasury Sanctions Iran’s Mostazafan Foundation

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On Wednesday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) inside the U.S. Treasury issued sanctions against Iran’s Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation (Bonyad Mostazafan). They said that rather than being a charitable organization, it is “an immense conglomerate” with 160 holdings in the sectors of finance, energy, construction, logistics, information technology, and mining, which Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei uses to enrich his office and his allies, as well as punish dissidents.

“Iran’s Supreme Leader uses the Bonyad Mostazafan Foundation to reward his allies under the pretense of charity. The United States will continue to target key officials and revenue-generating sources that enable the regime’s ongoing repression of its own people,” Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said.

It and its entities were designated under Executive Order 13876, which targets Iran’s Supreme Leader and his office.

Iran Official Admits the People Don’t Trust the Regime

What Entities Are Involved?

  • Sina Energy Development Company (SEDCO) and its subordinate companies:

    • Payandan Company
    • Coal Tire Refining Company
    • Pishro Iran Financial and Investment Company
    • Pars Energy-Gostar Drilling and Exploration
    • North Drilling Company
  • Behran Oil and its subsidiary companies:

    • Beh Tam Ranakar Company
    • Behran Trading Company
    • Tabchem Chemical Industries
  • Kaveh Pars Mining Industries Development Company (KMID) and its subordinate companies:

    • Pars Sarralle Company
    • Damavand Mining
    • Tehran Cement Company
    • Kaveh Khozestan Aluminum Company
    • Arvand Kaveh Steel Co.
    • Kaveh Shargh Steel Co.
    • South Kaveh Steel Co.
    • International Trade & Industrial Technology ITRITEC GmbH
    • Turira Company
    • Somic Engineering and Management Co
    • Tehran International Transport Co
    • Pishgaman Horizon Development Iranian Business Trading Company
    • Sina Financial and Investment Holding Company
  • Bank Sina and its subsidiary:

    • Sina Currency Exchange Company
  • Omran va Maskan Iran Company
  • Paya Saman

    Pars Company and its subordinate companies:

    • Raman Company
    • Melli Sakhteman Company
    • Day Company
    • Taloon Company
  • Parsian Tourism and Recreational Centers Company and its subordinate companies:

    • Sina Port and Marine Services Development Company
    • Bonyad Shipping Agencies Company
    • Bonyad Eastern Railway Company
    • Sina Pars Rail Company
  • Sina Paya Sanat Development Co. and its subordinate companies:

    • Sanati Doodeh Fam Company
    • Shisheh va Gas Industries Group
    • Iran Tire Manufacturing Company
    • North Wood Industry Company
    • Selkbaf Co, Aliaf Company
    • Hejab Textile Company
    • Sina Tile and Ceramic Industries Company
    • Pars Tile Company
  • Iran Electronic Development Company (IEDC)

  • Rah Negar Middle East Pars Company

  • Peyvand Tejarat Atieh Iranian Company

Meanwhile, OFAC designated Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi for the key role that his ministry has played in the abuses of the Iranian people’s human rights, particularly during the November 2019 protests.

Other people being designated include:

  • Bonyad Mostazafan Foundation president Parviz Fattah
  • Bonyad Mostazafan Foundation deputies Amir-Mansour Borghei, Javad Ghana’at, Khosro Mokhtari, and Mohammad-Ali Yazdan Joo
  • SEDCO’s managing director Javad Oji
  • KMID’s managing director Seyyed Mohammad Atabak
  • Sina Financial’s Mohammad Eskandari and Mohsen Alikhani
  • Sina Bank’s Seyyed Zia Imani
  • IRGC Brigadier General Heidar Abbaszadeh
  • IRGC Colonel Reza Papi

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the persons designated above for blocking sanctions must be blocked and reported to OFAC if their property or interests in property are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons,” the statement read.

“In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals or entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the persons designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through account sanctions,” U.S. Treasury Department added in its statement.

Iran’s Economy Suffers from State-Backed Mafia, Not Sanctions

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani and allies attribute the country’s economic dilemmas to sanctions. However, economists and experts believe that Rouhani and his faction are misleading society, and most of the financial problems are not related to sanctions but rooted in the corrupt and flawed system.

In this respect, there are numerous instances of officials’ mind-blowing corruption cases and multi-billion embezzlement that put Iran’s economy on the verge of collapse. At the same time, all parts of the ruling system are involved in systematic corruption, and the counter-corruption departments are themselves the source of fraud and looting.

Fight Against Corruption in Iran’s Judiciary or Khamenei’s Successor?

In other words, rent-seeking, bribes, corruption, and smuggling have grown in Iran as an inherent outcome for Iran’s sick economy. While productive industries do not run the country’s financial system, attributing problems to foreign reasons is a joke. Therefore, today Iran suffers from the lack of healthy production relationships before any sanction or restriction imposed by “Great Satan”—the term Iranian authorities use to describe the United States.

“The economy’s main problem is lying and incriminating others to divert public opinion from bitter truths that imposed by the government. As a routine, the U.S. is announced as the country’s dilemmas while the government’s functions have originated these dilemmas. The [problems] have no tie with [U.S.] sanctions,” said economist Hossein Raghfar in an interview with Resalat daily on October 14.

“Instead, the government has destroyed the country’s economy, and the source of problems is inside the country. Domestic mafia gives a wrong address for resolving economic problems,” he added.

Raghfar also explained how the rulers’ mismanagement and failed policies destroyed Iran’s production capacities and made the country dependent on imports. “In six years, from 2005 to 2011, the imports’ value reached from $16 billion per year to $90 billion, and the country became more dependent and consumerist by importing saddle to the toothpick,” he said.

“If [the government] controlled fake demands and did not deposit foreign exchange resources to the pocket of those who took it out of the country, the sanctions would not become effective. However, officials are not willing for this [control] to happen,” Raghfar added.

“During 2018 and 2019, according to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) statistics, the country earned $180 billion through exports. However, it is unclear where these foreign exchanges were used? According to studies, the government could provide [the people’s] essential and production goods up to $35 billion. Moreover, it could ensure the country’s foreign exchange fund for three years,” he said.

Therefore, Iran’s financial structure faces fundamental obstacles, which have been rooted in the institutionalized corruption in all of the governing system’s sectors. As a result of these structural problems, Iran’s national production faces an unprecedented recession, and it has been stopped in many parts.

A massive amount of smuggling and hoarding of essential commodities is a flagrant illustration of systematic corruption and non-transparency in production activities, which directly affected Iran’s economy.

“Today, we witness the country confronts serious challenges. We see wherever the public supervision has been weakened, security and military supervision and traditional confrontations could not resolve the country’s main issues and challenges such as combating corruption and rent-seeking,” ILNA news agency quoted Mahmoud Mirlouhi, member of Tehran City Council, on November 17.

This is while the security and military apparatuses are among the most corrupt organs. For instance, under the former judiciary chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani, Iranian media outlets revealed that the judiciary chief has 60 private bank accounts. Larijani later declared that the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had issued a decree in this context during the tenure of his predecessor Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.

Also, the corruption cases of Akbar Tabari, former executive director of the judiciary during Larijani and Shahroudi’s tenure, have shocked the people by this magnitude of cheating and abuse of power. On the other hand, the IRGC controls hundreds of official and unofficial ports wharves and has specific customs.

The Systematic Corruption in Iran’s Judiciary

The current judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi was the head of Astan-e Quds Razavi conglomerate that almost possesses Mashhad, Iran’s second metropolitan and thousands of hectares of residential and farm estates across the country, as well as hundreds of factories and workplaces.

Notably, Astan-e Quds is one of the pillars of Khamenei’s $200-billion economic empire. According to the Astan-e Quds statute, the Supreme Leader appoints its head, and he only reports to the Supreme Leader. The institution benefits from tax exemption and facilitates Tehran’s illicit transactions under the pretense of endowments and donations.

“Annoying class differences, poverty, corruption, discrimination, insufficiencies in the administrative system, intermediation, and brokerage, which have unfortunately done by children or appointees of directors and officials, indicate our failure in implementing justice and a fair rule,” Hossein Hagh-Verdi told Radio Farhang on November 17.

In fact, while Khamenei and the institutions owned by his office have monopolized 80 percent of the national production, corruption expands crazily. Iranian authorities neither can nor will spend national resources for the sake of people due to the state’s flawed structure.

Unbridled poverty and the rising poverty line are the flipside of systematic corruption, destruction of national production, and rent-seeking growth. However, the sole solution for these painful dilemmas is political changes and establishing a transparent government based on the rule of law. In recent years, the Iranian people, time and again, demonstrated their desire to achieve such a government in nationwide protests.

Nurses in Iran Are Overworked, Underpaid, and Getting Sick

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The coronavirus pandemic has been a living nightmare for many countries, with governments across the world forced to look at their healthcare system, especially their medical staff who are bearing the brunt.

Many countries have taken special measures to ensure the mental and physical health of key workers so that they can continue to take care of patients.

This is not the case in Iran. Medical staff get no special treatment. In fact, many of them with salaries of roughly $100 a month—four to five times under the official poverty line—have not been paid for several months, which Health Ministry officials have admitted.

Even state-run media has reported that over 90 percent of Iranian nurses are unhappy with their working conditions and salaries, which has led to many leaving the country or the profession in order to secure basic and safe working conditions.

Iran COVID-19 Situation: All Provinces Are Either ‘Red’ or on Alert

“Now, we are seeing these nurses migrate to other countries… The Foreign Ministry is obligated to declare the exact number of migrating nurses. Unfortunately, nowadays we are seeing 250 daily nurses file petitions for migration to foreign countries,” said Armin Zare’ian, director of Iran’s Council of Nurses.

“Several factors lead to these requests, from exhaustion and fatigue due to eight months of continuous, around-the-clock work since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, to not receiving salaries and temporary employments which prevent nurses from enjoying insurance and many other benefits,” he added.

During the early days of the pandemic, the head of Iran’s Medical Council reported a 125,000-nurse shortage, with less than one nurse per hospital bed; something that has decreased sharply, putting more pressure on those who remain.

The secretary of the House of Nurses Organization reported last month that some 30,000 nurses were infected with COVID-19, which has definitely made the situation worse.

The problem is that, although this problem was known about for a while, the government has promised to do things and never followed through, including with the 10,000 nurses they promised to hire this year. They’ve not been hiring for years, even though roughly 3,500 nurses retire each year.

Dismissal of Iranian Nurses During the Corona Era, the Answer to Their Sacrifices

The state has failed to pay existing medical workers or hire new ones but they did have a spare 200 million euros to pay the terrorists affiliated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and $1,800 per month per member of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

“The regime neglects the Iranian people’s needs, and especially nurses who are facing the coronavirus pandemic parallel skyrocketing high prices, This leaves them in harsh conditions due to poverty and Covid-19,” the Iranian Resistance wrote.

Tehran Still Breaches JCPOA

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On Wednesday, November 18, the UN nuclear watchdog once again asked Iran to explain the origin of uranium particles found at an undeclared site south of Tehran. Previously, Iranian authorities rejected the existing site, claiming there is a carpet-cleaning facility.

In February 2019, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors took environmental samples that showed traces of processed uranium at the “carpet-cleaning” factory. Since then, the Vienna-based UN watchdog and the United States seek Tehran’s answers on where those traces came from. However, the ayatollahs evade the questions.

“We believe they need to give us information which is credible. What they are telling us from a technical point of view doesn’t add up, so they need to clarify this,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told a news conference during a quarterly meeting of his agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors.

Earlier, on October 16, the Iranian coalition opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)-U.S. Representative Office exposed two secret sites in Tehran and Isfahan provinces.

“New information received from sources within the Iranian regime reveals that a new center has been built to continue its work for the weaponization of the Iranian regime’s nuclear program,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI-U.S. Representative, in a press conference.

Jafarzadeh explained the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (Sazman-e Pazhouheshhaye Novin-e Defa’i), known by its Persian acronym SPND, is the institution within the Ministry of Defense pursuing this project.

He revealed that the SPND has built up new sites in the Sorkheh-Hessar region, east of Tehran, and in the Abadeh region, Isfahan province. “Since the mid-1990s, the IRGC has gained the control of a large area north of the town of Abadeh where it has built a site linked to the plan to build nuclear warheads. The plan is called AMAD (currently SPND). To this end, the IRGC controlled vast areas of land, including some coal mines,” Jafarzadeh revealed.

In 2015, the world’s major powers were optimistic that an accord could halt the ayatollahs’ longstanding thirsty for nuclear weapons. However, the time displays that not only the Iranian government did not refrain from efforts to weaponize its nuclear programs but also abused generous reliefs to expand its controversial projects.

The ayatollahs consider nuclear weapons as insurance for their survival and the expansion of their regional influence. However, the people of Iran apprehensively see their national assets go in vain when the country severely needs to advance its health apparatus.

Unfortunately, Tehran’s rulers have taken hostage the people’s fate, health, and lives to blackmail the international community on economic concessions. The bitter experience of the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), did never improve the Iranian people’s livelihood and welfare. Instead, it boosted the authoritarians’ power to apply more suppression and export terrorism abroad.

Tehran Restricts IAEA’s Access to Contested Nuclear Sites

Iran Media Acknowledges Ayatollahs’ Plan to Use COVID Against People

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On the anniversary of the 2019 protest in Iran, state-run media have acknowledged that the government is using COVID-19 as a way to prevent the restive society from another nationwide anti-establishment protest.

So far, the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) reported that over 159,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Iran because the ayatollahs are deliberately failing to contain the pandemic.

However, President Hassan Rouhani has refused the two-week national lockdown that medical experts and local politicians have been calling for, citing the economy. Someone should tell him that dead people don’t spend money.

“Experts’ proposal to close crisis centers for two weeks was not approved yesterday at a meeting of the National Combatting Covid-19 Task Force chaired by Hassan Rouhani. So, who is responsible for the rising death toll?” Vatan-e Emrooz daily wrote Sunday, November 15.

25 Million Iranians Have Contracted Coronavirus, 30–35 Million Others Are Exposed to Virus: Rouhani

While Resalat daily questioned how anyone could believe that the state was concerned about the economy when they “ruined the economy within the last seven years”. This is an important point because the government has long tried to blame sanctions for the economic decline, even though the real cause is the ayatollahs’ missile building, terrorism funding, and institutionalized corruption. They also asked what the economic cost is of thousands of deaths per day.

“We would certainly see severe consequences and pay a heavy price with so many people losing their lives. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that the methodology of preventing and spreading the coronavirus has been completely wrong from the beginning. So far, the government has made no effort to control the virus,” Jahan-e Sanat daily wrote.

We should note that Rouhani is not alone in weaponizing COVID-19 against the people; after all, it was Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who called it a “blessing” and many other officials have refused to come out in opposition to it.

Hamdeli daily asked on Saturday how many people would have to die every day for the government to make a COVID-19 plan.

“If the government cuts the budgets of institutions that have no interest in the present and the future of the country, yet have a budget line, or cuts the salaries of tens of millions of government officials, it may be able to alleviate some of its financial problems. The government could also then help people amid the coronavirus crisis,” Hamdali wrote on November 14.

This suggests that the ayatollahs’ plan to use COVID-19 and the rising death toll to prevent another protest has failed.

Iran: Public Murder and Torture to Halt Protests

During the past weeks, the religious fascism ruling Iran has intensified suppression in the streets to terrify the fed-up people, particularly youths who are the leading force of protests.

In this respect, the State Security Forces (SSF) launched a new round of oppressive measures, including humiliating youths; killing two young men in Mashhad and Esfarayen cities in northeastern Iran; and beating a pregnant woman in Abadan in Khuzestan province, southwest of the country.

All the mentioned actions were taken place in the streets. Many people describe these brutalities as “street torture.” However, the question is, why the government insists on performing such disgusting actions in public?

Iranian authorities believe that they can control public ire by creating panic and horror among citizens.

Resorting to open suppression is one of the last cards of dictators, which reveals that they have no social base despite their hollow claims.

The Iranian people have experienced this kind of suppression in the entire history of the Islamic Republic.

In the past four decades, the ayatollahs tried to quell the people’s eagerness for fundamental rights and freedoms through the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) patrols and SWAT patrols.

Furthermore, they invented several units under cover of religious thoughts such as patrols of Amr-e Be Marouf and Nahy-e Az Monkar (enjoining good and forbidding wrong) and countering Bi-Hijabi (women who refuse compulsory hijab).

Iran Arrests Thousands Arbitrarily Fearing an Protest

On the other hand, the Iranian government commits crimes against humanity under the excuse of religious punishments. Public stoning, hanging, and amputating people’s fingers are only some instances of tortures mandated by the ayatollahs’ penal code.

Moreover, the ayatollahs promote acid attacks on defenseless girls and women under the pretense of ensuring men’s zeal. On October 2, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Representatives in the city of Isfahan, central Iran, and Bojnourd, northeastern Iran, called their thugs to assault “norm-breaker” women.

“The atmosphere of the society should be made insecure for these people, who are also few in number, and they should not be allowed to break the norms easily in the streets and parks,” said Khamenei’s Representative in Isfahan Yousef Tabatabai.

“The phenomenon of bad hijab and lack of hijab in society is like a virus among the people, and it must be confronted. In addition to the police and the judiciary, to deal with the lack of hijab, people should also get involved in this matter and be moral polices. Therefore, we must be sensitive to non-coronaviruses,” said Abolghasem Yaghoubi, the Friday prayer leader and Khamenei’s representative in North Khorasan province.

However, Iranian citizens never gave in to the government’s oppressive measures and restrictions, and they frequently show their objection to the ayatollahs’ actions.

In the past two years, these objections have emerged in the form of nationwide protests. As the authorities said, the people seek an opportunity to express their wrath against the entire ruling system.

Truly, increasing the suppression and restrictions is a testimony to public anger and distrust toward the rulers.

This is the main issue that authoritarian regimes try to conceal by a flagrant crackdown on simple cries. However, the government is simultaneously losing its credit even among its loyalists, which put its survival on the verge of collapse.

In this respect, a “reformism-theorist” Abbas Abdi describes recent protests as “illness,” adding that the establishment can just “contain the illness’s symptoms” with suppression.

According to Abdi, once the government thought it had defeated social disappointment and “healed the patient,” the “illness emerged with more intensity” in November 2019.

In his interview with Etemad daily, Abdi described Iran’s condition as a powder keg, which might explode with a small spark.

“The problem has not been resolved, and sooner or later, another event can detonate this powder keg. Therefore, we must go further than that decision and learn from the protests. We must await the repetition of these incidents,” Etemad wrote on November 16.

Amnesty Condemns Bloody Crackdown on Iran’s November Protests

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Amnesty International reports that Iranian security forces killed at least 304 people, including children, during the five days of protest in November 2019, using unlawful lethal force by shooting the majority of people in the head or torso, “indicating intent to kill”.

This massacre was largely covered up at the time due to an internet blackout, designed to stop protesters from communicating with each other or the rest of the world, which obstructs the research into these human rights violations. To date, no one has been held accountable for this horrific crime.

Amnesty even admits that we may never know the true number of victims because of the cover-up, although they have done their best to share the stories of those we do know about on a new website dedicated to the protests.

Iran’s Government Arrests Youth in Connection With November 2019 Protests

What Happened in November 2019?

Protests erupted across Iran on November 15, 2019, in response to the government’s tripling of fuel prices overnight, which would hit impoverished people the hardest. This quickly turned into the biggest anti-establishment protests since the 1979 revolution, with people loudly and proudly calling for regime change.

Videos of the protests and the government’s crackdown appeared online, where they were authenticated and analyzed by Amnesty’s Digital Verification Corps. On November 16, Amnesty says that “at least 100 unarmed protesters and bystanders” were killed, even though international human rights law bans the use of lethal force unless there is an “imminent threat of death or serious injury”.

The government then ordered an internet blackout, which was confirmed by several freedoms of expression non-governmental organizations, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered the security forces to go further.

Between November 21 and 27, the internet was slowly restored, although much evidence of the state’s human rights abuses was lost. Many witnesses told Amnesty that they deleted videos and the like from their phones for fear of being caught with it.

Amnesty had already released the evidence of those first 100 deaths at this point, although Iran’s Mission to the United Nations and other Iranian authorities denied this. But, through relentless crosschecking of information from relatives, human rights activists, and journalists, Amnesty has now verified 304 people murdered by the security services, 220 of whom died within 48 hours of the internet shut down.

The verification is as follows:

  • 233 identified by first and last name
  • Six by first or last name
  • 65 by age, gender, and location of the injury

Those murdered in the indiscriminate killings include:

  • Mohammad Dastankhah, 15, shot in the heart and lungs on his way home from school
  • Azar Mirzapour, a 49-year-old nurse and mother of four, walking home from work, who had called her family to say she was just minutes away
  • Bahman Jafari, 28, was shot in the heart and stomach on his way to work

“In almost all protests that took place between 15 and 19 November, there is no evidence that protesters posed an imminent threat to life or of causing serious injury to another person,” Amnesty wrote.

As such, the use of firearms by the authorities was completely unwarranted. Information obtained from eyewitnesses suggested that, in most cases, security forces deliberately fired live ammunition at victims’ heads or torsos. This claim is supported by the description of injuries cited on 24 death or burial certificates seen by Amnesty International.”

Amnesty called for urgent action from the government but the sad truth is that justice will never be served while the ayatollahs are in power.

Women’s Role in Leading Iran’s November 2019 Protests

On November 15, 2019, anti-establishment protests broke out in Iran, starting over the tripling of fuel prices and then becoming about all the problems caused by the ruling system and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians came to the streets in 200 cities, led by the horrendously oppressed women and young people, because they saw that they had nothing to lose. They were already starving, impoverished, and suppressed as a result of the ayatollahs’ rule, so they joined the protests when women called on them, something acknowledged by many state-run media outlets.

“Women’s special role in running and leading the recent riots seemed remarkable. In numerous places particularly in Tehran suburbs, women who were apparently between 30 to 35 years old, had a special role in leading the riots,” The Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-affiliated Fars news agency wrote.

These women wore the same garbs, each had a different role; one filmed the riots, the other stopped the cars, and another one incited the people to join the ranks of riots,” Fars added.

Of course, the protests were not unnoticed by the authorities. Indeed, the reality that they could be overthrown by the people was a real fear for the ayatollahs, so Khamenei ordered his security forces to open fire on the defenseless protesters, with snipers shooting into the crowd from rooftops, plainclothes agents attacking the wounded with axes, and other members of his militias shooting into the crowd from helicopters.

Iran: Nationwide Protests to Gas Prices Draws Reaction from Officials

During the massacre, the government cut off the internet and mobile networks so that protesters couldn’t communicate with each other or the outside world.

At least 1,500 people, including 400 women, were killed, while 8,000 were injured and some 12,000 arrested. Many of the wounded were arrested and many of those arrested have been tortured. Some detainees have even been sentenced to death. This is one of the most horrific crimes against humanity in this century and must be dealt with accordingly.

“Security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were running away, and shooting others directly in the face and vital organs – in other words shooting to kill. These are clear violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, and serious violations of human rights,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

While Amnesty International verified this “shoot-to-kill policy” in a report on May 20, 2020.

“The fact that so many people were shot while posing no threat whatsoever shows the sheer ruthlessness of the security forces’ unlawful killing spree,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Amnesty said that in all but four cases the victims were shot by Iranian security forces, including the IRGC, paramilitary Bassij, and, the police. The other four cases included two people suffering fatal head injuries after being beaten by the security forces and two who suffocated from tear gas.

Tehran Increases Suppression and Terrorism at the Expense of Workers

In recent months, employees and workers of Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Complex in Khuzestan province; HEPCO, Azar-Ab, and Aramco in Markazi province; nurses, and many others from different walks of life launched strikes and protests. They demand to receive their salaries, unpaid for several months.

On November 13, municipal workers of Loushan county in Gilan province, northern Iran, raised their voice, demanding their unpaid salaries. “In the past eight months, we have just received payment for two months, meaning our salaries have delayed for five months. Two months ago, in his inauguration ceremony, the new mayor vowed that he would pay our paychecks. However, after two months, there has been no action,” one of the protesting workers said, according to the ILNA news agency.

Instead, the government either uses security forces and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to quell protests, or silences workers by threatening them with dismissal, arrest, or imprisonment.

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

This is while these impoverished workers have run the country’s production cycle for decades. They have spent most of their lives to keep Iran’s economy going. But their compensation has been nothing but poverty, suppression, and living pressures. On the other hand, their monthly salaries are one-fifth of the poverty line announced by the Parliament (Majlis) labor law in April.

Their employers, many of whom are backed by the government and relatives of government officials, do not pay the paychecks of workers and leave them in more misery. These facts prompt workers to raise their voices for their inherent rights and not give in to more pressure.

In this respect, workshop personnel of Azad-rah Kariz company of the city of Rudbar in Gilan province held a rally on Thursday, November 5, demanding their three-month arrears.

Furthermore, on November 2, around 1,000 lifeguards working on the Caspian Sea coast protested delays in their salaries, according to ILNA.

On October 18, a group of workers of Serish-Abad municipality from the environs of Qorveh city in Kurdistan province held a rally, protesting non-paying their salaries and arrears, ILNA reported on the same day.

Also, the secretary-general of Nursing Home Mohammad Sharifi-Moghaddam criticized the budgets spent on different sectors under the name of nurses. “Many nurses ask which one of these multi-billion-dollar budgets have been distributed precisely and based on fairness?” Isfahan Emrouz website quoted Sharifi-Moghaddam as saying on October 31.

A Look Back at Last Year’s Protests in Iran

How Does the Government Respond to Complains?

However, the workers are faced with suppression, threats to dismissal, and even detention in response to their vital demands. For instance, in a joint plan, the government and judiciary have detained many activists of the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane complex and issued long-term prison sentences for them.

Iranian authorities practically consider no right for their own people despite spending billions of dollars’ worth of Iran’s national assets on exporting terrorism and warmongering in the Middle East and around the world. Instead, they crack down on any objections and economic grievances with violence.

A year ago, these days, the IRGC and security forces killed at least 1,500 citizens who had taken onto the streets to protests gas price hikes. Security forces also detained thousands more and transferred them to dungeons and safe houses controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), where many detainees lost their lives under torture.

On September 2, Amnesty International published damning details provided through interviews with around 60 detained protesters. They recounted how authorities, interrogators, and judicial officials used inhuman torture and other ill-treatment to force them to make televised confessions.

Moreover, the government incites ethnic conflicts in other countries, such as Yemen. “Tehran’s regime has spent hundred-millions of dollars to aid Houthis in Yemen and has equipped them with ballistic missiles, drones, and the technology of explosive speedboats,” Al-Hurra website reported on October 20.

“In recent years, Iran has spent around $100 million per year to support Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups… Tehran’s regime has also boosted the Lebanese Hezbollah with military technology and an annual monetary aid valued at $700 million,” Al-Hurra added.

Also, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft blamed Iranian authorities for involving in Yemen’s conflicts. “For six years, Iran has fueled conflict, bloodshed, and misery in Yemen through its financial and military support to the Houthis. The Iranian regime’s involvement has undermined prospects for peace and made hunger, disease, and desperation a daily reality for millions of Yemenis,” she tweeted on October 29.

Of course, the mentioned expenditures are separated from the government’s ongoing expenses in Syria, Iraq, and other regional states. However, the people of Iran frequently rejected the government’s influence in other countries, chanting, “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life is for Iran,” and “Let go of Syria, think about us.”

In such circumstances, officials from both factions feel public wrath against their mismanagement, economic failures, and costly aggressive policies imposed skyrocketing expenditures on society.

Iran: People No Longer Tolerate Current Governing System

In this respect, they time and again warn each other about igniting a new round of protests. However, the government that has disturbed public trust and has responded to any cry with bullets knows no way but intensifying suppression, which paves the way for more protests.

Two Political Prisoners Denied Medical Care Despite Covid-19 Symptoms

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At least two Iranian political prisoners in Evin Prison have been denied medical care, even though they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including fever, headache, lethargy, the loss of taste and smell.

Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, 65, has several serious medical conditions, including heart failure, that put him at a higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. While Payam Shakiba suffers from migraines that have made his symptoms more severe.

There have been several reports that prisoners at Evin Prison are at greater risk of coronavirus because of the unhygienic and overcrowded conditions that they are forced to endure.

For instance, prisoners are not given cleaning products for either themselves or their surroundings, which would kill the virus. This means no soap, no bleach, no wipes. They’re also not provided with masks or gloves, which are essential to slow the spread.

These things are sold at a horrendous mark-up at the prison store, but many cannot afford these and are not allowed to receive them in packages from their families outside.

Furthermore, as we alluded to earlier, political prisoners are denied adequate medical treatment as a matter of course, which means that they are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus; both contracting it and developing complications as a result.

Banazadeh, a veteran political activist, was initially arrested by the Intelligence Ministry in November 2009 for supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) and was released in November 2014.

He was rearrested in February 2016 and sentenced to 11 years in Evin Prison and two years in exile in Nikshahr, Sistan and Baluchistan Province, by Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh at Tehran Revolutionary Court in November 2017. This was upheld in the appeals court in July 2018.

Shakiba was arrested in July 2008, for revealing the sexual misconduct of a senior administrator at Zanjan University, where he was studying. He was sentenced in March 2010 to one year in prison for “causing public anxiety” and “instigating illegal gatherings against national security”, as well as being barred from returning to university for two semesters. This was reduced to six months in prison on appeal, which he served November 2010-March 2011.

He was rearrested in 2016 and sentenced to six years in prison in November 2017.

On August 22, Banazadeh Amirkhizi, Shakiba, and another political prisoner Majid Assadi were all transferred from Rajai Shahr Prison to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which is run by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, for interrogation over a new case opened against them.

Amirkhizi, Shakiba, and Assadi were summoned to the Evin prosecutor’s office in July and told that new charges for “propaganda activities against the establishment” had been brought against them.